Honing in on the Holidays

It won’t be long before the holidays — Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s — are upon us.

My choir.
My choir.

Charlie and I are very busy at this time of year due to our music business.  We have music to prepare for regular church services in addition to a special praise service, a Sunday-before-Christmas cantata, and a Christmas eve service. Let’s not forget that Christmas Day  and New Year’s Day are actually on Sundays this year which also need music.

Charlie is always the life of the party.
Charlie is always the life of the party.

We’ve also been asked to have a Great American Songbook sing-along for a 91st birthday party. Charlie alone is well-booked for Christmas parties all through the month of December.

If someone else makes my turkey will I also get gravy?
If someone else makes my turkey will I also get gravy?

Happily I get a turkey for Thanksgiving and a ham at Christmas from work.  This year our chef at work has offered to prepare my turkey. That sounds like heaven to me.  I’ll only have to set the table and make a couple of side dishes.

Each year we try to put a festive spirit into the holidays.
Each year we try to put a festive spirit into the holidays.

I’m hoping to spend the entire Thanksgiving long weekend decorating the house.  I’m thinking polar bears will have a place in in the holiday décor.

Don’t forget to vote!! (I voted last week.)

Our Last Night in Vegas

Our main purpose for going anywhere near Las Vegas was to see Celine Dion in concert.

The show incorporated lots of video effects.
The show incorporated lots of video effects.

Of the hundreds of shows in Vegas she is the only entertainer I would want to spend $198.50 times 2 for rear orchestra seats.

Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas
Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas

We parked in Caesar’s Palace’s Colosseum using their valet parking service which is free other than tipping the valet. Considering the number of people in the music venue in particular and Caesar’s Palace in general, the valet service was very fast.

The doors opened at 6:30, the show started at 7:45 and ended about 9:30 with no intermissions.
The doors opened at 6:30, the show started at 7:45 and ended about 9:30 with no intermissions.

Even though our belongings were searched upon entry to the theatre, we could keep our cell phones and point-and-shoot cameras.  The only requests were no flashes and no video recordings.

Celine told a few stories about her family along with the singing.
Celine told a few stories about her family along with the singing.

The seats were excellent in that no one’s head was ever in my way and I could see every minute of the entire show.  Even the woman in front of me rocking to the beat in her seat was not a distraction.  I am glad, however, that I didn’t purchase the top level ticket because most of those people stood up the entire time and obstructed the view of the front orchestra.

The orchestra would do funny things behind Celine like get-up-and-sit-down or wave their instruments.
The orchestra would do funny things behind Celine like get-up-and-sit-down or wave their instruments.

Celine sang her hits, tribute songs to The BeeGees and Prince, and even some Great American Songbook standards. The music was a great mix of eras and genres all in the Celine Dion style.

Celine was standing on a disc that raised her about 15 feet off the stage and then it began to rain all around her.
Celine was standing on a disc that raised her about 15 feet off the stage and then it began to rain all around her.

Charlie and I had a great evening and then even a more interesting time at our AirBnB with a host who had never had guests before we arrived. One day I’ll write the whole strange story.

Who would you pay good money to see?

Facilitate

I like to have get-togethers at our home.

A party can be simple or elegant.
A party can be simple or elegant.

But sometimes actually entertaining at home is not possible.

Lurman Woodland Theatre has free concerts on Saturday and Sunday nights in summer.
Lurman Woodland Theatre has free concerts on Saturday and Sunday nights in summer.

In our area there is an abundance of free music and free films.

Last night 6 of us visited a church (not ours) to watch God's Not Dead 2.
Last night 6 of us visited a church (not ours) to watch God’s Not Dead 2.

When I find something that really interests me I email a group of friends and tell them I’ll be there. I don’t judge the interest I just make the invitation; I facilitate.

Texting is an easy way to hook up.
Texting is an easy way to hook up.

I’m sure to add my cell number to the email with the instruction to text or call when they arrive at the venue, especially if it is a big venue like the parade grounds at our local Army base.

This cannon actually fires.
This cannon actually fires.

If it’s something I have done previously I add any details that might sway someone who is on the fence. For instance the U.S. Army Field Band is performing the 1812 Overture with real canons.  I’ve heard it before and it’s fabulous.  I reminded everyone to bring their own lawn chair.

Bug spray is de rigeur in Maryland in summer.

I encourage you to do some research and contact your social circle for a fun and different and free event.  Provide as much or as little as you like. Don’t for get the bug spray.

What event can you facilitate for your friends?

Playing the Music

It was too hot to do anything outside this past weekend but we managed to fit in a family wedding.

Charlie had to provide his own equipment which he carried in with the help of our son.
Charlie had to provide his own equipment which he carried in with the help of our son.

The wedding and reception took place in a 100-year-old mansion/museum in Pennsylvania.

We tucked Charlie into an alcove where he could see the bridal procession coming down the central staircase and the entire service.
We tucked Charlie into an alcove where he could see the bridal procession coming down the central staircase and the entire service.

Naturally Charlie was on hand with the music from the traditional wedding march to “L-O-V-E”.

The central staircase was used for the wedding ceremony.
The central staircase was used for the wedding ceremony.

I used my phone to take a few photos of interesting details in the mansion.

Beautiful cut glass doors.
Beautiful cut glass doors.

There were lots of stained-glass windows but I especially liked the beveled, leaded windows.

I loved this large urn.
I loved this large urn.

There were a pair of large repoussé urns on either side of the front hallway.

Charlie and I are exhausted. (And I did nothing.)

Next week: back to house projects.

Our Antiquated Sound System

Someday when we get the house mostly finished — floors, closets, lighting — we might want to spring for a new sound system.

The closet has an electric outlet but the system wouldn't work in there.
The closet has an electric outlet but the system wouldn’t work in there.

Until then we have a big, clunky system that’s been stashed in the conservatory closet ever since the closet was built.

My closets are stuffed with essentials.
My closets are stuffed with essentials.

I had tried a couple of times to hook it up but failed to get any sound.

The speakers are especially heavy and difficult to disguise.
The speakers are especially heavy and difficult to disguise.

I took the whole heavy thing out of the closet and decided to make it play or get rid of it. One try and some advice from Charlie and all the components play: CD, cassette tape, turntable, and radio.

The components rest atop the speakers which foils any stereophonic effects.
The components rest atop the speakers which foils any stereophonic effects.

Charlie had been wanting something near the piano so that he could listen to music so we set it up between the living room and dining room.  It’s not pretty but it certainly is effective.  We can have music in the entire downstairs simply by focusing the direction of the speakers.

From the living room the stereo sits behind a chair and side table.
From the living room the stereo sits behind a chair and side table.

Am I fooling myself that it’s hidden behind the table and chair in the living room?

I still have more items to purge from the closet but the stereo is a start.
I still have more items to purge from the closet but the stereo is a start.

At least I have more closet space now.

What ugly essential are you keeping?

Another Get Together, Another Invitation

I have finally ordered a film called “Young @ Heart” on DVD.

This award-winning documentary film documents the final weeks of rehearsal for the Y@H Chorus, whose average age is 81, and many of whom must overcome health adversities to participate. Their music is unexpected, going against the stereotype of their age, performing songs by James Brown, and Sonic Youth. Although they've toured the world, this account focuses on preparing new songs, not an easy endeavor, for a concert in their home town, which succeeds in spite of several real heart breaking events.
This award-winning documentary film documents the final weeks of rehearsal for the Y@H Chorus, whose average age is 81, and many of whom must overcome health adversities to participate.

Since I direct a small choir at a Baptist church I was eager to see how another choir works through its music.

My choir.
My choir.

After watching the video I was excited for my choir to see the film as well. The film Young @ Heart is both poignant and humorous.

This invitation is simple because everyone in the choir knows where we live.
This invitation is simple because everyone in the choir knows where we live.

Ergo, let’s have a party private screening on a Friday night. The only invitees will be members of the choir. (I know after the Book Swap I said I was done with that for awhile but I changed my mind.)

We'll have to rearrange seating in the conservatory to accommodate over a dozen people to watch a movie.
We’ll have to rearrange seating in the conservatory to accommodate over a dozen people to watch a movie.

The only entry requirement beyond being a member of the choir is to know the secret passcode: I FEEL GOOD!

We'll adjust the seating in the conservatory so everyone can watch a movie in comfort.
We’ll have to move the TV also.

Working on a simple menu since the screening is on a Friday night when I don’t have much preparation time.

Do you have a favorite movie?

Stay Focused

Yesterday was supposed to be a great day of tidying and cleaning but it turned out to be a day I stayed in bed most of the morning just trying to snap out of all the aches and pains of a full-on cold.

I love a well-made cup of coffee.
I love a well-made cup of coffee.

Charlie took mercy on me and served me toast and coffee in bed which improved my sense of wellness quite a bit.

The pieces of toilet came in a box inside a box of form-fitting foam.
The pieces of toilet came in a box inside a box of form-fitting foam.

Three of four boxes of toilets were delivered on Friday which had to be inspected within 48 hours of delivery. The last box is slated to be delivered Monday.

The toilets were well packed and difficult to loosen from their foam nests.
The toilets were well packed and difficult to loosen from their foam nests.

It took all Charlie’s strength to wrangle the inner boxes from the foam they were packed in. We examined the porcelain carefully for chips and cracks and found none.

We're storing the toilet in the conservatory shower until installation.
We’re storing the toilet in the conservatory shower until installation.

One toilet is in the conservatory bathroom awaiting installation.  The tank part of the second toilet is in the master bathroom awaiting its mate.

Not sure what Charlie is looking for -- maybe he's resting from lifting the piano twice.
Not sure what Charlie is looking for — maybe he’s resting from lifting the piano twice.

We also worked together to roll out the dining room rug.  I rolled the rug; Charlie lifted the piano. Seems fair, right?

We decided to mount the tree in the living room window facing the front of the house.
We decided to mount the tree in the living room window facing the front of the house.

Charlie had already wrapped the tree in lights while I was in my feverish stupor.

Wrapped and ready to go under the tree.
Wrapped and ready to go under the tree.

And we put the presents under the tree.

What present would you like to get this year?