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Showing posts from May, 2016

Year Two, Day 23: Saying No to Tony Soprano

It is going to be 90 degrees today.  The last day of May!

I feel like I have just woken up from a long winters nap. I know that my joy has returned when I want music in the background as I blog, journal and pray in the morning.

This morning I am stiff and sore. Especially my neck. So I am starting my day stretching to classical music. Back to the Classic FM Hall of Fame. I just listened to the Violin Concerto Opus 14 by Samuel Barber.  I have played the piano accompaniment for a violin student for this lovely piece.  This beautiful piece came in at 211 in the Classic FM 2015 Hall of Fame. Samuel Barber was an American composer. He started writing this piece in 1939, primarily for "financial reasons" (

Yup, the life of a musician!

Next on my playlist this morning is "Scottish Fantasy" by Max Bruch. He was a German composer (1838-1920). This is a lovely piece, filled with passion and lots of dynamics!

But  I…

Year Two, Day 22: Musical Goals

So nice to have a total day off.

My only solid plan was to hit the used book store. Got a huge bag of books for under $10.00. I am a very relaxed and happy camper.

The streets of SE Portland were practically deserted today. Not only was it Memorial Day, but the weather was gorgeous. My whole neighborhood smelled like barbecued chicken.

I hopped on the bus. A very empty bus. The driver struck up a conversation with me. He told me to expect a long bus ride. He was ahead of schedule. He had to wait idly every  few stops so he didn't throw off his schedule. He asked me where I was heading. I excitedly told him about the big sale at the bookstore.

He looked up at me and said,"You know what the last book I read was? Jonathon Livingston Seagull. That was in the 70's". He smiled at me. He put a Triscuit in his mouth. I told him I read that book too when I was a teenager and full of angst.

"I read it several times. It gave me peace",  I told him.

I was about to sugg…

Year Two, Day 21: I'm in Heaven!

Score! Or should I say, "Bingo"!

Year Two, Day 20: Requeim

Year Two, Day 19: Another Stellar Student Makes My Day! :)

I am cheating. Today is still Day 18, Thursday. But I had to write about my day before I forgot. I just finished teaching. I am in my library "office". Tomorrow is the Mozart Requiem, which I need to focus on, so I may not have time to blog.

My last student of the evening was a little 6 year-old boy. He was really excited to show me that he figured out the next scale in the circle of fifths. I hadn't seen him for a few weeks, because of a function at his school. His dad and older brother also take lessons from me.  He was really excited about his lesson today. He practically ran to the piano and jumped  up on the stool!  He told me he found a piece that he played when he was "little" (about a year ago, lol) and it was easy for him now.  He played "Bear Dance" with excellent rhythm. I sat down and played the teacher duet with him. He was glowing with pride. Then he proceeded to whiz through the next 2 pages in his lesson book. Looking at the music pag…

Year Two, Day 18: Io Governo la Mia Vita ! (I Rule My Life!)

It happened again!  I was cheered up by one of my piano students last night.  Yesterday was a bit better mood wise.  I am really enjoying my new book: Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure by David Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  I was a little bummed out because I did not actually make it to the gym. It was getting late, and I opted for a bit of piano practice and a leisurely lunch before I headed out to teach.

But, I took the author's advice. I did not let myself "listen to my thoughts", I spoke to myself.  Since I knew I wouldn't make it to the gym, when I missed one of my buses, I thought,"This is fantastic! I get to work in a 12 block brisk walk instead of the gym!"

I had made a lovely lentil/vegetable stew in the crockpot.  I adapted it from my Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker cookbook.  I even made homemade harissa.  This stew was incredible. I put a dab of sour cream and drizzled on some of the harissa, which is quite pungent.  So flavorful!

I dr…

Year Two, Day 17: Spiritual Depression

I have been down for the past week or so. I'm not sure if you can see it reflected in my posts.

I have been tired. I have been feeling the need for a lot of personal space. I have been overeating. I have been anxious. And I have not been exercising enough. And I have not been seeking God enough. I have been escaping into my mystery novels and binge watching of the Sopranos. This provides temporary relief, but this morning I woke up thinking a little bit clearer.

I had restless sleep, with nightmares.  Of course, watching gangsters late at night probably does not help.  But part of the appeal of The Sopranos for me is Tony Soprano himself. Part of each episode focuses on his therapy sessions. Tony has trouble with panic attacks and depression. Like me.  But Tony has some bigger issues than I do.  I think.  Well at least the organized crime and murder part.

But finally the bubble burst for me this morning. The Sopranos is very entertaining.  One of the most intriguing television ser…

Year Two, Day 16: "Like the Deer..."

I am sitting at the kitchen table, eating a lovely breakfast, mostly from recipes from the book I have mentioned in previous posts, Miriam's Kitchen.  From the left corner, clockwise: Egg salad with fried mushrooms and onions on top of fresh spinach leaves from my daughters garden, "Mary's Gone Crackers" gluten free crackers, sauteed zuchinni and a cup of steamy hot coffee with real cream.

I am reading from the book about the authors grandmother who came from "The Old Country", against her wishes as a young lady. Her grandmother lost her own mother in the war, and was sent to the United States. Her fathers new wife was not welcoming, so she married young. And she made the best of her life caring for her family. But she never abandoned her old ways. And spoke Yiddish to her dying day. Yet she never complained. Always had a kind word, and delicious homemade food for her family, friends and strangers. Apparently she had no need for solitude. She loved being a…

Year Two, Day 15: My Jewish Dinner

Sorry for the blurry picture. This was my Jewish meal I prepared last night using recipes  from Miriam' s Kitchen. Clockwise  from left to right: Zuchinni and peppers in tomato sauce, boiled potatoes, sour cream and mushroom sauce, chicken livers.
I followed the recipes exactly (except I used rice flour instead of wheat flour for the chicken livers) and with a great deal of reverence.  Felt very peaceful and humble creating these traditional foods in the little kitchen of my daughter's home and it tasted even better than I had imagined. Especially the chicken livers!

The kids sampled everything, but most of them politely refused to try the chicken livers, except for my son-in-law, bless his heart. He tried a few bites then apologized. He said he could never get passed the "texture" of liver.
It's all good...more for me!
But now, I need to dash off to the gym and work off some of this schmaltz!
Happy Monday!
Shalom aleichem!

Year Two, Day 14: Fuhgettaboudit!

I am reading a fascinating book. Miriam' s Kitchen: A Memoir, by Elizabeth Ehrlich.

 It is the memoir of a Jewish American woman who is not a "religious Jew" until she spends time in the kitchen of her mother-in-law.

This book is affecting me on a very deep, perhaps even genetic level. It is partially why I have needed much time alone, my "i" time, this weekend. And why I am excited about making chicken livers for dinner.

I am still feeling the need for time alone.  I recognize this deep in myself.  Like this resonance with the Jewish people deep inside my soul.  My grandfather, who died when my mother was a baby was Jewish. I never knew that side of the family. I doubt that I ever shall.  One of the big regrets in my life.

Speaking of souls, in church this morning the pastor talked a bit about the soul. He defined it as our "true, immortal, spiritual essence".

I think one of the goals of this blog, that I hadn't thought much about was getting in…

Year Two, Day 13: I Time

Today was mostly a tired, cranky day. I managed to break through in the afternoon, but I am calling it quits early. I think I have hit my wall. Of human interaction, that is. So I am taking some much needed "I" time. Not me time. I as in introvert.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Happy Saturday!

Year Two, Day 12: A Good Mile

I had a good brisk gym workout yesterday.  I notice my pace has picked up on the treadmill. I did a mile in 17.24 minutes! The proof is in the image above! :)  It really helps to watch the news. Especially politics. Which tends to quicken my heartrate and give me a dose of adrenaline.  Who said politics are not worthwhile?!

I am on my way to dress rehearsal at the University of Portland for the Mozart Requiem.  I am feeling much better about my part. But my left elbow is aching again.  So I am going to take it easy and go have a nice, hot steamy bowl of pho before I hop on the bus.  I have some reading material, so I am good to go!

I made a discovery earlier today. On my way to teach a piano class, I realized I needed some sustenance and had not packed a snack.  And I needed some caffeine.  I like unsweetened green tea, which they have at the corner convenience store near the music center.  I was going to grab a bag of mixed nuts, but I was really craving potato chips. I was early, s…

Year Two, Day 11: Zita, Interview Ham

I had an audition and interview last night for a community choir accompanist.

Have I mentioned I have this peculiar behavior at interviews? One would think that, I, as an introvert would dread interviews. Would be quaking in my boots. But no!  I THRIVE on them!

I have noticed this for many years. I do not even care really if I get the job. I just love when they ask me questions about myself. I could go on for days!  And I love being challenged with sightreading.

Oh my goodness. Does this make me a narcissist? Like Trump?

I just did some research. And breathed a sigh of relief.  I am not a narcissist.  A ham, perhaps.  And yes I have a few issues. I do like taking selfies.  (Mostly to see if my face looks puffy).  But I do not think I am a classical narcissist. I have compassion for others, I do not  "require excessive admiration" - my favorite activity is reading a book alone. I do not have "an exaggerated sense of self importance", nor am I "preoccupied wit…

Year Two, Day 10: Renewing of My Mind

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

Thirty six years ago today Mt. St. Helens erupted. I was a senior in high school.  Living in Vancouver, Washington. I remember the plume coming from the mountain. I remember a bunch of my friends jumping in my boyfriends truck and heading toward the mountain...(We did not get far!) And I remember about an inch of ash on my car the next day.

Life goes by. Faster and faster each day it seems.

Take today for instance. I allowed myself the luxury of laying in bed longer than usual.  I usual go to teach piano in Salem on Wednesdays, but I took today off. I am in Requiem mode. Plus I have an audition for a community chorus accompanist tonight.  I am ready to not be a church pianist.  I really enjoy having a day of rest on Sunday. And attending a church to worship, not work at.

My plan today was to do my normal prayer, …

Year Two, Day 9: Elation!

I have been seriously stressed out.

I have been telling people that the Mozart Requiem will be the death of me. Suiting - it is a funeral mass!


But joking aside, I have had serious self esteem issues.  Feeling like a failure. Lazy. A procrastinator.  Poor musical skills.  How can I even call myself a musician?

My neck hurt, my elbow hurt. My pride hurt.

I have been in this place before. Of self doubt.  But somehow I pulled myself up.  Well,  I had help. I prayed.  I asked God to give me the strength to get myself together. To get over my fears. To just put my nose to the proverbial grindstone.

Today I stayed home all day and practiced.  I took breaks to eat, to stretch and to pray. Before rehearsal I stopped at the little used bookstore by the music store and rewarded myself for my hard work.

Then I rewarded myself yet again (and prepared myself for rehearsal) with a "Grande Iced Caramel Macchiato" from Starbucks.

On the way into the music center, I ran into some choir…

Year Two, Day 8: The Best Chili Ever!!

My goodness, the black bean turkey chili in the crockpot smells divine! I need to write down, this very moment how I made it, because this is seriously the BEST CHILI EVER!!!

I soaked a pot of black beans overnight. Then I hauled my sore body out of bed at 7:00 a.m., drained the water, poured on some fresh water to cover and put them in our smaller crockpot on low.

When I finally got vertical, I switched the crockpot to high.

Then I went to the stove and sauteed a package of ground turkey, 3 cloves minced garlic, half an onion minced,  and a diced jalapeno in some olive oil. I added the following seasonings:  1 tablespoon Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (which I put on nearly everything), 1 teaspoon cumin,  half teaspoon turmeric, half teaspoon red pepper flakes,  a quarter teaspoon cinnamon (trust me, this enhances the flavor big time!), and a splash of worcestershire sauce.  I simmered for a few minutes and then added a big can of chopped tomatoes (28 ounces) and simmered som…

Year Two, Day 7: The Good Fight

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: ~Timothy 4:7 King James Bible
I love this scripture.  I need to write it on a card and put it in my purse for when I am feeling weak.  Physically, emotionally, spiritually.  It is a good scripture to ponder.
Another warm, drizzly day in Portland. I love it! Especially when I am all warm and cozy in the neighborhood library! I stopped by to blog a bit before I teach a piano student. After which I am headed to a bass sectional.  
Last night I rehearsed with the soloists and the other pianist for the Mozart Requiem.
This Requiem will be the death of me! After rehearsal last night, I was very tired and in need of  some R&R, so I watched a few episodes of "The Sopranos". I had rented the entire first season at my last library visit.
I have never ever seen an episode of The Sopranos.  I remember when James Gandolfini passed away a few years back.  People were mourning him in his role as Tony Soprano.  Now I…