Saturday, November 27, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

We had the best Thanksgiving ever. I made everybody's favorite dishes--ham, turkey, bread dressing, gravy, cheesy potatoes, festive sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, corn, crescent rolls--and my sister-in-law brought the broccoli salad. I set my grandmother's dining room table with her china and silver plate--it always makes me happy to have people I love sitting around her big table--and, finally, everything was ready. What a feast!

Ash, Casey, Nathan, Eric and Donna

After dinner, there was the ceremonious playing of Christmas with the Chipmunks, Volumes One and Two, which lasted long enough for Donna and me to put away the leftovers and wash the dishes. Then it was time for dessert and the annual viewing of Scrooged with Bill Murray.

And so concluded another traditional Asberry Family Thanksgiving. God bless us, every one.

***

Money is tight around here this year--have you heard there is a recession going on?--so rather than join the throngs of shoppers at the mall on Black Friday and Saturday, I stayed home and worked on projects that I hope, sooner or later, will help generate some extra income: first, the ubiquitous novel--I crossed the 45,000 word mark today, leaving me just shy of 5,000 words to meet my NaNoWriMo goal; second, the Etsy store--I put together several Christmas items that I plan to add to my inventory tomorrow, after I take some better pictures in the light of day. In the meantime, here is a teaser.

I love Etsy; if you haven't checked it out yet, I hope you will. There are some amazingly creative and talented artists and craftspeople out there with many unique and beautiful items for sale. Visit my shop first, The Wishing Box (maybe even add it as a "Favorite") and then knock yourself out! I guarantee there is something on Etsy for every person on your Christmas shopping list

Tomorrow I will do a little more writing and a little more beading; Monday, it will be back to the business of piano teaching. At some point, I guess I will give some thought to putting up a tree and doing some decorating, but that's going to have to wait until November 30th has come and gone. NaNoWriMo waits for no one!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I can hardly believe it, but Thanksgiving Day is here again. I try to maintain a thankful attitude year-round, but like many Americans, I have been especially mindful of my blessings this week, and I want to take this opportunity to thank YOU, my faithful readers--family, friends, colleagues, even a few folks I have never met--for your love, support and encouragement.

I have navigated through some rough waters this year. I have found love and lost love; I have faced health issues and financial pressures; I have taken on new challenges and met with both failure and success. Through it all, you have been there for me. You have lifted me up through the hard times, given me sound advice when I needed it, and been generous with the "attagirls" when I deserved them. Knowing you are out there means more than you can imagine.

So here is a small token of my appreciation for all that you have given me: a recording of me playing one of my favorite George Winston pieces, appropriately titled "Thanksgiving." Pardon the page turns.

I hope your holiday is the best one ever.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Walk Down Memory Lane: Berkeley, MO

Last week, I was delighted to get an email from one of my best friends from long, long ago--forty years, to be exact. From 1964 until 1971, my family and I lived in Berkeley, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. My dad, an electrical engineer, worked for McDonnell-Douglas, and my brothers and I attended Airport School.

8110 Blanchard Drive

Me with my brothers Jimmy and Greg.
We lost Jimmy in 1981 and Greg in 2008. I miss them every day.

My mommy, the most beautiful woman in the world.

My funny, handsome daddy.

We left the area towards the end of my sixth grade year, and for whatever reason I didn't stay in contact with anybody, except my next-door neighbor, Karen, a girl my age who called or wrote from time to time. Eventually, we lost touch, too, although I finally tracked her down through Facebook a few months ago, and it was great to catch up with her.

I have tried in vain to find some of my other friends from elementary school, like Robert Fitzpatrick, my very first boyfriend. As a matter of fact, I am offering a reward for information leading to his whereabouts.

Robert Fitzpatrick, 1964.

Then--surprise!--I heard from Peggy; her family lived two doors down from mine all those years. The two of us traded Barbie clothes and made potholders and sold them door to door and played jacks and four-square and rode bikes in the street. We were in the same kindergarten class, but then we were separated, as I continued in public school while she went to a parochial school. Still, we saw each other after school and during summer vacations, and I have many warm memories of her.

We have exchanged lengthy emails and a few photos, although neither of us has pictures of each other from our childhoods. What is truly amazing is how much we have in common as adults. Our birthdays are just two days apart, we have strong family ties and cherish our roles as mothers, and we share many similar interests: reading, writing, beading, cooking, sewing, baking, knitting/crocheting. If we lived two doors apart from each other, like we used to, I imagine we would spend a lot of time sitting at each other's kitchen tables, drinking coffee, sharing girl talk, exchanging books, and working on our projects together.

I know technology can be harmful, and sometimes the world can seem overwhelmingly complex. But most of the time, I revel in the fact that I live in these times, in which a woman named Peggy can do a Google search for "Pam Asberry, Berkeley, Missouri" and find herself reconnected with a long-lost friend. We may have been separated for forty years, but now we are bound for life.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Halfway there!!

On October 31st, anything seemed possible. Making the commitment to write 50,000 words during the 30 days of November? Perfectly logical. Entirely reasonable.

My brother, Eric and me at the NaNoLanta kick off party in Smyrna, wearing official NaNoWriMo garb, bursting with optimism and enthusiasm.

However, due to illness and travel commitments, I got off to a VERY slow start. During the entire first week of NaNoWriMo, I managed to crank out only 2536 words--just slightly more than the 1667 words necessary on average EVERY DAY during the month in order to reach the goal of 50,000.

This beautiful latte, from Dancing Goats in Decatur, helped.

Another week went by. I was pulled in many different directions, as I worked to teach my piano students, add inventory to my Etsy store, and keep the home fires burning. I wrote a little, but not enough. As of Saturday morning, I had completed only about 6000 words--only about three and a half days' worth.

My creative and inspirational critique partners, Lindy and Pamela, helped.

I decided to go for a 10K word marathon over the weekend. But once again, my energy was divided. I had a wonderful long phone conversation with my parents; I reconnected with a friend from forty years ago; I took Nathan to the mall; I went to a movie with Casey; I tried a new recipe for dinner. I know, I know; it almost sounds like I was procrastinating. Honestly, I wasn't; all these things were necessary, and it was a wonderful day. But by the end of it, I had written only a few hundred words. I was beginning to wonder whether or not I should simply give up.

But I woke up yesterday morning with absolutely nothing on my to-do list and lots of energy, so I determined to write 8000 words. I did end up having to run a couple of errands, but for the most part I remained BICHOK*. And by midnight, I had added 8025 words to my novel, for a grand total of 14,666.

Brownies and red wine helped.

I did the math; if I can manage 2200 words a day for the rest of the month--which sounds like nothing after 8000--I will be able to call myself a NaNoWriMo 2010 Winner. As far as I am concerned, losing is not an option; this morning's total was 2215. And I am certain that the discipline I am learning through this process will serve me well as I work to meet future writing goals down the road.

Wish me luck!

*Butt in chair, hands on keyboard.

Monday, November 8, 2010

2010 GMTA State Conference

I am back from my first-ever Georgia Music Teachers Association State Conference, held this year in Augusta. I saw some wonderful speakers, heard some great music, and got lots of inspiration for my piano teaching. Highlights were Nelita True's workshops on teaching Chopin's Easier Preludes and four Schubert Impromptus, the performance of the commissioned work, Observations, composed and conducted by Lee Johnson and presented by The Chamber Chorus of LaGrange College and the Piano Quintet from the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra New Music Ensemble, and the guest artist recital featuring pianist Jon Klibinoff and his master class with student winners of the 2010 GMTA auditions. It was also a thrill to see colleague Susan Andrews designated a 2011 MTNA Foundation Fellow and my friend and conference roommate Natalie Hardy installed as Vice President of Newsletters.

But I had the most fun reprising my role of the Creative-Can't-Sit-Still-Won't-Stop-Playing-Even-When-The-Teacher-Is-Talking piano student in a skit entitled A Day in the Life of a Piano Teacher, written by colleague Cathy Thacker.

Natalie Hardy as the Model Student

Mary Ann McTier as the Bored Teenage Student

Yours Truly as the Fidgety Student

Robin Engelman as the Whiny Student

Here is Part 1 of our presentation:


And here is Part 2:


I hope you have as much fun watching as we did performing!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Crazy

Remember when I was sick over the summer? When, after three rounds of antibiotics, I finally went to see the pulmonologist and she knew just what to do and I finally got well? Did I mention that she told me not to stop taking the meds when I started feeling better?

Well, I am ashamed to admit that didn't listen; I stopped taking the drugs. So when I contracted my first upper respiratory bug of the season --the one my kids shook in three days flat--it knocked me for a loop. Two weeks later, I was still getting worse. Finally, on Monday I broke down and made a doctor's appointment for yesterday. I went in congested and coughing and wheezing--and running a fever--and left with more prescriptions (to go along with the ones from my pulmonologist, which I had already refilled). After just two days of antibiotics and prednisone and allergy medication and an inhaler, I am finally on the mend. My symptoms are alleviated, and I feel almost like my energetic, enthusiastic self again.

Resolved:

*Take all medications as prescribed. Especially when they are working.
*Exercise daily (which I was doing, thank you very much, until I became so ill I couldn't).
*Get sufficient rest (which I tell myself I don't have time for, when the truth is I don't have time to be sick).

***

Finally, I finished the rewrite of my novel synopsis and the first three chapters of my manuscript and sent them off the agent and editor, as requested at the M&M Conference last month. They went out just this evening, and I will have another opportunity to pitch to an agent at the GRW meeting on the 20th. In the meantime, I must finish the rewrite of the remainder of my manuscript. In addition, I have committed to cranking out 50,000 words of a new fiction project during the month of November, as it's NaNoWriMo time again. I have the greatest idea which I actually got from a plot generator website. If you've ever wanted to write a novel, it's not too late to join the fun! At least I hope not, because I have completed a total of zero words towards NaNoWriMo and it's already November 3rd. Whee!

***

Tomorrow I am headed to Augusta for the 2010 Georgia Music Teachers Association state conference. Four of my colleagues and I are slated to do a presentation on Friday afternoon--the same skit we did at our January luncheon. I am looking forward to reprising my role as the "fidgety, talkative, won't-stop-playing-even-when-the-piano-teacher-is-talking kid," as well as receiving inspiration from other programs, concerts, and fellow teachers from across the state. I will give a full report after I return on my blog Notes From the Piano. And I promise to post faithfully every Friday after that!

***

I am excited to let you know that I have made my first sales in my Etsy shop! This success has inspired me to get serious about building my inventory. By the end of next week, I intend to have a complete line of birthstone crystal bracelets in both smaller and larger sizes, a mother (or grandmother) bracelet, and several other unique designs. All my pieces come packed in padded boxes tied with ribbon, ready for gift giving. I hope you will consider my work as you begin your holiday shopping. I also do custom orders; just ask! And if you are interested, I have also created a blog to support my jewelry business. Look for updates there every Tuesday.

***

So now you have some insight into the insanity that is my life right now. I would love to hear about yours; as you know, misery loves company. (Just kidding... it's all good!) Right now, my goal is to stay healthy so I can do a better job of keeping you posted on my progress. As always, thank you for your encouragement!