Thursday, December 30, 2010
#1: Paying off our debt: a
I have to say that the only way I could be happier about this resolution is if somehow we managed to not have a house payment. However, all things considered, knowing we don’t have anything else out there hanging over our heads makes a huge difference in my peace of mind. And we have been very very lucky in that we are both gainfully employed and have never been in danger of losing our jobs. The way things are going these days, we are very grateful, believe me.
#2: Hiking all the Rhode Island Greenways: a-
Next time I make a resolution like this I will look more closely at the map! We did a lot of hiking this year and made it through The Blackstone River Bikeway, the Ten Mile River Bikeway and parts of the East Bay Bike Path. We also did some walking and running trails around Newport. However, there are a lot more to go! So this one is going to be a continuing resolution, because we really enjoyed getting to know Rhode Island this year.
#3: Going to bed by 10:30 at night: r
Now, I knew there would be nights where this wasn’t going to happen. Like anytime we were in Spain or someone from Spain visited us, for example. I don’t know how they do it. However, the rest of the year was not great, either. Not only did I fail to get to bed on time this year, but I ended up staying up later than I had in previous years. The bottom line is we just plain bit off more than we could chew and we paid the price in tiredness. I haven’t decided whether or not I will make this a resolution for 2011. Maybe. Maybe not. Since it is now 10:34pm, I think I will sleep on it!
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
First we went to the Brick Alley Pub for lunch, which is one of our favorite places in Newport. If you ever go there, be sure to visit the bathrooms. It’s an experience! As always, there is a lot of laughter and a lot of walking around fun places when Scott comes to visit.
Then we went for the obligatory run on the beach, and you can see that Luna found a friend but even that wasn’t enough to keep her from her wild dash!
Finally, too tired to run!
Sometimes that fur does come in handy!
We love Scott and can’t wait till our next visit.
Monday, December 27, 2010
All in all the Pops and the chorus did this concert thirty-seven times over three weeks, of which I did ten. You might think it would get old, but seriously, for me it never did. I did start to feel a bit vocally tired during week three, but I still felt very festive and excited for every concert. While I am glad I don't have to keep up the pace anymore, I will miss the sparkling, joyful Christmas music of the orchestra until next year. And I have to admire Keith Lockhart, who pulls off almost every single one of the 37 performances with the same routines and same jokes and same visits from Santa and still likes his job (although he does give us a good crusty look now and then when we miss an entrance).
Now I am ready for a few day's break before school starts again. May the rest of 2010 be joyful!
Monday, December 06, 2010
But they are going to be fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Juan Carlos is a Barcelona fan. Now, he is not a fan like myself. For example, if in college BYU lost a game and the University of Utah, their arch-rivals, won and went to a bowl game or a championship, I would root for Utah, of course, because they were the next closest thing to home. Real Madrid is the arch rival of Barcelona and JC hates them. Hates them with a capital H. It doesn't matter who is playing them, he wants them to be beaten. Even if they make it to the end of the Champions League and the other team is Italian or German or whatever, he will root for another country rather than root for Real Madrid. And the feeling for Real Madrid fans is mutual, they hate Barcelona with a passion and like nothing better than to see them go down.
I do not understand this, but over the years I have come to accept that Juan Carlos just needs Real Madrid to lose. I have even become a Real Madrid hater myself, but most of this has to do with the fact that I dislike some of their players, and that they just can't seem to help acting like jerks.
Real Madrid came into this game undefeated this season, and Barcelona had lost one. This was going to be the year that Real Madrid took Barcelona down.
It didn't happen that way. I have watched a lot of Barcelona games, but this one was completely beautiful, from start to finish. Barcelona won this one 5-0 and sent a very clear message to Real Madrid--they were not giving up that top spot in the standings.
Juan Carlos is the happiest I have ever seen him, apart from when Spain won the World Cup. We watched replays for a week afterwards. But I feel like I have done my wifely duty, because I have watched this Barcelona/Real Madrid game five times. Yes, five times, one for each goal. And while it's not what I would choose to watch, I have gained an appreciation for the skill and athleticism of soccer players. Seriously. Beautiful. I really love most of the Barcelona players and they played amazingly well.
Whether or not you like soccer or you are just a supportive spouse, this was one for the record books, and pretty much means I will have a happy Juan Carlos for some time.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I know, I am a bit late to be posting on this one, but better late than never, right? Also, being married to someone who is not American kind of gives you a different spin on this holiday. Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday though, so I have had to work really hard to get him on board. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Turkey: (Of course one reason had to be food) This is the only time during the year that I get to cook a turkey. JC is not terribly big on turkey, but he’ll go for it once a year. There are only two of us, so we freeze half of it and eat the other half for the week following Thanksgiving. Then I hoard the turkey and eat it bit by bit over the rest of the year. Tomorrow is soup day, hooray!!!!
2. Fall: Of course this HAS to be my favorite holiday because it happens during my favorite season. I love fall. I wish fall lasted six months. I like Halloween, but that seems to be more about the candy, the costumes, the ghosts and goblins. Thanksgiving for me is more about family and the joys of the season.
3. Holiday Season: I have never been big on the whole shopping aspect of the holidays. It’s just not that much fun for me. But the caroling, the time spent with family and friends, the concerts and the lights make me enjoy this time so much. Thanksgiving is the time that kicks all that off. We don’t have small children of our own but we so enjoy seeing and hearing about what everyone else does with their families. It is one of our favorite things about this time of year.
Juan Carlos and I have a tradition that we follow every year as we eat our turkey. We talk about the things we did during the year that made us the happiest and we talk about why they made us happy. Here are the top three from our list from this year. There were lots more but these were the ones that stuck out in our minds:
1. Celebrating 10 years with Juan Carlos at the top of the Birigoyo volcano in La Palma. How beautiful. I will remember it for the rest of my life.
2. Seeing a new part of Spain and Portugal with my mom and dad for the first time. I am so grateful my parents could share this trip with us.
3. Visiting the Rey family, who I met when I was a missionary in France. I had not seen them in over 12 years and I bawled my eyes out when I saw them again. They are also some of the people I love best in all the world, even though we live so far apart.
1. Okay, really, do I need to say anything?
I think this was the most grateful moment in Juan Carlos’ whole LIFE, not just this year. You ever want to see a bunch of grown men crying and hugging each other, hang out in the country where they win the World Cup for the first time.
2. This was also the year that Juan Carlos’ family and friends visited him here in the United States for the first time. It was so wonderful to have them and for them to finally see what it is he does over here, haha!
3. Visiting Acadia National Park in Maine. These were about the only three days we had to ourselves this year, and this was definitely a highlight of our year.
I hope your holiday was as wonderful as ours, and that you took a moment to think about the things that make you the happiest and most thankful.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I always love seeing these things. And this one had the side effect of making me fully in the mood for celebration.
So let the holidays begin!!!
Sunday, November 07, 2010
I have to admit that sometimes the responsibility was a lot to handle and sometimes when I was supposed to be running the weekly activity for the girls I really wanted to be grading papers or prepping lesson plans or taking care of one of the other thousand responsibilities in my life. I mean, that’s life, right? Add to that that these girls are living in a world that is the polar opposite of the world I was raised in, so what on earth could I possibly have to offer them? But the kicker is that I was always so happy after those activities, and somehow all the papers got graded and lessons planned (and don’t forget music memorized!) regardless.
A couple of weeks ago we had an activity at my house where the girls came over and learned to make cake. It had been a long day, a long week, a long month. (More about that in another post) I was tired and discouraged and not really looking forward to it. At 7:30pm there was a knock on my door, and seven lively, giggling young girls swept into my house and their optimism and their cheerfulness blew in with them. It was a really fun night, and as usual, I was so glad that I hadn’t let anything take priority over them. The girls gave me my weekly lesson on what the latest lingo is around school, and hey, there was cake. How could it not be fun?
In the beginning I looked at this as a calling in which I was supposed to be serving and working for these girls, but the truth is that they have blessed and brought as much to my life as anything I was able to do for them, and very possibly more.
Of course there is a lot that probably wouldn’t have gotten done without my awesome counselors Becky and Kelly. They love these girls so much and it shows in everything they do. Kelly is taking over in Central Falls now and in my opinion there is no one better for the job. The girls are so lucky to get her and Becky.
I’ve been asked to work with the stake Young Women’s presidency, which is sort of doing the same job, but on a more regional level, working with young women from all over Rhode Island and Connecticut. Again, I am a bit daunted, but I have already worked with some of those girls at Girls’ Camp, so it won’t be a total unknown. My life is teenagers, what can I say?
I will miss my Central Falls girls so much; even though I will still be seeing them, I won’t be working with them regularly. So, to Flora, Agatha, Myra, Cassandra, Victoria, Loriana, Lucia and Lucilia, thank you for being the most awesome girls ever and for bringing me so many smiles. Remember how special you are and how much I have loved working with you.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
We had a two hour rehearsal last week to go through the pronunciation of the language and it was pretty grueling. Today I have surfaced from a super overloaded week and checked the rehearsal calendar. These sixty pages of Catalan have to be memorized by November 1st, which freaked me out in the extreme.
Also, last week I went up to Revere and went to a movie theater to see the Metropolitan Opera´s Live in HD broadcast of Das Rheingold. It. Was. Amazing. I can´t wait to see the next production. James Levine is back conducting after surgery and there is rejoicing among all musicians. Here is a review:
Adéu per ara!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
After a somewhat terrifying moment where I thought I might start laughing, which I did not want to do because I didn't want to make him feel bad for asking, I told him I did a great many things in college, and the conversation topic changed and life went on.
After thinking about it for a few days, I realized something. Just because I was never interested in alcohol or drugs does NOT mean that I never got high. I did. Regularly. And there were a lot of us in the "get high without controlled substances" club where I went to college.
If you read my blog at all regularly you might imagine that I majored in music, which is actually not the case. I majored in Spanish, because I did not have the talent for a music performance major. That was a thorn in my side for many years, but turned out to be a good thing. But anyway, the music is what got me high in high school, college and beyond. I have to be grateful for choral directors who let me into their groups even though I wasn't totally amazing.
I really believe that music affects people both emotionally and physically. In college I sang in choir every single year, even though we had to meet every single day for rehearsal instead of three times a week like most classes. I did it because I loved it and it made me feel great. Sometimes after rehearsal a bunch of us would walk out as high as kites because of the amazing music we had just made. And there were roughly about 500 other students who did the same thing in the various choral groups on campus. And that's not even mentioning the instrumentalists. I guess the big difference is that that kind of high never caused us to lose control of ourselves or have hangovers (although there could be a serious debate about how much we embarrassed ourselves!). Seriously, we may have been the biggest nerds on the planet, but we were happy.
One benefit of this (besides the obvious health benefits) is that I have recordings of the music we made and I can revisit those lovely moments. I don't think I could say the same for other methods of mood-alteration. I came upon a CD that a dear friend of mine in college made of many songs that we sang together as a group. It has been more than ten years since we sang together and while I can hear that our voices sound a bit young, the intonation and the musicality are all there and it is still a pleasure to listen to, even after all these years. And it still makes me a little bit high.
A fellow singer with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus sent around a link recently to a speech given at a welcome meeting for parents at the Boston Conservatory a few years ago. It really resonated with me. He mentions the events of 9/11 and how people responded almost immediately with music. I sang the Brahms Requiem that very night with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in memory of the people whose lives were lost that day, so I knew personally what he meant. It's worth a read, though, whether you are a musician or not.
So, while I may have missed out on some traditional mood-altering experiences, many others missed out on mine. If I had to make the choice again, I would choose the same thing, because it was the right one for me.
It made (and still makes) me happy. It's a pretty good benchmark to go by.
Here are a couple of songs from the CD that my friend made, for your listening pleasure. They are both called "Alleluia"; very aptly named in terms of the feelings they generate in both performance and listening.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
For the last week of summer I spent five days out in the Berkshires for some concerts with the Symphony. Tanglewood is such a gorgeous place, but it was crazier than last year because I was trying so hard to memorize my Bach. And that's what I did, morning, noon, and night.
One of my friends took this picture while I was trying to zone in on the German. Most of the week was spent like this or walking around the grounds chanting in German--and I do mean chanting. A woman stopped me after one of my rounds and said maybe I didn't realize how loud my voice was and could I please stop it! I had to work very hard not to shake my score in her face and ask her how she thought I should memorize the Bach by TOMORROW if not by practicing, but I got ahold of myself and took my offending voice to another area. But hey, it's Tanglewood and if you can't walk around caterwauling there, where can you?
|T. (T. really wasn't working on the Bach, I just wanted to put her in because she's so pretty! That's Poulenc, actually.)|
Saturday, August 28, 2010
I really should have studied German in school.
So I correct myself: Listening to Bach is heaven. Getting it ready for performance is much more reminiscent of that other place! Until I get it memorized, of course. Four more pages until it's heaven again!!!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I am singing Jesu, Meine Freude next week at Tanglewood, and over the last four weeks I have been in an utter panic to memorize the German (and the music, since it is a pretty complex piece). Also having the Poulenc Gloria to memorize adds to the hysteria. Plus school starts next week so I am trying to get lesson plans, etc. ready for that. So this week is crunch week and I am spending most of my time sitting with the Ipod and my copied-out German trying to force it into my German-disabled brain. What I have learned is that this is a breath-taking piece and I love it.
This section is one of my favorite parts and as I was working on it tonight I actually stopped singing because I just wanted to listen to how beautiful it was. And here's what happened:
For 3 minutes and 50 seconds, everything in the world was perfect.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Of course every hotel was booked solid, so we decided to camp. We went to a little place in the southwestern area of Mt. Desert Island, called the Bass Harbor Campground. We loved it there, and it is apparently a very popular place for families, since we got to hear lots of hilarious game-playing and song-singing around campfires at night.
The first day we were there we took the Island Explorer on the loop bus around the park. I forgot to take the camera with us, so I didn’t get any pictures of this. You’ll just have to go and visit yourself. On this trip we discovered how to be the center of attention:
The bus lets you take your dog, as long as they behave themselves. I don’t know if it is because she is big, or friendly, or both, but everyone on the bus went crazy over Luna and we met a lot of really cool people from all over the world. She did great with all the people grabbing her and being in close quarters. We were very proud! Some of the folks on the bus were locals and they showed us how to get to the secret beaches and swimming areas on the island. When in doubt, take a big, goofy dog with you wherever you are going. One of those secret places:
We stopped here to have our lunch and do some fishing. Don’t you want to have lunch here?
There are tons of hiking trails all over the park, like this one in Ship Harbor:
One of our favorite things about camping is cooking yummy food on the campfire. My personal favorite is campfire popcorn. It also happens to be someone else’s favorite. Can you guess who?
I myself feel the same desperation for popcorn at times, I must admit.
Today we got home a little tired and a little stinky (especially Luna), but having had a wonderful time and looking forward to the next opportunity to visit our favorite place. Ah, now we have to get back to reality…
Thursday, August 05, 2010
1. Grouping by level: Instead of camping with their own wards , the girls camped in groups according to what level camper they were. (1st year-5th year). For my friends who are not Mormons, a ward is like a local congregation of people who attend church together based on their geographical location. My ward attends church in Central Falls since we all live in that area. I was in charge of the 3rd-year group, or all of the 14-year-olds in Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut. Aren’t they cute?
This way of doing things gets all the girls in the region of the same age together for all activities, like orienteering (so much fun!):
I really liked this, because my own girls were able to reach out and get to know girls like themselves from outside Central Falls. When you don’t live in Utah and you don’t have other church members everywhere you turn, it is easy to think that you are very isolated if you are a young person who believes in God and participates in your church group. If we had camped in wards, they might not have had the opportunities to form those relationships outside their own congregation. And I think some drama can be avoided when you are not in closed quarters all week with the same girls you go to church with all year long.
3. No cooking over a campfire by wards: Although I always thought that cooking as a ward was a lot of fun, it is a huge and onerous task to take enough food for 12 girls for a week when you have no refrigeration. I give major props to my own camp leaders for pulling this off year after year. This camp has a dining hall and members from the region volunteer to cook for the week. I think these people have got to be the best people in the world. One of them was Dorothy, from my own ward in Central Falls, and she worked like crazy all week long! We love you, Dorothy!!!!
This whole dining hall idea is definitely camping on a wussier level, but in our defense the girls did have to cook a couple of things on the fire so they did learn some skills. And since the critters here are extremely brazen, we couldn’t have food at our campsites, anyway.
4. LOTS of activities: I remember having a lot of free time at camp, and I actually loved that and have some great memories of plants and animals observed while wandering around in the wilderness. However, there are dangers out there and also, teenaged girls are teenaged girls and they can get into trouble unsupervised. I remember one incidence when I was 12 involving a very scary fire in the woods where a fire had no business being started. I’ll say no more, but I will just reiterate that busy girls are girls who are not getting into mischief!
5: The Waterfront: There was a pond, of sorts, where I went to camp as a girl, but we weren’t allowed to swim in it. The most we could do was canoeing. That was fun, but the waterfront at our camp went quite far beyond what was available when I was a girl. Again, the waterfront was staffed by volunteer members from the Rhode Island/Connecticut area. They had to give a swim test to everyone in camp before they could swim out into the deep area of the lake. They were also available to teach girls how to swim, canoe, kayak, and row. They also served as lifeguards. I have two girls who could not swim when they arrived and by the last day they had learned the basics and had made real improvement.
At the end of the week the girls (and I!) were totally exhausted and they slept the whole ride home in the car. And apart from a few minor issues the girls came through unscathed. They did such a great job and I am very proud of them! I loved sharing the experience with them and can’t wait for next year, although I may have to be reminded that I said that next summer!
Monday, August 02, 2010
A long, loonng time ago I sent out a plea to my friends to help me with my Nothing Wall. Well, here it is, a year and a half later and only now have we finally hung something on the wall. Behold as I hang my head in shame.
We wanted to take the advice of all the people who said we should put up something meaningful to us. And there were some great ideas, so we wanted to explore the options. We already have a lot of photos, so we looked all over for paintings or other artwork that we both like, and that would be large enough for the NW. We did not find anything, although we did not give up hope and kept searching. We went to Spain this summer and I was really hoping to find a nice print or watercolor of La Palma, but no such luck. Maybe next time. The point of all of this is, I just cannot decide what I want. Anyway, it has been a year and a half. I mean, come on. Once we got back from Spain we decided we had to do something with the wall. We went to look around at various stores and found some okay things but not anything we loved. Then JC said we should go to Pier 1, which is his favorite store. (I know, I am a lucky woman.)
Of course we went nuts the second we enter the store, but I kept the goal in mind!!! Towards the back and hidden behind a shelf I saw these:
Juan Carlos took one look and that was it, there was to be no considering of anything else. I thought they were pretty and since I didn’t have any better ideas that were actually feasible, we went for it. We have lamps that share a similar pattern so it worked out pretty well.
A few months ago we dog-sat for a friend of mine in the Tanglewood Festival Chorus while she went on a trip to China. She brought us back this lovely hanging tapestry/watercolor:
We loved it, but our lives being what they are I stuck it on a shelf and forgot about it until today. Once we got the wrought-iron frames on the wall the empty space on the right hand side really jumped out at us. Juan Carlos happened to see the box for the tapestry on the shelf and asked “Why don’t we hang up this Chinese thing, it’s very nice!” So we did. And it is. One day we might frame it, but for now we left it just as it is.
It’s not what I had in mind, but Juan Carlos likes it and I think it’s pretty nice, too. Now, I offered a prize for anyone who gave me an idea that I ended up using, and one of you DID happen to mention a tapestry. So Kelly, check your email for your prize!!!!
Thank you everyone who gave me ideas. If I need advice or ideas in the future, I know who to ask!
Sunday, July 18, 2010
You would think that having a husband who was raised on an island would mean that when we visit said island some water time would be forthcoming. We have visited the beach a couple of times but really that has been it. We have been running around visiting family members and also visiting friends and their family members, so there hasn’t been as much beach time as I had hoped for. Last week, however, we got the chance to go out on a boat for a trip to a grotto that can only be reached by sea. About four months ago our friend Pedro came to visit us in Rhode Island and we had a great time with him. His brother Ricardo has a scuba diving business in La Palma and Pedro arranged for him to take us out to visit the cave.
I am a pretty strong swimmer and I love swimming, but I am extremely afraid of deep water and scuba diving holds zero attraction for me. This is also why I have never been out on a boat in the ocean, apart from a short day trip on Prince William Sound in Alaska, and that was like being on a lake. So when Pedro offered to take us out on his brother’s boat I thought we were talking about, you know, a boat. Well, it turns out it was a Zodiac, which looks to me like a glorified blow-up raft with a motor. I was skeptical; this is the Atlantic we are talking about, after all. But it turned out to be completely up to the task. Some pictures of trip and the cave:
After we went by the cave Ricardo took us to see Pirate’s Bay, where these dwellings are built into the side of the cliff. There is a gorgeous pool here and someone has actually run electricity down from the top of the cliffs above. Talk about an exclusive community, only reachable by sea!
On our way back Ricardo told us we would have to wait a minute because he had to run an errand on the way back. It turns out that his family keeps wine in a cave under the ocean! Apparently the water pressure and the darkness speed up the aging process of the wine. Who knew? So he strapped on his diving gear and disappeared for about 10 minutes. When he came back he started handing bottles of wine up to us on the boat. As non-wine drinkers we thought this hilarious, but also very cool.
On the way back we passed the entrance to the Caldera del Taburiente, which forms the northern part of the island of La Palma. When this volcano collapsed, it must have been quite a show, although I am not sad that I was not there to see it!
On our way back we were going pretty fast and it really felt like we were flying, albeit a bit bumpily! For about fifteen minutes I forgot about everyone and everything and enjoyed the sun and the wind and the water. Now I understand how the ocean can hypnotize you. It was also a huge relief to know that I don’t get seasick, at least for the couple of hours I was out there.
First step, boat trip, next step scuba-diving?
Hm, maybe next year.