Angel Note

Angel Note
"If Music be the food of Love, Play on!" -- Wm. Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Things Are Looking Up....Especially the River!

Those who have been to our little town know there is a river that runs right through, crossing under main street. Our city recently paved a pedestrian walkway that stretches for over a mile along the banks. It is a great place to walk, run, bike, or get exercise in some other way, while enjoying the sounds of the river and birds, and taking in some sunlight (or moonlight...).

In 1983, our little river flooded over its banks and into the surrounding area. That included land where our house now sits. This year, the potential for flooding is quite high again, so the city took early measures. They have built a dike along the turn in the river to keep it away from our homes (including the brand new subdivision between us and the river. On my walk tonight, I took some mobile pics of the dike and the already-swollen river.

I also thought I would put up some of the photos we took at our bonfire. You can almost feel the warmth! Which, after my walk in the cold breeze, would feel quite nice about now.... At least it's still paying off--I reached the 60 lb. mark today! I only have another 15 lbs. to my original target weight.

And lastly, before the pics, I will give a brief update. LadyBug has her appointment with Dr. Rads this Thursday. I am taking the second half of the day off to take her up and be with her for this. We still don't know how we are going to GET her to all her appointments, because both Kissa and I will most likely need to work. The Lord will provide, though, and we will just have faith that it will all work out. And on a related topic, my choir will be raising money for cancer research in this year's "Relay for Life." Anyone wishing to donate is more than welcome. Every penny raised goes to the battle against this common enemy.

Enjoy the photos!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Today is number 43 for me. I've reached a milestone with this one. My mother was 42 when she had me, so I am officially MORE than half her age now, for the first time in my life. 
This doesn't necessarily make me any wiser, but I've been reminiscing about a few things. First, I'd like to list the things I have truly learned in my 43 years. I'd like to, but there isn't a thing I've learned that someone else didn't learn first, or learn better. And the list of things I DON'T know is much longer. Perhaps someday, I will actually make that list. Until then, I'll be satisfied just adding to it.
One thing I was thinking about these past few days was the old tin tub I had to bathe in when visiting my grandparents. It would sit on the floor of the kitchen, and my mother would pour hot water into it. As a child, I could fit quite easily into the tub, but as I grew, it got more and more difficult to bathe in that thing. Forget the fact that I was BATHING IN THE KITCHEN! 
I felt that I had truly reached a turning point in my life when I was finally allowed to shower in the bathroom! Of course, you could just as easily get scalded or frozen in that shower if anyone so much as LOOKED at the kitchen faucet. And if you were there in winter time, you would be lucky if the water didn't freeze right on your body the moment you stepped out of the shower!
If it felt like that had happened, all you had to do to warm up was head back into the kitchen. My grandparents had an old wood stove in there that always had a fire going. There were even some dishes cooked on that thing, even though there was a newer stove. And if you got sick from the frozen droplets on your freshly bathed body, you could perhaps drink a cup of mint tea cooked up on that stove. Not that anyone in the house knew how to make that actually taste appealing in any way....
To this day, I rarely bathe. Sitting in a tub just brings back too many insecure memories of washing on that kitchen floor. Instead, I shower like the rest of the adults did on those long-ago days. And if I ever come across another of those tubs, I think I will put it to good use--as a flower bed! 
Happy Easter, everyone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The End of the Beginning

She gets three weeks until her radiation begins, but we are both VERY happy that this part is done.
Dr. Chemo said he wants her to stay on blood thinners for ANOTHER six months! He is concerned with her shortness of breath, and concerned with her responses to surgeries so far, so wants her to continue. He said he will prescribe pills instead of shots. The good thing will be no more bruises from shots. The bad thing is that the shots were free, whereas we will be paying a copay for the pills. LadyBug had a problem with the pills the first time, but he believes she has been on the Lovenox long enough for them to work now. If she has problems, he will put her back on the shots.
Now we will relax for a couple of weeks, and try to enjoy not having me drive to the college twice a week. As the school year comes to a close, life will be busy, but that is nothing new.
Today, Skitl and I pulled out the main fence post in our back yard. I pulled all the green metal posts, but this one cedar post about did me in. Skitl ended up chopping through it with the pick-axe. I then pulled the entire fence down, and burned almost all the weeds that were stuck to it. As soon as I can, I will roll the fence up to get rid of it. I have the green posts leaning against my shed right now, and I will get rid of them when I can.
As soon as I can, I will mow again, and I think our back yard will look pretty good. I don't know how much will happen this weekend, though, because I have a meeting tomorrow and LadyBug and I are going to watch Kissa dance in a concert. Then Sunday is the big 43, so I don't think I want to wear myself out before that. Of course, even worn out, I'm in better shape than I've been in for too many years to think about. 
I also have still not thought much more about a summer job, other than the fact that I need one. One thing we need to do is re-shingle the south side of our house. I would LOVE to take off our stupid roof swamp cooler, board over the hole and eventually get a window unit. We have a small AC unit for the window, but it doesn't really cool much more than one room. I don't get quite so hot anymore, since I have lost so much "insulation," so maybe I can manage without much cooling. I do know that leaving that awful cooler on the roof will only ruin whatever shingles we eventually put up!
Well, it's time to go put the cover back on the grill (turkey burgers tonight--with jalapenos!!!), and go to bed. Goodnight, all!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Two Quotes and a Little Heat

There is a line in the movie My Blue Heaven, starring Steve Martin and Rick Moranis, where Martin is mowing his lawn in a shiny suit, not exactly fitting into the suburban culture he was placed in by the Witness Protection Program. He turns to the person watching him (looking into the camera), and says, "Nice day for a mow, huh." 
Well, yesterday was just such a day. The sun was shining, a cool breeze was blowing, and I spent 2 1/2 hours pushing my mower around the ground, walking over 1 1/2 miles to get this yard done. I had already spent at least an hour and a half the previous day on the front yard. Today, I am very sore, and have some fresh tan lines, but my yard is done!
Jeff Foxworthy says, "If you mow your weeds...You might be a Redneck." If that's true, my existence has been nullified. I definitely do NOT consider myself to be anything even remotely CLOSE to a redneck, but I definitely mow my weeds. In fact, thanks to the previous owners, for putting in the cheapest PVC available when they installed the irrigation system, all I have is weeds. If there were no weeds, my yard would not be green at all. And before I mowed it, it was mostly PURPLE!
Once I had mowed all I could, I still had one more issue: All the brown, dead tumbleweeds against the back fence. My oldest son, Skitl helped me pull a ton of these over to the fire pit and we started a bonfire. I invited any students that wanted to come over to help us celebrate the Open-Burn season, and we threw almost all the weeds, along with several old pieces of wood and one old cedar post onto the blaze. We started the fire around 6:30 pm and put it out around 10:30 pm. My yard hasn't looked this good in ages.
It was also nice to get LadyBug out of the house for a bit. There was cloud cover, so she didn't have to worry about exposure to too much sunlight, and the breeze combined with the heat from the fire to make it a very nice evening. We roasted hotdogs, and had some S'mores. Skitl and I ate 98% fat-free Turkey Dogs on whole-wheat buns, and avoided the S'mores. All in all, we had about a dozen or so kids, age 14-43, and enjoyed each others' company for several hours. The last kids left around 11:35 pm, so it was what referred to in the season 3, episode 12 episode of M*A*S*H as, "a full, rich day." I threw in one more quote!
And the best thing? With all that fun and satisfaction, I also am down another five lbs! I know, I don't lose five lbs. just mowing the lawn for two days. But two days ago, I was 5 lbs. heavier than I was this morning. I'm not going to try to figure it out! I just know that I am now only15 lbs. away from my ORIGINAL target weight. I think I am going to shoot for another 15 below that. At the rate I'm going, I should be there by the time school starts up again this fall. Or at least very close. Maybe I'll finish reaching my target weight around the same time LadyBug finishes all her surgeries. I figure I will have to mow my lawn at least 8 or 9 times before fall, so if I can lose 5 lbs. every time.....

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dead Tired

Let me just say one thing before I continue: this is just an observation; you don't need to worry about me, and an intervention is not required.
That said....I am just dog-tired! My day starts no earlier than anyone's (okay, with the exception of graveyard workers, and my nocturnal sons), and perhaps ends a little later than some few, although perhaps earlier than some of you. I don't work harder than most of my associates (in fact, I am known to enjoy some down-time now and then), and I am neither physically ill (that I know of), nor mentally ill (though some of you may dispute this).
What I am is tired. And I say this with the full knowledge that I am typing this at 12:05 a.m., just before retiring for the night. I am only working two jobs right now. My brother Stick has worked even harder at times, although he became deathly tired as well. And one of my jobs is only a couple of evenings a week at the local college. 
And I don't mean to imply that taking care of LadyBug is in any way a tedious task. But I think, perhaps, that I may need to decline a few more "opportunities" for  awhile. I have come to the end of my ability to add more straws to the camel's back. 
The true irony is that I will most likely not change much of my daily life, with the exception that my last college classes are next week, and my public school classes end in just over a month. I keep trying to be creative, but end up just sitting and staring at nothing. At least I can still formulate thoughts in such a way that I can communicate.
Perhaps what i ned us gi yke diome dune ohd ehs maje s eyukes ecgfa fuine fir ne............
Or maybe I should just go to bed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Things to Come

LadyBug just saw her radiation specialist, Dr. Rads, today. She and Skitl drove up this morning. He told her she will have 28 treatments. That's 5 1/2 weeks. She will start 3 weeks after she is done with chemotherapy. That puts us into May, which means Kissa can drive her to her treatments. It also means she will be in radiation therapy until June. The best thing about that is that by the time family reunions come around, she will no longer have chemo in her system, and she can see some sunshine. 
Right now, we just have to deal with taxes. Last year I ended up driving over two hours to find THE ONLY POST OFFICE IN THE LOWER 2/3 OF THE STATE THAT WAS OPEN. Granted, I waited until....well, not quite the last minute, but I wasn't far off. This year, we still have several days left, but after last year, we are having them done by a professional. We found out we made a mistake that COULD have been very costly last year, so I don't want to risk that sort of thing again this year.
I am holding steady at being down 50 lbs., but now Skitl has dropped at least 10. Of course, once warm weather decides to stay permanently, I think I may be able to melt off a few more.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Picture Says It All....

7/8 Done

LadyBug is a little sore right now, and will probably feel the most recent treatment soon, but she only has ONE LEFT! She goes to the radiation clinic on Tuesday, to see her newest in the long string of doctors. They will determine exactly how much radiation she will need. We hope and pray (and welcome more) that she will not need a long drawn-out series of treatments!

We are almost there!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Stupidity of Standardized Testing

As an Arts Teacher, I get to avoid one of the E-VILS permeating the lives of some of my co-workers--Standardized Testing. Studies have indicated for many years now that these tests, and preparations for them have no educational value whatsoever. Here is another take on the whole subject that I found fascinating. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Inevitability of Change

For sixteen years, I have been teaching music. I have taught 7th Grade Chorus, 7th Grade general Music, 8th Grade Chorus, 8th Grade General Music, Beginning Strings, Intermediate Strings, 6th Grade Band, High School Intermediate Band, High School Concert Choir, Concurrent Enrollment College Music Appreciation, Private Voice, Beginning Show Choir, and Women's Choir. In all that time, the Women's Choir was my only auditioned group. They have been my pride and joy, my sanity-saver, my "angels."
This year, one of my angels decided to take it upon herself to make something a little different happen. She recruited and begged until she had a list of boys to try out for a new mixed Chamber Choir. For the first time in sixteen years more than the usual 1-4 boys tried out for my choir. In fact, the thing that was holding us back was the one thing I didn't foresee--we didn't have enough girls to make both the new Chamber Choir and the Women's Choir as big as I would like.  
But we had plenty of boys. What I decided was to have eight boys and eight girls in the new choir, and keep almost all of the rest of the girls for the Women's Choir. The Women's Choir has been this small before (and smaller), so I'm not really worried, but I finally get the chance to work with an ALL-AUDITIONED mixed group! I am so excited! We are thinking that for at least half the year, they will be a show choir (NO, I am NOT a fan of "Glee"), and for the rest of the year, a competing chamber choir. This will allow us to have fun and be serious all in the same year. 
One thing I wish had happened was that we could have just taken the boys and started a Men's Choir. One of the guys informed me, however, that there had been talk that if we didn't have girls in the group, they would drop the class. Well, guess what--half of the boys didn't make it anyway, since we needed to balance the girls. We could have had something very cool in a Men's Choir, but a mixed choir will still be fun. Tonight, after chatting with my family online, I will head to my office to type up and print the lists for next year's groups. The students will excitedly check my door to find if they made a group, and into which one I placed them. 
I know not everyone will be happy. I learned a long time ago I couldn't please everyone, so stopped trying to achieve perfection in that area. And if anyone asks why they didn't make the group, I will just have to say, "Well, you would have made it if it could have been [this type of] choir. We just didn't have enough spots. You should take Concert Choir and try out again next year!"
Perhaps if this happens, the guys will learn something and possibly allow a Men's Choir. If not, We'll just continue doing what we're doing. I'm cool either way.
One fun thing happened this week. Our local Search and Rescue was holding their "Support our Search and Rescue: Get Lost!" fund raising campaign. They sell pop, and get Lost tee-shirts. The main thing they do, however, is have people go around "arresting" other people. You have to stay at their booth until you either buy a shirt or some pop, or someone "bails you out." I just paid the $10 for the tee, and they gave me a free dinner coupon to go with it, so I will get LadyBug a cheeseburger meal one of these days soon.
And on an unrelated topic, Skitl has officially joined me on my diet. He has already lost a few pounds this week, so perhaps he will see some benefits and stick with it. He may not have the self-discipline, though, so only time will tell. I have started boxing up my "fat" clothes. I am keeping the ones that fit relatively okay, and will save the rest for any family or friends who want them. I still have a tux jacket and shirt that no longer fit me, as well as a sport coat, several pairs of jeans, cargo pants, and at least one pair of shorts. I'm not looking forward to replacing all the shorts I can't wear anymore, though!
I only have about three weeks left of voice lessons at our local college, then get the summer off. I am still debating whether or not I should get a temp job for the first part of the summer. I want to spend time with LadyBug, but without her working for the past months, we really need me to get something. If I do, I will still have almost all of July, and half of August to spend with her, including evenings after whatever job I get. I am torn trying to decide what to do. I will take any opinions and advice...
To all my extended family, and friends (and any strangers): Take care! To my siblings: Catch you in Chat in fifteen minutes!