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La vuelta de la isla

Well, you never know, do you? If you just let go and trust, sometimes it works out… By sheer good luck, I was still there when Christian (whom I’d visited in Marseille in March) showed up in a lovely little 9 meter sailing boat, the Tikouk, along with its owner/captain Madji, having sailed up from Béjaia in Algeria, and with them I realised the dream of a lifetime and sailed around the island. There wasn’t really time before my scheduled departure, but mum said if I came back without having done it she’d never forgive me… god bless her… so for 3 long days and 4 lovely nights I did a total disconnect from the rest of the world and had the time of my life. Hardly a summer’s idyll – barely even spring, it was COLD – we had every conceivable wind and sea: (in no particular order) no wind, too much wind, perfect wind, hot sun, cold, blue sky and clouds, grey overcast, thunder and lightning, lashings of rain, huge seas, and a final night sail by full moon… oh, and dolphins!

The three of us made “une très bonne équipe” – Madji the dashing captain, Christian the first rate first mate and me, willing crew and honoured guest – even in the worst of the storm off the north coast, I had total confidence in both them and Tikouk – she’s a lovely seaworthy vessel, with no frills but extremely well appointed. Aside from the great sailing, I slept the sleep of the just every night in my little berth & we wined and dined really well – they had caught a large fish en route, a sargo or white seabream (which christian had immediately cleaned and filleted and stowed in the very efficient little fridge on board) and it fed us the entire journey, along with algerian potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, calabasin, etc. Even with the boat careening along at 5 or 6 knots at a 45 degree angle in big swells, christian cooked and served dinner – and did the dishes – what a mariner… the one disappointment was not being able to anchor the last night in one of the idyllic south coast coves, as the southerly wind and big sea made it impossible (not to mention that we didn’t have a detailed nautical chart of the island!), but the compensation was a fabulous night sail, ending with hours of gliding by the light of the full moon with only the genoa, to take us back to port in Maó. I thank my lucky stars (and Christian and Madji) for such a chance.


1st of May – Mayday, mayday!

Trying to seize the carp while all hell breaks loose… it feels seismic, nothing is firm underfoot, sometimes I feel crushed by the weight of the world, my world, my burdens, but I know it’s all so ephemeral – here today, gone tomorrow… trying to figure out a longer-term sublet of my apartment when lo and behold, after 17 years on the waiting list, I’m offered a studio in westbeth. but I’m here, it’s there, and someone ahead of me on the list takes it before I can figure it out long-distance – so it goes… back to the sublet conundrum…

meanwhile, a brief sojourn on my island retreat, to open up after the winter and take a week’s break – muy variable – sun, wind, grey, rain, wind, clouds, sun – the heavy freeze that killed christian’s garden in marseille did much the same here, but walks are full of wild flowers.
Tylar. a friend from Oregon days (30 years ago) and a truly great felter (check it out: www.ecosleepsolutions.com/tylar_merrill.html) joins me for the beginning, and is great company as well as great help in all chores inside and out… the new wood stove makes a world of difference in heating and drying out the house… more tree pruning tomorrow, so next year’s wood supply should be in… sometimes the place feels like one giant headache, now that I’m the responsible party, but it is still magic, when I can lift my eyes and spirits from the depths… how will we fare in the future I cannot say… mum has had yet another op, bless her, more slicing and dicing – she seems to have come through pretty well. diana has been with her since I left, but she goes back to scotland tomorrow… I’m coming, I’m coming… I was hoping to get some serious writing time while here, but alas, it seems not to be… too much going on…
Talking of writing, the music for Septimus and Clarissa has been nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Score – nice to get some good news for a change…

“Hooray hooray the first of may
Outdoor f—ing used to start today”


Easter Sunday 2012

Less than a week off from Brecht and Eisler, we had a freak snowstorm last Tuesday (my birthday!) which dumped 6 inches of wet, heavy snow on all the darling buds of march… I was up in scotland visiting my sister faire, where it had been 24 degrees only days before – go figure…

Various and sundry splendid expeditions were made while up north of north: to the beach on the Moray Firth; to Cromarty and the Black Isle; to Ullapool, across the highlands on the west coast, where you catch the ferry to the Hebrides, and home of the reputedly best ceilidh in Scotland – altho’ it hadn’t yet started up for the season, needless to say – neither had the Cromarty ferry, which is why we ended up on the west coast to start with – who knew it was so close? only 55 miles from Inverness – also home of the best fish and chips I’ve ever had (helped by eating it while sitting on the waterfront watching the most amazing evening light); to Randolph’s Leap and the Findhorn river, land of green and gold; to the Benromach Distillery in sis’s home town of Forres, where they make the world’s only organic single malt (and mighty fine it is, too); and to the Automata Museum in Kinloss, owned and operated by one Michael Start, who designed the wonderful automata in Hugo (and repaired Scorsese’s watch) among many others… who knew what treasures lurked in these scottish backwaters? check it out: http://automatomania.co.uk

Sad to say, on my return I found that one of my mum’s wonderful old dogs is no more – dear sweet Patsy, one of a pair of ancient long-haired dachshunds, had a heart attack and had to be put down earlier that day… the other, her brother, dear old deaf and blind Tom, had also fallen into the fish pond a couple of nights previously (Mum had a busy time while I was away, god bless her) – he is bewildered to be on his own, and we are all bereft… I have just cleaned up the kitchen after Easter Sunday lunch – cousin David has taken Aunt Liz home, mum has taken Tom upstairs for an afternoon nap, and all is sort of all right with the world… happy easter…


March 28th

I fear we may have had our summer already…. it’s been simply glorious the past 5 days or so…. strong sun and real warmth, nay, heat (20 degrees celsius!), blue, blue skies – the river looks like august, it’s so low… the ground is actually dry… gotta love it, gotta fear it… my librettist (and long-time friend) came up for the weekend to kick-start my writing process. Long walks, too much wine, but a whole lot of writing… I am actually writing again, it feels great… god knows if any of it is worth keeping, but I’m writing – hallelujah… but now I must hie me to scotland to see my sister fair… ’tis time for our birth day celebrations… the darling buds of march?


21.3.12 (european spelling)

palindrome day… Happy vernal equinox everybody, and happy birthday Johann Sebastian. So glad you are/were around…

A moment of panic when it seems part of the ceiling in my apartment in NY is falling in and my wonderful tenant (who is also looking after my cat) threatens to leave immediately… but thank the lord for good friends… within 24 hours of my flurry of panicked emails, the thing is fixed and all is once again calm and bright. So I don’t need to abandon my mum, to get on a ‘plane to go fix a ceiling – just as well, as she (my mum) is due for more slicing and dicing shortly – though I have to confess to a small, sneaking extra beat of the heart, thinking of a few days back in nyc with my cat and my friends… but the ticket would have been exorbitant, the timing excruciating, and that pleasure will come, that will come, in good time… looking at maybe the end of may, for a week or so, if all is well? kamikaze, wau-wa, anyone? I have regretfully decided that spending the entire month of May at Montalvo is out of the question – too far for too long, things are way too uncertain… the folks at Montalvo have been wonderfully understanding, saying that I have an open invitation to complete my 3rd month of residency when the time is right – I am deeply appreciative, both for their generosity and for the light at the end of the tunnel that it provides…

meanwhile, back in teesdale, spring is springing… the daffs are out in force, and the birds are deafening.


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