Friday, December 21, 2012

Amazing Stories Magazine - BETA version

With everything else that has been going on, there's also been quite a bit of movement toward legitimizing my hobbies of SF Poetry and Voice Acting.

I've gotten my first paying job as a narrator. Granted it's pretty minor - I'll be reading 3 stories for an anthology called Geek Love Anthology. It's a little risque :-) But Nobilis Reed is paying me to do it, so I'm happy!

The other semi-professional improvement is that I will become one of the original bloggers for the new Amazing Stories Magazine that is launching its beta-version on Jan. 2nd, 2013. Here's the official press-release:

Amazing Stories, the world's first science fiction magazine, opens for Beta Testing of Phase 1 on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013.

Fifty+ Writers Sign On to provide genre-related content!

Experimenter Publishing Company
Hillsboro, NH
December 20, 2012

AMAZING STORIES are just one click away!

On Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013, I will be joined by more than 50 other writers from around the blogosphere to help launch the Beta Test of Phase 1 of the return of Amazing Stories.

Amazing Stories was the world's first science fiction magazine.  Published by Hugo Gernsback, the Father of Science Fiction, the magazine created the genre's first home and was instrumental in helping to establish science fiction fandom – the fandom from which all other fandoms have evolved.

The magazine itself ceased publication in 2005; in 2008 the new publisher, Steve Davidson, discovered that the trademarks had lapsed and applied for them.  The marks were finally granted in 2011.

Phase 1 introduces the social networking aspects of the site and the Blog Team, more than 50 authors, artists, collectors, editors, pod casters, designers and bloggers who will address 14 different subjects on a regular basis – SF, Fantasy & Horror literature, anime, gaming, film, television, the visual arts, audio works, the pulps, comics, fandom, science and publishing.

Those wishing to participate in the Beta Test should request an invite by emailing the publisher, Steve Davidson.

Amazing Stories' Social Magazine platform is designed to create an interactive environment that will be familiar to fans – especially those who attend conventions or enjoy club activities – with blog content designed to encourage discussion and take things beyond the usual user-generated content model for social networks.

The Amazing Stories Blog Team will cover (for now – more coming!) fourteen popular topics – Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Literature, Film, Television, Gaming, Comics and Graphic Works, the Visual Arts, the Pulps, Audio Works, Anime, the Business of Publishing, Science and Fandom itself.

Amazing Stories' relaunch will take place in two phases. Those interested in participating in the Beta Test of Phase 1 should contact the publisher at Phase 2 will introduce additional interactivity and user-customization to the site. Following the completion and testing of Phase 2, the magazine, featuring both new and reprint fiction, essays, photo galleries, reviews and more will begin publication. Readers who are interested in what the magazine will look like can read two Relaunch Prelaunch issues on line, or download them from the Amazing Stories store. (Additional Amazing Stories themed product is also available here.)

How cool is that?!? My first blog post will mostly be just an introduction and a bit of a teaser to get people interested in coming back. I have several ideas for subsequent posts and I think it will be fun!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Poetry Planet No. 8 SFPA Poetry Contest 2012

It's been a while - had you noticed? My last post was actually the previous Poetry Planet! Well, we've moved. Not just moved house, but moved to a new city, a new country, a new language! We've moved from Germany to Paris. Yes, and you'll find us under the Eiffel Tower... Not actually, but nearly! We have a lovely apartment (huge, for Parisian standards) and live in a very dynamic area of town - on the border of the 7th and 15th arondissements (quarters). We are nearly out of all the boxes and have found homes for most of our stuff. Even having left most of our books and CD/DVD collections in Hannover and doing some major decluttering, we're still struggling with lack of space.

Well, that's not actually what this post is meant to be about! Wed. 19 December 2012 comes the release of a new edition of Poetry Planet! No. 9 - the SFPA Poetry Contest 2012. You can listen to it here: StarShipSofa No. 269. You'll hear the winners and the runner up poems of the contest sponsored by the Science Fiction Poetry Association. And as a bonus at the end I also read the winning poems of the Dwarf Stars Award. You can read the winning and placing poems in their entirety on the SFPA website. So without further ado, here are the links and show-notes for the show:

Dwarf length:
  • Runner up: Noel Sloboda - Dinosaur Heart. Noel Sloboda is the author of the poetry collection Shell Games as well as several chapbooks. He has also published a book about Edith Wharton and Gertrude Stein. Sloboda teaches at Penn State York and serves as dramaturg for the Harrisburg Shakespeare Festival. His forthcoming poetry collection, Our Rarer Monsters, will feature original art by Marc Snyder. Catch a glimpse here:
  • Winner: Steven Wittenberg Gorden, M.D. - Lilith. Steven Wittenberg Gordon received his BA from Amherst College and his MD from Albany Medical College. He credits his romantic Shakespearean sonnets and other love poems with his luck in wooing, winning, and keeping his wife—a lady otherwise clearly out of his league. In the past year, he has been experimenting with speculative poetry, mainly fantasy and horror. “Lilith” is his first work of short fiction to be published in a professional market. Doctor Gordon resides in Kansas with his wife, their two children, and a poorly trained Airedale terrier. He continues to practice medicine on a part-time basis. Visit him at

Short length:
  • Runner up: Cathy Bryant - Calculated. Cathy Bryant lives in Manchester, UK, and performs her poetry all over the country. Her short stories and poems have been published in every continent except Antarctica, and in 2012 she won the Swanezine Poetry Prize, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Prize, the Sampad 'Inspired by Tagore' Prize and the Malahat Review Monostich Poetry Prize. Her collection Contains Strong Language and Scenes of a Sexual Nature was published recently and can be purchased from or any good bookshop. Fnd out more at        
  • Winner: Damien Cowger - Cold.  Damien Cowger is a writer of short fiction and poetry. His work has most recently appeared in Fox Cry Review, Midwest Literary Magazine, and Denver Syntax. He lives in Athens, Ohio where he is the Managing Editor of New Ohio Review. Damien estimates that he has swallowed about $1.20 in dimes in his lifetime.
Long length:
  • Runner up: Jade Sylvan - Rocketman Pantoum. Jade Sylvan is a writer and performance artist. She's the author of The Spark Singer and has had work published in PANK, The Sun, Bayou, Basalt, Word Riot, Decomp, and others. Read her work and about her various projects at She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Runner up: Bryant O'Hara - The Music is Always On. Bryant O'Hara is a programmer, poet, occasional musician, and budding maker - not always in that order, sometimes all at once. He has worked as an industrial engineer and technical writer, and is currently a software developer. Bryant started writing poetry in earnest during the mid-1990's, performing as part of the Klub Kuumba poetry collective in Atlanta, GA. After a long hiatus, he revisited many of those poems and began creating new ones. "The Music is Always On" is his first published poem. You can listen to poetry with musical backgrounds here on SoundCloud. Bryant lives in Stone Mountain, GA, with his wife Alice and two of his seven children.
  • Winner: Darrel Lindsey - The Fugitive. Darrell Lindsey is a freelance writer/ poet/songwriter from Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas. His haiku and tanka have won awards in the United States, Japan, Croatia, Bulgaria, Canada, and Romania. He is the author of Edge Of The Pond ( Popcorn Press, 2012), available on Amazon and from the publisher at
Dwarf Stars Awards:

News items:

Kickstarter Projects mentioned:

  • Clockwork Phoenix 4 and other stories of beauty and strangeness, ed. Mike Allen
  • Cthulhu Haiku and Other Mythos Madness, Poems and Stories, ed. Lester Smith
  • Apocalypes Now: Poems and Prose from the End of Days, ed. Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum & Alexander Lumans. 

Julie Bloss Kelsey Blog contest: Stars in my Sugar Bowl

Online Zines: Abyss & Apex, Goblin Fruit, Inskscrawl, Stone Telling, Niteblade and Scifikuest.

Please do visit the poet's sites and check out more of their work! I know they appreciate the visit. As always, feel free to comment on the show either here or on the StarShipSofa forum.

Thanks for listening!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Poetry Planet: 2012 Rhysling Award Showcase

After much delay, the next installment of Poetry Planet has hit the ether (now on StarShipSofa 256)! The annual Rhysling Award Showcase features the poetry of the award winners in both the Long and the short categories plus the 2nd and 3rd placing poems as well. I must apologize profusely at this stage because the 2nd place long poem failed to make it into the final audio file and by the time I noticed it was too late to fix it. Sorry! But as a bonus, you get it here (see below)

You'll hear:

  • 3rd Place Long: Mary A. Turzillo, "The Legend of the Emperor's new Spacesuit (a Tale of Concensus Reality)" 

Mary A. Turzillo's novel An Old-Fashioned Martian Girl and Nebula Award- winning novelette "Mars Is no Place for Children" are recommended reading on the International Space Station. She has been nominated for the Rhysling, the British Science Fiction Association Award ("Eat or Be Eaten, a Love Story"), and the Pushcart (Your Cat & Other Space Aliens, vanZeno). Her latest book is Lovers & Killers, Dark Regions 2012.
Lyn C. A. Gardner grew up beside Keuka Lake in upstate New York, but her family has since gathered in coastal Virginia. With master's degrees in English literature and library science, she’s been the editor for a private maritime museum and currently serves as catalog librarian for a public library. She also loved her work as projectionist for AMC Theatres. In addition to writing, art, and photography, She enjoys fencing, swimming in lakes, biking around the neighborhood, skating (ice & sidewalk skates). She loves owls, cats, trees, snow, the stars, the color blue, and playing folk guitar and harpsichord. Most of all, She loves spending time with her family. Her first book, a poetry collection called Dreaming of Days in Astophel, is available from Sam's Dot Publishing.

  • 2nd Place Long: G. O. Clark and Kendall Evans, “The 25-Cent Rocket: One-Quarter of the Way to the Stars” This poem failed to make it onto the final audio file. My apologies to Gary and Kendall! I've posted it to my MySpace space for now, until the next Poetry Planet runs. To listen go here.
Kendall Evans is the author of more than 250 poems and about 50 short stories published in various sf, fantasy and horror publications. He recently completed a book length sf dramatic poem, a ring cycle in four parts, The Rings of Ganymede.
G.O Clark’s poetry has appeared on Poetry Planet previously. G. O. Clark's writing has been published in Asimov's Science Fiction, StrangeHorizons, A Sea Of Alone: Poems For Alfred Hitchcock, Tales Of The Talisman, among others. He's the author of nine poetry collections, most recent, "White Shift" in 2012, and a fiction collection, "The Saucer Under My Bed and Other Stories", 2011. He’s retired and lives in Davis, CA.

Erik Amundsen was removed from display, as he was considered zoologically improbable and/or terrifying to small children. He has been sighted in Weird Tales, Fantasy Magazine, Not One of Us and Jabberwocky but his natural habitat is central Connecticut. Taken broadly, Erik Amundsen has had an interesting life; he's been a baker, an itinerant schoolteacher, worked for two governments and gotten in bar fights overseas. He now lives at the foot of a cemetery in central Connecticut where he writes nasty little stories and poems that shuffle around in the night when he's not looking. Or at least he hopes it's them; something's got to be making those noises and it's not the furnace. He maintains a blog on LiveJournal under the code-name cucumberseed.

  • 1st Place Long: Megan Arkenberg, "The Curator Speaks in the Department of Dead Languages" 

Megan Arkenberg is a student in Wisconsin. This was her first Rhysling nomination and her first award for speculative poetry. In addition to poetry, she writes short fiction; her work has recently appeared in Asimov’s, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Lightspeed. She procrastinates by editing the online magazines Mirror Dance, which focuses on the fantasy genre and Lacuna, for historical fiction.

Shira Lipkin is a writer, activist, mother, and nexus. She has managed to convince Interfictions 2, Stone Telling, ChiZine, Apex Magazine, Steam-Powered, Mythic Delirium, and other otherwise-sensible magazines and anthologies to publish her short fiction and poetry, and she has just won the 2012 Rhysling Award for short poem. She lives in Boston with her family and the requisite cats, fights crime with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, does six impossible things before breakfast, and would like a nap now. You can track her movements at and Please do. She likes the company.

Please click on the links to the poets' websites, blogs and the like. They appreciate the support. 

Update - after the 2011 Rhysling Award Showcase got a rerun on StarShipSofa No. 255, the 2012 version is now live on the website and iTunes - StarShipSofa No. 256

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Poetry Review: On the Brink of Never

On the Brink of Never, compiled by David C. Kopaska-Merkel, is a collection of apocalyptic poetry written by various authors: Kopaska-Merkel himself, Jennifer Schwabach, Jaime Lee Moyer, Marcie Lynn Tentchoff, Terrie Leigh Relf, Marsheila Rockwell and Samantha Henderson.

Do you have any idea how many ways the "world" can end or when? And what happens afterwards? These questions are explored in this slim volume and each poem brings a little surprise. This is the blurb:

The ancient Maya had a rich mythology. Their religious beliefs included the notion that the world would end on December 21, 2012. For reasons best known to themselves, hordes of modern folk have converted to this ancient religion. If belief sustains the existence of gods, as some have suggested, then perhaps it also sustains the validity of prophecy. I hope not. Because if belief alone can make prophecy real, millions and millions of lapsed Abrahamic religionists may have doomed the rest of us to extinction along with themselves. Nice going guys! In a spirit of hopelessness and despair, engendered by the realization that a boatload of gullible fools are taking us with them into oblivion, we offer the following tribute. I don't know what day you bought this book, but just in case: read fast!
~ David C. Kopaska-Merkel, Terra, Year N-2

The authors form a group, encouraged by Mikal Trimm (strangely absent among those represented in the collection), called the Hitting the Muse group. As explained in the Foreword, they encourage one another to write and give critique to hone their craft. Most of the poems collected are a direct result of this fellowship.

Gathered within is an apocalyptic lullaby (the earth will moan / and scream, my loveling, / and heave, and crack / in fissures deep), a love testament (And we stand together / As we always have, / Watching while the sky falls.), the sun personified (My birth spawned yours; likewise, my death / Our love began with an explosion), the olympic gods (London, 2012 / Apollo's first arrow took out / The entire upper tier / Of Lord's Grand Stand), quite realistic blame laying (We’ve fouled our nest for centuries, / Done exactly as we please, / Our misdeeds now have come to bite us), zombies (and I exhaled with relief, / believing the zombie infestation / had devoured the entire chorus.), remembering what's important (Your daughter's last ballet recital, ... Your son's first real "grownup" party), extinction on another planet (Rescue is not / Coming, not now / Too far away / Supplies short), death by comet (It missed us by more than 200,000 miles. / Missed us, but hit the moon), post-apocalyptic life ("Reality bites," I think, but don't say / while a few folks share stale peanut butter)(They say, "remember," / and I try to see the world's / ending through the eyes of people / like my parents, who survived.) and many, many more.

Some favorites of mine include "Fate" by Jaime Lee Moyer, "The Sun God Bids
Farewell to His Lover" and "When the Comet Came" by Marsheila Rockwell, naturally "The Sign Read: Post-Apocalyptic Choir Seeking New Members" by Terrie Leigh Relf, "Spring" by Jennifer Schwabach, David C. Kopaska-Merkel's "Keepin' On" and "A Wink Of The
Further Eye", and Marcie Lynn Tentchoff's "Remembrance Day".

There are serious poems and touching poems, poems to ponder and poems to chuckle over (amazingly), so there is something for everyone, I dare say. I received a .pdf version of this for review, so I can say nothing about the physical volume.

You can purchase a hard copy of On the Brink of Never at Alban Lake and at Smashwords in ebook format.


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Narration - The Timpanist of the Berlin Philharmonic - 1942, by Kim Stanley Robinson

At long last, I have another narration up on StarShipSofa No. 249. It is a very moving story by the imminent Science Fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson. This isn't actually a Science Fiction story - at least not as far as I can tell. I'm not actually sure why Tony wanted this story for StarShipSofa, except that any story by KS Robinson would be a good draw for the podcast and I think that is the idea for this month of August with 2 new podcasts he's plugging.

Anyway back to the story. It is ostensibly about the political climate in Berlin in 1942 and what happened to and in the Berlin Philharmonic at the time. The Timpanist's very personal story is intertwined with descriptions of  his relationship to Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. The Symphony is a character in this story and all the "action" takes place during the course of the Berlin Philharmonic's performance of it on Hitler's birthday in 1942. There are some chilling moments as well as some very emotional moments. It is a rare story which gives a positive light to some "ordinary" and extraordinary people who did their best in a bleak time in which there seemed no hope. I almost wish it were in German so that all my German friends could listen to it. Germans as a people still struggle with how to come to terms with the events of WWII and they come down very hard on themselves as a general rule. For the most part this is the correct attitude, but there's always a flip side and this is one of them. It's powerful stuff. I used the actual recording of the symphony from that very night. Not much just about 60 seconds or so of it, but the timing is just perfect with the story...

Go listen to it: The Timpanist of the Berlin Philharmonic - 1942, by Kim Stanley Robinson Tony's intro and the segment about the cover art for the month of August isn't long, but if you'd rather skip straight to the story it begins at the 5'15" minute mark. It's about 45 minutes long.

I'd love to hear what you think about the story and/or my narration. You can post here or at StarShipSofa's Forum Episode Feedback page or FaceBook page.

In other news, I'm still working on The Rhysling Award Showcase edition of Poetry Planet. It'll probably come out in 2 weeks time because Tony appears to be on vacation. Either that or he's sleeping at the desk. :-)


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Poetry Review - A Woman of Mars, by Helen Patrice

I was encouraged yesterday (by Shira Lipkin - this year's Rhysling Award Winner in the Short Form) to review more about the poetry I read. I don't consider myself much of an expert on poetry or even particularly knowledgeable. That might change as I find myself spending more time with it and trying to learn.

I recently finished the collection of related poetry, "A Woman of Mars", by Helen Patrice and this one is easy to review, so here goes. Most of this I also posted on my GoodReads collection.

I won this slim volume in a little contest the author held on her Author Page at FaceBook - so I feel a certain duty to review it properly.

It's a gorgeous, slim hard cover. Brick red, fitting to the setting with wonderful artwork (pencil drawings) by Bob Eggleston. It's a limited, signed (by both author and artist) edition - mine is number 225/300, so there aren't many left!

It's highly readable. Non of the poems are epic in length and so it's possible to read them several times in one sitting, without getting overwhelmed. The poems tell a story and the over-arching narrative is quite compelling. In the space of just a few poems you come to care about this woman and really want to know what happens to her.  That said, despite the woman's love for Mars, there is an underlying sadness or melancholy, perhaps stemming from the hardship of leaving home and the hardship of being the first colonists on Mars, which permeates the volume. Not uplifting, but moving. 

You can find the collection at PSPublishing.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Raggio-di-Sol on YouTube

The small vocal ensemble that I sing with here in Hannover, Germany (Raggio-di-Sol or "Ray of Sun") has several clips from concerts over the years up on YouTube. You can find the Raggio-di-Sol Channel here. There are a couple with me singing solo:

"Gott der Herr ist Sonn' und Schild" (Part 2) J. S. Bach

"Sfogava con le stelle" Claudio Monteverdi

Hopefully, more coming...

Rhysling Award winners announced

The Rhysling Award winners and runners-up have been announced!
Here they are:

Short Poem
  • 1. Shira Lipkin, “The Library, After” In Mythic Delerium, No. 24
  • 2. Erik Amundsen, “The Lend” In Stone Telling No. 5
  • 3. Lyn C. A. Gardner, “In Translation” In Tales of the Talisman 7, No. 1
Long Poem
I’ve linked to the ones available online. I’m also going to do a Rhysling Award Showcase on Poetry Planet soon, soon, soon. Hope I get permission to do all of them. 4 down 2 to go!


Thursday, July 05, 2012

Poetry Planet No. 6 "Moon Imaginings"

The next installment of Poetry Planet on StarShipSofa No. 245 will hit the ether today. You'll find my segment at around the 43:00 minute mark. This one is all about the Moon. These are the show notes. 

You'll hear poetry by:

  • Geoffrey A. Landis - Geoffrey A. Landis is a scientist with the NASA John Glenn Research Center and a Hugo and Nebula Award winning science-fiction writer. His most recent publication is in Buzzkill - an anthology of apocalyptic poetry. His poetry is collected in Iron Angels.
  • Lyn C. A. Gardner - With master's degrees in English literature and library science, she's been the editor for a private maritime museum and currently serves as catalog librarian for a public library. In addition to writing, art, and photography, she enjoys fencing, swimming in lakes, biking around the neighborhood, skating (ice & sidewalk skates). Shes love owls, cats, trees, snow, the stars, the color blue, and playing folk guitar and harpsichord. Most of all, she loves spending time with her family. Her recently published poetry collection is Dreaming of Days in Astrophel
  • Sandra Lindow - Writer/Editor/Teacher. Regional Vice President for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. She has published five books of poetry most recently Touched by the Gods.
  • Nathan Boole - StarShipSofa listener and aspiring writer. Find his short story Black Bradley and the Mercenary Captain on
  • David Kopaska-Merkel - David Kopaska-Merkel raises giraffopards for the Venusian Defense Force, and publishes Dreams & Nightmares magazine, now in its 26th
    year. He won the Rhysling award for best long poem (2006) for a collaboration with Kendall Evans. Their latest collaboration, The Tin Men, was published by Sam's Dot in 2011.
  • David Lunde - David Lunde is a poet and translator whose work has appeared in many journals. His work has been included in 40 anthologies, and he is the author of 11 books of poems and translations, the most recent being: Breaking the Willow (2008), and 300 Tang Poems (2011), translations of classical Chinese poetry. His collection Blues for Port City contains the Rhysling Award winning poem Pilot, Pilot.
  • Mari Ness - More of Mari Ness' poetry can be found at Goblin Fruit, Ideomancer, Stone Telling and Bull Spec. She blogs, sometimes but not usually about poetry at and for, or you can follow her on Twitter @mari_ness. She lives in central Florida.
  • Gerald Warfield - Gerald Warfield’s short story, “The Poly Islands,” won second prize in the first quarter of the 2011 Writers of the Future contest.  The same year, his humorous story “The Origin of Third Person in Paleolithic Epic Poetry” took first place in the nationally syndicated Grammar Girl short story contest.  His poetry has appeared in numerous magazines including New Myths, edited by Scott Barnes.   Gerald published music textbooks and how-to books in investing before turning to fiction.  He is a graduate of the Odyssey Writers Workshop (2010).  He is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Please follow the links to the poets' websites and publications. Support you favorite one!

Links to the other items mentioned on this show:

Poetry Zines (online):

You can find a list and links to all of my voice work on StarShipSofa and elsewhere here.


Wednesday, June 06, 2012


A couple of weekends ago I traveled to Hong Kong. It seems like much longer ago and almost dream-like because it was so brief and I've done so much since then.

I was only in HK itself for 3 days, 72 hours almost exactly. It is far enough away and you cross enough time zones that travel took about a whole day one way. I left Thursday afternoon and returned on Tuesday morning about when my family was waking up. Magnus had Thursday and Friday off from work (Germany is great for vacation days, this was Ascension Thursday and oh, just take Friday off as well! It's hardly worth it to come in only one day before the weekend!), so child care was relatively easy to arrange. The boy only had to go to day care the whole day on Monday.

The trip took about 16 hours to HK with a layover in Hannover. Somewhere between Hannover and Frankfurt I got an email from Albert saying he'd just realized another Hong Kong friend of his (Bernard) living in Frankfurt and I were on the same flight. We found each other at the gate and had a nice chat. I'm definitely a spoiled international traveler: The airplane didn't have individual video screens, so I did the most reasonable thing - I read and listened to StarShipSofa until I decided I could fall asleep and slept for the duration.

First impression of Hong Kong: Holy moly, those are some tall apartment buildings! I went straight to the hotel (Hotel Kowloon), which was right next to the Peninsula, where most of the wedding festivities would be held, but much cheaper. Nice comfortable hotel. Breakfast was NOT worth the €16 added to the room price! I took a nap while I waited for friends from my time in Frankfurt who were also in the wedding party to arrive and call.

Friday night was the wedding rehearsal and I was to run through my songs with Albert's sister Sharon and the organist. Both went extremely well. Sharon is an excellent pianist, even if she hasn't played regularly (or was it "at all") in years. She applied herself these past few months and got the Malotte Lord's Prayer up to snuff. The rehearsal dinner was held at the Hong Kong Cricket Club (well, well!) and was an excellent western style meal. Upon arriving I asked for water and it came warm! It was actually the perfect antidote to the torrential rains outside and the glacial air conditioning inside. This dichotomy would turn out to be a recurring theme while I was there! I made sure I had my pashmina or my shrug sweater with me at all times.

Saturday I had a dim-sum lunch with Bernard, Jen and Patrick (the Frankfurt friends) at the Prince restaurant. It was on the top floor of the building and overlooked the bay towards Hong Kong Island (we were in Kowloon) and the food was oh so yummy. Jen and I went shopping in Centre (Hong Kong Island). I was on a mission to find a reasonable pair of concert shoes: black, closed toe, heel but not too high and above all extremely comfortable. Oh, and in my size. I quickly realized that I do not have the small and dainty foot of your average Chinese maiden. I was lucky if they had a size 39 (US 9) let alone the 40 or 41 that I actually needed. I did, however find a perfect pair of dance shoes by Repetto that were unfortunately just that much too small. If they'd had a size larger, they would've been perfect and I would not have hesitated buying them one second. As it was despite more searching that night after "High Tea" I came up empty handed.

We joined Albert, Natalie and families for High Tea at the peninsula. I just had cake. But the tea sandwich/cakes tower looked delectable. After tea, a Hong Kong friend of Albert's who he met in San Francisco (Ken) went shopping with me! Such a gentleman! He also joined me for dinner at a well known restaurant and then refused to let me pay! This was also turning out the be a recurring occurrence, since Bernard bought lunch for all of us too!

The next morning I met Jen and we went to get our hair put up at a nearby salon. They did an excellent job with mine and I'm sure it wouldn't have ever budged a millimeter if I hadn't taken out the gouging bobby pins after I was done singing at the reception!

The wedding!!! ...was at 15:30 (officially) I was to sing "Bist Du Bei Mir" by Bach (Anna Magdalena Songbook) the moment Natalie arrived in the car. But there was no sign of her until almost 16:00 (4:00pm!). The Bach went well and the ceremony was beautiful. It was interesting to hear Amazing grace sung in Cantonese! And I haven't heard a congregation sing like that ( well and loud ) since Christ the King, Frankfurt! Alberta's uncle, who is a minister working in the UK at the moment did the sermon. He printed out an English translation for those of us ignorant of Cantonese. Lovely.

During the signing bit Albert's sister Sharon and I did the Malotte. It went very well except for me almost losing it emotionally at the beginning. I am just so happy for Albert! After the ceremony we performed it again and recorded it. There is a video I'll have to embed another time. I've been writing about this weekend way too long already!

The reception was in the Spring Room backs at the Peninsula. Albert asked me to sing a few songs with the jzz combo he'd hired. I prepared Summertime, At Last and Skylark, which was Albert's request. I was a little early to rehearse with them and they were still sitting around eating we talk about tempo and keys. And when I asked later if we shouldn't go rehearse the leader said, "honey, we just did!" gotta love jazz musicians. I was terrified at first but aside crime the keys actually not being right for At Last and Skylark, it went very well! I was even able to jazz it up a little. We did The Nearness of you as a bonus too. The food at the reception more traditionally Chinese and wonderful!! I stayed until the very end when it was just Patrick, Jen, Ken and Bernard and I plus a few other young folk I didn't know. Joy.

I took a walk the next morning intending to go up to Victoria Peak, but by the time I found the tram t goes up there it was time to return to the hotel. Had a nice walk around Centre though and happened past the old Episcopal Church.

I took a taxi to the airport with Jen and Patrick because our flights were relatively close together. We ate lunch together and parted ways. I miss them! Friends like that are rare.

The trip home was long but uneventful. A 3 hour flight to Singapore on which I started but couldn't finish the American version of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and a few hours layover there made it interminable. I arrived home in Hannover at about 8am and spent the morning playing with Dante. He missed me! But had lots of good boy time with his Papi.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Announcing the 2012 SFPA poetry contest

The Science Fiction Poetry Association announces its 2012 speculative poetry contest. Speculative poetry encompasses science fiction, fantasy, and horror poetry. Deadline September 15, 2012.

There is no entry fee, and the contest is open to non-members, with $50 prizes and publication to the winners in 3 length divisions, and an additional $50 prize to the best poem by a non-member. Winners also receive a year's membership in SFPA and member publications.

The complete guidelines for the 2012 SFPA contest are posted on the SFPA website here.

Oh! And if you think you might have the odd genre poet who frequents your blog or website, the SFPA would be much obliged if you'd copy and paste the above and post it somewhere prominent! Thank you!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Interview = Fame!

I'm overdue to post about various recent events, but I would like to briefly mention, while it's fresh and new, that it's official - I am now famous - I have been interviewed! A friend, colleague and former fellow student in Bremen, Astrid Nielsch, writes a monthly Newsletter in which she regularly interviews people she knows who do cool things. And imagine - she thinks I do cool things! She herself does extremely cool things of an incredibly varied nature - Harper, web-designer, artist, photographer, gardener, etc. Her Newsletter is always interesting to read, even if it's not about me. ;-)

Here's the interview:

Asni Multimedia Art & Design Newsletter

Actually, it just occurred to me that this is the second interview that's been published about me. The first one wasn't available on the web though, that one was ostensibly about my mother and as an off-shoot of that, me. It was for the alumni of the high school my mother went to in Armstrong, Iowa. I don't imagine that it was very widespread, but still. I shouldn't discount it. But this! This is now out there in the ether for the world to read if it should so choose!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Concerts - report

When it rains, it pours! At least, that's what they say, and I have to admit it often seems true! This year when Easter rolled around I didn't have a whole lot planned for the next few months. But that changed drastically.

In the throes of one of the most horrible colds I've had in a while, my dear colleague Joachim Dreher in Dillenburg called and asked if I could jump in and sing in a concert in May. He'd had a soprano soloist all lined up (most likely a year in advance as is his wont), but she had called and said she was no longer able to do the gig. He remembered my offer in October that if he should ever find himself needing a soloist at short notice that he should turn to me. Not having a whole lot lined up for 2012 and being a quick study means that I could be what saves a concert if someone gets sick. Well, at least I had a few weeks notice for this concert. But more on that later.

But first the performance at the Herrenhäuser Chortage 2012 in Hannover by Raggio-di-Sol. That's the small vocal ensemble (10 singers), that I sing with. As per usual, we sang a few pieces during this choir festival. A whole weekend featuring  choirs from Hannover. We performed on Saturday afternoon. We did "Pastime with Good Company" by Henry VIII, "Pedro y bien te quiero" (anon.) "When David Heard" by Thomas Weelkes, "Luci seren e chiare" by Claudio Monteverdi and "Magnificat anima mea", by Alfredo Ihl (our director). We did adequately. I say adequately because Alfredo made everyone nervous about the Weelkes by harping on one small section way past the point of no return. A pity, because it would've been just fine. As it was, there was no complete breakdown, but at least one person lost their way. Oh well. The rest of the pieces went quite well! That took place at the end of April.

This past weekend, May 12-13, took me back to my old haunt Dillenburg again. This time to sing Bach cantatas. Joachim had stitched together a wonderful pastiche of pieces of various cantatas and organ pieces to create a program he called "Bach and in Honor of Bach" ("Bach und Bach zu Ehren"). The church choir, a small baroque orchestra (with a few members I know from previous performances), a bass soloist and me performed from 9 different cantatas and an organ soloist performed works by Liszt, Rinck and Karg-Elert on themes from Bach pieces. It was a wonderful program and the orchestra and choir were in fine form. I'm quite satisfied with my performance, although it wasn't perfect, when is it ever? And I don't think there was anything that anyone but a professional musician might have noticed. Maybe not even then...

17 May 2012 I flit off to Hong Kong! My dear friend Albert is (finally) getting married! I know Albert from choir at the Episcopal Church of Christ the King in Frankfurt. After he left Frankfurt he spent several years in the US and then returned to his home town Hong Kong where he met Natalie. I am so pleased for him (and her!). And he asked me to sing at his wedding, offering to pay for my flight! How could I say no?!? The wedding date being 20 May 2012 meant that it fit just perfectly between the concert in Dillenburg and Magnus' grandmother's 90th birthday celebration in Bussolengo on 27 May 2012! I'm flying to HK by myself. The boys will be alone for 5 days! Unfortunately, because travel time is so long to HK I'll only be there from midday Friday to midday Monday. But I'm sure it will be an amazing experience. One set of friends from Frankfurt (Jen and Patrick) will also be there participating, so I'll be able to hang out with them. Unfortunately, the one other person I know in HK (Solveig, from Voices Found) will be in Paris that weekend! Figures!

I will be singing The Lord's Prayer by Mallotte and Bist Du Bei Mir by Anna Magdalena Bach during the ceremony. At the reception Albert has hired a jazz band and requested I sing a few numbers. I've chosen At Last and Summertime and he requested Skylark. Oh, this will be so fun!

So that's what's been going on and what's in the works. 


Friday, April 20, 2012

Presenting Hildegard von Bingen - IWAH General Meeting 17 April 2012

A couple of years ago I offered to the then Chairwoman of the International Women's Association of Hannover (IWAH) that I could do a presentation on Hildegard von Bingen for one of the monthly General Meetings. A few months ago, 2 Chairwomen later, I was asked to make good on that offer.

It happened yesterday. I've never done a PowerPoint presentation or really any type of public speaking before, although as a professional singer, it's not that far removed from performing in public. When I arrived at the venue, the venue IWAH has been using month in and month out for years and years, apparently a photographer for the kindergarten kids had been installed in the large meeting hall that we always use. And he refused to move. Well, there are a couple of much smaller but none-the-less large rooms upstairs which were offered to us. Luckily, the room we used was just big enough to hold the 30 or so members who came to hear me speak (and sing).

I spoke about Hildegard's life and work, showed some of the illuminations from her books of visions, and other pictures and sang a few excerpts from various songs and one complete song (O quam magnum miraculum est). Luckily, after all the illness I've had and travel I've been doing, my voice held out. I had intended on recording the whole talk with my iPhone, but someone called me in the middle (argh!!!) and I didn't get it started up again properly. So, I've only got about 10 minutes of it.

Although the audience was more knowledgeable about Hildegard than I had expected, I don't think anyone quite realized just what an amazing woman she was and how many kettles she had in the fire. The title of the blurb I wrote for the IWAH Newsletter really is true: Hildegard von Bingen - Nun, Mystic, Healer, Poet, Composer. What I really wanted to accomplish - to bring her to life for them - was accomplished I hope.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: A night at the Met in Hannover, Germany

Recently, I became aware that one of our local cinemas participates in the live broadcasts of select performances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. The Met has been broadcasting about 10 performances per season for several years now. We were in London when I first heard of it in 2007 or 2008. But I hadn't realized until now that they were doing it in Hannover. The Met broadcasts the live performance via satellite in HD and includes exclusive interviews with the performers in the intermission.

Saturday (14 April 2012) was the last broadcast of the season and we saw La Traviata, one of my favorite operas (and a lot of people's too, I know). The music is stunning and memorable and emotionally laden. I know it quite well because we did the opera when I was the Opera Props scholarship recipient at the UW-Madison. I got to sing the thankless role of Annina, because as a 21 year-old Violetta was naturally way beyond my ability, but it was a great experience none-the-less. Regardless, I was quite excited to see a Met production of it as well as to hear a singer I admire sing Violetta: Natalie Dessay. I'd never heard of the other soloists, but the opera is a vehicle for Violetta anyway, it lives or (and) dies with her.

However, Dessay should not have sung that performance. Apparently, she missed her first performance on Monday last week because of illness but sang the second on Tuesday. I imagine she didn't want to miss out on the Live in HD performance, but she should have bowed out. She was clearly not well vocally and it got worse and worse. From the very beginning you could hear that she was protecting her voice, which in my opinion was probably worse than just singing full out and not worrying too much about weaknesses. Long delicate notes cut out more often than not and the money note at the end of the first act was a real struggle. Unfortunately, we, the audience members of the broadcast got a close-up of the struggle. There was one redeeming thing in the first act and that was tenor Matthew Polenzani who sang Alfredo, Violetta's love interest. Wow! What a fabulous, rich, open and expressive voice! A wonderful actor as well, who brought tears to my eyes in the duet in the first Act. Too bad he doesn't have a more prominent role in this opera. Finally, someone whose Italian (and I imagine any language he sings in) is understandable!  This was unfortunately, not the case with Dessay and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who sang the role of Germont. Although, I'm not sure, had Dessay been well, if she would've darkend the vowels quite so much. Hvorostovsky's performance was additionally marred by the wheezing, gasping breaths he took between each phrase. Was he ill as well? Or is that a hallmark of his singing? Quite distracting in any case.

The chorus and the orchestra were first rate, as is to be expected. All minor singing roles were admirably sung. The set was quite minimalistic and modern in a timeless modern kind of way. Not at all disturbing, but definitely added nothing to the overall production. The staging and direction made it overall an extremely dark version, giving Violetta nothing to work with when things were meant to be going well and she and Alfredo happy.

Despite all the griping above, I did quite enjoy it, although not nearly as much as I would have, had Dessay been singing well. What a shame actually, because it's clear that she is a very good actress and the vocal weakness was distracting to her and ultimately to the audience and made it impossible to be completely immersed in the drama. A real pity. I look forward to attending more such Live at the Met productions in the future. They gave a preview of the next season and there are several I'd really like to see.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Survey follow up

The poll is still open, so if you'd still like to participate, please do:

Poetry Planet Survey

I wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who participated! I really appreciate all the encouragement, but also the bits of constructive criticism and helpful suggestions that many pollsters made.

In the future, I will…

...Try to keep the length down. I think 20 minutes is a pretty good length and if I have to do a two part theme, well then, I’ll do a two-parter, like on Time Travel.

...Encourage poets to make their own recordings. People seem to want to hear a poet’s own interpretation. Not all poets have the capability to record and transmit it to me, so I’ll still be reading some.

...People seem to want to hear poets’ bios; hear about new publications; and hear some info on the poem including my own take on it. Some people suggested interviews with poets on technique. Of course, it’s hard to keep length down AND include all these goodies. I’ll just have to see what I can do.
...I would really like to encourage some commentary on the poetry on the StarShipSofa forum. The majority of those who responded said they’ve never commented on the poetry there, but it also seems like some aren’t aware of the forum.

...I never intended on abandoning Poetry Planet after only a year and 6 episodes. I merely wanted to find out if there were, in fact, other listeners besides the poets themselves. And it seems there are, which is very encouraging!

...I’m going to leave the poll open so anyone coming late to this, feel free to participate whenever!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Survey about Poetry Planet

If you follow this blog you'll know what Poetry Planet is. If not, I suggest you go back to a previous post about it to find out.

I've been wondering how many people actually listen to Poetry Planet and what people think of it since it began. I suppose that no news is good news, but maybe people can't be bothered to even listen and then have nothing to say about it, of course.  Naturally, a poll about it isn't likely to entice those who don't care about it to respond, but I'm really just hoping for a sign from people who do! It's lonely out here in Cyberspace!  Here it is:

Click here to take survey

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Poetry Planet No. 5b - Time Travel part 2

Time Travel Part 2 on Poetry Planet is available for download! Please head over to StarShipSofa to download it or download it from iTunes!

The poems you'll hear and links to the poets' websites and other publications:

Please show your support for the poets and visit their sites!

Also, if you are so inclined, help me make Poetry Planet better (or otherwise give a sign of life) and fill out the survey!


Thursday, March 08, 2012

Recording projects in the bag!

Just in time to go home on vacation, I've finished all recording projects!

Tony gave me a great story by Kim Stanley Robinson to narrate for StarShipSofa, and I had the second half of Poetry Planet No. 5 on Time Travel to finish.  I had my work cut out for me, but I made it! Yea me!!!

Keep your eyes open for them on in the near future!


Monday, February 27, 2012

Urchins, while Swimming by Cat Valente live in Podcastle

A wonderful story by Cathrynne M. Valente was given to me to narrate for Podcastle . It's a wonderful modern version of the Rusalka story about a river nymph who entices men into the water.

There are lots of Russian names in the story and a lullaby to sing 3 times, by3 different female characters. I loved this story. It rolled right of the tongue despite the Russian (which I don't speak and don't know the rules of pronunciation for) and is beautifully written. It packs a bit of an emotional punch too. I hope you enjoy it!

Here's the link: Urchins, While Swimming
Or download it at iTunes.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Tales to Terrify

The StarShipSofa Podcast magazine has recently launched (on Friday the 13th...of January) a sister podcast featuring all things creepy and horrifying - Tales to Terrify. The podcast's host, Larry Santoro, is perfect for this project and does a fantastic job. The show will include fiction, poetry and fact articles (just like StarshipSofa), like 'Tour of the Abattoir' by Mike Allen. It should prove capable of making you shudder and populating your nights with the stuff of nightmares.

This week features a story that I narrated by Tim Waggoner - "Unwoven". It's a short little story about a woman who wreaks havoc with the world by killing a spider. Also included is a poem by Maria Alexander, whose poetry collection - At Louche Ends - is up for a Stoker Award and fiction by Kim Newman. Enjoy!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Poetry Planet No. 5 Time Travel Part 1

The 5th installment of Poetry Planet has gone live! This one is on the theme of Time Travel and is the first of 2 parts. Find it here.

Poetry by:

Rachel Swirsky, Things to Pack for my Trip Through Time
Bruce Boston, Polar Chronologies
Sandra Lindow, An Introduction to Alternate Universes: Theory and Practice
G. O. Clark, Looking to the Past
G. E. Schwartz, Centering; and Intermediary
  • Only Others Are: poems and Living in Tongues: poems, from Legible Press
Michael Fosburg, Illo Tempore

Laurel Winter, Time Travel Verb Tenses
 Go in droves!

In Poetry News:


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Versatile Blogger - that's me!

One of my fellow StarShip Sofanauts and blogger, writer and podcaster extraordinaire, Dennis M. Lane has nominated for (and thus awarded me with) the Versatile Blogger Award. It sounds quite grand and I'm definitely happy that Dennis thought of me and my blog, but it's more of a way for friends and bloggers to give recognition to others and help point potential audience members their way. I hope it works!

The rules are as such:

Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post (thank you, thank you Dennis!)
Share 7 things about yourself
Pass this award along to 15 others
Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award

So, doing my duty -  and maybe a few of you might not know all of this about me:

1. I played contrabass bugle (like a tuba, but with only 2 valves back then) in 2 different drum and bugle corps when I was a teenager. I started out when I was 13 playing soprano bugle (trumpet) with the CapitolAires and all-girl drum corps in my home town, Madison, Wisconsin. I learned how to play AFTER I joined. After one season I switched to Baritone bugle and became soloist. I moved on to the Star of Indiana from Bloomington, Indiana, a drum corps that competed for top honors on a national level. My first season with them (when I was 16) had me playing Euphonium (a huge version of a Baritone) and for one number (Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind) Contrabass bugle. I was the only girl for 2 years until I attracted a fellow Wisconsinite, Gretchen, to audition. Here are some pictures.

2. I was a girl scout until I was 13. Being one taught me a lot of great things growing up. It also taught me that I'm a terrible salesman. I hated going door to door selling cookies.

3. I moved to Europe when I finished University in Madison, WI at the age of 22 (almost 20 years ago!). I haven't spent more than 3 months in the US since then. Sometimes I miss it, but Germany is a great place to live.

 This is where I've bogged down on interesting things to tell you that one or the other of you might not know. Thing is, if you read this blog, you are interested either because of the work I do for StarShipSofa, or know me through my music, or you're a member of my family, in which case the half or the whole of the above mentioned things are already known to you... But I guess I have to continue on.

4. I used to own lab mice as pets. The first one I had was named Albatross, which turned out to be prophetic. Not because he grew wings, but because he refused to stay inside his cage. He would escape and spend a few days in freedom (helping himself to the cat food and the pan of drip water under the fridge) and then we would catch him. While in his cage he would spend all of his waking hours jumping around trying to get out. Eventually we gave up. Eventually he died.

5. When I was in college in the US I was a member of Greenpeace. These days, my husband is a nuclear engineer working for a large company and is involved in building new nuclear power plants around Europe. I am definitely in his camp. Because when I met him, I informed myself.

6. I had four wisdom teeth removed when I was a teenager. It wasn't so bad. It hurt to laugh for about a week, but otherwise, no complications. Sometimes, I wish they'd left me one tooth of wisdom.

7. I am of Irish decent (but too long ago and with a name like Fitzgerald, impossible to find the Irish cousins), and thus have very fair and freckled skin, dark hair and blue eyes. Classic. Drum corps and fair skin is not a good combo. I used to spend 10 minutes twice a day slathering on sun screen before rehearsals in the summer and still I got bad sunburns regularly. This last summer we spent two weeks at the beach in Italy. In August. Somehow, I didn't get a sunburn, not even a mild one. I guess I've learned my lesson. Still waiting for the skin melanoma though.

OK. These are the 15 blogs I recommend:

Nicola Griffith - Ask Nicola - A speculative fiction author whose work I've been following for years now.
Larry Santoro - At Home in Bluffton - Fellow Sofanaut, author and narrator. Now podcast host! Tales to Terrify
Brenda Cooper - An Author and Futurist whose work I've had the pleasure of recording.
Amy H. Sturgis - Redecorating Middle-Earth in Early Lovecraft -Fellow Sofanaut and Genre History Scholar Extraordinaire!
"Suzy Q. Homemaker" - a fellow mom/singer (of early music even!). She blogs about homey things, stuff for moms/parents, the women who are moms, cool stuff she finds on the web.
Darcy Therese - My cousin's amazing daughter - who blogs about her first year at college, fashion and whatever comes to mind.
Therese Krueger - For the Love of Food - Darcy's older sister, equally amazing, who loves food and loves blogging about it.
Jean-Ronald LaFond - Kashu-do: The Way of the Singer - Voice Teacher in Berlin whose writings on voice study I appreciate.
Ann K. Schwader - The Yaddith Times - Little tidbits about many things weird, poetry, geeky and sciency
Cheryl Morgan - Cheryl's Mewsings - SF blogger and reporter.
Scott Green - Green Genre Poetry - Info about paying markets for genre poetry
David Kopaska-Merkel - Dreams & Nightmares - Poet, Pres. of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and poetry publisher.
Amal El Mohtar - Voices on the Midnight Air - -Award-winning Poet, Harper, enjoyer of life.
Fred Himebaugh - Fredösphere - Choral Composer and fellow Sofanaut.
Elizabeth Barrett - The Wordsmith's Forge - Crowd-funded Poet.

Enjoy exploring!


Sunday, January 01, 2012

A New Year

I'd like to wish everyone a joyful, happy, fulfilling, satisfying and prosperous 2012. Thank you all for accompanying me in 2011 and/or 2012 even if only briefly. And as Mr. Roger's says, "thank you for being you" and enriching my life!

Now, 2011 was an interesting year. It started out in the US visiting my brother and his family in Montana. My mother was with us too. We love their style of hospitality and love being with them. Dante, after cruising for many months decided, "I can walk!". At this point his vocabulary consisted of Auto, Palla/Ball and "ba-bau", which meant cat (go figure!). He was also good at making animal sounds and would perform on command.

I'm not much of a resolution person, but I had decided with Dante well over a year old I could start doing more narrating work for StarShipSofa again. Since I'd been "on leave" Tony hadn't run much, if any poetry and I thought that was a shame. I had the brilliant idea of creating my own poetry segment for the show. I pitched it to Tony and he loved the idea. The result is Poetry Planet, a ca. half hour show featuring Speculative and Fantasy poetry. I'd hope to do it monthly but that's proved too much so I submit it to Tony when it's done, about every 6-8 weeks.

I also joined the small vocal ensemble Raggio di Sol, which is not a professional venture for me, but which has gotten me singing regularly and I do have the opportunity to sing solos and we do quite a bit of one on a part choral singing as well.

I had lessons with Carol Baggott-Fort for the first time since I was just a few months pregnant. It was also my first trip away overnight. I spent 2 nights and 3 days in Iserlohn, Germany singing and listening to Carol teach. I stayed in a hotel and it was all just like heaven! It was great to have some adult conversations about something besides children. And on music and singing too!

We spent Easter in Italy and Dante had his first chocolate Easter egg!

This was a Hildegard year for me, meaning I sang lots of music by Hildegard von Bingen. My good friend and colleague Allegra Silbiger asked me to fill in for one of the singers in her Ensemble 'Diadema' for a trip to Poland doing 2 concerts in July. Plus the famous concert I showed up a year early for finally took place in Dillenburg in October. It was great to reconnect with the church musician there and with the women in the schola. The last time we did that program was in 2006, I believe. Hopefully, I'll be asked back to sing something else before too long. Joachim Dreher always plans so far ahead, though! :-)

We spent 2+ weeks in Italy, with family and on the beach, in August. Dante had the best time. And I managed NOT to get a sunburn for the first time in my life!

Dante started day care after we got home from Italy and got used to it very quickly. He goes 4 days a week for 4 hours in the afternoon. I usually teach while he's there. It's working out very well.

Raggio di Sol put on a wonderful Benefit concert in Sept. we sang lots of great stuff, much of it with a small baroque orchestra, including some solo work for me. There are YouTube videos, for which I'll post links one of these days.

Dante turned 2 on Oct. 3rd. And since then he's lived up to the cliche. It wasn't all his fault though, because he's been sick a lot since the weather got cold. But he's of the opinion he doesn't need to sleep anymore. I'm not, but there is no convincing a 2 year old of anything. His language acquisition is quite amazing. He's doing well in all 3 languages and doesn't mix them at all, which is a bit unusual. I hardly ever hear him speak German, but his teachers say he's doing great.

Magnus is enjoying his work (again) despite the breakdown of support for nuclear energy in Germany. His work is mostly in England at the moment anyway. It was a really tough period for all of us but especially for him having to deal with the ramifications of the tsunami and the accident in Japan this year. Things were rather uncertain for a while but now that the dust has cleared a bit we are mostly back to business as usual.

In November I spent 4 days in Hamburg taking lessons and trying not to sneeze on my fellow singers. At least Carol was unconcerned!

Raggio did a wonderful Christmas concert in which I got to sing some music of a more soloistic nature.

We closed out the year with Christmas in Italy. My sister in law had her first baby on Dec. 21, the day we arrived and we are enjoying little Freya!

Like I said I'm not one for resolutions but I have thought that I might try to do a few things this year. Those include reading more actual books, calling my mother more often, even if Dante is asleep or not around; and perhaps expanding my recording activities to include actual money-making ventures.

You can read more detailed accounts and links and stuff in this year's blog posts!

That's it from me!