Friday, August 30, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Scenes from the Farm...and Maybe a Few Other Places...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Daily Chops and Crabs...

So I had some produce that needed a little tender loving care. 

The grapes above, after cooking down and being squeezed through a cheesecloth and then cooked down more provided one jar of grape jam.  Even though I had gotten optimistic and prepped two. It tastes good, a little tart because I was very chintzy with the sugar, but good. 

Which brings me to the next project. A huge vat of dill pickle relish that filled seven pint-sized jars. 

Oh my. And there was a series of pickles when attempting to make the relish.  Two grocery stores were out of dill seed and mustard seed. Apparently EVERYONE in my city made dill pickles yesterday. And I almost forgot the garlic. And I had to buy lids. And improvise. And I WAS NOT about to go to a third grocery store. 

The recipe called for seeds, I used powdered mustard and dill weed. The recipe called for white vinegar, I used apple cider. The recipe called for a whole lot of sugar. WAY too much. So I used 1/4 the amount called for. 

I'm hoping I don't regret seven jars. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Tiger Eye Focus Part 3

Tiger Eye Focus. How does that look with the violin?

Clearly, I'm not going to be running stairs and punching sides of beef.

For violin it will involve wanting.

Do I want to be able to play? If so, am I willing to play well and by the book?  After investing what I have so far, and with the goal of actually being able to play it, I'd be an idiot to say no. So by the book it is.

I think one of my issues might be that I tend to be more creative than mathematical in thinking.  I'm used to looking at an imperfect situation like a recipe fail or decorating issue and coming up with a way to fix or make it work. Relationships are fluid as well. Black and white math is not a strong area for me.

Music is spot on math. There is a formula and exacting timing and detail.  So. I need to stretch and work on this. It reminds me of when I had to take my algebra section of training for radiography and I had to borrow my then 8th grader's book to try to wrap my mind around it. So. I've done it before and I'll be doing it again. Math for the challenged.

Also. There is a huge element of risk in this journey. I'm not going to get the soup and cookies knocked out of me like poor Rocky. But, I have to put myself out there. My insecurities, my heart, a little bit of my soul, every week when I go to my lesson and every day when I practice. I have to reword the inner monologue and avoid beating myself up. When I'm ready to play in front of people, it's going to be even riskier. 

And. There is the cost of time and focus and attention. This violin thing costs money for lessons and broken strings and new books and gas to get there. But the time element is pretty huge and it comes out of the time that is precious to me. I have to give time to the have to things, non-negotiable, but what is not carved out of my life by others is me time. As one who leans towards being introverted, there is an extra amount of anxiety with this violin thing. When I'm practicing and going to lessons those are hours and minutes I don't get back. Am I willing to keep investing those hours and minutes and absorbing the cost? And if I do, why wouldn't I make the most of my valuable time and do it right? 

This is something that just came to me. I always thought of myself as a little flaky, a little bit of a quitter. I'm not saying that I haven't quit a few things in my day. But, overall I have this impression of myself that I flit from thing to thing and give up far too easily. I'm wondering why I have that impression. I am looking back at my track record and I see where I have whole-heartedly devoted myself to people and relationships and jobs and extras. And I see where some have gone through seasons, others have not been a good fit, others were not worth pursuing. But. The things I've dug into and given myself to are alive and flourishing. And I'm not a quitter. Far from it. 

Quitting is not an option. So therefore, I will give violin the time, energy and focus I need to in order to conquer the current set of problems I have with it. I can do this. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Eye of the Tiger Part 2

My violin "lesson" of the week focused on developing a tiger's eye. I'm at the point when I need to make a level of commitment higher than what I've already made. It's not about paying the money for the lessons. It's not about practicing and learning. After my Thursday playing-through-the-song performance my teacher gave me three ways to look at what was missing from my musical repertoire. 

Lesson One) teeny, tiny details make a huge difference. If I am putting my fingers down just to put my fingers down, then I'm not making music. If I can't put my fingers exactly where I need to put them the exact time they need to go there with the exact called for bow stroke, then I'm making noise, not music. 

My teacher was kind. And explained that he has to look for both growth, which he sees, and the errors that need to be nipped in the bud and removed so they don't flower into something stinky. And speaking of stinky...

Two) is the second illustration, the dirty diaper. He said babies don't understand the implication of a dirty diaper. And adults really don't change dirty diapers because it's fun, they do it for the best interest of the baby.  Which takes us to the third illustration which is totally related but unrelated. 

Three) Developing the eye of the tiger... Rocky-style. Rocky spent hours and hours running up and down steps to get in shape. He spent hours conditioning himself by beating on slabs of beef in a meat locker. He prepared mentally and let's not forget the musical score.  

I need to develop the same drive and focus with my violin, committing to learning how to play this instrument like I wish I could play it, and how I should play it. So it's music, not mish-mash sloppy. So. To the Tiger-Eyed focus I go. But what does that look like? Definitely not running up stairs with my violin held up high over my head. I hope. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Tiger Eye Focus

My goal for Thursday's violin lesson was to just get through one of my songs. 

I hadn't pulled that off yet, well, a real song, Two lines and eight measures doesn't count. During my lesson my teacher consistently says things like "just keep going." "Don't stop." as I'm squealing through my song bits.

So, I did just keep going and didn't stop even when I made a few mistakes. (read: a lot of mistakes). I was pretty proud of the fact that I hadn't stopped. I knew my fingering was off several times and my tempo was not as written. The parts that were easier I played at the 1/8 note tempo. The parts that were trickier were maybe more like staccato 1/4 or 1/2 notes. (That means SLOW with unwritten and unexpected pauses.)

Then. After I was done he told me that I had improved since the week before. 


There are always buts in violin. I think that's because there are a million things to mess up on. It might be bowing wherein a fraction too far one direction means I play two squeaky strings, a fraction too far the other direction and I play two other squeaky strings. If I really mess up, I play three squeaky strings. Holding the neck of the violin and bow are uber important. Reading the notes and playing them in the proper rhythm is tricky, for me anyway, and uber important. Practicing properly is important. Knowing the different techniques that give different sounds is important. And then there is something else that is even more important. And. I think you need to come back tomorrow for the rest of that story. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Twist and Stretch Part 4

I don't know if it's kosher to make up your own definition. But I'm going to replace the word nice in my vocabulary and I'm borrowing parts of the definitions I want to describe me. 

pleasing; agreeable; delightful
characterized by, showing, or accuracy,precision, skill, tact or care
not severe 
may be relied on; 
dependable in achievement, accuracy, honesty
a good or benevolent nature or dispositionas a person: having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence: considerate, or helpful; humane 
esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person 
relaxed free from stresseasygoing; carefree

Treating people with respect because there is a worthiness in all people because they are created by God, in His image, even if they don't treat me well.

What's not included. 

No doormat in the definition. 

No acting nice just because. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Twist and Stretch Part 3



adjective, nic·er, nic·est.
pleasing; agreeable; delightful: a nice visit.
amiably pleasant; kind: They are always nice to strangers.
characterized by, showing, or requiring great accuracy,precision, skill, tact, care, or delicacy: nice workmanship; a niceshot; a nice handling of a crisis.
showing or indicating very small differences; minutely accurate,as instruments: a job that requires nice measurements.
minute, fine, or subtlea nice distinction.


pleasingagreeable, or enjoyable; giving pleasurepleasant news.
(of persons, manners, dispositionetc.) socially acceptable or adept; polite; amiable; agreeable.
fair, as weather: a pleasant summer day.
Archaic. gay, sprightly, or merry.
Obsolete jocular or facetious.



adjective, gen·tler, gen·tlest,verb, gen·tled, gen·tling.
kindly; amiable: a gentle manner.
not severe, rough, or violent; mild: a gentle wind; a gentle tap onthe shoulder.
moderate: gentle heat.
gradual: a gentle slope.
of good birth or family; wellborn.


adjective, kind·er, kind·est.
of a good or benevolent nature or dispositionas a person: akind and loving person.
having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence: kind words.
indulgent, considerate, or helpful; humane (often followed by to ): to be kind to animals.
mild; gentle; clement: kind weather.
British Dialect loving; affectionate.


a particular, detail, or point (usually preceded by in  ): to differin some respect.
relation or reference: inquiries with respect to a route.
esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, apersonal quality or ability, or something considered as amanifestation of a personal quality or ability: I have great respectfor her judgment.
deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someoneor something considered to have certain rights or privileges;proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment: respect for asuspect's right to counsel; to show respect for the flag; respect for theelderly.
the condition of being esteemed or honored: to be held in respect.


devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily withone's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless ofothers.
characterized by or manifesting concern or care only foroneself: selfish motives.


that may be relied on; dependable in achievement, accuracy,honesty, etc.: reliable information.


to one's liking; pleasing: agreeable manners; an agreeable sensation.
willing or ready to agree or consent: Are you agreeable to my plansfor Saturday?
suitable; conformable (usually followed by to  ): practiceagreeable to theory.


adjective Slang.
relaxed or unhurried: laid-back music rhythms.
free from stresseasygoing; carefree: a laid-back way of living.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Twist and Stretch Part 2

Following up from yesterday...

This is a major thing that trips me up emotionally and keeps me stuck: 

I, at some point, placed "niceness" as a character trait that is vastly important. 

This manifests itself in the following ways: 

I am quick to label or excuse other people. Ex. Someone snaps at me and I assume they are having a bad day or that I somehow stepped on their toe. This drive for niceness has gotten better with maturity. Much better, actually. I used to NEED to be liked. Now. I understand that people aren't going to like me at all and for all sorts of reasons. And that is the way it is. I'm okay with that. However the issues that still bother me are things like owing someone a favor. I would rather have someone else owe me $5.00 for the rest of our lives than for me to owe someone a dollar. I also hate to ask people for their time, I would rather do without than put them out.  

How does this affect my life? I don't want to waste people's time. My violin lessons stress me out because if I don't do well, I feel like I'm wasting my teacher's time. I don't like to ask for favors because I feel like people are busy and I don't want to add to their stress. My business suffers from this too, because I need to ask people to share opinions, try stuff out, have a party or invest fifteen minutes in a phone call. 

On the flip side. I really struggle with folks who are users. When someone doesn't hesitate to ask for something he/she has no business asking for I honestly am shocked. Selfish people, the ones out for number one, irritate me and I honestly avoid them because of their selfishness. Even worse are the selfish folks who won't come out and tell you what they want, need or expect and expect you to go the extra mile to read their minds and follow their unspoken instructions. 

Maybe that is the bottom line of my issue. That I equate the word nice with unselfishness and I feel compelled to be unselfish in my behavior. Hmmm. But niceness can be manipulative and dishonest and just as selfish. So clearly, I need to separate these words and put them into proper context. 

I think I need to understand the difference between the definition of nice and the following words. Kind, respectful, gentle, agreeable, pleasant, laid back, unselfish, reliable, sweet and I need to redefine what I expect of myself. I can't help but notice that some of those words appear as the Fruit of the Spirit. 

Where my violin is concerned, I need to understand that a) I am paying him so if I waste time, it really is only mine. I owe him respect and kindness. I need to be agreeable and have a can-do and will-try attitude. He doesn't like it when I get discouraged and he tries to encourage me so I need to make that easier for him by not letting my errors and struggles defeat me. 

In my business, I need to remember that the products I represent and business I've chosen are lifesavers for so many people. The woman who buys lottery tickets hoping to escape her 40 hour work week grind of a job, the people who have given up dreaming, the young mom who wants to stay home with her kids, the young professional who is buried in student debt, the woman who looks in the mirror and hates what she sees, the mom who is concerned with what she puts on her baby's skin. It is not selfish for me to offer this to others, it would be selfish for me to pick and choose those who I'll share it with. 

I'll do some definition investigation and be back with it tomorrow. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Twist and Stretch...

Oh, we are such complicated creatures aren't we? 

By that I mean that we are often blind to, and if not blind, in denial of, the lies that pin us into place on the wrestling mat of life. 

Whether we tell ourselves the simple, white, "lie" that tomorrow we'll make different choices, or we hunker down into the belief that we are unworthy, or that the world is against us or owes us, we end up becoming our own worst enemies. And we spin and we circle and we spiral and expend tremendous energy and we don't move forward. 

I, for one, get so tired of the negative beliefs that circulate through my mind. I feel like I go two steps forward and one back far too often. That's progress, right? But then I take one step forward and three back. 

This year has been a challenging one on so many levels. Music, starting a business, putting myself out there in both of these. Other issues like empty nesting and relearning being just a couple again and a different kind of a family. Job changes that feel very much like roller coasters doing loopy loops and the future promises more. We are in fields that are very much affected by politics and and education. 

I need to stop spinning.  I need to start walking toward, planning for and following through with the things that are important to me. Circumstances need to become scenery by the roadside NOT the path I walk. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Serials and Scenarios ~ Avoiding the Fellas in White Jackets ~ Michelle Griep

I saw this on Facebook yesterday and it reminded me of Michelle's A Heart Deceived. And that reminded me that she has some more interesting factoids about life back in the day. 

Read the link, read Michelle's article, buy A Heart Deceived and be very thankful you just have to read about it, not live it. 


Avoiding the Fellas in White Jackets

My mother took me to a pediatrician when I was five because I spent an excessive amount of time beneath the dining room table talking to my best buddy…Daniel Boone. Yeah, I know. He’s dead. I knew it at the time as well, but that didn’t stop me from having heart-to-hearts with him. In my mind, he was as real as the old cat lady who lived next door, only he didn’t smell as funky.

The doctor vindicated me by telling my mom there was nothing to worry about. I simply had a bad case of a vivid imagination. I don’t dare tell her (or the good doctor) that my gray matter now devises horrific murder scenes in cinemagraphic color—and that I actually make money doing it.

All this to say that writers are a quirky lot. They have to be, or they won’t get paid, which is really interesting because a few hundred years ago, the same twitchy behavior might’ve landed one in the loony bin. It didn’t take much...


Husbands committed wives for being “melancholy”. Translation: the fella took a fancy to the hot babe down the lane and wanted to ditch his wife.

Physical Glitch

Yo, mom and dad…got too many mouths to feed and one of them has a slight deformation? Maybe a cleft palate, perhaps? No worries. Pack that kid off to the asylum and voila; one less plate to serve at dinnertime.


If someone higher up the food chain has an issue with you, watch your back, buddy. Dueling is against the law, but getting you committed sure isn’t. All it takes is a lie or two whispered into the right ears and you’ll be packing your bags for Bedlam.

Traitorous Tendencies

One of the most famous nutjobs in Bethlehem Royal Hospital was James Tilly Matthews, who was little more than a verbal threat to the crown. Well, to be fair, there was the rumor that he was a double agent, and he did think there was a conspiracy to place bad thoughts into his head by use of an “airloom”, but other than that, he was relatively harmless…unless you happened to be one of the politicians he spoke against and were worried he might froth up the rabble against you.

Getting packed off to a late eighteenth century asylum was about as much fun as stint in a Poorhouse. Many were understaffed, over populated, and the mental health industry itself was in need of reformation—which would and did come, but not in time to help out the heroine in my latest release, A HEART DECEIVED.

Miri Brayden teeters on a razor's edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he'll be committed to an asylum—and she'll be sent to the poorhouse. 

Ethan Goodwin has been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law ... from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder. 

When Ethan shows up on Miri's doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces. Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.

Today, writers, daydreamers and silly hearts don’t need to be as fearful about the men in white jackets coming to haul them away. Still, it wouldn’t hurt if you kept all your talk about airlooms to yourself.

A HEART DECEIVED is available by David C. Cook and at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook.

Keep up with the exploits of Michelle Griep at Writer Off the Leash, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.