Thursday, December 14, 2006

Another happy week in the Happy Valley

Here's an example of the flexibility we are encountering as we make our way here: Beginning in the third grade, Lily's school offers lessons on string instruments. She wanted to take violin. So after a couple of false starts -- the violin teacher is there just one day a week and never got the messages I and Lily's teacher left for her -- I finally reach her on the phone. She says she is happy to take new students but that Lily would be behind, since she teaches in groups and the other half-dozen kids have been playing since September and can already play Twinkle. She goes on like this awhile and I start to get the picture. Okay, I say, practicing acceptance. It sounds like it isn't going to work this year.

I'm not saying that, the teacher quickly says. Let me see how we can do this. Then, when she realizes that Lily has already had a year of piano and a year of music theory, she perks right up. She will meet Lily next Wednesday from 1:45 -- no, make that 2:00, or else she won't have time for lunch; she'll gulp a granola bar -- she will meet Lily from 2:00 to 2:30 for a private lesson, show her how to hold the bow and so forth. I am to pay close attention, too. Oh, I say, we can practice over Christmas! Happy I am catching on, the teacher says Lily can then join the group class in January. So this afternoon we went to Stamell Stringed Instruments and got a half-sized violin. Lily was pretty excited. We'll see if it lasts.

In addition, we signed her up for Clay Studio Skills through Amherst Leisure Services, the town's clearinghouse for all sorts of recreation, sports, and arts. The class will be held at the Amherst Community Art Center, I think. It sounds great and Lily was bouncing off the wall with excitement when I asked her if she wanted to take it. She will also take downhill ski lessons on Wednesday afternoons at Berkshire East Ski Resort in Charlemont. They get out of school on Wednesdays at 1:20, so Lily and a million other Amherst kids will take a bus out to this ski resort, where they will outfit her with skis and set her up with lessons. We are to pick her up at a nearby elementary school at 7:30, exhausted, no doubt. Great!

My main concern for Lily at this time is that school just isn't as demanding as what she's used to and I worry she'll get complacent and expect less of herself than she is capable of. The homework is non-existent and she's pretty much beyond what homework there is. But the good things are really good: The facilities are excellent, the teachers are really kind and friendly, and she's making friends in various grades, both higher and younger. She does have P.E. and music and art and library. I do fantasize about private school -- there are about four for elementary-aged kids -- but I'm not so sure they are any better. Stay tuned.

Another great food week, too. It poured all afternoon yesterday, so Dave and Lily made cinnamon rolls from the incomparable Mark Bittman, "How to Cook Everything." I made chicken in a pot with mushrooms and green olives from Sahadi's. Bittman is great because he's so encouraging about improvising; his enthusiasm helped me make up this recipe. I also made quick-boiled greens with sesame dressing from the Cynthia Lair book. And I made -- drum roll, please -- toffee. Two batches. Burned the butter on both of them -- electric stoves are tricky -- but it tasted fabulous, nevertheless. I am only giving it to about a dozen people this year, not my usual 75, and instead of the holly boxes from Sweet Celebrations (those are packed up some place far, far away) I am using festive Chinese food containers that I got at Michael's, the arts and crafts chain. We have one nearby. I only went in for five minutes but it instantly made me want to learn to knit, sew, paint, and make scrapbooks all day.

Dave and I also joined a local CSA in Hadley, run by the The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. There are several around, along with farmstands every block, apparently, in season. We were on a couple of waitlists and this one came up first. A friend who belongs raves about it. We can't wait 'til June.

No specific work news, but I continue to make calls and send emails and chat with people about my interests and skills, and scour the listings. Christmas is 10 days away and I'm sure everyone is buckling down and getting their work done before the break, just as you should be doing. I'll be vague here but I'll keep you posted if anything real materializes. Something will. People sure are friendly and welcoming and I still like living here. Cool beans.


  1. yeah, with xmas 'round the corner, this can't be the best time to be looking. I'm betting things will pick pu 1/2/07. Just enjoy the holidays and the break that you have. it all sounds wonderful. I'm missing you! k

  2. Kim, you are my most devoted reader. Some people who shall remain unnamed think this blog is too long, but my loyal mother says she reads every word.

    PS the interview today for freelance went great. I have new clarity on my future career path.

  3. write on, I say, write on!


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