|Fall 2009-Spring 2010
June 14th, 2010
It has been a year since I last wrote on the doings of Celtic Spring. I have played a lot of piano this year, and I find that I am not adept at juggling my three interests, writing, gardening, and playing piano. This year I found time for the latter two, but not the writing, so I am catching up of a year in the life of Celtic Spring. Today the girls reminded us that a year ago they were at the pilgrimage site of Clanmacnoise in Ireland, recalling their month in Ireland with delight. A year ago, Greg and I were also in Ireland celebrating our 25th. anniversary with a five day walk in the Wicklow Mountains. Now we are on a plane heading to Bartlesville, Oklahoma to perform at a Mozart Festival, the family all together once again.
Yesterday evening, Patrick graduated from high school with his fellow homeschoolers, and Elizabeth picked Deirdre up at the airport upon her return home from her studies in Vienna, Austria. It is now four years since our performing on Season #1 of America's Got Talent, and finishing in the top three. After our great fun and success with America's Got Talent, the children decided to take three years off from college studies in order to devote time to performing and touring, and last August the three years were over, and Elizabeth and Deirdre returned to college, and Sean began college. We were sad for the three years to be over, but happy that we had had that time together, and knowing that it was time to resume college studies.
Elizabeth returned to Thomas Aquinas College as a junior, and Sean began there as a freshman. Deirdre commenced her studies at the International Theological Institute just outside of Vienna. I was not sure just how much performing we could continue to do, but we ended up doing far more than I had imagined possible. It was my intention to not disrupt the young people from their studies.
We did agree to some shows in the fall, fitting in a theater show in Chickasha, OK, right before Deirdre flew over to Vienna. We had agreed to another theater show in the Los Angeles area in October, at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center, so our good and brave Deirdre flew home from Vienna on a Friday, performed Saturday morning for our Music and Arts Conservatory in Santa Barbara, did the theater show in the evening, and flew back to Vienna on Sunday morning. (Although the traveling back and forth from Europe in a weekend was rather crazy, were were happy to discover that super Deirdre could survive such foolery!) We were even joined that weekend by a faithful friend/fan/photographer par excellence, Joe Renzoni, from Massachusetts! He took some lovely photos of our shows, which can be seen in our "gallery." A few weeks earlier we attempted our first festival show without Deirdre, Deirdre having taught Maire some of her lovely violin harmony parts, and her dances. It was a local festival, the Seaside Highland Games, in Ventura, and Maire was amazing. We joked that we could call the show the Maire Wood Show. She was suddenly doing vast amounts of dancing and fiddling. Though it was sad for us to perform without Deirdre, we were happy to discover that Maire was totally capable of rising to the occasion.
We celebrated Thanksgiving without Deirdre, which was very sad and rather challenging, since she is one of my right hand cooks for our feast. Sean and his fine friend from college, Ben Whalen, found themselves in the kitchen for the day, as well as Elizabeth and her friends, Alison, and Clara. The boys made vast amounts of mashed potatoes and applesauce. It was very pleasant to have our local students bringing home friends from college once again.
In early December Celtic Spring played for their first Contra Dance in our town. Elizabeth and Sean had been invited to play for several Contra Dances in Santa Babara with a long time friend and wonderful accordianist, Michael Gutin. Having learned the particulars of playing for a dance from Michael, they were confident that Celtic Spring would be up for such an endeavor. We discovered that it is great fun to play for the dances; it is like jamming in our own living room with lots of people having a great time dancing.
Deirdre joined us for Christmas, but unlike the other college students, had not finished her semester and had several papers to write and exams to face after the holidays. We were all celebrating and Deirdre was frequently writing or studying. (That was not the last time this year that Deirdre had to face studies while everyone else was celebrating!) We were able to do some school shows together after Christmas. We were delighted to find that everyone was able to just get right back into the performing, one of the fruits of performing having been such a part of our lives for so long.
We celebrated our first St. Patrick's Day in 20 years without a performance. (In the early years, when the girls were very little, and Greg and I were dancing, our Irish dance teacher used to have us performing all over Santa Barbara and Ventura on St. Patrick's day. Elizabeth and Deirdre even played their fiddles on a local radio show when they were just 10 and 8 years old.) So having a non-performing St. Patrick's Day was a little strange, but we were actually able to celebrate by going up the Thomas Aquinas College where Elizabeth called a Ceili, an Irish group social dance, to "live" music played by Sean and his friends. The day after St. Patrick's Day Celtic Spring played for a Contra Dance in Santa Barbara.
Easter had all but Deirdre home, as well as some college students. Sean brought home the dear Bueche brothers, Alex and Luke, and Elizabeth brought a pile of friends for Easter Day. I think we had about thirty guests, and with all the Holy Week observances, I did not have much help for the preparations from my children. Sean, Elizabeth, and Patrick were busy with preparing music for the Easter Vigil up at Thomas Aquinas College, and it was Greg and I to do most of the cooking. Greg had gotten very spoiled over the years, being able to make himself scarce in the kitchen as the children became my cooking crew for all the feasts. (We always have very large gatherings for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Passover, and Easter.) But this Easter, Greg and I cooked for about 9 hours straight, and I was deeply grateful for his willingness to help. We have the wonderful tradition of attending the Easter Vigil up at Thomas Aquinas College which begins around 11:00 and goes until about 2:00 in the morning. Then the young people have an all night Easter brunch and dance. Maire was delighted because for the first time, she did not have to venture home with us. (This year she has joined our other young people in not being one of the little people. On the recent cruise to Bermuda, she came and went with the big kids, and just loved that!) We did a few more school shows over the Easter break.
Although Deirdre chose to stay in Austria for Easter, staying and celebrating with friends in the beautiful monastery town of Gaming, she joined us the weekend after Easter in Arkansas for another theater show. We were trying our luck (and her's) with another flying out on Friday, performing on Saturday, and flying back to Vienna on Sunday. This time the travel did not proceed so smoothly, but we were all together about two hours before the sound check. Trying to be very economical with all the flights, I had us on three different flights. Obviously, Deirdre was flying from Vienna, but the rest of us were on two different flights from LA. I thought I was so clever, having us all arriving in Memphis, Tennessee around 10:00 in the evening, where we would rent a car and drive the hour to Jonesboro, Arkansas. The troubles began when we received a call from Elizabeth while we were in different terminals at the LA airport saying that their flight had been delayed for several hours, and they could not arrive in Memphis that night. I adamantly told her that they had to get to Memphis that night and to inform the agent of that. They were then put on another airline which ended being the same one Greg, Aidan, and I were flying, and we ended up meeting in Denver(where we had a plane change) and flying on together to Memphis. I was worried that Deirdre, who was arriving earlier, and who was supposed to meet Elizabeth's group before our flight arrived would worry when she did not find her siblings. I called the Houston Airport to page Deirdre, who had a miserable itinerary of Vienna- Frankfurt-Houston-Memphis, only to find out that her flight was delayed in Frankfurt and that she would miss her connection to Memphis. I immediately set to work to see if she could get another flight out of Houston, but there was nothing that would put her in Memphis that night. I was feeling very sorry for her, in that she would be exhausted from the flight, and now was stuck in Houston overnight. We could do nothing but drive to Arkansas that night without Deirdre, and then Greg and I would return to pick up Deirdre in Memphis the next morning. At least the airlines was putting Deirdre up for the night in a hotel. All went as planned and we were all happy to be together warming up at the hotel before our sound check. We performed for a wonderful, enthusiastic audience, closing out the theater's season with a very pleased presenter.
On a Monday morning in early May we returned home from Mass to three phone calls on our answering machine from our agent. He told us that Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas, our friends and our favorite Scottish fiddle/cello duo, were scheduled to perform at a theater in Evanston, Wyoming on Friday night, four days later, but needed to cancel their performance, because Alasdair's dad, Bob, had passed away in Scotland. " Could we take their place?" We have attended Alasdair's fiddle camp, Valley of the Moon, many times, and are deeply grateful for the knowledge of the Celtic fiddle tradition and the inspiration the camps have provided. Bob, Alasdair's dad, also came to Valley of the Moon every year, and was also a source of joy and inspiration with his love of the music and dancing. We would do anything to help Alasdair. The only difficulty was that exams commenced at Thomas Aquinas College that same weekend of the performance. I told Pat, our agent, that I would ask Elizabeth and Sean if they could possibly do the performance, but not with much hope. I called Elizabeth and she said she had her first exam the morning after the performance. (a music exam!) We would be flying home from Wyoming that day, and furthermore, had been asked to also conduct a fiddle workshop that morning as part of the perfomance commitment. Elizabeth thought she could not miss the exam, and also needed to be studying for all the other exams. I called Pat to tell him it just was not possible, given the exam reality. Then a short while later, Elizabeth called back to say that in the big scheme of life, helping Alasdair, and in memory of Bob, doing the show was really important, and her music teacher had given her permission to postpone the exam. Sean too, was up for the trip. I quickly called Pat back and booked the flights.
We flew to Salt Lake, were met at the airport by our presenter, Carolee, who loaded up all our luggage into her car, and Denise, an 84 year old sponsor of the performing arts series, who loaded all eight of us into her RV, for the drive to Wyoming. She used the RV to run a business taking Europeans on travel tours of the Western US, and was full of wonderful stories. She was an inspiration and I have an idea for our next business when Celtic Spring someday retires. We received wonderful hospitality from a dear family that hosted us-- including preparing vegetarian meals! Aidan even was taken off-roading by the dad.
It was too late to get Deirdre home from Austria so we did our first theater show without her. Deirdre is our singer, and some of our theater sets feature her lovely voice, so we had to arrange a few new sets. Some of our family members are such perfectionists that the new sets are deemed never good enough to debut, until necessity takes over, but then we rise to the occasion! We had discovered and learned some lovely waltzes by playing for the contra dances, so we arranged them at our sound check, and Maire had a wonderful set of strathspeys and a new slip jig that she was willing to debut. I think we might have scared our presenters a little bit by our seeming "last minute" arranging, but all went well and we had a wonderful show for a very warm and receptive audience. From the show we joined in a late night jam session at the local Irish pub, and the next morning we held fiddle workshops for middle school orchestra students. We took an evening flight back to LA and had the college students back in their dorms by mid-night. They quickly shifted into exam preparation mode.
Less than two weeks later we were flying to New York to perform on a cruise to Bermuda; Elizabeth and Sean were finished with their year of college, and Deirdre was meeting us in New York, to have to return to Vienna after the cruise for her exams. Again, I scheduled flights so Deirdre's flight would arrive at the same time as ours. All went smoothly and we were very happy to be all together again. We had scheduled a school show in New Jersey a few days before the cruise departed from Manhattan. My family is originally from New York, so I am always happy for our family to meet up with friends and relations. The school at which we were performing was attended by my sister's husband's cousins' son, (how is that for a complicated relationship?), and we received wonderful hospitality from my sister's relations, the Padula family, and Mary Anne Dorer, who had invited us to perform. It was wonderful to meet up with relations and we had a delicious lunch together. (Those Italians sure know how to make the best pizza and the best fresh basil and fresh mozzarella sandwiches.)
From New Jersey, we headed up to Westchester County, NY, to stay two nights with my dad's sister, and her husband, and to meet up with their children who all live near by. I love my dad's one sister, Theresa, and her husband, Bob, and I am grateful for the opportunity for our children to get to know them a little better. They were incredibly hospitable, and even made a birthday feast for Elizabeth, who turned 25 during our stay. For the celebration Aunt Theresa and Uncle Bob invited their children and their grandchildren who live nearby, so our children got to meet some of their second cousins.
Elizabeth wanted to spend her birthday in the city, so after breakfast, we drove into Manhattan and had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant recommended by a friend from home, who had done a law internship in Manhattan last summer. Elizabeth wanted to buy a dress in the city, and the boys and Greg and I wanted to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so the girls took off down 5th Avenue for shopping, and we headed off towards Central Park and the Museum. We had agreed to meet up for Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
The next day was the day of the cruise departure. We had a last breakfast with Aunt Theresa and Uncle Bob and their daughter, Nancy, and returned to the city for Mass at St. Patrick's and a last exploration before we boarded the ship. It was the feast of Pentecost, and also the anniversary of the Irish famine and the Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Some of the readings and hymns were in Gaelic and the President of Ireland was in the congregation. After Mass the girls went off in search of the elusive dress for Elizabeth, the boys went off to Times Square to buy a small Play Mobile toy for Aidan, (after staying in Times Square for our Good Morning America appearance 9 years ago, and buying Aidan's first Play Mobile toy at the Toys R Us there, we have a tradition of getting our dear Aidan a little Play Mobile toy at that store), and Greg and I went off to explore the outdoor flea market on Broadway. Our cell phones are handy for meeting up in the city. We had a tentative plan to meet the boys in front of Toys R US at 12:00 and at 12:00 were calling each other on the cell phone within hearing distance of each other. But the enormous crowd obscured that reality. The girls called us to meet them in front of a little boutique that all three seemed to have had some shopping success. It was now time to get to the cruise port and get down to the business of checking in on the ship.
We had rented a van when we landed at the airport in New York, and we decided that it was best that we drop the children and all the luggage off at the port, return the van to the Avis office in Manhattan, and walk back to the cruise port. Having been raised in a family that was late for everything, time is something of which I am very aware. I always allow more than ample time for anything of which I am in charge. Greg's family, on the other hand, was always prompt, and Greg is a little more relaxed about time. He was leading the plans for the day. We dropped the children off with all nine peices of luggage and all the instruments, their boarding passes, and their passports. I was not sure that the children could check in without us, but thought that with Elizabeth being 25, it was a possibility. (Checking in for any sort of departure with our family of eight and all of our stuff is always a bit of a feat.) We left the children at 2:30 and all had to be on the ship by 4:00 p.m. Greg assured me that we had plenty of time to do what we had to do.
Well, I have rarely felt the anxiety that I experienced between 2:30 and 3:30 that afternoon. Sunday in the city can be very crazy with parades, outdoor markets, tourists, etc. We did not have to drive more than 2 miles, but the traffic was barely moving, all kinds of streets were closed, and I was navigating around one way streets and the road blocks. At one point we were just about to our destination when we turned down a one way street one block too early, and had to re- navigate a square of streets that had taken us about 25 minutes to traverse. I could not believe we had done that. We were very close to the car return office, but could not get there, and were running out of time. Furthermore, in Greg's desire to be economical, the car's gas gage was on empty and the red light on since we had left the cruise port. (He had paid Avis to fill the tank.) I called the Avis office to inquire if we could leave the car where we were (just a few blocks from the return), but was informed that such was not possible. (I never hesitate to ask for what might seem impossible, and sometimes, it works in my favor.) We did manage to arrive at Avis at 3:35, and ran all the way back to the cruise port. Upon arriving at the check-in counter, we appeared to be known, being greeted with, "You must be the Wood parents! Hurry Up!!!" We were the last people to get on board the ship walking on at two minutes to four. Greg's apporach to life is outcome-based: if all is well at the outcome, the in-between does not matter. I prefer a little more stability in the in-between. We were delighted to find our room, dispose of that which we had with us, and go to deck 11 for the "sail away" party of Holland America's Veendam, and to find our children.
This was our second cruise, and we discovered the year before, performing on a cruise to the Carribean, that we like cruises. It is great to unpack our bags for a whole week, to meet up with old friends and to make new friends, to be fed wonderful meals, entertained with our favorite Irish entertainment, dance to "live" music, to go to bed rocked to sleep by the waves, and to wake up to new horizons of land and sea. The days begin with Mass in the theater, concelebrated by two Irish priests, with the hymns for Mass sung by some of the entertainers, and the days end with wonderful entertainment in the same theater. The theater is packed for both daily Mass and the entertainment. This was a charted cruise of all Irish entertainment, and most of the guests were from Ireland or of Irish American background. We were happy to be part of the event. Gertie Byrne, the promoter who charters and books the entertainers and the guests, is a gracious Irish woman who has a great eye for selecting entertainers who are not only incredible performers, but also really dear people. She especially likes family bands, and there are many acts of siblings, parents and their grown children, and people with good hearts and a love of the Irish culture. Many of the guests have been on many of Gertie's cruises, and were are grateful and honored to be added to her line-up. (We will be performing on the Bermuda cruise next year as well.)
Upon reaching the outside deck, we found our children and our friend, Jared Butler, from Roscommon, Ireland. Jared is the wonderful teacher of the Set Dancing and the Sean Nos dancing, and we had met up him on the cruise to the Carribean. It was on that cruise that our girls discovered Set Dancing, Irish social dancing done in groups of eights, danced to jigs, reels, polkas, and hornpipes, that led them back to Ireland last summer for a month. Jared is from a family of seven and grew up on a farm--- he is super cool and handsome, a wonderful dancer, and a total delight! In fact, we adopted him into our family on the Bermuda cruise, having him at our table for most of the dinners.
We sailed down the Hudson River, past Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, and out into the Atlantic, our next stop 36 hours later in Bermuda. On the cruises there are two different seating times for dinner, and this year we were given the earlier time. Last year we thought we liked the later hour for dining that we had been given, now we were happy to adjust to the earlier schedule. We were given a small, private dining room overlooking the ocean, hosting other performers as well, with two tables for our family, seated in groups of 4, with Jared taking turns between the two groups. At first, Greg was disappointed that we were not all seated at the same table. This is when my very flexible family of origin serves me well. I am easily pleased in these situations, but Greg, who always dined with his whole family at the very same time each day, does not bend quite so easily. He had no idea that we were going to be asked to be even more flexible than dining at the same time at two different tables.
After the meals we could be found set dancing, watching the entertainment in the theater, or dancing in the Crow's Nest to late hours. (The Crow's Nest is the top most ship's dancing bar, where all the young, fashionable people could be found, and our children were often there until the last band stopped playing. They love to swing dance, and were a delight to watch, trading partners between them. I think the other young people were afraid to ask them to dance, assuming expectations to be too high, although we did see Deirdre dancing with one of the ship's officers and we were impressed with his ability to swing Deirdre over his back and back to her feet, with nary an unstable moment.) Even Maire was found in the Crow's Nest dancing into the late hours of the evening.
The second night of dinner Greg was determined to have us dine at the one long table in our dining area; it was actually a table for six, with a small separation, adjacent to another table for four. Greg and I arrived at dinner a little early to claim the table. We were hoping our children would join us soon so we did not have to push any other guests away. While were sitting down, Elizabeth and Deirdre joined us, but before the rest showed up, two young men sat at the table for 6. I did think that was rather rude of them, but then how did they know that we were a bigger party??? I heard one of them saying to the waiter that they were waiting for four more. Soon six handsome, well-dressed young men were sitting next to us. I said to my girls that they were probably one family--- a dad, with his five sons. The girls said that could not be the case, and that I would embarrass them to ask them. I bravely asked if they were related. They said they were. I was proud of my perceptiveness, but then I confidently went on to prove my astuteness by saying to the oldest, "You must be the father of all these fine sons. " Boy did I put my foot in my mouth and embarrass everyone. The oldest, Rich, said that he was the oldest brother, and he went on to introduce us to Sam, Robbie, Jerome, Johnny, and Des, the last of who we recognized from the last cruise as one of the Three Irish Tenors. They were the Willoughby brothers from County Wicklow and all sing together. We had a very fun exchange of conversation and found them fine company. They ranged in age from 35- 22, and like our family, had the talkers, the jokers, the quiet ones, the sweet ones, the cool ones...their performance was a big hit on the ship,and we grew very fond of them.
The next day Greg and I got a personal message in our mail box: our dinner hour was changed to the later dining time. We found our children to see if they had also received the same message, but no, they were still on the early dining hour. Greg hardly ever gets mad---I think I can count those times in our 26 years of marriage, maybe 5 times. Well, he was mad. He likes to dine with his family. I tried to persuade him that we would have a nice, quiet, romantic dinner, that probably some nice old couple asked to have the earlier dining hour. I tried to remind him that we were performers, and the likely people to be moved around. He was relentless in not accepting the reality and even wanted to ask the front desk why we were moved. They did not know--- it was Gertie's choice. I did convince Greg to not bother Gertie. We showed up at the dining room and were escorted to a cosy table for two, observing that the six Willoughby brothers also showed up in the dining room and were also escorted to a table for two. Our situation then did not look so bad!!! We were even told that night that we were the most handsome couple on the ship!!! So Greg cheered up and enjoyed the evening. The kind compliment came from the chief deputy fireman of NYC in 9/11, Rich, who was one of the last survivors in the World Trade Center as the towers collapsed; he had written a bestseller of his story, The Last Man Down.
Our stops on the cruise were Bermuda and Charleston, and we thoroughly enjoyed both. Bermuda was beautiful; old, settled, gracious mansions, turquoise colored water, lovely gardens, and friendly and extremely polite inhabitants. The islanders did not seem to suffer from the same harried life in the modern world that we see in Southern California. People seemed to have time for each other. I left my camera on a bus stop bench and got on the bus, and someone came on our bus looking for the owner. Aidan liked the business men in their Bermuda shorts, suit coats and ties, and knee socks. We took the children to a lovely cove, Tobacco Bay, in the town of St. George for snorkeling. Aidan fell in love with the sea when he snorkeled in the Caribbean, and had become quite an expert in the denizens of the sea. While snorkeling in Tobacco Bay, he saw moray eels, angel fish, snappers, jacks, bass, kolbes, parrot fish, puffer fish, and other exotic fish. We also took Aidan and Patrick to Devil's Hole, a inland ocean cave with old sea turtles, moray eels, angel fish, and some other unusual fish. Deirdre joined us for our trip to St. George but then returned to the ship before the rest of us to study. When she was not set dancing, she was often found on the patio of Deck 11 studying for her finals exams which she had to begin as soon as she returned to Vienna.
After all of Greg's irritation at not being able to dine with his family, we only found ourselves dining alone twice. The other nights we had good excuses for joining our children; two nights we were performing and had to dine in the earlier hour, and the other night we were celebrating Elizabeth and Deirdre's 25th and 23rd birthdays. (It was Elizabeth's third birthday celebration and Deirdre's actual birthday would take place during her exam week back in Austria.) We were joined by Jared for the celebration and two birthday cakes were brought for dessert. I never had such an easy birthday preparation! We did take notice of a large party of older folks who were dining in our area, and knew that they had taken our place and the Willoughbys.
Our next stop was Charleston, a beautiful old city on the water, full of lovely architecture, cobbled lanes, and courtyard gardens. We all had to get off the ship in Charleston to go through immigration and customs, and so once off, Greg and I wandered for a while. We tried to get our children off the ship but they were exhausted, having danced late into the night. They wanted to wait until the last possible minute for the mandatory disembarkation. All of our children ended up dragging their feet down the dock half asleep, waiting in line with hundreds of other passengers, to show their passports, only to immediately turn back to the ship, the girls going back to bed, and the boys to breakfast. We found a lovely cafe called Baked that had a sign out front that said, "Desserts is stressed spelled backwards, coincidence? I do not think so." We returned to the ship and to find some of our children and headed out again with Maire and Aidan, crossing paths with our boys on the lovely shopping street, King Street. I think Deirdre spent the day studying. We all met on the ship for afternoon tea.
We were very pleased that the night of our performance the sea was calm, quite a contrast to our performance night on the Carribean cruise. (That night we had had gale force winds, and the floor was never quite where we needed it, resulting in a few falls with quick recoveries.) Each night several performers were scheduled and we shared the evening with wonderful singers, Kevin Collins from Newfoundland and Trish O'Brien from Cork/Tornonto. The Bermuda cruise performances went totally smoothly, and even the night of the finale was smooth and fine. Gertie planned the details of the finale with finesse, including a parade of all the entertainers carrying Irish and American flags and concluding the evening singing a few final songs together.
We were sad when we arrived in the port. Our flights were not until the evening and Greg had the good idea of taking taxis to Central Park where we could take turns watching the huge pile of luggage and exploring. First the boys set off and ended up attending Mass at St. Patrick's. While we were watching the pile a fellow came up to us to ask us why we were in the park with what appeared to be all of our possessions. Reading our books and looking contented, he thought we looked interesting and he wanted to hear our story. We told him why we were in the park, and after chatting a bit, he realized he had heard of us. He was a juggler from Oregon, Bill Barr, and knew the jugglers in our season of America's Got Talent, Passing Zone. He knew that they were outvoted by a Celtic fiddle and dance band, and Bill was delighted to meet us. We chatted for a long while. Maire was clamoring for exploring so the girls headed off. Then Greg bought some delicious pizza. Bill was eating Greek yogurt from Whole Foods in Columbus Circle in the Times Warner building. I thought the yogurt looked quite good so I set off to Whole Foods, but there I found that I am really a country bunny. I have never seen a Whole Foods so crowded and noisy. To check out one had to get in lines with marquees indicating by color codes when it was your turn to check out at one of the 40 check out stations. I had to ask a local how to navigate. She said this was a quiet day at Whole Foods. I decided I had had enough of city life. We called taxis and headed back to JFK, sadly saying good bye to Deirdre, but happily knowing that she would be home again in less than two weeks.
Well, now we are returning home from Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where we performed for the OK Mozart Music Festival. As usual with our family, we always have some adventures that keep life interesting. The flights went smoothly, we were picked up at the Tulsa Airport as agreed, by the festival committee, and we were brought to our hotel. Our performance was on Sunday afternoon, and of course, we wanted to attend Mass in the morning before our sound check. I had found that there was a church with an 8:00 Mass, and since we did not have a car of our own, I inquired at the hotel front desk whether there was a taxi service in the town. There was a taxi and I called the number to make a plan for the morning. I was told that the taxi would be at the hotel at 7:30 the next morning.
We were down in the lobby at the agreed time, and after waiting for 15 minutes with no taxi appearing, I again called the number. A sleepy voice answered and he had some excuse for not being able to come. I said we had to get to Mass, and that he had agreed to come. I requested another taxi, but was told that he was the only one in the town of Bartlesville. I became mad and said that this certainly was not New York City. We asked at the front desk of the hotel whether we could walk to the church. We were told that it was several miles away, and that it was too hot to walk. We were just helplessly standing outside the front of the hotel wondering what we could do, when Greg came out with a set of keys. The kind, generous, woman at the front desk of the hotel,Diana, had offered her car to us. It definitely was not New York City--- who in NYC would offer a bunch of strangers the keys to her car? We made it to Mass just in time.
Diana told us that the taxi driver had showed up at the hotel at 8:15.
Our next bit of confusion was more of the same. We had agreed to a load-in/sound check at 10:00 in the morning, and of course the festival directors knew that we did not have our own vehicle, because they had said that they would provide transportation for us. I had never made specific plans for the rides; I just assumed the rides would show up when we needed to be at the theater. I called the telephone numbers I had, but all I was reaching was answering machines on Sunday morning. Greg does not like to be without our own vehicle when we are out performing, and he was proving to be right. 10:00 had come and gone, and I suggested that Greg call the taxi driver, and explain that a family of eight need a ride to the Bartlesville Community Theater. Maybe the taxi driver would not realize that we were the same group looking for a ride earlier. He agreed to come to pick us up. We went down to the lobby to wait with our instruments and sound equipment, and suddenly a young man with a red polo shirt walked in with OK Mozart on the shirt. It took me a few seconds to realize that this was not the taxi driver, but rather, Daniel Morris, one of the producers from the festival. He was extremely apologetic for all the confusion and said that a van would be coming very shortly to take us to the theater. Greg called the taxi driver once again to cancel the ride. He must have thought we were rather crazy. Diana at the front desk was observing all the confusion and was full of laughs. I think we were making her Sunday morning at work a little amusing.
We arrived at the theater, were welcomed by Shane Jewell, the executive producer of this amazing week long music festival that is in its 26th year, and worked with the sound and light crew to prepare for the show. The theater was lovely, the crew a pleasure to work with, and the children were delighted to each have their own dressing room. We had a large and wonderful audience and did what we love doing most---sharing our music and dance. We met many wonderful people who came as far away as Houston, Austin, Amarillo, and Oklahoma City to see us. Thank you to all who came to see us in Bartlesville, OK!
Mary and family