Thursday, July 26, 2007

When I flap my arms, I can fly.

Is it not the business of the conductor to convey to the public in its dramatic form the central idea of a composition; and how can he convey that idea successfully if he does not enter heart and soul into the life of the music and the tale it unfolds?
~John Philip Sousa

The act of conducting in itself, of waving my arms in the air and being in charge, I didn't miss. I missed the sensual pleasure of being in contact with music.
~Esa-Pekka Salonen

Och... I miss conducting.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Second home owners and my evil twin

I have it on good authority that Monterey, the town in which I live (towns out here are more like counties out in IN), has 75% of its houses belonging to second home owners who come in from New York on holidays and in the summer. And that's the pattern all over the Berkshires. I think I've written a bit about this before and about the conundrum in which it puts the service workers and "natives".

And every year so far (all two of them) I've forgotten about the hundreds and hundreds of people who come in the summer until I drive through Great Barrington in mid June or (in this case) mid July, at which point it's simply impossible to forget. Many of them have very different attitudes -- many of them are the upper crust and are used to things the way they want them and pronto; many of them are used to being assertive, bordering on (and sometimes crossing the border into) agressive; many of them can get kinda annoying.

The ironic thing is, though, that I sometimes find myself mimicking the exact things I complain of. I was standing in line at a store and someone, who didn't know where the line was supposed to wait, cut in front of me because of the confusion. I was less than polite with the man and the cashier, even though I was in no hurry -- I had a full hour left to get the errand finished.

Now, there are summer folk who do cut lines, though perhaps not maliciously, at least with full knowledge and intent. There are summer folk who like to complain ad nauseum and who teach their children that they "NEED" two flavors of ice cream in a danish cone immediately. And it is also true that I am terribly annoyed by those kinds of behaviors. But I had no evidence of any ill will in this man who cut me. And, more to the point, even if I did have any evidence of that, I did not act charitably.

So, I sat down after the moment had passed and thought about sucking it up and going to the man and apologizing. Unfortunately, I didn't get up the courage until he was already gone. But, man out there, if you read this, know that I'm sorry.

And the point of my musings on this topic -- I was reminded of a few things I know to be true (and thus I pass along the reminder):
1) I get to choose how I respond to things. No one forces me to do anything (New Yorkers do not force me to be annoyed or to respond snippily, no matter what they do).
2) I should always apologize if I think to myself, "If I had that moment to relive, I would have done that differently." And I should do it, even if it means saying, "I really had no excuse."
3) Generalizations can be dangerous.
4) Bad attitudes can be catching -- I need to surround myself with the kind of people I want to be like, and, when I can't, I need to find different ways to encounter people so that I don't catch the bug.
5) Dishing out tit for tat doesn't teach anyone anything -- least of all, me.

More later, but for now -- signing off with that sappiness...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Froglegs for breakfast, anyone?

So my cats are pretty wimpy sometimes -- they don't really hunt so much as bat things around; they go outside if the door's left open, but they refuse to step a paw off the porch and into the wet / dirty grass (thank goodness for me... it means no trying to coax cats out of the bushes and back into the house). They are indoor cats, through and through.

But this morning... I came in from being at work all night to find my two precious kitties rubbing against my legs.

"aww... you guys are so cute... alright, sweethearts, let's get you some food, you precious--- eww! ick! bleck! *shudder* iegh! *lemon face*" That was my morning conversation with my two lovelies, as I almost barefoot stepped on a dead frog with its arm missing in the middle of my living room. Gabby was mighty proud of herself and stood right by the frog for a while to make sure I saw it and complimented her properly. "yes, darling, what a nice gift! But I'm pretty sure I don't like dead frogs as much as you evidently do... so next time, maybe a box of chocolates or something?"

I'm torn -- on the one hand, I'm touched by their generosity... and, for these indoorest-of-all-indoor cats (Elsa once was nose to nose with a mouse, sniffed it for a good 30 seconds, and then walked away as it sauntered back down its hole), it is actually a rite of passage -- their first successful kill of a non-insect. So, I'm sorta proud of them.

On the other hand, I'm not looking forward to any more of these gifts, and I hope they don't get much better at hunting... How do you tell your kitties that you don't really like froglegs for breakfast, while not undermining their offering?

And it makes me wonder if parents have this dilemma... If so, froglegs or no?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Yet another couple of links...

Two former *sniff*tear* Gould Farmers have great blogs -- it's becoming a phenomenon, eh? So I put on the right sidebar a couple new links. Itizzy was a kitchen manager and left not too long ago, despite our protests. Monster Library Student was also a kitchen manager and a RSS manager and probably other things that I'm forgetting. She left a while ago, but it sounds like she might get sucked back in. Bwaa-haa-haa... GF has a tendency to do that to people. And I'm not complaining, since I keep losing my friends right and left to adventures in the world beyond GF... wait... there's a world out there? I sometimes forget.

So I hope you enjoy their blogs.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


I love teaching piano.

I currently have three students in various stages of learning piano (and more asking for lessons... but, on a wise friend's advice I've set my limit at three for now). They are all working pretty hard and eager to learn whatever I can teach them as quickly as I can teach them.

But one of the interesting things about teaching is that it requires a certain amount of listening to yourself... I feel much more obligated to practice piano now... and, when I do practice, to do the kind of tedious practicing of one or two measures at a time that I keep harping on for my students. And the "it's better to do some practicing every day than to do a lot of practicing all at once" thing...

Yeah. So I'm finding it can be annoying and hard (and yet very rewarding) to be forced to listen to your own wisdom (and the inner piano-teacher-of-the-past voice... thanks, mom, for the great foundation!). It is certainly improving my piano skills!

Speaking of which, I think it's time to practice...