It's the funny little things you do...

>> Sunday, June 29, 2008

Yesterday was a great day. Steph and I drove to Tulsa for the afternoon where she had an eye doctor's appointment. While we waited for Steph's glasses to be made at Lens Crafter's, we drove over to Mimi's Cafe for a late lunch and then walked through the mall and window shopped. We didn't buy anything, but it we had loads of fun just being together. While walking around, we saw one of those kitschy little photo booths that you see on the boardwalks at Cony Island and ducked in to have our picture made together. We laughed and cut up with one another. Then after Steph got her glasses fitted, we drove back home and went to the new wine bar in town, Zannotti's where we enjoyed a wonderful Pinot Grigio and a cheese plate.

It was a completely enjoyable day.


The World's most beautiful music: Handel's "Ombra mai fu"

>> Thursday, June 26, 2008

Handel: He's more than "Messiah", folks. Don't get me wrong-I absolutely love "Messiah", but when people tell me that "Messiah" is their favorite work by Handel, I usually ask them if they've heard any of Handel's operas and the most common reply is, "Oh, I didn't know he composed opera!"

Here's an example of some of Handel's best-"Ombra mai fu" from "Xerxes" sung here by the incredible Welsh baritone, Bryn Terfel.


She's HOME!

>> Monday, June 23, 2008

After ten months as a foreign exchange student in Brittany, France, our daughter, Lauren, returned home safe and sound, albeit severely jet lagged and exhausted, last night at around 10:00p.m. She had a wonderful experience and of course had mixed feelings about returning home, along with experiencing some reverse culture shock. Below are a few pictures from her return and subsequent "Welcome Home" party with the family.


The Payne County Celtic Music & Heritage Festival 2008

>> Saturday, June 21, 2008

Where can you listen to some of the greatest Celtic music both traditional & modern, drink Guiness to your heart's delight, thrill at the performances of young Claddagh dancers stepping high in the Hard Shoe, see Scottish men in kilts tossing boulders and poles at one another, and meet members of your own Clan all in one place? At the Annual Payne County Celtic Music & Heritage Festival, that's where!

What a wonderful time we had--Steph, Joel, our friend, Allen, and myself! First we enjoyed the music of the Irish band, Boru's Ghost, tapped our feet to the traditional sounds of Killavil, had our hearts warmed by the young dancers of the Oklahoma Academy of Irish Dance, (under the direction of Chelsea Barron), and thrilled at the exciting performance of the dancers of the Hill School of Irish Dance. In addition to the above there were booths featuring food, history & information, genealogy, culture, jewelry & clothing, musical instruments, and even a Guiness truck! And in the end I was thrilled to meet two members from my own Clan--Kyle Erwin of Drum, Jonathan Irvin of Bonshaw.

Below are some pictures of today's fun. For additional photos, click on THIS LINK.


The progress of human thought

That which is looked upon by one generation as the apex of human knowledge is often considered an absurdity by the next, and that which is regarded as a superstition in one century, may form the basis of science for the following one.

~ Paracelsus


The accuser

>> Friday, June 20, 2008

Criticism never changes a thing. Refuse to criticize yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. Everybody changes. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive.

~ Louise Hay


Happiness is a new me!

>> Thursday, June 19, 2008

You may have noticed that I have posted a new picture on my profile page. I took this one at the beginning of the week, just after I hit the 22 pound mark. That's right! I've now lost 22 pounds, and it feels GREAT! And though I have a ways to go, (about 58 pounds more), I'm already feeling younger, fitter, stronger, and all around healthier. Steph says that the diet and exercise has already taken about 15 years off of my appearance, and of course, I won't complain about that either.

Life is good.


You are what you see

>> Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The vision that you glorify in your mind, the idea that you enthrone in your heart - this you will build your life by, and this you will become.

~ J.L. Allen


The World's most beautiful music: Howard Goodall's 23rd Psalm

>> Monday, June 16, 2008

One of the many great things that Steph has done for me is to introduce me to BBC sitcoms. Sunday evenings on Public Television, Steph and I always sit down to watch our favorite British sitcoms, including "Are You Being Served?", "As Time Goes By", and "The Vicar of Dibley".

One of the things we love most about the "Vicar of Dibley", (besides Dawn French), is the gorgeous opening theme, composed by British composer, Howard Goodall, to be used especially for the program. It's a divine piece and worthy to stand alone, apart from the zany, quirky, British sitcom for which it was created. A sublime piece, it stands in complete contrast to the show and it's crazy, eccentric characters, including, and most especially, the Vicar herself.


The aroma of percolating coffee

>> Thursday, June 12, 2008

I've never been much of a coffee drinker. I'm not particularly fond of it, and if I drink too much of it, it gives me a headache. However, I've always been rather partial to the aroma. I love to walk by coffee shops and/or cafes and take in the delicious aroma of all the various brews. I most especially like the smell of coffee when mingled with the redolence of eggs and bacon frying in a skillet. It always triggers something in me that leaves me feeling warm and content. One day I sat down and tried to figure out what it was about these aromas that were so appealing to me and it quickly came to me that they brought back some very pleasant childhood memories.

My maternal grandparents lived on a large farm near Bowden, a small rural community just between Tulsa and Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Their house was a large Victorian, built a few years before statehood, (that was in 1907). It was two storied with a creaky wooden stairway, a front parlor, a dining room, and kitchen in the back, with a squeaky wooden screen door that locked with a metal hook. It had a huge wrap-around porch with a gigantic oak tree in the front. Grandpa hung a tire swing from one of the branches for us to swing on. I'm not sure how many acres he had, but it was quite a lot. He had cattle & chickens, two large ponds that he kept stocked with catfish, a big wooden barn with cats, a huge vegetable garden laden with lettuce, tomatoes, squash, peas, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, and corn, fruit orchards with peaches and pears, red & green peppers of several varieties, blackberry & raspberry bushes, and a flower garden. There were streams and meadows, and lots of places to run and play. It was a childhood dreamland.

One of my fondest memories is waking up early in the mornings to the smells of bacon and eggs frying in Grandma's cast iron skillet, and freshly ground coffee perking in the percolator, (this was before automatic drip coffee makers). I would try to sneak down the creaky wooden stairs in my footie pajamas, down the hallway, through the dining room, past the huge gas stove, to the kitchen doorway. I'd hide for just a second and then I'd jump out, shouting, "BOO!". Grandma would always jump and pretend to be startled. "You SCARED me!", she would exclaim, although I knew she was kidding because there was no way that she couldn't have known I was coming, between the squeaky stairway and creaking floorboards.

Years later, the aromas of bacon frying and coffee brewing always bring these happy memories forward and I am reminded of how very blessed I was to have grown up with such experiences. As a child I didn't understand that it wasn't like this for every child, and that one day I would cherish these memories, and even long for those early mornings at Grandpa and Grandma's farm.

UPDATE: JUNE 16, 2008

I received a phone call from my dad in Tulsa informing me that Grandma had collapsed in her nursing home room sometime during the night. She is currently in the hospital battling a number of infections in her intestines as well as pneumonia. She is 96 years old.


Fitness report

>> Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nearly 2 months and 20 pounds later, I've dropped two sizes and I'm feeling GREAT! My energy and stamina are continuing to increase, and I actually look forward to my workouts and guard them jealously from anyone who wishes to intrude and make demands of me when I'm scheduled for a workout. I never thought I would feel this way about diet and exercise, but I can honestly say that I don't remember a time when I've felt better!


Cat on a fence

>> Tuesday, June 10, 2008

One of the most enjoyable things about sitting out on our patio is watching the cat as she goes about doing her "cat thing" in the backyard. Cats are fascinating creatures, and ours loves it when we all come out to sit on the patio. Our backyard is small, but we have created an oasis where we retreat on warm summer evenings and on weekends. And Sweetie is never happier than when we're all out there. That yard is her domain and she is content to jump up onto the 8 ft wooden privacy fence and walk up and down the rails, scouting out the numerous birds that fly dangerously close, while we all watch her, and laugh out loud over how she tries to balance the fence rail at the same time she's leaping up, trying to snag one of those winged dive bombers, that are trying to divert her attention from the nest they've built in the corner of the patio overhang.

One evening, as Steph observed how the cat tried to keep her balance in the corner of the fence, she got the idea to build her a small perch behind the rose trellis, right in the northwest corner. Steph went out and bought a cheap piece of plywood and nailed it right onto the railing, as well as the the trellis. I've never seen a cat take to anything more quickly! Sweetie spent the whole evening on her perch, scouting, observing, and sunning--just the perfect place for a cat!


The World's most beautiful music: Sergei Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, 18th variation

>> Sunday, June 8, 2008

The first time I ever heard this was in the film "Somewhere in Time" starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. I fell in love with it and later, purchased a recording of the entire concerto. It is worth it to sit and listen to the work in it's entirety.

Featured here are the 18th & 19th variations played brilliantly by Russian pianist, Mikhail Pletnev. Enjoy!


To love me is to know me

>> Saturday, June 7, 2008

We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.

~ Sam Keane, To Love and Be Loved


Love is the only Truth

>> Friday, June 6, 2008

No one holds the corner on truth. Know that for every belief or doctrine to which you are convinced is "the truth" there is someone on the other side of the world, or even in your own neighborhood who holds another, perhaps very different belief with every bit as much fervor and conviction, and regards that belief and/or doctrine as "the truth". Remember that your mission in life is not to convert others to your truth, but to live out love, for love is the only universal truth.

~Lynette Erwin


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