March 24, 2013: My 66th Birthday

My 66th Birthday

Today is my birthday and when I woke up, I had three things on my mind: 1) Tuesday Afternoon by The Moody Blues; 2) Amaluna – the Cirque du Soleil performance we saw yesterday afternoon; and 3) a driving need to take photographs of this morning’s sunrise and later today, of today’s sunset.

This was a long weekend…I had Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off.  Thursday we went to Asado’s (an Argentine restaurant) in Tacoma for an early birthday dinner and to open gifts, Saturday, we worked on the garden (putting up garden boxes, general clean up) and today, my actual birthday, we had some of my oldest son’s friends from Pacific Lutheran University drop by.

The Moody Blues

I first heard The Moody Blues from a friend when I was in Thailand in 1971.  He was a music junky and the three or months we shared barracks space together, he introduced me to a number of different groups I hadn’t heard before (Hot Tuna, Ten Wheel Drive, and others off the beaten path).  The Moody Blues really hooked me: I liked the music arrangements, the grand, rich sound they had, the way the music flowed from song to song, and the lyrics.  Over the years I picked up a number of their albums (records) and they’re on my todo list to convert them from analog to digital.  The song “Tuesday Morning” (youtube video) seemed to capture the journey I’ve been on for the last (almost) two years and, yes, I believe I “chased the clouds” away.  The song has been on my mind for the last week!


Miranda and Cali, half human and half lizard

Miranda, Queen Prospera’s daughter and Cali, half human and half lizard; Miranda’s protector

Amaluna is governed by goddesses and guided by the moon.  Queen Prospera is having a coming of age party for her daughter Miranda.  A storm is conjured bringing a group of castaways to the island.  Miranda meets Romeo and they must endure a series of trials that will teach them about harmony, trust, balance and inner strength (excerpt from the brochure.)

Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil

Amaluna, the most current Cirque du Soleil performance was simply spectacular!  There’s no other way to describe it.  Amaluna was being performed at the King County Marymoor Park in Redmond, Washington, about 50 miles from our home in Graham.  We left about 2:00 PM to  arrive in time park and be in the tent by the 4:00 PM start time.  We arrived around 3:30 PM and we were seated by 3:50 PM.  One of the reasons we wanted to be on time was that if you arrived after the show started, you had to wait until the intermission before you could go in.

Ticketing Entrance

Ticketing Entrance

When we entered the “big tent”, my wife and I were surprised by how compact the stage was.  We’d seen other shows on TV or from DVDs and the both stage and arena seem large from our TV vantage point. Part of this was you had no way to put the stage in perspective when on a TV screen.  Oh, while I have photos from the outside of the tents, we were informed from the first gate to being seated that no photos or images were allowed.  In retrospect, once the show started we were so mesmerised by what was going on, that taking any type of photo would have distracted me from the sheer magic being performed on the stage.

I think the most impressive single act of the entire performance was watching Lara Jacobs Rigolo from Switzerland balancing 15 palm ribs (go here to see her practice in Switzerland).  During her performance she was picking up the ribs either by hand or with either foot until 14 of the 15 ribs were connected.  She had perfect composure and perfect balance, and absolute focus on what she was doing. While I don’t know exactly how long she was on stage I do know that  during the entire act, with the exception of the accompanying music, the auditorium was absolutely quiet, I heard no sneezes, no coughs, no whispering or anything.  The entire audience was riveted during the entire performance and when it ended, the auditorium erupted in applause.  The link above of her practicing her act in Switzerland is the only video I’ve found so far.

While Lara’s act in my mind was the most memorable, the entire performance was amazing.  The tempo was fast, the performers were masters of their arts, the live music was dynamic and made you tap your feet, the lead vocalist grabbed your attention and her voice easily kept with up the music.  Neither the music or the vocals dominated the other – they were in perfect balance.   The costumes were incredible, the props were designed for each act and I can’t even imagine the logistics for setting everything up once the troupe arrived at the new location. Even the initial impression from ordering the tickets, parking, being escorted to your seats, the way the souvenir stands were set up, was orchestrated quite well and overall support structure was just a professional as the performers.

While the DVDs and television shows do a very good job of capturing Cirque du Soleil, there simply is no comparison between seeing an actual performance.

If they come to your area, you really, really should see the show.  It’s a life long memorable experience!

And, yes, I would go again!

Moon rise above the Cirque du Soleil tents

Moon rise above the Cirque du Soleil tents


Yes, I did take a sunrise photo this morning.  I made sure I was there on time, had a good vantage point and I  came away with a very good panoramic.  The temperature this morning was 28 degrees.  I didn’t realize how cold it was as I wore sandals (no socks) and a light jacket for the shoot.  Six minutes later the sky became grey and by noon only the lower quarter of the mountain was visible – the rest was in cloud cover.  I will go out this evening to take the sunset shot where the mountain is clear or not.

Today is the one day I want to capture both the beginning and the end, regardless of the weather.

Sunrise on my 66th birthday, March 24, 2013 - six minutes later the sky was completely different

Sunrise on my 66th birthday, March 24, 2013 – six minutes later the sky was completely different

and six minutes later, the sky was completely different

Sunrise, March 24, 2013: six minutes after the first sunrise

Sunrise, March 24, 2013: six minutes after the first sunrise

Today’s birthday is one that I often wondered if I would achieve given the way I’ve lived my life over the years: 65 military parachute jumps in seven years (one of which I was on the injured list for about 15 months; another which I should have broken an ankle or leg but thankfully didn’t); 42 years of riding motorcycles in three countries and a number of states (including a front tire going complete flat at 65 MPH with a passenger on board on Texas back roads and the accident where I was rear-ended in May 2011 accident which completely disrupting my life); Vietnam for 27 months; fast driving; almost falling off a mountain as a teenager; almost falling off a mountain in my 40’s with a 120 pound rucksack during a military exercise in Germany; 24 years of hectic freeway driving to and from work; way too much alcohol in my early 20s; going places where I should have known better when I was younger; and the multiple surgeries from multiple physical injuries.

Please don’t take this as complaints – it’s not. My life has been blessed and I’ve also done so many interesting things, met interesting people, my marriage is going well, I’m very fortunate to have a good job, I graduated from the University in my early 50s, and, after the last two years, I have a renewed interest in life and I finally know what love is.

The next post will be today’s sunset…let’s hope the clouds have cleared.  Life doesn’t wait for the opportune time.  And, neither can I!!!



Oh, yes…Tools: all Cirque du Soleil images – the iPhone 4s, edited in Snapseed; both sunrise: Nikon D300 and NIK Software.

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