In praise of laziness

>> Saturday, December 29, 2007

Faulheit, endlich muß ich dir
Auch ein kleines Loblied bringen!
O!. . . Wie. . . sauer. . . wird es mir
Dich nach Würde zu besingen!
Doch ich will mein Bestes tun:
Nach der Arbeit ist gut ruhn.

Höchstes Gut, wer dich nur hat,
Dessen ungestörtes Leben. . .
Ach!. . . ich gähn!. . . ich. . . werde matt.
Nun, so magst du mir's vergeben,
Daß ich dich nicht singen kann:
Du verhinderst mich ja dran.

Laziness - I must finally write for you
also a little paean!
Oh! ... annoying ... it will be for me
[to think of how] to celebrate your worth!
But I will do my best,
for after hard work, rest is good.

Highest good - whoever possesses you
will have an undisturbed life...
alas! I'm yawning... I'm ... growing dull.
Now you must forgive me
if I cannot sing about you:
you are hindering me yourself!


It's Boxing Day, Guvnuh!

>> Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day, also known as the Feast of St. Stephen (after the first Christian martyr), originated in England in the middle of the nineteenth century under Queen Victoria. It originated as a holiday for members of the merchant class to give boxes containing food and fruit, clothing, and/or money to trades people and servants. The gifts were an expression of gratitude similar to the bonuses many employers offer their employees today. These gifts, usually given in boxes, gave the holiday it's name, "Boxing Day".

Also related to the origin of Boxing Day is the tradition of opening the alms boxes placed in churches over the Christmas season. The contents of these boxes were distributed amongst the poor, by the clergy, the day after Christmas.

I'm spending Boxing Day in my pajamas! Here's hoping that you and yours had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to a very happy and prosperous New Year!


Santa's the dude!

>> Monday, December 24, 2007


The John Rutter Gloria

>> Saturday, December 22, 2007

Today I came upon these recordings of the John Rutter Gloria and was transported back to Christmas of 1980, which was the first semester of my junior year in college at Oklahoma Baptist University. I sang with the OBU Chorale, which in those days had the reputation of being one of the finest choral organizations in the region. Under the direction of James D. Woodward, (whom we affectionately referred to as "Dean"), the OBU Chorale was in its glory days in the early 1980's, and performed some exciting, challenging, and inspiring works under his skillful direction. And among the most exciting of these works was the Rutter Gloria, composed for SATB choir, brass choir, and pipe organ. I count the performance of this work as one of the highlights of my undergraduate experience, and one of the fondest memories I have of performing with the OBU Chorale, and with Jim Woodward.

The work is presented here in three parts. You can follow along with the score as you listen. Enjoy!


The Scrooge of my youth

This 1970 musical adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, entitled simply, Scrooge!, starring the brilliant Albert Finney as Ebenezer Scrooge, and the incomparable Sir Alec Guiness as Jacob Marley, is on my list of very favorites. (In fact, I'm not sure which is my very favorite, this one or the 1999 Patrick Stewart version.)

This adaptation is the Scrooge of my youth, as I was ten years old when it was released, and is the first version of the play that I ever saw. My brother and I grew up watching it on television, as it was played every year during the Christmas season during the 1970's. Both of us were into musicals, and this one had a distinct similarity to the 1968 musical adaptation of Dickens' Oliver Twist, entitled simply, Oliver!. Monte and I loved both films, and to this day, if I can catch this version of A Christmas Carol on television, I watch it.

I am posting two clips from this film because I want you to see not only the amazing performances of both Finney and Sir Alec Guiness, but one of the beautifully coreographed musical production numbers as well. I hope you enjoy them enough that if you've not had the joy of seeing this film, you'll go out and rent the DVD and watch it.


Scrooge puts on an irreverent face

>> Friday, December 21, 2007

Leave it to the British to satirize their own, and to do it in a way that only the British can. One of my favorite British television comedy series is Blackadder, starring the internationally popular, Rowan Atkinson, (Mr. Bean & Johnny English), as the title character. The following clip is the Blackadder version of the beloved Dickens tale, and if you're interested, the whole episode is available on YouTube.


Kermit meets Scrooge

>> Thursday, December 20, 2007

In 1992, the folks at Jim Henson created a delightful version of this Dickens classic using Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, and the entire gang of Muppet characters entitled, The Muppet Christmas Carol. Featuring the famed and respected London-born actor, Michael Caine, as Ebenezer Scrooge, this delightful adaptation features original music by Paul Williams and original score by Miles Goodman. Produced two years after Henson's untimely death, in May of 1990, it was directed by his son, Brian, and the voice of Kermit, (Bob Cratchit), originally performed by Henson, was done by Steve Whitmire.

This particular version happens to be a favorite of my three children, as it was released when they were all very small, and is viewed, at least once at our home, every Christmas.


The many faces of Scrooge

>> Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One of my favorite novelists of the 19th century is Charles Dickens, and of all of his wonderful tales, A Christmas Carol, is one of my very favorites, and of all of his colorful characters, Ebenezer Scrooge ranks at the top of my list.

A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas (commonly known as A Christmas Carol) is what Charles Dickens described as his "little Christmas Book" and was first published on December 19, 1843 with illustrations by John Leech. The story was instantly successful, selling over six thousand copies in one week and, although originally written as a potboiler to enable Dickens to pay off a debt, the tale has become one of the most popular and enduring Christmas stories of all time.

Contemporaries noted that the story's popularity played a critical role in redefining the importance of Christmas and the major sentiments associated with the holiday. A Christmas Carol was written during a time of decline in the old Christmas traditions. "If Christmas, with its ancient and hospitable customs, its social and charitable observances, were in danger of decay, this is the book that would give them a new lease," said English poet Thomas Hood. (Source Wikipedia)

In the years after Dickens' death, the story was adapted for the stage and later presented in film. In the next few days I will present clips of several of those film adaptations. It's amazing how many there are, and begging your forgiveness if I don't present your favorite. In fact, I won't even be able to present my favorite version, which is the one featuring Patrick Stewart as Scrooge, (from 1999), because of copyright laws.

The first clip I would like to present to you is from the 1951 version, starring Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge, and Michael Hordern as Marley's ghost.


Missing my girl

>> Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Okay, I've just got to say it! I miss Lauren. It's Christmas time and she's not here and it just isn't the same without her. I miss her smile. I miss her laughter. I miss her hugs. I miss the way she still squeals like a little girl when she gets excited. I miss sitting on the couch on Saturday mornings, before anyone else is up, and talking with her. And I hope she knows this Christmas, as she's far off in France, that she's in our hearts and that we love her.


The Gift of Music

>> Monday, December 17, 2007

Yesterday was a big day at our house. Both Heather and I participated in concerts preformed by our choral organizations--Heather with her high school chorale, and me with the Stillwater Chamber Singers. The two concerts were given back-to-back with the Chamber Singers at 2:30 p.m. at St. Andrew's Episcopal, and Heather's at 4:00 p.m., around the corner at The First Christian Church. It was a wonderful afternoon of Christmas music, and then afterwards, our family, including the kids' dad, and my son Nathan, who had come down from Wichita to attend both concerts, came over to our house for a little impromptu Christmas party.

After my concert, one of my voice students who had been in attendance, approached me to give her congratulations and to tell me how much she enjoyed it. As we stood there chatting, she shared with me that she brought with her, a friend who brought her 10-year-old step-daughter whom she and her husband had just gotten custody of after it had been determined that the child's mother was severely neglecting her. Charity went on to tell me that this child had never been anywhere or done anything special, and had never been to a concert of any kind. The only kind of music that this little girl had ever heard was rap music on the radio, and didn't even know that music like what we sang even existed.

As Charity described to me the child's reaction to our concert, my eyes welled with tears. She said that from the first note, (our opening piece began with a pipe organ and trumpet fanfare), the little girl's eyes opened wide and a huge smile lit her face. She listened intently as the choir joined in and as the music swelled through the sanctuary. Charity went on to describe how the child exclaimed that this must be heaven because she thought that this music could only come from heaven and even though she had never heard any of this music before, (even the traditional Christmas Carols), she tried to sing along with the choir with every note! The child was absolutely enthralled and sat through the entire concert without a fidget, and when it was over, (after over an hour), the little girl protested, "Is it over already? I want to hear some more!"

I walked away humbled and blessed, realizing that of all the gifts I will give this Christmas, the gift I gave to this child, the gift of music is the one most dear.


Give Gayla a Hippo for Christmas

>> Sunday, December 16, 2007

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas is a Christmas novelty song written by John Coctoasten and performed by Gayla Peevey ,(10 years old at the time), in 1953. Gayla was a regional child star of the Oklahoma City area. This 1953 hit was recorded in New York and later used as a fund-raiser to bring the city zoo a hippo, using the slogan, Give Gayla a Hippo for Christmas. When released nationally by Columbia Records the song shot to the top of the charts, and Gayla was presented with a baby hippo named Matilda the following Christmas, which she then donated to the Oklahoma City Zoo.

(You can listen to a recent radio interview with Gayla Peevey by clicking here!)

This particular video was done by some clever character who posted it on YouTube. The first time I watched it, I laughed so hard I thought I was going to pee my pants!


The B C Clark Jingle: An Oklahoma Icon

>> Saturday, December 15, 2007

If you grew up in Oklahoma, you know what I'm talking about. It just isn't Christmas until you hear it! I remember as a kid, when I heard the jingle I would get all excited because that meant that Christmas was almost here!


Schlaf in Himmlisher Ruh

>> Friday, December 14, 2007

Silent Night in the original German by the St. Thomas Boy's Choir. It doesn't get any better than this.


Ice damage in Tulsa

>> Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Here are a couple of pictures from the ice storm in Tulsa. Most of the state was badly hit, and the President declared the entire state of Oklahoma a federal disaster area. Over 500,000 Oklahoma residents were left without power, including my parents, who live in Tulsa.


The Patriotism of Peace

We should take care, in inculcating patriotism into our boys and girls, that is a patriotism above the narrow sentiment which usually stops at one's country, and thus inspires jealousy and enmity in dealing with others... Our patriotism should be of the wider, nobler kind which recognises justice and reasonableness in the claims of others and which lead our country into comradeship with...the other nations of the world. The first step to this end is to develop peace and goodwill within our borders, by training our youth of both sexes to its practice as their habit of life, so that the jealousies of town against town, class against class and sect against sect no longer exist; and then to extend this good feeling beyond our frontiers towards our neighbours.

Lord Baden-Powell


Iced in

>> Monday, December 10, 2007

Last night we were hit with another of Oklahoma's famous ice storms which sock you in worse than any snow storm I ever encountered while living in Montana. By comparison, it's not all that cold, but the temperatures are sub-freezing, so that combined with a southern plains winter thunderstorm is the recipe for a slick, slippery coating of ice, that leaves the outdoor world looking sugared and gorgeous, but is treacherous to get out into.

Guess I have to stay home from work today.

Well, damn!


Another Animated Christmas Classic

>> Sunday, December 9, 2007


Favorite Christmas memories

>> Saturday, December 8, 2007

Some, if not most of my favorite childhood memories center around Christmas. As I said in an earlier post, my mother was extremely fond of holidays, most especially Christmas, and because of that, the whole household was thrown into the spirit, including my dad.

Dad could be a real nut sometimes--so much so that he often got on Mother's nerves, and it was often that we'd hear, "Oh Law-RENCE!", ringing through the house on those occasions when he was especially annoying to her. But my brother & sister and I loved it when he was silly. Dad was, (still is), a serious, hard-working, veterinarian and seldom took time off to play, so when he was in the mood to play and act silly, we enjoyed it.

One of the big Christmas traditions at our house centered around the wrapping and giving of presents. We always opened our presents on Christmas Eve, and in the weeks preceding Christmas we would watch the presents pile up under the tree until they would literally spread out into the living room floor. Mother would always comment that the tree was looking "vulgar", and we'd all laugh. As Mother and Dad would buy presents, (they always shopped early), they would hide the gifts at Dad's veterinary clinic. I never learned where in the clinic the secret hiding place was, and it always amazed me that our presents didn't come home smelling like the clinic, as I knew that was where they were stashed, until Dad would wrap them, one-by-one and bring them home to put underneath the tree.

Dad's routine was to leave very early in the morning to go to the clinic to feed and medicate the animals, as well as clean the kennels and runs. He'd then return home around 7:00 a.m. when the family would eat breakfast together, and then he'd take us to school. During the Christmas season we'd eagerly listen for him as he came through the door that led from the garage into the utility room, and if he was singing "Jingle Bells" or some other silly Christmas song we knew that he had his arms loaded with presents to lay under the tree. We got to where when anyone would wrap a Christmas present and lay it under the tree, we'd say that they were "Jingle-Belling". My Dad started something that turned into a regular tradition at the Erwin house. One morning, we heard him coming through the door singing, but it wasn't "Jingle Bells". He was singing some silly song he'd heard on the radio, "Grandma got run over by a reindeer, walking home from our house Christmas Eve..." We all busted up, and Mother whined, "Oh, Law-RENCE!", as we rushed to the kitchen to see how many presents he had loaded up in his arms, jumping up-and-down and squealing with glee, as he ignored us while he made his way through our large kitchen to the living room where the tree stood in the front window.

To this day, I can't ever hear, "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" without thinking of my dad, and of course, the memories of my parents at Christmas always puts a smile on my face.


Happy Birthday, Sis!

>> Friday, December 7, 2007

I know yer lurkin', so here's a birthday fun from me to you! Have a great one!


Talk is cheap

>> Thursday, December 6, 2007

One of the most persistent ambiguities that we face is that everybody talks about peace as a goal. However, it does not take sharpest-eyed sophistication to discern that while everbody talks about peace, peace has become practically nobody's business among the power-wielders. Many men cry Peace! Peace! but they refuse to do the things that make for peace.

-- Martin Luther King, Jr.


I'm from the Dr. Seuss generation...

>> Tuesday, December 4, 2007

...when the Grinch was a 1960's Christmas icon!


Hey, Monte, look what I found!

>> Monday, December 3, 2007


The Sounds of Christmas

>> Sunday, December 2, 2007

I have always been thankful that I grew up in a home that was constantly filled with music. In fact, many of my favorite childhood memories have music connected with them. My parents, although not professional musicians, were great lovers and appreciators of good music, and both of them sang in our church choir. Good music filled our home on a daily basis via the stereo or the radio, and all three of we kids took piano lessons and participated in our church and school music organizations. Two of us even ended up making music our life's vocation.

Around our house, holidays were always very special, mostly due to our mother and her love of them. Her favorite holiday was Christmas, and she went all out with the decorating, cooking, celebrating, and making merry. Our dad was usually the one who chose "background music" for our various seasonal celebrations. At Christmas I remember the sounds of the Montivani Orchestra, the Robert Shaw Chorale, and one of my very favorite albums was one of Tennessee Ernie Ford with the Robert Shaw Chorale. However, for me, it just wasn't Christmas until I heard Handel's Messiah. Messiah was probably my dad's absolute favorite work and every Christmas and Easter he'd get out his recording of it and we'd listen, once again, to the glorious sounds of "For Unto Us a Child is Born", "Every Valley", and, of course, the "Hallelujah Chorus". When I later went to college and majored in music, I would sing the work so often that by my sophomore year, I had it completely memorized, and now, as a professional musician, I can't even count the number of times I have performed this most beloved masterpiece.

Two Christmases ago, I sang the work, once again, with the Stillwater Chamber Singers, and had the honor of singing the aria, "O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion", which has always been one of my very favorites. The following recording is by a Japanese counter tenor by the name of Yoshikazu Mera, and it's probably one of the most incredible performances of the aria I've ever heard. Gotta get my Christmas Messiah fix!



>> Saturday, December 1, 2007

Imagine all the people living life in peace.
You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us,
and the world will be as one.

-- John Lennon


Peace on Earth

>> Friday, November 30, 2007

The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.

-- Black Elk (1863-1950)


My heart took a picture

>> Tuesday, November 27, 2007

There's a new family in our cul de sac. They moved in a few months ago with their loads of bright plastic Little Tikes outdoor toys, trikes, wagons, and picnic tables. The family consists of a very nice young couple and two small children, a girl probably around three years old, and a little boy who is no more than a toddler. The dad is the one who stays at home with the kids while the mom works. They're a precious family, and on nice days one can often find the dad outside with the children while they ride around in their little peddle cars, and pull their brightly colored plastic wagons through the cul de sac.

Last night, as I was walking out to the car to leave for Chamber Singers rehearsal, I was met with a sight that was worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting. Like our family, they decorated their home for Christmas over the weekend, and their brightly lit tree sat in the front window of the house. As I looked over towards the end of the cul de sac, I could see the children through the window, all dressed in their pajamas, excitedly dancing around the tree, looks of glee shining as bright as the tree lights, upon their faces. The little girl pointed at several different places on the tree, and then jumped up and down and clapped, while the little boy stood and watched, seemingly mesmerized by the glow.

As I stood and gazed into their living room, I was caught up in the children's excitement, and I heard myself giggle out loud, my whole being warmed by their joy and youthful enthusiasm, and for a moment, I was a child again. I felt for just one instance, what those children felt, and remembered those Christmases, years ago, when I was a child with my family, and my heart took a picture.


Doing the family Christmas tree thing

>> Sunday, November 25, 2007

Last night our family got together for another one of our traditions: decorating the Christmas tree. I prepare a spread of party food, snacks, and egg nog, (known around here as "Schnoglagers"), while Steph goes into the garage and drags in the multitudes of boxes containing all of the Christmas decorations we have accumulated over the years, and Joel and Micah drag in the huge box containing the seven-foot artificial tree, (that you have to get right up on to tell that it isn't real). After seven years, Joel has really boiled this putting-up-the-tree-and-putting-on-the-lights thing down to a science, so we all just sit back and watch the master while he works. As he does that, I open all the boxes containing the decorations and start taking each ornament out of its box/wrapping, and placing hooks on them. After Joel finishes putting the tree together and putting on the lights, this is the point where everyone is supposed to dive in and start putting the ornaments on the tree. However, it seems that we've all become a household of supervisors rather than doers, (actually I think the more correct term would be "lazy-asses"), and we fight amongst each other over who is actually going to get up off their butts and do it.

While all of this is going on, we're listening to our favorite Christmas music on the CD player--"Not Bing & Friends", "A Rat Pack Christmas", Steph's collection of the Beatles annual Christmas greetings, (featuring the Beatles at their very weirdest), Michael Kelly singing "Joy to the World", and of course, The Vienna Boy's Choir singing traditional Austrian Carols in Viennese German and The Twelve Days of Christmas in really bad English.

Last night was, as usual, fun, heart-warming, and enjoyable, BUT, we were missing someone very important and it just wasn't the same without her. Several times we mentioned her and how much she loved doing this every year, and that if she were here, she would be moving all the ornaments around until they were just perfect. We miss her laughter, and her warmth. It just isn't complete without her. And despite the fact that she will be spending Christmas with her host family in France this year, we have still placed her stocking in the family row on the fireplace mantle, along with everyone else's.

We miss you, Lauren, and we love you.


I'm dreaming of a Viennese Christmas

>> Saturday, November 24, 2007

Next year I'll be celebrating Christmas in my home in Vienna!


And now for something completely different...

>> Friday, November 23, 2007

I found this meme on Steph's blog, so I decided to have some fun with it!

8 Things I Am Passionate About:
1. Music
2. Mozart
3. Steph
4. My family
5. Singing/Acting
6. Teaching
7. History
8. Learning

8 Things I Want To Do Before I Die:
1. Live in Vienna
2. Write a book about Nancy Storace
3. Study voice in Vienna
4. Travel through all of Europe
5. Travel through New England (The only part of the continental U.S. I've not seen)
6. See Steph's screenplay on the Big Screen
7. See an opera at the Met
8. See all three of my kids happy and successful

8 Things I Say Often:
1. "That is so cool!"
2. "I love you."
3. "Damn cat!"
4. "No shit!"
5. "Keep that vowel forward!"
6. "You need more height in the soft palate."
7. "Where are my shoes?"
8. "It's Project Runway night!"

8 Books I’ve Read Recently:
1. Mozart: A Cultural Biography, by Robert W. Gutman, (still reading that one)
2. The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne
3. The Law of Attraction, by Esther Hicks
4. Travel books about Austria
5. Anna Susanna: Anna Storace, Mozart's Original Susanna, by Geoffrey Brace (an ongoing reference)
6. Mozart and His Circle by Peter Clive (an ongoing reference)

8 Songs I Could Listen To Over & Over:
1. "Laudate Dominum" from Solemn Vespers, by Mozart
2. "So in Love" from Kiss Me Kate, by Cole Porter
3. "Lascia ch'io pianga" by Handel
4. "Ruhe sanft mein holdes leben", from Zaide, by Mozart
5. "Du bist die Ruh" by Franz Schubert
6. "Kyrie", from The Great C minor Mass, by Mozart
7. "Dream a Little Dream of Me", by Mama Cass
8. Any soft ballad sung by Rosemary Clooney

8 Things That Attract Me To My Best Friends:
1. Their sense of humor
2. Their loyalty
3. Their openness to new people and ideas
4. Their intelligence
5. Their ability to think outside the box
6. Their openness to displays of affection
7. Their creativity
8. Their ability to be spontaneous

8 Things (or more) That I am Thankful For This Year:
1. Steph
2. My family
3. My friends
4. My job
5. Steph's uncle
6. Our lawyer
7. Jaeson
8. Our home
9. My brother
10. The Stillwater Chamber Singers
11. Chanel No. 5
12. Mozart
13. My students
14. That kid at the bank who was doing his job
15. Life itself


I am grateful

>> Thursday, November 22, 2007

When your feelings of gratitude are conditional upon temporary circumstances like your stuff, your job, and your relationships, your base identity doesn’t change. But when you root your gratitude in something permanent, it becomes a permanent part of you. Instead of saying, “I am grateful for…” you just say, “I am grateful.”

--Steve Pavlina


The Grammar of Gratitude

>> Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The spiritual practice of gratitude has been called a state of mind and a way of life. But we prefer to think of it as a grammar — an underlying structure that helps us construct and make sense out of our lives. The rules of this grammar cover all our activities. Its syntax reveals a system of relationships linking us to the divine and to every other part of the creation.

To learn the grammar of gratitude, practice saying "thank you" for happy and challenging experiences, for people, animals, things, art, memories, dreams. Count your blessings, and praise God. Utter blessings, and express your appreciation to everything and everyone you encounter. By blessing, we are blessed.


Count Your Blessings


Hugs, Viennese style

>> Sunday, November 18, 2007


You shall go out with joy!

>> Saturday, November 17, 2007

For you shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. — Isaiah 55:12


The Winds of Change

The past two-and-a-half weeks have seen Steph and me beset with a whirlwind that has brought with it a season of change and transition in our lives, the likes that I've not seen in the nearly eight years since I was divorced. That's not to say that the past eight years have been a piece of cake, by any means, for every year, it seems, has been beset with its triumphs and challenges. It has been an interesting life. However, these past couple of weeks have brought a strange wind, that portends destruction, but rather, in its wake, is leaving the chance for a new start, a new life, and new opportunities.

I had a dream last week that I was sitting on a front porch of a house with my boss from the real estate office where I work. If you know anything about my boss, Grace, you will know that practically nothing alarms her. She's solid as a rock, and seemingly unaffected by anything. As we were sitting together sipping some tea, I looked to my right and about a mile down the road I saw a great, terrible storm cloud. It was black and churning and ominous, and it was coming right towards us. Alarmed, I turned to Grace and exclaimed, "Do you see that? It's coming right towards us!" In typical Grace fashion, she replied, "Awwwh...don't worry about it. We're in Oklahoma. We see stuff like that all the time." I turned towards it again, and it was even closer, and then suddenly a huge tornado fell out of the black cloud, and began consuming everything in its path. Then, suddenly, as it advanced towards us, it broke up into a bunch of smaller tornadoes, that kept coming down the road. What was interesting, however, was that although the tornadoes were consuming everything in their path, what they left behind in the wake was not destruction, but beauty! The sun was shinning, there were lush, green trees, fields full of green grass and flowers, birds singing--a virtual paradise. As the storm came closer and closer and eventually passed us, we were caught up in the wake, but we were never touched nor harmed, but left in peace, surrounded by all of this new beauty.

For a little less than a year, now, Steph and I have been intensely visualizing a dream that we have held since we have been together, and that Steph has had since 1994--that of moving to and living in Vienna. Around Thanksgiving last year, we were introduced to The Secret , and through the things that were revealed to us in that film, we learned about how living a life of joy, expectancy, and gratitude would open us up to a fuller and more abundant life through the Law of Attraction. Since then, we have been putting what we learned into practice, and now, a year later, we are seeing the beginnings of the harvest of what we have created.

I know that my blog entries have seemed rather cryptic over the last couple of weeks, and indeed they have been. As much as I would love to, I am not yet free to indulge myself in shouting from the mountain tops, just yet. That time is soon to arrive however. Let's just put it this way--there is a will, we have a lawyer, and our dreams of Vienna will soon be a reality.

And I am so very grateful...


Statehood Day--Oklahoma at 100

>> Friday, November 16, 2007


Reconciliation and Forgiveness

>> Wednesday, November 14, 2007

When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.

Catherine Ponder


The road to 100 -- The Centennial Float


Recognizing the good

>> Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Hebrew term for gratitude is hikarat hatov, which means, literally, "recognizing the good." Practicing gratitude means recognizing the good that is already yours.

Dr. Alan Morinis


The Road to 100 -- Pawhuska, the Osage Capital

>> Monday, November 12, 2007


The peace that passes all understanding

>> Sunday, November 11, 2007

There is a calmness to a life lived in Gratitude, a quiet joy.

~ Ralph H. Blum ~


Be happy!

I hadn't seen this video in a long time, and I'd forgotten how much I liked it when it first came out. And now, it's even more meaningful to me than it ever was.


Oh! What a beautiful mornin'

>> Saturday, November 10, 2007

Being from Oklahoma, I always have to laugh when I see the scenery in this film. It wasn't shot in Oklahoma, but rather in New Mexico, because the Hollywood producers said that Oklahoma didn't "look like Oklahoma". Tell me now, how New Mexico can look more like Oklahoma, than Oklahoma does?


The Gratitude Dance

>> Friday, November 9, 2007


Thoughts become things

>> Thursday, November 8, 2007

Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things.

Paul's letter to the Church at Philipi, chapter 4, verse 8


Sing a song of thanksgiving

>> Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Laudate Dominum omnes gentes,
Praise the Lord, all ye nations(peoples),
laudate eum omnes populi.
praise him, all ye peoples.
Quoniam confirmata est
For his loving kindness (mercy)
super nos misericordia ejus,
has been bestowed upon us,
et veritas Domini manet
and the truth of the Lord endures
in aeternum.
for eternity.

Gloria patri et filio
Glory to the Father, Son,
et spiritui sancto,
and to the Holy Spirit;
sicut erat in principio
as it was in the beginning,
et nunc et semper
is now, and ever shall be,
et in saecula saeculorum.
world without end.


A gratitude-heart

A gratitude-heart
Is to discover on earth
A Heaven-delivered rose.

Sri Chinmoy


Gratitude: the evidence of a heart made whole

>> Tuesday, November 6, 2007

When gratitude is this well established, it is a sign of a heart that has been made right and whole. Gratitude can't coexist with arrogance, resentment, and selfishness.

Dr. Alan Morinis


Grateful for my state


A will for the good

To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.

Albert Schweitzer


City of my dreams

>> Sunday, November 4, 2007


The soul a blossom

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.

~ Henry Ward Beecher ~


The Sound of Gratitude

>> Saturday, November 3, 2007

For me, gratitude is expressed in the music of Edward Elgar, in Nimrod, from the "Enigma Variations". This particular performance is conducted by Daniel Barenboim, with the Chicago Symphony.


Abundant Increase

"You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you."

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach ~
Simple Abundance


The Eagles still rockin'

>> Friday, November 2, 2007

I'm having a "blast from the past" moment. Our office manager went out and bought the new Eagles album, "Long Road Out of Eden", and she's playing it here in the office. Wow! These guys are every bit as great as they were years ago. I loved the Eagles when I was in high school, and now, thirty-some-odd years later, they're still rockin' strong!

Just goes to prove that youth doesn't have the corner on greatness!


A season of gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

~ Melody Beattie ~


Nightmare's Dance

>> Wednesday, October 31, 2007

No Halloween would be complete without Camille Saint-Saens' Dance Macabre. This version is paired with scenes from Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Happy Halloween, everyone!


The Haunting Sounds of Bach

>> Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The following is a ghostly, sexy, modern, interpretation of Bach's organ Toccata & Fugue in D minor, using piano and orchestra, by pianist Myleene Klass. (You purists can click here for the traditional organ version) For me, it just isn't Halloween until I hear this piece of music!


Mozart goes to the dark side

>> Monday, October 29, 2007

Of course I couldn't forget one of the darkest, and most frightening scenes in opera, The Commandatore Scene, from Mozart's Don Giovanni, where the ghost of the murdered Commandatore comes and condemns the unrepentant Don Giovanni to hell.


Russian Program Music goes Halloween

>> Sunday, October 28, 2007

It doesn't get any better than Disney's interpretation of Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain".


Halloween with a Classical Theme!

>> Saturday, October 27, 2007

For the next five days I will be posting five of my favorite Halloween videos with classical music themes.

Today's video features a Medieval work from an ancient Latin text, Carmina Burana, entitled, "Come Dance With Me". Death sings to humanity saying that no one shall be spared. It speaks to the pre-occupation with death during this period in European history, as The Plague, or The Black Death, spread across the entire continent, killing over one third of the population.


Happy 242nd Birthday, Nancy

Anna Storace (pronounced sto-RAH-chay), known to her friends as Nancy, has been virtually forgotten over the past two centuries, although during her reign as Europe's favorite buffa soprano she lived a life that few women experienced. The Julie Andrews or Fanny Bryce of the 18th century, Anna Storace did it all.

Anna Selina Storace, known as Nancy to her closest friends, was born in London on 27 October, 1765 to Stefano (1725-1781) and Elizabeth Storace (née Trusler). Stefano Storace moved to Dublin from his native Italy at the age of 23, relocating ten years later to London while working as a double bass player. In 1761 he married Elizabeth Trusler, who was the daughter of the proprietor of Marylebone Gardens. Their first child was a son, Stephen (1762-1796), who would later become a popular London composer of comic operettas.

Anna began studying voice in London with the great castrato, Venanzio Rauzzini, for whom the young Wolfgang Amadè Mozart composed his Exsultate jubilate in 1773. By the time she was eight years of age, Anna was singing before royalty and performing throughout England. In 1778, at the age of thirteen, she went to Naples accompanied by her parents to visit Stephen, who had been studying composition at the Conservatorio San Onofrio for three years. Her debut Italian performance was at the Teatro allo Pergola in Florence in 1780, where it was reported she enjoyed such success that the castrato Luigi Marchesi, who performed alongside her, demanded she be dismissed from the troupe. Further performances took place at Lucca, Livorno, Parma, Milan and Venice. It was in Venice, while working with Irish tenor Michael Kelly and Italian baritone Francesco Benucci that Anna and her two friends were scouted by Count Durazzo, who had been sent by Emperor Joseph II of Vienna to hire singers for his newly formed Italian Opera Company. In the meantime, Anna's father had returned to London only to fall ill and die just at the onset of his daughter's success. Anna, her mother and brother traveled to Vienna with the new trio of singers, where they remained for four years.

Anna made her Viennese debut on 22 April, 1783 as the Contessa in Antonio Salieri's La scuola de'gelosi, and went on to perform in numerous other operas in Vienna. While in Vienna, Anna's star rose quickly and she soon found herself the toast of the city, celebrated as the favored prima buffa at the Burgtheater. She had a strong voice of an amazing range, solid technique, and her acting was lively and delightful. Impresarios and composers adored her for her indefatigable spirit and her willingness to lend a hand wherever one was needed. In 1784 Anna married John Abraham Fischer, an older English composer and violinist. This was apparently at her mother's request and against the advice of her friends. Fischer beat Anna mercilessly, which caused the actress to attempt to hide her bruises with make-up when appearing on stage. At last, Emperor Joseph II, concerned about his prize singer and actress, banished Fischer from Vienna. Not long after this, Anna announced that she was pregnant, but continued to work until at the premier of her brother's opera, Gli sposi malcontenti in 1785, during which she suddenly lost her voice. She gave birth to a daughter in 1785, who was given to a foundling home and died not long after. After a four month hiatus, Anna returned to the stage on September 26. Her popularity with the Viennese was so great that a cantata was jointly composed in her honor (Per la ricuperata salute di Ophelia) by Mozart, Salieri and Cornetti, with the text written by Lorenzo Da Ponte. Ophelia was the role Anna was currently preparing for Salieri's latest opera, La grotta di Trofonio, so the title of this cantata was in reference to that character. She premiered as the original Susanna in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro on May 1, 1786. Anna's final performance at the Burgtheater was on February 19, 1787 in Martín y Soler's Il burbero di buon cuore. This was followed by a farewell concert at the Kärntnertor Theater on February 23, at which Anna performed Ch'io mi scordi di te?...Non temer, amato bene K505, a grand concert aria Mozart had composed for her, with himself accompanying her on fortepiano.

While in Vienna, Anna's name had been linked romantically with several men besides John Fischer, including composer Vincente Martín y Soler, Francesco Benucci, who sang the title role in Le Nozze di Figaro, Lord Barnard (William Henry Vane of London, who later became Earl of Darlington in 1792 and Duke of Cleveland in 1833), Mozart, and even Emperor Joseph II. However, when one studies her grueling rehearsal and performance schedule it is easy to see that these would have been short-lived affairs, if they indeed existed; the only two that have been sufficiently documented are Fischer and Benucci. Indeed, Anna maintained an amiable friendship with Benucci after their breakup following the run of Figaro, and in 1789 the two paired up once again to perform in concert at The King's Theatre in London, where they performed selections from Figaro and Don Giovanni, as well as some duets by Salieri. When Anna left Vienna at the end of February of 1787, she was accompanied by her mother and brother, tenor Michael Kelly, who sang the roles of Don Curzio and Don Basilio in Figaro, Mozart's pupil Thomas Attwood, and Lord Barnard. There were plans in the offing for Anna to return to Vienna in 1788, but these fell through because the emperor could not pay her what she required, due to Austria's war with Turkey.

Anna opened in London in Paisiello's Gli schiavi per amore (The Slave of Love) on April 25, 1787, in which she had also appeared in Vienna under the original title of La gare generose (Noble Contests). In this she appeared as an black slave. This production was more successful than the Viennese production, for London audiences had not been given true comic opera for a number of years. Anna's acting was refreshing and authentic and she immediately won their hearts. In the audience sat the Prince of Wales, George IV, who also attended the next performance the very next night. It was observed that he arrived before the beginning of the overture, which was apparently out of character for him. He came again on the 28th. No doubt Anna's comedic flair delighted the prince, as "the enchanting Storace was beating time with her garden clippers", as was reported in the Morning Chronicle. Through this friendship Anna was able to secure for Mozart an invitation to come to London to compose an opera. By the time this came through, however, Mozart was too ill to accept.

In July, London held its annual Handel Commemoration Festival at Westminster Abbey and Anna was invited to sing the most popular soprano piece in Messiah, that is, I know that my Redeemer liveth, as well as Let the bright seraphim from Samson. Despite the Storace family's hopes that they would not hear from Dr. John Fischer after taking their leave from the continent, he made his presence known within the year. Perceiving that Anna's popularity could only grow and possibly make her a wealthy woman, Fischer secured lawyers to make her an offer: Fischer would never appear in the same country as she as long as she paid him an annual stipend of ten pounds. Seeing this for the blackmail it was, Anna refused to meet his terms. For some reason Fischer abandoned his suit. He would later tour Europe and settle down in Ireland, where he was employed as a music teacher. He died there in 1806.

Anna and her brother, Stephen became nearly inseparable and joined together at Drury Lane to turn out a dizzying number of operas until Stephen's death in 1796. They spent nearly every minute of their lives together either in rehearsals or performances, with he as composer and conductor and she as the prima buffa. Although Stephen had married and had a son, he spent more time at his sister's house than his own. Stephen seems to have offered Anna more than a husband could, with mutual interests and goals, and marriage was something Anna was to forever after avoid. Stephen's style of musical comedy fitted Anna like a glove and the public adored her performances in which she was consistently cast as the soubrette, opposite the leading man. Each role seemed to be a variation of the role of Susanna in Figaro, the clever young girl who could outwit any lecher or fop who set out to conquer her. Because these roles were often ethnic, Anna's dark complexion and curvy figure were perfect. These roles did not demand a stately, serene beauty, and Anna could look every bit the part of a slave, servant girl, or gypsy.

Between the months of November 1791 and May 1792, Anna was gravely ill with what appears to have been a brain hemorrhage and nearly died the exact night that Mozart died in Vienna, December 5, 1791. Incisions were made in her skull to ease pressure on the brain, however, and she recovered, although she was weak for many months. As soon as she was able, Anna returned to the stage with all the energy and zeal she had in the past. In the summer, Anna was contracted to sing Handel's Messiah at the king's birthday celebrations. During the performance, however, as she sang the final cadence of I know that my redeemer liveth, a Quaker woman stood and exclaimed, "O fie on thee! Shame! Shame! It is rank idolatry!". The woman was quickly escorted out of the church. In those times, a woman singing in a church was not looked on with favor, much less a woman of the theatre who was considered to be only one step above the rank of a prostitute. The newly rebuilt Drury Lane re-opened in March of 1794 and by the end of 1795 Stephan Storace had fallen seriously ill, but continued to turn out his operas. It is assumed that he had a brain tumor. He died on March 16, 1796 at the age of 33. Anna was understandably prostrate with grief, although she returned to work after only six weeks, a fact that did not escape her most hardened critics.

In 1797, Anna began to take a more active role in society and was seen with John Braham, a new, talented tenor who had premiered in Stephen's Mahmoud in 1796. Braham, who was 11 years Anna's junior and trying to establish himself in the London theatre, had everything to gain from this relationship and the two embarked upon a tour of Europe in August 1797. However, upon arriving at Calais they were immediately detained by the police for not having passports. These were troubled times in Europe, especially France, and travelers from England carrying no passports were quickly assumed to be spies by Napoleon's police. Nevertheless, they were requested to perform for Napoleon and Josephine twice in October. The tour took them to Florence, Milan, Naples and Venice. In Naples, they met Admiral Nelson and his mistress, Emma Hamilton, with whom Nancy formed a close, lifelong friendship. After performing in Venice the two traveled north to Vienna, where Anna was hardly remembered since both Emperor Joseph II and Mozart were dead. This must have been a difficult time for Anna. When they returned to London in September 1801 Anna was pregnant. Her son, William Spencer Harris Braham was born on May 3, 1802.

The following Autumn, Anna and Braham returned to Drury Lane, which was being run by Michael Kelly, performing in The Siege of Belgrade on November 2nd. News of Admiral Nelson's death quickly consumed London, however. When the Admiral's body was returned to London, Braham was asked to sing at the funeral service, with Anna sitting next to Lady Hamilton, who had been, not unsurprisingly, omitted from the Nelson Family's guest list.

Anna finally decided to retire from the stage after the 1807-1808 season was completed. Her final performance was on May 30, 1808 in her brother's opera, No song, no supper. In January of 1809, Anna moved herself, Braham and six year-old Spencer into Herne Hill Cottage. After eighteen years together, Braham and Anna parted ways in 1814. Embarrassing and scandalous lawsuits ensued, with Braham trying to lay hands on the material possessions Anna had bought with her own money. Throughout his life, Spencer maintained that it was the break with Braham that caused the decline of his mother’s health, as well as her death. Anna retained her property, but suffered a stroke in the summer of 1817, and a couple of days later had a second stroke and died at 1:30pm on August 24 with her old friend, Michael Kelly at her bedside. Her funeral was on September 2nd and was attended by her many friends and her small family. She was buried in the churchyard of St. Mary's Lambeth, where her mother, Elizabeth erected a plaque to be inserted into the wall.

Nancy's Association With Mozart

Anna Storace arrived in Vienna in January 1783 to begin rehearsals for the Italian Opera Company that would be opening the following April. It is likely that she first met Mozart during the premier of Antonio Salieri's La scuola di de'gelosi. Mozart would have been in attendance at this premier because he would have been highly interested in the new singers who were being heard for the first time, plus he always made it a point to attend the openings of his fellow composers' operas in order to keep abreast of what they were composing. Mozart would have been extremely impressed and excited over this new and flamboyant little soprano. She would have won him over instantly with her full, velvety voice, her delightful appearance and her marked comedic flare. Anna was truly unique! It wouldn't have taken Mozart long to introduce himself to Anna make his presence known to her.

Anna and Mozart were known to have developed a very close and warm professional relationship, but it is less well-known that she and Mozart were also considered dear friends. She and her other British associate, the Irish tenor, Michael Kelly became quite close to Mozart and it wasn't unusual to find Kelly, Anna, her brother, Stephen and their mother, Elizabeth in the Mozart home for private musicales, soirees and parties. Mozart could also be found in attendance at dinner parties in the Storace apartment as well. It is believed by some of the most prominent and most respected Mozart scholars that Mozart and Anna may have even been romantically involved, as there was ample opportunity and reason for this to be so. However, there is no solid evidence or proof that such a relationship between them existed. The great Mozart historian, Alfred Einstein wrote of their relationship:

Between Mozart and her there must have been a deep and sympathetic understanding. She was beautiful, attractive, an artist, and a finished singer, whose salary at the Italian opera in Vienna attained a figure at that time unheard of.

He continues by stating that after Anna's return to London in 1787, she and Mozart continued their relationship through correspondence by letter:

But he remained in correspondence with Anna Selina. What happened to these letters is a mystery. Anna Selina certainly treasured them, but perhaps before her death, which occurred in Dulwich in 1817, she destroyed them as not intended for the eyes of an outsider.

In addition to the role of Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, it is believed that Mozart most certainly composed the role of Zerlina in Don Giovanni for Anna. Unfortunately, she was unable to sing it because she returned to London before the opera opened in Prague. Anna did have plans to return to Vienna in 1788, but contract negotiations fell through and the emperor could not offer her the salary that she demanded due to escalations in the ongoing war with Turkey.

When Mozart learned that his British friends, including Anna, would be returning to England he decided that he would like to go with them and see if he could obtain a commission for an opera at the King's Theatre in London. Anna, Stephen, Kelly and Mozart's pupil and friend, Thomas Attwood agreed that this would be a good plan and decided that they would all participate together in procuring a commission for Mozart. However, plans fell through when Mozart's father refused to take his son's in children while Mozart and Constanze got settled in England. It was a disappointed Mozart who then made plans to travel to Prague with Constanze for several performances of Figaro. Just before his departure for Prague Mozart composed the great concert aria, Ch' io mi scordi di te?... Non temer amato bene K505 as a farewell gift for Anna. Upon his return to Vienna, Mozart and Anna performed the piece together at her farewell concert at the Kärntnertor Theater. What makes this concert aria unique and outstanding is the fact that it is actually a concerto for voice and piano. Mozart composed the piano part to be played by himself. Einstein writes,

...the voice and piano carry on a dialogue so intimately interwoven and so heartfelt that one feels the particular intention in every measure. And at the same time the aria is so extended that it seems more like a concerto movement than an aria. We have the impression that Mozart wanted to preserve the memory of this voice, no brilliant soprano and not suited to display of virtuosity, but full of warmth and tenderness; and that he wanted to leave with her in the piano part a souvenir of the taste and depth of his playing, and of the depth of his feeling for her: Few works of art combine such personal expression with such mastery--the intimacy of a letter with the highest grandeur of form...

Nancy returned to London, leaving Vienna on 27 February 1787. Her last glimpse of Mozart would have been from the rear window of her carriage as he stood shivering at the customs house, where he came to see his friends off. As stated earlier, Mozart and Anna would continue their friendship through letters, but they would never see one another again. Anna worked for several years procuring a commission for Mozart in London and would succeed in the fall of 1790. However, by then Mozart's health was starting to fail and economic conditions in Austria were not good, so he was obliged to decline the commission. Anna died from a stroke in August of 1817, but not before burning the letters to her from her friend and perhaps lover, Wolfgang Mozart. As she stated to her son, Spencer, they were "For my eyes only".

(Reposted from my graduate research website on the Life and Career of Anna Selina Storace.)

The following video is of Susanna's aria from Act IV of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. Nancy opened as the original Susanna on 1 May 1786.


What to wear...?

>> Friday, October 26, 2007

Tomorrow is Ville's annual Halloween costume party and I'm stumped as to what I'm going to wear. I've gone as a pirate more than once, and I have my gorgeous 18th century gown, which is impressive, and everyone loves it when I wear it, but it's heavy, cumbersome, retstrictive, and uncomfortable.

Any suggestions?


Out of my dreams...

>> Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I've been having some interesting dreams lately, extremely symbolic, and containing some unusual animals. A few weeks ago it was baboons, and last night I had a dream that I was standing next to a very gentle, giant turtle. I reached over to feed it some lettuce and it looked directly into my eyes.

I looked up turtles in the dream interpretation dictionary and it says that they are symbols for good fortune and opportunity. Interesting...


It's OSU Homecoming Weekend

>> Saturday, October 20, 2007

Homecoming is one of the many proud traditions at Oklahoma State University, and perhaps one of the most widely known. Every year, thousands of OSU alumni and fans return to Stillwater, taking part in what is heralded as the biggest and best homecoming celebration in the country.

Traditional festivities include the Friday evening "walkaround" for visitors to view large, elaborate house decorations on the lawns of fraternity and sorority houses, with several vendors scattered throughout the tour route. There is also the "Sea of Orange Parade," a Saturday morning parade down Main Street in Stillwater with decorated floats, high school marching bands, horses, and politicians. Capping off the festivities is the traditional homecoming football game at Boone Pickens Stadium, typically played Saturday evening. Hester Street is typically painted with words of encouragement for the football team for when they take part in The Walk; a tradition started by former coach Les Miles where tens of thousands of Cowboy fans line Hester Street as the team walks from the Student Union to Boone Pickens Stadium. In recent years, the men's basketball team has hosted their annual Basketball Bash in Gallagher-Iba Arena on Homecoming Saturday afternoon, allowing the throng of OSU fans in home for the football game to catch a glimpse of the basketball Pokes before basketball season begins.

Oklahoma State's homecoming has its roots in the annual Harvest Carnival (a tradition that's still a part of Homecoming today) that first began in 1913 as festival including agricultural exhibits, a Harvest Queen competition, a parade, and an evening carnival. By 1920, the Harvest Carnival had been replaced with homecoming. In 1921, the Oklahoma State University Alumni Association adopted homecoming as an official alumni association event. The Harvest Carnival parade was retained and became a part of the homecoming celebration, and continues to be a big part of the tradition. In the 1920s, sororities began decorating the doorways and exteriors of their houses, which later gave way to the elaborate house decorations on the lawns of fraternities, sororities, and dormitories that inspired the Friday evening walkaround. Theta Pond is also traditionally lined with orange lights and the water in the fountain in front of Edmon Low Library is dyed Cowboy orange during Homecoming week. (reposted from Wikipedia)

Click Here to Hear Some Great Recordings of the OSU Marching Band


I think Mercury must be retrograde

>> Thursday, October 18, 2007

It seems that 90% of all the phone calls that I've answered today have had a complete idiot on the other end.


What color is your soul?

>> Sunday, October 14, 2007

What color is your soul painted?


Your soul is painted the color grey, which embodies the characteristics of elegance, humility, respect, reverence, stability, subtlety, wisdom, strong emotions, balance, and cancellation. Grey falls under the element of Water, and symbolizes the moon, tide, ebb and flow.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz


Casta Diva

>> Saturday, October 13, 2007

Personally, I think Angela Gheorghiu has it all over Maria Callas. Callas sounded as if she sang through a garden hose, but Gheorghiu's tone rings out clear as a bell, without any affectations whatsoever!


In the mood for Chili!

>> Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's mid October and the temperatures are dropping so I decided to cook the first pot of chili of the season! YUM!

Chili is one of those comfort foods that most everyone loves, and every cook has her/his own way of making it. Of course, growing up in Oklahoma, the only chili that I have ever known is TexMex style with dark red kidney beans, lots of beef, tomatoes, tomato sauce, onions, garlic, chili powder, and just the right seasonings. I don't like mine too spicy--just warm enough to allow it to linger until the next bite. (And yes, I've had that crap that they call "chili" in Cincinnati. That's NOT chili. I don't know exactly what it is, but it's certainly not chili. It's more like a weird, thin, sweet, spaghetti sauce seasoned with cinnamon, cloves, cocoa, and allspice. Bleeeech!) I like to serve my chili with cornbread, Fritos, or tortilla chips, and top it with lots of cheese.

As I type this, I can smell the tantalizing aromas as my chili simmers on the stove downstairs... I wish it was tomorrow night already!


The creeping crud

>> Wednesday, October 10, 2007

We've had a bug invade our home over the last several days. It got to Steph first, then to Heather and me, yesterday. It brings with it body aches, fever, chills, cramping stomach, headache, and other unpleasantries which I don't wish to discuss here. Today I shall stay at home in bed.


Music vs. Muzak

>> Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I have to admit that for the first time I have ever been a part of the Chamber Singers, I’m actually not looking forward to an upcoming concert. On November 5th we will present a concert in conjunction with the high school, junior high, and Stillwater Honor choirs in commemoration of Oklahoma’s centennial of statehood. It will feature the music of several Oklahoma composers, as well as “inspirational” music in celebration of the state of Oklahoma, but to be quite honest, it leaves me flat.

Last week, during a break in rehearsal, I questioned out loud, “Does anyone else feel like we’re getting ready to give a performance at Disneyland?” Most of the music sounds like that 1970’s “Up With People” kind of choral “muzak”, or the contemporary Christian “Sandi Patti” inspirational crap that ascends through a thousand key signatures in the last ten measures and ends on a bright and resounding F-major chord with the sopranos screeching on high C—the overly sentimental stuff that emotes tears in the eyes of the audience and sends them leaping to their feet in wild applause at the end of the concert. It’ll be one that the audience will enjoy immensely.

Go ahead, call me a snob, because I already know that I am. I’ve worked long and hard, (not to mention invested tens of thousands of dollars in formal training), at this music thing and I don’t have too many more years to sing while I’m in my prime so I don’t like spending it on music that neither challenges or inspires me.

I know, I know. This isn’t about me, it’s about giving something to my community. That’s why I’m participating in it. I just had to have my bitch session about it.


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