16. September 2008 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

“Woman, you did it again! Where on earth have you been?”

Yeah, even those who IM me haven’t seen me around much. And definitely no e-mails…

I’ve been on a mission since last Saturday evening.

“What happened Saturday evening?”

I had a couple “friends” contact me through Facebook. Friends from a life I’d all but forgotten.

“Okay? This doesn’t sound like it’s going in an appropriate direction…did you do prison time?”

No, not at all! I was a strolling violinist as a teenager.


(Can you find me in the picture?)

My former school system in Norfolk, VA, has a pretty elaborate music education program. Definitely one of the perks of public school (Music Education: that’s for another discussion). One of the programs offered was The Strolling Silver Strings. They had rehearsals once a week and played about 200 shows per year. You got into the group by audition, and each year there would only be about 7-8 positions available to be filled.

And the group sought more than just a skilled musician — the directors also assessed personalities and showmanship. Now, I guess most of the time my talkativeness can get on folks’ nerves, but in this case it was a plus…I’m not afraid of people, that’s for sure!

My freshman year of high school, I took a plunge and auditioned. I remember the audition being in the fall, and I found out I made it the same day as my first swim team practice in late November or early December. And the two weren’t going to mix one bit. I remember that being a rather tough decision, and I even remember writing a letter to my Dad (who I believe was out to sea at the time, or he might have been at a school in Newport, R.I. — Dad, where were you in Fall of 1987?) about the decision I was facing.

So before the holidays in 1987 I quit the swim team and started rehearsing with the Strolling Silver Strings (from here on out I’m calling it SSS). It was tough! You had to learn a repertiore of not-always-for-strings-music (such as Glenn Miller or John Phillip Sousa) and not just play it well, but play it well from memory.

And not just play it well from memory, play it well from memory while walking around your audience.

I remember my first concert in Jan 1988…it was for a Norfolk Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, we were expected to stroll throughout this HUGE grand ballroom playing while the participants were eating at a luncheon.

Our director, Frank Rodgers, was a very talented music arranger and had the best time transforming all sorts of music into something whimsical for violin, viola, cello and bass! It was so amazing!

Over the 4 years I spent with the group, I got better at the music and more comfortable playing while strolling. I’ve played throughout Virginia (including Virginia Governor Doug Wilder’s Inaugaration in 1990), along with Walt Disneyworld, and a small tour in the Mont Blanc valley in France. This link tells a little more of the story of how we got to go to Europe in 1991.

Even our cellos strolled! It was a sight to see!

I made some of the most wonderful friends, about a dozen of whom are now new friends on Facebook. A couple of them I’ve kept in touch with off and on since high school, but now we’re even finding some of our musical directors and they’re helping us find other former members. It’s pretty neat!

As you saw from the link, the group still exists today. If you’re in the Norfolk/Va. Beach area, don’t hesitate to consider the SSS for your next official function if you are looking for fun entertainment. Best of all, they’re FREE (so long as it’s during the school year).

If you’re on Facebook, check out the Strolling Silver Strings — Past and Present group. If you’re a former Stroller — especially in the first 10 years of the group’s history — reading this blog, head on over to Facebook to see more.

So my mission that’s kept me off the blog all week till now? To find, scan, and upload to Facebook the 100+ photos I have of our group from my 4 years with them. I’ve found about 2/3 of them so far, I’m still seeking my pics from Walt Disney World in 1989.

09. September 2008 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

How many of you knew that I could sew — show of hands!

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Not many. Enjoy this gallery of things I’ve made. Mainly costumes, as you will see.

Jacob wants to be a Jedi knight for Halloween. Okay, that doesn’t seem too hard. He showed me his Mace Windu action figure and asked if he could be THAT Jedi. Mace Windu was the character Samuel L. Jackson played in Episodes I, II and III.

Sure, I’ll help you with that costume idea! I always am enthusiastic to help my kids when they think of their Halloween ideas on their own.

Maryann helped us out too, showing me a link to this costume.

But I did a small inventory of what we had on hand and realized that between Jack Sparrow from last year for the pants and boots, plus a Joseph tunic from a Christmas pageant last year, Jake could be a pretty good Mace with simply the addition of a purple lightsaber toy and a brown cape.

The purple lightsaber was an easy birthday purchase at Toys R Us, and I decided I could make the cape.

So on Sunday I dragged the boys to Hancock Fabrics in Omaha, and subject them to the joys of browsing pattern books and thumbing through fabric bolts looking for the perfect color/texture of a brown Jedi cape. I had a good time, I hadn’t spent significant time in a fabric store in a long time — at least not in the fabric section — and definitely not at all in North Carolina.

I found the coolest lightweight brown faux suede fabric and an online recommendation to use the Simplicity 5512 pattern. The bottom left corner of the picture shows what “view” I’d make for the Jedi cape. If you look closely at the characters, the Jedi cape has sleeves and a hood…so even though I’m going through the motions of making a Grim Reaper costume, it’ll ultimately be a Jedi cape…trust me!

I cut the fabric and started piecing panels together today, but I’m stopping till tomorrow. I need to think…I am incorporating a lining into the cape (after all, it could be REALLY COLD Halloween night here in NE!) and I have to shoehorn that into the instructions. I’m a decent seamstress, when the directions are laid out in front of me. As for making up my own thing….well, I’m not that good.

I should be done by this weekend…maybe I’ll let Jake dress up for his trip to Pottery Barn Kids this weekend to meet Star Wars characters.

23. August 2008 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

I found a pretty good radio station here, better than anything I could find in NC or in FL.

“The River” plays a nice variety of newer rock music (Audioslave, Beck, Flogging Molly) with some “classics” mixed in (I heard some R.E.M. from Document, U2 from War, and old Offspring today). I typically have to reserve listening to that station for when there are no kids in the car.

The neighbor who lives behind us, Alissa, watched Timmy briefly today while I ran some errands by myself (a first in a LONG time!) I watched her kids briefly this morning so she could go to an eye appointment. When I was pulling into the Post Office on the Air Force Base, I heard a gorgeous — I know, strange word in this context — cover of “One” by Metallica. Cellos. Lots of cellos. I’ve always liked that song and many others by Metallica (you learn something new about me every day). This version was mesmerizing!

I sat in the small parking lot until the song was over, and the deejay said that the group playing was called “Apocalyptica” from Finland. Four cellos and a drummer. Classically trained at Finland’s equivalent to Juilliard, the Sibelius Academy. They specialize in covers of Metallica, but also dabble in other “heavy metal” or “thrash metal”, such as Slayer and Rammstein.

And it gets better — this group of cellos from Finland will be performing in downtown Omaha next month. It’s on a Thursday night, but hey! Jake doesn’t have school the next day….hmmmmm…..

I checked some of their music on You Tube and, based on the videos, the same crowds who frequent Metallica concerts would also probably go to a concert such as this, so I’m not sure I’m going to make an effort to go. I mean, look at these guys! Could you see ME at a concert featuring guys who look like that???

*A Side Note: How many of you knew I’d been playing violin since I was 10 years old? And I used to be pretty good? And I was truly torn between majoring in music or meteorology in college? That was a very tough decision. Reflections of my violin teacher and other music mentors in picket lines while I was in high school helped make my decision. I found ways to keep up my music up until Timmy was born in 2005…I haven’t played at all since. Need to break out my violin!
14. February 2008 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Enjoy this photo from one of our earliest outings, my AFROTC Military Ball in Spring 1994. Made the dress myself! I miss sewing. Will need to talk about that sometime.

More importantly, check out the brillo pad on my Dave’s head! Once he came on active duty he’s kept it so short you can’t tell how curly it can get.

From 1994 05 AF Ball
02. February 2008 · Comments Off on Sumter on a Payday — Laundry Poll Results, too — Like Mother, Like Son · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Greetings from Sumter, SC! I’m drilling this weekend, but I have wireless in the lodging room on base (so long as I’m near the window, and not at the desk). That’s me, the “Moody AFB, GA” hit on the Feedjit.com applet on the right. The open internet access routes via Moody AFB, I guess.

What else is there to do in ever-so-rockin’ Sumter on a PAYDAY Friday night??? Paul and I tried to go to four different restaurants this evening before settling on a Japanese diner-type joint, the first one we tried was a place Dave and I got to try last month called Red Bone Alley. I had the most delectable “Low Country Shrimp and Grits” and the kids’ play area was pretty cool.

So we went there, and it was closed. Not just closed…CLOSED. Another party was standing in front of the darkened glass windows, gawking at the white paper signs taped up, reading “Red Bone Alley is Closed for Business”, “Thank you Sumter”, and “Please Visit our Florence Location”. As of this writing, I don’t know the circumstances. I’ll keep you posted.

We got back into Paul’s rental car (a Cruisin’ Lightning McQueen red PT Cruiser) and attempted Logan’s Roadhouse (steaks), since there were no parking spaces, we didn’t even park the car there. Then Chili’s, where we saw people standing outside in the chill waiting, and finally Outback Steakhouse. Paul found a parking spot right up front — several, in fact. That gave us hope, but when we asked the matire ‘d, she said it was a 55 minute wait. This was at 8pm.

So off to Osaka Japanese Steakhouse we went. This wasn’t a tepanaki-type restaurant we were expecting, but more like Hibachi-Xpress in Cary/Apex. You can order the hibachi-type meals, but they were cooked in the back (minus the showiness and fanfare, I’m sure, so it was much quicker) and brought out to us. I enjoyed chicken and shrimp with broccoli over rice. It was pretty good, but the carrots served on the side seemed, well, soul-food-ish. They were glazed carrots, unusual for Japanese cuisine.

I remember growing up in Norfolk and from my 2nd lieutenant days in rural Louisiana how payday in a military town would transform a community into a frenzy of eating out, going to movies, and hitting bowling alleys, pool halls and dance clubs. I don’t see it as much in the NC Triangle, but around here, on payday weekend, get ready for crowds!

I have the results of the “laundry poll”. Since I only had 13 responders, it’s not like it’s a Rand Corporation or Brookings Institute authoritative study or anything, but here goes:

13 responders
3 do laundry daily (23%)
6 do laundry somewhere between daily and weekly (46%)
4 do laundry weekly (30%)

Does that add up to 100%? I think so…I got a lot of positive feedback from friends who said “Hey — I’ve been wondering the same thing, thanks for asking the question!” Maybe I can continue my polls, putting those topics out there that you maybe discuss with your friends during playgroup, at the park, or while sitting in the carpool lines at preschool. Let me know if there’s one that you’re interested in me posting — I’m open to suggestions!

I’m currently going through my Picasaweb album, cleaning out some of the older albums to make way for new stuff coming in this year. I’ve been using Picasaweb since March 2007 (Maryann, you clued me in to this, if I remember correctly) and you get 1 GB of space for free. I’ll be trying to keep it that way. I could pay more for more space, but I have good backup at home.

I almost deleted the pictures from this album, but I think I’ll keep it on for a bit longer to give you guys a chance to smile. Jacob went through a hands-on-his-hips photo posing phase last spring, when he was about 4 1/2. Found out from my Mom that I did the same thing, at the SAME age! And she found PROOF:

From 2007 05 13 Ha…

Jacob: Spencer, NC in March 2007

From 2007 05 13 Ha…

Patricia: Somewhere on the Big Island of Hawaii, June 1978

(This came from a scrapbook my Mom made for me, explaining the word balloon. YES, that’s a dress. NO, I’m NOT wearing pants even though I really should be. YES, that little tote bag reads “Patty”…I had that bag for years!)


28. January 2008 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

‘Nuf Said. Age 17. Love the glasses. And the bangs. If only you could see the shirt I had on — I remember distinctly…an enormous PSU tank top, must have hung down to my knees. Probably from Family Clothesline, one of those $1.99 bargains?

24. January 2008 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Dave said I should talk about this one. The boys and I were looking at the scrapbook my Mom made for my 30th birthday (it’s really really awesome — covers through age 8!), and Dave comes across this portrait. It was taken in summer 1981, so I was 7.

“Who’s that little boy in the upper right corner?”

I replied, “That’s my sister, silly*!”

*I might have said something more severe than “silly”, I can’t remember.

Who remembers these kinds of pictures? I think they were all the rage in the 80s. Aren’t they the most ridiculous thing??? I’m sure the Sears Portrait Studio was showing off this incredible technological breakthrough: take two separate portraits, and merge them into one! WOW!

To put it in perspective, this is what my sister looked like when she isn’t a floating head in my thoughts. She was about 2 1/2 here:

20. January 2008 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:

My Mom took me to do Glamour Shots just before she and my sister moved to Guam when I was in college. Enjoy!

Posted by Picasa
18. January 2008 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I’m trusting that most of you have figured it out by now.

Obviously you can’t just click a site and hear the song, but you could go here and watch the video.

Now…when I came up with the name, Dave was thinking of a different song.