Friday, August 29, 2014

At least for the moment

At least for the moment, no heartache: my dog has had a few rough days this week, but she's hanging in there.

And yet..I do manage to sabotage things, yes? 

For the past few weeks I've really enjoyed playing viola. Every bit of it, even practice, even sight-reading, everything. I was beginning to think I'd come to terms with my playing such as it is now, and could enjoy it while I'm learning, instead of yearning for perfection all the time.

Last night I had a really good viola lesson. I've been working on the first 2 movements of the 1st Cello Suite, and Mr Summer Teacher wants me to "perform" them (from memory) at next week's lesson, our last. And then, he said, I should play the Bach for Mr Regular Teacher when he gets back. Much to my surprise, I decided that would be a great idea, and I was even looking forward to it. 

And then, and some point during tonight's practice, the vulture glided in and landed on the fence: the old self-doubt came back. I heard every mistake and every bad or badly-executed musical idea so clearly. I was sure I sounded ridiculous. I felt ridiculous. As much as I told myself to stop it, I could not help but imagine Mr Regular Teacher sitting there with his arms crossed (which he would not do, I'm sure) just looking at me like "well? Heh. Nice try." 

Ugh - how counterproductive. Must Stop Now.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

and now for something completely serious

Camp has come and gone. I had a great time, learned a lot. I got home at the beginning of this week, resumed working and running and practicing and all the other stuff I do. I will write about camp at some point, but tonight I am going to write about my dog.

Her name is Speedo. She was a stray who wandered into my yard in 1998 and decided to sleep under my car, a 1965 Plymouth Valiant I had nicknamed Speedo. So when we decided to keep her, we named her after the car. Unlike my other dog, she responded to whatever we called her. She was about the same size as the other (18-month-old) dog, so we assumed she was the same age. When we took her to be spayed the vet said she was about 9 months old. I decided she was a big dumb dog, an opinion which stuck for years.

I also decided she was a selfish immature dog, always competing with the other dog for attention even though we had plenty to spare. But she'd run up to the other dog and knock him out if the way if one of us was petting him. She'd also fight him for food, and sometimes hump him (from the side, never from behind). I had no idea what to make of this. I thought she was a big dumb dog.

And then somehow, after a few years, I fell in love with her. There turned out to be a big brain inside that big dog. And a big heart too. Unlike the other dog, who was born in a state of dismay that never left him, Speedo was happy. She had things she liked to do. She knew how to enjoy life.

She did a lot of cool things which I won't list right now, because it makes me sad that she has changed so much. She is nearly 17 years old. She has more and more trouble getting around. She has an artificial ACL in one knee and arthritis in both hips, and she is either weak or in pain or both, which is very noticeable when she tries to get up and walk. She can no longer reliably tell us she needs to go out, and there are accidents. She has lost weight. She sleeps a lot, especially during the day, and wakes us up several times each night, just pacing as much as her wobbly legs will allow. She does still like (and ask for) treats, and for a few minutes each day she has the energy and inclination to play whatever games she can play while lying down (she bats at our hands, or pretends to bite). But most of the time she is out of it. We keep her as comfortable as possible, but she is dying.

I have no children, but I want for her what I imagine most parents want for their children. I want her to be happy. I don't want her to suffer. This is breaking my heart.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


I am tired and cranky and can't wait to get going on this trip to Michigan. It's hard to believe I started planning it last fall - what a long time ago that seems. It's a stupid thing to say, but I hope I can enjoy it.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

some things I learned today

It is still possible for me to run 16 miles in this miserable weather. Not pleasant, but possible.

A nap works wonders.

There is a trick to bariolage, at least in the piece I am working on.

Use the fleshy part (not the tip) of your first finger on the C string. Maybe on all strings. But especially the C.

Friday, August 1, 2014

have I mentioned

Yesterday I came home from work determined to make up for Wednesday's meager practice, but I managed about 20 minutes before lying down on the couch and sleeping nearly 10 hours. Guess I needed it, but the timing wasn't good. Today was practice in The Style Of The Old Days, meaning  every note was a scratch, vibrato was nonexistent, reading ability was waning and patience wore thin.

I am worried about this quartet I am trying to learn for camp. It's not even really for camp - it's just a group of (probably very good) violists who want to get together and read this for a couple hours one afternoon. I realized today that I have not ever played it through, so tonight I gave it a try. And it was not a good night to try. The notes are (mostly) there, but it is not fit to play with a group of people I don't know and with whom I've never played. I've only got a week left before camp, and that week is pretty full up, not sure if there's time enough for me to learn. And I've started letting this apprehension leak outside of the for-fun-group bubble and into my thoughts about camp in general. I need to stop, yes, or I will miss any chance of having a good time, and it will be my own fault.