Blog & Photo Journal Archive

NYC Sept.19

I have re-discovered the juicer… Given to me by my friends after the diagnosis back in 2016, I drank vast quantities of green juice to get me strong for surgery, only to have them tell me afterwards that dark leafy greens were bad for me – well, counter-productive to the meds they swore I had to take… so I stopped juicing – boo hoo… but the lightbulb finally went on, and I am now a convert to apple/beet/carrot/lemon juice – wow, makes me feel like superwoman.. go go go! hooray for juicers…


September 2nd, NYC

And I am finally back, after 5 months’ absence – quite the culture shock…

The last few days in Palazzolo were definitely about event density… the saturday night performance, starting with smoke painting in the piazza and ending with the Italian Constitution being copied out by the citizens – with music (me) in between – and finally a late-night pizza hang at the orphanage, where the clay oven had been built.  Rosemarie and I barely made it home, we were so tired…and the following day (Sunday) the third and final trip to Buscemi, for the celebration of their patron saint, the Madonna del Bosco – the fabled Dancing Madonna, as the burly men bounce her statue up the street to the strains of the brass band and the pealing of every bell, followed by the totally mind-bending explosion of confetti and streamers – we were right underneath it all, fabulous – I much prefer the small town as opposed to the bigger ones…. and so my trip ended as it began, with fireworks and Banda and processions – yay!

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I then had two whole days with the family on the finca – Chris, my beloved nephew, and his lovely new girlfriend Catherine – an afternoon kayaking to Isla del Colom. and an expedition to Cavalleria with Bett and her kids… plus three great dinners on the patio… sis in good form…

and so back to New York… what a shock… luckily the current heat wave had just broken, and the next one starts tomorrow, when I head to Houston for the start of 12th Night rehearsals at The Alley…. jet lag has been brutal – after 5 months away, my body is totally on the other side… I am seriously sleep deprived..


Aug. 23rd, Palazzolo

a morning spent up at the greek theater with the mandola… quite a hike up there carrying the instrument, it’s not light, but I had the place to myself for a full hour and was just packing up when the first visitors arrived… it’s smaller than I remember, but so beautiful, and pitched on top of the world… there must have been some greek theater going on at some point recently, because there was a plywood stage and floor, with part of the floor painted blue – for the sea, no doubt – and a giant blue mask (others are scattered around town, I noticed). Everything very damp after yesterday’s heavy rain – so different from 4 years ago, when we were stunned by the heat, and the rain didn’t arrive until the last week of September. Apparently it’s been raining most of August… I have no complaints, it’s good working weather and I love my studio in the Travelers’ Museum (how appropriate…) I have begun a photo collage on the walls about my version of Slow Time… even started a new song… verremos… the crazy birds are back outside my window in the evening – they love the mandola, it seems, just as they always did, singing along like crazy with their ‘electric static’ sounds…

Yesterday we went to Buscemi to see the extraordinary itinerant museum dedicated to preserving a record of how the old life was lived – dotted all over the small town in various small rooms, as well as a couple of larger houses, this one man (Rosario Acquaviva?) has dedicated the past 30 years of his life (he started at 28) to collecting and recording the old life that has disappeared – bravo… It turns out it’s actually the 30th anniversary celebration tonight, so if it’s not raining we will head back to catch that, and the last bits of the museum that we missed because of the torrential downpour… Buscemi is a lovely little town – it also has a big saint’s day celebration on Sunday, with the Banda and exploding confetti etc. – will try to go – it’s our last day (our ‘performance’ is saturday evening) and the other option is to go to Ortiga for the night, but that may be pushing the envelope… take it easy, girl….

so today I took a siesta after lunch, then made a tortilla for the evening repast – the onions here are amazing! – and headed back to the studio for a couple hour’s work, which ended with Rosemarie suggesting an apperativo in the piazza… the evening light on the chiesa di san sebastiano was gorgeous… two spritz’s later, we stumble back to the apartment for tortilla and tempura’d squash blossoms (Pam had joined us by then, having finally got her clay oven built and lit), and at 10pm the four of us (Piotr, the young Pole, also joined us) were taxi’d over to Buscemi for the festivities… much confusion over what was happening where, but after waiting for the puppet show to start for a half hour or so (not a hardship, the piazza in front of the church was a lovely place, and Piotr had managed to find a 2 litre bottle of local wine & 4 cups for 4 euros, so we were happy ), the director of the museum announced that it wouldn’t start until we’d all been to the museum (it was his 30th anniversary celebration, after all), so off we all trooped! and I’m glad we did – there was a wonderful quartet of young folk musicians singing in the courtyard – 3 girls singing, 2 playing tamboura and one the fiddle, plus a guy on accordion, all really good – delicious… finally, about midnight, the puppet show! Orlando Furiouso, of course, very violent but rather fun, with a guy who sang about the Baronessa Ricorini (?) – good big peasant-style voice, good guitar playing – and also cranked the handle on the thing that looked like a toy piano but was a kind of giant music box, playing the same frenetic tune each time to accompany all the killing… and then the folk quartet started up again, this time amplified, and we danced! so much fun… but the taxi was waiting for us, so we had to leave at 1 a.m (1.30, really), and I stumbled into bed around 2am… grazie mille!

Aug. 18th, Palazzolo Acreide, Sicily

Taking time to breathe… a 3 week respite before returning to NYC… things got pretty tense by the time I left the island 10 days ago – solitude long overdue… so… I hopped a plane to Toulouse, France (yes, the upside of summer tourism is a direct flight from Mahon to Toulouse, for poco dinero), rented a car, and headed south.  Ist stop: Joy Askew’s beautiful house outside Castelnau-Magnoac in Haute-Pyrenees/Gascony (D’Artagnan country!) – lush French farmland with incredible views of the really-quite-close massive mountains.  After a couple of days’ recuperation (long sleeps in the princess bed, great vegan cooking!), I headed into the mountains proper, to the Pirineos Catalan – to Farrera, long wished for and finally achieved… 4 wondrous days deep, deep in the mountains, in this tiny hill village (permanent population 18) where Lluis and Cesca have created the Centro d’Art i Natura… a place for artists (and scientists, and philosophers) to come and create, deep in nature… the day after I arrived there was a concert in the little church of two of the Bach cello suites, preceeded by a conference on Music (Bach), Mathematics (fractals) and Philosophy – standing room only in a small meeting room in the centre (which afterwards became my studio) – all in Catalan, of course, but I understood most of it, even if I can’t speak it… great communal dinners (10 the first night, 20 the 2nd and 4 the 3rd!).  I found a great rhythm: up at 8.30, breakfast of melon and coffee, hiking by 10, ending with a ceremonial creek dip in a freezing cold mountain stream, and at work by midday.  a half hour break for lunch around 2.30, then back to work until around 6, in time for another short walk, a short siesta and then dinner, made by Lluis’s youngest son Arnaud, an incredibly imaginative chef, followed very shortly by bed!  Yes and again yes….  Two hermitages sit on outcrops of rock on opposite sides of the valley – both great destinations and great places to sing… I even lugged the mandola there one morning – hard going coming back up!

I had to leave after 4 days because a) there was someone booked into my room (the place holds about 8-10 people, I guess) and b) I needed – and wanted – to spend time with Joy, who was originally expecting me for the full 9 days.  So I rather reluctantly headed down out of the mountains, back to Cizos, where I had a further wonderful couple of days – joy was a great tour guide… highlights were a lunch with her friend the painter Richard Hoare, in a small village restaurant which turned out to be THE gourmand experience – incredible – followed by a visit to his house and studio up on a ridge with a 360 degree view to die for… and later the Abbaye de L’Escaladieu – stairway to heaven! – where there was an exhibition inspired by trees that was a total wonder – extraordinary art on the walls and outside in the grounds (see photos) – inspirational… but we also swam in a lake, and spent an afternoon in the shade of the giant tree in her garden, first at lunch and then in the deckchair, feet up on the giant slate – heaven….

And so to Sicily, Palazzolo Acreide to be precise, where I arrived at 1 a.m. last night to the biggest and loudest fireworks display directly overhead – how nice of them to welcome me so enthusiastically! In reality it was the grand finale of the festival of San Sebastian, with millions (literally) of lights in the Piazza Populo and arched down the streets, the whole town out in force including all the kids, the brass band playing furiously, following the statue as it circled the square 3 times, hefted on its pallette by 20 strong Italian men, and finally all the way up the massive stairs back into the cathedral – glad I caught at least the tail end….

How to talk of the past few months on the island? curate’s egg, good in part? All I know is that I cannot do it again, go so long without time to myself… I didn’t realise until I left exactly how totally exhausted, drained, I was… many good things, particularly the huerto and the swimming, 3-day visits from a few good friends, but genuinely impossible overall… some other solution has to be found…. but who knows what? [I know exactly what, but it is unacceptable to the other party involved, altho’ every single friend says the same… lo que es…] I have tried so hard, but we are who we are…

July – menorca

Life on the finca… how to describe it? like the curate’s egg, good in parts? I will cast a veil of forgetfulness over the bad bits and remember the good…

…a visit to Alexander’s studio in Mao – he’s a luthier who specializes in early (baroque) instruments, absolutely beautiful work. I only caught one of this year’s early music concerts that he organizes, but it was great, as always… a slowly burgeoning friendship, always nice… he and his upstairs neighbor often used to walk out to biniparrell of a spring morning, arriving unannounced but bringing pastries for breakfast – invariably I would still be in my nightgown, but it was always a lovely way to start the day…

… the opening concert in the Lithica this season, harp and galss armonica of all things – I was so excited… in the event it was a shock… two world class musicians (the harpist from the Berlin Philharmonic, a Swiss armonica player who did all the playing for the ‘Amadeus’ film, and many others) who individually played really well (tho’ I must say it was an awful lot of notes but not much music) – but when they played together I had to put my fingers in my ears – they were not in tune… whether they couldn’t tell or just thought the natives wouldnt’ notice, I don’t know, but I left at intermission…. BUT, a month later I went to another oncert there and this time was totally inspired: a 17-piece Catalan band called Coetus – 10 percussionist, 3 singers and 4 instrumentalists – wow… an incredible experience, and the perfect venue… they are mostly young, tho’ some veterans as well, and obviously a tribe – soooo great… I bought all 3 of their CDs!

… a great hike with June, who came for brief 4-day visit from seeing Annie in Torino… Christian had told me about this stretch of the north coast, just west of Fornells, that is supposedly the oldest rock in Europe – muy impresionante, and great to get in a hike with June, who has such a good eye for these things…

… and then of course the huerto, which has been incredibly fruitful, both literally and for my peace of mind, and the big blue bath tub, which is always the saving grace… thank you thank you thank you…

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