Archive for April, 2009


Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

…about the music

A lovely collartboration.

I was charmed when British painter Simon Kenevan contacted me out the the blue last year after stumbling upon my music, several CDs of which he then ordered. What led him to me? Well, in a quick quest for visual stimulus to inspire his next work, Simon did a Google image search. Blanketed by a groggy, morning coffee haze familiar to many of us, he randomly typed in the word, “flotsam.”

Right. “Flotsam” and “chamber music composer” fit hand and glove, don’t they?

As he wrote me later, “Up came a nice photo of you in amongst seaweed, dead jellyfish, stuff like that. So you kind of stood out.”
Thank goodness for that. And I might add, I smell a tad better, too.

A year later, Simon is creating the third in what may be an ongoing series of what I’ve dubbed “collartborations”: videos that pair his painting process with one of my pieces. We are both sea-loving artists, and it has been a natural fit. More natural, even, than “flotsam” and “chamber music composer.”
Imagine that.
I do love the internet.


Monday, April 20th, 2009

[IMAGE] slug

…click to listen:

…about the music

Don’t wanna slip up.

Here’s my new pal, Sluggo, a Pacific banana slug who nearly became an ex-slug, when I almost slipped on this banana while hiking near Point Caution yesterday. Lucky fella.

And lucky me, that you’re still reading this e-tome despite my less than frequent postings! I promise to do better. As seen below, it’s been a whirlwind time and I’d much rather post pix from this pix-turesque island than from the many airports I continue to get to know far too well. Trust me, the scenery here is far more interesting, even if you don’t care for squishy things.

In the early morning I’ll head out on the Friday Harbor Labs research vessel, the Centennial, captained by our brilliant friend and former lab executive director Dennis Willows. Along for the ride with marine scientists and educators, I’m hoping not only to come back with a mucky memento or two from the sea floor, but with some cool video and photos, as well!

Take a walk with me

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

[IMAGE] trail

[IMAGE] trail

…click to listen:

…about the music

A sonata for the senses.

Last week: St. Paul. Today: Seattle. Tomorrow: Nashville. Two weeks later: Los Angeles. Four days after that: New York City. And so on. Yup, anyone taking a gander at my professional e-presence has a good idea of how often I fling myself around the country for All Things Music Related.

But each time I bounce back onto this little rock of an island, I take advantage of what is so unique and exquisite about it: pretty much everything. Woods and sea coexist right next to each other. Yesterday, I took a hike that brought me through dense, old-growth forest, with thick undergrowth of huge ferns, and even thicker moss: almost the same moist environment of our neighboring Olympic Rainforest across the strait, except minus the… rain. After a very steep climb, followed by a teaser of a long descent that felt disheartening, since the point was to go UP to the crest, rather than back DOWN to the beach, the trail finally caused me to huff and puff some more as it roared at a good angle up from the enchanted forest to a sudden expanse of miles and miles of open vista.

[IMAGE] strait

Stunning. Those are the Olympics, across the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. Turning to the left, is the south end of San Juan Island with the little lighthouse at Cattle Point, with the southern mini-isles of Lopez Island beckoning in the distance.

[IMAGE] point

As I stood in the field, my eye still squinting from the contrast from dark forest to bright sunlight, an adult bald eagle swooped from behind, a few yards over my head. I gasped. These are huge birds. What a moment. No time to grab the camera.

But other critters along my path moved a little slower: a young fox, still in his black-coated stage, and an adorable garter snake who, if he didn’t keep moving, was going to become someone’s lunch (no, not mine; I’m not into snushi). Usually I don’t allow myself to interact closely with the animals, but I couldn’t resist gently picking up the little snake and feeling it’s incredibly smooth, soft skin glide through my fingers.

[IMAGE] snake

Just look at that cute face! I miss snakes. A piece of trivia about my sordid, wild past: I used to breed pythons as a hobby, and was an active member of the local herpetological society in the San Fernando Valley back in the 80’s. At one point I probably had about 40 different kinds of snakes, ranging from a 19 foot long Burmese (yes, you read that number correctly) and several other Reticulateds and boas, to corn snakes, king snakes and yes, garters like this one. Even a rattlesnake, who was actually very sweet. Plus, a few frog and lizards. I always wanted a turtle; never had one. Yet.

And no, I did not have cats when I had pythons. Bad combo. Particularly for the cats.

[IMAGE] fox

You can see a much better pic I shot last summer of a similar fox here and some good ones of an adult here.

So thanks for sharing my walk with me. As the weather warms (IF it ever warms: I think many of us around the country are having a colder than usual spring), there will be a lot more of these, because I plan to stay put much more on this lovely piece of floating heaven. It always pulls at my senses to leave, and it always tugs at my heart in the best way, to return.

Friday synchronized cat lounging

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

[IMAGE] cats

[IMAGE] cats

…click to listen:

…about the music


On the heated floor, in front of the kitchen sync.
Obviously, an audition for the next Esther Williams movie.
Their agent will call soon to inform them that they got the parts.

If it is not already painfully clear, it takes very, very little to amuse me.

Come fly with me

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

[IMAGE] cockpit view

[IMAGE] islands

…click to listen:

…about the music

Over the water once again.

It was a gorgeous, warm afternoon when I landed today in Seattle from St. Paul. I knew I’d be palming my camera for the flight back north to the island, as opposed to my flight out five days earlier through dense, sleety fog that inspired only a propeller-drone accompanied cat nap.

That trip down was a textbook example of how I’ve gotten used to literally flying by the seat of my pants living up here: it was April 1st and actually SNOWING over the islands all morning. This kind of weather is why I took the 6am ferry and shuttle all winter (thanks, John!) instead of risking iffy flights, but you’d think things would be safe by April. Nope. I was booked on a noon seaplane. Those don’t fly instrument-only and are grounded in bad weather with low visibility. Knowing this, I called in around 11:10 am to see if the plane was going to be canceled. I had a chamber music performance class to coach at Cornish College of the Arts at 2pm.

My schedule mattered not to the aircraft gods, who grounded the seaplane at the very last minute (or, uh, watered it). I immediately called the Friday Harbor airport to see if their fixed wheel equipment was going out. It was. It was leaving in nine minutes. I insisted I would be there.

Amazingly, I was. Charles and I grabbed my roll-on and coat and flung them and ourselves into the car. Speeding is not an option in Friday Harbor, largely because although there is virtually no traffic, there will always be one truck in front of you sauntering down the road leading to the airport with as much urgency as a snail on Quaaludes. Plus, in a tiny town where lots of people actually know you, your face, your vehicle, or all three, it’s just really poor form to cut people off, weave around them, race a stop sign or imperil cute furry animals by speeding. This is what Los Angeles is for, after all.

I rushed into the little building that they call a terminal, and at first saw no plane at all. Well, there was a tiny little thing with wings sitting there, but that could not have been the plane. Wrong. It was a mini-me version of the plane they usually fly for these trips. It actually seated at least eight people, but the “aisle” between the seats was… about 8 inches wide. Good thing most passengers bathed that morning. The cheery pilot greeted me and took my roll-on. I shoe-horned myself into a seat and off we went.

I arrived at Boeing air field, shuttled back up to Lake Union where I was supposed to have landed all along, and got to Cornish in plenty of time. Phew. Had a terrific time with colleagues at lunch and the student ensembles during the afternoon. I was happy to have been able to make it by a hair.

I’ve come to view my little tales of white-knuckle schedule shifts that prevent one from leaving the island when they need to, as a public service to my community: they help limit the hoards of people who, upon seeing the photos I post of this idyllic paradise, might seriously consider actually moving here. Until they read stories like this one, and this one. Then they snap to their senses and the population of the bridge-less San Juan Islands remains at a microscopic count. If you happen to live here too, now you can thank me for scaring everyone off.

Thus was my ordeal on April 1st. Apparently, the Universe decided to reward me five days later, because today I hit the puddle jumper jackpot on my return flight. There were just two passengers: myself, and a gentleman who lives on Orcas Island. We were stopping there first. I loved hearing this, because the flight path to Eastsound takes us over Lopez and past endless atolls and unrecognizable floating lumps of green, one such lump being where my house is (see green arrow). It’s spectacular:

[IMAGE] island view

As the Orcasian deplaned, I suddenly reverted to my 9-year-old child self and felt an overwhelming urge to make the last leg of the flight in the co-pilot’s seat. When the pilot returned I asked him if I could join him up there, and next thing I knew I was strapping myself into a contraption that would have secured me tightly enough for a space shuttle launch, much less a gentle landing at Friday Harbor airport. I was in heaven! I don’t think I could get the huge grin off my face the entire flight, and I wished it was a much longer distance between the two islands. For all the many, many puddle jumper flights I’ve taken the past two years living here, even those where I sat in the seat directly behind the pilot, this was just fantastic. I don’t have any intention of getting my own pilot’s license, largely because I think I’d have such a great time looking at everything that I’d space out and forget something important, like, uh, fuel levels. But my Walter Mitty moment was a real highlight with which to start another action-packed week.

[IMAGE] airstrip
Headed in for our landing…

[IMAGE] harbor view
From the air to the sea: the scene from my window at lunch, minutes later.


Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

[IMAGE] Raccoon

[IMAGE] Blacktails

…click to listen:

…about the music

Music for rural visitors.

I just got a really nifty little–no, make that tiny– video recorder. It’s called a Flip Mino, and it’s smaller than a cell phone and takes very cool movies. That is, if the person holding the damn thing takes very cool movies. On the other hand, if that person happens to be me, the Flip ends up being filled with immensely boring-but-cute-in-a-boring-sort-of-way footage of animals doing mundane things. Add this to my talent at presenting this window on the world with a vertigo-inducing cinema verité shaky hand-held technique that only overpaid French directors could rival, and there you have it: I will need a little practice at this new toy prior to posting my new moving creations.

Not to be thwarted in my voyeur-pleasing endeavors, though, I grabbed a couple of stills that themselves are indeed boring-but-cute-in-a-boring-sort-of-way. I just can’t help myself. My glass studio door, inches from where I sit at my desk, is a portal on all things immensely cute and boring. Nighttime gives me cute raccoon visitors, and daytime gives me cute blacktails. The latter have discovered the joy of standing directly under a bird feeder while allowing seed detritus to goofily drop on their heads. Gravity is their friend, since I made sure that they can’t climb up to the feeder like they used to.

The accompanying track is from a sweet, rural-themed film I scored many years ago that, had the camera been pointing at something other than the actors, would have featured lots of raccoons and deer, all like these: ready for their close-up. As I recall all of us working on the picture were paid birdseed. What comes around, goes around. And comes down on our heads. Happily.