Well, they did a colonoscopy for the first time since receiving the cancer diagnosis. The doc said things looked good and I don’t have to have another one for 3 years! She did remove a couple of small polyps that have been sent to pathology. She didn’t see anything concerning about them but wanted to be sure. As it says in the post-colonoscopy instructions I’m resuming normal activities, such as EATING. Things are good and I’m feeling better than I have for a year and a half.
As fear and disruption caused by the Covid pandemic continue to recede, life seems to be returning to what it once was. But, when considering other world events – overhanging clouds of existential geopolitical and environmental threat – one can feel strongly that living on this planet has somehow permanently changed. Nevertheless, because time and health and the people we love are our most precious personal commodities while living this life on Earth, shouldn’t we savor these good things and cultivate gratitude for them? Perhaps this is something to reaffirm as we enter a new year.
Chris remains busy at Christina Andersen Floral Design, her 25th year in business. (She says: Yikes!!!) CAFD earned another Hoboken Green Business Award for Chris’ earth-friendly practices, such as composting, recycling, and choosing a 100% wind power electric supplier. At the awards ceremony, she received a special shout-out from Mayor Ravi Bhalla – who also happens to be a frequent CAFD client (as was former Mayor Dawn Zimmer).
Martin abides at New Jersey Symphony, completing his 44th season as the orchestra celebrated its Centennial year. You’ve already heard about his participation in the film Maestro (reduced to five seconds of obscure screen time 20:25 in), now also on Netflix. He is once again teaching at Stevens Institute of Technology, as well as keeping busy with private students and the NJSO’s youth orchestra program. And of course, the usual time-intensive involvement with the musician committee/music union.
Christina & Martin:
We enjoyed three trips this year. June found us attending a McIlwain (Chris’ family) reunion in Rockford Illinois. Had not gotten that many – 40, comprising three generations – together ever before. We made our yearly trip to Palm Springs, California to visit Martin’s mom. At 93, Ruth enjoys good health and lives in her own home, with the help of her friends. (Martin made another visit in June, after attending a union convention in Las Vegas.) In August we returned to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for the Grand Teton Music Festival. One afternoon, sipping drinks with new local friends Terry and Gary Trauner on their backyard patio, Chris spotted the sudden appearance of a large bull moose making its way through the edge of their property, barely ten yards away. Chris commented that it must be such a common occurrence for them; but Gary replied that it never gets old.
In addition to our usual time spent in Grand Teton National Park, we were able to get away for a few delightful days in nearby Yellowstone, which we had not visited in a decade. Yellowstone being such a vast and varied place, it was a delight to see both the old familiar sights, and a few new ones, including recently-built visitor lodges and facilities which we viewed with mixed feelings. While there, we acquired a piece of “ledger art” from an indigenous artist, Evans Flammond, who was exhibiting his works at the Yellowstone Tribal Heritage Center, a stone’s throw from Old Faithful Inn. We had a social Christmas and Holiday season, celebrating Christmas Day at Chris’ sister Melinda’s home in Brooklyn with family and friends; New Year’s Eve with many friends a few blocks from our place at the home of Susan Copeland and Brian Mynard; and New Year’s Day back in Brooklyn.
We’re looking forward to spending two weeks in the mild winter desert weather of Phoenix, Arizona and Palm Springs at the end of January. We’ll be visiting Chris’ brother Morgan and wife Laura living in Scottsdale, and Martin’s former colleague Toni Thompson in nearby Mesa. Then on to Palm Springs, to spend time with mom and enjoy even more warm, dry air.
Jackie (Dague) Nicholson let us know that Paul will be appearing with the Great Bluegrass Herons and other musical friends in two concerts this holiday season. Please see the posters below for details.
I wanted to bring your attention to the newly-released movie “Maestro”, about the life of musician Leonard Bernstein starring, and directed by, Bradley Cooper. I was one of the musicians hired to play in an orchestra featured in several scenes of the film. I haven’t seen the movie yet; but it’s possible I’ll get a few seconds of screen time, being seated on the first stand of violas, right in front of Cooper playing the 25 year old Berstein making his 1946 conducting debut in Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic. Lots of fun being inside the elaborate process of making this part of the story come alive.
The film is receiving favorable reviews – NY Times link below:
Participating in this production had a particularly personal meaning for me, because Leonard Bernstein was responsible for my interest in taking up the violin in the first place. Beginning at age 5 in Omaha, Nebraska, I would watch Berstein conducting the New York Philharmonic in a series of “Young Peoples’ Concerts” NBC television broadcasts on Sunday afternoons. This was the origin of how that child, long ago, became fascinated with orchestral classical music, and especially the strings.
Many years later, my orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, was chosen as the orchestra to celebrate Bernstein’s 70th birthday with a gala concert in Carnegie Hall. The program we performed was entirely his compositions: Candide, West Side Story, On the Waterfront (shot in Hoboken NJ!), Jeremiah Symphony, etc. He was in attendance – and he mingled with the musicians afterwards; so I was finally able to meet the man who inspired me so many years ago.
[Webmaster’s Note: Maestro will begin streaming on Netflix on December 20, 2023.]