Friday, April 30, 2010

Things: Installment 40

Since I've been busy this week preparing for performances this weekend, I thought it would be fun to give you an idea of how I got started with them in the first place. Enjoy!

Things About Northeast Texas Choral Society
  • NETCS is the dream child of director Carol Allen, who is the mother of one of my dearest high school classmates/friends.
  • Choral Society was formed in the summer 1998.
  • Their first "gig" was singing at a function for Gov. George W. Bush in July 1998.
  • NETCS began with a little less than 100 singers and today is over 120 singers strong.
  • Choral Society gives a series of two concerts a year to sold-out crowds.
  • I first auditioned in the early parts of 1999 and continued to sing with the group even after I moved to Dallas. It wasn't until I married and moved to Valley Ranch that I decided the drive was too much to handle on a weekly basis.
  • Carol has asked me back on several occasions to make solo concert appearances, and it's always an honor to sing with this group of talented singers. And I would like to thank Carol and all of the members of NETCS for yet another opportunity to sing with them.
  • This weekend Choral Society presents Walk By Faith, a moving compilation of songs about our spiritual journey. The audience will hear many favorites like "Shut De Do," "Jacob's Ladder," "Precious Lord," and "Come Thou Fount."
  • I have the privilege of opening this weekend's concerts with a beautiful Mark Hayes arrangement of The Prayer of St. Francis.
  • Performance information:
    • First Methodist Church, Sulphur Springs (Map)
    • May 1 - 7 p.m.
    • May 2 - 2 p.m. & 6 p.m.
    • Tickets: $10 adults / $5 children (903-885-2185)
    • Read the local review

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Things: Installment 39 (A Mid-Week Edition)

I recently underwent some testing to determine whether I had the gene(s) for celiac disease and/or gluten sensitivity. You may remember that my mom was diagnosed with celiac disease in June 2008, and I had some tests run after that that came back negative. In recent years, I've come to discover that there are many tests that can be run to determine whether someone is allergic (or potentially allergic) to gluten - some are more accurate than others. I opted to have the genetic typing tests run through a local lab. My recent research has again driven home the need for more patient education, and so I pass along these little nuggets of info to all of you.

Things to Know About Gluten & Gluten Allergies
  • Gluten is a protein contained in the grains wheat, barley, and rye. Its structure gives a doughy/elastic consistency to flours derived from these grains. It is not hard to see why, over the centuries, gluten-containing grains have come to be used so extensively in breads and other baked goods.
  • The nature of the toxicity is mostly due to a reaction that occurs within the immune system of individuals in possession of certain genes that recognize gluten for the foreign protein that it is.
  • Although there may be no detectable symptoms of the immune response to gluten, the typical symptoms people develop occur when the reaction begins to damage the intestines. The symptoms, resulting from malabsorption or improper digestion of dietary nutrients, include abdominal bloating or pain, diarrhea, constipation, gaseousness, or nausea with or without vomiting. It appears that acid reflux in the esophagus, manifesting as heartburn, may be a potential symptom as well. Other symptoms people experience include fatigue, joint pains, mouth ulcers, bone pain, abnormal menses in women, and infertility. It is important to note that there are many individuals who never possess clinical symptoms that lead them to the doctor.
  • Currently, tests are available to detect the genes that control the immune system's reaction to gluten. These genes are called human leukocyte antigens or HLA. There are several types of HLA genes within each person. It is a particular type called HLA-DQ that is most useful in the assessment of the probability that a person may be gluten sensitive.
  • DQ2 is present in 31% of the general American population. DQ8 (without DQ2) is present in another 12%. Thus, the main celiac genes are present in 43% of Americans. Include DQ1 (without DQ2 or DQ8), which is present in another 38%, yields the fact that at least 81% of America is genetically predisposed to gluten sensitivity. Based on these data, almost all Americans, especially those descending from Europe (including Mexico and other Latin states because of the Spanish influence), the Middle East, the Near East (including India), and Russia, are genetically predisposed to gluten sensitivity.
  • Gluten sensitivity implies that a person's immune system is intolerant of gluten in the diet and is forming antibodies or displaying some other evidence of an inflammatory reaction. When these reactions cause small intestinal damage visible on a biopsy, the syndrome has been called celiac sprue, celiac disease, or gluten sensitive enteropathy.
  • Because research has shown that as many as 30% of all Americans may be gluten sensitive, and that 1 in 225 have a severe form of this sensitivity causing the intestinal disease called celiac sprue, a case can be made that everyone in America should be screened for gluten sensitivity. However, there are people with various risk factors or diseases that are at greater risk of developing gluten sensitivity who should undoubtedly be tested. These include:
    • Microscopic colitis
    • Relatives of gluten-sensitive individuals
    • Gluten-sensitive individuals 1 year after treatment
    • Chronic diarrhea of unknown origin
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
    • Hepatitis C
    • Autoimmune liver disease
    • Other causes of chronic liver disease
    • Dermatitis herpetiformis
    • Diabetes mellitus, type 1
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Sjogren's syndrome
    • Lupus
    • Scleroderma
    • Autoimmune thyroid disease
    • Dermatomyositis
    • Psoriasis
    • Any autoimmune syndrome
    • Chronic Fatigue
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Asthma
    • AIDS
    • Osteoporosis
    • Iron deficiency
    • Short stature in children
    • Down's syndrome
    • Mothers of kids with neural tube defects
    • Female infertility
    • Peripheral neuropathy
    • Cerebellar ataxia
    • Seizure disorders
    • Psychiatric disorders
    • Depression
    • Alcoholism
    • Autism
    • ADHD/ADD
If you have any reason to believe that you might have sensitivity to gluten, get tested. It's simple & painless, and it just might save your life. Seriously.


    **All info relating to gluten & gluten sensitivity taken from here.

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    All's Well That Ends Well

    Well, after a pretty rough start to the day, it didn't finish too bad. Surprisingly, that cuppa tea in the morning, while not exactly as good as the coffee I'd planned, did work a little magic on the ol' mood. So I got over being grumpy and rather surly. And lucky for my officemates, no one came to visit me until late in the morning. *grin*

    Last night, Derek and I went to the Flying Saucer with a friend. It was nice to unwind and enjoy those nachos that I've been dreaming about all week. And the company wasn't half-bad either. LOL!

    Here's Your Sign

    Ever have those days that start out with a clear indication that you should just go back to bed?? Yeah, well, today is one of those days ... as I sit here writing this on my way to work.

    The first sign? When I wasn't ready to leave by 6:25 to catch my bus. I wasn't even ready by 6:30 - thae absolutely latest that I can walk out the door & still make it. *sigh* So I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to make it and took a bit more time with the rest of my morning routine since I now had an extra 20 min. After I finished getting ready & packing the ol' gym bag, I decided that what this Off To A Rocky Start morning needed was a cup of coffee. The clock said I had 5 min. - just enough time to brew up a TowGo (not to be confused with a TO go, LOL).

    Yet another sign and the final straw? Got the coffee in the handy mug and then realized I didn't have the cap for the darn thing. And after searching high (and by high I mean in the farthest reaches of the tallest cabinets) and low, it was nowhere to be found. So then I proceeded to search for other TowGo options since my thermos of choice was OOC. Not a single insulated cup to be found ... clean anyway. So after throwing a big ol' conniption complete with some choice expletives, I threw up my hands, slammed some doors, and left.

    *sigh* I only hope the hot cuppa tea awaiting me at the office will do the trick. Maybe I'll just work with my door closed today? Unless someone has some Happy Pills to share??

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Weekend Roundup

    Here it is ... Monday again. Dude, was it a busy one or what! My kids had their spring musical this weekend. So needless to say, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off on all of the last-minute stuff that goes along with putting on a musical. But I have to say that the dress rehearsal went really well and the performance was even better! This show was so well-suited to the group of kids we have in choir right now. It really utilized their strengths.

    Aside from that, I didn't get much accomplished. I went to a birthday party very briefly on Saturday night. I sang two services on Sunday before running around striking the stage after worship and setting up for the kids' show in the afternoon. And then I promptly went home and crashed. I actually fell asleep on the couch at 6:30 and Derek tried to get me to go to bed. But "it's only 6:30," I argued. "But you've been asleep for the last 30 min." I managed to stick it out until about 8 before I gave it up. Pathetic. LOL

    Things won't really slow down for the next few weeks either since I'm scheduled to sing in East Texas the first of May. Speaking of which, I suppose I should get to work on that solo. Ha!

    Oh, and before I forget, a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my friend Kelli!!

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Breaking News

    This just in from our news correspondent in Anniversaryville. The cute couple currently inhabiting The Foxhole will be tying the knot in Las Vegas in October. Or more appropriately, they will be celebrating ten years of marriage with their good friends Skeet & Kelli. This breaking news brought to you today by Second Honeymoon in Vegas. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Fan. Tas. Tic.

    So what's worse than the cat waking you up with his incessant caterwalling?? The cat waking you up LATE with his caterwalling, that's what! I type this as I'm on my way to work ... late.

    Meeko started in with his usual meowing at the wee hours this morning. I think the birds were up early, and he thought he was missing out on some prime Mockingbird stalking. Anyway, I shut him up the first 500 times with a little shake of the no-no can. It was still dark. The next time he wakes me up I see that there's a suspiciously late-morning glow about the room, and I take a peek at the clock. 6:35. *takes a minute to sink in* WHA??! 6:35??!!! I should be sitting on my bus not just now getting out of bed! *sigh*

    Guess who forgot to turn ON the alarm that she so carefully set last night???

    This Cutie Head Moment is brought to you today by the maker's of Trusty Alarm Clock Company.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Better(ish)

    I finally waved the white flag on Friday and gave in to my allergies. I stayed home. Honestly, it was a good week to have them be on full tilt since it was a particularly quiet week at the office. I toughed through them on Weds. and Thurs., but by Friday, well, I was just done. I must say that it was nice to get to sleep in and lounge about. When my allergies are particularly bad, it makes me tired and grumpy and non-productive, not to mention giving me the allergy fog & terrible headaches. All of you partners-in-misery out there know what I'm talking about. So I spent Friday relaxing and blowing my nose. Exciting, huh?

    The rest of the weekend has been busy. Yesterday I had to be up early waiting on Verizon. They actually came early. Naturally, we couldn't reproduce the problem. Whatever. Then I headed to the church to prepare for a children's choir rehearsal for their spring musical. Today, I sang a service, went to a staff luncheon, set up for another children's choir rehearsal, and ran herd on little imps before heading home about 6 p.m. It was a long day. I'm now settled into the recliner with a good movie and prop for the kids' show. A director's job is never done, eh?

    Here's hoping for a great week!

    Thursday, April 08, 2010

    Derek Might Kill Me

    But THIS, my friends, is very tempting!!!!

    Sunday, April 04, 2010

    I Will Survive

    That's what I kept telling myself this last week as I ran my hiney off singing. I've said this before, but I will say it again:  Holy Week is both a joy and curse for a church musician! There's not a single one of us who isn't thrilled when it's over. But there's also not a single one of us who won't say in the end that it's one of the most memorable & moving weeks in the entire liturgical year.

    The Durufle Requiem was simply fantastic and really brought Good Friday into a whole new light. A triumphal entry into Jerusalem, a plea for salvation, death. It brings the story to life in a completely different way. And then Easter Sunday we rejoice w/ brass and organ and choirs of angels. It was a fantastic three days of music!

    And when it was all said and done and everything fell silent, I crashed. On weeks like this, I don't do much of anything other than sing. No cleaning. No laundry. No cooking. And, of course, when weeks like this are over, I'm spent and usually take an entire day or two to recover. This afternoon I enjoyed sitting around in my pjs watching tv before having a tasty steak dinner. It was some of the best relaxing I've done all week.

    Poor Derek also had to work this past weekend. It wasn't crazy-busy, but it was certainly a steady stream of cases all weekend long. Honestly, his last week was just as busy as mine. We're both spent!

    Now it's on to bigger & better things. I'm preparing for a concert appearance in May and am making long drives for rehearsals. My kids are preparing for their spring musical, and we're now in the critical portion of staging which means extra rehearsal time. Sometimes I feel like I'm herding squirrels. Have you ever tried herding squirrels? It's nye to impossible! Anybody know a Squirrel Whisperer?!

    But the best part is that the days are longer, the flowers are blooming, and spring weather seems to be here to stay! I don't know about you but it's hard to be anything but happy when everything comes to life again!