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!