Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back in the land of the Internet

We are back at Cape Point at the ECCO house. This morning we left Berefet where we had been for just under two weeks. This afternoon we are going to see our Wollof teachers again to pick up the drums and film a performance. Tomorrow we see our Mandinka teacher Momodou again and pick up the Koras. We already have the djembes, the ballaphones, the calabash drum, the talking drums, the rattles, and the flutes. Do you see how all of those instruments are pluralized? It is a very serious concern that we might be hugely over the weight limit with all of the instruments that we bought.

We'll be back in London on Saturday morning. Very very early: we land at 3:30am. Kate's boyfriend Simon will be driving Nick and I back to Sundial which is very nice of him- and greatly needed because frankly if he didn't drive us I have no idea how we would get back...

The trip has been great, we haven't had any massive fights and we're all still friends. Impressive, yes?

I'm really looking forward to resuming normal phone and internet service because I MISS YOU.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Dear Blog family-
We made it safe and sound. Maria- who is Polish, was given really conflicting advice about whether or not she needed a visa but ultimately was not let on the plane- which is terrible. But she should be joining us on Tuesday. Which is great.

Currently we are staying in the ECCO house outside of Banjul. Last night I stayed awake through dinner and then passed out for about 12 hours. It was nice to get some sleep. They have us sleeping in these double beds on the roof. It is quite cosy. I've had my first bedtime under a mosquito net (still got eaten alive) My first bath/shower with a bucket (Not bad! I only used half the bucket and even washed my hair.)

We went to the beach today and I swam in the ocean! So much fun, though I am quite sunburned along my shoulders now...oops. More sunscreen next time. I went for a walk down the beach and ended up around a bunch of fisher people. One of them pulled a sea snail from its shell...which was gross. But now I have the shell, so that is pretty cool.

Tomorrow we go on the ferry to the camp. Apparently there are only two ferries and it can take hours and hours and hours just to get one one. So we are leaving at 6am. I'll be strong...

After today there *really* won't be any more Internet until the last three days of the trip when we are back at the ECCO house.

Love you all!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I'm off to Africa

Time for sleep now, I'm meeting people at the train station at 7am to go to Gatwick. Almost completely packed (have to figure out what to do with my straw hat from Williamsberg- pack it where it might maybe get smooshed? Or carry it separately where I might lose it?)

I will be basically out of contact until the 2nd of May, so have a lovely April everyone! There will be so many pictures coming...

Extra Special Office Blog Part III

My favorite part of my job: The candy colored box of letters!
Each file gets the first 3 letters of their surname and I amuse myself my figuring out the color composition of each tag, seeing if a name can get three letters that are all the same or alternatively all different, and deciding which color combinations I like the most.
I just realized you can't see the A's, well they are a pinkish, greyed out orange. Also- the H's are by far the stickiest letter.

Extra Special Offic Blog: The People

From Left to Right we've got:
*Tristian who is the full time filing temp. He makes my job enjoyable and we spend a fair amount of time talking about music, how we are both maybe a little *too* detail oriented, our favorite little habits that we have that make filing more fun than it has any right to be, and generally palling around. He says "You know, literally..." way too much.
*Brenda who is filing boss extraordinaire. She has been working at Finsbury for a long time and the filing cabinets are very definitely hers. She makes me smile, calls everyone darling, and is good at figuring out just when I need to switch tasks so that I don't cross my eyes and crumple into a little over-filed ball. She is also the master at finding lost files.
*Simran and Sammy. Simran had Tristian's job before I showed up and everyone shifted up a position. Simran is very friendly and welcoming and is one of the reasons this office is frequently giggling. Sammy is...HR person? Coordinator of the secretaries and filing people? She runs our office- but I'm not sure what her title is. Also: lovely person.

Extra Special Office Blog Part I

I've spent the last two days at work filing. That is it; just putting files back on the shelves in alphabetical order. Now, this may sound typical since my job title is after all "temp-filing" but usually I get to do something else- like labeling, or pulling files, or franking all the mail. But no, the last couple of days have been just filing.

Wednesday I held up pretty well and put back nearly all of the files that just kept piling up, but today I found out how much I can slack off and still pretend that I am at work. To that end I thought today would be a great day to take pictures for a photo blog of work...

This first post is going to deal with the most important aspect of work: the tea!
This is an average sized kitchen cabinet. This average sized cabinet is used solely to hold tea bags and sugar. Each of those PGtips bags holds an "average of 1150 tea bags." The first time I opened this cabinet door I burst out laughing. One of the most common phrases heard in the office and one that I think I could now do in a flawless British accent is "would anyone like a tea or coffee...?"
These are the kettles (and the toaster, but whatever). I don't know how well you can tell this- but the kettles light up- the red one in the back is red because it is heating the water, the one in front is blue because it is not currently heating water. They glow. I think it would be more useful to have the light turn blue again once the water is no longer hot enough to make tea with- but that would be significantly more difficult and you can always just look to see if the kettle is still steaming or not.
This isn't a terribly appetizing example- but one of the best things about Finsbury is that not only are there innumerable tea and coffee breaks- but there is always cake! (cookies, chocolates, little gummy candies, etc.) Today there were variations on date cakes.
You can't really see this in the picture, but the sign on the window asks us to please wash our own dishes/cutlery so that other people don't have to. As you can see by the state of the sink- this is largely ignored. On Wednesday someone was soaking a jumper (sweater) in the little section on the right of the sink. It was weird. I tend to wash mugs/cups when I am desperately in need of a filing diversion.
That mug at the top there is my perfect cup of tea- I always use that mug (because you have to have one you always use- ya know?) and I like mine very strong with one sugar and super milky/white. (Alternatively I like it black.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


There have been a bunch of advertising comments recently- so I have just enabled comment moderating and changed it so that you have to type in squiggly letters before will let you post. This should completely rid the blog of spam comments- but it does mean that comments may take longer to actually show up now because I have to receive an email saying that you have posted a comment and then approve it.

So, a little more work- but hey! No more spam!

I'm back in London and I went shopping again today- this time for clothes that I can actually wear in the Gambia. (We leave on FRIDAY. Everyone is sending emails back and forth, I'm getting excited) I went to Camden and found this awesome shop that sells light, but fitted clothing from India. So I'm totally down with the fabric and the cuts. I bought a very nice shirt that I think I will even be able to wear to work after the trip- and a pair of Aladdin pants. They are billowy and peacock blue and a bit silly but I *like* them.

I've just about gotten over my jet lag and am having crepes with Latana tonight. She got back from Paris this morning and I met her at the St. Pancras Int'l station. There are more creperies then normal there. Probably this is because that is where the Eurostar leaves from and why not get a head start on Parisian food?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

In D.C.

I took the MARC train last night at 10:30 and ended up in DC about an hour later. The door to the car I was riding in didn't open, so a lot of people missed their stops- which was kind of problematic, but did make for a nice bonding experience. We eventually figured out how to open the door by the time we got to Union Station, which is good- because commuter trains are not good for spending the night on.

Anne is staying with Sarah and Desh right now, so it is like a whole wedding reunion right now, which I am enjoying. I woke up this morning to pancakes and Car Talk. I don't think you can have a much nicer Saturday morning than that.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Consort rocks my socks

So I wrote this big list of things that I wanted to do while in Baltimore and one of the first things I wrote was "play in consort!" And I am very pleased to say that I was able to do so today. Man, I miss consort. Hannah Pressley, whom I went to Seattle Conservatory with and whose path I keep crossing has just started playing gamba. Her lesson was right before consort so we convinced her to join us (Risa said that we were the consort press gang!) (I don't think we were imprisoning Hannah for months/years at a time on a boat in Her Majesty's Navy- but you know.)

I love love love love love consort. And I remembered how to play gamba better than I thought I did. I miss playing with John and Andrew and how random our conversations get and how much we barrel through the music screwing things up left and right but still having a grand old time. Also I miss how great consort can sound, and the accidentals that early music compositions tend to throw in at arbitrary points.

We took some pictures. John suggested the pose.

I was so happy to have been playing that after consort I found Angela and we played duets together. I was borrowing Joy's fabulous new bass which was so much fun to play. We got out Beethoven and I was in heaven. Such a bouncy bow, such a beautiful sound, so much fun to play with Angela again. *sigh* Life is good.

Angela's recital

I've loaded the photos that I've taken in Baltimore up on to my computer and looking through them has caused me to realize how many things I have totally forgotten to put up on this blog. Hence the deluge of entries right now.

Angela's recital was on Sunday. Her family came down/over from Kentucky/Southern Indiana and descended on the apartment/house. They are just the most wonderful people and it was really nice to see them all again. Also, I've been in London for 6 months, right? And I have barely picked up the accent. I hung out with Angela's family for 5 minutes before I started drawling all over the place...

They had brought reception food from home (Kentucky/Southern Inidana) and had assembled huge piles of ham sandwiches. I can't vouch for the ham, but the rolls were delicious. Apprently they are baked at a local bakery to them and they way they pull into two pieces so easily is because they are baked with a slab of butter on the inside. Tasty goodness say I. Angela's dad had also made some of his phenomenal lemon bars and mini pecan pies and Michelle had pitched in with some burbon ball cookies. I could only eat half of a tiny burbon ball. They were...strong.

Anyhow, enough with the food- Angela played wonderfully. There were some memory slips in the Bach (her first piece on the program) but her sound was lovely, her bow arm has improved immesurably and the rest of the recital went really, really well. She played some modern piece by Lancen that I enjoyed quite a lot and her Misek sonata made me grin.

At the reception Angela gave all of the Bass teachers gifts (who does that? She is the sweetest person ever) and what she gave them was engraved beer mugs that say "I teach bass at Peabody, want to buy me a beer?" which is just about the most perfect present ever. They laughed a lot.

There was far too much food (partially because there were so many recitals going on that a lot of people had to miss the reception because they were at someone else's recital) so we tried to press it on to as many people as possible. A box of peanut butter brownies went straight up to bass land where they started to disappear immediately.

Anyhow- Yay Angela! And plus, her dress was really pretty.

Some things I like about Baltimore

People handing out cupcakes in the street because they are bored at work.
My OASIS sign that is still being used 4 years later.
The view from Zane's living room window.
Lovely friends and tasty food (Zane, Angela, Karen, Will, Me. Tasty food not pictured)
The fact that looking silly is downright encouraged. (This is at Angela's reception, we are trying to imitate the poses from the plaster frieze, basically we are failing, but amusing ourselves anyway.)

This is getting ridiculous

I continue to see people who have absolutely no right to be in Baltimore right now. Just as an example: today I was down past Federal Hill at Passport Health where I got all inoculated for my Gambia trip (whew, one thing less to worry about) and it was such a gorgeous day that I decided to walk back to Peabody. As I was walking from the Science museum in the Harbor towards the rest of the Harbor I heard a wind band with drums. Since it is part of my philosophy of life to always follow the drums (wherever I hear them) I sought out the marching band.

The band was coming towards me, marching away in their green uniforms, and I thought they looked cute with Baltimore glowing in the sun behind them so I got out my camera to take some pictures.
As they got nearer I realized that they were from Roosevelt HS, and I thought- isn't it funny how you can find the same school names with the same colors all over the US?

Then they got nearer and I recognized Scott Brown and I started freaking out a little bit. I caught up with the mothers behind the band and one of them actually recognized me as "that teacher with the hyphenated name" 's daughter. (Never let it be said that I do not resemble my parents) So I called Daddy, but then I had to hang up because I saw NANCY ROSE! Which was just about the most exciting thing ever:
Because what is she doing in Baltimore? And this isn't the first case this trip either. Jason P. should be in Germany- but I ran into him at the computer lab. Paul A. should be in LA, but he picked me up and twirled me around outside of the Yacht Club. Claire P should also be in LA, but has apparently moved back to Baltimore. Gwen F. should be in Austria, Robin M. should be anywhere but at school...the list goes on. It is getting downright silly.

Today was my last chance to see Robin, so we met up for 10 minutes outside her car before she had to run off. I told her about seeing the Roosevelt Marching band and she told me that clearly all of this was happening because I had brought the magic with me to Baltimore. But look at that look on her face when she is looking at her daughter Samara- clearly it is Robin who brought the magic.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More Baltimore

Ronni came to visit on Saturday, and it was so very nice to see her. I picked her up from the train station at 9pm and we went and got desert at XS (a sushi/desert bar/breakfast food restaurant- because why not?). She is at Columbia School of Journalism right now and it has been a hard, but exciting and fruitful year. She is almost done because her school is normal and finishes in May (as opposed to July. We still have another whole term- I can't comprehend the school year being almost over).

We chattered away for hours and it was really nice to talk about what each of us is getting overly enthusiastic about. (We actually started chattering before we had even received the menus. The waitress was very nice about having to come up to us three times before we had actually looked at the menus and decided what to order.) Ronni is having to look for jobs now which is a frightening thing when what you do is music/arts criticism and newspapers are folding (heh!) or cutting down on arts space all the time. She is still doing a lot of reviewing for the Washington Post and has amazing contacts now (because she is completing a degree from the Columbia School of Journalism...) so she'll be fine. Last year at this time she was an opera singer who, you know, happened to be freelancing with the Washington Post.

More later, I'm off to go hang out at the Renaissance Ensemble rehearsal