Category Archives: Travel

Thursday Doors: Oregon Drive

MountShasta
Mount Shasta, August 2017

A couple of years ago, I had several posts associated with driving my daughter to college at Willamette University. That drive took several days because we stopped to admire Mt. Shasta or to sample the sights in interesting little towns along the way. She was a new driver then, having passed her test only a couple weeks before we left, and we split the driving about 50/50.

SadieTreat

We made the same drive again this year, for a different reason. She moved off campus for her second two years, and she wanted to take the cat, Sadie, to live with her.

I’m also giving my daughter my old car, a 2012 baby blue Mazda 5. She learned to drive in that car, and feels comfortable in it. The magnet I bought for the rear hatch door fell off sometime ago, but the car fits in here. It will be useful to have a minivan to carry stuff around.

She drove the whole way from California this time. I got to doze off in the passenger seat.

HatchDoor
Car hatch door with bearcat magnet

Sadie the cat did better than we expected. We were concerned that she might meow her head off for 10 hours, making the trip unpleasant for all 3 of us. But the vet gave her a pill, and, mildly sedated, she spent most of the time sleeping in her carrier. Occasionally she meowed, but just enough to let us know she was still there.

At the pet-friendly Motel 6 we opened the door to her cat carrier to let her out, but she didn’t venture far.  She wasn’t crazy about the trip in general, and is glad to have gotten here!

CrateDoor
Cat carrier door stayed closed most of the time

And the final door for this post is the door to their new home:

FrontDoor

An interesting green, newly painted. It’s a charming little house. Now it just needs some furniture!

For Norm’s “Thursday Doors.” I’m getting back to it this week!

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. I find it a fun way to focus and curate my many, many travel photos!

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Music Monday: Dedicated

IMG_2455The Mundane Monday blog challenge has run its course, and I am grateful to Trablogger and Dr K Ottaway for running it the past few years. Thank you for your dedication! It has been fun and lent a modicum of discipline to my blogging efforts.

Rather than taking over this challenge myself, though, I’ve decided to make a new one called Music Monday. I blog about music a lot anyway, and it’s a natural fit. There are no real rules, just try to take a music theme and run with it. Post a YouTube video if you would like! I will summarize and link back to them next week.

 *   *   *

Cello
Cello from the Lobkowicz Palace

Many of us violinists, violists, and cellists have played quartets from Beethoven’s Op. 18. These quartets are “early Beethoven,” composed in Vienna while the string quartet as an art form was relatively fresh, and in the classical spirit of Haydn and Mozart. They are more technically accessible than the “late” Op. 130s, which overwhelmed even some of the best musicians of Beethoven’s time.

I inherited the set of sheet music to Op.18, all 6 quartets, years ago from a player in my old orchestra in Massachusetts. Yellowing and with bent corners, these venerable parts always seemed appropriate to my learning this venerable old music. And then there was the curious phrase written across the top.

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I’ve been learning German for most of my life but I still didn’t recognize a lot of these words at first. A “Fürst” is not a title that translates easily,  and Lobkowitz sounds vaguely like “lobster”  (or like Wolowitz, as in Howard). I got distracted by those things and by the fact that “gewidmet” was an completely unfamiliar verb too, rather than just figuring it out from the context like a normal person. So, who was Prince Lobkowitz, anyway, and why should we care? I found out on a recent visit to Prague.

The 7th Prince Lobkowicz (1772-1816) was Joseph František Maximilian, the Duke of Raudnitz (now Roudnice nad Labem in Czechia).

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Joseph František Maximilian, the 7th Prince Lobkowitz. Source: Wikipedia

This Prince Lobkowicz (also spelled Lobkowitz) was well known for his love of music. He was an accomplished violinist, cellist, and bass singer. He also hired musicians for a private orchestra and put on performances at his family’s Palais Lobkowitz in Vienna. A relative said of him that he was “kindhearted as a child and the most foolish music enthusiast. He played music from dusk to dawn and spent a fortune on musicians. Innumerable musicians gathered in his house, whom he treated regally.”

He and Beethoven met as young men and were peers and perhaps even friends. The Prince paid Beethoven a stipend and encouraged him to compose as he saw fit, rather than commissioning specific pieces, as most patrons of the era did. Under Lobkowicz’s patronage, Beethoven composed all of the Op. 18 string quartets. 

Op18Quartets
First performance edition of the Op. 18 string quartets 1-6, from Lobkowicz Palace, Prague

Even more importantly for western classical music, Beethoven also composed several symphonies under Lobkowicz’s patronage. Beethoven famously planned to dedicate his Symphony  No. 3, the Eroica, to his hero Napoleon. When Napoleon declared himself Emperor, however, Beethoven became disillusioned and angry, and instead dedicated the symphony to Lobkowicz. The Eroica premiered in the Lobkowicz family palace in 1804, played by their private orchestra and conducted by Beethoven, before its public premiere in 1805.

Eroica
First performance edition of the “Eroica”

Beethoven’s symphonies 4,5, and 6 were also composed and premiered under Lobkowicz’s patronage. The first performance editions of these pieces too are exhibited in the Lobkowicz Palace museum, which opened to the public in 2007 after the 1989 revolution allowed the return of the Lobkowicz family property (for the second time).

I dragged my traveling companions to this museum in order to see these artifacts; my friends aren’t musicians and wouldn’t have gone without my suggestion. I may have mentioned a few times that the Eroica is my favorite symphony. I’ve played it 3 times, the first going all the way back to my senior year of high school in the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra. But even so, I was unprepared for the emotional reaction; the pages blurred and I blinked back tears.

Living in the 21st century United States, we tend to take a dim view of royalty. We fought a revolution to throw out a king and have been happy to be rid of him for almost two-and-a-half centuries. But I would still like to take a moment here to praise Prince Lobkowicz. Under the constraints of the political system of his time, he was a forward thinking and generous ruler. He identified in Ludwig van Beethoven a talented person, supported him, and trusted him with the independence to create greatness.

We will never know how many other talents, bright and shining as Beethoven’s, may have languished and shriveled because they never got the support they needed to thrive, were never heard in a room of their own. Like Judith Shakespeare, they lie buried at some cross-roads where the omnibuses now stop.

Eroica Hall (Source: Secret Vienna, The story of the Palais Lobkowitz)

As much as everyone wants to be Beethoven in this story, most of us are more like Lobkowicz–if we’re lucky. Most of us are not royalty, musical, political, or otherwise. But all players who make a serious and sincere attempt to learn this music are performing the same essential, sacred duty: bringing the music to life.

My performance, with the South Bay Philharmonic Chamber Players, of Op. 18 No. 4, Mvt. 1

Thursday Doors: Use the Interior!

This is part 1 of a series of doors in Prague, Czechia. I don’t know yet how many installments there will be in this series because, to my surprise, I think that Prague has the most interesting doors of any city I have been to so far.

Exterior

The owners of these doors make the inside more interesting than the outside, and then leave them open to show it off. Especially when food is involved.

From these doors I learned about a Czech pastry called trdelnik. 

IceCream

While these are quite common in Prague, they are originally called  kurtsoskalacs and come from Szekely Land, Transylvania. There are big models of the pastries hanging over the doors in Prague, even as the interiors of the doors advertise additional treats.

Trdelnik

The following door caught my eye because of the word “Unitaria.” I wondered if it had to do with the Unitarian church in Prague. But probably not, because there is also a Blacklight theater in the building, which is what you get when you google it. The Unitarian congregation in Prague is located elsewhere.

Unitaria

Finally, this was my favorite of the painted interior doors, a souvenir and trinket shop with whimsical representations of the city itself.

Gifts

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments at Norm’s blog

 

Music and Memory in Ireland

I’m posting this blog in honor of the Mountain View High School Chamber Orchestra, which has been touring Ireland for the past week with violinist Chloe Trevor.  My 15-yo son plays the cello in this group. My school spring break and his don’t coincide, so I couldn’t chaperone. I’m a little disappointed, but this may be for the best. My son is at the age now where he is needing his own space, personally and musically.

And, I have been to Ireland too. Twice. The first time the kids were pretty little and we took our au pair along. We visited the Cliffs of Moher on a very windy day, and the visit, while gorgeous, wasn’t entirely stress-free.

I was just starting to play the violin again after a long break, and I bought a nice book of Irish fiddle music to learn, complete with CD. I’ve shared this video before. It was recorded in 2010 at the Belmont Farmers’ Market, by my son who was 7 at the time. I think the intonation is decent, but stylistically I am not really playing fiddle style, but more classical, which is how I was trained.

Fiddling was a nice way to play with my kids when they were younger, and I continue to love this type of music. This video was taken before my son had started playing the cello, and he wasn’t yet able to play with us. He looks pretty bored back there!

The doors I want to show are on some bars in Dublin, the Temple Bar Pub in particular. Bright red, and decorated with nice fiddle icons, this area is a great place to find live music. I visited there on my second trip to Ireland, in the summer of 2018.

TempleBarDoorTempleDoorCorner

The Temple Bar area is located on the south bank of the River Liffey in Dublin. It is a major cultural center and tourist attraction. Temple Bar Pub isn’t the only establishment.

Bar1

You also find buskers playing as you walk the streets. They aren’t all playing traditional Irish music; these were playing the theme from “Game of Thrones.”

Buskers

Here is the Mountain View High School Chamber Orchestra playing “Irish Junkyard Jam” by Brian Balmages at one of their three concerts. (And there is my son, now all grown up, leading the cello section!)

Their tour included a visit to Bunratty Castle, shown here when the kids were little, and most recently, a picture of the castle taken by my now-15-year-old son.

I asked my son, when I picked him up at the airport, if he remembered the earlier trip. Not at all, he said wryly. Whereas to me these visits are almost all mixed up together, with few boundaries. In spite of years of violin and viola practice and child raising in between, I was pretty much the same person who visited Ireland then and now; and he is not.

 

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments at Norm’s blog

Not Irish

I’m not Irish. Not even a little. When I was a kid I would forget to wear green on this day and get pinched on the playground, a custom I’m still not really fond of.

But as a musician I am getting more fond of St. Patrick’s Day as an opportunity to play fun music.

Playing at the Belmont Farmers’ Market

We were in Ireland last summer as part of our trip. One of the places we visited in Dublin was Christchurch Cathedral.

ChristChurchCathedralDublin

The cathedral’s choir had its first performance of Handel’s Messiah in April of 1742. There is an electrical box on the grounds painted in Handel’s honor.

Messiah

The oldest geocache in Europe is also in Ireland. It was placed on June 3, 2000. Here I am, finding it:

OldestGeocacheinEurope

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! (Please don’t pinch anyone . . .)

Thursday Doors: Edinburgh Pubs and Eateries

After some time on the continent, we were off to the British Isles. These doors are from our first day in Scotland, where we stopped in Edinburgh. I have heard that Edinburgh is the model for Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter series. In the spirit of Harry Potter, I thoroughly enjoyed the names of some of these establishments: 

BlackCat

DirtyDicks

Lots of flowers and nice places to sit, but it was a little early for lunch, let alone a drink.

Or live music. 

It was a very pleasant walk to the park and university, though, and we followed a virtual geocache to see other sights. Scotland was also having an unusually warm and sunny summer, which benefitted us tourists!

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

ThroughTheGate

Follow my European trip with this and previous posts:

January 31, 2019: Luxembourg II

January 24, 2019: Luxembourg I

December 13, 2018: More Brussels

November 29, 2018: Brussels, Part II

November 22, 2018: Grand Place, Brussels

November 1, 2018: Belgian Beer and Chocolate

October 27, 2018: Dutch Whimsy

October 18, 2018: Nordrhein-Westfalen

October 11, 2018: Landschaftspark

September 21, 2018: Pattensen

September 6, 2018: Birdhouse Cache

August 30, 2018: Achtung, Baby!

August 16, 2018: Ku’Damm

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

Thursday Doors: Luxembourg II

When I was in Luxembourg I knew I would eventually blog about it for Thursday doors. So I took pictures of a lot of different doors. Last week it was old-fashioned doors under arches. This week it is some business establishments and restaurants:

There were often stairs leading to the doors. We didn’t have time to eat at any of these places, but they looked nice. Even the graffiti in Luxembourg is tasteful.

 

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

ThroughTheGate

Follow my European trip with this and previous posts:

January 24, 2019: Luxembourg I

December 13, 2018: More Brussels

November 29, 2018: Brussels, Part II

November 22, 2018: Grand Place, Brussels

November 1, 2018: Belgian Beer and Chocolate

October 27, 2018: Dutch Whimsy

October 18, 2018: Nordrhein-Westfalen

October 11, 2018: Landschaftspark

September 21, 2018: Pattensen

September 6, 2018: Birdhouse Cache

August 30, 2018: Achtung, Baby!

August 16, 2018: Ku’Damm

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

Mundane Monday: Nurse Log

This week’s Mundane Monday theme is “Nurse Log.” That means I learned something new this week. nurse log is a fallen tree which, as it decays, provides ecological facilitation to seedlings. Broader definitions include providing shade or support to other plants. 

hongkongkaren

I have seen these many times while out geocaching and hiking, but I don’t often take pictures of them. However, I may have something that’s at least close in my travel photos from Hong Kong a couple of years ago. It’s very humid there in the summer and there is a lot of growth. This tree is almost completely covered in moss.

nurselogpanorama

The heat and humidity make a lot of trees like this. Here too you can see the rough moss covering on the branches silhouetted against the sky.

victoriapeak

For Dr KO’s Mundane Monday prompt #196.

Thursday Doors: Luxembourg I

Leaving Brussels, we decided to visit Luxembourg by driving through. It isn’t hard to drive through all of Luxembourg in a relatively short trip. I was there once before, when I lived in Germany for a summer as a student. I took a cheap bus trip to Luxembourg, which turned out to be a chance for the tour company to try to sell us fur coats on the bus. My German wasn’t good enough to be able to pay attention, so the hard sell was lost on me!

This time I was more interested in geocaches and doors. These doors were close to the center where the parking and the monuments were.

 

They didn’t all look like that. Some were more modern and painted.

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And then we went to look for a geocache in some back alleys.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

ThroughTheGate

Follow my European trip with this and previous posts:

December 13, 2018: More Brussels

November 29, 2018: Brussels, Part II

November 22, 2018: Grand Place, Brussels

November 1, 2018: Belgian Beer and Chocolate

October 27, 2018: Dutch Whimsy

October 18, 2018: Nordrhein-Westfalen

October 11, 2018: Landschaftspark

September 21, 2018: Pattensen

September 6, 2018: Birdhouse Cache

August 30, 2018: Achtung, Baby!

August 16, 2018: Ku’Damm

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

Mundane Monday (on Tuesday): Gulls

Do you take pictures of gulls? asks Dr. KO of the Mundane Monday challenge.

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Enquiring minds want to know

Surprisingly (since I don’t live particularly near a beach): Why yes, yes I do!

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Carmel Beach City Park, Carmel CA

I read and was a fan of Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach in high school, and perhaps because I didn’t grow up near a beach, I still have a romanticized view of these opportunistic scavengers.

Gulls following a cruise ship in search of food they can grab off passengers' plates
Gulls following a cruise ship in search of food they can grab off passengers’ plates

I am a very amateur photographer and I don’t use any special equipment other than my phone to take pictures, but if there is a gull flying around, I seem to be unable to resist trying to capture it in flight.

gullsinarowsunset
Asilomar State Beach, Pacific Grove CA

A few years ago I went to Carmel, Big Sur, and Pacific Grove for my birthday, and there I hit the gull jackpot (and probably drove my husband crazy), taking pictures of gulls flying silhouetted against the pink sky of sunset.

gulls4
Make them fly in formation!

Traveling, I have found gulls to be a world-wide phenomenon. They, not bluebirds of happiness, fly over the White Cliffs of Dover.

gullsdover

And across the English Channel:

And even in deep mid-winter, there they are:

gullslaketahoe
Lake Tahoe, near the CA-NV border

They don’t need skis to fly!