Saturday, August 28, 2010

That Other Place

Remember my last post about heaven? Well, listening to Bach is a different story entirely than memorizing and singing it. I have memorized sections and then gone back a bit later and it's like I never saw it before! And since the concert is tomorrow, I should probably have it learned, right?

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


Bach has always been one of my favorite composers.  I have loved Bach for different reasons throughout my life—order, beauty, drama, richness, detail, you name it, he’s got it.
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

The Maine Attraction

Juan Carlos and I are always saying that Maine is the place that we would live if we didn’t have to worry about things like making a living or paying bills or things like that. Now, Juan Carlos has never spent a winter there, so he might change his mind about that, but nonetheless, Maine is one of our favorite places to go. We have “maine-ly” visited the south coast (ha-ha!), but this week we decided to head a little further north. I have always wanted to go to Acadia National Park, so we thought this would be a good destination.
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?
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There are tons of hiking trails all over the park, like this one in Ship Harbor:
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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

Girl’s Camp

Last week I went with five of my girls from church to Raymond, NH for girl’s camp. It has been a lot of years since I went to girl’s camp, and I must say that it was better and much more fun than any year that I went to camp as a teenager. Well, I am not a teenager anymore, so obviously anything is going to be an improvement, right? Also, things are done a little differently here and I think most of them are improvements.

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.

2. Inter-level activities: In the above photo, the 3rd years were using compasses to create a course for the 1st years (12-year-olds) to follow so they could find a prize hidden at the end point. This was great because they had to think about how someone else would read their instructions, and also show the 12-year-olds how to use a compass. This is not a skill that is taught very much these days, but I think it is still a very useful skill, because you just never know when you might be lost without your GPS! It was great for these girls to develop leadership skills and friendships with the younger girls.
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

Better Late Than Never

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!!!!

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Thank you everyone who gave me ideas. If I need advice or ideas in the future, I know who to ask!