Archive for May, 2011


mysteries of the 21st century

Just back from 9 days in Italy. Well, really only 7 days in Italy, since the first day and the last day were spent traveling, but you get the idea.

Just a few questions that have come to mind over the past few days.

1. How does an airplane actually fly?

2. How does the luggage get from one airplane to the other? And why is it that, if the luggage is not going to get from one airplane to the other, it’s going to gt lost while traveling between the smallest airports with the longest time lag?

3. How can every single caffé in Italy sell better coffee for less than every single Starbucks in America? And don’t the people at Starbucks realize that $2.15 for a double espresso may be perfectly reasonable, while $3.80 for a double cappuccino is not? $1.70 for 1/4 cup of milk foam? What am I, stupid?

Coming attractions:


Public transportation

Never ask for hiking suggestions from a man who thinks everyone should take an 8-day walk every year as a spiritual journey

Jet Lag from Two Directions


Dodge years

Are “Dodge” years like “Dog” years — a 15-year old Dodge vehicle is actually 105? Saw a Caravan on the road the other day that was held together by its rust. We couldn’t tell if it had been in a lot of accidents, or if the pockmarks and dents were a result of the steel actually collapsing in on itself in embarrassment and/or shame.

And what would a “Honda” year be, .47 or so?

And if “embarrass” comes from “to en-bare your ass,” as it seems that it should, why is it spelled with an “m” and 2 “r”s?

Just sayin’.


America Held Hostage

Obama is being held hostage by the Republicans.

I wonder if it would “work” if he let them close the government down — stop paying Medicare, soldiers, interest on the debt — allowing the country to come to a shrieking halt, hopefully, briefly — just long enough for people to realize that the radical Republicans they believe in so firmly aren’t actually looking out for anyone but themselves and big business.


what I’m doing when i’m not writing on my blog

Played through my upcoming Italy program for a couple friends today and tried out my new Sony PCM-D50 digital recorder. (Love it!!!)  Here are a few tracks from the live performance. My piano hasn’t been tuned in a while — have to wait for the weather to settle down a bit, so hope it’s not too painful for those of you with discerning ears.

Hope you enjoy!

01 Excursion No. 1

07 Variations in F Minor, Hob. XVII_6

08 2. Orientale


Mother’s Day, 6 days later

Been thinking about this post all week.

I didn’t want to write a “Mother’s Day” post last Sunday because it seemed so trite, like I was going to take advantage of a holiday created by Hallmark someone else  and try to use it to bring in readers. Guess it’s a little like my oldest son not calling me on Mother’s Day because he thinks it’s pathetic to call someone to express your gratitude and love on a day someone tells you to, rather than just because you should. (I don’t necessarily disagree with that, but think he should call me anyway.)

Anyway, what’s come to mind regarding mother’s day is a series of things my children have said over the years which I think sum up the parenting experience particularly well.

First son:

Age ~3:  As a rather large man gets on the elevator with us, “Mommy, why is that man so incredibly fat?”

Also Age ~3, after we shared a bathroom stall in an Olive Garden restaurant: Son: “Did it hurt?” Me, thinking he had a UTI or something, “Did what hurt?” Son: “When they cut off your penis?”

Age ~5: “No offense, mom, but your butt looks really big in those pants.”

Only Daughter:

Age 5, upon meeting someone for the first time, and hearing her name: “Oh, YOU’re the woman who cut in front of my mom at the copy machine!”

Age 9: “Are you really upset about that pimple?”


Nephew to his Dad, Age ~3: “I can poop in my pants if I want to; it’s my life.”


Can’t really think of anything from Second Son, so either he’s more considerate, or my mind’s just a blank from 15 years of trying to keep him from playing in the street.


The best one, just the other day, as I watched my husband finish preparing our dinner. Daughter: “Do you always feel that way about him?” (Yes.)


My apologies to my regular readers for my relative absence the past couple of weeks. I had an audition and a solo recital this past week, am accompanying a voice recital this coming week and then leaving for 9 days in Italy, where I will play my solo program in Perugia. I’m a bit busy trying to get my life organized. I’ll be back at my usual pace in June. In the meantime, please feel free to read and comment on the archives. I may or may not be back this week, but will post photos and try to blog from Italy if I can get internet access. Until then, Ciao!


truth in advertising

Looking for a hotel to book in Pisa, and ran across one of the shortest and most descriptive explanations of a hotel I’ve ever read, from Rick Steves’ Italy book: “Hotel Villa Kinzica, with 30 tired but decent rooms and indifferent management is just steps away from the Field of Miracles.”

Almost makes me want to stay there just to see what “tired but decent” means exactly. The pictures look nice.


Graduation Open House, a.k.a. subtle extortion

I received, in the mail today, an invitation to an Open House for a very-distant friend of my son’s — meaning he knows her name, and that they were in a play together — whom I’ve never met. Nor have I met her parents.

Why don’t they just send a self-addressed, stamped envelope in it with one of those little forms where I x off the amount of my donation?

Am I doing a disservice to Second Son that I’m limiting the guest list to his Open House to people we actually know? I guess we could treat it like the people at Direct TV, or at any of the myriad credit card companies, that is, as a fishing expedition. With that approach we might find enough people with nothing else to do on a Saturday afternoon but come and eat beanie weanies for the price of a $20 bill tucked into a congratulations card to help fund the furnishings of his dorm and the requisite laptop.




Some of you may be familiar with Anna Russell’s summary of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. If not, watch these:

Pretty funny, eh? The part that I want you to remember is what Anna says about the Prelude to Das Rheingold, where “the orchestra plays the E-flat major triad for six minutes.”

Last night my daughter’s junior choir (4th-6th grade) sang with the Symphony youth choir (7th-12th grade) on a concert featuring Adiemus by Keith Jenkins. We sat next to a friend of mine from our chaperoning of the junior choir’s tour to Chicago, who was working on a to-do list.

Adiemus (I’m not sure which one, as apparently there are several, god forbid) is 40 minutes of nonsense words sung over three or four melodic ideas. The entire piece is ninety percent sequential, and basically consisted of one fundamental harmonic progression repeated over and over and over and over. For forty minutes (in case you missed it when I said that the first time). The youth chorus sang for about seven of them, all told. Sometimes they got to sit down, but much of the time they stood there, waiting to sing nineteen repetitions of a melisma that sounded like it came right out of Lion King. They hit every entrance. This required a lot of patience and fortitude on their part, especially considering that the average age is eleven.

Both choirs did a beautiful job. The entire performance was from memory, and, seeing as how it was all basically the same thing, but not exactly, this would be incredibly difficult. They are very accomplished, and do all the right things.

Despite this, and at the mercy of extreme, frustrating boredom, somewhere around :35, I leaned over and whispered to my husband, “they’re playing this in hell.” We laughed quietly for a second, and then returned to our postures of attentive listening. Then he nudged me, and asked me if I had a pen. I dug one out of my purse and handed it to him. On the program he wrote “Your friend stopped working on her to-do list when she realized that she had written ‘kill myself.'” I am deeply and profoundly ashamed of my reaction, which included at least ten minutes of me coughing quietly to mask the urge to chortle. The ten-year-old girl in front of us watched us behave badly. Actually, the two year olds in the audience behaved better than we did. (We particularly enjoyed the toddler gabbering, as if on cue, during every affected pause during the Arvo Pärt piece, “Psalom for strings and toddler.”) I was trying so hard not to laugh I had tears streaming down my face. Much as I love the man, it’s probably a good idea if we don’t sit together at concerts any more.  Or at the very least, I shouldn’t hand him a pen.

Does minimalist music work better if you have something else to do? Maybe running loud machinery — jack hammers, electric sanders, lawn mowers?

(This event also brought back memories for both of us of times spent trying very valiantly not to laugh; usually in church. I recalled once when my brother and I had gone with my dad, and got giggling about something I’m sure neither of us can remember. Dad stood stoically, glaring at us from beneath his bushy eyebrows while we wrestled metaphorically for self control. Moments after we had climbed into the back seat of the car he reached back, quietly, and knocked our heads together. And here we thought we had gotten away with something. I was also reminded of one long trip up north to our second farm, when the same brother and I spent most of the drive “singing,” at the top of our lungs, along with Dad’s Kenny Rogers 8-track. You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me Lucille stands out particularly well. My husband, on the other hand, claims that he was always a perfect angel, and any infractions were the fault of his younger brother, Greg. Right.)


shopping with g

Went to the big Macy’s Friends and Family sale with husband today to help him buy jeans that don’t look like they were made in the 1980s. It was quite successful overall: he came home with two pairs of flat-front dockers and two very nice pairs of jeans, dark, acid-wash, nicely fitted. He also bought two shirts, one which looks a little like something Kramer would wear and which will NOT be tucked in.

Also bought second son a Guess plether jacket for his upcoming 18th birthday — marked down from $194 to $67, with nice zippers and perforated styling without looking like it’s trying too hard.


I only bought myself necessities at the Clinique counter, which I then got to carry around the store in a brilliant pink gift-with-purchase beach/tote bag. Perfectly appropriate as a beach/tote bag; not so much as a purse, but what can you do?


Seen on a Dockers sign: Fits like jeans. Feels like manhood. Cool. Just one question: What does it mean?


Despite my husband’s shopping success, there were several trying minutes waiting outside the men’s dressing room. Not, btw, the one with the nice chairs and other women waiting for their husbands/sons who can commiserate about shopping with men and show me how to send a photo as a text on my iPhone; rather, one tucked behind a register, surrounded by tables for sorting and rack upon rack of hideous flourescent pastel madras stripe Ralph Lauren Tommy Hilfiger hideousness. I’m sorry, did I write hideous twice?


In case I wasn’t being clear, these are for MEN. I actually lined the three up to show husband, in case he comes shopping sometime without me, no, no and no.


Seems like if they’re charging $89 a shirt they at least ought to have decent taste.


false advertising

We figure toddler corn, at the very least. Not a minute younger.

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