Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jingle Cycles

If I had a floppy eared Bassett like Pioneer Woman’s Charlie, I could take photos and post them. If I had just written a new book like Beth Moore’s newly published “Esther, I would definitely post about that. If I had just spent ten days in Italy like my lovely daughter and her husband (who is also lovely), I would most certainly write post after post about that, complete with photographs.

Alas. Since my last post I have cleaned the house. Attended the homecoming musical, All Shook Up. Assisted in testing about 40 students on their knowledge of music theory. And played Jingle Bells approximately 21 times.

Why Jingle Bells in October, you ask? Because students must practice Jingle Bells in October to be able to perform it in December. Or November, as the case may be. The Junior League fundraiser is November 8 and about 25 of my students will be performing a 20 minute program. Since Christmas music is not lengthy unless you are singing seventy eleven verses of each song, that means the students need to learn about 15 songs. I’ve heard Silent Night about 6 times in two days. O Come Little Children is another continuous feed. Two fiddle tunes from Appalachia, Christmas Eve, and Snowflake Reel are dancing through my head tonight too. We Three Kings, Mary Had a Baby, O Come All Ye Faithful, Up on the Housetop, and Jolly Old Saint Nicholas are repeat Offend—excuse me!—Performers.

Tis the season to be Jolly, Old three kings up on the housetop. I prefer a silent night with a snowflake on Christmas eve when Mary had a baby, all ye faithful song lovers. Help! Somebody put me out of my song cycle!

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Dream

I woke this morning at 5:26 a.m. from a dream. It was very violent. A beautiful woman was being held hostage and was terrorized and abused by two totally unfeeling men. They were violent, totally disregarded life in all forms, and had taped a gun inside her mouth while interrogating her. She was hidden away during the interrogation in a public building that was an obvious place, but the room in which she was held was hidden away inside the building at the top of a flight of stairs which was not obvious. No elevator accessed the floor where the room was located.
I had a terrible sense of urgency. This woman's life would be over soon unless...? Somehow one other person and I were called to this place and given directions to find the room and were admitted and allowed to see the violence. We were questioned. I don't remember any of the questions or the nature of them. I knew that I had to use my wits and wisdom to escape this situation alive, and to save the other two people. Again, the urgency. Somehow I was released to the hall outside the door and I was talking on a cell phone, my own cell phone that I own now, and talking in riddles to a network of people, trying to send coded messages to reveal the situation, the urgent need to preserve two or three lives, and the location. That is when I woke.

For almost an hour I asked God what this dream meant, and finally I felt a strong urge to pray for the upcoming election--presidential, judicial, education, and senatorial races in particular. After another half hour I sensed the Lord revealing that the beautiful woman in the dream was Truth, Wisdom, Freedom. This made sense to me because our current women's Bible study is on Proverbs, and Wisdom is personified as a woman. I believe the Lord is saying that the network I was trying to reach is unaware of the urgency of preserving all that is Wise and True. I had to talk in riddles to preserve my own life. I began to pray that Wisdom and Truth will be set free and Life will be honored, protected, and revealed in a way that will not need to be "coded". Again, the sense of urgency was so very strong. Please, as part of my "network", join me in praying.

For several weeks Muffin and I have been compelled to pray that the people of this nation will receive truth regarding this election and will act upon it. We have prayed that every indiscretion or area of falseness in every candidate will be revealed. We need to know the whole truth about candidates and they need to enter office in humility--not humiliated, but in a spirit of service to the people who elected them.

Father, we release Wisdom and Truth in our nation in the name of your precious Son, Jesus. We know that You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. Please set Truth and Wisdom and Life free before this election. We release Truth and Wisdom from hiding and from oppression in our culture. We look to You to give abundant life. In Jesus' name.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Piano Rehearsal

Back from rehearsal for piano ensemble performance on November 6th. I don't see how Sherry stands us! We're really bad on the more rhythmically difficult pieces because most of these people don't have to count anymore to stay with anyone in an orchestra or doing accompanying. Plus, we're not exactly young anymore. J, who I thought was my age or slightly younger, was 64 today and wears 2 hearing aids! She's secretary/assistant for an attorney, and said if you have to have hearing aids to do your job, that there is a disability resource that will pay for them . Anyway, she didn't pay a penny for hers and they seem to work well for her. But, EJL, that's another story! She is the funniest thing alive and no one wants to boot her out, but she is banging with her left hand on the secundo parts and missing most of the rhythms unless Sherry counts out loud... really, really, loud just over her shoulder into her ear. And she talks while she plays and says things, really really loud, like "This doesn't make any sense at all. I don't know why he wrote it like this." But it doesn't make any sense because she can't hear the other parts. And Sherry is over there playing both the primo and secundo parts on her piano just laughing like a hyena. And JE, who is 75 but still works in day care programs because she is a pianist/organist/child care specialist, is playing all the notes, sitting beside EJL, blocking her out, saying, "Sometimes it's a blessing to not hear so well--especially when you work with children".

Now, my own confession. I turned a page and was utterly lost. None of the notes made any sense. Apparently I hadn't enough sense to hole punch my page correctly and it was placed in the folder backwards. Ahemmm.

Sherry, borrowing Dr. Suzuki's quote, told us we "only need to practice on the days we eat". So, Carol, a former teacher to my children in public school, told her she would be fasting many days. We' re performing four hand arrangements of Morning Trumpet, Amazing Grace, Wondrous Love, Shall we Gather at the River, and Simple Gifts. The first three are easy peasy lemon squeezy. The River is the rhythmic disaster and Simple Gifts is an oxymoron. The secundo part is way high into the primo range and we, not being "real" pianists, are knocking each other off the benches trying to play all the notes. Some sort of negotiation, compromise, treaty, or peaceful agreement must be reached or this piece will NOT glorify God!

We have two more weeks to pray and practice so that this performance will not sound like "Shall we sound the morning trumpet while praying for amazing grace before we toss the simple gifts into the river where we've gathered and beg for wondrous love."

All of this WHILE we're playing. It's a virtual nut house! It drove me to Starbucks for a cafe latte afterward. It may even drive me to practice on the days that I eat.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dubbie too...

Today I received this message from our oldest, the Rowdy Girls Momma.
Every night, for the last several weeks, as we say prayers, Roo has done this sweet
thing. We ask the Lord to bless Nannie and then Nana and then move on to the grandparents. And she always interrupts to say,
"Dubbie, too."
She never forgets him.
I strongly suspect that Dubbie knows this and gets the biggest blessing from hearing it from his current vantage point.

I'm really missing him this week for some reason.
Maybe it's because Candy's 87 year old mom died last week and she has been talking about
her 92 year old Dad and that makes me miss Dubbie.
Maybe it's because Laura wanted to play all fiddle tunes at her lesson and one of them was
Rubber Dolly, which he used to play for me.
Maybe it's because I still feel quite pointless in the evenings after Body Flow class is finished and I'm not driving to the nursing home to see him.
Maybe it's because I got the tax bill in the mail for the property that I don't really own since
Daddy died, but now have 2% of instead of 1%.
Maybe it's because Lea had a stroke in September and she gets around just fine, coming to Wednesday morning Bible study, but when she talks, her speech patterns are much like Dubbie’s after the 2nd or 3rd stroke.

I read something this week. God puts heavenly deposits inside us for a time that we need them. We think they leave, as they are forgotten, or not necessary for the moment, but they are still there. Think about the things you wondered, thought about, realized, saw or heard as a child, or at church camp, or on a retreat. Things that seemed very real at the time, but faded away. They are still there. That is why we are admonished to
"stir up the gifts within us" (2 Tim. 1:6).
God wants to awaken these treasures that are in us all. I think Roo has a treasure, a memory
of Dubbie that is real, and the Holy Spirit stirs up that gift in her when praying at night.That's really special.

Just returned from Mulberry St. I took Nannie a CD, Music from God. Nannie
had a set back with her eye today. It started hurting at 2 a.m. and hurt for 2 hours. RN encouraged her to call the doctor. She was urged to come to the office at 10:30. He dilated
the eye and looked closely. The sensation she is having is caused by the new drops, the ones that replaced the steroids to which she had the violent reaction. He told her this medication is harsh and she needs to use more artificial tears with it and stop using it all together on Sunday. He will see her again next week to follow up on the healing process.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Today began with lots of coffee, because I didn't sleep too well, because yesterday afternoon I slept too much, because I had migraine type symptoms with sensitivity to light and sounds. So I planned something like a program for the wedding reception our quartet was hired to play from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. It was a lovely brunch at a local country club following a wedding at dawn on a ranch about 60 miles southeast of here. The couple was a non-traditional couple, meaning older and perhaps married before. The groom planned most of the music, requesting Mozart, Handel, Vivaldi and "Wedding March" by Mendelssohn and "Ode to Joy" by Beethoven over Bach, who sounds like math to him. The setting overlooked the golf course in a room of mostly glass, with carpeted floor. But there is a small raised stage, hardwood floors, backed by mirrors where we played and the acoustics were perfect. It is so easy to play for two hours under such conditions. I could have played another hour, easily. Even my left arm, still in a bit of a twist since the last concert, would have tolerated another hour. The guests complimented us and stayed almost to the end of the second hour.

While I was "fiddling around" Muffin ran some errands for us, buying groceries and dropping by the local Best Buy to fetch a cell phone manual. We're shopping for a new phone, and if anyone reads this post and has a suggestion for a phone you absolutely love, please leave a comment!

We ate omelets, toast and spinach salad for lunch, then scurried off to the gym for Body Flow, which seemed way too hard to do after playing for two hours. The legs moved OK, but the arms didn't want to extend. Following the class we changed clothes, bought a smoothie from the juice bar, and headed out to Moody Coliseum for Prairie Home Companion.

I am blown away by how much of that show is unscripted. The jokes and stories were all tailored to fit our hometown and the show was live, via satellite, which Garrison Keillor said was unusual for them. There were cables outside to a truck and a dish and the lines to enter were very long. Finding seats corresponding to our tickets was approached with ushers and like threading through a maze of people, seats, cables, ramps, railings, and steps. Fortunately, we arrived almost 45 minutes early. The musicians warmed up the crowd and GH himself came onstage early and asked for volunteers to sing a song with him about Abilene, to be done later in the show. Then, three minutes before showtime he asked us to stand and sing the National Anthem. Now, this city has produced plenty of singers who have gone on to stellar careers in opera, music theater, choruses and choirs, and we have an excellent music education program in the public schools and universities for choral music. So, we sang--in parts--with gusto. And GH and the band seemed somewhat stunned. After that pre-show singing, he asked us to sing again and again on old hymns and songs about Texas.

My favorite stories and comments were about the liberals vs. conservatives and natives in our town killing him with kindness, and then Guy Noir was sent to Abilene to investigate the Abilene Secular Humanistic University to see if they would fund research on finding God. On that segment of the show, Mr. Newman, sound effects master, just left me laughing to tears. The Guy Noir segment is scripted, but Lake Woebegone is on the fly. Almost all the music is from ear or from memory and the dobro, guitar, fiddle, piano, and bass players are amazing. I hope you can hear the songs on the re-broadcast this weekend, or on podcast soon. Dusty and Lefty also made an appearance in Abilene and tried to find a saloon in a church town surrounded by wind turbines. Gotta love this place!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And your point is….?

Upon waking today I was excited that it was Wednesday, Bible study morning. Our group is studying Wising Up, a study of Proverbs by Beth Moore and I have learned so much. Last night before turning out the light I read through Proverbs 22. There is such a rich diet, right in that chapter! It seems like the verses about economy, frugality, wisdom with money, are all highlighted by the Holy Spirit.

Sure enough, today’s study was Wising Up with Money. Beth shared some very personal experiences, including mistakes, with money. She taught ways to be foolish and ways to be wise with money. I was blessed. Then we had a discussion.

The discussion seemed to reflect great anxiety in the lives of members of the group who are old enough to remember the Great Depression, or the effects on their families. Nannie also displays great anxiety right now, as she reflects on the GD. After class, L and I went to lunch and concluded that we aren’t living any differently than we were last week, economically speaking. Actually, she paid 23 cents more for pasta this week, and I paid almost 50 cents less per gallon of gasoline, so all in all, we are living more abundantly than last week.

So why the fear, anger, frustration and anxiety? God is in control, and I pray daily that every indiscretion of every candidate running for elected office on November 4 will be exposed. We should know where their weaknesses are, right now. They should enter office in humility and a spirit of serving the people by whom they will be elected, right?

After lunch I began teaching and found only two students who had adequately prepared by practicing and listening to their CD’s this week. Many of them are too busy—over scheduled with extra activities. Most of them only practice three days a week. Many of them never listen at all. I consider it the parents’ responsibility to play the CD and to observe at least a portion of each practice session. Certainly the parents should be able to watch each child and to encourage good violin posture and excellent tone. There comes a point where students are responsible for their own technical maintenance, but the parents are paying for the lessons and should be interested in the product—good tone, progress in understanding theory, adding to the repertoire.

In my policy letter I explain parents’ responsibilities, along with the students’ and mine. Mine include providing performance opportunities. I have several to which I committed the studio, gave two months to six weeks notice of the dates and listed the repertoire to be performed. The snare is other activities and conflicting schedules. Several families cannot commit to the performances because of the Nutcracker and because of sports. The rehearsals and games are not scheduled in advance. These families will not know their availability until a few days before the performance because directors and coaches schedule the exact times at the last minute.

My point is that my commitment to the performances was made in August. I thought the students were committed then also. Now they aren’t, and it isn’t their choice, or fault. My real point is, what is the point? Of a committment? A performance without practice? Two weeks without listening to the CD’s, which is the performance standard? Earning a gold medal on a test or winning a certificate or gold cup from a judge if you do not share the music you have learned with an audience? Why play only for yourself, halfheartedly, when you can give a rich gift of beautiful music to an audience?

And why do we say we trust God with our lives when we don’t really trust Him with our elected and appointed officials and our own money? I think I have a point here, but if I comb my hair just the right way, maybe it won’t be obvious

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Neurology Report

Today’s visit with Dr. T, who is a former violin student of mine, was good. He let Nannie talk, checked her limbs—reflexes, strength, mobility and flexibility, and scheduled a new MRI. The last MRI is almost a year old, which is obsolete in neurological years. He is specifically looking for all the troublemakers in her spine, although the pain indicates that her spinal cord is not involved. The pain in her leg and also in her spine indicates that the problem is below the area of the spinal cord. Dr. T did not subscribed 100% to the idea that the L2 nerve is the sole culprit in producing pain. Rather, he wants the new MRI to look at all the evidence.

Dr. T’s position is that her spine is old and worn out. Not a very nice thing to say, but something that happens to most of us, because the alternative is, well, not being alive, if you know what I mean. So he used a model and explained vertebrae, discs, the cord and nerves, fluids, etc. He had studied her previous MRI’s and x-rays and was thoroughly informed through her records and visits with Dr. Will and Dr. M, who administered the injections that gave her some temporary relief. I was impressed. He was kind and respectful and totally changed the subject when she began to complain about two previous doctors, one of them a neurosurgeon. When she persisted he politely shut her queries off by saying that it was not in his job description to know another doctor’s reasons for his decisions. He made no offer of surgery, but on the contrary, suggested that depending on his discoveries in studying the MRI, an implanted nerve stimulator could be a good option. Dr. M would do a procedure that would allow her to "test drive" it. Dr. T would do the surgery to implant.

The MRI is scheduled at 7 a.m. Thursday. The follow-up visit with Dr. T is Election Day. The MRI is exactly where Nannie wanted to go and does not interfere with her shampoo and set appointment. YES!

Monday, October 13, 2008


We are told in God's Word that tomorrow holds enough trouble of its own and that we should not worry about tomorrow.
Matthew, Chapter 6: 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Tomorrow is an important appointment for Nannie. She will see a neurosurgeon concerning her spine, which is causing her great pain. Several years ago she received a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease, untreated scoliosis, stenosis caused by arthritis and osteoporosis--all resulting in nerve compression. Last week she was walking through a store and felt a slight snap and felt almost debilitating pain immediately. Her prescription pain medication and a massage today helped her through the resulting week of pain.

Our prayer is that this new doctor will see some minimally invasive procedure as the answer to the nerve compression. She is still a very alert and relatively active 87 year old woman who drives, runs her own errands, and helps many people in need, as the pain allows.

Some of my friends had a precious Mom who died a couple of years ago from pneumonia. The pneumonia was a secondary problem beginning with spinal stenosis, arthritis and degenerative disc disease. Fractures appeared in her spine, resulting in horrible pain and nerve compression, and she was finally unable to move freely, spending her last years in a nursing home reading books. Sometimes just reaching for a book would cause a fracture. The pneumonia was a blessing.

But, tomorrow, having enough trouble of its own, also has victory of its own. It is that victory I am seeking for Nannie.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fireproof Date

Since this is a quiet weekend, no rehearsals or mandatory attendance at functions related to work today, Muffin, who brought me gorgeous pink and coral roses Thursday night, took me to dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant and to a movie. (We expertly ran two errands in between those events, but it was still a date.) The dinner was yummy. He had shrimp and pasta. I had the Sicilian grilled chicken salad. I love the exquisitely fresh greens, tomatoes, Mozzarella cheese, and herbs, not to mention the homemade dressing.

The real treat of the evening is this movie. See it!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Family Profile: Nana

Muffin’s cute Mom, Nana, is loving this election. She has already voted by mail, so she will not need to set foot into a parking lot at early voting or on election day. That way, she can watch CNN and FOX and keep track of every red and blue duly elected official in the city, state, and nation. Mail-in voting also preserves her hip replacements and allows her to stay home in her comfy shoes. Nana would not be caught in public in her comfy shoes, oh no. We almost had to have a very undemocratic election to get her to wear the comfy shoes in the first place. It all went down when she had the second hip replaced and was attempting to leave the hospital and move to the rehab unit with her dress shoes on her feet. I realized we needed to act fast, went to the local athletic store and purchased some slip-on New Balance 801’s and some Skechers. At first she balked, in her polite way, and tried to manipulate us into allowing the slick soled heels, but even the rehab PT’s complimented the new shoes. Then all her friends loved them. Then Nannie started to wear them.

I had never thought about it much, but our mothers’ generation had never, ever worn shoes without backs. All their sandals had backstraps. No mules or clogs, flip flops, or rarely a house shoe without a heel or heel strap had ever touched their feet. They insisted those shoes would be impossible to retain on their feet. Last time I was at her house, Nana wore only the 801’s. Now she declares all others “too much trouble”.

Nana is a major piece of entertainment. Her three brothers and two sisters agreed. Papaw, may he rest in peace, always thought the same. Her dear mother, Grandmother L, had gone to glory when I met Muffin, but Gradpa L always said as he watched her walk away from him, “She could get there faster if she didn’t wiggle so much from side to side.” Her spectacular walk is somewhat reflected in little Roo.

But far and away, Nana’s great hidden talent is---drum rolllllllllll please!—turkey calling. This was a huge family secret for years. Then during one snowy Thanksgiving by the fire in her home of 50 years, when our daughters were very young, she decided to entertain them by demonstrating her very authentic turkey call. Did I mention that the vocalization is VERY authentic? Can you also picture this petite, and very pretty, very tidy, very proper and protocol prioritizing (OK, enough alliteration already) 70something grandmother flapping her lips with her index finger and mimicking a turkey in the wild? It was enough to make the dog-of-the-day, Buffy, sing along in high octave barks and howls!

Now, picture this. A few years later she did her turkey demo at a local market because the prize was a fresh turkey, just a few days before Thanksgiving. If there is anything Nana values more than her dignity, it’s a great bargain. That free turkey was too good to let go, so right there in the market, she sacrificed her dignity---and WON! Since then our daughters and Nana’s friends have not ceased to give her turkeys in many forms—salt & pepper shakers, stuffed, wind socks, ceramics, you name it. If you think this is a fowl collection you just don’t know our loveable Nana.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Time for R&R

Pioneer Woman likes this time of year and so do I. In her location the mosquitoes and gnats are gone and the grass is brown. Here the grass is greener than it was in July and the flying critters are thick and scary. But I do love the cool mornings and using less air conditioning, the resurgence of summer flowers like begonias, petunias, pentas, and geraniums; the emergence of chrysanthemums, pansies, and ornamental cabbage.

This season always reminds me of the years when my children were growing up at home, planning to attend the next home football game at the high school of the year (Our family got caught in two re-districting years while our four daughters were in public schools. We changed school districts four times but only changed locations once.) There were slumber parties, floral mums with charms and ribbons, big sis/little sis weekends, cheerleading events, bus trips, and lots of French toast and donuts for breakfast on those special weekends.

In 1996 Muffin went to work out of town, living in an apartment during the week and returning home to us on weekends. Eventually he was able to work 40 hours in 4 days and return on Thursday evening, allowing us three full days together. It put a new perspective on weekends. We curtailed our weekend activities outside the family, stayed home more, stopped going out with friends, allowed our youngest daughter to have friends over almost every Friday or Saturday. After the girls moved away from home our weekends changed to a time of rest and accomplishing what is necessary. Some weekends are so full of necessities that rest seems like a distant dream. Last weekend was one of those—full of rehearsals, concerts, and chores.

For the next two months, however, there are few responsibilities on the calendar, and those do not require full days. So, we’re looking at R&R. I mean, serious fun! Going to concerts for fun, not work! Picking pumpkins. Reading books. Watching movies. Christmas Shopping. Taking the Rowdy Girls to Sea World. In only one month, no more political debates, calls, or mailings! I love this time of year.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Life last Week

Four times in two days I did this.

Drove by this just in time to experience a musket blast, which made me think I had run over something really big while driving the car. It produced quite a cloud of powder over the intersection too!

Stayed awake until after 4 a.m. after performing this. We had some wonderful moments and some scary things happened with the ensemble, too. I had dreams that I was trying to pick up broken beads--tiny ones that had rolled all over my tile floor and were sticking to the grout grooves. Then I woke up and dreamed I had to retrieve cereal that had spilled all over the same floor. Then I went back to sleep and dreamed that the Rowdy Girls were in our care and were climbing the kitchen sink and coming over the cabinet and counter top head first and I was trying in vain to stop them. And they were giggling.

On Wednesday I took Nannie for this and she can see! After she was settled at home I went to Bible study, where we are studying this

which can be purchased here. It's an awesome study--really meddles with your attitudes.

After the concert we went here with friends and I had the raspberry soda--delicious! The conversation was also fabulous, except I talked too much, which is what I do after the adrenaline rush of concerts.

And, tonight I made this. Smitten Kitchen is one of my favorite cooking blogs. And this coffee cake is absolutely a delicious memory of the years when Muffin and I lived in CA and went to Apple Hill every October, driving the loop and sampling the products, then returning to our home in the valley with fresh cider and dumplings.

Now, to the piled up laundry.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Music on the Brain_Grands in the Heart

Working on this

Thinking about this

Working to perform this four times in two days

Thinking about all the fun I had with these precious gifts from God last week.