December 28, 2012


I ordered a shelf from Walmart, $25 with shipping, and it came today. It took me thirty minutes to assemble the thing and I still have pieces left over... I'm pretty sure they don't normally send extra nails.

One theory is that the nails are for some sort of cardboard backing, but there wasn't one in the box. As for those other pieces, well, I'm at a loss.

It's Friday and this was my productive moment of the day. I feel like Christmas is finally over. What's Christmas vacation? It's not a vacation, it's more stressful them work. Now I have two days where, besides a visit with a friend and returning some boots, I have nothing I need to do. I plan to sleep. A lot.

December 27, 2012

Teaching Opera

I swear, the life of a teacher is filled with obstacles that would never have crossed my mind before teaching.

Remember that my class consists of nine 3 and 4 year olds and I teach a lot of things that the average pre-K teacher might not, like Opera, Spanish, and American History. It's almost January and I try to focus on one opera and one ballet each month and I wanted January's ballet to be Swan Lake and the Opera to be The Magic Flute. A little optimistic, but I still think it can be done.

Each lesson I plan begins at the library where I order books, videos, and CDs to the point that the children's librarian knows my name. In planning for next month I was very excited to find a DVD of The Magic Flute performed by the Zurich Opera! Last night, just because I love the music and haven't seen the opera in years, I poured a glass of wine and popped it into my laptop (the DVD, not the wine). If you've ever seen this opera you know that it opens with a prince being chased by a serpent. Well in this particular adaption that serpent was played by a topless woman wrapped in a snake. Yup, not exactly age appropriate for my pre-K class, so now I need to find a version with less nudity. Good thing I screened it first because answering those questions in class would have been tough (though not as tough as answering to the parents after class).

So I went to school today slightly disappointed that I didn't have the opera, but excited that I had also come across Swan Lake performed in 1967 by the Vienna Stage Ballet. OK, so most of you are thinking "is she serious?" Trust me, if you enjoy ballet, this is a good version.

So I planned to show the ballet to my class this morning, but we had a lot of rain today. Why does that matter? Because the excessive rain caused the fumes from the heater in the preschool classroom to be pinned to the outside wall and forced back into the building. The preschool and toddler classes had to evacuate their classroom and, because my room is across the hall and the heater is working fine, they ended up with me for the morning. 20 kids between the ages of 1 1/2 and 5 years crammed into a classroom that holds nine kids at the most. Their room wasn't cleared until after lunch when, finally, we sat down to watch the ballet.

Well, we really didn't sit down. The kids took out all their dress up costumes and put on a parallel performance of Swan lake as we watched the film, pausing occasionally for costume changes and questions. I was the evil magician who changes Odett into a swan. We also had Odett, Odell, the prince, a conductor, a stage manager, and spider man (One of the kids was being argumentative). It all went really well and we had a great time, but did you remember that the prince drowns in the end? I didn't. Even in a ballet it's obvious what's happening so my kids got an impromptu lesson in theatrical tragedies.

I was exhausted by the time I got home, but my roommate had venison waiting for me. She's never had it so I cooked it up and had a very nice meal. So nice that I'm ready to go do this teaching thing again tomorrow!

December 22, 2012

Music Software

“A poet is a man who puts up a ladder to a star 
and climbs it while playing a violin.” 

― Edmond De Goncourt

When I bought my violin I had no illusions about my musical abilities. I knew I'd need lessons of some kind, someone to show me the basic chords and how to hold the bow. I hoped, of course, that I could learn the basics and then teach myself from there (I'm pretty cheap, after all), but the lesson thing turned out to be tougher then expected. I checked everywhere in town. Teachers are in high demand and they charge, on average, about $30 for a half hour lesson. That's 2 1/2 hours of my work day! On top of the price tag I also found they don't need to work around my schedule. If I wanted to take lessons I needed to get in line and take whatever slot they had open, even on a lunch break.
So I went shopping. I figured that if there were violin lessons on youtube then there must be some software out there. What I found was My Violin, a program designed for kids that costs less than $40 on Amazon and boasts all sorts of cool interactive features, like a tuner and the ability to listen to my playing and tell me if my fingers are in the wrong place. Because I spoil myself on Christmas I bought it (no point having a nice violin if I can't play it) and it came today!

I unwrapped it, installed it (It does work on Windows 8, even though the description doesn't mention it) and have been playing all afternoon. It goes through all the basics, like how to tighten the bow and the different parts of the violin, then it goes into playing. It's awesome, I love it (even though it's for kids) and in two hours it saved me almost $80 in lesson fees! 

The world didn't end on Friday and the New Year is coming up fast. If one of your resolutions is to learn an instrument then check out this software. They also have My Guitar (acoustic or electric) and My Piano (which are all much cheaper then the violin edition. Go figure).


Three days to Christmas and I spent it baking quiche and wrapping last minute gifts. I think I'm all set and not having a car has kept me from 11th hour purchases.

My biggest challenge this year has been my own wants and needs. Well, mainly my wants. I go searching for a cookbook for a friend and find three that I really want or an order arrives in the mail and I wonder if maybe I should just keep it and get them something else. My violin was my big gift to myself and I'm loving it! I try to play every day and, though progress is slow, I'm improving.

Quiche Recipe

You will need:

  • 1 bunch of green onions diced
  • 1 package of mushrooms choped in 1/4
  • 10 slices of capacola
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • Pie crust (premade is ok)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Preheat the oven to 375
  • In a skillet melt 1/2 cup of butter
  • Dice green onion and add to skillet. Cook until wilted, about three minutes
  • Slice capacola into strips and add to the skillet along with the chopped mushrooms. Cook everything for about five minutes then add 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Pour skillet contents into the pie crust. 
  • Whip the four eggs, milk, a good pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Pour egg mixture into skillet.
  • Cook in the oven for ten minutes then sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Put it back in the oven and cook until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let sit for five minutes before serving.

December 17, 2012

It Came!

“Music gives a soul to the universe, 
wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.” 
― Plato

When I got home today this beautiful electric violin was waiting for me. I'm so excited! I ordered a Snark tuner so I got to tune and play it a bit tonight and it sounds great. I have to say that the word "silent" was not entirely accurate, but it's muted enough that my roommate might not kill me for the first few months.

December 15, 2012


“It is not enough to be busy... The question is: what are we busy about?” 
― Henry David Thoreau

My New Boots
I've been so productive today! I went out early this morning to mail Christmas gifts (which should have been send last week), and return those awesome Timberland boots that came in too narrow. Then I went to Payless and bought these Rugged Outback boots (which I really hope will hold up). With the money I saved on the boots I ordered that electric violin I was talking about yesterday (It will be here Tuesday!) and I got a couple cool pillow cases at the thrift store.

All that and I was home by 11am. Now I need to decide whether my productivity is done for the day or if I should go do laundry. How about we let the Hallmark channel and a cup of tea decide.

December 14, 2012

Electric Violin

I am desperately trying to talk myself out of this awesome electric violin.

I got a violin years ago with the idea that I would learn to play it. It wasn't a very good one and bow was too small, but I hauled it around for nearly eight years and across country twice before giving it to a little boy in Massachusetts as his first instrument.

Here's the story (at least my side of the story). My parents always wanted my sister and I to be musical.I took piano, my sister took voice lessons, we both took recorder, Sara tried drums, then I took up saxophone. I wasn't bad, the basic notes come pretty easily to me, but my sister really didn't like any instrument so my parents were especially keen to get her interested in something. One summer Sara and I both wanted to learn fiddle but, because I already had an instrument I liked, Sara got lessons and I did not. I was very disappointed, especially when Sara lost interest in the fiddle a few months later, and I have been wanting to learn ever since. This was also around the time that I heard the Edgar Lee Masters poem about Fiddler Jones that ends:
"I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle,
and a broken laugh
          and a thousand memories, 
                 and not a single regret"
I always liked to think that someday I would end up the same as Fiddler Jones, which may have lead to my slight infatuation with the fiddle. Well, now there's this awesome electric/silent violin on Amazon for $129, which is a lot of money, but I could practice in my apartment without waking the neighbors and enraging my roommate.

This may just be a Christmas present to myself...

Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004: Corrente by Lara St. John on Grooveshark

December 12, 2012

Colder and Colder

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you've got a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies- 
"God damn it, you've got to be kind.” 
― Kurt Vonnegut

It's that time of year, the weather is getting cold and I've been getting a lot emails from people moving into temporary housing for the winter. Think of the number of time you walked outside on a cold winter morning to scrape the car off and let it warm up before heading off to work. When you live in a car or van that's what you sleep in each night!

I lived in the Jetta last winter and it could get pretty chilly in the wee hours of the morning. I was lucky because I spent most of my time on a college campus and only slept in my freezing cold car (in a nest of blankets that never go under 65 degrees with body heat).

I've been feeling antsy the past few weeks, which is what usually happens once I get settled in to a new place and a new routine. Nothing major, just wondering what the next step will be. Despite the long commitment I've been revisiting the possibility of the Peace Corp, but, in fairness, there probably isn't much call for a sociologist anyway.

I'm home sick again today, work told me not to bother, so I'm going to get things accomplished! Wrap presents, write my lesson plan, watch movies... I'll try to get something accomplished. 

December 11, 2012

So Sickly

My germy class of kiddies has, once again, infected me with with some orange juice resistant strain of flu. As much as I miss the Jetta, I like having a couch to crash on when I'm feeling icky. I went to bed at 4pm on Saturday and haven't been out of bed for more than an hour in two days. This morning I got up, showered, dressed, and marched myself to work prepared to be a trooper... and was promptly send home.

Rich people take time off to be sick, I have bills to pay!