Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Red day lily

From Flowers

From Flower

We had a power outage for about 48 hours, ending late this afternoon.  The first thing I did when the power came back on was turn on my computer and start listening to music.  The next thing I did was unload some photos from my camera, including two views of a red day lily, shown above.  Now I'll eat.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Good tidings

It's been a rough week.  Last Sunday was my birthday, but I was not feeling well.  Air quality was and continues to be terrible, and so has my asthma.  I felt tired and depressed all week.  One morning, while waiting for my first student, I fell asleep on the sofa.  When he knocked on the door, I got up to meet him, trying my best to look well rested and healthy.  I didn't fool him.  The first thing he said to me was, "I think I had better reschedule this lesson."  I agreed.  "Before I go," he said, "I want to give you your birthday present."  He handed me a book of sheet music, gave me a birthday hug, and left. 

He had chosen my gift carefully.  He knew that it was just what I wanted.  A few weeks earlier, he had shown me a pile of music books that his wife had bought for him.  The one that particularly interested me was a large book of songs with lyrics, sometimes many verses for a single song.  I told him that I often learn fiddle tunes as tunes, not songs, and I only find out that there are lyrics when I play the tune and people sing along.  I told him that I was especially interested in this songbook, and he bought me my own copy as a birthday gift.  Wow!

The combination of a new book of sheet music and an unexpected gift from a friend turned my whole day around.  Somehow, I got the energy to look at the songs and to play a lot of them on my violin.  The songs were from several Celtic cultures, and many of them were from the Hebrides.  I knew that the islands of the Outer Hebrides are a very harsh environment for human habitation.  One of them, St. Kilda, is considered the last outpost of civilization in that region.  Many songs from St. Kilda are bright and happy.  In spite of the harsh environment there, the people had warmth and joy within themselves, and they expressed these feelings in song.  Those songs are an affirmation and a celebration of life.  That book was just the right thing for me when I was feeling down and out.

How can I say "thank you for a very special gift"?  I sent my gift giver an email thanking him, of course.  In addition, I'm going to learn some of the songs that inspired me and play them for him at his next lesson.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My disappointment this summer

I really wanted to go to a week long music camp this summer.  These camps are generally held at scenic locations away from the distractions of a city.  College campuses are often homes to summer camps.  The food and board are acceptable and cheap, as compared to hotels.  The very big thrills of music camp are being among musicians who make music all day and most of the night and attending classes taught by some of the best musicians around.  Years ago I attended Celtic Week at Swannanoa, and it was a peak experience, one which I would love to repeat.  Unfortunately, the camps are fairly expensive (very expensive on my budget), and one needs a car, or at least a driver's license and a rental car, to attend.  I resigned myself to not going to music camp this summer.

Then I found something that could substitute for going away to summer camp.  It is a day camp in an area near me, where a few adults and a lot of kids gather during the day to learn and play Irish music.  The Irish fiddle teachers at the day camp are world class.  I was very excited to find this opportunity, and I signed up to go.  The camp is this week.

Then my luck changed.  The weather turned into an asthmatic's nightmare.  We have temperatures near 100 degrees F, extremely high humidity, and heavy air pollution.  The air quality has been code orange for several days, and I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes code red soon.  Although the camp is near me in miles, it is far via public transportation.  I would have to wait outside for a bus, then wait outside for a train, and then wait outside for another bus.  I'd have to do that twice every day, coming and going to camp.  To make matters worse, the air conditioning at the camp is not working well.  I tried sampling the air two days ago by going outside for a short time.  Then I had to come back into my air conditioned home, where I collapsed and slept for hours.  There is no way that I can attend the local summer camp now.  

I'm so depressed that I don't even feel like playing my violin today.