“Science fiction was a big help.”

imageHas is it really been two weeks since my last post?

■ Only a few pages in the Rubank Intermediate book remain, so I was advised to bring Advanced, Vol. 1 to my October lessons. I’ve been assigned Haydn’s “Serenade” as my new solo piece, and one of my instructor’s colleagues has suggested that two of his students and I form a trio jointly supervised by the two instructors. A year ago, this idea would have made me shudder. Now? I am excited to begin!

■ In forty-eight days, I will be an election judge at a nearby precinct. Earlier this month, on a whim, I looked over our county’s website, made a call, emailed an application, and registered for training. What a lot to remember! Fortunately, the training included several hands-on exercises, and if I am chosen to work early voting, I will gain experience prior to the big day.

■ This is Week 3 of the University of Warwick’s rerun of “Literature and Mental Health,” and it has been every bit as compelling as I had hoped.

■ Like any over-fifty, my husband and I make a number of annual health appointments, and this year, we decided to schedule all of these in September and October. Waiting rooms have this to recommend them: They give one time to finish a couple of books.

From Slaughterhouse-Five:
p. 4

And even if wars didn’t keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.

p. 101

So they were trying to re-invent themselves and their universe. Science fiction was a big help.

From The Code of the Woosters:
p. 221

“You can’t be a successful Dictator and design women’s under-clothing.”
“No, sir.”
“One or the other. Not both.”
“Precisely, sir.”

Because I only include cover-to-covers, ninety-three titles appear on my list to date. In these years of reading slowly, my goal is usually a minimum of two books per week, and I am positioned to exceed that next month.

What am I reading today? A Fair Maiden (Joyce Carol Oates) and the poetry volume, Stressed, Unstressed. My husband and I will see Julius Caesar at the Writers Theatre later this month — our first just-us theater adventure in thirty years — so I am also rereading that, one of my favorite works of Shakespeare. (“Would he were fatter!”) And I am savoring Kij Johnson’s The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, which features an over-fifty woman with a “never-absent pain in her back.” I think I may love the fictional Vellitt Boe as much as love the non-fictional and now ninety-eight-year-old Diana Athill, whose latest memoir is winging its way toward the forever home.

■ Speaking of the forever home, how much I love it! Although my daughters regularly contributed to its care, over the last two years, they had increasingly less time for all of the tasks that ensure a property doesn’t succumb to “kipple,” so I often worked solo, on the yards, for example. And now that they are at university, it is generally me alone performing the daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, and annual home rituals. When he can, my husband helps, of course, as when he made the end-of-season inspection of the crawlspace. And we have services for some tasks — for example, soil aeration; tree care; furnace, air-conditioning, and appliance maintenance; and critter control. But often, it is just the cats and I, which means that the rituals take a bit more time and that I must perform more of them (including pet care, which was once the exclusive domain of my older daughter). What I had thought might prove annoying, though, has mostly represented only a slight tempo change in my life’s regular rhythms. In fact, I find that being needed in these new ways is oddly comforting, as if the forever home is enveloping me while I continue to adjust to my latest “new normal.”

Practice

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From Bill Richardson’s charming novel, Bachelor Brothers’ Bed & Breakfast:

Many people have had this experience, I think, especially where music is concerned. We become steeped in the notion that if we can’t excel, there’s little point in pursuit.

As I’ve maintained before, for me, the pursuit is the point, although when I studied piano, I regularly likened the pursuit to learning a second language as an adult: No matter how much I practiced, facility eluded me, and my “accent” was unmistakable. Now that I teach English to adult non-native speakers, the comparison seems quite apt, but my flute teacher (I’ve been studying flute since September 2014) prefers to focus not on the disadvantages but the many, many advantages adult learners have over younger learners, including their maturity about practice and the purity of their motivation.

I will try to remember that when I screw up the chord and chromatic études yet again. Heh, heh, heh.