Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday Snow Soup

Today is the Tuesday after Christmas Day. The first day since December 23 that we have been able to get back to the gym. The treadmill and the recumbent bike were waiting for me, empty and lonely, cold and ... Oh alright, they were well warmed by previous users.

Snow was falling softly when we got up this morning. Rather than being the near blizzard conditions from Christmas Eve the temperature hovered near the freezing mark so we had clear streets and only a dusting on the grass. Muffin and I went to the bakery to buy fresh honey oat and challah breads. On to Sam's Club for Lysol disinfectant spray to kill these nasty cold and stomach virus germs being passed around the family. We also bought some fresh food and ordered a cake for a baby shower at our church on Sunday.

Snow was still falling when we left Sam's and headed to the HEB for the remaining groceries. Joy and Mike made Butternut Squash Soup and needed fresh squash, dried thyme, fresh sage, and we had completely consumed all milk products in the fridge and needed to milk some cows and soy beans. As we passed through the produce section I noticed that the bakery lady was unloading her cart, straight out of the kitchen, into the bolillo bin. The lid on the bin was steaming over with heat from those soft little buns. At four for a dollar I knew a bargain that would be a hit with the home kids! I wrapped them in plastic sacks and we drove straight home, so they were still slightly warm when we arrived home. I enjoyed one with leftover barbecued brisket and Asian slaw.

After unloading the car and the dishwasher Muffin and I headed to the gym, which was closing early due to weather, but I'm not sure why, because the place was full and the parking lot was crowded. Anyway, Joy called and asked for some dried thyme, so Muffin went next door to the small grocery by the gym while I finished my workout. Mike, Joy and Kaki went to visit Nannie, who is still keeping Scooter for us, because we traveled to see Nana yesterday and open gifts with her. We came home last night, but left him there to keep Nannie company.

When the chefs came back to our house they completed the soup. It was so totally worth the wait! Yum! Snow has stopped. Emme played imaginary family with throw pillows and helped with the soup a little bit. Ruby read Sesame Street books to Grandpa. Maggie and Mo Dogs are snuggled by the fire, as are Joy, Mike, Kathleen, CB and JB.

It is our last night all together. I would like to put this evening in a small pouch, or inside a lovely tin, and pull out some family togetherness every week. If only I could bundle Family, Soup, and Snow and market them as a package to lonely, homesick people.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Entertainment

Our family is easily entertained. Old movies. Glee episodes. Old stories of high school pranks. Nana's turkey calls. Watching the "littles" be kids.
This falls into the final category: watching Emme adore Uncle Mike. "Uncle Mike, I love you. Uncle Mike, tickle my tummy. Hiiiiiiiieeeeee, Uncle Mike. Merrrrrrrryyyyy Christmas, Uncle Mike. Wanna snuggle, Uncle Mike?" It goes on, and on. Uncle Mike is the highly favored relative and Emme is all about giving him the adoration she feels he deserves.

More entertainment...
  • In church this morning, Ruby reading the "Holy Bible. In the beginning and once upon a time there was a Holy Bible named Scott" . (This particular pew Bible was dedicated to Scott.)
  • At lunch today, both girls saying "booga booga, AHHHHHHHHH!" in unison on the same pitch. Then falling over laughing at each other.
  • Emme declaring that cowgirls say "Cowboy!", rather than 'giddyup' when riding their stick horses around the room.
  • Ruby reading the cover of the Oprah magazine: How to get what you really want this year!
  • Both girls relating their favorite sights from the tour of Christmas lights around town.
  • "Pretty trees! Snowmen! Animals! Candy Canes! Beyoootiful!"
  • Ruby singing "Meet me in St. Louis" as she walked up the stairs to bed

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day, 2009

CB and Ruby cuddling.

Aunt Kaki showing off her new socks and scarf.

Scooter in his new sweater from Nannie.

It was a PJ and new sock day, all day, with snow on the ground and coffee in the pot. Finally managed the energy to cook the ham, warm the dressing (frozen in a separate batch at Thanksgiving), cook the green beans and turnip greens, and set out the cake and pie. We ate until we were stuffed, then cleaned up and took naps. Gotta love hanging out with the family.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

Nannie, my Mother, says I got a little red wagon the first year we had a White Christmas in our town. I don't exactly remember the event--just the wagon. About two hours before Joy and Mike arrived from the airport in Dallas, it began to rain-thunder, lightning, wind, temperature dropping. It rained until sometime into the wee hours and then changed to ice and snow. So, Christmas Eve we woke up to this.

Aunt Kaki couldn't resist a snowball.

Roo was feeling poorly. A stomach bug chased her down and got the best of her for one day, but Emme played outside until her hands hurt too much from the cold, wet stuff.

Mo, the Snow Dog looks like she was sprinkled with powdered sugar. She had to monitor all her people. It's her sheep herding genes.
Before the snow stopped we had somewhere between 4 and 7 inches, depending on which report you believe. Anyway, it was 15 degrees at 8:15 this morning, and did not begin to melt until late afternoon. Pretty, if you were where you belonged and could enjoy the view. My heart ached for those whose plans were interrupted. We enjoyed a restful day with many blessings in the company of those we love. God is very good!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Very Best Gift on a Tree

The most
precious thing that ever hung on a tree was Jesus Christ. God came to earth as a baby to fulfill the long awaited promise of a Savior.

Thirty-three years after His birth, Jesus willingly laid down His life for us. The most powerful message that has ever been or ever will be shared this Christmas is Jesus Christ.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. - I John 3:16 NIV

Guess Who's Coming to Town?

No, not the big guy in the red suit.
These sweet as sugarplum Sugar Plums

Monday, December 21, 2009

O Holy Night...the rest of the story

The Amazing Story of 'O Holy Night'
By Ace Collins

Declared 'unfit for church services' in France and later embraced by U.S. abolitionists, the song continues to inspire.

The strange and fascinating story of "O Holy Night" began in France, yet eventually made its way around the world. This seemingly simple song, inspired by a request from a clergyman, would not only become one of the most beloved anthems of all time, it would mark a technological revolution that would forever change the way people were introduced to music.

In 1847, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure was the commissionaire of wines in a small French town. Known more for his poetry than his church attendance, it probably shocked Placide when his parish priest asked the commissionaire to pen a poem for Christmas mass. Nevertheless, the poet was honored to share his talents with the church.

In a dusty coach traveling down a bumpy road to France's capital city, Placide Cappeau considered the priest's request. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Cappeau imagined witnessing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Thoughts of being present on the blessed night inspired him. By the time he arrived in Paris, "Cantique de Noel" had been completed.

Moved by his own work, Cappeau decided that his "Cantique de Noel" was not just a poem, but a song in need of a master musician's hand. Not musically inclined himself, the poet turned to one of his friends, Adolphe-Charles Adam, for help.

The son of a well-known classical musician, Adam had studied in the Paris conservatoire. His talent and fame brought requests to write works for orchestras and ballets all over the world. Yet the lyrics that his friend Cappeau gave him must have challenged the composer in a fashion unlike anything he received from London, Berlin, or St. Petersburg.

As a man of Jewish ancestry, for Adam the words of "Cantique de Noel" represented a day he didn't celebrate and a man he did not view as the son of God. Nevertheless, Adam quickly went to work, attempting to marry an original score to Cappeau's beautiful words. The finished work of Adam pleased both poet and priest. The song was performed just three weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve

Initially, "Cantique de Noel" was wholeheartedly accepted by the church in France and the song quickly found its way into various Catholic Christmas services. But when Placide Cappeau walked away from the church and became a part of the socialist movement, and church leaders discovered that Adam was a Jew, the song--which had quickly grown to be one of the most beloved Christmas songs in France--was suddenly and uniformly denounced by the church. The heads of the French Catholic church of the time deemed "Cantique de Noel" as unfit for church services because of its lack of musical taste and "total absence of the spirit of religion." Yet even as the church tried to bury the Christmas song, the French people continued to sing it, and a decade later a reclusive American writer brought it to a whole new audience halfway around the world.

Not only did this American writer--John Sullivan Dwight--feel that this wonderful Christmas song needed to be introduced to America, he saw something else in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An ardent abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: "Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name all oppression shall cease." The text supported Dwight's own view of slavery in the South. Published in his magazine, Dwight's English translation of "O Holy Night" quickly found favor in America, especially in the North during the Civil War.

Back in France, even though the song had been banned from the church for almost two decades, many commoners still sang "Cantique de Noel" at home. Legend has it that on Christmas Eve 1871, in the midst of fierce fighting between the armies of Germany and France, during the Franco-Prussian War, a French soldier suddenly jumped out of his muddy trench. Both sides stared at the seemingly crazed man. Boldly standing with no weapon in his hand or at his side, he lifted his eyes to the heavens and sang, "Minuit, Chretiens, c'est l'heure solennelle ou L'Homme Dieu descendit jusqu'a nous," the beginning of "Cantique de Noel."

After completing all three verses, a German infantryman climbed out his hiding place and answered with, "Vom Himmel noch, da komm' ich her. Ich bring' euch gute neue Mar, Der guten Mar bring' ich so viel, Davon ich sing'n und sagen will," the beginning of Martin Luther's robust "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come."

The story goes that the fighting stopped for the next twenty-four hours while the men on both sides observed a temporary peace in honor of Christmas day. Perhaps this story had a part in the French church once again embracing "Cantique de Noel" in holiday services.

In 1906, Reginald Fessenden--a 33-year-old university professor and former chief chemist for Thomas Edison--did something long thought impossible. Using a new type of generator, Fessenden spoke into a microphone and, for the first time in history, a man's voice was broadcast over the airwaves: "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed," he began in a clear, strong voice, hoping he was reaching across the distances he supposed he would.

Shocked radio operators on ships and astonished wireless owners at newspapers sat slack-jawed as their normal, coded impulses, heard over tiny speakers, were interrupted by a professor reading from the gospel of Luke. To the few who caught this broadcast, it must have seemed like a miracle--hearing a voice somehow transmitted to those far away. Some might have believed they were hearing the voice of an angel.

Fessenden was probably unaware of the sensation he was causing on ships and in offices; he couldn't have known that men and women were rushing to their wireless units to catch this Christmas Eve miracle. After finishing his recitation of the birth of Christ, Fessenden picked up his violin and played "O Holy Night," the first song ever sent through the air via radio waves. When the carol ended, so did the broadcast--but not before music had found a new medium that would take it around the world.

Since that first rendition at a small Christmas mass in 1847, "O Holy Night" has been sung millions of times in churches in every corner of the world. And since the moment a handful of people first heard it played over the radio, the carol has gone on to become one of the entertainment industry's most recorded and played spiritual songs. This incredible work--requested by a forgotten parish priest, written by a poet who would later split from the church, given soaring music by a Jewish composer, and brought to Americans to serve as much as a tool to spotlight the sinful nature of slavery as tell the story of the birth of a Savior--has become one of the most beautiful, inspired pieces of music ever created.

Reprinted from "Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas" for educational purposes only, from Zondervan.

O Holy Night
O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Love the story. Love the song. Click here for the original page.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Super Bowl of Arts and Sports!

Muffin outdid himself this week and purchased tickets to not just one, but two fabulous fine arts events. I drove to the Metroplex to meet him after work and we then drove to the new opera hall in the AT&T performing arts complex in Big D. The event--
South Pacific, the Lincoln Center tour of the Broadway revival that won seven Tony awards.

The house was full. The hall was beautiful. The people obviously anticipated a great performance and no one was disappointed. All vocalists were supremely professional and wonderful to hear. The baritone, Emile de Beque, was to swoon for! (Swoon). Except Muffin was grinning like a schoolboy with a crush at Nellie Forbush, from Little Rock, A-R-K. In reality, Nellie was actually from Houston. And, go figure, as I read the program I discovered that a home town boy, son of our daughters' first ballet teacher, was in the company as well. He was great. All the dancing, acting, sets, backdrops, vocals, and special effects were perfect. I mean, I really looked for flaws and glitches and there just weren't any to find. It was


From the beginning of the backdrop looking as if it were typed on an old typewriter describing the South Pacific islands, to the retracting of this fabulous chandelier for the first curtain, to the curtain calls and the finale played by a fabulous orchestra (I knew two people in the string section too!) It was really Some Enchanted Evening.

I have no photos, because flash photography is verboten, but Muffin also bought tickets to the Moscow Ballet tour of The Nutcracker, performed at 3:30 pm today in our home town in our Civic Center. Now, that seems like a sharp contrast to the Big D evening, but actually our hall is world class. We have a new state-of-the art stage system with lighting, sound, and curtains, and the acoustics were masterminded by the same consulting firm founded by Dr. Boner, who developed the equalizer, so important to sound systems today. And, once again, it was a fabulous performance, sadly without live orchestra though. You can see some very nice photography here. At the same site you can check to see if the tour is coming to your city and purchase tickets. Every city also incorporates students from one of its ballet studios/companies. Those little snowflakes, mice and angels are tough to beat with their super cuteness factor, believe me. The principal dancers were magnificent, light as feathers on the stage, and the company was also wonderful. Loved the innovative choreography and beautiful costumes and sets too.

And to put the cherry on top of the best "sundae" week in years, Abilene High School won the State Championship football game tonight in the Alamo Dome, 28-17 over the Katy Tigers!!!!!!
Go EAGLES!!!!! I'm so proud of you!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

9 Days!

In just nine days all 'my people' will arrive.
This handsome couple make their way to the airport and wait for a plane (about 2 1/2 hours), fly for 3 hours, rent a car and drive west another 3 hours after stopping for Tex Mex.

Muffin 'only' works 3 days next week before saddling up the Toyota and heading West, making the same 3 hour drive after stop-and-shop at Central Market. You don't think I actually make those tamales from scratch for Christmas Eve, do you?

Kaki works three days with the families who will miss her more than their warm summer days while she's here with us.
All these adorable people pack for two days, drive 3 1/2 hours, and include 12 suitcases,
11 wrapped packages, 10 toes and fingers, 9 books to read, 8 stuffed toys,
7 days worth of Rice milk, 6 days of dog food,
5 Golden Rings (not really, but what else fits here?)
4 Christmas stockings, 3 kinds of cookies, 2 black and white dogs,
and don't forget Roo and Emme (roughly rhymes with the partridge, etc.)

Love you! See you soon!!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

photo.php.jpg It was a good day. Body Flow was a challenge. Since no one was in the Pilates room we connected an iphone to the audio equipment and I did my one hour personal training to GLEE music. Love the quality of singing, dancing, writing, acting on that TV show! Not always crazy about the content, but the quality is raising the bar.

Muffin and I went to the Wal Marts and Christmas and grocery shopped. We listened to local radio broadcasting the AHS Eagle state playoff football game against Klein. Eagles win! On to State, Warbirds!!!!! Ate lunch from Wendy's in the car and our discussion led to some prayer time before entering the Wallyworld. Took the interstate and loop to J.C. Penny's and saved some money on Christmas gifts.

Best part of the day so far: Skyping with Gracie and Jonahbear as they munched on Doritos!!

Friday, December 11, 2009


He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to my God! He is the Rose of Sharon.
(Yes, those are tuning pegs, painted silver.)

On the mantle--the focus of the season, Jesus, the Word made flesh, who lived with us. This set was handmade by my Sister in Love, Tracie.

Away in a manger no crib for bed the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head.
( Also known as the song about "cattle alarms".)

A newer gift--music box plays O Holy Night, or Cantique de Noel if your prefer French.

Olive wood carving of the Holy family.

The little quilt hanging on the fireplace wall is one I made many years ago in a class project when some of my girls were in school and at least one of them was still in Mother's Day Out.
O come little children o come one and all
O come to the manger in Bethlehem's stall.

Music is not only part of the house, it's also part of the music shop in the little village.
Sing we all of Christmas, sing we all Noel!

Angel on the right--a gift. Angel on the left--also handmade in a class long ago. I made each of the girls a little angel similar to this one, but with scraps from their dress fabrics.

A small fiddler on the Norfolk pine tree. God Rest ye Merry, Gentlemen!

My rosemary plant has gold painted salvaged pegs and a bridge, all tied up with a red velvet bow that also has music notes printed on the velvet. The rosemary is delicious in omelets and soups. The violin parts remind me of many events--performing, teaching, but especially playing with my daughters as a family when they were living at home. Becky painted these salvaged parts silver and gold when she was working in a violin shop during her college years.

Angels we have heard on high sweetly singing o'er the plains.

And the mountains in reply echo back their joyous strains.

Gloria, Gloria, Gloria in excelsis deo!
(Little fiddles courtesy of one of my student families)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Welcome to our home! In side the front door, hanging under the entry light is a mobile creche. It is unfinished wood and reminds me daily of the humble circumstances of Jesus birth. He arrived as a baby, dependent on His parents for care, but knowing His Father was The Source.
This little table is an antique, refinished long ago by Nana who gave it to us twenty years ago when we moved to this house because it matched our floor tile. I love it. This season I chose a lace angel with the caption "Rejoice!" to grace the blue wall. Red and white candles give us light. We rejoice because the Light of the World has come!
Around the corner is the music room, my violin studio, and sometime extra dining area. Along with the permanent posters and original art with music in mind, I added a Norfolk pine with music themed ornaments, scrolled music tied in ribbons, my small collection of musical angels and music shops. Garlands of notes trace the windows and doorway. Jesus has given me a New Song, and helps me play skillfully on the strings with loud shouts! (Ps 33:3)

I selected children's books from our home library to display with the music shops. Some of them are on the table and some are under it. Many small children come to my house each week and I like to welcome them with stories and music and cozy places to experience both.

From the front door the buffet is visible. My sister in love (in-law), Tracie, gave me these nutcrackers and the sculpture is an original by Kathleen. The candles provide more reminders of the Light of the World and are reflected by the mirror, which is an antique, salvaged from Dubbie's barber shop.
The table is set with a new runner, a gift from Texans in Tanzania, and old fashioned handmade trivets. Come feed on the Living Bread!
Hanging from the stairway railing are the family stockings, including one for Scooter. Jesus himself is the Gift we celebrate.

The tree is full of ribbons, angels with violins, other music themed ornaments, and balls of red, gold and silver. He is more precious than gold!
The trees of the fields will clap their hands when He returns!
He is the Door.
“Dear baby Jesus, how tiny thou art.
I’ll make a place for thee in my heart.
And when the stars in the heavens I see,
Ever and always I’ll think of thee.”
Alfred Burt, "The Star Carol", lyrics by Wilha Hutson

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Marathon Day

Today in history: The 67th anniversary of my parents' marriage. The church where I grew up celebrated with a memorial Pancake Breakfast. Many years ago my parents started having the breakfast in their home and it grew and grew and grew. Today my Mom, Nannie to our family, was so pleased that more than 60 people attended the breakfast. One of the members arranged a table of memorabilia and the handbell choir of mentally challenged students performed Christmas carols. It was all festive and delicious and full of fellowship. And made Nannie cry.

Nannie and Dubbie photos; a box of dominoes; a bowl of pecans; barber tools; a cross.

A hymnal; a guitar; more photos, and the flag that covered Dubbie's casket.

Leaving the breakfast in time to play a three hour rehearsal, I decided to show you my vantage point from my chair in the orchestra.

My stand partner's gorgeous new boots

My view of my music and of the conductor.

Vocal soloists chilling backstage with their Starbucks

A member of the dance company warming up before the matinee performance. She was one of the dancers in the Pine Forest scene from the Nutcracker.

Two dancers ready for the matinee opening number, Kyrie Eleison.

After the matinee performance I had fifteen minutes to change locations for a wedding. The church was beautiful with poinsettias, candles, and lovely ladies in black gowns and men in tuxedos. Our quartet played all the prelude music, the bridal procession, and the recessional and postlude--all Christmas music except the Canon in D and Ode to Joy.

After the wedding I met Muffin at Taco Bueno for a salad and then we both drove our cars to the concert venue once again for the evening performance.

We had a wonderful choir--the A Cappella Choir from University of North Texas. Here they are under the shell at the rehearsal.

Volunteers decorated the stage with layers and layers of garlands and poinsettias. It was a marathon day, about thirteen hours from breakfast to final performance, but full of blessings.