……and 32 years later!

32 years ago, I began my music teaching career (age 24) at San Pedro High School in San Pedro, California.  It was 1985 and I had just completed my Master’s Degree at USC.  Later that school year, Liz and I married in Los Angeles.  Professionally, I was torn between teaching and performing.  High School music teaching demands 12 hour days.  I would leave for school at about 6am, and arrive for marching band practice (before school) at 6:30.  I often didn’t get home much before 6 or 7pm.  At the same time, I was practicing daily and playing professional symphony gigs all over the Los Angeles area.  Needless to say, between football game half time shows, concerts, competitions with the marching and concert bands and then gigging at night with various orchestras, I was nothing short of exhausted.  I put my all into the band program at Pedro, but only lasted that one year.  (I next took a job at Luther Burbank Jr. High in Burbank, California and subsequently went back for my Doctoral degree so that I would be qualified to teach University level students. This type of teaching position would be much more compatible with a performing career.)

Before I arrived, San Pedro High had 3 tumultuous years of bad band directing.  In the end, the band director was fired for pilfering $$ from the band program.  I came in and took over a band of 17 students.  The attrition over the previous 3 years had been devastating.  (By the end of the year, we were 45 strong!)  The core 17 players in the band were incredibly devoted to the program and we all became very close.  I had no idea, at the time, how devastated the students would be when I decided to leave.

About 3 years ago, I received a phone call from Colin, a saxophone player from my time at San Pedro.  He was getting married, and about 10 of the students were with him.  They were waiting for the ceremony to start, and decided to see if they could find me.  The call lasted about 30 minutes and I was able to chat with all 10 of the students.  They told me that 1985 was their best year of high school and that every time they got together, they relived the memories of all of the things we had done as a band.  (Anyone who doubts the power of teaching and teachers is clueless about our profession!)

Earlier last week, one of the students emailed me (Mike, trumpet player, age 47) and told me he would be in Salt Lake City for the weekend.  Was I close enough, and if so, could we get together?  Liz and I were planning to be in Park City, so indeed we would be able to meet for lunch.  3 hours later, I was able to get caught up on Mike’s life and the lives of the students that I hadn’t seen in 32 years.  I brought with me, two photo albums from the year at San Pedro, and decided that Mike should have them.  The first two pictures are from one of the photo albums.  Kenney and Jose hoisted me up on their shoulders when it was announced that the marching band had made it into the finals of the LA Marching Band Championships (competition).  It had been many years since the band had advanced to the finals.  The pics that follow are from our lunch together.20707948_10210052239002638_6242006998922125419_n.jpg




Mike is a longshoremen in the LA Harbor and commutes in from the Lake Elsinore area.  He would like to get out of California altogether and is considering the Mountain West to relocate.  Since work is many days on/many days off, he is considering flying in to his job for each stint of work.  Incidentally, he decided to cross off Salt Lake City as a relocation possibility.  It is too much like LA!!  Yes, and it will only get worse ie traffic and smog.

As I head back to work after my sabbatical (Aug 28), I reflect on the impact I have had on so many students over my 32 year career.  It has been rewarding to say the least.  Knowing that I have made a difference in all of these lives makes it all worth it.

Annual Hootch Tasting……

6 Years ago, we started a hootch tasting with musicians from the opera orchestra.  We each bought a bottle of hootch, brought out a few dozen glasses and compared various spirits.  So far, we have tasted Single Malt Scotch, Bourbon, Rye, Tequila and the complete line up of Park City’s High West Distillery Spirits.  This year, I decided to switch to wine tasting.

There were about 13 of us to taste this past Sunday, and we tasted 9 different Pinot Noir wines from various regions including California, Oregon, France, Canada, and New Zealand.  I will save you the trouble:  117 glasses on the counter (thank goodness for Liz’s 20 year catering career!).  I asked that everyone spend at least $30 for their bottle of Pinot.  Although you can find drinkable Pinot for less, usually it just isn’t very good. (Disclaimer:  We had one $18 bottle of New Zealand’s Oyster Bay Pinot, and it wasn’t too bad!)  Everyone brought food so that we wouldn’t get overly sloshed.  Each person had about a 1.5 ounce pour – so the equivalent of about 3 glasses of wine over a 3.5 hour period of time.  Here are the wines:

Calera Pinot Noir 2014 from Central Coast California – First trombonist and First cellist

Boen Pinot Noir 2015 from Russian River Valley California – Violin section player

Champ de Reves Pinot Noir 2013 from Anderson Valley California – Principal Oboe

Meyer Reimer Pinot Noir 2015 from Okanagan Falls, British Columbia – Todd and Liz!

Domain Eden Pinot Noir 2014 from Santa Cruz California – Principal Flute

Cedar Creek Pinot Noir Platinum Block 4 2014 from Okanagan, British Columbia – Second Oboe (her sister lives on Victoria Island and brought the Cedar Creek – what a pleasant surprise!)

Cristom Mount Jefferson Pinot Noir 2014 from Willamette Valley Oregon – Second Oboe

Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2014 Marlboro, New Zealand – Principal Viola

Bourgogne Frederic Magnien 2014 from Burgundy, France – Principal Viola (she brought 2!)

A few tasting notes:

The Boen was very earthly, “dirty” in flavor.  The Oyster Bay was peppery and slightly spicy.  The French was the lightest of the nine Pinot’s.  The Calera was the sweetest in flavor.  The most balanced Pinot (robust at the nose (smell), palate (taste) and savor (after swallowing) was the Willamette Valley Cristom Pinot.  The Meyer was appreciated by all.  The top 3, after polling all of the wino’s, were Anderson Valley Champ de Reves, Willamette Valley Cristom, and Okanagan’s Cedar Creek.  I would agree with the polls.  These were by far the best 3 that we tasted.  Although some had the 3 in different order, all agreed that these 3 were the stand outs.  Here are a couple of photos with the complete line up.




The third pic is me waxing eloquently about the evening’s line up.  Meghan (Principal Viola) is on the left.  A great time was had by all.  Everyone really looks forward to this annual event and this year’s gathering did not disappoint.  Next year, we decided we would try high end sipping Rum.  Cognac is probably in our future as well.  But good Pinot is a beautiful thing:  it goes well with most foods and is a nice red wine to drink during the hot Utah summers.  Cheers!


6th Annual Backyard Bash!!

When I turned 50, I decided to throw a big backyard party, complete with live music, food, and adult beverages.  We had about 50 people show up that first year.  In subsequent years, I have enlisted the online service Evite, and invited more and more of our friends here in Logan, Utah.  I have hired most of the bands from around Northern Utah that I care to listen to.  This year, our 6th, turned out to be the biggest year yet:  about 185 friends decided to make the scene!  We had friends and family from LA, Mill Valley California, Nashville TN, Denver CO and from all over Utah.  We always start with an hour of open mic jazz which I lead.  Then the headliner band or bands take it from there.  This year, we had the blues rock band Blue Blazers perform.  The band is led by Bob Parsons, who is head of special collections at Merrill Library at Utah State University.  (He is the guitar player/singer in the pic.)








Some video of the music is posted on Liz’s Facebook page.  I am unable to upload video on this version of WordPress.  The weather was perfect; high 80’s with a bit of a breeze.  A good time was had by all and several folks stated that this is always the best summer party of the year.  Cheers!


Summer Begins!

We have been home exactly one month.  First order of business was to get the yard in shape and the sprinklers up and running.  No problems there, just lots of weeding and the like.  Next, we needed to get re-acquainted with our Park City condo.  It has been 5 years since we bought the place, and back then, we immediately set out to update and refurbish the condo.  This included all new bathroom and light fixtures, light fixtures through out the condo, tiling the front bathroom tub/shower and painting the entire place.  About one month in, our friends Laurie and Joel came to visit and we hired Joel to bring the entire condo up to code. (This guy can build/fix anything!)  After that initial updating and upgrading, I knew that it would be about 5 years before we would start picking away at other projects.  So, this past month, we re-tiled the back bathroom floor, recarpeted the place and purchased a new gas burning stove.  We still have the original counter top (from the 1970’s), so my hope is to replace that this Fall.

While “supervising” all of the new work being done, we squeezed in bike rides and hikes.  We have only seen two moose in the past 5 years, up close and personal, but last week made 3.  We were hiking along the trail at PCMR and there she was lounging in the shade.  She was about 50 feet away and lingering is not advised.


Let’s try that again:

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Here are two views from up on the mountain, at about 8500 feet:



Summer time means music.  So, time to get back into playing shape with flute and trombone.  First up is Summerfest Artfaire in Logan, Utah.  My jazz sextet, Citrus and Sage, performed on Friday, June 16.  We call tunes from the stage and pretty much improvise the entire performance.



Leaping Lulu performed on Saturday afternoon.  They were kind enough to let me “sit in” on percussion.  One of the Celtic drums of choice is the Cajon, which I am sitting on and playing.  Of course Liz is taking care of melodies on flute and piccolo.  There was a great crowd on Saturday and we were able to sell a bunch of their CD’s.  Leaping Lulu will play a wedding on July 4 and Bountiful Handcart Days later in July.


Opera rehearsals started yesterday.  The season ends on August 9, so the next 8 weeks will be extremely busy.  The shows, which run in repertory, are Madame Butterfly, Rex, Seussical, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pirates of Penzance, and Music Man.  So, lots of sitting in the pit in the dark on 90+ degree days.  I will try and post some pics once the performances are under way.

Our second to last stop on our Spring trip this past March-May was in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.  Record snow pack and spring rain swelled Lake Okanagan beyond flood levels.  The condo resort is right on the lake in the village of Summerland, but is built up in elevation a few feet from the water’s edge.  Last we heard, the dock was pretty much ruined.  Sand bags line the shoreline where ever structures are threatened.  Based on news reports, heavy damage included the town of Peachland, Kelowna, Naramata and some shore line properties in Summerland.  Here are a couple of pictures to give you and idea.  Keep in mind that the dock is usually sitting about 2 feet above the water (not a floating dock).



To the left of the concrete, there is supposed to be a small beach.  Last we heard, the lake crested at 29 inches over the maximum full level.  The last time it was even close to this level was 1997.  On a lighter note, we heard that the baby owls had flown the nest.  Here is another picture of them, albeit from when we were there in early May.



So, that is the latest update.  We have been lucky to have mild May and June weather, even chilly at times.  Snow still caps the local mountains here, but that really isn’t that unusual.  I will blog again in mid July, right after the Backyard Bash on July 16 (backyard concert and picnic at Chez Fallis).  Til then!



Okanagan Part 2

As per the last post, the Okanagan was a time for family, dining and wine tasting in BC’s wine region.  Mostly pics here folks, and some nice ones at that.  Some are self explanatory:

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Three generations above!  Nice to add Kimberly to this portion of the trip.  Dinner at Vanilla Pod, the restaurant at Poplar Grove Winery.



Kimberly pictured outside the Vanilla Pod.  She hiked above Skaha Lake with Grandma.  Here is a photo of the view from near the top:



Second annual dinner at Backyard Farm in Oliver with family and friends.  The menu, the chef, the food, Todd and Murali waxing eloquently (or not), Maureen and Lesley sharing a moment:



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A fantastic no parking sign around the corner from our condo:


Old Summerland is lakeside.  Cliffs hang vicariously along the lake shore.  Paths wind up the cliffs to “new” Summerland.  A family of owls was spotted and photographed.  Grandpa was all over this.  All I can say is, WOW.  A mother and her babies:

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Grandpa, I want a blown up version of one of the above pics.  A must have!

Kimberly, Liz and I drove back to the US this past weekend and stopped in Walla Walla, Washington.  L’Ecole, Walla Walla Cellars and Kronos are 3 of our fave wineries in Eastern Washington, known for their reds.  We also ate at the very tasty Brasserie Four on Main St. Kimberly loved it all, and even participated in all of the wine tastings.  Next thing you know, she was swirling the glass and sticking her beak right down in the glass and giving us tasting notes!  She’s hooked!  Our Airbnb was just outside the University property which allowed us to walk a half mile or so into town.  Along the way was a pet bunny, who made no bones about enjoying being pet.  Even a cat came by and completely ignored the rabbit. Neighborhood bunny I guess.



So there you have it, bunnies and owls.  Good thing they weren’t in the same neighborhood!

Sunday, May 14, we drove home to Logan, Utah, arriving around 3:30 in the afternoon.  8 weeks and some 50 wineries later, I need to shed a good 10 pounds.  We will spend the next couple of weeks cleaning up around and in the house in Logan and the condo in Park City.  Musically, we will play jazz and celtic music at the upcoming Summerfest Faire in mid June.  The opera season starts the same weekend with initial rehearsals.  I have 70 rehearsals and performances in a 7 week period, so it will be busy.  I will take a hiatus from blogging until mid June and then send you all pics from the final musical events of the sabbatical.  Hope you all have enjoyed the spring trip portion of the sabbatical blog.  Sure has been fun!!!!!!

Vancouver, Okanagan Part 1

After 3 days in Vancouver, we set off for the 4 hour trek to the Okanagan.  The condo in Summerland is a 2bd 2bath lake view place right on the water.  Summerland is ideally located between Kelowna and Penticton and close enough to all the wineries that we want to visit year after year.  The drive from Vancouver is 4 hours on the nose, if you don’t stop for gas, snow storms, potty breaks or breath taking views.  I haven’t posted any Vancouver pics so I will include some below.  In Vancouver, Liz and I took 2 bike rides in the 3 day period and I got to meet with the head of field experience for student teachers at UBC.  Of course, it is always great to see and spend time with Jack, and he made killer enchiladas complete with chorizo filling and home made tortillas.  Here are shots from Chez Bohm and the surrounding area:




Mom and Dad are doing very well.  Dad is out and about on nice long walks (and even some hikes!) and his wonderful sense of humor is fully intact!  Here is a shot of us at Painted Rock up on Skaha Bluffs overlooking Skaha Lake (one body of water down from Okanagan Lake).


Just above the winery, we hiked around the bluffs a bit.  This is my fave shot so far; Mom and Dad and little ole me photo bombing the pic (head only) as they sat on a rock and enjoyed lunch.


We stayed at the condo last year as well, but no pics exist til now.  Here is the front of the left half of the resort complex taken from out on the dock:


Being in a condo means no indoor practicing.  I always find a place.  Here is my lake side tree and a few pics of me staying in shape:




And finally, some beautiful photos of the lake from around the Summerland area:





From top to bottom: looking down upon vineyard from above; the yacht club next to our complex; the beach adjacent to the complex; a shot looking north of Summerland up the lake; and our private dock which can handle several boats.

Kimberly arrived last night and spent today hiking with Grandma.  Bohm family friend and colleague Mike arrived from Protection Island (just off of Nanaimo) and he and Dad are wine tasting and shopping as I write.  Liz and I took off on the bikes and visited a winery on the way back.  It’s tough being me.

Give me a few days, and I will post more pics of this most beautiful region of Southeastern British Columbia.


Willamette Valley: Land of Pinot!

Aloha from McMinnville, Oregon, just 40 miles Southwest of Portland!  We left Cloverdale on our 600 mile journey on Monday.  The first leg is from Cloverdale to Williams, which is where we pick up the I5 freeway.  80 miles.  2.5 hours.  There have been landslides from all of the rain and road crews were cleaning up, mitigating and otherwise trying to stay ahead of the game.  This amounted to two delays and about 30 minutes of sitting and waiting.  Frustrating when you have a good 10 hours of drive time under regular conditions.  The rest of the trip was uneventful.  The prettiest part of the drive is the Lake Shasta and Shasta Mountain region just before the Oregon border.  We had visited Lake Shasta, many years ago, when the shoreline was some 50 feet below the “bathtub ring”.  Not so on Monday.  The lake is full to the brim and the snow hasn’t even started coming down from the tallest peaks.  The tallest is Mount Shasta, topping out at over 14,000 feet.  Liz was driving and I took a snap shot at about 75 miles an hour.  It was lightly shrouded with clouds, but the majority of the white you see is snow:


We checked in to our Airbnb cottage in McMinnville at about 5:40, some 10.5 hours after leaving Cloverdale.  Shortly after unloading we had a visitor:


This reminded us of the herd of mule deer that make their way through our yard in Logan. Apparently, there were 4 of these little guys, but we only saw two.  She was unfazed as we went to and from the cottage.

McMinnville, it turns out, is not only the birthplace of Pinot in the Willamette Valley but also the birthplace of my running partner of 20 plus years, Paul.  Turns out, his childhood home is only 4 houses from where we are staying.  Paul went to Elementary school down the street and spent his formative years in McMinnville.  His father was a Methodist Minister and the home Paul grew up in was the Parsonage.  We walked by the house and Laura, the latest owner, was just arriving from work.  I introduced Liz and myself and she proceeded to tell us the history of the home.  It was built in the 1920’s by a doctor.  In 1949, it was “sold” to the Methodist church for $50.  It became the home of the Methodist ministers from 1949-2002.  I am sure that Paul’s family was one of the first families to move in.  In 2002, the church sold the home to Laura and her husband.  Nothing much has changed with the house with the exception of the clapboard siding (still there, white) which is now underneath a gray vinyl siding.  They also added on a small area off of the back to expand the kitchen/eating area.  Here are two pics of the house:



I emailed the story and the pics to Paul.  I am sure he will be pleased to see what great shape the house is in.

This morning, we headed off to taste Pinot Noir.  This time of year, the wineries are open 11-4, so 3 tasting rooms were about all we could squeeze in, plus a break for lunch.  We had several  recommendations from friends (thanks Clark!) and wanted to visit about 8 wineries.  But 3 would be the limit.  First up was Domaine Drouhin.  The Drouhin family dates back to the 1880’s with the patriarch starting his grape growing and wine making in Burgundy, France (hence the Domaine name).  Currently there are 180 hectares of vineyards in the Cote de Beaune, Cote de Nuits and Chablis areas.  Some of the family immigrated to Oregon in 1961 and began wine making here in the 1980’s.  They make Chardonnay and Pinot.  We tasted all of them and they were yummy.  When we told them about our adventures in Nuit St George, they allowed us to try one of their wines from France.  Fun!


The winery is located just outside McMinnville in Dundee Hills.  Several of the top wineries are located on these hillsides and the views are stunning:


Second, we visited Bergstrom, one of the more famous wineries in the area.  Here too, the wines are memorable and here too they only served Chardonnay and Pinot.  We noticed driving around that the vines are very close to the ground.  Also, when we arrived in Sonoma 5 weeks ago, the vines were bare (they are fully leafed out now).  Here, we are back to bare vines with tiny buds (North and colder).  So I asked about the vine height.  Have a look:  vines/root stock only 18 inches or so high, and spaced only 3 feet apart, compared to Sonoma where they were 4.5 feet high and spaced 5 feet apart.


Two parts to the explanation:  They are purposefully spaced closer together to encourage the roots to compete for nutrients and to dig deeper for water.  (This helps to concentrate the fruit)  Also, French Style Burgundies are planted in this same fashion.  They keep the canopy lower to the ground to help stave off freezing during the spring.  It was unusual to see these stubby little vines just starting to bud, especially in comparison to the vines in Sonoma.  We were also informed that the soils in the valley here are not conducive to grape growing.  So all of the vineyards are on the hillsides.  Not so in Sonoma; every square inch of mountain, hill and valley are covered with vines.

Finally we visited Chehalem.  We heard that they had a wider variety of whites (some of the wineries are even growing the Austrian varietal Grunerveltliner) and we wanted to taste those as well.  Chehalem had the usual collection of Pinot’s but also a Reisling, Rose, Pinot Gris and un-oaked Chardonnay.  We really enjoyed the Pinot Gris particularly.

We will need to make another stop here and expand our palette!  We also need to visit/explore Portland so perhaps we can spend a week in this region in the not too distant future.  Tomorrow, we head to Vancouver to spend time with our BC family(s).  We will visit May 3-6 and then head to the Okanagan Valley for more……..wine tasting!  I will blog to you from Beautiful British Columbia!!