Archive for November, 2011

The composer in her natural habitat

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

[IMAGE] November beach

…click to listen:

…about the music

Still life that’s not the least bit still.

In the two days following the storm featured in my silly saltwater- and giggle-infused holiday movie below, I had to get outside to explore. Curious to see what odd items Poseidon might have tossed around in his wrath (see Flying Rock Moment at 1:14), I was ever-hopeful that some treasures, man-made or natural, would be mine for the taking. After all, to me, tide-pooling and hiking are scavenger hunts. Free shopping! And all with the fun of a Costco exploration: you just never know what the heck you’re going to find that you absolutely have to take home. Which, no doubt, someone else seeing it would never in a million years deign to put inside their house.

While I came up disappointingly short in the man-made category (what? after all that, the only stuff that’s dumped on my property are a lousy optic yellow tennis ball, a battered crab pot float, and a used firecracker end? Bah!), I scored with the natural. Problem was, the copious amounts of driftwood that were newly deposited on my beach included pieces as large as they were gorgeous, so those offerings from the sea’s tantrum will stay put right where they landed. Until the next storm arrives to tote them off to yet another random spot.

[IMAGE] Alex in her element
Since it was threatening to rain some more, I didn’t bring my Whoop-de-doo Camera with the Big Ass Zoom, and opted instead for my perfectly nice point-’n-shoot.

[IMAGE] driftwood
The scene at South Beach.

It was a great day for living creatures, all of whom seemed relieved to be able to walk, fly or scramble around without being pinned by 60 MPH winds. Watching birds attempt to maneuver in these is, admittedly, entertaining; seeing anything moving backward when it’s trying to go forward is quite a [pitiful] sight. But I do feel badly for them, since it’s doubtful they get much to eat on a day like that. No Thanksgiving dinner for these critters.

Walking on the rounded, multicolored stones of South Beach, I spied a Creature from the Deep and approached carefully, with great enthusiasm.
A giant squid??

[IMAGE] kelp ball

Nope.
Just some Feather Boa kelp, but with a beautiful, if terminal addition: its root ball is affixed to a rock.

As the wind picked up and the temperature dropped down, it was time to head back. Driving past the open prairie grasses covering so much of San Juan Island’s southern end, a herd of deer grazed, looking as clueless as always, except for two of them who were too busy kissing to be concerned about how they looked, anyway. Yes-sirree, here in Happy Island Camelot, even our black tail deer are in love. Awwww…

[IMAGE] Deer

Back home as the weather continued to shift, Bald Eagles flew past my desk…

[IMAGE] rainbow over eagle

…and landed on one of their preferred hilltop perches. They pay premium rent for this knoll with an unobstructed view.

[IMAGE] eagle pair

Meanwhile, a Great Blue Heron just stood around looking cranky. Business as usual.

[IMAGE] heron

Toward the end of the day as the light faded, a family of river otters had their holiday weekend meal just beyond my toes:

[IMAGE] Otters

[IMAGE] Otters

And inside the house, warmed by a wood stove fire, the only wildlife I’m allowed [highly encouraged, actually] to feed, Smudge, enjoyed the last rays of sun. He was blissfully unconcerned about any storms, past or future.
Be. Here. Meow.

[IMAGE] Cat nap

Uh, wow.

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

…about the music

I used to live on a boat part-time. Apparently, I still do.

I spent Thanksgiving Day at home, in awe of nature’s power– and giggling at it! 50 MPH winds, 10-foot waves, 8-foot high tide… and no, it wasn’t raining. The house, perched on a rocky ledge roughly 20 feet above the Salish Sea, is soaked in saltwater, as you’ll experience through my shaky, untalented, but enthusiastic lens.

Island Grrl

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

[IMAGE] San Juan Islands

…click to listen:

…about the music

I really don’t mind traveling atoll.

Home, pictured above.
I’ve just returned from the umpteenth of what seems like umpteen business trips in the past three months. I’m thrilled to be staying put in my house, surrounded by a big moat for a whopping two weeks in a row, before hurtling myself eastward once again. I’m curious to find out whether my brain will properly function at sea level rather than at 39,000 feet, an altitude at which I’ve been quite productive recently. I’m a Gold Medallion member of the Mile High Composing and Email Correspondence Club.

This past trip was unusual, in that after I returned home, it occurred to me that I’d just been on six islands in three days. That even outdoes the standard American tourist cruise ship “a different Caribbean island every day” jaunt. You know, the vacation that gives folks wearing way too much plaid and polyester a quick brush of delusion with what they’d like to believe the local culture is on a given island, from fleeting impressions gathered between the exact hours from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. By 5:30 p.m., Joe and Martha Tchotchke Collector better be back on the vessel, or it’ll sail away without them and their straw hats, refrigerator magnets and bottles of rum. I know this firsthand, from my amazingly cool gig this past January as composer-in-floatation on the Symphonic Voyages inaugural classical music cruise, which included five islands in five days and five opportunities for me to get so blissed out snorkeling or sailing or wandering around that I could have easily missed the boat. As it is, I already miss the boat, in the metaphorical sense, often enough. Doing so in front of 2500 people, a few of whom might have seen me emcee concerts with my music the evenings before, could have been more than just a little embarrassing. Phew.

So, my most recent itinerary included:

Manhattan Island (on which various meetings and friends were located)
Long Island (on which the borough of Brooklyn is located, in which the venue for my latest premiere, Spark was located)
Vashon Island (on which a chamber music series performing my Intermezzo was located)
Fidalgo Island (on which the town of Anacortes is located, which is where the ferry landing for the San Juans is located)
Orcas Island (on which some wonderful furniture I snagged for a song, and good friends with whom I lunched, are located)
San Juan Island (on which I am now located for fourteen days until my next temporary dislocation)

[IMAGE] Manhattan Island
Ok, this is not a great photo but it’s the best I could do early Friday morning. Looking south, the notable body of water is the Hudson River, and since I was lucky to be on a plane that did not need to make an emergency landing on it (go, Sully!), thus leaving my hands free from juggling life preservers, I was able to snap this pic of my original island home, Manhattan, with Brooklyn in view on the other side of the East River, at the foot of Long Island.

[IMAGE] Vashon Island
Vashon Island is to the immediate south of Seattle, floating quietly and not making a sound on the Puget Sound, except for some of the sounds my music and that of Martinu, Mozart and Schumann made Friday night.

[IMAGE] Fidalgo Island
Here’s what I see, if I’m awake (I love sleeping in my car on this ferry), when we dock at Anacortes, on Fidalgo Island, which is the gateway to what we Islanders refer to as “America.”

[IMAGE] Turtleback Mountain
I bet you can’t imagine why this mountain on the west side of Orcas Island is named, “Turtleback.”

[IMAGE] Orcas Island
This is a typical scene from the ferry to Orcas and other islands. That’s my car, in the very front– woot! Best view, ever! Waking up in the middle of bustling Manhattan and ending the afternoon here is, in a word, surreal. And in two words: friggin’ awesome.

All those ones

Friday, November 11th, 2011

[IMAGE] moonrise

…click to listen:

…about the music

Elegy of love.

Eleven eleven eleven.
A full moon has risen.
It is perfect and balanced and beautiful.

I was born on the eleventh of January.
My father was born on the eleventh of November.
1-11… 11-11…
We were both only children.

When I was little I used to talk excitedly with my father about our 2011 birthdays. It was the late 1960’s. The year 2011 was inconceivable; an arrival point so distant and unreachable as to be almost preposterous. Never much of a numerologist or mystic, I still enjoyed the vertical simplicity of all those ones.

“I’ll be 49!”
This was uttered with sheer amazement at how old that was. An eight year old is incapable of grasping the concept of middle age, and how she might ever get there. Nor, why she’d ever want to. Yuck.

I wriggled my nose as I tried to do the math. “And you’ll be 83!” I gazed lovingly at my father and had no reason to think that this was an unreasonable request.
It was.
He died thirteen years ago in 1998, at age 69.

It’s rare for a day to go by when the full moon of his wise glow does not envelope my life. In the best of ways.
His complicated essence: often funny, sometimes quietly tortured, perpetually intellectual, always kind, weaves a path through the music I create, much in the way my seaside existence is reflected in so many notes.
It is unavoidable.
It is resonant.
It flows.
It is permanent.

And it is valued, and loved, always.

[IMAGE] moonrise