Sunday, June 19, 2011

Change in Father's Day Plans

I am usually terrible about planning in advance for Father's Day. The days before are typically spent scrambling around trying to come up with a good gift idea for my husband or grabbing a last minute card for my Dad. Every few years, I come up with something good and get it together on time, but mostly it's a pretty slapped together occasion.

This year, I thought I had it covered way ahead of schedule with respect to my husband. About this time last year, I learned that tickets were going on sale for the 2011 US Open to be held at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda. The final day of the US Open is always on Father's Day, and I thought it would make a fine gift for the family to take Dad to the tournament. We have all been trying to get good enough at golf to play a round with him, but our games are not improving very quickly. I figured our best shot (no pun intended) at enjoying 18 holes of golf as a family on Father's Day would be as spectators as opposed to searching for errant balls in the woods.

I was feeling pretty pleased with my plan until a few months ago when I learned that my son's week of Navy soccer camp would run from Sunday through Thursday as opposed to Monday through Friday.  Not just ANY Sunday but Father's Day Sunday.  Ah well, I thought, we will just drop Henry off at camp early and head over to Congressional as a threesome instead of a foursome.

Well, as the day approached, and I received the registration instructions for soccer camp, it began to occur to me that it might not be that simple. It seemed important to get Henry settled in being his first ever "sleep-away" camp, but registration didn't even begin until 10 AM, and we were expected to provide our boys with lunch the first day before handing them over to the Naval Academy camp staff. This midday checkin would effectively cut our day at Congressional for the US Open in half.

So last week, I brought it up to my husband so we could discuss the game plan. It became clear pretty quickly that trying to do both was not a good option. The logistics were just too complicated. Without hesitation, my husband, good father that he is, said not to worry about the tournament. We would just find someone else to enjoy them and enjoy our own leisurely day getting Henry checked in and then watching the US Open from the best seats in the house - the big screen, high-definition TV in our air-conditioned family room.

And that is where we sit after a morning in downtown Annapolis. We are now about to watch Rory McIlroy tee off at Hole 1 and have a go at making history. They say he could be the next Tiger Woods. At 22 years old and 14 under par going into the final round of the US Open, he may well be, though Tiger's 14 majors will be tough to match. Let's just hope he doesn't wind up careening down his driveway in his boxers with his wife in pursuit wielding a golf club...

Meanwhile, my brother-in-law and nephew are enjoying our Congressional Trophy Club tickets to possibly see history made by McIlroy in person. Our loss is their gain. I told my nephew I was delighted that they could use them, but please don't embarrass us by doing an eyebrow dance in the background of a camera interview with McIlroy. Don't know what I'm talking about? Check out the smart-a$$ kid in this video - too funny:

As for our Father's Day morning in Annapolis, the whole family helped Henry move into his USNA digs. He was happy to have his sister there to organize his closet, his Mom there to make his bunk bed, and his Dad there to give him some last minute tips from his own Navy camp experience. Another year, I would be OK with sending him on with a friend, but this first year, I'm glad we were all there to see him off properly, even if it meant sacrificing the US Open. Henry didn't get to see the best golfer in the world, but he was reminded that he does in fact have the best family and Dad in the world.

Of course, that's how many of us feel who have been lucky enough to be raised by good fathers - fathers who are always there for us when we need them, always setting a good example and giving us useful advice. Here's to all the Dads dropping their kids at camp, teaching their kids to play golf, or thumping their kids on the head for doing or saying something stupid - that was MY Dad's specialty.

Speaking of my Dad, I posted this picture of me and him on Facebook this AM in a lame attempt at some kind of Father's Day gesture in the absence of a gift. I thanked him for always making me feel safe and loved. His example made it possible for me to recognize the qualities in my own husband that would one day make our children feel safe and loved. For me, that's really the bottom line with respect to good fathering - that and a few well placed thumps on the head.

Me and Dad

Happy Father's Day to all you Cape dads. Hope you're enjoying the golf or the Gold Cup soccer or whatever your favorite pastimes might be. As I've been writing, Rory has birdied Hole 1, shot par on the 2nd and 3rd, and birdied the 4th. At a record breaking 16 under par, he's well on his way to providing his father with one heck of a Father's Day gift.

I'd love to hear about your great Dads in the comments. Feel free to share!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Strawberry Festival From Land and Sea

I somehow managed to miss the Strawberry Festival Parade, despite planning to be there 20 minutes in advance. I don't know where I got the idea that it started at 10:30. As we pulled into the shopping center parking lot at 10:10 to get a prime spot, my daughter, ever observant, noted that the road was littered with candy, and the fire truck that usually brings up the rear of the parade was already passing by. I wish I could share with you the look of disgust on my kids' faces. "Really, Mom?". Ah well, if you blink, you miss the Strawberry Festival Parade, anyway. I love our home town parade, but the Rose Bowl Parade, it's not. We will be on time next year (queue the kids' eye rolls).

As for this year, we parked the car in front of True Value and followed the tail of the parade down to the Festival on foot. I told the kids that instead of watching the parade, we would actually be in the extended parade. That might have worked on them as toddlers, but my big kids didn't buy it.

Once we got to the park, we checked out the festivities and said hello to all the folks manning this booth and that. We also enjoyed the music set by our friend Dirk Schwenk and his band (sounded great!). It was pretty darned muggy, so after grabbing a yummy strawberry shortcake and placing a silent auction bid on a cute beach cruiser bike in the clubhouse, we headed back up Cape St. Claire Rd. to the shopping center.

Here are some pictures from our day. The first ones are from our time at the Festival on land. The latter ones are from the water, courtesy of an evening boat cruise along the Main Beach and into the Little Magothy. No thunderstorms. No cold weather. No sunburn. Lots of sun, friends, music, food, drinks, games, crafts, dogs, and princesses. I call that a fine day at our fine Strawberry Festival. Post your photos on the Cape Blogger Facebook page and let me know your favorite part of the day.

Flower made from plastic bottles.

SPCA cutie looking for a home.

Girl scouts paired up with SPCA.
My daughter is not a scout, but
she has some lovely friends who are!

Dirk Schwenk

Schwenk and Band

Sodas for Sailing

Me in the Beer Garden

Festival Fun

Henry's Tattoo

My Bike (didn't get a call that I won...)

The Reason for the Revelry

Hazy Crazy Main Beach

Cotton Candy!

Kids Enjoying the Water

Strawberry Festival From the Water

Makeshift High Dive
(Cape kids are smart enough to jump feet first!)

I am not condoning this but looks like fun!

"Hey Mrs. Roberts, where's Henry?!"
Missing all the fun, apparently!

Little Magothy Entrance/Water Park

Hey, are those water toys?

Where did the kids go?
Somebody must have run them off.

Me and Laika - my Berry Favorite Dog

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cape Troubadour
Asbury Park has Springsteen, the Florida Keys have Buffett, Jamaica has Marley, and Cape St. Claire has our own Dirk Schwenk! Yes, the Cape has an up and coming musician/singer/songwriter to add to our ranks of talented and interesting local folk. Actually, Dirk has been honing his craft as a musician for some time, but with his solo performance at last year's Strawberry Festival, and now this year with his new band backing him up, we here in the Cape are just getting to know him as an artist.

I first became acquainted with Dirk as many of us Cape parents become acquainted - at the bus stop. During the school year, it's a morning gathering place for parents and kids from kindergarten through 3rd or 4th grade. The kids are always dressed for the day and ready to go, but as the year drags on, the parents show up with their cup of coffee in progressively more casual attire ranging from workout clothes to full on pajamas and slippers. (I have been known to show up in my turquoise-blue-with-pink-ice-skating-elephants flannel PJs.) The bus stop is a nice opportunity to have a quick chat with the neighbors while we wait for the freedom that comes with handing our kids over to the care of the public school system.

Despite a couple years of bus stop exchanges and the odd neighborhood Christmas party, I was unaware that Dirk was a musician. When we first met, he told me he was a lawyer specializing in waterfront related cases (good choice for this area). His wife, Stefanie, runs a top notch preschool out of their home around the corner called Best Beginnings. They have two boys, Connor and Luke, who are winding down 5th and 2nd grade at Cape Elementary, respectively. Who knew that the guise of an ordinary, nice looking, enjoyable Cape dad was just a cover for the next Cape Idol?

Music has long been one of Dirk's interests. He discusses it in his responses below to a set of questions I sent him for this post. Like most of us with hobbies or talents that we dabble with in high school, he didn't choose to pursue it in a serious way, instead following the more conservative, reliable path of an education and professional career. This is the wise thing to do in most cases. While there are exceptions with mad talent and drive that find success "following their dream", there are many more who don't and are left having to pick up the pieces.

The nice thing that I've found with blogging and that Dirk appears to be finding with music is that once you achieve a certain comfort level that those years of study and career-building or home-making afford you, you again have the opportunity to pursue those hobbies that you once put on the back burner. You might well even discover new ones. And by comfort, I don't necessarily mean financial comfort but a comfort within one's own skin - a recognition of what is important to us and the experience, maturity, and courage to give voice to it.

I wouldn't trade my work career at NASA that resulted from my math and science training, and Dirk clearly values his work as a lawyer (and it pays the bills!). I am very much enjoying, however, the side opportunity to tap into my inner-writer/journalist, and I see a parallel to what Dirk is doing with his musical interest. It's a second chance to explore that fantasy career that some of us set aside for more practical considerations.

Those of us with families and responsibilities may not have the time and energy to dedicate to a whole new career path (although some do successfully), but we certainly can make time to cultivate our talents and passions on a smaller scale. We do the things that we love to do best and often it's those things that have the most meaning and impact to ourselves and the people around us. If nothing else, it makes us more satisfied and well-rounded people and nourishes our spirit.

What hobbies have special meaning to you? Music, photography, cooking, writing, sports, painting, sewing? Maybe a little of everything! I would love to hear about the interesting talents my Cape neighbors pursue. Tell me about them in the comments.

I'll quit and let Dirk tell you more about himself and his music. Below is the list of questions that I sent him and the responses that he so generously provided. Join him at the Cape Strawberry Festival this Saturday, June 11th. Dirk will be performing at 11:45 with his new yet-to-be-named band, and according to his recent Facebook post, "should not totally blow."  I'm anticipating better than that from our local lawyer turned troubadour. Any of you planning a big party this summer better line him up!

I will be at the Strawberry Festival as well to hear for myself. My kids will be manning one booth or another between youth sailing and girl scouts (my daughter is not a scout, but her friends have asked her to join them). I will be at the Broadneck Patch table/booth with the other Patch bloggers (a blather of bloggers? a bevy of bloggers? a blunder of bloggers? a blight of bloggers? - if you don't get this, it's because you haven't read my previous post A Murder of Crows!).

OK, now I'll let Dirk speak (his responses are in italics). Thanks again, Dirk, for taking the time to provide thoughtful answers. Best of luck Saturday!
So, I know from our bus stop days that you and your wife, Stefanie, have 2 boys who attend CSC Elementary. What grade are they in now? I’ve lost track since my two went to middle school.
My boys, Connor and Luke, are finishing 5th and 2nd grade right now.  Connor will be at Magothy Middle (I think!) next year.  
How long have you guys lived in the Cape, and where did you live before that?
We moved to the Cape in the Spring of 2005, when it began to sink in that we would need to send our children to school. Before that, we owned a house in Eastport and rented for a long time near the stadium in Annapolis. We have been together in or near Annapolis since about 1992.  
What brought you to this neighborhood?
We liked the big trees, the schools, the water access, and the more casual atmosphere. We were also strongly influenced by the fact that my Mom and Stepdad live here.  
When I first met you, you told me that you were a maritime lawyer, by trade. Are you still practicing law, or have you left the courtroom behind (quit your day job) for your musical career?
I am still practicing law. Mostly I am working on cases involving waterfront property and water access, nowadays. I can't really see going to a full time career in music, as the grind of travel is not really what I love in life, and I love my lawyer-job, too, but I am very glad to have people hear the music. Its nice to feel like I shouldn't hide that anymore.
I actually had no idea that you were a musician. I see on your website that you played in a band back in school. Have you always been involved with some kind of band, or are you just getting back to it?
I have always played something -- I can remember Mommy and Me music classes when I was very small; I played clarinet in the band through high school; I started bass guitar in high school and guitar shortly after that. I learned and wrote in college, and had various bands then and for several years after. I took a long break up until a few years ago in which I did not play outside the house and pretty much everyone knew me as a lawyer or a sailor or through sports. I have always felt very shy about telling people about my music, and I was positively horrible about getting gigs. Just in the past few years I have started to play in front of more than just family again. 
How long have you been writing music?
My senior year of high school, my buddy John Metters -- guitarist in the band I played in in high school -- came to me with a chord progression and a title: "Ode to Backseat Cushion." I took his idea, moved things around a bit, and came up with a song I still think is pretty good -- it certainly captures where our minds were in high school, and I still play it sometimes. Since then I have always written songs. Most get tossed in the garbage, but hopefully find one or two decent songs a year. Since I have been back focusing on music, I am writing more, but time will tell whether the new songs are really good enough to keep around.  
Do your boys play musical instruments? Stefanie?
Not really -- I am hoping to get Connor going on bass guitar so that I can turn him loose on my other band, Generation Gap, but so far that has not really reached top priority. They will sing with me sometimes, if they are of a mind.  
Do they think it’s cool that Dad is in a rock band?
My boys are pretty tough critics, but at least they don't seem to mind. They like a good party, so that helps.  
Who are your band-mates, and how did you meet?
Right now the band consists of Phil Runk on bass and Curtis Cunningham on drums and myself on guitar and vocals. Phil and Curt have played together in various bands all the way back to college. I met Phil at the Lake Claire beach one day when I was sitting around playing guitar -- he is a Caper as well. We decided to try to play a few songs to see how it went, and here we are ... about to debut the thing at the Strawberry Festival.  
Where do you practice and how often do you get together with your band and practice?
Phil has a complete band set up in a room in his basement and his wife and Mom have been good enough to allow us to bang around down there while they cover his kids. As a band we have been getting together about once a week -- we'll get together twice this week before Saturday. The first day that Phil and I met, he told me that whatever it was that I was writing, it would not be too hard for them to learn. Luckily, he has been right, and even introducing songs that they have never heard before, things have come together surprisingly fast. We will not be perfect on Saturday, but we should be pretty good. 
What instruments do each of you play in the band (the kid across the street from me plays drums if you’re in need of a drummer – may as well put him to work if I’m going to have to listen to him practice anyway…)?
See above, but Phil also plays guitar and other string instruments, and I play bass in another band that is playing on Saturday, Generation Gap. I am just OK on bass, but it is a very fun group of people fronted by Dan Tobin from the Cape. And I've heard your neighbor is pretty good!
Did you have formal guitar training, or did you just teach yourself? Do you play any other instruments?
On guitar, I took one semester in college, but for the most part I am self-taught. I did learn a great deal about music and presentation of music playing in band and singing in middle and high school musicals. My high school band teacher, Mr. Brown, was excellent, and really emphasized that we had to use dynamics and tempo to capture a song. I am sure he would be surprised to know I learned something from him, since I hardly practiced and wasn't very good, and he eventually had to kick me out for getting in trouble on the band bus.  
How does Stefanie feel about your pursuit of a musical career? Is she your biggest fan, enthusiastically supporting your dream, or does she roll her eyes a little and humor your musical hobby? Maybe a bit of both depending on the day?
Stefanie is my second biggest fan after my mother. (Aww - comment injected by Cape Blogger) She would probably be my biggest fan, but she is worried that I will get a big head and that I will not help get the boys ready for school or unload the dishwasher. She does support me greatly in everything that I do, and without her support there wouldn't be either a legal career or a band. I wrote the lead song on current CD "I've Been Thinking" for her and about her, and I am still somewhat stunned and appreciative that she picked me out of the available guys on the planet. (Once again, Aww...)
Who are your favorite musical artists?
Right now, I love Ben Harper and Jack Johnson because they are all putting out new songs that resonate without engaging in anything that is too formulaic or too conscious of trying to be popular. I have great respect for Tom Petty, Paul McCartney; Paul Simon and that generation of songwriters that are still putting out good music 40 years into their careers. I love outlaw country -- Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash especially -- and the Rolling Stones. Mostly though, I love good songwriting in almost any era or genre -- I can cry about the passing of Bob Marley pretty much any day or time. 
I know you workout a lot at Big Vanilla (because I'm there so much...right?). Do you use an iPod or mp3 player, and if so, what are 5 songs on it (come on, tell me the embarrassing ones – I confess I have John Denver, Little River Band, and Celine Dion on mine – now you go…).
I am sure that if I had an ipod, I would have embarrassing things on it -- I like John Denver and I would have all sorts of country and punk music I probably shouldn't admit to. I don't have an ipod though, because I always put them through the wash and ruin them, and also because I like to chat at the gym more than I like to work out. In a vulnerable moment, you could get me to confess that I think I should know the pop music they play at the gym, just in case Big Dreams came calling.
What other gigs have you and your band played (old band and new), and what would be your dream gig (I’m not talking the Verizon Center or Wembley stadium – locally speaking).
The new band's biggest gig so far was in Phil's backyard for a crowd of about 20. My old bands played some of the bars in Chestertown and Annapolis, but none that are even in business anymore. My dream gigs ... Well, even this time last year it was just to do a party or two as a solo guitar player, so things are being ratcheted up a bit just lately. But all of my dream gigs are outside with a nice crowd, maybe some sand and a water view. Locally, next year I would like to do some of the things like Bands in the Sand and Eastport-A-Rockin -- the festival atmosphere appeals to me much more than a late-night bar.  
I love that you did the photoshoot for your website at Fairwinds Beach.
I think it’s such a pretty spot (the subject of my blog header photo, as well). Did you have those done professionally, or do you have a talented photographer in your life?
I love that beach, too -- its my favorite place in the Cape. The pictures were taken by Heather Mckay Bowes,, who lived in the Cape until last year. Her profession is photography and her passion (as opposed to her bread and butter) is photographing musicians. She did me an incredible favor taking those shots on one of her last days before she moved. Having met me in person, you can see what an incredible job she did!
I actually took the photo for my blog one morning when I dropped off my son for sailing camp. I believe your son(s) participated, as well, and I see on your Facebook page that sailing is a hobby of yours. Do you have a boat and/or get much opportunity to sail?
The boys are in Cape sailing, and we get out some casually on various boats, but as far as serious racing, I have hung up my sailing boots for now. I sailed on my high school and college sailing teams, and Stef was crazy (and supportive) enough to let me use some of the money that we got for our wedding to buy a small racing boat, even though she was not a sailor. She and I actively sailed and raced during the 12 years that I was not doing music, and got pretty good. When we were in babies, racing was a great weekend escape and a time to work together as a team. We are always looking for ways to get out on the water, but our race boat is for sale.    
What’s your favorite thing about Cape St. Claire?
We love all the beaches and water access and we love the more casual neighborhood feel.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Ahh, Bach..."

Those of you who were big M.A.S.H. fans like me back in the day might remember an episode where Radar tries to impress a visiting nurse who is sophisticated and into classical music. The advice he gets from Hawkeye and Trapper is whenever he is at a loss for a response to something she says about classical music, just say, "Ahh, Bach...". This may be one of the single best pieces of advice I've ever heard. Plug in any significant artist, philosopher or scientist who comes up about whom you have no freaking clue and nod your head with a knowing look.You might just get away with it - or not. It didn't work out so well for Radar.

My own knowledge of classical music is fairly limited. It is constrained to the pieces of music that I encountered while taking piano lessons growing up and the music appreciation course I took in college to meet my humanities requirement. I can identify some of Beethoven's greats, the odd Chopin Waltz, and several of Bach's inventions, and I can play a few passingly well, but I have never become intimately familiar in any kind of depth with the great works of the classic composers.

As for my family history of piano lessons, my mother played piano growing up - mostly Methodist church hymns. She saw to it that I played piano, and I, in turn, have seen to it that my daughter plays piano. Musical talent does not run strong in our particular line of the family, but each generation has acquired the skill through brute force. I made an attempt with my son, but after months - make that years - of tears and fights on the piano bench, I waved the white flag and called a truce, as did my mother before me with my brother (who plays guitar quite well as an adult, so I hold out hope for my son's musical future).

My daughter, bless her, has not enjoyed taking piano lessons either, but she seemed to recognize early on that as the next in the line of piano playing women in our family, this was non-negotiable. She has been taking lessons with the same teacher since she was five years old - ever since my Mom sent the old piano to live with us.

Me at the then new piano.
Don't let the smile fool you.

We first met her piano teacher, Emiko Tanabe, through the Peabody Preparatory at Maryland Hall back when I had delusions of grandeur about my daughter's future career as a concert pianist. After a few years of us making the weekly commute across town, Emiko left The Peabody and became an instructor at Anne Arundel Community College. At that point we switched to private lessons out of her home, which became wonderfully convenient when she moved to Cape St. Claire several years ago.

Having Emiko in the Cape could not be more ideal. She is a fabulously talented and accomplished pianist, and somehow she landed right here in our very own neighborhood. We are incredibly fortunate to have her in our community. A couple of times a year, she plays locally for free and collaborates with many of the other talented musicians in our midst. Over the years, she has accommodated all of our needs and schedule requests and has exhibited remarkable forbearance in the face of a student who has put a minimum of effort into her piano study. I know some days, she must feel like putting in earplugs to avoid listening to Mr. Bach get butchered. Aghhh, Bach...

Despite the lack of practice time and summers off, my daughter has actually become a very good pianist. Her fingers are much more nimble and lithe than mine ever were, and the dearth of practice has made her into a pretty decent sight reader. I credit Emiko's lovely, mild temperament with keeping her at it this long. My goal at this point is simply to maintain the musical knowledge that she's acquired by sitting down a few times a week to play and by attending the half hour weekly lesson with Emiko for the exposure to her wealth of knowledge and expertise. I'm hoping Kathryn will one day be able to say, "Ahh, Bach" with a little extra confidence and a sincerely knowing smile having played a piece or two written by the man himself and having heard Emiko play it as exquisitely as it was intended.

Playing piano also comes in handy to torture family over the holidays. Here are a couple of our early greatest hits that we recorded for the grandparents (the second got cut off - I'm sure it was our best performance ever):

This past weekend, it was time for the yearly piano recital that Emiko holds for her students at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church. It's the one time of year that I insist my daughter put in the extra time to work up her selected pieces properly. I'm past being embarrassed for her or myself if they do not sound passable, but I hate to disappoint Emiko. I knew as the day approached that it was not going to be a flawless performance. My daughter made a valiant effort to perfect her waltz and sonatina, but it was clearly a bit too little too late. I made my peace with this before leaving for the recital.

Or so I thought until we took our seats in the church, and I looked up to find none other than the Tiger Mother herself and her family in the front row ahead of us. For those of you who aren't familiar with Amy Chua's book The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, it describes her hardcore approach as an Asian woman to mothering and the exacting standards to which she holds her two daughters. Seated ahead of us was a carbon copy (in the most superficial of ways) of Chua's family - the Asian mother, the Jewish father (I'm basing this purely on their last name, so I could be mistaken) and the two lovely, polished, poised daughters. Add in the Asian mother-in-law, and they were a force to be reckoned with. Suddenly, I wished that I had cracked the whip a little more leading up to the recital, but it was too late. We were about to get schooled.

Well, of course piano recitals are not competitions. I listened with delight as the steady stream of little to big pianists marched up to the shiny black grand piano and nervously laid their racing hearts out on the keyboard. They were all thoroughly entertaining, and I admired the courage and composure displayed by each and every one through the occasional sour or forgotten note and ensuing pauses - some serious character building moments. The kids play in order of experience from new students at the beginning to the more accomplished students at the end.  My daughter was third from the last with, no surprise, the Tiger Mother's girls following her.

I think the thing I admire most about my daughter is that while she does not like to perform in front of an audience, when she does, she is utterly fearless. I am a quivering bundle of nerves on stage, but I have never seen her hands shake, and this recital was no exception. While she made the few mistakes that we knew were inevitable due to lack of full preparation, the parts in between were truly lovely to me, and my heart swelled to watch her confident posture as her hands floated over the keys. I can only dream of how beautifully she could play with a Tiger Mother at the helm. Nonetheless, I was tremendously proud of her effort.  As she returned to her seat, she shared a fist bump and a smile with her brother which seemed to put it all in perspective.

The Tiger Daughters finished out the recital in spectacular fashion, but even they proved to be human. Their pieces were the most advanced of the day, and they both played splendidly, but they made their share of noticeable mistakes. The younger daughter was technically dazzling through her sonatina, and the elder daughter was fluidly graceful throughout one of the loveliest Chopin nocturnes I've heard (I only know it was a Chopin nocturne thanks to the recital program - "Ahh, Chopin..."). Despite the couple of incidental flubs, I didn't see any sign that their family was any less delighted than we were. When it was all over, the Tiger Parents were every bit as proud of their cubs as we were of ours. I promised Kathryn I would not post the video of her performance, but here she is afterward VERY happy to have it over:

Post-Recital Smile

Hopefully my daughter will come away from her years of forced piano playing with a rudimentary ability to carry on a superficial conversation about classical music. My friend whose son also played in the piano recital (Beethoven's 5th - recognized that one!) attended a violin recital for her other son the following day. She texted afterward to tell me that the Tiger Mother and her family were also at the strings recital. The older cub ALSO plays the violin quite beautifully. D'oh! I knew I should have made my daughter stick with playing in the school orchestra! Oh well, she will just have to go through life faking her knowledge of brilliant violinists with an, "Ahh, Itzhak..."

Here are a few quotes about music I stumbled across online that tickled me:

"When a piece gets difficult, make faces." -- Arthur Schnabel (to Vladimir Horowitz)

"Get up from that piano. You hurtin' its feelings." -- Jelly Roll Morton

"Nothing soothes me more after a long and maddening course of pianoforte recitals than to sit and have my teeth drilled." -- George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and music critic.

And in all seriousness:

"Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best." -- Henry Van Dyke

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What Happened to May?

Is it me, or does it feel like we leapfrogged over May straight into full-on summer? The weather went from cool, rainy, and windy to Africa-hot in what seems like a matter of days. We could have used a few more of the lovely mild temperatures that we enjoyed here and there. I can hardly remember them now. The cancellation of the Blue Angels just added to the sense that May didn't happen. Now it's June 1st, and I couldn't tell you where May went.

Thankfully, the Cape pool opened this past weekend. Even more thankfully, my kids are now old enough to drop off on their own with a friend or two. The crowds and the prospect of putting on a bathing suit did not appeal to ME especially, but I was desperate to get the kids out of their PJs and away from their video games. My son was eager to go. He loves playing dodge ball in the volleyball pit. My daughter was less enthused, but got interested when her girlfriends invited her.

I actually considered leasing our membership this season because we haven't been using the pool a lot in the past couple of years. When the kids were little, we spent much of our free summer hours at the pool, but their interest has waned some as it has become less and less cool to frolic with Mommy. I held on to the membership this year in hopes that maybe with their increasing freedom to come and go on their own, they would choose to use the pool without me schlepping along. This past weekend was a trial run, and I hope it is a sign of things to come. They both enjoyed the better part of their day hanging out with friends poolside. I enjoyed the better part of mine cleaning out my closet.

The heat has also put a dent in my exercise routine. I'm having to confine any running to mornings and evenings or risk falling out in the street with heat stroke. I did loops through Atlantis yesterday evening on whatever side of the street was shady. My mistake was running after the holiday weekend. All the trash that was put out for the regular Tuesday pickup sat out in the 90+ degree heat all day since the collectors weren't coming until Wednesday. Holy cow, that was some smelly post-holiday trash. If the heat didn't do me in, the smell almost did. For the record, Atlantis trash stinks just as bad as Cape trash.

I hope all of you are finding ways to beat the heat. I think the worst of it is about to break. This weekend is looking much more manageable. Fingers crossed that the highs stay under 90 for the June 11th Main Beach festivities the following weekend. I can remember a Strawberry Festival or two with cold, rainy and foggy weather. Let's shoot for conditions somewhere comfortably between that and Africa-hot (got that weatherman...).