sherron0: (Default)

Well, the great violin string tragedy might not have been a tragedy to anyone else, merely an annoying incident.  But around here, things have a way of taking on dimensions that just . . .

I don't know if I've told you that much about my younger son, Thomas.  He's Autistic.  Nowadays they call it Asperger's, but back when he was diagnosed, there was no such thing.  He's very high-functioning, and high IQ –which helps him intellectually compensate for things that come automatic to most people, and almost 80% of the time "passes" for neurotypical. He's one of the main reasons I ended up pulling the boys out of public school (another long and involved adventure that including me in the elementary school office snarling, "Give me my children! I can do this badly by my self!) and homeschooling for the next 12 years. Anyway with all those years of one-on-one and plenty of time to teach and practice real life skills (since he wasn't sitting in a school all day) he has just blossomed.  He looks so NT sometimes that it's just easy to forget he's not.

So, his A string has drifted off in such a way that it was making an unpleasant sound.  It could be tuned to "A" but was just off, in someway that Thomas couldn't quite make me understand.  I could tell that it was louder and brighter than the rest of the strings, and just didn't seem to fit in.  After several conversations, he made me understand that for him, this was a serious problem.  It made it painful to play the violin, in a NOT metaphorical way.  As with most autistics, his sensory input system just works differently from ours.  I told him to consult with his teacher.  He did, I was there, (I don't normally go any more, but I knew this to be a "new" situation for Thomas, and he'd have trouble breaking into the regular flow of the lesson to ask.  So I'm there to say, "Thomas has a question about his A string.") he got a long lecture on strings, their history, their makeup, etc., and in the end the pronouncement they were basically a personal choice, and also depended on the violin.  The same string can sound different on two different violins.  You can make sweeping generalizations about certain brands being generally "brighter" or more mellow, etc, but really, it's trial and error until you find the ones you like best.  No help, at all.

After the lesson we go downstairs to the Fret Shop and try to get a young man to help us, whose first piece of advice was, "you really need to get Phil (aforementioned teacher) to help."  Then we get more theory, and the guy plucks on the strings, notes that the A is louder, figures out what brand it is, tells Thomas that that is generally the most mellow brand and any other might make it harsher, finds out that the strings are almost a year old, tells us most serious string players replace their strings every 3-4 months, and we should tell Phil how old the strings are and get more advice from him, and come back later, since Phil's in another lesson. Another guy agrees with him. 

Finally I gave up.  I'd never had a shop try so hard to NOT sell me something.  So I say to Thomas, "Let's talk to Phil again at the Sunday rehearsal," and we leave.  We're driving and talking, and Thomas is trying to impress upon me just how painful it is, and I finally realize he's telling me he won't use the violin in the condition it's in.  It's that painful.  (And that changing back to the old violin this close to the Christmas concert was equivalent to changing all the music, because everything would sound different . . . You get used to having these sorts of discussions if you live with an autistic person with extraordinary hearing, for 20 years.)

So I just turn the car around and go back in and tell the boy (and now the manager's involved, because we're there a lot, and good customers —two violins, not counting the rental, and related stuff so far) that there must be string buying, today.  Luckily for us, Phil has walked down with his 2 students (yes it's an hour later) and the boy and I tell him the situation.  Phil, bless him, understands Thomas and the problem (that Thomas can't make the decision and I don't know enough to pick a string, and that the guys in the shop, who have heard Thomas play, and talked with him enough, especially by this time in this episode, to know how serious a musician Thomas is, and how sensitive his hearing is and are afraid to be the one to make the wrong decision on a string).  He asks Thomas more questions about the strings he already has, and what brands they are (the D&G are one brand, the A was another brand, and the E was yet another.)  told him to just try replacing the A with the same brand as the D & G.  And agreed with Thomas that the E string could also use replacing, but with the same brand, because E strings are the easiest to go wrong with, and the most unpleasant when you do.  Whew.

I don't know about you, but I now know more than enough about strings, and their brands, and qualities. 

Just to add it all up, it's an hour or so at home talking about the problem and establishing that he needs a string and help with the social interaction parts of getting one. It's 30 minutes into Huntsville to the Fret Shop, 30 minute lesson, an extra hour in the store, and 30 minutes to drive home.  Three and a half hours that I normally would have been at home, probably wasting my time on the internets.
sherron0: (Default)
Tonight's my last night in Georgia.  I'm in Macon for one last night at Nanette's.  Tomorrow we will meet my sister Julie's family at the Dekalb Farmer's Market so she can give me the stuff I left at her house, then Nan and I will drive to B'Ham where I'll meet with Mat and he'll have to drive me to Madison.  That turned out more difficult to arrange than I thought.  Maybe I'll catch up what's happened, and why I'm in Atlanta car-less later.  But it's been great.  I've had fun. I've gotten back in touch with my best friend, Nanette, and we did some Cherry Blossom Festival stuff. I've gotten to know my sister Julie better, and to play with my nephews John John and Daniel, and niece Jessica.  Not to mention getting to go to the ASTA National Conference (ASTA=American String Teacher's Association) and watch Thomas and Consort de l'Ancienne play in a seminar T's teacher gave on teaching using Early (as in 11th - 16th Century) Music. Of course we got to dress in our costumes.  Thomas is on the far left. His teacher is on the far right.  You can't see everyone.
Consort de l'Acienne
sherron0: (Default)
Today I ate out twice!  Mother and Larry were on their way to Montgomery today, and called from I-65 as they passed into AL and invited me to meet them at the nearest interstate interchange and have lunch.  So I dashed over to Athens.  (20 mins, about the same distance as they were at that moment)  We met at Ruby's and had a pleasant lunch and conversation.  Then they headed on down the road.

I went with Thomas to his violin group.  Shelby couldn't go because when I got into the car I could smell him and indeed, he hadn't had a shower, and I wouldn 't let him go.  Personal hygiene is a struggle for Asperger's people, I'm not sure why, but it's fairly universal.  It took me forever to convince Thomas that boys just had to take a shower every day and it didn't matter how not dirty you thought you were, others would think differently.  He's really good now, mainly just because I wore him down.  Nobody's ever bothered to be insistent with Shelby, so now I'm in the wearing down process with him.

Then Beloved called just as we were in the parking lot starting to go home, to warn me that he wanted to go out to eat, just the two of us.  We met at the house so he could wash up and change, and went to . . . wait for it . . . Ruby's.  Not in Athens, here in Madison, but.  There's just not many non-fastfood places to eat that don't require driving into Huntsville.  Even then, the selection is not that exciting. But I was still full from lunch anyway, and just wanted a beer and to be away from the boys, having real adult conversation, with my beloved.  I'd have settled for Arby's if they sold alcohol.

sherron0: (Default)
The Mouse and I drove up to Nashville yesterday, to check out Hatch Show Prints for  field trip.  A very interesting place, but small and very busy and loud.  Maybe not the best idea.  And it's very Downtown (Broadway and 6th).  Little parking, and what there is is expensive.   But if you happen to be downtown, you should drop in.  Very friendly people, and an intriguing place.

 We had a terrific lunch, in Merchants Restaurant, in the old Merchants Building on Broadway.  It used to be half hotel, half pharmacy.  They've tried to keep faith with the original architecture and character o the building and have done a pretty good job. 

Then we drove around making lots of U-turns trying to get to a Violin shop we haven't been to.  Very nice place.  Thomas found two he really loved.  One of them I also loved.  It was old, and beautifully made, and when he played it, it was like stepping up from a regular to a grand piano.  Of course, cost as much as a piano -- $5000.  The other was a 5 string violin (say vee oh linn, like viola+ violin).  It is basically a violin plus the lower C string that a viola has, or if you're a viola player, a viola plus that high E string.  The two instruments share the D, G, & A. So anyway, it was a lot of fun to play, and would make transposing some of that medieval music he's been playing a fifth lower very easy.  (Makes for great harmonies).  Of course, it was $5500.  We decided he needed to be closer to perfect before we invest in one of those. The violin he owns right now is in the $300 - $500 range, except that it has a small, barely noticeable cosmetic ding, so we got it for $145.  It's better than the rental he was playing (which was still a nice instrument -- sold for about $300), but probably not the last fiddle he'll want to own.

We got home around 8pm.  A good day.

Of course, between our little outing and Saturday's migraine, I'm now about 4 days behind.  Yes, that's right. for every day of vacation you take, you get 2 days behind -- Law of the Universe. 
sherron0: (Default)
Okay, I'm dreading tomorrow.  It's going to be one of those hellatiously busy days where I have no time to think hardly, and I prove that I have no life of my own.

I get up two hours earlier than I like  --7am--  to drive 40mins to take Thomas to Calculus (9-10:40) .  Sit in the Lobby of the Math & Science Bldg (no wifi) and wait.  Maybe get a little paperwork done.  Drive home, usually there by 11:15. Eat lunch. Teach Thomas & do housework.  Take Thomas to the school for band practice 4-5:00.  Drop Thomas at home, drive into town (40mins) to be at the Autism Society by 6.  I wish it wasn't so traumatic for him to drive.  But anyway, I'm just whiny tonight.

But Friday I can sleep late, I just have to make Thomas study and practice violin, and don't have to go anywhere until the Asperger's moms' meeting for supper.

Saturday, again with the getting up early, to get into town by 8, for an SCA event.  Thomas's teacher and some other students are playing Medieval music during the feast (wearing Medieval Garb).  We're going early so Thomas can go to an arrow-making class.  I've got to take a camera.
sherron0: (SnowDragon)
Where the heck have I been?  It's been busy busy busy.

The Alabama Strings Teachers Asooc. Honors Strings Orchestra Festival took up all one weekend, the 1st-3rd. It was fairly incredible.  Young people from all over Alabama came.  They saw the music for the concert Thursday night for the first time, for 2 hours.  Then they spent all day Friday and Saturday morning rehearsing, studying, and playing music games.  Then on Saturday afternoon, they performed.  I was just bowled over.  I could not even emagine that they could sound that good.  I'm not sure now what all those other instruments tey have in an orchestra are for.  Just kidding, of course, but just with Violins (playing two different parts), violas, cellos, and a bass you get an incredibly beautiful, complex sound.  I have an album of photos, at:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2005068&l=f5015&id=1006350292



Then the next weekend was the field trip to the TN Aquarium that I wrote about. My semi-daughter Rhiannon took all the lovely pictures for me.  There are a lot of beautiful photos of jellies and such. Rhiannon retains the copyright on everything, however.  While she is fine with sharing them online she would like them not to be reposted or linked to or sold.  Thanks.


http://www.facebook.com/al bum.php?aid=70634&l=61960&id=639455257

http://www.facebook.com/al bum.php?aid=70723&l=ee89f&id=639455257

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=71017&l=79a03&id=639455257

And of course, this was all worked into the usual busy schedule of school, and a little socializing, and cooking (well, microwaving), and all that stuff you have to keep up on.

Then the Thanksgiving madness we all get.  Thanksgiving is the one time of the year when people travel hundreds of miles to see people they haven't seen for a year and realize that once a year is way too often.  No, actually I had a good time.  Most everybody was there, and of course the food is always good.  Thomas played violin for everyone. Mat interviewed his Grandpa for two and a half hours. 
sherron0: (magic shoes)
I'm so over-scheduled I don't even know what I'm up to these days.  I remember lots of driving at Thanksgiving, a concert, a couple of field trips, lots of rehearsals of medieval music, lots of astronomy lectures, some sword play, leather mugs, japanese lessons.  I'm beginning to think my whole life is about driving Thomas around.

Speaking of the ASTA Honors Strings Festival and Concert, check out the pictures:

My Boy at ASTA

Pompeii

Oct. 31st, 2007 07:59 pm
sherron0: (red boots)
Thomas and I got up while it was still dark to drive to the Birmingham Art Museum. One of the other moms from Franklin School set up a high school field trip and got us a discount ticket to the special exhibit from Pompeii. She also set up an afternoon tour with a docent of some other art, but we couldn't stay for that because of violin lessons. So we just got to do the Pompeii part, but it was definitely worth it!

First we stopped at Mat and Rhiannon's to say "Hi" to Mat and get Rhiannon to come with us. It was great to have Rhiannon with us. I miss her too, not just Mat. It was good to spend the day with her. She sees things that others miss, so it's really fun to do things like museums with her. She and Thomas are probably two of the top ten most interesting people I know. So it was a great morning.

We lingered at all the pieces and exhibits. We were still only about 2/3 of the way through when someone back-tracked to tell us that the rest of the group was already in the cafe eating. Rhiannon and I just looked at each other like -- "what fools! here you are, with your one chance to study treasures from across time and the ocean, and you rush through to lunch." So we just finished the exhibit with only a few minutes left to grab a postcard from the gift shop and view a room of Asian art before we had to leave. And we stayed until the very last possible second.

In fact, we had to just dump poor Rhiannon out on the street in front of the apartment so we could grab Thomas some eat-in-the-car pizza, and get back in time for violin.

By evening our feet really hurt, and I was too exhausted for anything but I wouldn't have missed any second of the whole day for anything.
sherron0: (Default)
How can a whole day go by, and I remember that I was really busy, and rushed around doing things, and yet look back and not be able to say, "Look, I accomplished this."

I did a lot of Astronomy and Physics with Thomas. Enough to confuse the poor boy and me too. Not that I'm positve that I ever had a firm grasp on Gravity and nuclear fission. I really don't want to learn it at this point in my life, but both Thomas and Max seem determined that I do. And Mathematica too.

Then we rush over to Violin lessons, back for supper, watch a little TV, read my mail and LJ & IJ, and next thing I know it's nearing midnight.

And I still don't know which are the correct results of my mammogram/ultrasound fiasco. Today their computers are down and they know less than I. Arrgh. And Blue Cross has got my billing all screwed up. Or, there's a possibility that they are correct, and things have changed, and my darling has failed to bring home the new info.

IDK, maybe I need to ....hmmm....
sherron0: (red boots)
46 hours and counting down until the new episode of Blood Ties!

No more major shoes purchases in the last few days.  Lots of time spent at UAH figuring out Mathematica.  Russian was canceled this week.

Had PT on Monday and I'm supposed to go tomorrow, but they just make me run through the same exercises I've supposed to have been doing at home, then add one.  I did them Monday and some on Tues, but I've been too tired today.  I think I need a full week with them.  I'm going to call and postpone until Monday.

We did all eat out at the new Rosie's on Monday night.  Thomas and I were just driving home after about 3 hours in the Physics computer lab, and called Mark and he met us there.  It was great.

I stayed up last night until 3 this morning, so I've been dragging.  I actually took a nap after supper for about an hour.  I won't be up that late tonight!

Tomorrow we go back to Christine's for Archery.

Oh, and after violin today, Thomas wanted to look at mandolins.  His teacher was telling him how easy it is to learn for someone who can play either violin or viola, since all three are laid out and tuned the same(in fifths). Guitars are different.  I need to make him get back on the piano some. Like I need to let him get started on another instrument now!!
sherron0: (Default)
Today after violin lessons Thomas and I went to the mall again.  I was looking for a good bra, and an opportunity to use my "Belk Bucks".  I didn't find a bra, but got some other stuff in that department.  Then we had to have Cinnabons again, and he wanted to go look at the music store.  So on the way there, I saw and tried on the most beautiful pair of high heeled, knee-high, red leather boots!  I want them very much.  But, what would I wear them with?  Just hide them under my blue jeans?  For $80?  I think not.  So I passed.  But I'm thinking about them, and what you'd wear with them.  They might substitute for the Red Jag?

Okay, in other news...

I'm reading a crime drama, Running Blind by Lee Child.  It's not bad.  Not a genre I ever saw myself getting into, but Mother keeps giving me all these books, and next thing you know, I'm hooked.  Of course, I'll almost read anything.  Not harlequins, and not that grim stuff that Oprah pushes, and I hated the half of Running with Scissors that I  made it through, but I did try to read it. 

And of course, I spend hours searching out and reading Blood Ties fanfic.  I am truly obsessed.

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