Jul 26, 2009

July? What July?

Now I understand how bloggers come to feel the need to apologize for long time gaps between posts. I suppose I have an unusually quiet life that normally exists outside some 'real world' of constant busyness that I have no comprehension of. I know that I am very lucky that I am able to work out of my home and pretty much choose my own hours -- though this has been a conscious choice that does include a certain amount of (mostly voluntary) financial sacrifice. For these and many other reasons, I am fortunate to have long quiet mornings most days of the week, and at least in summertime, time to throw dirt around and hang out with the flower fairies to my heart's content.

By any measure, though, this month has pretty much vanished from the standpoint of my doing anything but music, music and more music. From the standpoint of the piano monster concert as a soil-less garden, July was a banner month. The concert was amazingly fun, exciting, and successful for all concerned: students, teachers, parents and most wonderfully of all, our unexpectedly huge audience. We actually filled the small hall (400 seats) with a warm, enthusiastic audience composed of not just family and friends of the players (47 kids in all, plus 14 teachers/adult performers) but seemingly random community members of all kinds. I have heard from parents of long-ago piano students, community choir members, a couple of bank workers, bicyclists, next-door neighbors of adult piano students, even my acupuncturist and many other surprising folks who somehow got the word and thought hearing 8 grand pianos played at once by a bunch of kids sounded like a good time out on a midsummer Wednesday evening.

That's me, on the front left, leading the charge in a piano quartet (2 pianos, 4 players) X 3 arrangement of 'The Stars and Stripes Forever' with all my best piano playing buddies. It was SO fun I could hardly stand it. And just so you can see that I do actually play the piano, here's another shot of me, filling in on one of the student pieces........

This soil-less garden was conceived over a period of about 4 years, but the actual planning, 'layout', 'seeding', 'cultivating' and ongoing maintenance took place over the last year. I'm giving myself a few weeks off, and then we start planning for 2010. Yippeee!

Jul 12, 2009

Monster Garden?

All of my gardening so far this month has been indoors. Call it a Monster Garden, a Piano Jungle, or just plain crazy, but for the past 2 weeks I have been buried in piano monster concert planning, organizing, rehearsing, and soon, performing! I believe the word 'garden' can encompass much more than soil and green living things, an idea that I've had for a while, but which has been greatly strengthened and enhanced through studying the works of Machaelle Small Wright of Perelandra. More on that another time, perhaps, but for now, here are a few more 'July yellows'!

And we teachers get to play too:

Jul 4, 2009

July is Yellow

Every year when the first Saturday in July rolls around, our house turns yellow. The flag goes up, and the daily schedule shifts into race mode. For the next 3 weeks, we follow the Tour de France, the world's greatest bicycle race and the most widely-watched sporting event in the world, live. For those of us living on the West Coast, this means settling into place in our official Tour de France sofa at 5:30 am PDT, most days. The mountain stages require a bit more commitment, as coverage begins anywhere from 3:30 to 4:30 am. But don't ever doubt it: we'll be there.

It's only been since 2002 that we've been able to watch the race live, from home. That was the year we joined the modern world and got a satellite dish, solely to watch bike racing. This was a vast improvement over previous years, when we had to rely on friends to tape a few key stages for us, which we then had to watch long after the results were known -- and even this coverage was still new to the US. There was no tv coverage of any kind of professional bike racing until the mid-1980's. Americans have been painfully slow to recognize any sport that don't involve either a ball of some kind, or motor vehicles.

This year the race happens to begin on U.S. Independence Day. This means we've had to combine race viewing with pie-making, a happy union as it turned out. Manly Pie Man created his usual splendid dessert offering for the annual shop barbecue, and Lil Ned did the decor, perhaps my most glorious creation yet.

But this July is doubly yellow. July also includes the first annual Bend Piano Monster Concert, and the t-shirts are ..................... yellow! Can it be a coincidence? No way around it. July is YELLOW!

Big Spi--- I mean, Big Brother is Watching

Yikes. Following my last post, I've starting getting ads for extermination services on my internet pages. With big pictures of ....... spiders, right there on my screen. Is Big Spider watching? Is Google in league with the the arachnidae? No doubt I inadvertantly downloaded some upgrade to my internet interface that is causing this. But it's a bit unnerving to suddenly see spiders everywhere on my screen. I think I got wasps after the initial post.

From now on I'm only going to post about bunnies and flowers and luuuuuuuuuuv.

Jul 2, 2009

Further thoughts on wasps

Spirit Creek Farm: Living With Wasps
I love this post on my friend Jackie's blog. Her intention to live in peace with her garden companions accords with my own. My mother, too, was unafraid of wasps, spiders and other insect-type creatures. She could pick up bees and cradle them in the palm of her hand, and was never stung. She rescued spiders inside the house, and carried them outside with her bare hands. On the other hand, she was terrified of snakes, to the point that she wouldn't allow any of us kids to own even a white rat, because the tail reminded her of a snake. She later relented and allowed my brother to keep a white rat in a cage OUTSIDE the house, in the side yard where she didn't often go.

Perhaps in an unconsciously contrary reaction to my mother's behavior, I was terrified of all insects, particularly spiders. When I started gardening on my own, I began with the intention to garden organically. This meant I had to decide how to act and think about 'bugs' in a different, more tolerant way. Spiders were clearly among the good guys, and I gradually changed my attitude and behavior towards them.

I suspect if I lived in a place where, say, tarantulas were roaming around loose in the neighborhood, I would not have mellowed as I have in the intervening years. I'm sorry, but that's too damned big for anything with that many legs. Apparently my positive attitude of acceptance and peaceful co-existence has a size limit when it comes to spiders. Other than that, I'm pretty ok with most other bugs, though I have at best only an uneasy truce with ants.

And here in the dry high desert, we don't really have many bothersome or dangerous insects, either in the garden or in the outdoor world in general. That being said, I will confess that I've been out at night several times in the past week, trying to figure out who is gnawing my newly-sprouted beans down to pitiful little nubbins. Hmmmmmm. Apparently my positive attitude of acceptance and peaceful co-existence also has a requirement for non-competition for food crops of a favorite beanal kind.