Fifty

Today’s the 50th day in a row that I’ve blogged. Not that a lot of those posts actually said anything important. But it seems significant to form a thought and write it down. Real action. Sort of. Whether those thoughts develop into something more substantial is a different story, but looking back at the past 50 days, all those posts had potential to become more. It’s encouraging to see the potential in things.

I can’t decide whether the past 50 days passed slowly or quickly.

The next 50 days are summer days.

Should be interesting enough.

Ten minutes left in the day. Cutting it close.

Here’s another clarinet video. Still in the mood for cheesy love songs. I’m a real sucker for those.

Cemetery Time

We visited Nana again last night, June 1 being the second anniversary of her passing. In addition to the many bouquets of flowers left at her gravesite, we launched some balloons in her honor.

It’s a lovely idea, really: the releasing, the floating. The beauty of the symbolism.

And the evening was perfect: the coolness, the breeze, the perfect sky.

Reilly’s sister picked up the balloons. She chose colors that match Carla’s favorite rose from the front flowerbed. Reilly’s dad; his sister, her son; his two brothers, his sister-in-law; a close family friend; me, Z, and he. Each of us held two balloons.

Z counted us down, and then we let our balloons go. They drifted away together. Upward, joining the heavens, becoming sky.

From Instagram June 3, 2019

I wrote this two years ago:

Carla loves gardening and working on her yard. If you’ve seen her yard you know the love and great care she puts in the beauty she creates. I’m no gardener, but for the past couple of weeks I’ve been out in our yard, pulling weeds, planting flowers, meditating, crying: devoting that time to her. Yesterday morning I was pulling weeds, Z was running around in the yard, while Reilly was working on the obituary. It occurred to me that not only is this yard work–this beautifying a space–a good way to remember Carla, it’s a quiet way to feel a certain communion WITH her. It is sacred.

For the past couple of days we’ve been working hard trying to rebeautify our yard. I really love remembering Carla this way. It crossed my mind today while pulling weeds when we first found out she was sick, I wanted to ask her about all her gardening secrets. Which I didn’t do. And I didn’t think it was appropriate as her time here shortened.

I took some video footage of some of the greenery in our yard and put it to music. A modest tribute.

May Day, Social Media Roundup

My name is May.

May is my favorite month.

I was born in May.

Today is May 1.

I tend to be in a great mood all month long.

And sort of obnoxious.

On Twitter I tweeted:

Did I do it right? Maybe I should be showing more skin? I mean, the shirt is supposed to highlight the irony of the thirst trap this isn’t. But I don’t know if people got that. I barely have over 100 followers, and I lie low not using a ton of hashtags or mentions. So I wonder if the four people who are active saw this post and got it. Probably, they’re pretty smart.

On Twitter and Instagram I also posted these:

Right? More irony, maybe? Because I’m not really trying?

But the following May Day photo was fun, because I got it on the first take. Maybe because I’ve taken jumping selfies before, and I know just when to jump before the snap. Also the angle makes a huge difference. Setting the phone on the ground at a slight angle up seems best for showing the biggest air.

Here’s one of me under the apple tree, with the neighbor’s farm and the mountains in the background. I think we may never move, because the view stuns me every time:

And, finally, to close out May Day, here’s my fair-skinned husband weeding our flower beds. He’s such a great guy, and I’m lucky to celebrate May Day with him. One of dogs keeps watch. The blooms on that tree are ridiculous. Wow.

Happy month of May, everyone!

Karim Dabbèche Animation to Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19, II. Scherzo: Vivacissimo, Performed by Hilary Hahn

I have included watching this video into my daughter’s morning routine:

We listen to the whole thing. Z may wander during this piece, but she makes sure she watches the part where the main character falls out of the subway train. It seems she also likes to watch them stand up after falling down. Which is pretty dang cool.

The other day I scrolled through comments to this video and came across this opinion.

To be honest, I knee-jerked when I first read this. Like, I was sort of offended? But I didn’t need to be. I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to understand this person’s perspective. I get it: Hilary Hahn is mesmerizing to watch. But without really knowing this commenter, maybe I’ll try unpacking what they said here.

Disclaimer: This is not a defense of Hilary Hahn, as she does not need defending. This is a rebuttal of an opinion of a YouTube commenter. That is all.

I’m a fan of Hilary Hahn. Oh, me too! She’s so talented. She has great energy as a performer. A beautiful personality, and very gracious to her fans. I mean, here Commenter is setting up for the but of their comment. I can feel it.

I appreciate her sincerety [sic] and commitment to her music. I agree! She’s very sincere! She’s very committed to her music. Both are not always simultaneously present in famous musicians or public figures in general. The way she presents her 100 Days of Practice demonstrates both of these qualities in spades: she offers valuable music and life wisdom, and in the 100 days themselves she shows her dedication to her craft. Plus she provides videos of her practicing, so we get to see her every day during this time. This would be an easy thing to feel entitled to. Even as her adoring fans we are not entitled to see Hilary Hahn every day.

That said… “but…”

I would rather… Commenter is stating a preference, which they are absolutely entitled to. People like what they like. Just like I’m stating my preferences right here. Which happen to mostly disagree with Commenter.

I would rather watch her play the music than watch animations. Commenter seems to be dismissing the work of the animator here (as a preference, but still). Hilary Hahn has made an effort to work with Karim Dabbèche in his interpretation of this Prokofiev work. This is a collaboration of interpretations. A different expression of Hilary’s “sincerity and commitment to her music.” And why not promote other artists? Dabbèche is clearly talented, and this video is legitimately cool, and Hilary testifies that it captures the spirit and weirdness and charm of Paris. This work also overflows with real representation of diverse backgrounds and cultures, which is really what we need. It’s refreshing, frankly. That she has played an active part in bringing this video to reality says a lot about her generosity and breadth of creativity as a human being. And she wanted to share it with us. I’m so grateful she did.

I mean, right?

Done ranting now.

Practicing Stravinsky Piece 1 in A

Clarinets have become somewhat of an obsession of mine during the pandemic. Last week I found a nice intermediate model of an A clarinet. According to wikipedia:

In modern times, the most common clarinet is the B♭ clarinet. However, the clarinet in A, pitched a semitone lower, is regularly used in orchestral, chamber and solo music. An orchestral clarinetist must own both a clarinet in A and B♭ since the repertoire is divided fairly evenly between the two.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarinet

I’ve noodled around a bit on the A, breaking it in slowly. The tone is really nice. In this photo, the A clarinet is on the left and the B♭ is on the right. You’ll see the A is a little bit bigger–longer body, wider bell. Because the brand is different, the pinky keys are situated a little differently, but the response is just as quick as the B♭.

Practicing Piece 1 of Stravinsky’s Three Pieces has been way fun. Since I’ve been practicing on the B♭ up to now, I’ve gotten used to hearing this work pitched in a particular way. As I’ve been practicing on the A, hearing the music a half-tone lower was a bit weird at first, but i’m getting used to it. I’ll post two different practice sessions here: First the B♭, and then the A. And as I mentioned on Instagram regarding these sessions: Similar tempos. Some different approaches/attacks of notes. Different areas needing smoother transitions between notes. And more dynamics. Still quite a bit of work to do.

Practice is good.

We Went to the Park Today

It’s time to exercise more regularly again. A few weeks ago I fixed the wobble on the jogging stroller and this week I started taking Z on walk-jogs. A 2.5 mile route with a nice park on the way. Heading back home, we stopped by the park and I let her climb down from the stroller and she headed right for the playground. She knew what to do.

Sometimes she feels like crossing the high tunnel, sometimes she doesn’t.

high tunnel

Last time we went to the park, she got pretty brave with the slides. Last time I forgot a camera. This time I remembered.

Then after about 30-45 minutes, Z decided she was done and walked to her stroller and climbed up to the seat. I strapped her in. A mom and her toddler approached the playground. The little girl looked a few months younger than Z and was wearing shoes that squeaked every time she took a step. As she and her mom passed us, I said, “There’s no sneaking up on me.” The mom laughed and joked that my eardrums might be breaking. I watched the baby get closer to the playground, and I remarked that the baby’s red ruffly shorts were super cute. The mom then said that those shorts made her water break. I must have had a strange look on my face when she said that, because she explained that she was at the store and seeing the shorts made her laugh. And when she laughed her water broke. And then she gave birth to the wearer of the shorts. I laughed while starting to push the stroller toward home; she said goodbye and wished us a good day.

I wonder, though, how they came to own the shorts. Did she buy them at the time her water broke, or did she go back to the store hoping to find the memento of her water breaking? If she went back, when? Was she hoping the shorts would still be there? If she bought them just before delivering her baby, that’s some real clearheadedness there. Or maybe she got someone to buy them for her.

I will think about this forever.

That mom was really friendly and I’m glad that her daughter’s shoes squeaked, because I got to be a smart aleck. I like meeting nice strangers. That’s a good reason to exercise more regularly.

Ten Months

High chair

Dear Zinger,

I hold my finger down to you, and I say, “Let’s go for a walk.”

You take my finger. You start walking. I wonder where you’ll lead me.

This is one of my favorite things about you right now.

I find your shoes everywhere. Once Dadda and I were getting you ready to go out with us, and we found one of your shoes in one of the kitchen cabinets. At a different time I found one of your books in another cabinet. You love the kitchen cabinets. We’ve childproofed most of them, but we left two of them free for you to play in. I put old plastic cups and old tupperware containers in them, and you have fun taking them out to examine and leave all over the kitchen floor. I sometimes don’t clean up after you right away so I can come into the kitchen later to find evidence of your play. I love how much you play.

Maybe, second breakfast

You no longer lie still with a bottle. Unless you’re extremely tired. With a bottle in your mouth, you walk around different parts of the apartment, as if you’re inspecting the place. Then the level of your food gets to where you need to tilt your head way back or lie down to finish your bottle. And you often finish your bottle, because your increased play works up a big appetite. You often fight naps because playing is so much better.

Lion

Verbes français

The whole apartment has evolved into your room. You used to keep the books in your room separate from your books in the living room. You used to keep your toys in separate rooms as well. And you sometimes even bring books from Mama and Dadda’s room to different places in the apartment. Everything’s a surprise with you. This can be both good and bad. Just the other day I imagined giving you crayons and paper to start coloring. And then I imagined crayon all over the walls. And then I realize that while I enjoy playing and laughing with you, there are so many opportunities to teach you. But I think we can make learning fun. I will try to keep you surprised as well.

You are officially a toddler. Because you toddle. And I love it. The weather has been a lot warmer than normal for this time of year, and for the past few days we’ve let you wander outside. The ground is uneven and you stumbled a bit, but you adapted quickly. You go just about anywhere now. Your world has expanded.

HFAC

You sing, you dance. You smile so easily. You give kisses so generously. But you also get angry when you don’t get what you want. I will excuse that for now because you’re a baby, but be prepared to understand that you will not always get what you want. Even if what you want is good. You may end up having to wait for it or realize that you may not get it at all. But you can still be happy, anyway. Life is interesting like that.

Diet Coke

Pillow head

You are growing so fast, and you are discovering so much. I love how you see the world: always somewhere to go, something to touch and explore and study. You are so, so, happy, and that makes me and Dadda happy. Thank you for leading us to so much joy.

hee

aww

thinking

toothy joy

Love, Mom

Seven Months

Thanksgiving Point

Dearest Zinger,

The above photo perfectly captures your attitude about life. You’re such an inspiration.

Let me recount a few experiences from the past few weeks.

One day I set you on the living room floor while I cleaned the apartment for a few minutes. I don’t remember if I set you on your back or stomach. Either way, you end up moving across the room and closely studying anything within reach.

I was straightening out your room: sorting clothes that you could still wear, putting dirty clothes in the hamper, making sure there were diapers at your changing table. Doing these types of chores is meditative for me, and I enjoyed being able to find focus on what I was doing.

Sneak

During this precious moment of Zen I heard you cry so I walked back to the living room. I found you kneeling next to the ottoman, which you were holding onto with one hand.

Ottoman

One day I set you in your crib and went to wash the dishes. The hush from the water coming out of faucet cleared my mind as I cleaned your bottles. After a few minutes I heard you crying. I turned off the faucet and walked to your room. You were crying in your crib. Your were hanging onto the top rail of the side of the crib away from the wall. And you were only tall enough to reach the top rail because you were standing up. You used the bars to pull yourself up.

Crib

One day I had set up a play area for you in the hall by the bathroom. This is what I do when I need to take a shower and keep an eye on you at the same time. After showering and getting dressed, I decided to play along with you in the hallway. A blanket was on the ground with some pillows to keep you from hitting your head on any corners. I lay on the floor while you crawled about. You hovered around my head, scooting along, exploring the space. I could hear you babbling, and then the next moment your babbling had somewhat intensified.

I looked up to see you looking down at me. You were holding onto one end of a pillow and standing up.

Sometimes I let you use my body as a jungle gym. Using my bent knees, you’d pull yourself up. Then you’d let go of my knees and just stand there, taking in the view. Or looking at me as if to say, “Hey, look! No hands!”

In the past week I’ve knelt a few feet across from you in the living room. I patted my knees and cheered for you to come to me. You scooted pretty quickly toward me, almost crawling. Who am I kidding, we might as well call it crawling. Once you got to where I was, you put your hands on my knees, then you climbed your way up, legs straightening until your body became completely vertical. Then I pulled you close and told you what a hard worker you are while we hugged.

You’ve done the same for Dadda, too.

What you’ve also quickly learned is how much easier it is to fall once you’re standing. But, Dadda has also observed that you’re becoming a better faller. You know how to fall on your bottom. And you’re also learning ways not to fall. Your reflexes are quickening. Dadda believes you’ll be competing in the Olympics next week. That’s just silly, because everyone knows the next Olympics isn’t until 2016.

Let me tell you something else we discovered this week. Your drool was returned with a vengeance. No mercy. You like to chew on my wallet. Spit strings dangle from your face, and they make me think of spiderwebs. And this past week when you took my finger to chew on, I felt a sharp little edge coming from your bottom gums. So, your drool could trap insects then you could use your emerging teeth to eat them.

Oh, heck no.

No Comment

Standing, crawling, teething. Solid foods.

All at the same time? I mean, really? You spent the first six months practicing: tummy time every day, watching people walk, insisting to stand when people wanted you to sit. You seem to have a good grasp on the theory of human movement that you have applied to your daily activities. You are already such a great student.

Nap

People comment all the time how cute and beautiful you are. And there’s no denying that. But Dadda and I also like to call you names that pertain to your personality and things you can do. You’re our little stander. And crawler. And talker. You’re a hard worker, and a good thinker, and we praise the way you figure things out. And just so you don’t get a big head, we also call you our little pooper and little farter. You’re very good at those actions, too.

The pulpit in the chapel of our church was broken last Sunday. The microphone is very high and can’t be lowered. Shorter people have to step onto a box to reach the microphone. I thought about walking up and bearing my testimony and making a joke about being short. Because people find my type of self-deprecation funny. But as I visualized myself approaching the pulpit, the image of using a step to reach the microphone to bear my testimony appeared in my mind, and that image seemed a pretty good metaphor. Stepping up takes work. Bearing witness of the work stepping up takes also requires effort, and neither of these actions are unassisted. So, while Dadda and I are helping you crawl and walk, all your energy and determination and eagerness are an example for us.

So, yes. We are very proud of you. At the end of a long day of standing up and crawling around, I like to hold you to give your muscles a rest. I like to massage your legs and arms to help them recover. To thank you. And as another way to show we love you. Then you get up the next day and do everything even better. And more.

Shots

Smug

Crosseyed

Alpine

Witches

Bottle

Cap

Books

Thanks for blowing our minds, little one. We love everything about you and all that you’re growing up to be.

Now it’s time to childproof our home.

Love, Mom