2005 - A year to remember

>> Saturday, December 31, 2005

The year 2005 began with great promise and has ended in the same manner in which it began. In December of 2004, Steph's mother died and only a week later, Larry Weinstein and Thomas Wallner flew to Oklahoma from Canada to interview us concerning the film they were going to make for the 2006 Mozart 250th birthday year. By the end of the year we were gearing up for a trip to Vienna sometime in 2005.

The first few months of 2005 were fraught with anxiety and anticipation, waiting to get word from Larry about when we would be making the trip. And somewhere in the midst of it all, it looked like I wouldn't get to go because of a number of different reasons and complications. But in the end it all worked out, and by mid July we had dates for the shoots, as well as plane tickets to Vienna.

2005 has been a musical year for me. I've had the opportunity to solo in two separate performances of Handel's Messiah with the Stillwater Chamber Singers, one in the spring, in which I sang the alto aria, "He was despised" and the second performance, only a couple of weeks ago, in which I sang one of my favorite arias, "O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion". Another exciting musical experience came when I was asked to sing Mozart's lied, "Abendempfindung" for the film. I was filmed singing it in the majestic theater of the Masonic Temple in Guthrie, Oklahoma in mid August. Temperatures were in the 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and with no air conditioning in the theater plus my wearing a heavy black satin gown, the shoot was sweltering and exhausting. My scene didn't make the film, however, because of time constraints, but will be in the "deleted scenes" feature of the DVD version.

On Monday, August 29th, 2005, Steph and I were en route to Vienna, Austria for the on location shoots of the film now entitled, Mozartballs. On the morning of our departure, hurricane Katrina was making land along the Gulf Coast regions of Louisiana and Mississippi. The pilot of our KLM flight from Detroit to Amsterdam got on the speakers and told us that the clouds just to the south of us were the edges of Katrina. We had no idea of the damages sustained by the city of New Orleans until the following Friday, when we arrived in Salzburg and turned our hotel room television on to CNN International.

The last three days of August and the first few days of September, 2005 were spent in Vienna and Salzburg Austria, filming. Needless to say, it was one of the most memorable times of my entire life! More than the tremendous experience of being in a film, Steph and I realized a long-held dream of traveling to these places together. For us it was a vision quest--a spiritual experience wrought with laughter, tears, and memories both joyous and and painful. It was a grueling time of bustling airports, lots of walking, sore, bruised toes and feet, blisters, mosquitoes, sweltering heat, sweat, jet lag, and fatigue. It was filled with jets, taxi cabs, chauffeured limos, and trains. There were strange sights, strange sounds, a strange language, strange customs, strange currency, and strange food. It was an incredible time spent with incredibly talented people--Larry, Thomas, Jessica, John, Sanjay, Scott, Gerhardt, Nicholas, and Mozie. By the end of the trip we felt as if they were our family. All of us wept when it was time for us to separate and return to our homes--theirs being Toronto and ours being Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Steph described the return home and subsequent "down time" as feeling as if we'd been dropped from a plane. We both went through a period of depression when it was all over.
When we returned home we were met with life as usual. There were three active teens and all the activities and hustle-bustle that come with teenagers. There was work, bills, laundry, fish tanks that needed cleaning, and rent to pay. I felt like that woman in the Carnival Cruise commercial when she described how she had been treated like a queen but was now lamenting the return to the daily grind. She said she considered it a "temporary exile". Steph and I also declared ours a temporary exile, by deciding that we will move to Vienna when all of the kids have graduated from high school, in 2010.

Now we wait in anticipation of 2006. The film is finished and copies are being sent to the various European broadcasters as I type this. It is due to air on most European stations between the 22nd and 29th of January. Steph and I have no idea what will come of it, but we anticipate that much will come of it. Our hopes are that a publisher will pick up on Steph's book, Night Music, and that there might even be a screenplay in the works. That would be tremendous. There may very well be numerous speaking engagements, as well as book signing tours. Who knows? We just sense that our lives are about to change and that the lull we now experience will be very short-lived.

In closing, I wish to thank all of my readers for wading through all of this, and for your readership and comments. It has been a joy to create a window into my life via this medium, and I hope that you will continue to return to my blog throughout the coming year. Happy 2006 to you all!

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The unveiling

>> Wednesday, December 28, 2005

We have awaited this moment with great anticipation, and nervousness for three years now. The moment of which I speak is the moment when we would receive our copy of the film in which both Steph and I were featured subjects.

It arrived yesterday afternoon while I was at work. The moment I pulled the car into the garage, Steph opened the door to the kitchen and peered out, saying, "If you've got to pee, go now and then get upstairs!" I knew that meant our DVD copy of Mozartballs had arrived. I anxiously quizzed Steph, "It came? Have you watched it already? Did you like it?" I didn't even bother to change out of my work clothes but bounded up the stairs to the family room where Steph had everything ready. I parked myself in the swivel chair and watched.

In a word, it's beautiful. Not quite what I had expected, but I really wasn't sure what to expect, to be quite honest. It was very surprising in places. There were scenes in there that I didn't even know had been shot. Larry and John certainly captured Steph and me, both as individuals and as a couple. It really was a window into us and into our relationship, who we are, and what we're about. And the other stories melded so beautifully with ours that in the end it was impossible to miss the point and message of the film of how Mozart has touched us all, and for some of us, literally changed our lives profoundly.

My thanks goes to Larry, Thomas, John, and everyone at Rhombus who have been a part of this project. I know that there were times when you thought it wouldn't come off, and times when it very nearly didn't. Your hard work, tenacity, dedication, and artistry are very evident in the final product. We will never forget you and will always be grateful to you for telling our story in such a sensitive and beautiful manner. Thank-you, all.

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The aroma of the holidays

>> Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Some of my very favorite memories of the holidays are of the scents and aromas that came wafting from my mother's kitchen! Mother loved to bake and at Christmas time you could find her in the kitchen a great majority of the time. The wonderful aromas of cookies, cakes, pies, and breads literally permeated the house!

Tonight Steph and Nathan are baking cookies and the whole house smells of almonds, vanilla, and sugar cookies! It's incredible!

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Another busy week

>> Monday, December 19, 2005

I'm sure that I'm not the only one sweating over whether or not we're going to get it all done before Christmas. I know we will, but it seems like there is more to do than there is time.

This last weekend was the Chamber Singers performance of Messiah. The choir and soloists sang very well. The orchestra...well, let's put it this way, it left a lot to be desired. It seems that because we put our grant request in late, we got the bottom of the barrel when it came to our choices. Still, these were supposed to be professional musicians. They were union for Christ's sake! They should have been much better. It's a shame that we had to pay them for such a shoddy performance. We could have gotten the high school orchestra for free and I daresay they would have been better!
Heather's Chorale concert is tonight, and I'm really looking forward to it! I heard them perform one piece a few weeks ago and they're fantastic. This should be a great concert this evening.

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Loving my life

>> Friday, December 16, 2005

The past couple of weeks have been a bit stressful what with this performance of Messiah coming up, (tomorrow evening), all the stress over a couple of web stalkers who have been plaguing us, worries over finances at Christmas, and the whir of activity that seems to come naturally in a household full of teenagers. However, in spite of it all, I've found myself loving life. I'm not quite sure how or why this is, but I think that it has something to do with the fact that when everything boils down to basics, I have every reason to love my life. I have a beautiful, warm, loving home, three wonderful kids, and the love of my life to share it all with. On top of all of that, I'm staring major success right in the face. The end of January, a documentary will be aired on televisions all over Europe, Canada, the UK, Australia, and other places remote, in which Steph and I will be featured subjects. This past year has been the beginning of dreams fulfilled, and the incredible thing about it is that this is only the beginning.

I can't close this without mentioning one of the greatest blessings I have received over the past year--the blessing of new friendships. Steph and I have both written about how our experience with the making of this film created an atmosphere that required complete honesty, trust, and openness with our film director and crew. The nature of our story required it. In that process we made some life-long friends, people whom we will never forget and will always love--wonderful, talented, warm people like Larry, Thomas, John, Sanjay, Scott, Jessica, Gerhardt, and Nicholas. How I miss you all, and thank you for coming into my life and being such an important part of it and for giving me yet another reason to love it.

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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

>> Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Today it was finally warm enough for Sparky, (Steph), to get outside and put up the outdoor Christmas lights. It didn't seem to take too long and once they were up, the house looked very warm and inviting. We decorated the inside the weekend after Thanksgiving so now the whole house is done. Our home is especially beautiful at Christmas!

I'm still recovering after the hell weekend. I don't know when I've been so tired! (Well perhaps after we got home from Vienna--I was really tired then!) But I was really glad that I had the time with my girls...

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No such luck

>> Friday, December 9, 2005

I really was hoping that I wouldn't have to drive out of town this weekend to judge this speech tournament, but no such luck. Although the temperatures have not dropped much, and there is still snow on the ground, the roads have cleared enough that it's safe to drive. Ah, well.
I had a rehearsal with Mark, (Chamber Singers conductor), for my recitative and aria in Messiah yesterday afternoon, and it went very well. He seemed pleased--said I sang it beautifully. Next week I have rehearsals with the orchestra, and then the performance is Saturday evening. I'm really looking forward to this performance. Yesterday Mark told me that this group could record Messiah because we sing it so well! Afterwards we had a great time just talking and getting to know one another better. He's really a nice man, and a very talented and able choral technician. It's a joy to sing under his direction.

Sunday evening, Lauren's French club is coming to our home for their Christmas dinner. I'm spending Sunday helping her to get ready for it. They're planning on 15 people which means that we will have to move some furniture in the living room to make way for a table. Lauren's really excited because our home is decorated so beautifully for Christmas and she loves having friends over during the holidays.

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It's frickin' cold out there, Mr. Bigglesworth!

>> Wednesday, December 7, 2005

It's really cold! We awakened this morning to temperatures in the low teens and wind chills below zero! All day I felt as if my butt was going to freeze off! Then at about 2:30 this afternoon the snow began to fall. It's a cold, dry, powdery snow that doesn't accumulate much, but certainly plays havoc with the roads. The kids are praying for a snow day tomorrow. I'm praying that it will last through the weekend so I don't have to drive to Sand Springs to judge in a high school speech tournament. But it's Oklahoma--no telling what the weather will do.

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Early birthday wishes

>> Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Tomorrow, (December 7th), is my sister, Karla's, 34th birthday. I know she comes to my blog frequently so I decided to leave her a little surprise.

I remember the day she was born very well. I was in the 6th grade. When my mother went to the hospital, my brother Monte, and I went across the street to stay with our neighbors, the Carriers. The next morning, I got up only to learn that the baby hadn't been born yet, so I had to go to school, anxious and full of anticipation. Shortly before noon, Mrs. Carrier showed up at school with the message that I had a baby sister, Karla Elizabeth, 7 pounds and 11 ounces. I was so excited that it was all I could think about the rest of the day.

The day I started college, Karla started the first grade. I loved college. She hated first grade. After my freshman year I transferred to a university outside of Stillwater, and I thought my baby sister was going to curl up and die when I left home. She survived.

She lives in Texas with her husband, Matt and has a daughter of her own. That makes me feel old. I remember changing her diapers. (She'll probably kill me for saying that.)

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The beginning of hell month

>> Monday, December 5, 2005

I've really not looked forward to this week, for this is the week that begins the deluge of activities and crowded weekends that won't end until after New Year's. It seems the older my kids get, the more active they become, and whenever they commit themselves to an activity, I'm committed to it as well. Such is the life of a mother of teens.

The 5th of December is traditionally a strange one around here. We always seem to be a little melancholy on this day because it is the anniversary of Mozart's death in 1791. Today is also the first anniversary of Steph's mother's death, and in a week it will have been a year since we first met Larry Weinstein and Thomas Wallner. So much has transpired in a year, to think about it makes my head spin. Lauren went to France in June and in August we began shoots for the film, (now titled Mozartballs). Two weeks after the shoots in Oklahoma, we were on a flight to Vienna for ten days of filming there and in Salzburg. It's really hard to believe that only a year ago we were wondering if it would ever transpire.

It seems that December 5th is destined to be an important day for us for many reasons. Today we got word from Steph's very elderly, very wealthy uncle, that he is giving Steph some stock. He said in his note that he hopes that "you will keep them and receive the income monthly through the coming years". We have no idea how much it is, but it is probably sizable. Merry Christmas! It couldn't have come at a better time.

Well, I had probably better be closing this down. I have to get ready for Chamber Singers. We have a couple more rehearsals before the Messiah performance on the 17th. I'm really looking forward to it!

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A lazy Sunday

>> Sunday, December 4, 2005

Today has been a lazy day. It's been one of those days that Steph and I describe as our "being cats" days where we lounge around on our bed and watch movies. AMC played some great old movies--Indiscreet, with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, with Jean Tierney and Rex Harrison, and An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

I love our "cat" days when we lay around and don't get dressed until late in the afternoon. We cuddle up next to one another and nap while we watch movies. We giggle and laugh, and enjoy being alone with each other. This evening we decided to order pizza from Domino's, which made everyone happy.

Whenever I get the tinge of the guilts for being so lazy, I remind myself that this is the last cat day that we're going to get until after Christmas. From this point on, our schedules are full with all manner of holiday activities.

Tonight we're going to watch the History Channel special on Leonardo DaVinci.

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Committed to our life together

>> Thursday, December 1, 2005

When Steph and I decided that we wanted to commit to one another, we knew it wouldn't be easy. We were well aware of the opposition and roadblocks before us. But I was willing to take on the challenge because I love this person more than life itself, and I was willing to commit to making a life for us, together. Deep inside of me I knew, and still know, that I have been called to the very special task of loving this person and helping her to accomplish that which she came here to accomplish.

Over the last six years we have carved out a life together that has been full of high peaks and many deep valleys. We have made some mistakes, and we have achieved great success. We have worked hard and are still awaiting, albeit impatiently, the fruits of our blood, sweat, and tears. We have put our reputations and our lives on the line in order to accomplish what we were sent here to accomplish and nothing will deter us now.

I love you, Liebchen, and I'm in this with you for the long haul!

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