Monday, June 29, 2009

Leapin' Froggies, I Picked Out the Baby Bedding!

Warning for Non-Moms: Another boring baby post ahead ...

On Day 3 of my Louisiana trip last week, my mom and I went to Babies R Us with the mission of finding baby bedding and (possibly) a glider rocker.

The available baby bedding selections didn't do much for me. I think part of it is because I'm not really in "baby mode." I was the same way when I first started shopping for wedding dresses back in 2003. Everything seemed so overdone, so frou-frou, so ... not me. It took several weeks of looking at bridal catalogs and trying on dresses before I really started to feel comfortable with the whole idea of a wedding dress.

So that's what's happening right now. All this cutesy little baby bedding, and I'm thinking, "So cutesy, so baby-ish, so ... not me." Of course it's cutesy and baby-ish. It is, after all, baby bedding. I just need to get used to the idea.

By the time we left Babies R Us, I felt pretty discouraged. None of the bedding, none of the baby furniture, none of the glider-rockers were doing it for me. But we did get stuff for Miss Ella. And Mrs. Gwen bought a couple of cute newborn outfits for Little Scout, which was very sweet of her.

The next stop was Cullen's Babyland. We almost didn't go because we were short on time, but we decided to go anyway, and I'm so glad we did! I found three or four bedding sets that I really liked and ended up deciding on one called Leap Froggie. It will look good in Scout's room, since we've already painted the walls pale yellow. Plus, it has turtles on it, and Scout's dad's trail name is Sheltowee, which is Shawnee for "Big Turtle." Very fitting, I think.

I couldn't believe all the girly, princess-y stuff they had. And the boy beddings were all about sports and camo patterns. Yuck. I'm kind of glad we don't know what Scout is going to be; otherwise, I might feel pressure from myself to buy either "girl" bedding or "boy" bedding.

I also found a glider/rocker that I liked, and that we're going to order from a store up here in NC. The Storytime Sona glider rocker has good neck support and is plenty big enough for a mom, a baby, and at least one cat ... but not so big that I get lost in it. It should be big enough for the Hubster, too.

I didn't find a crib I was particularly crazy about, but that's OK. I want Hubster to be with me when I pick one out anyway.

So we left Cullen's Babyland very happy. I also started a small registry there, mostly of Leap Froggie items.

Then I had a dream that someone gave me a giant baby shower at the Plaquemine Civic Center, and that every single person gave me Leap Froggie things, even things that aren't actually available--things like watches, dishes, glassware, towels, decorative soaps, t-shirts, beer mugs, etc. Pretty funny dream, actually. I kept opening presents, and it was all Leap Froggie, Leap Froggie, Leap Froggie.

That's about all the news on the pregnancy front. Oh, except that I nearly fainted this morning while I was in the shower. Luckily, I was able to get my bathrobe and my towel and make it to my bed before I totally fell over from the dizziness. It took about 10 minutes for me to feel normal again. Actually, I still feel weak from this morning's episode--even after making myself a big, yummy bowl of oatmeal with strawberries.

I hope Scout likes oatmeal and strawberries. And Leap Froggies. Because both are definitely in Scout's future.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Think The Hubster Loves Little Scout

Today was my 16-week appointment. It wasn't going to be a particularly eventful appointment, except for the now-routine Doppler treatment, where we get to hear Scout's heartbeat.

My exhausted, stressed-out, sleep-deprived Hubster drove an hour from camp so he could come to the appointment--just so he could hear Little Scout's heart beating. Then, after the 20-minute appointment was over, he drove the hour back to camp. Is that fatherly love or what?

I always thought my dad was the greatest dad ever, but the Hubster is already running a close second.

Scout's heart rate (for anyone who cares to know) was 150 beats per minute again today, and Scout was moving all over the place, making all kinds of noise.

Next ultrasound is in just under three weeks. Scout will be over six inches long (crown to rump) by then. I can't wait!

Good Read of the Day

Blogger Ann Voskamp on How to Nurture Geniuses:

1. Geniuses are stewards who Faithfully Practice.
2. Geniuses are stewards who Faithfully Pioneer.
3. Geniuses are stewards who Faithfully Pursue.

You can read this insightful blog post over at Ann's blog, Holy Experience.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Schubert Practice That Didn't Happen

"Self, if you're going to be tired and super-sensitive and not pay attention, then you might as well be at work, where you don't *have* to think this hard. So just go back to work, Self."

That's what I told myself. So I packed up my music and went back to work.

There are few things I hate more than wasted practice time at the piano. I know myself well enough to know that today was going to be a bad practice. I was tired and fuzzy-brained, but that wasn't the real problem. The real problem was that I was distracted.

For one thing, I didn't want to take a long lunch hour. The knowledge that I was on a short (25-minute) timetable was disastrous for my concentration. Too bad, because I'm usually pretty good at making those short sessions pack a punch.

I also kept thinking someone was listening. Paranoid, I know. I don't usually worry about people listening when during a lunch hour practice session. So maybe I have a sixth sense and someone really was listening today. Either way, if I even think someone might be listening, my ability to focus on practicing goes out the window.

So I did my scales and arps and "practiced" for about five minutes, then I packed up and went back to work.

Maybe tomorrow's practice will be better.

To make this post a little less depressing, I'll show you what I'm focusing on for this week.

This is the Coda of the Schubert Impromptu in E-flat major, Op. 90, No. 2. Much of the piece falls right into the hands, but the Coda didn't look like it would feel quite as natural to play. So I decided to work on it first. Here's the entire Coda:


Yesterday I focused on the second half of the coda. It turned out to be much easier to "pick up" than I'd originally thought. The only parts that gave me a bit of trouble were the part where the chords went in opposite directions:



See what I mean? Also, the chords in the RH (right hand) are a bit of a stretch for my tiny fingers. Plus, much of this is played on the high end of the piano, which means I have to imagine what it sounds like, thanks to my high-frequency hearing loss. I know, I could practice an octave lower, but I'd rather not.

I was happy with yesterday's practice. I can play the second half all the way through, at a slow tempo. I actually have it by memory too, for the moment. I have the notes.

My practice for today was supposed to be on the first half of the coda. My goal was to have the first half up to the same standard as I have the second half. Specifically, I knew I would need to work on those parts of the first half that were similar to the second half:



I didn't get very far. But I'll be able to work on this tonight. I'm due for another good practice.

The Schubert Practice That Didn't Happen

"Self, if you're going to be tired and super-sensitive and not pay attention, then you might as well be at work, where you don't *have* to think this hard. So just go back to work, Self."

That's what I told myself. So I packed up my music and went back to work.

There are few things I hate more than wasted practice time at the piano. I know myself well enough to know that today was going to be a bad practice. I was tired and fuzzy-brained, but that wasn't the real problem. The real problem was that I was distracted.

For one thing, I didn't want to take a long lunch hour. The knowledge that I was on a short (25-minute) timetable was disastrous for my concentration. Too bad, because I'm usually pretty good at making those short sessions pack a punch.

I also kept thinking someone was listening. Paranoid, I know. I don't usually worry about people listening when during a lunch hour practice session. So maybe I have a sixth sense and someone really was listening today. Either way, if I even think someone might be listening, my ability to focus on practicing goes out the window.

So I did my scales and arps and "practiced" for about five minutes, then I packed up and went back to work.

Maybe tomorrow's practice will be better.

To make this post a little less depressing, I'll show you what I'm focusing on for this week.

This is the Coda of the Schubert Impromptu in E-flat major, Op. 90, No. 2. Much of the piece falls right into the hands, but the Coda didn't look like it would feel quite as natural to play. So I decided to work on it first. Here's the entire Coda:


Yesterday I focused on the second half of the coda. It turned out to be much easier to "pick up" than I'd originally thought. The only parts that gave me a bit of trouble were the part where the chords went in opposite directions:



See what I mean? Also, the chords in the RH (right hand) are a bit of a stretch for my tiny fingers. Plus, much of this is played on the high end of the piano, which means I have to imagine what it sounds like, thanks to my high-frequency hearing loss. I know, I could practice an octave lower, but I'd rather not.

I was happy with yesterday's practice. I can play the second half all the way through, at a slow tempo. I actually have it by memory too, for the moment. I have the notes.

My practice for today was supposed to be on the first half of the coda. My goal was to have the first half up to the same standard as I have the second half. Specifically, I knew I would need to work on those parts of the first half that were similar to the second half:



I didn't get very far. But I'll be able to work on this tonight. I'm due for another good practice.

Milestones

Young Scout seems to be hitting a lot of milestones lately. Scout has been pooping and peeing for a couple of weeks now, and he or she is capable of that all-time favorite pastime of babies: thumb-sucking. Scout is about 5 inches "tall" (from crown to rump) and weighs about 3.5 to 5.0 ounces. Scout has been inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid for a couple of weeks, practicing breathing, which will come in handy once he or she makes the big entrance into the real world. As of this week, Scout's eyes and ears are moving into their proper places, and his or her circulatory system is completely functional.

Pretty amazing, huh? Not even born yet, and our Scout is already doing amazing things.

I just hope Scout isn't too negatively affected by hearing me practice Shostakovich while he or she is still in the womb.

In two weeks, Scout should be able to hear me. And Shostakovich.

Maybe I should start playing Mozart and Chopin instead.

Milestones

Young Scout seems to be hitting a lot of milestones lately. Scout has been pooping and peeing for a couple of weeks now, and he or she is capable of that all-time favorite pastime of babies: thumb-sucking. Scout is about 5 inches "tall" (from crown to rump) and weighs about 3.5 to 5.0 ounces. Scout has been inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid for a couple of weeks, practicing breathing, which will come in handy once he or she makes the big entrance into the real world. As of this week, Scout's eyes and ears are moving into their proper places, and his or her circulatory system is completely functional.

Pretty amazing, huh? Not even born yet, and our Scout is already doing amazing things.

I just hope Scout isn't too negatively affected by hearing me practice Shostakovich while he or she is still in the womb.

In two weeks, Scout should be able to hear me. And Shostakovich.

Maybe I should start playing Mozart and Chopin instead.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Stories on Camp Daniel Boone

Note to readers: I have decided to remove this post for privacy reasons. I'm sure you can dredge it up somewhere and somehow on the internet, but you won't be able to find it here anymore.

So ... if you were looking for examples of poor journalism regarding the recent H1N1 "scare" at Camp Daniel Boone, you must look elsewhere.

If you were looking for examples of my writing in which I wax eloquent about how wonderful my Hubster is, just keep reading. Such examples are plentiful and are not hard to find. :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday Pet Peeves

I haven't done these in a while.

Prostrate/prostate

I don't want to hear about prostrate cancer. And I don't want to hear that people prostated themselves before their leader. I don't even want to think about what that would look like.

Prostrate has an extra "r" in it. Prostate doesn't. They are two different words with two very different meanings. So, if I look up something with the word prostrate on google.com, I don't want to be asked, "Did you mean prostate?" and then find myself staring at a bunch of links on the prostate gland. See?



I understand that Google is counting on people misspelling or misusing the word, but still ...

A search for prostrate on The Free Dictionary even brings up ads for prostate-related sites. Only one of them mentions "prostrate cancer."



Prostrate (with the second "r"), according to the American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition, means "to put or throw flat with face down, as in submission or adoration." Think of Muslims praying.

The word itself comes from Latin pro- ("forward") + sternere ("to spread, cast down"). Other words stemming from "sternere" include stratum and street. A strata is a layer of something. We usually think of layers as horizontal, or spread across a space. A street is stretched or extended across the ground. So you can see how the original meaning "spreads" into these other words.

Prostate (without the second "r"), on the other hand, refers to the prostate gland. It's the word that's so often paired with cancer, as prostate cancer is a significant threat for older men. The "pro" of the word comes from Greek pro- ("in front"), while the second half of the word comes from the Greek histanai ("to set, place"). So prostate literally means "set in front" or "placed in front."

In male mammals, the prostate gland surrounds the neck of the bladder. So I guess it's right to refer to it as the, er, "set-in-front" gland.

So, I'm sorry for anyone who has prostate cancer. But please don't try to talk to me about prostrate cancer. If you do, I'm going to ask you how it might be possible that one gets cancer from getting on your knees and bowing to the ground.

OK, on to the next pet peeve o' day:

Ultimate/penultimate

Why do people confuse these words? What are they thinking? "Oh, penultimate sounds like ultimate, and it sounds ... bigger! better! fancier! So it must mean 'really ultimate'!" (Note I didn't write "uber-ultimate," as "uber" is another big pet peeve of mine these days.)

No, penultimate doesn't mean "really ultimate" (or uber-ultimate). It means "next to last." I know this word from linguistics--the next-to-last syllable of a word is the penultimate syllable. The third-to-last syllable, by the way, is the antepenultimate syllable, "ante" meaning "before."

Ultimate, of course, has several meanings, one of which is "being last in a series, process, or progression" (from the American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition). Sure, it can also mean "biggest," "greatest," or "utmost." But the term penultimate is related to that first definition of ultimate. Penultimate, by the way, comes from the Latin paene ("almost") + ultimus ("last").

So please, use your ultimates correctly. I think I'm going to have to give the ultimate dirty look to the next person who uses penultimate as an intensified version of ultimate.

End of pet-peeve rant.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bump

Note: I've also posted this on my main blog, A Sort of Notebook. I'll probably be posting more to that blog instead of this one in the future.

I'm 15 weeks and 5 days pregnant and am happy to announce that I now have a noticeable baby bump.

It's not a big bump by any means, but it's noticeable. I'm relieved. I was starting to wonder if I was really pregnant. (Ha ha, that's a joke.)

(No. I am not posting pictures of my belly on this blog, or anywhere else.)

Today I started having shooting, knotty pains right behind my belly button, so I called my doctor to see what might be going on. I knew it wasn't the "round ligament stretching" that I've been hearing about, since that occurs more in the area of your ovaries. This was right smack behind my belly button.

So they told me to come in this afternoon, which I did. The doc said that the shooting pains are probably from stretching ligaments--just not the round ligaments I keep reading about. Instead, they're ligments behind the belly button.

Or, it could just be gas.

Oh, great. Maybe I just have a gas bump. Maybe I'm just pregnant with a big, stinky fart. Boy, wouldn't that be a disappointment when I finally went into labor!

No, it can't be a fart. Farts don't have heartbeats. And this baby definitely has a heartbeat.

Oh, did I forget to mention it? They checked Scout's heart rate again today! The doc found it immediately. I was shocked that he found it so fast. "Well, the baby's getting bigger," he said. Yeah, I guess so.

Anyway, Scout's heart rate is now 150--quite a bit lower than at the first ultrasound, when it was nearly 180. Then at ten weeks, it was closer to 170. At twelve weeks, it was about 164. And now it's 150. If you follow the old wives' tale about heart rate being a predictor of the baby's sex, Scout started out as a very girly girl, but is progressing rapidly toward "could be either a boy or a girl."

Maybe Scout will be a tomboy of a girl, just like her mommy was.

My next scheduled appointment is next week. It will be interesting to see if the heart rate is any lower. Either way, it would probably be safe to go ahead and buy Scout his/her first baseball glove.

Bump

I'm 15 weeks and 5 days pregnant and am happy to announce that I now have a noticeable baby bump.

It's not a big bump by any means, but it's noticeable. I'm relieved. I was starting to wonder if I was really pregnant. (Ha ha, that's a joke.)

(No. I am not posting pictures of my belly on this blog, or anywhere else.)

Today I started having shooting, knotty pains right behind my belly button, so I called my doctor to see what might be going on. I knew it wasn't the "round ligament stretching" that I've been hearing about, since that occurs more in the area of your ovaries. This was right smack behind my belly button.

So they told me to come in this afternoon, which I did. The doc said that the shooting pains are probably from stretching ligaments--just not the round ligaments I keep reading about. Instead, they're ligments behind the belly button.

Or, it could just be gas.

Oh, great. Maybe I just have a gas bump. Maybe I'm just pregnant with a big, stinky fart. Boy, wouldn't that be a disappointment when I finally went into labor!

No, it can't be a fart. Farts don't have heartbeats. And this baby definitely has a heartbeat.

Oh, did I forget to mention it? They checked Scout's heart rate again today! The doc found it immediately. I was shocked that he found it so fast. "Well, the baby's getting bigger," he said. Yeah, I guess so.

Anyway, Scout's heart rate is now 150--quite a bit lower than at the first ultrasound, when it was nearly 180. Then at ten weeks, it was closer to 170. At twelve weeks, it was about 164. And now it's 150. If you follow the old wives' tale about heart rate being a predictor of the baby's sex, Scout started out as a very girly girl, but is progressing rapidly toward "could be either a boy or a girl."

Maybe Scout will be a tomboy of a girl, just like her mommy was.

My next scheduled appointment is next week. It will be interesting to see if the heart rate is any lower. Either way, it would probably be safe to go ahead and buy Scout his/her first baseball glove.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Banging

This is a random recording of bits and pieces of a practice session from about a year and a half ago. The sound guy at the Baptist church was testing their new sound equipment. It's not much to listen to. I'm actually posting this for a friend of mine, to see if we can successfully embed sound files into a Blogger blog, and this was the least ugly-sounding of the uncopyrighted mp3 and wav files I have at my disposal.

So, here is the sound file. I'm basically practicing one of my intermediate pieces. Then, just as I get toward the very end of it, the recording switches to a horrendous-sounding snippet from the last couple of measures of the C# major fugue.

Friday, June 12, 2009

15 Weeks Today

Happy Birthday, Pregnancy! You are fifteen weeks old today. And you, Scout, have been in existence for about 13 weeks. You’re now about the size of an apple, and you can sense light. I wonder if you can sense my cat, Hideaway, sitting on you every night, purring her little heart out with joy because she knows I’m going to have a kitten.

Fifteen weeks. That doesn’t really seem like such a long time. I feel like I’ve been pregnant forever. But it’s only been 105 days. Ah. One hundred and five. For some reason, that sounds longer than 15 weeks.

Here’s an approximation of what Scout looks like this week, taken from BabyCenter.com:



As you can see, this picture is not very representational, as the mother’s butt is just at small and smooth as ever. I, on the other hand, am sadly watching my pre-pregnancy, half-marathon training butt lose itself in a sea of non-muscle.

I would love to exercise more. I really would. I am doing my best. And if you know me at all, you know I’m no slacker when it comes to exercising. Here are my workouts for the last week:

- Monday: Walked two miles! Yay! Was going to do pregnancy yoga when I got home, but I was too exhausted.

- Tuesday: Walked one mile. After the first half-mile, I felt like I was going to pee all over myself. I made it the whole mile, then went home (about a five-minute drive) to pee. I wanted to go back and walk some more, but I was too exhausted.

- Wednesday: Went to the fitness center and walked on the treadmill. Went a whole mile and a half. Only had to stop once to pee mid-walk. I wanted to do some weight training afterward, but my legs were cramping pretty badly, plus I was exhausted.

- Thursday: Went to the track, ready to put in at least two miles. After a quarter-mile, I found myself in such pain from leg cramps that I could barely walk at all. I stopped numerous times to stretch my legs—they were hurting in my calves and in whatever muscle connects my back upper thigh with my butt, particularly in my left leg. I forced myself to hobble one more quarter-mile, but I was almost in tears by the time I finished. So I went a half-mile, total. I thought, “Maybe I can do some pregnancy yoga when I get home,” but the cramping continued throughout the night. Plus, I was exhausted.

This will not cut it. I get exhausted and out of breath walking up the ramp from the parking lot to get to work. Walking two miles, when I manage to do it, just about kills me. How am I supposed to stay in shape when I don’t even have the energy to exercise?

It’s very frustrating, not to mention depressing. I think lack of exercise could be part of the funk--musical and otherwise--I've been in all week. When I can’t get my exercise in, the endorphins abandon me and I get depressed. So it’s been a tough week. I’m hoping Week 15 will be better.

15 Weeks Today

Happy Birthday, Pregnancy! You are fifteen weeks old today. And you, Scout, have been in existence for about 13 weeks. You’re now about the size of an apple, and you can sense light. I wonder if you can sense my cat, Hideaway, sitting on you every night, purring her little heart out with joy because I’m going to have a kitten.

Fifteen weeks. That doesn’t really seem like such a long time. I feel like I’ve been pregnant forever. But it’s only been 105 days. Ah. One hundred and five. For some reason, that sounds longer than 15 weeks.

Here’s the smooth-bottomed girl showing an approximation of what Scout looks like this week:



As you can see, this picture is not very representational, as the mother’s butt is just at small and smooth as ever. I am, on the other hand, expanding on the cellulite collection I first started back when I hit puberty.

I would love to exercise more. I am doing my best. And if you know me at all, you know I’m no slacker when it comes to exercising. Here are my workouts for the last week:

- Monday: Walked two miles! Yay! Was going to do pregnancy yoga when I got home, but I was too exhausted.

- Tuesday: Walked one mile. After the first half-mile, I felt like I was going to pee all over myself. I made it the whole mile, then went home (about a five-minute drive) to pee. I wanted to go back and walk some more, but I was too exhausted.

- Wednesday: Went to the fitness center and walked on the treadmill. Went a whole mile and a half. Only had to stop once to pee mid-walk. I wanted to do some weight training afterward, but my legs were cramping pretty badly, plus I was exhausted.

- Thursday: Went to the track, ready to put in at least two miles. After a quarter-mile, I found myself in such pain from leg cramps that I could barely walk at all. I stopped numerous times to stretch my legs—they were hurting in my calves and in whatever muscle connects my back upper thigh with my butt, particularly in my left leg. I forced myself to hobble one more quarter-mile, but I was almost in tears by the time I finished. So I went a half-mile, total. I thought, “Maybe I can do some pregnancy yoga when I get home,” but the cramping continued throughout the night. Plus, I was exhausted.

This will not cut it. I get exhausted and out of breath walking up the ramp from the parking lot to get to work. Walking two miles, when I manage to do it, just about kills me. How am I supposed to stay in shape when I don’t even have the energy to exercise?

It’s very frustrating, not to mention depressing. When I can’t get my exercise in, the endorphins abandon me and I get depressed. So it’s been a tough week. I’m hoping Week 15 will be better.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Musical Funk

I am in a serious musical funk. Negative, negative, negative self-talk galloping through my brain. All though my lunchtime practice session today. All through my lunchtime practice session yesterday. Here’s what the negative little voice was saying:

"For someone so supposedly talented as you, who has worked as hard as you have at piano, you’d really think you wouldn’t suck as much as you do."

OK, I was going to make a list of everything that little negative voice was saying, but really, that’s pretty much what it’s saying right there.

Granted, I know I’m coming back to piano after a nine-month “fallow period.” I’m not in the pianistic shape I was in before. Deborah and others have said that fallow periods are necessary and good. That’s fine. But I think back to what caused the fallow period. It was basically a thought similar to the following:

"For someone so supposedly talented as you, who has worked as hard as you have at piano, you’d really think you wouldn’t suck as much as you do."

I can tell you when the fallow period started. It started at a group lesson where I played the C# major prelude and fugue that I had poured my heart and soul into for two years. When I took it on, I knew it might take two years (or more) to learn it. I was also learning Ständchen at the same time, which was no piece of cake. And I was working full-time, well, more than full time. More like 50-60 hours a week. And commuting two hours a day. So I went into this piece knowing I was going to live with it for a long, long time.

I was playing it really well in my practice sessions a year ago. I was aware. I was one with the piece. Playing that fugue was like having a million-tiny-fingers brain massage. It was like being part of a complicated dance where me and my dance partner were totally in sync with each other … only there were three dance partners—the three voices of the fugue. And the prelude … it was ready. I was ready. I looked forward to the group class, particularly because John Cobb, probably the most accomplished pianist in western North Carolina, was going to be there.

Well, I flopped. Maybe “flopped” is too strong of a word. But the prelude sounded mediocre, and I didn’t play the fugue well at all. I played it certainly … but it sounded like one of those “this-student-is-playing-way-beyond-her-means-and-shoudn’t-be” moments.

After I finished, I got some feedback. It included things like:

- Do you practice with a metronome? (Of course, this is a veiled and polite way of saying your timing sucks)

- Were you uncomfortable on the bench? I thought you looked really uncomfortable. (I wasn’t uncomfortable. But it was a comment on my posture, which I know needs work. Someone also said that I had some “strange body positions” when I was playing. Ah, nothing like knowing you looked stupid.)

I wasn’t uncomfortable on the bench, but I was uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable playing for other people, and always have been. So maybe that came through in my posture and “strange body positions.”

Whatever. After that session, I decided I really didn’t want to try anymore. And I’ve pretty much been stuck on the following statement ever since:

"For someone so supposedly talented as you, who has worked as hard as you have at piano, you’d really think you wouldn’t suck as much as you do."

So now that I’m back at piano and my time and energy are limited (amazing how much it takes out of me to drive an hour and a half on a Friday afternoon after work, or a Saturday, for an hour-long piano lesson), I’ve picked up an easier group of pieces.

I really want to learn all “Seven Dolls’ Dances” by Shostakovich. These are kiddie pieces, but I don’t care. Plus, I’m about to have a kiddie, and I want to play them for him/her. So I’m sticking with the Shostakovich. The other piece is a Schubert Impromptu (Op. 90, No. 2). I’ve dropped the Bach P&F I’d started, and I dropped the Beethoven Bagatelle, which I never liked that much anyway.

The Schubert is a late-intermediate piece. The Shostakovich is probably an early-intermediate piece. I’m working on them, rather than on more advanced stuff, to experience mastery and to play at world-class standard without having to struggle through learning the notes. "World-class standard." Those are Deborah's words. Heh. We’ll see about that. For someone supposed so talented as me, who has worked so hard … OK, we don’t need the broken record here.

So, that’s where I’m at. Feeling negative and kind of depressed about the whole piano thing. I really need to get back into the mode of loving piano and being thankful for my ability to play it.

Musical Funk

I am in a serious musical funk. Negative, negative, negative self-talk galloping through my brain. All though my lunchtime practice session today. All through my lunchtime practice session yesterday. Here’s what the negative little voice was saying:

"For someone so supposedly talented as you, who has worked as hard as you have at piano, you’d really think you wouldn’t suck as much as you do."

OK, I was going to make a list of everything that little negative voice was saying, but really, that’s pretty much what it’s saying right there.

Granted, I know I’m coming back to piano after a nine-month “fallow period.” I’m not in the pianistic shape I was in before. Deborah and others have said that fallow periods are necessary and good. That’s fine. But I think back to what caused the fallow period. It was basically a thought similar to the following:

"For someone so supposedly talented as you, who has worked as hard as you have at piano, you’d really think you wouldn’t suck as much as you do."

I can tell you when the fallow period started. It started at a group lesson where I played the C# major prelude and fugue that I had poured my heart and soul into for two years. When I took it on, I knew it might take two years (or more) to learn it. I was also learning Ständchen at the same time, which was no piece of cake. And I was working full-time, well, more than full time. More like 50-60 hours a week. And commuting two hours a day. So I went into this piece knowing I was going to live with it for a long, long time.

I was playing it really well in my practice sessions a year ago. I was aware. I was one with the piece. Playing that fugue was like having a million-tiny-fingers brain massage. It was like being part of a complicated dance where me and my dance partner were totally in sync with each other … only there were three dance partners—the three voices of the fugue. And the prelude … it was ready. I was ready. I looked forward to the group class, particularly because John Cobb, probably the most accomplished pianist in western North Carolina, was going to be there.

Well, I flopped. Maybe “flopped” is too strong of a word. But the prelude sounded mediocre, and I didn’t play the fugue well at all. I played it certainly … but it sounded like one of those “this-student-is-playing-way-beyond-her-means-and-shoudn’t-be” moments.

After I finished, I got some feedback. It included things like:

- Do you practice with a metronome? (Of course, this is a veiled and polite way of saying your timing sucks)

- Were you uncomfortable on the bench? I thought you looked really uncomfortable. (I wasn’t uncomfortable. But it was a comment on my posture, which I know needs work. Someone also said that I had some “strange body positions” when I was playing. Ah, nothing like knowing you looked stupid.)

I wasn’t uncomfortable on the bench, but I was uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable playing for other people, and always have been. So maybe that came through in my posture and “strange body positions.”

Whatever. After that session, I decided I really didn’t want to try anymore. And I’ve pretty much been stuck on the following statement ever since:

"For someone so supposedly talented as you, who has worked as hard as you have at piano, you’d really think you wouldn’t suck as much as you do."

So now that I’m back at piano and my time and energy are limited (amazing how much it takes out of me to drive an hour and a half on a Friday afternoon after work, or a Saturday, for an hour-long piano lesson), I’ve picked up an easier group of pieces.

I really want to learn all “Seven Dolls’ Dances” by Shostakovich. These are kiddie pieces, but I don’t care. Plus, I’m about to have a kiddie, and I want to play them for him/her. So I’m sticking with the Shostakovich. The other piece is a Schubert Impromptu (Op. 90, No. 2). I’ve dropped the Bach P&F I’d started, and I dropped the Beethoven Bagatelle, which I never liked that much anyway.

The Schubert is a late-intermediate piece. The Shostakovich is probably an early-intermediate piece. I’m working on them, rather than on more advanced stuff, to experience mastery and to play at world-class standard without having to struggle through learning the notes. "World-class standard." Those are Deborah's words. Heh. We’ll see about that. For someone supposed so talented as me, who has worked so hard … OK, we don’t need the broken record here.

So, that’s where I’m at. Feeling negative and kind of depressed about the whole piano thing. I really need to get back into the mode of loving piano and being thankful for my ability to play it.

My Favorite Pundit is Delightful

My favorite pundit, Jay Nordlinger, published an "FAQs" article for his "Impromptus" column today. In it, he gives FAQs on how to find out more about Che Guevara (his is constantly pointing out the ridiculousness of people wearing "Che" t-shirts when they have no clue what a killer this man was), FAQs on breaking into journalism, and FAQs on how to learn about music. (He's also a music critic.)

The music FAQs ... hmm, that's a bit of a large task. He warned his dear readers not to write and tell him what he left out, since he was well aware of what he left out. I thought he did a magnificent job offering, in his always-charming writing style, a smattering of important listenings for the person who wants to learn more about music.

In case you missed the link above, you can find his "FAQs" here. And if you like his writing, you can find his Impromptus archive here. Unless you find his politics a barrier (a problem a lot of people have, I think), you'll find his writing delightful.

In addition to Jay's FAQs, I recommend The Teaching Company course, "How to Listen To and Understand Great Music," taught by Robert Greenberg. Actually, all of Greenberg's courses are good. I've written about him on this blog before. Here, for instance.

(I'll blog more about piano later. I've actually practiced every day this week--wonder of wonders!)

Anyway, it's been awhile since I've linked to either Jay or Mr. Greenberg on this blog, so I thought it was about time I did both. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Temptation to Deface

Today I was tempted to deface the bumper sticker of some poor fellow Christian.

It said:

I PRAY. GET USE TO IT!

I really, really wanted to pull out a red Sharpie and write:

ENGLISH GRAMMAR. GET USED TO IT!

But I didn't.

But I wanted to. I really wanted to.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Carried Away

I got carried away today—carried away into a wonderful state of consciousness where I lost all sense of time and just enjoyed being enveloped in the music.

That tends to happen when I find myself with a grand piano, a Baptist hymnal, and a big, empty room with excellent acoustics.

Actually, it doesn’t. I’ve been practicing at that same grand piano at that same Baptist church at lunchtime for a couple of years now. Rarely have I let myself lose track of time. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I know I need to be back at work by a certain time because if I’m not, I’ll have to work later than planned. Who wants to do that? Not me.

Today I worked on a very tiny part of the Shostakovich, practicing for mastery of that one little tiny part. Spent a good half-hour or more on three not-very-complicated measures. Dug into the music, picked away at the layers, drilled in rhythms, and in the process played those three measures probably 60 or 70 times. That’s the way I like to practice. That is why I never had, and never will have, a future in music. (That, and I’m deaf.) I’d much rather tinker with the complexities of a single measure than, you know, learn the whole piece for a whole audience.

(Selfish? Probably.)

Anyway, after I finished drilling the Shostakovich, I decided to go back to work a little early, so I took out the Baptist hymnal to play through a few hymns, like I usually do at the end of a practice session. I’ve played them so many times, and I have fun improvising and trying out new interpretations. It’s kind of a “winding down” for my brain after the intense practice.

Usually, I play a couple of hymns, then I leave. Not today.

Today I played and played and played. And played. For probably an hour. I’ve been working on gospel-i-fying the hymns—you know, playing it in 3/4 or 6/8 time, using lots of grace notes, adding climbing and descending octaves, etc. It’s so much fun, even though some of my results leave much to be desired.

I also practice changing keys, usually just basic stuff like going from the tonic to the subdominant. I stick to the easier pieces—the ones that just have three or four main chords. It’s good training for my brain. (Training for what, I have no clue.)

I’ve long been at the point where I can’t play exactly what’s written on the page. The chords in a hymnal are merely guidelines. I use them as such and go from there. It’s so much fun, even though the results are sometimes disastrous. This is part of why I have no future as a church accompanist. (That, and I have no desire to be a church accompanist. And I’m deaf.)

Anyway, I left for my “piano lunch” at 1:30 and didn’t get back to work until nearly 3.

What a great way to spend a long lunch.

Carried Away

I got carried away today—carried away into a wonderful state of consciousness where I lost all sense of time and just enjoyed being enveloped in the music.

That tends to happen when I find myself with a grand piano, a Baptist hymnal, and a big, empty room with excellent acoustics.

Actually, it doesn’t. I’ve been practicing at that same grand piano at that same Baptist church at lunchtime for a couple of years now. Rarely have I let myself lose track of time. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I know I need to be back at work by a certain time because if I’m not, I’ll have to work later than planned. Who wants to do that? Not me.

Today I worked on a very tiny part of the Shostakovich, practicing for mastery of that one little tiny part. Spent a good half-hour or more on three not-very-complicated measures. Dug into the music, picked away at the layers, drilled in rhythms, and in the process played those three measures probably 60 or 70 times. That’s the way I like to practice. That is why I never had, and never will have, a future in music. (That, and I’m deaf.) I’d much rather tinker with the complexities of a single measure than, you know, learn the whole piece for a whole audience.

(Selfish? Probably.)

Anyway, after I finished drilling the Shostakovich, I decided to go back to work a little early, so I took out the Baptist hymnal to play through a few hymns, like I usually do at the end of a practice session. I’ve played them so many times, and I have fun improvising and trying out new interpretations. It’s kind of a “winding down” for my brain after the intense practice.

Usually, I play a couple of hymns, then I leave. Not today.

Today I played and played and played. And played. For probably an hour. I’ve been working on gospel-i-fying the hymns—you know, playing it in 3/4 or 6/8 time, using lots of grace notes, adding climbing and descending octaves, etc. It’s so much fun, even though some of my results leave much to be desired.

I also practice changing keys, usually just basic stuff like going from the tonic to the subdominant. I stick to the easier pieces—the ones that just have three or four main chords. It’s good training for my brain. (Training for what, I have no clue.)

I’ve long been at the point where I don't play exactly what’s written on the page. The chords in a hymnal are merely guidelines. I use them as such and go from there. It’s so much fun, even though the results are sometimes disastrous. This is part of why I have no future as a church accompanist. (That, and I have no desire to be a church accompanist. And I’m deaf.)

Anyway, I left for my “piano lunch” at 1:30 and didn’t get back to work until nearly 3.

What a great way to spend a long lunch.

Another Pregnancy Symptom--Bleeding Gums

When I brushed my teeth this morning, I spit out a mouthful of blood.

I was reading that this could happen. Basically, the body is working so hard to provide nutrients to the baby that other parts of the body—like the teeth and gums—get ignored. From what I’ve read, bleeding gums are particularly a problem if you don’t take good care of your teeth.

Well, I floss two to three times a day, brush after every meal (including lunch), and use ACT every morning and night. I went to the dentist when I was about six weeks pregnant, and said everything looked great, except for a slight calcium buildup, most likely the result of the calcium pills plus a concerted effort to get more calcium in my diet via yogurt and other calcium-containing foods.

So, I guess my body is working too hard even for my dental hygiene efforts to do any good.

Or maybe I just have bad teeth. I hope I don’t. I want Scout to inherit good teeth.

In other news, we painted Scout's room this weekend. I'll post pictures soon.

P.S. No, I'm not showing yet.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Offically, Officially, Officially

Today I am officially, officially, officially in my second trimester. I thought I was officially in my second trimester when I got to Week 12. Then I read that the second trimester doesn't actually start until Week 13. Then, somewhere during Week 13, I read that the second trimester starts with Week 14.

Ah, the joy of varying pregnancy calendars. Are we measuring from conception? For the gestational age? From the first missed period? (Usually when I miss a period, I merely end up with a run-on sentence.)

Regardless of what we're measuring and how, and whether my sentences are running on or not, I'm happy to say that I begin Week 14 of pregnancy today. My risk of miscarrying decreases even more now. Scout has begun to pee, is forming meconium (for you non-mommies, that's poop) in his/her intestines, and is about the size of a lemon (Scout, that is--not the poop--is lemon-sized).

I'm not "showing" yet. I'm about two pounds heavier than when I first learned I was pregnant, thanks to my lack of appetite. Still, I don't know why I'm not heavier, because I can tell I'm bigger. I bought some maternity jeans and think they're the most wonderful jeans in the world. But, to the rest of the world, I'm just the same old Waterfall. I fear I'm going to be one of those mommies who don't look pregnant until late in the pregnancy.

Don't you hate this "pregnancy" talk? I sure did when I didn't have kids. I can't say I like it all that much now, actually. So I'll stop now. Have a great weekend, all!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fun with Horror-Scopes

(This is also posted to my other blog.)

Yesterday on BabyCenter.com, I found a section on horror-scopes (as my friend Belch calls them). Here's what their astrological "experts" say about what our little Scout be like:

ADVENTURER AT HEART

Your Sagittarius son or daughter is a born adventurer. For Sagittarius children, life is all about experience. They want to zoom out into the world and gobble it up whole.

If your baby Sagittarius gets into all kinds of trouble before he can even walk, don't be surprised! Sagittarius children like to explore well past the boundaries set for them by their parents.

Learning and understanding are your Sagittarius child's primary needs, and as his parent, you can help him by making his life as fun, varied, and stimulating as possible. Family vacations will be a favorite, as will long, rambling adventures outdoors and rousing games of hide-and-seek in the backyard.

Your Sagittarius child is naturally athletic and will need to work off excess energy doing things that are playful and physical. Let him join the soccer or swim team, or take him along on your weekend hikes.

His mind needs plenty of stimulation, too, so provide your Sagittarius child with lots of books to read and documentary DVDs to watch, and take him to museums, zoos, and art galleries as often as possible. Indulge his need for freedom and engage him in far-flung discussions, noticing his universal outlook.

And finally, Sagittarius children tend to be bright, exuberant, optimistic, and outgoing, which means they have a wide circle of friends. Don't expect your Sag child's birthday parties to be small, intimate affairs -- there are just too many people who love being around this kid!


Hmm, Scout sounds like an ideal child. Something tells me that every "child prediction" of our astrologers sounds like an ideal child.

Anyway, here's what Hubster and I will be like as parents:

PROVIDE AFFECTION AND SUPPORT

You won't let others dictate to you how to best parent your children. You're confident in your natural ability and high ideals to carry you through without much input from others. And truthfully, between the two of you, you've got the talent and skill to pull it off. (You bet we do! Ha!)

The Aquarius mom
(that's me!) or dad has some radical ideas about childrearing -- the more progressive, the better! Use technology to keep in touch with your kids, and encourage them to have an active social life with friends of all sorts. One word of caution: Don't be too detached. Express your love physically and verbally.

The Pisces parent (that's my Hubster!) is a gentle soul. You have a strong emotional and intuitive connection with your kids, and you encourage their creative and artistic expression (but I want to do that, too!). Your sensitivity and compassion helps you be open and understanding when they confide in you, which they will surely do.

Obviously Hubster is the Pisces and I'm the Aquarius. Of course, reading this, the Pisces sure sounds like me.

(See, I wanted to be a Pisces. I was due February 15, but I wouldn't come out, no sirree, because I was waiting for February 19 or 20. But then they went and induced labor before that, and I was born an Aquarius. So here I am.)

According to our experts, here's how I'll get along with our little Saggitarian Scout:

A CHILDHOOD WELL-LIVED (I sure hope so!)

Your Sagittarius child is an adventurer at heart. You've always been quite independent yourself, and your little Sagittarius admires her unique, freethinking parent. This carefree child is happy to follow your lead, and it's rare that you keep her at home for quiet time. No, your idea of a childhood well-lived includes lots of trips to the science museum and the library, the zoo and the neighborhood pool -- anyplace where people have gathered and your little one can learn something about what it is to be human. Spirited little Sagittarius loves these outings.

This child has a basic need to learn everything she can about the world in which she lives. Your fundamental parental theory is perfect for your little one, who thrives on the freedom you afford her. Her mind expands with the ideas and friends you take such care to present.


Ah, just what our family needs, another adventurer. (Yay!) But I would never force my kid to socialize at the neighborhood pool. Other people's kids pee in those places!

Here's how Hubster will get along with Scout:

A COUPLE OF WANDERERS (Are you laughing yet?)

Your Sagittarius child keeps you busy, that's for sure! This adventurous, playful child is always on the go. Even when she's still in diapers, it can be a challenge to keep up with her. You love your little one's innate curiosity about the world, and you have no problem letting her explore its boundaries. You're a somewhat free-form, permissive parent, and you give little Sagittarius the freedom she needs to roam.

Of course, neither of you is much for details, so the day-to-day tasks of parenting -- getting your child to school on time, serving regular meals, establishing a routine for bedtime -- can be a bit of a stretch for you. Let's hope there's someone else in your lives to provide a practical, grounding influence for you and your little Sagittarius. Otherwise, your instinct is to wander through your imagination while your child wanders the world.

Oh, great. I guess that means I'll have to be the "practical, grounding influence." That is a very scary thought.

Now, the forecast for our little cousins-to-be, Scout the Saggitarius and Ella the Scorpio, isn't so good:

NOT MUCH IN COMMON

Your Sagittarius child is openhearted and trusting. Not so his Scorpio cousin, who doesn't trust anyone easily, not even family. These two are so different they may not play together much. They just don't have a lot in common, and besides, adventurous Sagittarius spends as much time away from home as possible.

When these two are in close quarters, it's easy for crafty Scorpio to manipulate her Sagittarius cousin, and while Sagittarius will go along with it for a while, battles will result at some point. Scorpio just doesn't understand Sagittarius's happy-go-lucky personality or his broad interests. Scorpio is much more emotionally intense and interested in psychological issues.

The good news is, both children are sharply intelligent in their own ways. With Scorpio's devotion to her loved ones and Sagittarius's ability to forgive and forget, these two are sure to become closer as they get older.

(I tested the astrological predictor by seeing how Aquarian me would get along with my parents ... and it was totally wrong, until I tested it with me as a Pisces. Then it was exactly right. Hmmm ....)

Fun with Horror-Scopes

(This is also posted to my other blog.)

Yesterday on BabyCenter.com, I found a section on horror-scopes (as my friend Belch calls them). Here's what their astrological "experts" say about what our little Scout be like:

ADVENTURER AT HEART

Your Sagittarius son or daughter is a born adventurer. For Sagittarius children, life is all about experience. They want to zoom out into the world and gobble it up whole.

If your baby Sagittarius gets into all kinds of trouble before he can even walk, don't be surprised! Sagittarius children like to explore well past the boundaries set for them by their parents.

Learning and understanding are your Sagittarius child's primary needs, and as his parent, you can help him by making his life as fun, varied, and stimulating as possible. Family vacations will be a favorite, as will long, rambling adventures outdoors and rousing games of hide-and-seek in the backyard.

Your Sagittarius child is naturally athletic and will need to work off excess energy doing things that are playful and physical. Let him join the soccer or swim team, or take him along on your weekend hikes.

His mind needs plenty of stimulation, too, so provide your Sagittarius child with lots of books to read and documentary DVDs to watch, and take him to museums, zoos, and art galleries as often as possible. Indulge his need for freedom and engage him in far-flung discussions, noticing his universal outlook.

And finally, Sagittarius children tend to be bright, exuberant, optimistic, and outgoing, which means they have a wide circle of friends. Don't expect your Sag child's birthday parties to be small, intimate affairs -- there are just too many people who love being around this kid!


Hmm, Scout sounds like an ideal child. Something tells me that every "child prediction" of our astrologers sounds like an ideal child.

Anyway, here's what Hubster and I will be like as parents:

PROVIDE AFFECTION AND SUPPORT

You won't let others dictate to you how to best parent your children. You're confident in your natural ability and high ideals to carry you through without much input from others. And truthfully, between the two of you, you've got the talent and skill to pull it off. (You bet we do! Ha!)

The Aquarius mom
(that's me!) or dad has some radical ideas about childrearing -- the more progressive, the better! Use technology to keep in touch with your kids, and encourage them to have an active social life with friends of all sorts. One word of caution: Don't be too detached. Express your love physically and verbally.

The Pisces parent (that's my Hubster!) is a gentle soul. You have a strong emotional and intuitive connection with your kids, and you encourage their creative and artistic expression (but I want to do that, too!). Your sensitivity and compassion helps you be open and understanding when they confide in you, which they will surely do.

Obviously Hubster is the Pisces and I'm the Aquarius. Of course, reading this, the Pisces sure sounds like me.

(See, I wanted to be a Pisces. I was due February 15, but I wouldn't come out, no sirree, because I was waiting for February 19 or 20. But then they went and induced labor before that, and I was born an Aquarius. So here I am.)

According to our experts, here's how I'll get along with our little Saggitarian Scout:

A CHILDHOOD WELL-LIVED (I sure hope so!)

Your Sagittarius child is an adventurer at heart. You've always been quite independent yourself, and your little Sagittarius admires her unique, freethinking parent. This carefree child is happy to follow your lead, and it's rare that you keep her at home for quiet time. No, your idea of a childhood well-lived includes lots of trips to the science museum and the library, the zoo and the neighborhood pool -- anyplace where people have gathered and your little one can learn something about what it is to be human. Spirited little Sagittarius loves these outings.

This child has a basic need to learn everything she can about the world in which she lives. Your fundamental parental theory is perfect for your little one, who thrives on the freedom you afford her. Her mind expands with the ideas and friends you take such care to present.


Ah, just what our family needs, another adventurer. (Yay!) But I would never force my kid to socialize at the neighborhood pool. Other people's kids pee in those places!

Here's how Hubster will get along with Scout:

A COUPLE OF WANDERERS (Are you laughing yet?)

Your Sagittarius child keeps you busy, that's for sure! This adventurous, playful child is always on the go. Even when she's still in diapers, it can be a challenge to keep up with her. You love your little one's innate curiosity about the world, and you have no problem letting her explore its boundaries. You're a somewhat free-form, permissive parent, and you give little Sagittarius the freedom she needs to roam.

Of course, neither of you is much for details, so the day-to-day tasks of parenting -- getting your child to school on time, serving regular meals, establishing a routine for bedtime -- can be a bit of a stretch for you. Let's hope there's someone else in your lives to provide a practical, grounding influence for you and your little Sagittarius. Otherwise, your instinct is to wander through your imagination while your child wanders the world.

Oh, great. I guess that means I'll have to be the "practical, grounding influence." That is a very scary thought.

Now, the forecast for our little cousins-to-be, Scout the Saggitarius and Ella the Scorpio, isn't so good:

NOT MUCH IN COMMON

Your Sagittarius child is openhearted and trusting. Not so his Scorpio cousin, who doesn't trust anyone easily, not even family. These two are so different they may not play together much. They just don't have a lot in common, and besides, adventurous Sagittarius spends as much time away from home as possible.

When these two are in close quarters, it's easy for crafty Scorpio to manipulate her Sagittarius cousin, and while Sagittarius will go along with it for a while, battles will result at some point. Scorpio just doesn't understand Sagittarius's happy-go-lucky personality or his broad interests. Scorpio is much more emotionally intense and interested in psychological issues.

The good news is, both children are sharply intelligent in their own ways. With Scorpio's devotion to her loved ones and Sagittarius's ability to forgive and forget, these two are sure to become closer as they get older.

My word. I cannot imagine Miss Ella behaving in such a way.

(I tested the astrological predictor by seeing how Aquarian me would get along with my parents ... and it was totally wrong, until I tested it with me as a Pisces. Then it was exactly right. Hmmm ....)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Reckless and Wanton Book-Buying ... Yes!

As a chronic book-buyer who ordered a book from amazon.com the other day and bought not one but two books from the local bookstore yesterday, plus went to the library and checked out the book I'd ordered from amazon.com because I couldn't wait three days to get it, I was delighted with Jollyblogger's latest title, "In Praise of Reckless and Wanton Book-Buying." Check it out here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

(When) Do You Stop Reading?

I'm wading through a tattered old copy of Sacajawea by Anna Lee Waldo and am about 600 pages in. I remember when my mom read this book, back in the seventies. She loved it. My copy was given to my husband from one of his hiking buddies, who highly recommended it. It's one of those books that have been on my list for a long time, and I was glad to finally start reading it several weeks ago.

Some parts of it are pretty good. Most of the book, though, bores me to tears. I feel bad about that. I want to like this book.

Usually, I have no problem putting down a book that doesn't interest me after the first 100 or so pages. If the book comes highly recommended, I might read a little further. I'm getting tired of this one, though. And I'm not even halfway through.

For one thing, the writing isn't doing all that much for me. It's readable, certainly, but the writing doesn't jump out at me as being particularly good.

For another, I don't like the "historical" intros to each of the chapters. They basically tell you what's going to happen in the chapter to come. I actually stopped reading the intros several chapters back. I guess that's helping me get through it more quickly.

Mainly, though, I'm just not interested. I think Sacajawea is a fascinating character and was a noble woman, but the novel itself is managing to bore me to tears. OK, not tears. That's hyperbole. But speaking of tears, I thought I would cry when Sacajawea was reunited with the Shoshonis, the same way I read about it at the Lewis & Clark exhibit we saw several years ago on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. No. The writing itself was weak, and I just felt ... bored.

So, I'm thinking about quitting this one.

Generally, when I do quit reading a book, I find myself regretting that I read as far as I did. For example, I read well over half of The Da Vinci Code before I gave up in disgust. Why did I read that much when I knew, less than a chapter in, that it was going to be a bad book?

Partly it's because I don't want to pooh-pooh a book that I haven't read at least a chunk of. It doesn't seem to right to say, "Oh, that's an awful book. I had to quit reading after just 20 pages." It just doesn't seem like enough to judge.

The trouble with Sacajawea isn't that I think it's an awful book. It isn't an awful book. It's just kind of ... good in some places, but mediocre in most other places. I really don't want to spend more time reading 800 more pages of a mostly-mediocre book--even though I feel committed to finishing it, since I'm already 600 pages in.

How far do you go into a book before you give up and decide to put it down? Do you force yourself to finish once you've started? Why? Do you have certain criteria that must be met in order for you to keep reading?

(I'm sure I've asked these questions on this blog before, but my readers are different from before. And I love reading your answers, even if you answered these same questions last time.)

One more question: Have you ever read Sacajawea yourself? If you have, how did you like it? Would you recommend that I stick with it for a few hundred more pages?

Tooth Sockets and Hair Follicles

Now that I'm well into Week 13 of pregnancy, Scout's tooth sockets and hair follicles have begun to develop. Isn't that sweet? Not that Scout will actually have any hair when he or she is born ... but it's good to know the old scalp is going to have potential.

I wonder ... will Scout have eye teeth? I have no eye teeth. But I was blessed with relatively straight teeth and never needed braces. So maybe Scout will get lucky. Sheltowee's teeth are pretty straight, too. Lucky Scout. Scout will get relatively good tooth genes.

And about this hair ... we're pretty sure Scout will have blond hair. My biological mother had blond hair (same as me ... started out blond, then got darker and darker and darker, and now it's almost brown). My biological father has brown hair. Both Sheltowee's parents had blond hair. So there's a good chance that Scout will be a blondie.

I can definitely feel that there is "something" in my belly now. Scout is, according to the experts about 3 inches from crown to rump and weighs about an ounce and a quarter. That's a whole inch, and a whole three-quarters of an ounce, more than last week!

Next prenatal appointment is June 23. I'm looking forward to hearing the heartbeat again. Hopefully Sheltowee will be able to come with me.