the joys of a good song…

I just found out that Emmy Rossum has a new CD out. If you remember, she played Christine Daaé in the movie version of The Phantom of the Opera, so she can definitely sing. Of course, with my goals for the year including noEmmy-Rossum-album-cover music or book purchases, that meant I couldn’t immediately download it. Blast. So, I went back to what I did when I was in Australia… listening to the songs on YouTube. That website is a wonderful thing for those who want good music, but are trying to be frugal.

Rossum’s Sentimental Journey seems to be a collection of oldies stretching from the 1920’s to the 1960’s, and though I haven’t even finished listening to all of them, it’s already a great listen. If you like to listen to real “oldies”, sung by an amazing “new” vocalist, this album is probably for you.

It’s interesting, finding some great new music at the same time that I’m getting back into watching The Voice Australia, which has just begun its second season. For those of you who love America’s The Voice, I’m sorry, but I’ve never been a fan. Not because of how they find the singers, I think being judged on your voice, solely, is a fantastic way of doing things. But tumblr_mhbo2cwVwR1qzoaqio1_1280while I have a liking for Blake Shelton, as a person and because he’s a country singer, the few times I’ve watched our version of The Voice, I get really annoyed with the judges.

Don’t get me wrong, they can all sing, especially Christina Aguilera, but I don’t find them very likeable, as a group, and I find CeeLo to be a bit of a perv. Maybe it’s because they all come across as being full of themselves. I will admit to never watching beyond the Blind Auditions, so maybe things improve.

But if you’ve never gone looking for The Voice Australia, online, then you don’t know what you’re missing. It was a bit disappointing when Keith Urban left the show, but thus far, Ricky Martin is doing a brilliant job of replacing him. Keith is probably a bit wasted on American Idol, amidst the crazy panel of judges, because he’s a REALLY good coach. But I hear he has some of the best constructive criticism on their panel, without attempting to steal the spotlight from the rest of the judges.

I don’t know if most Americans would be aware that Joel Madden is an amazing coach and musician, because aside from Good Charlotte, he’s a bit more famous for marrying Nicole Richie. Speaking of which, last season, Joel sang a duet with his father-in-law, Lionel Richie, and if you missed it, I just plain feel sorry for you.

Seal, who coached Karise Eden (audition, finale) to the winning spot, is 558889_452782128135558_147501053_nalso a fantastic coach. He has a way with words that makes Joel Madden refer to him as “the guru” and a “master of the Matrix”.

And until I started watching this show, I had never heard of Delta Goodrem, who is one of Australia’s biggest stars. For those of us who are accustomed to hearing Andrea Bocelli or Josh Groban sing “The Prayer” with Celine Dion, Delta has sung it with both of them, on international tours. And on top of her amazing skills as a coach and performer, she’s just plain nice! She may look slightly like Aguilera, because she’s blonde, but the two are nothing alike. Delta Goodrem is the type of person you want for your best friend, while Christina Aguilera is the type you want to keep away from dating your younger brothers (even if she CAN sing).

My family keeps wondering what I’m laughing at, when I’m watching The Voice Australia, because it sounds like I’m watching a funny movie or a Castle episode. But no, it’s because the judges can be so hilarious! They tease each other like a family, not with subtle/painful digs that make you think they’re having cat fights behind the scenes. They genuinely enjoy each other and are searching for performers that they can work with, in order to give back to the next generation.

And the talent? If you’ve never heard of Rachael Leahcar, Karise Eden, Darren Percival, Lakyn Heperi, and the rest, you need to look them up. Already, Season 2‘s lineup is stacking up to outmatch them, though it’s hard to believe. Look up The Voice Australia: Season 2 on YouTube, and watch Harrison Craig, Chris Sheehy, Kaity Dunstan, and Luke Kennedy. Phenomenal.

I think every person that likes to sing will watch a show like this, or American Idol and The X Factor, and wonder if they could do that. Could they get up on stage and become the next Kelly Clarkson or Susan Boyle? Of course, if you think you have a decent voice, you also wonder if you’d be slammedDelta Goodrem by Simon Cowell, if you got up there (the less humble “singers”, for some reason, never expect this). But after watching The Voice Australia, and seeing how hard these fledgling musicians have worked in order to get where they are, I can see that you need to want music more than anything, to put it all on the line, like they do. Plenty of people will go up and make idiots of themselves, because their families mistakenly think they can sing, but the true singers and performers will never give up until they succeed.

So, while I enjoyed singing my head off while cleaning the shower (no, I don’t sing when I’m IN the shower), I know that even if my voice was good enough for the stage, I wouldn’t go on those shows. I wouldn’t like being in the public eye, I don’t like following directions when it comes to my voice (hence, I avoided ever taking any chorus classes in school), and I wouldn’t like having to do gigs all over the place. These singers thrive on it! I would shrivel up. I’m a writer who likes to sing, not a singer that likes to write.

But while I don’t have anymore “lullaby the baby” posts for you (no bubs to sing to, lately), I can still belt out the Broadway, with or without my headphones on. Maybe it’s because cleaning can be dull, if you don’t try to keep things entertaining. I spent five years of my life, cleaning the campgrounds from top to bottom, and I sang my heart out, the whole way. I still wonder if the walls soak it up, to spill out in some future era.

In case you were wondering, my Broadway cleaning songs come from some of my favorite musicals (the stage musicals, NOT the movies!), from Beauty & the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Les Miserables, Wicked, and Jane Eyre, to The Music Man, Oliver!, Cats, JaneeyrecoverSouth Pacific, and My Fair Lady. I know some of you, who haven’t heard me talk about musicals before, are already preparing to argue with me that The Little Mermaid and Jane Eyre are movies, not musicals. Well, you would be wrong, and I wish I could have seen them on the stage. Want to know where Sierra Boggess got her Broadway start, before progressing to Love Never Dies (the nightmare Phantom sequel)? The answer is The Little Mermaid: The Musical. And, of course, Marla Schaffel and James Barbour were beyond fantastic in Jane Eyre: The Musical.

So, I had to get some music ramblings out of my system, so forgive me if I jumped all over the place. And now, I’m looking forward to the Blind Auditions on The Voice Australia, this week. Especially because an acquaintance from Emerald, QLD, will be performing. And if any of my Aussie friends tell me the results, beforehand, I will be VERY upset with them!  : )

to sing like no one is listening…

While looking at my stats page on WordPress, I came across an interesting search term. Someone had found my blog by typing in “What does sing like no one’s listening mean?”. It occurred to me that during the almost two years I have been writing my blog, I have never covered this topic. It seems obvious to me, but quite possibly, no one else gets why I named this blog Sing Like No One’s Listening.

Even my closest friends are so used to seeing my necklace that they rarely pay any attention to it. Every once in a while, some observant passerby will suddenly realize there’s a word on it. You may try and read it without me catching you, but it generally ends awkwardly, so most people don’t even try. To the general public, it looks like hieroglyphics, when turned sideways. On one side, it says “Sing” and on the other, it says “like no one can hear you”.

I really need to get a new charm, as I’ve almost worn this one out. I keep checking, when I go to Kohl’s, but they don’t have it anymore. One of these years, I’ll trip over another charm, before this one completely dissolves. The chain is actually on the third go-round, as my Bubby managed to break two of them, when I was in Australia. I bought a much stronger chain, before returning home.IMG_8791

I have always loved to sing. I grew up listening to musicals, learning all the words, and singing along at top volume. Singing around my house is as natural as breathing, but I’m a bit shy about singing when anyone else is nearby. When I was a housekeeper in PA, I would sing my head off, while cleaning cabins, bathrooms, and motel rooms, all during the off season. During the summer, there were too many people around to do that.

Most of the time, I had my headphones on, with Broadway tunes keeping me going, with the occasional folk tune thrown in. But I can do just fine from memory, with no mp3 player to listen to. As I said, I have tons of them memorized. But with the music cranked up, I can’t always tell if someone is walking up behind me, which is why Donna and Martain occasionally managed to scare the daylights out of me.

As soon as I realize someone is nearby, though, I usually stop. I’m very self-conscious about singing in front of others, and only rarely do I sing solo in front of any group. I will only do so if I truly believe that the Lord wants me to, and sometimes that takes some convincing (and lots of prayer). The last time was probably at a ladies’ conference, 4-5 years ago. Now, if you’ve been around me at a conference, when I’m leading the singing on my guitar, at the campfire, that’s different. Singing with a group is not like singing a solo.IMG_8789

I even have a pattern of the types of songs I sing, when I’m alone, depending on the mood I’m in. If you’ve read my Australia posts, you know I sang slower, more lullaby-style songs to get the baby to sleep. While in Pennsylvania, if I was cleaning the camp cabins, and was particularly frustrated about anything, I would pick the loudest, most strident songs I could come up with. Something that you have to bellow, if you can.

Anyway… when you’re singing in front of a group, and you’re flat out terrified, you have to get beyond the fear. And you can pretend that no one is there. You can remember that if no one was there, you wouldn’t be concerned so much about how you’ll sound or what they’ll think. Your worries can go by the wayside.

This idea crosses over into my writing. There’s a fear of putting something, a story, a song, onto paper. You’ll start and you’ll fail, so why start? When I began this blog, it originally felt like writing in a vacuum, but I knew that eventually, people would drop by and read what I had to say. What would they think? What if they were upset by it? You can become so concerned with what others will think that you don’t write what YOU want to write anymore.IMG_8792

I’ve always wanted to write well, and to write primarily for myself, not being concerned about the opinions of others. It’s not easy to do. If I really wanted to get numbers on this site, I’d just post kitten pictures every day. That would bring up the numbers on my stats page. But I started this blog to tell my daily stories, whether here or in Australia. First and foremost, I want to write about what I like. And I have to like what I’ve written. There are days when I immediately hate what I’ve written. Sometimes, I have to read it over a few times before I like it, and sometimes I have to edit it completely. Like I’m doing right now.

My fears over both singing and writing can easily come to the forefront. And I have to remind myself that if I can’t stand what I’ve said, sung, or written, then why am I doing it? And fear of what others think can be dreadfully controlling. When I write, I remind myself that I’m writing this because I want to, and for no other reason. And if others like it, that’s great, too.

I’m not sure I’ve even explained this properly. But to me, to “sing like no one’s listening” is to put your heart out there, without being concerned about what others will think. If I’ve done that, then I will like what I’ve written and I will enjoy the process of writing… and you will probably like it, also. Because it’s the real me that you’re getting, not someone I’m pretending to be.

And it’s a reminder to always keep singing (and writing), even when I’m afraid to.

 

 

making assumptions…

When you see someone wearing headphones, do you ever wonder what they’re listening to? One of my favorite pastimes is to put my headphones on and wonder what my co-workers (and other people) think I’m listening to. Occasionally, I find out, when they ask me random questions, during the day. It may start off with them asking if I listen to rap or hip-hop, but inevitably, they’ll ask if I listen to opera. This makes me laugh, because I listen to a bit of all three, though not as much as they think.

It works the same way with other interests of the people surrounding us. Don’t you judge what they like to read or what they like to watch, completely based on their age, how they dress, aNight-Visions-Album-Cover-Croppednd their manner of speaking? Oh, come on, you know if you hear a serious southern accent, you assume that they probably listen to country. Though I don’t know for what reason my co-worker is always surprised by my reading material, except that maybe it’s because I’m a girl. He usually catches me reading history or politics, but thinks I should be reading “normal” stuff… like a romance with Fabio on the cover, perhaps. You couldn’t pay me to read one of those, by the way.

My music playlists are always extremely random. I even have CDs that I’ve burned for car trips (previous to mp3 players) where I would visibly startle my brothers when the song changed. Well, I guess going from Lifehouse to The Kingston Trio (singing “Reuben James”) would do that. Going back and forth keeps things interesting.

Nowadays, I have two types of mixes. The one that I listen Kingston Trio nbjto when I’m on the computer, which helps to block out the sound of the television, usually has something lively that doesn’t prevent me from writing. I don’t write very well when there are words to songs, unless I’ve listened to them so often, I can ignore them. They become white noise that isn’t dull. But if I really need to concentrate, then I crank up the scores to all three Transformers movies or Pirates of the Caribbean 3. You’ll notice I said the scores, not the soundtracks. I have those, too, but the power and beauty of the music of Steve Jablonsky and Hans Zimmer…. love it.

So, while I’m blogging, right at this very moment, my music playlist includes “Mad World” (from Donnie Darko), “Primadonna” (Marina and the Diamonds), “Girl on Fire” (Alicia Keys), “My Tears are Becoming a Sea” (M83), “The Fields of Athenry” (The Dubliners), “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” (John McDermott), and a number of songs by Birdy, One Direction, Brandi Carlile, The Civil Wars, Imagine Dragons, Bryn Terfel, Adele, and Apocalyptica.

Any surprises for you there? I may have been an 80’s baby, but my music interests cover quite a range. When I was a teenager, I was borrowing my brother’s Aerosmith, Michael Jackson (just for the Free Willy song), and The Beatles CDs, as well as stealing his soundtracks to Top Gun and The Bodyguard. When he drove me to school, we always seemed to be listening to Kenny G, Aerosmith, and Boys II Men. When I got oldePrimadonna - Marina and the Diamondsr, I had some memories of “oldies” that I’d heard as a child, so I started looking up Peter, Paul, & Mary, as well as Judy Collins, Simon & Garfunkel, John Denver, and The Kingston Trio.

As I mentioned, I’ve always loved soundtracks. The songs tie you to the storyline in the movie, and sometimes, you like the music better than the movie. But then you become attached to certain songs and love how the meaning of the words resonate within you. I only ever saw How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days once, but how many times have I listened to the soundtrack, since then? The song “Feels Like Home” introduced me to Chantal Kreviazuk, and my cousin and I can still sing all the words together, thinking about how it feels to be with someone that is like home. You don’t need a place to be home, you need people.

My co-workers would probably be unsurprised to find that I love musicals, was raised on them, and can sing the words to most of them. I was raised right, and have no problem with singing my lungs out when I’m in the car, on a road trip. Or while cleaning a Bible Camp from top to bottom, before the campers arrive. I’ve always wonder what happens if the walls soak up enough songs… will they spill back outMI0000393560, startling people, a hundred years from now?

I even love an opera or two, because my grandpa loved them, and my favorite is La Boheme. But most of the time, I have no idea what they’re singing, nor am I interested (too much sap, you know). La Boheme makes me laugh because it sounds so beautiful, but the singers are yelling at each other that they’re cold, and why won’t they burn their manuscript already, so no one freezes to death?

My Fike playlist, which I also listen to when I’m walking to work, contains Smashmouth, Cowboy Troy, Imagine Dragons, Linkin Park, Train, Alvin & the Chipmunks, Nickelback, Journey, Leann Rimes, Pitbull, the Glee Cast, Marina and the Diamonds, Katy Perry, Good Charlotte, and Christian Contemporary Smash-ups. Of course, that doesn’t cover the number of artists that Glee covers, such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, and many more.

So, yes, occasionally, I play that game where you imagine the looks you would receive if you blasted your playlist through the nearest stereo. Would their assumptions about you be shattered if they find you listen to the same stuff they do… or if they even like your playlist better than theirs? Find out wh5391513560194at a person listens to (or reads), and you’ll find a lot about them.

P.S. A song by One Direction just came onto my headphones. In my defense, the first I ever heard of them were several hilarious parodies on YouTube, while I was in Australia. And then, on the plane home, their album was one of those offered for free listening on the headsets. My recollection is that I had a really bad headache, so I picked them for the familiarity of the first few songs. I basically slept through the album, two or three times.

When I arrived stateside, I picked up the album, and still enjoy it, though some of the lyrics are pretty silly. I have great fun listening to “I Want” and “Up All Night”, but what’s even funnier is watching the Beatlemania that is occurring over them. Then again, they’re actually cute kids (and can sing), while Justin Bieber is a dweeb that thinks he’s cool, so he gets tattoos in order to help convince people he’s cool. Ok, there’s a rabbit trail…

what was just insulted?

If you’re a college student (especially from Clemson), and you’ve just dropped by this blog, let me be clear. I am not old enough to be your mother. If I had married right out of high school and then had a baby, a year later (and only in that order), my child would be 14 now. I don’t need to be humored because of my “advanced age”, because I’m actually about the same age as the graduate students (or their average age, as there’s quite a range of them). And at least one of the Clemson  professors knew me when I was little, so I’m actually closer to your age bracket than his.DSC_0831

If you’ve been through my workplace, you will notice that my co-workers call everybody “sweetie” and “baby”, while I either call you “sir”, “ma’am”, or I address you by name (I think I know about 100 of your names). That’s because they’re old enough to be your parent (and therefore, they think of you as kids), while I only use pet names for children under the age of 10 (whom I consider to be kids), my best friends, and my baby brother (who’s 22). I call him “buddy” and “squirt”, but he’s the only one that receives that distinct honor.

A student came through the cafe, this afternoon, carrying a guitar case. Since some other college guitarists have dropped some guitar picks on our floor, recently, I’ve been hoping to offer them to another guitarist who could use them. He was happy to take the donation and stick them in his wallet. Of course, this is why we find them on the floor, because guys always seem to carry them in their wallets, and they fall out when they’re getting their money out. I mentioned this to the student, and then told him that I kept mine in a pocket of my music book.DSC_0833

“Oh, you play an instrument?” he asked me. Hang on, how many instruments use guitar picks, I wondered? Yes, I play guitar… and piano. I didn’t mention the violin, since I haven’t played it since high school. Then I said that I played well enough to “play around the campfire”. I thought that implied some skill, without being too puffed up about it. The response was, “It’s never too late to learn to play and pick up a new skill!”, spoken in a bright and cheery voice. I think I repeated a variation of my campfire comment, slightly more emphatic about it. “That’s great, learn some scales, try some new things!”, he tells me.DSC_0835

I think I stood there, gaping after him. Or maybe I just thought about gaping. I felt like he’d just patted me on the back, encouraging “grandma” to get out and take up a hobby. I still can’t quite figure out if my intelligence, my age, or my guitar skills got insulted. Don’t get me wrong, I saw the funny side of it, right away, but that didn’t keep me from wanting to tell that kid a few things. : )  Wait, did I just defeat the point of my thesis, by calling him a kid? Hmmm… at least I didn’t call him “sweetie”…DSC_0837

The first time I picked up a guitar, I was 18 years old. That means I’ve been playing for about 14 years now. I spent my teen years collecting Bible camp songs, hoping to learn to play them, someday. Originally, I borrowed my older brother’s guitar (which I don’t think he knows how to play, still), but then my dad brought one home from Indonesia for me. It’s just a Yamaha, but it’s done good by me, all these years. I bought a book of chords, which I still have, and worked my way through my song book, starting with the chords G and C (playing “The Old Rugged Cross”, very slowly). In recent years, I still get tripped up by F#m, if I haven’t practiced enough. That should tell any really good guitarist what my actual skill level is.DSC_0838

Playing that guitar… like with a bicycle, you never forget how, no matter how little you do it. I don’t play very often, but it always comes back to me. My guitar-playing calluses come and go, as I play only a couple of times every year. I rarely wear nail polish and keep my nails short, because sure enough, if they get long, then I’ll want to play. Then I have to cut them back off again, and you can’t have long nails on one hand and short on the other. Alright, I know I can, but I don’t want to, ok?DSC_0844

I can pinpoint when I started playing my guitar because I have some wonderful memories of my cousin and I playing our guitars together (we learned together, for a time) for my grandpa, when he had cancer. Which means we had been playing long enough to be decent, by early 2000. There’s a song called “Only You”, which maybe you’ve sung at Bible Camp, and it has an optional chorus that goes with it called “It’s Amazing”. Grandpa interrupted our singing to ask us what “a-may-HAY-zing” was, because that’s how we always made it sound, when we sang it. I still have trouble singing that song without thinking about my wonderful grandpa.

My guitar strap… I don’t remember where I got it from, but it’s quite decorative, and I was proud to have such a colorful one. Not long after I got it, the cord that ties it to the guitar broke, but I was determined to keep that beautiful strap on my Yamaha. So, I bought some black shoelaces, braided them together, and tied that strap back on. And it’s never broken since.DSC_0845

When I was in Australia, I hadn’t touched a guitar in months, but when some friends and I had a conference at the beach, the guys brought their guitars. I couldn’t resist borrowing one, and at first, though I had forgotten how to play, until he explained that it was a classical guitar, with a wider neck. That was HARD to play! Then we switched guitars, and I was home free.

Once I was back in the States, at my first Seabrook conference, I didn’t bring my guitar, and we didn’t have a campfire. It was the first time in years that I hadn’t brought my guitar with me. I wasn’t sure I could or should or would play, when I got there. I hadn’t practiced, hadn’t played in months. In November, it happened again, but we DID have a campfire and it was very cold outside. I borrowed my friend’s guitar, shivered in my seat, while my friend held the flashlight so I could see my music, and I played cold turkey. And yes, since I wasn’t close enough to the fire to be really warm, you can take that description both ways. I was SO cold, and oh, my poor fingers hurt… but they knew what to do.DSC_0846

At the moment, my guitar case is collecting dust bunnies once more, but as May gets closer, I think I’d better get it out and practice some, so my fingers can adjust. I will never be able to play by ear, or play scales, and I may always have my issues with F#m, but I know what my guitar skills are for. They’re to be used when a group of fellow Christians and I gather around a campfire and want to praise the Lord. Then, with the occasional accompaniment (they do still request sons that I don’t have music for or can’t play, yet), we can sing our hearts out.

So, the next time a student seemingly “insults” my intelligence, age, or guitar skills, I’ll still have my inner chuckle over it. But I’ll probably still want to straighten them out (do you ever stop wanting to straighten out those that are younger than you?)… and resist, valiantly. It’s probably the fault of my work shirt, anyway. Guaranteed to add 10 years to the wearer, I promise you.DSC_0847

the prayer of my heart…

I know what you’re thinking. You heard that I was going to the beach for the weekend, and so, you say, “Everyone goes on weekend trips to the beach. Blah, blah, blah, it’s all the same. Nothing different about this one.” But you would be wrong.

Fourteen years ago, I was eighteen years old, and thrilled to be invited to a Bible conference with my friends. Even better, I knew it was at the beach, and I’d have lots of friends to spend time with. What could be better than that? I thought I was as old as anything, though I was actually a tad young for the conference. However, when my younger brother turned eighteen, a few years later, I didn’t think he was old enough to attend.  : )

I was still too young to really see the stigma that gets attached to the phrase “singles conference”, but as soon as I discovered it, then I could throw down the gauntlet with anyone who thought our conference was one of “those”. You’ve heard it before, I don’t need to explain. But let me tell you, would I be attending this same conference, this many years later, if I thought that our only purpose was to “spouse-shop”?

Our conference on Seabrook Island has always been, first and foremost, a time to listen to a wonderful speaker share with us from the Word of God and to fellowship with other single believers who also want to grow in their walk with the Lord. Those first-time attendees who show up with any other intent will quickly find out who vehemently we feel on the subject, and if their only purpose is to find someone to marry, they usually stop coming. [Clarification: We aren’t against meeting a special someone at this conference, but that isn’t the PURPOSE of the conference. Most of our regular attendees will also tell you that you know you’ve met the right one if you’re willing to GIVE UP Seabrook in order to marry them. I hope this puts the subject in the proper perspective for you.]

Aside from this awesome time spent in God’s Word, the beach is our playground, but even if it’s a public beach, it’s in a secluded area, and not directly on the Atlantic Ocean. Located where a cove meets a river that eventually reaches the ocean, the dolphins love to frolic in the quietude off our beach, and we love to watch them, by day or by night.

Fourteen years after my first conference, with two per year, I’ve missed a total of three. For one, I was in Indonesia (’00), and for both conferences in 2011, I was in Australia. As far as I’m concerned, being out of the country is the only good excuse for missing one. And despite talking to my friends on Skype, last year, when they were at Seabrook and I was in Australia, I’m still a little miffed at one of my friends for not inventing a Star Trek transporter, so that I could come home for it.

But after a year’s absence, I was seeing this well-known and very much loved location with new eyes. The beach tends to always look the same, so why take pictures, year after year? I was so happy to be back on my home turf that taking pictures of the boardwalks and cabins were fair game, when I hadn’t taken many pictures of them in years.

In my first six or eight years of attendance, I liked nothing better than arriving at the campground and running up and down the boardwalks, either barefoot or in flip-flops. There’s a method to it, so I didn’t fall very often. Now, with mono still dragging me down a bit, I only ran when there was a particularly dark spot on the boardwalk, late at night. Doctor’s orders: don’t get exhausted, and don’t get stressed out.

To the furtherance of that aim, my two friends and I drove down from Pennsylvania (about a 12 hr trip) in Rachel’s car (different Rachel), because mine’s a stick shift, and we all needed to be able to drive. Gone are the days when I can drive the whole trip, including after an exhausting weekend. We drove down on Thursday and stayed in a hotel for the night, so that we’d have plenty of energy the next day. And since it’s still a rarity for me to stay in a hotel, especially without my parents, I was childishly excited about having the whole room to ourselves.

On Friday, we visited the Charleston Market in the afternoon, had some ice cream from Marble Slab for “dinner” (yes, I know, that could be considered heresy, for those of us that always eat at Gilligan’s that night), and then drove onto the island while it was still daylight. Driving under the trees that overhand the roads, with their streamers of Spanish moss is beautiful in daylight, but slightly creepy after dark. The tree trunks are encroaching on the roads, so I’m really afraid that if I accidentally veer off the road, one of them will take me out, rather than the other way around. They’re that big, I don’t think a car would have an effect on them.

Our cabin had a beautiful view of the beach, as it was set high on stilts, and was on the “front row”, overhanging the cross, volleyball court, and fire pit that sits between the dunes. Well, they’re not large dunes, as compared to some beaches, but I’m not sure what else to call them. They’re covered with the grasses and reeds that we’ve been told that if we pick any, we’ll be fined $500 each, or some such number. Now, I understand it’s to preserve the dunes and keep them from eroding, but really, I’d rather pick up shells, if we ever got any worth keeping. Besides, those sand hills are infested with sand spurs, which most of us wouldn’t willingly tangle with. They’re painful to dig out, if you get them stuck in you. Just ask Harold.

I arrived at the meetings feeling a bit dried out, spiritually (understatement of the century), but praying that what I heard would really hit home. The Lord answered that prayer, because from the first meeting to the last, I was on the edge of my seat, trying to take in everything that our two speakers had to share with us. Mr. S was talking to us about the pursuit of holiness, starting us off in 2 Corinthians.

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. –2 Cor. 7:1

From there, he went on to ask us if we are saints (all believers in Jesus Christ are declared to be saints, with a lower case ‘s’), and if so, are we saintly? Are we truly pursuing holiness, and allowing the Lord to work through the process of sanctification in us? Being sanctified is to be set aside for the Lord’s use… are we allowing Him to teach us, and learning more about what it means to be holy. Do we truly want to learn about what it means to be Christ-like? We will never truly be perfect, until we get to heaven, but Lord Jesus still wants us to endeavor (through His power) to become like Him.

As if the first marvelous subject wasn’t enough, Mr. E started us off in Jeremiah, and before we could even think about groaning inwardly (ohhh, another Old Testament prophet?), his first message hit us upside the head, concerning our need to be constantly in the Word of God. Are we reading our Bibles daily? My answer was no, I’m sad to say, as it was for a lot of the questions our speakers were asking us, and I was becoming more and more convicted over what I’d been screwing up on. This message was painful, yet needful. From the discussion of our need to delve into the Scriptures, we learned more about Jeremiah, and how he would have studied all the Scripture that he had at the time, as well as looking to the Lord in all things.

It was also fascinating to me, because he pointed out that Jeremiah was still living when Daniel (of lion’s den fame) was born, and how their lives slightly intersected. And I’ve been through two Bible studies on Daniel, recently, as well as hearing a message about the lives of Daniel’s parents. Of course, Daniel’s parents aren’t named in the Bible, but they would have lived during the revival under King Josiah, which was in the time of Jeremiah. They would have remembered how Josiah lived for the Lord, for most of his life, and perhaps taught Daniel all about it. His grounding in his faith, as a child, is probably what led to him standing firm, when he was taken to Babylon.

Aside from the great messages, I was back in my favorite place to sing from our hymn books. We Seabrookers like to sing, and I always want to tape record it, to show other churches and assemblies what their singing COULD sound like. The Seabrook chapel has phenomenal acoustics, we like to sing in parts, and we like to sing loud. So, away we went, covering the old favorites, with one slight “incident” when the song leader called out the wrong song, and stopped us within a few words. “Who is on the wrong page…”, as he immediately began to sing, joking about himself.

At some point during the weekend, we always sing “And Can It Be”, and if the song leader’s being nice to us, he schedules it before our closeout numbers of “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” and “My Anchor Holds”, because we might pass out if we did all three in a row. We sing the rafters off on all three, and the latter song is our closing song. How wonderful it is to sing out, with fellow believers, about the wonders of our Savior.

When we aren’t soaking up the messages or singing our hearts out, we’re eating the amazing food provided by the camp’s dining hall. Usually, there’s a chef running things, so let me tell you, we eat very well. The rest of the time, we’re running around on the beach, eying up the alligators in one pond (there were two, this year!), and hanging out in the “snack shack”, as if we hadn’t eaten enough already.b

We didn’t actually start up a game of Ultimate Frisbee, this year, mainly because I’m usually the one that suggests it, and the doctor told me no contact sports. Also, my two travel buddies had threatened my life if I went against the doctor’s orders. So, we just had a large group of people throwing several Frisbees around, and attempting to throw against the stiff breeze. I actually forgot to put my coral-colored water shoes on, for once, so my feet were really sore from running around barefoot, afterwards.

As some of us have gotten older, we’ve stopped staying out on the beach so late, every night, and especially on Saturday night, we try to go to bed at a fairly decent time, so we’ll be alert during the Breaking of Bread, on Sunday morning. But to make up for that, we stay up as late as possible on Sunday night, usually walking down to the point, when the tide’s out, looking for shooting stars and watching for the antics of dolphins. Usually you can hear the dolphins better than see them, but a large fishing boat or two were out, which made it harder to focus on the stars, and easier to see dolphins splashing around. It’s always a fun time to get in some talk with friends, walking from one beach to the other.

I’m afraid some of us didn’t get to bed until 1:30am, and for some reason, we woke up earlier than usual. Someone’s phone went off too early, and with the light coming in our windows, quite a few of us were up and packing earlier than ever before. We scramble to get off the island by 9am, and stop at a local motel to eat breakfast at their buffet. The original prediction had been for rain, in which case, we’d have gone bowling (we do try and drag the weekend out for as long as possible). Instead, with gloriously sunny skies, we decided to go on the Charleston Harbor Tour. A few people went to the Market, if they hadn’t been on Friday, but most of us headed in the direction of the Aquarium, to catch the Harbor Tour boats.

I was surprised that they’ve changed up the boats and the tour, since the last time I went on one, because we had a regular tour guide, instead of just a recording. I had told my friends of the joys of hearing the exploits of Blackbeard, on the recorded tour, as it always talked of how he swiped a woman off the streets of Charleston, made her his wife, and had a reputedly happy marriage. But our tour guide only briefly mentioned Blackbeard, and covered much more history of Charleston than I’ve heard in a long time.

From the history of Rainbow Row to the Hunley Submarine, he covered quite a range. It was like being back in my elementary or middle school class on local history, because Fort Sumter, the Civil War, the Swamp Fox, and many other characters of South Carolina fame were covered. For my friends from up north, some of it would be new and different, for me, it was a review of my childhood. I’m afraid I did doze off during the part about the U.S.S. Yorktown, but that’s okay, because I’ve been on it several times, including after they got the Medal of Honor museum placed on it, several years ago. Actually, I slept overnight on the Yorktown, when I was a kid, as part of a school trip.

But I woke up to view a closeup of the New Bridge, and then we arrived back on land. Despite the pleading of our friends (or even nagging, one might say), we still persisted in our decision to leave Charleston right then. Departing at 3ish, we were able to drive all night, rather than have to get a hotel partway through the trip. With three drivers, we were all tired when we arrived back in PA at 4am, but not completely exhausted. Ok, that’s not to say we weren’t a bit zombie-ish the next day, but that’s from the entire weekend. Lots of driving, lots of learning about the Word of God, lots of catching up with old friends, and lots of walking on the boardwalks and beach. It took me a little while to recover from the whole weekend, energy-wise.

There are other things, though, that I never want to “recover” from. In fact, I pray (as do the rest of my friends) that we will all remember what we learned, and act on it. As I keep reminding myself, there have been so many times when I’ve used the words, and planned to make changes, but those words never became actions. Words are just words, I keep telling myself, until they become actions. This time, I want to act on what I’ve learned, not just let my words be more hot air.

Only time will tell, but I’m praying that the Lord works in my life, and I never recover from the need to pursue after and perfect holiness in my life. I need to be reading the Word of God, taking it into my heart, and taking it beyond just being a saint who’s been saved by the grace of God. And on the days when I feel like I’ve failed in this pursuit, I can take heart of hope with these wonderful verses. His compassion never fails, and His mercies are renewed every morning. Amen.

“It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.” –Lamentations 3:22-23

the music beneath my fingers…

I arrived home from Australia, and there was our piano, waiting for me. I’ve been longing to get the piano keys under my fingers again, but I hadn’t taken any music with me to Australia. I know, an oversight, but I really didn’t think I would miss it so much! And now, it had been so long since I played. My music memorization has never been very good, and I stink at sight-reading, on the spot. But still, when someone else begins to play the piano, outside of church, my fingers start itching to play, as well.

If I actually do sit down without music, it generally results in failure, because my memory doesn’t extend beyond my fingers. Frustration comes of this. Which doesn’t make being near a piano anything pleasurable. You just want to make music… and you can’t.

My favorite pieces of music have been the same, since I was a fifteen year old taking piano lessons. I didn’t do well at learning pieces by Chopin or Mozart, because I didn’t really like the music (or rather, I preferred to listen to them than to play them), or I just thought it was too difficult. And I didn’t like practicing. But if I was presented with a piece that I loved, I would learn it, come hell or high water.

My dad taught himself to play the piano, long before I was born, and as a child, I wanted to be able to do it, too. We also had some old tape recordings of hymns that he played, and I would listen to them over and over, planning to learn them. I learned to sing “One Small Child” and “The Tree Song”, while he played. At Christmastime, I would sing all my favorites, while standing at his shoulder.

When I grew old enough to play, and hammer out the tunes that I knew and liked, I have happy memories of playing “The Drummer Boy”, with my five year old brother bellowing along with the “Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum” parts. And I do mean bellowing, because he was born with a bass voice, making my male classmates jealous, and I’d swear that at puberty, his voice went up, instead of down.

As my piano lessons progressed, and I figured out how to sing “One Small Child”, while playing a piece of music that didn’t incorporate the melody into it (I found it tricky, for quite a while), I was still trying to locate a piece of music that was on the old audio tapes. My dad didn’t sing along with them, so I didn’t know the names of them all. I’m not sure if I asked him, and he didn’t remember, or if I was just persisting in figuring it out for myself. But there was one absolutely glorious song that I just HAD to learn to play.

It was called “The Day He Wore My Crown”, and it was in the same book as “The Tree Song”, “One Small Child”, “Beautiful Savior” (played to a different tune than you’ll know), and “Like a River Glorious”. These were all favorites of mine, and still are, but this new one had chords that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to play. Could my hands even stretch that far? But thanks to my dad’s beautiful playing on that tape, and listening to it hundreds of times, I knew exactly what it should sound like. And eventually, I conquered it, and can now sing along.

Perhaps you’ve never heard it before? It tells about Christ’s coming to Jerusalem, and His “crime” was the love He showed to us. How He gave His life, the day He wore my crown… because of what I did. The chorus says that “I’m the one to blame, I caused all the pain”, but He still chose to come and wear that crown for me.

I love a good song, no matter where it comes from, and I grew up watching the movie, The Land Before Time. During the credits, the song “If We Hold On Together” plays, and I’ve always loved it. When I found a book of movie music with that piece in it, I learned it as quickly as possible, shocking my teacher, as I was often disinclined to practice. “Somewhere Out There”, from An American Tale, is also in that book, but I’ve always found it a little more difficult to play, but that doesn’t keep me from trying. Never think that you can’t find some beautiful music, even in an animated film.

We have another book of old-school music from past decades in music and movies. Many of them, I don’t even know the song, so I’ve never had the urge to learn it, I’m afraid. But two songs of love and romance that have always been playing around me are “A Time For Us”, from Romeo & Juliet, and “Where Do I Begin?”, the theme from Love Story. I’m not even sure where I first heard the former, probably off one of my grandpa’s records, before I ever watched the movie in school. But the love theme from Love Story is the tune that played whenever I removed the lid from my grandma’s candy jar. I was entranced by the song, and possibly more interested in the music than in what the jar contained. That jar now belongs to me, and now it holds nothing but memories.

Finally, here in South Carolina, we live down the road from Patch the Pirate, otherwise known as Ron Hamilton. He holds a huge ministry with his Patch the Pirate music and stories, but he also writes other music to go into hymn books. Majesty Hymns is one of those books, and contains many of his songs. Including a favorite of mine, “Wings as Eagles”. I’ll admit that I generally sing it slower than Hamilton does, when I hear him on the radio, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. Also, because it’s a hymn with chords on both hands, which I’ve never been very good at playing (one reason that I do NOT play in church), I have to play it quite slowly, or just play the right hand by itself. But when you see the words, you really can’t speed it up. At least, I can’t. Judge for yourself.

When the race still lies before me,
And the wind is blowing strong,
When the witnesses surround me,
And my strength is almost gone;
When the valley plunges deeper,
And life shatters all my dreams,
Then I lift my voice to Jesus,
And He gives my spirit wings.

God gives wings… as eagles;
God gives wings to fly and strength to rise above.
God gives wings… as eagles,
When my feet begin to stumble,
And my dreams begin to crumble,
I mount up on eagles’ wings.

–Ron Hamilton

lullabies no more…

Is it the passing of an era? My Bubby can no longer be sung to sleep. Soothed and lulled into not talking, but never to sleep. She has reached the age where, if she’s tired, she lets you know, and promptly goes to sleep on your shoulder. If she is NOT tired, she lets you know by refusing to go to sleep. Ok, she’ll often cuddle and rest her head on your shoulder for hours (well, it seems like it), but once you put her in the crib, she either wants out, or enjoys some play time… until she still wants out. (For the record, I actually DO know what ‘era’ means.)

So, though I still sing to her, it’s not nearly as much, and I tend to fall back on the same handful, including “Will I Ever Tell You?” (The Music Man), “On the Front Porch With You” (Summer Magic), “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful” (Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella), “Something Wonderful” (The King and I), “Edelweiss” (The Sound of Music), and “Out of My Dreams” (Oklahoma!).

Speaking of music, I tried to dig out my Christmas music, but ran into some problems. My mp3 player has some issues with Frank Sinatra. Don’t know what, but maybe they had issues in a past life. I also didn’t have all of my Christmas music on the mp3 player, but I couldn’t bring my laptop downstairs to play through the stereo. Why? Well, Mrs. B was cleaning tons of kitty poo from behind the TV and stereo, so that area was unavailable. But some of the wires were so coated with dried cat poo that it couldn’t all be gotten off (It was a ginormous amount, I assure you). So, she pitched those wires into the garbage, and they were the ones that connected the stereo to the speakers. We’re now waiting for Mr. B to get back, so he can buy new ones.

Anyway, no playing the laptop through the speakers for another day or two. But while trying to transfer some more Christmas music onto my mp3 player, I found that when I left the U.S., I didn’t put all the Christmas music from my desktop onto my laptop. Ok, so back in March, I didn’t see any reason why I needed to transfer Christmas music by Michael Crawford, Billy Gilman, Linda Eder, etc… onto the laptop. Or I just plain forgot. Now I wish I’d done it. Also, the Christmas Classic mixes, but those might not have actually made it onto the desktop, either, because I liked listening to the actual CDs.

Now, I still enjoy my Christmas selection, but I was a little worried, now and then, about what the family thought of either Celine Dion’s Christmas disc or Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Oh, so then I remembered to play some Dean Martin, as the Frank Sinatra stuff still wasn’t cooperating. Oh, and I also had the holiday CDs by Enya and Burl Ives. Go together well, don’t they?

Having finished my cup of coffee and enjoyed a little quiet time, I’m off to flip the laundry loads and then get to folding. There’s work to be done!

oh yes, it takes a woman…

I borrowed two movies from the library, but since I wasn’t in the mood for Pride & Prejudice, I popped Hello, Dolly! into the DVD player. Not that P&P doesn’t have its funny parts, but I was looking for something jolly, not very long, and best of all, something I hadn’t seen in a while. That definitely qualifies, because I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for years, but haven’t seen the movie in… oh, 10 years? I forget.

You really can’t go wrong with a musical that was directed by Gene Kelly, you know. Some of the dialogue is absolutely hilarious, though some of it is incredibly sappy. But you’ve gotta love a musical that makes you laugh out loud. And Barnaby only has to open his mouth to make me burst out laughing.

Vandergelder: “I am bringing home a mistress.”

Barnaby: “But sir, I’m too young!”

But then, Barnaby Tucker has always reminded me of Barney Rubble, from The Flintstones, so I think you expect these kinds of things from him and his counterpart, Minnie Fay. And speaking of ridiculousness, you can’t get away from it when the young Michael Crawford (who plays Cornelius) is involved.

Yes, this is the man that grew up to play the original Phantom on Broadway. I even remember a rumor I heard about 15 years ago, that Crawford’s voice had been accidentally altered by some routine surgery he had. Yes, it’s only a rumor, but just think, it shows what a HUGE difference in his voice, over the years! Because if you’ve watched this movie, or seen Condorman, you’d never believe him capable of singing as the Phantom. And in this movie, he was cast by Gene Kelly, because he wanted a “handsome idiot” for the part. Kelly’s wife thought Crawford was handsome, and Kelly thought he was an idiot.

For the younger set, if you’ve seen Wall-E, then you’ve seen or heard bits of Hello, Dolly!. The song during the starting credits of Wall-E are from the song Put On Your Sunday Clothes, which is a favorite song of mine. I have to admit to singing along, the first time I ever saw Wall-E. Of course, they probably didn’t have room or couldn’t get approval from Barbra Streisand, so the only parts of the song you will hear has Michael Crawford singing solo.

Later on, when you watch Wall-E watch a video, longingly, and hoping to be able to hold EVE’s hand, that’s a clip from It Only Takes a Moment, from later in Hello, Dolly!. Quite frankly, I regularly skip that song, because I think it’s sappy and stupid. “It only takes a moment to love a whole life through.” What a load of crock! However, if Crawford ever sings it in his Phantom voice, I’ll give it another try.

I love the introduction to Vandergelder, bellowing at his niece’s would-be fiancé, and you wonder if he (the would-be fiancé) is really supposed to be that tall. When Walter Matthau’s character proceeds to call the guy a “seven foot nincompoop”, you realize he probably is pretty tall. According to IMDb, he’s 6ft 6.5in. And I’m pretty sure the girl cast as Ermengarde was 5ft tall… or less, to create an interesting contrast. I read that Tommy Tune (who plays the tall Ambrose) is the tallest dancer on Broadway, and they played that to their advantage. Watching him dance with a girl that barely reaches his waist. Oh, it’s funny.

She didn't wear this in the movie, I'm positive.

Now, I’ve never seen a performance with Carol Channing as Dolly, but I’m glad they cast Streisand in this role. I’m sorry, I’ve never been a fan of Channing, and I don’t like her singing voice. Oh, yes, I’ve heard it, and I’ve seen her in Thoroughly Modern Millie, too. I think they’re call to cast Streisand was a good one, even if she and Matthau fought like cats and dogs. He could not STAND her, even to the point of faking the kiss, at the end of the movie, rather than having to touch his lips to hers.

You can’t watch the beginning of the movie without watching that horror to feminists’ hearts (that must be why I enjoy it so much), the number It Takes a Woman. Oh, you can’t beat those lyrics.

“It takes a woman all powdered and pink to joyously clean out the drain in the sink…”

“The frail young maiden who’s constantly there for washing and blueing and shoeing the mare…”

And last, but not least…

“So she’ll work until infinity. Three cheers for femininity!”

This was the last movie that Louis Armstrong acted in (he died two years later), though his music has obviously been in hundreds of other movies since then. I love to listen to it, but it’s even greater to watch him interact with Barbra Streisand. Such a huge smile, such joy in his singing and what he’s doing. You can’t not smile, when you’re watching. If you watch nothing else from this movie, you should watch this scene.

I haven’t covered some of the other great songs and dance numbers, but who needs to. The master himself, Gene Kelly, was at the helm of this movie. No, it isn’t perfect, but the choreography was worthy of the best that Kelly could give. But someday, maybe in heaven, I’m going to give a piece of my mind to the person who designed Irene Malloy’s costumes. I cringed every time she changed clothes, with the exception of the Ribbons Down My Back hat.

I’ve rambled enough. I had a lovely evening, so now I need to go have a snack and take some more antibiotics.

in a desultory fashion…

I was listening to the rain pounding on the roof (which is why I’m not going running today), but then I realized the girls had Playschool turned on louder than usual. So, I put on the headphones, and cranked up Transformers 1 & 2 (the scores, not the rock soundtracks). Now, I can hear that AND the rain, which is coming down quite hard at present.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the Playschool show, but I’ve had enough for one day. There are some good shows over here for kids, really! But even with the good ones like Mr. Maker and The Wiggles AND the annoying ones (I hate Yo Gabba Gabba), I spend a lot of time wondering how much these people get paid to act or dress like that. I mean, come on, Mr. Maker is very crafty, but he puts too much gel in his hair, wears a polka dotted vest, and spends half the show with his eyes open so wide, it looks like his eyeballs are about to pop out! And some of the Wiggles have Beatles haircuts, but dress like they’re on Star Trek (this is not a slam against Star Trek, I just don’t think the Beatles and Star Trek should go together).

But they’re still good shows, most of them, and I find it hard to NOT watch, when I’m folding laundry or filling the dishwasher. And if Sadie’s still asleep when Bubby wakes up, it isn’t unusual for me to turn the TV on, so I can watch Tinga Tinga (African tales in the jungle, which explain why the zebra has stripes, why giraffe has a long neck, why tortoise is slow). The order of shows change every once in a while, which is probably good, because I was getting addicted to watching Babar. Maybe because I remember reading the books, when I was little?

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, being random. In a little while, I’ll continue reading The Help (by Kathryn Stockett), on my Kindle. I didn’t plan on reading it just because I’m about to go see the movie. That was a coincidence. But as it happens, it’s going to be in the theater this week. Yes, I know, if you’re in the U.S., it’s probably been out since, oh… August? Sometimes the movies over here come straight to Emerald’s theater, and other times, it takes forever. For example, I’m pretty sure the new Jane Eyre (with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska) has been out in the U.S. since March or April, but I didn’t get around to seeing it before I left. It may very well be on DVD over there, and it still hasn’t arrived here. In Emerald, I mean. It’s probably hit all the big cities, already.

So, I’m really enjoying The Help. I knew I would, of course, but it’s a good read, and I’d recommend it to anyone. It gives you a bird’s eye view of what life was like in the segregated American South, right around the time of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington. I enjoy how the perspectives change between Skeeter (the white girl who’s only just getting her eyes open to what’s really around her) and Aibileen and Minny (the black maids). It makes me cringe, knowing that people are capable of treating other human beings in such a way. And I’m glad that there are stories of both good and bad, in the book that Skeeter is writing. Even when it’s told from the side of the maids, they point out the kindness and love shown by some people.

Previous to this, if you’ve been noticing my book list, I’ve been reading a bunch of fantasy, and then switching over to some young adult adventure (John Marsden’s Tomorrow series). I was debating what to read next, after The Help. I have quite a few non-fiction books on my Kindle that I really want to read, like In Defense of Thomas Jefferson (William G. Hyland), Unplanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey across the Life Line (Abby Johnson), and The Third Terrorist: The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing (Jayna Davis). But then I got an e-mail from the library, letting me know the books I’d put on hold have arrived. I’m getting the next book in each of the three series’ that I’m reading. So, starting another non-fiction binge will have to wait. If I can finish each of the series (series-es?), I can hit up some more serious reading matter. Not that The Help isn’t serious, of course.

Up until today, I’ve been keeping up with my jog/walking, except for when I got sick. I missed two days, that week. But at present, I don’t want to get my only pair of sneakers soaked. Also, it was thundering majorly, earlier. Don’t you think there should be a way to say it was “lightning-ing”? I find lightning much more alarming than thunder, sometimes.

So, I can now have an argument with myself over whether to jog/walk tomorrow, or just skip a day. Guess it depends on whether it’ll rain tomorrow, or if it’s predicted for Wednesday. Who knows? Oy. I just checked the weather report, and we have rain and thunderstorms predicted almost every day. I guess I’ll have to face the serious issue of wet sneaks or no exercise. Blast.

I discovered, the other day, that listening to Andrea Bocelli music can actually make you homesick. Not crying-my-eyes-out homesick, just longing (inside) for home. I had cranked up Sogno on my headphones, and away I went, dreaming of home, and wishing that April would arrive sooner. Not only does his singing make you feel emotional, but I have so many memories attached to listening to his music with my closest friends. How many times have Hannah, Sarah, and I bellowed along with Romanza, even though we don’t understand any of the words? We would just make them up as we went along.

Speaking of homesickness, I still haven’t had a serious spell of it. Some people predicted that I would have a hard time with, because I’m such a homebody, but seriously? I lived 10 hrs from my family for five years! Sure, I could spend a half day driving home, whenever I felt like it, but I think those people guessed wrong. It helps, my brain being confused by all the wrong seasons and stuff. I keep forgetting it’s October, and close to November. Summer is about to start here, and for me, Christmas can’t be coming if it isn’t fall, you know. I think the mental confusion helps, make me think I haven’t been here very long… and then the next day, I think I’ve been here forever.

The only difference, being Down Under, is I can’t “run away” home for the weekend, if I feel like it. If I have a moment when I need to SEE my family, then I arrange a video Skype date. But for the most part, phone calls (from my laptop to my parents’ phone), e-mails, and Facebook have sufficed. Spring (in the U.S.) will be here before I know it.

Excuse the rambling. It’s all I’ve got, at present, but at least I’m good at it.  : )

Waiting for Spring (at Home)

of country, disney, & davy…

Several weeks ago, I burned a CD for my Aussie family, full of country songs that I like. It was mostly a self-defense move, as they love country, but I recognize very few of the artists. I have now listened to Taylor Swift, even. But the only voice I knew right away was Toby Keith’s… and do they have any of his CDs that I recognize? Unfortunately, I’m only familiar with his Greatest Hits 2 disc… you know, the one with “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)” on it. I still remember the first time I heard that song. It was a while after 9/11, and the moment I heard it, I knew I needed to listen to that CD.

Of course, it was my mom that introduced me to it. I promptly got hooked on the aforementioned song, as well as “Beer for My Horses”. And then I fell in love with the duet “Mockingbird”. That song and I have a strange and wonderful relationship, as I listened to it for years, and then my parents had a dance (they took ballroom dance lessons) choreographed to it. After listening to it for 10,000 times in the next month (while they practiced), the boys and I got sick of it. It took me a couple ‘nother years before I could start to listen to it again. But their dance number at the Showcase was awesome!

And for those of you who know what I’m talking about, I’m the one who introduced Ethan to “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue”, back when he was on summer staff. Those who remember, you know who you are. Can anyone ever forget, “We’ll put a boot in your UH!”? Ahh, the memories.

Ok, back on track, now.

Since I sometimes pick the girls up from school, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce them to country music that I like. So, their new CD is full of Billy Gilman, Carrie Underwood, Lonestar, and Tim Rushlow. It seems that when I transferred music over to my laptop, a few artists got missed. Toby Keith included. Le sigh. But the girls took to Billy Gilman, immediately, and I’ve always liked his One Voice CD, no matter if anybody else does or not. Can you believe he recorded that disc when he was twelve, and now he’s in his twenties? I can’t. Anyway, the only problem with the girls listening to these songs is that they have trouble telling Gilman and Underwood’s voices apart. However, we’re working on that.

Well, I still enjoy the songs, but now we grownups have been listening to these songs a LOT, because the girls like to listen to the same ones, over and over. So, when they were about to set out on a long trip, I thought they could use another disc as an alternative. And what would I fill it with? Disney music, of course.

Think about it… what kid, of any age, from 3 on up, hasn’t watched a Disney movie? I mean, in families that have televisions? They all have, so if I picked the right songs, they’d be familiar with those, and probably would be willing to listen to some of the ones they didn’t know. My hope, ever since I arrived her, has been to introduce to new things, things that I’m interested in. So, I want them to read more, and enjoy reading. And I also want to introduce them to new songs, if I can. For me, I get most of them from musicals, but failing that, I’ll see that they learn a lot of Disney songs.

And so, I burned them a CD, full of Disney songs. In addition to the ones they knew, I had to throw in some interesting ones, that I was sure they’d like, if given a chance. For example, “On the Front Porch With You”, which I sing Bubby to sleep with, all the time. And another awesome Burl Ives number, “The Ugly Bug Ball”. Every little kid should be able to sing “Once a lonely caterpillar sat and cried, to a sympathetic beetle by his side. ‘I’ve got nobody to hug, I’m such an ugly bug’. Then the spider and the dragonfly replied, ‘If you’re serious and want to win a bride, come along with us to the glorious, annual Ugly Bug Ball’.”

I did include plenty of well-known numbers, like “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” (the little girls LOVE singing along with this one), “Chim-Chim-Cheree”, “A Whole New World”, and “Kiss the Girl”. But I had a sneaky feeling that the kids have probably never seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks, so I put “Portobello Road” on the disc.  An Angela Lansbury classic, I’ve always loved that movie. And wished I could get MY bed to fly wherever I wanted to visit. The final battle scene, with the suits of armor is great, too.

But there was another song that I put on there, almost as an afterthought. That, and I thought it would be a good example of an American classic song, that my Aussie kids should be introduced to. I did NOT expect them to come home singing it constantly.

When the family arrived home from their trip, Mrs. B commented, immediately, about my putting the Davy Crockett song (officially called “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”) on the CD. A coincidence? Yes. But how was I to know that Mrs. B was raised on that song, as her dad likes all sorts of “old-school” ballads, and though the kids had never learned the words, they’d heard about it, or heard it sung once or twice. So, while in the car, they fastened onto that song, and listened to it over and over and over, until all four (Bubby can’t talk yet, remember?) knew ALL the words.

And they’ve been singing it ever since. Now, none of us grownups mind it, but it still seems so odd to hear it sung all over the house, for the last two days straight. Yesterday, I went out for an hour or two, and they were singing it, while their dad accompanied them on the guitar. When I returned, they were still singing it, they’d just changed to a different room. Turns out, they’d been making up a dance, so they could dance it and sing it for their dear Gramps. And they did that, today, and he happily joined in singing with them.

The other night, we were also looking for a movie to watch, on BigPond.com, and Bea found Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier listed there. Only her mom’s insistence that they wait to watch it with their grandparents prevented her from renting it immediately. No, they’ve never seen it.

Another thing… they keep singing the words “killed him a BEAR, when he was only three”, though the pronunciation on the movie version is “BAHRR”. You know, good old Western backwoods speak. I mentioned this to them, today, and Mrs. B explained why they sing it as “bear” instead of “bahrr”. While on the trip home, there was confusion from the kids over what the singer was actually saying. They thought it might be a “boar” that Davy Crockett killed, so their parents had to explain what it really was. So, they ditched that pronunciation, to prevent further confusion.

Yesterday morning, I woke up with the Davy Crockett song stuck in my head. I think it’s here to stay.  : )