Wednesday, April 6, 2011

La Biblioteca

If you know me,  you know I love my library and I have loved the library since I was a girl.  Also, I have been especially fortunate to have always lived within walking distance of the library.  

In the last year, our town's library has threatened to close down twice.  Each time, I have gotten really worried and sad that such a wonderful resource should be facing closure.  Surely monies could be allocated in a different kind of way to make sure that something as important as the town's library (for goodness sake) remains open.  To me, it really spoke to the priorities of the people who live in my town.  When I decided to be more compassionate and understanding, it really spoke to me about what the people who live in this town are focused on instead: survival.  This economy has ravaged folks and my town is no exception.  It is split down the middle by the proverbial train tracks.  On the south side you will find projects, gang activity and all the other accoutrements of the ghetto.  On the north side, it might as well be a different town:  beautiful houses and well-to-do families. The south side folks are focused on eating and, well, staying alive.  The north side folks are, it seems, trying to make sure to have as little to do with the south side folks as possible.  In fact, they often call the north side a totally different name just to make as much distance as possible.  There's a commuter train close to that side and it's actually closer to walk to the neighboring town's library if you live on the north side.  The town's three best schools are also only available to you as a town's person if you live on the north side.  And so the town's library, which is (sadly) situated on the south side, suffers.  
Photo Credit

I, however, have been faithful to the library through it all.  I hold it dear.  Even if I can't get material that I need there, I can always do an interlibrary loan and there is no charge (and some town's libraries do charge for a hold).  I don't know: to me a library is invaluable.  Information or access to information is priceless.  I have been doing all I reasonably can to let the folks who run the library and run this town know that at least one family would take a serious hit should the library close.

I've often thought that one good way to breathe life and vitality into the library is through children's programs.  Parents (generally speaking) will bring their kids to a program they know their kids will enjoy.  Every Tuesday we go to a play/story time program.  They instituted this Tuesday program specifically for parents and their children since the Wednesday and Thursday programs had become overrun with daycare children.  The librarian who usually runs the program on Tuesday is a little odd.  I mean, he doesn't like to make eye contact with the adults but he puts on a pretty decent program for the children.  I really like that he puts some thought into picking the books he will read and the kids seem to enjoy it, I guess.  But he loses their attention because, truth be told, dude is boring.   The librarian who runs the Wednesday and Thursday storytime, however, is just more alive.  He gets out the CD player and puts on music the kids like and really engages with them and with the adults.  His book choices, though . . . yesterday he read a Maisy lift-the-flap book.  And I had to remind him that Hop on Pop is hell of long.  I was underwhelmed.  

So I'm not totally thrilled with the quality of the programs at our library and I actually make it to the story time a few towns over once a week so that my boys get a really good story time hour.  I wonder if it's chicken before the egg though:  are the programs not high quality because the town's people don't care or do the town's people not care because the programs are not high quality?  I can't be sure.  But I'll continue to go and show my support because even if it's not great, it's what we've got and it could be a foundation for something better.    

P.S.  Thank you Mama T for reading my blog and letting me know you did.  You inspired me today.  :)  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Z1 learns the Piano

Music is very important to me.  I really love and appreciate all kinds of music and have always had a strong desire to make music either using an instrument or my voice.  I've played the recorder, saxophone, violin and piano.  The piano, though, has always been my true love and I sincerely wish that I had gone further in my studies.  

Because I love music, it's one thing that I knew I would have to share with my kids so we listen to lots and lots of it.  One day it could be all Ella Fitzgerald and next day we're listening to Burning Spear and then the day after that it's Yo-Yo Ma.  But I also really want them to play music.  Now, I know you can't force these things on children but I determined that I was going to do my best to expose them to all different kinds of musical instruments to see if they naturally took to any one.

Photo Credit:
Well, we started Z1 with violin at a church a few towns over.  These are low cost classes with about 8 or 9 other children in the class.  The boy does not like the violin at all.  I think he finds it difficult to physically play the instrument.  May be will take a liking to it later on.  Currently, though, it's not his cup of tea.

So on the recommendation of some homeschooling friends we know, we started him in private piano lessons.  They are not cheap but he really, really loves it.  I don't have to cajole him to practice or go to his lesson and he likes his teacher.  I like her too.  She is funny and charismatic and just brings piano playing to life.  I'm very pleased with her style and how much Z1 is learning.  

We don't, however, have a piano.  We have a small keyboard on which Z1 practices.  I'd like to get a real piano soon but we really don't have a place to put it unless we move some things around.  We'd have to get rid of the television cabinet (which houses the television, VCR, DVD player, receiver and Roku).  I'm thinking we could put the piano there and get a small flat screen television to mount on the wall.  The other electronics could easily fit in a small cabinet that I'm sure we could find at the thrift store.   I'm fairly certain it would be easy to get a piano for a decent price just from taking a quick survey on Craig's List.  We would have to pay someone to move it and probably would need to get it tuned.  I'm excited about the prospect of having a piano in the house not only for Z1 but for myself.  I would love the opportunity to get better at playing.  

Funnily enough, Z1 learning a new instrument has reminded me about how much I have always wanted to play the bass guitar.  Sometimes I listen to certain songs over and over just for the bass lines:


With all the books, DVDs, and YouTube videos available coupled with my good foundation in music, I know that I could probably teach myself.  So I'm on the lookout for a bass guitar and an amplifier.  

Something has happened over the last few months to a year:  I've lost my passion for a lot of things.  Things that at one point I couldn't imagine not being passionate about.  Writing.  Knitting. Crochet.  Reading.  Cooking.  Baking.  Almost everything, it seems like.  I often feel like I am just going through the motions and not much excites me.  Even though almost every morning I'm reading about being mindful and present.  There are a lot of reasons for this--mostly deeply personal so I won't go into them here--but the thought of getting a piano and a bass guitar finally made something move inside me and I am hoping that this will re-trigger my other passions.    

Anyway, I am glad Z1 is on an instrument that he likes.  It means that I don't have to be all "Tiger Mom" on him about practicing and being diligent in his study.  
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