Sunday, September 9, 2007

But First…..

from Don in Blue and Max in Red.:

OK, I know this Blog is supposed to be about our transformation into San Franciscans, but we had some diversions to attend to first. On the 18 of August Max left for Bennington, Vermont for her one week Piano Camp and I left for a “quick” trip to Seoul, Korea for a signing ceremony with a company that I recently completed a licensing deal with. I was home by Wednesday and on Friday flew to Vermont to join Max and hear her perform in the recital the Camp does on the last day. I was so happy to get out of the Cincinnati heat and enjoy cool Vermont. But Bennington had an unusual hot spell and temperatures went to near 90. Not much air conditioning in Vermont, so we all sweated through recital. Max’s playing was better than I’ve ever heard. She played a Chopin Nocturne and everyone cheered at the end. The host of the Camp stopped the clapping long enough to tell me that buying that new piano for Max last year was worth every penny. And she was right of course.

The next day Max and I drove to cooler climes in the Adirondacks in upstate NY. We spent three nights at the Big Moose Lodge at Big Moose Lake. It was a quaint lodge with great food, no cell phone reception at all, a room looking out onto the lake, fantastic hiking trails, some of the friendliest people we have met, cool weather, and loons on the lake. We had never seen, or moreover heard, loons. We heard them every night between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. with a cry that sounded somewhat like a wolf howling. While canoeing on the lake we actually got within a 10 yards of one and Max took this picture. It was a great three days of hiking, canoeing, reading, and just sitting and watching the loons.

Our other prime time activity was just sitting on the deck at the lodge, enjoying the view. Max had her knitting and I had my book.

We tried out the Adirondack chairs- they really were more comfortable than we thought they might be so we logged some real hours just watching the lake and listening to the music in the evening.
We spent one morning on the lake in a canoe. Don "rowed" while I rode!

In Wednesday we drove back to Albany and then flew home to hot and sunny Cincinnati. This August in Cincinnati has been the hottest on record. We had 25 days with temperatures over 90 and five of those were over 100. On top of that, it has been the 4th driest August ever with just over a half inch of rain all month long. As you might imagine, lawns are brown, flowers are wilted, and trees are already dropping their leaves. Our next post will be about cool San Francisco.

This was my second year at piano camp. This year and last I shared the experience (and the room) with my dear friend Clare from Oklahoma (in the picture below). The camp is called Sonata (you can check out their web site at and is located in a grand old home (actually a couple of years younger than our home on Wentworth) in Bennington, Vermont. The big house was home to 23 adult campers for the week as we played away from dawn to dusk. Until lights out at 10pm you could hear the sound of piano playing anywhere in the house- or yard for that matter.

Each day began with a wakeup at 6:30, followed by breakfast and then to the keyboard. Each camper is assigned practice times, lesson times and chores for the day. I swept the kitchen most days for my chore. I was amazed at how quickly the day flew by- and how much more you want to practice even outside the assigned times. In addition to the practice and private lessons there was a daily theory class and then evening master classes and performances. The experience is phenomenal! And I’m already signed up for next year. Because many of the campers are returnees (13 out of the 23) the week takes on the character of reunion of friends as we catch up with stories and laughter and hard work.

The participants come from as far away as Japan and range in age from young 30s to 70s. The camp is open to all levels of players so the piano playing ranges from beginning to expert- And we celebrate the music of each! Each evening we would unwind from wine and cheese before enjoying an incredible meal prepared by Hans, the Sonata gourmet cook. He said that ours is his favorite camp because it follows the 6 weeks of Sonatina- the camps for children- and after cooking for 45-50 children for 6 weeks to once again cook beautifully prepared meals for very appreciative adults is a welcome change. And we were appreciative! It is just one of the special features of the camp that calls you back for another August in Vermont.

It was so special to have Don join on the final day and performance. Because he came last year as well the returning campers looked forward to seeing him again. The final performance is a highly charged finale to a week of hard work and practice. The performance lasted about 4 hours (we took frequent breaks because the room would become so warm even with the hard working window air conditioner at full blast) and is available in CD which I do have -(there is professional recording made of the final performance). I am eventually going to have a whole CD of just my performances- for the children and grandchildren. But for now there are two pieces (this year and last’s) so doesn’t quite make up a whole CD yet.

Don talked about the Adirondacks already- and I do believe I’ve found my August retreat from Cincinnati. For much of the year Cincinnati is a great place to live- a beautiful experience of all of the seasons. But then there is August (of course January is much too long as well but haven’t quite figured out the solution to that yet). But for August- dismal, hot, smoggy August. The only activities are rushing out periodically to water yet another drying, dying flower. Children stop going outside to play (there are more people outside in January in Cincinnati than in August). And did I mention the mosquitoes! Huge mosquitoes waiting for a bit of blood if you venture forth. But now I’ve found the Adirondacks- cool, beautiful and mosquito free. So when we retire it is off to the Adirondacks for us.


Lucas said...

Well I can certainly see why your second post took so long in coming. You two have been busy! Sounds like a unique and relaxing time for you both. Hope you are somewhat settling into life in San Fran now and I'm looking forward to pics of the new home and the views from it! Much love. Amy

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you two had such a nice time... and I WANT to hear you play sooner than later. Maybe at Thanksgiving we can all have a treat after dessert? Miss you all already!
Love you both!