Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Enjoying Summer

So ... as you've noticed, I've been a bit absent from the blog lately. No regular posts. Honestly, there hasn't been all that much to post about. But, in the interest of, well, something interesting to talk about, I'll give you the round-up on the last week(ish).
  • Last Wednesday, I met my dear friend Jana, who's on a Saucer tour, at The Flying Saucer in Addison for happy hour. We had a fabulous time catching up on all that's gone on in the last year since we've seen each other. (And for all you Saucer fans, a new one's set to open any day now on Lake Ray Hubbard next to Bass Pro. Woot!)
  • Thursday evening, I saw Some Girl(s) at Second Thought Theatre in Addison Theatre Center with my friend Josh. It was a terrific play that hit way too close to home for my comfort. *grin* We both enjoyed it even if we don't agree that the main character was a first-rate jerk!
  • We spent the weekend at the ranch with Skeet & Kelli. It was nice to be out in the country. Away from cell phones & work (well, for the boys anyway). Thankfully, it wasn't terribly hot. We enjoyed fishing and riding around on the Gators. We saw tons of critters - anyone up for turkey? *wink* And we caught lots of fish. We all got some much-needed R&R, Dori included.
  • I went to an hour-long torture session with the trainer yesterday. Squeezed two sessions into one since I have a convention the end of the week. You know, I think an hour is a bit much. (You: Nawwwww) Particularly on a day when my allergies are going absolutely ape-s***, what with fungus being almost 5000. Ugh!
  • Have I mentioned the "nerd" convention I'm attending this week? Nope. Don't think I have. I'm going to TwiCon - which is, you guessed it, all about the Twilight series. There will be papers and panels and Q&As and celebrities. Did I mention the celebrities? Derek is having great fun making fun of me b/c he puts this right up there with being a Trekkie. Oh well. Whatever. I shall have some great stories to tell & photos to share, I'm sure. I have half a mind to start Tweeting or is it Twitting (??) just to keep you up on the nonsense.

And that, my friends, brings you up to date.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cherish Each Day

Ali Edwards, who is well-known in the paper crafts industry, runs a weekly Three Things Series. This week's post was particularly poignant and touching. So I thought I would share a portion of it with you. She focuses on storytelling. For me, memories and stories of my life are sensory. Sights, smells, sounds all play a very powerful role in my memories. And so it is with so many others - dare I say, most of us.


This beautiful story, for me, was made even more so with the added element of music (also provided by Ali). So do me a favor. Play this song as you read this story.

Tell me that you are not forever altered. That you don't take a tearful moment to reflect on your life. Your memories. And how can you do more to cherish each precious day.

SPECIAL NOTE: Several of you have said that you were unable to view the story linked above. The only way I've been able to scroll down the page and read the story is with my center roller on the mouse. Neither arrows nor the page down key will do it. I hope this works for you. It's a lovely story!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Alaska: Day 5

We've pulled into Skagway today – home of the White Pass Railway. By far, this is the coldest port of call. Skagway is known for its year-round blustery north wind. Brrrr! We ended up on the Yukon Trail tour with mom & dad after our chosen tour was cancelled due to lack of participation. We were supposed to have visited the local brewery, panned for gold, and ridden the train. Instead, we took the Jeep tour of the Yukon Trail and we were not disappointed in the least!

Just when you think the views cannot be any more beautiful, you see the Yukon. Wow! We were supposed to have had off-roading portions similar to our tour in Ketchikan, but the trails were still too icy & had not yet opened for the year. In my opinion, it worked out better b/c we could stop along our drive for good scenic photos & we got to see more of the views from the White Pass Highway rather than the logging trails.

Along the way, we saw a species of lupine. Why is that significant? Well, the Texas Bluebonnet is a species of lupine and the Yukon version looked virtually the same. We also passed through a tundra. The trees in this region do not get very tall – not even 3 ft. In the winter, temperatures plummet to 60 below with windspeeds reaching upwards of 120 mph. In some areas, the trees only grew branches on one side as a result of these conditions. It’s hard to imagine people trekking through this area during the Gold Rush! Brrrrrrr!

Speaking of the Gold Rush, one portion of the White Pass Trail is known as Dead Horse Gulch. If you're thinking that it got its name for a reason, well, you'd be right. During the Gold Rush, the prospectors were required to pack enough food and gear to hike the entire trail from beginning to end due to the lack of provisions along the way. Shoot - there were no provisions once you got on the trail. Not willing to forego a single ounce of precious cargo space, prospectors chose to load their horses and mules with provisions only for themselves and included nothing to sustain their pack animals. As their animals literally dropped dead on the trail, the prospectors moved their gear to the next animal in line and continued on the trail – leaving the dead horse or mule along the trail. Apparently, the stench was ridiculous as thousands upon thousands of animals littered the trail. It was a PETA nightmare! And certainly sad to hear about now. *sniff*

We crossed into Canada and visited the little town of Carcross. It was originally known as Caribu Crossing. The name changed, however, b/c there were several towns by this name, and the townspeople were continually having their mail misdirected & eventually grew tired of it. So the mayor petitioned to have the town’s name shortened to Carcross. Since then, they’ve had no trouble with the mail delivery.

We made our way back down the trail and stopped at an abandoned mining village – Conrad City. It was a bustling little city along the lake founded in 1905 by the famous prospector "Colonel" James Howard Conrad. The city was established to supply the Conrad Mining District and had a population of 500 people, six hotels, hardware and grocery stores, butcher, barber and blacksmith shops, several churches, a hospital, a newspaper, a telegraph office, a District mining recorder, and a Mountie detachment. The city's existence was short-lived, however, and it was all but abandoned in a few short years due to the mining district's poor ore quality, as well as high shipping expenses. Only a few structures remain standing in Conrad City today - a few houses and a small portion of the supply lift system.

Not too long after turning back onto the road, we spotted our first bear. A small adolescent black bear was feeding on the side of the road and was not much at all bothered by the passing traffic. Unfortunately, we were not able to snap any photos as dad misunderstood our cue to stop as a cue to speed ahead to catch up w/ the guide. LOL

We made our way back down the winding road, and it was long about the time we crossed back into the U.S. that I started getting very carsick. Too many switchback turns for me! But I did manage to make it back to base camp w/out losing my breakfast, so all’s well that ended well. (I did opt to walk into Skagway rather than waiting on the shuttle though. Didn't want to risk that good fortune!)

We did most of our shopping on this trip in downtown Skagway. Their downtown looks much like it did in the 1800s when the prospectors made their rush to the White Pass Trail. They have strived very hard to maintain the buildings. And any new buildings are designed to match the existing structures. I enjoyed both the early 19th century architecture & the myriad of shops to pop in.

After an afternoon of shopping, we hopped back aboard ship and set sail to our final port of call - Prince Rupert, British Columbia. In the afternoon, we went to the Lattitudes Party - a little soiree hosted by NCL for its repeat cruisers. Free snacks, free booze, free fun. The captain promised whales on our sail away from Skagway. We were hoping for good views from our window seats in the Italian restaurant. We did enjoy the scenery but did not see any whales. But that's okay. The food was delicious. And the tiramisu was melt-in-your-mouth good – perhaps even better than Cosa Nostra’s. *gasp*

Friday, July 17, 2009

Things: Installment 26

Since I've not blogged much lately, this one is all about catching you up on the mundane happenings of the last several weeks.

Exciting Things We've Been Doing
  • Choir was officially over & done on July 5th. We sang some lovely patriotic music and bid the congregation adieu for six weeks. So I've had absolutely nowhere to be the last several weeks and what a nice feeling that is. I can plan other things to occupy my evenings. Which, quite frankly, has consisted of sitting on my hiney!
  • We're still meeting with our personal trainers, in case anyone's been wondering. Things are going well, if I do say so myself. I don't look quite as twiggish. Haven't lost any weight yet, but my pants are fitting a little better as things seem to be rearranging. Derek's lost weight, but guys tend to do that quicker. Pfftt!
  • This last weekend we had some people over to watch the UFC fights. Honestly, these things fail to impress me. What's the point of watching two men smash each other's faces in?! I don't call that entertainment personally. So I played around on Facebook for most of the time. We did play a little Wii before & after the fights, which was about the most fun I had all night. It was nice to see everyone despite the "entertainment."
  • I met the fam in Greenville to pick up our cow. Have I mentioned that? Yeah, every year or so, we have a cow slaughtered, butchered, and put it in the freezer. There's nothing like home-grown cow, let me tell ya! It tastes soooooo much better than that crap you buy in the grocery store. And since my uncle raises the beef, I know exactly what my cow's been eating. Bet you can't say the same! Even if you don't know a cattleman personally, I suggest purchasing your beef from an independent butcher/meatlocker b/c that's where he's getting his beef from.
  • Remember I said that I'm off for the summer? No singing? Yeah, well. Sorta. Usually others sign up to sing solos. There were 10 who volunteered for this summer. But it's funny how quickly those volunteers disappear when you actually try to pin them to a date. So I'll be filling in the gap this Sunday. Yay? (Sometimes I would like to sit in the congregation with my spouse too, ya know!)
  • And really. That's about it. We've spent evenings with the neighbors or with other friends. It's been a nice lazy coupla weeks.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Africa

This video is truly amazing. Do you remember the 80s rock band Toto? They had a huge hit: Africa. As soon as you hear the melody, you'll recognize the song. The Slovenian acapella group Perpetuum Jazille puts a new spin on this familiar hit. Everything is done by the singers - from the rain to thunder to percussion. A must see!


Friday, July 10, 2009

Attention Chicken Lovers

FYI, all you chicken lovers, North Haven Gardens will be hosting two free screenings of the Texas premiere of "Mad City Chickens". The first showing will be Saturday August 8th at 2:30 pm and the second Sunday August 9th at 1pm. We'll have free popcorn and AC! If you haven't heard of this movie, and you're interested in urban chicken keeping, you'll want to check it out. Watch the trailers...they'll make you giggle...or cluck... We can probably fit about 120 people seated comfortably in the room, perhaps maybe a bit more, so get there early. First come first served. If demand exceeds our two showing capacity, we'll schedule another one.

[This post copied from Leslie Finical Halleck's GrowLively (a great source for all things N. Texas gardening ... and chickens)]

Thursday, July 09, 2009

*Sigh*

It's posts like this one that make me dream about my future farm. One day. One day! I will have my fancy chicken / alpaca farm!!!!! Just you wait. But perhaps don't mention it to Derek??? He still hasn't quite warmed to the idea just yet. (Actually, he thinks I'm cuckoo! LOL) Oh ... but he will! *wink*

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Yeah Yeah

So I fell off the map. Not that there's any particular reason for it. I just did. I was just too busy enjoying a week where I had no place to go. Ever have those? Aren't they grand? I realize I still have several days' worth of Alaska stories/photos to share with you. I will get to those. I've moved them from the MacBook to the iMac, if that counts. (And it does in my book!) So I'll get your slideshow uploaded soon enough. It's just that it's officially summer for me - which means no rehearsals, no voice lessons, no singing engagements. And I'm enjoying the free time!!!! *Ahhhh* But ... that doesn't mean I'm not singing. Nosiree. I'm actually working on programming a fall recital. So I'm busy pondering & tinkering at the ivories trying to find just the right combo of pieces that fit in my voice just so. But I still plan to enjoy the evenings & weekends that I now have all to myself (and Derek, of course!). Nosiree, don't you worry. I'll enjoy my summer off!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Do-Re-Mi

I love this! Wouldn't it be great to see this unfold in front of you? Too cool! (And makes me secretly want to plan something like this on my own. Anybody in??? LOL!!)