Cadenza String Orchestra

Since my traveling radius is a limited one, we ventured out to the Temecula Public Library to marvel at the Cadenza String Orchestra, presented by the Friends of the Library.

Fresh from a first place win with Excellent Success in the Special Group Category at the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival in Vienna, Cadenza String Orchestra returned to play folk music from different countries as well as works by classical composers such as Mendelssohn, Sibelius, Grieg, Copland, Elgar, Bach and Mozart.

Steve and I agreed that we haven't been in a room with this much talent in a very long time, if ever! We are totally fans now.

This is a video of one of my favorite performances of this incredibly talent group- Horse Herd's Mountain Song. Wow. Bravi!
“I think music in itself is healing.
It’s an explosive expression of humanity.
It’s something we are all touched by.
No matter what culture we’re from,
everyone loves music.”
― Billy Joel

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Friends & Full Moons...

Since I'm staying close to home, I've had the delightful company (in the form of sleepovers) of two of my dear friends, Cindy and Julie. Old friends who were content to just sit and visit... no bells and whistles just each other's presence. Fun stuff.

Cindy and I have been friends since being room moms together in 1998.
College was made more memorable by meeting Julie during my freshman year (1980).
I am a fan of moons. Full moons I tend to favor most. Last night's was extra special as it occurred on Friday, the 13th. Interestingly, the next Friday the 13th Full Moon is set for Aug. 13, 2049. Yes folks, that was the last such moon, on that special day, for the next three decades. We were all so glad we took the time to marvel at the lunar loveliness. I'm not sure where we'll be the next time it happens again!

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In Praise of Airbnb...

I have been a huge fan of airbnb since I discovered it years ago! Today, they have increased my fandom immensely.

Due to the nature and fragility of my neck fracture, I had to cancel three various airbnb bookings (I need to limit my riding in cars and stay close to home). Normally these reservations have a strict no cancellation policy, but all of the hosts were so understanding and my support team member, Puja, couldn't have been more amazing. She wrote, "I wish I was a magician so I could make you fit and healthy with the wave of a wand!"

My blog posts won't be nearly as exciting as I hoped they would be but this is a minor setback in my wonderful life. When healed, watch out world... I'm going to make up for lost time... big time.

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The Downton Abbey Movie: Advance Screening

We’ve been counting down the days until the new Downton Abbey movie will premiere, ever since it was officially announced last July. And even though the release date is finally within sight (Sept. 20th), we could hardly wait to reunite with our favorite British family, the Crawleys.

What perfect timing that this sneak peek occurred on our 32nd anniversary. I am a huge cinephile and an enormous fan of this television series.
The film was primarily shot in London and at Highclere Castle in Hampshire (which was the main filming location for the television series, too). Filming began in September 2018 and was finished by the end of November. Woo hoo!
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the upcoming Downton Abbey film has sold more advanced tickets than any other drama this year.
I wll tell you that this film surprassed any/all of our expectations. Wow. If it's on your list of movies to watch, make certain you arrive early. The recap is amazing (and helpful). I won't say anymore! But oh my gosh, so worth the wait!
And if you need more Downton Abbey, before the movie's release, I highly recommend you read the blog written by the actual (current) Lady of the House, Countess Carnarvon.

“Nothing succeeds like excess.”
-The Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith)

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Our #32 Anniversary...

Tomorrow, we celebrate our anniversary with a 'night on the town'. While it will be only dinner and a movie, it will be wonderful to be out and about together!

Honeymoon Cruise 1987
I am so glad Steve said yes when I asked him to dance all those years ago. It has been an amazing love affair.

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other,
but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
―Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

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1st Hair Wash in 14 Days...

My neck fracture event has involved a series of errors, some extremely dangerous (my misdiagnosis), some ill-advised (prescribing Advil which hampers bone growth) and some just inconvenient (not receiving a showering collar and replacement pads for my current brace). Maybe when this is all over, I'll write about all of this more thoroughly. In the meantime, let's celebrate the good!
This is me and my Philadelphia waterproof collar in the ER. Where art thou now?
Yesterday, my replacement pads arrived which meant I needed to remove my brace in order to exchange them. Since the showering collar we ordered hasn't come, we decided to take hair washing into our own hands (note the protective trash bag covering my not waterproof collar in the last photo). I have never gone this long without having clean hair. It has been disgusting.
This is my hair at almost two weeks dirty!
I read a great blog entitled "13 Weird Things that Happen When You Don't Wash Your Hair for Two Days." Besides me feeling ooky about it, I do have the only plus from the list, "For some lucky folks, going a day or two without shampoo results in gloriously thick and voluminous hair." Still, I feel so much better clean. It really is the simple things that make life wonderful.

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More Summer Reading...

If books were candy, I'd have a serious weight problem at the rate I'm eating/ reading. I have to agree with Colleen Hoover, who wrote in Hopeless, “I'm pretty sure my addiction to reading has just reached a whole new level.”

I've had the goal to read To Kill a Mockingbird for as long as I can remember. Wow... what was I waiting for? Seriously, this is one of the best novels I have ever devoured. There is so much about this story I would love to discuss. If this book has sat on your bookstand too long, pick it up, savor this amazing literary treasure and let's get together with a cup of coffee and talk about.

What's cool about my actual copy is the fact that I purchased this obviously unread book at our South Lake Tahoe Friends of the Library Book Sale. This is a special 50th Anniverary Edition (published in 2010). This 9 year old novel still had its original receipt, hidden within. On June 17th, 2010, the previous owner bought it at the Salt Lake City Airport for $13.88. Interesting right?
No one can say my reading selection is not diverse! Believe it our not, this book was a real page-turner. Since no one here will play my favorite game with me, I had the opportunity to live vicariously over 213 interesting pages. Word Nerd: Dispatches from the Games, Grammar, and Geek Underground is accurately described, "In this zany, one-of-a-kind memoir, former executive director of the National SCRABBLE Association John D. Williams Jr. brings to life the obsessions, madness, and glory of the SCRABBLE® culture―from living-room players to world champions." What great guilt free reading!!!

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Summer Reading...

Since I'm really suppose to take it easy, something I dislike immensely, I decided to do some guilt-free reading.

When I told my book buddy, Karen, I had finished two books since breaking my neck she wrote, "There's always (usually) a flip side to bad news!" I so agree!
Neither of my reading choices was all puppies & rainbows- a genre I am usually drawn to. Yet, both introduced me to unique characters and scenarios. South of Broad transported me to one of my favorite cities- Charleston. I do love Pat Conroy and his ability to tell a fabulous tale.
The Ladies' Lending Library had some disturbing storylines but ultimately, it was the story of friendships and loving people for who they are.

“Few things linger longer or become more indwelling
than that feeling of both completion and emptiness when a great book ends.
That the book accompanies the reader forever
from that day forward is part of literature's profligate generosity.”
― Pat Conroy, My Reading Life

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My Broken Neck Follow Up...

I'm sorry if anyone misunderstood my previous post. I am not paralyzed and everything on me is still working. Today was my highly anticipated post-ER visit appointment with the Orthopedic Surgeon.

The doctors stand by the decision that was made at the ER, while a Jefferson Fracture is bad, no ligaments or arteries are in danger currently (they show no interest in the non-displaced C5 & C6 vertebrae fractures).
About my doctor: Dr. Z is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the surgical and nonsurgical management of cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine disorders. He emphasizes nonoperative management, recommending surgery only when conservative measures have failed. If surgical treatment is necessary, he uses minimally invasive methods whenever possible. I feel that I'm in good hands.
My condition will be monitored. At this point, the prescription is to wear my brace for the next three months, closely watching the healing process. While not completely out of hot water, the doctor is hoping I will heal properly within several months. I just have to be cautious, walk carefully, and slow down a bit. Wish me luck!

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Someone once asked me, "Is your life as great as it looks?" The answer, for 99% of the time is, "YES!". Last night was the 1% that I would prefer not to share, but you're going to find out anyway, so here is the saga. Through my own carelessness, I have broken my neck.

The emotional roller coaster that led up to this seemingly 'happy' photo is far too long to share here. But for a short synopsis: after a night on the town in Palm Springs, I klutzily fell, landing head first onto the concrete hotel room floor. After a misdiagnosis, and three days of treating a 'neck sprain' (a dangerous prescription for neck fractures), it was determined, at 5PM yesterday, that I had two broken vertebrae (one being the very precarious C1). There was a fear of potential paralysis, possible surgery, four major radiation imagery sessions, a great deal of waiting and copious amounts of crying.

After over nine hours in the ER, the spinal specialists sent me home in a NOT TO BE REMOVED neck brace. I will know more about the severity of the injury (and the ramifications of it all) after my follow up orthopedic surgeon appointment on Wednesday.

When I finished feeling sorry for myself, I walked out feeling incredibly grateful. It could have had a completely different, horrible outcome. Please wish me a speedy recovery.

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Jet Propulsion Laboratory Day...

Steve and I have been trying to tour JPL for years. All the planets aligned for us to get there today and Scott and Lynne were eager to join in the fun.

These tours run approximately once per week on Monday or Wednesday on an alternating basis. Visitor Day Tours are generally held at 1:00 PM and last for 2.5 hours. The walking distance for the tour is approximately 0.8 miles with multiple flights of stairs.

We began the tour with a history lesson by watching a multimedia presentation entitled Journey to the Planets and Beyond, which provided an overview of the Laboratory’s activities and accomplishments. On Halloween 1936, five grad students studying at Caltech and two amateur rocket enthusiasts drove out to a dry canyon wash in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and helped jump-start the Space Age. It took them four attempts to light a liquid rocket engine. But the result was encouraging enough to keep going and to build more rockets, which led to an institution where this kind of work could be done every day -- the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
JPL grew up with the Space Age and helped bring it into being. It is a place where science, technology, and engineering intermix in unique ways: to produce iconic robotic space explorers sent to every corner of the solar system, to peer deep into the Milky Way galaxy and beyond, and to keep a watchful eye on our home planet. Analyzing the data pouring back from these machine emissaries, scientists around the world continue to discover how the universe, the solar system, and life formed and evolved.

We actually had the amazing opportunity to watch the newest Mars Rover being built.
Its launch window is July 17 - Aug. 5, 2020. It will leave Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in Florida, and land (hopefully) on Feb. 18, 2021  at the Jezero Crater.
The mission duration is at least one Mars year (about 687 Earth days). So very, very cool.

Next stop was at the very interesting von Karman Visitor Center.

This museum tells the history of JPL and its missions. It’s set up like a journey through the planets. At each planet, there’s information about the spacecraft that have visited them.
All of the displays surround the 17-foot-tall, life-sized model of the Galileo spacecraft.

We were intrigued by this aerogel. a silicon-based solid made of 99.8% air. It was used on Stardust to trap fast moving comet particles and it also insulates the electronics on the Mars Rover. Wild stuff.
The infrared images of us made me think of Andy Warhol's work.
Our guide, Nicky, pointed out the interesting pattern on the Curiosity rover's tires. When it took its first test stroll in 2012, it beamed back pictures of its accomplishment in the form of track marks in the Martian soil. Careful inspection of the tracks reveals a unique, repeating pattern, which the rover can use as a visual reference to drive more accurately in barren terrain. The pattern is Morse code for JPL. The purpose of the pattern was to create features in the terrain that can be used to visually measure the precise distance between drives. Beyond cool!

Our final, and truly exceptional, stop was at the Space Flight Operations Facility (SFOF). This is where spacecraft tracking and scientific data are received and processed from JPL's Deep Space Network.
The SFOF is an active NASA facility supporting various ongoing NASA projects including the tracking of the Voyager Spacecraft. It has continually been modified and its equipment upgraded since it was built and put into operation in 1964.
The scale of the achievements of NASA's planetary exploration program over the last fifty-five years is staggering. Like the great early explorers of human history, Columbus, Magellan, Balboa, Cortes, and Champlain the unmanned space craft of NASA have opened new worlds to human understanding and comprehension.

This has been an afternoon of knowledge and discovery. One thing quite unique thing we learned about was the peanut tradition/superstition, started in the 1960s during JPL’s Ranger missions. The first six Ranger spacecraft failed during launch or while leaving orbit, but on the 7th launch, someone brought peanuts into mission control, and the mission succeeded. It’s been a tradition at JPL launches and landings ever since. Fun tidbit!
The Space Flight Operations Facility for this period of time has been at the heart of this operation. Through the achievements of modern technology and communications, the entire human family was able to travel to the planets and experience the thrill of discovery. This Facility is the symbol of this technology and the resource most closely associated with the unmanned planetary exploration program of the JPL and NASA, hence its Historic Landmark designation in 1985.
We booked this JPL tour in May. And while the wait was a long one, the anticipation led to an exceptional afternoon. This is free. This is showcasing our tax dollars at work. It educated. It entertained. It wowed. It was so worth the wait. Yes, I'm going to say it... it was out-of-this-world. A must for all.

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