Monthly Archives: May 2009

Silk, sewer, power outages and other Vietnam amusements

I think there is a special travelers high that can make even frequent power outages have a special excitement. For example, the fact that urshower drain belches a nasty sewer smell every few minutes.
And then there are the power outages. Several times a day we lose power in our hotel for 15 minutes or so. The hotel staff come
around to all the rooms with lanterns and put candles on the stairs. We all cluster around amused at such rarely experiences inconveniences, but our vice provost managed ot get caught TWICE in one day in the elevator during the outage, and after a crowbar pry out, seemed non the worse for wear. but what are the chances?

Speaking of prying, that is what the bus driver was doing this afternoon to the luggage door after the latch failed with all of the PBS camera crew recording equipment trapped inside!

And speaking of camera crew, it has been very interesting being followed around by cameras and sometimes also an enormous mike. The four person crew has been filming everything from our boarding our flights to shopping in the silk markets. I felt like a movie star twirling around in crimson silk pants with the camera rolling. Stephanie is the only woman in the crew and a darling of a person. She was the perfect person to document the first frenzy of girlish delight at the piles of vibrant silk garments. Sometimes I wish they were not there. Yesterday, for example, the humidity was so bad that my earrings were sticking to my face. Between that, the sweat and the dark circles, I am sure I looked fabulous

Returning from my concert yesterday in my french bustle style gown and silk sparkling top, I had to step over the garbage, dodge the motorbikes and peddlers in front of a host of local admirers who stopped from their work to stare. It was hard not to feel like royalty next to the banana lady aand the grime on the street.

But speaking of grime, or at least grease, did I mention that forehaed grease is one of the main reasons I sounded good yesterday? I will explain. The humidity has been upwards of 95%. My cello has reacted by becoming sticky all over the fingerboard. At our dress reherasal I literally had to use double the effort to shift and manuveur over the two feet of space. This was quite disconcerting. It felt as if someone had put glue under my fingers. Needless to say, my accruacy was off because all the many tiny calculations of distance, speed and pressure that one makes in facilitating shifting and runs was completely off. Not to mention that it was just plain hard to get my fingers to slide at all. Well, thanks to my wonderful roommate, Suzanne, a Bass player, I learned the trick to getting some finger lubrication in a pinch. Rub your forehead becaus eit tends to be a greasy spot. Well, there I was rubbing my fingers over my forehaed during the Tutti parts. It really worked, and I moved around the cello like a well oiled finger machine.

Today the silk markets called out to me, and I admired silk dresses and shirts and scarfs in plum, salmon, gold, burgandy, emerald and you name it! Embroidered, patterned, buttoned and striped, silk for sleeping, dancing and praying. It took tremendous self control not to blow my entire small budget on pretty things to drape over my body.


So I have been having to much fun to blog (is that a noun?). Hanoi is an amazing city, a mixture of european class and third world wildness. i LOVE it. There is a constant sea of motor bikes swarming through the streets. The silk garments and clothes are the most spledid array of colors and textures and I have been practicaly having a siezure with excitement trying on the most grogeous tradition as well as non traditional outfits. Yestrday I had my international solo debut at thet Vietnam Academy of Music. People ask me how I think it went and it is very hard to judge because I was completely focused and in the music, not outside of myself evaluating. Of course, I can say that I only missed one or two notes that I can remember and the orchestra felt much more steady than the rehearsals. It was quite a hectic scene leading upt o the concert. We had only 20 minutes of rehearsal the day before the concert, and then 15 minutes before the concert began we were ironing up rough spots.

On from Seattle the conductor leaned around his seat and asked me if I minded cutting the 2nd movement of the work. Now mind you, it is pushing it to say that there are three distinct movements in this 20 minute piece. I found teh whole idea of cutting anything distasteful, as Mathew Savery of the Bozeman Symphony lieks to say, I don’t want the composer meeting me in the afterlife with a baseball bat.

Nevertheless, we had limited time and our conductor was finding ways to shorten the program. I adore the second movement, and so we had to find another place to cut the music. When the cellist came up to me in broken Vietnamese asking me why I didn’t play the third movement of the piece, I hope that he got that it was because of time. I hope that I never have to do this again, it was so out of alignment with my integrity, and I never want to loose my integrity no matter what the gain career wise. In this case I was not given a choice.. I hate to gripe but this was an important lesson in wre my boundaries are.

Luckily i will pay the concerto IN FULL in Thailand, which I am looking forward to.

Yesterday we went to a water puppet show and it was hysterical. A large pool of water was the stage, and behind that a curtain hide the puppeteers. The masterful artists made fish jump, ducks splash in the water, and a pair of birds woo and lay an egg. All to the accompaniment of beautiful and sometimes shrill singing, drumming, flute and various stringed banjo type instruments.

Last night I ate with three members of the pbs camera crew at a very large place with over 300 dishes. It took us forever to choose, but we ended up with fascinating rice paper, omellete, fish random noodle dish delicacies and for dessert, snotty and gelatinous sweet fruity things. People love texture in their food here.

Now I am going to the temple in my new fabulous silk outfit of crimson and gold.

I am having an amazing rich and colorful experience that I know will impact me forever.


You have to forgive me if my writing becomes garbled and my spelling is worse than normal, because the keyboard that I am typing on has all sorts of wild squiggles and loopdy loos that keep destracting me into believing that I am about to hit teh wrong key. Well, as you may have guessed I am in thailand now. After a dizzing journey were you enter a twighlightzone of multiple meals and wierd sleepinh. We were welcomed by the faculty at the assumption University here in Bangkok, but we are heading out
today for Vietnam. So far I have not had a chance to exlore and opted on the sleeping and practicing route since we will be back here for almost an entire weekafter Vietnam.

It is easy for the simple luxuries of life to become highlighted after spening an eternity in a plane-hot showers and air conditioning, and the ability to walk around!

Seattle relatives and sick car & husband

We have been enjoying the last two days that we have spent on my Aunt Janet’s beach front property in Burien, just outside of Seattle.

The view is spectacular, with the snow covered peaks rising up from the water. We awaken to the cries of seagulls feasting on low tide goodies. I love looking out the window when I am practicing and watching the waves and sunshine. I guess sunshine is rare here, but we have had nothing but bright days since we arrived.

Unfortunately both my car and husband are prone to illness. I adore both of them, our car, a diesel beetle, is reliable, economic, has great pick-up and gets amazing fuel mileage. And Wes has the ability to see beauty in even the most humble and spiky creatures (he was n heaven yesterday at the Bug Zoo)! But Jezabel, our Beetle, doesn’t like watery fuel, who could blame her. She has been gasping and rasping in the morning and then with a final urging has started up with a huge cloud of black smoke. This brings back memories of some bad fuel in South Dakota over Christmas, when we ended up in Daves recovery with frozen fuel watching our dog being fed chocolate chip cookies but not saying anything because Dave was showing off his new assault rifle to his buddies ..but that is another story. Wes, for his part, figured it was a great time to get a nasty bug, and after recovery from the worst of it, still can’t seem to hear out of one ear, and has been imagining things as gory as broken ear drums and months of blocked sinuses thanks to such experiences as a child. He keeps trying to tell me that he didn’t mean to get sick just as I am about to head off for three weeks, but I am not completely convinced 😉 So a send off with a sputtering car and sneezing husband I suppose is as glorious as any. Perhaps it may sound kind of selfish, but I REALLY don’t want to get sick. For two good reasons. 1. I won’ be able to play my solo debut if I am throwing up and my ears are clogged and can’t hear anything. 2. They won’ let me into Singapore if I am from America and have any flu symptoms of any kind whatsoever….now that I mention this, lets hope no one from those countries is reading that I might be bringing such petulance into their countries. Of course in this climate a mere sniffle becomes cause for widespread panic. Luckily my husband hasn’t died yet, but even if he had, it wouldn’t necessarily be anything other than a regular old flu…..but I digress.

So we had some amazing Seattle coffee yesterday, I had new Mongolian Stallion tail hair put on my bow, and fancy French rosin, and so i am off to the races! (sorry)

I think Sushi is on the plans for today and a wonderful dinner with two cousins and their families who live in Seattle. So I guess I am getting a glorious send off after

Lost puppies

So I did manage to get out yesterday and instead of a big scary bear I ran into two very cute doggies. One was a puppy golder retriever, the other a black lab female. I thought nothing of the fact that they joined Breisha (my dog) and me on the walk until we got about 2 miles in and I noticed that they looked a little tired. There were no other hikers on the trail, no other cars and no houses near by, other than a very large summer McMasion. Then I noticed that the puppy had ribs showing. When her started chewing on a banana peel, that sealed the deal. They were abandoned or lost and neither had a collar. It broke my heart.I immediately imagined the days that they spent in the wilderness, at first a fun adventure, hiking with strangers, sleeping out under the stars, chewing on grass and elk bones. But then the hunger pains began to gnaw, and the friendly wags to strangers grew more frantic, with pleading eyes….PLEASE TAKE ME HOME… long had they been out there? How many people assumed that they belonged to the people hiking behind or in front of them? What if I practiced Saint-Saens for another hour and didn’t go for a walk?

See there is a moral to this story! Don’t forget about the other important things in life other than work, such as rescuing cute dogs in the mountains!
I named them Blacky and Goldy, and encouraged the plucky pair to keep up their spirits and energy just a while longer so we could get back to the trail head.
So they hopped in my beetle, it was a little tight back there with three dogs, but Goldy curled up into a tight little puppy ball and slept up against Blacky. I took them home and gave them each a bowl of dog food, which they scarfed down like wild animals (please don’t turn your stomachs girls!!) Then I headed off down a long dirt road to the no kill shelter. I begged my husband to adopt them, but after he reasoned with me about the fact that i would be gone for one month and he has allergies to most dogs, I saw the hard reality of the situation.

I hope they find a home. Good luck Goldy and Blacky!

My first blog entry

Hello world! (or that one person who managed to look at this…just making sure I don’t have delusions of grandeur!)

So this is my blog for cello adventures, launched a week before a three week tour of South East Asia and my solo debut of Vietnam. For those of you who have helped my trip happen, you will have the privilege of getting a cd of my ramblings along the journey which will include some more personal musings, and of course actual sounds of rehearsing as well as I image honking horns in Hanoi…….I know you are loving the alliteration.

Well, back to practicing. It is a beautiful day here in Bozeman…FINALLY and what I am I doing but practicing inside instead of braving some wild mountain hike with bears waking up from hibernation….yes I DO have bear spray, and did you know that it works better than a gun most of the time!

Okay Saint-Saens is calling. I just can’t seem to get those scales even!