Friday, May 20, 2011

Ponderings on Music and Me

I was on the way to take care of some stuff with my mom yesterday, and I knew it was going to be stressful. I have playlist on my iPod that consists only of my favorite classical choral music that I play for comfort.

Music has always been a big part of my life. Did the requisite piano lessons as a child. Played the violin for awhile. Played guitar, somewhat badly, and I have a banjo here that I swear I'm going to learn to play. It's on the bucket list, so I have to.

But I've always loved to sing, and fortunately I've been blessed with what people tell me is an above average voice. Mezzo-soprano, thankyouverymuch, although I currently sing alto. I've been a part of choirs since I was in the 8th grade. At the girls school I attended from 6th to 9th grade, you were eligible to be in the main chorus when you got to the 9th grade, and they had an audition only group that I was fortunate enough to make. We always did a Christmas concert with the boys school across town. I still remember how wonderful it was when I heard all four parts of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" together for the first time, and how cool it was when we sang it in performance and the whole crowd stood up. I didn't know the back story of it at the time.

The two schools merged, and I sang with the chorus there. We had to learn all sorts of classical pieces. I hated it. HATED it. I hated the repetition. Hated all those pesky eighth note runs. But my friends were in it. I remember sitting with my friend Karen, throwing Atomic Fireballs on the floor of the Chapel to break them apart and eating them during practice, and bothering the tenors sitting in front of us (just because we could). I didn't know at the time I was learning discipline and that those pieces I hated would become some of my best loved music.

Went to college and sang with the choir there. Discovered the Bach "Magnificat" and how you could really freak people out singing a capella in Latin in the middle of a welcome center. Found out how hard it could be juggling finals and Christmas concerts at the same time. But I'll never, ever hear "Once in Royal David's City" without remembering processing through Glenn Memorial Church at those concerts. I also remember being mesmerized by the string instruments -- I had never sung with anything other than a piano or organ, and it was quite a thrill singing with an orchestra.

After college, I didn't sing for awhile, and I missed it. I tried singing with a community chorus, but it didn't really work out. I had a major disagreement with the director's wife, who was trying to make me stand where I couldn't see the director during the performance. ALL my directors had taught me that I needed to look at them, and by golly, I was gonna do it.

Then, I saw a sign on a local church advertising that they were singing the "Messiah" -- that very same piece with the "Hallelujah Chorus" and all those pieces I had hated in high school with all those blasted eighth note runs. My friend Cathy went there and sang with the choir, so I told her to tell her director that if he needed a soprano who knew the choruses to have her director give me a call. Jerry called the next day. I've been there ever since.

I have to thank Jerry, because singing with him has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. I've sung the old familiar classical pieces I knew, and he's added so many new ones to my repertoire. The choir has become some of my best friends and it's my safe place during so many of life's storms. And where else can you find a group of people who will sing Beethoven's "Hallelujah" from the "Mount of Olives" a la Elmer Fudd? "Hawewujah unto Gods awmighty Son..."

Today I'm going with the youth of our church to sing to one our members who is in hospice care. She always told me how much she enjoyed our music and how much she loved hearing us sing. I'm hoping this will bring her comfort... even more than my little playlist on my iPod brings to me.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Well, so much for that

Ok. So, I said I wasn’t going to disappear, and I did.

Well, a lot of stuff happened. Like the end of tax season. This in itself tends to be a whole ball of crapola all wound up in a very short period of time. Except that this year, I had an extra complication:

Yeah, that’s my mom’s house, and that huge green thing is a tree. It’s a tree that my Dad planted. I used to jump over it when I played as a child, and he’d get all over me for doing it. On April 15, there was a huge storm, and the tree fell onto the house. All in all we were blessed; it nipped the corner where it could easily have gone smack into the middle of the house and basically destroyed it. Instead, there was a hole in the roof, three rafters broken and lots of cosmetic interior damage to my childhood bedroom.

Mom was in the house when the tree fell, and she was understandably shaken up. I had been unable to get her on the phone for about half an hour, knowing she was home, and I had already gotten in the Hummer and was halfway there when Richard got the call from the neighbor that the tree had fallen. In case you’re wondering, I can now say with absolute certainty that an H3 will do speeds exceeding 90 in stormy conditions, although they do shake a lot when you get them up to that speed.

No power, no phone, no cable – Mom refused to leave. So Richard came up (Penny stayed home because insulation was everywhere) and we camped. I came back the next day and finished returns and extensions; the day after, power and phone was restored (kudos to Georgia Power and AT&T) and she finally got cable back the day after. But she lost the contents of two freezers due to the power outage – that was a lot of food to lose.

Repairs are underway. I’ll be really glad when they’re done, because it’s been difficult shuttling between here and there to supervise things.

The next thing that’s been keeping me amused is the committee looking for an interim minister at our church. I’m a member of the Presbyterian Church, USA, and if you know anything about Presbyterians, you know that we do everything “properly and in order”. In other words, we go around the world to get from point A to point B. It’s been a two-month long often frustrating process, but I’m hoping we’re about to draw it to a close.

And, to top it off, there’s going to be some changes with my business. I won’t go into them just yet… but everything will work out for the best.

I realized a few days ago just how long it had been since I’d done any stitching when I took out a piece to start and began treating overdyed cotton as if it were just plain DMC. I was completely mortified. Between work, looking after Mom, and church, there’s not been much time to do anything I like. I’ve been doing some fairly simple knitting, but not a lot. Evidently, this is a signal that something has to change. I’ve got to learn to take care of the caretaker. And somewhere along there, I’ll have to regain my sense of humor about a lot of stuff.

I did at least get two domain names reserved: and -- I hope to move the blog to the latter one sometime in the near future, so keep a look out.