Happy Thanksgiving!

It's bustling here at the Pierson house: turkey is in the oven, refrigerator is packed with food halfway prepped, coffee is continually brewing, relatives have arrived, and the house is beginning to smell good!

Here's one new dish I'm introducing to the family this year.

But I wanted to stop in quickly on this wonderful day and reminisce a little about Tdays of yore. Remember this video I posted last year? It's one of my favorite Thanksgiving Day memories.

Today will be filled with great memories too -- Happy Thanksgiving!

Reuniting with an Old Friend

Tonight I spent some time with an old friend ...

I'm a little rusty, but it's always comforting to hear that familiar wooden creak, so intimate only I can hear, as I settle him under my chin, and to feel the taught cold strings slide under my fingers.

I was in third grade when I first picked up a violin. We'd been given two options: violin or cello. Although I must admit that I am drawn to the voice of a cello, I happily chose the violin to be in the company of friends and my older sister Kirsten.

Although I played in youth orchestras and then in college, most of my post-college years so far have found my violin tucked away in its case, the last concert program still lingering in its zippered pocket. But this year I decided to rekindle my relationship with the ol' violin and joined an orchestra: the Linden Hills Chamber Orchestra. I'm excited to be playing Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony (which has undercurrents of A Might Fortress is Our God), but the music is rather challenging, so I've spent some quality time with my violin this fall, brushing up and reminding myself of the old road map.

Besides practicing fingering and retraining my brain to think across strings, it helps to notice the little details of the violin itself that make me feel at home.

I forgot how much I love the delicate scroll carved at the top, in perfect cinnamon-roll fashion. At my first rehearsal this fall I was happy to find it still feels natural to sit with my violin resting on my lap, waiting patiently for my part to begin. As I learned to do when sitting in my youth orchestra, I found myself resting my lips on those wooden grooves.

And the moon shaped notch behind the neck, where I rest my thumb as I wait to begin ...

There's something in the waiting. It's such a great exercise for kids and adults alike, to sit within the music like that, just absorbing the sound. You don't realize it at the time, but you are imprinting the music into your brain -- your soul? -- so that years later when you are flitting through radio stations as you drive home from work you catch a snippet of sound that causes you to pause and brings you right back to that chair you sat patiently in when you were twelve years old and could hum every stanza of the Symphony.

Boredom is not an option. For when you're in an orchestra, you not only learn your part, but the flute solo and the clarinet's sad intro, the trumpeter's call -- even the conductor's stance.

One of my favorite moments is the very beginning of a piece when just a few instruments lead us out. It's oftentimes pretty quiet - just a flute or an oboe perhaps - and you wonder if the audience is tired and bored with the soft, lilting music. But this is simply the brink of The Beginning, and when you are familiar with the avalanche of exciting passages and harmonies ahead, those beginning moments hold anticipation.

... thanks again, old friend.

Read more about what my violin means to me in my previous post: Horcruxes. It just might have to do with Harry Potter : )

What are your favorite musical moments? Have you ever strayed from your instrument and then picked it up again? If anyone in the area wants to join our orchestra, let me know!

And the Cow Jumped Over the Moon

We have a tradition at our house where we only come up with a Halloween costume at the last minute. It's not that we dread Halloween or feel obligated to scrounge up a costume, thus pushing it to the last second before those trick-or-treaters start ringing. We're actually huge Halloween fans. It's simply more fun this way. It allows for spontaneity, requires creativity, is an excuse to wear some random things you have hidden away in your closet, and is FREE!

This Halloween my sister Sarah came over right around 5pm when I was busy starting this soup (it's great, try it! More like a Tortilla Soup than Chili. I think I'd like it even more without the chicken and with some garbanzo beans) and headed straight back to my room. Five minutes later she had become a Cowgirl! And notice our pumpkin with Woody? Haha ... non-intentionally theme appropriate (thanks Riley!).

I actually used the same pink-and-white shirt two years ago to be a cowgirl! (Read that post here). And last year I picked out a rarely worn red-and-white shirt to become Waldo. (Read that post here).

You should try it one year. Give yourself five minutes in front of your closet (and possibly other closets/storage cabinets throughout the house) and see what you can come up with.

Sarah's cowgirl costume prompted me to become .... a COW! Perhaps a horse would've been more fitting, but in this family, cows are kinda special. And of course when Evan got home he was game to be a cowboy.

I think it was right after posing for this photo with my tripod that we realized a whole group of kids were crowded by our door just watching us. Oops! I should mention that we had scary/Halloween music playing all night, and one little girl looked up to us with concern in her eyes, saying "it sounds really scary in there." Oh the fun of Halloween.

Here we are practicing our mooing/chewing our cud (Evan is significantly better at this than me).

We didn't have many trick-or-treaters .... more for us! Towards the end of the night we decided to relax upstairs by the TV, but were sure to leave a handful of candy on the front steps for those late-night teenage trick-or-treaters. I left about 7 pieces of normal candy, then a few mini bags of animal crackers, and Evan threw in an old candy cane, just for kicks ... you know, to see if what they would take it. And sure enough, and hour later, it was all gone -- candy cane and all! 

We installed our new full-glass storm door just in time for the festivities! It was a pain to put up and took a few hours, but it was definitely worth it. Now we can spy on the squirrels who like to sit on our doorstep and plot their attack of the pumpkin/decorative corn/you name it. I'll have to post a picture with the door closed soon -- you can finally see the finished blue door!

If you haven't seen this Halloween light show yet, watch it! It's amazing. We watched it about three times the other night. We're thinking a road trip out to California to see it in person next year? Anyone with us?!

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