Tuesday, May 26, 2015

bella nova

when i was at compass with diana last fall, i overheard angelic female voices singing in harmony. i simply had to go over and tell them how much i enjoyed their outdoor rehearsal. that was the beginning of a budding friendship with the mom and her daughters.

i made time in my schedule for the twice-monthly sunday rehearsals since january. i am so glad i did. singing with a group again fills a part of me that i hadn't fully acknowledged was lonely and longing for community.

my best memories of high school involved singing in chorus and harmonizing with an especially dear friend. her voice is the one i always hear when *o thou that tellest good tidings to zion* comes to mind. singing with my then-boyfriend-and-now-husband steve in OSU's chorale were magical moments. joining the baton rouge symphony chorus, the downer's grove choral society, acappellago, and woodland chamber singers count among the best decisions of my life. singing the songs from music together for over a decade has been an incredibly fulfilling and enjoyable way to include my children in the soundtrack of our lives.

and now i have found a home with bella nova. women's barbershop, members of harmony, inc. almost entirely new in terms of style to me (though my high school friend's mom was directing a sweet adelines chorus and my friend has since followed suit), but oh, so familiar in my love for acapella and harmony. (you do recall how much i love pentatonix, right? and eric whitacre - so much so that i participated in his virtual choir? how about the maccabeats?)

this group of women and their marvelous director are literally comprised of family. a woman and her husband, daughters, mother, and sister are members of the core, the heart of this group. to have multiple generations of sweet sounding women's voices only adds to the appeal of this group for me.

they didn't ask me to audition. they invited me to come. and to sing. and to join. it was with joy that i said yes.

i performed with the chorus in april as part of the fairfax jubilaires spring show. it was a tremendous experience for me, being back on a stage. it felt like where i belonged.

and then this most recent performance, back in the church where bella nova rehearsed before i joined. the acoustics were magical. but honestly, the very best part of the experience was that i could share my joy with my family. the show in april would have been overwhelming for diana and ander, but this focused, intimate setting really let them see and hear what i was working on with my *singing ladies*. ander smiled and waved at me several times in between songs. i got to sit with him and experience the spectacular performances of epic with him. he loved our singing. he loved their singing. he loved listening to and watching miss chris so much that he asked me to introduce him to her afterwards, which i did, and he charmed his way into an autographed cd from the quartet.

this one performance has made a huge difference to me and my loved ones. ander is more agreeable about my playing and singing barbershop music at home - in between musical theatre selections like hello, dolly - and diana is considering attending a rehearsal to get to know just a little more about what i'm involved in. steve is understandably jealous that i am singing without him but is very, very supportive in making sure i have the opportunity to pursue this.

finding a new musical home. ahhh. that makes me happyer.

(did i mention i now sing bass? yes, i can go very, very low.)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

she is proud of . . .

. . . a watercolor and colored pencil work she created to display at the homeschool conference back in march





. . . the design board she created as a display of her efforts in architecture class

. . . her successful start to the selling season of The Yummy Brownie

words cannot convey how deeply i love this child of mine. fortunately, she lets me embrace her often, which is just enough for me. we really are happyer at home. 

Friday, May 22, 2015


these girls speak the truth:

i am so proud of and humbled by my daughter and her friends and the message they discussed and debated and distilled into this engaging, straight-to-the-heart video.

"it's easier to say something nice about someone else than it is to say something nice about yourself. it's important to say something nice about yourself to appreciate who you really are and to #LikeUrSelfie"

please share this. spread the word. it's a beautiful message that bears repeating.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

alternative food photos

i'm not on instagram. i don't typically tweet or post on facebook about food (though i have been known to do so).

but this is totally different.

this is what happens when you have some creative kids together in the same house and you suggest switching to play doh from legos for a change of texture and getting to stand up and move around instead of sitting on the floor.

the mamas sat comfortably on the sofa and chat, while the young chefs prepare artisanal offerings.

take that, you foodies! who's living the high life now?

vegetable tray

crackers, cheeses, uncured meats

mini beef patties. i inquired if they were 100% organically-raised, grass-fed angus beef but the server was uncertain.

tomato salad

toast with butter

pasta with veggie ball

veggie-stuffed raviolis with meat and tomatoes

raspberry and blackberry tarts

un petit gateau


dippin' dots
needless to say, no one went hungry.

Friday, May 15, 2015

morning larking-about

my sweet friend and i went back to meadowlark this morning to see if more peonies had bloomed and to look at the water lilies. we didn't make it to the korean bell garden, so that just means we have yet another reason to return again.

we were in tremendous luck today with animal spotting: stopping to gaze at a brilliant male cardinal, we spied the movements of two plump, furry woodchucks galumphing on the grass next to the tree line.

while sitting on a bench near lake gardiner, we listened to bird songs and were treated to the sight of male red-winged blackbirds. we suspected that there might have been a nest or two among the fluffy cattails. perhaps the brownish birds further down were the females.

swooping over the water were most likely tree swallows; the iridescent blue on the backs shone brilliantly in the direct sunlight.

passing by the sunning turtles, we saw a flash of shiny black and immediately knew it was a grackle. it sat there for a while up in the tree, preening as i attempted to photograph it. meanwhile, a bullfrog harumphed at us from across the water.

our resting bench near this point was covered in pretty lichen.

asters or daisies?
we spotted a most mysterious bird that my phone apps were entirely useless in identifying. we could tell it was a heron with its long neck, and the bright orange feet were striking. i have not checked with my friend's independent analysis, but looking through all about birds later at home, i really think it could have been a yellow-crowned night heron. update: she thinks it's a green heron. after additional image searching, i must admit to agreeing with her.

walking over to lake lina, we saw a family of canada geese resting in the grass. a short while later, as we looked at the bald cypress knees and water lilies not yet in bloom, the family wandered past, ignoring us completely.

past the pitcher plants we saw more peonies in bloom, but there are still so many yet to open.

the 'ambassador' allium has started to show itself.

yellow pansies



this morning's lark was enough for me, almost. i left before i was ready so that i would want to come again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

mother's day at meadowlark

my mother's day this year was lovely, thanks for asking. ander made me a beautiful card, diana drew my portrait, steve got us takeout for dinner, and i spent a relaxed afternoon in the company of a treasured friend, investigating what we could find at meadowlark botanical gardens.

i had never been there in the daytime; the one and only time i've gone was for the walk of lights in the winter. my friend knows this place well, so she guided me along shaded paths and relatively quiet spaces to look at flowers and trees and plants and birds and fish and a speedy little lizard (or maybe a skink? it was too fast for us to tell).

bleeding hearts

i think this looks like a little girl with a giant pink hairdo & funny pigtails, with a graceful, long neck and rounded collar

pansies. they have furry faces.

japanese maple

more of the maple. we had one at our house in CA and i miss it so.
'ambassador' allium

'ambassador' allium

can you see the bee?

Add caption

same peony

different peony


another peony. i like them. we had some at our house in IL.

red-eared slider. so many of these turtles gathered together near us as we leaned over the bridge railing

also the koi
canada geese and their goslings

we saw cardinals, catbirds, and canada geese (oh, my!). swooping swallows and a bathing grackle and plenty of others whose songs we heard but could not identify. the goslings were particularly precious as they burbled and bobbed and occasionally sat down right where they were to take a brief rest. we stayed very, very still and quiet enough that the whole feathered family trooped past us with nary a concerned look or hiss in our direction.

i was perfectly content being there with my friend. she understands *enough* and exemplifies *embrace* for me. i was refreshed and renewed and returned to my family refilled with love and patience for everyone, including myself.

i really like how diana drew me. i feel pretty.