Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The End

Today is not only the end of June, but it is the official end of my summer teaching. That is probably a good thing, since I promised my occupational therapist that I would rest my hands. The tendons are so much better after stretching, other therapy, and lots of prayer, but they still need some rest, ice and occasional ibuprofen.

When I rest from teaching violin lessons that means I need to clean the music room, file music, photos, and programs from the previous year. I have old programs dating back to my college years. Some of my college classmates from the music department are quite famous now, but I still have programs where they were listed in the second violin section, or in the alto section of the choir. Now they are soloists and opera divas. The main reason I collect programs is to be able to find titles and composers when I can't quite remember all the key elements of a composition that tickles my brain.

Today it rained one inch. What a blessing! After days of 100 plus degrees and no significant rain for weeks, today's 78 degrees and sloppy puddles had everyone in stores and at the gym in a good mood. Even stretching and breathing hard at Pilates was pleasant with rain falling outside. Even the rain has come to an end today, however.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Last Week

Somehow the lazy days of summer were pushed aside for bustling activity last week. I resumed Pilates training, taught five students, ran countless errands, did my usual classes at the gym, and then began packing. I packed for a night in a hotel with Muffin, the Rowdy Girls and their Mama. I packed for a day at Sea World. I packed for the remainder of the weekend at the Rowdy Girls' home. I packed some of Muffin's things.
I packed books. Lots of books. They were purchased at our local library book sale, where I volunteer each year. Only children's books were purchased this year. You gather all the children's books together, take them to the checkers, and they stack them up and measure the stack. What you pay is ten cents per inch. Best deal in town! Muffin found a volume of Madeleine stories along with several early readers and some picture books. My favorite finds were The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Ruby's Storm, and Maggie the Sheepdog. I love Piggins, a book about a pig who is a butler.

Arriving at the RG's house about 1 p.m. I re-packed for the hotel and left the books at their house. CB, girls and I headed south in her SUV for San Antonio where Muffin had business the next morning. The Musica Man, so titled by the Rowdy Girls, provided entertainment via the DVD player in the back seat for the girls, and my new iphone kept me busy on the way. After unpacking we dressed in swimsuits and spent an hour or so in the hotel pool, which is where we were hanging when Grandpa Mufffin arrived. He's so popular with the three year old set!

Out of the pool just in time for snacky dinner and So You Think You Can Dance. I LOVE that show! Grandpa bought Olive Garden dinner for the three adults and we headed to bed early for the next big day at Sea World. It was a fun day, spent mostly at the water park, but was probably 105. And while CB took trash to the bin and I was watching Roo in the stroller and Em in the pool, Em took a hike out of the pool and out of the area in about 60 seconds and gave us a scare. You can read about that and view the days' events here.

We had so much fun with the twins at their house. They are major entertainment. I could stand a daily dose of them (and of the W's!). While they were napping (or supposed to be napping) Muffin and I had an appointment at the Apple Store and bought a smoothie at Jack in the Box. We read books, played with hats, stacked objects, made tents, and practiced our yoga. On Saturday Aunt Kaki arrived for breakfast with all of us, including lots of coffee--her drink of choice. After naps began Muffin and I loaded our respective cars, plugged our new iphones in and headed northwest. We shopped for groceries and cooked some of them Saturday night. Picked Scooter-Dog up at Nannie's house and visited with her, showing her all the new photos from the weekend.

Sunday we had a Unity Service, one service rather than two, at church. It included lots of singing and worship with a flag dance, the baptism of eight young people, and a pot luck dinner. Afterward we bought fresh produce at a corner stand, came home and had a long nap. ZZZZZzzz

Sunday, June 21, 2009

He Who is a Great Father...

is also a great Grandpa.

Praying at the National Mall

Teaching words in the back yard

Stretching the body and mind with Roo

Just cuddling--very important!

Answering questions for Jbear

Protecting and nourishing

Happy Father's Day to the Daddy of our four daughters and the Grandpa of our four grands!
I love you the mostest.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Today I officially completed Occupational Therapy for my hands. With progress! There is no pain and my range of motion is improving daily. Now I can spend my time stretching and practicing at home and put more time on the clock working at Pilates. That's the kind of therapy I really need, so I'm going in the morning to private training, followed by Body Flow.

On second thought, I'm not finished after all.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Typical Weekend AEN

Playing for Lunch

That's After Empty Nest...
For twelve years Muffin and I have not exactly lived together. We have the same address, but he has a job 200 miles to the east and keeps an apartment there. He has never called it a home-just an apartment. For the first three years or more he did not have a bed-just an air mattress on the floor. Finally, we both decided I would never be happy spending a night over there in camping conditions, so he bought a mattress set at Sam's Club. And so the living conditions go...

His employer allows him to work flex time so that he completes his work week in four days. A typical weekend for us, when there is nothing else on the calendar, looks like this.

Thursday around 7-8 PM Muffin rolls into the driveway with his ice chest full of groceries from Central Market, including a dinner for two in a brown bag which is our version of eating out that evening. He also brings me fresh flowers from their flower market because he loves me. We put away the groceries, heat the dinner and eat in front of the TV where we talk about his visit with Nana (his Mom) on his way home and then watch recorded TV shows from the week. In the summer, that means So You Think You Can Dance. He reads all his accumulated mail, both USPS and electronic.

Friday we sleep in a bit, drink coffee slowly, visit some more about whatever we missed during the week, and make any outstanding phone calls that need to be returned. At noon we go to the Health Club for a Body Flow class. Afterward we may run errands, grab a bite to eat at Taco Bueno, or just come home for leftovers and salad. However, last week we skipped the usual Friday routine and drove 42 miles northeast to a small town and met four of my students, ages 12-16 and played at a local nursing home. Then we played for a Chamber of Commerce luncheon and knocked their socks off with Mozart, Bach, a tango, and Ashokan Farewell.
Returning home we headed to our favorite bakery to pick up honey wheat bread and a loaf of braided Challah, which was pre-ordered and waiting for us. By that time it was 98 in the shade and the heat index was around 105, so we just dripped home and took a wee nap. We spent the remainder of the evening watering plants, doing laundry, eating dinner, watching some recorded and live shows, programming Nannie's new telephone, and surfing the internet.

Saturday we did a Body Flow class, took the phone to Nannie and gave her some quick lessons on it, stuck around awhile to comfort her in her continuing grief since Dubbie went to his heavenly home, then grabbed a meal at the Bueno. After that we shopped at Sam's and HEB, unpacked all the groceries, talked to some of the daughters, finished the laundry, cooked dinner, made cookies, and generally toodled around the house doing things that had to be done.

Sunday after church we visited with a family who has two adorable and precocious sons adopted from Russia, just because we had time to do so. Then we talked to another daughter for over an hour, read the Sunday paper, watched Formula 1 racing, and took a nap. Sunday nights we cook. The menu is usually a variation on grilled meats and fresh veggies and some salads, which we divide for the week and pack half in the ice chest. Then we clean the floors in the house, put away everything, pack Muffin's car with all the clean laundry and good food, program the coffeemaker for a full pot, go to bed early while Muffin sleeps and I read or listen to podcasts. The next morning he hits the interstate by 7 AM or earlier.

One of these days we would both like to return to the Sunday-Saturday of life together every day and night. The first twenty five years seem like a great luxury now.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

One Year

We made it through all the "firsts" of the past year. First Fathers Day without Dubbie. First grandchild born after his death. First birthday for each of us, and his birthday also. First Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first date of Dubbie and Nannie's wedding anniversary, which would have been their 67th. So, today seemed like it would pass without much fanfare. But, it did not. Nannie was weeping when we arrived to bring her the new cell phone. And she was weeping when we left.

Today in a quiet setting I experienced some wonderful moments. I asked the Lord to speak to me, as I often do. And quite suddenly I had a picture of Dubbie holding Jesus' hand, just as he would frequently grab each of us by the hand when we left the house or nursing home, in a grip that resembled an arm wrestling stance. He would playfully wiggle his arm with our hands locked and then give us a hug. But today's picture was different: he was totally, peacefully, engaged in looking right into Jesus' eyes as they gripped hands. And the Lord told me that Dubbie likes it very much where he is now. He likes the arm grip, the walks in the grass, the sounds of nature ringing all around him that he can now hear perfectly. He loves all the music, the views, the people, the praise, the worship. He just loves it all and is totally at peace. And although I can rarely ever remember him being bent out of shape about much of anything in all my life with him, this is a peace that transcends any kind of peace I ever observed in him. Most of all, I saw the Lord take him far away from the gateway where I pictured him in those last two years of his earthly life. He is not looking backward. He is Home.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Doing Everything as Unto the Lord

Four weeks ago I couldn't wait for a break from teaching. I was approaching burnout and was so very tired. I felt that the families who come on a weekly basis to violin lessons were exhausted beyond the point of trying to learn anything new and just needed to chill out. So we played a recital and had a barn party, courtesy of one of the sweet families who has a barn on their property and generously shares it with youth groups and adult organizations and violin studios. After the barn party everyone seemed to perk up and want to learn more, but I had already announced a summer break beginning in mid May. I received so many requests for summer lessons that I only took a two week break and started teaching again, and the difference in attitudes was amazing.

Five of my students are attending summer camps or institutes and wanted assistance in preparing for those events. Another three took a five month break while their parents were employed as traveling therapists, and they all returned enthusiastically ready to dive in to music and perform. The family is planning a performance in two weeks at a town homecoming, and they will bless all who hear them.

One of the adults I teach brought her husband to her lesson today. She is excitedly anticipating buying a new bow--one that stays on the string much better than the current one and will enhance her playing. Another student is away at a state 4H event, which is her main interest in her teenage life, but she is making great progress this summer as a violinist. Another little guy just got a new violin (he had outgrown his first one) and began the process of adjusting to the new dimensions and weight of the bow and violin, the increased reach for intonation, and opening his arms to place the bow in the best possible position for good tone. If you think it takes time to adjust to new shoes, you should try switching violins!

A group of girls, ages 12-15, decided to come for lessons with some definite performance goals in mind--learning to play for events such as weddings and receptions. I planned three lesson times of two hours each, allowing them to bring a lunch along. During the lunch break I played YouTube videos of performances by string groups and let them watch and listen. We worked on Mozart, Bach, a Tango, and a contemporary fiddle tune, plus some theory, and lots of playing in ensemble pointers. It's amazing that you must actually tell students to write on their music what you are teaching them to do. In professional orchestras all musicians write on the music constantly as the conductor talks and gives instruction. We never trust our memory--it's considered insulting to the maestro to just sit there and not write.

Anyway, after six hours of practice I called a nice local retirement center and set a date for performance. We played a short program for about 30 people, got lots of compliments and kudos and our motto was that we "did it for God", just as Bach wrote on all his compositions--"to the Glory of God Alone". After the performance I treated those who could go to the yummy donut shop, and we visited for almost an hour. What we all noticed, when it was all played and the violins put away and the stands folded, is that people were touched by the music. One nice man stayed quite a long time to meet each of the girls. He has had a fiddle band for many years and will be playing with his band for the same crowd. Another lady who came and met each of the girls and thanked each one individually, commented that every time she hears the Bach "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" that she is blessed and lifted.

That's what it's all about.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thirteen Years!

Happy Anniversary to some of our favorite people, CB and JB! When they were just children, yet in college and oh-so-young, they met for the second time (first time as high school students at Ceta Canyon Camp) at the Wesley Foundation at Texas Tech U. CB called home that semester and something in her voice when she said his name alerted me to the seriousness of the relationship. In November of their junior year they were engaged. We planned, we discussed, we cried, we laughed, we rolled yards and yards of tulle, and we found the perfect little sister seamstresses to sew the wedding gown. Really. They are like the Mexican version of the three fairies in Sleeping Beauty. They fuss over the bride and her Mom and her sisters and tell you about their sisterly relationships and how they made their parents a little crazy growing up. All while they are measuring and shaping and drawing and fussing. And then, there is a perfectly tailored wedding dress that looks exactly like the one in the magazine by a designer you could never have afforded. They were amazing! And made CB's wedding dress dreams come true, with dyed to order pink silk over white silk dupioni and the tiniest little spaghetti straps you have ever seen. Gorgeous!

There were bridesmaids and flower girls--sisters and friends and cousins in white and ivory with touches of pink. Of course the flowers were pink. The music was beautiful, complete with Boo playing while a dear friend sang "How Beautiful", plus there was an original song, written just for them. There was a buffet of homemade food spilling out of baskets and bowls--fresh fruit cut by the hands of many, many friends and Sunday School members; cheeses and meats and homemade rolls, pat`e, sparkling white grape punch, and fabulous cake in two flavors. The dance, DJ, and tiny white lights were all perfect. The weather was perfect. The parents and sisters were tired. Oh so tired after cleaning it all up so the church would be ready the next morning. And then part of the wedding party had no place to stay for the night and no money and were not yet married to one another, so they came home with us and moved in upstairs. We stayed awake for hours visiting with them and praying that JB's new tires were more than adequate to get them to New Orleans.

It is nearly unbelievable that thirteen years have passed since that glorious, beautiful wedding. Tucked inside all the memories like a gem is the indelible movie in my brain of the two of them praying for one another while communion was served. May you always be in love with Jesus and with one another and love to talk to Him together. We love you!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

School's Out!

Today is the finally the last day of school in our town. It has been a long school year for students, teachers, and administrators, complete with swine flu scares and inclement weather make-up days. Although I no longer have more than a thread connecting me to the school system, I feel for them all. My violin studio runs roughly concurrent with the local school calendar, but I stopped teaching one week after our studio recital and began the summer semester two weeks ago, just because the weather seemed fitting. 

This time of year is hard for me for several reasons. I fight loneliness, because I miss my daughters and because my Daddy died last year in June.  I always loved the last day of school with my daughters. We would plan something special--friends over for lunch if it was an early release day, or a swim party at the neighborhood pool, or just pizza, ice cream and nap, because we could. Summer was our time to pack for the pool and spend the entire day there, with Muffin meeting us for dinner at the grill or a picnic we packed. Summer was our time to have lazy slumber parties with their friends. It was definitely the time we kept ridiculous hours reading as late as we wanted to read, or watching old musical movies one after the other in succession until our eyeballs burned. It was time for eating when we felt like it, including all the local ripe produce, and grilling meats outdoors to alleviate residual heat in the house. Summer included VBS at church, One Way church camps at Ceta Canyon and Butman, swimming or art lessons, and a Suzuki institute for all of us somewhere that was a "vacation destination". Sigh. I miss it all.

I survived taking four daughters to kindergarten, one at a time, after those sweet summers, and also seeing them graduate first from high school, then college, one at a time. Milestones, memories, emotions like waves in the ocean and contractions in labor swept over me each time. Now my oldest grandchild is one year away from kindergarten. He was just promoted to the four year old pre-school class, and it all hit me again. The alternative is unacceptable, however. Now I have dreams of entertaining cousins at my house in the summers and experiencing those fun times all over again. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Finally, rain fell tonight. I thank God for the cleansing, blessed rain. The smell is glorious. Even Scooter the Sheltie is happier. 

Today was a wonderful day made by the Lord, so I rejoiced and was glad in it. I went to a Sozo session as an observer. Afterward I had a lovely time with Father God all by myself. Then I ate some delicious grilled chicken, fresh green beans, and a slice of honey wheat bread baked at the new bakery in our town. Six violin students came for lessons and played very well. Soon after that the rain began to fall, followed by a very impressive storm wrapped in a green cloud. The heavens declare the glory of God! While the storm calmed I set the ipod on the dock and played music while exercising for about an hour.  

A day for the body, soul, and spirit, in reverse order. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Temple Maintenance

1 Cor. 3:16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's spirit dwells in you? 

So that was the verse that started the ball rolling. Or the body moving. I finally had an awakening to the revelation that I was worth spending some money at the gym, at the massage therapist, at the beauty salon, and now at the occupational therapist. In my fifty third year my patella tendon ruptured while I was standing still in the aisle at Target. After many pain killers, excruciating diagnostics and treatment, I was immobilized, and spent two months in physical therapy repeating scores of exercises three times a day. I felt so guilty that I was spending all day long just taking care of myself until I read the verse above. Voila! I am worth it. It is temple maintenance for the Holy One. 

This week begins twice weekly OT for my hands and thumbs, which have developed tendonitis from repetitive music making on the violin over the past fifty two years. This is, so far, more pleasant than PT for the knee.  The therapist uses cold laser on my hands and forearms to move tissues around more quickly than stretching.  The first treatment left me sore and aching, but nothing an Advil wouldn't shut down.  Today I got the deluxe massage, deep tissue in the hands,  forearms and especially my thumbs. While I was slippery from the lotion my therapist decided to go more deeply into the tissue with a reflex hammer.  That wasn't exactly relaxing, but it did break down some awful inflamed  and crunchy tissue. Next stop was a room with some fluid treatment, but it wasn't wet. I slipped my arms into sleeves which were Velcroed shut, then plunged my arms into finely ground corn husks which were heated, swirling and sifting around my hands. Lovely. After washing off all the excess corniness, I began stretching exercises. Repeat 5-10 times for 5 seconds each time on each arm and hand, please. The final treatment is to make ice burritos of my arms and hands for 8 minutes.  

So basically the recipe for keeping the hands going is to tenderize by laser, rub with a fine basting solution, poach in a corn husk bath, allow to rest and stretch, then chill.