Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Tired. Early morning. Sozo class. Misplaced cell phone. Backtracked. Found phone under sofa cushion in church parlor. Stood in line 1 hour for flu shot. Fifteen minutes late to appointment for hair cut. Speedy cut. Speedier return home. No lunch. Six energetic students. Snacks at 5:45 pm. Body Flow class 6:45-7:45. Supper at last.

Enough said.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Parks

PBS has a new Ken Burns program titled The National Parks: America's Best Idea. I could not agree more! One of the journalists interviewed said the parks are a perfect example of democracy in action, working well. We are not dependent on rich people to buy the best land with the most beautiful views, selling opportunities to visit those magnificent sights. Rather our nation, beginning with Yellowstone, set aside these lands, monuments, memorials, lakes, rivers, wilderness, and trails for us and for generations to come. I hope to see them all. Seriously. We own them. Over 300 of them. Here is a list of those I have already seen:

From the official site at

In TX: Fort Davis/ San Antonio Missions/ Lyndon B Johnson Ranch/Padre Island Seashore

In NM: Capulin Volcano/ Carlsbad Caverns/ White Sands/ Sante Fe Trail

In CO: Rocky Mountain// Sand Dunes

In AZ: Grand Canyon

In CA: Yosemite/ Sequoia/ Lassen Volcanic/ Redwood/ Golden Gate/ Muir Woods/ Presidio

In Arkansas: Hot Springs and Pea Ridge, but I don’t remember Hot Springs and we just drove by Pea Ridge

In FL: Everglades/ Big Cypress (Wild! Mosquito Junction!)

In SD: Mount Rushmore

In TN/ NC: Great Smoky Mts

In OK: Chickasaw (drove by)

In VA: Lee House/ at Arlington National Cemetery/ George Washington Pkwy/

In Washington, DC: Capitol Hill Parks/ C&O Canal/ FDR/ George Mason Memorial/ Constitution Gardens/Vietnam Memorial/ Korean Memorial/ WWII Memorial/ Lincoln Memorial/ National Mall/ Old Post Office/ Pennsylvania Ave/ White House/ Rock Creek Park/ Jefferson Memorial/ Washington Monument

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hate to malign God's creatures, but....

These suckers (literally) tried to make my life miserable while I was outside for a very short while. They are vicious and obnoxious, not to mention disease carrying pests. My Scooter dog and I have no use for them at all. They chase me inside, too, and continue to look for exposed skin on which to feast. Yuk! I dislike them very much. And all I was doing was trying to plant a few of these.


This is animation from "Fantasia 2000", the movie. See the firebird? It is such an imaginative tale of good and evil and the music is absolutely some of my favorite. I first performed it at Texas All State Orchestra for Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) convention in February of my senior year in high school. That was sometime last century. But the adrenaline rush was almost as great tonight, performing it with the local symphony. We played it well, and the audience received it well.

This is an image from The score of Finlandia is available there. Go figure. It is a powerhouse of national pride orchestrated and bursting with emotion. I loved playing it too.

The real star of tonight's concert was Di Wu.
O. My. Goodness gracious.
She is a tiny package of dynamite contained in the most lovely, tender, exquisite, pianistic tone. I just want to throw away my old recording of Chopin's Concerto in E and listen to her forever. I thought I would burst into tears when we rehearsed the second movement with her last night, because it was so beautiful.
Do check her performance calendar, and if she is appearing in your city, buy tickets. You will not be disappointed. Her control of the piano is so multifaceted that listening is much like hearing the various pipes of an organ, or like looking through a prism into endless colors. It was such pleasure!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I like these Suprises

This is THE Nannie. She's my Mom, Nannie to CB, Boo, Joy, and Kaki. Great Nannie to Jbear, Gracie, Roo and Em.

Yesterday morning my doorbell rang and before I could answer, someone was coming inside my locked door. Not just everyone would attempt that, but my Mom, the Nannie of this family, is one who would. Sure enough she had come over with money, salad, muffins, and a burning desire to see Scooter the Sheltie. I persuaded her to sit long enough to view the latest blog posts about the Rowdy Girls and the Cheese family.

Later in the day the phone rang. It was friends from early parenting days who moved from our town twelve years ago. They are living in "second retirement", having completed one career as an Air Force family (he was a fighter pilot), and then a second career as junior ROTC commander/teacher in one of our local high schools. I enjoyed a wonderful visit with them on the phone, as they were in town only for a short time for a Korean war veterans reunion. We attended two churches together, and always enjoy sharing what God is doing in our lives.

Another phone call late last proved to be my Joy. It's always, well... a joy, to hear from her and her perpetually enthusiastic, shower-singing husband. We're going to visit them next month, and that makes me smile, too.

Final phone call was an inquiry for violin lessons. This lovely mom and her daughter arrived today to observe a lesson and will begin learning in my studio next week at a time I had open that worked for them. Excellent!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Precious Faces

See this beautiful face? Isn't this the most delicious face you've ever seen? Well, since..

the face of Aunt Kaki (Baby daughter, 1984), or...

these sweet faces of Roo and Em, posing for their Christmas card last year. Or...
maybe since these precious faces of Boo, CB and Aunt Joy (circa 1980). Or...

this adorable chubby face of Bubba Jonah in 2005.

But right now, as the Baby of the McFamily, she is the Face of Grace, and I want to stare and absorb the curliness and the blue-eyedness, and the creamy chubbiness, and the coyness, and the confidence of being well-loved and knowing she is the center of her family's universe. And she really knows how to cheese for the camera, too.

That face, that face, that wonderful face!
It shines, it glows all over the place.
And how I love to watch it change expressions.
Each look becomes the pride of my possessions.

I love that face, that face, it just isn't fair.
You must forgive the way that I stare,
But never will these eyes behold a sight that could replace

That face, that face, that face.

I love those eyes, those lips, that fabulous smile.
She laughs and spring goes right out of style.

Oh never will these eyes behold a sight that could replace
That face, that face, that face, that face,
that face, that face, that face.

Lyrics by Lew Spence and Alan Bergman
Music by Lew Spence
Performed by Rosemary Clooney
© Threesome Music / WB Music Corp

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Full Swing

Fall semester is in full swing according to my calendar. Not only have I been teaching lessons since August 31, but both my professional organizations, Harmony Club (NFMC), and Abilene Music Teachers (MTNA), had the first official meetings of their new year. Additionally I received my packet of music from the Philharmonic office late last week so that I could begin practicing for next week's opening concert. And today I taught the first Group Lesson of this semester to 13 eager students.

It was a very busy day. One hour of Pilates. Quick stop at the pharmacy for my monthly "bone pill". Rush home for lunch and to a bit of house cleaning and dog fluffing. Quick change of clothes and short drive to pray for KK. Back home to start some laundry, print music terms for students, and practice that orchestra music for about 40 minutes. Drive to the church where we meet for group lesson. Wait for doors to classroom to be unlocked. Teach, play, interview and hopefully inspire for one hour. Put the room back as we found it. Drive to the health club for the second time today, and rush in to change clothes with maybe 60 seconds to spare before Body Flow. After a one hour class, order a smoothie to boost my rapidly vanishing energy. Home to unload, put away, change laundry, and wait for Muffin to show up after his equally busy day.

Then I opened an email that really captured my attention. A friend directed me to look at Journeys. I am so moved. So impressed. So inspired by the images, the art, the skill, the expression, and the written messages. I hope you will take a few minutes to click on the links and visit the site, listening to the photographer's messages. I must find a way to bring these into my home. I want my grandchildren to grow up remembering these photographs in Marmee and Grandpa's home. The photograph hanging in the bedroom at my grandparent's house is one I vividly remember. I stared at it, absorbed it, pondered it, and recalled it many times when I felt frightened or unsettled. This is the print, by Heilige Schutzengel, available at

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What if?

Catherine Brown, from the UK, wrote this (Except from Elijah List 9/15/09) about Gideon.

Gideon and just one hundred men reached the edge of the camp during the middle watch of the night, just as the guard had changed. Then they blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. What a mighty noise that must have been as earth aligned with Heaven and God released His mighty delivering power. Wow! How many unseen angels battled alongside this tiny army on the front lines of the battlefieldonly God knows. But the three companies of Gideon's army blew their trumpets with all their hearts and smashed their jars with all their strength, and God moved in mighty power.

They each had a torch in their left hands and a trumpet in their rightwhat an amazing breakthrough light must have bombarded the darkness when the torches revealed their light to penetrate the thick darkness. A light and a sound were released on earth, and I believe light and sound were released simultaneously from Heaven. A new sound, and a glory light, that delivered God's people from the hands of their enemies. The sound and the light were given and driven by the Spirit of God, and therefore they became a sword in the hands and in the hearts of these surrendered servants. Oh, hallelujah! We live in days when God is going to bring deliverance to whole people groups through a new sound of anointed worship, that will cause the hills to melt and the earth to quake as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah releases His unstoppable roar from Heaven.

What if the instrument had been violins, rather than trumpets? What if 300 violinists played together, in the same key, perfectly in tune, with all their skill and their bows were controlled to move at the same speed on the same pitches at the same time? What would be the acoustic effect on the environment? What would be the emotional effect on the audience? What would be the spiritual effect of 300 people in perfect agreement and unison? What kind of victory would result? What changes would take place?

I know that playing with 25 violinists in unison in an orchestra sets up sympathetic vibrations in all the other instruments. It literally causes the strings on the violas, cellos and basses to vibrate in sympathy and the brass and wood of the other instruments buzzes as the vibrations zing off their parts. When I was pregnant and playing in a symphony my babies in utero would jump or react with music from horns played in unison, or from tympani played on a repeated pitch.

Would Jesus come back if the Body of Christ sang to Him in unison, all over the earth, lifting up their voices to the heavens? Could we literally cause the trees of the field to clap their hands and the rocks to cry out if we did that?

What if.......

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sailing back to Galveston

On the last day at sea we slept late and had breakfast on the Lido Deck, looking out at the Gulf of Mexico while we sipped coffee and ate our good-for-your-bones-yogurt.

We attended a mandatory meeting about debarkation and customs, filled out the forms we would need the next morning, strolled around the deck listening to music in various venues and savoring the moments. About 1 pm we found this restaurant that we didn't even know existed and had a wonderful lunch there.

Seriously, I had orange soup! We met three families from other cities in Texas. One of them has a daughter who is a sophomore at Texas Tech. In visiting further we asked where she lives and learned that she shares a house with two roommates and it is only three houses away from Nana, Muffin's Mom! Now that is what I call a God appointment. After lunch we looked outside to find that it was raining-hard! This photo is looking through the aft of the ship's rain-streaked window into the wake.

On the last sea day it is customary to celebrate with a chocolate buffet. We decided we could do that! Wow!!! Here are just a few samples of what was on the buffet--torte, milkshake, chocolate cheesecake, rum muffin, lemon torte with chocolate layers, chocolate fruit cake, and delicious coffee. It was all so beautifully presented with accents of flowers, fresh fruit, columns of cake and cookies, and the pastry chefs serving in their tall hats. Abundance!

Bon appetite!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Three ports in three days, and the last was in beautiful Cozumel, Mexico. We enjoyed a late breakfast on board, having booked no shore excursions, and packed a light backpack with snacks for our own shopping excursion and walk along the beach. Carnival docked two ships at Puerto Maya that day--Conquest and Valor. Our shopping specialist talked at warp speed for one hour about the opportunities in Cozumel, and we decided to do some serious Christmas shopping. The jewelry, especially diamonds, tanzanite, and silver, are priced very affordably and are tax and duty free. We saw many types of gem stones in beautiful settings. I was attracted to a red coral pendant set in silver and Muffin purchased it for me. Of course crafts and vanilla are good buys in Mexico also.

Carnival's two ships docked at Puerto Maya, seen from the beautiful beach.

I love the flowers in Mexico. Love the bright colors and the abundance.

A very relaxed Grandpa Muffin.

Palm trees are so interesting. So strong, yet flexible, and producing wonderful fruit. It's what I think of when I read Psalm 1. "Blessed is the man...He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither."

Gracie's in Galveston. Ruby's in Cozumel.

Walking along the pier between the Conquest and Valor, returning after a few hours of shopping.
Dinner was lovely. We had the same waiter several nights--Alexander from Bosnia. For dessert he brought Muffin some delicious apple pie, and I ate chocolate raspberry cake served with raspberry sorbet. It's so pretty!

Muffin with Alexander.

After dinner we strolled around the ship, did a bit more Christmas shopping in the shops on board, and attended the juggling show.

This, which we stumbled upon late that night, was a party of about 200-300 Indian families. They were dancing on the Lido deck, had decorated so beautifully and were dressed elaborately. The music was so joyful. Everyone from the smallest children to the grandmas and grandpas was dancing in lines while the band sang and played what sounded to me like everything from traditional Indian music to Bollywood style dances. After about an hour, the elders got tired and lined the railing of the decks and watched. Or they sat on the deck chairs with some of the young children who were still awake. But the teenagers and twenty-somethings danced the night away, barefooted in their toe rings and ankle bracelets and saris and jewelry and it was glorious! I do believe we will all dance like that on the streets that are golden--the abandonment before the throne of God will be so freeing for all of us. But our Indian brothers and sisters will have a head start in the dancing because they know how to do it for hours now!

Or maybe those of us from Texas have begun our lessons with line dancing!
Line dancing in the lobby with the Fun Ship directors very late at night.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grand Cayman

Our favorite port was Grand Cayman--Georgetown is beautiful, clean, friendly, laid back, and the wealth just oozes from the street signs. Even from the clock in the port plaza!

We waited at the port awhile for the tour groups to form, the guides to claim their groups and move on to the buses or nearby tenders. We boarded a tender and went a short way to our waiting submarine, the Atlantis.

Here we are inside, waiting for some "housekeeping". There were places for 48 passengers and there were 49 on board. The lady beside Muffin said she saw someone who was not from our cruise ship meet a couple and cut in line, faking a ticket. Finally another couple volunteered to get off, return to the port and take the second submarine excursion. They were the only ones on board who had that freedom, since most of us had booked a second excursion.

The reef was so beautiful. We learned that the extraordinary photos you see in documentaries are shot at night to show all the beautiful colors. We could actually see more color than the camera could, but everything was still either very blue or very white. This photo is taken as we are descending, looking at the changing coral and plants and ocean floor.

Here, fishy, fishy!

This is as low as we go.
Returning to port we ate a couple of Cliff bars and drank some water and waited for the second excursion tour guides to find us. It was really hot, waiting on the shady, humid concrete. My hair was not happy at all, but it was going to be unhappier still before returning to the ship.

Snorkel-ready Marmee. We bused to a vacant lot in a residential area where a dock at the back of the lot served as a parking lot for a tour boat in the canal behind some really lovely houses. Among our fellow snorkelers were a family from Austin with four sons, and a family of Texas Tech fans. Go Raiders! We boarded the tour boat, traded our shoes for fins, donned masks with our snorkel tubes and arriving at the barrier reef, began our first snorkeling lesson. Most of the others on board had previous experience, but we caught on fast enough I guess. The tour guides left us to explore the reef and went on to those who seemed truly terrified. I thought it was amazing! The purple fan coral was so beautiful, and just being able to see in the clear Caribbean water was wondrous. All in all, this was a three hour trip spent in pleasant company with great guides and God's amazing creatures.
After a very late lunch and shopping in the ship's gift shops we dressed for a formal dinner preceded by an early show. After dinner we watched Quantum of Solace from deck chairs with the wind blowing in our faces at the outdoor theater.
Some of our fellow cruisers on a tender from the Conquest to the port of Georgetown, Grand Cayman.
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!

What did you do this summer?

I went to Mo Bay!
Words I never thought I would say.
That rhymes.

Montego Bay is very beautiful by the sea, and very third world from the bus. The people are beautiful and sad. The music is wonderful and descriptive of dreams, not reality. The lovely old historic church we saw was in terrible disrepair, but Margaritaville was pristine and air conditioned. Our tour guide called the potholes "free massage" and the speed bumps "sleeping policemen". The resorts provide work for the locals, but there were still plenty of people offering drugs on the streets. We didn't buy any.

Returning to the ship for cool drinks and lunch, followed by a nap and a great workout was time well spent. Dinner was exquisitely served:
Rack of lamb
Wilted Spinach with bacon and Portabellas
Seafood Variety Newburg Style
Dessert: Tiramisu and Bitter & Blanc (Chocolate and Vanilla)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galations 5:1