Friday, November 28, 2014

What a Mess

Happy day after Thanksgiving! I am still stuffed from all the good food consumed around the family table yesterday. While I had a blast preparing and cooking the food, I DESPISE cleaning up the mess (which is why I rarely do that job!). On Wednesday evening, the kitchen looked like a disaster area.

I behave in the kitchen very much like my mother. After all, she's the one who taught me everything I know about cooking. When we bake together, we have several recipes going at once. All of the ingredients are scattered around and counter space is cluttered with various mixing bowls, whisks, and measuring cups. We acknowledge that it is best to clean up as you go along, but our modus operandi tends to be one of piling things in the sink with the intention of cleaning them later. Before very long, every dish in the kitchen cabinets has made its way to the sink! It's really a mess that no one wants to deal with.

Somehow, Mom convinced my family that the one who cooks doesn't do the cleaning! That job is left for the eaters. That means on most evenings, you'll find me in the kitchen with Mom preparing dinner. Afterwards, Pop makes his way to the kitchen and begins cleaning up our mess. It's funny to hear him complain constantly about how every pan in the kitchen ends up in the sink when we cook. Even though he "complains" a bit, we know that he doesn't mind long as the food is good!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hits and Misses (November 16-22)

Here's a look back at the week that was......

  • Opera Workshop was my final performance of the semester! I'm done! I had a blast with all of the playing though. The card scene from Carmen and the first act of The Magic Flute were great successes....even though I didn't play as well as I could have, thanks in part to my annual bout with a sinus infection.
  • After Tuesday night's performance, I was part of a semester celebration with some of the seniors I have worked with this term. It was a lot of fun to laugh together while we shared stories and continued making memories. I'm truly blessed to be a part of these students' lives and thankful that I have made some cherished friendships with them.
  • One of the best parts of my job is getting to explore new music. This week, I began work on a composition by one of the students at Union. It's refreshing to explore creative music that is thoughtfully prepared. Thank you, Joey Moore, for letting me be part of the work's premiere.
  • Since the Thanksgiving holidays are just around the corner, Saturday was the perfect lazy day. It included lots of television, naps, and a bit of casual reading on the couch. Saturday was just the start to the long vacation that I needed!
  • This year's sinus infection simply will not let go. On the plus side, it hasn't completely knocked me off of my feet. It has effected every aspect of my world though and resulted in the cancellation of some non-essential rehearsals.
  • As much as I love learning new music, I despise dealing with inferior scores. This week included the performance of a new work on recital. Sadly, the piece was not much more than a simple lead sheet. The rhythms indicated in the vocal line were not always followed. Late last week, we had to make the decision to simply cut the final section of the piece because it wasn't lining up. In order to present new music, all of the pieces simply MUST be correctly in place on the page.
  • I have never hated teaching a course as much as I have despised my online class this semester. The students are frustrated. I'm frustrated. I could care less if they actually learn anything...I just want the experience to be over! What's been the problem? It was bad timing for me to attempt a new experience with Dad's health crisis this semester. I have found the technological support to be lacking. The fix to the online community has generated more bugs that are being exposed as the course progresses. Since I'm on campus only once each week, there are no opportunities to effectively communicate with support staff -- especially since I have to physically be present in order to get anything done. Lesson learned....I'll gladly attempt an online class again when I'm in a full-time position, but not before.
 Have a wonderful week! Take the time to count your blessings this week as you enjoy the turkey with your friends and family. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


My family knows that I despise eating at a buffet or cafeteria. Potluck dinners can be just as difficult for me. I find the food often becomes stale and unappetizing. My mind imagines the hands that have touched the serving utensils. I start to wonder when those hands were last washed. The scenario just goes downhill from there.

Imagine my surprise when I recently found myself visiting a buffet while traveling alone. I had heard about The Old Country Store in Jackson, Tennessee, and decided to check it out. I knew they were known for their breakfast buffet, but planned to order from the menu. Was I in for a shock when I learned there was NO menu from which to order!

Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the breakfast buffet was actually quite satisfying. The biscuits were extremely light and fluffy, a perfect complement to the sausage gravy. The fried chicken was pretty good as well, but just not what I was expecting for breakfast. Luckily, I did not discover the pastry bar until the end of my meal. The blueberry bread was AH-MAH-ZING!!! A serving of that alone was worth the price of the buffet.

I haven't changed my mind about buffets, but I have discovered that it is possible to enjoy them occasionally. It's all a matter of atmosphere and my mindset at the moment.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hits and Misses (November 9-15)

Once again, here's a look back at the week that was....

  • This week had two more successful concerts. I survived my ride on the Ghost Train on Tuesday night, despite feeling less than wonderful. Friday night saw a wonderful senior recital with Hillarie Henderson. I especially enjoyed getting to perform "Ain't It a Pretty Night" from Susannah.
  • The week also featured several opportunities to have honest conversations that were long overdue.  Nothing too stressful here, but some observations that needed to be shared. I was happy to be able to get some things off of my chest and that they were received in the spirit they were given.
  • On Saturday, my family celebrated Dad's 78th birthday together. It was a simple dinner at Olive Garden that was made more special because of Dad's great recovery from his heart surgery. The only thing that might have made the evening more perfect was if we felt a bit better.
  • It looks as though some future opportunities are heading my way that might make my life a little easier. Final details haven't been worked out, so I'm not at a point that I can share specifics yet. It looks as though I will get to increase the number of piano students I am currently teaching....and that's a good thing.
  • I have been sick much of the week. What began as jet lag on Monday turned into a nasty stomach virus on Tuesday. As the week progressed, I began to experience sinus problems that have simply sapped me of my energy. The only thing I want to do right now is crawl in bed and sleep for a few days!
  • Winter weather made an early appearance in the Memphis area this week. On Thursday, I
    crawled out of bed to learn that the interstate was icy and almost impassable. I don't enjoy driving in any type of precipitation, but I definitely don't like snow and ice.  I'm just hoping that the fact that the first storm came through in early November doesn't mean that we are going to have a rough winter around here.
  • I get really irritated when other people's lack of preparation negatively impacts me. I tend to be patient when students are slow to get music to me. When it gets close to performance time, however, my patience wanes. When my patience is gone, tactfulness is replaced by blunt truth. Your feelings might get hurt, but you need to know that your lack of preparation is effecting me.
  • I hate when people find it necessary to make derogatory remarks that are hurtful and mean spirited. An anonymous person left a comment on a recent blog post that was prejudicial and cruel. While I welcome open conversation about issues and will permit comments that present a different point of view from my own, I will not allow anyone to use Livin' Life as a means of spreading hate and rage. Thankfully, I was advised to moderate all comments on my blog long ago to protect against just such things. I am happy to say that I was the only one who saw the posted comment and have since removed it from the site.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Common Sense

As the results of the recent mid-term elections rolled in, I shook my head as people began to question the common sense of voters. "I can't believe the amendment was passed. I thought our voters had more common sense." Why is it that the intellect and rationality of others are always called into question by the Left when things do not go according to their plans? Why do liberals think they are the exclusive owners of "common sense?"

I will be the first to admit that there are conservatives who do not always make choices based in thoughtful consideration of the issues. However, there are also liberals that are guilty of the same thing! Can we not just accept the fact that differing opinions and interpretations of facts can lead to opposing views that are clearly reasoned?

Many conservatives are accused of being small-minded or irrational because they are influenced by a strong moral code that is grounded in a personal faith. This does not mean that I am ignoring the facts. It means I am considering the facts from the perspective of my convictions. My faith does not mean that I am living in the past; I suggest that I am choosing a way of life that has proven itself stable for centuries.

I don't ask you to agree with my politics. I do ask you to respect my right to freely express my thoughts without fear of attack. Despite our personal politics, I believe that most voters are pursuing the same goal -- making our world a better place. When we keep the goal as the main objective, I think we can find our commonalities and work together. That leads to the best possible outcome.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hits and Misses (November 2 - 8)

After a fairly busy week and a touch of illness, I'm finally getting back to a regular blogging routine. Here's a look back at the week that was....


  • It's always a joy to get to reconnect with friends in Southern California! I was honored to meet some new people, laugh and cry with some dear friends, and simply be with those that I treasure. It's so nice to know that time and distance truly has no effect on the strength of our friendships.
  • Union's Day of Remembrance came early in the week and meant that I was able to get a little rest before the trip out west. I definitely needed it since I had to pack for so many different situations.
  • Every trip is always measured by the food. This week included a trip to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. I think there's a southern cook associated with the restaurant...the fried chicken was quite good!


  • I simply do not enjoy dealing with stressful events. It's especially difficult when the conflict is between friends. These situations rarely have a clear resolution that doesn't end in someone getting hurt.
  • I love my sleep. It's so important. Even though I love seeing friends, sleeping in the floor is becoming more challenging with each passing year. The negative aspects of the sleeping conditions are always overshadowed by the thrill of being with those I love though.
  • Arriving at the airport less than an hour before departure is not a situation I like. Sometimes it's necessary. Other times, it is the result of poor planning. Either way, me running through the airport simply hoping I'll make my flight is not something I enjoy.
  • Saying goodbye is never easy. Even though I know that I will get back to L.A., the situation will never be quite the same. People will move away. Things just don't stay the same. I suppose this is what always makes it so difficult to return home when my heart longs to be in the ocean air. I know the only way that the situation will change, however, is if I begin to take steps to make it happen.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Harvest Time

Leaves are turning beautiful shades of yellow and red. The air is crisp and cool. Crops are being brought in at a rapid pace in an attempt to avoid Winter's first freeze. All signs suggest it is harvest time in the South.

Harvest does not just happen. It is a labor intensive process that consumes the farmer's year. The ground is prepared and the seed is sown. For what feels like an eternity, there is no visible sign of life. Then the first sprout of green appears. The farmer patiently waits for the plant to mature, vigilantly protecting the seedling from destructive forces. A watchful eye is kept on the sky while praying for the perfect balance of sun and rain.

Once a healthy plant appears, the waiting process continues. It takes time for the crop to yield its fruit. The farmer patiently observes the field's development, waiting for the perfect opportunity to harvest the best crop. If the farmer attempts to harvest too soon, the fruits of his months of labor have not reached their full potential. Conversely, if harvest is delayed too long, a bountiful crop will be lost and cannot be recovered.

Doesn't that sound like our lives? No wonder Scripture is filled with allusions to farming and harvest. The principle applies to our vocation, parenting, and spirituality. We would all benefit from becoming students of the soil.

Some crops require more growing time than others. It becomes difficult to patiently wait while other farmers joyfully go to the fields to harvest their crops. The same is true in life. It can be challenging to watch others experiencing fulfillment and success while you remain in the growth process. Whatever stage of the farming process your life is currently in, take hope. As sure as the sun rises, harvest time will eventually be yours. Don't get in too big of a hurry and try to rush the harvest. The patient farmer that carefully watches for the prime harvest season will reap the greatest yield.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Hits and Misses (October 26 - November 1)

Here's my weekly look back at the week that was.

  • Sunday got off to a good start. I enjoyed playing for the morning service at First Marion and followed that with a successful presentation of the high school cabaret production.
  • Music for the rest of the week was thrilling as well. Another recital hearing was successful (despite our surprise at singing both arias). Accompanying the men's choir at the Fall choral concert went better than expected. 
  • Despite my slow movements by the end of the week, it was great to spend an hour on the phone with a friend on Friday night. We were productive and also just got to be silly for a bit -- definitely a change of pace! I can't wait for lots more fun when I'm visiting LA this week.
  • There's nothing quite like playing for a worship service when you realize that the worship leader is not in the same key that you are in! Yep, it happened. Yep, it was the most frightening 20 seconds I've experienced in a while. Yep, we recovered and made it through without too much disruption to the overall service.
  • I know I'm getting older. I don't need my body to remind me of that on a regular basis. However, my body decided to re-enforce that message on Thursday night when I twisted my back on my way to the stage for the choral concert. I didn't notice it until after I had played (thankfully!), but quickly knew that I was going to have to lie down for a while. I'm not sure exactly what I did, but I do know that it forced me to slow down a bit for the rest of the week.
  • My online class has become the bane of my existence at the moment. I think they only permitted absolute idiots to enroll in the class. My frustration continues as the process of getting material uploaded to the course is a multi-level endeavor. I mean, come on! Heaven and Earth were created in only 7 days! This process is ridiculous. At this point, I'm simply trying to get through so I can claim to have taught the material....effectiveness of instruction is secondary.
  • It was a quiet Halloween here in Crawfordsville. Even though I didn't want to really mess with the goblins this year, I did miss seeing the costumes. I suppose I can't have my cake and eat it I may have to consider this a hit instead......
There you have it. Be good and don't forget to be thankful this November!