I love teaching music. There is something so intrinsically satisfying about coaxing the perfect sound from a group of young singers. It’s magical. Otherworldly. Eternal. Made all the better when their faces light up with the recognition that they are creating something beautiful and intensely personal with each other. A precious gift for anyone who is fortunate enough to be listening. A gift for themselves that will stay with them long after their tenure in choir is over.
I have sixty-two singers in my senior high choir this semester. By far the largest high school choir I’ve ever worked with. And they are an excellent group. Not perfect, but really good kids that I enjoy working with so much. Six of them will be auditioning for membership in the Arkansas All State Choir on February 6. What a joy if all of them make it!
Filed under: Nature
My “little” brother is 45 today. Talked to him this morning before heading to Lake Wilhelmina for some bird watching. Cold and windy at the lake. Brrrr…..
Spotted two bald eagles sharing a tree branch. They must have been huddled together for warmth. Too far away for a decent picture. I am always awed by the majesty of these birds. The usual assortment of ducks were on the lake plus a large number of great blue herons. And, surprisingly enough, I spotted a ruby-crowned kinglet fussing around in some grass on the shore. The real sighting of the day occurred on my way home when I stopped on the river bridge to check out some ducks on the water. As I focused in with my binoculars, I was amazed to see this odd fellow swimming along with a female counterpart.
The Hooded Merganser isn’t very common in this part of Arkansas. Definitely the first time I’d seen one. What a treat!
These are some interior shots from Historic Washington State Park taken on December 6, 2008, at the 22nd Annual Christmas and Candlelight.
The taverns are the most rustic interiors on the tour. The Morrison Tavern Inn and Kitchen is a reconstruction of the original building.
A bowl of dried hydrangea blossoms and greenery on the kitchen table.
A table and bench in the tavern room. Smilax, pine cones and a red ribbon add a festive touch.
A lovely Willow ware collection on display in the kitchen.
The Williams Tavern Restaurant serves a lunch and dinner buffet under chandeliers hung with cedar, pine cones and red ribbons.
Pine, cedar and magnolia leaves are used extensively in the holiday decor along with dried sumac and holly.
Each year on the first Saturday in December I travel to Historic Washington State Park for Christmas and Candlelight. Old Washington served as the Capitol of the Confederate Government of Arkansas for a brief period and is located between Nashville and Hope in southern Arkansas.
Every sidewalk, driveway and street is lined with luminaires. The Methodist Church was built in 1861.
A hand-made wreath adorns almost every window in every building, over three hundred wreathes in all.
The court house, built in 1874, serves as the visitor center.
The Crouch House (1856)
Smilax decorates every picket fence.
Choirs and instrumentalists perform in the churches and outside the Williams Tavern Restaurant.
At dusk, hordes of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts light the tiny candles in every luminaire.
And the magic of Christmas illuminates the hearts of those fortunate enough to visit Historic Washington.
Filed under: My Life
My friend Tiggerlane will tell you that it is difficult to believe I was once entangled in an abusive relationship. Tigger and I first crossed paths some nine years after the demise of my first marriage which was a nightmare of violence, manipulation and emotional blackmail. Even now, twenty-four years later, the repercussions still echo through my life. I am a different woman, but the past is not something easily erased.
Three years after my divorce I was living in Salisbury, Maryland. I was no longer seeing a therapist, but was still involved in a battered spouse support group which met in a church in Ocean City.
It was a lovely evening after an intensely emotional meeting of the support group. I was feeling cleansed and very up beat as I got into my car for the drive back to Salisbury. I popped a cassette into the tape deck and pulled up to the edge of the parking lot which opened onto a one-way street. My blinker was on for the anticipated right hand turn. I checked to the left for on-coming traffic and was accelerating to ease into the street when there was a sickening thud as a young man on a bicycle bounced off the front of my car. It was a moment of absolute terror. I had hit a human being with my car.
The young man was on his feet and yelling at me by the time I opened my car door. His bicycle lay mangled and crushed on the pavement. The two other young male bicyclists who were with the man I hit were talking and gesturing wildly. Support group members were out of their cars and chattering directly behind me in the parking lot. In the midst of the cacophony, I noticed that the young man was bleeding from scrapes on his knees and one elbow. The police arrived.
I never saw the young man barreling down the side of the street on his bicycle. He was going the wrong way on a one-way street. The support group witnesses who were behind me in the parking lot told the police that the young man was on the bicycle with both arms raised in the air shouting, “Hit me! Hit me!” I didn’t hear him. After some blustering argument during which the young man threatened us all with the fact that his father was a lawyer, the young man and his companions admitted that the eyewitness accounts were accurate. The police issued a citation to the young man whose primary concern seemed to be making me pay for his ruined bicycle. One of the officers told him he could certainly file an insurance claim, but the policeman emphasized that I was not at fault in the accident.
All in all it was a harrowing experience that could have been so much worse than it actually was. I was horrified with the thought of what might have been. But on the drive back home I laughed with the pure joy of relief and a bit of amusement. Like one of my fellow abused spouse witnesses told the police, “He was moving fast against traffic on a one-way street. His hands weren’t even on the handlebars and he was yelling ‘Hit me! Hit me!’ He asked for it.”
Tonight I watched 13 Going on 30 which somehow seemed a wildly appropriate movie to view after spending most of my day on a choir trip with a busload of teenagers.
As you may or may not know, the movie features many hit songs from the 80’s one of which is Pat Benatar’s rendition of “Love Is A Battlefield.” I love the scene with Jenna Rink, the 13-year old with the 30-year old body, talking to her 13-year old neighbor. Jenna says, “Just remember love is a battlefield,” and the neighbor girl replies, “Wow! That’s deep.” Later in the movie, Jenna hosts a pajama party with a pack of 13-year olds in attendance and they sing most of Pat Benatar’s tune while jumping around on a bed. Which, in turn, reminded me of a scene from my life in the 80’s.
I was a newlywed. My husband was in the Navy stationed in Virginia Beach, Virginia. We lived in a townhouse about three blocks from the beach. Which sounds great, but the townhouses were very cheaply constructed with the thinnest walls imaginable and no carpet on the floors to help absorb sound. Our neighbors in the adjoining townhouse were Pat Benatar fans. In fact, the man’s wife thought she really was Pat Benatar. They had a band which rehearsed in their livingroom at all hours of the day and night.
My husband was on early watch for a month requiring him to get up at 3AM and be at his post on base at 4AM. After the second night of being awakened around midnight to Mrs. Pat Benatar Wannabe singing “Love Is A Battlefield” accompanied by electric guitars and drums, my husband decided to have a talk with the neighbors. His talk did absolutely no good whatsoever. We were awakened at 1AM the following morning by the rock band in full swing next door. So my husband did what any sleep-deprived, grouchy sailor would do; he called the cops.
The situation deteriorated even more from that point. An apartment at a better location became available so my husband and I just moved. My marriage didn’t last, but my aversion to Pat Benatar’s music survived for many years.
“We are young. Heartache to heartache we stand. No promises, no demands. Love is a battlefield.” Wow! That’s deep.
Filed under: My Life
Well, the day finally arrived. Songbird is officially fifty! Mom organized a ‘family only’ party to celebrate the big event.
My nieces love to make my birthdays extra special. H., in the front, is twelve and her sister, M., in the back, is fourteen. H. told Grandma that she would make my birthday cake. H. wanted to make the cake in the shape of Jasper, but after much thought, she decided her mom didn’t have a pan or platter large enough for a Dachshund-shaped cake. So she thumbed through magazines and cook books for ideas and found a three-tiered wedding cake that she just knew would be special enough for her aunt.
H. cooked and created this cake all by herself! The bottom tier is frosted with chocolate icing because that is H.’s favorite. The middle tier is iced with vanilla frosting because that is my favorite and the top is left plain because M. prefers no icing at all. H. just had to include a tribute to Jasper!
several hours only a few moments to light all the candles.
Voila! The fabulous blazing birthday cake!
And here I am. The over the hill birthday girl!