4.24.2014

Inner monologue of a percussionist with a first chair violinist

Hope you're enjoying that chair...... Sure looks comfy.....cuz I'll be back here standing and watching said comfort for the next 4 hours of rehearsal.......hmmmm......bitch. 

No.. I'm not jealous....so you get to play pretty arpeggios for two hours straight....right at the end of all that??  I get a solo!  And when I play?  My hair flies back like Thor!!  Really!!!!  Does your hair fly back when you play?  I didn't think so!

301, 302, 303....we should get an award for our incredible capacity to count measures of rests and not get lost.....accept, you know, when we get lost....and of course the count down is towards a delicate gockenspiel solo of thirty second notes at forte.   Do you ever get lost?  I didn't think so. Do you ever stop playing?

Sometimes, I feel pretty certain half the string section is just pretending. Seriously.....how would anyone ever know with all 200 of you?  

Yes. I have conductor envy. Every time he looks at you, he's all lovey dovey happy and life is perfect.  When he looks at me, his face is red, he's about to fall off the podium, his baton is about to break in half and I don't think he's breathing....and that's my cue to come in!  Enter timpani!!!!

Yeah....that's right....7 different triangle beaters for one triangle. 5 different base drum mallets.  20 different timpani mallets. 6 pairs of cymbals. How many bows you got?

While you're debating with your stand partner who is going to flip the page this time, I'm probably murmuring the words, shit shit shit as I try to flip my music over by myself while holding 50 pound cymbals in my hands and casually strolling in two seconds over to the bass drum for the thunder of god to commence!...you know, just so you know what's going on behind you.....waaaay back there in the pit..

the pit!  Percussion pit. Not a very nice name is it!?!  Like arm pit......but...eh, it's home. 

And when the rehearsal ends and you're hopping off for lunch?  Yeah, I'll be rolling around timpani and base drums for another 30 minutes just as I did before rehearsal skipping breakfast and coming in 30 minutes early....but no, don't offer to help, I got this....it's called bad ass. 




4.20.2014

Frozen

Easter for me marks actual spring. 
Little blue flowers, the beginnings of tulips and daffodils. Life is coming back into the world!  

There's no better time then to go check out a movie about snow in summer!  I wasn't pushing myself towards it in any manner.....I haven't been a fan of any Disney movie since Ratatouie...and haven't seen a princess movie since Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin....

This one was unique and special but also close to home based in a Scandinavian setting where it's cold and a main character is an elk!

The one liners were witty and the story line and main themes of the movie were touching and brave with a surprise ending not so Disney-esque......it made me happy to see the 5 year old in front of emotionally dancing along and belting out the song playing during the ending credits....news flash girls.....it's ok to be strong inside and be and do what you want!

This is one of those moments where you should just give in and watch it!  Like reading Harry Potter....it ain't no war and peace, but it'll give you the warm fuzzies and once in a while, that's just what the doctor ordered. 

1.25.2014

wedding photos

We got married in May of 2009.
We had both digitial and physical old school film photos taken at the wedding.

One minor little insignificant detail.
We never had time to develop the film!

Today!  Tonight!  Right this moment....what...4.5 YEARS later, we are processing the film!
It's kind of exciting in that we have absolutely no idea what's going to be on them.  If it even works.  It's old film. 

Like, one of those crazy shows where they open up a vault, or garage, or whatever!  Low and behold there's a 24 carat gold necklace in a coat pocket or something! Well, this isn't that exciting, but it's fun!  Get to see our wedding day in images and perspectives never before seen!  By anyone!...well, the photographer!

Last year, for our anniversary, I asked for our wedding photos to be developed and Rodolfo got so far as to purchasing all the developing chemicals, which was pretty good!  A step in the right direction!

Today, has also been a bit on the romantic side, including brunch at Sardine (a pretty snazzy restaurant in town) - I got a mimosa! - A wander thru Chazen art museum, followed up with big mugs of coffee and a cookie for an afternoon snack.  It's fitting to end it with quality time together bringing forth to the world images that legally declared our love.

Aww....

Perhaps to come, I'll include an actual photo!  

1.17.2014

keys and beds

Back before our year traveling, I had the crazy idea that I wanted to take pictures of all the beds we slept in and what key we used to get into our hotel/motel/hostel/shack at each stop.  

I like the concept of trying to catch a glimpse at just one simple thing in all of these different cities and cultures that could be compared and contrasted.
This proved ridiculous and never happened.

As life goes, some of the beds we slept in were not the quality I'd want my mother or grandmother to witness, and the keys....kind of boring!   Or I just never remembered to take pictures of them, even from the very beginning.

When it came down to it, when I was surrounded by beauty, nature, exciting street vendors and adventure around every corner, the last thing I wanted to do when I got home to a hotel was take a picture of a bed or a key!    I just wanted to put my pak down, brush my teeth and in all likeliness, in truth, zone out playing a game of solitaire on Rodolfo's I-phone.  We fought over this simple pleasure daily...who got to play solitaire on the I-phone.

But back to my big idea....looking back.

Here's my current keys:
 
These include: House keys, work key, car key, gym scanny guy, and of course, the required in Wisconsin beer key!

When the trip was upon us, I still remember losing key after key (I had a much thicker keychain before we left to travel) as I quit my job, then moved out of our apartment and lastly left/sold our car to my mother and left her the car keys...traveling, you have no keys!  There's something cleansing about this process.  Keys are a sort of chain holding us to responsibility.  If we lose our wallet or our keys....it's a huge deal.  We know where they are at all times and if we don't, it's trouble, so not having that chain holding you down...just imagine it!  It feels fantastic!!!  Like being a kid again or something!  Responsibility free!

Something that is kind of funny about staying at hostels and hotels in most other countries outside of the States, most places attach a funny looking big thing to the key so that's it's harder to lose or forget...in that, it's really hard to carry around in big cities!  This funny looking log thing hanging out of your pocket!  Or, just a big piece of wood or metal in a rectangle shape with a number or letter on it.  Very rarely did we have those credit card type plastic cards.  Only in bigger cities in the more expensive hotels.  Thank god, because the last 3 times this past year I've stayed at hotels in the States, I've had those plastic credit card keys fail me when coming back from the free Best Western breakfast and had to ask the front desk clerk which room I was in...with a styrofoam coffee cup in one hand and a free donut balanced on my ipad in the other..because I couldn't remember and didn't want to wake someone up unexpectedly while flipping my card thru the magnetic scanner of a strangers door!

So there's a strong momento of the trip!  There's nothing like a real key with a real number connected to it!  This electronic scanner barf is bull crap.
(The same thing would happen to me in Santiago with Rodolfo's fathers door.  I would stare at it for 5 minutes before feeling totally confident that I was on the right floor before sliding the card thru the door scanner and hear that soothing click, that meant, Sarah, you're home free, you didn't fudge it up.  Go you.

Here's our current bed:
I love our bed!  Love it!  Best bed I've ever had!  A Serta mattress lovely thing purchased incredibly cheap (almost scammed really) by some lovely friends of ours who had to move out of town in a hurry....we've slept so amazing!  Nothing like what we had on the trip...or before the trip...really, it's the best sleep of our lives!

I will say I do remember the worst sleep I had on the trip.  Both Rodolfo and I had melt down panic attack moments on the trip that we can laugh at now, but in the moment it was terrifying....feeling like you're trapped in a place you can't be and there's no way out and both were related to not being able to sleep..due to horrible sleep depriving circumstances.  Things we take for granted here in our comfy bed/room/home.  

Chiang Mai.  Son kran week. The hottest days of the thai year. I'd decided that we needed to stay at the cheapest place possible of course.  The room was similar to a prison cell.  The bed was a wooden board with a thick blanket for a mattress and a sheet.  I think there was a very small sink as well.  Well...some time around 1am, I started sobbing.  It was hot, I was tired, there were loud drunken noises from a bar close by and I remember repeating over and over again, I can't do this anymore!  I can't do this anymore!  Rodolfo had to calm me down rubbing my back telling me we just had to try and sleep and that it would all be better in the morning.  The next day we booked ourselves into one of the more mid range hotels that included a lovely breakfast, air conditioning, tv and a MINI FRIDGE!  (which I used to keep Rodolfo's birthday cake in, yes...I was going to make him sleep in a shit hole on his birthday, I'm a horrible wife).  It was heaven!l

I do however remember a certain routine R man and I got into at every pit stop.
When you sleep in a lot of different places, your backpak becomes sort of like what in my imagination is a tortoise shell of many different rooms in one bag.  A Mary Poppins bag of tricks if you would...or layers upon layers of artifacts that need to excavated daily!

We packed our bag in an order of need....necessaries on top and less important further down...the hard to reach spots filled with presents or gadgets, shoes and sweaters.

The very top was always, ALWAYS pajamas, tooth brushes, iphone charger and plug adaptor so after a long day of walking and wandering, we could easily just plop down without thinking and fall asleep.  Under that would be a change of underwear and under that, a plastic bag of clothes and a bag of toiletries.  We kept the laundry detergent and scrub brush in a side pocket (to wash our undies in the bathroom sink....(praise to edificio underwear once again) and our cotton sleep saks, and pillow covers in a bottom pocket of the bag...(pillow covers were actually cotton sarongs we used on the beach as well, but were perfect for all other sorts of needs...even a skirt at times.)

So my big idea never came to fruition.  But it was a cool idea!
Other ideas included, taking a picture of: 
our breakfast every morning (in many countries, breakfast doesn't really exist) 
all types of transportation
the hotel rooms themselves
toilets
all the kinds of crazy fruit

Things that would have been cool to have documented looking back:
 - one spot of skin....I'm pretty darn certain, my shade of skin changed drastically between climates, as did my hair color
 - it would be neat to just know how much I weighed throughout the trip.  I have hunches, but we never had access to a scale.  I do know I lost muscle mass in Asia from the heat, and probably lost bone mass or something in Africa from malnutrition, but boy did we puff back up in Spain and France!
 - the signs/names of hotels we stayed at
 - the signs/names of restaurants we loved
 - the signs/names of parks and cities we loved 
(all 3 I would have used to write good/bad reviews now that I have reliable internet at my finger tips - some places should not exist, others deserve praise!  Also, perhaps some day, it would be fabulous to get to go back and see some of the places we loved the most!)

Yes!  Winter makes me itch for adventure!  Luckily for me, I have a ticket booked to Puerto Rico this coming February with my great and dear friend Maria for a ladies road trip!  Whoo hoo!!!!!

12.30.2013

snow man snow

I wasn't aware of this very important fact until last week, when my brother in law Martin requested that he wanted to make a snow man....

There are different kinds of snow!

I think the last time I really thought about snow quality was back on the cross country ski team, running with polls down the sidewalks waiting for the first snow of the season to arrive, or melting on wax to my skis and needing to know figure out which wax to put on for which kind of snow we had....not that I remember or know any of this information now, just that there was a blue, red and yellow wax and I knew to ask my brother which wax I should use.  I still remember the smell of the wax heating on with the iron and slightly burning my fingers when I worked to smooth the wax into the skis...looking back, I believe this was my favorite part of skiing!  Playing with hot wax!

But back to this whole snow man snow concept.

The prettiest snow, the kind that falls in pretty fluffy patterns that you catch on your mittens and stare at in wonder and awe at the amazement that is nature...sucks for snowmen!

The thick tufts of snow that fall from the sky in soft chunks like cotton candy...no good for the men of snowness.

What we luckily discovered after a visit to Devils Lake State Park this past weekend is, yes, PERFECT SNOWMAN SNOW!!!!  30-40 degree weather, the snow is just about turning to slush.  The sun hitting the snow right around 2pm in the afternoon, so that the snow is just beginning to melt and forms an ice cube when you squeeze it in your palm!  That's the ticket!  I also didn't realize that not all of us are born with the knowledge of how to roll snow off the ground and pat into a ball, so I also got to share that information with a couple of my favorite Chileans!  Here's a photo of proof:

6.05.2013

Ducks!

It's been brought to my attention that ducks are kind of incredible!

They can:
fly, float, swim, walk...well, waddle (even better), stand, sit and look cute doing it
quack, stare in two directions at once, eat ANYTHING!

They have a down coat....talk about fancy and weather temperate!

and they just look gosh darn cute!  Even as adults!  That doesn't happen very often with animals!
They're fluffy, they're funny looking,
Ducks are fun!

Even the word duck.
Say it out load...say it with me now!  DUCK!  DUCK!  DUCK!!
It's awesome!

Even in Spanish...
Pato!  Aww....that's pretty cute sounding, isn't it!

I will admit...the french variation..."Canard" just sounds like some kind of fancy pate to me....but everything in french sounds like that to me!

Plus, ducks are waaaaaay cuter than geese.  They don't bite or hiss.  Plus!  Poops?  Much much smaller and a little less stinky!

The one downfall?  The whole spring ducky gang rape that happens...it's a bit, well....violent!  Really male ducks?!?  Really?  Gang rape?!?  That's how you have to do your thang?  Have you heard of romance? A little Barry White?  Offering your corner of grass...send over some bread crumbs her way?  Just a thought!

4.25.2013

good quality of life = good quality olive oil

You may think I'm crazy, but the more I think about it, some of the very best meals I've had, have been because of the olive oil!

This obsession of mine all began in..well, I guess Madrid!
Probably the moment the plane first flew over Spanish soil and I looked out my winder at the dry looking land spotted with little tree bushes that looked pretty dead and barren, feeling a kind of sadness for the browny sparse countryside (it was an intensely hot mid summer day)...and I asked Rodolfo...what are all of those trees?

His eyes got big staring out the window and he held his breath for a moment in unexpected pleasure.

Rodolfo:"They're olive trees!!!
and they're were 1000's of them!

I grant you, the R man is a little more obsessed with olives then your regular Joe, so I didn't take him completely seriously when he had this look of rapture in a return to a homeland he'd never been before, but that is exactly what was going down....the land of olives was about to be discovered!

A specific memory comes to mind, when I think of connecting really good food forever with a certain incredible smell and flavor, an experience only truly known in the lucky houses and restaurants of the Mediterranean ....OLIVE OIL!

We had the good fortune to be invited to stay at the home of one of Rodolfo's best friends parents home while visiting Madrid.  They happened to be out of town, so we had the apartment to ourselves, which after 6 months in dusty African Hostels was a godsend in itself. Upon entering the apartment, Rodolfo simply stood in the middle of the kitchen with this great big smile breathing in and out, saying, "smell that?  Do you know what that is??  Do you?  Olive oil!"

It's a fragrant but fine hint of olive, but it seems like it soaks into your pores, into your nose, like the smell form of a hug.

We had this same feeling in Turkey at restaurants where a meal is some variety of ocean life or vegetable slowly simmered in olive oil and herbs and served cold later in the day with bread. 

Nothing is better! NOTHING!  and it's so simple, and so good!  It's amazing!

So....
incorporating our experiences with olive oil from abroad and inserting into our daily meals..oh so fun! 

The deep rich yellow colored olive oil we purchased in a large tin in Istanbul is only used cold, not for frying but for salads...every time we get it out, it's like a little mini treat.  I love popping the cork off and getting a delicious whiff of the oil before pouring it on a salad.

A new thing in Chile is making higher quality olive oil, which only makes perfect sense, considering how great their quality of olives are!  Yeah, it's pricey, but they're definitely heading in the right direction!  One more attribute calling our names to make the big leap south!




So yeah!  Want to make a little change in your daily life that will benefit you in a great big way?

Go ahead and buy that pricey olive oil!  Try something new!  Make your own homemade dressings!
You won't regret it!!!

My current favorite salad dressings:

The classic:
Pouring a splash of balsamic and olive oil and then a pinch of salt on top...so the salt sticks to the oil'd leaves.

The Frenchy version:
In an old jelly jar, I combine...
mustard/or vinegar
honey
olive oil
salt n pepa
shakey shakey, pour over, toss!
I think I first picked this one up from Jamie Oliver...I love that man....it's good!

My current meditterranean obsession for dipping veggies into:
straight up tahini (usually used for hummus, but straight up, OMG!)
olive oil
salt n pepa
dried mint or dill
I just splash a bit of each into a bowl, no stirring required and dip my veggies straight in!