April 2004

Whenever my daughter and/or wife go to a garage sale, they frequently come away with a jigsaw puzzle or two. They're always cheap and the dollar per minute of enjoyment ratio is quite high. I can take them or leave them but whenever we get one set up I always take part a little. It always feels good when you can get a little section done and you find out where it fits in the big picture (literally).

I'm starting to feel the same way about my music. At first, you just parrot what the music teacher and/or book tells you to do. At some point, you begin to learn the notation so that you can then read music and parrot what the composer wants you to do without having to have a teacher there. But finally, you begin to see the patterns that allow you to put together your own music.

Not that I'm there but I'm starting to see how some people can get there. A few pieces slipped into place this week and I can see how to take a given tune and fill in some “color” between the chords to make it sound more interesting.

I love those little moments of epiphany. (whatever that means – remind me to go look that up). Unfortunately, those usually precede a period of steep learning curve which are long and frustrating.


Well, the big event finally went off – and without a hitch.

The music teacher should be proud of herself. I'm a bit sad myself since this is the last of the big elementary school hoop-de-doos that I will ever see. I will no longer have an opportunity make fun of the uptight music teacher. Speaking of which, I sat next to her last night at the musical. For a variety of reasons, I ended up with my little video camera sitting next to her as she sat in the center of the front row and conducted. Actually, she didn't sit too much, she was up and down the whole time trying to keep the kids on the beat.

But immediately after the event, she disappeared. Just like a flash, she was gone even before all us parents. I opined that perhaps she was backstage hitting the bottle to unwind but at that point, Erin asked what “hitting the bottle” was and so I had to deal with that.

The event itself was very enjoyable though which is why I wonder why the music teacher vamoosed so quickly – there would have been much praise. I personally can't imagine how she convinced several boys to actually sing solos. Erin informs me that her teacher bribed them with “funny money” which is what she hands out for good behavior. They can cash this in for erasers, pencils, and miscellaneous cracker-jack-box kinds of things.

Erin had a solo – she sang part of that old “Sunny Side of the Street” tune from way back when. Not only that but she and a friend tied for an award that they give out to fifth graders who have been especially artsy during their time there at the school. It was a grand evening.

We celebrated by going to Braum's for ice cream on the way home. I tried to get together a group but only one family showed up to celebrate with us. It was fun. It made for a late school night but it only happens once in a great while – it was worth it.

Too bad it's the our family's last fifth grade musical. It won't be the last musical event though; the eighth grade band concert is Thursday night.

It rained all last week leaving the ground nice and soft which implies I should have been outside digging in the back yard but I don't like digging and so I didn't. I did finish up my workbench project though. Plus, I went out and set a mole trap although my hopes for success are small.

Friday night was the night of the Junior High All-Night Blast at the church and so Evan was out all night and out of commission all the next day which pretty much messes up the family schedule but nobody was complaining. His slumber was reason enough for me not to start the lawnmower.

For her part, Erin had some friends over to spend the night; we took them all to see a movie.

The famous fifth-grade musical which was called off because of tornadoes has been rescheduled for tonight – same time, same place and so that should prove entertaining.

It was also the weekend of the high school prom which touched me in that my in-laws borrowed my digital camera to preserve their daughter and her date in all their finery. Naturally, I got to burn them to CD as well. The photos that is – not my in-laws. I usually try to keep my opinions to myself and so my thoughts of “huge waste of time and money” went unuttered and that's just as well. I must be alone in my opinion of how stupid proms are. I've been to two of them so I speak from as much experience as anyone.

Finally, I spent an unfortunately long period of time trying to fix my home network – very frustrating. It was working fine: both computers on the internet simulataneously without them both having to be turned on, file and printer sharing all working famously, and them *poof!*. All gone. My Isp will not help since I didn't buy the router from them and so I'm alone on this one. Rats.

Whee! I finished another project! First the mantle and now this.
I'm on a roll now. What next? I guess it's Melissa's turn to pick
and she'll likely choose something inside the house like rebuilding
the pantry but I'm ready for it.

Check it out – my new workbench. For years I was using a piece of
plywood up on some 4x4s and, to be quite honest, that worked pretty
well but I wanted a fancy one and here it is. I had been saving wood
scraps for quite some time and used most of them on this project.
I've now got a really powerful vise for holding stuff vertically and
there are bench dogs for the surface of the top for holding stuff down
flat. I'm set! Make sure to click the picture to see a huge version
in all it's glory.

click it to see a larger picture

I think the first project is going to end up being a guitar kit for
Evan's birthday.

Well, we had one tornado touch down east of town and wreck one barn in the middle of nowhere and the wimpy school system cancels all activities for the night! I thought that was a bit extreme but I guess they didn't know that everything would blow over right after that. Still…

The big fifth grade musical was supposed to be last night. Now who knows when it'll be? The auditorium is hard to schedule and is busy most of the time so I can't imagine when this shindig will come off but here's hoping that it is soon (before the kids all forget their lines). I hope we don't have to sit and watch it in the elementary school cafeteria. There aren't half enough seats in there.

Every day this week, we've had this “unsettled” spring weather consisting of nice pretty days, followed by late afternoons of popcorn thunderstorms peppered with “rotation” (i.e, potential tornadoes). So, we've been subjected to howling tornado warning sirens every evening and the occasional downpour. Today is much the same.

As I look out the window on the west side of the building, I see sunny and nice. I look out the east side and I see a black smudge of cloud. I called home and find that the sirens are howling over there again. Tornado on the ground east of Broken Arrow.

Sheesh! Erin has a big musical thing tonight and I don't look forward to having to dive into the hallways every thirty minutes (which could very well happen).

Wish me luck!

Last night was when Mel hosted her Bunco group at our house and, as a result, the kids and I were expected to make ourselves scarce for a few hours. As expected, the house filled up with SUV-drivin' PTA moms who came to slam a few wine coolers and shoot some dice.

Uninvited but also present was one of the omnipresent Oklahoma tornado-packin' thunderstorms.

I had been to guitar lessons and noticed no bad weather but kept hearing warnings on the radio. About the time I got to the in-laws where the kids were, the tornado sirens were going off in our neighborhood. Mel and her dice-shootin' buddies played on. A few of them got nervous and wanted to head for the bathroom but Mel blew it off and kept going.

As usual it was nothing but there were a few tornadoes sighted in the area – just not in our area. Erin was quite nervous about it. That's pretty much all there was on TV for the entire evening: weathermen getting way to excited by all the bad weather and call-ins from stormchasers reporting this and that. Meanwhile, the Bunco-ettes played on.

The poor dog was shaking with fear when we finally let her in. She doesn't like thunder and with the sirens on top of that, she was fit to be tied.

The whole thing ended as soon as it had begun – almost simultaneous with the end of the Bunco party. I drove home and as one guest left the driveway, I drove into the garage. I another guest say as she got into her van: “I am so impressed that you can get both cars into your garage!” No mention of the bad weather at all.

Just another day, I guess.

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