Wednesday, January 30, 2013


This morning, I had to drive to Petite School for a meeting; with the Spring Musical getting underway, parents need information about costumes and rehearsal expectations, etc. So off I chugged down to Sacramento, where the meeting was successful.

Before I left, I ran into one of my colleagues in the copy room. She mentioned that her two sons have recently left Petite School for a local public school, as recent family upheaval has made it necessary. I frowned and told her I'd miss her boys, both very sweet, attentive kids. She, in turn, told me that one of them went to his first music class at the new school yesterday. When she asked him how it went, he frowned a little and said, "Well...she's not like Ms. C."

My heart melted a little.

Shortly after this exchange, I saddled up Rosie Pro and drove back towards home, stopping off at the gym along the way. It was a Leg Day, and as I finished my last set of weighted lunges, a woman I don't know approached me from behind. I saw her in the mirror, but I didn't realize at first that she did, indeed, wish to speak to me.

"I just had to tell you...I was working out next to you when you did your 70 pound picture that one day. You look great! Really amazing."

A huge smile spread across my face. "Thank you so much!" It amazed me that she remembered--that picture was taken last February!

Actually, here it is:

I was laughing because Matt had said something like, "Should I take it from
this angle or that angle? Or...oh, just take the picture already!" as I struggled
with the dumbbell.

Both compliments put a spring in my step, as did a great workout and a productive midday. Next time you are hesitating about giving a genuine, sincere compliment...don't. Tell someone! It really makes a person's day.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

My Week in Pictures #10

Another busy week, but once again, I managed to get at least one Instagram pic each life is busy these days, but apparently not all that exciting.

Sunday's pre-game coverage in the Sacramento Bee.

Defense Duck cheers for the Niners.

Bella does not approve of football taking away from
her belly rubs.

Monday: sheets may be needed.

New sheets (and comforter!) bought.

Wearing my new Keane t-shirt to choir rehearsal. And
marveling at how long my hair is again.

A pic of the little present I bought myself on Monday.

And a pic of my Kindle screen...I'm reading this monster

When I'm not reading "Movement" by Gray Cook between
lessons, I'm farting around with my iPhone.

Five days and I'm not even finished with Section 1 yet.


At the gym.

Blurry mirror portrait of a gymbo.


Back for more lessons...


Tiny little kinder-sized chairs. My butt fits, but my
knees are up around my ears.

Two green-eyed girls on a Friday night.


"Mommmmmeeeee...give meeee attention!!!!" Happy
#Caturday from Millie.

Saw this at Walgreens and laughed while eye-rolling.
I've spent my Saturday teaching more private lessons, so tomorrow is all about sleeping in, having a nice, leisurely run, and then sitting on my booty for the rest of the day. No work allowed!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation

When I came across the three words in the title of this post on my Kindle today, I was a bit...flummoxed.

See, I have a pretty decent vocabulary (I use words like flummoxed, for heaven's sake), but "proprioceptive" is a new one on me. I highlighted it and looked it up and it basically relates to stimuli that are within an organism. Right! Clear as...mud.

So that didn't really help my understanding of what PNF means, naturally. Time to turn to Google!

According to a couple of sources, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation sounds--to my untrained brain, anyway--like a very serious way of saying, "stretching." Of course, it's way more complicated than that, and just another question on the fast-growing list of questions I have for Matt, who recommended this book in the first place. He's going to be so sick of me approaching him at the gym with glassy eyes, my mouth slightly agape, and my Kindle dangling precariously from my fingertips.

Maybe I should make him brush up on secondary dominant chords or something. Even up the playing field a bit. ; )

Anyway, I may take a few days off from reading this "Movement" book because my brain is getting a bit fried and I have two full days of teaching ahead. And I want to finish the not-so-dry book I've been reading about China. And learn to use my new camera. And sleep. Yes, I definitely want to sleep.

Why I Love Twitter...

I really don't have much to say about this. I only want to present this awesomeness with 1) an apology for some spicy language and 2) a quick explanation that Richard is, of course, the drummer for Keane, and Alex is a British photographer who has worked with Keane many times and who is their buddy. Richard is a fan of Nikon, Alex prefers Canon. I recently made the switch from my poor, beat-up Nikon Coolpix to a Canon PowerShot SX150...and then sat back to enjoy the silliness on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Settle Down, Ms. Hyper!

So, the awesome news is that a couple of weeks ago, I started a new teaching gig. I've taken on a ton of private piano and voice students at a local place that offers music lessons, dance classes, karate and other martial arts, after school care, personal training, plyometrics...I think I got it all.

It's sort of a one-stop shopping for busy families. I have one student who has a dance class then walks over to the music room for her piano lesson in her leotard, tights and hoodie.

The bad news is that I'm now pretty much on the go six days a week, what with my gym workouts (three days a week), teaching at this new place (three days a week--including all day Saturday), Sac Choral (Monday nights), and Petite School (all day every Friday). It always takes me a week or two (or twelve) to settle into a new schedule so while I'm loving the work itself, and, obviously, the extra income it provides, I'm also sort of whirling around and trying to go in twelve directions at once.

Which is why, instead of being relaxed in bed right now (9:15 on Wednesday evening) with my book, getting ready for my 5:15 wake-up call to drive to Petite School to put some extra time in doing auditions for the Spring Musical, I'm sitting at my computer...blogging.

Don't worry, I'll knock it off with the constant parenthetical statements in a moment (you think it's exhausting reading it, try talking to me in person these days--my mind is in six different time zones) and go to bed.

The really, really, really awesome, great, fantastic, incredible news is that on Day Four of my new pill, my hormones seem to be regulating and I'm not MOODY anymore. I feel pretty even-keeled and the crying-over-nothing is going away. I don't feel like snapping at everyone, and actually found myself smiling and being really friendly to people at the post office today--normally a place that inspires me to snarl and bare my teeth at people.

I'm not on drugs, just a lower dose of estrogen.

To add to the load and prove that I really am crazy, I'm starting a new path that goes with one of my intentions for 2013--the one that says I ought to get certified as a personal trainer. My friend Matt (the Reasonable, and I'm not going to refer to him as "my trainer" anymore because he is simply my friend now--albeit a friend I ask fitness advice of and brag to when I do something awesome like leg-press 150 pounds, which I did today, thankyouverymuch) seems excited that I want to get certified and has recommended a couple of starting points for me before I go through the actual certification process.

So in addition to teaching, more teaching, choir, practicing music, working out, running, trying to be social, and running my not-so-profitable eBay and Etsy shops, I'm now reading a lofty tome called Movement: Functional Movement Systems: Screening, Assessment, Corrective Strategies. Right now it's pretty much all Greek to me, but Matt promises that as I start to understand it more, and as he shows me a little bit of how it all works in practice, I'll really get it. For now, it's about as enlightening as getting beaned on the head with a brick, but I know I'll get there in time.

Though if the author states one more time that, "This book is about movement," I may hunt him down and bean him on the head with my Kindle.

So there you have it. My body is tired but my brain is whirring. I think I'll cozy up in bed with my Kindle. Five minutes of Movement ought to have me snoozing in no time. ; )

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Remembories: Sunday Afternoons With the Niners

For the first time in almost two decades, the San Francisco 49ers are going to the Super Bowl.

Their win against the Atlanta Falcons wasn't necessarily pretty, but it is a win, and it sends the Niners to New Orleans in two weeks for their sixth franchise visit to the big game.

Mom and I watched today--I was mostly in my bedroom so I could keep up with Facebook and Twitter at the same time, though I spent plenty of time dashing out to the living room to commiserate with Mom, to jump up and down, to scream a little, and to jokingly offer her antacids or an adult beverage.

I couldn't help but think back to my earliest days as a Niner fan, back when Grandma and Grandpa Bean were alive, and we all watched together. My grandparents were big fans of the San Francisco teams, and their enthusiasm rubbed off on Mom, and then, of course, on Aaron and me. I most likely witnessed The Catch, though I don't remember it. I remember, very well, The Catch 2. Mom had given up on the game--only 8 seconds left, the Niners down. She went in the kitchen but came dashing back to the living room when I started screaming like a fool. We both witnessed The Catch 3, during last year's playoffs, which brought be back to watching the Niners full-time, knowing that this year had to be the year they made it back to the Super Bowl.

Names like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice were commonly mentioned in our house. We loved Roger Craig and Tom Rathman, Terrell Owens and Steve Young. We loathed the Dallas Cowboys and feared them until that magical NFC Championship game in 1994, when Steve Young finally shook the devil off his shoulder and got his own Super Bowl ring.

We laughed at memories of Grandma, cheering her team on, making cracks like, "I'd run, too, if he were after me!" as we watched William "The Refrigerator" Perry chase down one of our guys. Hysterical laughter would burst forth whenever one of us--usually Aaron--brought up our favorite stupid football joke: an on-field penalty for "unnecessary flatulence."

Seeing the 49ers return to their former glory brings back so much of that magic, the memories of great football, but more importantly, my beloved family.

Grandma and Grandpa are gone, and Aaron has a life and family in Idaho. These days, I watch with Mom, or by myself. Still, 49er football is something I have that keeps me feeling close to a brother I'm otherwise so different from, and I know in the next week or so, our postcards back and forth will discuss the game and our happiness that our favorite team is going to the big game.

Here's to family, and to great memories. Here's to a great football team, and more memories to be made. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

My Week in Instagram (Week 9)

This week was busy. Very, very busy. Good busy.

Some days I got a little desperate for picture ideas. Like at bedtime on Wednesday.


A new addition to my memory board.

What I'm reading right now--I'm really fascinated by China
and its culture.


We had a very cold snap of weather. Cali Swimmy was
NOT impressed by the icebergs in the bird bath.

Good thing he's an indoor duckie, with a fleecy blanket
to wrap up in.


In December, I worked like hell to memorize a piece in Latin.
This month, it's German gymnastics. Those sixteenth
notes are killer!


A post card from my brother, who now works for
Con Agra, the potato people.

Nightly routine.


Step into my new office! I've started teaching private
piano and voice lessons at a great place in Rocklin.

Between a couple of lessons, I worked on the chords
to a favorite Keane song.


Friday, we had a staff in-service at Petite School. The
owners treated us to Ethiopian food. It was delicious.


Snack time between piano lessons.

I had a bit of dead time today (I'm working to fill up my
time at the new job) so I took a project along to finish.

A few minutes ago, Ms. Millie was demanding my
attention. Mama's Little Sweetie!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Facebook Is My Happy Place

I admit it. I'm one of those annoying people who strives to keep her Facebook content overwhelmingly positive and happy. I try not to endlessly re-post all the little memes that go around, but every once in a while a LOLCat will make me snort with laughter and I have to share it with my friends.
I brag about my workouts, like this status from yesterday:

I do this not to make my life appear perfect to my old high school friends, but rather because as I scroll down my Timeline, I get a little tired of the people who endlessly piss and moan about life. The way I see it, you can bring happiness into people's lives, or negativity. I'd rather bring humor, joy, or at the very least, thought-provoking and conversation-starting ideas.

(Tangent: the abbreviation FML, the second definition on this Urban Dictionary link, makes me want to scream at people. You have a roof over your head? You have food to eat? You are better-off than most people on this planet, so stop moaning about how awful your life is because you have to pay $3.50 for a gallon of gas or because your mom didn't cook what you wanted for dinner, or that cute guy at work doesn't pay attention to you...)

Anyway, yesterday, I got a little ranty when someone I'm "friends" with (actually, a fellow Keane fan that I don't know outside of the Internet) posted an incredibly offensive picture for all the world to see. To be fair, she was just as outraged by the picture as I was, and her sharing of the item was to promote getting the jerks in the picture found and prosecuted for animal cruelty.

That's all well and good, but I really didn't need to see four assholes holding the separated head and body of a ginger any time, but especially two months after horribly losing my own sweet ginger cat. I burst into tears as the reality of what I was staring at sunk in. The picture was horrifying, and completely unnecessary. Believe me, I'm well aware that animal abuse happens.

So I broke my usual rule of being the positive Facebook poster yesterday, and ranted a little that no one needs to see such images on social media. It turns out that Huffington Post ran a story about this image (and others, which has me shuddering) a few months ago; where people are working to identify the men demons in the images so that charges can be brought on them. Good.

I don't link the article because it contains one image--the really bad parts are heavily blurred, but I just can't stand the grinning faces of these criminals.

In the end, I hid the horrifying picture from my Facebook timeline and reported it as inappropriate. Now, if you need me, I'll be bragging about my workouts and playing Words With Friends...doing my best to keep my Facebook, at least, a positive place.

Monday, January 14, 2013


California is having a cold spell right now.

Where normally, temps will bottom out in the mid- to upper-thirties at night this time of year, we've been dipping below freezing at night for over a week now. I don't mind so much, except that it does make my morning run a wee bit harder.

I can hear the runners in colder climates laughing at me, but let's face it: I am a true California Girl, and one who does not live in the snowy parts of the state. Forty degrees (Fahrenheit) is cold to me. The 28 degree reading that Google Weather was showing me this morning is almost unbearable.

But the run must go on, so this morning I laced up my Mizunos, threw a hoodie on over my long-sleeve shirt, and added my fingerless gloves (with little pull-over flaps that turn them in to mittens) to the mix. I stepped out of our warm house into the frigid air and started running.

Overall, the run wasn't as great as I'd hoped for--severe cramps in my lower ribs shortened it to a mile-and-a-half instead of the two-plus miles I hoped to get; but there was one moment that made me glad I went out on this cold, cold morning. As I turned onto a pathway that offers a view over the Sacramento Valley, I discovered that though the temps are below freezing, the sky was as clear as could be this morning. The Coastal Range mountains--at least 75 miles from here--were visible in high detail. I could see the show on the highest peaks, the brown color of the mountains themselves. The outline of Sacramento's modest skyline and beyond it, my old nemesis, Mt. Diablo. To the north, the Sutter Buttes, in all their glory.

The view was stunning, and I'm glad I got to enjoy it. Before too long, things will heat up and the summer smog will return. I suppose I can handle the cold weather from time to time.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Keane At the Warfield

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that this week...kinda sucked. Oh, it had it's okay moments, but overall, I was a moody, emotional, crying mess. I was anxious, stressed, and exhausted. A few days ago, I told my duck ladies, "Fortunately, there's a light at the end of this tunnel. It's a stage light, shining on four guys from England."

Yesterday, I set off for work at the usual time (6:45) and had my usual crazy Friday of non-stop teaching. It's always fun, but it is also exhausting. When you add this on top of a week that had me feeling slightly run-over, you can imagine that when I left at 2:30, my body was ready to sit for a while. It got its wish. The drive to Oakland took about an hour-and-a-half. I met Summer at the Rockridge BART station, and we took the train into the city to get some dinner and get to the Warfield on time.

What can I say? Keane gigs are always awesome. These guys are legitimate musicians performing really well-written music. As tired as I was, by the time the lights dimmed and the intro music started, I was finding my second wind. You can hear this wind in my high-pitched shrieking in this video:

The crowd was electric, Tom's voice was in top form, and the set list was great. I did rather miss "The Starting Line," as its a favorite of mine from Strangeland, but I don't decide the set lists and I refuse to complain because they played so many of their best songs with their usual energy and passion.

After such a topsy-turvy week, I definitely had moments of raw emotion during the show. The first came during "Silenced By the Night," which Tim once described as being, perhaps, a metaphor for coming out of a dark period. My own interpretation of the song fits this, and one reason I love this song so much is because of this meaning--I know, all too well, that feeling of being in a dark place and fighting your way out of it. Last night, the song nearly made me cry, especially as Tom sang, "'Cause baby I'm not scared of this world, when you're here..." and then geared up for an enormous, heartbreakingly gorgeous "Whoa" at the top of his voice.


Of course, the crowd roared throughout "Somewhere Only We Know," Keane's biggest Stateside hit, and sang along pretty much every word. Tom held his microphone stand high above us, encouraging us to sing along (as he always does). I almost cried again, because this song represents so many wonderful things to me--it's the song that brought me to that first Keane gig in 2009, and because I always loved it so, I've met some incredible people I may otherwise never have known.

Other highlights of the evening included Tom describing the neighborhood in which the Warfield Theater resides as, "the strangest neighborhood I've ever been in..." with a rueful chuckle. Welcome to The Tenderloin, Mr. Chaplin! A few minutes later, he described the band's bus trip into California (they came to us from Boise, Idaho) via Interstate 80, and how impressed he was with how beautiful this state is (insert huge roar from the crowd). "You've got everything! Mountains, the ocean, the Napa valley..." It was a proud California Girl moment for me.

Summer, attending her fourth proper Keane gig, was laughing at how she now knows Tom's signature hand motions and stage moves. We would jokingly imitate him and giggle while singing along to the music. I once saw someone describe Tom as a boring front man because he never changes his "shtick." I disagree, and maintain that you don't need to do gymnastics up there when you have a voice like Tom Chaplin's. 

The other guys were in top form, too. I knew something was up when Tim stood up from his stool, moved it several feet back, and stood at his keyboards. Sure enough, the band started "Is It Any Wonder?" (Summer's favorite) and this means Tim rocking out so hard you have to worry about whiplash. Jesse, as usual, danced around with his bass and did a few percussion duties (I saw him with claves at one point). He climbed up on the drum stand with Richard and I giggled, remembering a picture that was once put up on Twitter of Jesse pretending to bite a laughing Richard. Alas, no such shenanigans last night. Still, the grin on Richard's face as he and Jesse interacted said it all--these four guys are like brothers, and they still love to make music together.

I took two videos, a couple of bad still shots, and some Instagram shots that are in my Week in Instagram post below. Mostly, I spent Keane's 90-minute set being in the moment, singing along, dancing, and letting myself get caught up in the emotional intensity of Tim's lyrics. After the week I had leading up to Friday, I needed to just let go and enjoy. I later remarked to Summer that this was much needed "music therapy."

Unfortunately, we were unable to stay after the show to meet the guys--apparently they came out to say hello, but we had a BART train to catch back to Oakland, and the service shuts down around midnight. I'm just glad I got to see the show, hear the guys live. They never disappoint me, and I'm grateful to live in a place they visit regularly. Some countries only see Keane every 3-4 years. The U.S. gets them way more often than that, and the bay area sees them pretty much every tour.

I leave you with this thirty-second snippet of action from "A Bad Dream," showing just how energetic these guys are, how much they give to their fans.

Come back soon, Keane! California loves you.

My Week in Instagram -- Week 8 (with Keane!!)

Even a crazy, hormone-filled, topsy-turvy week couldn't keep me from taking my daily Instagram pic(s). And of course, last night I had Keane in San Francisco, so there's a few pics from that adventure. The obligatory blog post about the gig will be along shortly.

In the mean time, here's my week, captured in trendily-filtered images taken with my iPhone.


On Sunday, I cleaned. This is my work space, all cleaned,
dusted, and organized.

Bella NEVER hangs out in my room, but on Sunday, I
guess she wanted to spend some time with Millie.

I took a pic of the musical that will be a huge focus in my
life at Petite School for the next few months.


As I left for choir, I had to pull off the road and take this
picture. It does no justice for the gorgeous sunset over
the valley.


Creativity in action--soon to be sent to a duck lady in
Michigan and then gifted to some random guys.


Random shots around my bedroom.


On Thursday, I got this in the mail from my brother. It
made me smile.

I also got a new battery for my Mickey Mouse watch.
This was a gift for my 12th birthday. The lady at the
jewelry store said, "It's an antique!" Ayayay...

Thursday night was a hectic flurry of packing and getting
ready for a crazy, packed Friday of work and play.


Waiting for BART in Oakland (that's the SF skyline).

Waiting for the doors to open.

We got our favorite spot.

Cali Swimmy was pleased to see Keane again.

Tom (singer) and Tim (keyboards) perform "We Might As
Well Be Strangers."

Random artsy back-lit shot.

From left to right: Jesse (bass), Tom (vocals), Richard
(drums), Tim (Keyboards). This is Keane.

Green Keane


Took the tiniest detour in Benecia today on the way home,
looking for a vista point. Got a bit lost, but found some
cool stuff.

Finally found the vista point, and this view of Mt. Diablo.

The Mothball Fleet

Old and New

Came home to this: Millie and the Kindergatos being all
cute and comfy.