Friday, May 29, 2009

My Readers, My Friends

A note about how I know the last 15 people who commented on my blog...

Steph... is Suze's cousin. She is a writer and yogi. I have never met her in person, but I love her blog. I hope to meet her someday!

Suze... I met Suze in grad school at UW-Madison. She is a pianist, activist, amazing cook, gardener, and mother of two adorable children. I was officially (by email) introduced to her by my friend Jay, who is the best friend of an ex-boyfriend. He introduced us because Susan was the music department steward for the TAA (grad student union). We were co-stewards from then on and later became musical collaborators, too. I think it's about time for another recital, Susan. Don't you? :-)

Jake... I met Jake because we both worked at Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill, MA as section leaders for the choir during the last year I lived in Boston. He is an excellent baritone who has a cool fancy day job, too. We have remained friends since I left, although our contact has been primarily via the internet. He is coming to visit me soon, though! Yay!

Celeste... Celeste and I sing together in a choir called Volti. She has a lovely alto voice and I love singing with her. She is also a physicist. I hope I don't have to wait until the Volti season starts up again until I see her again. She is way cool.

Andre... Andre and I went to the Eastman School of Music together. He is a composer and teacher. We have given each other much inspiration in the form of poetry and song throughout the years. Andre wrote me a beautiful song once. It's been much too long since I've seen him. I guess I'll have to drive down to LA one of these days.

Rob... Rob was three years ahead of me at Eastman and in the same class (and same primary/secondary major) as my older brother. He is a composer, entrepreneur, and father. I met him at a fraternity party. He recently came to San Francisco where I sung a set of his pieces with Volti. It was great to see him, Victoria, and Dylan!

Chris... Chris and I went to Eastman together. He is a flautist, teacher, and new father. He lived next door to someone I dated during my freshman year. We became very good friends in school because we have a very similar temperament (I think so anyway...). We played on a concert of Dana M's music several years ago. He lives much too far away. I wonder when I'll see him next?

Janine... Janine was a teacher at the school I worked at the last year I lived in Boston. She specializes in outdoor education. She is super funky. Her sister lives in San Fran, so I know I'll see her one of these days!

Scott... Scott was a student at UW-Madison while I was also a student there. He is a composer, teacher, pianist, and new father. We sang together in the madrigal group and I sung some of his pieces once, but I don't think I ever performed them. I should. I'll have to find them first... That sounds like a good weekend project!

Tom... Tom and I met in ninth grade. We were both super nerdy drama/music geeks. We got into a big fight in 11th grade, which made the rest of school until graduation suck. I'm glad we're friends again. He is a teacher of the deaf. I just know he is going to come and visit me one of these days, but if not, I'll surely see him again when I am next in Syracuse.

Yuhri... Yuhri and I went to Eastman together. She is a pianist turned techie, writer, comedienne :-), and new mother. I think we took a creative writing class together, but I'm not sure. I remember that Yuhri was always in the computer room using email long before I had an email account. She was always way ahead of everyone else. She lives in south bay. I will have to coerce her into some musical collaboration one of these days.

DJ... is my mom. I met her in a hospital in Syracuse a long time ago. :-) I'm pretty sure she's the best mom ever. She is a violinist and photographer. Her kitty, Bearsie, had surgery this morning. It went well. We are hoping for a speedy recovery!

Jesse... I met Jesse because he and Ian used to work together. He is a computer programmer and entrepreneur. He and his wife, Emily, are good friends who have made living in San Francisco a much more enjoyable experience. We like to eat, drink, and play Rock Band together and hopefully will do so again before long.

Dana... Dana and I went to Eastman together. She is a composer, pianist, and the mother of four adorable children. I sung some of her pieces on a concert in Cleveland a few years ago. She has since moved to Wisconsin. Hmmm... who else do I know in Wisconsin?

Terri... I met Terri at my current office job, where she used to work as a Project Manager. She is a scientist and musician. We got together one time and sang songs. It was really fun and we should do it more often... like as soon as she moves to her awesome new house?!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oggles of Otters

For a really long time I have been going on and on about how I've wanted to go to Moss Landing to see the sea otters.

I saw a picture similar to this one:

and another one like this:

and decided that sea otters were the cutest animals on the planet and that I really wanted to see them up close in person. I found out that Moss Landing, which is less than 2 hours from San Francisco is where they hang out and dreamed about the day I'd have the time to go and see them.

Yesterday, my dream came true. Ian and I both had the day off and he suggested we drive to Moss Landing! Then, he discovered that we could kayak in Elkhorn Slough. We saw lots of sea otters, seals, and tons of birds: cormorants, pelicans, caspian terns, marbled godwits, various ducks, and a large white bird I couldn't identify even later with my bird book (maybe a whooping crane?). Also, there were some ground squirrels on the beach and, of course, pigeons and sea gulls.

It was really, really cool. A very fun trip indeed.

**PS - An oggle is a new word Ian made up for a group of otters. :-)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Food For Thought

"The opposite of faith is not doubt. The opposite of faith is poverty of the imagination." - Father Frank


Friday, May 22, 2009

Getting To Know You Again and Again (and enjoying it!)

1. What are you reading?

2. What's the last movie you saw?

3. Where are you right now?

4. Who's the last person you chatted with - or spoke on the phone with - or texted?

5. Do you have any plans for Memorial Day weekend?

(me - 1. *If Only They Could Talk* - James Herriot (which is known as *All Creatures Great and Small* in the US, I think. I am reading an edition which was published in the UK.); 2. *When Harry Met Sally* (I don't think I had seen it since I wrote a paper on it in college. I compared it to Woody Allen's *Annie Hall* for my *Hollywood Heroines in Film* class.); 3. Sitting at my desk at work.; 4. Terri (chat), Ian (text), Ian (phone); 5. No, but it's likely we'll see a movie.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Get Well Soon, Mr. Bearsie Bear

My mom has had quite a rough year. Not only did she lose two sweet kitty cats, but now her other kitty cat, Bearsie, is having health issues. Since I don't think I've ever told the story here of how Bearsie came to live with my mom, I thought this would be a good time.

Many years after I adopted Vana and Jezebel, I discovered another kitty was living under my house. I was living in Rochester, NY on Meigs St. on the first floor of a pretty dilapidated house. I noticed on several occasions over one winter that I could hear a kitty meowing in the basement, which had a dirt floor and was only accessible by pulling up a board on the side of the house and walking down a handful of rickety steps -- or, I discovered, through a broken window on the other side of the house. But, alas, every time I went to find this kitty, he was no where to be found. Occasionally I would see a few neighborhood cats hanging out together on one porch or another. I remember distinctly that there was a brown cat who was missing one eye. Then I started seeing another brown cat who looked much like the one I called one-eyed Jack, but who was a bit fuller with both eyes intact. I remember seeing him under the boughs of the great evergreen in the neighbor's yard the following spring and carefully tiptoeing over and then getting down on the ground at a distance to say hello to him. One day, after doing this a few times, he came up to me and let me pet him. I was so excited that he finally trusted me! After that, he would often come up onto my porch looking for some food and I would oblige. One day, I came out onto the porch to find him sitting with an opposum! In my ignorance (and lack of coherent thought) I found myself worried that the opposum was going to give him rabies and tried to scare him away with a broom. I remember watching the opposum's stupor and wondering why he wasn't moving and then later feeling like an incredible idiot once I realized that obviously he was playing possum. But I digress...

A number of months went by while I fed him on my porch. My boyfriend at the time, Randy, decided he should be named "Big Head", for some reason. I, on the other hand, started calling him "Little Bear". Bear was always a very sweet cat and the more I got to know him, the more I noticed that he was in great need of seeing a veterinarian. The most obvious reasons were that he had a number of wounds on his head and very dirty ears. I knew, though, that if I were to take him to the vet, I would also need to take him in. I had rescued several cats since adopting Jezebel and Vana, but never liked the idea of taking another cat in, because it didn't seem like we had the room or that it would be fair to the other kitties. I had been lucky in finding homes for the other cats, but I had run out of people to ask by the time I met Bear. I decided finally that I would take him in early in the year 2001. The vet treated him for worms, fleas, ear mites, and had to pop a couple of enormous abcesses on his head from infected fight wounds. I'm pretty sure he also stayed that day to be neutered, but I don't recall for certain. When he came back to the apartment to move in with us, Jezebel swiped her paw at him to show him she was the boss and Bear rolled over on his side and submitted to her. It seemed to me that he must have been very glad to be in out of the cold and in a place with someone who wanted to feed him and take care of him.

In late summer of 2002, I moved to Boston to start graduate school at New England Conservatory. In the process of moving I had to leave all three cats at my mom's house in Syracuse until I was able to move into my new Bostonian apartment. I knew after seeing the very small apartment I was to live in that it would be hard even with two cats, as we would be confined pretty much to one bedroom and very little common space. I proposed the idea to my mom that maybe she could take Bear for a while. She didn't have any pets and had never had a cat. Being the awesome mom that she is, she agreed to take him, not quite sure how things would go. But, in no time at all, mom and Bearsie grew to enjoy each other's company very much. They still do. In fact, I can hardly believe there was ever a time when he wasn't my mom's cat.

We don't really know how old Bear is, but his many years on the street probably added more than a few. He's got a kidney stone and a stone in his bladder, and now most recently a mass was discovered in one of his kidneys. I know he's going to be okay, because he's a super trooper, but he's going to need lots of TLC. And so will my mom.

My mom has a special request of you! When you think of Bearsie, don't think of him as sick. Think of him as well. Imagine him frolicking! Thank you! :-)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I am not there.

I have this poem in my head. It's in one of the sets we're singing this weekend.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

The poem is by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What would you do?

What would you do if someone handed you a check for $30,000 addressed to you to use as you needed it? What would you use it for?

(me: I think I would use it to pay off part of my student loan debt.)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Getting To Know You

1. What are you reading?

2. What's the last movie you saw?

3. When is your next totally free day?

4. Where are you right now?

5. What are you looking forward to?

(me: 1. One Renegade Cell: How Cancer Begins - Robert Weinberg; 2. Star Trek!; 3. Sunday, June 14th? (not sure); 4. Sitting at my desk at work; 5. Reading my book at lunch and eating lunch...)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Word game

I guess I'll play again...

1. Water is in short supply for Californian farmers.

2. Water is essential for life.

3. Water is plentiful in the ocean, but unusable as drinking water or irrigation unless it is desalinated.

4. Water tastes wonderful when I'm thirsty.

5. Water is not a good thing to inhale.


Take a word and write 5 sentences about it, alternating between positive and negative associations. I dare you. :-)

Here's mine:

1. Caffeine comes in many delicious forms. My favorite at the moment is black tea.

2. Caffeine makes my tremor much more pronounced, so that if I'm eating a bowl of soup, I can see the spoon going up and down. Luckily most of the soup stays on.

3. Caffeine makes me smarter. I am able to make connections more quickly when I'm thinking and talking about something.

4. Caffeine heightens my negative mood, so that if I am feeling bad about something, I will feel worse. I may even feel paranoid and jump to all sorts of unreasonable conclusions.

5. Caffeine heightens my positive mood, so that if I'm feeling good about something, I may end up positively euphoric.

Now it's your turn!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

New to my blog list

I just found out that another old classmate of mine from Eastman has a blog, so I've added it to my blog list. Rob was a composition major at Eastman in the same class (and with the same major instrument - percussion) as my older brother. Check out his blog here. He is actually coming out to San Francisco later this month because a choir I sing with, called Volti, is performing a set of his pieces. I am looking forward to it!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Food For Thought

"Better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try."

- Atul Gawande (from Better)