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It’s been a very intense week.
We traveled all the way across the country from Ft. Lauderdale to Sacramento, starting on Monday Dec. 28th. We finally arrived safely at the family home on January 2nd.
Just before we left, we got a call from the partner of our dearest friend Laura, who told us that he had to take her to the hospital (near Nevada City) the previous day. Later on Monday, he called to say that she had died.
This is all very sudden and unexpected. Laura was only 72.
We are reeling in shock from this. It is too early for me to write in more detail about it, but I will do so soon.
For the past two days, we’ve enjoyed visiting my brother and family in Sacramento. It’s been a healing time; we need to show the love we have for the people still in our lives.
Today, James and I go up to Nevada City to help Laura’s partner deal with some of the “nitty-gritty” stuff associated with this sudden loss. We’ve been frustrated this week, being so far away. Now we can finally be with Desmond.
We’ll leave the Airstream parked in the driveway for a few days until we figure out what to do. Meanwhile, it is important for us to go see Desmond and provide whatever love and support we can give to him.
My 7-week stint with Phantom ended last night in Fort Lauderdale. I played the opening week here.
Although we’ve been here exactly a week, it has felt twice as long because the experience has been very unpleasant.
Way too much traffic…obnoxious tourists with a sense of entitlement…pushy snowbirds from the Northlands…hot and humid weather, very UN-Christmas-like.
Southern Florida is a very strange place.
The RV park where we are staying has about 250 lots, all crammed together. On our strolls up and down the narrow byways, bristling with speed-bumps and mobile homes and trailers nearly touching each other, we’ve noticed that more than 80 percent of the park’s vehicles’ license plates are from Quebec.
What’s up with THAT? It’s amazing. I feel like a foreigner in my own country. The Quebecois seem to be an extremely reserved group, almost dour. At least, this is my perception as someone from the United States. Perhaps they are very nice people and I just don’t understand the culture.
I’m just bowled over that the vast majority of the people staying here are from one particular province. In all our travels, I have never seen this phenomenon at an RV park until now.
We’re driving to Orlando today to visit some of James’ friends, since he lived there for most of his life. We’ll stay a couple of days.
Then on to James’ Aunt Pearl in south Georgia (his birthplace), where we will spend New Year’s Eve.
I’m looking forward to seeing all these folks.
On New Year’s Day, we will begin our nearly 3000-mile drive back across the country to the Left Coast, where we belong. It will be HEAVEN to be home, for the first time since September!
We’re now in double-digit weeks with this hair growth thing and I’ve just emerged from the first awkward stage where I needed to use “product”. Now I can get away with going au naturel until the next awkward phase, whenever that occurs.
I know it will happen at some point.
Tonight is the longest night of the year and I take comfort from the fact that the days will start to get longer from now on!
We were relieved to miss most of the big snowstorm which swept through the mid-Atlantic states this weekend. The Raleigh/Durham area received a mix of snow and sleet totaling less than two inches.
It is clear and cool today, which will make for good traveling weather.
We are packing up to leave Durham tonight after the final show. James will pick me up from the new Performing Arts Center downtown at about 9:20 p.m., and we’ll drive for several hours before stopping. We plan to stay at a KOA in Florence, SC which is midway down the state.
This turnaround is not nearly as long as the one from Tempe; it is only 811 miles to Ft. Lauderdale. We don’t need to bust our a** driving as we did last month, so we may stay over somewhere along the central Florida coast tomorrow night and then arrive in Ft. Lauderdale sometime on Tuesday afternoon.
But then again…we might get a wild hair (no pun intended!) and get there sooner! 😉
Well, the weeks of hair growth are accumulating at an alarming rate.
Not only is every day a “bad hair day”, but every day is a SCARY bad hair day now.
James is trying an “UP-do” which startled me when he picked me up from the theatre yesterday afternoon.
It’s a cross between Christopher Walken and coincidentally, another crazy gentleman named Christopher, but with the last name of Lloyd — i.e., the mad professor from the movie “Back to the Future”.
You GO, boy.
I am starting to look like my dad. I can hardly wait to show off this new “do” to my brothers and their spouses and children, and hear what they have to say about it.
I hope they’re not too scared.
You get a bonus picture this week! More whacky facial contortions.
I’ve got one more week of Phantom shows here in Durham. It’s going to be another 9-performance week, so the schedule will be heavy.
Today is my last day off here. It’s damp and cool and overcast. I’ll probably spend much of the day right here, in front of the computer, as usual. It’s doesn’t matter if it’s cloudy OR sunny — here I sit!
It was a VERY busy week at work; nine shows between Tuesday and Sunday instead of the usual eight.
This heavy schedule is due to the fact that it took the Phantom company an extra day to travel the 2000 miles between Tempe, AZ and Durham, NC. So we could fit only six shows into the first week, between Thursday (Thanksgiving) and Sunday.
The company certainly needs to extract its pound of flesh, however, so the two missing shows have to be made up!
So we on weeks #2 & #4 we have nine shows. This week will be the regular 8-show routine; a brief respite from the extra performance.
It feels like I’m living at the theatre lately. But I am thankful to be employed for the moment!
After Christmas week (in Ft. Lauderdale) I will once again be “on the streets”. I need to embrace the concept of not knowing where my next paychecks will come from, rather than fight it and be worried about it.
Okay, the Hair Thing. What can I say — it’s still growing! Are you sick and tired of this yet? Discuss!
I’m still almost too tired to write about it! What a LONG drive.
James and Rupert picked me up in front of Gammage Auditorium after my final Phantom show in Tempe, AZ at 9:25 p.m., Sunday November 22, 2009.
It’s always exciting when James picks me up, Airstream in tow, bound for our next destination. We usually drive for a few hours before resting; it feels good to get some distance between the past and the future.
Through the desert darkness we drove up through Flagstaff and then stopped at a KOA campground (kampground with a “k”, actually — how kute!) for the night.
We woke up on a cool, bright morning on Monday the 23rd and continued our journey.
At the Arizona-New Mexico border, there were several places with Native American themes selling various schlocky items:
We entered New Mexico at about 1 p.m.
The countryside there is starkly, dramatically beautiful.
All went smoothly until we were stuck in a 3-hour traffic jam just outside of Albuquerque in mid-afternoon.
A semi-truck had run into a highway paint truck. The semi caught on fire and the paint truck overturned, spilling gallons of paint on the roadway. It took several hours to clean it all up.
The mail must get through! But it was certainly late that day.
We were amused by the sight of a pickup truck towing a real MONSTER truck, along with various motorcycles and even patio furniture!
The long delay put a kink into our travel schedule. We decided to pull over into a rest stop just over the Oklahoma border (at about 2 a.m. Tuesday) instead of staying at our usual RV park in Oklahoma City, a few hours further east.
We woke up a few hours later and continued our journey. We arrived in Oklahoma City just before noon, and stopped by our favorite Airstream mechanic’s shop on the western edge of town.
We bought a new water pump which James will install. The old one died after more than thirty years of service. I’d say we got our money’s worth!
We drove all day through the endless state of Oklahoma and arrived at the Arkansas border by late afternoon.
You can see part of our cat Rupert lounging on the dashboard in the foreground. He’s turned into quite the traveler! Here are a couple more shots of Rupert:
The first shot was at the beginning of our trip. Now look at how tired he is in the next shot, taken three days later:
I’ll let Rupert tell his own story in his blog; he should be posting by tomorrow: http://rupertkitty.blogspot.com/
There was a lot of traffic on I-40 as we crossed the state in the gathering darkness. We entered Tennessee at about 8 p.m.
We stopped at an Olive Garden restaurant east of Memphis for dinner.
The waiter was 6′ 5″, had a beard and ponytail, was overly jovial with a booming voice. “My name is Steven!” he announced to us several times in stentorian tones.
It was his first night on the job, and was waaay off the charts on the Perky Scale.
James asked if he sang and he said Yes. I imagine he plays the gittar too!
I wish that these people would be more sensitive to their customers; had he paid close attention to my adverse reactions to his forced joviality, he would have toned down his presentation a bit. But NO, he ploughed through the evening in his high-amperage fashion, totally insensitive to us weary travelers who just wanted a little peace and quiet with our dinner.
I suppose that the Corporate Headquarters of Olive Garden insist upon this kind of overly-enthusiastic, in-your-face waiter style. I remember a similar perky waiter the last time we ate at one of their restaurants, several years ago.
I took over the wheel after we got gas a few miles later, and drove for about 250 miles before pulling over into a rest area at Crossville, between Nashville and Knoxville. Lots of VILLES in Tennessee!
James drove for the next couple of hours. The sun came up as we crossed the Virginia border. We were both so tired by then that we decided to pull over into a Cracker Barrel parking lot to catch a few z’s.
We set the alarm for two hours and actually felt a bit refreshed when we hit the road again, at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
We wended our way through the Appalachians of southwest Virginia and were pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the Piedmont countryside spreading out far below us, towards the North Carolina border.
This still shot from the video footage I took of our trip (posted soon!) doesn’t do the view justice. It was truly stunning.
Traffic was extremely heavy on I-77 northbound. We were glad that we were heading south in the opposite direction, with relatively light traffic until we reached the cluster of larger cities in North Carolina.
Everyone must have been going to their various Thanksgiving celebrations. Apparently there have been 36 million people on the roads this weekend.
We went through Andy Griffith country in North Carolina, and I took a picture of Pilot Mountain:
Yes, we were definitely in Andy Griffith country!
Traffic was heavy through the maze of Winston-Salem, Greensboro, then on to Durham.
We found the RV park in the middle of the woods surrounding Duke University. We pulled up to the manager’s office but couldn’t find anyone around. A little Asian girl on a tiny bike came riding up and said “He’s not here” but assured us he would be soon. Just as James called him on the cell, the front door opened and it was the manager’s wife, on a walkie-talkie with her husband.
She wore a very colorful black silk blouse with big purple polka-dots. We could barely understand her English but her beautiful smile was welcoming. She laughed when she couldn’t seem to communicate effectively with her husband on the walkie-talkie to answer her question which lot they were going to assign us.
She opened the door to a tiny general store. I was amazed at the messy clutter of the place — there were stacks of boxes of random spare parts on the floor, almost bare shelves with a lone tube of toothpaste here and a stick of deodorant there; yellowed large potted plants in front of very dusty, empty freezer cases.
We wrote her a check for our month-long stay, and she indicated on a map how to get to our lot.
We got back in the truck and drove down narrow streets with rusty mobile homes and old fifth-wheel trailers and motor homes which have seen better days. Everything was surrounded by tall pine trees.
I would call this a “down-home” trailer park; the neighborhood seems safe and quiet enough, but it’s definitely not upper class. We prefer this kind of basic place, actually. Not much snob appeal here. (We live in a shack in The Woods after all!)
Just before James pulled into the lot, the manager husband drove up to welcome us. His English was also very hard to understand, although it appeared that he understood the language well.
He seemed amazed that I was a musician with the Phantom of the Opera company playing at the brand-new Performing Arts Center in downtown Durham. He commended me on “having a job” and joked that my check probably wouldn’t bounce, hinting that this was rather uncommon with tenants at his RV park.
This is our next door neighbor’s car:
It is definitely a culture-shock to be in this part of the country!
This is our current spot:
I will (hopefully) post again soon to bring you completely up-to-date. But my mind refuses to work any more this afternoon; I am still fried from the very long drive. Now I need to warm up before tonight’s show (our first show was at the end of a lengthy workday on Thanksgiving).
I hope that you all had a nice Turkey Day!
Okay, we took the pictures on Sunday but are posting a day late.
We were so busy packing and getting ready to leave Tempe after my two-week run of Phantom there, that posting slipped my mind.
James reminded me about Hair Sunday just as I was walking out the door for the second show. Uh-oh! We hurried back into the Airstream for our photo-shoot and I resolved to post after we started our long drive east to Durham, NC.
James picked me up from the theatre after last night’s show ended, and we started the first leg of our journey. James had made reservations at the KOA in Holbrook AZ, which meant driving a few hours until about 1 a.m. This is our usual pattern when we leave a city.
So here we are in Holbrook. It is sunny and in the low 50s (got down to 27 last night!).
We have a Mi-Fi card which allows us to connect to the internet wherever there is a 3G signal. So I can post during our travels (dream on!).
Here are the latest Hair Sunday pics:
As you can see, we’re getting wild and wooly!
Here is where we are parked at this very moment. We’re sipping on our little Japanese thermoses of black tea and surfing the internet at the KOA. I stepped out to take this shot.
Have I mentioned that our cat Rupert has his own blog? Please check it out in my link list: “The Adventures of Rupert”. Rupert is a better writer than I am, and has been posting more frequently than I have lately (after a very long absence).
I’ll share one of his blog pics here, from today. He is waiting for the inevitable get-picked-up-and-hauled-off-to-the-truck routine. We will be pulling out of Holbrook shortly.
We hope to make it all the way to Oklahoma City tonight. That’s a twelve-hour drive, but we have to cover 2000 miles in only three days!
Well, here we are in sunny, warm and dry Tempe, Arizona. I’m very busy playing Phantom shows, hardly a chance to catch my breath. The show schedule is relentless!
I’m thankful to be employed by the Phantom touring company for the rest of the year, however. Durham NC from late Nov. – late Dec. and then Christmas Week in Ft. Lauderdale.
Perhaps my Dear Readers will be able to discern a slight change in our hair this week. I started using “product” to shape it past my ears a couple weeks ago, and have now begun parting it. Sort of.
James is a couple weeks behind me in hair growth, and has just started using “product” (i.e., Krew Komb). It is really interesting — to ME anyway — to see James’ hair longer than it’s ever been during our 11 year+ relationship. I feel like I’ve got a new boyfriend/plaything. 😉
After an ambitious flurry of daily blog posts for over a week recently, I slacked off. BAD me!
I had hoped to wow and amaze all my readers with this new resolve to post daily, but it just ain’t gonna happen. Besides, none of you even really noticed. 😉
Anyway…it’s time for Hair Sunday again, which is getting me off my butt motivates me to post.
It’s been only a week since the Inaugural Hair Sunday and our hair has definitely GROWN in that time. Although it must look short to you, I am starting to get at that uncomfortably wooly stage in which I usually ask James to cut my hair.
Every day is a Bad Hair Day now. No more worry-free, no-fuss-no-mess routine.
After shampooing, I need to apply “krew comb styling prep” to train those recalcitrant sides under my ears. The first time I used this a few days ago, I applied far too much and not only was my head a sticky mess, it stank to high heaven.
My horn colleague in “South Pacific” made the mistake of noticing my new ‘do and exclaimed, “Oh, you got a haircut!” and proceeded to pat me on the head — she thought that the swoop of bristly brushy hair on top would be exciting to touch.
It was indeed more exciting than she bargained for — her hands now smelled like “krew comb” (which, by the way, you can find at any Sally Beauty Supply store) and she had to wash them. Ewww.
In other news….
Today is the last show of South Pacific. It’s been a great run of 52 performances, which started on September 18th here in San Francisco.
I’m looking forward to the Next Thing (7 consecutive weeks’ subbing with Phantom on the road: Tempe, Durham & Ft. Lauderdale) but I am also sad that South Pacific is ending. The 25-piece orchestra, so very rare in this age of greatly reduced live musicians and increased synthesizers, has been terrific to play in. I can say with confidence that this orchestra sounds every bit as good as the folks on Broadway. And everyone has been great to work with.
James and I “pull up stakes” and tow the Airstream down to Arizona on Tuesday, for the Next Thing aforementioned.
Tomorrow, we will host a day of playing recorders with our favorite folks in the Bay Area; six people from around the Bay area are scheduled to show up here at the Activity Room at the RV park to play through James’ and my original compositions. We always have a blast.
Okay, so here are today’s Hair Sunday Week #2 pictures:
The longer I go between writing posts, the more difficult it becomes to resume.
Part of me resists writing because the blog title “Living in The Woods” does not currently fit my life working in the San Francisco bay area.
Lame excuse, I know.
I keep telling myself that someday we WILL be back in The Woods permanently. But for now, financial necessity requires me to go far afield to make a living. I’m still not ready to retire from active professional horn playing, for personal as well as financial reasons.
I figure that I can continue playing horn at a high level for another five to ten years, if I choose to. But I’ve finally grown smart enough to avoid giving myself a deadline; who knows how I’ll feel in five years (or even two!), and what my life circumstances will be then?
For now, I am thankful to have show work in San Francisco a few times a year. The long-running show “Wicked” has created opportunities for more musicians to be hired to play other shows which come to the City. I have been lucky to play three shows since late November: Phantom, Spamalot and now South Pacific, for a total of nineteen weeks’ employment.
Along with this work is my occasional subbing with Phantom. After the six-week run of South Pacific is over in San Francisco on October 25th, I’ve got seven consecutive weeks of work lined up with Phantom in Tempe, Durham and Ft. Lauderdale. The last city is during Christmas week.
After that…who knows?
My first blog in 2005 was entitled “On The Road”. Should I rename this blog?
After this show closes, James and I will take the Airstream down to Arizona, where I will play the last two weeks of Phantom’s run in Tempe in mid-November.
Before I resume work, we will have two weeks to get our house ready to sell, in a certain small town in the extreme southeastern corner of Arizona. We left there over two years ago and the house has been vacant; we decided that it was too much of a hassle to be long-distance landlords.
We recently contacted a close friend who still lives in the area, to go over to the house and assess what needs to be done. Spiderwebs and dust need to be vacuumed, the fridge needs cleaning (someone turned off the breaker box at some point and the inside of the fridge is black with mold!) and of course the jungle of a yard needs to be hacked down. We’ll probably do at least some of this work ourselves.
We’re going to stay in the Airstream in an RV park on the edge of town while there. The house is livable but our little trailer is really our HOME — everything we need is already in place and we enjoy living in it.
I could write a lot about what’s been going on in my life since my last posting in mid-August — or very little. I’ll opt for the latter, since most of it is work-related, anyway.
James and I have been busy composing and arranging music for recorder ensemble, and have gotten together with a core group of four excellent players several times over the past few months. Our eventual goal is to sell our music online. Someday this will happen when we’re more settled.
The beach at Pacifica has been beautiful for nearly two weeks now; no fog! Autumn is the best season in the Bay area, I think.
We like our little spot in the back, in the corner of the RV park. It’s close to traffic but is actually quite private; most of the short-term tourists rent the spots in the rows closer to the ocean.
We arrived here on September 11th. Here’s a video of our drive from The Woods to The Beach:
Well, this isn’t the most exciting blog post in the world but it will have to do! 🙂