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My new website is up and running!  www.cynthiakuni.com

I have long worried that my professional site on this platform, which started as a humble blog, has been looking more and more like somebody’s middle school project. I want to thank the endlessly patient tech support people at Bluehost for helping me start fresh.

I will continue to blog here and occasionally share posts on my Facebook page. See you at cynthiakuni.com!

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“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” -Love Story (that was a movie, for you younger readers). Well, it’s a ridiculous quote if you ask me. A person you love should be the first in line to receive your mea culpa if one is merited.  Nevertheless, what is unworthy of true love may actually make sense to blogging. So here is my non-apology for radio silence. Good lord, has it really been over 7 months?

 

The joy of my life since January has been… my new dog.  Sunny is a nine year old Border Collie whose former owner passed away.  A dear friend, who owns Sunny’s sister, introduced us and worked diligently to arrange the adoption. Running buddy, house protector, cat wrangler, and affectionate companion… these roles scarcely begin to represent how much he does for me and how deeply I adore him.

This adoption was a perfect example of that bumper sticker that reads “Who rescued who?” (Don’t you just want to get out a marker and add that “m”? Arg!) What a smart, sensitive, and helpful dog he is.  It was only after he had settled into my home and heart before my friend gave me his papers, and we discovered that Sunny is the grandson of a champion Border Collie named Stetson! We have no sheep in our HOA-controlled neighborhood, but Sunny’s smarts and intuition are daily proof of his heritage. It is as if he can read my mind sometimes.

Sunny watching over Pilot, Pilot stealing Sunny's bed.

Sunny watching over Pilot, Pilot stealing Sunny’s bed.

And now that I have a dog (drum roll please), I feel safe enough to run trails!  So much fun.  The peace and beauty of trails, and their strengthening effect on my legs have been such pleasure.  In spite of TWO bear encounters in the past month, I am as enthusiastic as ever.  It is therapy. It is the anti-treadmill.

 

My greatest accomplishment of my life, the raising and homeschooling of my daughter, is nearly finished.  This past school year (her junior year) has been busy and fulfilling.  If you do not know much about homeschooling, let me just mention that nowadays there are so many people doing it, so much curriculum to choose from, and so many opportunities for educational experiences, that only a part of the business gets done at home.  It really should be called “home-based instruction,” which is in fact what the state of Washington calls it. Yes, we do let our kids out of the house!  (I know that is the number one misconception of homeschooling, the S word.) Anyway, we have one more year to teach, facilitate, guide and support her at home. What a privilege.

 

And in the world of harp… oh my, yes – it is a harp blog. OK. For some reason, I always think this is the least interesting topic that I talk about.  I practice, I perform. I teach a bit.  Not much to say about it all.  I don’t talk about the zen mind required for plucking a perfect harmonic or the best way to make string ties because I can just see my non-harpist audience surfing away.  I don’t blog about my clients or the people I meet, in case it violates their privacy. But perhaps I should make more of an effort to include musical topics. We’ll see.

Nevertheless, since my last foray into Blog Land there has been one important development.  A new harp.

Pilgrim Clarsach

Pilgrim Clarsach

I long to avoid a lot of  blah-blah-blah about the how and the why of getting this new instrument, so I will just say that this is a replacement for my Thormahlen Swan, which is now for sale.  Details upon request. 😉  The new harp, a “Clarsach” made by Pilgrim Harps in England, has a lovely, very Celtic tone, perfect for the Scottish music I play.  This model was originally designed for Derek Bell of the Chieftains, though it has undergone a few minor revisions.

I will be playing this new harp at the Skagit Valley Highland Games on July 12 at 10:25 AM.

I still play at the Black Dog in Snoqualmie every Second Sunday (mostly on my pedal harp, but occasionally on the Celtic harp). That is a brunch performance, 10:30 to noon, and all proceeds still go to Pasado’s Safe Haven Animal Rescue and Sanctuary. I will continue to appear through October, then I plan to take a break from this gig until next spring.

Music I have been working on lately: Medley of tunes from the film Titanic, When You Wish Upon a Star, Glenlivet, Flowers of the Forest, and Beauty and the Beast (for a wedding client).

My great, mysterious challenge and goal for the remainder of 2014: make more YouTube videos of my music! Great, because it would be so helpful for my clients, and mysterious because I cannot figure out why I’m stuck and not doing it!

For now, cheers!

We love those trails!

We love those trails!

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I feel like the Grinch in Ron Howard’s movie, wondering if he should go to the Cheermeister festivities: “yes! no! yes! no! yes!no!yes!no!yes!no! –aaarrrgh!”  — as the dog pulls the cord to the chute under Grinch’s feet.   So, at least for now, I’m back in the slippery chute of blogging.  Whether I will survive the Chair of Cheer is yet to be seen.

cheermeister

When last we left our harpist-blogger, she was fed up with the time-sucking vortex of all things Social Media and needed a break.  The thing is, I keep thinking of blog topics, and I miss writing.

Besides the time-sucking thing, there is also a nagging issue in my mind about topics: this is “supposed to be a harp blog.”  I’m afraid it really is destined to be more like a variety show.  So the blog will have to continue to include news about my running, my knitting, the weather, and my endless, strong opinions about food, the economy, children’s rights, and other stuff that very well may piss you off.  Sorry.

Let’s talk about what I’ve been up to.

  • Parenting/homeschooling: It’s awesome, rewarding, worth every minute. I would talk more about this but must respect my daughter’s privacy. (How many of us would have liked our mother to blog every detail of our teenage life? Right.)
  • Running: I am building up my long runs and it is going well. I’m up to 20 miles now, with a goal of 24 before my fall marathon (yes! I’m finally doing another marathon after a 3 year hiatus).
  • Knitting: The sweater drafting experience has been very successful. I’m flying solo now, having completed my lessons and my learning projects.  On the drafting table: yet another plain, British-looking cardigan (can’t have too many). On the needles: 2 pairs of socks, a scarf, a fair isle sweater, and a pullover.  More on these in a future post. 🙂
  • Music: the 2013 Memorization Project is proceeding slowly; I have committed only 3 pieces of my repertoire to memory since January, but they are pretty solid! (Sheep May Safely Graze; Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered; and Ashokan Farewell) There is a Bach Andante that is giving me grief (to memorize), but Dawn (from Pride & Prejudice) is sounding good.  I really hope to make some more YouTube videos this summer. For me filming is a bit like cleaning the garage – so hard, but so rewarding.
  • Also in harp news…

As resurrections go, The Bramble Band does pretty well. This is the now-defunct Scottish Country Dance band in which I met my husband, back in the 80s. Somehow, we manage to pull together enough band members once or twice a year to play for a function.  Last weekend the corpse was revived once again for the Northwest Folklife Festival, in which we played for a dance session.  Someone took this picture of us:

bramble band folklife 2013

To prove that this is an actual resurrection, I would like to point out that you cannot see any clear faces except the ghostly reflection of our pianist on the piano… The stuff of Poe, don’t you think?

With all the music and excitement of the festival, I managed to come home with only one poor photo of… baskets.  I get a bit overwhelmed in big crowds.

baskets

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I do love writing my blog.  But I do not write quickly.  And editing is always a long, long rumination over every sentence before I can bring myself to click “publish.” [Edit note: over 2 hours for this post.]

So rewind if you will to the beginning of the new year, and that magical 24 hour period in which we all make our resolutions.  I love resolutions.  I make them on January 1, on my birthday, at the beginning of September, and just about any other time I think of something that will improve my life. I know that this sort of fanatical self-improvement is not for everyone, but it seems to flood my brain with endorphins.  And I tend to keep my resolutions, unless they become irrelevant.


544230_calendar_series_2

Resolutions can be tricky though, since they almost always involve giving something up. Case in point, there is something new I want to do this year (more on that in a moment), and I must give up something else to make time for it.

The glaringly obvious candidate for schedule-pruning was “Computer Time.”  (That’s often the case with me. I don’t watch TV, so computer time is the only thing that seems frivolous to me.)  So on January 1, I applied my discipline to make a new start!  But next thing I knew, I had 30 pages of unread Facebook posts on my feed, and zero new blog posts in 2013.  Great. Now I have guilt.

I am really not sure what the answer is.  Facebook is a hard one, because it has this addictive quality; vows to limit oneself to 10 minutes, for example, don’t usually work out.  But if I ignore it altogether, I miss news about friends and family. I’d like to invent a Facebook Intervention Circuit that will shut down my home’s electricity after 15 minutes on that URL.

My blog is a different sort of problem. There is no way, no hope whatsoever, that I could limit the time it takes for me to post something here. (See first paragraph.)  For a time, I considered writing an official Closing The Blog post and giving it up. There would be no more guilt over the long silences, and besides, I like closure. On reflection, however, I think I’d better just let it live. There will be a place to collect and publish the occasional thoughts, stories, or pictures, even if it is infrequent.

So, what am I taking on in 2013 for which I need more time?  Back in December, my husband (who is also a fine musician) and I had a wonderful discussion about  musicality and the nature of musical performance.  We agreed that the music which one memorizes is usually played with much more expression and sensitivity than the music one performs while reading it off the page, even if the latter is something one has played for years.

I have memorized over 50% of my repertoire, but there are lots of pieces I never planned to memorize because they are so easy to read.  Moreover, I used to be less secure about memorization and liked the idea of keeping that page in front of me.  Did I mention I also have beautiful music stand?

IMG_2484

As so often happens in my marriage, my husband’s insights gave me a lot to think about.  (He is an incredibly smart guy.) I decided to start the long, slow process of memorizing my whole repertoire in 2013 (with the exception of ensemble parts). It goes slowly because I want to really internalize each piece. In some ways it is like relearning them.  Thank goodness I already have so many memorized. I am really looking forward to playing them with a fresh perspective, and hopefully with greater expression and richer musical ideas.

And my second harp goal for 2013 is to make more YouTube videos. Now that I have done it once and the ice is broken, I feel more confident about the whole process.  And speaking of ice…

In weather news, we had the weirdest stretch of cold, winter sunshine I have ever seen. I think it lasted nearly two weeks.  Most of the Puget Sound area was blanketed by fog day after day, but my house was above the fog most days. At night, however, the fog would roll up and lay a fresh layer of frost on everything. Nighttime temps were in the 20s, daytime in the low 30s.  The ice got so bad that I stopped running. Desperate to get my exercise (I will not use the Dreadmill!), I climbed Mt. Si, lifted weights, and even dragged out some of my old step aerobics videos, with the hilarious 80s-90s leotards.

SNL_BODY_FUSION_CAST

In places where tall trees blocked the low winter sun, the frost built up so much that it looked just like snow.

IMG_2481

I prefer the real stuff. Less slippery.

Lastly, I just have to share this picture of the Chicken Chess Board I saw this week. Those of you who know me are probably aware of how much I would like to have some chickens if our Homeowners Association would allow it. Alas, I will content myself with all things chicken-themed.

IMG_2461

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Some people call it “Junuary.”  Some people seem surprised every year… where is summer?!?  It doesn’t help much that we nearly always get a burst of warmth and sunshine in May.

I confess, I like the grey. And most of the time, I like seeing it spelled with an e. It’s not a big deal, but the e somehow transforms a bleak day to a more romantic version, as if we are talking about the coast of Scotland rather than rush hour in downtown Seattle.

The grey weather is certainly not good news for outdoor events, and it strikes terror in the heart of harpists, whose precious instruments must be kept dry.  But I do like the light, and the cool air. I have no plans to move south, and I vow to remember that when tempted to complain.

So here is the beginning of my blog. I’m afraid it is a pretty wimpy start. Downright grey in fact. Bear with me; “it’ll burn off.”

Cheers,

Cynthia

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