Archive for November, 2015

Nov 26 2015

Thanksgiving from Old England

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Ah, once again, we are back to a life where Thanksgiving is merely a thing happening an ocean away, of no concern to us, rather than a driving-cooking-family frenzy. It took me until about 11am today to realize today was even Thanksgiving and feel weird about it. Hmn. Well, tomorrow Seth and I will be hosting a potluck Shabbat dinner which will supposedly be Thanksgiving themed (but, um, who knows what the theme may actually turn out to be…). Today, however, is a normal day, ho hum. Hah, “normal,” as if life here has become even close to such a thing. E.g. it is gray and drizzly, not too cold, classes and lectures, high table formal dinner at St Peter’s as on any Thursday (academic gowns, two desserts, sherry, gavels, latin, and all!). Unlike in Switzerland, where America was a total non-entity except maybe in the realm of banking, being in Old England does make one reflect on the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States and how odd it is to be in the “old country” of settler America.

Well, anyway, I am thankful for many things in my life, despite still feeling rather unsettled here. Especially for having a job in the same place as my significant other in a safe and fascinating nook of the world and for my extended family and friends network who are supportive even across the Atlantic. I am also thankful for the harvest and the many wonderful foods America and its indigenous peoples contributed to it. But that only scratches the surface. I hope for healing and a better world, too, for others present and future who have much less to be thankful for.

Back to work.

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Nov 05 2015

Our stuff has cleared customs!

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And in just a few short days, our stuff will be in our home.

Last time we moved overseas, everything we brought came in our luggage. But those were the days before really excessive luggage fees. This time, we shipped books, dishes, clothes, etc. (but no electric kitchen gadgets thanks to the different voltage.) We shipped a few key furniture items, like bookshelves and a dog bed. And my bike. Everything left New Jersey exactly 2 months ago, and arrived in port in the UK a few days ago. And now it’s cleared customs and will get to us next week!

Last time, we got things used from people, and then carried them across town. This time, we got used things and then very kind people gave us rides home with them. And other very kind people lent us things (and gave us rides). We also got furniture at charity shops, and the charity shops do deliveries.

Last time, we frantically stocked our fridge on a Saturday night at Migros (and then got kicked out at closing time). This time, essentials were provided by other (!) kind people, and now we’re in a routine of weekly vegbox deliveries, occasional online grocery store deliveries, and regular visits to the Summertown farmers market. Pretty good routine, I think, and we’re back to Switzerland levels of carrot consumption.

Last time, we made our first ever trip to IKEA on our first frantic day in our new apartment. This time, we waited weeks before caving into IKEA, then bought a bunch of things online (including a big drying rack) and got them delivered yesterday. And someday soon, we’ll assemble them. (We assembled the drying rack.)

Jackie is off giving a seminar talk. Ruben is working on a kong filled with peanut butter (too wet and muddy for a long walk). And I’m cooking some of our vegbox potato surplus and wondering where we’ll put all our stuff when it arrives. Just like last time–no closets!

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Nov 01 2015

Announcing Holiday Harmonies

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It’s out, it’s out! Here it is! Hot off the press! Get it on Amazon or on ITunes! Way back when in February, I had the great pleasure of rehearsing and then recording with a fabulous group of artists in New York City. I admit, it was a little strange to be singing Christmas songs in February with such intensity, but what an experience it was. One worth taking a short pause from dissertating. And now it is finally ready for you all to hear! This CD features soloist Jamie Barton, whom a quick google will reveal to be a young and rising star in the opera world, most recently with an excellent review of her performance at the Met in the New York Times. It has beautiful piano and harp supporting the choir, stunning arrangements, wonderfully rich voices. It sounds like you are standing in the middle of a warm, glimmering, intimate choir. Maybe it feels like you are, in fact, a Christmas tree in the middle of the choir.  This is not the typical array of carols…it has carols, yes, but it also has a simple children’s song and the most profound choral singing of newly composed music mixed in with the old. Just enough fiddling with the tried and true to be traditional without any stuffiness. If you get the album, you will even see a photo of me in the album notes. The day we recorded at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in Harlem was frigid and the heating system was off so the noise wouldn’t get into the microphones, so we were not exactly warm, but our voices were! And our conductor, Judith Clurman, not only was in her element directing the music and shaping it according to her vision, but also made us an excellent chocolate cake with pantry odds-and-ends on top to get us through the long day of hyper-focus. Please listen, please gift for the Christmas season. Read a bit more and listen to the sampler here.

And if you’re thinking maybe Christmas isn’t your thing, here’s Clurman’s album (which I am not on) from a year ago, Cherished Moments, which is extraordinary in its own right and speaks to everything familiar in my world of Jewish and Western classical music traditions and brings to reality what had always lain in the realm of the imaginary meeting of those worlds in my mind. I have been returning to it throughout the year, as it tracks the Jewish liturgical calendar and life cycle. Soon would be a good time to meet it at Chanukah.

Today was the warmest Nov 1 on record for the UK. Warm and sunny. What a way to ring in the winter and holiday season!

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