Sunday, July 24, 2011

switching accounts

So as I'm leaving West Virginia, I realized that the account this blog is linked to for log-in is going to be shut off very, very soon. That means you'll still be able to read my blog, but I won't be able to log in to post anything. I know, I know, I'm not posting much as it is-- but that will change, I promise!

I've moved everything over to Please look there for new postings (which, um, I'll get to as soon as I get through the move).

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Haba na haba hujaza kibaba

What, you don't speak Swahili? Okay, neither do I, except for this one phrase, which is the title of a song being learned by the community choir I'm accompanying for. It's a Swahili expression meaning "little by little, until the cup is full." In other words, keep moving forward, no matter how overwhelming the task seems.

Kinda describes wrapping up the semester and getting my house ready to sell. So much to do, so very little time. I know it will get done, because Iowa's where Heavenly Father wants to put me next, but when I think about what needs to happen between now and the end of July, I get a little panicked. So, I focus on doing a little at a time. Baby steps. It worked for the dissertation; it can work now.

First, a picture of my Easter package from my sister-in-law (well, the box):

I got some fun Easter things, but I took this picture because of the little blue cat toy in the front of the photo. The pink one was the cats' Christmas present, and they've chewed it pretty thoroughly. They "hunt" it and bring it to me throughout the day, leave it on my pillow while I'm sleeping, stuff like that. So when the blue one showed up, the cats were VERY happy. They spent the rest of the day taking BOTH toys away from each other (perpetual toddlers) and hiding them/rediscovering them. I guess they were so busy playing that they decided they didn't need to supervise painting tasks.

That was my lame transition to pictures of the second upstairs bedroom. Part of me really wanted to just skip painting, even though I hated the color. Yeah, it was a funky, too-dark shade of olive, but I liked the iris wallpaper border, and to be honest, I didn't want to paint more. But then, I thought: "Wait, this paint probably has lead in it." Then some of it started flaking off, so I HAD to paint for salability of the house. (I think I just made up a word.) Here's the first part of the process, after I'd primed below the wallpaper border:

I should note here that it wasn't really possible to mask the iris border with that blue painter's tape. I had to paint right up to the edge of the irises. I thought that would take forever, but it ended up going fairly quickly, and it was, well, kinda fun. Closest thing to real artsy painting that I'll probably ever do.

Then I got the pale blue paint. I was thinking something along the lines of periwinkle, and as I put the paint on the wall, I thought, "Oh no, too light, too light!" Turns out it wasn't. It was just right. Lookie how it turned out:

I'm very, very pleased. This room's a lot more restful now. Friends had never noticed the iris border before. Now it really shows up.

Next: painting the hallway . . .

Friday, April 8, 2011

Serious musical enthusiasm

First, check out this link:

Back from your little virtual field trip? Good! Here's what I thought about it:

I think enthusiasm goes a long way-- maybe longer than we give it credit for. Okay, so maybe you don't always have perfect rhythm, and maybe you fall off the stand from laughing and end up rolling around on the floor at the end. The point is that you had a fabulous time doing it, and every so often you actually did what you set out to do.

I think all of us have more talent than we think we do. It's so easy to say, "No, I don't have enough formal training" or "That's too hard" instead of letting the music play and moving with it.

Or, you can stop trying to be philosophical and just enjoy a funny clip.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

upstairs bedroom painting- DONE!

Hi everyone. Brit here, reporting on the remodeling progress of 2011. I have to say, Mom's pretty bad about blogging these days, but I think it's partially due to her needing to pay more attention to-- ahem-- her feline children. Anyhow, once the housemate moved out, the room she'd stayed in was cleared of furniture, so Mom finally decided to redo that room. Here's a picture of me supervising from the futon mattress, which she'd moved out so she could paint:

Mom always said she hated the pink walls and wanted to paint over them. Here's what they looked like before she painted. (The crud at the top of the wall is wallpaper glue that she spent FOREVER peeling off a little at a time. She said it really shredded her fingertips.)

Why did she feel the need to get rid of the wallpaper border? I think she'd say, "Is that a rhetorical question?" Think "pseudo-Southwestern meets attempted floral". Here's the final version, the room all decked out in "Soft Jade":

Now, crazy Mom that she is, she's going to paint the OTHER upstairs bedroom, and then the hallway. Then she promises she's done painting for a while. Until she tackles the dining room wallpaper (two layers), that is . . .

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Trip to Ireland

Ireland West Virginia, that is. Yesterday I went to the Irish Spring Festival, about an hour and a half south of my house. During most of the year, the population of Ireland, West Virginia is 60 (seriously). The week of St. Patrick's Day, though, they host a big festival that includes kite flying, road bowling, rubber duck races (not sure what's Irish about rubber duckies), and the reason I came:

Collette and I took a road trip to participate in the harp workshop, put on by Harping for Humanity. I tried to get a picture of the whole group, but I couldn't. The harps in the middle were built by the man standing near them, and behind him is a Venezuelan harp (not sure how he got that on the plane from Venezuela). Most people had lap harps or small Irish harps. My harp was the giant of the group (it's in the back at the left in the photo). Fourteen of us played at the workshop, including a woman who has lost almost all movement in her left hand but still manages to play. Pretty impressive. After the workshop, we had a potluck lunch and then put on a brief concert.

Before the concert, though, there was a parade! Most of the leprechauns were pretty young:

Toddlers should not be handed candy and told to throw it at people. Just sayin'.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Post? Post? What is "post"?

Okay, okay, I've been a total blogger slacker the past few months. Here are my excuses, in no particular order:

1) Teaching early morning seminary has sapped every ounce of energy out of me in the evening when I would normally blog.
2) My digital camera busted, and blog entries without pictures are boring (um, kinda like this one).
3) My cats have been hogging the computer-- okay, maybe not.

I realized a couple of months ago that I'm way more limited on time than I thought I was. After several consecutive evenings of not getting to bed until 11 PM and then getting up at 4:30 the next morning, I thought, "Something has to change." That, combined with some General Conference talks, got me thinking about my Facebook usage and how I was kind of obssessing over being on there and checking every single little new message.

How does this have anything to do with blogs? I think the connection is that the less I'm on the computer, the less stressed I feel. I only have so many hours in the day, and harp practicing is turning out to be more rewarding than blogging. Not that I won't blog at all, or read other blogs; just not nearly as often.

But I really will get a new digital camera someday, and I really will come up with some new, more enjoyable-to-read entries. Just not today. Sorry.

But I posted . . .

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In which I finally learn to practice consistently

Two weeks of harp lessons and (drum roll please) . . . . .

I have practiced EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Okay, for some people that's not a big deal. For me, it's HUGE. To explain, let me describe the typical scene in my life when I was taking piano lessons in high school:

Setting: 6th period English class, last 15 minutes. Scene opens on Sheila, who is finishing whatever assignment is due by the end of the period.
Interior monologue: Hmm. Today's Thursday. I wonder what I'll do after I get my homework done after school? Wait a minute-- today's THURSDAY?!? I have a piano lesson in an hour and I haven't practiced since last Friday!

Cut to scene of Sheila rushing home, throwing her book bag on the living room floor, and frantically flipping through piano books. With only 20 minutes until the lesson, she has just enough time to sort of sight read through each piece, hoping her teacher won't notice that she continues to sight read through the lesson.

Nice, huh? I always intended to practice, but stuff got in the way. Stuff like homework. And boredom. And not wanting to play through pieces more than once. And nice weather outside. And the cat sitting there needing me to pet her. I knew my parents were spending a lot of money on lessons, and I really did like playing the piano. It was the sitting still and practicing the same thing over and over that I didn't like.

For a while I thought my piano teacher was fooled by my sight reading. That was until she said something along the lines of, "You know, Sheila, you'd be a much better pianist if you actually practiced rather than sight reading." Ouch. I got better about practicing when I had longer pieces to learn, but I still never practiced daily.

So now that I'm learning the harp-- and needing to develop a whole new set of finger reflexes, along with callouses-- I'm practicing daily. Yes, part of it is because it's fun, but another part is that I spent a great big chunk of change on the harp AND the lessons, and I want to be good at it. I want the piano reflexes that took years-- no, decades-- to develop NOW, even though I know that won't happen.

What I'm noticing is that I can sit still and focus better than I ever could in high school. I still have a crazy life, but since everything about the harp is new to me (well, except for reading the notes), it's a nice change to sit and practice. I also know I can't fake my way through this time. My sweet sight reading skills can't compensate for the finger strength that can only come if I practice every day. My teacher isn't going to roll her eyes or be disappointed if I don't practice, but I will be disappointed with myself.

Hmm. Where would I be if I'd practiced regularly on piano lo those many years ago . . . ? Now ask me when the last time was that I picked up my flute.