July 31, 2014


I think my jet lag is expressing itself as migraines, so I could not blog yesterday after checking the backup of email from when I was away. If not today, I will write the next day.

Otherwise I feel well, but I've never had a migraine before and it's extraordinarily painful, even for someone with my high pain tolerance - perhaps a 7 on the 1-10 scale (with my broken leg continuing as my personal "10").

I am getting labs drawn today for tomorrow's Avastin, then hope to attend my support group after. Rik is driving me, as the migraine seems to be triggered by light and the past few days have been very sunny in Seattle.

A friend gave me good advice on coping with migraines. Stay in a cool, dark, room (I'm wearing an eye shade), put a cold cloth over your head. I may try a "Well Patch," since it's an OTC item.

Read here for more on migraines.

July 29, 2014


I am home after two weeks in Bulgaria with Dunava. I promise to post more tomorrow!

July 26, 2014

Touring and Kyustendil

YThe past few days we've been busy with touring. This is the unglamorous side of even our tiny bit of showbiz. Wake up, get on the bus. Stop for gas, get on the bus. Arrive at new location. Short break, then lessons and/or performance. Dinner, sometimes very late with musicians, sometimes just us. Go to sleep. Repeat. 

After Bansko we want to Kyustendil. This is the performance sponsored by the USArtist grant (https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10152614132464017&id=699319016). 

After arriving in Kyustendil we had been invited to march in the parade with the other performers. J and I were again too tired to march, but the others had fun. Baby E makes us friends everywhere we go!

Our set was fourth in the lineup after groups from Bulgaria, Macedonia and Azerbaijan. Such glorious costumes, dancing and singing! It was my idea of heaven and brought back sharp memories of performing with Zivili in Columbus Ohio and with Radost in Seattle. 

Dunava was so well received, with  especially big applause for a Shope quartet featuring Ramona's Bulgarian style "yodeling."  

We went early to bed because next day we were back on the road. Dina received a silver pufti (belt buckle) and certificate of appreciation presented by the vice mayor. 

July 23, 2014


We arrived in Bansko after stopping at an outdoor market with homemade honey, jams, beans (don't ask me why) and some gorgeous mushrooms. Jody and I rested and then both went to the workshop featuring a 14year old baritone with an amazing voice. 

We learned two songs and then went to dinner when I finally was able to order lamb. And fries. Not as good as the chips a few days ago. 

I walked back to the hotel and missed the music but had another lovely adventure. I got lost eating my daily ice cream and asked three older women where our hotel was located. They offered to walk me there (all this in Bulgarian and pantomime). 

One lady spoke about the same amount of French as I do: call it high school francais. Victoria was born here in Bansko. We chatted with great effort of memory on both parts. She asked how old I am (54) which she did not believe.  "You must be 25! No? But your face shines like light!"  Such a lovely compliment. 

When we caught up to the other ladies, we all introduced ourselves and Victoria explained about the crazy American singers from Seattle. I had to dig out my music to share with them and sampled Kaeramfilchetu and Izgryala e Mesechinka, which Yordana knew and sang with me. We were all very happy, me for finding them and them I think for befriending me. No doubt they will done out on this story as much as I. 

Selfie of Victoria, Yordana, Maria and me

July 22, 2014

Random pics from BG


For Jewish friends: Hila and I at the "kotel" in Kotel

Desislava my music teacher. 

Chocolate ice cream face


July 21, 2014

Music school

Yesterday we arrived at the music high school T attended. It's in the mountains of Kotel, a small village in the foothills. 

After we arrived I was exhausted from the earlier part of the day: shopping, lunch in an outdoor cafe and hot, hot sun. A shower and short nap helped and I was able to attend the group lesson. We learned a really beautiful "Happy Song."  

Our driver had a mandated 24hour break, so most of walked down the winding road to a lovely restaurant. We sat outdoors by a waterfall. A delightful setting. Sadly the menu was confusing. 

M thought she ordered sea scallops, French fries and hot tea. What she got was a bottle of cold iced tea, Saratoga-style potato chips (cut thin and fried but with a soft potato center) and pork scallopiini. But we laughed it off and it made a funny photo. 

We returned late, after midnight, and I barely woke up in time for coffee and the special Kotel bread - so yummy! Then I had a private lesson with one of the singers working with Dunava.

Lunch is in an hour and I am going to nap until then. 

J and I at a scenic view near Kotel

July 20, 2014

On the bus

We're driving now from Burgas to Khotel (no not the Wall in Jerusalem). 

Yesterday we left Varna. I enjoyed a walk on the beach while the others were singing for BG tv. I can't sing soprano at 9 am!

The long afternoon drive was broken by a surprise lunch at a family home. The owners were so welcoming to us and fed us a lovely traditional meal. Read more from Ramona on Dunblog (http://www.dunavlog.blogspot.com). 

I learned that the evening performance was late and dinner would be even later in a town 45 minutes drive away.  So J and I stayed in Burgas. I had excellent pizza for dinner and got a good night's sleep. 

July 15, 2014

Leaving for Bulgaria

Just wanted to send a quick message that Dunava is leaving for Bulgaria on Monday morning! We hope for a safe trip, lots of great music, and an even more authentic Bulgarian sound.

I will do my best to blog from this account and you can also follow Dunava's adventures at Dunablog.

Dinner at the Varimezovi home

First day in Bulgaria

The plane flights were okay but long. We landed safely in both Frankfurt and Sofia. Four month old baby E is the best mascot! She's a happy baby and everyone wants to hold her. Tzvetanka and Ivan met us at the airport.

Sofia is part Soviet era old midrise apartments with baskets of flowers on each windowsill, peeling paint, plenty of graffiti and part new glass business towers. It reminds our three Jewish Dunavites of Israel in the 70's and early 80's. You have to press a button in the hall to turn on the lights. The pillows and mattresses are flat and lumpy. But each unit has wireless internet.

The people are warm and friendly. Tzv and Ivan prepared dinner for all of us: the freshest tomatoes in Shopska salad, two kinds of moussaka, fresh fruit and home made slivovitz for several toasts. I taught them to say L'chaim! We sang a few songs for sheer pleasure.

After dinner Hila and I walked to an ATM so I could get cash, then spelled the Cyrillic business names on the door fronts. Good practice !

The apartment holds all 10 of us. A bottle of insect repellent opened in my toiletry kit and soaked everything in it. I'm trying to air it out. Jody and I napped before dinner and slept all night.

It's about 7 AM and I hear sounds of activity in the kitchen. Time to get up!

July 06, 2014

Resting up or recovering?

Ever since Rik came home I have spent a lot of the last week sleeping or napping.  I think I am making up for lost sleep (dogs waking me every morning at 5 am) while Rik was away. Or it could be regular Xeloda/Methotrexate fatigue. I am looking forward to having the rest of the month off of chemo!

My tongue is much better but lately my BRONJ spot has been bugging me. I am going to try to see my dentist this week. I've had multiple infections in this spot in my mouth and I don't want to go to Bulgaria already sick with something.

Speaking of, I feel almost ready to depart. Still some medical stuff to take care of (unbelievable! I've been doing this for weeks now but I keep forgetting things.). Money issues all squared away, packing list started, borrowing a mid-size suitcase from a friend, etc. Just have to learn the last two songs…..