“mr. gorbachov, tear down this reed” (reagan era cane)

26 05 2008

Back in the early 1980’s, I received a few not-so-good batches of oboe tube cane. When beginning the processing of this cane, I remember that much of the cane was not straight. When splitting the cane, the splitter twisted with the naturally crooked grain of the wood, leaving much of the cane unusable for oboe reeds. The pieces that did prove to be straight were rather hard, making every step from splitting, gouging, shaping & ultimately playing on the cane laborious. I remembered hearing that some cane, if put away for a number of years, will ‘season’ and become more usable. Unhappy with the 1980’s results, I packed it away in a box, virtually forgot about the whole thing, moved a few times, & retired from my full-time oboe job with the US Navy Band (Washington, DC).

Fast forward to 2008.

“Hey – here’s a box of cane!” I began processing some of this ‘antique’ cane last week. No amount of time will make crooked grain straight in a piece of cane. I had to discard a lot of non-straight pieces. The cane generally felt ‘normal’ under the gouger blade. I made a few reeds in preparation for my performance in Philadelphia (of 3 Yiddish folk songs for voice, oboe & piano – on Laurent Levy’s recital). The cane was not ideal, but it has certainly aged and become more usable over the last 20+ years. It’s way too early to know how well (or not well) the cane will serve me, but it’s certainly interesting to see how cane I couldn’t work with 20 years ago has resurfaced & is given a second chance.


stepping back to have a look

19 05 2008

In May 2007, Peter was invited to attend a birthday party of a neighborhood friend named Ryan. Ryan & Peter are the same age. Ryan’s party was held at an indoor party facility that features huge, inflatable moon bounces and slides. As a parent, you don’t forget a day like that. Peter screamed and fought even entering the play area. He demanded to be held (for roughly 1.5 hours) & attempted to escape every time someone opened the door. After the playtime ended, all the kids were corralled into a party room where pizza & birthday cake were served. Peter refused to even try one bite of anything. It was a very long 2 hours (out of a very long year or two!)

Yesterday was Ryan’s 5th birthday party. It was held at KIDS N MOTION. It is nearly identical as last year’s party site. The flood of awful memories from Peter’s 2007 reaction to all this was weighing heavy on us as we entered the building. We told him we were going to Ryan’s party in a ‘bouncy playground’. He seemed receptive to the notion, but we knew once he saw the room, we’d have a problem on hand. The door opened to the playroom, and Peter froze, just as he had last year. We scooped him up & set him down in the middle of the room. All the kids were swirling around, jumping & sliding – and howling with glee. Peter watched his sister enter one of the moon bounces & jump endlessly. He walked over to the moon bounce’s door touched it a few times… AND CLIMBED IN! Within seconds, he was jumping and smiling ear-to-ear.

He followed Emma up the steps to the top of an enormous slide, and slid down without hesitation, and did it again & again & again. I was in awe of his bravery, and the contrast between 2007 & 2008 was huge.

After the playtime ended, we went into a party room where pizza and birthday cake were served. Unlike last year’s celebration, Peter ate pizza & birthday cake with all the other kids.

If you have a child like Peter – and you have thought “We can NEVER try this again” with your child, see where you are in a year – you may be amazed at the difference a year can make!

Take a look!

could spaghetti be far behind?

17 05 2008

OK – we saw this one coming from a mile away. Spaghetti!


16 05 2008

My, how things have changed! Friends & readers of this blog know that Peter was non-verbal for his first 3.5 years. We have also had a heck of a hard getting him to sit at the dinner table and eat ‘real food’. His staple food product has long been Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers.

In the past few months, Peter has started to eat a variety of foods, as they were introduced to him by his teachers at school. At home, he was remaining stubborn on this issue, and his diet was very limited and irregularly timed.

For the last 3 days, however, Peter ASKED for macaroni & cheese. We have been trying to get him to eat pasta for more than 2 years – and now he’s asking for it… and sitting at the table… and asking for more & more! Check out this video clip:


oh my god – conan blew away!

9 05 2008

A very rare and dangerous thing happened in my hometown late last night. We were actually under a tornado threat. A few miles south of us, houses were being sheered apart by the apparent twisters. I received a warning through my Weather Channel Sidebar Gadget. I grabbed a flashlight, battery-powered radio, and headed upstairs to stay close to the kids. The rain was torrential, but the wind was oddly still. We watched out the windows intently for any changes in look, sound or sense of the storm. We would, if needed, scoop the children up & whisk them to the basement.

The local all-news radio station did a great job of keeping the information constant & current. Our satellite TV signal was knocked offline earlier, so the radio was my source of information. While still under the official tornado alert, I switched on our bedroom TV to see if the signal had resumed. It had, and I was anxious to see a Doppler radar image of the storm mass. It would visually show if the storm had passed our home, and if there were more cells heading in our direction.

To my total horror, NBC, CBS & FOX were airing normal late-night programming… without a storm warning, scroller or information overlay of any sort. Only ABC, who was airing ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live‘ added up-to-date storm information overlayed around the comedy show. Conan was smiling and laughing it up, and the local NBC station didn’t inform the local audience that they were possibly in grave danger. I switched from channel to channel for about 20 minutes – Only ABC acknowledged that there was a dangerous weather system approaching the viewing area. Eventually, as the National Weather Service was downgrading the storm warning, the other channels had sporadic coverage, but the local stations, representing the major networks let me & the viewing public down, and in a potentially dangerous way.

Thank you WJLA TV 7 in Washington, DC. You served your viewing audience appropriately & responsibly last night. I will not watch the other channels for weather or news again. I will register my official complaints as well.

gps boy

5 05 2008

Twice this week, we were approaching an intersection near the home of friends. In both cases, we visited the two different house only once, and neither visit was terribly recent. We met & had a playdate at Ethan’s house about 6 weeks ago. Ethan’s mother is a very old friend of Kathy from their Long Island days in the 1970s. Peter’s classmate Matthew had a birthday party at his house back in March that Peter attended.

GPS-BoyWe were nearing the intersection at which we would turn at to get to Ethan’s house, but from the complete opposite direction that we approached to go to his house weeks ago. I pointed to the left and asked Peter who lived down this way. Without hesitation, he excitedly shouted “Ethan!” He was right – and I was shocked. He had been there once – and never from that direction.

Remembering this last week, we neared the traffic light close to Matthew’s house – again from the opposite direction we would normally come. “Peter, who lives down here?”, I asked. “Matthew!” he shouted.

When an old (and brilliant father of 4) family friend met Peter for the first time a few months ago, and was told that Peter had developmental delays, he was surprised. He paused, looked at Peter in the eyes, and emphatically told us that this child is processing everything.

Until this week, I didn’t realize it, but Peter knows EXACTLY where he is at all times. Processing, indeed!