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May 1st, 2018, Menorca

“Hooray, hooray, the 1st of May, outdoor f***ing starts today”  – but not in this weather!

I see I haven’t written since the year began – so much water under the bridge…. Babette’s Feast in Portland and now in NYC, for which I wrote some music long distance, and Karin Coonrod worked her customary magic directing… I finished Geography with the help of a Kickstarter campaign to which, once again, my friends (and many strangers) contributed munificently…   It hit the stands in mid February and I managed a release concert at The Owl in mid March, with almost all of the musicians who had recorded on it.  Greg Cohen was in town for Ralph Carney’s tribute at Roulette (such a loss – what a wonderful human being, crazy as may be but all the more amazing a musician), so Greg joined me, Doug, Dana and Marika as the core band, with Matt, Peter, Kenny and Joy (who did an opening solo set) swelling the ranks… only Charlie B and Isaac Alderson couldn’t make it, being out of town… it turned out to be the night of a freak snowstorm and I feared the worst, but in the event the place was packed – hardy New Yorkers, yay!  thank you, one and all, for coming out and bearing witness to my latest endeavour… since I almost immediately fled town for what may be 4 or 5 months, I imagine it will sink without a trace, but somehow that has never bothered me – it’s the making of it that is important, after that it’s up to the universe…

I’ve also been trying to finish up Vagabond.  I made the Jan 31st deadline for the Duffy Institute, both orchestral and piano/vocal scores, then spent a month making all the parts, and it had its first full reading in Norfolk in mid March (immediately after the Geography concert – no peace for the wicked).  2 days of vocalists with rehearsal pianist, the 3rd day with full orchestra.  I had never thought they would actually produce it, but they were all so enthusiastic (the director mentor constantly saying “oh I’d do this and this for this scene” etc) that Jan and I thought “well, maybe??” They had found us some more money with the stipulation that some of it be used to fly Jan over for the workshop – it was wonderful having her in the room, fun for all of us and we got so much work done.  There are still some things to be addressed, but we know what they are (of course 2 months later Jan still hasn’t sent me the rewrites – plus ça change…).  However, in the end they have decided not to (produce it).  Not a surprise, as I say, but still a slight disappointment, for all that.  So now we must look elsewhere – gulp… I am going to the opening of this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, at Jan’s invitation, to press the flesh etc, and I have written to some people I know in the US – verremos…

Meanwhile, Westbeth has been undergoing major reconstruction for the past few months, and starting in March it was the turn of the light well outside my windows.  It will be going on (and off and on) until December, they say, but the worst of it was to be May and June, they said, when my windows would be taped up so I’d have no air and no air conditioner, so since I was headed across the pond for sis’s 70th birthday at the end of March, I figured I’d just stay away as long as I can and avoid it… so here I am on the finca….

It’s been a long, cold and wet winter here as well, so spring is quite delayed, but the island is green green green and the wild flowers rampant.  I planted the potatoes a month ago, and they are already quite sizeably above ground – the rain last night and today is making them very happy, as is everything else in the huerto, which has been in for 2 weeks now – onions, tomatoes, peppers, beans, aubergine, calabacin, even some peas and strawberries this year, since it’s been so wet and cool…. we did have 10 days of glorious early summer in the middle of last month, but today it’s back to early spring and both fires are going….  my studio is up and running so I can work, tho’ the garden and huerto take most of my attention these days.  It’s still too cold to swim, and a seriously bum knee has put a large crimp in my hiking habit – really sad, as the island is looking so glorious at the moment…

But two recent highlights: the first was a gathering here of the Saura clan for a Saturday comida  – they are the family that run the bar where sis sings on a thursday night in Mao – Geddi and Juan run the bar, Ramon does the music, along with Arturo (who is the ex-mayor of Mao and a pretty good piano player).  Ramon has a gorgeous voice, and plays the guitar like a pro (he gigged in hotels for years), and when the 3 of them (Ramon, Arturo and Juan) sing menorcan songs together I could listen all night (much of the 60s and 70s stuff I could do without).  Sis had been trying to get them over for a meal all winter, so I just asked, the night I got here, and lo and behold, they all came con mucho gusto, along with Lucia and Verio, a lovely couple who are there every night and have had them all to their house, so it was a fun, food- and drink-filled afternoon, with loads of local delicacies, and much music after… and then… Joan Schirle was just here for 4 days (we are talking about a possible collaboration, so wanted to talk in person, as well as catch up generally, it’s been too long…) – she had been in the south of France visiting friends and was on her way back to CA…  We managed a day hike and picnic up to Pregonda, which was fabulous – I had a cane and went slowly, but it felt so good to be out and about… Actually, I lie about the picnic – we made sandwiches, but then stopped in Mercadal for lunch at Las Vegas – incredibly good value prix fixe menu – and ended up having the sandwiches for supper when we got home! But it was a lovely day… also a short excursion to Es Grau one evening, to walk along the beach and back through the S’albufera, so I’ve not been totally deprived…

There are a couple of offers of work on the horizon, for September… we shall see… meanwhile I must make a short sampler of the Vagabond recording to have something to send out to potential interested parties – so hard for me to do, I can’t see the wood for the trees…. but I must keep my hand in, and try not to turn into a total payesa… I need to keep my life in NY afloat…. life with sis is as complicated as ever (she was so thrilled and happy to see me at first, but it wears off pretty quick…) But we are managing – only just, at points, but at others very well   – we had a bonfire last night in the fire pit out back – the last legal day for burning until October – we even baked potatoes in the coals – yum!   today I slept until 11, playing catch-up after playing hostess for 4 days, walking the tightrope between guest and sis…. She gave me a colouring book for my birthday, and I am having the most marvelous time with it – great therapy, and it helps slow me down and not feel frustrated that I can’t leap out of bed in the morning and do 6 million things before breakfast as was my wont… time to turn a new leaf, learn some new tricks…

I realize one reason for the bum knee may be that I had a 13 hour layover in Madrid on the way here, from 8am to 9pm, and it being a glorious day I spent it walking all over the city in the wrong boots, going to 4 museums and 2 galleries, the only respite being a 2 hour soak in a fabulous hammam I found right in the heart of  town – a great find… but it could have been too much of a good thing (for the knees, not the mind!)

Onward and upward, at a slower and more stately speed…


Dec. 31st 2017

That was a year that was…

2017… Begun (as ended) on the finca with sis. Then back to NYC by mid-January for the rest of the winter – texts&beheadings mini-tour (including a women’s prison and the Cathedral of St. John The Divine), KGC at Westbeth, Wau-Wa @ Lethe Lounge, Vagabond reading in Norfolk VA, courtesy of the Duffy Institute for New Opera, and mixing and overdubs for Geography throughout… then back to the finca by early April for three and a half months of healing time – bliss. Time to plant and grow the huerto, and eat the fruits thereof… 4 weeks in the middle to myself while sis went back to deal with the last of her stuff at Startforth, time to write some, two visits from Jan to work on the libretto in preparation for the September meeting… back to the city by late july for doctor check-ups (all good)… august included a road trip up state with Beth C. – stellar – ending at Jack’s Creek – and house sitting in Tappan with the best speakers I’ve ever had to pleasure of listening to…

I had wanted to be back on the finca by October sometime, but work showed up – mirabile dictu – and I really wanted to get the CD finished before leaving… I launched a Kickstarter campaign for it, scary but very successful ultimately, and managed to have it in hand a week before I left in December… meanwhile I landed a big fat audio book recording that also financed a 2 week trip to cotherstone (see photos below) to check in with that part of the world and try and get the last of the vagabond writing done – unfortunately only half of the libretto revisions got to me in time – but at least I got those done… and 2 days before I did finally leave NYC (Dec. 11th) we did that crazy triple bill at The Kitchen – Forever Weird – Microscopic Kamikaze Passengers… seriously fun…

The past 3 weeks here have been the usual mixed bag but generally good – I was totally run down by the time I got here, so came down with a bad cold for a week, but not too bad – and pesha came for a week’s visit – always fun… I have 2 more weeks before heading back to NYC for the balance of the winter, to find out what’s up with the construction due outside my windows, and to prepare for the 2nd Vagabond workshop in mid-March (orchestral and piano/vocal score both due jan. 31st – help!!!)… I hope to be back here on the island soon thereafter…

2018?  I want to go to Morocco – in April?  I would like Orfeo to happen again in Italy… I would like to spend as much time as possible on the finca, but I would also like to get back to the west coast, maybe even do the road-trip/solo tour up the coast… Montalvo? gig the new recording? at least a relase gig, preferably in march, with greg, who said he might be in town then…

We have survived a year of Humpty Dumpty as president – if you can call it surviving… what a nightmare… the ramifications are so appaling I can’t look at them, I live like an ostrich… can we get rid of him? can we take back the senate in November? Let’s hope 2018 brings us all some sanity… along with health and prosperity… I am one of the fortunate few… but we are living in the end game…


The state of the world leaves me speechless…

The state of the world leaves me speechless…

It’s been 5 years since I started this blog and photo journal, and I think it’s time to bring it to a close… for all the heartache and sorrow, it’s been an amazing period of time, full also with joy and wonder, and I am eternally grateful for all that it has given me…

Into the next chapter, whatever that may be…

que vaya bien, todos….


December 31st, 2016 Menorca

My 1st week here was like spring – real heat still in the sun, eating lunch out on the patio, even threw myself into the sea my 2nd day, in the bathtub, just to make sure I was really here (the water was incredibly cold!). And then cold enough at night for both fires. Perfect. And then winter arrived…but the house is in fine shape, sis keeps it beautifully, and with both fires going we are snug as two bugs… The garden was a wilderness – I had to try and curb my enthousiasm and not get carried away, but it was a good project to have.

We had my customary Solstice party on what turned out to be the worst day of the year, weather-wise – lashings of rain, total downpour, and bitter cold, which kept a few people away, but probably all for the best as we were indoors but not crowded, and it was all our local menorcan neighbours and friends, plus R&J and a few others. Diana had decided to join in the fun this year, instead of being bah-humbug like last time, and she made the most beautiful christmas tree out of boughs of the oak tree out back, stuck in the old painted stove pipe from upstairs that’s been lying out back for the past year or so – got a bunch of baubles from Mistral, and some fairy lights and hey presto! Magic… Julia also gave us early xmas presents of solar outdoor fairy lights, so we were all set! The place looked beautiful… I cooked up the usual storm, and then by the middle of the party succumbed to the head-cold that was doing the rounds and retired to bed – but not until l got all the burly guys to come and pick up the cama matrimonial and moved it out from under the drip in the corner of the room – classic… “It’s heavy!!” they cried…

Christmas was just the 4 of us gnawing on Bernard’s other leg (he wasn’t up for joining us, his health is not good, poor man, but was happy to give us a leg of lamb) and then that night the Pesh arrived – a great christmas present… she is a total delight – sweet, smart, savvy but not blasé and deals easily with people of all ages – a joy to have around. We had a great 2 weeks with her… in hindsight I suppose one week would have been less stressful for sis ultimately – I did ask her, way back when, if it was okay for pesha to stay through the 3 Kings, as she wanted to try and do a story on it, and sis said yes, of course, but I should have known better… live and re-learn… but overall it was great. Of course Jan. 5th and 6th were a howling tramontana which meant the Kings arrived by bus, not boat, and they delivered the presents on foot, not horseback – so there was no story to be got – but we had a splendid time anyway… Having upstairs as the guest room works wonderfully well – the guest can disappear up into their own world for as long as they like – even tho’ the upstairs bathroom is basically impossible, it’s so cold (we use it as the cold storage room), and pesha did most of her work huddled under the blankets.. it’s been a real winter, the first we’ve had for several years.

We got the garden put to bed, all except for some big-job pruning that sebastian will do, and I helped sis plant a small winter huerto. The bills this year are simply enormous – hopefully no major repairs next year (hope springs eternal!) and definitely no building projects.

I still need to spend at least half my year in Westbeth, but since it does seem that full-time co-habitation in menorca isn’t realistic, it’s all for the best. I am still a New Yorker, in spite of everything – my tribe is there, and what little work I have… and I need to finish the record! Who knows what next year will bring, anyway, both health-wise and world-wise? The future has never been less easy to read, so let’s just hope for the best and prepare for the worst (Pesha says she and her friends are coming to menorca to help run the finca, the minute the apocalypse arrives!)

Fasten your seat belts, everyone, we’re in for a bumpy ride…. I’m going to sign off now, don’t know when I’ll be back…It’s been exactly 5 years since I started this journal, so I think it’s time to draw to a close (not to mention the fact that I can’t bear to think about, let alone articulate, what’s happening here in the US!) Surrounded by white light may we be well protected by our angels and our guides…


Dec. 6th, Cotherstone

What a week. I have worked my tush off – rather more than I should have, probably, but I’ve done almost everything I set out to do. The potting shed is now a carpeted, furnished bedroom (only missing the bed, and curtains – oh, and the wardrobe), and a lovely room it is too.

Mick Carr came and took away sundry items, and in return will bring us a single-size wardrobe. And Moppet is making us curtains for both up and down stairs, with Peter Atkinson putting up the poles I bought, and the wall bracket lights (he thinks he may be able to use the old ones from Saltoun, which would be lovely!)

I put the upstairs back to rights, after the chaos of construction work followed by cousin David’s 3-month occupancy – both things I’m very grateful for, but tonight is the first time I feel the place cleared of the clutter and the piles and back to the peaceful place it was.

Also, and most importantly, today I finally sent off the Luristan bronzes and pots to the Ashmolean, after nearly 4 years of searching for a home for them – patience and perseverance… I am so pleased… they will be a collection in Mum’s name, and the money will be used to put a headstone, finally, on her grave in Skokie, so her name will be on both sides of the pond – only appropriate! Dad will probably be rolling in his grave (not that he has one!), Cambridge man that he was, but they were mum’s, not his, and the Ashmolean is the very best place for them – the biggest collection of Luristan stuff in the country – it’s not called the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology for nothing! I only hope they get there in one piece – I wrapped them in miles of bubble wrap.

I haven’t taken a single walk, except down to the river Sunday morning – too busy or too tired – but it’s been bitterly cold – next year…

Dinner with Jeff and Carol – his cancer is coming back, I fear, he will likely be starting chemo again in the new year. So unfair… Dinner with Mary Matthews and friends, very enjoyable folk… and I sang in the Messiah the following night at Barney School Chapel – really fun. Sunday lunch at Phil and Jane’s, supper (and bath!) at Stopover this evening… friends… the balm of my life…

And so to Menorca for a month on the finca with sis … plus a 2-week visit from Pesha, who will en route from Cairo to Istanbul, to start her new chapter – Happy Solstice! Bon Nadal! y los Reyes! So much good to be thankful for, to help balance the fear and anxiety about what’s ahead for the world. Stand and be counted… No more complacency, just tons of love and hope…. and resistance where necessary!


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