Sunday, July 31, 2011

Magical Moment 540, "Pretty Girl"

I saw this beauty at the park. There was just something regal about the way she stood, unafraid in the sunlight.

She let us get so close to her.

So we threw her an apple, which she picked up and crunched. This shot reminds me of Susan in the Boonies' button at her blog, Wild Life in the Woods.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Magical Moment 539, "A Good Balance"

A read a post, Plans and Sabotage, at Laugh with us Blog, and it reminded me of my own flub a while ago:

When Eddie's mom and friend came to visit us a few months ago, we decided to take them to "The Lion King" on Broadway, the essence of a Broadway musical that we knew they'd love. The tickets were expensive, about $150 each, but we all agreed it would be a well worth it, once in a lifetime experience. 

The tickets needed to be purchased all at once in order to get seats together, so I bought them a few weeks before their arrival with our credit card. Excited, I printed the tickets and looked them over. That's when I realized...I bought them for the WRONG weekend!!! I think my heart stopped for a second. Broadway tickets are like airline tickets...the prices constantly change and they're practically impossible to return. I immediately called the theatre, but couldn't get ahold of anyone. I called the 800 emergency number on the tickets, and still had no luck. My next panicked call was to Eddie, where I gushed in terror about how I may have just spent $600 for nothing!

I remembered one of the reasons I love Eddie so much. He told me not to worry about for another second. That it was an accident, and he would call tomorrow. If he couldn't call, he would go into the city and talk to whoever was at the theatre in person. He made me promise that I wouldn't think about it anymore. After that, I felt totally calm and knew that somehow, he would find a way to refund or exchange the tickets. Which he did the next day. I'm an anxious worry wart, Eddie is calm as a lake. We balance nicely.

The outcome of "The Lion King":
Getting Flipped the Bird, Awesome!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Magical Moment 538, "Boogie-Woogie"

This is another video from a recent performance at Gizzi's Cafe in NYC. Saint Louis Blues is definitely my favorite boogie-woogie tune to play. It always gets my foot tappin. Thanks Mr. Capps for teaching me that left hand boogie-woogie and walkin bass!

(I'll be out for a day or two, but will catch up on all your posts soon!)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Magical Moment 537, "The Green-Eyed Monster"

My husband Eddie, is quite romantic. He brings me gifts, takes me on dates, and sends me flowers. One day we returned from lunch to find a beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered to our doorstep. I picked them up and noticed they were addressed to me! The return address was the flower company, so I assumed they were from Eddie.
"Awww!" I mooned over them. But when I looked at Eddie, rather than seeing an adoring expression staring back at me, he looked completely puzzled.
"Those aren't from me!" He accused, not so romantically or adoringly.

I was just as surprised. I couldn't think of a single person who would send me flowers. It wasn't my birthday or any kind of special occasion. But curiosity, or was it something else, overtook Eddie. He tore open the cardboard packaging like a ravage beast, searching for any clue of who the flowers could be from. 
"It's from that one guy from that one place! I knew he had a crush on you!"

I rolled my eyes and waited for the card to surface.
"Ah ha!" He pulled the card out triumphantly.
"Thanks for all your help recently." He read, as if building up to the finale.
" and dad." The last 3 syllables fell flat as he sheepishly handed the card to me. I helped my dad with a new work resume, and he just wanted to say thanks.

No words needed to be said after that. I didn't mutter, "I told you so," or scold his unnecessary jealousy. I did write a blog post about it though.

The bouquet in question

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Magical Moment 536, "Trouble"

I'm expecting company! My sister Erica, and best friend Deb will arrive today. When Erica and I get together, things like this happen:

And when Deb and I get together, things like this happen:

And when my little sister, best friend, and I are all together in NYC for a week, it makes my husband go like this:

But he'll survive. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right?

The wig explanation:

How Deb and I have stayed best friends for nearly 18 years:

A pretty safe bet for the next week:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Magical Moment 535, "Rose in a Canteen"

Sorting through a box of old photographs, I came across this one...

Taken on a disposal camera about 7 years ago during some Army training as a cadet. I recall feeling very homesick, as it was a new experience, and very exhausted. I found a rose (I have no idea where) and kept it alive in my canteen of water for a few days before I was forced to throw it away during a room inspection.

A vibrant red rose, bringing beauty to drab olive green.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Magical Moment 534, "The Enchanted Bus Ride"

I watched a little girl on the bus. For her, the ride was a new adventure. 
For me, it was a routine inconvenience. 

To pass the time, she played with her stuffed animals, a polka dotted kitten and princess bear.
I scanned e-mails on my phone as I fought off motion sickness.

Her feet hovered above the floor as she sat. She swung her legs back and forth, holding them out in front of her for a moment as she admired her pretty, glittery shoes...the ones that maybe belonged to her Halloween costume, but she convinced her mom to let her wear them out.

My feet ached and I longed to kick my heels off throw them into a river.

She pointed out the window to the flashing lights up ahead in the road. Exciting, like on TV.

I inwardly groaned at the thought of another traffic hold up.

She nearly burst with nervous glee when it came time to push the "stop" button. She smiled proudly when it lit up and chimed for all the bus to hear. But it wasn't the correct stop after all. 
"Oops, two more for us," Her mother explained.

I leaned forward in my chair and tapped her shoulder. 
"Would you like to push the next stop for me?"
She nodded vigorously, then waited for just the right second to push the button. 

"Thank you very much," I nodded goodbye as I made my way down the aisle, 
feet killing me and cell phone in hand.
I exited the bus and walked the block home, thinking about the little girl 
who got to push the button 3 times that day.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Magical Moment 533, "Out With Mom"

When my older sister and I were little, our mother would take us on a pretty common outing. First we would go swimming at the YWCA, then she would take us next door to the library where we picked out books and movies. And for a special treat, we would walk across the street and get a bag of rainbow popcorn.

That's what these photos remind me of. Eddie took these while he was at work in the park. He saw the trio in the park all day long and even into the night. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Magical Moment 532, "Trapped in the Tower"

There's an old legend at my alma mater, the University of Nebraska, that someone once got locked in the clock tower. The clock tower today is automated, and plays a tune every hour. But they say that back in the old days, there was an organ up there. Well, the organist was trapped inside, so as a call for help, he played "Rescue Me" repeatedly on the organ until someone noticed and found him. (Or something like that, it's been a few years since college folks!)

The lap top is my organ. My bedroom is the clock tower. I've been held hostage in my room for hours, with no release in sight! We've broken a temperature record, with the heat index at 115 F (46 C). My number one complaint about northern NJ (besides the traffic), is the hundred year old buildings that lack any kind of temperature regulation. So we survive the seasons on radiators and window air conditioners (I know, outrageous, right?!). Last year was our first summer here. On June 1st, Eddie and I drove straight to Home Depot and picked up the largest window air conditioner in existence. It cooled our living room and dining room area with ease. This summer, it was doing pretty well. Until today. The hottest day on record.

With no hope of repair until tomorrow, I've had to make due. The flimsy "Window Air Conditioner that Could," in our bedroom is on full blast, with a fan in front to help circulate the air. The door is closed. The lights are off. I've captured Emily the cat and Joy the dog, who are sitting on the bed with me. All 3 of us bored out of our minds. I did the laundry. Made the bed. Dusted the surfaces. Organized my bookshelf. But I just keep thinking about what I should be doing! All those hours of piano practice lost, or vacuuming the living room, or something! And just when I gather the courage to attempt one of those tasks, I open my bedroom door and am confronted with a blast of heat, as if I were standing directly behind the engine of a C-130. I mean, just to go to the bathroom, I had to stick my face in the sink! I should mention that Eddie is gone until midnight and he took my car. Mmmm hmmm. So I really am stuck!

We don't have a TV in the bedroom. My laptop speakers are useless, so TV or movies on the laptop is out of the question. It's too hot to sleep. Way too hot to eat. So what does a girl do when she's out of all entertainment options? Well I noticed something when I cleaned off my bookshelf...BOOKS! Oh my goodness, I never knew I had so many! Strange things, these books. They're made of paper and have words printed on them. The words form some kind of story! 

So I suppose my task for the rest of the day will be to choose a that I've held onto for years thinking, "I bet that's a good book" then forgot all about, and...drum roll please...READ IT! Maybe, just maybe by the time I'm done, my handsome Prince Eddie will return from work and rescue me from this tower...scratch that. Maybe the electrician will come rescue me from this sweltering heat!

What about us?! We can't read!!!!!!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Magical Moment 531, "Practice Doesn't Make Perfect"

When I was a little girl, there was a piano competition that I practiced diligently for every spring. It was the Fine Arts Competition, and my small Christian school hosted several other schools who came to participate in the event. I competed every year from 3rd through 8th grade. I prepared months in advance and was so nervous when it was finally time to perform. The goal for me was perfection. And with the judges watching, if ever I hit a sour note, I knew that it was over. I wouldn't place. My world would crash and I would be distraught for the next week (in fact I'm still a little bitter about the episode of '97!).

Part of this, is the nature of competition. But I think much of it had to do with something I concocted in my own brain somehow. This idea of 'perfection equals success and anything less is total failure' stayed with me for many years. Even when I sang or played a song for a church service, a safe and accepting environment, I would become so stressed out at the possibility of making a mistake, that it usually became a self-fulfilling prophecy. My nerves would get the better of me and keep me from doing my best. Then afterwards, I would focus on what a bad job I did. I couldn't even bear to hear the encouragement from others that the song was a blessing to them, because I could only recall what I did wrong. And while this did have some advantages (I practiced a lot), mostly it just made me feel unnecessary pressure to reach an impossible standard, and then become crushed when inevitably I couldn't fulfill that standard.

I knew since high school, that this mind game was sabotaging me, yet I couldn't get past it. For the life of me, I couldn't make it through a choir audition without hyperventilating. "Thanks for your audition Elizabeth, but if you can't calm down enough to breath, how do you expect to get sound out of your vocal chords?" When I auditioned, and luckily made it into the Soldier Show, the director told me, "I'm so glad I get to keep you, but you were so nervous during your audition, your eyelashes were shaking!" In fact, it hasn't been until very recently that I've come to terms with making mistakes. I'm using piano as an example here, but it really extends to many other aspects of my life. 

In ballet, the piano accompanist must keep the tempo consistent, and they must keep the musical phrases in sections of 8 counts. The other day, I had a total mind blank. I hit all kinds of chords that would make you cringe. But I kept playing. And though I missed all the right notes, I never missed a beat. I think that's the key. Just keep going. Don't quit when you discover you can't be perfect. The dancers kept dancing, because I just kept on playing.

"Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing."  
-Harriet Braiker

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best."  
-Henry van Dyke

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Magical Moment 530, "A Few Bucks and Some Wild Turkey"

Sounds like a good time, eh? No I didn't mean cash and bourbon, I meant literal bucks and turkeys! Still a good time...for me anyway. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Magical Moment 531, "Performance"

Last night, I played a show at Gizzi's Cafe in New York. I had a great time, seeing old friends and meeting some new ones. With my album nearly complete, I am always looking for more places to play my music, and fortunately was invited to return to Gizzi's. Here's a video from last night. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Magical Moment 530, "The Ultimate Procrastinator"

I hear a lot of people talk about how they're "the biggest procrastinator ever." I'm sure most of them are exaggerating however, as I'd like you to meet THE biggest procrastinator husband.

The culprit

There are many examples I could share with you to prove this fact, however one always comes to mind that makes me chuckle. Eddie is in the process of finishing his Bachelor's degree. Most of his classes are online and the assignments must be electronically submitted by midnight every Sunday.

Late one Sunday night about a year ago, I was sound asleep, snuggled up all warm and cozy in my bed. I was deep in R.E.M cycle when suddenly, I was yanked into consciousness as Eddie hastily shook me awake. Like a patient awakening from a 3 year coma, I mumbled, "What's happening? Where am I? What's going on?" Eddie was desperately trying to ask me something, but I could not put together what was happening. After a few seconds I gained my bearings and heard what Eddie was asking me, "What's it called when you are thinking about an idea and forming it in your head....?!?!?!?" He stuttered, urgently trying to explain what he meant.
"Uh...conceptualize? Develop?" I mumbled.
"Okay... thanks!!!" He ran back to the living room and I immediately resumed my slumber.

The next morning, the murky memory suddenly hit me, "Did I dream that you woke me up to ask me some kind of stupid question in the middle of the night, or did that really happen?"
It really happened. He woke me up at 11:58 pm because he was having a brain block when trying to finish an essay for one of his classes. He showed me the electronic time stamp of when he submitted his homework the previous night. It was like a science fiction movie when they save the world at the last possible second. The time was 11:59, and 56 seconds. See? He wins.

Ah Eddie. He's one of a kind, but he's my one:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Magical Moment 529, "Deer in the Park"

Went on another deer hunting trip and took a few shots...

saw her through the grapevine... She didn't seem to mind me very much at all. Just kept munching away.

This was her treasure.

And we recently discovered that in addition to baby Fauna, there are two sets of twins in the park! We know that for a fact because Eddie saw both sets simultaneously. Always Bring Camera! When will we ever learn?!

"I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it's such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her." - Ellen DeGeneres


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Magical Moment 528, "No Excuse"

They say the first time you do anything is the hardest.
Eddie jumping with the Golden Knights

But I think the second, third, or fourth time can be just as difficult, 
or even more so.
Every Wednesday at the Bernards Inn

The only difference between the first completion of a challenge, and second, is you've proven to yourself it can be accomplished. So there's no excuse not to finish the next time.
Our first half marathon

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Magical Moment 527. "Dance Like There's No One Watching"

Laying on the beach, listening to music, I noticed this kid. I'm not sure what he was dancing to because my tiny radio was way out of ear shot from him. But it made me laugh and I had to share...

"You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth."
 — William W. Purkey

Friday, July 15, 2011

Magical Moment 526, "Airglide"

I had a flash back had something to do with parachutes.

I harnessed up, and took off...

But the gear I wore today, was significantly less than before, and much more comfortable.

In the silent, peaceful sky, I remembered how beautiful it can be up there. Flying in slow motion...

Just enjoying the sky and clouds...

Today's scenery was just slightly different than in times past...

And landing today, was much less dreadful than crashing into a hot, dirt drop zone.

And the ride back...

Was considerably more enjoyable than previous times...

Which is better, you ask? Airborne or Airglide? Well, it's apples and oranges folks. But one thing I can say, you walk away from both with smile on your face.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Magical Moment 525, "Legos"

Today, I am posting a beautiful piece written by my older sister Regina. She recently discovered since going back to school, that she has quite an interest and talent for writing. She also found that it's an effective outlet for some of the pain she's felt the last few years. I wrote a song based on her words here. And she guest posted once before here. You can also visit her blog, She Lives in the Light.

by Regina Teague

Boys and I are bored today. No motivation. Blah. I remember up high on a shelf in the boys' closet, is a blue tub full of Legos. I hid them away, thinking I'd get them out when the boys were older, and when Zach wouldn't think it was fun to dump them out and spread them alllllll over. Now, my areas of expertise in child playtime is not Legos. I only had sisters, one two years younger and one nine years younger. Barbies, house, dolls, tea parties, dress up--nope, no blocks mixed in there. Well, they are obsessed with Matchbox cars, which are definitely spread all over the house, so I promise them I will build them a garage for their cars out of the Legos. It is a fair day outside; pretty mild for June, actually. So, let's build out on the balcony, I tell the boys. They like this idea. I begin lining up pieces and pressing them together. This isn't so bad. Zach loses interest in what I'm doing, his two year old mind moves faster than I can keep up with. As I build, he grabs a cup off the dining room table and fills it up with water from the bathroom sink, brings it outside and pours it into a bucket he filled with his little cars. Guess he thinks his cars are dirty and need a bath. Ethan, on the other hand, watches me intently, two cars, one in each hand, ready to park in the double garage. Finally, I put the finishing touches on the roof. Ethan excitedly drives his cars into the garage. The whole thing crumbles, collapses on the little parked cars, and his face falls and his eyes gloss over with tears. I feel like a horrible failure. And suddenly I remember the last time these Legos were played with.

It was late October 2009. We were all together in our little townhome, Jason had a couple weeks off from his officer training and was in town before he had to be in Texas. The four of us were playing in the boys room. Jason and Ethan were playing with the Legos, and my sweet baby Zach, at just a year old, was sitting in my lap as I rocked in the rocking chair. Slowly, Jason expertly built an entire house with attached garage and told Ethan, "Someday, I'm going to build mommy a big house, just like this!" Ethan giggled. "Look, Mommy! Daddy builded this house for you!" Days later, upon his arrival in Texas, I got the text message that ended our marriage. I crumbled and our world collapsed.

I tell Ethan that I am sorry I didn't do a very good job. Luckily, it is time to get ready for a friends birthday party. He perks up at the thought of a party and birthday cake. All day long I think about the garage, and Ethan's face when it broke. After the party, and after nap I give it another shot. I completely take apart the broken garage, change out a lot of the pieces and start all over. Bit by bit I go, slowly building it up. Every once in awhile, I pick it up and shake it, to make sure it is stable. When it is finished, I am proud of myself. Ethan excitedly drives two cars inside. Success! "Mom, you did it!" he says. Guess this means I have conquered Legos.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Magical Moment 524, "A Discovery"

The song from yesterday was "Chim Chim Cheree" from Mary Poppins. Quite a few guessed it right!

In keeping with the music theme, here is a piano memory of mine:

When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I remember having a get together of close family at our house. I don't know what the occasion was, but my grandma brought us a gift from her best friend in Germany. It was a hand painted music box that played a little German tune. I remember it sounding fairly similar to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." 

Chairs were set up in a circle around the living room and the adults visited and caught up with each other. The kitchen was busy with food, and there was a lot of general commotion going on. I remember listening to that music box, then going to the piano, certain I would be able to play the tune. Nobody really noticed what I was doing, but I did play the song from start to finish, using both hands, with little or no trouble. Not thinking anything about it, I spun around on the piano bench, ready to go find something else to play with. But when I turned around, my mom was staring at me with her mouth open. I felt like my fly was undone or something. I had no idea what she was staring at.

I waited, feeling totally self conscience, when she pointed at me with her index finger, then tried to get the attention of my grandma, "Beth just played that song." No one seemed interested in what she was saying, and I remember her trying one more time to explain what she had seen. I protested, telling her it was such a simple melody, it wasn't as big of a deal as she thought. 

That was the first time I recall playing a song by ear. It may have happened before that, but I think my mom's reaction ingrained it into my head that it was unusual. I don't know if my mom recalls this particular incident. She always told me that she remembers me watching the movie "Top Hat" as a little girl, then going to the piano and playing a song from it called, "The Piccolino." But I think that happened after the German song.

Ever since, I've been playing piano, picking out and arranging music, and writing original music. I'm always thankful that my parents bought that spinet piano and put me in lessons. I'm thankful for all my piano teachers throughout the years and all the opportunities I've had to play. Mostly I'm thankful for whatever it is that God puts into a human...that innate interest, love, and passion for something like music. And I'm thankful that He put it into me.