Monday, March 22, 2010
First Day Back
Today went fine. I was a bit discombobulated, but so were several of my students (who seemed grateful that I understood), so I had company. I wore one of my Hawai'ian shirts and several pieces of Hawai'ian jewelry, including a lucky turtle pendant, to cheer myself up.
Gary always makes a snack for my graduate seminar. I can't go three-plus hours without eating, so I don't ask my students to, either. Instead, I bring in something for all of us to share. It makes the class more informal -- although this one would be anyway, with only five students! -- and everyone seems to enjoy the food.
Today Gary made potato salad. One student, who's already asked for several of his recipes, said after tasting it, "Your husband's a genius." Yes, he is! Meanwhile, my longtime friend Sharon's also in the seminar, and she showed up with Hawai'ian style potato chips so I wouldn't be too homesick. It was potatoes all the way down!
After dinner I knit a bit for the first time in days, and then practiced the fiddle, which I didn't do enough of in Hawai'i and also hadn't done yesterday. I practiced for an hour as penance. Charlene has me doing what she calls "target practice," where you hold the fiddle in place with your head, drop your left hand, and then bring your hand up, plunk your third finger down on the A string (or whatever), and try to produce the right note, in tune. She points out that if one is, for instance, playing a solo on stage -- as if I ever will! -- one has to be able to hit the right note the first time without feeling around for it.
This is damnably difficult. First of all, getting the note exactly in tune, rather than a hair or more sharp or flat, requires all kinds of minute adjustments. (And I'd never be able to tell if I were in the right place without my electronic tuner.) The goal is to be able to bring your hand up from the dropped position and play the correct note ten times in a row. So far, the best I've been able to manage is three, and I have eight more notes to go after I nail this one!
Approached this way, playing the violin well seems well-nigh impossible. I don't know how anyone ever gets exactly the right position.
After that frustrating exercise, I got back to the book for the first time since January. Yay! Gary points out that I have to finish the book and get the second half of the advance for us to have any hope of getting back to Hawai'i next year, and that's a major inducement. I only wrote a page, but I enjoyed it and learned some new stuff about two of my characters, so I feel much encouraged.