Monday, June 30, 2008

A Psalm for Safe Travels...

Psalm 139
A David Psalm
1-6 God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I'm an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I'm never out of your sight.
You know everything I'm going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you're there,
then up ahead and you're there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can't take it all in!

7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings
to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute—
you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.

17-22 Your thoughts — how rare, how beautiful!
God, I'll never compre- hend them!
I couldn't even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!

Flowers are from my sister's gardens

Sunday, June 29, 2008

New York Kind of NIght

Well, we're on our way. Kind of. We have a two-day stop in New York City first. My sister's in-laws brought my nephew and me down this morning (my sister and husband went down yesterday morning). We arrived in time for the early afternoon concert in Carnegie Hall with John Rutter conducting. Rutter is one of the pre-eminent choral composers of the past few decades. He is very imposing to play for, believe me. But it's also a huge privilege to do so. They don't allow photography in the hall, so I didn't get any of the concert pictures =(

We then went to NJ to drop off our things in the hotel and then, having nothing better to do, went back to Brooklyn to a pizza place called Grimaldi's. It's supposed to be the best pizza place in NYC and people were lined up for quite a ways to get in. Bob held our spot in line while we went down to the East River and got ice cream and took pictures looking across to lower Manhattan, with the Empire State Building to our right, the Statue of Liberty to our left, and the hole in the skyline straight ahead where the World Trade Center used to be.

It was very foggy, so some things looked very ghostly =) It was a pleasant evening to walk around and take in the sites, though, which we did.

Photos: Trio of Posters showing the Carnegie Hall stage. It was FULL of singers and orchestra players this afternoon! John Rutter (left in gray) outside the stage entrance after the concert. Grimaldi's in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Bridge and surroundings. A ghostly Empire State Building. Lower Manhattan at sunset (the "hole" in the middle is where the World Trade Center used to be). And even more ghostly Statue of Liberty.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Synching the iPod for Greece

I admit it. I never thought I'd say those words. Any of them, but most particularly iPod and Greece. Never mind in the same sentence. Never mind referring to myself and something I was doing, or preparing to do.

How's that again?!!! The fact is that I'm going to Greece the day after tomorrow ... for two+ weeks ... and I'm uploading music to my iTouch iPod ... a thing I thought I'd have no need for. Ever.

But last week found me at the Apple store buying an iTouch ... because I thought, at the time, that I would not be taking my laptop with me, and because I couldn't be without e-mail, and therefore because I thought I should have something for easy access. And besides, all that traveling ... I'd want music. Can't be without music.

So. I bought the iTouch. And then yesterday, while trying to get out of the office before noon, realized I have way too much to do that requires writing ... and while you can e-mail with the iTouch, you can't write whole, huge documents without serious frustration at the time it takes.

That brought me back to needing the laptop. Still, here I am synching the iPod with music from my laptop because the iTouch is easier for that than the laptop.


Meanwhile ... to the exciting part of the above declaration: GREECE! Yes! I'm going to Greece. For more than two weeks. And then on to Istanbul for a day before coming home. We start with two days in New York City. I'm traveling with my old orchestra, the New England Youth Ensemble. My sister and her family are going. Old friends are going. And I do mean old, at least when considering that this is the Youth ensemble. It will be more like a reunion/alumni group that will play, which will make it a whole lot more interesting than going just with a bunch of college kids I mostly don't know.

I will not be playing this time ... so why, you ask, go on an orchestra tour and not play? Because it is considerably less expensive, unbelievably so in fact, and because I'll still see all the things I want to see, and probably a whole lot more. Plus, we're staying on the island of Syros for about 10 days, which I wouldn't do on my own, but which will give us a real taste for the native life of the country/island. I'm so looking forward to this trip!

Which is why I'm spending part of this day synching the iPod for Greece =)

Photos: Artsy plate I used for brunch today to get me in the mood for travel; travel bears; teaching bears; laptop and iPod; the Parthenon in Athens; my nephew and a friend playing in the junior version of the orchestra we will play in.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer Posies

My parents' backyard is a wonder to me. I love wandering around looking at all the pretty things tucked around trees and bushes. My parents really enjoy taking care of their beautiful yard and it looks it.

Photos: Me taking a picture of the lupine, mirrored in the gazing ball; roses on the back fence, blue flag along a side fence; my parents sitting on their front steps; the front porch; yellow flowers (I forget their name) at the grape arbor; clematis on the back patio.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Chipmunk Willy...or Bob...

When we were little, my sisters and I had a book we loved called Chipmunk Willy and it was about, you guessed it, a chipmunk named Willy. I hadn't thought of it for quite awhile until my visit with my parents this weekend. While we were sitting on the patio watching the bluebirds, we were surprised at the boldness of this little chipmunk who was desperate for sunflower seeds from the feeder at the edge of the patio. So bold was he, that he came with in inches of my feet in his trek from feeder to hiding place and back.

There were actually several other chipmunks running around the yard, but none doing all the tricks that Willy was. The interesting thing about him (or her) is that his tail was bobbed, making him look like a giant striped hamster! It appeared to have been something that happened naturally, as opposed to via an accident, but it's impossible to tell, of course.

He's awfully cute, don't you think?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

First Days of Summer

I barely got home from Tucson (at 2:30 in the morning no less) when I was on the road again. I went up to Maine to see my parents because it will be another four weeks before I will be able to visit them again. I had the usual fabulous time, and am so thankful that I can spend quality time with them fairly frequently.

Their backyard is a haven for flowers and birds. We sat out on the back patio and soaked up the sun and the peace. There are two bluebird nest boxes at the end of the yard that provided the set ting for a fascinating drama that kept my mother and me interested for hours, literally.

The male bluebird is either a polygamist or was trying to persuade his female partner that one box was better than the other. He kept going in and out of the right hand box, pausing to perch on the post or the trellis nearby. Now and again he'd go over to the left hand box, and more than once he was chased out by a female inside. We couldn't decide if there were two females, or just that she wanted to be in the left and he wanted her in the right. This saga was still going on today!

Meanwhile, there were dozens of other birds coming and going at the various feeders and trees: goldfinch, Baltimore orioles, ruby throated hummingbirds, robins, purple finches, indigo buntings, evening grosbeaks, mourning doves, nuthatches, chipping sparrows, and many more. What a great way to welcome in summer!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tucson--Day Four

I just checked the weather at home. It's 43 degrees cooler there than it was here today! That's the same number, by the way, that the Celtics were up, at one point, last night. I happily watched the game, but am missing all the hoopla that went on in Boston today. It's a lot of fun seeing and feeling a city that's alive with excitement. We've experience that a lot the past few years =)

I'm listening to a rerun of the Memorial Service for Tim Russert and am laughing with the nun who taught him English over his declaration that he will never need to know the difference between a subject and predicate. You can imagine I've heard that line myself. Many times. And guess what? I have said it myself. As a teacher! Of course it does matter that you know how to use them, but that's another story... I'll miss Tim...

We had the afternoon and evening free tonight, wouldn't you know. I stayed inside during the heat of the day but went out for a walk at sunset. I had an interesting encounter with a killdeer, ironically after Monarch posted some amazing pictures of killdeer chicks (he called them killfawns). I haven't seen a killdeer in years, and all of a sudden, there one is, crossing my path and then hiding from my sight. I tried taking pictures, but it was kind of dark and its camouflage is outstanding. It is in the center of these pictures. See if you can see it!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tucson Day Three--More Sunrise and Bird Shots

I find the heat here strange and interesting. Today, it got up to 107 degrees and was very hot. You'll see some birds (house finches, mostly) here that congregated on the balcony outside my room that look like they are panting! Wouldn't be surprised. Anyway, when I went out at 5:30 it was already hot, although in this heat you don't tend to sweat much, you just feel hot, but not unbearably so. At home, it's very uncomfortable when it's in the 90s, but the humidity is high, making it much more unbearable than the heat here.

During one of my morning sessions, I chose a seat by the windows overlooking a balcony where a family of birds was learning how to fly. There were four babies, although I think one was not a real family member. It looked very different from the others. I want to say it was a road runner while the others were gnatcatchers. But I'm no expert. It was fun to watch them, though. They actually helped me keep my attention on the speaker better because I had something to keep me awake!

Tucson--Day Three--Sunrise Walk

I was hoping to get up early enough to see the sunrise, and I was up at that time, but didn't see much from my window. Nonethe- less, I got up and went out for what turned out to be an hour-long stroll through the golf course. I saw many birds (at least 10 species that I could identify) more rabbits (found out they are desert cottontails, not jack rabbits) and lots of cactus.

Cool thing I found out about the Saguaros: they may live over 200 years and grow to heights over 75'. Growth rates vary, but in the Tucson Mountains, saguaros commonly begin to flower at the age of 55 (about 8' tall) and grow arms when they are between 50 and 100 years old. Arms function to increase reproductive potential because the flowers/fruits are borne on the ends of stems (main trunk and arms).; Their pleated stems allow them to expand and contract as they store and use up their water.

Birds I've seen so far: white-winged dove, road runner, northern mockingbird, black-chinned hummingbirds, house finch, black-tailed gnatcatcher, gilded flicker, Gambel's quail, curved-bill thraser, desert wren and probably others I've not identified yet.

Tonight, I'm not going anywhere. I'm glued to the TV and the Celtics game. I want them to win tonight, but regret that I'm not home to see/hear all the celebration. We had to go to a dinner tonight that had the misfortune of starting exactly when the game did. Midway through the second quarter, my whole table was gone, being too anxious not to be watching the game. If I were home, my condo building would be rocking. Yes, already =)

Photos are from my 5:30 a.m. walk through the golf course at JW Marriott Starr Pass Hotel and Spa in Tucson.