You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2009.

James and I are down to our last few days in the San Francisco Bay area, as I play my final two concerts with the Midsummer Mozart festival. We are SOOOO looking forward to being back in the beautiful, peaceful Woods! We’ll be home by Wednesday.

While I’m still here, I would like to share some excerpts from the handwritten journal which I’ve been keeping all summer. Most of it has been written on the BART train, so a few entries contain snippets of observations that I’ve made on the passengers.

BART train

BART train

From the first day of the journal:

Saturday, May 23, 2009
The train is nearly empty, except for a couple of notable characters — one young woman with suitcases is knitting — something that I have not seen before on the train.

Another “first” is another young woman, who is wearing a white surgical mask.

I had wondered if many people in S.F. would be wearing masks due to the recent swine flu scare, but this is the first one I’ve seen in the week that I’ve been in the area.

June 4, 2009
For a few minutes, I sat on the round concrete bench at Civic Center Station, waiting for the train. There were a couple of old men reeking of booze, and later, a couple of young gals who smelled even worse.

June 7, 2009
Lots of people riding the train today. No-one sitting next to me so far, so it’s definitely more comfortable for me to write — both physically as well as psychically. I’m sure this will change soon.

July 15, 2009
A curly-haired woman in her late 30s or early 40s has just sat down next to me, rapidly working her PDA or whatever they call it these days.

She’s trying to minimize a chronic cough. Has stopped texting now that the train is under the Bay — no cell service. Meanwhile, I can continue to write! It’s sort of funny.

The train is standing-room only. It will be interesting to see if it remains that way through Berkeley. The woman next to me seems to be at a loss without her phone.

The woman is now sneezing and only somewhat covering her mouth — ugh! She’s sort of looking over at what I’m doing and if she’s reading this I can’t be responsible if she takes offense. I sure don’t want to catch her cold!

I am not enjoying this train ride, mainly because of this woman with a cold.

We’ve emerged from the 19th St. Station of Oakland into the sunshine. (Cough-cough) It’s amazing how silent this car is, especially for being so crowded.  Except for the coughing.

Several people on the train are coughing. I’d better be very diligent about washing my hands after being in this kind of enforced public. Turn your face AWAY from me when you cough, woman!!

It looks like I’m going to have to ask her to move to let me out, since we’re now at Ashby and I get off at the next stop, downtown Berkeley.

July 20, 2009
Rush hour. No-one has sat next to me at Civic Center, and there are a lot of standees near the doors. Should I feel guilty? Powell now…I bet someone squeezes in next to me. Which just now happened! An older businessman with briefcase paused next to my seat, seeing my horn case on the floor next to me…I got up to let him sit by the window. Hopefully Murphy’s Law won’t be in effect with him having to get out before I do!

Someone is standing in front of the doors between cars just behind me, which is a little unnerving and the older gentleman next to me is coughing periodically. WHY do I end up with these coughing seat-mates? LOL

Embarcadero…now going under the Bay for the next 5 minutes. Cough-cough. The sound of tinny music issuing from someone’s earbuds — the drum track is the only thing audible. The businessman keeps looking behind him at the woman standing at the connecting doors. He laughed at a comic strip (he’s reading a paper on top of the briefcase in his lap).

Now he’s digging for gold — gross. Sometimes I really don’t like being around people! I’m reaching the end of my rope with this particularly long stint in the Bay area.

Just emerged into the outdoor section of track near West Oakland. Skies are mostly clear here, as usual.

That music is very loud if I can hear it so well through the outside of that woman’s earbuds.

The man next to me keeps coughing, makes a half-hearted effort to cover his mouth. I can still feel the breeze of his cough (now he’s blowing his nose in a hanky — how old-fashioned!)

This particular train ride is putting me into a foul mood.

*     *     *     *     *

Despite these sometimes unpleasant occurences, I’d have to say that all in all, riding the BART trains has been a reasonably positive experience. I love taking public transportation whenever possible, and the SF Bay area is one of the few in the country that actually WORKS. It’s mostly dependable, and gets me where I need to go.

Although I have not written in my blog in the longest period of time since I started it a couple of years ago, I read my usual list of other people’s blogs daily. It’s part of my morning routine.

I have had flashes all summer of feeling like life is passing me by without documentation, while my blog-mates are busily recording their day-to-day existences to share with the masses.

However, I have been handwriting my journal almost every day since I arrived in the San Francisco Bay area on May 17th. My penmanship, once admired by the recipients of my profuse handwritten letters “back in the day” before computers, became rusty from disuse over the years of clacking away at the keyboard.

In these cyber times, it seems that many people have forgotten about handwritten letters or journals.

This summer, it has been very satisfying for me to revive and refine my handwriting after all these dormant years, penning my journal. I started writing at age fourteen and continued writing in that mode until I was in college, when I switched to typewriters of various sorts. Then I kept a journal on the computer.

Handwriting a journal feels so personal. Of course I don’t get any comments because no one else reads my entries except for me. This is okay.

I celebrate the fact that my penmanship is gradually coming back. I am beginning to love it again. My third-grade teacher instilled in me the beauty of handwriting at age nine. She had the best hand.

I am starting to feel less stilted in my handwriting, having to form my thoughts complete before setting them down, without the benefit of computer editing. It is improving with each page that I scrawl out.

Sometimes my handwriting is VERY jerky on the fast-moving train!

I write on the BART train every day on the way to my various music gigs, and then again on the way home.

It is a good release for me to write down my private thoughts.

I write mostly about work and the freelance scene of musicians here in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a very different world than the peaceful, idyllic life that James and I live in The Woods, where we do not interact with very many people.

I do not play in any musical organizations when I live in The Woods. So I have to go other places — big metropolitan areas — to work. Most freelance musicians have to settle in such places in order to make a living.

For me these days, the San Francisco bay area is the “happening” place work-wise. James & I are very fortunate to be able to travel in our Airstream trailer to wherever my musical employment is.

Right now it’s in the City by the Bay.

The freelance musical scene here is a curious combination of comeraderie and competition. It is an extended network of classically trained musicians, scattered throughout the Bay area, highly qualified in their field. We are all vying for the same gigs. It is a tight-knit, friendly group of people from their mid-twenties fresh out of music schools to musicians in their seventies, playing in orchestras all over the area.

Everyone keeps the pulse of “who’s hiring who” and why aren’t they being hired any more for this gig or the other? Buzz…buzz…buzz…it’s very incestuous. Yet, almost everyone accepts the vagaries of the music business and manages to remain cordial with each other.

It is amazing, really. An exclusive club of musicians trying to make a living from their craft.

I am currently playing the two-week Midsummer Mozart festival. We play in four different concert venues around the Bay area each week. When this is over at the end of next week, James & I will finally be able to return home to our beloved Woods!

Until a few days ago, we had parked our Airstream on the front row of RVs closest to the beach. But we got tired of the constant shifts of energy as short-term neighbors were replaced by new ones. There were some good folks, but our most recent parade of neighbors was extremely invasive and obnoxious.

This finally pushed us into changing lots, to one “in the corner in the back in the dark”, as James puts it. It’s in the line of RVs furthest from the beach. We’re on the end, so there are no neighbors on the left side. The neighbor in the rig on our right is hardly ever there (I’ve never seen him) so it is very peaceful.

Here are some pictures of our life right on the beach, ending with our present location.

Dog Ringo loves the RV park because of the numerous dog smells here. Highly stimulating!

One of the advantages of having a lot right on the beach was that we had our own little “back yard” facing the ocean. This view looks south towards the Pacifica pier.

This view looks north towards San Francisco and Marin.

On my rare nights off, we would have cocktails and watch the sunset. It’s almost always cool by the shore, so we have to bundle up!

James doing his Kenny of South Park imitation:

This is the shot that EVERYBODY takes of the beach at sunset. If you’ve seen one, you’ve pretty much seen them all!

My attempt at being artsy with one of our bicycles:

I did enjoy our time on the front line closest to the water, but looked forward to moving to a quieter location.

It was a relatively quick and simple operation to move the trailer to this back lot, last Saturday, July 18, 2009.

It’s wonderful to open the windows on the side with the bushes and see a canopy of greenery instead of a rig parked only a scant few feet away.