Early December

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A at his 14th birthday party. I was in anthropologist mode, listening to a complicated trivia game he made up for his partygoers to play.

The mornings lately start like this:

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And get to this:

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The Danish String Quartet is my current favorite group–they’re coming to Seattle in February!

The latest book I’ve read: Radio Free Vermont by Bill McKibben is a short, fun, what-if scenario about seceding from the Union. It references Trump and Tillerson but shies away from any really hard-hitting commentary.

Last, incidental student poetry from the back board:

  1. Seattle-area students getting their grumbles in:

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2. Seniors already chomping at the bit:

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3. But very much still kiddos:

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Mid-November

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K after performing three gorgeous songs at this year’s NATS competition.

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Miss S and her mother

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Much of the time now, Seattle from the ferry looks like an Impressionist painting with one serene color on the painter’s palette.

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I’ve been more interested in chopping stuff up lately instead of baking or cooking–this is my new favorite salsa:

  • 2 pomegranates
  • 1 avocado
  • a bunch of cilantro
  • 4 or 5 green onions
  • salt and pepper

I worried that a mouthful would feel like a lot of woody roughage from the pomegranate seeds, but they’re completely hidden by the crunchiness of corn chips!

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It’s the last leaf on our baby Japanese maple, and the week A turned 14.

 

Three summer days

IMG-0970Antelope Island, UT. The littlest bison are prone to sudden scampers and the birdsong is glorious.

IMG-1076Hood Canal, WA on the Kitsap side. Early in the morning, I couldn’t see or hear another soul. Good place for walking and thinking.

IMG-1080Volunteer Park in Capitol Hill was a really lovely setting for the Seattle Chamber Music Society’s free concert; Borodin’s String Quintet in f minor with cellist Edward Arron was intense and lyrical.

 

 

K’s Senior Recital

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A culmination of eight years of voice lessons: an evening of music and commentary in the gorgeous space at Grace Episcopal, provided by K, her accompanist CS, and a bit of background information on Fauré and Debussy by me.

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Back at home. 🙂 We’re so proud of K for her work over the years to hone her craft and create beauty.  Seeing the deluge of flowers and love from people present and far, I realized I was experiencing a parenting king tide.

The program:
The Last Rose of Summer (Irish Folk Song)
Jeune Fillette (a Bergerette: a Pastoral Ditty)
Nel Cor Piu Non Mi Sento (G. Paisiello)
Green Finch and Linnet Bird from Sweeney Todd (S. Sondheim)
Voi Che Sapete from The Marriage of Figaro (W.A. Mozart)
Bist Du Bei Mir (J.S. Bach)
I’m Nobody (poem by Emily Dickinson, music by V. Persichetti)
Ma Rendi pur Contento (V. Bellini)
Poor Wandering One from The Pirates of Penzance (W.S. Gilbert and A. Sullivan)
Les Berceaux (G. Fauré)
Beau Soir (C. Debussy)
Where the Music Comes From (L. Hoiby)

Earlier in the month, K’s last recital of the year with her voice teacher:
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November Happenings

Early in the month, we took the girls to see Portuguese Fado singer Mariza. This is the second time B, K, and I have seen her perform here in Seattle, and we found that Mariza’s style and substance has evolved.

This interview  partially explains her evolution to include quieter, intensely emotional songs. I was strongly reminded of Jacques Brel, whose “songs were written not to be sung but to be performed. He delivered them with such pained and profound emotion that he, famously, ended each concert dripping with sweat.” Fado expresses disquiet, longing, loss, and as sung by Mariza, it was a prescient expression of many of us in late November.

20161112_193953K won her category at the Puget Sound chapter Fall competition of NATS! We are so proud of her.

2016-11-17-19-00-2013 years old! A. recently read or heard about the concoction called Ambrosia Salad, and asked for that instead of birthday cake. 🙂

2016-11-20-13-16-15Opening gifts at his party here.

2016-11-24-09-35-01This year’s Turkey Trot was sloshy, muddy, rainy, and cold but our times were better than last year! S continues to be an encouraging and inspiring personal trainer–I’m so grateful for her positive attitude.

2016-11-24-14-02-45Peaceful, quiet, calm Thanksgiving afternoon with the nuclear family, including Tasha.

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Everyone (but Tasha dog) soaking up the beauty at the Bloedel Reserve.

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2016-11-25-12-47-32Gratitude when I wake, gratitude as I eat, gratitude as I walk, read, talk, write, ruminate, run, sleep. This is the way.

 

 

Identity

Personal identity: a concept worth investigating in nearly every work of literature and art.

The etymology of the word is an interesting angle; identity (from Latin idem) means “the same”, so I suppose maintaining the same characteristics over time gives us our identity.

The Picture of Dorian Gray raises the issue of exerting influence over others’ identities and being open to influence. K’s character, Sibyl Vane, undergoes a radical shift in her personal identity–from actress/chanteuse to beloved and lover of Dorian. This is the important take-away: In the first identity, she is an independent agent. In the second, she is dependent on someone else to help her maintain that identity. Therein lies the tragedy.

Look: K on the cover! The article inside neglects to mention Scott Breitbarth, the musical director and choreographer for the show, so this is my shout-out to the brilliant work he’s done!

2016-10-30-09-57-21We went to the 5th Avenue’s production of Man of La Mancha last night, and this was the question the play raised for me:

How does a person’s commitment to their personal identity play out for tragedy or triumph?

A truth about life: change is all there ever is. So does someone inflexible in their personal identity suffer? Similarly, does someone too malleable or changeable suffer?

Man of LaMancha reminded me of 1984, which I’m re-reading right now. The scene with the Knight of the Mirrors who disabuses Quixote of his illusions is strikingly similar to the later O’Brien scenes with Winston Smith. Smith, who looks in a mirror and has a difficult time coming to terms with the person he is, or was, or will be.

 

 

Opera Workshop

Earlier this month K participated in an opera workshop at Pacific Lutheran University. She stayed in an on-campus dorm room at PLU for her 10-day experience, a taste of college living and an opportunity to learn from inspiring PLU faculty members and radiant professional singers along with other high school, undergraduate, and adult opera singers.

2016-07-14 12.05.57The day I dropped her off: K’s getting her bearings, standing in PLU’s music building under the Chihuly rose installations.

2016-07-23 15.46.52A week and a half later, the singers had honed their parts for Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, and various opera scenes for a best-of-opera variety evening performance.  Hansel and Gretel was in the early afternoon, and then the opera scenes were performed in the evening. K’s wonderful teacher M came with for the day.

2016-07-23 15.47.04Nana’s visit coincided with K’s performance. 🙂

2016-07-23 20.44.52K’s opera scene was the Flower duet from Lakmé. It’s one of the most beautiful arias of any opera; after hearing K sing the mezzo-soprano part so incredibly beautifully on stage, it’s become my favorite.

K’s duet partner was a fantastically talented coloratura soprano and a terrific person for K to work closely with.

2016-07-23 15.44.17We were all so proud of K and happy that her experience was such a great one!

Wrapping up

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A. did so well in his recital yesterday! He’s starting to make peace with feeling nervous and performing anyway.

Sophie at banquet June 2016

At the BHS sailing banquet: S. telling a story about her most memorable moment of the sailing season–during one regatta, the wind completely died down. All the sailors in the competition paddled their way towards each other, made a raft of the boats, and drifted around together.

Today’s Baccalaureate program for/by graduating seniors was so well-attended that we had to scramble to find enough chairs for all the students, let alone their family members.

We have a week and a half of school left in the year, and summer weather is already here!

 

Music, sailing, books

Through two shut doors, I can hear K warming up her voice. Tasha is in my room with me, resting her head on her paws, opening her eyes for a second whenever S hits a computer key louder than usual. S is stretched out on my floor, working on her homework, with Mozart’s “Lacrimosa” playing softly from her laptop.

S has only rarely been home before 6:30 p.m. since mid-March, but sailing is winding down for the season. It’ll be nice to see her more–many weekends the sailors leave for their regatta straight from school on Friday and don’t return until Sunday evening.

2016-05-22 16.52.13S’s on the far left in this lineup of some of the girls on the BHS sailing team. B spent Saturday and Sunday with the team at their last regatta of the year in Anacortes and came home with some pictures.

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A had a piano examination on Sunday, which spurred a terrific conversation between K and A afterwards when he told her about the strange and terrible stage fright he experienced for the first time, sweaty fingers slipping on the keys, a rushing in his ears during the ear training playback.

She reassured him and told him validating things about performing despite the nerves. 

I started a few new books during my quiet weekend. I’ve been making more time to tell my students about what I read for the sheer love of it as well as what I read because it’s informative or necessary.

It turns out I really like reading memoirs by neurotic people. (Running with Scissors, An Unquiet Mind, etc.) Susanna Kaysen’s Cambridge is proving to be a gently humorous, captivating vision of an eight-year-old’s world.

I’m reading another in this sub-genre (but not for long–it’s just a slip of a book): Carlyle’s House and Other Sketches by Virginia Woolf.

 

 

Spring Break 2016

K turned 18!

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Here we are on our way to hear Stile Antico, a UK vocal ensemble specializing in Renaissance music. It was luminous, rich, precise, enchanting; deserving of every laudatory review I’d seen beforehand. The group comes from Cambridge and Oxford; having begun their training in the choral programs there, the 12 singers perform with no accompaniment and no director. The program focused on the music of Shakespeare’s era–very little Shakespearean text was contemporaneously set to music, so the singers wove spoken-word history lessons on William Byrd, the death of Prince Henry Stuart and the subsequent flood of music composed in requiem, and other items of interest in between their numbers.

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A. created a hidden fairy house in the wild corner of the back yard.

All three kids had dog-sitting or dog-walking jobs during spring break.

I took Tolstoy to heart:  “Rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.”