Monday, May 29, 2006

Killing Time

I have had this week to kill between graduation and my flight out of here to the USA.

You can tell that I am desperate for stimulation because I baked banana bread yesterday afternoon. Yes ... ME ... baking!

Then I cleared out the perishables from my fridge and brought them over to Jen's house in the evening. She took it and turned it into what she called Compost Soup. Mmm.

Tomorrow I fly out for my 44 hour journey to Baltimore. On the way I stop in Kosrae, Kwajelein, Majuro, Honolulu and Phoenix. "By the time I get to Phoenix, I'll be jetlagged..." (That is supposed to be sung).

It may be a while before I post on my blog again, because I'm not sure how much computer access I'll have in the USA.

But don't forget to come to the show "Welcome to Micronesia!" on July 7 & 8 at 8:00 pm at Theatre Project in Baltimore, or else!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

This flower grew in front of my house last week. I was so inspired that I left my pallet of pain long enough to photograph it. Posted by Picasa

So purty. Posted by Picasa

And one more shot of the flower. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Since my body is taking its sweet ol' time getting over this cold, I haven't been able to do anything noteworthy recently. So here are some random photos from the past, beginning with Sokehs Rock, up which I climbed last year. Posted by Picasa

To climb up Sokehs Rock, you have to pull yourself up the rock using this pole. It is very steep and the wind is strong! Posted by Picasa

This is the top of Sokehs Rock which I climbed about a year ago. The plants on the ground are all pineapples. Posted by Picasa

One of many Pohnpeian waterfalls. Posted by Picasa

This is a hunk of rusted metal on the causeway. But no one will ever see it again, because it was cleared away a few weeks ago. Posted by Picasa

My gas station. They accept personal checks! Posted by Picasa

The sun set at Misko Beach. I believe this photo was taken by Amy Laack who has now moved to the U.S.A. Boo hoo!!! Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 22, 2006

Micronesian Preview of "Welcome to Micronesia!"

Last Thursday was the Micronesian preview of the brand new musical Welcome to Micronesia! After a month of rehearsing in the music classroom and the MITC meeting rooms, we performed it at 6:30 in the evening for a crowd of about 100.

Last September and October we did performances of the songs. Since that time Jonathan has written a script to interconnect the songs. Jonathan, Rohaizad, Janhabi and I met monthly and then weekly to go through the script. Several songs were cut out and two new songs were put into this version of Welcome to Micronesia!

We had some scary moments. Tuesday before the performance the National Police showed up to take Janhabi away. She's the Assistant Attorney General and was needed at a hearing. Then, on the day of the performance

The audience seemed to love it. During the opening scenes and songs, I looked out to see a mass of grins and laughter in the audience. Some people who had been involved with the original reading last year were singing along.

A middle-aged American woman came up to me after the show to say how much the song "Maslow's Salad" meant to her. "Thirty-seven years ago when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer here," she said, "I had to choose between having fresh tomatoes and marrying my husband." It's funny, I wrote that song totally tongue-in-cheek, but it actually moved her.

Also in the audience was the legendary Father Hezel, a Jesuit priest who has been in Micronesia since the 1960's. He wrote the history books The First Taint of Civilization and Strangers in Their Own Land as well as several other books and many, many articles. He also runs the Micronesian Seminar. He loved the show and intends to come see it again in Baltimore. Wow!

After the performance Janhabi and I decended into days of illness. Rohaizad left on Saturday for Singapore - he'll be coming to Baltimore later, but is only allowed to spend 30 days in the United States. It was good to have the positive feed-back to the performance to carry us through the next month before we all meet again in Baltimore to rehearse for the full production.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Early Morning Drama

My wounds are all pretty much healed now, so I've started going out running in the mornings again. I've been running the track instead of the causeway, because it's easier on my body.

My rib still hurts when I breathe deeply, cough or sneeze, but I went to Dr. Isaac yesterday and he said it's not broken. He thinks it probably just sprained, so it'll heal in a few weeks.

After I had run about ten laps this morning, one of the women who was walking asked me, "Are you the guy who rides the bike?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Some kid just rode off on it."

Sure enough. Even though I was on the other side of the track without my glasses on, I could see it was gone.

I sprinted over as quickly as I could, but the thief and my bike were nowhere to be seen.

Another woman told me that she had seen the kid hanging around. He waited until I was running away from the bike, so I wouldn't see him leave. Meanwhile, the woman who spoke to me first caught up to us.

"Come on," she said, "let's go after him."

So we hopped in her mini-van and off we went. My hopes weren't very high, because there are so many places to hide: little trails and dirt roads are everywhere. We drove to the main intersection and didn't see him in either direction, so we went back.

She claimed that she knew that there were some trouble-makers living behind the SDA school, so we drove down a two-track deep into the jungle.

Sure enough, we rounded a corner and saw the blur of someone running into the jungle.

"That's HIM!" she said.

She drove up to where he had disappeared into the jungle and stopped the car. She started shouting after him in Pohnpeian and I started looking for the bike in the jungle up and down along the road. My hopes for success still weren't very high. Although I knew he had dropped off the cycle along the road there, the jungle is extremely dense and I could be looking right at my bike and not see it.

But after about five minutes, she called over that she had found it! What an amazing sleuth! I had to work my way through the marshy jungle and over the rocks to get the thing out; I was amazed he could carry it in there so quickly.

As I rode my bicycle down the two-track out of the jungle, a baseball size rock whizzed past my ear. Looks like someone was ticked not to have a new bicycle!

What an amazingly nice woman to take me on the search for the bicycle. Without her there is no way I would have ever gotten my bike back. She didn't have to help me to the extent that she did, she didn't even know me. I would have considered it enough if she had just expressed sympathy to me.

But her spirit is what is wonderful about living in Micronesia.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

No one sent me a Constitution Day card

Yesterday was FSM Constitution Day. We had the day off of work so everyone could sit home and read through the Constitution.

I celebrated by beginning to exercise again after a two week break following my bicycle accident.

My hands are pretty well healed and my black eye is gone. I still have a pain in my ribs, so I'm going to go to Dr. Issac on Monday and have that checked out.

I set off on my bicycle and rode through Kolonia and out to Nett Point. Nett Point used to be the dock area back in the sea-plane era several decades ago. Now there is an abandoned warehouse and dock and it is where a lot of people go swimming and snorkeling.

After doing a lap around Nett Peninsula, I set off for home again. As I was cycling along Nett River, I saw two big outrigger canoes with about ten people each. It looked like what the island must have looked like two hundred years ago: outriggers traveling up a jungle-lined river toward the misty mountains. Very beautiful.

In the afternoon Jen and I went swimming at Nihco Marine Park and then spent a few hours reading there in a nahs. The park was amazingly deserted for a holiday. Maybe everyone WAS home reading the Constitution.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Happy FSM Constitution Day!

Last weekend there was a farewell party for Amy and her kids at Misko beach. You might think that I sat alone the whole time because of my bad attitude, but actually this is just the only photo of me by myself that I could find. I have a rule that I never post photos of my friends ... you'll have to come to Pohnpei to see what they look like. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Songs of Love & Murder!

One more concert behind me.

Last night my 60 music students presented "Songs of Love & Murder" at the Practice Gym at the College of Micronesia in Palikir. We had a good sized audience and I was generally pleased with the students' performance. A few students slipped back into their bad habits during the concert, but they were the exception.

This concert might not have been as glamorous as the times I directed and performed with big orchestras, prestigious choirs and in impressive venues, but in many ways it is even more rewarding. I was exposing many of the students and audience members to music that they normally would not have heard, and most of the songs they grew to enjoy.

I especially got a kick out of "Moon Over Agaña." It's not the greatest song in the world, but I found it years ago in the back of a file cabinet at the Micronesian Area Research Center at the University of Guam. It was written in 1962 by Don Sherwood Mayo, and I cannot find any information about him. I'm fairly sure that this piece hadn't been performed for three or four decades until last night.

This was the program...

"Let Me Sing and I'm Happy" by Irving Berlin
"I Got Plenty of Nothin'" by George Gershwin
"I'm Just a Lucky So-and-So" by Duke Ellington
"Moon Over Agaña" by Don Sherwood Mayo
"Mack the Knife" by Kurt Weill
"The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" by Stephen Sondheim
"Killing Me Softly with His Song" by Charles Fox
"Miss Otis Regrets" by Cole Porter
"I'll Never Fall in Love Again" by Burt Bacharach
"Ain't Misbehavin'" by Fats Waller
"My Funny Valentine" by Richard Rodgers

Monday, May 01, 2006

Yesterday Yum Yum's puppies wandered over to our nahs. There are two of them and this is the first time in their mont-and-a-half existence that they have visited us. This picture doesn't show that my right eye is black and blue, but you can see a bit of a wound on my cheek and it is also swollen. Posted by Picasa

A Diplomatic Event

I was invited to eat dinner with the US Ambassador at her residence yesterday night. It was my first visit to the compound, so I of course accepted the invitation.

Her husband is in town from Japan, and he's a huge fan of Sacred Harp singing, so he wanted to have me over to talk music.

He knows a lot more about Sacred Harp then I do, so it was very interesting to hear about what it is, how it is performed, it's origins and to listen to some samples.

When I arrived at the residence I was greeted by a gun-wielding guard who escorted me into the compound.

The Ambassador's Residence is on cliff overlooking Sokehs Island with a vast panorama of the ocean and the sky. The sunset was absolutely riveting.

The house is huge and beautiful, too. They have a real piano!

Their maid served us a gorgeous meal on the deck. Most of the food came from the residence garden - cucumbers, spinach, lemon grass and egg plant - with reef fish from the market. Amazing!

It was an honor to be there and the conversation with the Ambassador and her husband was great. Although it was a more formal setting that I am accustomed to, it was comfortable and fun.

I am going back on Thursday to "jam" on some Sacred Harp music with as many people as we can get to join in.
By the way, I also had my stitches removed yesterday morning, but my pinky still hurts.