Archive | December, 2013

December update

25 Dec

Four items to talk about… one:  I spent two weeks in New York and Maryland, two:  I climbed Iron Mountain in Poway, three:  my younger sister Nancy has moved to Escondido and four: Sylvia just hiked Grand Canyon last weekend (Dec 15 and 16).

I may come up with other happenings while I’m writing, so these four may lead to more. But, first, I need to find my thinking cap, so I’ll look for that now and be back in a while. I found it.  It was in that cup where I keep my coffee — it works every time. When I finish the cup of coffee my thinking cap appears… magically.  Amazing what a cup of coffee can do (no, not decaf).

Before I relate the New York-Maryland event, just a word about my reading habits, or lack thereof.  I am not a reader. My brother Bob is a voracious reader; my wife has read every book that has ever been published; our son John reads like his uncle — always reading something, a habit he picked up in the Navy — out to sea for six months at a time with basically nothing to do except read. But, I think I’ve only read five books in my whole life — three in school (had to); The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey (1973) and Escape 101: The Four Secrets to Taking a Sabbatical or Career Break Without Losing Your Money or your Mind by Dan Clements and Tara Gignac. I read that one twice… cover-to-cover. This doesn’t mean that I don’t read at all. I read every day, but only a few sentences at a time or maybe even a whole paragraph. Whole chapter?  Very rare.  I don’t read for entertainment. I only read for information.

When I find a title that sounds interesting I’ll go to Amazon to read the reviews — I start at the “one star” review first. That’s usually as far as I go. But, if there are very few one-star ratings then I’ll read the 5-star ratings. If they are good I may buy the book, but I’ll find a used one in very good condition. Then when it comes, I’ll skim through and get what I’m looking for. Then it goes on the shelf.

Yes, I see all the “I” pronouns, which means I’m very selfish. But, everyone is selfish, so I’m normal in that regard. After all, as it says in Philippians 2:21: “For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Very true. So, enough about reading already.

Here’s a brief rundown on the NY-MD trip. I arrived in New York around 10 PM on Friday, September the 13th. Our son Johnny and family live in the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn (,_Brooklyn). It’s a very nice three bedroom apartment with a garage (very handy to have in New York) — plenty of room for everyone.  Photo below was taken from their dining area. Plants are living — no plastic allowed in Johnny’s home. Their daughter’s school is about three blocks away and shopping is close by. It’s a good central location without costing a fortune.




I was in New York for a week. That doesn’t seem like a long time, but in a brand new environment everything is meaningful. I’ve been there before, but this time I saw things that I didn’t see in previous trips. Like we drove over the Brooklyn Bridge — my first time to do that. I met Barry Harris — first time to do that. I met with Pat Vega nee Schumacher — first time to see her in 53 years. She was one year behind me in high school, but we got acquainted in junior college. She married my good friend Richard Peck.

I met Barry Harris at long last. Barry is a very famous jazz pianist who got started in the 40s. He has played all through the years and now combines playing with conducting workshops. Most of his workshop are in New York. Here is why Barry Harris is one of the best bebop players of all time…  He gave me an assignment for next spring – to learn the diminished 6th scale – using chords.  So, I have about five months to get it done.

Pat Schumacher, as I knew her in the late 50s, is now known as Pat Vega.  Her marriage with Richard didn’t last, but they had a daughter Suzanne in July of 1959. Richard was and is a very good piano player. He would come over to the house (he was on Ocampo Drive and I was on Toyopa Drive – one block apart) and we would show each other a variety of chords and runs — stuff I was learning from Sam Saxe. So, we go way back – in fact we were both in the same 1957 graduating class from University High School in West Los Angeles


December 22, 2013

Took a little breather, so back to the task at hand. To continue with the above thoughts… the second item: I climbed to the top or Iron Mountain in Poway – about twenty minutes south of Escondido. I’m not really a hiker, but I wanted to give it a try to see what my interest level might be. So, a hiking friend of Sylvia’s, John Adler, offered to do Iron Mountain with me.  Hiking day was Saturday, October 5th. He is super experienced (he has summited Mt.Whitney fifteen times). So we slowly made our way to the top. I forgot my poles, so he loaned me an extra pair that he had brought along just in case I didn’t have any. Mostly because they are essential for the descent (for me).  Here’s a photo of me half way up…

Here I am - half way up - notice the cool hiking gear.

Here I am – half way up – notice the cool hiking gear.

Eventually we made it to the top. Here’s the view at the top…

John Adler on the left.  October 6, 2013.

John Adler on the left. October 6, 2013.

It’s a good thing he had the poles because I needed them to descend. Lots of rocks to navigate through — I used the poles to steady myself as I carefully planted my feet into the available spaces. About a mile from the end of the trail my left knee started to bother me (an old injury from a fall off the bike a few years back). So, I made it to the end — about a 6-mile hike. It took me about four hours — I tend to move slowly, unless I’m in a hurry.

The third item I wanted to mention was my sister’s move from Hawaii to Escondido. She moved to Hawaii from the Palisades about fifteen years ago. She and my mother visited Hawaii together around 1960 (she was about twelve at the time). She fell in love with Hawaii and decided to move there at some point in the future. That point in time showed up in the late 90s. So she sold her house in the Palisades and bought one in Kapaa on the island of Kauai. But, after fifteen years she had had her fill and wanted to get back to California.

She asked me about Escondido and I said don’t move here. I gave her a few politically incorrect reasons, but she still decided to buy a house here — after spending time looking with a very good agent from Brush Realty (Connie Malkiewicz). Connie spent several days taking her to different parts of north San Diego county. She found what she wanted in a nice residential area east of town. So, she and her boyfriend Patrick arrived on October 9th and began to set up house at her new location.

She’s a professional fine artist — she sold a lot of work while in Hawaii. In her early years she studied with Sergei Bongart ( Her style reflects his influence. Below is just one of many images she painted while living there.

by Nancy Bresnik. A scene somewhere on the island of Kauai in Hawaii.

by Nancy Bresnik. A scene somewhere on the island of Kauai in Hawaii.


Since October 9th (Sylvia’s 73rd birthday) she has been back to visit with Angie for about ten days. I think this was the 5th year in a row that she went back just before Halloween and stayed for a little while.  She arrived on Wednesday the 30th and returned on Sunday, November 10th. Johnny and Bella flew in from New York for the weekend.

Then she spent a few weeks getting ready for the Grand Canyon trip.  She and a couple hiking buddies left for Arizona on Saturday the 14th of December. Then on the 15th they hiked the Kaibab trail down to the Phantom Ranch, spent the night and then hiked up the Bright Angel Trail. Then they drove home the same day, which really wasn’t a good idea. But, that’s the way it worked out. Then she suffered for about two to three days with sore muscles — she really wasn’t ready for the long descent… seven and a half miles of downhill. But, she did OK the next day — coming up.

Sylvia hiking the Grand Canyon - December 15, 2013

Sylvia hiking the Grand Canyon – December 15, 2013

The plan is to do it again next year only next time I’ll give it a try. I can’t do long bike rides any longer due to a neck problem so I’ll have to work on hiking — that I can do. But, I need a lot of training. And, in John Adler, I have a great coach, so I’m expecting to become a good hiker.

Today is Christmas Day 2013 — my 74th Christmas. That’s a lot of Christmas seasons — some good times and some not-s0-good times. Mostly good, but a few negatives. I talk about the positive things that go on in our lives, but I don’t mention the bad stuff. Our family has things that I don’t want to present in a public setting. Some difficult problems appearing from time to time. But, ’twas always thus, ’twill always be… every family has difficult situations to deal with.

So, on that note (speaking of notes, I have many things to present regarding my new website that will be geared to the process of online jazz piano teaching — coming up next month) — I will now depart and continue at a later date…