3.31.09 part 2

I have fallen in love with a movie. A movie that will not occupy spaces on any critic's top 10, I'm sure, but one that totally celebrates my perfect world.

This one.

It might be the sweetest movie I've even seen, all inspiration and wonder and technicolor and magic.

It's what I want to be when I grow up...because it'll mean that I didn't grow up after all.

My five:

  1. Magic.
  2. Giving.
  3. Inspirational storytelling.
  4. Kids.
  5. Channelling my inner Peter Pan.


I have an honest-to-goodness cherry tree in my yard! Really! One that's my very own.

So. Cool.

The sun is out, I'm caffeinated and listening to some new music in the office as the light streams through the windows. It's truly a lovely morning.

My five:
1. Summer dresses...even if I am wearing one with black tights underneath.
2. Flowers. Tree blossoms, daffodils, hyacinths...all lovely. I'm such a girl.
3. Cooking. The worst mood can be salvaged by getting creative with a little bit of heat.
4. Crossing things off the list. Being productive feels good.
5. Looking forward.



I've been spending a lot of time reflecting lately. It's something that I try to do during Lent, even though this year I'm not so much celebrating (wrong word....observing is better) the season. Last year was a total wash, as I was so caught up in losing my dad and the aftershocks...I had an excuse to stay out of my own head. (It was a baaaad neighborhood.) But I've found myself grappling with spirituality and my place in the world more frequently lately.

As I wrote a few days ago, I signed up to run a 5k. It's something that I know I can do, even though I may struggle with the training and the actual running. I went for a run the other night in my neighborhood. It was near dusk, and a light mist was falling. I took a route that avoided crossing a major traffic artery, but that ran through the parking lot of a nearby Catholic church. I've attended the church once, maybe twice, and it's not pulled me in, despite its proximity and creed, despite my desire to be pulled in. I ran through the parking lot, iPod blaring, but almost in tears...for no good reason. I stopped under the statuary in front of the church: two large stone structures that formed a curved shelter between - almost as if a tree had been split and hallowed, but the two halves were still standing.

I stood there for a moment. Just a moment. And silently asked for something, something that I couldn't articulate even if I wanted to.

I hope someone was listening.

My five:

  1. Trust.
  2. Flowers.
  3. Allergy medicine.
  4. Physical wholeness.
  5. Hope.

Edited: I meant to write "hollowed" in describing the statuary, but after rereading it, I'm going to let the original word stand.


Happy Sunday

A late morning (thanks for the extra hour of sleep, pets!), a long, water-soaked walk, brunch with the League of Extrordinary Women (give me back my Filet o'Fish!), and a day warm enough to warrant flip-flops?


If you need me, you know where to find me.

My five:

1. Diet pepsi on ice with a straw.
2. Laughing with new friends.
3. Wind chimes- they're singing today!
4. My comfy cashmere hoodie.
5. Contemplation.



It's officially spring!

I know, I know...the vernal equinox, the "real" first day of Spring, was over a week ago. But over the last year, it's become clear that spring really begins when the Box Office opens and our summer season goes on sale.


Our opera-folks start arriving in about a month-and-a-half. (the realization of which just made my stomach turn a little...eek.) Not to say that there's not a gajillion things to do before they arrive, but work is more fun when we're making art, rather than preparing to make art.

In other, non-related "news" (in quotes because, well, it's just not all that interesting), after a week's hiatus I made it back to the gym. AND went for a jog this evening. AND in between met a friend for a tasty lunch...I think the double workout makes up for the crepe and mimosas, right? I'm pretty sure they cancel each other out. I'm certainly not going to let a week slip by again before getting a workout in, though, as neither the morning workout or evening jog were pretty. And, since I've gone and signed up for a 5k, I'd like to run it without collapsing into a blubbery red heap at the end - or, God forbid - before the end. But it was close to a perfect day: lazy morning, workout, lunch with Mischabelle, teaching - with some great student progress! - a walk with Boo, a little jog, and now some bad tv and a nightcap before an early evening.

Just. Lovely.

My five:
  1. Candlelight.
  2. Frites. (sans "s", Mademoiselle!)
  3. Dirty brass...it's a jazz kind of evening.
  4. Wind chimes. And wind.
  5. Looking forward to tomorrow.



Saw this sign walking with the dog the other day... I'm wondering if beveagers are teenage beavers? And, if they're alcoholics, are there Betty Ford Clinics that would let them in? Or is there a policy against drunk teenage rodents with marginal spelling skills?


It's been a weird, ugly week thus far. Progress at work is hard-fought, transitions are jarring and and there's a film of bad feeling hanging over everything.

I haven't made it to the gym in days. I'm sure that has something to do with my terrible attitude...I miss having a session to check in, and the lack of oversight means that my appetite gets me into trouble.

And my cat just totally kamikazed my elbow. Sneak attack! Aaaaauugghh! I think I'm bleeding.

I know, I know...times are tough all over. I should be thankful. I have a job, a good life...I should bitch less and give thanks more often.

So, to that end, I'm making some changes. I signed up for a 5k today. I've designated a mandatory hour tomorrow to be spent on finding Opera Happiness. (We may do nothing but surf the archives here and here, but it'll sure make us happy!) I'm watching Blue Planet and imagining what an awesome evening it'll be with live music on HD screens on the lawn.

I'm in negativity detox.

With my beveager peeps.

My five:
  1. The Blue Planet photographer's cute Scottish accent.
  2. Oceanic photography & cinematography...gotta be two of the coolest jobs ever.
  3. Clean laundry.
  4. Sleepy kitty.
  5. Daydreaming.


3.25.09 part 2

Late night, conflict, bad news from a friend, and an early wake-up (how does one say "No" to a 90 pound wagging alarm clock? Any advice would be appreciated.) and I'm suddenly down several dozen IQ points.This was all I had brainpower for today, honestly... and perhaps "brainpower" is too strong a word.

Early night.

No five.

One - I'm thankful for sleep. Lethe, carry me away!


It's after midnight.

Left work after 11pm, on a non-performance (well, for me) night.

It's too early for 14-hour days. I mean, it's not even April yet!

So I'm sitting with my buddy Dave. (Letterman). And my other buddy, Cavit. And my best buddy, Boo, who can't figure out for the life of me why I'm not in bed yet.

I don't know why, either.

(The cat is, however, thrilled to have an audience, and is racing around the living room like a dervish. Dude. Chill.)

My five:
  1. Scary kitty - Lucky is quite the little vaudevillian!
  2. A late start tomorrow...er, today. Damn.
  3. This. I never get tired of spying on nature.
  4. Unwinding...I swear that I can actually feel myself uncoil, like a watch spring.
  5. Small kindnesses.



I've been at work too much for March. Midnight on Friday, went in for a few hours on Saturday, Home at 9pm Monday, and will not get home before 9pm this evening. At this rate, come June I'll be living in my office!

One of the things that gets my day started is my morning constitutional with the dog. And since I'm a little too tired and a little under-caffeinated to write anything interesting (Oh, except you should check this out - I was inspired, and proud to be a part of it.) I'll post some shots from my walk. It's an iPhone camera, so the quality's not great, but it was a pretty morning.

And another things that I'm proud of? Look at that mulch! (Not around the house - I of course didn't buy enough to do the bushes around the house...duh) but around the pansies? Golden. I'm a mulching fiend!

(And still sore from lifting all that mulch. Ugh.)

Here's my five for today:
  1. Crossing things off the list.
  2. Inspiration.
  3. Trying a different method.
  4. Making music with others.
  5. Comfortable shoes. And uncomfortable, beautiful shoes.


3.22.09 Mulch 14, Rahree 0

I'm whupped. And it's not even 4pm.

Spent a little too long at work yesterday, and got very little done around the house, so today was make-up day. Cleaned the house (in 3 hours! It's amazing how much more I hustle when I put the kitchen timer on and only work for the time allotted. maybe I should transition that to my work life...) and started working through the mountain of laundry.

But it was a beautiful day, I was grungy from cleaning the house, and I had a flat of pansies that really needed to get out of their little containers, to boot. Time for a trip to Home Depot! Grabbed a flat, and headed toward the mulch section.

By the way, mulch is HEAVY.

Somehow I loaded 10 bags of mulch into my little 2-door coupe without shredding a bag, losing control of the flat (well, almost...my foot will be fine, though), or running over the hordes of church ladies aimlessly standing in the middle of every aisle, looking helpless. I figured that I had enough to cover the 2 beds that line the driveway, and the small bed near the walk.


After clearing sticks from the yard and laying down the mulch, I was headed back to Home Depot. I picked up more mulch (still heavy...maybe even heavier after hoisting all those bags in and out of my car), a new trowel, and a diet coke - yard work is thirsty business! And, to reward myself for not running over the newest batch of clueless church ladies, I bought myself some more pansies.

I still don't have enough mulch. I'm guessing each bag was close to 20 pounds...if I moved each bag twice, I've lifted over 500 pounds today.

(No gym time necessary today.)

But I'm done. The yard looks better, the house is clean, and I'm tired. On the docket for the evening? Perhaps a mani-pedi, but more likely a glass of wine, some time puttering in the kitchen, and a bit of reading.

Hope that your evening is similarly relaxing!

My five:
  1. Flowers.
  2. Crazy dreams.
  3. Letting the wind comb my hair.
  4. Driving in the sun.
  5. Singing.


3.21.09 in the moment

I had a great conversation with a friend the other day about being in the moment... the challenges that I have, as an adult, with paying undivided attention to someone or something. There are chores and to-do lists, and devoirs, and honey-do lists and bucket lists and five-year plans...all things that are good, and interesting, or at the least necessary.

But are they? Really necessary?

Is it a wonder that we crave connection? That we think back fondly on long conversations with college friends? That the internet serves as surrogate for actual conversation?

I attended a concert this evening. The program was challenging from both the performers and audience...Beethoven was the lightest-sounding item on the menu. Bartok, Schoenberg, a Liszt arrangement, Ravel, and a commissioned work called Maralinga (about atomic testing in aboriginal Australia...) by composer Matthew Hindson made for some heavy listening.

And the audience hung in. Listened. Wrestled. Fought their way around. They were totally unsure what to expect from moment to moment; and yet totally engaged, totally in the moment.

I was, too.

Thanks, LSJ and MK for a wonderful evening, and a lovely zen practice session. Even from the last row of the balcony I was right there with you.

My five:
  1. New music...I will choose new and challenging over the classical music canon any day.
  2. Laughter. Can we ever have too much? Don't think so.
  3. Guacamole.
  4. My first night as a #1 at work. Woo-hoo! Thanks for trusting me... I don't thing anything went too awfully awry...
  5. Time to unwind.


Many, many things going through my head this morning...all good, but still there's a dearth of space and a definite lack of through-line. So, sadly, all the blogosphere will get from me today is a glorified to-do list, just so I can keep myself on track.

  • Coffee (always the first thing on the list.) check - currently on cup #2 of eleventy-twelve. Seriously, how would I function in the world without espresso?
  • Walk the dog - check. And even though it's sunny out today, it's COLD. I do not approve.
  • Shower & get ready for work. Pack extra clothes to change into for this evening's concert. (Lara St. John is premiering a piece that we commissioned. I'm pretty excited!) It's going to be a 14-hour day, easily. Comfortable shoes and a muscle relaxer for my back are, sadly, needed as well.
And then work odds and ends - these are the pieces that I keep forgetting that I HAVE to get done today.
  • Wire the second commission payment to the Australian composer for the new piece.
  • Finish tweaking designer contracts...this dance of clauses and language might just kill me. I did my first drafts in January, and it's late March...ugh.
  • Process all the contracts we've received. Start the second round of dunning for the holdouts who haven't sent their materials in.
  • Proof more ad and brochure copy. It's endless this time of year.
  • Write an article for the newsletter.
  • Hire interns.
  • Record accompaniments and voice tracks for my Saturday lessons and Monday class.
  • Move the digital piano into my classroom for Monday.
  • Reconcile January & February's budget.
  • Send measurement sheets to the costume designers.

Lawdy there's lots to do! I guess I should be grateful that today's a long day...

My five:
  1. Sunshine - no matter that it's chilly, I'm so happy that it's not grey today!
  2. Re-learning how to be in the moment. Damn you, Eckhardt Tolle.
  3. Busy days.
  4. Meaningful conversation.
  5. Being more capable than I give myself credit for...took apart 2 icemaker mechanisms and used the parts to fix my freezer. No duct tape necessary. And I do in fact have ice, and not a wet floor. Take THAT, MacGuyver!



Lazy morning, long walk with the dog, easy workout at the gym.

Daydreaming...feeling like something is going to happen, but not having any clue as to what it might be, whether it might be positive or negative.

Spending the evening making a mess of the kitchen...tuscan white bean soup, grilled bread, glass of wine.

Magazines, books, warm slippers. Trying to stay alert long enough to walk the dog again and clean the kitchen before becoming one with the couch.

Stiff neck, untouched by exercise and advil. The only real drag of the day.

I'm feeling very lucky for what I have, very blessed. But at the same time there's something nagging at me, out of focus and still out of reach...

Wonder what it could be?

My five:
  1. Walking in the rain.
  2. Dishwashers. (I'm to messy to survive without!)
  3. Dr. Bronner. He's a crazy man, but he makes a good soap.
  4. Daylight after 6:30pm
  5. Creative endeavors.


3.14.09 random quotes and recharging

Today has been all about recharging...although it didn't start out that way.

The alarm went off at 7am. Hubby took the dog out, and I started the caffeine infusion. Now, my usual happy Saturday includes quite a bit of loafing, so moving at the crack of dawn wasn't really fun. I was tired, and sore from a little more gym time than a regular week. A lazy morning weighing down the couch (those suckers tend to float away if you're not diligent about keeping them anchored...) was just what I wanted. But by quarter after 8 I was in the car, and was on the rowing machine at the gym by 8:30. My trainer, LG, was kind enough to reschedule my missed Thursday appointment for the weekend, so if she was up and awake I was going to do the same. But I started the hour with a qualifier; "I'm not quite awake today, so maybe rather than growing foggier and dumber by the end of the workout I'll actually wake up and be more coherent by the end."


The session went quickly...and as we wrapped up she looked at me and said "I like it when you're sleepy...you don't fight me on the exercises as much."

Fight? Moi?!?

(She's a great trainer...and she puts up with all my push-back with grace and humor. I should pay her extra for it...)

Next on the docket? Quality time with a bestie from grad school. There's never quite enough time to convey all of the important information that we've missed, leading different lives in different parts of the country. But it's so good to see her, to see firsthand the progress she's made and the newfound comfort she has in her skin. Good stuff, all!

A few lessons followed..boy, do I enjoy these one-on-one opportunities to reconnect with art, to focus on someone else, to be challenged and challenge. I'm glad to have the occasion, and to have some thoughtful, hard-working students.

And now? I'm post-dinner, pondering a shamefully early bedtime, reading Anne Lamott's book on faith and reflecting on my own.

I had the opportunity to recharge myself physically through a challenging workout and healthy eating (ok, so maybe the froyo isn't technically healthy, but it's good for my soul.), to rekindle a treasured relationship through an afternoon of chat, to renew my appreciation for both teachers and students, to refresh my musical skills, to revisit the place that faith has in my life.

It's been a full day. And I still have quite a bit of thinking to do.

My five:
  1. Clorox bleach. Smells like clean.
  2. Getting lost in a good book.
  3. Feeling like a part of something bigger than just me.
  4. Not knowing the answers.
  5. Hagen Daaz Dulce de Leche frozen yogurt. Blisssss....

And today's random quote, overheard in the grocery store parking lot. A dad to his 8-9 year-od son; "Wow, I just burped and farted at the same time: that's called multi-tasking."


3.12.09 ghosts of lives past

You know how seeing or hearing from an old friend can knock you back into Nostalgia-Land before you can say "Warp-speed"?

I'm so there.

After a relatively easy morning at the DMV (finally I have my Virginia license plates! Guess that means that I'm officially a resident of the Old Dominion. Though I'm still waiting on the carton of smokes and the fifth of Beam that Welcome Wagon was supposed to bring by...), I had coffee with my mentor from grad school. Talking opera, dramatic structure, conflict made me remember why I love the arts, why I choose to work for and with them.

Two friends from grad school called at different points in the day. They're both singing, which makes me kinda wish I was...but only for a moment.

I got lovely emails from a singer who's returning to work for us this summer, and who shares one of my brain-crushes.

And in the fabulous land of Facebookia, I had a message from a close friend from undergrad whose currently living in Poland...aka The Motherland. It made me hungry for long, coffee-soaked conversations in Scotland Yard, where clock hands stop still and the chocolate cake counts as least two meals.

Add to those several recent dreams about old buddies, and I'm happily in a state of extended remembrances...

My five:
  1. connection.
  2. crazy dreams.
  3. kettlebell class - who would've thunk it?
  4. jawbreakers.
  5. rituals.



Daylight Savings Time is here! YAY!

My mother - and several other folks I know - abhor this time change. It sets her off her rocker...makes her feel like she's lost her ballast. I mean, if she isn't even sure what time it is, can she be sure of anything? I see where she's coming from, but I really relish the off-centered feeling of this time of year. It's a great time to start listening to myself & my internal rhythms, rather than using external cues to tell me what to do and how to do it. And while the morning started much earlier than I really wanted (seems that my internal alarm clock was set much later than our electric one...go figure), I watched the sun rise during my morning constitutional with the pup, and listened to the amazing volumes of birdsong. It's not warm yet, but it's certainly hat-optional, which is a wonderful change. And rather than doing our usual spin around the block, we got almost 2 miles in, which felt lovely.

Life is starting to get a little busier, a little tenser. Between work duties, home duties, office politics and family politics, it's been more intense than I remember from years past. The analogy that keeps coming to mind is that of a flower press. I'm stuck between sheets of glass, and little by little people and events turn the screws that flatten me...never mind that I see myself as something fairly uncrushable, like a thistle. I seem to turn into a violet, just waiting to be smooshed. But after a handful of days with the Uncles in Rehoboth, talking and playing in the sand and eating and drinking well, I'm feeling more substantial, less, er...smooshable. Let's hope the feeling holds!

I'm thankful for:
  1. This shot of warm weather -it's been a total Godsend.
  2. Generous family...the Uncles are so good to us.
  3. Sea-tumbled quartz. I collected a whole hatful on the beach this weekend.
  4. Time to reconnect with hubby.
  5. Longer days.


3.4.09 creature of habit

Hubby and Boo just went outside. No news there.

Most weekday evenings we follow a similar routine: we come home and someone lets the dog out to run off some steam. (We're still relying on the crate because Boo is an anxious chewer. And he really only likes to chew on stuff that costs over $50, or has great sentimental value. What can I say, my boy's got taste!) We change out of our work clothes, I start puttering in the kitchen and hubby deals with his last volley of work email. We eat together, and Boo gets to do the pre-rinse cycle if he's lucky. One of us cleans the kitchen while the other deals with email, snail mail, etc. Then Boo and I set out on our evening constitutional. (As a side note: I started out with 2 hats and my Yaktrax, and lost them all by the end of the walk! A harbinger of spring?) After our return it's "Go Time" - when hubby and Boo wrestle on the floor for the better part of a half-hour.

After wrestling? Outside. It's a routine.

After that we spend a little bit of time surfing the web, reading, and on a bad night, just throwing in the towel and hitting the hay. It's certainly not glamorous, but it suits us pretty well. I'm happiest when I'm making a mess of the kitchen, and Hubby's happiest when he's raising hell with the dog....the fact that we both have those opportunities most every night? Together? Priceless.

The routine is especially helpful this year... the universe was very kind to me last year after February, probably because I wouldn't have been able to handle much more than "kind." But this year? All bets are off, and there are big questions to ask and as-yet unforeseen big things to deal with. I think I'm ready... to support, rather than be supported, to raise my commitment to the people and things that matter to me.

My five:
  1. routine.
  2. buds on the trees.
  3. daydreaming.
  4. planning. (3 and 4 can be the same, but can be vastly different, eh?)
  5. nice people. there are lots of you out there, and I think you're neat! (i know i'm a Pollyanna, but if you're lucky I'll buy you a cherry soda at Woolworths.)


3.3.09 instead of 5, 12!

oh the interwebs have many, many fabulous things floating around. things currently making me happy:

  • this. and i promise i'm not high.
  • this. because i spent hours in middle school writing my name instead of doing homework.
  • this. because i don't think enough about how much i consume, but i'm trying.
  • this. because the beauty doesn't cease-to-be because we stop paying attention.
  • this. sent to me as a response to one of my screw ups, meant to say "It's all good." Or maybe "I still think Jo's hot." I'm a little unclear on the exact details...
  • this. my new work strategy.
  • this. my new go-to website, with a post made just for me.
And don't even get me started on TEDtalks...I'm still trying to catch up on all the awesomeness.

So five things I'm grateful for?
  1. teh interwebs.
  2. leisure time.
  3. knee socks.
  4. savvy waiters (free profiteroles here last weekend. nice move, monsieur!)
  5. care packages from mom. we're never too old to love getting presents from mom, are we?


3.2.09 part 2

these are just a few stills from the front porch - it's a beautiful day, the office has officially closed, and the crock-pot is full of chili. And the sun is starting to peek out of the swirling snow...if you'll excuse me, the pup and I are going to head out and enjoy a nice walk in the beautiful weather!

3.2.09 It's HEEERRREEE!!!

I'm officially living in a snow globe!

Finally we're on the receiving end of a respectable snowfall. Not a snowfall that fails to materialize, or that ends up being terribly stingy with the accumulation...no. This morning we work up to several inches on the ground, and a swirling white sky. Snow is falling, blowing, doing everything short of melting. It's gorgeous!

The cable is on the fritz so the house is quiet...the office is opening a few hours late, so I have a little bit of found time this morning. Time enough to walk the dog, turn on the iPod, get some chili or brisket started in the crock-pot, and maybe even to finish one of the three books I've almost finished.

It'd be a lie of omission to not admit that I'm checking the phone message at work in hopes that the office remains closed today... not that I'm worried about getting there or home, since it's just a hop-skip away. But because having another Sunday on Monday sounds like the bestest thing ever. And heck, once a teacher, always a teacher. :)

My five:
  1. Snow. (uh, duh!)
  2. Boo's antics in the snow - I'll post a video if I can. Awesome!
  3. Yaktrax. Best. Invention. Ever. (for clumsy people, at least.)
  4. New stories. (even more incentive to finish the trio of hangers-on!)
  5. Wishes. This impending snow, and the associated wishful hopefulness has felt like playing the lottery - and today it feels a little bit like I've won.



Happy March!

We're celebrating as most of the eastern seaboard is... with snow. We were supposed to get a little bit of sleet overnight, but woke up to a winter wonderland! It'd be a little depressing except that Boo LOVES it...the morning game of frisbee was too much fun and much too short by his doggie standards. And the weatherman says there's more coming! I'm actually really energized by the thought of a day spent nesting, cooking, cleaning, walking in the snow, and sticking close to home.

My five:
  1. Snow. You can take the girl out of Pennsylvania...
  2. Days devoid of devoirs.
  3. When hubby takes the dog out for his morning walk, and lets me sleep in.
  4. Sore muscles. Proof that I worked hard yesterday!
  5. Sunday paper... aaahhh