Friday, September 16, 2016

More Festivals

With four years based in Switzerland, it's getting harder, but not impossible, to find Swiss festivals we've never seen. Luzern is the location for an annual classical music festival. Zurich Insurance (Tom's employer) is one of the sponsors and offers discounted tickets to employees, but the timing has never worked for us. Often one or both of us is in the US in early September. This year, Tom was invited by another company and they included me in the invitation! I arranged my flight back to Switzerland to take advantage of the opportunity. Perhaps Deutsche Bank was sponsoring this evening because the Berlin Philharmonic would be performing. 
art museum houses concert hall

excellent seats: front row of first balcony

Keine Pause = no pause, in other words, don't clap between movements

The program was only two pieces. The first was about 15 minutes long and the other over an hour. The Boulez had a very unusual instrumentation. I was going to try to describe it, but this does a much better job:
 Eclat has a great instrumentation — a glittery mass of plucked strings and percussion, plus a small group of winds, brass and strings who sit there silently almost the entire time ..... It starts off with a bangy, virtuosic piano solo that wouldn’t seem out of place in a later Messiaen piece.  Then the sustaining instruments enter, playing pppp trills, and they gradually drop out as the conductor cues them.  The bulk of the piece consists of big, unmetered blocks of time, demarcated by brief, rapid figures played by the shiny instruments.  Finally, the sustaining instruments come back to play some aggressive music in rhythmic unison, which only lasts about a minute before the piece ends.  

I would love to see the score. 
15 musicians performed the Boulez

Sir Simon Rattle takes a bow

For Mahler, a much larger orchestra is required. Besides the usual large string section (which I think was even larger than normal), the wind section included more of each than is typical and nearly every instrument variety that exists! For instance, there were three "normal" clarinets, but also a soprano and bass clarinet. People were not doubling instruments; this required five musicians. 

8 basses - part of a huge string section

not quite everyone fits in the photo!

congratulating the tenor horn soloist

another bow - Bravo!!
I'm glad we finally got to one of the concerts and it was especially nice because it was free!

For something completely different, the next day I met friends at the main station in Zurich and we hopped on the train to Rorhschach, home of the annual sand sculpture festival. It takes place on the Swiss side of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) which is between Switzerland and Germany. Although the outing was my idea, I gave full disclosure. I'd never been there before and had no idea what to expect. 

Lake Constance does not have a sandy beach. All the sand used had to be brought in by truck. Realizing that, it makes sense that this festival was quite small. There were only about 10-12 large displays. Although it was not ever spelled out, we guessed the theme of the year had to do with imagination.

 Either sides of the same sculpture.

The figure in the center is faceless and surrounded by four faces expressing very different, but clear emotions.

the only photo I took that shows a larger expanse of the displays

I think the baby on the left looks like Buddha! 

The girl below is sitting reading under a whale's tail (tale under a tail?) while the water dripping off is blocks with letters. A form must have been used to make the blocks. 
looking up at a paper boat

two sided heads

We chose this sculpture to pose with because it was one of the biggest. Still a challenge not to block it all.
Lisa, Lynn, Donna and yours truly

This sculpture reminded me of Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Others thought it looked like a turtle with the brain being the shell. Below is the back of the brain that Gollum is carrying - it has feathers!


This one was my favorite. It was called "Still Life". There are apples and pears displayed, but each has been eaten with the remaining core carved into a face. All famous people, but I sure couldn't name them all. Very cool. 


one of a few simple sculptures

boats on Lake Constance

There were lots of pretty gardens around Rorschach, but I did not find an inkblot museum!

a "badi" or bath house
We have examples of "badis" all around Lake Zurich. This one is actually sitting in Lake Constance. The building would have facilities for changing clothes and a more secluded spot for swimming. 

Will there be any more visits to Swiss festivals before our move?  Place your bets and the answer will become clear in future posts.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Home Leaves 2016

At the beginning of 2015, Tom was no longer considered an expat as far as his contract is concerned. This means there are fewer perks including that the company no longer paid for an annual flight home. It didn't change anything for us. In fact, I went with the same or increased frequency. The two main trips of 2016 were in late May into early June and again in August. 

The first trip was scheduled in order to be among the crowd at Alicia's graduation from Boston College, receiving her Master of Social Work degree (MSW).

listening to the speeches

on the way to getting her diploma!

Congratulations, Alicia!

All graduated and now it's photo time! 

The Rogers grandparents were able to make the trip north for the occasion.  

Shane and Alicia

Tom and I spent a week in Westport, MA together before he had to return to work. Afterwards, my sister, Janis, came north to spend a few days with me. It was her first time to see the rebuilt cottage.  

We spent a day in Newport, RI. First stop, a mansion tour. We chose the Elms because not only can you see where the rich vacationed, there is also a behind the scenes servant tour. For fans of Downton Abbey, it is very interesting to see the downstairs scene.

inside the Elms
For any tennis fan, a Newport must is the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I've been there several times before, but I don't mind going again. 

I have a  photo of my mother and one of myself posing with this statue. Now all I need is one of our other sister, Karen, and the collection will be complete. 

Justine Henin was always a favorite of mine and it was a very sad day for me when she retired. I love this quote from Billie Jean King. Justine was inducted into the Hall of Fame this July. I would have loved to be there to watch, but sometimes living in Europe is inconvenient. 

Janis and I also took a road trip to see some of the Cape Cod lighthouses. 

This lighthouse was a disappointment. The website said you could tour the inside, but the days and times online were not accurate. No tours the day we were there. It's windy on the coast!
Nauset Light - part of Cape Cod National Seashore
The three sisters lighthouses are also part of Cape Cod National Seashore (part of the National Park Service). Two sisters, but three lighthouses. Once they were no longer in use, they were purchased for $1 and moved by an individual to this property to be preserved. 

missing Karen to make the photo complete.
Originally the three lighthouses signaled to boats where on the Cape they were. 

On our drive from MA back to PA, we had the pleasure of visiting with our niece, her husband and baby. It was the first time Janis met Madelyn Brooke Ryan who is absolutely adorable.  She was even wearing Swiss flags and St. Bernards on her shirt.  Awww!

mom (Cathy) and Madelyn

going for the hair or the earrings?

Great-Aunt Janis

dad (Mark) doubles as play equipment
It was a short, but very sweet visit. 

I was with my parents in Lititz for an early celebration of their 65th wedding anniversary! We went to a dinner theater and had a good time with many laughs.

unplanned color-coordination
statue outside New Bedford ferry station

I returned to the USA in August for a week of R&R with Tom in Westport. We got in two trips with the kayak and had local seafood most every day. We also took the ferry from New Bedford out to visit Phil and Jane Dietterich on Martha's Vineyard. 

wind on the ferry doesn't help a hairdo!
On our return, it was interesting to watch the bridge being turned to allow a ship out of the harbor.

As usual, my trips also involve appointments and projects that are not fun. This time it was inspecting our NJ house after the lousy tenants had vacated. I'm not including any of those pictures. The house could have been worse, but it was extremely dirty and they left many things behind that we now have to discard. At least we can move forward. 

A bonus on this trip was an evening spent with a college friend. I hadn't seen Ginny since our 30th reunion which was five years ago! I will miss the 35th reunion, but it was fun to catch up. We're getting old!

On my way through CT, I stopped at Karen's house both times. It's nice to visit and also break up the drive. I had a chance to see the Ryans again, but this time I neglected to take pictures of Madelyn's parents or grandparents! Oops!


Karen, David and I went to the Connecticut Open (part of the US Open tennis series) to see some women's tennis up close and personal. It was amazing how few people were there. Not great for the players, but not bad for us. We bought the cheapest tickets and sat wherever we wanted! 

main stadium - not a big crowd!

Some of the highlights:

A. Radwanska on the practice court
Genie Bouchard

Swiss Miss: Timea Bacinsky

Caroline Wozniacki played incredibly poorly while we were there rooting for her. It was painful to watch. I'm very glad she is doing much better in New York. 

Swiss Miss: Belinda Bencic

I always enjoy watching tennis live and this time was no different. It was just disappointing to watch both Swiss Misses lose!

 Bonus of the day in celebration of Girl's Day out:  photos with Genie Bouchard.

Karen and I with our new pal
There's never enough time to do everything I'd like and it's always hard to leave Westport. My last full day I finally made it to the beach. After I parked the car, I was in a bit of a panic because my parking permit no longer matches the license plate of the car (having just transferred to MA plates). I went in the later afternoon and luckily for me no one was checking. The water wasn't too cold, there wasn't much seaweed and the waves were just the right size = perfection!

sand sculpture on the town beach

After nearly all of August in the USA, it was time to return to Switzerland. As many of you already know, we're reaching the end of our time here. The next port of call will be Los Angeles which came as a surprise to us both. Since I will still be far from home, I'm expecting to again feel a bit like an expat although I do speak the language! I will continue to use this blog space to write about life in LA and post pictures of trips on that side of the world.