Thursday, October 18, 2007

An Elf's Adventure in Poland

Hello Everyone,

Finally I am getting around to posting our exploits in Poland this past July at the Tolk Folk Festival in Bielawa, Poland. Adam and I were the guests of honor there at this week long festival which included, Hobbit Races, performances of Tolkien based music and a massive re-enactment of The Fall of Gondolin complete with Balrogs on stilts a fire breathing dragon and original music underscoring narration by the organizer of the festival.

For those of you who didn't know, part 1 of Adam's opera Leithian, based on the short story of Beren and Luthien from Tolkien's Silmarillion was premiered at the Liederkranz Foundation NY, NY in July of 2006. It's fame took off in the Tolkien fan circles via their websites. Part 2 was premiered in NY this past April and now Adam is waiting in limbo to see if Tolkien's publisher will extend the agreement so we can take the next steps to promote his opera. Adam was Beren, I was Luthien and we had a host of great artists working with us. More information on the opera can be found at Adam's website:

Poland has an amazing group of serious fans, a kin to those represented at Sci-Fi conventions that I have attended in the distant and recent past. In brief I can summarize my festival experience as part Pennsic, part Star Trek Convention and part pastoral-vacation-in-the-Polish-countryside. Wow! The Tolkfolk Festival site can be found here. It's all in Polish, but I think Google would be happy to translate the page for you. We were treated like stars and interviewed by the media for the event. A TV interview can be found here.

Adam has written an amazing blog pretty much summarizing our thoughts on this adventure. You can find his blog here.

In addition to Adam's blog the only other comment I would like to make is about what I observed with the people of Poland and their culture. Without Lek Walesa's efforts there very well may never have been a Tolk Folk Festival or even J.R.R. Tolkien literature in Poland. Mr. Walesa was instrumental in banishing the Soviet backed communist government and through his efforts the people of Poland were allowed the freedoms of expression that come along with being a democracy. The age group that attended this festval was mostly in their 20's with a few 30's-60's smattered amongst them. They were intelligent, worldly, non-prejudiced and forward thinking. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them and have made friends with a few of them. There is a bright future for this country. I can't wait until I go back next year! (I am readying my Elf wardrobe as I write this...)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Ah friends,

I just got back from Hawai'i today and it seems like a dream. I was there celebrating one of my oldest friend's 40th birthday. How do these things happen? She looks amazing. I am calling 40 the new 25! Truly it is just a silly number.

The trip out was a bit rough with mechanical problems that delayed my flight twice, but it all evaporated once I was actually in the air. I love to fly. It's the closest thing to being a bird next to hang gliding...something else I want to try before I transition on to the next great adventure.

Yes, the magic started happening when I looked out the window around 3 PM Hawai'i time (or UTC-10 if you really want to be fancy). The plane was right on the edge of two weather fronts. It was not so much of a dramatic clash as it was a gentle divide between the subtropic and tropical climates. I wish I had used my camera. I have never seen anything like it. The clouds to the left were the feathery kind that you expect to see on the mainland and the clouds on the right were those billowy smoke-stacked, cotton candy clouds that puff straight up into the air, seeming to defy gravity and perspective. I got lost in that scene, thinking for a moment that I could hover in between the two fronts, suspended in the air like some great raptor gliding on the wind currents.

The water was so blue that when you looked down you weren't sure if the plane had floated upside down and you were looking at the sky instead. The sun changed, too, from a pale gold to a rich, yellow brightness that warmed without blinding the eyes. Then I saw the islands - first Molokai, then O'ahu - the final stop.

Time flew by and remained in the moment simultaneously. Whether I was camping on the beach with friends, running along the Ala Wai, drinking a lovely Oregon Pinot watching the rainbows and the sunsets, snorkeling with sea turtles or reveling in the rich local cuisine (so evocative of the multiple asian cultures that thrive there) - there was always a feeling of belonging, of being grounded. In the whirlwind of activity there was a centered calm.

What is it about these islands that inspires me? I feel an ancient energy there, combined with the lush Pacific ocean that acts as a channel for that energy thereby giving me limitless energy when I am there. I will probably go there to live someday and start my 4th or 5th career somehow contributing meaningfully to the magic of the place. I haven't quite figured out what it is that I will do, but I will. I feel on this trip I have opened a conduit between myself and the islands. Whenever I feel the ache of being away from my island home, I can now seemingly for a moment transport myself there feeling the warmth of the place and calming myself just a bit more than any meditation could do.

This is my bliss. I hope you all are finding yours or have found yours and are reveling in the warmth that it brings you.

Peace - Ren

Monday, April 9, 2007

REALLY Decadent Split Pea Soup with Pancetta

Hio Folks,

Many of you have been asking about when I am going to post a new blog. Well, here it is! I thought I would pass on a yummy recipe I created when I was freezing my butt off last month. Oh, it's pretty good for you, too!

REALLY Decadent Split Pea Soup with Pancetta


2-3 shallots - sliced
1/2 bag baby carrots - sliced
1 carton chicken stock (I like organic, low sodium)
2-3 cups of water
1/4 to 1/3 pound of Pancetta - chopped (In my opinion, Prosciutto is just a bit too much - "pricewise" and "flavorwise")
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 bunch fresh thyme
2 tablespoons dried Herbs de Provence
1 cup dried red lentils
1/2 cup dried green split peas
salt and pepper to taste

Place soup pot on element and heat the pot at medium heat. Add the olive oil and toast the thyme and Herbs de Provence for a moment. The add the shallots. Sauté until soft and then add the garlic. Then add the carrots coating them with the oil, herb and shallot/garlic mixture and sauté them a bit. Finally add the stock, water, lentils, split peas and salt and pepper to taste. Cover pot and bring to a boil. After boiling reduce the soup to a simmer. The soup will be done when the lentils and split peas have lost their shape. This usually takes 1 to 1/2 hours.

Bon appetite!


Friday, February 9, 2007

World Sound Healing Day

My very first blog is rather brief, but I hope poignant. I got this notice in an e-mail a couple of days ago via a contact at the Meta Center in NYC. It's about World Sound Healing Day which is being held on Valentine's Day 2007 all day long.

The web address is:

The concept is that by chanting the healing tone "AH" for five minutes during that day either by yourself or in a group, you will be projecting the energy of light & love throughout the planet and in turn generating a field of transformational energy that can be felt by all. Pretty cool, eh?

Namaste - Renaissance (or Ren for short...)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


Hello All,

Finally I have a blog to share my musings, opinions, philosophies, poetry and perhaps even a few recipes. There is absolutely no underlying theme to my posts, except to say that I have diverse interests and truly believe in the philosophy of "The Renaissance Man" - or in this case...woman...hence my moniker.

I post these blogs with all good intentions. If I contribute to your day in a positive way, then my goal has been accomplished. Stay tuned for the latest in a series of what I hope to be entertaining contributions to the blog multiverse.

Cheers - Renaissance Soprano