A Day In The Life

December 31, 2007, 1:32 am
Filed under: Music

It’s midnight again, but tonight I’m rested rather than just having arrived home after a 3-hour drive.  I want to write a bit more about the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  For those of you who are tired of hearing about this group, I apologize.  For those of you who are interetsed, read on.

Each Trans-Siberian recording includes a story.  The complete story, in a type of overview form,  is printed in the first pages of the CD insert.  Then, interspersed throughout the lyrics, the same story in a more detailed rhyming verse,  is printed in italics.  Each piece of music, whether a vocal number or instrumental,  is also an integral part of the story.  The fusion of the story and the music is what makes the total TSO experience so meaningful.  It’s magical and beautiful and the message is always one of peace, love and hope for the wounded souls of the characters introduced through the stories. 

It is hard to fit this fusion into a specific genre.  One might call it a rock opera or symphonic rock.  The music simply includes so much; classical, blues, jazz, R&B, opera, Christmas carols.  Somehow it all fits together, blends and makes perfect sense to the listener.  In the live show, a narrator recited the rhyming verses of the story.  Oh, he did more than recite, he breathed life into the written words.  I literally sat in the arena with tears streaming down my face during portions of the concert. 

The light show that accompanied the concert made the whole experience even more breathtaking.  I read somewhere that it takes 15 hours to set up for a TSO concert and I believe it.  There were so many lights in so many colors and forms.  There was even an elevator-type platform at the opposite end of the arena from the stage that, when raised, had huge flames shooting up in the air.  And all the lights and pyrotechnics were perfectly sequenced with the rhythms of the music.  The amount of work that must go into putting a three-hour show like we saw together…..well, it is just mind boggling. 

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is scheduled to release a new CD in 2008 entitled “Night Castle”.  I can’t wait to purchase it.  We heard at least one piece that will be included on the new album which is “O Fortuna” from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.  The first two hours of the concert program were the live rendition of TSO’s first CD, “Christmas Eve and Other Stories”, released in 1996 which is also the year the group was formed.  The last hour of the concert program included music from “The Christmas Attic”, “The Lost Christmas Eve”, “Beethoven’s Last Night” and “Night Castle”.  We also heard a little Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and a funky performance of “Proud Mary”. 

I have been wanting to see TSO  for about three years, but their Little Rock concerts were always scheduled before Christmas which, as you know, is my busiest time of year.  I was thrilled when I found out their 2007 concert date was December 29.  It was an experience that I will never forget. 

As he flew o’er Sarajevo
There were scars upon the land.
There were scars upon the people.
It was hard to understand.
And the deepest scars of all
Which to humans are unseen
But the angel could see clearly
Were the scars upon the dreams.
Like Belfast and Burundi
Rwanda, Palestine
The only decorations here
Had been awarded for their crimes.
And in gardens where the children played
Now soldiers only trod
And stranger still he heard some say
That they were killing for their God.
Now the angel heard God speak many times
And he had always paid attention
But this killing of one’s neighbor
Was something the Lord had never mentioned.
But as he neared the earth
Of a recent battleground
From among the ruins
He once more heard the sound.
It was single cello playing
A forgotten Christmas song
And even on that battlefield
The song somehow belonged.
And as he flew away
The angel did take note
That where he found this music played
One always could find hope.”

from “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)


December 30, 2007, 12:24 am
Filed under: Music

It’s midnight and I just got home.  My brother, his girlfriend and I went to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert at Alltel Arena in Little Rock.  It was a truly amazing concert.  Three hours of music, lights and a few pyrotechnics thrown in for good measure.  We all agreed that we would have gladly sat through the second show if we’d only had tickets.  Wow!  What an experience! 

Merry Christmas
December 23, 2007, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Seasons

God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith;


the warmth of Christmas, which is love;


the radiance of Christmas, which is purity.


The Box
December 19, 2007, 9:07 pm
Filed under: My Life

My auditioned choirs had a bowling party after school yesterday.  Mom was in town picking up bulk fruit and nuts for the goodie bags we hand out at church on Christmas Eve.  She stopped by the Pine Bowl and joined in the fun.  When the party was over, I told Mom I would drive down to the church and help her unload all the boxes of apples, oranges and nuts she had stacked in her truck.  We left the bowling alley with me driving my car in front of Mom’s truck on the way to the church.  We were driving along in a line of traffic on the two-lane highway when suddenly a large cardboard box landed on the road directly in front of my car.  In a matter of seconds, I determined that I should not slam on my brakes because Mom was right behind me and there were more vehicles behind her.  I couldn’t swerve to the left because there was oncoming traffic.  I veered slightly to the right, but didn’t jerk the wheel because I’ve heard so many horror stories about people flipping their cars.  The bottom line:  I hit the box.  Hard.

It was a nice box.  It was taped up tightly and made quite a loud thump.  I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw what appeared to be some type of fibrous packing material scattering across the highway in the view afforded by Mom’s headlights.  I drove on to the church, helped Mom unload her truck and checked the front of my car for damage in the feeble light emitted from a flashlight whose batteries were almost dead.  I didn’t see any damage to the fender, bumper or hood of my car so I proceeded to follow Mom out to her house where we talked for about 10 minutes before I headed on home.

Midway to my house the ‘check engine coolant’ warning light came on in my car.  When I arrived home, I turned on the light in my carport and got my big flashlight to check my car more closely for damage.  What I discovered was not so good.  Engine coolant was leaking from under my car and the recessed black plastic framework under my front bumper was smashed on the driver’s side.  A parking light was dangling by a wire. 

I didn’t go to school today.  I spent the day dealing with all the red tape associated with an insurance claim.  My car had to be towed to a body shop.  The radiator is destroyed.  I was able to get a rental car around two this afternoon. 

I have no clue what was in that box.  Mom told me she wasn’t even sure what I hit last night.  She said she saw my brake lights and then something that looked like wood shavings began floating through the air.  I have no recollection of hitting my brakes.  I guess it was just a natural reaction to tap them, but all I remember is thinking that I couldn’t slam on my brakes because Mom would rearend me.  

Mom drove by the accident scene today.  She said there was nothing on the road or on the sides of the highway.  I guess I vaporized the box. 

I did hear an interesting tidbit on the national news this morning about some folks who were transporting bricks of marijuana wrapped up as Christmas gifts and packed in large cardboard boxes.  I can’t remember what state the reporter said the cops caught these people in, but I’m wondering if part of the drug crew was driving on a highway in Arkansas last night. 

State Capitol
December 18, 2007, 11:31 am
Filed under: School Buzz, Seasons, Travel

Last Friday I took my fifth grade choir to sing at the State Capitol in Little Rock. Aren’t they a good looking group of singers?!!


The Arkansas State Capitol is a smaller version of our nation’s Capitol. Both buildings are magnificent structures.


Isn’t this a beautiful shot looking down from the rotunda? The kids sang from the opposite side.


Each county in Arkansas has a Christmas ornament on the tree.  I love the ‘Joy’ banners.  One of them would cover the entire roof of my house. 


The Arkansas State Capitol is especially beautiful during the holiday season, don’t you think?  I love taking my fifth grade choir over to sing every year.  The atmosphere is so festive and it is the only opportunity that some of my students will ever have to see our State Capitol. 


December 16, 2007, 10:46 pm
Filed under: My Life

I freely admit I am not the world’s most enthusiastic camper.  My mom, on the other hand, loves to camp.  As a youth,  it is hard to avoid doing something that one or both of your parents love to do, so, yes, I’ve been camping.  Most of the time in a nice non-primitive campground with showers, restrooms and a convenience store of sorts on the premises.  But there were occasions when we were just out there…..in the wilderness…..camping.  When these more primitive camping excursions occurred, our camp location was always near a body of water, usually a creek or river.  And we did not take showers, we bathed in the creek or river.  Now it might gross some of you out that we also washed our dishes and eating utensils in the same body of water, but come on.  The creek or river was full of moving, running water so it wasn’t like we were washing plates and skillets in bath water or bathing in dish water. 

Now, my previous post garnered some interesting comments about Matthew liking his new girlfriend because she was willing to go camping and not shower for a week.  However, I would just bet that Matthew and his lady friend do bathe when they’re out in the wilderness for weeks at a time.  All it takes is a creek or river and a bar of Ivory soap (because it floats) and well……you can imagine the rest.  😉

All the comments about not taking showers started me thinking about the longest amount of time I’ve been without a shower.  Which leads me to the ice storm we had in Arkansas in 2000-2001.  I was without electricity for nine days. When I don’t have electricity I don’t have running water because my well pump is powered by electricity.  Luckily, my parents are on a rural water system so they did have running water during the ice storm.  But their house is a little over two miles from my house and I couldn’t go anywhere for two days because of the ice on the roads and the timber that had fallen and was blocking the roads and my driveway.  So there you go….I went two days without a shower.  I had water because I always keep several gallon jugs of water just in case.  And I also collected ice and snow and melted it in pans on my gas range.  I was so thankful I had a gas range and gas heat! 

My dad was still living during the ice storm.  He had emphysema and was on oxygen 24/7.  Three days into the aftermath of the storm, Dad had to be taken to the hospital.  His bottled oxygen just wasn’t giving him the amount of air that his electric oxygen machine pumped into his lungs.  His situation was severe so our local hospital sent him on to Ft. Smith which is about 85 miles from where we live.  Dad traveled by ambulance, but the rest of us drove on treacherously icy roads to the hospital in Ft. Smith.  Once we arrived, we ‘camped’ out in the ICU waiting room for three days because Dad’s condition was so perilous.  So there was three days without a shower.  On the fourth day when Dad’s condition was improving, we got a motel room just so we could all have a shower.  We being, my brother, sister, two nieces, myself and Mom. 

I love a good hot shower as much as the next person, but sometimes you just have to roll with whatever’s being dished out.  My thoughts and prayers have certainly been with the people in the mid-west who are going through circumstances similar to what Arkansas did in 2000-2001.  The ice storm was an experience I hope never to repeat and I certainly don’t want to see another loved one suffer with emphysema.  At the same time, I remember how wonderful my country neighbors were and how hard the rural electric employees and volunteers worked to restore power.  The local hospital staff was so kind and supportive with my family and the ambulance personnel were heroes who got my dad safely to a hospital with full power.  In a day and age when it often seems that people have forgotten how to work together, it is heart-warming to remember how the people in my little county in Arkansas joined forces to overcome the obstacles forced upon them by the ice storm.  In the face of disasters and the well-being of loved ones, the lack of a shower seems a very small price to pay. 

Christmas Wish List
December 13, 2007, 8:27 pm
Filed under: Matthew McConaughey