apjournal

Amateur philosopher, deep but impatient thinker, not much time on my hands, exremely opinionated on certain subjects (America, dog food, pharmaceutical companies, lawyers, math education ....)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Weekend Update

I have not been feeling well this week, hence the lazy blogging. The other day I sat down to post, and not a single interesting thing came into my head so I abandoned the idea.

(I like pudding).

That's a private joke.

Okay, so anyway. Today is Mrs P Sr.'s birthday. My music instructor is coming over this afternoon with his wife. And he gets to try out my piano! I know he'll love it. I have been working on the Canon. I found the beginning extremely difficult (though it's a faily easy arrangement) and didn't feel comfortable moving past the first couple of lines, and then yesterday I had a breakthrough and am now getting through the first whole page without too much difficulty at all. It sounds so nice. Man I love that piano. Love it. Love it. Love it. I could just play it all the time. Now I have to find a new song to add to my learning repertoire. Three on the go is about right.

I have to bake a cake this morning -- a good, old fashioned German marble cake and then a bit of shopping before the afternoon festivities. Tomorrow Dad flies home again and Mom stays on until next Saturday.

Yesterday I tried my hand at knitting. I can do it! I can purl and knit and even cast off. Woo-hoo. Know I can knit scarves and other ... flat things that don't require a pattern.

Okay, enough drivel. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Trouble Yesterday

Had a nice post all ready to go yesterday and then something happened and the site kept telling me the document contained no data when I tried to publish it. I didn't have time to fix it so had to abandon it.

Not much to report. The parental units have been here since Saturday and it's going pretty well. Dad is actually playing the piano!!! He hasn't played in more than 20 years, but he must have been pretty good (I remember that he was) because it sure doesn't sound like 20 years has gone by.

Mom (in her sometimes dry wit) asked me the other day whether I planned on knitting while I play the piano. This, I take it, is a reference to how little time I have.

haha

I'll show her. I'll ... I'll ... I'll ... um, find time?

It's been a light week tutoring-wise. The high school students are between semesters, so only have the junior high kids this week and my more adult, day-time students. It's nice to have a little break. My music lesson went extremely well yesterday. My music teacher is very happy with my progress on Largo, says it's much improved, and says my playing of the Moonlight Sonata is the best thing I've played yet. He didn't stop with the superlatives. I was in bliss ...

Now I turn my attention to the Canon which has been slow starting due to the fact that I was spending all my time on Largo.

Can anybody recommend a good academic (but not too dry) book on the history of China and in particular the spread (or attempted spread) of imperalism into China at about the end of the 1800's? I am in particularly interested in something that was called the "open door policy". Any suggested links or books would be most appreciated.


Saturday, January 22, 2005

Teddy Bears that just don't belong

If I have time to make my bed, it usually consists of throwing back the covers and smoothing them down so I can see the clock from the other bathroom so I can keep an eye on the time as I dry my hair (still not sure whether I can hear the doorbell with the blow dryer right by my ear). I have a pretty nifty collection of stuffed bears (I particularly like Boyd's) and normally keep them on top of the armoire in the bedroom. Today I made the bed! Woo-hoo! The parental units arrive this afternoon so the house is looking spiffy and my back feels like it's about to break in two. (Can't someone find a way to make vacuuming easier?) I thought of a bumper sticker I need to get for my truck: "I'd rather be playing my piano".

Anyway, I made the bed, and selected two of the stuffed bears to put on the bed, and when Sam came in he barked at them, thinking they just didn't belong there. Then when he realized they weren't alive he wanted to play with them. It was too cute.

Singing Students

One of my students is a 20-year old young man. He is upgrading his math to get into university and is in many ways a typical 20-year old. Works construction; parents have a bit of money, I think. In Calgary fashion, his family lives just on the edge of town and they have a couple of horses and he drives a pickup. He's a nice guy with a great sense of humour. (He's getting better at math, too.)

He's been talking about how I have to learn Beatles songs and John Lennon (Imagine) on the piano and then we'll "rock down" together (I believe were his words). So when he came the other day I played Hey Jude, though I'm a bit rusty with it because I haven't played it in a while. He started singing as he stood behind me and I managed to get through the piece without too many errors. Okay, this was too much fun. Very cool. Today a student listened as I played about three selections and I got through them. Very little hands shaking! Very little nerves.

It may be a time between posts as M & D will be at the airport soon (well, late, as it turns out; way to go, Air Canada). Hope everyone has a lovely Sunday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Cats Hate it; The Dog Loves it

Until the cats learn that the piano is so off-limits as to be not even in the house as far as they are concerned, they are being confined more than usual and zero tolerance is employed should they so much as even look at it. This doesn't make them happy. The dog, however, is rather smug about it all. I'd never do anything to the piano, he seems to say. Which is true, because he likes to lie under it while I'm playing. Though last night I had a level 9/10 Royal Conservatory student here at my house (she is my math student) and she played the piano and he kept backing away from it, because she was producing volumes out of the piano that Sam had never heard it produce. (BOY, SHE's GOOD!!!!!)

Yes, the piano keeps me extremely busy, ergo little time for blogging. I want to say, however, that it is not just the piano. It is exam time, so my students are keeping me hopping as well. Next week is a bit lighter student-wise, but the parental units arrive in just ... egads ... three more sleeps and so any REAL relaxing will probably not take place at least for a few days after they're here.

Because there's never anything on the tube, and because we have little time to watch, we cancelled our dish. Now Mom and Dad are coming out, and they're bemoaning the fact that they won't be able to watch the rest of the Aussie open. So have to phone the satellite provider today and ask them if we can hook it up for a month. They'll probably say, oh, we can hook you up right away, but to cancel you'll have to phone us back (where they'll put me on hold forever no doubt), which you can't do until you've had the service for a month, and then you can ask to cancel, but we'll require 30 days notice. Ohhhh, they make me so mad. If you want to upgrade your satellite package, they can do it next day. If you want to downgrade, they can't do it until the end of the "current billing cycle". If you want to cancel, they need 30 days' notice, and then they call you several times to see if maybe they could change your mind. They make you offers like 10% off for a year, or a month free, if you don't quit. That sort of thing.

Anywho, thought I'd just let everyone know what I was up to. I will post pictures of the lovely piano soon. I thought I'd name it. Anyone got any ideas?

Ohh, and, blogdog, just thought I'd let you know that I've ordered Knitting for Dummies, and with Mom coming out, I should be knitting at least scarves if nothing more complicated, very soon.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Sound of Music

Hmmmmm. I don't think words will do justice to how I'm feeling, nor to how I felt when the piano was set up in my living room yesterday, nor to how it sounds, nor to how it looks. There simply aren't words that could do it justice. While I waited for the piano to come up to room temperature yesterday, after it was delivered, I just sat at the bottom of the stairs and stared at it. Not in my wildest imagining, could I have come close to how unbelievable it actually looks in that room. The room's size is perfect. The lights we put in are perfectly placed. The positioning and angle of the piano is perfect. It looks absolutely stunning.

As it weighs 650 pounds, the strong Bulgarian movers who brought it were doing a great deal of huffing and puffing and at one point, I just couldn't watch (I think it was when they were attaching the legs), and so I left the room for a moment. I was so afraid it would be dropped or jarred or something. When I came back in the room, there it was, all set up and it just took my breath away.

It has a lovely, lovely sound. I played more than two hours last night and was back at it again at 5:30 this morning. (When will I shop? Eat? Clean the house????)

Ah well, it's all good. I don't think the novely will EVER wear off, though.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Oh, what a lovely day

Played my piano today for the very first time. It is still in the store, and they deliver it tomorrow. Words couldn't possibly do justice to how I am feeling. I am in shock, I think. It is far more beautiful and elegant than I could have imagined. It is absolutely gorgeous and it has the loveliest sound. Tomorrow will not come soon enough, and since it's going to be about -20, I have to wait two or three hours after it arrives before I'm allowed to play it!!!! Well, I guess I've waited this long ...

I'll post some news tomorrow on how my first playing session went. Now it's time for a hot chocolate & off to bed. Thanks, blogdog, for your wonderful comments.

There oughta be a law

I have a proposal. Let's make a law that says that the second a woman's first grey hair appears, that she will never again get a zit. Wouldn't that be fair? Who can I sue?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Oh Baby, Oh Baby

My piano is all set up in the store, it is due to be tuned tomorrow and barring temperatures below -20 to -25 celsius on Saturday afternoon, it'll be delivered on ... Saturday afternoon!!!!! How will I sleep Friday night? How will I get through four hours of teaching on Saturday morning????!!!

(For all you measuring in imperial units, -25 C is about 10 below zero farenheit.)

Sorry I haven't been around

I've been a lazy blogger lately. My apologies. All is well here. Mr P got the room ready for the piano Tuesday night but with -35 degree temperatures they won't deliver it, I don't think, until it warms up a bit. Have been getting in my required minimum 5 hours a week working for a doctor of philosophy and medicine, for whom I edit/proofread/manage/submit papers. That's been taking up a great deal of time, as well. And then I have about seven layers to pull on each time I take the dog out because it's so FLIPPIN COLD. But I'm not complaining. Well, yes I am. I want my piano!

I received a knitting pattern in the mail the other day that I'd sent away for (it's a poncho) and I look at it and actually it's all Greek to me. Hopefully Mrs P senior can help when she comes out for a visit in, ohmygod, just 9 more sleeps. I really wanted to get the upstairs two bedrooms (the "guest" rooms) painted before M & D come out, but there's no way I'll get it done now. Just no time. I'll be lucky if I can vaccum up all the dust bunnies before they get here.

It seems I'm famous at one of the local high schools. Last year I wrote a grade 11 Math Pure final practice exam/review. It's 19 pages long -- egads. I kind of went overboard. My students have been showing it to the math resource person at the school, and she looks at it and sort of goes, "Ya, well, that's the exam, in a nutshell. Who is this tutor? What's her name?" My student thought she was impressed, as opposed to PO'd, though it could have been a bit of both. If I ever get some time I'll have to write some math workbooks. I'd like to do that.

Belgians in the Neighbourhood
The other day I was coming home with the boy and I see a guy with a Belgian coming down our street. I'd seen this guy before. He has a beagle, as well, but I never connected that the big dog was a Belgian. You just see so few of them that I didn't go, hey, that's a Belgian! But it was! His name is Cedar and he's three. Sam and him started playing there on the frozen, snow-covered street, so I invited the guy into the backyard and the two dogs romped for about half an hour. I took a bunch of pictures, and in many of them it's hard to tell which dog is which.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Sam won't be a Samantha after all

Our dog was set to be neutered tomorrow. We weighed all the pros and cons and decided that it was the best thing to do. But Mr P needed his mind put at ease, I think, and so this morning I phoned the breeder and said, you know, what do you think? Is it the right thing to do, given all the circumstances? She did set both our minds at ease, and said she'd email over some articles so that we'd be armed with information when bringing him into the vet's in the morning. (It perhaps needs to be said that I trust vets about as far as I can throw them and like most of them even less, but that's a story for another blog, another day).

I know the breeder meant well, but the articles she sent convinced me unequivocally that it was absolutely NOT the thing to do. The articles were about anathesia and Belgian shepherds in particular (that's what Sam is). I was horrified to read these articles and there's no way I'd put him through it (anathesia) unless I had to. I was in tears just at the thought of any one of the listed adverse reactions happening to my boy. Mr P was having doubts all along about having it done, not because he didn't want him neutered, particularly, but because he was worried about him having to go under. One of the problems, apparently, is that because Belgians are relatively rare, many surgeons/vets haven't ever even had one in their practice. And Belgians are particularly sensitive; extra caution is required. So no, no, no. No way. We won't go. Our boy will remain intact, and other boys be damned. If he gets in a fight, well, better to have him a little scarred up than to have his health damaged for life (or to lose him completely) as a result of a botched anaesthesia. I couldn't bear it.

Note to K: if the birthday genie does appear (belatedly), my third wish won't be a study in irony after all!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

BRRRRRRRR

Though winter is my favourite season, I have to say that today I've been freakin' cold. Went for dinner with a student and her parents tonight. The student has become a close friend and I love her like a niece or sister. We had fun watching the fish in the big tank, giving them names and discussing which famous person in history they most resembled.

Now we are frantically searching through the house for hot chocolate. Darn. I think we're out. Guess it'll be herbal tea to keep us warm tonight. On the agenda for tonight is the remainder of Bandits, which we started watching last night. Tomorrow I'm doing some editing work and the usual weekly round of shopping.

Hope those of you in the frozen north are managing to stay warm tonight ...

Friday, January 07, 2005

Funeral Bouncers

A little while ago I came from RD's memorial service. There must have been 5 and 600 people packed into this funeral chapel. I wish I'd known the man everyone was there to honour. I attended to support my student, who is a lovely young woman. But I actually did not know RD. He must have been a wonderful man. Though I felt somewhat awkward at first (I knew no one aside from those closest to him, and those people were carefully being shielded from all attendees, at least before the service began), I'm glad I went. If nothing else, it felt like a human coming together, a recognition that we all share similar feelings, fears & fates. There wasn't a dry eye in the house, and that included me, and I didn't even know him.

I arrived about ten minutes before it began and those who arrived around the same time I did and those after were all herded into an anteroom because the main chapel was full. I saw C and her cousin finally, in this anteroom, as we were being shown where the seats were and I headed over to them to say hello and this big funeral bouncer guy blocked my way and said, in a deep baritone, "Could you have a seat over here, please," and I said, yes, but I just want to say hello to---. He cut me off and said again, "Could you have a seat over here, please". I was embarassed. I felt the heat rise to my face, but I did as I was told. After my embarassment wore off, I thought, this must be what they do. Shield those closest to the deceased before the service so that they can keep their composure. Later Mr P told me the reason he thought they did it was so they could keep things on schedule. I think the truth is a blend of both. Anyway.

I heard C's laughter from the front of the hall whenever a funny anecdote of her father was shared. She's a strong girl. I doubt I'll be as strong when it's my own father's memorial service.

I'm not good with the whole concept of death actually. It scares the bejeezus out of me. I suppose when it takes us then we just go, and there are no more cares for us, and depending on your beliefs, maybe there is a peaceful place where we go when we're done here on earth. As the years go by, I'm starting to reconcile the fact that I am indeed mortal, but this adolescent sense of immortality hasn't left me completely yet.

Goodbye, RD. Hang in there, C. You're going to be fine.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Goodbye to RD

My heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of RD, father to one of my students. Though I never met him, I think he must have been an awesome person, the least evidence of this being the lovely daughter he raised. He had cancer and had been very ill for more than a year. He passed peacefully listening to solo piano music last Sunday evening. The memorial service is tomorrow. I think I will attend and pay my respects.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Can't Wait Can't Wait Can't Wait

Today being my birthday, I feel somewhat floopy. Not quite grounded. Sort of floaty and weird. I received a phone call today from a childhood sort-of friend. She is my sister's age (7 years older than I) and so she was my sister's friend. But the way it worked, was her family was friends with my family: the two parent-couples, and the two girls in each family were the same age. Plus they were German (we were fresh over here from Germany) and so it was a fast, but not always easy, friendship. My sister may have found the deepest friendship with her counterpart, R., out of all of us. S. (my counterpart) and I didn't really get along all that well (we didn't click), though we were forced to spend every single weekend, bible camp, Sunday school, and sleepovers together, for what amounted to probably about 7 years. We did what all 8, 9, 10 year olds did, we fought over what we'd play, play, get in trouble together, etc., etc. When I was about 13 our families literally split up. They wanted nothing more to do with us, nor us with them. I don't really remember the details. I have not spoken to S. since then. Apparently she has renounced ties with her entire family and has zero contact with any of them. It turns out the parents were quite abusive (which we all suspected, but never really could pinpoint).

Recently, R. has taken up a renewed friendship with my parents, and my Mom tells me what a sweet and lovely woman she is. Very warm and loving. This morning she phoned me for my birthday and I have to say if my own sister could muster just 5% of this sincerity, I would be beside myself with delight (though I have to say also somewhat suspicious). I think I shall adopt her.

And what is it that I can't wait for? My piano! It arrives sometime next week, probably more toward the end.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Back to Work

First day back, and how lucky we are we have lives to go back to, unlike those in South Asia affected by the Tsunami, and how lucky we are if we are healthy. One of my student's grandmother died last week, so the mother, who is my good friend, was off to Vancouver Island over this past week laying her mother to rest. Another one of my student's father is dying of cancer. He has been moved to a hospice and it is now a day-to-day thing. I spoke to my student last night, and she cancelled her session for today because they were saying (again) that her father may not live out the night. I have heard this a number of times from her and I can only imagine (having never had anyone very close to me die) how exhausting this must all be. Through this she tries to finish a math course by correspondence, and that can't be easy.

I work for a doctor of philosophy (and medical doctor), editing and managing his papers and readying them for submission to the academic journals. With my schedule, he has never had nearly the time from me that the work demands ... until now. I have made a commitment to him to give him at minimum five hours a week and have decided that the only way to ensure he gets that time is to schedule the hours the way I schedule my students' arrival for tutoring. In this way it will get done. My first task this morning is to try to reach a publisher in the Netherlands, and, checking the time, I had better go do that before they leave the offices for the day.


Sunday, January 02, 2005

... and Siblings

Though my relationship with my parents (as stated) is excellent, my relationship with my only sister is not so much. How sad. She has no interest in my life. I suppose this is nothing new and many of you out there may be bemused at my naivetee, but we were once so very close, so though it comes as no surprise because it's been building for years, it still is sad. I can't go into details, but it feels good to get out at least this much. Every telephone conversation occurs only because it's a special occasion (an anniversary, birthday or Christmas/new Year's) and every conversation sounds as though entirely scripted. Certainly the conversations are without heart. I feel closer to my blogger buddies than I do to her. Sigh. However, will not let her ruin what was an otherwise perfect start to the new year. The piano is (conservatively speaking -- it could be sooner) about 14 sleeps away. The living room has been readied, and now I just have to try to be patient.

Condolences to writer's block on the loss of your friend.

Parents

How does one ever predict how parents will react? My parents expert worriers (particularly Mom), and I thought when I told them about the piano purchase they'd freak out. But they in fact did not and instead congratulated me. I was so happy to tell them (have been humming and hawing for days about how best to tell them I bought another "car") because I've just been busting with the news. We're very close so not to tell them was bothering me. Now Dad may have changed his mind about coming out for at least part of the two weeks that Mom is coming (he's still working so wants to limit his time away from work until he retires for good) as he used to play when he was younger and I know he'll want to try it out.

The year's starting out fine ...

Happy New Year

January 2 already. With all the excitement over the piano purchase, we have had to move around a bunch of furniture and that included the computer so I haven't had as much leisure to sit at it as I normally do (little time as that is) and so have just been keeping up on my blog roll, particularly blogdog and writer's block.

Things are good. Couldn't be better. We spent New Year's as we always do. Went to bed at our usual time, rang in the new year in the most peaceful way imaginable, deep asleep tucked into our feather bed. Yesterday seemed an exercise in keeping warm. Though I like winter, I have my days where I just feel cold, whether inside or out, and yesterday was one of those days. Winter is actually my favourite season, and I know I don't keep much company in that sentiment, but I know at least a couple of other people who feel the same way.

I expect the piano will be here and playable by the end of NEXT week, so about the 15th. (I say playable because it has to sit for about a day, eight hours or so, before I can even touch it. I think it's supposed to stay covered up, too, especially if it has been delivered in cold weather.) I have a student who is at level 9/10 piano and a wonderful girl. I have a real soft spot in my heart for her. I told her weeks ago that we were considering buying a grand piano. I asked her what kind she had, and she said a Young Chang. Then I told her I was considering a Yamaha, and she said, "Oh I LOVE Yamahas. They're my favourite! I love the sound of them. My teacher has one. I love them!" She's going to whig when I tell her. I don't know whether I'll be able to keep it from her until she walks in for her (math) lesson (lest some of you get the idea I'm teaching piano, I'm not ... I'm just a beginner) and sees it there.

Did anyone read about the moose rescue in Alaska? I've been trying to find a link, but haven't been able to yet. Will post it if I find one. Some hikers saw what appeared to be a boulder in a lake, but upon investigation they found it was actually a moose that had fallen through thin ice. Its front legs were folded and on the ice surface, and that was all that was holding it up, keeping it alive. A wildlife expert later said if the hikers hadn't happened along the moose likely would have been dead within the hour. Anyway, the hikers used a pulley system to haul the moose up out of its icy grave, then they massaged it, and a while later it was up and on its way, grazing on whatever green it could find, I guess. What a neat story.

Tomorrow it's back to the grind. Full tilt, in fact. It has been too cold to take the boy to the off-leash, and I suspect that today won't warm up enough either. I'm keeping my fingers crossed either tomorrow or at the latest Tuesday will warm up some. He's getting a bit of cabin fever, I think.

Nobody's got any advice on fungus gnats?