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A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bonus.

As if the concert wasn't enough.

I self-medicate with music.  Life is good better best bestest.

Yesterday I went into LA for "A Mighty Voice" by the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles.  Absolutely brilliant.  Somehow they managed to make early religious chants interesting.  Orff's In Taberna Quando Sumus from Carmina Burana was stunning, and Sensemaya, a piece based on a poem by Cuban poet Nicolas Guillen was delightful and exciting at the same time  (don't kill snakes by kicking them or they will bite your foot).  I think my favorite, though, was Everyone Sang, based on Sigfried Sassoon's poem with music by Joel Martinson.

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on--on--and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun;:
My heart was shaken with tears, and horror
Drifted away... O, but Everyone
Was a bird, and the song was wordless, the singing will never be
done.

This was my second GMCLA concert and I guess what strikes me the most about this group is the profound emotion infused throughout the theater.  Twice now I'm struck by the audience's willingness to share the joy or the sorrow of the music.  And leaving one of these concerts is painful; I just don't want to walk through the door and away from such bliss.

I spend a bit of time in the city now.  This is fairly new to me, suburb dweller that I am.  Hick.  But over the summer, as I grew, I found myself seeking new experiences and most of them led me into Los Angeles.  My favorite route is down the Pacific Coast Highway.  I'm not fond of our California freeway system, but am getting more assertive in traffic and so am not so intimidated about finding new places to explore.

Yesterday, as always, I was loving driving down the beach when Nature gifted me with a bonus.

video

Am seriously wishing I had turned off the car (I was worried about being late to the concert) and gotten out and stabilized the camera (my essential tremor is worse when I get excited) for a good long capture.  This was a huge pod.  I want to say porpoises, although I used to watch a small pod further up the coast when I was commuting to UCSB and these creatures seemed much larger than those.

I'm supposed to return to the city for my writers group on Tuesday.  Perhaps I'll have another chance to film them again.

Susan Boyle performs Duet with Elaine Paige ( 13th / Dec / 09 )

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tomorrow...

... I will be here.


I'm pretty excited for a number of reasons.

I loved their Christmas concert, and look forward to enjoying being wrapped in their glorious voices (in amazing arrangements) again.

But also, after I went to see Straight No Chaser and GMCLA this winter past, my son saw the Whiffenpoofs on Sing Off and knew I'd love them, too, so sent me the link.  He was right, and a few weeks ago he and I went to see them live.  It will go down as a favorite memory with my son.  We both floated out of the church (where the concert was held) on a cloud of musical euphoria.

He was so excited that he has pulled together old friends from his high school men's choir days to play around with a cappela singing.  In fact, their first meeting is this weekend.  Looks like a couple of baritones, a couple of tenors and some females in the mix.  He's still looking for a bass and an alto, but it doesn't seem like a stress event for him.  Just going to be singing and laughing and probably some drinking.

He is a good model for having fun with life.

I'm still learning.

I did go to my school's TGIF tonight.


Good company tonight, beautiful drive down the coast to LA tomorrow for the concert and the concert itself just MIGHT make up for the hours and hours of 8th grade project grading I have ahead of me this weekend.

I'm not scheduled for Disneyland again until spring break later in April.  Don't know if I'll make it.


 (Fate is kind.  She just has a warped sense of humor.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Weeks. Long. Longer. Longest.

Yeah.



That was a rough one.

It seemed to me that many of my friends and colleagues watched the events in Japan with a combination of genuine compassion and morbid fascination.  After all, what was unfolding on television did not directly impact their lives. My perceptual filters were built of different stuff.  Most important to me, of course, were my firstborn child, my daughter-in-law and their unborn child, my first grandchild.
I've been trying to come up with an analogy for how I was feeling during this past week. The best I can do (and it's not a good one, I'll warn you) is to say that I felt like the passenger in a car.

I am a good driver.  I pay attention, I drive defensively.  (Actually, I'm more a paranoid than defensive driver).  I am a compassionate driver and learned a while back that in bumper-to-bumper situations, if I go just two mph slower than traffic, in a relatively short time a large space will form in front of my car.  A dozen cars will use that space to make their lane adjustments and - like magic - snarls untangle and traffic moves more smoothly.  (It's empowering.  Try it sometime.)  But my focus is on what's happening around me that might endanger my life and the lives of those around me.  I'm not paying close attention to what's happening on the other side of the safety barrier or even two lanes to my right.  I'm focused on what's happening that will threaten my safety.

I'm in control of the car and I am keeping it - and any loved ones with me - safe.

I suck as a passenger.  Relieved of the responsibility of focus, I am free to take in everything as far as my eye can see.  My tension builds as I sit witness to almost-accidents  a hundred yards ahead, skid marks from previous accidents riding the barrier, drivers all around me talking on their cell phones.  There's not a thing I can do but fret.

In Japan, my son and his family were in the driver's seat.  They worried, but they were in a position to take action. They were focused on getting good information, on supporting each other, and they were taking action when needed.  Just a passenger, I was bombarded with all the garbage the news media spewed my way.  Helpless as the car wrecks happened around me I could only sit in fear.

Happily, my wise son realized how I needed to see and hear for myself that they were OK.  Someone point me to the developer of Skype, please, so I can blow him/her a kiss.  Two hours last night of reassurance that my family is OK, is dealing, is safe.

It's a long way from being over, but I am calmer.  In better spirits.

I may even sleep tonight.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Better...

Just heard from my son.

He says they've been catching up on sleep, riding aftershocks and keeping up on the news.
He also says it appears that Tokyo is getting back to normal.



This is good.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Horror

When It's Your Own.



This past July, a dream came true for my son and his wife.  He was accepted into Japan's JET program, and posted as an Assistant Language Teacher at a high school in Fuji City on Honshu, Japan.

In January, they learned that another dream would come true in August.  Their first child.

My first grandchild.

It has been hard, accepting that I will not be a regular part of my grandchild's life.  My parents were a constant source of support for my boys, and I looked forward to having a similar experience with their children.  But, my own feelings were brightened immeasurably when I saw the absolute joy in his face as he told us the news.  And I celebrated with them, and felt it would be good.

As if that wasn't enough, he said he had some hopeful news about interviews for a new position in Tokyo, where my daughter-in-law's family lives.

My son has always been a hard worker, and has had some frustrations in his life.  I was so happy to see things working out so well for him (even though I resent the ocean between us.)


March 11, 2011.

I can't bring myself to post any of the photos of devastation.  I will settle for this one, of people trying to make their way home to loved ones, for that's what my children had to do.  One day they will tell us the story.  For now, I know they were not in Fuji, but in Tokyo when the quake hit.  Somehow they made their way to my DIL's grandmother's house.  It took hours for her mother and brother to join them there, but, for now, they are all safely gathered in the same place.

Re: Communication.  Since they moved there I've been grateful for the geniuses that developed our computer communication systems.  Skype and webcam have kept us close.  Last night and today our communications from the kids has come through posts on facebook via my son's iphone.  At work I had my computer on Al Jazeera's live blog.  American television is all about drama and income, even in times like this.  I appreciated the blog, for it was simply a continuous listing of updated facts.

My son tells us that for twenty or more minutes after the 8.9 quake (which lasted for five minutes), they experienced nearly constant aftershocks.  I read later that over 50 of these were 5.5 or stronger. 

I suspect that we here in the States are getting more information than they are.  I kind of hope so.  It's pretty scary here.  Every other person I ran into today had to expound on the possibility that any one of these hundreds of aftershocks could be the final straw that brings an already damaged building down on my child.  (Why do people do that?)

And, of course, I can't stop watching the reports of the nuclear reactors that may be melting down ala Chernobyl.  All I can do is cling to the "experts'" claims that - while serious - things are "contained."

This is a good man, my son, and his wife a good woman.  He spent three years teaching little kids in inner city Los Angeles before making this move.

I'm asking for a little help, here.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Monday, March 07, 2011

Wonderful Whiffer Evening

My son and I saw the Whiffenpoofs in Santa Barbara this evening.  No recording can express how fantastic they were.

What a great evening.

(No, nobody was in a yellow costume.  Pure class and voice tonight.)

Please, sirs.  I want some more.

Down by the Salley Gardens by The Yale Whiffenpoofs of 2011