Mundane Monday: Orchids

In the fall of 2015, we had a housewarming party in our new home in CA. I invited one of my coworkers with her husband and two small children. She, in turn, brought me an orchid plant. The flowers were very neatly arranged in two rows, haiku-like. They lasted for a couple of weeks and then fell off and I had a nice pot with two green sticks sticking out of it, propped up with a rather elaborate system of clips and supports.  Continue reading Mundane Monday: Orchids

It’s All about Presence: A Conversation with Val Vigoda

I published this interview with rock violinist and singer/songwriter Val Vigoda 1 year ago. This past weekend her show, “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me,” opened Off-Broadway at Second Stage’s Tony Kiser Theatre. For tickets and more information, visit ernestshackletonlovesme.com. In the interview, Val talks in detail about how the show was conceived and created. Read it on violinist.com, below.

A Thousand Finds

Valerie_Brendan_0136Val Vigoda is an electric violinist, singer/songwriter, and founder of the musical trio GrooveLily. She has toured the world with Cyndi Lauper, Joe Jackson and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Val has also co-written, with Brendan Milburn, songs for Disney’s Tinker Bell movies as well as the score for the stage musicals Striking 12, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Toy Story: The Musical, and many others, including Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, starring Val as Kat, a contemporary composer and single mom who meets and falls in love with the time-traveling explorer.

Val and I went to Princeton University together. We traveled in different circles then: I played the violin for two years in the University Orchestra, she was exploring the potential of the instrument when combined with singing in a rock band. After graduation I followed Val’s career over the years, reconnecting through her kickstarter campaign for her one-woman show, “Just…

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Book Review: The Winter Knife by Laramie Sasseville

The Winter Knife (Minnesota Strange Book 1)The Winter Knife by Laramie Sasseville

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good YA literature will stay with me long after I am finished with it, even as an adult. I would have been in the prime target audience for this book when I was a teenager, and I would have devoured it (pun intended). The story was a pleasant surprise on several levels. First, the author has a real gift for character and voice, especially with young teens. She manages to tell a fantastical story without talking down or condescending to her audience, while at the same time not going to any of the despairing, hopeless, or crazy places I feared she might be heading with the supernatural element.  Continue reading Book Review: The Winter Knife by Laramie Sasseville

Mundane Monday: Stacks and Cracks

This week’s Mundane Monday challenge shows the Taj Mahal framed by stacks of sandbags. It reminded me immediately of the stacks of sandbags I saw, and photographed, last week along a creek bed. No Taj Mahal here, but I was reminded of Leonard Cohen’s lyric, that the crack in everything is “how the light gets in.” In these stacks, the crack is where the flowers can grow:

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Book Review: Catalyst Moon: Incursion by Lauren L Garcia

Incursion (Catalyst Moon #1)Incursion by Lauren L. Garcia

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first installment of an enjoyable saga, Catalyst Moon. I don’t read many series, though, and this book reminds me of why. Incursion does a good job of setting up the characters, the world, and the conflicts, but the pace is leisurely and once things are really getting going, the book ends. I might read the next one, but I have so many other things to read in the meantime that it will be months if not years until I get around to it. I don’t believe this book stands on its own.

Continue reading Book Review: Catalyst Moon: Incursion by Lauren L Garcia

Thursday Doors: Middle School

When we moved to CA in 2015, we had an 11th grader and a 7th grader. We looked for, and ultimately bought, a house in walking distance to the local high school because we figured we’d get six good years of walking to school at that location, 2 years for the older teen, 4 years for the younger once he got to high school. Continue reading Thursday Doors: Middle School

Communicating Science Through Art

WATWIC-Bright-TuqBlkThis is my first post for the “We are the World” Blogfest. (It’s a day late, just like yesterday’s Thursday Doors post on Friday. Time doesn’t always move in a linear fashion in my world.) To participate in this blogfest, join us on the last Friday of each month. As the co-hosts say, “no story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.”

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Thursday Doors: Mission Blue

On alternating Wednesdays, I drive up the Peninsula to teach a class at a middle school in Brisbane CA. Brisbane is a small town, pronounced Briz-bane (not “BRIZ-bin” like its namesake) just south of SFO airport. In spite of my having gone to graduate school at Stanford in the 1990s, I had never heard of it until I started teaching there this time around.

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The Brain—is wider than the Sky

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