Saturday, December 17, 2016

Santa Says Congratulations

What a lovely recital!
Congratuations to all the performers and parents. I'm so proud and full of love for all of you! All the solo perforances and the duets and trios with students, parents and me were so fun and expressive.
I'll be posting videos on youtube--mostly private links so shoot me an email and I'll give you some links with parent permissions!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all of you!

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Storm is Coming

Caramel Corn is a great gluten free vehicle for butter, sugar and vanilla

This little one is already an appreciative audience

Hold your horses, girls!

Yes, that would be a lit steering wheel heat icon

Each loop is a perfect repetition! 

A sample of duets and trios

The reality. 
The storm is coming! That would be literally and figuratively. It's our big weekend. The children have been working so hard. This year, along with our classical repertoire we are featuring holiday duets and trios. I love Catherine McMichael's arrangements because they are intended for different levels so you can pair elementary and intermediate students. We are also doing a few of Jennifer Eklund's duets and the standard Alfred and Faber.  Each pianist will play one classical piece and one holiday selection. I've been lifting weights so that I can handle the stage managing--I'm borrowing extra adjustable chairs!

A couple weeks ago I started paying Mary a buck a day to be sitting in the chair with her hands on the piano at 6:45 a.m. Calvin says if I'm gonna go there I owe him $4272 in back pay. Note to parents and children everywhere, fair does not always mean equal. Some of us are not morning people. There go I but for the grace of an auto start coffee maker.

A glance at the weather is a little off putting. In light of Saturday's recital and Sunday's open house, I made Bill call the plow guy 13 times. Tell him I'm not psycho but we really need plowed out by 10:00 a.m. or I'm gonna blow a gasket. Tell him again.  Leave him another message. Tell him again--the part about how I'm not crazy but it's really important. DID YOU TELL HIM?!?!?!?!?

I'm guessing if it's really a high of eight below sledding will not be very much fun at the open house on Sunday. Except maybe Solomon and Nehemiah. They will probably ice fish. Minnesota boys.

Joyful haste is in the air. There are glass plates to bring up from the basement and chairs and drum sets and marimbas to move. Candles to light and programs to print. I have an extra printer in the trunk of the car sshhhh, not really. It's a good idea this time of year--it lets the printer under the desk know just where he stands.

Sand and salt.  DID YOU GET SAND AND SALT?  Honey, when are you gonna get the sand and salt?

Kris and I made all manner of fussy little Christmas cookies last weekend--chocolate thumbprints and wafer sandwiches--you know the kind--that take ten minutes each?  I whisked them away to the freezer. They are so special that no one can eat them. Ever. OK, maybe one on Christmas Eve.

To counter that I made three batches of caramel corn that we can stuff ourselves with.
I'm off the sugar free thing. In case you didn't notice.

God bless us everyone. Keep us safe on the roads and warm and toasty in our homes and hopefully at recitals and parties!

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Light Shines. . . well. . sometimes it's actually just a little too dark to see

True Love

He Doesn't Do Anything Half Way

Cousin Robin's Photo of the last of my Grandma's dated muffin cups and  her other grandma's pan

Christmas Tea Girls

The Entertainer

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. Except occasionally, like when you are playing a simple accompaniment for the guest speaker at the Christmas Tea and there's a background slide show and as soon as the slide show starts and she takes her first breath you realize that it's completely dark behind the piano and you can't read a single note of the seven page "Breath of Heaven" music.  You could stop and holler--hey--somebody turn on the lights back here, but since that might ruin what little ambiance you had going, instead you limp through, channeling your five years as country music starlet and thanking God that you are a Christmas music junkie and have actually heard said carol 1, 347,239 times, relying on your very own out of shape ears.

Every year I say it's the last year. This year, is really the last year.

Read my lips. . . no more tea. Instead I'm having an open house party. Yep. That will be much simpler. (Sunday 12/18 from 3:00-6:00 if you are in town--please stop by. . . no tea will be served.)

Calvin was a hit as usual and gently entertained us with his own internal library of Christmas music. He sold out of CD's, I haven't counted the cash--but it's gonna feed a lot of children for a year.

I don't want to ruin the tea for anyone else--the room is beautiful, the tables are beautiful, it's a moment of grace and fellowship. It's just time for me personally to move on.

Speaking of Christmas music junkies and playing by ear--we run across old random videos a lot--from the kids' cameras or old phones--we found one of Mary at Grandma and Grandpas on Christmas Day, she was four and Calvin was seven and she's singing Santa Claus is coming to town and Calvin is on the piano way in the background. She's cute as a bug of course, putting it on for the camera. I'm listening to Calvin's seven year old accompaniment and I hear the exact licks from Fred Waring's Christmas Magic CD, which I've been known to overplay, just once in a while for the past 40 years.

I don't say this to brag. . . though just like your kids, my kids are awesome. I'm just telling you this so that you can be very careful about what you let your children listen to. For example if Wee Sing Christmas is in the rotation--I highly recommend just passing that one on. Well. . . come to think of it, all kids deserve in tune Christmas carols. Never mind. Throw it away. Just be careful what you listen to.

And. . . carry an itty bitty book light in your briefcase. There's enough darkness in the world without trying to read those increasingly small black dots without light.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Mysterious Christmas Thing

Something mysterious happened. I seemed to have stumbled on to doing something very right. I guess after fifteen or probably more years of pulling the long Christmas train, we seem to have come full stop.

Well. . . at least manageable stop.

A lovely Thanksgiving was had by all up in Nisswa with Bill's folks. We also had a wonderful chance to meet up with friends. What would we do without our friends?

Upon our return I started getting out the Christmas. Those of you who have a Christmas closet will understand. If not. . . well just read along.

As usual I printed out the calendar for the remaining four weeks of the year. On cheerful red paper. Usually this resembles a late Beethoven sonata, a lot of black ink on the page. I studied it. I looked again. I went through the stack of papers on my desk. Nothing missing. No oversight. What? What? The pages are inexplicably blank. The Christmas train is only pulling a few light cars up the mountain.

I'm not saying we are only sitting here getting pedicures and eating bon bons, but we really just have the Christmas Tea, three choral services, a Christmas studio recital and two Christmas Eve churches. Totally reasonable normal activity level.

I've been having coffee with friends. Talking on the phone with Doris. Hanging my stockings with care. Yesterday Bill baked bread.

I guess last year between eight weeks of bronchitis and the broken tailbone something sank in. No dentist. No board meetings. No Nutcracker tickets after a nativity play. I guess I actually did it. Jesus took the Christmas wheel.

Saturday night we were able to take a last minute invitation to the Augsburg College Christmas Vespers at the Central Lutheran Church downtown. And there wasn't even a jazz band concert right before it. Christmas choral music is always moving to me, but this time it was the spoken words of my favorite author tucked between the orchestra and the organ that brought the tear.

God did not wait till the world was ready,
till. . . nations were at peace.
God came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried for release.

God did not wait for the perfect time.
God came when the need was deep and great.
God dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.

God did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy God came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours,
of anguished shame God came,
and God's Light would not go out.

God came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
God came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!
--Madeleine L'Engle, First Coming

We cannot wait for a perfect world, before we are joyful. We cannot till we are all perfect to love each other. God is with us, we are with each other, right here, right now.

Sunday the choir sang a cappella. I wish I had captured their singing at the 9:30 service, but here is the St. Olaf substitute. I love this anthem.

O Light Everlasting (link)
O Love never failing,
Illumine our darkness,
And draw us to Thee.
May we from Thy spirit receive inspiration
That children together Thy wisdom may see.
Make known to all nations Thy peace and salvation,
And help up, O Father, Thy temple to be.

It's right here, right now--that peace that passes understanding. That salvation. The grace that somehow cleared the calendar. The light everlasting that can illumine our darkness. I don't know how it happened this year, but whatever it is, it's filling me with light--light that isn't just from the 37 strings of white incandescents I have strung around my house on every tree and wreath. Not just from the pine scented candle on my stove. It's a mystery to me how this happened, but, Christmas itself is a mystery.

I can take it.
Peace to you.