Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dreaming of a White Christmas. . .

So, if you're not a fan of White Christmas, you may want to just skip this and I'll forgive you. The musical yesterday at the Denver Center for Performing Arts was wonderful! It was everything I hoped it would be. I went with the expectation that it would be different from the movie, maybe some new songs and a slightly different story line. I was just so looking forward to listening to the songs and hearing the music in "real life." It was just that, and the story line was really sweet, the songs were wonderful and the cast did a superb job singing and dancing. Some of the characters had bigger parts than in the movie. For instance the housekeeper was a main character with singing and dancing parts, both of which she performed beautifully. As for the songs, Sisters was performed by first the female leads and was just like the movie, and then by the male leads and they were a hoot. The song Snow, which is performed by the main characters in the movie, was performed by the chorus and it had me wanting to sing along. The woman who played Rosemary Clooney's part did a wonderful rendition of Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me and wore a black sequined gown that was to die for, with elbow length gloves, just like Rosemary Clooney wore. I was delighted to see the satin red gowns, trimmed with white fur in the final number. The cast was all in red, with white, fur trimmed hats, and the back of the stage opened up to a scene of snow -- just like in the movie. For the finale, it "snowed" in the theatre, and the audience was asked to sing along to the final number, White Christmas. Honestly, I had tears in my eyes. I'm just that way. As a whole, the costuming wasn't quite as glamorous as in the movie. I don't think anything can top the glamour of the studios back then. And while the dancing was wonderful, the show didn't have the benefit of the large sets that the movie had or the incredible talent of Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen. I wonder if that kind of talent even exists anymore. I wasn't disappointed, but rather I think I will be in awe all over again of the original stars and their dancing, when I watch the DVD -- which I will do very soon! As we drove to dinner after the show, we listened to the CD (yes, I bought a CD), and the song The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing played. I thought, what a shame for the generations that didn't get to experience the romance in dancing , but instead were duped into the rock-n-roll style of the 50s and 60s. Call me old-fashioned, but there's nothing like dancing with a handsome guy who knows how to lead! I'm lucky to have married such a guy:)
All in all, it was a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season. Time to bring out the holly and deck the halls!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Getting the job done

This morning I woke up, ready to take on the challenge that had been weighing heavily on my mind for months. True, it's only three days until Thanksgiving and I have a gazillion things I could be doing. But sometimes, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. And the spirit was moving me, so I went for it. I painted the powder room. I started at 11:00 and by 4:30 had stripped off the old wallpaper border, been to Home Depot for paint, put the switch plate covers back on and cleaned up all the rollers and brushes. Hubs came home, took a big whiff and looked around. "What got painted?" He's used to this. It's something that we've become accustomed to in our marriage. You see, ours is a mixed marriage. He's an engineer. He specializes in quality processing. When he does a project it is well planned, carefully executed and usually turns out pretty darn near perfect. I, on the other hand, live by a motto that says, "Get 'er done and a blind man will be only too glad to see it." In 23 years, we've learned to compromise. Mostly, we don't do projects together. And when we do, whoever is the project leader calls the shots. For instance, last Saturday was Family Leaf Raking Day. There was much forethought that went into this activity (as you can tell it was his project), long before the day arrived. For several weeks, the trees in our yard were studied and evaluated to predict the optimum day for the most productive leaf raking. We want the trees as bare as possible -- but it has to be before the first snowfall, because. . .well, you know what it's like to rake wet leaves. It's really yucky. On the day of, my sun-sensitive, fearless Leaf Hunter was clad in his safari-style Tilly hat, armed with the leaf blower and the course of action was set. He would take charge of the perimeter of the yard and flush out the offending foliage. The rest of us, clad in gloves, sweatshirts and armed with rakes and bags would take the middle. As Hubs was working away to the din of the leaf blower and whistling to the tune played by his ipod, I was organizing the troops to rake, bag, rake, bag -- stop fighting -- rake, bag, rake. . .get busy! Wait. What's wrong with this picture? Dan! It's not working! You need to get over here and organize the troops! He's oblivious and I'm getting irritated. The back of my neck feels hot and prickly and I slowly edge my way to the back of the yard with a plan of escape. I'll hop the fence and run around the block to the front of the house and slip inside for a cup of tea. With that, I hear leaves crunching behind me, and my fearless Leaf Hunter is approaching, offering me one of the earbuds to his ipod. We both listen to Josh Turner singing Would You Go With Me. In his deep bass voice that is the first reason I fell in love with him, Hubs sings along . . . "If I gave you my hand would you take it and make me the happiest man in the world. . . " And, oh dang it, I can't be mad anymore. By the end of the afternoon, we filled 24 bags of leaves to take to recycling. The powder room is a beautiful shade called Bleached Denim and he swears he likes it. After 23 years, I think we work pretty darn well together.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Land of the Free, because of the Brave

Today was a beautiful, sunny day, a fitting day to see so many flags flying from front porch steps and from the tops of flag poles against the backdrop of a clear blue sky. It was hard not to remember that today is Veterans's Day. Listening to the radio, I was reminded of it constantly as my favorite country music station played patriotic songs and read tributes to veterans of America's armed forces througout the day. At church tonight, our mass was dedicated to the veterans of our country. My family, like so many in America, has it's share of heroes. My grandpa and his three sons were Navy. Another uncle was a Marine. My dad served in the Air Force. We've always been darn proud of all of them, and while I had an idea of the sacrifice that they made, leaving home and families and putting themselves in harm's way, I never experienced it first hand. But this Veterans Day has a whole new meaning. In a few short weeks, my brother Matt will begin his deployment to Iraq, as part of the Army National Guard. It's a bit surreal. I'm so dang proud of him I could just bust a button. And I'm going to miss him like heck. He's the youngest of my three brothers. I was five years old the night he was born, and I cried and cried. I cried because I was just sure that since I already had two brothers, God would certainly give me a sister. Little did I know that that pesky little brother with whom I was forced to share a room, would turn out to be one of my very best friends. We live within a mile of one another and I have come to cherish his counsel and friendship over the years. It's amazing how smart little brothers can grow up to be. So, if you wouldn't mind saying a prayer for Matt and his wife, Lois, and their boys Jason and Tommy, I know God will be listening. Matt will head out after the first of the year, and I know that the coming weeks will be quite full, emotionally and physically for him and his family. Please pray for his safety, and the safety of all of our soldiers, as they sacrifice time with their families to go out and guard the safety of others.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Looking on the bright side

Yesterday's post was about slowing down and savoring each moment. Ha. I'm such a big talker. It's so easy to live in the moment, when it's still early in the morning, my kids are off to school and it's just me, my cup of coffee, my computer, the dog, six loads of waiting laundry and an overflowing in-basket on my desk. At that point in the day, I'm thinkin' the day is managable. Three o-clock rolls around, and let the games begin. By 2:00, I had put in a good day's work and been to an appointment with the dermatologist, who froze another little spot on my nose. Boo Hoo. It's bad enough to be wrinkly and collecting age spots faster than my husband is collecting state quarters. But, now I have this scabby, ugly mark on my nose for the next 7 days. Before grabbing my daughter at my aunt's house, where she went after school, because I was at my appointment, and the boys don't get home until later, and besides she can't walk home because it's a mile and somebody might steal her on the way -- I decided to swing through the Starbuck's drive-through for some fortitude for the next few hours where I will be dropping kids, running to the grocery store and picking up kids and wading through homework. Drive up to the big menu with the speaker. This is where I remember why I don't like the drive-through at Starbuck's. My latte experience is already beginning to feel like McDonald's, and I'm supposed to be relaxing and enjoying this. Order an iced mocha. Pull up to the window and pay. Nicely thank the young guy and promptly drive away. It isn't until I'm across the mega shopping center parking lot that I realize -- I don't have my drink. Turn around, drive over six speed bumps, and drive up to the big menu with the speaker. May I help you? Yes, I'm back to get my iced mocha. We wondered where you went. I'm not embarrassed. I'm going to be 50 in April and I'm beyond being embarrassed about most things. And that feels good. It feels good to, finally, have an excuse for being scatter-brained and forgetful. I'm going to be 50 and I'm in a menopausal fog. So, today, that's what I'm giving thanks for.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Goblins, turkeys, teenagers

Oh dear, the Snickers and Milky Way supply has been depleted.
Now, we're back to this. . .
This also means that Halloween is over -- except for the candy that's still in the pillowcase, but it's the stuff none of us like, so we won't be sneaking into her room to raid the stash where it's hidden under her bed.
And the holiday season has unofficially begun. Thanksgiving is just two weeks away, and if you're cooking dinner like I am, that's not very long. I've put away the ghosts, witches and goblins decor, packed away the costume box, and the jack-o-lantern on the front porch went in the trash last weekend, much to the dismay of the squirrels who were feasting on the remnants. In my "spare time" (what's that?) this week, I'm cleaning and clearing out so that there will be room for Christmas decorations in a few weeks. Meantime, I'll set a few ceramic turkeys out, and keep lighting my fall candles each evening, because there's nothing that says fall like the smell of Yankee Candle's Harvest Festival scent. And as much as I love Christmas, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, so I don't want to rush past it. In fact, I don't want to rush anything these days. I want to savor each day, discovering new things that I'm thankful for, to add to my sidebar each day. Today I'm thankful for teenagers. Yes, teenagers. As maddening and crazy as life can be with them, it's like that toddler stage where you can see them growing and changing before your eyes. Granted, it's often three steps forward, two steps back. Sometimes it doesn't seem much different from toddlerhood except now instead of saying, "Are you sure you don't have to go potty?" I'm saying, "Are you sure you got your homework done?" I know, they're supposed to be learning self-discipline and consequences and all that stuff. But, once again they're at a stage where their bodies are changing faster than they can keep up with in their minds, and you still have to ride herd on them, so to speak.
So, how did I go from Halloween to turkeys to teenagers -- oh, there's the connection. Sorry, folks, I haven't had my coffee yet, can you tell?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Halloween shrapnel . . .

. . .seems to be all over the house.
Girl Child went trick-r-treating and came home with a pillowcase full of candy. Boy #2 was not allowed to go trick-r-treating, for reasons I shall not go into. So, the Girl Child has all the candy. She told me she's going to take this opportunity to "train him." This is what I've been hearing the last couple days.
"Luke, it's my turn on the computer."
"I need a couple more minutes."
"Do you want a Snicker's bar?". . . . . . . .
"Luke, can I watch my show on TV?"
"But the game isn't over yet."
"How many Milky Ways do you want?"
I call it bribery, but she thinks she training him. Whatever. . . there's been a lot less bickering around here lately, and I'm glad for that!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Left to Tell

Last night I had the privilege of meeting Immaculee Ilibagiza, the author of Left to Tell; Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. Immaculee's story is one that you never forget. I read her book a month ago, missed her first two appearances in the Denver area since then, and last night had the opportunity to see her at the University of Denver. Immaculee is a suvivor of the Rwandan genocide that occured in 1994. During a three month period, a million Tutsui people were slaughtered. Among them were Immaculee's parents and two brothers. She escaped by hiding in a tiny bathroom for 91 days, with six other women. Her survival and the atrocities that occurred are only half of the story. The rest of the story is her faith and belief in God, and that she has once again found joy in her life. She literally prayed her way through the 91 days, struggling with the line in the Our Father, "as we forgive those who trespass against us." She confessed that for a long time she skipped that part of the prayer! She felt she would never, ever be able to forgive. Her journey towards giving herself over to the power of love is an inspiration to every one of us, whether our trials have been large or small. For the first 30 minutes last night, we watched a documentary of Immaculee's story. Then, this tall, beautiful woman, whose face could adorn the cover of Bazaar Magazine, came on stage and for the next 45 minutes had us captivated with her words and her beautiful spirit. There were tears of sorrow, yes, but amazingly, there was more laughter. Her message was so clear. "What can we do?" is the question that she's always asked. Her answer is like that of Mother Teresa's when she was posed the same question. Just do what you can. Just love the person next to you. It may seem like a small thing, but it will be the start of something big. Today, Rwanda is a very peaceful country. But other places are in similar turmoil to what the country went through over a decade ago. When she was asked how she felt about the situation in Darfur and the lack of involvement by the U.S. she said that she is not one to point out blame, but one who will seek solutions. And that it's not just the U.S. who is responsible anyway. She works at the United Nations, as does her husband. Again, the question was raised, What can we do? Her reply was to be aware of what's going on in the world, read about it, educate yourself. She says the situation is so complicated that even those she communicates with in Darfur don't have a clear solution. But God's love is needed everywhere. Do what you can, where you are.

Now, when I think of Immaculee, I don't think of her as the "woman who survivied a genocide", but as a woman of immense faith and prayer. She is a powerful example of someone who sees the "gift" of everday.