March was really a long month, full of planned and abrupt schedule changes. A beloved grandmother, “The Peach” passed on (so many tears) – a cousin got married (adorable) – an iPad got lost in the TSA security screening at LAX (oh no, oh no, oh no) – and there was the daylight-savings time switch (ugh). Not a dream month for an autism family, but STUDIES AND STORIES times were a constant, and that helped.
The “Lost and Found” department – this was a new concept for my son. (What? Hotels, schools, grocery stores, gas stations and the like are equipped to deal with people losing things????? This is so handy!) And happy, happy day! The lost iPad turned up within 24 hours in the TSA “Lost and Found” office, and with a minimum of paperwork, was in a box on its way to our home in Texas. Cheers cheers cheers TSA! Their lost and found system really works! Excellent!
Reporting from “The Cities Book” (a Lonely Planet publication) – reading about two cities per night, we are one third of the way through this book – the locations are presented in alphabetical order and we are just about through the “K’s”. We scamper all over our globe finding each night’s destinations (this is actually kind of fun). We are also interested in each city’s:
Primary Exports – some of the better conversation starters:
– Asmara, Eritrea – salt
– Baku, Azerbaijan – pomegranate juice
– Hamburg, Germany – Steinway pianos
– all cities on the equator – coffee
Observed Weaknesses – again, some of the better conversation starters:
– Ashgabat, Turkmenistan – bugged hotel rooms (yikes)
– Dhaka, Bangladesh – polluted waterways (yikes)
– Christchurch, New Zealand – situated on a major tectonic fault line (yikes)
– Florence, Italy – pigeons everywhere (yikes)
More geography – “The Philippines, Islands of Enchantment”, by Yuson and Tapan. Side story: It would be impossible to find a kinder heart, a more dedicated worker, a more mechanically adept young man than the super fantastic Ogie M, who cared for “The Peach” (grandmother supreme) for the final 10 years of her life. Upon her recent passing, Ogie returned to his family in the Philippines. So this has propelled my son and I to begin a Philippines unit with a book filled with beautiful photographs and decided opinions (this is not a “let’s pretend everything is perfect” book). We are getting our first glimpse of this tropical paradise of 80 dialects (vocab) and 7,000 islands.
We thought we knew about violins. We knew NOTHING. This is changing: we are reading “The Violin Maker”, by John Marchese. Every night we get smarter and smarter, learning about:
– Cremona, Italy, home to Stradivari and Guarneri, rival luthiers (vocab) of the early 1700’s who produced stringed instruments of astounding quality that remain highly sought after and extremely valuable to this day.
– Sam Zygmuntowicz, recognized expert violin maker and stringed instrument historian extraordinaire.
– The Emerson String Quartet (or “ The Emerson”), and specifically, quartet member Eugene Drucker for whom Sam Z has been commissioned to create a violin.
– Bach’s compositions for the violin – and most emphatically stressed, the final movement of the Partita No. 2 in D minor, “the Chaconne” (composed around 1720). This piece is the gold standard for the crushing relentlessness of loss, despair, and grief – I think my son and I are a bit too immature for this, but we did give it a try (and we listened to the best):
Classical Music Time – well, duh, we had to listen to more music that showcased the violin:
From The Emerson String Quartet – we always like listening to The Emerson’s (we are so in-the-know now) recording of Alexander Borodin’s “String Quartet No. 2 in D”, composed in 1881 (perhaps better known as music used in the 1953 American musical, “Kismet”, for which Borodin won a Tony, posthumously (vocab)):
The perfection of a performance by Itzhak Perlman – when we are tired, Max Bruch’s “Scottish Fantasy” (1880), movement 1, soothes us:
Thank you good friend Amy S for suggesting that my son and I would love “Song to the Moon” from Dvorak’s “Rusalka” (1900). The performance by Joshua Bell clutches our hearts:
Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH