Time is on my Side

January 19th, 2018

Yes it Is

Suddenly I find myself gifted with something I did not expect: free time.

I had a horrendous time making the move up here, and then Irma came and made things 20 times worse. I had to buy 3 chainsaws. I burned one tree after another. I ended up with 3 different pairs of work boots, 5 pairs of Carhartt jeans, suspenders, and 2 pairs of overalls. Not to mention a collection of baseball caps, which you actually need for farm work because the sun is annoying and things hit you in the face all the time. I was busy, busy, busy.

Now things have slowed down. It turns out you don’t absolutely have to get rid of every downed tree on a property right away. Once you dispose of the ones that block roads, land on fences, threaten passing cars, mash your chicken coop, and so on, it’s not imperative that you maintain a fierce pace cutting up the ones lying on their sides in the woods. I will be moving trees for a long time, so there is no point in getting in a hurry. Also, it appears that the bugs are capable of disintegrating a live oak in under 2 years, so they will probably end up doing much of the work.

Here’s another interesting thing: the grass stopped growing. Things grew quickly here when I arrived, but once we had a couple of freezes, the landscaping workload looked very different. I can’t mow. I’m afraid to plant things. Some things I used to trim are either dead or playing possum. Mainly, I just clean up. And now I have child labor to help. My friend Amanda has 3 boys just the right size to be exploited by a non-recycling, yoga-hating, organic-food-ridiculing conservative. We are teaching them capitalism by forcing them to pick up sticks in my yard, for a suitably unconscionable weekly pittance.

I think putting the boys to work was a good move. They will learn that you can’t spend your whole life playing video games all day, and because they will get to spend some of the money, they will learn that affluence and work are connected. And they’re doing man’s work, which is fun. I taught them how to drive the EZ-GO and run the dump bed, and they zip around all over the place, presumably feeling important and grown up. Kids need that. You can’t give people responsibility without authority. It’s demoralizing. Ask a Border Patrol agent.

When my friend Mike was here, he was an even better overseer. He had them throwing stuff on the burn pile while it was actively burning. Don’t know if Amanda knows that. Mike is very good with kids, especially compared to the DNA source who abandoned these boys.

Mike is coming tomorrow. I guess we will devise new torments for them. And they WILL like it. I told him he is the guest slave driver.

Their attitude is great. I think the money helped. The first time they worked, it was a gift to me from their mom, and after a short time, one of them came up to me and said, “Can we be done now?” That is changing.

My biggest contribution to their upbringing is Frisbee. Somehow they ended up throwing one of my disks, and I found out they didn’t have proper Frisbees. I got each one a Diskraft disk (better than Frisbees) for Christmas. They are starting to get it. Sometimes a disk will make it all the way to an intended recipient, and I have seen a few catches.

Wham-O brand Frisbees are Chinese these days, so Diskraft is the way to go.

Boys are like car engines. They function best under a load. You have to give them things to do. I know this because my parents did not do this.

To return to the point, I am less busy now, and it makes me nervous. I feel like there is something I should be doing. Of course, that’s true. There is always something I should be doing. But I wonder if I’m missing anything.

I now have time to exercise and practice music. I didn’t expect that. I took up the mandolin, banjo, and guitar again, and this week I started looking at piano instruction.

Amanda’s boys need to learn music, if they want to be civilized, so I have been helping her find options. Lessons would be great, but they’re not cheap. One son wants to learn piano, and another likes the guitar. The third mentioned the saxophone.

I can help a little with the guitar, and I recommended a site called Justin Guitar for materials and videos. It’s not a teacher, but it should be helpful. For piano, I found something new: Playground Sessions. Quincy Jones is the “co-creator,” which probably means someone paid him money to use his picture.

I tried Playground Sessions myself, and I am impressed. You download free software and pay a small fee every month. You get video lessons and interactive sheet music. You connect a MIDI keyboard to the computer, and you play along with the software. You get background music and a countdown, and you get a score every time you try to play something. They have a real program, not just random pieces, and you learn things in an order that builds your skills. I really like it. It’s what I was looking for years ago when I tried Adventus Piano Suite, which is a very annoying piece of software which sort of comes close to teaching piano.

If you want to learn to play an instrument, you really need to learn to sight-read and play with accompaniment. I learned to play the banjo using tablature and my memory, and it was a very bad choice. It was better than no music at all, but I was musically illiterate. It’s a gigantic handicap. And if you can’t play along with other people, you’re useless most of the time, and you won’t be able to connect with anyone else musically. Also, your timing will be bad.

Learn to sight-read. Learn to play in a group. If you can’t do these things, you’re a crippled musician. Like me.

Cutting news websites out of my life increased my free time. I used to look at them periodically throughout the day. Now I start to look at Drudge, and I remember I don’t do that any more. Then I have to find a way to fill the time I’m not wasting. I still glance at the news, but not much.

I can read again. I can exercise. I may start to do things with tools again, and I mean things not involving dead trees.

If you’re interested in piano, take a look at Playground Sessions. It may be a good idea even if you’re taking lessons. If you have a spacy teacher who isn’t organized, look at it and find out what he or she should be teaching you.

Time to practice.

One Response to “Time is on my Side”

  1. Monty James Says:

    When I opened your page, the tab for it said “Hacked By IDBTE4M ID.” Hope all is well for the site.