The Long and Winding Road …

Greetings!

So, Santa provided a masked, curbside delivery of Christmas! Since Alek has a Christmas birthday, he usually gets to double-dip, but, this year the pandemic put a damper on all celebrations. I was able to successfully bring Dainis down to Georgia and we spent two nights in the R-Pod (Roxy). No problems along the way and Teddy Tacoma performed very well. We stayed at the Prince William Forest RV Campground in Dumfries, VA, and The Cartersville Country Winery in Timmonsville, SC (Harvest Host). The Staff at both places were excellent and I would recommend any other Podders to stop there any time.

Both Shrader homes were hunkered down for Christmas. We shared the delights of Latvian cooking including raspberry cookies, star cookies, lace cookies, and pfefferkuchen, along with cabbage rolls and cabbage pie. Alek managed to garner an entire cabbage pie (his favorite for many years) as a significant birthday present! Of course, the annual star was the bounteous supply of beloved pirags!

Dainis and I bought some fireworks for New Year’s Eve and the masked, socially distanced, combined families gathered in our back yard to watch the aerial display. We had six aerials and three ground fountains, and capped off the night with sparklers for all.

New Year’s Day brought the annual meeting of the Polar Bear Club where a few brave faamily members take a brief dip in the pool. This year the ensemble included Dainis, Aija, and five-year-old Eva! The usual video was distributed to all the family near and far.

Dainis and I subsequently made the trip back to Silver Spring, stopping at the same campgrounds. The trip was enjoyable and again uneventful.

Now, life goes on …

Let’s take a romp around the categories:

MUSIC

My very short opera, Frogs Always Get You in the End, which had been recorded in Boston by PARMA Recordings, will be released on a compilation CD entitled Fleeting Realms. It will be on the Navona label and available on most streaming services. NB. It’s still in production – release date TBA. I conducted the recording with Aliana de la Guardia as the Princess and Brian Church as the Frog.

My Christmas piece this year was a new setting of There Is No Rose. It’s for SATB a cappella ensemble and is somewhat challenging. It came off my desk too late for this season, but I have submitted it to Colla Voce for maybe next year. If not, I’ll put it up on SMP Press.

I’m returning to work on some sketches for the Breton chamber opera Ankou with a libretto by Alek. It’s been on the composing desk for a few years and every so often I return to seek the muse in this area. I usually work directly from the orchestration on accompanied projects, but for this new idea, I started with a piano sketch with orchestration to come later. My research into Breton music and culture has been very interesting and enlightening.

READING

The holidays and associated travel has put me waaaay behind in completing my reading lists. Lately I’ve finished Peter Robinson’s Aftermath with Chief Inspector Alan Banks. I enjoy the Banks canon, but this one seemed a little slow. I’m currently back on Shetland with Ann Cleeves Red Bones with Jimmy Perez. I love the landscape of Shetland and these stories are always gripping.

WRITING

I’m still stalled on both Twin Killing and Cedar Key. I have this idea that with the acquisition of Roxy R-Pod and some planned trips to area campgrounds, I might be able to immerse myself into moving these stories forward. Ditto with composing.

TRAVEL

I’m writing this from the Madison RV and Golf Resort in Madison, FL. Moxie and I came here on Sunday afternoon and we’ll return home tomorrow, Tuesday. This is a lovely campground with level cement pads, lots of amenities, and a nine-hole golf course. We have a pull-through, full hookup spot and it’s really very nice. The park is pretty full as the weather is starting to warm up. Social distancing is working although I would like to see more masks in use! We’re pretty much keeping to ourselves, so it’s all good.

NB. Aija, Valda, and I get our first vaccine shot on the morning of February 1!

REAL ESTATE

Interestingly enough, the Pandemic has been pretty kind to Realtors, at least to Team Aija! We remain busy and successful, although inventory is low and listings are critical for success. Aija is indefatigable as always and spends oodles of time providing outstanding service to her customers and clients. We hope to sustain this success into 2021!

AND FINALLY

I thinks that wraps it up for now. I’ll probably see you next month. Until then be safe, careful, happy, healthy, and at peace.

Cheers!

  • Jim
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Let the Adventures Begin!

This post will be mostly travel related. The Big Tent Season at Atlanta Opera having ended, the return to Valdosta was uneventful and the home routine was quickly re-established. BUT WAIT. At the end of the Atlanta visit, I received word that the R-Pod 180 (Roxy) had arrived at Horizon RV in Lake Park and was ready for me to come for the final walk-through and bring her home!

It was a balmy Wednesday morning when I traveled a bit south and met Roxy! Jason did the walk-through and I was, of course, overwhelmed with the amount of information necessary to be a successful RVer! Having taken somewhat copious notes, Teddy (Tacoma) and I drove Roxy from the Horizon lot next door to the almost abandoned outlet mall parking lot. It was time for back up practice. Knowing that I would need to end this trip home by backing into the driveway at Princeton Lane, I was determined to persevere and gain understanding.

Armed with knew-found knowledge, I confidently approached the target. After about ten tries (maybe more!) and almost taking out my neighbor Fred’s driveway lights, Roxy came to rest in almost the right spot, well, close enough!

The next few days were spent learning all I could about being an RV owner/operator. Then it was time for the first test! Having convinced Moxie that the camper was not evil, we spent two practice nights sleeping in the new digs! It was quite an accomplishment!

The next level of difficulty would come with a short two night trip to a local campground or state park. We chose Reed Bingham State Park in Adel, about 35 miles from home. The trip was uneventful except for the loose sway bar that produced a horrifying dragging sound as we pulled up to the camp office. After checking in, I analyzed the problem and it seems that I had not put the appropriate cotter key all the way through the sway bar attachment. Realizing this, it was a quick fix and we were off to our site. The camp is set up in loops and we were at site 16. The ring road around the camp was one-way, so not much chance of error. HAH!

Yes, I saw the number 16 on the post. I dutifully pulled into the center of the site only to discover I was parked in the middle of the road, right next to where I should have been. Did I simply back up and enter the site properly? HAH!

One more one-way trip around the loop and into the site perfectly! I went about the business of setting up, chocks, stabilizers, unhitching, leveling, electric hookup, water. It all went well, I and felt like I was understanding quite a bit about this new world! Moxie and I spent Sunday and Monday evenings walking the park as well as eating and sleeping in the camper. All in all it was a successful test. I only needed about eight backup attempts to return Roxy to the home driveway.

Now I was ready for the ultimate test – a long haul, multi day bona fide RV adventure!

With the Covid mess, the relatives who usually assemble at our home for the holidays decided against air travel. Aija’s mother, Valda is 97 and it’s important that her children spend as much time with her as possible. We even do a weekly family Zoom meeting to help accomplish this purpose. At any rate, an opportunity presented itself – I could take the camper to Silver Spring, MD and pick up my brother-in-law, Dainis, and bring him home to spend the holidays with his mother.

Thus began the adventure that I am currently pursuing. As a matter of fact, as I write this, I am sitting in the middle of a field on the property of the Cartersville Country Winery close to Timmonsville, SC. This is my first stop on the way north. All indications are that a huge storm is on the way to the east coast – OF COURSE! Actually this first leg of the trip went very well.

BUT DIASASTER WS LURKING AROUND THE CORNER!

After driving to my site, I went to unlock the door, only to discover that I did not have my camper keys! I did make two stops along the way. one for gas, and one to use the facilities in the camper! I can only assume that either I left the keys in the door and they wiggled themselves out during the ride, or I accidently pulled them out of my pocket to get my car keys or money, or something. I diligently searched the interior of the truck, but nothing appeared!

The extremely kind host at the Winery, managed to drill out the lock without damaging the latch and I was able to gain access to Roxy. This gives me a great reason to add a numerical keyless lock upon return to Valdosta.

So I kept the camper hitched to get an early start on leg two tomorrow. I had tracked mud all over the floor and so out came the mop. Next was a shower for yours truly! I had hooked up the water and turned on the water heater, so a good shower ensued. Next, into the PJS and think about dinner. I opted for Jasmine Rice with Turkey Sausage and Cheese – excellent, although I’m not quite ready for my RV cooking show! I set the thermostat at 68 and the furnace did its job. I settled in to watch some TV and I thought I might as well document all the vagaries of the day.

Bless you if you’ve actually read this far. I’ll be turning in tonight wondering what tomorrow might bring. I’ll be on my way to Prince William Forest RV Campground in Dumfries, VA, then a side trip minus Roxy, into Silver Spring to pick up and bring Dainis back to the csmper.

I’ll let you knowhow it all goes. Peace. – Jim

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Living in a Pod

The “Pod” is what Atlanta Opera designates the living group in which I am Grandpa-sitting Eva while the opera singers are off doing their thing! I’ve been here in Decatur since arriving on October 14. I’ve done this “gig” many times with these guys and it’s not only fantastic to be here, but also comfortably familiar. It is, however, getting a bit colder here and the thoughts of singing opera al fresco may raise some difficulties for the singers and audience alike (to say nothing of the orchestra!). The header picture is of a very much younger Eva and me at a restaurant, I believe in NYC. Yes – she would like a sip!

MUSIC

As you know, I’m promoting some of my published choral compositions. Most of my work is for the Advent and Christmas seasons. It’s probably too late to ask a choir to prepare something for this fast-approaching season. But, I’m thrilled that Donald Nally and The Crossing recorded my piece, Angels Sang with Mirth and Glee. I’ve included it here just to see and listen. Of course, if you want to purchase copies and have it ready for next year, I won’t object! I hope you will listen, if for nothing else, the begin the anticipation of the upcoming season.

Angels Sang With Mirth and Glee (SATB, A Cappella)

https://www.collavoce.com/zoo/item/angels-sang-with-mirth-and-glee-15-94110

(Recorded by Donald Nally and The Crossing on Evolutionary Spirits – Navona Records – NV6218)

TRAVEL

I have a VIN for the R-Pod 180. It hasn’t shipped yet, but that’s progress! Hopefully it will be waiting in Valdosta when we return. Here’s what I’m thinking for the new logo for the YouTube Channel:

BOOKS

I’m currently in the middle of Donna Leon‘s The Temptation of Forgiveness. Join me!

That’s all for now! Please comment and stay tuned!

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Atlanta

Greetings from Atlanta! I’m here doing the Grandpa-nanny thing with the fabulous Eva while the Shrader family opera singers (Alek and Daniela) appear in the innovative production of Viktor Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis with Atlanta Opera. The final dress was last night and the show opens on Friday, 10-23. Find out all about the production here:

https://www.atlantaopera.org/performance/the-kaiser-of-atlantis/

Teddy Tacoma

In other recent news – The Tacoma (Teddy) made the trip to Atlanta really well! I’ve never owned a truck before and so this was an entirely new experience for me. I was particularly impressed with the gas mileage (19.8 mpg) and the radar-controlled cruise control which was a joy as I navigated the traffic on I75.

In rather disappointing news, I learned yesterday that the delivery of my R-Pod 180 camper will be delayed even more, perhaps even until 2021! Roxie R-Pod is intended to be hitched to Teddy Tacoma and take Moxie and Me on many adventures in the days to come!

Moxie, of course is the 8-yr-old mini Goldendoodle that is anxiously awaiting my return to Valdosta. However, I know that Aija is providing oodles of love and attention in the interim!

Once the adventures begin, I will document the action with a new YouTube Channel – stay tuned for the announcement!

And finally …

As you know, I’m embarking on some new choral music publishing activities and I wanted to take a bit of space to focus on a few things that I hope will stir some interest.

Here are links to most of my published compositions so far:

Choral Compositions by James Shrader (ASCAP)
More information, recordings, descriptions, etc. available at www.jamesshrader.com/music/choral

Published by Colla Voce, Inc. (www.collavoce.com)

Angels Sang With Mirth and Glee (SATB, A Cappella) https://www.collavoce.com/zoo/item/angels-sang-with-mirth-and-glee-15-94110
(Recorded by Donald Nally and The Crossing on Evolutionary Spirits – Navona Records – NV6218)

Balulalow (SATB, A Cappella)
http://www.collavoce.com/catalog/item/balulalow-15-95370
(Recorded by John Stanbery and The Stanbery Singers on Dashing – Navona Records – NV6055)

In the Bleak Midwinter (SATB, A Cappella)
http://www.collavoce.com/catalog/item/in-the-bleak-midwinter-36-20159
(Recorded by John Stanbery and The Stanbery Singers on Dashing – Navona Records – NV6055)

On Christmas Night (SATB, Keyboard)
http://www.collavoce.com/catalog/item/on-christmas-night-15-95950

On Christmas Night
(TB, Harp, Flute)
http://www.collavoce.com/catalog/item/on-christmas-night-15-94300

Love Came Down at Christmas
(SATB, A Cappella)
http://www.collavoce.com/catalog/item/love-came-down-at-christmas-15-95080

Trust in Me
(SATB, A Cappella)
https://collavoce.com/zoo/item/trust-in-me-15-96054?highlight=WyJ0cnVzdCIsImluIiwibWUiLCJ0cnVzdCBpbiIsInRydXN0IGluIG1lIiwiaW4gbWUiXQ==

Published by SMP Press (https://smppress.sheetmusicplus.com)

Adam Lay Ybounden (Two-part Mixed Choir, Piano)
https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/adam-lay-ybounden-digital-sheetmusic/21859964?ac=1

I Saw Three Ships (Unison Choir, Flute, Clarinet, Percussion, Optional Guitar, Keyboard)
https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/i-saw-three-ships-digital-sheetmusic/21860498?ac=1

Watchman Tell Us of the Night (Antiphonal Unison Choirs, Double Bass, Oboe,
Vibraphone/Piano)
https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/watchman-tell-us-of-the-night-aberystwythdigital-sheet-music/21860557?ac=1

Watchman Tell Us of the Night (Antiphonal Unison Choirs, Oboe, Piano)
https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/21860562

Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates (Unison Choir, Organ)
https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/lift-up-your-heads-o-ye-gates-digital-sheetmusic/21863737?ac=1

Lift Up Your Heads, O Ye Gates (Unison Choir, Piano)
https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/lift-up-your-heads-o-ye-gates-digital-sheet-music/21865321?ac=1

Create in Me a Clean Heart (SAB Choir, Organ)
https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/create-in-me-a-clean-heart-digital-sheet-music/21863721?ac=1

Create in Me a Clean Heart (SAB Choir, Oboe, Piano)
https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/create-in-me-a-clean-heart-digital-sheetmusic/21865324?ac=1

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (Unison Choir, Piano)
https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/love-divine-all-loves-excelling-digital-sheetmusic/21863728?ac=1

Come Holy Spirit (SATB, A Cappella)
https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/title/come-holy-spirit-digital-sheetmusic/21868652?ac=1

 

I hope you will look and listen to some or all of these compositions and perform them with your choir or share them with your church music professional. Please let me know if you do use them.

That’s plenty for now! See you soon! Over and out!

  • Jim

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Happy October!

Greetings! Even here in Deep South Georgia, only 15 miles from the Florida line, it ‘s getting chilly! In the interest of time (yours – reading; mine – writing), I’m compartmentalizing this post with various highlights. Please do comment or reply, I love hearing from all of you! Here we go:

MUSIC/CHORAL

I’ve been spending most of my time in this area, re-editing some compositions that I haven’t published with Colla Voce, Inc. All of these I’ve self-published with SMP Press (Sheet Music Plus). I will upload a list with links over on the music/choral page of this website. I hope you’ll take a look and, if you are a choral director or church musician, I hope you will program my music. If you do, please let me know about it. It’s getting a bit late for the holiday season choral preparations, but there are other things on the list as well. Of course, with the pandemic issues, nothing is certain for the coming holiday season. I do continue to publish my advanced compositions with Colla Voce and you will find those over on the music/choral page as well.

MUSIC/OPERA

Two things here. I am in self-quarantine until October 14 (I’ve tested twice for C0vid-19, both negative). The reason for the quarantine is that I’ll be spending a month in Atlanta starting October 15 when I will again resume my favorite role as Grandpa-Nanny for our now precocious five-year-old Eva! This comes about because Daniela and Alek have accepted positions with Atlanta Opera as part of the Atlanta Opera Players Company! Their first assignment is for the production of Ullman’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis where Daniela will be the Drummer and Alek will be Harlequin. Atlanta Opera has come up with a unique effort to combat the ongoing virus dilemma. They will begin performing this fall in a circus tent with limited seating. It’s a wonderful thing to help professional singers find some employment as opera companies world-wide are shut down. These folks had most of their contracts canceled resulting in NO income! Bravo Atlanta Opera.

So, while Daniela and Alek head off to the tent, Eva and I will be doing virtual school through Valwood in Valdosta, and having a great time together. Two years ago, we did several marvelous weeks in Oviedo, Spain while the parental types were in Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito. I’m looking forward to round two in Atlanta. We’ll be home just in time for Turkey Day!

I am working on the composition of another opera project, but more on that later.

BOOKS/READING LISTS

Gosh! I really liked Kate Atkin’s first four Jackson Brodie books – BUT – I just completed number five (Big Sky), and I confess I’m not a fan! It took forever to plod through the endless narratives. I spent almost the entire quarter on this one book! Consequently, I’m behind my self-imposed schedule. Now I’m on to JA Jance’s Sins of the Father and it’s a real page turner. I love the JP Beaumont character – maybe because he’s 72 like me!!!

BOOKS/FICTION

Doing a lot of thinking and contemplation on Twin Killing and Cedar Key – but still spinning wheels! Fingers crossed …

REAL ESTATE

Still functioning as chair of the Valdosta Board of Realtors Professional Development Committee, which has had a very successful virtual year! Also still an active member of TEAM AIJA doing signage, showing houses, doing video shoots, flying the drone, and other miscellaneous stuff. We’re also haveing a great year despite the virus!

TRAVEL

Still waiting for the RV – the Forest River R-Pod 180. Should be here about the time I get back from Atlanta. Moxie is being very patient to begin our adventures. My plan is to adda You Tube Channel (Moxie & Me – Takin’ a Mosey) to document all our adventures. I hope you’ll come along!

CODA

Well, after reading the last post, I guess I could have just written – Nothing New! Anyway, continuing to enjoy retirement, family, relatively good health, et al.! Peace, Health, and please wear a MASK!

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Long Time Coming – BUT – We’re Back!

Good News! The long diatribe about the trials and tribulations of my ongoing life story is over! (Not my life – just the diatribe!) After allowing this site to become dormant for quite a while, I have decided to re-energize it (and you, hopefully!). This has come about because of several new directions arising in my paradigm.

I continue to be a FAA Part 107 licensed Drone Pilot as part of my new-found, semi-retired activity as a Realtor. I am part of the team led by the wonderful top Realtor, Aija Shrader (yes – that one!). I show houses, take videos, put up and take down various signage, and try to be generally helpful and supportive while Aija does the heavy lifting and brainwork! It’s a fun way to work with her and make me feel like I am making a contribution while in retirement.

If you’re moving to Valdosta, check our http://www.AijaShraderRealtor.com .

Second on my list for reactivation is the publishing of my music. I will update the various music pages on this site, but just let me say that, while I continue to occasionally publish with Colla Voce, Inc., I have now uploaded many compositions to SheetMusicPlus. These are things from my library which I have written and performed over the years which I would like to make available to everyone. They are mostly for small church choirs including SATB, SA, TB, SAB, and Unison offerings. There are also some really fine pieces for children’s choirs. I encourage you to go to

https://www.sheetmusicplus.com/publishers/james-shrader-sheet-music/3018142

to see what’s available right now. It would be great if you could share these pieces with your church music professional and PLEASE, let me know if any of these are performed! The object here is to share this music!

I continue to compose and record. I have just submitted a new work to Colla Voce on the familiar text, There Is No Rose for SATB A Cappella choir. I don’t know if they will accept it yet. I’ll keep you informed.

PARMA Recordings will be issuing a compilation CD that will include my Really Short Opera, Frogs Always Get You in the End. We recorded it a while back in Rockport, MA with me conducting! I’ll post the release date here.

Next, and last on the re-activation motivation list is my new purchase. I gave up my Soul (some folks will not be surprised!) and purchased a 2019 Toyota Tacoma truck. (I’ve never owned a truck in my life!) I bought it for a specific purpose – I’m also buying a travel trailer (RV). It’s a small Forest River R-Pod 180. Moxie and I pan to become weekend warriors and travel up and down the east coast in search of adventure and relaxation. Teddy Tacoma and Roxanne (Roxy) R-Pod will take us on our journies! I’ll be setting up a new YouTube Channel called:

Moxie and Me – Takin’ a Mosey

In it we will try to keep a record of our travels.

Well. that’s quite a bit for a 72 year-old retired musician/professor/everything else. I’ll try not to bore you and I will read all comments here and respond accordingly.

Over and Out – and glad to be back!

-Jim

PS: The fiction books are still in hibernation, but I have not given up yet on Twin Killing and Cedar Key.

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If We’re Going Out of Business, I Missed the Sale! …

Greetings!

I’m amazed to discover that my last post here was October 14! That’s even pre-election! Sheesh! Well, you missed some important events, so I’ll try to provide a “Cliff’s Notes” summary and time travel us all up to the present.

It seems there’s a lacuna (it’s a PhD word – sorry!) in our historical journey. I left you just after my second cataract implant surgery last June. The day after the surgery, I was helping Alek pack his U-Haul for the moving excursion to his new home in South Bend. As I stood with Aija just inside the garage door watching Alek working at arranging items in the truck, I noticed a strange slurring of my speech. I mentioned it to Aija and we thought about what might be the cause. Naturally, I thought it might be connected to the cataract surgery that took place the day before. She called the eye surgery office and the doctor assured us that it was not connected to the surgery and we should probably go to see our GP. So we did!

There began a series of tests with several physicians, all of which I basically passed. I was finally referred to a neurologist. More tests. Finally, I had an MRI on my brain. The discovery was that I had suffered a TIA which is actually a stroke! Scary … Additionally, the neurologist told me that I had probably had others in the course of my history. I asked what I could do about this problem. Believe it or not, his prescription was, “Lose weight and exercise!” (Where have I heard that before?) So, I immediately hired a personal trainer, set up an exercise program and also arranged to begin a nutrition program. All this was with the wonderful app known as My Fitness Pal! I also began a walking regimen for cardio which I track with the app, Map My Walk. I keep track of my strength training with the app, Trainerize (through my local gym and trainer). I was very concerned about my longevity, if not down-right scared!

[Before resuming the historical update, let me just say that all this is working very well. I’ve lost almost 50 pounds and eating more healthy with a good regimen of exercise – more than ever before in my life!]

So, during the ensuing weeks, the usual and expected activities took place including things like shooting some videos, traveling to St. Augustine for the July 4 fireworks, Getting a new prescription for glasses, seeing the neurologist, showing houses to potential buyers, picking up new glasses, etc.

On July 9, I was in the bedroom preparing to go for a swim. I put my right foot in the bathing suit and then lifted my left leg to insert it into the suit as well. Unfortunately, I caught my left big toe on the suit liner and crashed to the floor. It hurt! Bad! I laid there for a few minutes and then painfully stood up. At that point, I thought it was a bad bruise and I stayed off of it. When Aija came home for showing houses, I related what had happened. As the day wore on, the pain became worse and my ability to put weight on the leg diminished. Finally, in the evening, Aija convinced me to go to ER, which we did. There was severe damage to the right knee. I went to see the orthopedic doctor the next day.

I had been scheduled to travel to Santa Fe to be Grandpa-nanny for Eva. That trip, to my dismay, had to be canceled. My leg and particularly knee were badly swollen and walking was almost impossible! Fortunately, the x-ray and MRI data showed no breaks or tears, but a huge hematoma on the inside area of my right knee. I chose to no have surgery to deal with the hematoma, but to treat the injury and let the blood disperse naturally.

There followed a very long period of recovery first on crutches, then a walker, then a cane, and finally physical therapy. I’m pleased to say that I am fully recovered and back to normal. I certainly dodged a bullet!

During this time, Aija’s siblings Nora and Dainis arrived for their regular summer visit. I was mostly confined to the recliner where I celebrated Birthday number 69! Aija went to Santa Fe to cover some Eva nanny time and I was scheduled to go to Santa Fe later as well. I was hoping that I was able to make the trip.

It came time to have a brain MRI to investigate the TIA incident. It was endurable, but not my favorite procedure! The results would not be read by the doctor until August 17.

I spent July 23-27 diligently trying to rehabilitate my leg in order to make the trip to Santa Fe. Family and Doctors were, at first negative about the flight. I worked hard with PT including swimming and walking. By July 27, I had the medical release to fly. The family still were not convinced that it was the right decision, but for me, personally and psychologically, I knew it was. I made the trip and it was wonderful. Aija and I spent quality time with Eva, we saw the Santa Fe production of Handel’s Alcina, starring Alek and Daniela, and had nice vacation time.

August 3rd we returned to Valdosta and prepared to undertake Fall season. I think I’ll stop here and pick up the history of the next few months in the next installment. If you’ve trudged through this so far, you have my thanks! Meanwhile, check out the other pages on this site. They are much less pedantic! See you next time!  Cheers!  -Jim

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South Bend<--->Ann Arbor, who knows …

Greetings!

I took a little time off for a quick, but intense trip to South Bend, then Ann Arbor, then South Bend, then Ann Arbor, then Detroit! I was on Eva duty as designated Grandparent as Alek taught opera classes and rehearsals at Notre Dame and Michigan (subbing for Matt Ozawa). I finally got to see the new house in South Bend. It’s wonderful with lots of space, an interesting floor plan, and a great view of the St. Joseph river. The house sits right the river bank and we were able to watch people in canoes, kayaks, and even some fishing boats, one of which anchored right in view of the house! It’s a great location which feels like you’re in the middle of the forest, even though you’re actually in the city!

It’s about a three-hour drive from South Bend to Ann Arbor, so we put lots of miles on the rented Kia Sportage! Alek had to teach in Ann Arbor on Tuesday and Thursday and do a South Bend rehearsal on Wednesday, hence the travel time! Eva, as always, was amazing. We had two great picnics at a small playground on the property of Matt’s condo. We flew out of the Detroit airport on Friday the 13th (I know, right?!) with Alek and Eva to Washington DC (where mom, Daniela is performing at Kennedy Center with Washington National Opera) and me to Valdosta!

I’m here for ten days and then I go to DC for more Grandpa duties. More about that later!

Now, back to the historical diatribe …

I left you on May 5 just after our anniversary dinner. Nothing much to report the next week or so – just the usual real estate business, a couple of doctor appointments, etc. On May 18, Alek, Daniela, and Eva arrived for an extended visit. This was in preparation for the big move to the new house in South Bend. The packing/sorting/discarding commenced in a big way! Aija and I were thrilled to take care of the little one while mom and dad packed and stuff!

May 23, Alek had to fly to Notre Dame for some meetings and I took my first Real Estate Continuing Ed class. Next came a series of celebrations: May 26 for the Alek and Daniela anniversary; June 2 for Aija’s birthday; and June 11 for Eva’s second birthday (where the parents gave her a shiny red tricycle!).

Between those two birthdays, I started the journey to cataract surgery on both eyes. The left eye was done on June 5 and the right eye on June 17. Meanwhile the truck had been packed and Alek was set to drive it to South Band on June 20. But then, a series of major events were about to take place that affected the entire family. Stay tuned …

Cheers!

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What happened next?

Greetings!

So, I left you in the Boston airport on April 25 after the successful recording, editing, and mastering sessions of my Really Short Opera – Frogs Always Get You in the End. (Go over to the music/opera page to hear it and see some details.)

So Aija flew off to South Bend to be the Grand-Nanny for Eva while the parents did some house hunting. I should say here that the reason for the house hunting was that Alek had accepted a position as Assistant Professor and Director of Opera at Notre Dame University! While he will continue his singing career, as will Daniela, they will put down some roots in South Bend as Eva approaches her second birthday. Here’s Eva and Grandpa this summer in Santa Fe!

Anyway, Aija is off from Boston to South Bend and I am returning to Valdosta.

Once again, I returned to lots of real estate activity: showing houses, videos, paperwork, meetings, etc. The most exciting event on the real estate front was the annual Realtor/Affiliate Fish Fry Dinner which I attended by myself since Aija was still on Nanny duty in Indiana. At this event, you walk around visiting all the Affiliate vendors that we work with each year and leave your business card. Later, after the fish fry meal, each Affiliate pulls out a business card and awards a prize to a lucky Realtor. Well – I hope you’re sitting down – I WON! I won a great new Apple Watch, which I love! Many of the colleagues immediately sent text messages and photos to Aija to mark the celebration!

In addition to real estate activities, the VSU Blazer Softball season began (I am a huge fan, with season’s tickets), and my personal swimming season opened in our wonderful pool! (I don’t get in until May 1!) This time was also marked by three regular doctor appointments and the return of Grandma Aija from South Bend.

On May 5, we went to Steel Magnolias restaurant in downtown Valdosta for a great 39th Anniversary dinner!

Here endeth the lesson …  See you next time! Cheers!

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Back from a strange and intense Hiatus …

Greetings!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve spoken with you. I see the last post is dated April 5 – OMG!

I had been relating that marvelous time in Tucson and Phoenix when I was hanging out with my darling granddaughter Eva, while her parents, Alek and Daniela, performed with Arizona Opera. I flew back to Valdosta on April 10 and was met with an avalanche of real estate work (shooting five videos and taking an advertising/social media class) along with an eye exam, Moxie grooming, and VSU Blazer softball.

On April 20, it was time to fly to Boston and record my Very Short Opera – Frogs Always Get You in the End. We were recording at the Shalin Liu auditorium in Rockport, MA. It is a beautiful 300 seat space with an incredible view (from the conductor’s POV) of the rocky shoreline, crashing waves and all!

The crack PARMA Recording crew was excellent and very well organized. The instrumental trio was outstanding and very flexible. The singers were well prepared and a brief rehearsal was all that we needed to begin the session. I was thrilled to return to the conducting podium where I hadn’t been (and missed it!) for quite a while.

The Princess was Aliana de la Guardia. 

The Frog was Brian Church. 

I was so fortunate to have my wife and partner Aija with me for the entire project. While I was conducting on stage, she was in the control room with the technicians. Her input was invaluable as it has been for the last 39 years!

I have uploaded the recording on the music/opera page in this blog. I hope you will take seven minutes to listen to it. I am in the process of developing a performance package that would include scores, parts, and staging/touring possibilities. I’m hoping that universities and opera companies will consider this piece for community and school touring projects.

Because the recording session in Rockport was on Friday and the editing/mastering session was scheduled for the following Monday, we had Saturday and Sunday off. At first our plan was to be tourists in the Boston area, but we ended up driving our rental car to New Jersey and we spent some great time with daughter Dorothy! It was a whirlwind visit to be sure, but well worth the drive. Conversations during long drives are often the best and the time spent with Dorothy was wonderful!

So we returned to the PARMA Recording home studio in North Hampton, NH and got to visit with technicians and executives as we put together the fruits of our recording labors. It was a wonderful experience and I hope to be able to do more with this exciting company.

After an overnight near the Boston airport, we boarded planes – Aija to South Bend, IN and me back to Valdosta. But that’s the next chapter!

Thanks if you read this far! More coming soon … Cheers!

Posted in Authors, Blogging, Choir Directors, Choirs, Choral Music, Church Music, Composers, Mysteries, Opera, Real Estate, Thrillers, Uncategorized | Leave a comment