Blog & Photo Journal Archive

September 3rd, New York & Jack’s Creek…

Ah, September… right on cue, the temperature has dropped, the air freshened, and it’s a pleasure to walk outside again – at least for now, I know the heat will return soon for the usual Indian summer…

Speaking of returning, I just got back from a short but idyllic spell up in the Adirondacks.  Having got through the first chapter of chemo treatments, I was rewarded with a week off, and hightailed it up to the mountains to stay with friends in their cabin deep in the woods of far upstate New York.  They bought a chunk of land up there some years ago, steep and fully forested, logged a clearing and, with the wood generated from the clearing, built (themselves) 3 beautiful cabins. Hurrah for the simple life.  She writes, he spends his days on his tractor, when not sculpting, landscaping and husbanding the forest – thinning it out to let in the light, and dragging large boulders hither and yon to create contours and shade for beds of wild flowers. I also witnessed the highly skilled removal of a very tall tree (it was threatening the bath house) with the aid of ropes and pulleys and the great skill of a mountain man tree climber…

Deep blue sky, hot sun in the clearing, dappled sunshine through the canopy of a million different shades of green, the sound of the creek nearby a constant companion – a little slice of heaven.  I slept a lot, read a lot, walked further every day through the woods, admiring the endless variety of funghi and shades of green from conifer, maple, oak and birch, and I creek dipped morning and evening. Who needs hot water?  (It is there if needed – life up there may be simple, but it’s not primitive, other than the outhouse, which is pleasingly so…)

Session #3 fairly wiped me out, but I feel much more like I do now than I did when I went up there, and am ready for chapter 2 to start next week. One quarter down, 3 to go!  Most of my hair is already gone, as I was warned, but luckily bald is a fashion statement, and I plan to shave the rest off on Monday (Labor Day, a suitable day for such endeavours, I think) and will start wearing hats and big earrings – I think I might get me a really fun wig for the Kamikaze gig at the end of the month, perhaps a return to the electric blue Louise Brooks… I also have a wonderful ESP crown to wear during the sessions, courtesy of my fairy godmother, which I am slowly decorating, a jewel for every session – with 12 points to the crown, I will be throughly bejeweled by the time I’m done – if you’ve got lemons, make lemonade…

Meanwhile the political circus continues.  I can hardly bear to listen to the news… but I think I must gird my loins and prepare to watch the first debate – this is actually happening, whether I like it or not… I feel like there is a tsunami of change headed our way and am trying to figure out the best way to deal with it… more lemonade, anyone?


July 31st – New York & Menorca…

What a total and complete gift this past month has been… particularly in view of the two preceding it…

After endless to-ing and fro-ing and changes of plan, I finally had surgery (total mastectomy of the right side) on May 18th, which was very successful, other than the fact that my tricky little ticker wasn’t so happy, so I had a 5-day hospital stay while they tried to get me on to some drug to which I seemed to be immune (too many dark leafy green vegetables – all that juice! who knew??). But I had lots of lovely visitors, and then a week’s recouping at Michele and Charlie’s salubrious pad… and now I can take up archery! Lots more waiting for test results, very boring, during which I made a brief foray up to Maine to visit an old friend, which was ab fab, as they say… and I continued to work on the new recording, with many folk coming in to put down more tracks, the music growing apace and slowly coming into focus… and then my fairy godmother decided that the docs could wait for a change while I went to see my sis and the finca for a month, regardless of what the results were, so when I found out that I have to have chemo after all, I didn’t really care because she had waved her magic wand and I was leaving for menorca in a few days’ time (the docs kindly agreed to wait)…

A whole glorious month on the island, a whole new me… some gentle care-taking of the finca (very gentle) but mostly a lot of swimming in the big blue, a lot of hammock time, and a whole lot of dolce far niente… the swimming has done me SO much good – my range of motion is 95% returned, and by the end of the month I felt I was back in my skin… sis was horribly sick when I arrived, but got better and we had a very good time together. The work Sebastian did on the house is wonderful – her new room is beautiful (adds a whole other dimension to the place) and the little menorcan window in the kitchen looks like it’s always been there… the island is tinder dry, but sis had taken very good care of the place (the bougainvillea has never been so spectacular, lack of water suits them), and the huerto – we have the biggest onions, and best tomatoes and aubergine and peppers – yum… moppet came for a few days, and then chris and jenna arrived a couple of days before I left – a very satisfactory passing of the baton… so glad I didn’t have to leave sis on her own…

One amazing cultural happening while I was there: a performance of Carmina Burana in the Lithica, the gorgeous old limestone quarry outside Ciutadella – a great marriage of music and place… and a great performance, by a Catalan youth chorus with local soloists, 2 pianos & percussion, that knocked my socks off. Stunning. I went on a whim at the last moment, driving the length of the island on the off-chance… it was sold out but someone had a spare ticket that had my name on it… lucky me…

Meanwhile the world goes to hell in a hand basket… Brexit and Trump (has the world gone completely mad???) were both forbidden topics of conversation this past month – I wanted a real break… but of course they aren’t going away, either of them, nor are any of the other world horrors… one could find it hard to get out of bed in the morning if too much thought went in those directions, tho’ behaving like an ostrich doesn’t help… I send my few pennies where I think they may do some good, try not to feel despair but generate hope… so many good and wonderful people around, focus on them…

Tomorrow, August 1st, as Sebastian and the finca family start to paint the house, I see the onc to get the chemo plan, whatever that will entail. Surrounded by white light, I am well protected by my angels and my guides… Onward and upward…


April 30th – New York, still…

well… how to address the bombshell? (aside from the fact that on April 3rd I had my medicare birthday – how it that possible??)

In early February I decided to finally take advantage of my new Obamacare health plan and get myself thoroughly checked out, particularly to see a cardiologist, after last winter’s scare in Bali… I was given a 30-day heart monitor and an echo-cardiogram, both of which checked out fine, other than the usual funky heart valve and arrhythmia, both normal for me… I also got a routine mammogram, and one thing led to another and here I am, 3 months later, looking at becoming a one-breasted amazon and having months and months of chemo… okay… life is definitely what happens while you’re busy making other plans – I was due to head across the pond april 1st for 2 weeks in cotherstone, to put things back to rights after the repair work, and then 4 or 5 months in menorca, planting the garden, painting the house, and generally returning to the life of the payesa that I love so much, and which is necessary both spiritually and financially – I’m paying for half the upkeep anyway, and with no work in nyc I can’t afford to stay here for more than half the year… plus my sis really needs my help, and company… but I ain’t going anywhere for a while… so get used to it…

The two weeks after the initial diagnosis on march 17th were a total roller-coaster: initially a radical mastectomy was scheduled, then a few days later a test result came in and it was “change of plan, 4 months of chemo first” and then it was “hmmm, don’t like the look of these results, need another biopsy” – and then weeks of waiting, first for the second biopsy and then for the second set of results… hard to settle into anything in this waiting mode, learning the true meaning of the word “DIS-ease”…

But the silver lining is that these past 6 weeks have given me time for numerous wondrous things. First, a chance to get in better shape for things to come: my disparate group of nyc girlfriends clubbed together and bought me a fabulous juicer, resulting in large glasses of green juice daily (thank heavens for the abingdon square farmers’ market); swimming at the Y, 2 or 3 times a week; and getting back into daily chi gong, all of which now seem completely necessary to me on a daily basis… Second, and hugely important, is the discovery of what an amazing group of friends I have here… I am truly home, and despite wanting to be elsewhere (on the island, in my garden) I am truly in the best place I could be… On top of just generally being there for me, coming to appointments with me etc., they have created a campaign to raise funds for me (this whole thing is very scary financially) – I am humbled….

Meanwhile, I have managed to seize the carp sufficiently to start recording the next “album”, working in fits and starts as time and schedule allow (god bless kilgore and all who work with him), and going to the occasional wonderful concert (mostly on the guest list, the only way I can normally do it) – from Steven and 3 guitarists (including Tronzo) at the Greenwich Music School, to the NY Phil playing Sibelius 7th and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, to Frank London’s Art Ensemble Tribute at the Stone… and Kenny’s 50th birthday bash at Nu-Blu… take advantage as you can, gina…. also taking advantage of friends out of town – two weekends up in nyack, hanging out in the back yard drinking wine and playing “onze”, and 3 days up in the berkshires, in blissful peace and quiet, nothing but trees and grass and copious birdsong (and evan playing scales in preparation for italy), with great food and easy company in a log house… thank you, one and all…

This is all a giant life lesson is learning to live in the moment, day by day, being grateful for what is, to make no plans, and to have patience (cliches are cliches for a reason…). poc a poc…

p.s. happy one week birthday, Numa Scalora – you have wonderful parents…


February 2nd, New York

Two great performances witnessed, courtesy of New York…

First, an amazing all-Beethoven concert at Alice Tully Hall, given by a period-instrument chamber orchestra from Bruges called Anima Eterna… wow… I am reminded of why we are still listening to his music 200 years later, particularly the 5th symphony, of all things, which has become so hackneyed it’s hard to listen to now – but this… what players… with the period instruments and the right scale of forces (6 1sts, 6 2nds, 5 violas, 4 cellos, 3 basses, double wwinds and brass, plus the contras, and tymp) you really hear his writing – and they played like a string quartet, as one… with a verve and commitment (and tempo!) I last heard with the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra and Dudamel… I found myself grinning like an idiot thourgh the whole thing…. they opened with the Egmont – a good way to tune (and tune into) the room (and what a great sound in there), followed by the 1st piano concerto, with the director at the keyboard of a fortepiano and about half the ensemble – gorgeous… tho’ I was curious about the fortepiano – original/repro, local/ shipped in? overall quite inspiring… but I also realise quite impossible to achieve in new york… everyone here is too busy… and it shows… this kind of music- making takes eating together, rehearsing together A LOT, focused commitment and heart… I suppose that’s why I’ve always had such a soft spot for KGC – it’s the closest I’ve ever had to a committed “family” of musicians – the years of shared experience tell in the doing of it… witness the gig at Westbeth last week, which turned out to be a particularly special evening, for that very reason…. also a good room to play, and a very nice turn-out, including Roswell Rudd, a cohort of my heroine, Carla Bley…

Second, later that same week, a screening of Cumberbatch’s Hamlet at the National… I’m not a fan per se of televised theater or opera – I believe in the live experience, and I hate being forced to watch a close-up when I’d rather be watching the stage – but this was something else… not only the acting but the cinematography was superlative… loved all the regional accents in the casting.., and Benedict…. never really liked him when he first hit the public eye, found his image disconcerting, but he is so fucking intelligent he has won me over hook line and sinker…

And then there’s the ongoing presidential election circus… Iowa gave us Hilary & Bernie neck-to-neck, and Trump screaming about Cruz and election fraud… christ, what a circus indeed…how are we going to survive until November, let alone after the fact?? Growing potatoes in menorca looks ever more enticing…

We’ve had one giant snow storm, followed shortly thereafter by 60 degree thaw… global warming? what’s that?


January 2nd, 2016, New York

Another year gone – who knows where the time goes (I think there’s a song in there somewhere…) but here’s to the new one! The old one went out in a suitably festive manner… the traditional party at my place on the solstice; christmas with good friends, first on the upper west side and then in brooklyn; a fabulous new year’s eve dinner and sleep-over with more friends – I’m a lucky so-and-so. And to celebrate the arrival of the New Year, a stirring walk along the river and then back out to Brooklyn for the great Bach Fest, reading all of the 1st book of Bach’s 48 fugues with a very large group of assorted musicians crammed into a very small apartment – such fun… (and excellent dumplings!)

And thankfully with the New Year has come some suitable weather – it’s COLD, finally! Thank goodness… it has been so weird – I walked past the Jefferson Market garden the other day and there were bearded irises and roses in profusion… they say that the Arctic is 15 degrees above normal… welcome to 2016…

Who knows what this year will bring (not to mention what kind of president we’ll have by the end of it)… so much sadness in the world, so much greed, so much violence and hate… but so much potential for optimism as well, as the new consciousness struggles to rise out of the murk… let your little light shine (there’s another song)… if nothing else, I think this past year has proved what the individual can do, for good or evil, when connected with others of like mind… so let’s shine a light on the darkness and refuse to allow it to drown us out… look out for your community, give and seek its support….

More music! more laughter in the face of it all… more love… I salute you all…


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