Category Archives: Random Neuron Firings


Look out, you rock-n-rollers…


If 2020 brings a list of specific words to mind, “change” would probably make it to just about everyone’s top ten.

If I’m lucky enough to have you as a Facebook pal, you’ve likely seen this photo of the modifications to my choir room. And the changes aren’t just cosmetic; they’re musical as well. Kids feel less secure in the singing sense. I’ve had lots of conversations with them mid-rehearsal, when they’ve confessed to feeling like they’re singing all by themselves: an activity many of them would rank higher on the Abject Horror Scale than jumping off a bridge, taking a ball bat to the ribcage, or walking on their lips through busted glass. Some have dropped my class over it, which is heartbreaking for me, because they’re obviously getting no more joy at all from choir. I hate that.

Change is rough. Shew.

While I’m taking a pretty decent pay cut by not doing shows, that’s a change I can and will endure without complaint, because so many others have it so much worse. Still, it’s just me doing this by myself; I don’t have anyone else to contribute to the household. I have to be careful so as to never be a burden to my sons. Therefore, I’m tightening all financial belts, and committing to hermit life until such time as the sun comes out again. I don’t mind it, really. As long as I maintain ties with my family and friends, I can fight through all the other changes. And there are many. I’m sure you could make your own list.

If you would have told me last year at this time that these would be a standard accessory to my daily wardrobe, I’d have thought you were nuts. Funny how quickly changes like these are incorporated into daily life. I had some trepidation about masks before the first day of school: What would the students think? Would I have an issue with non-compliance? How would I handle it if I did, especially since it is physically impossible to distance kids at six feet in my room? But for all i and p, the worry about compliance was unnecessary, because my kids (ages 10-18) have been completely cool about it, and no one bucks me on it.

Granted, my reminding them that the over-60 crowd is especially susceptible to illness from this disease so please be kind and don’t make me die may contribute to the cooperation. Slightly. ;-)

Some of the changes aren’t so bad. For instance, I’m not sure I will ever return to the grocery, as long as there is curbside pickup (Wally, other stores in my town) and home delivery (Aldi). I really like the service, and I hope it’s here to stay. Another change that I don’t mind is seeing people “mask up” for the benefit of others — even if they don’t agree with the whole mask thing (and there are plenty who don’t, believe me). We need some more empathy and caring in this world, and when the chips are down, you can almost always count on regular folks to rise up — even if it means dealing with some personal discomfort. That warms the cockles of my shriveled, flea-bitten rodentian heart.

The pandemic and all its effects have been talked to death, and I suppose this was just one more log on that fire. But as I sit here in the quiet of a Sunday morning, my thoughts wander to my friends and family, all of whom are just doing their best to get through till the smoke clears (whenever that is). And I think that’s worth a few blog posts. We’re a pretty cool bunch of people, all told. Consider yourself loved and thought about.

To brighter days ahead,


Annus horribilis

Horrible year.

It’s what Queen Elizabeth called 1992. She said, “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.” And no one could blame her, really; ’92 saw Windsor Castle burn, royal family marriages disintegrate, and a naughty scandal involving Sarah Ferguson, who was then the Duchess of York.

Personally, I thought 2016-17 was my annus horribilis time. But I don’t think 2020 is done with us just yet. Oy. I hope you’re all doing well. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little concerned about going back to school. I confess I’m ten kinds of uncomfortable with the prospect of even a half room full of singers. My district has provided me with a plexiglass shield to go in front of my piano, and we’ll all be in masks, so I do feel better about that. It’s that darn unknown…

I’m about as mentally prepared as I’m going to get. The mask-wearing is pretty standard for me over the last month, so I feel fine doing that. I’ve got quite the collection of them going — I’ve found it to be another form of self-expression, and that’s been kind of fun!

What bothers me is that too little is known about how children carry and transmit this virus. And of course, with all the adults who will be at school as well, it’ll be near-impossible to trace everyone’s movements in an ongoing fashion. It’s almost inevitable that someone — student or adult — is going to be infected at some point. I hope I’m wrong.

Oh well. I’m going into this with the plan that everything’s going to work out. If I don’t, I’ll lose what’s left of my mind.

I just realized that it’s been two months since I last wrote to you. And I’ve been working from home. I need to fix that! Again, my hope is that everyone reading this is doing well, and your families are, too. As the Thriller was wont to say: Onward through the fog.

Much love!

Quarantine, Day 41

Twenty days of school left; 40 days of confinement in the rear view. It has been one heck of a bizarre ride this year, and from what I’m hearing from school and government officials, there’s no guarantee that it’ll abruptly end once summer is over.

The uncertainty shouldn’t really bother me, as I’m becoming somewhat OK with the almost-constant solitude (well, there’s my precious Remy, and we’ve had some nice conversations). And my sons check on me regularly by phone and the occasional drop-by, while sister Mavis stops in regularly, en route to taking herself and Remy to the dog park (her place of peace and solitude, as she does not live alone), so it’s not like I’m completely cut off, which is super nice.

The absolute worst part is not seeing the Js and A’s. **stake through the heart**

So the world turns and the lesson plans still get written and the housework still (mostly) gets done. I’m one of the extremely fortunate ones, in that my work — and, therefore, my pay — can continue from home. I think about and hurt for those who aren’t as lucky.

There’s a meme floating around social media that says something like, “They started high-stakes testing because they thought teachers didn’t want to work. Now all the testing has been canceled, and teachers are working harder than ever. Seems like it wasn’t the teachers after all.”

Well $weetne$$, $ome of u$ have known that $ince 2012. ;-) I find I’m putting in the same 12-14-hour days as I do when I’m teaching all day and rehearsing for a show at night, with the obvious exception being that I’m sitting at this box instead of at a piano. What’s changed significantly? I’ve had to switch out my Bitmoji for one with longer hair. hahaha

Speaking of football: Talk is spreading about having to move high school sports around, and indeed, having to think creatively about how to salvage the remainder of upperclassmen’s (and women’s) athletic careers in preparation for any scholarship hopes. And once again, Ohio is leading the nation in the forward-thinking department. I wonder what this will do to my schedule…

Ah, well. We’ll get some shows in there, regardless. I just wish I knew more during this uncertain time. It’s easy to get discouraged.

One bright spot is that since I can’t have daily rehearsals, I’m able to explore some options that I rarely have time for during the regular choir year, like music history, theory, music as a business, important people, composition, music in film, personal musical journeys and the like. It’s been fun — or as much fun as one can have within the confines of their property lines.

Well hasn’t this just been the rambling treatise this morning? I hope you’re all doing great, fiends. I pine for normalcy, but it’s looking like this is it for a while longer. Let’s all stay the course so we can see our grandchildren again. I need more sleepovers!


Quarantine, Day 15



<–  Me, Day 1 of quarantine.

I bought a new vacuum cleaner, and went zizzing all over my house. Ta-daaa! Over the next several days, I turbo-cleaned my kitchen, sorted the recycling, fixed my bike,  and spent countless hours preparing lessons. I even made time to read for pleasure while keeping up to date on every development with regard to COVID-19.

Remy and I took walks whenever weather allowed. <SIDEBAR> We’ve taken three walks through the park, and he’s had not a single meltdown. I’ve been able to talk him down from flipping out each and every time we’ve encountered another human. And we’ve seen the lot, trust me: bikers, walkers, runners, people mowing their lawns, getting in and out of their cars, walking their own dogs, talking on their front porches, playing at the tennis courts…humans in every stage of moving about. How about that!?

There was one time when he tried to reverse course and run the other way, but I talked him out of it while continuing to walk. But no barking, no running around me in circles, no freakouts. That particular behavior was definitely a worry for me. At 65 lbs., boxy and built low to the ground, if he wants to reverse direction and run away, he’s dragging me with him — likely headlong into a swan dive. (Ask me how I know this. :mrgreen: ) This dog is seven years old, and completely hard-wired to act like he’s acted since puppyhood, when he was obviously unsocialized at the very least. </SIDEBAR>

So, I ordered my groceries online for the first time. I’m picking them up tonight at Buehler’s, here in Ashland, after placing the order two days ago. Since then, of course, I’ve thought of eight more things I forgot to add, but adding them now would mean another wait…maybe I’ll try another place. I’m not accustomed to thinking ahead like this. *bonking self repeatedly on forehead* Gotta plan better.


Fast-forward to Day 15. I look like this. –>

What the world? You’d think that since I’m home nearly 24/7, the place would be gleaming and I’d have arranged all that great multi-window “virtual choir” music to put online with my singers looking super-stylish, doing a captivating, life-changing a cappella tune on their own…


I’m the rat on the right.

Totally cool event here, though: I actually saw my sons, in person, this week! Only for a moment, and from a safe social distance, but I clapped eyes on them. That brightened my little corner.

I hope your corner is bright today, fiends. Since it’s supposed to rain for the next 22 years, I will tackle the upstairs bathroom and bedrooms. With my new vacuum cleaner. :cool:

Much love.

Quarantine, Day 9

Fiends: I’m test-driving a new comment plug-in. Could you give it a go if you have something to say today? Thanks, and sorry for the problems of late…

The first eight went by pretty quickly, filled with lesson planning, house cleaning, dealing with contract negotiations issues, laughing on text and Facebook with family and friends, catching up on some TV shows, playing with Remy, missing my grandsons, watching the daily press conferences by the governor, cooking, and reading. Lots and lots and lots of reading — mostly about COVID-19.

I keep the coronavirus live updates page on CNN running 24/7 on my browser; it’s become somewhat of an obsession. If I see a number next to the tab, I know there’s a new story to read. Unlike some of my friends, I never tire of reading about this crisis. It doesn’t wear me down at all. Rather, with each story, I’m re-energized to keep doing my part, and to encourage others to do theirs (don’t get me started).

FYI — I’m calm, and feeling fine; no symptoms of any kind. I’m confident that so far, I’m dancing out of the way of this thing.

The downside, besides no contact with my sons and grandsons? I can’t ride my new bike. Devin, one of my students (and a 2020 graduating senior for whom I’m heartbroken), came over and put it together for me, for which I’m eternally grateful. Since that day, I’ve just looked at it. I got on it once and tiptoed around the garage floor on it, but it’s been either raining or cold (or raining and cold) almost every day since, so no ridey-ridey. Blah.

You mean you’re not leaving?

Remy and I have had a great time bonding through this. I think he can’t believe I’m actually not walking out the door every morning. His routine has been disrupted, but I’m pretty sure he likes it. It’s worked out well, since my sons aren’t visiting, and sister Mavis (his adored caregiver while I’m at work) is unfortunately laid up in the hospital with pneumonia right now. :-(

Into the great wide open (of the park)

After dinner last night, we ventured to the park for a walk in the windy, 29-degree temps. It felt more like -29, but he loved it. Wore him out and paralyzed my face. I’m not sure what the weather calls for today, but I think we’ll give it another go this afternoon. It’s good for both of us to get out.

I can’t remember a time when I was alone for this long. Isn’t that funny? Even when I’m traveling solo, there’s always company of some kind, on a train or plane, or in a taxi or bus or restaurant. I don’t mind it, but it does highlight the Thriller’s absence in a big way. What I wouldn’t give to be kicking his butt in Scrabble right now (after which he’d kick mine in chess).

I hope you’re all handling things as well as you can, and that everyone in your world is healthy and safe. Let’s try to keep it that way!

Much love.