Saturday, June 30, 2007

hiking adventure

I'm totally exhausted from another hike with Jenny. We left at 7:30 this morning to go to a trail in Altadena, a big deal for me since I am NOT a morning person. Although we set out on the wrong trail at first, we got on the right one by about 8:45 and soon found ourselves following a beautiful stream at the bottom of a canyon. This part of the hike was really beautiful, and it was cool and shady by the steam (in contrast with Pasadena, which was easily in the 90s). We saw two more salamanders and a frog, and we actually picked up one of the salamanders (he didn't really bother to try to escape, just squirmed a little; I wonder how these creatures escape from real predators. What eats salamanders, anyway?). He was cute, and his skin was rough, not slimy. And he made up for the rotted baby seal corpse I saw on my beach run yesterday :( :( :( Plus we saw some more deer, and two different kinds of snakes (little ones, so they were pretty, not scary). The trail was supposed to follow the stream to an abandoned gold mine, then loop back up. We found the mine shaft and a few odd remnants of the mine, which looked bizarre in the middle of the forest, but then the trail just ended, and we couldn't find the loop back. In the mean time, my trusty hiking boots, which I have had since eighth grade and are now ten years old, literally disintegrated on my feet. I don't know why, it's been a few years since I've actually worn them, but the rubber seems to have dried out or something. The soles on both shoes were flopping off, making it difficult for me walk without tripping. So I borrowed two hair ties from Jenny (including the one in her hair, thanks Jenny!) and strapped the soles back on. Little bits of rubber continually came off them as I walked.

Having reached the end of the trail, Jenny and I did not really want to just turn around, we wanted to find the loop. So we scampered up this steep slope where the trail ended. This part was actually kind of scary, since the rocks that stuck out looked like proper footholds, but were actually quite loose and came free under your feet. We got to the top and saw what looked like it could be the trail we wanted (in the hot sun, though), but not how to get to the trail. So we sort of surfed back down the hills we just climbed, getting royally dirty in the process. My shoes were NOT happy. At that point, we just gave up and went back the way we came, which wasn't so bad going down, and was just as beautiful. By the time we reached Jenny's car, it was about 1:00, and we were totally exhausted. It would have been a decent little hike without the hillside bushwacking, but that pushed it over the top. I'm already sore. And my shoes, they look like this:

It was all I could do when I got home to scrub myself clean and crawl into bed for a nap. I'm still tired, so goodnight!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

salamanders, frogs, deer, pelicans, celebrities, oh my!

I've had a wonderful day. This morning I went on a hike with Jenny, to a waterfall in Topanga State Park near the Pacific Palisades, very close to where one of my students lives, actually. And it was very pretty! Plus, we saw a large salamander or newt in the stream, a very cute little gray frog, and a doe with two fawns! Then we headed to the beach, where we enjoyed some sun (a little too much . . . my back is totally burnt because I refused to put sunblock on because I hate it), played frisbee, waded in the water, and watched pelicans dive for and eat fish.

After cleaning up and changing, we headed to the Peet's coffee shop on Montana Ave (close to where my other student lives) for some much-needed caffeine. While waiting for our coffee, we saw Marcia Cross, of Desperate Housewives fame, complete with husband and twin baby girls (adorable)! When they left, we even saw paparazzi take their picture. Minutes later, as we were enjoying our coffee, we saw Luke Wilson stop in. I've been in LA for almost a year now and haven't seen any celebrities that I've recognized until today, when I see two in a row! Now I feel like I really live here :)

So then we went grocery shopping and prepared two new recipes from some cookbooks I haven't had the time to investigate in a while. We had snapper in a coconut lime sauce, and cauliflower with garlic breadcrumbs. Delicious, I'm proud of us. And we watched a really good movie, Water. So it was a lovely, oboe- and reed-free day. I should add that we both had lessons yesterday, and that they went well (NO MORE BARRET for me!!!!!), so we were feeling like we needed to enjoy the summer.

So tomorrow I will be sore and sunburnt, but satisfied.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Williams-Schiltz-Klein (Barenboim, CSO)

I saw this YouTube video posted on the facebook wall of a friend of mine, and had to share it myself. I have actually had the luck to learn from the three fabulous musicians it features (and that wink is hilarious).

Monday, June 18, 2007

I'M GOING TO JAPAN!!!!! july 25-august 4.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

PHC @ Ravinia

prairie home companion is broadcasting from ravinia today!!! i was at that broadcast last year, right after graduation . . . i can't believe it's been a year, and that this year's bunch is now graduating (congratulations!). i miss chicago! i am so glad that i'll get to go there for a few days in july. and this show is funny :)

orchestral unity

The other day, I had a very interesting conversation with Blake, Ray, and Alex about string players versus wind players. For some reason, in my experience with orchestras, especially in school, each of the major sections seems to stick to themselves. Strings stay with strings, woodwinds with woodwinds, and perscussionists and harp players just do what they want. Now part of this phenomenon is that you talk to those who sit next to you, and that orchestral music often divides instruments into sections, so that you end up rehearsing with those who sit near you, as well.

But it goes beyond that. String players complain that wind players play sharp, or behind the beat, or that they can't play their solos well, or simply get annoyed when wind players freak out about big solos (not getting some eye contact from a conductor before a solo can be disconcerting if a cue is expected, especially if there are lots of bars of rest before it). Wind players get annoyed that string players play sharp (everyone thinks it's someone else's fault that the orchestra is sharp, which it invariably is). They get irritated when string-players don't learn their parts and don't show up for rehearsal, or show up late. Non-brass-players frequently complain that the brass is too loud, and that they crack notes. Section string players sometimes feel that their part is not important, since there are 10 other people playing it, and wish that they could have solos like the principals or the winds. Wind soloists sometimes wish (or at least I do!) that they could play those beautiful melodies with a whole section so they could enjoy the music and not stress out about playing a solo. Plus sometimes it's so satisfying to play something together in a coherent group. We always complain about each other, no matter what.

Why? We're all musicians! I think we need to step back and put ourselves in each other's shoes for a bit. As someone who played string instruments for years before choosing to play oboe seriously, perhaps I am more sensitive to this. It always bothered me in college that people often socialized by instrument groups: I wanted to hang out with violinists AND clarinetists, not one or the other. But others just complained that people who played that instrument were snobs, or this instrument were weird.

Perhaps there is nothing to be done about this situation. But I think it would be in the best interest of future musicians to learn an orchestral instrument completely different from their own, or at the very least talk to other musicians and learn about their craft. You, cellist over there, name me three respected bassoonists. You, flutist, tell me what notes the strings are on a bass. Hey horn player, name a brand of oboe-maker. Violinist, what is the difference between mallets and sticks? I think these are the kinds of things we should all know about each other, and in my experience, most musicians are more than happy to explain the idiosyncracies of their instruments. The more knowledge we have of each other, the more understanding we can be so that we can play together better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Movies I have recently seen and enjoyed:

RashomonThe 400 Blows
Chinatown (I decided to watch it again since I'm now living in LA)
Two Women
Talk To Her
The Silence
Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (it needed some serious editing, and I personally would change the story around, but it had its moments)
Paris Je T'Aime

In Japanese, French, English, Italian, Spanish, and Swedish! I love movies, and it's been nice to finally have the time to watch some :)