December 30, 2011

Ithaca Ice: 2

Here are som'more icy waterfall pictures...taken as I made my way to the bus stop after my morning practice session at Cornell. This is the waterfall that flows over the Bebe Lake Dam and on down Fall Creek Gorge to Ithaca Falls (the waterfall in yesterday's post). And it's the same one that featured so prominently in my summer posts about the local flooding...

I wonder how many more icicles this log will be able to handle...

December 29, 2011

Ithaca Ice

While lately I've found myself cursing the chill of the Ithaca winter (even though up to just a few of days ago our temperatures have been in the high 40s), I was reminded today of one reason to celebrate the months-long deep freeze ahead: amazing ice formations!

Rob and I visited Ithaca Falls this afternoon and were dazzled not only by its usual imposing stature...

...but also by the intricate wintry wonderland it had constructed for itself within the surrounding gorge. The closer we got to the fall's base, the more striking the ice sculptures became. From delicately frosted leaves... fresh dandelion buds--as green as summer on their leeward side...

...but heavily laden with a thick icy armor on the other. Built up from the windy spray of the falls not far away, this dandelion was cemented so firmly that when I reached out and grabbed its base, it was solid and unbending as stone.

Even the rocks underfoot were coated with crystals...

The formations all pointed in a single direction--straight toward the aerosol jets that were still in the process of building them--and had an almost organic look, like a carpet of icy moss thriving among flat beds of broken shale.

I was entranced and got a little carried away with my nose-to-the-ground explorations. Several minutes passed before I realized that Rob, who had suggested the outing in the first place, was about to turn into an ice sculpture himself! So we hurried back to the car to bask in the warmth of its heaters and finish up with our list of errands.

It has been a good day.

December 27, 2011

Lots o' Ink

This afternoon I finished a drawing I'd been working on for the past couple of weeks. It's loosely based around a scene from The Name of the Wind and related in spirit to Des Fischer's Liebesglück--a beautiful song by Franz Schubert I'd heard performed on a couple of recitals this past school year. In sum, I was inspired by the thought of going out over a still body of water on a clear night, seeing the stars reflected on its surface below, and being able to feel for a moment as if I were floating above the universe--suspended between two limitless fields of starlight...

I did it in sharpie and pencil on white paper...yes, that's right...everything that's black I had to painstakingly color in with marker, trying desperately to avoid blotting out the symmetrically reflected stars or cross over any of the other myriad tiny white lines...and it took me FOREVER!

***And for the astronomy buffs who occasionally read my posts: no, I did not try to duplicate the night sky as seen from planet earth. And rather than apologize for my laziness, I'll explain instead that the two characters depicted are from another planet--from a totally different galaxy in fact (an irregular one too judging by the looks of things)--where miraculously another species has evolved to appear and behave in an amazingly humanlike idea that's not really so far fetched coming from someone raised on Star Trek.

December 13, 2011


Today I had a lot to celebrate:

During my morning practice session I was able to play a high concert C# comfortably enough to work on a Sonata by Norwegian composer Wolfgang Plagge. I've been wanting to play it for some time, but have had to put it off because of its high notes. I was also able to reach a high F on the A piccolo...and I'll take every small victory on that temperamental little beast that I can!

Also, NU fall-quarter grades were finally posted, and I was thrilled to see that by some miracle I managed to maintain my cumulative 4.0.


To celebrate--and because it was a surprisingly beautiful day--Rob and I drove over to the Cornell Ornithology Lab's Sapsucker Woods for a relaxing breath of fresh air. While wandering the grounds I took these photos...

All the ponds there were frozen and in some areas were dusted over with flakes of snow...

Photogenic air bubbles...

With all the leaves gone it was easy to pick out bird nests...

Icy silvered leaves...

December 8, 2011

A Scare

Last night, Rob and I had an all night party in the Cayuga Medical Center's emergency room ...complete with heavy drugs and a groggy cab ride home at 5:30 am.

This wild excursion was not in any of our original plans, but arose spontaneously when I suddenly became numb over the entire right side of my body--from the top of my cheek bone down through the tips of my toes--and ordered Rob to call an ambulance. I thought I was having a stroke--not an idle fear considering my mom had a stroke at a very early age--and as we waited for the EMTs to arrive I panicked. What if I'm paralyzed? What if I can never play the trumpet again? What if I fall into a coma and become a vegetable?

The ambulance arrived about 15 minutes later at which point the numbness had actually subsided somewhat. It seemed to strike in waves and I cried out in pure terror when a second surge moved through my limbs. When the numbness again began to lessen I was overtaken instead by involuntary trembles--like the worst nervous shakes I've ever had in my life. The ambulance drivers advised me that it would still be wise to go to the emergency room and get checked out, so in a couple minutes I was strapped into a stretcher and we were off. Rob hitched a ride in the front seat and I laid in the back accompanied by a young female EMT. Whoever she was, she gets 5 stars for her calm and positively reassuring manner. By the time we arrived at the hospital my shakes had subsided and I was almost breathing normally again.

I was wheeled into a little room and immediately hooked up to an EKG machine so they could be sure my symptoms weren't related to any sort of heart problem. I had wires sticking out of me all over and felt a little like I'd just been assimilated into the Borg collective. I joked to Rob "Maybe you should take some pictures of this for my blog," and then promptly vetoed that gowns are decidedly unflattering. Another nurse came and asked me a list of questions--"yeah, I've had a terrible migraine for the past 3 days...definitely the longest lasting headache of my life...Well, I was just lying in bed and all of a sudden my whole right side went numb...I could even feel it in my I'd just been to the dentist and he'd drugged my whole body." Soon after another nurse came in to take some blood and then...we waited.

Long story short: Rob sat patiently (in a horrendously uncomfortable chair I might add) beside me in the emergency room from about 11:00 pm till we finally left in a cab at 5:30. After the third hour or so they had given me a CAT scan and a shot of morphine for my head (when the numbness went away the headache returned with a vengeance), and when the doctor finally arrived hours later with my diagnosis, Rob was sagging in his miserable chair and I was falling in and out of sleep.

I'd been worried all night that nothing would show up in any of my tests and that I'd be sent home embarrassed to have made such a scene over something minor. It is an odd sensation to, on the one hand, hope that an extreme diagnosis will vindicate the terrifying reality of what I'd experienced, and on the other, hope that nothing at all is wrong and get sent home with a relatively clean bill of health. What I got was something in the middle.

All the tests came up clear--so probably no stroke--and the doctor said that the numbness was likely an extreme symptom of a particular kind of migraine--hemiplegic migraine--which in its onset actually mimics the symptoms of stroke. He said it might be wise to follow up with a neurologist and gave me a referral to a local Dr. if I want to look into it while I'm here in Ithaca.

Rob and I slept in till noon today. I still have a headache (Ugh!), and just went to the drug store for some Aleve. I hope the weird numbness doesn't return, but if it does, I'll at least have a name for it.

By the way, Rob gets 10 stars for being nothing short of my night in shining armor. I am a lucky girl!

December 5, 2011

Pool Auditions

Here at NU we have quarterly pool auditions in order to determine placement in excerpt class and--just in general--to practice getting the hang of the audition process. This time they took our excerpts from the audition list for the Chicago Civic Orchestra and threw in a piccolo aria from Bach's Christmas Oratorio for good measure (you know how much I love that...high Fs...yay...) Anyway, I played about an hour ago and feel I did as well as I could've hoped. I had my usual second wave of nervous shakes set in right around the end of the Ballerina Dance from Stravinsky's Petrouchka and stupidly botched some fingerings, but in general I'm thrilled with how the other 91% of the audition went.

What a relief!

I'm sure I'll get a bunch of critical comments from the professors--there's always room to improve after all--but for now I'm just thrilled to be done with it.

So now begins all the holiday madness I guess. I'll be heading out to Ithaca tomorrow and will probably spend my first few days there trying to snag some seasonal work. I'm nervous as all get out about attempting to reenter the job market, but hope that I can find something basic where my honesty and strong work ethic will be valued.

Wish me luck.

December 3, 2011


While cleaning my apartment the other day, I went through one of my old art portfolios and found a rough and unfinished sketch tucked away between two larger works. Huh...I'd somehow forgotten about this one. For whatever reason, it kept nagging at me and I finally decided to pull it out again yesterday and work on it.

I don't remember exactly when I'd done the original sketch, but the mood and predicament of the character portrayed might give some indication. My guess is that I hashed it out about two years ago when the problems I faced at my old job were at their peak, my mind was awash with anger and pain over those problems, and the future I was pushing myself to the limit to achieve was still quite uncertain. I probably sought to illustrate a sensation of mute constriction--a slow, dull, aching torture that held me captive and was slowly strangling the life and sanity out of me. Sorry to be so dramatic about it, but if there's anything I know about myself, it's that as an artist I feel...deeply.

I worked on the drawing for a good portion of the day yesterday, and then finished it up this morning before heading off to practice. Despite the dark emotions it portrays (which, fortunately, aren't a representation of my general state these days...usually), I like it quite a bit. Maybe it's more that I like feeling creative again.