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.


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!


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.

Name that Team

So, let me begin with a big a-p-o-l-o-g-y. Things go real at the Oleander house recently. My daughter got sick on Thursday and remained quite ill until today. So, Friday was a no-go and it’s not until now – after her and Bean are in bed that I can finally sit down with 5 minutes to myself to hammer this out. However, this delay has given me a lot of time to ponder my thoughts on team mascots (and by mascots, I’m going with the team’s designated name like Boston Red Sox where Red Sox is the “mascot” and not that horrible green monster, Tessie. If the actual costumed mascot was your intention, Bacon, you can have me write another post entirely on those).

I think there are three particularly important categories to consider when talking about mascots.

Note: For the purposes of this post I’ll be sticking to teams in the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL. 


An animal can be a pretty awesome mascot. Many animals are intimidating and frightening. The Chicago Bears for example are an appropriate football mascot. They are big, scary, faster than you’d expect for their girth, and you don’t want to mess with them.

Teams that are doing animals wrong: 

Chicago Cubs: Baby animals – not scary. Maybe you can make the argument that this is clever, what with the Bears and Cubs and all. But, given that they are different sports entirely and not some sort of Major League/Minor League affiliate, your argument is invalid.

Kansas City Royals: (Bet you didn’t know that was named after animals). Yup. Named for the “American Royal” livestock show. Livestock.

Pretty much any team named after a sea creature: Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Florida Marlins, Miami Dolphins (side note: what’s the deal, Florida?). The San Jose Sharks aren’t too bad, so I suppose they get a pass.

Any bird that isn’t a Hawk or an Eagle. Orioles? Cardinals (x2)? Blue Jays? Pelicans? Penguins? Ducks? I mean, I get regional pride and regional fauna. But…these are just not solid team names.

Teams that have changed location, but not names

I think we can all agree the the New Orleans Jazz is pretty legitimate. However, when the team moved to Salt Lake City in 1979, they kept the name.  And became the Utah Jazz. Now, don’t get me wrong. As a resident of the beehive state, there are a lot of great things about it. But Jazz? Let’s be honest, that should have been rethought.

Here’s a factoid you probably didn’t know. You know the Los Angeles Dodgers, right? Did you know that a Dodger is a “Brooklyn pedestrian who dodged the streetcars in the city.” Yes. The Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to LA in 1958, but remained the Dodgers for reasons I don’t fully understand (okay, I don’t fully understand why they chose Dodgers in the first place. I mean, how much streetcar dodging was really going on in 1884? Was this, like, a big thing?).

Another Los Angeles team chose to stick with its original moniker. The Los Angeles Lakers. Once the Minneapolis Lakers (you know, from Minnesota – the “Land of 10,000 Lakes“), they moved to Los Angeles in 1960. And while Los Angeles county isn’t devoid of lakes, it’s really not the land of “Lakers,” either.

Teams that are crushing it

Some teams are just doing it right. For example:

Any team named after pirates or marauders. Here’s looking at you Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Minnesota Twins. Twin Cities. Too clever of a play on words for me not to dig it (Side Note: I am not endorsing Minnesota teams, here. They have just, apparently, done a decent job naming their teams. Gotta give credit where credit is due).

Teams named after weather. Weather is unpredictable and uncontrollable – so this naturally makes for some solid mascots. Additionally, each of the following teams has chosen regionally appropriate weather, making it both intimidating and clever.Including Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightening, Colorado Avalanche, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, and Oklahoma City Thunder. Note: There are no teams in the MLB or NFL named after weather…)

And finally, the Golden State Warriors. Don’t disagree. Just nod.

**Honorable mention: The Arizona Diamondbacks. Snakes are horrifying limbless beasts that swallow their prey whole. Arizona is the desert home to 13 species of venomous rattlesnakes, including the Diamondback. This is a solid name. However, the fact that they are referred as the D-Backs almost exclusively and that I think of “D-bag” every time I hear that…they are removed from the list. Permanently.

Hope it was worth the wait friends.

Your friendly neighborhood sports fan,


Bacon: Who’s the most interesting person you have encountered in the past week.



So, I’m a fan of professional sports. Seriously. And by fan, I mean I am wearing my Oakland Athletic’s pitcher warm-up sweatshirt as I write while the Golden State Warrior flag flies in the driveway.

Note: The San Francisco 49er flag is, sadly, gathering dust as we speak.

And I know stuff about professional sports, such as I understand the infield fly rule and I can recognize traveling in the NBA (although the refs clearly cannot).

Note: I am definitely a fan of TEAMS, however. I don’t sit and watch the Knickerbockers play the Sixers. And don’t get me started on the San Francisco Giants.

But now Oleander has asked me to discuss the pros and cons of baseball and basketball and in the process, perhaps, choose a favorite?

Note: Dastardly.

Let’s be clear. I am a past season-ticket holder of the A’s. And by past, I mean you can only watch your team lose live and in person so many times. But how I love a baseball game! The crack of the bat! The smell of hotdogs! The roar of the crowd!

But, Steph Curry, my neighbor, and his cohorts are absolutely chewing and spatting the competition. The timing of the alley-oop! The thrill of the dunk! The swish of the 3-pointer!

Note: I use the term neighbor somewhat loosely, but not really. I mean, we don’t live next door to each other, but I drive by his house everyday. 

Additional Note: Not in a creepy, stalkerish way, although I do check to see if the lights are on and if the Currys are home.

Additional Note to the Note: That does sound stalkerish.

Because I am a fan of both sports, my decision comes down, really, to a few things:

  1. How much time do I have to devote to a ballgame?
  2. Are we winning?
  3. How do the players look in their uniforms?

Basketball games are shorter. But they are noisier. The squeaky shoes can put my nerves on edge. Baseball games can take forever. But you can clean the house, mow the lawn and crochet an afghan, in its entirety, while you watch.

I will forever love my Oakland Athletics, win or lose. But winning is more fun. And the Warriors? What the what?

Perhaps it comes down, then, to aesthetics.

And body parts.

Note: Yes, I just said that.

Are you a bum person? Or do biceps curl your toes?

Allow me to present a few exhibits, for my your viewing pleasure.


Baseball clearly wins the war of the bums.

Note: I can see why bum-whacking is a thing in baseball. Who can resist that, really?

Basketball, however, definitely has its virtues.



Frankly, I’m stumped.

Perhaps someday a genius will combine the two uniforms to create the ultimate sport.

But for now, let’s just play ball!

Okay, Oleander: I’ve been wanting to hear your “visionary” thoughts about your dog’s visual impairment, to put it lightly. (Animal Lovers: I, in no way mean to demean or demoralize the visually-impaired animal community or its supporters, probably.)