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    HKARLSSON   67,411
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I'm glad America is so big, plus, rambling because I can

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Greetings, Sparkpeeps!

I've been futzing around this morning covered in a pile of cats (whose fur seems to be strictly ornamental) and reading SparkPeople blogs. Dozens of blogs about the holidays and family and all that rot. After spending a good half hour doing this, I have come to a conclusion.

I am SO glad I live far away from all my family and my husband's family. I mean, yeah, when things go wrong, we only have ourselves to get the job done, but I think the lack of family drama the rest of the time far outweighs any help our families might be able to give (or pretend to give). My husband agrees with me totally on this, and not just because of MY family, but his as well.

See, my remaining family lives 880 miles away. It's too far to drive, they can't afford plane tickets, and can't get off work. My husband's family lives in Sweden. So our Christmas holiday consists of "what do you want to do? I dunno. What do YOU want to do?" like everything else. It's kind of annoying, but I'm telling you, after reading all the blogs about in-law problems and parental disapproval and gift exchanges gone horribly wrong and nobody respecting your food choices, I am GLAD that it's just me, my husband, and my cats.

In short, I feel blessed to be alone, and REALLY blessed to live in a country that is so big and yet has no reliable public mass long-distance ground transit.

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In other news, I found out last night that they cancelled the Christmas craft fair I wanted to go to, so I won't be missing anything anyway. I also hope that they cancelled all the regional band tryouts today, because the kids and parents don't need to be driving on these roads. It is a madhouse out there, mostly because nobody knows how to drive safely on ice. I know I don't, which is why I'm staying home. My husband does, being from the great white frozen north and all, but he has no desire to match driving skills with the average Texan, nor does he think that his little Nissan Versa is any match for an oncoming Ford F-450 (which I believe needs it's own ZIP code). This is why I shopped for the upcoming ice festivities while it was 80 degrees on Wednesday and the stores were devoid of people. I heard from some of my friends who waited until Thursday that by Thursday afternoon when the sleet started, there was no bread or milk to be had. Neener neener. She who plans ahead gets to stay home and sip hot tea instead of attempt to drive on three inches of solid ice in 19 degree weather with a 1 degree wind chill.

Yes. You did read that right. It was 80 degrees here Wednesday and people were wearing shorts. Today it is 19 degrees with a windchill that makes it feel like ONE DEGREE FAHRENHEIT. I love Texas weather. I'm still on the fence on whether or not I like the cold or the heat better. My husband prefers it to be 100 degrees. I prefer it to be 40. But, I am better insulated. Don't even get me started. This Swede will refuse to leave the house on weekends if the temperature dips below fifty. This from a man who used to walk a mile through four feet of snow to get from his farm house to the main road so he could catch the bus to school in Skanninge! This from a man who used to go ice fishing for pike in January! It is to laugh. I tease him and tell him he's disappointing his mighty Viking ancestors, but he is quick to point out that the Vikings all lived on the coast and HIS mighty ancestors farmed goats and occasionally taunted Norwegians.

In other, other news, my cat Kaycee turned 10 yesterday! She is currently snuggled up against my hip and trying to push me off the couch and steal my sweater. She is also snoring very loudly. Old woman! I can't believe she is ten years old. I hope she lives for another ten years. She is still sprightly, even though she can't take the bathroom sink in one leap any more (although I attribute that to a bit of laziness. She can take the back of the chair when she's chasing Tosca, and that is much higher than the sink!). She also does not like the Bb scale on the piano, nor the Hanon exercises, nor Rachmaninoff. She prefers Beethoven, and you all know how I feel about Beethoven.

Ooh, speaking of piano, and since I am rambling today because I've had too much coffee and my husband is still in bed and I have nobody to bother, we didn't have piano lessons over Thanksgiving break, so I had an extra week to practice. But DID I? Not as much as I would have liked, because work got in the way (and I'm feeling lazy). I hacked at the Rachmaninoff as best I could and went in to my lesson this past Wednesday (when it was 80 degrees) without much hope. Well, I'm not sure what happened, but I made it all the way through (although I did shout "Start Praying!" before the grand finale and she shot me a dirty look in return, hee hee!) and got a "WOW". emoticon

I don't think it deserved a "WOW", but then I want to sound like Vladimir Horowitz after only 11 months. She said to start thinking about another piece to work on which means either A) she's getting sick of hearing me play this or B) maybe I am making progress after all. I don't think I will ever get it as clean as I want it, mostly because I just don't have the technique and my hands are stiff, but there we are. So what should I do next? Hmmm. I want to do Rachmaninoff Prelude in g minor, but I don't know if I want to torture my piano teacher with another long process. I would also like to do some Joplin, but compared to Rachmaninoff, that is cheesy and boring, but would go better at parties. Hmm. I would also like to do some Chopin, because, you know, it's Chopin and that's what you do on piano. Or some Bach. Or maybe give Beethoven another shot. I'd like to do some of the Gershwin preludes, but my left hand can't make some of the intervals. Darn these composers and their big hands!!! How do these tiny Chinese ladies play Gershwin?!?!?!? I must know!!!! So much music, so little time.

Okay, I know you all have lives of your own, so I'm going to cut this off.

Have a great Saturday!
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KOFFEENUT 12/8/2013 12:37PM

    Your blog was PERFECT to read on a snowy Sunday morning - it felt like I was sitting next to the fireplace with a steaming cup of coffee catching up with an old friend. Old as in long-term. Not old as in old.

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PROT358 12/7/2013 8:20PM

    Hi there! I hope you don't mind that I ramble in reply ;)

Re: festival. I think you need to reward yourself some other way. You're a resourceful lady, and I'm sure you'll think of something!

Re: weather. 80 degrees on Wednesday? It was upper 40s here in Ohio, but I don't think it dropped as low as 1 degree F either. I hope the ice nastiness clears up soon. As for the drivers, you can get used to snow and slush, but I don't think anyone can drive well on ice. Stay safe!

Re: piano. If you need ideas for a new song to learn, there are a lot of piano curriculum books that are based on ten "grades." (I don't neatly fall in one category, but I'm somewhere around an 8-9). The Keith Snell curriculum is one example. Anyway, you could look up those books, find which grade Rachmaninoff is, and then find music that is already sorted at a similar level of difficulty. This particular curriculum has 3 books for each of the 10 grades: Baroque/Classical, Romantic/Modern, and Etudes. (I think that's a clever way of him making lots more money if he gets to sell three books per grade instead of one). For your purposes, I wouldn't look any easier than grade four or five. (Not to insult you, but some of the baroque pieces at those intermediate levels are rather challenging). If you look at this link, everything is pre-sorted by grade. I'm not a huge fan of these books, so if I were in a mood to purchase I'd get a fat classical book with a lot more songs rather than the Snell books.

http://kjos.vo.llnwd.
net/o28/pdf/brochures/snell_rep
er_index.pdf

The people online rank Rachmaninoff c sharp minor anywhere from a grade six to eight for comparison purposes. You are very lucky to have a teacher who lets you help choose song choice. Most of mine just assigned. Let us know what you decide. Good luck!

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ALIHIKES 12/7/2013 7:07PM

    Enjoyed reading your blog, loved your insights and humor! Good luck with the next piano selection

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NASFKAB 12/7/2013 1:59PM

  stay safe

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