General · Music

Squeeee!

For the first time in my adult life, I am super excited about Christmas! So excited in fact, that I got us a Christmas shrub, and turned the dining room table into Christmasland.

 

Mattie, who claims to hate Christmas, said the tree looked incomplete until I added something to the top. I couldn’t find a small enough topper, so I settled on this big silvery bow and it worked out great! There’s so many gifts around it now and Mattie still hasn’t put all of his out- our little tree is in danger of being buried!

Tuesday night was the High Desert Ukulele Club’s Christmas party, and I took Mattie’s dad with me. He seemed to be having a decent time until people started playing music, then he got angry and left. I let him go- I was there to enjoy fun, music, singing, and socializing with a great group of people and I wasn’t planning on leaving for a few more hours. Even with him leaving early, it was a good night.

Today I took 8 of my music books into Staples to have them cut off the binding and put on a spiral binding. I swear I don’t understand why music books aren’t already marketed with a spiral binding- you are typically using both hands to play your instrument, what hand are you supposed to use to wrangle your pages with in a book that refuses to sit flat?

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It was a little more expensive than I had hoped, but they did a good job and I won’t have any more issues with the pages not staying put. Don’t judge me- I honestly don’t even like Star Wars but I like some of the music.

I still have a few more books to have rebound but most of them are done now and if I take new ones in as I get them, it won’t be much of an expense. I might also do this with some of my knitting and crochet pattern books as well.

Tomorrow I am taking Mattie’s dad to pick up some prescriptions, and I think Friday we are seeing his mom for dinner. Monday we will have out last night of pool for this year since Christmas and New Years follow right after that. My mom will be by herself over the holidays. Her boyfriend is going back to Mexico to see his kids, flying out on the 23rd, and he won’t be back until after the 10th of January. We’ll be going to her house though on Christmas Eve, and then hosting Christmas for Mattie’s dad and brother here at the house. Somewhere in there we will also exchange gifts with friends. 🙂

dogsrelaxBefore I go, here’s a photo of the coolest dogs ever relaxing. Yup, that’s how we do it. Belly up, paws reaching all over, goofy facial expression… all while poor old Lucy tries to ignore Sashi’s over-exuberant silliness and general good cheer.

Good night, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and I’ll likely see you after Christmas has passed. 🙂

 

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General · Music

Christmas is Coming

So as some of you know, I’m on disability, and I’m basically a broke-ass mother. I set myself at doing all my survey companies’ invites every freaking day and in 2 weeks I’ve collected almost $50 in Amazon gift cards with a few more really close to paying out. I’ve also managed to save about $70 in the last 2 months by having $1 transferred to my savings every time I use my debit card. I apparently do more shopping than I thought I did.

Anyway, I’m trying to do my Christmas shopping way ahead so there’s no “OMG It’s freaking December and what am I going to do?!?” panic. I’ve purchased for my mom and her boyfriend, for Mattie’s brother, and 4 small items for Mattie. I have no idea what to get his dad at all, and Tracy’s gift idea is something I will need to make her but it will only take a few days I think to do provided I can really focus on it. Its something I planned for several months back but no rush on it because its basically a simply just time consuming project. I already have everything I need.

I’m also trying to do my research on getting a cello. I’ve scoped out a few makers and while I’ve found one I am fairly confident about on Amazon (having seen the same model in person), I would much buy from an actual instrument maker or music shop in person. Especially because they are expensive. Basically I am looking at at least $600 for a very beginner’s model. Eek! I’m also reading Craigslist ads and checking other places for uses instruments but I’m not sure where I’m going to find the right one.

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Crafting · General · Health · Music

All The Things

I’ve had another violin lesson with the lovely Faustina, and I still love it. Its challenging, but in a good way. My next (3rd) lesson is this Friday and while I’m struggling with my C note (2nd finger, 3rd string), otherwise I’m doing okay. I really should devote a little more time to practicing though. An extra half hour a wek would really make a difference, and that’s really only 5 minutes more a day if I practice 6 days a week.

My guitar I bought that I shared with you previously has been rehabbed, though I did have to rig up a fix for one of its issues. I replaced the tuning heads, the nut, the saddle, and the strings and bridge pins, but discovered after it was strung that there’s something not right with where the nut sits, and my strings were all touching the first fret. I poured, cured, and trimmed a small bit of clear resin to pad under the nut to raise it just a bit to keep the strings of the first fret. I also discovered after all of that (time, effort, money) that the neck is cracked. But it seems to be straight on the front side and playable so I will ignore it until it either gets worse or actually breaks. I’m doing the beginner’s group lesson at Guitar Center on the 17th. It will be a busy day as I will be doing that in the morning, we’ll be taking my FIL shopping after that, and then most likely going to a party in Palmdale.

My FIL has had a knack for scheduling his appointments at the only times I am actually busy, so I made and printed out calendars for him that show all the times I am not available… and he still manages to schedule things for the wrong days and times. *sigh* He scheduled one for this Friday right before my violin lesson…. there’s no way we will have time to get to his Dr’s appointment, then go out to eat, drive him home, drive back to Lancaster, and get to my lesson before 4pm, so I said we will have to go eat before the Dr’s appointment. I know he doesn’t want to get up that early but I did say noon or before 1pm when he was scheduling it and of course he scheduled it for 1pm.

When I go to my next Dr’s appointment I am asking to be taken off of the Trileptal. I don’t feel like it did anything to curb my mild mania, and honestly, I don’t want to take something that seems to do nothing for me. I closed my last credit card down so its going to take a lot of effort for me to do any crazy spending now, and really that’s all I do now if I’m somewhat manic.

I finished this blanket this morning- it was supposed to only be a baby blanket between 36″ and 42″ wide but nope. Once again my color plan took over and it grew and grew. It would be great over a couch or on a twin sized bed. I had to buy another skein of the red to finish it because I literally ran out with 15″ to go before it was done. Ugh. Oh well. At least its a nice red.

 

We are trying to eat a bit better and I stocked up on fruits and veggies this last shopping trip. There will be no excuses for eating like crap. When I bought all the groceries yesterday, the cashier rang up almost all of my fruits and vegetables wrong, but it ended up being to my benefit and I really didn’t feel like correcting her with almost every produce item she typed in.

 

 

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Music

First Violin Lesson

This afternoon at 3:30pm, I met with Faustina at Tapp’s Music for my first lesson. I was nervous, especially after I looked her up on The Book of Faces and realized she might not even be 18 years old and is likely ridiculously brilliant. After expressing my worries to some sympathetic ears who basically told me a hundred times that she has likely practiced 10,000 hours or more to get to that point, I felt like my head was in the right place, it was time to go, and I went.

Faustina was friendly and professional from the beginning of our meeting. She took the time to go over the anatomy of the violin, run over some very basic music theory, how to tune it, and show me over and over again how to hold it and the bow. Holding the bow I got okay but the actual violin is another story. That will take some practice.

I had to buy a copy of the book she teaches out of, which was fine, and it was only $6, so that was a plus. And she gave me some homework- practice playing a progression of notes on one string (D – E – F# – F# – E – D) smoothly and with an even tempo. One of the things besides proper form that I will really need to work on is applying even pressure with the bow, not too much but not too little, to get a nice sound without mashing all the strings.

The entire time she was so patient with me and she never made me feel inferior in any way. I’m really glad I gave her the call and set up the lesson and I’m looking forward to meeting again in two weeks when hopefully I can actually play the thing she set me to, and maybe a bit more.

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Conversations · Music

Conversations with Mattie

After practicing my ukelele for a while this evening, Mattie made this declaration:

Great. Now I have the tune you were playing stuck in my head.

Suck it up buttercup… I didn’t say it but I sure thought it! Kinda makes me feel good to know my playing is catchy on some level though, so thanks for the sideways complement, honey!


I made some truly awful squalling noises on the violin.

Me: Listen! Its a dying cat!
Mattie: I get it. You can make noise. Please stop.

He has no sense of adventure. I’m super excited for my first violin lesson tomorrow afternoon!

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Music

When Packing Items to Ship…

Take Goodwill’s example! It took me ten minutes to unbox this but I’m glad because it meant my item was safe and well-protected during shipping.

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This is a huge box. If it was thicker I could fit our 85 pound dog inside it.
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Tons of packing paper. The pile I pulled out was bigger than the dog.
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Bubble wrap. They did not skimp on you.
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More bubble wrap and a second box to protect the body. I’m liking this a lot!
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Finally unwrapped. Missing the nut and parts of 2 tuning heads.
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Missing the saddle and bridge pins… and strings of course.
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She’s pretty but the remains of that “HELLO My Name Is” sticker have got to go!

There’s some nasty scratches on the side of the lower body and a few chips in the finish of the headstock, but overall I’m pretty pleased with it.

Replacement parts ran me about $80 + tax, but according to the reviews I read, once the parts are replaced I’ll have a pretty nice guitar. I’m looking forward to putting it together and learning to play it though it’ll be about a week before the parts and strings get here. I’ll probably sign up for a group class at Guitar Center to help myself get a feel for things.

And believe me when I say I am done buying instruments for now! Hopefully for a while! hehe

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General · Music

Things I’ve Bought Online

So I made the mistake of rediscovering the Shop Goodwill website. Not only are there bargains to be found, there are some pretty crazy things listed if you take the time to look. And it combines my love of auctions with my love of thrifting.

Mattie’s paying me back, but I won him 2 big lots of mixed Legos (about 30 pounds of them total) for about $150. We got the first lot of them yesterday and holy cow! Check it out.

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The box is slightly longer then wide and about as tall as it is wide- and he had already taken some Legos out of it. Lots of good pieces of all different shapes and sizes, though there were a few random Duplo blocks and a couple Legos that had been damaged- some were burnt? Weird. The other two boxes I won him are about 1.4 times this amount total, so he’s going to be sorting them for a while.

On Saturday evening, I checked to see what was listed at Integrity Public Auction, a local auction house. Sometimes they do internet only auctions, and sometimes they allow absentee bidding for live auctions. The current auction when I had a peek was for absentee bidding, and I saw something I couldn’t resist and had to bid on. I ended up winning this little beauty for $20 and picked it up on Sunday afternoon.

 

Its a little soprano and maybe even brighter in color in person. It sounds a little plinky but I still like it. I’m having some trouble not muting the strings a bit with my forearm when playing it- its teensy size is really throwing me off! I wasn’t supposed to buy another uke because I actually have one from Goodwill on its way to me now. It should be arriving on Wednesday- another soprano.

One last auction find for today. Here’s some history. I have always loved violin and fiddle music. They make me happy. But its a notoriously difficult instrument and also expensive. I’ve been looking though and I found what I hoped would be a great deal on eBay. I bought it and I spent about a week freaking out that it would be destroyed in the mail.

Finally, yesterday, I received this box. It took me about ten minutes to get the end of it open, but it was definitely packed securely and the inside was lined with chunks of Styrofoam and wadded up plastic.

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This was what I felt like I had been waiting half my life for.

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I finally got it out of the box and opened the case. I was so worried that maybe it got trashed in the mail, but nope, its perfect.

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I then took it over to Tapp’s Music and asked them to give it a once over and tell me if anything was wrong with it and if it was a suitable beginner’s instrument. It passed muster, so then I asked for contacts for instructors to teach me how to play. I left with two business cards, one for someone who teaches classical violin and one who teaches violin and fiddle. I called the fiddle lady when I got home and set up for my first lesson this Friday. I’m super excited!

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General · Health · Music

New Meds, Ukulele Tune-Up, Happy Anniversary!

Tuesday I had an appointment with my psych doctor, where we discussed I feel fucking fantastic, but strongly suspect I am somewhat manic due to the condition of my one credit card account. Its fairly hemorrhaging money, and spending money is something I do when I’m manic. He suggested trying me on a low dose of Trileptol along with my other meds (Geodon and Zoloft) to see if it balances me out. The mania started around the same time as the Zoloft did. Ugh.

Part of me is like “Just go back on Wellbutrin! You were stable then!” but I had so many side effects from it which is why I went off of it. I really hope this works though, because I am getting tired of making changes and trying to find the magical “this works”.

Last night I decided to very carefully make some adjustments to my DIY kit ukulele and try to tune up the set-up a bit and make it play better. I carefully removed the nut and the saddle and sanded them both down (from the bottom) and reinstalled them. I also gently removed the neck from the body and reglued it, and made it sit a little flatter, and the same thing with the bridge. It seems to play better now, though I realized I actually installed the bridge in not quite the right spot, which means my intonation is a bit off. I didn’t realize when I put it together that the location of the bridge was that important. Eventually I might see about measuring that out (maybe when I change my strings?) and placing at a more optimal position.

Today is mine and Mattie’s 7th anniversary. 7 years with this guy and we’re both still alive! LOL Sashi will be 6 in a few weeks. We got her when we had been together about a year, but I still can’t believe she’s a middle-aged dog now. I have a small gift I made Mattie, and he’s cooking me dinner tonight- chicken, steak, cole slaw, wine. Hopefully the wine doesn’t mix badly with my new medication.

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General · Music

Mattie’s First Uke!

Mattie’s birthday was June 30th and our Anniversary is July 21st. We don’t usually do gifts but I wanted to get him something special this year just because. I ordered him a Dean Dime ukulele that I had seen him ogle and talk about several times. It finally got here on Friday, and I drove over to Guitar Center (not my favorite retailer but coupons!) to pick it up.

I wrapped the box, but as soon as he saw the wings logo on the inner box, he knew.

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Mattie’s a guitar guy, but this uke really grabbed his attention. I was still worried he might not like it (because its not a guitar) but he loved it!

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Its pretty cool looking, though not my style, and I rather like the simplistic details that really make it shine- the inlays on the fret board are a nice touch.

Anyway, I don’t think I can get him to join the ukulele club, but I’m glad he loves it!

And hey! I got something for myself too!

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A Luna banjolele. Mattie had some fun playing around with it too and was kinda intrigued by the sound. I haven’t tried it much yet but so far I like it. And its rather pretty too.

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