Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oregon Arts Orchestra - Vienna July 12

We bussed out to Eisenstadt that morning (obligatory bus nap). We got to see the Esterhazy Palace. We took a tour. It was a beautiful place. No flash on the cameras but they did let us take pictures. There was a group rehearsing in the Hydnsaal inside the palace. They had a soprano with them who was amazing. I wished we could have stayed to hear them play.

Here's a detail of the ceiling of the Haydnsaal. We performed there when the other group were done - some of our small groups did anyway. They did great. Kip and I got to watch - and help set up and take down. Unfortunately we couldn't use flash in the room and most of my pictures didn't turn out.

After that tour Kip and I wandered down the pedestrian street outside the palace in search of some quick food - a lot of the orchestra members had gotten expensive sack lunches for the day from the hotel, but that didn't work for me. But we couldn't find anything portable on the street - just cafes to sit and eat in. Poor Mihail was dragged along with us. When we rejoined the rest of the group we were supposed to tour 2 important Haydn places, his church and his home. Guy, Lou and Jae opted to sit in a cafe right near where the bus parked and skip one of the 2 tours and we opted to join them, earning the distinguishing appellation "deviants". Our waiter was an Italian named Alessandro. Guy befriended him quickly. We had a great time sitting and talking and enjoyed a break from walking quietly through historical buildings learning about things from the past.

After our lunch, we joined the orchestra group visiting Haydnshaus.

On the way back to Vienna proper we stopped at a cemetery to visit the grave sites of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and Strauss. It was impressive to have so many celebrated musicians buried in one place. Kip and I were impressed with some of the less-famous grave sites and their sometimes-freaky embellishments.

The night the city was hosting a concert in the park with Mahler's 8th shown on a big screen near city hall. A bunch of the crew opted to attend that and ride the train home. Guy, Lou, Jae, Kip and I opted to hang out downtown and ride the train home but not attend the Mahler. We walked through the touristy part of downtown to a cafe on the fringes. There, we talked and enjoyed drinks for an hour or so, then headed to a cafe Guy remembered from his visit to Vienna 5 years ago. It was a block from the Opera House. It had red awnings and a hammered dulcimer player inside. We loved it right away. Guy had apparently had a conversation with the manager during his last visit which had really impressed him. So, Guy tried to find the old manager, but he works mornings now, so we made friends with our waiter. He ended up bringing us strawberry sparkling wine for free, which was nice - especially for Lou and Guy who got to drink Kip's and mine and learned the value of hanging out with Mormons--you get their coffee and alcohol, of course! Eventually, we headed for the train that would return us to the hotel. It was about 10:15 when we got there and tried to figure out the machine. A transit employee walked by and we begged his help. He pointed to the appropriate buttons, we bought our tickets and headed home. Guy was convinced we were headed the wrong way, but Kip was pretty sure about it. We ended up just fine. As we walked to the hotel from the bus, all the entrances to the Pyramid portion to the side of the main hotel were heavily guarded by police with large weapons. I wasn't brave enough to ask what was going on, though I did say hi to one of them.

Oregon Arts Orchestra - Salzburg/Vienna July 11

After an early breakfast in the hotel, we rode the bus with our amazing bus-driver Martin to the town of Mondsee which has a beautiful church. That was where the wedding scene from "Sound of Music" was filmed although the actual wedding took place in Salzburg at the convent where Maria had wanted to become a nun. It's the only wedding ever to have been performed there. But Mondsee was more film-worthy and the convent wouldn't let Hollywood in.

Yes, there are 5 dead people in boxes at the front of the church. Our conductor suggested that that was where they put percussionists who messed up during concerts.

Kip and I stopped into a Spar (supermarket) to buy chocolate. We were a little late getting on the bus and got reprimanded. But not as much as a few other orchestra members who had decided to buy the traditional Austrian dress - dirndl (as shown in the picture of our guide at St Florian's above--all the guides wore them). They were about 3 minutes behind me and Kip and our illustrious leaders were a little upset. I kind of wished I'd gotten dresses for the girls, but they were expensive and the kids grow so very fast!

We drove some more and most of us fell asleep - we normally did during bus rides in spite of the tour guides talking or the beautiful countryside trying to keep us awake.

Our next stop was St Florian Monastery. It was a very large place with a lot of beautiful things. It has a central square with ornately decorated balconies surrounding it. They have frescoes painting on their ceilings. In the harsh northern winters they have to be completely sealed off from the weather. They were designed by an Italian who didn't think about snow and freezing temperatures.

Anton Bruckner is buried there under the cathedral so he can listen to the organ for eternity. Unfortunately, all we heard of the world-famous organ that day was the tuning and it wasn't entirely pleasant.

Some of the angels on the walls were a little creepy-looking--perhaps because I've watched too much Dr Who.

St Florian's has an excellent library with lots of impressive old books. To preserve them you can't use flash on your cameras. We learned that that's pretty much the norm in museums, at least on this tour.

From there we headed farther north to Vienna. Our hotel there was called the Hotel Pyramid Austria Trend. It had a multi-story glass pyramid beside the main hotel, offering a meeting area and dining area where we would have our breakfasts. We checked in and rushed up to our rooms with just enough time to change into something a little nicer before heading to dinner with Jutta. She is an excellent vocalist and philanthropist in Vienna and had invited us to her apartment in the heart of the political district for a dinner she prepared herself.

We were warned that she had 4 cats. I took a Benedryl before we left and ended up pretty wiped out, but I didn't have an allergy attack. Our percussion-friend Guy was quite happy with the cats. Jutta (YOU-ta) made a lovely meal for us, including some great GF options. ;)

The view from her apartment was amazing!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Oregon Arts Orchestra - Salzburg, July 10, 2011

We started the day with breakfast at the hotel then headed out on a walking tour of Salzburg. It's a beautiful city. We headed through the tunnel through the mountain. On the other side was the old stables for the royal family. They have been turned into a concert hall. The fountain with the horse statue and horse pictures and ramps into either side was the horse bath. I loved it. We saw the concert hall where the VonTrapp family sang before escaping into the mountains in "Sound of Music" and in real life. Although in the movie they climb the mountains on foot. In reality, they rode the train.

We went through a monastery with one of the oldest restaurants ever and looked at their cemetery.

We went up the cable car to the Fortress on the mountain in the middle of the city. The view was great from up there.

Next, we went back down the cable car and through the city to the Mozarthaus. It was where Mozart was born. He only had 4 rooms in the building and most of his brothers and sisters died as children.

We had a few minutes for lunch. Kip and I joined Jo (clarinet), Mihail (flute), Cara (bassoon) and Emily (her daughter) and went to the Mozart Cafe. I had a salad with turkey and a great dressing. With another few minutes to spare, we ran off to find an ATM and bought a bunny backpack for Becca.

We made it back just in time to join the group on the trek back to the bus to ride to Bad Ischl. The countryside around Salzburg was absolutely gorgeous! There were pristine deep blue lakes surrounded by lush green fields and trees. I think Intel should build a site there and transfer Kip. As we drove, Julia told us things about the countryside. One of the little towns we went through was the birthplace of Mozart's mother, so he vacationed there a lot as a child.

Bad Ischl was a cute small town. We found the St Nikolaus church and set up for rehearsal. It was a tough venue because of the echo from the high ceilings and stone walls. But it was a lot of fun. The church was beautiful.

We had another group dinner at a local restaurant. Most people had some sort of meatball and fries. Barbara and I had the GF version - a pork loin and fries. It was OK. We skipped out before dessert - I gave Kip mine.

Before performing our concert we helped in the presentation of mass. We sat in our seats through the ceremony, the pastor standing behind me and Phyllis. Guy and Kip said the pastor stood with his hands outstretched just above Phyllis and my heads like he was blessing us in particular. We have no idea what he was saying - it was in German. They said a few things in English for our benefit, but other than that the only thing we could understand was the "Lord's Prayer". And we all kept falling asleep. My head jerked down once and I was embarrassed enough to keep me awake for a while after that. Then, I resorted to pinching myself to try to keep awake. I wasn't the only one.

I think I look very attentive in this picture. This was from the rehearsal, before we ate dinner and started falling asleep in the service.

The concert went really well. It was a ton of fun to play there and the audience seemed thrilled with us. At the end of the concert the people clapped and clapped. We ended up doing 2 encores. But the second one was a little rocky. We hadn't planned on playing it that night (I think it was American Salute) and a lot of people didn't have it on their stands. The cellos were making it up the whole time. And someone's stand fell apart during the performance. It was pretty funny.

After finishing, we packed up and headed out in a thunderstorm. The lightning was amazing and I got soaked running back and forth between the bus and church in the rain.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Oregon Arts Orchestra - Salzburg July 9

I woke up on the bus ride as we neared Salzburg and fell immediately in love with the area. The countryside was the deepest, richest green I have ever seen. I thought it was green here in Portland, but we have nothing on Salzburg in July. When we got into the city we drove carefully through the sometimes very narrow streets to our hotel. It was two small hotels, really. We were in the main one. It was called the Hotel Neutor, which we thought was pretty funny. The elevator was tiny and creaky – 2 people with bags nearly too much for it. Kip and I got a room at the top (4th floor) with a walk-around balcony, table, chairs, plants, and a nice view. (below)

After dropping our bags and freshening up a little, we met on the street and walked to a restaurant for dinner together. We went through the tunnel connecting the two parts of town on either side of the mountain in the center (above, as seen from our balcony). When we came through an alley at one point, Kip and I were approached by a group of girls. One had a box on a ribbon in front of her. The rest were all in black t-shirts with flowers pinned on. The box girl was getting married and to earn money for the wedding, she was selling stuff to tourists. Schnops. We laughed and said we were the wrong tourists for her and continued on our way. We learned later that she stopped Guy, Lou and Jae after we had passed and distracted them long enough that they entirely lost us all. The wedding-girls helped them search all the restaurants around until the found us.

At the restaurant we chose a seat with Phyllis (flute), Sam (trombone), and Jim (french horn). We had fun talking and I got my first experience ordering Gluten Free in Austria. Julia found all of us with food allergies/restrictions and wrote our German requirements on a bright square of paper to show our servers. Mine said “glutenfrie” and was pronounced “gluten-fry”. Everyone got plates with some sort of pounded steak served with a sauce probably involving soy sauce and fried baby potatoes. I got the meat and potatoes but no sauce. It was a little dry but not terrible. For dessert, they brought out half crepes with chocolate and creme fraiche. I got an apple, which I thought was great.

After dinner we headed back with Phyllis and Sam and Kim Spomer so we wouldn’t get stuck in an ATM line with every other orchestra member. We found our own ATM and only had to wait for three of us to get money.

On the way there and back we passed a fountain with a horse statue and panels on the wall behind with horse pics. I liked it a lot, of course.

Oregon Arts Orchestra - Munich

This summer Kip and I got the opportunity to go to Austria and Prague with the Oregon Arts Orchestra. The tour was from July 8th to the 17th. We were lucky to get both my parents to come out for the first half of the time and Kip's mom and sister Tasha to come out for the secong half of the time. My parents arrived on the 6th of July and settled in. I spent the 7th packing and getting everything ready, and then it was time to go.

We flew out of Portland on July 8th. We met at 11am, checked in and then went our separate ways for lunch. Our first flight took us to Chicago. I got a headache on the way into Chicago that lasted through most of the next flight--from Chicago to Munich. About 3 hours before landing in Munich, it dissipated and I returned to feeling normal. The plane from Chicago to Munich was pretty cool. It was a Lufthansa flight and the plane had a downstairs. It had 5 bathroom stalls and a lounge area for the flight crew. I loved it. It was super fun to climb stairs on an airplane, something I've always wanted to do. Well, I've wanted to ride a double-decker airplane with seating on both levels. This was pretty close.

We arrived Munich at 12:30pm. It was hot and we were worn out and there were no drinking fountains at the airport. We found our bags, well, most of them. Hunter's never came out. And it had most of the programs. We got our passports stamped (mine was stamped so poorly you can't even read it. What's the point of traveling out of the country if you can't even show off your passport stamps!) and headed out of the airport with our kind and lovely guide, Julia (pronounce "you-lia"). She led us to our bus and driver, the amazing Martin. Kip and I claimed seats on the back row and settled in for a drive to downtown.

In Munich, we went to Hofbrauhaus, reportedly the best-known beer hall in Germany. Mihail, the third member of the flute section, a sweet, tiny, Jewish recent-grandfather, joined me and Kip for lunch. We walked through the majority of the restaurant and then settled for seats right in front of the entrance. The picture above is of the ceiling in the restaurant.

We ended up sitting next to the table with Guy, Kip's percussion section-leader, and Lou, 1st clarinet and Wind Section lead, and Jae, Lou's wife. Guy kindly posed with us for a picture after we shared our English menu with him. I ordered a half chicken with potato salad (German style--sugar and vinegar). Kip and Mihail had sausages. Everyone who had beers really enjoyed them, and beer with lemonade got special praise. After our meal, we walked around a little with Cara (bassoon) and Emily (her daughter) to look for water and think about souvenirs. Our water quest was unsuccessful but there were many possible souvenirs.

Julia then led us around the city to see some of the famous sites. It was Gay Pride parade day, we saw the end of the parade march by. There were some crazy costumes and LOTS of people. We went to a church surrounded by scaffolding and could have gone in to look around. I'm not sure what church it was because I was tired and distracted by thirst. Kip and I asked Julia to help us find water. We went back to the square where the parade had been and asked some of the people there. They finally directed us to a little hot dog and soft-serve vendor who had water bottles – small ones. We found an ATM and bought a small box of water with "no gas."

With our prize of gas-free water, we rejoined the rest of the crew and got back on the bus to ride to Salzburg. Kip and I had chosen the back row of seats hoping for leg room. Kip sat in the middle seat with his legs in the aisle. Yvonne (concertmaster) sat on the left (drivers) side and I sat on the right. There were 3 of us and 5 seats, so I got to stretch out and sleep. I think most of us fell asleep on the drive. It had been a long day already.

4th of July, 2011


We started the day with a trip on the MAX out to Hillsboro. We ended up riding the same train as the Bancrofts, who we intended to meet there. We staked out a shady spot on the sidewalk and settled in. The kids colored with chalk until the parade took off. Then they got busy collecting candy. They did pretty well. Except Becca was too shy to go after the candy and the other kids in the area got all hers. She got better at it by the end and had enough candy to satisfy her.


For the evening entertainment, we purchased a box of fireworks from Costco. Josh and Rachel bought a random assortment from a fireworks tent. We brought them all to the end of the court and joined the Youngs, the Irish family (I can only remember their first names), Garrett from next door to Youngs, and Josie Seid. We enjoyed rootbeer floats and watermelon, then set off the fireworks. It was a lot of fun. I'm thinking we should do some sort of court party sometime...It was a happy 4th of July!


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William Turns 8! May 29, 2011

William turned 8 this year. It's a big year for him. We had a little family party on his birthday and he got to open presents.

The next day was Labor Day, so we had Istooks over for a combo BBQ/Bday part. Unfortunatetly, Kip wasn't feeling well, so it didn't end up lasting as long and involving as many games as we had hoped, but it was good to see the Istooks again!

William got baptized on June 4th into the Five Oaks Ward, Cedar Mill Stake, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He's official! He felt really good at his baptism and was excited to make the decision to do it. We're thrilled at how good a person he is. He really wants to do what's right and always thinks of other people's feelings. OK, not his sisters' feelings, but sisters don't really count, do they...Anyway, he really tries to follow the rules wherever he is. That's a nice thing!