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Violin

How I Spent My Staycation

… or maybe I should have titled this “How I am Spending My Staycation” because I have another day to go.

We do lots of staycations. We love going places and seeing things, but sometimes, we just want to veg.

However, during this staycation I’ve been pretty active. I’ve met my exercise goal every day of this staycation except maybe today … nope, I’m on track again today.

Usually, when I take a staycation, I write a lot. And I did get in a couple of good writing sessions on Saturday. But not much since.

Instead, I have been on a tear on my violin. I spent this summer on a quest to get the best sound possible out of my violin. It was playing particularly badly. I had tried a D string out of aluminum rather than silver because they kept fraying, but the sound was like a sick french horn. I could almost not bear to play it. The A string wasn’t much better, and the G string would slip under the bow.

Since I knew that the violin once sounded pretty good, I took it to a different luthier–one in Melbourne rather than in my hometown. I asked for his opinion of the bow and the violin, and he told me he thought they were both better than “student violins”. I took that to mean they had hope. He replaced the bridge and the sound post with upgraded versions (who knew?), and put better-quality hair on the bow. I took it home and noticed some improvement after a settling in period of about a week. Then, I changed the strings to a set that promised a warmer sound.

And suddenly, my violin was fun to play again.

Choir practice started again last week, so I had lots of new music to practice, plus I continued some favorites. I have been working all summer on Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, a piece that almost every intermediate student learns in order to master “bow crossings”, which is moving from one string to another under one bow stroke. It’s hard to play well this way. I have also been working on Dust in the Wind, because it is a nice challenge and everyone knows it. I recently added Hava Nagila, a Jewish anthem, because it really rocks, and I came up with an arrangement that includes some bow bouncing techniques that I want to master.

So other than hanging out with my daughter and my husband, that’s how I’m spending my staycation. I’m back to work on Thursday.

But for now, I’m off for my second practice session of the day!

My Summer. And Fall. And Winter …

Hi, everyone, and Happy New Year! A very belated Happy New year. Here’s what I’ve been doing:

Music

I mentioned that I had taken up the violin again. It’s been a good twenty-five years, but I two years of very good lessons (in the early 90s) to draw upon, and YouTube has turned out to be a fantastic resource.

It is helpful to have a commitment when doing something like music. My daughter is singing with the church choir, and I promised her that I would be playing with the choir by Christmas. I was able to keep my promise. I am not very good, but I seem to be good enough. Catholic music seems very well suited for violin because so much of it is a slow tempo in a minor key.

Playing music is a bit more of a challenge than it was when I was twenty-five. I’ve had to overcome a bit of arthritis and regain my finger flexibility. It is still not quite back yet. I have trouble with some of the reaches, as well crowding my fingers together in order to play half-steps in tune, such as from F# to G on the E string–very difficult for me. It was once trivial. I also now have vision problems, and the music stand needs to be a good three feet away in order to avoid hitting it with my instrument. It helps that I have a pair of reading glasses that are a few years old, so they are actually pretty good for reading at a bit of a distance.

On the bright side, the skill has come back quickly, and I continue to hear improvement every week.

Writing

I finished a major revision on one of my completed novels and I dove right into finishing up an in-process revision of another. I know I should just start submitting and/or self-publishing the first one, but I can’t seem to stop myself–the writing is just going too well. My sister wants me to start releasing my time travel novel a chapter a week on this blog. She has heard of other writers who have had success with that, but before I commit to such a thing, I would need to research exactly what those other authors did (I have names) and try to guess how successful I might be.

Work

Work has been crazy. I often end up drained by the end of the day, to the extent of which I may have some decisions to make. So that’s all I have to say about that. I have been thinking about doing some business analysis blog posts, and posting/linking them on LinkedIn, under my professional account (not my writer account). I even have some articles ready to go, many of which I wrote years ago for the benefit (and amusement) of my teammates. If I decide to do that, I’ll build another WordPress site for the blog and an online resume, similar to what a lot of user interface developers do. It will definitely have to be something easy.

Goofing Off

Yes, I do get time to goof off. My daughter and I also took up beading, but until she gets better at crimping, we only do that sporadically. My eyes just are not up to it. I can come up with some pretty patterns, and if I lay it out for her, she’ll bead it up. If I don’t lay it out for her, she seems at a loss as to how to imagine a pattern. But that should come in time. We’ re going to do rearranging on our spare room, and part of it (the sunny spot) will be a beading station.

One thing I haven’t been doing a lot, is reading. I think, this year, I have read fewer books than in my entire reading life. Something had to give, I guess.

~*~

What have you been up to? Do you have any good rousing adventure stories to recommend, to get me out of my reading rut? I’m in the mood for a rousing adventure epic. Genre is flexible–either a space epic, a fantasy, or even something historical (if it’s adventurous).