Secrets of a Piano Teacher: I’m actually napping behind my ninja mask.

Oleander has asked me to discuss my life as a piano teacher. The subtleties of the profession. You know, the dirt.

There’s this thing about piano students.

They keep coming back. Every week, even.

Actually, running a piano studio is like a regular job. Yes, it’s work. 

478e34884d66f839187a13e4cc5a56d6And also actually, being a piano teacher is kind of like being a ninja. Except for the stealth. And the awesome outfit.

Craftily planning individual lessons for thirty students of varied age, talent, interest, practice and attention span. Covertly scheduling lessons, group activities, recitals, parties. Furtively interviewing potential students and parents, attending workshops and events to find new materials and music. Surreptitiously assessing student progress, meeting with parents to discuss to strengths and goals. Clandestinely banking, preparing tax statements, filing business license forms. And then, finally, teaching.- All with a SMILE underneath your awesome ninja mask!

Note: Picture a ninja with a smile. But with a nunchuk at the ready.63317375

Yes, I love teaching. And it doesn’t matter really all that much what I teach. And I love kids and I even love teenagers.

Whoa.

But teaching is hard too. Student excuses for not practicing are legendary in their creativity:

  • imageI left my piano books at my Grandma’s house. In Wisconsin. Or someplace.
  • I sprained my finger and it just got better today. What are the odds?
  • My Mom told me not to practice because she had a headache. Note: Okay this could be true. Ninjas get headaches, too.
  • I just broke up with my boyfriend/girlfriend. I can’t concentrate/the music makes me cry.
  • I had baseball practice/play practice/swim practice/volleyball practice/basketball practice or pretty much any other kind of practice you can imagine!

So, teaching then consists of song and dance routines (literally and figuratively), therapy sessions, cheerleading seminars, gentle reprimands, encouragement, patience and then a little more patience and encouragement.

pianobike_c_246362The end result may or may not be a great pianist.

But often, I feel I have a role in creating an awesome human being!

Heck, yes!

–BaconIMG_3814

P.S. I just noticed that the piano dude is naked. I guess his ninja outfit blew off on the freeway.

Okay Oleander: Smell, Smelled or Smelt. You choose.

One Person’s Failure is Another Person’s Lunch

bad-test-takerOleander asks: Did you ever fail a test? How did you handle it?

How did I handle my failure? How does anyone handle failure, really?

cb6fec4455bd79bdd0430adc67c726baSo, yeah. I ate it. Yes, I ate the test. I mean, what else was I supposed to do with the evidence of my failure?

To be fair, it was a one page math test. I could not possibly have eaten an essay-based or multiple-choice test.

Note: Don’t be ridiculous.

And also, it was a C+. I didn’t actually like, fail a test. Oh my goodness, no. An actual failed test never occurred in the history of my lifetime.

And finally, I was in fourth grade. I think maybe I had a problem.

Had?

Okay, fine. Maybe all of my problems have yet to be resolved. But I’m working them.

And then, I’ll die.

Well, that’s depressing. I think I’ll go write a sad poem. And eat it.

Heck, yes!

–BaconIMG_3970

Okay Little Miss Oleander: What are your verbal pet peeves? What weird phrases or things do people say that drive you bonkers?

The Mayflower Riddle Answered: One Part History, Two Parts Bacon, Three Parts Awesome!

Note: When Oleander gave me the Mayflower prompt, she had no idea that she was handing me the opportunity to brag and fluff myself up like a Thanksgiving turkey. Oleander was oblivious to the dignity of her heritage as it relates to the Mayflower, a fact for which I am sadly chagrined. At my previous failure to brag and fluff, yes.

Once upon a time, a vessel set sail for the New World. It’s 102 passengers shared a mid-ship, windowless cabin about 15×25 feet, with less than five feet headroom. There was no bathroom facility and the trip took twice as long as anticipated.

Note: Ugh.

There was no SHUFFLEBOARD on the Lido deck.

Sadly, the Mayflower didn’t sound like a lot of fun. April Showers seem much more pleasant than malnutrition, seasickness and scurvy.

In November 1620, The Mayflower landed. But the weather was really really bad. So, the passengers and crew were forced to remain on the ship until March of the next year. Only half the passengers survived that first winter.

Note: The story gets happier. Hang in there.

Although there’s not a lot of historical documentation, but who needs it, the legend is that 13 year-old Mary Chilton, who had lost both parents on the ship that winter, was the first “white woman” to set foot on America. Apparently as the boat neared shore, she quite simply leaped off in her excitement and impatience to get off the sea and onto dry land and to use a real bathroom. Later in the year she celebrated the First Thanksgiving, she got her own land grant and later married John Winslow and had ten kids.

Why am I sharing the legend of Mary Chilton? Why am I quite certain that the legend is true? Well, I believe that the petulant, excited, strong-willed, independent and lovely young Mary really was the first woman in The New World because she is my Tenth Great Grandmother!

Note: I know what you’re thinking. Why, Bacon, you don’t look a day over Ninth Great Grandmother!

Additional Note: And leave it to my Tenth Great Grandmother to be the first one ready for adventure.

But I’m serious! Please consider the following documentation of the event. And notice the family resemblance of these actual images:

Mary_Chilton_Winslow_on_Plymouth_Rock_MA_from_Mayflower-2

I’m not sure I’d call it a leap, but perhaps it an historical way, yes. A small leap for Mary Chilton, a giant leap for women!

Image84

I quite like this one. She was greeted to America by Prince Charming himself. And look at her teeny waist. Too bad I didn’t inherit that figure.

 

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Read the teeny tiny writing. The Landing of the Pilgrims by …. Bacon!

I rest my case!

You go Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandma Mary!

Okay Oleander, get busy with this one: Let’s hear about your strange metamorphosis into a chipmunk …

 

IKEA INSIGHTS: And is a Lingonberry a real fruit or something made up by Cap’n Crunch?

anigif_enhanced-buzz-3800-1389317397-13When I was growing up, we didn’t have an IKEA. We had a SEARS catalog that came every year in the mail, full of dreamy items but with normal names like couches, sleeper sofas, bookcases, curtains and cabinet handles. And sometimes, when life got fancy, we went to Sears. To see the dreamy items. And well, dream.

Note: That Mike Brady. Such a hunk.

But I grew up, yes. And I graduated from Sears to IKEA, a place where Americans go to pretend to live frugally and with less stuff. But ironically, IKEA is a place to buy stuff that probably nobody really needs in order to live small, but we Americans are an eager bunch. And so we buy KLIPs to sit on and FAGELBOs to sleep on and EXPEDITs to organize with and MERETEs to hang at our windows and GODMORGONs to open our cupboards, which overflow with stuff from IKEA.

But that’s okay because you can buy actual cabinets at IKEA to hold even more IKEA stuff and make you feel even more EUROPEAN as48d36b7558452e26509904ffbb65ea97 you wrangle with the tools and the cabinets and knobs and try to put all of this stuff together in your living room, because for your convenience, it comes in flat boxes to conveniently tie to the roof of your Prius and fly down the freeway, perilously.

And all of those Swedish names come in handy as you wrestle with the ropes and the tools and the boards and the instructions without words because all Swedish words sound like solid swear words, so you can express irritation without using the actual words in front of the children.

For example: What in the FRYKEN world! (Boxes with lids, if you’re wondering).

So, I pretty much love IKEA. I love the words and the products and the daring of the perilous driving and the lingonberry sauce.

And the meatballs. Please don’t forget the Swedish meatballs.

Heck, yes!IMG_3930

–Bacon

Oleander: So, go sit outside in your IKEA POANG and tell us what really goes on backstage during a musical theater production.

BEHIND CLOSED KITCHEN DOORS: Keep Calm and Cater On!

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When I was a kid, and I use that term loosely, there was a deodorant commercial that said “Never let them see you sweat,” which is really great advice, in any given situation. 

Smelly_Armpit-WomanNote: Equally important, perhaps, especially when catering deliciously-scented foods, is never let them smell you sweat because talk about a buzz kill.

Anyway, catering is basically controlled pandemonium behind closed kitchen doors with a perfectly-crafted, delightfully-executed product emerging from behind closed kitchen doors with a smile and shrug and a “Hey, it’s what I do,” with an emphasis on making it all look easy.

Note: It’s not.

Business-School-3Lots of random stuff can happen behind closed kitchen doors such as but not limited to: a shattered tray sending glass shards through the prep area, breakers blowing in the archaic kitchen when you plug in a blender, running out of my personal stash of Diet Coke, arriving at the venue and finding a single plug-in hot plate for reheating, running out of my personal stash of Diet Coke, brides deciding to “speed up” the service timeline, brides deciding to “slow down” the service timeline, and running out of my personal stash of Diet Coke.

But, never let them see you sweat. I never met a problem I couldn’t handle. But one time, it came this close.

Setting: We’re in the northern California winery wedding venue that’s a little bit Italy meets Disneyland in a remote area using an outdoor kitchen, meaning Uh, there are no closed doors. The Bride has requested stations throughout the venue with food representing different countries which gives it the “It’s a Small World” vibe, sort of. So, in the interest of catering to my client’s wishes, I have German bratwursts and potato ball things and Italian raviolis and artisan pizzas and French crepes and quiches and pastries and you get it.

Things are going swimmingly. My staff is hard-working and courteous. The food is delicious. We are professional, in spite of the lack of closed doors.

And then.

It happens.

The worst catering mishap in my career (which is admittedly not that impressive) but still.

A guest has been enjoying himself at the open bar. A teeny bit too much. An adorable member of my staff rushes to me, her eyes wide, her cute little apron stained.

This can’t be good.

“Some guy just knocked over France!” she is saying and she is panicked, a little.

It can’t be that bad, I am thinking. But I am wrong. The display is on it’s side, guests and staff dabbing at the remains of a once-proud country. Cream be like a duckpuffs, gougeres, quiches and crepes lay on the ground oozing and weeping. I could almost hear them, gasping for breath.

Note: Oh, wait. That gasping is coming from me.

But then, magically, the “never let ’em see you sweat” smile emerges, the wave of the hand, the perpetual “it’s no problem” ease returns and I pop my eyes back into my head.

And carry on!

EIMG_3880njoy your next catered meal! It just might be me behind those closed kitchen doors– Bacon

So, Oleander: Let’s imagine you just built a time machine. (I imagine the Hub helped and it’s made out of old propane tanks and beeswax). Where are you headed? Who’s coming with you?

Yo: Wake Up You Need to Make Money!

Ah, Memories.

 C2xKrdx

Memory Foam. In Action. Because it really doesn’t forget, apparently. And it’s funny.

Fellow blogger Quirky Girl nominated BaconandOleander for the 3 Days Quote Challenge, with the topic of Memories of Yesterday. (Check her out–she’s pretty hilarious!) Being the more nostalgic of the two of us (read: older), Oleander threw the ball into my court, which I will consolidate into one, glorious day of remembering. Stuff.

Note: Speaking of balls thrown into courts, I will be attending the GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS play-off game tonight to cheer on my neighbor, who will not be playing due to injury.

Additional Note: Okay, fine. He’s not my real neighbor, but he lives in my neighborhood.

Additional Note to the Note: Technically, neighborhoods encompass a fair amount of area.

Anyway, Memories of Yesterday. 

Twenty-One Pilots. Their take on Memories:

P.S. They might be geniuses.

Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.

We’re stressed out.

We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face,
Saying, “Wake up, you need to make money.”
Yo.

 

There’s magic in being a kid. You get to be the center of the universe. And you had proof, too. If you needed tucking in, there was Mama. If you needed a boo-boo kissed, there was Gramma. If you needed a good game of horse on the backyard hoop, there was Pops. Or whoever. But there was somebody. You didn’t work. You played. Playing was your job. Even the moon orbited around you.

IMG_3842I miss being a kid.

Note: Are your memories in black and white? I kind of think mine might be. And a little fuzzy, too. Like an old movie camera. Which also means everything is going really fast so the movie-taker can get in as much action as possible in two minutes, thirty seconds.

And then you have kids. And you realize that the world is a dangerous place for your sweet cherubs.

IMG_3847

And then something magical happens.  The imperfection of life kinda fades and memories become your best friend. The grass was greener, the sky bluer, the possibilities in a day were endless. Your parents never argued. Christmases were perfect. Your own kids weren’t so hard to potty train. Your crappy job wasn’t that crappy.

It’s as if the Men in Black arrived at your doorstep and just sort of flashed away the hard times, leaving you basking in the beauty that is life.
tumblr_mbui1kpPoU1rxdw8g

Note: And it is MY DREAM to have Will Smith at my doorstep for any reason whatsoever!

Heck, yes!

 

The rules for this challenge are simple. For the three days you just need to post a quote or if you wish you can post all three quotes on the same day.

You then nominate three other bloggers each day to participate in this challenge and inform them about it.

Don’t forget to thank the blogger who nominated you!


Our three nominees:

Blair

Lucy

Alana


Nominees, you are under no obligation to accept this challenge…but Quirky Girl has offered up cake!

And Oleander: So, Hypochondria?

The Parable of the Talents: A Decidedly NON Biblical Approach

a5269a8692a632fee09b8792fa0bc403Shhh. I have a little secret. 

You know how when you’re in high school and you pick your classes? And you’ve filled your schedule with math and science and lit and history and you have an extra slot to fill and you’re looking for a class that should give you an “Easy A” and kinda pad your GPA a bit?

And so, you know how you choose art?

Not me. I chose Chemistry. Because I knew I could get an A. And Art? Not so much. 

Truth: I NEVER took an Art class. Ever. Oh, I took Humanities and Art Studies, sure. But pencil to paper? I think not.

So, Oleander: What talent do I secretly long for? I wish I could draw! I wish I could release the images that only my soul can see.

Note: I’m a liar. My soul doesn’t see any images. Mostly my soul is just hungry. For ice cream.

I heard somewhere (okay, fine, I listen to NPR) that the things you learn at puberty are the things that stick with you because of all the firing of neurons and whatnot. So, that explains my ability to play the piano “Bacon, have you practiced today?” and my penchant for men in pink pants. (Go on–click that link. You know you want to!) But drawing? I avoided it like the plague. Because I sucked.

So, in the spirit of Lifelong Learning aka We All Die (WAD), which is a corollary to YOLO (You Only Live Once) but just a little more to the point, I present my attempts at art. The Subject? My dog Rubi, a shih tzu of show-quality breeding, except for the unsettling bulgy eyes and 9 nipples (an uneven number is never ideal).

DSC_0020

Rubi, unedited. Hence, the devil eyes. She’s not really a devil. Unless you try to take her cookies. You have been warned.

 

The following represents my first sketch this morning of my dog:

IMG_3812

To my credit, I think this drawing looks like a dog. A dog with steel posts inserted into its front legs, but whatever. I know. I suck.

 

So, as most fledgling artists do, I turned to YouTube for help. And in 19 minutes, I produced this drawing of my dog, sort of:

IMG_3811

Yup. Nailed it. Obviously.

Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that I could become a bonafide artist in nineteen minutes? 

Time to check out some breakdance videos next. And then some banjo lessons. Heck, in the next couple of hours I’m going to check all those talents off my list that I have avoided for fear of failure and humiliation. Who knew that developing talents was as simple as a click of a mouse?

Watch for my Etsy shop shortly. Nineteen minute caricatures of your pets. Provided that YouTube has your breed on file …

IMG_3814Heck, yes!

–Bacon

Okay, Oleander: The topic is Guilty Pleasures. Go!

WHEN MEN HAD BODY HAIR: Music Idols of My Time, may they Rest in Peace because I’m old.

So, this meme pretty much speaks for itself, sums it up, says it all. 

disco-funny

Note: That acknowledgment, will not, of course, prevent me from saying even more stuff. You can bank on it.

Additional Note: Oh my gosh, just look at them! Those tasty golden-wrapped morsels. With body hair, even. And quite a bit, actually.

Yeah, I came of age in the Disco Era, sort of. I mean, in the olden days when we lit a candle to do our homework, coming of age happened differently and perhaps later in a teen’s life. And although I was a big fan of what is now called Classic Rock (Queen, Foreigner, Boston, Styx), my heart belonged to the Brothers Gibb.

And their super hot little brother, Andy, who had a penchant for tight pink pants. Swoon!

634c27b148acd1c2b734b921e2c45c3a

Kinda scandalous, amiright?

 

Note: The Hub and I actually met in a disco, no kidding. I think it went something like this:

disco_dance

But I digress. See, the thing is: We didn’t have the internet or MTV or YouTube or anything to actually see our bands. We listened to their music and gazed at the album covers, which thankfully were large enough back then to have lots of photos to Swoon! over. We had to stay up to late to catch a performance on Saturday Night Live to ever see them for real.

So, imagine the amazement! and excitement! and life-changingness! of seeing a concert. Your idols live. Onstage.

It was a 2-1/2 hour drive from my little farm town to the venue.

Note: Raise your hand if you are surprised that Bacon grew up on a farm. That’s what I thought.

We drove through peach orchards and almond orchards and rice fields until we hit a freeway! and cars! and tall buildings! with escalators, even.

And the venue held four times more people than lived in my whole dog-goned town. The estrogen levels were high and the crowd was whipped into a frenzy.

And there they were.  The BeeGees. In puffs of smoke and flashing lights and falsetto voices and tight gold lame.

We danced. We swayed. We sang. We screamed. We cried, even. 

And when it was over, we climbed back into the car and drove through cars! and freeways! and rice fields! and almond orchards! and peach orchards! until we were back in our farmhouse, back in our beds, back to listening to our albums and remembering.

And we realized that there was a big world out there, maybe not so far away from our little life.

But for now, we pull out our albums and dream.

7ec71ae45692c4bd06c2abba900c0f1171180fbea053b02640659a6c8ce78f05

Alrighty Oleander: Let’s get down and dirty about Pirates, shall we?

LOL: Oh, the Hypocrisy

It takes a lot to make me LOL. Maybe it’s just my refined sense of humor or maybe I’m dense, maybe. But I also think that the rest of the social media world is filled with liars. Or exaggerators.

Note: I mean, how many people are literally Rolling On The Floor Laughing Their A$$es Off? (ROFLMAO). I will tell you how many: None. It’s just unhygenic.

Since I rarely laugh out loud unless I’m hanging with Oleander or the DaughterInLaw, who will remain unnamed to protect her dignity identity, I’m more prone to NAG (Nod and Grin) or present a ‘SUP (Slightly Upturned Piehole). Occasionally I have a nice release of GAS (Grin and Snort), but that’s rare indeed.

Note: I’m a lady, after all.

So, what makes me laugh? Out Loud?

Now, this is humor:

 

nope-i-have-not-seen-your-lipstick

I mean, let’s be honest, right? We’ve all been that dog. Been there. Done that.

 

anigif_enhanced-buzz-2873-1402412433-18

I am a fan of the humiliating GIF. I mean, this guy. Rubbing the other guy’s knee. With such nonchalance. And the other guy. Look at how he looks at him. And nods, knowingly, like a moment has passed between them.

Note: I am in the midst of an LOL right now.

 

giphy.

And Fainting Goats. I totally relate to their overactive startle reflex, a newborn quality I have yet to overcome. They are Myotonic, which is a fancy word for Hilarious. Actually, when surprised, their muscles are triggered to freeze up, which is supposed to be some sort of reflex to protect them from predators. Frankly, I don’t see it.

Unless, of course, their predators are Rolling On Their Floor Laughing Their A$$es Off.

Heck, yes!–Bacon

Okay Oleander, it’s your turn: You handled the Backstreet Boys beautifully. (Handled? That was a weird way to phrase it, right?) Anyway, let’s hear a take on the GIRL pop stars of your generation. Hit Me Baby One More Time, anyone?

 

 

 

 

Close Encounters of the Rural Kind: A Story of Missing Teeth, Pigs and Big Hearts. Oh, and Weed, oddly.

I’ve been up at our lakeside cabin. Oh, I know that sounds fancy, all HGTV-like where the house hunters are debating guest suite accommodations and the value of living near the nightlife. Our little oasis up10-warning-signs-that-are-extremely-obvious-4 north requires more debate as to how many guests can sleep on the floor and the value of living near the wildlife.

A cabin at a rural California lake is an adventure. Oh, it’s beautiful alright with the water and the hills and the creatures and the wind in the trees and the twittering birds and the abundant sunshine. It’s awesome and amazing and inspiring and whatnot. And I LOVE it.

But the folks, and I use the term colloquially, that live up in those parts, again colloquially, are something, and I use the term with wide eyes and reckless abandon.

Note: I am just saying that they are really something.

I had a couple of close encounters up at the cabin this week. Close encounters of the  rural kind. Let me tell you about Larry, Marty and Buzz.

Note: I’m not even kidding about the names.

These 50ish fellows with unkempt facial hair and big toothless smiles are the dock guys. Please don’t confuse them with pool boys. Dock guys drive their glorified scooters filled with yapping dogs and fishing poles down the hill and hang out around the dock. They fish. They smoke. The shoot the breeze with whoever. And they monkey around with the dock to, well, keep it afloat, I guess.

Buzz tells me that you can’t make a living just helping Marty tend the dock. No. Buzz will be gone most of the summer tending to his weed farm, but not the medicinal type because “he don’t need that kind of government headache” with all the rules and whatnot. I am welcome to stop by his place anytime to try some, if I’d like. 

“And don’t never go near any of them weed farms that got them wild hogs. You know what them hogs is focartoon-pig-eating-74141635816184726092435r, dontcha? Yup, if you mess with their weed they’ll shoot you clean through your head and throw you to the hogs. Them hogs’ll tear you limb from limb in a New York minute.”  He nods at me knowingly. “I wouldn’t go messing with them guys, little lady like you.”

Note: I have no intention of messing with them guys.

Additional Note: For awhile, I thought Larry and Buzz were the same fellow but I learned to tell them apart by which teeth are missing. 

But here’s the thing: These guys are gems. They have hearts of gold. Buzz came by to lend us some tools to work on our slip in the dock. Marty assured us that in the event of electrical problems on the dock, he’ll use his generator to lift our boat and keep it safe. He rescues stray dogs around the lake. And Larry. He is like the Welcome Wagon committee all rolled into one happy, grinning guy.

The moral of my close encounters of the rural kind this week?

You can’t judge a man by the number of his teeth, but instead, by the breadth of his smile!

Note: Sometimes I am just so darned deep.

Okay Oleander: Any preteen in the 90s had her favorite Backstreet Boy, right? Tell us about your favorite and what did that say about your personality?