It’s been a while since my sojourn north to the ruralness that’s Trumanburg, NY. October 28th to be exact. It was certainly a journey in miles, but also one of heart and reconnection with people, places, and feelings long since tucked away with time. The intent was to see the Indigo Girls perform with the Buffalo Philharmonic in Buffalo, NY, and visit with the family Solla. But it became so much more than that.
On this tour the Indigo’s were playing some shows with symphony orchestras across the country. When tickets went on sale a few months ago, Buffalo was the closest place the Indigo’s would be playing. Odd choice I thought, but it would be worth the trip. I also immediately thought of my friends Alex and Nancy Solla. Both ardent Indigo fans, and living only three or so hours away from Buffalo! How convenient! How fortuitous! Road trip!
That’s how the idea was born. In a instant. I contacted Alex, he said GO … and I bought four tickets for the show at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo. One for me and one each for Alex, Nancy and their fifteen year old daughter Aurora. It all happened so quickly. I landed us fifth row orchestra tickets, stage left. Nice! And that’s how this deliciously long weekend came to be.
It’s been almost a year since I moved from Seattle to Asbury Park. And in that time I’ve not left my apartment for an extended stay —read vacation— anywhere. It was about time! I had “the talk” with my furry children Rocky and Rose, no wild parties during the four days I’d be gone, and Lee, from downstairs would be taking care of their needs. Thanks Lee!
The plan was to drive up to Trumansburg early Thursday morning, so I wouldn’t have to do marathon driving on Friday, the day of the show. The trip to Alex and Nancy’s would be five hours alone, and an additional two and a half hours to Buffalo plus the drive back to Trumansburg that night. Craziness! Plus it gave me more time to spend with my friends. I hadn’t seen them since they came to Asbury in July for Hoovstock, and I’d be meeting their daughter Aurora face to face for the first time. I was looking forward to all of that! So it was a win win visitation.
Thursday – Day One
The drive up was uneventful. Some traffic in north Jersey … but other than that it was smooth sailing. Navigon on my iPhone did a great job of getting me there in a very direct fashion. I arrived around two-ish that afternoon. Alex was in his photo studio shooting some jewelry for a client. I got the 5¢ tour of what use to be his old clay studio and gallery, now his photo studio.
The catching up began. It had been fifteen years since we had seen each other face to face. We met in the clay studios of the NY State School Of Ceramics At Alfred University around 1992-or-3-ish. I was a full time ceramic art student and he was a “visiting ceramics student” only there for a semester or two. But for whatever reason, we clicked and became friends. And who’d-a-thunk … lifelong friends! The last time I saw Alex he and his sister came to Seattle 1995-ish for the annual Bellevue Festival Of The Arts. Alex and I had kept in contact through the years via eMail, but like most folk now, Facebook and our blogs have been instrumental in keeping us connected on a daily basis. The remainder of the afternoon and evening was spent catching up, and finally meeting his wife Nancy & daughter Aurora.
At one point we took a ride to a local park and took a walk along a wooded path following a creek/river there. It was a lot of fun, and very informative. Aurora was a fount of knowledge about the geology, geography and history of the area. I was fascinated listening to her speak so knowledgeably about our surroundings. My inner artist was also quite enamored with all the rock formations, which reminded me of some of my later Alfred sculpture. It’s funny how so many of the geological formations brought my references back to clay and glazes. The culmination of the walk was to see the falls. Though the water levels were quite low they were still spectacular to see. Especially the surrounding angular geometric, almost man-made looking rock formations. Our little walk resonated on so many levels, including the fact that I could walk that much and not be winded, or tired, because of my weight loss & physical fitness. None of it was lost on me. It was such a good feeling!
One of the down sides to losing so much weight, is no insulating body fat! The entire time I was in NY state I was C.O.L.D. as H.E.L.L.!!! It may have only been in the low 50s high 40s but it was as if I was standing naked and shivering in sub-zero weather. I had to start adding layers of clothes just to stay warm. It was kind a bracing wake up call. One that I was so not expecting! I even slept with layers, including my hoodie. I was cold! Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
Latter that night we also went out for sushi at a local place, Sumo. It was fantastically yummy! First time I had sushi since starting TSFL back in March. What a nice treat!
Friday – Day Two
The day started slowly. I went directly to the thermostat in the living room and turned on the heat! Brrrr. We all talked a bit, sat in front of our respective computers and prepared for our trip to Buffalo. But first a trip into town for coffee! Yay! Plus Alex needed to hit the ATM machine to retrieve some cash for our pending trip to Buffalo.
Around noon-ish we all packed in my car and started the journey. Though we were going to take a side trip to the local outlet stores where I was going to investigate and hopefully purchase some new, non-Morman, magic undergarments. Alex had told me about some fantastical new high-tech insulating material designed by Columbia Sportswear called Omni-Heat … yes heat for the people! Unfortunately they didn’t sell said undergarments. But they did have plenty of winter coats that had Omni-Heat insulation. Didn’t buy a coat though. Wasn’t ready to fork out $160.00 plus tax. I also figured, we had outlet stores near where I live, and no tax on clothes. Lesson learned … should have bought the coat I liked there … not all Columbia Outlet stores have the same merchandise. But hindsight is 20-20. Oh well. Aurora did buy a coat … and we were on our way to Buffalo.
Buffalo reminded me of Portland a bit. Don’t know why, it was just a feeling. Crunchy-granola-urban-hipster-ville. I liked it. We wandered the streets for a while, checking out shops. I bought myself a 6″ Pepper Mill & Salt Shaker Set (Natural Finish) from Penzey’s Spices. I’m glad I did. Been wanting a higher quality grinder and this set spoke to me. And I spoke back. With my debit card. From there it was off to dinner. Sushi baby! I did my research on Yelp! and found Kuni’s, a highly rated sushi place. Good find too! And post dinner coffee at Starbucks. Der is a gawd! With coffee beverages in hand, it was time to go back to the car and drive the 7 or 8 blocks to the show.
The Indigo Girls With The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
All in all I liked the show. The first half of the show was marred by bad sound and technical glitches with guitars and vocal mixes. You could see Amy’s frustration. As far as the musical selections, there was a nice mix from the Indigo songbook and some of Amy’s solo stuff. Some of the song selections seemed odd and overwrought, while others benefited from the orchestral arrangements.
The second set sounded better. Amy must have raised holy hell backstage. Whatever problems they had in the first set, disappeared in the second set. One thing that was very noticeable was the orchestras “disdain” of Amy and Emilie and the rabid and adoring fans … normally there is some recognition by the orchestra of an accompanying artist, usually through the violins and cellos tapping their bows or applause etc. Nothing. And at the end of the night, the orchestra almost seem appalled at the fans continuous applause. You could see players plugging their ears because the applause was so loud, until finally the members got up and left the stage. Being so close to the stage I could see the looks of incredulity and disgust on the musician’s faces as they left. As if they were so far above this display of affection from the crowd. The girls did not return after the last song and there was no encore.
With that we all poured out of the hall & proceeded back to the car. And so began the three hour ride back to Trumansburg. As with the ride to the show, my iPhone was set to shuffle Indigo Girls and Amy Ray’s solo catalog. There were many sing-alongs to songs as they played. But as we grew closer, and bodies slept a little here and there, it was more me driving and trying to stay awake. Alex stayed awake and was in the front seat as navigator, so that helped. We got back around 2:00 AM. A fun time was had by all!
Saturday – Day Three
I remember sleeping, in all my layers, and quilted comforters, on the inflatable mattress in the living room. I remember the two cats cuddling up with me and getting under the covers. But I don’t remember what time we all entered a waking state. I do remember piling into van Solla and being transported to downtown Ithaca. Alex dropped us off, as he looked for parking. There were a lot of events going on in town, and a lot of people. I wandered around Ithaca with Aurora while Nancy went off to do something. Aurora and I went into an antique store and looked around. She made some purchases. Then it was time for a coffee fix at Starbucks … a venti cup of Sumatra. Just the way I like it, soupy thick & strong … mmmmmm. I was in heaven!
After wandering around town, we went off to the Johnson Museum of Art saw some amazing exhibitions on ancient books and book making, photography & pottery. Pus amazing views of the surrounding campus. We also saw the seen of a criminal act! The spot in the museum where once hung one of Alex’s huge ceramic platters. Sadly the platter fell to its death and dismemberment during a showing at the museum.
After a fantastic dinner at a local Thai restaurant, Alex, Aurora and I went back to Solla Central. Sadly Nancy did not join us she was sleeping off a nasty migraine.
Later tha evening, Alex invited Aurora and me into the studio for a photo shoot. He asked us both to don our leather jackets too. Alex set up lights and started clicking away. It’s been along time since I was in a studio setting being photographed. But I’m vain enough, plus having lost all the weight I had, it was nice to document it like this. Posing with the mighty Aurora was icing on the cake we had a wickedly fun time! And kudos to Alex for some AMAZING photographs. My trip was memorable enough, but these photographs and posing with Aurora just put the whole experience over the top!
Once we were done shooting it was back into the house & Alex immediately downloaded the images to his computer & started editing them in Adobe Lightroom. Being a Mac guy, I never really used Lightroom, but it was fun to see someone who knew his tools, and within a very short amount of time, had chosen all the photos he wanted to work with, applied filters, cropped and edited the entire shoot. Pretty amazing, to say the least, and some pretty astounding finished images too. Tyra Banks would have been proud of my modeling skills. Being a photographer myself, it is fun to be on the other side of the camera and play. Being as active as possible to give the photographer a variety of poses, expressions, “smizing”, finding my light, (see Tyra on both counts) etc , to make it all a bit more interesting. And Aurora was right there with me. Being the daughter of a photographer, she’s modeled for her dad many many times. I was thrilled at the results. Great work Alex & Aurora! We’ll have to do it again soon.
Sunday – Day Four – Saying Good-bye
Woke up Sunday morning still as chilled as ever … but so internally warmed by all the amazing times I had spent with Family Solla. From the walk in the park with Alex and Aurora, to our Buffalo excursion to see the Indigo Girls. It was one adventure after another, with great food, stimulating conversations, and respites between. It was so fantastic to reconnect with Alex after all these years, and to finally meet Face to non-Face-booked, Nancy and Aurora. I love when friends get together and create new shared experiences … just warms my heart. And with all that, made it a little bit difficult to pack my bags and get back … on the road. But that’s what I did, of course with a pitstop at the Starbucks for a mega-cup-o-joe-for-the-road! Good-bye Trumansburg. Good-bye Ithaca. Good-bye Alex, Nancy and Aurora … what a great stay … so many fun times … what fantastic friends! Thanks for your friendship and hospitality … you guys ROCK!