Category Archives: Travel

The Annual Migration of the Timpani

I saw four enormous birds soaring over town in migration a couple of weeks ago . They were whooping cranes, probably on their way to Alberta.  I have only seen migrating whooping cranes one other time in all the years we have been here.  We also have had geese fly over, and the owls, hawks, meadowlarks, and vultures are back.

Yesterday Husband and I assisted in the migration of  two timpani from the college band room to our church in Husband’s pickup. They are needed for a piece  our bell choir is doing on Sunday with a brass quintet. (Our bell choir director failed to see how funny it was when she kept saying a few weeks ago that she was one trombone player short of a brass quintet. She didn’t get it when people replied to her that they had always thought that).

When I grew up in Luverne, we usually had timpani in my church on Easter. They came from the high school. All the high school band directors in my youth were Lutheran, and we always got the timpani for special church services. No one from the community ever complained about it as being unfair or a misuse of public property. Our bell choir director teaches at the college, and I guess that is why we have the timpani for Easter. Our church probably has the most music of all the churches in town, and not all of them have the space for such things even if they had the musicians.

I wondered yesterday just how many timpani in the US are migrating from schools to churches for Easter services.  I like to imagine that there are many in transit, and that it is a brief but yearly migration. I like to see cooperative use of such things. How many timpani does one small town need, after all?

What migratory birds have you seen lately? What percussion instruments would you like to play?  What are some successful public-private cooperative ventures you know about?

Chance Meetings

We always seem to meet interesting people when we travel, and this trip is no exception. We arrived late in the evening into the Albuquerque airport and had to wait for our prearranged shuttle to take us to Santa Fe.  We waited with a fellow shuttle rider named Abdul. He was an Egyptian man, about 65 years old,  who had just arrived in Albuquerque from Alexandria via  Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles. He was very tall, well over 6 feet, and a professional chef who had worked for years in Santa Fe and was coming back to spend time in a cooperative community of scientists and artists outside of the town.  He gave us some sage advice on good restaurants to try, and which hyped ones to avoid.  He described preparing food as being just like composing and conducting music. We talked about how he manages his diabetes and how he loved teaching classes in Mediterranean cooking. I regret not being able to eat dishes he prepared.

Our second interesting meeting was with a man named Steven, a white man who owned a dusty shop chock full of indigenous art prints and native  ledger art.  He was in his late 60’s and was whittling bear root, an expectorant, to make into tea to help clear his chest from an attack of Spring allergies.  He and I had a serious talk on why the Kachina figure I have in our living room gives me nightmares (he said I had to change my way of living). His art prints were in huge stacks that would take hours to go through.  Husband plans to go back for more conversation and to look at more prints before we leave.

Tell about interesting people you have met on your travels.

Overwhelmed

Today we toured the New Mexico Museum of International Folk Art. The main exhibit is in the room the size of a basketball court. It is filled with part of the Girard Collection, the life time acquisition of Alexander Girard and his wife. Mr. Girard was a designer who worked for Herman Miller.  The room we toured had 10,000 pieces of folk art, toys, miniatures, and textiles. It is only 10% of the entire collection, which the museum has stored somewhere. Mr. Girard arranged the collection display.  There are textiles on the walls, and cases of incredible miniatures and folk art figures from about 100 countries.  It is arranged to demonstrate the universality of folk images and folk life.  We were so overwhelmed with the sheer visual density and the colors and places of origin crammed into interconnected display cases that we could only view a small part of it.  It is not something you can ingest in one visit. Every display was full of meaning. If you get a chance, look up Girard Collection for some photos of this overwhelming collection.

 When have you been overwhelmed by art? What art is accessible and what art is difficult for you to appreciate?

Where in the World are Renee and Chris

I am borrowing shamelessly from VS by posing this riddle for Baboons to consider.

We are not in ND.  We are at an elevation of 6200 ft., but the only mountains are far in the distance. The air wherever we walk  is filled with the smell of roasting meat and vegetables, as well as burning herbs and wood smoke.  It is  center of art and culture. Nearby there are 4000 to 5000 visiting archeologists. It has been a center of government for centuries.

Where do you think we are?

New Horizons

I found a recipe online that I wanted to try, but it needed two items that I’d never heard of. A quick search made it clear that the only place I would find these items would be in a specialty market.    These days you can find so many different kinds of things in regular grocery stores and I don’t visit any specialty markets (think Asian grocery or Mexican grocery) often.

So there I am in the middle of aisle upon aisle of items that I don’t recognize, some of which I can’t even GUESS what they are. Unfortunately I was on my lunch break so didn’t have time to wander and linger.  I asked about my two items, was shown where to find them, checked out and went back to work.

But now I think I’ll have to go back next week when I have more time. I hope I don’t spend too much when I do!

Do you have a favorite ethnic/specialty market or restaurant?

Up Up & Away

Found this video clip online today. Apparently this took place a few days ago, in celebration of the last super moon of 2019.  I’m pretty sure I would have thought it was a meteor or meteoroid (apparently there is a serious difference in the scientific world) if I had seen it live.  Glad to know the police had been forewarned.

But seriously, jump out of a helicopter at 4,000 feet? Obviously the jumpers could breathe at this altitude, since Mount Everest is a lot higher, but still….jump out of a helicopter at 4,000 feet?  Gives me the wilies.

I’ve done two really scary things in my life. Both of them within 3 days of each other.  When YA was just a year old, I was offered the trip of a lifetime to Kenya and Tanzania.  We started in Nairobi and traveled around for 8 days, staying at a different lodge every night.  We had early morning and late afternoon safari runs, entertainment and massive amounts of great food.

I knew prior to the trip that an option hot-air balloon ride would be offered and I convinced my boss that I should be allowed to expense it. If you had asked me before this if I would EVER get in a hot air balloon, the answer would have been an unequivocal “no”.  When faced with this option however, I couldn’t get past the idea that I would be sorry to let an opportunity like this pass me by.  I was correct – it was fabulous and nothing like I expected.  We even had a wonderful breakfast cooked for us in the bush after we came down, complete with champagne.

Two days later, the group met a pilot who was doing open-air biplane tourist flights around Mount Kenya. He came and spoke to our group at a cocktail reception and at the end of his talk, he mentioned that the group leader had said there would be time for one flight in the morning before we left; was anyone interested?  I had my hand up so fast that I almost pulled my arm out of my socket.  Again – fabulous, complete with leather jackets and silk scarves and Out of Africa music playing in our headphones. I felt like Dennis Finch Hatton.

So I’ve overcome my fear twice for experiences that were over the top. But I’m still fairly sure no one will ever convince me to bungee jump.  Or fling myself out of a helicopter at 4,000 feet.

What scary things have you done?

Fantasy Island

Off the shores of Palermo, Sicily, an aristocratic Italian family has put up their private island for sale. It’s called Isola delle Femmine (Island of Women).  It’s uninhabited and is part of a marine park that is protected and used as an elite scuba and snorkeling area.  It can be yours for just $1.1 million.

What will you do with the island once it’s yours?