Saturday, July 31, 2010

Escapes from the Baltimore Heat Wave: Colorado and Florida

July has been one of the hottest months on record, in Baltimore and a lot of other places in the country. I think back to this winter when right-wing commentators were heckling the theory of global warming because of the crazy snow storms we had. Seems that the global climate change may be experienced more as extremes, instability and lack of predictability, rather than just straight warming. Anyway, I never would have expected that we would have found the weather cooler down in Gainesville, Florida, yet this was the case in early July.

Our trip down to Gainesville was not a planned vacation. We flew down to attend the funeral of Marie's grandpa. The event was not unforeseen, yet it was a sad premise for a family reunion and involved some impromptu theological discussion with the 3-year-old. Mila seemed to grasp some of the implications of what death is, and yet the emotional reality of this event for the adult family members around her was not readily easy for her to understand. I am glad that some of her comments inserted during the saying of grace at the table were only in the more intimate presence of Marie's immediate family (rather than the formal extended family dinner the day before). Life is definitely entering a new phase of learning for Mila as she tests out some of the larger concepts of our existence. I feel that my parenting has to enter a new stage of consciousness as well, as I have to deeply consider what teachings I am imparting through my words and actions.

Our camera was inadvertently left behind in Baltimore during this Florida trip. Fortunately, my sister-in-law posted some great photos of our family blueberry picking expedition (from somewhere near Gainesville) up on Facebook. Drew's outfit from that day really hasn't recovered. Drew and Mila got to really bond with their cousins Cain, Rachel, and Ethan. By chance, we got to see them just two weeks later in Colorado. They were in the Denver area for a wedding, while Marie had a week-long class on the electrical grid that became the premise for a family vacation. The cousins got to play together for two days around Littleton, south of Denver (a location that I had never planned to visit, given its macabre history). Deer Creek Canyon Park was a nice hiking location around there, minus the looming presence of a big Northrop Grumman building at the bottom of the valley.

We stayed in Lakewood, right outside of Golden, staying at a nice little hotel that became Mila's favorite place in the world. Her requests to go back to the hotel became a bit ridiculous, though we did manage to do some great hiking. Several trips into Rocky Mountain National Park were made- the first with Marie before her class started, and the second just with kids (who napped as I drove on a one-lane dirt road of switchbacks, ruts and potholes, up into the realm of snow fields and across the continental divide).

Some photo highlights from our Colorado trip are posted above, from locations including the town of Golden, the Denver Zoo, the Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Beach Day Pics (minus sunburn)

We took a family trip to Assateague Island for Father's Day last weekend. Marie and I got the kids into the car still asleep at 5:30 AM and were halfway across the Eastern Shore before they woke up. Mila was excited to get her first pair of [pink] flip flops, and to see if she could enjoy the ocean waves like she did with the smaller ones on the bay. Drew had no fear of waves to overcome in the first place. This was Marie's first time at Assateague Island, as it was for Drew, and though we did not find our car immersed in a wild pony herd like the time when Mila and I came here together, we did spot one pony from a distance in a salt marsh. A great beach day, despite awarding myself with a rather serious sunburn.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Flower Girl Adventures

Last weekend we had the pleasure of attending the wedding of our friends Julia and Zac, on a family estate near Leesburg, VA. Mila had been looking forward to this event for some time, as she had been chosen to be the flower girl. A set of handmade fairy wings were designed to complete Mila's outfit, a contribution from one of the many artist friends of the couple, who also happen to be MICA grads. Mila performed the role with perfection (as anyone who knows my daughter might imagine) and captured the hearts of many in attendance. I must admit that I felt a bit territorial as a parent when Mila scooped up by a middle-aged woman unknown to me and praised for her flower girl role during toasts to the newlyweds- especially when she was allowed to have multiple sugar flowers off the cake without any parental consultation. Ahem...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Four Directions, Learning To Walk

It's been too long since I visited this blog, and the longer that I have left it the more difficult it is to pick up a thread of continuity. How can I summarize all the amazing events and progressions that the last couple months have seen?

On the evening of April Fool's day and into the sunrise of the next day, my doctoral dissertation piece from 2004- "Mandala of the Four Directions" (a cantata for 4 singers and 4 ensembles) and the all-night music festival that I have always wanted to organize ("The Vigil") were premiered at MICA. Marie, Mila, Drew, and my mom were all able to come to the cantata performance and the first part of The Vigil. Among other collaborative contributions, my friend Jon Bevers created an installation by the entrance to the Brown Center- of 4 sand boxes with representations of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, plus a video projection of an animated mandala with images of the same elements. On the edges of the Cohen Plaza I had set up 4 soundsystems (the North and South ones under tents), through which performers I had invited (plus students in my Live Electonic Music class) overlapped their performances through the course of the whole night. A drum circle was formed in the middle of the plaza, and it was amazing to see the carnival that unfolded beyond my control- my best expectations were surpassed! Although the drum circle and some of the performances became a bit loud at some points, and the fountain briefly became a swimming pool infused with green food coloring, the large crowd of students and others from the community maintained a magical and elevated communal vibration throughout the night. I hope to make it an annual festival.

Related to the theme of the four directions, and balance, Drew is walking! This has really picked up in the last several weeks, with increasing speed. A couple days ago he went on his first hike in the woods, at Loch Raven reservoir. Mila pretended to be a baby brontosaurus in the ferns.

Mila and Drew's interactions ever increase in hilarity, as well as occasional challenges (i.e. sharing).

I've posted here some recent pictures (and older ones- a video of Nani's visit around the first of April, plus an image from The Vigil all-night music festival). The video and pictures with Nani are at a kite festival on Solomons Island. The other pictures of Mila and Drew are from trips in the past week to the Science Center, the Zoo, and Wyman Park in Baltimore. I gave Drew a haircut a few days after the most recent of these pictures. Since Grandpa and Nani are visiting later this week, I'm sure we'll have some more pictures to upload soon.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Guerilla Sound Art Babies

Getting ready for my all-night music festival in the Cohen Plaza at MICA on April 1st, The Vigil, I hauled some audio equipment and instruments out for an outdoor improv session with the kids last week. Our sound check was assisted by our friends the Dalbys- Papa Ben, Silas & Margaret. Ben took these great photos of our session.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Virginia Vacation

Marie traveled to Santa Fe for a conference this week, the first time that mama has been away since Drew was born. I have a whole new appreciation for the parenting teamwork that Marie and I have, and a new awareness of Drew's nighttime sleeping patterns in particular.

Meanwhile, Mila, Drew, and myself have taken the opportunity to bond with nature over the past couple of days, and to introduce the newest member of our family to Dinosaur Land, my annual pilgrimage destination in White Post, VA. Mila has been enjoying a couple of "Dinotopia" fantasy books that Marie checked out from the library. A protoceratops character from the book, named Bix, has been Mila's alter-ego for most of the day. Following Dinosaur Land, we got our annual pass to Shenandoah National Park and drove on Skyline Drive for awhile. I had to throw in a visit to Charlottesville too, being the hometown of my birth and all.[Can I just say that the lack of formatting in this Blogger app is ridiculous. I apologize for the lack of consistency in the upkeep of this blog, but Blogger makes things much more difficult than they need to be- which is why I'm mostly just using Twitter. OK, rant done.]

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bmore Snow Days

The first image is the Cohen Plaza at MICA where I plan to have my dissertation piece performed in less than 2 months. Pray for good drainage. The last image here is our car.