Friday, June 25, 2010

I wanted to start this blog

Shortly after we moved here, my mom asked me what Reno was like. I told her it was like Charlottesville with casinos. It's not really, but it has some things in common. The university is a big part of Reno, like it is in Charlottesville. Reno is kind of like a central city for a lot of smaller outlying areas. There are mountains in both areas. However, in Charlottesville, maybe because I wasn't a native, I always knew I could jump in a car and be anywhere else fairly quickly. The next big place from Reno is Sacramento, and that just feels so far away, somehow. I mean farther than it felt to go to DC., not in distance, so much as attitude as well as altitude. Maybe because I already knew DC before I would travel there, but I only go to Sacramento as a way to get away from Reno. Reno is like an island, especially in the winter--you need to go over the mountains to get somewhere, and then the weather is usually different.

I got the idea to start this blog when I was sitting in Trinity Episcopal Church, listening to the Reno Baroque Ensemble concert. I have many blogs, and pretty much all of my blogs are the same thing. I write about my feelings, like I'm journaling. My blogs are nothing anyone would want to read. I can't get out of this kind of habit, and it's already creeping in here, I realize. What I want mainly to do on this blog, however, is write about my life in Reno. Just my life. Because every time I go somewhere or do something here, I feel like there is supposed to be some underlying assumptions or understand I should have. There is a Reno scene, there are Reno celebrities in different niches. But I'm a transplant, and a lot of my social life takes place online, with people in other parts of the country; I grew up on the East coast and my family is nowhere near. Yet, I feel like there is something I'm supposed to know about Reno when living in Reno, I just don't know what it is.

Unlike in Virginia, where I never really felt like there was any kind of cohesive thing that defined my hometown. People moved in, people moved out, you were who you were. And I think that is partly true of Reno now, with all the people who have moved here from out of state. So I think what I want to do is explain how things feel from where I'm sitting.

Friday June 25th, 2010

I've been leading a charmed life, especially this last month. This is just as I want it, although real life out in the world pokes it's head in to remind me it is there. I woke up early yesterday, right before John texted me from the Apple store, and was having a lot of anxiety about my upcoming trip to China. Usually in the light of day, I can take it all in stride, but I had woken up at 5:30 and couldn't get back to sleep. Even though the sun was up, the hour was still early enough that all my worries were in the forefront. This would not do, I felt, since I have at least one good week left before I have to start really switching gears.

What I do almost every day is practice my music and practice my Chinese. I always have something to do, even if it's something that is not quite as compelling as it once was. I watch the kids while they swim, swim with the kids, walk the dog, make meals and do dishes, fold laundry, pack. The suitcases have been opened up on Molly's bed for two weeks now. I've been to stores to get various and sundry items we might need, like travel sized toiletries, anti-diarrhea medicine, bandage strips and antibacterial ointment. We might not need any of it, but I am never prepared so I figure I might as well be this time.

Other people travel all the time, but this is a big deal for me. I always have anxiety every time I get on a plane, but now, with my children split up and going to a foreign country, it's worse. If Molly hadn't wanted so much to go, I wouldn't have gone. But the leading up, the fundraising, all the preparation, it's been fun. It's given me a goal to work towards, it's been on the horizon for so long. Now it's almost here. I said I would be glad when it was over and we are home safe, and that is true, yet I will miss having this big thing that we are working for. Yet with the choirs, there will be more. There is the American International Choir Festival in Reno next year, the ACDA conference in Reno and then the World Choir Games in Cincinnati.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Solstice

I'm writing this after the fact, but I'll back date the post. Just thought you should know.

On Monday, I had a summer solstice pool party. We almost sort of have a tradition of this, but we ended up not doing it last year. It started first just having a picnic out on the front lawn with the kids...or maybe just the kid. I think I was merely pregnant the first year I had one, which would have been 2003. I got the idea from a magazine, actually, possibly Cooking Light or the now defunct Walking.

The third or so year we had the picnic, we invited the kids from across the street over, and also invited them swimming. The picnic has always been on the front lawn so that we can watch the setting sun. And usually it is windy--I've had to chase many a plastic plate across the yard. We heat the pool and end up turning the light on, and swim until about 9. The sky always looks purplish from the turquoise of the pool, and I end up floating on my back in peace and quiet once all the kids are gone.

Last year we didn't have the pool party, not even sure if we had the picnic. It may have just been me and the kids again. This year I invited old friends and their children. Hope drove up in her white van with 4 of her 6 children, a bunch of hula hoops and drums. She also brought her iPod and it's cube speaker which glows in different colors as it plays; I'm green with envy, my own iPod speakers are put to shame. In a break from tradition, we ate out on the back patio near the pool before we swam. The pool was 92 degrees, which makes it so that once wet, you have to keep submerged or that part of you is freezing. It also makes you reluctant to get out of the pool, and it's a mad dash to get to the towel.

Hope couldn't come in because of her burn, but entertained us with hula hooping while playing the tambourine. I found it completely fitting for a solstice celebration, and utterly amusing given the setting of my backyard. Big house, small yard surrounded on all sides by other homes and their fences, and Hope with her tie-dyed pants and floral knit top with her dreads and witch music and psychedelic iPod, limber and talented enough to play the tambourine while keeping the hula hoop in orbit for a long time. I can't hula hoop at all.

It was the best summer solstice party ever. A bonfire would make the whole thing complete for me, but that never happens. However, the pool light flickers which gives that kind of effect, so I'm always content with that. But maybe I'll look into an outdoor fire thingy for next year.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Saturday June 5, 2010

It's a soft warm weekend in Reno. It feels soft because there is more cloud cover, but it's finally warming up. So the air is warm and it feels balmy. The sun is mitigated by the humidity--we don't quite feel the penetrating rays of the sun, burning our epidermis to a crisp, as it normally does. Then the breeze comes, and it feels more like it normally does. Yesterday it was even cooler and generally breezier.

Yesterday, Saturday, I had to work at a memorial service at church. This is one of the things that deacons do, and we have had a lot of memorial services this past year. It's been about a year since the last time I served at one, which was also the first time. On that day, I had also been asked to sing during the service. I think most of the usual singers were unavailable, so they asked me, which was nice and slightly frightening. Since I had to be there anyway, I volunteered to help with the reception. That was a busy service of people who didn't actually go to the church, but the man who had died had a connection, and he was very well liked. It was a very nice service. It was kind of funny to sing, and then later to stand and ladle up cups of punch while receiving compliments for my singing. Funnier still that I ended up getting a check for it when it was the easiest thing I had to do.

Yesterday, however, the service was very small, for a man who was not a member, but brother of a long time member. It was pretty much all regular church members, no more than 30 people. We set up at noon, with ecru tablecloth rounds and a bud vase with two white roses. The long tables had white cloths with lace ones over top. The fare that is served is very simple: cookies, mixed nuts, mints and, on this day, strawberries. I put the doily on the platters, then arranged the cookies on top. First I tried a round pattern, but decided to go for radial on the next platter. Another deacon did the flowers in the vases, then yet another used some of the stripped leaves to decorate the strawberry platter. We were done setting up pretty quickly, so I went into the open library and checked out a book.

We were sitting around at the table in the kitchen, chatting, waiting for the service to start. The pastor came by and said, "Hello servants." Someone responded with " I come not to be served, but to serve." When you become a deacon or an elder at St. John's, you receive an apron on the day you are ordained/installed. It has the church logo and name, and your position, then the words underneath, Not To Be Served, But To Serve. I realized, as we were sitting there, that I was the only one without my apron, which was in the back of my car. I think it's been there all year, I have quite the collection of things I might need at some point. We chatted for awhile, about books and other services, then I ran out to the car to get my apron from the trunk. I tied it on over my funeral dress, a long somewhat shapeless lightweight dress in navy blue sprigged with dark gold flowers. I wore a similar dress, though not the same one, to my father's funeral. This one serves whenever I need something suitable for a church situation where I'm not trying to be bold in my style.

There wasn't really much to do once the people came out and were eating, so we talked with them about other things. We talked about children's choir and the China trip and the music we were going to sing tomorrow. It had the feeling almost of being an after church social. After awhile, we decided to change out the deacon tablecloth rounds and replace them with colorful ones from the closet. The deacons keep their table decorations separate, so that they look nice for the memorial service receptions. We put on colorful table cloths, but left the bud vases on each table. At one point I amused someone with my attempt to fold up a round tablecloth, so I decided I needed more practice. We finished cleaning everything up, and then I went home. Three hours on a finally warm spring day in June, helping to support those whose loved one have passed out of this life.