A Letter I Sent

Subject: General Praise for Your Content

Hi Michael,

I am one of many, many, many people who found a ton of spare time during the pandemic and dusted off their clarinets. Getting reacquainted with my clarinet over the past year has been super fun, and since I peaked in 9th grade (I’m old enough to be in 39th grade now), I’ve often reflected on how I reached high notes or tackled a difficult passage so many years ago. I don’t know: maybe I was a better instrumentalist then, but maybe I’m a better musician now? Just cuz life and stuff has reformed my perspective and how I approach goals. And practice. You know?

I hate to say I stumbled upon your YouTube channel, because I try to be deliberate in most of my choices, but you were a significant part of a journey down a clarinet rabbit hole. I found Michelle Anderson, and she mentioned you, and I’ve enjoyed your performances as well as your tutorials.

It’s not much of a leap to say I’m a better player-musician now than I was a year ago. And that’s due to listening to excellent musicians like you. And learning how to REALLY take care of my instrument (I’ve since upgraded from my student model to an intermediate). And adjusting my own reeds. Your content is an invaluable resource, and I hope you keep all of it up.

Anyway, you’ve been incredibly generous sharing as much as you do. Just want to say thanks.

If you’ve wondered while filling orders who you’re shipping to in [City], Utah, that’s me. I’ve loved supporting your business in my little way.

Thanks again, and happy summer!

May

This is Michael Lowenstern’s YouTube channel.

Here is his shop.

This is Michelle Anderson’s YouTube channel.

Here is her website.

These have been my main resources for clarinet advice in the past year. They’re fun and informative and incredibly encouraging. If you relate to the clarinet at all, check out these amazing folks. I’m still contemplating lessons and masterclasses from Michelle. I do know that I need lessons if I want to get better.

That is all.

Oops

I forgot to post yesterday, June 25. It was on my mind to do it. You bet I’m gonna backdate this. (June 25, 2021, 10pm)

We went on a hike to Stewart Falls. It’s an out-and-back hike, totaling four miles. There are some moderately steep parts and some rocky areas, but mostly the trail gently rolls, and it’s shaded with a few sunny parts. I mean, you still have to watch not to trip on roots and tumble down the mountain. All in all, it’s a really pleasant hike with some amazing vistas. One of my favorites.

It’s a little bit steep but relatively short descent past the plungepool, and that’s where we usually go on this hike before turning around.

My brother came along with us, and I think he really liked it, too.

Z especially loves being near the waterfall, and she calls this area, “Good Dinosaur water.”

Have you seen Disney Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur? You should.

Look at this awesome family.

Good Reeds

There ought to be an app that keeps track of reeds. And it should be called Good Reeds.

There probably is. But maybe Goodreads told them to change their name.

I currently use a little notebook documenting the date I open new reeds, the amount of time in subsequent days I play them (usually five minutes), the temperature, and the humidity of each day I play on them as I break the reeds in. And I rate them on a scale from 1 to 5 according to how the feel as I play them. It usually takes about a week to break a reed in to my liking.

It’s been a decent system so far, and I’m currently using some real winners. But I’m also trying to be patient with what seem to be duds. And since I’ve learned how to sand duds into sounding better, I can’t say that very many reeds would go to waste.

I did purchase a synthetic reed today, Legère brand. Opened the package, placed the reed on the mouthpiece. It was immediately ready to go. And the strength of the reed felt really good. Great response and projection. One of those almost cost as much as a box of Vandoren V12s, 3.5 strength, but one of those should last as long as an entire box of bamboo reeds.

I tested the reed on my student clarinet. I can’t wait to get my intermediate clarinet back from the shop. I can’t believe it took a reed to get me extremely excited again about playing.

—–

It rained today, giving some relief to the land after a pretty intense drought. We hope to get more rain throughout the summer. We hope more people are thinking about water conservation more than they are trying to keep their lawns green.

A Park Today

A family of old trees stand together. Their trunks shoot straight up before branches spread out the sky. I love their shade. Their calm presence. Their steadiness.

These trees help obscure an old house adjacent to the park. The house looks scary. Signs along the fence read, “No trespassing.” The trees in that yard are also old. The other foliage is overgrown. Branches gnarl and twist and canopy what might be a lawn.

Large arches signal entryways (NO TRESPASSING), but simple chainlink lines the perimeter. Between long, stamped-down stretches of rusty webbing, it stands somewhat upright.

The family of old trees serve as sentinels. They warn against going past them. They are a much more effective fence than the janky wire barrier. I do not go beyond them.

The straightness of the trees gives me strength. Bestows courage. Grants power.

The will to stay away from that creepy, old house.

Power Outage

The power went out in my neighborhood today. It might have lasted two hours. We spent the time reading and playing outside.

We also went out for tacos.

I mean, it was 75 degrees and breezy. I’ve experienced worse conditions during a blackout.

The NYC blackout of 2003, for example.

But even then, that seemed like a huge party.

That was a weird blog post from so long ago.

Oh! My blog had a birthday this week! 18 years old! My blog can vote and will likely attend a two-year school before transferring to a university.

Congratulations, blog. I wish you the greatest success.

Right Now, After the Jazz Game

My husband and my brother are talking about tonight’s Jazz game. I overhear them commenting about one of the Grizzlies’ more aggressive players, who happened to foul out. Memphis is a young, very physical team. But the Jazz are patient and selfless. They are versatile and deep. We have our strong players, but everyone is capable of stepping up, which is what had to happen when Mitchell was out for about six weeks on an ankle injury. They’ve earned their number one seed in the Western Conference.

Reilly is reading fan comments online. I hear my brother laughing.

Today was a good Saturday. We bought a gift for Reilly’s nephew who graduated from high school this week. We went out to eat, then we took Z to a park, which she didn’t want to leave. I did some yard work, and I sneezed for an hour after coming inside. The pollen. The merciless pollen. I took some allergy medicine, and the sneezes are now under control.

My Fitbit tells me that I slept 3.5 hours last night. I am ready for bed.

The two guys are in the tv room, still talking about the Jazz.

I don’t blame them. It was a good win.

Privileges and Joys

I work from home: privilege.

We live in a privileged school district: privilege.

We live in a single family home: privilege.

We’ve come to a point where we don’t worry about whether we can make the mortgage payments: privilege.

The house sits on a plot just under 1/4 acre: privilege.

The back property line happens to adjoin a five-acre farm: joy.

We watch baby farm animals grow up: joy.

I wandered my back yard this morning. Watched the horses. Captured some photos of mid-spring. This afternoon I weeded the front yard for a little while. I like yard work quite a bit, but it does my allergies no favors.

These blossoms dropped from the cherry tree above it. Pink sprinkled in green. I sort of wish I could eat it.

Z loves to scatter dandelion fluff around the yard. For this reason roughly 62 trillion dandelions have popped up in the grass. I honestly don’t mind, because they make our kid happy.

I would suppose not worrying about our dandelion-weeds is also a privilege. Watching our girl play with them is a joy.

P.S. We’re fully vaccinated over here. Go get vaxxed or wear a mask and come hang out with us!

Living Close Enough to Nature

Utah is beautiful in the spring. It’s undeniable. Watching flowers bloom and color return to the world invigorates my soul.

One of our cherry trees has reached full bloom. It’s starting to drop its petals to make way for leaves and fruit. Those petals on the ground almost look like snow. Spring here tends to be temperamental and unpredictable. It could still snow, but the vegetation will keep insisting it’s spring. And I will only agree with that idea.

Our apple tree has started to bud. The fruit won’t show up until the fall, but the flowers right now sure brighten my day.

I built that swing and that bench last spring, as the overwhelming desire to do something with my hands during the pandemic and isolation prompted me to, well, build stuff. We’ve enjoyed sitting and swinging under that apple tree this past year. We’re gonna do a lot more of it.

The view of the neighboring farm always calms my spirit. I mean, look: the big field, the red barn, the (blurry) horse. To think I wouldn’t be living here long-term. Utah has succeeded in changing my mind. So grateful we live here.

More Disability Access to Concerts?

We have taken our daughter to a variety of concerts. Outdoor: Boyz II Men (lol [but YES]), Sting w/the Utah Symphony, the Utah Symphony accompanying a screening of E.T. Indoors, she attended the Utah Symphony screening of Coco. All situations where concert silence wasn’t enforced or other noises weren’t sneered at. Our daughter can sit still relatively well, and she can keep quiet, but occasional utterances or jabbers are very common for her. She’s experiencing the world in her own way, and this is one way it manifests.

I’ve hesitated taking her to concerts where the sounds coming from her would be considered disruptive and we’d be asked to leave. What would be AWESOME is if this aspect of concert culture moved more toward accessibility and understanding. If, while the house lights flicker and the voice on the loudspeaker tells us to silence our cell phones and take note of the our nearest exit, they could also say, “We have a beautifully diverse audience this evening, and if you notice someone enjoying the concert differently or not as quietly as you’re used to, IT’S OKAY!”

I just want the same opportunities for her to experience the arts. While dedicated events solely for the disabled are appreciated, it would be great if everyone just knew that we’re all there to appreciate beauty. I don’t know. This might be a big ask, but I don’t think this kind of inclusivity is impossible.

COVID-19 Vaccine, Dose 1

In Utah teachers were prioritized for the vaccine, so that means Reilly was able to get both doses earlier than a lot of us. But as of March 24, anyone over the age of 16 could get vaccinated.

The vaccine isn’t readily available to everyone yet, so scheduling an appointment was a little challenging, but not impossible. I got lucky with finding a place that wasn’t too far away.

The sign at the entrance said not to go inside until 15 minutes before my appointment. The email instructions said not to go in until 5 minutes before. I split the difference and went in 10 minutes prior to the scheduled time. They verified my ID and told me to stand in line.

It was less than a minute of waiting until I was in a chair. The nurse pushed up my left sleeve and rubbed an alcohol swab over my shoulder. She broke out the syringe, pierced my skin with the needle, injected the stuff, and covered the wound with a bandage, all in less than 10 seconds. Super duper quick.

Then I found an empty chair and sat for 15 minutes and massaged the injection site while nurses passed by, making sure no one was having adverse effects to the virus.

I drove home, ate dinner, took an ibuprofen for an approaching headache. Took a bath, tucked in my beautiful child who seems to be feeling much better from this morning. Hung out with Reilly and Frank.

Just some soreness in my arm.

Hoping to sleep well.

Halfway there.