Monday, March 21, 2011

༺ Beautiful Flower ༻

This week I was pleased to see that my Christmas Cactus has decided to bloom again. It feels like a good preview of the summer flowers coming in a few months. Here is how the bud looked just as it started to open. There were originally two buds, but for some reason one fell to the table.

Now the flower is in full splendor. It looks so lush and tropical. I just did a bit of research online and found out that these plants originated from the forests of Brazil. This last shot is my favorite. That flower is so amazing, with all the layers of petals !!In time, I hope this plant continues to grow and produce more beautful flowers !

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

༺ Thinking About Gardening ༻

As the sun warms the days, my mind is turning to thoughts of the upcoming gardening season. I reviewed my 2010 notes, remembering when I started planting, the wind and hail that took tender early crops, and the successful pumpkin vines. What will this year bring?

We are still enjoying food from last year's efforts. I cooked up the last two pumpkins yesterday, creating roasted pumpkin seeds first, then using the steamed pumpkin to make quick bread. Today I used last year's cucumbers in a pasta salad. The juice they were stored in gives the salad a nice zing. Salsa continues to be enjoyed, and the dried hot peppers bring spice to life! We recently ran out of onions and frozen carrots. Hopefully the 2011 season will allow us to put as much food by.

The garden has a new coating of compost, which gave me something invigorating to do on warm winter days. Shoveling, turning, and carrying heavy shovel fulls of compost is actually a pretty good workout! The rototiller stands ready to turn the soil, which is a sure sign that plants will soon be enjoying the garden soil.

I'm ready to get outside and put on gardening gloves. Last fall I planted some garlic bulbs, so I keep walking by the garden looking over to see if they are popping up yet. It is windy today, which warms up the air. I think I'll go take a peek at the garlic row right now !

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

♪ The Horse Hair and the Frog ♪

The violin bow hold is something of an art. Relaxed hand. Curved thumb. Bent pinky. Arranging the hand can be a gymnastic challenge to master.

My violin educational resources include YouTube videos made by people who seems to know what they are talking about. RedDesertViolin and ProfessorV are two that I have learned a lot from so far.

The geography of where each finger is supposed to be on the bow is explained very well in RedDesertViolin's video. Not only is the instruction good, the finger positions are easy to see and understand. Making my fingers do it is another story though ! In the above picture, my index finger is too far forward, and the pinky is certainly not bent. More to improve on !!

Violin practice sessions give me a number of things to work on. I have to learn how to hold the violin and how to get my left hand fingers positioned to play notes. I also have to focus on musical elements such as tempo, volume, and how to phrase notes with the bow. Plus, I need to strengthen the muscles needed to accomplish it all. After initial soreness, it is satisfying to see the muscles improving and helping me move as I need to.

ProfessorV's version of the same bow hold instructions reinforces what I need to learn. His voice is soothing and gives me hope that my bow hand will soon be doing the correct grasp !

(The bow string is made of horse hair, and the black part at the base of the bow is called the frog)