Thursday, March 31, 2022

Spring Catch Up Post 2022

Just taking a moment to jot down some of the interesting things going on before those memories are overwhelmed by all the new interesting things coming up.

Kid update: 

Quinn is doing fine and seems to be enjoying high school. He's at the end of a truly non-eventful spring break, but when I asked him how it's going, he said it's been boring and he's enjoying that very much.

Mona graduated from high school last semester and is almost done with a virtual semester at UWM. She hates it and will leave after finals. But I keep telling her watching assigned YouTube videos at our dining room table is NOT COLLEGE and she should not make any decisions about the value of higher education based on this experience. She was accepted into art school for the fall, but is unconvinced about going. In the meantime we have a lead on a brief internship this summer that could be valuable, and we're looking into possibilities for art careers that don't require school.

Aden, meanwhile, is finishing up her first year at UW Stout and she loves it. There were a couple of alarming (especially for parents from afar) incidents in the dorm earlier this term (an intruder in the night and a fire on a different floor), but those seem to have been resolved. I'm proud of how well she's adapted to life away from home. She has made good friends, loves her classes and teachers. . . the school has been a good fit. I miss her, but I'm really happy for her. (She did choose to come home for spring break a couple of weeks ago, rather that go off with friends somewhere. I appreciated the snuggle time on the couch with her, eating popcorn and watching season two of Chuck.)

Peep update:

We have delivered our entries into this year's Racine Art Museum Peep Art competition! While Aden was home over spring break we started a giant Sparkle Peep, and she and Quinn and I entered it in the group category. Mona created the spectacular Peepzilla for the individual adult category. Sadly, she had to clip the ears off of two Peeps on the tail for her piece to fit in the box they use to test the size requirement, but I'm proud of her for doing it. People need to see her wonderful work. (And I told her I can reattach those bits when she brings it back home.) More Peep stuff after the opening at the museum this coming week.


Instrument update:

I have been working very hard to finish three instruments that I got behind on during the pandemic. I started two violins and a viola a few years ago, and then wasn't in a good mental place to work on them for a while. I finally decided the only way out is through, and made myself get into my shop every day.

I think the big trick for getting back to work on something I've been avoiding, is to break it down into chunks that aren't overwhelming. For instance, corners on violins are hard. Three instruments times two plates times four corners per plate is way too many corners to face on an average day. But if I go into my shop with the expectation that I only have to do one, then that I can do. One stupid corner. Not all 24. Just one. Once I'm actually doing the work, I remember why I enjoy it, and usually wind up doing more than the minimum. But if something goes wrong? Then I still don't feel like a failure because I usually surpassed whatever my goal was in the shop at that point anyway.

My hope was to get one of these instruments done in time to submit to the first ever International Celebration of Women Luthiers exhibit in Georgia recently. I didn't make it. But I got close! All three instruments are "in the white" and just need some last bit of preparation before varnish.


Atlanta update:

I did make it to the International Celebration of Women Luthiers in Georgia myself, though! It was an amazing weekend. I got to see some spectacular instruments and bows, and unlike other competitions and exhibits, I got to try the bows! (Most of the time you can only admire the pretty bows, not use them.) Several of the builders with things in the exhibition were there for a panel discussion, and on the third day we got to hear professionals play everything in a hall so we could compare all their qualities. Honestly, there wasn't an instrument I didn't like.

But easily the best part of this trip was the people. I got to meet so many remarkable women that I'd only ever interacted with online, and everyone was welcoming and supportive and inspiring and kind. They invited me along at every turn to dinners and shop tours and I felt so included. There were so many new friends that instantly felt like old friends. My heart was so full after this trip.

The lovely Huthmaker Violin Shop!


Performance update:

We had such a wonderful concert with Festival City Symphony earlier this month, and there is another coming up next weekend. I'm grateful to be playing in an orchestra again, however, I am ready for the break after the season finale. But orchestra people are among the best people. It's nice to be among them again.

Time Management update:

One of the things people ask me most often is how I have the time to do all the different things I do. The answer is I don't. I have to steal that time from other places, most often sleep, exercise, and cleaning. All that instrument work was happening mostly between midnight and 3a.m. Which meant if I was going to be awake enough to work at the shop I had to cut out swimming in the morning. And the house is a mess, because if I don't clean, it doesn't get clean. Everyone else doesn't mind living in a pit, apparently, but it still bugs me. However, I would rather be remembered for having created a few nice things than for not letting the dishes pile up. There will be time to clean. (And when the kids leave the house one day, most things will STAY clean after I turn my back, which is a very exciting concept.)

But! Now that I'm in the varnishing stage with those instruments, breaks are built in. Once you put on a coat of something that needs to dry, well, you have to leave it alone until it's dry. Which means I'm back to going to bed before midnight, and I started swimming again. (House is still a mess, though. Oh well.)

We did take a moment to dust and reorganize the Mold-A-Rama collection recently. We were contacted by someone writing a paper about zoo souvenirs, and wanted a sample of what's on our mantel. Quinn and I spent an hour cleaning everything and putting them in a new order, and that was fun to revisit so many memories. (We really need to get down to the Oklahoma City Zoo before the year is up.)

Covid update:

Overall, it's nice to feel things transitioning back to something normal. Numbers are looking a lot better here in Wisconsin, but I really wish people could take the pandemic seriously just enough longer to get past things a bit. I'm one of a very few people in either of my orchestras still wearing a mask, and we still require them at the violin store. I only ever see one other person in a mask at the pool. I know too many people struggling with Long Covid to treat it lightly, and until we are squarely in 1% territory, I'm keeping my mask on in public places. Besides, I need to stay healthy for my travel plans!

Travel Plans update:

I'm returning to my varnish workshop in Chicago at the end of April! And right after that, I'm going to ITALY!!! Lots of planning for all of that. More soon.

Writing update:

Not much to report, other than lots of rejections for my latest novel, but we'll see. I'm signed up to pitch it to live people at the end of April. I'm also working on a kids book project, and a followup to my violin repair diagnostics guide that will actually walk people through doing some simple repairs. (There are other repair books out there, but they are boring. Mine should be less boring.)

General state of the world and brief TV show update:

There are so many things in the news that make me unbearably sad. I don't understand why it's so hard for people to be kind. That sounds Polyanna-ish and naive, but still. I get tired of people who are rash or illogical or selfish, and that's all the news seems to be filled with from the smallest stories to the biggest. Among the biggest is obviously the war in Ukraine. My dad was a pacifist, and I lean that way most of the time, but it's hard for me to see how doing anything short of driving Putin back to Russia without concessions will result in anything but long term strife for democracy around the world. That may be worth real sacrifice on all our parts.

Out of curiosity about Ukraine and its leader, we recently watched the first season of Volodymyr Zelenskyy's TV show "Servant of the People." It's very good. Well made, funny, and it's obvious how the man got elected president for real (with 70% of the vote) after doing a charming dry run on his fictitious program. It's also obvious why in peace time he disappointed his constituents a bit since there is no way for someone to live up to what a fictional character can achieve on TV. In war time, I don't think they could have asked for a better president.

The meta element while watching the show is startling. Obviously to watch someone play the role of the president of a country, knowing he then became the president of that country, never gets less remarkable. But there are so many sweeping shots of Ukraine looking beautiful, and every time I watched the opening credits, I wondered how many of those sites are still standing and how much is in ruin. The references to Putin are painful.

And in a really chilling moment in the last episode of the first season (and please please please Netflix, put up the other two because I really want to see what happens next), Zelenskyy's character has an imagined interaction with Ivan the Terrible, where the latter lays out an argument for ruling with cruelty trying to convince him that Ukraine belongs with its Russian roots. The president insists to his imagined death that Ukraine belongs with Europe. For a comedy show and at this time, it's deeply poignant.


Well, now I'm just talking about TV, so it's time to wrap this up. The funny part about any kind of "journal" is that you only have time to write when there is nothing going on. All the interesting things are hard to take time to describe. My life has been busy and interesting of late! Looking forward to making more time to share the things coming up.

I leave you with Lake Michigan looking beautifully blue: