Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Solstice - 19 hours, 5 minutes, 8 seconds of sunlight

Then twilight lasts all the way until sunrise - peaking out at about 2 am. This day should be the height of our summer season, but the rain, the clouds, and the cold temperatures - as well as the mosquitos - somehow take the edge off it all. Now the days start getting shorter. How quickly time flows!

The last visitors left today. Son-B, daughter in law-C, and grandaughter D were here a week. The weather sucked the whole time, until it cleared off yesterday evening. Overnite temps dropped to 35F, but it warmed up fairly quickly and it was sunny most of the day today. Yay!

It was nice to have them here. We had a good chance to get to know our grandaughter in a different setting and age level. We won't be able to see them until next year at least, when there'll be another grandchild to visit. It always amazes me to see fleeting glimpses of my relatives in my kids and now in my grandaughter. She has so many traits from my mother - not the dark traits which, I think are primarly determined by how we are raised. What I'm seeing are genetic traits. Besides having similar facial features - especially the eyes - as my mother and sister, like my mother, 'D' seems to like to sort things out in logical ways (at 3-1/2 yrs.) such as determinging everybodies' favorite colors (and alternates), exactly where we are and where we have been all day and at what times, etc. It's also how she does this, the facial expressions she displays, the voice tones she uses... combined with her glances, sometimes it seems as if Mom has been reincarnated.

Seeing D brings up poignant memories of Z at that age. How strongly I felt for him at the time, and how much I enjoyed and appreciated every moment! How I miss those moments! Still, I watch him sitting at the computer, engrossed in his game, headphones blaring some White Stripes piece; very tall for 13-1/2 but rail thin; with big hands and feet; long unkempt hair; large intent eyes; a hint of a mustache; playful and full of humor; with his usual happy outlook. I still feel close to him, as close as before, even though I have to work at respecting his increasing independence and his natural growing apart from us.

Z apparently hurt his neck/shoulders on the trampoline a few days ago and it has been bothering him quite a bit. This morning I put a couple pain patches on his neck, which helped quite a bit. I really like Salonpas pain patches. They contain some sort of aspirin derivative which gets absorbed through the skin directly to the source of pain.

We were supposed to drive everybody to the airport in Anchorage today, but Z had stayed up most of the night - ailing - and felt nauseous this morning, so we sent them off in our Saturn. So we'll drive our motorhome up to Anchorage this weekend and tow it home. In a two week period we will have driven to Anchorage three times, to Seward once, to Homer three times, and to Ninichik once. We also bailed on a trip to Fairbanks. Also, we'll have dined out seven times...

Next week I'm finally going to rent a tractor to pull stumps. I've got more than 50 stumps around the house that were cut eight to ten years ago, which should be pretty punky and easy to yank out of the ground. The backhoe attachment sure looks sturdy enough. I'll dig a hole out where the garden used to be to bury some of the debris, and I'll haul the rest over to our old gravel pit, and bury it there. Then we're supposedly going to get a few truckloads of topsoil delivered. I'll probably rent the tractor again to spread it and do a few other jobs - I want to drag some of the fallen trees from the creekside of our hill and stack them in the gravel pit, with a sign offering the wood to whomever wants it. I'll also haul the tractor over to the property on Tustumena Lake Road and see if I can pull out some of the brush and fallen trees around our hill, along with some additional grading.

Any kid would give his right arm to spend a few days playing with a tractor/dozer/backhoe. Still, many, many years from being a kid, I'm really jazzed. I wish I could buy one...

With all the visitors these past two weeks, I missed several days with my cello; but I did fit in several sessions at opportune moments. I'm beginning to notice improvements in my sound. I'm working a lot on my bow hold, trying to keep it loose and controlled by only the thumb, forefinger and middle finger as needed. I'm also working on the various shortened bowings. I'm still a little confused about which type of note is which, but I think I know how to play the ones in the Suzuki books (at least). I briefly looked through the Potter book, but that only made me more confused than before. Nevertheless, my sound seems to be improved in various subtle ways. I've been working on the four (actually five) fiddle tunes with steady progress. The Mozart piece is coming along fairly quickly. I'm trying to focus a lot on rhythms and timing.

Sometimes, after playing really nice on a piece for the first time feeling the cello vibrating through my chest, that I sit, exhilarated, with my arms wrapped around the cello and realize that I am finally making music, and that I am improving. It helps reinforce the fantasy that the more I play the better I'll get.

When I first began playing, all I could see was how far I had to go. Now, after almost seven months, I can finally begin to appreciate the distance I've come - even if it's just one tiny step so far in this endless but fascinating journey.

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