Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Magical Moment 572, "Water"

Much of New York and New Jersey is under water. Yet somehow we managed to drive an hour south to shore to experience water that's enjoyable and still in its' rightful place. We were not allowed to swim, only wade knee deep. The only ones allowed in the water were lifeguards and surfers.

These twin girls with matching fedoras were mesmerized by each wave that crashed in front of them.

Nothing much changed for the seagulls. They still covered the beach like they own it.

And scavenged for left behind food. This one found an entire unopened package of peanut butter crackers.

The strong waves must have been ideal for surfing.

It was nice to enjoy this water for an afternoon, rather driving a car through it, hoping you'll make it. Or passing a neighborhood of houses under water. Thinking of all those affected by the flooding today, and hoping the recovery is swift.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Magical Moment 571, "Post-Hurricane Crowd"

One day after Hurricane Irene hit our area, I had a scheduled performance at Gizzi's Cafe in NYC. I knew it would be a small crowd braving the aftermath of the storm, but I vowed to play if I could get there. 

The crowd was intimate, but good, especially since I had my friend Autumn in the audience. This is a video from the evening, "A Builder," which is a song written about my dad. Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Magical Moment 570, "School Girls"

We met in 3rd and 4th grade. Autumn was the new kid in school and we became fast friends, lasting throughout elementary, junior high, and high school. She was present at both of my sister's weddings...first my little sister when she (at the age of 3), married my stuffed bear, Taylor. And second, at my older sister's wedding as a lovely (adult) bridesmaid. Autumn is the kind of friend who, despite losing touch for a while, can pick up right where we left off, laughing, joking, and talking.

In the last 5 years, we've lived in different parts of the country and been to different countries when suddenly, we found a chance to reconnect. Her visit landed smack in the middle of an earthquake and a hurricane. But leave it to Autumn's perpetual optimism to enjoy every minute of the ill-timed catastrophes. "I'm just so happy to be here, to see you and your life after all these years." She said. "I can't help smiling like a school girl."
Yes, from her brown eyes to her considerate manner, to her witty sense of humor. A smiling school girl is just what I remember.

Since our care-free days of make-believe and inside jokes, Autumn has discovered a gift of music. Self taught on guitar, and she composed this, and other heartfelt, tender songs. After digging out my condenser microphone and sorting cables, we recorded it. Hope you Enjoy. I did. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Magical Moment 569, "Goodbye Irene"

Last night I watched 2 heavy set ladies dancing in their yard. They provided their own soundtrack as the rain soaked them, singing, "Come On Irene" to the tune of Dexys Midnight Runner's, "Come on Eileen." They swayed and laughed, their very own rain dance.

In the middle of the night, Irene did come. We were fortunate to have little damage and injuries. Just water, wind, and some downed branches.

Goodbye Irene. Don't come again. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Magical Moment 568, "Feather in a Hurricane"

"Feather in a Hurricane"

A turbulent whirlwind came.
Atrocious, frightening weather.
And it tossed everything in it's path.
In it's midst was one lonely feather.

Try as it might, 
It was powerless to fight.
First cast aloft, and then nether.

Twas easier when 
They were all on the hen
And could fight the current together!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Magical Moment 566, "30 Year Old Wisdom"


I hardly ever get carded anymore. There is a small laugh line near my mouth that doesn’t go away anymore when I am not smiling. I definitely can’t lose weight as easily as I used to. Traiterous strands of my mousy brown hair are turning gray already—genetics that I blame on my Mexican grandmother—so I dye my hair to a level 6 brunette. Sounds like I turned 30 recently! In my cynical moments, I consider my 20’s a total wash, but the hindsight and lessons learned just might be worth it. 

1. ‘No’ is a complete sentence.
2. You don’t OWE anybody anything. Doesn’t matter who they are.
3. I finally understand what God says about being powerless over our own sin. Nuff said.
4. Truth is always, Always, ALWAYS your friend, no matter how painful it might be.
5. Forcing your own truth onto someone else can result in disaster.
6. Giving love to get love is not really love at all.
7. Criticism, judgment and general bad behavior covered in love, isn’t love either.
8. My cousin Renee’ once encouraged me, “Don’t show love. BE love.” Good stuff.
9. Everybody has their own process. Stand up for your own. Refrain from interfering in the process of others.
10. You can read all the books, follow all the rules, and say and do all the right things. Real peace and joy comes with authentic relationship, first with God, then with others.
11. Find a friend that makes you laugh, that you can be silly and ridiculous with. Once a week, maybe over a pitcher of margaritas, laugh until your abs hurt.
12. Find a sport or exercise routine that you enjoy and stick with it. You will look better, feel better, your self-confidence will increase, and you can afford the calories in your strawberry margarita while you laugh with friends. I heart spin!
13. If you suck at Biology, swallow your pride and get a tutor. Next semester, when you tackle Microbiology, it will be a snap!
14. Go back to school, jump out of a plane, cancel your cable and read instead. . .pick something. You CAN do it!
15. No matter how much you beg, bribe, cajole or threaten, you cannot force a two year old to eat when they don’t want to. Battles must be chosen wisely, or the two year old will choose you.
16. Same goes for the two year old pooping in the potty. Sigh.
17. Buy a pair of jeans that make you look and feel amazing. You can dress them up or down, and always feel confident. Mine are Buckle Madison Stretch Boot.
18. Know who you are. Know your worth. Don’t settle.
19. Keep in mind the bigger picture. Take one day at a time. That is not an oxymoron.
20. Just because you have a list of 19 doesn’t mean you HAVE to have a #20. Don’t worry what other people might think if you only have 19 ;)

Here’s to my 30’s. Cheers!

More of Regina's posts on my blog:

This is a song I wrote based on her words:

She also writes her own blog, She Lives in the Light.

This is a guest post by my older sister, Regina. She's posted several times on my blog before, discovering that writing can be healing and a great outlet. This post is entitled, "30 Year Old Wisdom," - just remember, she's a year and 11 months older than I am! :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Magical Moment 565, "Joy and the Tree: The Saga Continues"

Once upon a time, there was a happy little dog named Joy. She discovered a nearby tree that provided hours of entertainment. It seemed, when she ran in a circle around the tree, the end of her leash was always within a step or two. If she could just run a tad faster, she might catch it. She never did...

It became her daily challenge, "Must catch the end of my leash!" Until one day, her tree was buried deep in the snow.

Undeterred, she found a nearby telephone pole that made a fine substitute.

When the snow melted, she was again reunited with her beloved tree. And then, one day as she sprinted towards her tree, anticipating the fun and excitement she would soon experience chasing her leash around it, she was greeted with...mulch.

Crestfallen and dismayed, she sniffed the ground, hoping for her tree to reappear some how, some way. And just when I thought the saga of the tree was over...Joy noticed a street sign sticking up from the ground. Yep. You just can't keep a good dog down. She didn't even need her leash for this one, just her tail it seems.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Magical Moment 564, "Healing Arts"

I've been fortunate to become involved with the charity organization, Sing for Hope. One program they're responsible for, is Hospital outreach. Volunteers visit patient's rooms, and conduct a personal, bedside performances. In addition, a few times each year, they hold a Healing Arts concert where all patients and hospital employees are invited to attend. 

I was asked to play a short jazz set in one such concert at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. It was a beautiful space for a concert and I had a wonderful time meeting other very talented performers. This is a video of "Summertime." Enjoy!

Memorable moments from bedside performances:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Magical Moment 563, "Matching Badges"

Skype is one way to cope with the long distance that makes me long for my nieces and nephews. Eddie and I made a "Skype date" with my 2 nephews, Ethan and Zach. Eddie just came home from work and I insisted that he stay in his Park Ranger uniform because I was sure the boys would get a kick out of it.

Little Zach was joyful as ever, flying off the couch in his Spiderman pajamas and Super Man cape. He giggled when we put our dog Joy in front of the camera, and showed us how he can shoot web out of his wrist. But Ethan, a few years older, was not in such a happy mood. He sat glumly in front of the computer wearing a blue firefighter's jacket, bottom lip out. 
"What's wrong Ethan?" I asked.
"I'm having a bad day." He replied. 

Eddie and I tried our best to cheer him up. We made funny faces, sang goofy songs, I even hit Eddie with a pillow (which did get him to smile a little). Then suddenly I noticed something on his jacket.
"Ethan," I said, excited. "What's that on your jacket? Is it a badge?"

Ethan looked down at his chest, in search of what I described. At last he found it and grabbed it with his fingers. He held it out in front of the camera to show us.
"Ethan, look at Uncle Eddie's uniform! He has a badge too!" 
Eddie pointed to the gold, shiny badge on his right side.

Now Ethan's mouth went from a pouty frown, to a wide grin at the realization that he wears a badge just like his Uncle Eddie! He cheered right up for the rest of our Skype date. If we couldn't be there in person to give him a hug, at least we could do something to make him feel better.

Eddie, me, Zach, and Ethan on our last trip to visit

Those little sweeties:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Magical Moment 562, "My Graduate"

Hallelujah! The angels sang when Eddie opened a special package that came in the mail today...his diploma! He jokes that it only took him 13 years and 3 different schools to get his degree. While Eddie is my little genius (like, a for real genius), seven years of active duty Army makes it difficult to finish an academic program. Throw in Eddie's super natural distain for homework, and it all makes a little more sense.

There were a few occasions when he and I were so overwhelmed with work, he needed a little bit of help with his homework. Once, I did almost an entire assignment for him and since my sister was visiting at the time, she helped me. We had to make some sort of plasma membrane thingy out of food...I don't even know what most of it was, but we got an A!!!

(Kinda reminds me of a science fair project I did in 5th grade, but whatever.)

So today's post is dedicated to Eddie, for all his hard work and dedication. He has something that can never be taken away and he can always be proud of. I joked that we should relax for a few months before we both begin our masters. :)

A funny 'Eddie' story:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Magical Moment 561, "My Street Corner"

While I was growing up, my dad began his own construction company. It really started to flourish when I was in elementary school, and I truly believed my dad was famous. After all, we had hats, jackets, even beer coozies with the Daugherty Construction logo on it. And I still remember hearing the catchy jingle from the TV commercial that had me convinced we were celebrities, "Daugherty you can depend on."

At one point, he developed and built homes for practically an entire neighborhood in Lincoln, Nebraska. And because several new streets were constructed, my dad got to name them. Three of the streets were named after his 3 daughters: Regina, Mary, and Erica (my first name is Mary, though I go by my middle, and 'Elizabeth Street' was already taken). I've always been pretty proud of having my own street name and proud of my dad's company. It's been years since I've driven by "my" street, but my mom took pictures recently so I thought I'd share.

The 3 sisters: Me, Regina, Erica
*Photo by Frank Ekeler

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Magical Moment 560, "His Rightful Place"

He was the keeper of the neighborhood. A tall, thin man with white hair who stood watch at his post on the front porch while smoking a cigar. Dan and his wife Helen live in the downstairs apartment and silently tolerate my piano playing, furniture rearranging, and that phase when I attempted to do an aerobic exercise DVD once a day. They never say a word when I turn the radio up late at night and clean house, and don't even mind that my dog barks endlessly with every buzz of the door bell. 

Dan lit my stove pilot light when it blew out and I was too afraid and inexperienced with gas ovens to do it myself. I once shattered a heavy, glass cooking pan on the floor and 30 seconds later, Dan knocked on my door to make sure I was okay. He doesn't play with the neighborhood kids, but he's always on guard, looking out for them, ready to tell them to stay back from the street, and keeping track of the strangers that walk by on the sidewalk. He and his wife know all the neighbors, their kids, their dogs. And I always smiled to myself and felt safe when I saw him outside, watching over everything. 

It's the usual neighborly chit chat that we exchanged, to and from the laundry room, or walking my dog every morning. The weather, the grass, the traffic. And I always welcomed it with Dan and Helen, wishing I could offer more to repay them for the comfort I felt knowing they were downstairs.

It was during one of these familiar encounters when Helen mentioned that Dan had a heart attack. It was as if she told me her daisies had dried up.
"Morning Helen, isn't it warm today?"
"It is. Dan's in the hospital. He had a heart attack."

Stuttering, I tried to find the 'right' words to say. Is there anything I can do? We're praying for you. I felt helpless. We're not close enough to wait with her at the hospital, yet not a mere acquaintance that can do nothing. My solution was banana bread. That's something a neighbor might do, offer food. And we did eventually visit at the hospital.

But it was a long and difficult journey for Dan to recover. For months, he was absent from his front porch post. The only contact we made during that time, was when his screen door was open and I passed by, "Hi Beth!" he would call through the door. The screen was black and I couldn't see anything through it, but I always called back as cheerfully as I could, "Hi Dan!" I never wondered to anyone but Eddie, when would Dan return to his spot? Will we see him out there again?

Absentmindedly, I took the trash out one evening. I didn't even notice until my way back inside, a figure on the porch. "Dan!" With the help of his wife, he made his way outside to enjoy the evening air. The outings became more and more frequent and it is no longer uncommon to see his lean frame and white hair, sitting tall and proud after all he's endured. Though the cigars are absent now, and he sits rather than stands, he has returned to his rightful place as the keeper of the neighborhood.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Magical Moment 559, "Here's to Your Health"

It's become a habit of mine to begin a prayer almost the exact same way every time..."Dear Lord, thank you for everything you've done for me, and thank you for my family's health and safety."

Somehow, my loved ones and I have really hit the health jack pot. The only time I've ever been in the hospital, is when I was born. And while there've been a few minor mishaps over the years, we've been beyond fortunate. So it's easy to become complacent in my true thankfulness when it comes to this matter.

But something happened with my niece, Zoey, that made me stop and not just say "thank you," but seriously, seriously mean it. Her mother, Deb, explained that 4-year old Zoey was drinking from a cup with ice cubes, when suddenly one got lodged in her throat. Deb, a registered nurse, tried everything to help her daughter, but soon felt helpless as no oxygen was getting to her daughter at all. She began to foam at the mouth. And though Deb knew the ice cube would melt eventually, she feared that Zoey would be rendered unconscious before that happened. Luckily, it did not come to that. The ice cube melted and Zoey could breath again. 

I tried to imagine the panic Deb must have experienced in that moment. The more I tried to put myself in that position, the more relief I felt that everything turned out okay. What if it had not been a melting ice cube? So many scenarios that make me thankful I'm not the one in charge of everything, God is. 

Growing up, my dad would pray before big family dinners, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. And we teased him every time for always saying the exact same prayer, word for word. "Oh Lord, thank you for this food and thank you for our health. Amen." That's it. Some people aren't comfortable praying out loud, and that's what we chalked it up to. But now that I'm older, I can see how much 'good health' means to him. He lost his older sister when she was just 19. That tragedy was heartbreaking for his entire family. Having 4 kids of his own, good health must always be on the forefront of his mind. To this day if I mention I'm not feeling well, he won't let me hang up the phone until I promise to take Echinacea and drinks lots of fluids.

There are many blessings I receive on a daily basis that I'm certain I take fore granted - our jobs, cars that work (most of the time), living in a free country - but health is the one that I was reminded of today. I pray that nothing will have to "remind" me again in the future.

Zo Zo


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Magical Moment 558, "Zarkana"

While my little sister was visiting, I took her to see the new Cirque du Soleil show at Radio City Music Hall. I had a feeling it would be right up her alley. We tease her that she's the "quirkier" of the 3 sisters. 

I had recently watched part of a documentary describing the extraordinary undertaking it takes to put a show together. They audition acts for an entire year, have elaborate costumes and make up, and boast some of the most professional lighting directors, choreographers, and staging equipment in the business. The stage itself is so extravagant, they could not run a complete dress rehearsal until mere days before the opening at Radio City, as only a few stages in the country are able to accommodate the grand scale of equipment, and Radio City's stage was occupied with other acts. Instead, they rehearsed different sections of the show on different stages around the country, until they were able to piece it all together in New York. 

Quirky it was - to say the least. Other adjectives include jaw-dropping, freaky, unbelievable, trippy, and worth every penny of the ticket I initially believed to be over priced. The show, titled Zarkana, creates a fantasy world, both magical and creepy. 

But I figured out the magical formula for such a riveting show:
Someone does something unbelievable, making the audience gasp in amazement. 
Then they do the same thing, but rev it up a notch, making the audience clench their chairs in nervous anticipation.
Then they do the same thing, but rev it up even more, making the audience scream in fear, and begin praying.
Then they're done, and the spooky clowns come out, making the audience wonder if someone slipped something in their drink. 
A new act emerges. Repeat.

At one point, my sister leaned over to me and said, "If I wasn't sober, I'd be running out of here crying." Instead, we walked out 2 hours later. Reeling.

(These are the only photos I got before I was kindly asked to put my camera away!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Magical Moment 557, "I Stop to See a Weeping Willow"

And a few other things as well...I've been to this park in Bernardsville, NJ once before, but I had to stop again today on my way to work. It's just so lovely. I tried to come up with all captions from classic country songs since I already had the willow stuck in my head. It does get to be a bit of a challenge...

"I stop to see a weeping willow, cryin on his pillow. Maybe he's cryin for me." 
(Walkin After Midnight by Patsy Cline)

"Ah, breaker, Big Ben, this here's the Duck."
(Convoy by C.W. McCall)

"Love is like a butterfly, a rare and gentle thing."
(Love is Like a Butterfly by Dolly Parton)

"The cattle are prowlin, the coyotes are howlin, way out where the doggies roam."
(Cattle Call by Eddie Arnold) 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Magical Moment 556, "From the Soundtrack"

It's not often that I learn a song strictly from sheet music. And it's even less often that I learn and memorize the whole thing in just one day. But I guess stranger things have happened.

This is a piece from the soundtrack of "The King's Speech." I let the credits roll just so I could hear the whole thing! I thought it might work to play for ballet class. Of course I have to chop it up first to make it "square." But I thought I 'd learn it in it's entirety before I did that. It's a little rough, but I wanted to record it while it was still in my head (it may fall out by tomorrow). 

This is a beautiful piece and I hope you enjoy it. (The movie's pretty good too!)

Other posts like this:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Magical Moment 555, "Le P-ew! Close one!"

"Please, I'll never eat another Cheeto as long as I live!"

If you are ever in charge of trapping a pesky animal of some kind to "take care of it," here is a tip. Don't call me to come check it out before you "take care of it," or it won't get "taken care of." As seen in this example when someone, was supposed to do something, but he -or she- didn't because someone else would have made him -or her- sleep on the couch that night if he -or she- had done it.

For music, I couldn't decide between something French in honor of my old buddy Peppy, or the classic ballad, "Born Free." Either way, I bet this little fellow is never tempted by the smell of Cheetos (yes, Cheetos!) again.

(In case you missed yesterday's disclaimer, I am still not Steven Spielberg)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Magical Moment 554, "Sunrise, Sunset"

While my husband Eddie was at the Grand Canyon for National Park Service training, he got up early one morning to watch the sunrise. That evening, he watched the sun go down. He took the camera, and snapped a picture from the same vantage point every 2-4 minutes! I thought it would make a great time lapse video (keep in mind I'm not Steven Spielberg!) and you could get a sense of the wonder that is the Grand Canyon!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Magical Moment 553, "Lessons From the Dog Park"

                          We could be little...                                                       Or big.

A different color...

Or just plain different!

            And though we may be curious...                            Or even guarded at first,

We can get over it and play together!