May 20, 2010

Play Us A Song.

I do not know when I started playing the piano. I have a vague memory of a piano in a room in our house in Visalia, California and a vague memory of a babysitter teaching me what the notes were. I remember feeling determined to learn a song. I think that was the last time I ever felt that determined feeling :) The first song I taught myself was the top hand of I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home.

I am sure I went through the "Heart and Soul" phase....everyone goes through that know, the phase where you learn Heart and Soul on the piano and every time you pass a piano you can not resist the urge to let the world know that you know how to play Heart and Soul. I have a lot of questions about this Heart and Soul thing...who started it? Who decided this is the song that I am going to make sure every kid between the ages of 8 and 12 in America learns? You know the song, right? BAH BAH BAH, BAH DAH BAH DAH BAH DAH , BAH BAH BAH, BAH DAH BAH DAH BAH DAH.....

I do not know the exact moment I started piano lessons. I do not even know if I begged my parents for them or if they just randomly decided they wanted me to have lessons. The first piano teacher I remember having was Glenn Crocker. He was my piano teacher when we lived in California. Of course now I know that he was an amazing teacher and I wish I could go back and take advantage of his "amazing-ness" more than I did. Regret....I do adore you :) I do not know if I practiced without being nagged. I do not know if I ever begged to quit piano. You would think if I hated it I would have some memory of that. I do know that while my sisters were outside raising sheep, cows and pigs for 4-H I was in the house playing the piano so I must have had a love for it. Thank goodness the butcher does not have to come and visit your piano :)

I do remember trying everything in my power to get my teacher to play a new song once through so that I would not have to work as hard to learn it because then I would know how it sounded.....I think it is called laziness.

By the time I was eleven someone caught on to my piano playing ability and I was officially asked to accompany the singing time for the kids ages 3 to 12 in our church. From then on I was always playing the piano at church. My first piano solo was Minuet in G by Bach and I still remember that day and I still love to play that song. My first piano recital a fly flew up my nose while I was playing my song.

When I was in high school I tried out for a chance to sing in the Jazz Choir. I did not make it as a singer but the teacher asked me to be the Jazz choir accompanist. I did not know then that I was more the classical sort of girl, not the improvise, play be-bop sort of girl. I guess everyone involved should have realized that anyone who wears dresses almost everyday of high school, mostly preppy dresses, had the most common name in the world, never wore leg warmers, and never dyed her hair a different color was not cut out for accompanying the Jazz choir. But no one knows that stuff in high school. Jazz does not have many rules it seems to be more what you feel and I am pretty sure you know I prefer to suppress what I feel and thus tend to embrace the black and white classical world. I worked hard at accompanying jazz choir but I think I was a huge liability to the choir and it still haunts me. I did not even realize that I was just not the jazz piano playing type until my 20th high school reunion and Dean Edwards who was in the Jazz Choir band with me declared to me that I was not a bad piano player I was just a classical pianist not a jazz pianist and then I had that AH HA moment that explains everything :) Better late than never.

When I went to BYU I played the piano quite a bit. Someone was always looking for an accompanist, or someone to play a duet with them and I enjoyed it. But there was this one time that I had to accompany a girl for a talent show. She sang that song that has the line..."and all that jazz." I can not remember the name of the song but it had some tough, fast piano moments and I did not have enough time to practice and I was not proud of the job I did. I found myself feeling tired of playing the piano. Wanting to be known for something else. I really like to do what I do perfectly with no mistakes. Yeah, hello reality :) Give me a small break I was only 18 :)

Well I got married, had kids, and went many years without a piano in my house that I could practice on. My skills waned and I lost my confidence. No one in Princeton or Kansas knew how much I knew about piano and I was fine with that. I loved having a chance to be able to do other things. I learned during this time that I loved to teach and speak in public something I may have never known otherwise. There are not many people who know how to play the piano so when people find out you play you rarely get a chance to do anything else. Near the middle of our time in Kansas my dad surprised me by getting me an upright piano. Growing up we had owned a beautiful K Kawai baby grand piano and I loved it. We had a huge empty living room with only the baby grand piano sitting in it. I would play and my friend Evelyn would have plenty of room to do ballet moves to my music all over the living room :) I guess once you pay for a piano like that furniture moves down the list of needs. I had always hoped it would be my piano someday but when my family moved to American Samoa they had to get rid of the piano so I never got it. Turns out that I have never lived in a house that would accomodate a baby grand easily so then my dad would have had to get me a better would have just been messy :)

When I moved to Massachusetts I for some reason started playing the piano again. I am not sure how it happened. Before I knew it I was even playing the organ in church which was very awkward since I have never had a lesson for the organ in my whole life. And just for the record it is not like playing the piano in any way. But I muddle through. I love to play but I feel very isolated from everyone when I am always behind the piano. You know me and my social needs :)

I still have the piano my dad bought for us in Kansas in the 1990's it has gone through a move to Indiana and a move to Massachusetts with volunteer movers who tend to accidentally drop pianos. Now that I play the piano in church all the time again I have sadly noticed my piano is not very good. There is a huge difference between my home piano and the pianos I play at church. Our piano bench is wobbily,the notes do not sound right, the keys stick. I feel guilty even possibly making you think I am not grateful for it. I really never would have known what I was missing if I did not play the piano every week in church.

Zach plays the piano. Madeline played the piano....(don't ask about the use of the word "played," she was so good at it I think I am still mourning her exit from the piano world :) Amanda took a few years of lessons and now I am currently torturing Tatiana with lessons. The keys on the piano that stick frustrate her so she is always asking to quit. But once I figured out that she was only asking to quit because of the condition of our piano I have made her stick with it, that is really no excuse to quit. She has these amazing, long, slender fingers that really should not go to waste :)

I remember when I was in college I was discussing with the other pianist in my church congregation how I sometimes wish I could have a different job at church and she surprised me by scolding me for not being glad I could share my talents. I try to remember that every time I long for something else to do at church. Something that would let me have time to get to know people. Something new that would help me to grow in other areas of my life. Ungrateful, evil, old me....SIGH.

May 16, 2010

Buying Old Things.

So three times a year something happens about 45 minutes away from my house in a little town called Brimfield. The first time I went to Brimfield I really had no idea what to expect. I did not even realize until the third time I went how significant the Brimfield Antique Show really is. It started in 1959 and it is now the worlds largest outdoor antique show. There are over 6,000 vendors who come to Brimfield to make their fortune. People from all over the world mark the one week in May, July and September that Brimfield happens on their calendars. You know the kind of people, people who collect things..... people like Martha Stewart.....just to name drop...I read that she attends :) Brimfield would not be on my radar screen if I did not live in Massachusetts such a short drive from it. If you are not into buying old stuff and if you do not collect metal lunch boxes then it takes awhile to understand Brimfield. The first time I went I was overwhelmed and not overly impressed. Booth after booth of antiques... books and guns found in someones attic; pictures, dishes, furniture and linens from estate sales; molding, lights and fixtures from old factories, the list could go on and on. After I experienced Brimfield the first time I realized that there are a few things you need to know before you show up at Brimfield.

You need to know if you collect anything.

You need to know that a doorknob is not really a doorknob but rather a curtain holder. You really can not want things for their intended purpose you have to be able to get past their appearance and see what their potential is.

You need to know what is a good price to pay for old stuff.

You really need to know yourself.

About an hour into my first trip to Brimfield I realized that I had to break this whole experience down so that I could focus, so I tried to notice what I was drawn to. You probably would not be surprised to know that it happened to be things that had a clear purpose, things like boxes and containers. Things like old fruit crates, old wooden boxes that used to hold cream cheese, wooden feed boxes., plant stands, and cigar boxes. I started noticing prices and of course asking questions. So when I came home from Brimfield that year I had in my posession an old wooden pear box that the grower would pack his pears in before sending them to the grocery store. Stamped on the box are the instructions to the wholesaler and the retailer on how to condition the pears to sell them. I use the box to hold my magazines. I spent $10.00 on the box....which I constantly tell myself was a good deal. I also purchased a green wooden box that was originally from a feed company. I am not really sure what it was originally used for. But I love it. It sits on my front porch with a plant in it. I think I spent $15.00 on it. I looked for another one this year but there were not as many available and they were closer to $40.00.

There is this one booth at Brimfield that I love because it has old fishing stuff from Cape Cod and Maine. There are wooden lobster buoys, piles of them, all different colors. Everytime I go to Brimfield I carefully choose one set and carry it around but always end up putting it back. The small ones are $5.00 the big ones are $8.00. LL Bean sells replicas of the buoys in their home catalog for $19.50 apiece so I am not sure what my problem is about purchasing them. when they are such a good deal. I also have been known to stare longingly at the huge glass fishing floats. that are also at this booth, they are enormous green glass balls. When I was a kid there was this time that my family was on the beach in California and we found a small green glass fishing float. I loved seeing that fishing float sitting on the mantle or a bookshelf in our house growing up and I always wanted it. There is something about buying one that is not as fabulous as finding one on the beach. But I think my chances of finding a float on the beach are very small so I should just give in and buy one at an antique show in Western Massachusetts.
This last week I attended Brimfield and it is getting better and better, each time I go. This time I spent $27.00 including my $4.00 lunch. I bought the black metal plant stand you see in the picture. I should have bought all 4 of them that the lady had but spending a lot of money in one spot is not easy for me. The lady I bought it from found all of them at an estate sale in New Hampshire. I bought mine from her for $15.00. I was very pleased with this purchase because I had been looking at plant stands for quite awhile. I knew how much they were new, I knew how expensive they could be. And I knew I needed it.
My next purchase was....plants. I can not resist plants even at an antiques collectible show where they clearly have no place. But these two herbs I bought totally knew my name and were just so beautiful I could not resist. ... definitely needed them !! My last purchase was two peach baskets that were a dollar apiece and will be very handy for putting my veggies in this summer. Usually I end up out in my garden with nothing to hold all my vegetables I just picked.
It is so amazing how much stuff is at Brimfield and how many people there are to buy it. Brimfield's population is usually only 3,500 but three times a year it jumps to over 130,000 due to the antique show.
I really think you should come and visit me in September and I will take you to Brimfield. maybe you are just the person to convince me to buy those lobster buoys I want. It is so fun to wander and see all the unusual stuff. And you would be surprised to find out just like my friend Jenn pointed out, "how often someone elses trash turns out to be your treasure."

May 12, 2010


"Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free, tis a gift to come down where we ought to be" I think I have known this song my whole life..... it is actually an old Shaker song that became quite famous when Aaron Copland decided to incorporate it into his Appalachian Spring ballet he was writing for Martha Graham in the 1940's....I love picking the tune to this song out when I listen to Appalachian Spring and adore how the tune starts out very simple and then builds up to loads of soaring and flowing so much soaring and flowing that you can not help but hum/sing along.

So what brought this walk down memory lane about the, Tis a Gift to Be Simple song? Well I have been thinking about simple lately. About 4 or 5 times a year I find myself yearning for the simple life. You may ask... "Why don't you just get yourself a simple life if you long for it so much?" Well sadly it's not that simple :)

What does it mean to live simple? Being able to prioritize what is important to you? Not needing much? Having less choices? Being out of debt? Not depending on anyone for anything? Having a horse and a buggy for transportation?

Is there anything simple in your life? Breakfast? Sleeping? A glass of water? Driving to work? Relationships?

Is simple in your head? Do you inherit your ability to keep things simple? Would I appear crazy if I said that the more of life I experience the more un-simple it seems to get? I do NOT want it that way but despite my wishes it is happening at an alarming rate.

When I think of simple I think of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Getting a penny, some candy and a tin cup in your stocking for Christmas and being estatic about it. Getting up with the sun and going to bed with the sun. Sliding down a hay stack. Planting food, picking food, cooking food. Yeah, I am aware that there were Indians, coyotes, sickness, crop failure and other struggles back then. But I have some simple notion that I could handle anything if I had a long skirt on and a pioneer bonnet oh..okay and an epidural for when I deliver a baby :)

May 9, 2010

Prom Dress, Polo Shirts, and Opinions.

Last week I shopped. Miriam decided to go to a Mormon Prom and oh so many hours of my week last week were devoted to helping her find a dress, shoes, jewelry, and last but not least hair clips. The dressing rooms started to blur together. If you are the richest, skinniest person in the world Prom is surely a breeze but for all the rest of us in the world it is surely not. You have a vision in your head of what you will look like and you search and search until you realize that you must modify your vision. Just like when you buy a house.....or find a husband? :) It was tough. I confess that I did not complete the task and that in the end I ended up sending her to the mall with my dear friend Gail to procure the shoes and accessories. I failed Prom shopping 101. If you enjoy hearing about my failures then let me share some more. I strongly dislike Prom. I did everything in my power to talk my 17 year old out of it. I suggested taking the money and going to a show in New York City. I suggested a concert. Anything that did not involve so much money. I know Prom is a rite of passage. I know it is the pinnacle of high school. Yes, I went to my Senior Ball. I had an amazing time. I really liked the guy I went with. I had a horrid dress and thankfully did not even realize it until about 4 years ago :) But I have a hard time saying it made my life better. I do not understand why I am this way about Prom. If you understand what my problem is please feel free to call my "Solve Jennifer Baird's issues with perfectly harmless events hot line." I am afraid to say much more. Then you would know oh so much about me. And honestly, this post really was about shopping not my opinions on Prom.

I did not realize how hard the shopping for a prom dress was until Saturday at 11:45am when I walked into Kohls with Joe. Joe has not been clothes shopping in forever and he just recently mentioned that he did not have anything to wear. So we walked to the boys department in Kohl's he chose three polos in three different colors, then we walked to the shorts display and he chose three pairs of shorts. Then we strolled by the socks and underwear and chose two packages. It took ten minutes. His 3 sisters, who were just getting settled into the juniors department for a long winter shop, were completely bewildered by the short trip to Kohls. I know none of our purchases had to do with an event that involves one evening that can apparently change your life so I would be hard pressed to compare but I must say the difference was amazing. Just so you do not think he was perfect he did want a particular hoodie that he did not see it at Kohl's so we drove to the mall. Where we tried Old Navy and then American Eagle. On the clearance rack in American Eagle he found the hoodie of his dreams he paid for half of it and voila, we were done.

Why do I not understand an evening that is all about what you wear, how you look, and what you arrive in? Why am I the Grinch of Prom? I love to dress up. I would wear a ball gown with matching accessories everyday if I could....yes, I am telling the truth. Seventeen year old Jennifer would slap 41 year old Jennifer in an instant for having perspective and not thinking only about the moment. I must remember that. Maybe I am longing for teenagers to see past the moment and themselves and that is not possible. Life is not that way....right? :) I should let them enjoy the moment and the one very expensive event because someday they will grow up and get married and have kids and lose that body that looks great in a prom dress :)

May 3, 2010

I Think I Have You Figured Out :)

( I wrote this blog awhile ago and did not publish it but I re-read it today when I was in the process of cleaning out my files and decided it was harmless and I should publish it...right this minute :)

What do you really know about blogging? What do you want to get from the blogs you read? Why do you read them? I have about 50 people a day who read my blog. I often wonder why they read. Sometimes I wonder if I meet their needs. Sometimes I wonder if being inside my head is fun for them? And I always wonder who they are. So, just for fun, here is my analysis.

I assume that probably 6 or 7 of my readers are from mine or my husbands family. We live a long way away from all of our family. We never see any of them so they probably like to check in and see if my kids are being good or bad, if I am fat or skinny, and to see if their predictions about my and Brian's marriage were right. (P.S. They were :) The only part of this group that makes me nervous is my parents, I fear I may embarrass them :) What parent wants to know what is going on in their 41 year old daughters head? :)

I would guess that another 6 to 10 of my readers are from my current ward at church. These people probably wonder why I do what I do and maybe they hope that reading my blog will help them to have some insights as to why I cry in church almost every week. (I will never tell :) These people are a huge part of my life and probably, hourly, live in fear that I am going to blog about them :) They are right to be fearful, sometimes I am, in a round about way, alluding to situations they know about. These readers make me the most nervous because they have only known me a short two years they do not love me as unconditionally as the members of the old boyfriend group do...JK. They have not really had the chance to get to know me since I play the piano and am always behind it. They do know I occasionally play the organ a little loud in sacrament meeting. They know when I bear my testimony I ramble about nothing. They know my kids often read books in church and that my husband is on his cell phone way too much. They know I love to wear tights with my dresses. They know I did not attend the Relief Society activity last Saturday. They know a lot of things the rest of you don't because they see me practically every day. You other people can't imagine me being anything less than wonderful, pretty and perfect (hope I did not push that too far :) but this group of readers know without a doubt that I am not :) They know......sigh...they know a lot. They are a huge part of my life and I like them to like me.....yes, they know I am insecure too :)

The next group I assume are readers are my old friends. People who knew me WAY in the in the 1980's and 1990's. I have NO idea what these people remember about me and that fact alone can drive me crazy if I let it. I keep thinking that if I can get these people to cough up some details it may help me to figure out who I am. I do not have any clue as to how I influenced their lives. Since I have no confidence, I am at times, not sure why they are here. I have gathered from comments and private notes from some of them that most of the ones from high school are surprised at who I am. But that is very normal, most of us in high school did not realize that we hardly knew each other. I wish all my friends from the 80's had blogs. I would definitely read them so maybe that is why they read mine.

My friends from the 90's who occasionally drop by to see what I am up to are some of my dearest friends. They were with me through some tough times. They watched me raise my kids. And they are my biggest fans. They knew me before I discovered eyeliner. They taught me about pedicures. And they also taught me how to get rid of gray hair :) I love them dearly. And I have yet to figure out how I know without a doubt that this group loves me unconditionally.

The next group of readers is people who do not know me at all. They are the people who google over thinking and end up here, only to sadly discover that I do not have any answers for them on how to stop over thinking. I actually embrace over thinking and can not help them with their obsessive need to get rid of this tendency. I think if you know you over think that is enough. Let it go, and don't worry about it, it is who you are. We all do it at some level. If you can admit it you are surely one step ahead of the others.

I think that occasionally one of my groups of readers may be....gasp.... old admirers/boyfriends....yes, mother I did say it :) There is not many of them. And I should take this moment to tell them that:

I do not iron my husband's shirts.
I need a perfect lawn...(just the front I can let the back lawn slide :)
I am completely irresponsible with the toothpaste tube.
I leave my socks under the covers down in the bottom of the bed.
I have to read a little before I fall asleep so I keep the bedside lamp on for about 15 minutes.
I used to cook dinner.
I have a favorite pair of sweats.

See...your instincts were right. You dodged a big bullet :)

What kinds of blogs do I read? Well it takes a lot of time to read blogs and I really do not have a lot of time so I have decided that blogs written by people I know are my priority. I have two blogs that I read that are blogs of people I do not know. The fact is you could spend all day reading blogs and enriching your life there are millions of amazing writers out there so I had to draw a line somewhere so that the family could have dinner and clean clothes :) Besides it can be hard on ones self esteem to read all the perfect looking blogs out there. On blogs we can make our lives look so perfect :) Uh oh I told you my secret :)