Tuesday, March 31, 2009

When the wind comes 'round

It's still for the moment. Huzzah! Spring winds have a habit of making everybody crabby and sniffly and sneezy.

Getting some sleep, thanks to Matty taking Babbo's 3 am blood glucose readings, but life with pump still a bit too full of ups and downs. Apparently, this is very normal in the early days.

Santogold is hot.

The Cold War Kids are not.
The concert demographic was mostly comprised of well to do, dumb, Orange County college kids on spring break. What was I thinking?
A pod of Asian kids went by, called out "Look, Asian!" and highfived me. That was cool.
Had a fun time with girlfriends and Marshall Minobe, drinking wine and eating desert nonetheless!

Friday, March 27, 2009

My kingdom for a full night's sleep

Wyatt's numbers still all over the place, but we are getting to within striking range now. The nurses at Children's are now letting us skip ahead an increment on overnight insulin dosage, saving us a wasted night each time they do so.

We got ketones (bad) for the first time the other night. Luckily they were small and dealt with with water and insulin.

I am so sleepy that I had no will to go to the Banff Film Fest tonight. It is the alternative mountain crowd event of the year. I just couldn't bear the small talk and the long sad ethnographic film before the intermission.

Matty got a night out.

I hope to see Santogold and the Cold War Kids in Mammoth tomorrow night. Free gig at the Village.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The pump is installed

We are having ups and downs in the process of trying to fine tune Babbo's insulin pump to administer the right doses throughout the day and night.

Matty and I are splitting the night shift. One of us takes the 12 am and the other, the 3 am blood glucose reading.

Three cheers for technology, though. We can dose the boy while he's running and playing and just being a kid. No more waving needles and vials in very public places. It's not like he or we were self-conscious about the needles and vials, but the discretion will allow him some degree of not being so "special" in the future. He looks like a wee baby doctor because the unit looks like a pager on his waistband. He digs the look.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Do Crazy Old Chinese Women Dream of Technicolor Lamingtons? (sorry exceedingly long trip report with heaps of errors)

So, my 11 days away from Bishop, my 9 days in New Zealand were an extended dream.

I had the flu. I danced so hard I was crippled. I met so many folks I already knew through years of emails, etc. I scared young boys with my enthusiasm for their bands. I pinched the smooth arms of Peter Keen, a man who sings the angel songs inside my head. I got asthma and went to urgent care. I missed Wyatt and Matt for the first time ever, because I've never really been away from them.

I did not drink nearly enough wine. I subsisted on a diet of Omega plums - my gorgeous, tart, S. Island Omegas were in season- and cappuccinos.

I saw the son of my childhood friend walk home from school on my way through their moderate sized (pop. 30,000) town. I so wanted to jump out of the car to say "hello!", but reckoned that they teach New Zealand kids not to talk to strangers, too.

I scared the little brother of one person I know so badly that he moved seats on the bus we were riding into town together. It's just that I recognized him from the Phoenix Foundation's "Bright Grey" video and family snapshots on blogs and kept looking to double check that it was him. Poor bastard.

I bought a fantastic wee painting of Pohutukawa (NZ Christmas tree) from a fellow Phoenix Foundation fan.

I met the very nice Liam Ryan, the man behind the voice I listen to 4 days a week (He's a DJ on Radio Active). He is a walking encyclopedia of pop/rock/reggae.

I fired my synapses overtime playing, "Who is this New Zealander and why should I know her/him?"

I got good at texting and calling on cellphones. (There isn't a real need for it here in Bishop).

I got to have the New Zealand music conversations I have inside my head out loud....with people to boot!

I saw my dear tomato growing partners Glenn and Jan again and told them that when I met Glenn in 2004, I didn't think he'd live long enough for me to see him again. I told them that I thought they were in much better shape now than five years ago. We swam through the wildness of their glasshouses, parting the ferns, banana trees, taros, everything they have taken up in retirement. On my way out of town, they took me to the park in town, where rainforests stood side by side with manicured cricket lawns. Magic.

The Matthew Bannister/Able Tasmans/Humphreys and Keen/The Puddle gig was such a thing of beauty. I danced in a corner in a terribly inappropriately sheer dress and beige bra combo which had the misfortune of making me look like a reject from a Sears' Plus Size mannequin factory. The punters at the show were so lovely, so welcoming, though. Matthew Bannister and his musical partner Paula Law sang observationally pithy songs with such beautiful voices. I hung onto every note of the Able Tasmans (I am only a recent convert to their oeuvre, to my shame) and Humphreys and Keen sets. Peter Keen and Graeme Humphreys rendered the songs as if singing to a room of old mates, sometimes starting over- having never really perfomed these songs live before- in their quest to do right by them. Bless. I bleated like a baby lamb when their set ended on the last line from their last song on "The Overflow" - "You'll know just enough to break my heart in ev'ry single way." Break it they did. It was neat to see George D. Henderson (and dear fellow Phoenix Foundation fan friend Ian Henderson!) in the Puddle. Looking at George Henderson, you get the feeling that this man has survived a lot and when he sings about love, you get the feeling that he's thought a lot about it. Thank you Owen Harris for organizing the show and for the warm welcome and thank you Steven Schayer for the instant friendship. Thank you Ian Henderson for being just the good guy that you are and have always been.

Over the Atlantic
showed that a year of hard touring around the world makes you fine musicians, even in the face of dumb young punters up wayyyy too late in the middle of the night. Nik and Ash and Rhys all play like houses on fire. They are more muscular than ever and the addition of Liz on keys makes their wall of sound even fuller. I love that the year of touring hadn't changed Nik and Ash's loveliness. It was nice to meet Nik's folks and sisters, too. I am suffering a bit of shock because as "purdy" as their second CD -Dimensions- is, it does not prepare you for their sonic live show. Bibi said that it was the second loudest show she'd been to.

Seeing the SJD Band, in the rain in Wellington, was worth the 04:30 wake up call to catch a flight from Auckland to Wellington in a cyclone. I pounded six ibuprofin to get there and to stay upright in the midst of the flu, and it was worth it all. Sean Donnelly is a ringleader of a fine circus of amazing performers. Sandy Mill is even more amazing in person than on record. She sings with great ability and range and plays percussion. Dominic Blaazer on keys is cheeky and his bv are a fine compliment. James Duncan's guitar adds an organic warmth to counter to sometimes two sets of keyboards. I know why lovely Chris O'Connor is a drummer in demand. Paul McLaney was not there and, frankly, it might have been a distraction to have another singer. Sean Donnelly's songs are deeper and more touching than a cursory listen would indicate, and this is really apparent when you are sick in a mud pit. I am going to make a mix tape of the studio versions of all the songs they did. It was that much of a show of joy. I was gobsmacked when Sean dedicated "Beautiful Haze" to me.

Dan Adams' solo opener, under the moniker Colossal Colossus, in the lovely wee community Breaker Bay Hall with himself on loops (recording bits and playing them back in the course of the song to make a fuller sound) made my head spin and my heart soar. His layering of vocals in "Full Fathom Five" still haunts me. He closed the show with a very very special unlooped "Million Dollar View" (with a kind shout out), which made me very happy. It was lovely to meet the extraordinary photographer and extraordinarily kind Robert Catto that night, too. Robert's multitalented wife Delia drummed in headlining Milkthistle. I spent a day with Dan and his beautiful, intelligent, and creative wife Mary and their newborn Nina. We had breakky (poached eggs and lattes of course!) at the atmospheric Maranui Cafe in Lyall Bay. Rodney (my best mate from college and the friend who introduced me to Matty) cycled out to join us. It was a gorgeously sunny and dry day. After brunch, we drve around the wee communities along the water, we dropped Mary and Nina off, and we headed up to Poirurua for Dan's lecture at Whitireia Polytechnic. The lecture was to students in the first third of their studies and discussed vocals. Dan had visual and audio clips for everything he wanted to discuss, voice as instrument, families who sing together, the magic of a good vocal, emotion as a conditioner to vocals, etc. I wish I had more professors who were this passionate about teaching and about their subject. We swung back to Wellington's waterfront for a gelato and some NZ music and National Radio gossip. The he took me to Karori, where the Adamses lived, where two generations of the family were married, where the Adams boys explored the WWII gun turret that inspired the song "Tunnels in the Hill". We finished the day with a wee hike at Makara Beach, where I got to stand on the West Coast again. Gorgeous. Dan's folks, who gave us a lift back from Breaker Bay, are quite remarkable, and Dad is a Mutton Birds' fan, too!

Will Ricketts, percussionist for the Phoenix Foundation, was a joy to be with for the hour we "hung." He was so focused and happy about making his own music. He'd been up to 04:30 recording the night before. He has a new solo CD that will be released soon named "John Dryden" after his famous poet relation. The tracks are quite different from one another but taken together, they make a wonderful, wonderful summer album. It hangs together really well.

One night, we were supposed to either go see Spartacus R and Ragamuffin Children or the Mint Chicks, but ended up seeing Sam Scott, who took us up to where the Phoenix Foundation practice and record. We three sat around and gassed about New Zealand music gossip and the shows we'd seen so far. He recorded Bibi and me clapping on one track for the new album. Sadly, Chinese Americans are not known for their rhythm. For all of Bibi's Southern ability to keep time, I dorked out and won't be surprised if our clapping can't get used. Sorry, Bibi Dude! It was a lovely to see Sam for a bit. I teased that his wedding band ("kept man band") looked good on him, and it does. I feel squishy inside when I see Sam Scott. To my great shame, I was driving up the Kapiti Coast and missed seeing Richie (TPF drummer) Brett (TPF soundman) who were waiting for me at Fidels on Cuba Street.

I am a bit in love with the Cassette band. I like their rangy Americana and the kind of boy meets girl and writes a country song about it approach to tunes. Luke "love me, I'm Polish" Buda was playing around Auckland and Cassette were his band. At Cassette No. 9 (the same young venue with the young punters where we saw Over the Atlantic), Cassette were the headliners on a bill with White Swan/Black Swan, a duo featuring Ben Arch Hill/Suprette Howe and his musical partner Sonya Waters- with their lovely vocal and narrative juxtapositions; an unmemorable kitschy Americana band; and Luke Buda. Luke was excited for us to see Cassette and warned that Tom Watson (a fella I ran up to at the SJD show to say "Hullo, I'm seeing your show in Auckland next week and boy, am I looking forward to it!" To which, rather stunned, he replied, "Hi, I'm Tom.") was quite a guitarist. True that. Craig Terris on drums and excellent backing vocals is a revelation, too. Bibi and I sat with Luke for quite a while. We chatted about sons, Phoenix touring the States, Phoenix touring Europe, the economics of touring, NZ music gossip, swearing in America, American politics, etc. Luke is the man I feel quite related to. Maybe it's because our sons are pretty close in age or maybe it's just because he is often quite honestly disarming, but in a gentle and good natured way. He is blessed with songwriting talent, a wonderful partner, and two sons now. Because Cassette drummer Craig Terris decided to dedicate a song to a heckler in the crowd, Luke ended up dedicating the following "My Imminent Demise" to Bishop, California! Bless.

Bibi was a trooper. I tend to get quite withdrawn towards the end of trips, and she admirably just gave me space. We had a few wee breaks from doing things together during the trip, which was great. It allowed us to form distinct memories and to make the trip our very own. Luckily, she didn't get sick and could drink wine, so had a few winetasting adventures while I hung out with the Adamses and the Parkers. She handled the very very late nights admirably.

Rodney and Carla were troopers and wonderful to us. We invaded their apartment in Newtown, with Bibi and I taking turns in the lounge. I promptly made Rodney sick and it was the week he was starting grad school at night (MBA from Vic Uni). Still, he dragged his ass out to have fish and chips lunch with us. They gave us their phones, showed us how to catch the buses into town, cooked for us, and got us Indian takeaways. One night, we four played grown ups and went to Logan Brown for the fabby and cheap (with the $2 NZD to $1 USD exchange rate, three courses ran about $20) prix fixe meal.

I ditched the harpy for a bit.

I didn't die driving between Welly and New Plymouth.

Mission accomplished.