Category Archives: California

Mundane Monday: Rectangles

On Saturday I had been feeling a bit under the weather, but I was on the mend. I had an evening concert to play in and decided I was well enough to go. On my way to the concert I went to find my geocache of the day, which was at this gazebo in a park nearby the high school auditorium, which was also the concert venue.

The sun was going down making all sorts of rectangular shadows through the railing. The cache was an easy find, tucked behind the gazebo just by one of the supports.

I found out after I arrived at the concert venue that the power had been out in the entire town for about 3 hours prior to the concert, and just came back on. The sunshine made me feel better and the concert went well.

Gazebo

For the Mundane Monday Challenge #163 from Dr K Ottaway. What is your take on rectangles, what perspective lifts them out of the mundane and makes a magical photograph?

My answer: Sunlight and shadow!

 

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Thursday Doors: Spring Fever

Some days summer is in the air. I had my last teaching days this week and the students, the teachers, and the SciSci instructors were all feeling it.  Continue reading Thursday Doors: Spring Fever

Mundane Monday: Fountain

When we moved to CA almost 3 years ago, one of the first places we went was this movie theater: Century Cinema 16. It is near the Googleplex and is on a street aptly called “Movies.” It is a fancy theater, with reserved, reclining seats, which were a major novelty when we first arrived. The experience has gotten pretty routine now, since if we go out to a movie we never go anywhere else, and otherwise we watch Netflix.  Continue reading Mundane Monday: Fountain

May #WATWB: New Redwoods Park in Silicon Valley

When people come to visit in the SF Bay Area, they often want to see redwoods. The iconic place to go is Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County north of San Francisco, which is amazing, but it has gotten crowded and difficult to park there.

There are others, around Lake Tahoe:

TahoeRedwoods

Or on the peninsula in Woodside and Portola Valley:

Even in Los Altos, the next town over from Mountain View where I live, there is a small redwood grove:

LosAltosRedwoods

And in Sunnyvale town, or on Sunnyvale’s Sunken Gardens golf course where squirrels play:

Walking among the redwoods, even some closer to home, brings a feeling of peace and even enlightenment.

Cuesta Park, Mountain View, site of several geocache finds and many a Pokemon raid
Cuesta Park in Mountain View, site of several geocache finds and many a Pokemon raid

Now there is going to be a new park for more people to enjoy: “Silicon Valley has a new redwoods park, groundbreaking Tuesday,” from the San Jose Mercury News, by Paul Rogers.

It is known as the Bear Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve, and sits in the hills west of Highway 17 across from Lexington Reservoir. From 1934 to 1969, the land was the site of Alma College, a Jesuit campus. Now trails and amenities such as parking lots are being built for more access. There is a growing tension between preservation of wild open spaces and public access as California’s population increases. But I believe that projects like these are the best chance for balancing those needs.

We are the World LogoWe Are the World Blogfest,” posted around the last Friday of each month, seeks to promote positive news. Sharing these stories increases our awareness of hope in our increasingly dark world. The #WATWB co-hosts for this month are: Shilpa Garg, Inderpreet Kaur UppalPeter NenaAndrea Michaels, and Damyanti Biswas. Please check out their posts and say hello!

 

Book Review: Outside the Limelight by Terez Mertes Rose

Outside the Limelight (Ballet Theatre Chronicles. #2)Outside the Limelight by Terez Mertes Rose

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the first book in this series very much and eagerly looked forward to the second. In most ways it did not disappoint. The author’s love of ballet and her extensive knowledge of the subject informed the story at every turn. I also appreciated the complexity of the relationships she delineated in this book. I have grown weary of stories that always hew to a formulaic hero’s journey or romance, and so I appreciated that Outside the Limelight dealt with other kinds of human relationships: siblings, parents, divorce, failed mentorship, work colleagues and teams, professors and students, and friends.

That said, I think the author may have taken on too much in this volume, and it ended up losing focus. The medical details of Dena’s tumor, operation, and recovery went on too long, as did the development of her relationship with Misha. The parallels between Dena and her sister and Misha and his brother did not need to be spelled out and dramatized in this much detail, especially because much of this quiet and somewhat dull post-tumor part of Dena’s story came at the expense of dramatizing the arc of Rebecca’s relationship with Ben. The denouement to that part of the novel was dramatic but confusing. I was glad all the characters got their happy endings but while I could see Dena/Misha coming a mile away, Rebecca/Ben came totally out of the blue for me. There had been so little sexual tension or chemistry between Rebecca and Ben throughout most of the story that I had assumed Ben was gay.

Rebecca’s on-again, off-again relationship with Anders formed the tight core of this novel for me. It takes place in 2010-11, just on the precipice of the current re-imagining of mentor relationships between powerful men and young ambitious women in the arts (and many other fields). One wonders if Anders Gunst’s career would survive the #MeToo movement. And even if so, how his life and those of the dancers under his tutelage would be forever changed.

This book strikes me as transitional in other ways too. It shows the beginnings of a new path by which dancers can open up the closed, insular ballet world and take charge of their own careers and lives via social media. What can happen in this brave new world is the story I really want–really need–to read now.

View all my reviews

Mundane Monday: Used Golf Clubs from Craigslist

My husband and I have always liked to play minigolf, but that’s it. Until now. I had always thought of golf as something rich people and Presidents did.

But recently I decided to try it. There are some advantages to being able to play. Golf is a sport you can play your whole life, even well into your 70s and 80s, as long as you are mobile. It gets you outside and walking. It can be social; you can chat, you can network. If you’re so inclined you might even be able to catch Pokemon on the course! And some courses are located in beautiful and/or interesting places that you wouldn’t even get to see if you didn’t play golf.

There is a course in our town, Mountain View, on Moffett Field. It’s not a well-known course and used to be for military only. Now they have opened it up to the public and while you do have to show your drivers license to get past the kiosk, they are friendly when you tell them you are going to the golf course. When you are leaving, you drive right past Hangar One.

HangarOne

My husband and I have taken a couple of lessons now and we’re planning to do more. I recently got a set of used women’s clubs off Craigslist so I can go down to the range and practice if I want to. I picked them up after church on Sunday, where I was playing violin for Earth Day.

This week’s Mundane Monday theme is “two for one.” Pictured here are the two blue cases for the equipment needed for my oldest and newest hobbies. They kinda match.

GolfViolin

The Mundane Monday Challenge is under new ownership. Check it out at K Ottaway’s Rural Mad as Hell Blog.

Here’s my card

solo-violinist-1625307_640
werner22brigitte, Pixabay 

Growing up and as a student, I didn’t view violin soloists as regular people. They were a breed apart, and they played music that was so far out of my reach that I couldn’t even imagine it. Otherworldly images on album covers and in galleries tended to reinforce this notion. I find these images beautiful, but more intimidating than not.

Back in Massachusetts when I was in the Philharmonic Society of Arlington, we had a cellist whose day job was graphic designer. He made the posters for our concerts. They were lovely: colorful, artistic, ornate and a little quirky, like the orchestra itself. It was always a treat to see what the poster would look like a month before the concert rolled around. And we were fortunate: he donated his services for free.

FallConcert
PSA poster by Arch MacInnis

One aspect of graphic design that these posters never had, though, was photographs of people’s faces. We were a volunteer organization and we sometimes had competition-winner soloists whose pictures we used for online and print publicity, but the posters were different. I had a short concertmaster solo one year, in the Tchiakovsky “Mozartiana” suite, and while I told all my friends and family and they brought me flowers at the end, I wasn’t on the poster (much to my relief!)

AfterMozartiana
With my kids, after “Mozartiana”

Then last year, after moving to California and becoming an almost-full-time violist, I had the privilege of being in a different orchestra, the South Bay Philharmonic, accompanying the concertmaster, Gene Huang, on the Mendelssohn violin concerto, and the principal cellist, Harris Karsch, performing the Popper Hungarian Rhapsody.

I also play with them in a quintet, and seeing my own chamber music partners perform major solo works was an inspiration to me. This time, unlike with concerto competition winners who might fly in only for the dress rehearsal and concert, I was able to hear the pieces at the beginning, before they were polished. While the final product was amazing to watch and listen to, I also saw how much time and work were needed to get there. They prepared these performances while holding down full-time Silicon Valley tech jobs, as well as the regular ebb and flow of weekly orchestra rehearsals and weekend chamber music get-togethers.

SBPSpringConcertPoster

As befits its origins at Hewlett-Packard, the SBP, now an independent orchestra, calls itself an “Open Source Symphony.” A lot of the publicity is online, but they also print out business cards for members of the group to distribute. When I first saw these, I kind of wondered what to do with them, and in particular it struck me that they had photos of faces on them, not just of composers but of people I knew. “How does it feel to see your face on a card?” I asked. I don’t remember the response, exactly, but it was something like “it was a little weird at first, but I’m getting used to it.”

businesscards

Or maybe I’m projecting, because that describes just how I feel. The original design of the card had my face next to Dvořák’s portrait, but I felt a little uncomfortable with that. Instead I suggested this picture of Yosemite Valley, to represent the “New World” of the symphony. The blue of the sky is nice and color-coordinated with my dress and the orchestra’s logo. My daughter, who is now a freshman in college, took the picture of me with my viola in the backyard while she was home for spring break.

I’ve been giving them out to friends, other musicians I know, members of my writers’ group, people at church, even coworkers. It still feels a little odd to see my face there on a card. Proud? Happy? Sure, but that’s not all. Nervous? Anxious about “putting myself out there?” Yeah, that too. It’s not a bad feeling, but I struggle to find the right words. It is not a feeling I’ve ever had before and not something I expected when I picked up the violin again, and then the viola, more than 10 years ago. A new feeling. A new world.

YosemiteVDC

Mundane Monday: California Poppies

The California poppy, Eschscholzia californica, is the CA state flower. It grows everywhere this time of year, even in the tiny bit of soil next to a drainage grate, or in the sandbags lining a creek.

FlowersGrate

It is sometimes found next to dandelions or Bermuda Buttercup, another common but pretty yellow weed.

poppies3

Every year, April 6 is California Poppy Day and May 13th – 18th is Poppy Week. I’m right in between the two with this post.

poppies2

The Mundane Monday Challenge is under new ownership. Check it out at K Ottaway’s Rural Mad as Hell Blog.

 

Mundane Monday: Embassy Suites

I was out with my husband finding some geocaches near a creek in Milpitas for my daily streak (830 days as of this writing), and spotted this building in the distance.

The way the light shines on it through the clouds, the green hills around it, the dome, the river, the mist, all this made me think it might be something special. Maybe some rich Silicon Valley millionaire’s villa, or a folly building like a mini Hearst Castle. A winery? A high school? A museum?

IMG_2979

It turns out it’s an Embassy Suites hotel. I’ve never stayed there, but yeah, it looks nice.

The Mundane Monday Challenge is under new ownership. Check it out at K Ottaway’s Rural Mad as Hell Blog.

Mundane Monday: Line of RVs

This road lines Rengstorff Park in Mountain View, where I live. There was a nice little geocache in the park that I found with my daughter today. But I want to call attention to this line of RVs parked here, stretching back as far as the eye can see.

LineOfRVs

Unfortunately this view has become all too mundane in recent years:

The Mundane Monday Challenge is under new ownership. Check it out at K Ottaway’s Rural Mad as Hell Blog.