Friday, July 31, 2009

Ice, Ice Baby!

Hi All!

If you have never had the chance to go to Glacier Bay, Alaska, you are really missing an amazing site. Every time I go (I have been twice now) I can't keep the lyrics from the ill-fated Vanilla Ice's song, "Ice, Ice Baby" from lodging deep into my brain to be repeated ad nauseum all day. However, I am sure you will agree -it is a fitting song!

Another porthole shot - this one shows all the little ice burgs out there - of course, they look little to me but who knows just how big they really are? It almost looked like the water was slushy because of the proliferation of ice.

Then we move on the the glacier proper. I am fascinated by the juxtaposition of the ice and the rock of the neighboring mountains. Something so solid as rock being carved away by something so transient as frozen water.

Proof of the glacier's fleeting ways (we are NOT going to get into the whole global warming issue here, thank you very much), icebergs are "calved" regularly. They float in silent majesty with their "parent" in the background.

The rugged beauty is almost unreal. Viewing this kind of nature makes you stop and wonder at the awesomeness of God.

Peeking between two converging slopes, another glacier is slowly but surely making its way down to the water's edge to "calve" its own family of icebergs while forever altering the landscape around it.

The blue tint of the icebergs almost cry out for that inevitable question about its origin, the cousin of every child's favorite question to unsuspecting parents, "Why is the sky blue?" Personally, I don't ask why, I just stand in awe of the natural beauty.

The jagged peaks visible just beyond the slope of this mountain side reminded me of the jagged plates on the back of a slumbering dinosaur who might wake and rise, stretching, at any moment.
"All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small.
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all."
Voice Update: I seem to be struggling more than I should be. I don't really know why since my neck seems nice and loose and I have been working on my voice. Sometimes I guess it just works that way. Frustrating. Unpredictable. But needing to be accepted.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Hi All!

This is going to be a short post today because I am feeling very, very fractious today. For some reason I woke up feeling like it was me versus the world. It is weird - especially since there was a nice thunderstorm this morning with lots of rain.

Normally, rain makes me very happy but today - it just didn't do the trick!

Maybe it is because the storm woke me up at 5:30 this morning. Maybe it is because my mother called me from her cell phone accidentally at 6:00 this morning. Maybe it is because Skor wouldn't let me go back to sleep this morning. Maybe it is because I can't get iTunes to play anything this morning. Maybe it is because my hair is sticking straight up making me look like a freak this morning.

Maybe it is just this morning.

Hopefully, tomorrow I will be out of this mood.


Voice Update: Really don't want to think about my voice today. Will fill you in tomorrow when I am in a better mood - hopefully!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One Meatball . . .

Hi All!

I thought that today I would share the lyrics to a song which has been going through my mind. It is called . . .

One Meatball

A little man walked up and down,

He found an eating place in town.
He looked the menu through and through
To see what fifteen cents could do:

One meatball,
one meatball,
He couldn't bought but one meatball.

He told the waiter near at hand
The simple dinner he had planned.
The guests were startled, one and all,
To hear that waiter oddly call:

"One meatball,
one meatball,
This here gent wants one meatball.

"The little man felt ill at ease,
Said "Some bread, son, if you please.
"The waiter hollered down the hall"
Ya gets no bread with one meatball!

"One meatball,
one meatball,
"Ya gets no bread with one meatball!"

If you google this little gem you will find that a myriad of people have sung and recorded it including the Andrews Sisters and Big Crosby and Dr. Steve and Fidgert from the Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd.

Since I haven't figured out how to get You Tube videos into my blog, I couldn't let you hear the song directly from this site but, please, go to You Tube and find it. It is worth your time. It will be stuck in your head for a long time!


Voice Update: Doing well, doing well!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What? More Books?

Hi All!

Here is the most recent batch of books that I have read. There is a lot in this batch because I have been reading, reading, reading AND this is the tail end of the cruise where I had lots of time to read.

Since I thought I had Blogger's picture organization mastered and was totally WRONG, these are in the reverse order of reading. The most recently finished is first and the first read is last. Oh well!

Here we go!

First up is The Winner by David Baldacci.

This is the third book by Baldacci that I have read and - so far - they have all been good. I can't remember where I got this book but chances are good that I picked it up at the school book sale.

The plot of this book revolves around a dirt poor, country girl, LuAnn, who is approached to take a "job" which is better paying than her current job as a waitress at the truck stop. However, this "job" really isn't a job. It is a scheme to win the lottery. The man who is the mastermind behind the scheme is a master of disguise and a genius. He can "fix" the lottery. And does.

Suddenly, LuAnn is in the middle of a lifestyle which she never dreamed of - jetting around Europe with her young daughter and "Uncle" Charlie with more money than she could ever imagine. Not only did she get out of her bad, dead-end situation but, she also escaped a possible murder charge.

That's right! LuAnn is wanted in her home town for the murder of her live-in boyfriend and another man she didn't know. However, LuAnn didn't kill anyone - the mastermind just wants her to think she did so she will be more agreeable to his plan.

Everything goes well until LuAnn, now known as Catherine Savage, decides to return to the United States and a reporter starts sniffing around the lottery story. Then, the mastermind will do almost anything to keep his lottery scheme a secret. And I mean anything.

This is an enthralling story even though, at times, I wanted to hide my head under a pillow to escape what would happen next. The suspense was that great! Baldacci is a masterful writer who adds delicious twists and turns and unexpected complications to the plot which only serve to heighten the suspense. I didn't want to put the book down but, at the same time, didn't want to know what happened next. What a dilemma!

Next is Dream Makers by Nora Roberts. This is really a compilation of the books Untamed and Less of a Stranger by Roberts.

The first book, Untamed, follows Jo, a lion tamer in a traveling circus, as she meets the new owner of the circus and faces the possibility of him selling the circus where she has grown up. I won't tell you more but, I'll bet you can guess a part of the plot yourself!

The second book, Less of a Stranger, follows Megan, a sculptor who works with her Grandfather at the family amusement park, as she meets a handsome stranger who is determined to have both the amusement park and Megan for his own. Again - guess what happens next!

As you can probably tell, the plots are not that original. They follow the general romance storyline. However, Roberts does add her own, unique style to keep the stories fresher than you would expect. These are not books which will take you weeks to read but, they are a good, relaxing read for when you just want to "zone out."

Contrasting nicely with the romance of Nora Roberts is Worst Fears Realized by Stuart Woods.

I picked up this book on the advice of my "favorite Aunt Donna." She has been telling me to read some Stuart Woods and so I searched and found a couple. This isn't my first Stuart Woods book but I am still acting on her suggestion.

This book is a Stone Barrington book. Stone is the main character - an ex-cop who is now a lawyer doing just enough work to be comfortable and to keep busy. However, he gets wrapped up in police business when a woman he met at a party is murdered while he goes out for Chinese food for the two of them.

This is followed by more murders - his faithful secretary is bludgeoned to death, a neighbor who he watches sweep in the nude is murdered in front of him. Stone is certain that the murders have something to do with him. He and a policeman friend begin investigating while trying to keep themselves and their loved ones from being the next target.

Let me tell you, Stuart Woods writes a good suspense novel. I enjoyed this book with all of its twists and turns. It wasn't quite as suspenseful as Baldacci's book but, it was still good enough to keep me from wanting to put it down. I can't wait to read some more of Wood's books.

Taking a break from the suspense genre, the next book is Some Kind of Miracle by Iris Rainer Dart.

The two main characters, Dahlia and Sunny, are cousins who grew up bound together by the love of music. From the time they were little, they would sit around the Steinway Sunny's parents had originally bought for their son and create wonderful songs with Sunny's tunes and Dahlia's lyrics.

Fast forward to when Dahlia and Sunny are both adults. Dahlia is a struggle songwriter who is a massage therapist to make ends meet while Sunny is in a care facility for the mentally ill. Dahlia sees an opportunity to sell a song that the two had written years ago but is faced with the need to have Sunny's signature to sell it. Unfortunately, Sunny is in no shape to sign anything.

Dahlia's desire to sell songs leads to a life changing decision. She takes Sunny out of the facility to live at her house. Sunny's mental illness causes Dahlia to doubt both her sanity and her motives for taking care of her cousin. Through the course of their time together both cousins learn a lot about life, love, and each other.

This is a heart warming book which makes you both horrified at the conditions of people in mental illness facilities and cheered by the people who try to make a difference. I enjoyed the unusual plot of this book - it was something totally different from anything else I have read. It really makes you think about your own ideas and attitudes towards mentally ill people as you read. Definitely worth the time!

Broken by Martina Cole returns my reading to the mystery/suspense genre.

The content of this book can be a bit un-settling. It concerns the murder and exploitation of children. At times, I really had problems with the topic since I am someone who spent most of her life working with children. However, the main character, Kate Burrows, an investigator for the police, is so outraged by the situation that it made me feel like she shared my own thoughts and feelings.

Set in a small English town, this thriller leads the reader through the twists and turns of a criminal investigation while delving into the seedy underworld populated by mobsters and low lives. Throughout all of it, Kate holds onto her need to find the person or people responsible for the crimes being committed on children. She will stop at nothing to solve the case - even when being questioned herself for her association with her lover - a player in less than up-right endeavors.

This book was really, really good! In fact, it is so good that I have been looking for more books by Cole. I have so far only found one other book at Half-Price books but . . . I can't wait to read it. If you find this book in your stores - buy it! You will certainly enjoy it. Two thumbs up!

The Sapphire Sea by John B. Robinson is next.

Advertised as "First-Rate," "Gripping," and "Startling," this book follows Lonny Cushman, an American in Madagascar chasing sapphires, as he discovers a legendary gem and then works to find his way home with both the gem and his life.

Okay - I didn't personally think that the book lived up to the hype. It was a rather slow start and even when it got to the "suspenseful" part of the book - it just didn't do that much for me. Compared to Stuarts and Baldacci this book was very, very mild.

I can't really recommend this book but - if you HAVE to have something to read and this is the only book around . . . it would do.

Next is a book I purchased while in Kodiak, Alaska, A Cold, Dark Place to Die by G. William Yngve.

You need to know that Hubby and I met the author personally and this is a signed copy. Yngve was at the same craft area that Jeff Barnhart, the salmon leather guy, was at. Since I am all about buying local - I jumped on this book. Yngve told us that Trenton Territino was interested in making a movie out of this book and, let me tell you, we were very skeptical.

Then I read the book. Now I think it might - just might - make a good movie.

The book is based in Alaska, of course, and deals with the apparently rampant drug trade. A private investigator, Danny, is called into service by a local task force to help stem the traffic of drugs into the area. In the process, Danny is trying to clear the name of a friend who is accused of murder.

The plot is interesting and has enough action that a movie would be plausible. While it took me a while to get into the book, by the end I found myself interested. At times, Yngve's writing seems like he is trying too hard. There is a plethora of adjectives and he never refers to any of the secondary characters as anything other than their full names. Yngve even manages to get several references to himself into the book!

I don't know if you will see this book on the best seller list (or the movie screen) any time soon but, all in all, it was worth the price. If you go to Kodiak, Alaska, pick up a copy and get it signed by the author. It is a neat souvenir and not too bad of a read.

Finally is Lake News by Barbara Delinsky.

Lily Blakes, a Boston lounge singer, is accused, falsely, of having an affair with a newly appointed Cardinal. This drives Lily out of her home and back to her childhood home of Lake Henry where she has a house left to her by her grandmother.

Hounded by the press and fired from her jobs - as a lounge singer and a music teacher at a local school - Lily retreats to Lake Henry to hide. Unfortunately, she is discovered by the local newspaperman, John.

While Lily and John warily circle each other trying to figure out what they will both do about the situation, Lily slowly begins reaching out to her old hometown again.

This book is very good. Not full of suspense (okay, there is a little!) or murder (ummm - none that I can remember!), it is the kind of book which makes you feel good inside. By the end of the book you are rooting for Lily and John, as unlikely as that seems.

If you are looking for a good read with less suspense, pick up this book. It is well worth it!

Okay - I am FINALLY finished with this batch of books! YEAH! Thanks for sticking with me through all of that. I just decided to get them done in one shot rather than dragging it out over two or three posts. Now I will have a chance to read some more without getting such a HUGE pile to tell you all about!


Voice Update: I got a massage from Susan yesterday- my voice is doing really well!

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Nice to Have Live-in Help

Hi All!

In this time of economic trouble, it isn't very easy to afford live-in help but, luckily, Hubby and I have two WONDERFUL workers living with us.

We have a security guard . . .

This is one of his posts. This is the one where he watched for rouge bunny gangs who slip under the fence to bother us. He also has a post where he keeps the bird population under surveillance. I feel so much safer with our security guard around! sdfg

As well as outside security, we have a cracker jack in-house security agent.

Her job is to identify any unknown objects and to thoroughly investigate them to ensure that they are not dangerous to us in any way. If she finds an object to be suspicious, she smothers it with her body. What a self-sacrificing employee!

Both of these helpers perform many other duties in our house. They patrol the entire house, nooks and crannies included, several times a day - and night. They dust horizontal surfaces pretty regularly (now if only they could do vertical ones!). They check everyone who enters the house to make sure they are not carrying any illegal substances (the sniff test, of course). They also regularly let the house plants know that they will take no guff from them.

However, one of the most helpful things they do is to help me get dressed in the mornings.

Here they are inspecting the contents of my armoire.

Isn't it wonderful to have such superior live-in help? And all for the price of some kitty litter and kibble!


Voice Update: Still doing well. I expect to get a massage from Susan today - just a short one.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

iTunes Anyone?

Hi All!

As you might know, I have had an iPod for quite some time and am totally addicted to it (thank you McCoy Elementary!). Originally, my addiction was centered solely around podcasts and the music I already had in my CD collection. I didn't see the need to BUY music from iTunes. After all, I had plenty to listen to.

That was then.

Now I am afraid that I have given in to the temptation and have become an iTunes music purchaser!

Like any addiction, it began simply and small. I had gone to see the musical Rent and didn't buy the CDs on sale there because they were too expensive. Hubby helped in this decision with his "You can buy it cheaper online!" comment.

This decision to buy the soundtrack online happened to be followed rather closely by my parents' visit and my birthday. Not knowing what to buy me for my birthday and following my suggestions, my parents bought me an iTunes gift card.

The Rent soundtrack cost something like $15 and the gift card was for something like $50. So I bought the Les Mis soundtrack - which I hadn't bought at the theater for the same reasons I didn't buy Rent. It was so easy! Instant gratification!

I still had money left over.

Burning a hole in my pocket.

Waiting for me to find additional "treasures!"

So, of course, I began looking. A Jazz Harpist. A quartet of Texan sisters playing fiddles. A wonderful soul singer. A pianist. A Zydeco band. A classical composer whose name started with E (feeding my weird obsession to have composers for every letter of the alphabet). I started finding all kinds of good things.

I would listen to podcasts and find new artists that I "had" to have. However, I didn't spend my gift card money easily. I carefully pondered each decision and its length versus cost ratio (a longer song is always worth more than a short song for the same price!). As my balance got lower and lower, I became even more choosy in my purchases.

Then came the day when my balance got down to $1.43. Wow. That is low. Probably only one more song (at about 99 cents plus tax). Oh my!

I heard a popular singer on my "Ellen in a Minute" podcast and thought he might be worth a purchase. However, once I found out HIS songs were MORE than 99 cents. He fell off my radar pretty darn quickly!

I held on to that remaining money for a long time - weeks! And then . . .

I read Flea's blog yesterday. Her artist friend created an amazing bust of a Puerto Rican pianist. Of course I had to go and check him out. I was impressed. So impressed that I spent 99 cents on one of his SHORT pieces on iTunes!

Now my remaining balance is less than 40 cents. Not enough to purchase even one song. How sad!

I could just buy songs and have them charged to my credit card.

I could.

But I won't.

Yes, I am addicted to my iPod, to podcasts (which are always free by the way) and now, to iTunes. But I am fighting the iTunes addiction. I am fighting.

Maybe I will get another gift card for Christmas!


Voice Update: To be honest, I haven't talked yet today so I don't really know. I think things are still good. Remember, I am resting my voice for the weekend!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Some Restful Scenes

Hi All!

Since today is my day off of work, I am spending the day relaxing (and catching up with stuff in the house but, for the moment, we will ignore that). To kick of my relaxing day, I thought some beautiful sky-scapes were called for so . . . here they are!

*sigh* Pretty, huh? Two golf course sunsets and one blue sky with white clouds (I know it almost looks like dark clouds but that is blue, blue sky). I had another blue sky picture but somehow I deleted it and it just isn't worth the hassle to try to get it back in the right spot.
Looking at skies like this just puts me in a mellow mood. Now I can start my "relaxing" day!
Voice Update: Doing well but I am certainly looking forward to a weekend of not using my voice as much. Rest is always good!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Books, Books, Books!

Hi All!

It has been a while since I have shared what I have been reading and the pile of books is getting taller and taller. So, I decided to share a few to try to keep the pile manageable!

There are four books in this batch and they were all left on the Pacific Princess after I finished reading them. There is a neat system in the ship's library where you can exchange paperbacks you have brought with you. For a two week cruise, this service saw a lot of action!

Anyway, here are the books.

First is The Summer I Dared by Barbara Delinsky.

This was a fun read about a woman who takes an island passenger ferry to visit her aunt for a vacation. She is at a crossroads in her life. Her marriage is strained and everyone thinks they know what she SHOULD do. Julia, the main character, heads to the island for some time to figure things out.

However, before the ferry, and Julia, can reach the island, tragedy strikes. A luxury yacht rams the ferry destroying the ship and killing everyone on board except for Julia, a rugged fisherman, and a young woman who is left mute by the experience.

Against her family's wishes, Julia stays on the island for an extended vacation and as the summer progresses, she finds out more about herself than she ever thought she would.

This is a wonderful book about a woman's introspection and about how life can change in an instant. A great summer, or anytime, read!

Next on the pile is The Bastard by John Jakes.

Apparently, this book is one in a series John Jakes wrote to celebrate the American Bicentennial. Wow, have I been out of the loop about these books. I had never heard of them.

The Bastard is a historical fiction work which follows a young man (I have forgotten his name!)through his journey, both physically and metaphorically speaking, to the young U.S. colonies. The man, who is the bastard son of an English Lord, struggles to find his place in the world after his claim to his father's inheritance is rejected by his father's wife and son. After fleeing from England to the colonies to avoid the wrath of his half brother, the man works for a printer who is heavily involved in the revolutionary movement.

As the book progresses, the man finds himself embroiled in the events leading up to the American Revolution such as the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre. He is surrounded by people like Paul Revere, Ben Franklin, and Sam Adams.

This book is long and can drag at times due to the thick historical plot but, it was certainly worth reading.

On a lighter note, the next book is Toxic Bachelors by Danielle Steel.

For a long time, I resisted reading Danielle Steel. I had read many of her books and for some reason, decided that I didn't need to read any more. However, lately I have been picking up some of her books here and there and have really enjoyed them.

Toxic Bachelors was a book I picked up at the book sale on a whim (and because I needed to spend that entire twenty dollars!). The story was good enough to start to make me wonder if my aversion to Danielle Steel was misguided.

Three confirmed bachelors, Charles, Adam, and Gray, have a tradition of spending one month each summer sailing around the world on Charles' luxury yacht, the Blue Moon. They enjoy their bachelor life and don't ever want to change. Until they begin meeting incredible women.

Each of the men struggle valiantly against the lure of these women who seem to slide seamlessly into their lives.

This book is a good read and is light enough to be summer reading and yet meaty enough to be read in front of the fire on a winter evening. It is a masterful mix of frivolity and real emotion which pulls a reader in and doesn't let go until the last word on the last page.

Next up is an amusing little book I picked up purely due to the title - What Do You Say To A Naked Elf? This book by Cheryl Sterling was a pleasant surprise.

While the title got many looks from other passengers as I carried it and read it around the ship, the plot caught my attention almost immediately. An intricate combination of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and romance, this book turned out to be a wonderful read.

The main character, Jane Drysdale, is driving home from a successful home party where she showed off "marital aids" when she hits what she thinks is a rabbit on the road. The fact that the "rabbit" looked like a man for a few seconds throws Jane for a loop even as her car swerves off the road due to a blown tire. She ends up unconscious after the car hit a tree and comes to as another man is pulling her from the wreckage.

Confused from the accident, Jane doesn't realize that the man and his friends are leading her into a totally different world filled with fairies, elves, and other magical beings. Finding herself in an alien world, Jane struggles to find her equilibrium while being faced with murder charges! The rabbit she hit with her car was an elf who shape shifted into the form of a rabbit.

The longer Jane remains in this odd world, the more wrapped up she becomes with the people and with her rescuer, Charlie, in particular. She soon learns that there is more going on in this world than she originally thought.

This book is a delightful romp into the world of fantasy with unexpected twists and turns and enough romance thrown into the mix to keep things "interesting." If you get a chance, look for this book and sit back for a good read!


Voice Update: I had an official Speech therapy session yesterday and so I got a nice, long massage. My voice is doing really well considering all of the talking I have been doing at work. YEAH!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Hi All!

Just a short post today to wish my dad the happiest of birthdays!

I dragged out a "vintage" picture to wish you well and to say that you mean the world to me!

Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday dear Dad,

Happy Birthday to you!

I love you!


Voice Update: Doing well, doing well!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Hi All.

Today I thought I would show off my growing "garden" since you have seen it from its infancy. It is doing pretty well but, due to the Texas heat, I have to make sure I water it each and every morning or things don't go so well!

Here is an "overview" picture of the whole thing.

The little white balls on the lower left are mothballs - there to discourage bunny from eating my Coneflowers! It works most of the time! The round thing is the tray to the flowerpot. We take the flowerpot inside in the winter and use the tray. I am not really sure what it is doing there at the moment.

Speaking of the flowerpot. Here is Fred, our date palm. He is two years old and is finally sprouting a third leaf! Go, Fred, go!

My Clematis is blooming, blooming, blooming. The flowers look a little weary though. I am not too sure why. This pictures shows the bloom wet from being watered. I thought it was neat that a bud for another flower worked its way right in with this bloom.

Here is a bunch of Clematis blooms. They look nice against the white of the fence.

In their second year, the Coneflowers are blooming! Yeah! I finally kept bunny away from them long enough for them to bud and bloom. Of course, the plants themselves would be bigger if not nibbled by bunny earlier in the season.

I just love close ups of Coneflowers, don't you? To think, I started these from seed last year!

There is something neat about this picture of a Coneflower bud. So much promise.

My Moonflower, in the corner, is doing very well. I ended up with three plants which are sending out shoots everywhere. The plant has started to bloom but I didn't catch the bloom when it was open. All I have is the remains!
There you have it - a guided tour of my garden this week. I hope you enjoyed. I will keep watering my heart out and, hopefully, my garden will keep blooming for me to enjoy from my kitchen window!
Voice Update: I got a massage from Susan and so my neck is feeling better. Susan said my voice "isn't too bad." After two weeks, I will take that!

Monday, July 20, 2009

One Singular Sensation . . .

Hi All!

On Saturday, Hubby and I celebrated our 12th anniversary by heading to the Music Hall at Fair Park to see a musical. If you didn't guess from the title of today's post, we saw A Chorus Line.

This musical is one of my favorites. I have had the soundtrack forever (it seems like it anyway!) and know all of the songs by heart. The dancing is also a big draw for me. Seeing all of those people dance like that. It is impressive!

The entire musical revolves around a day of auditions for musical chorus line on Broadway. The hopeful auditioners sing and dance and then are faced with the very unusual request to "talk about themselves."

Most of the people talk about the reason they decided to become dancers and song such as "At the Ballet" and "I Can Do That" naturally weave their way into the plot. Other people talk about more personal things . . . such as the contents of "Dance 10, Looks 3" which tells of one dancer's efforts to "improve herself" in order to get better roles.

In addition to personal stories, you hear the love all of these people have for dancing and about their desire to be "in the business." When asked repeatedly what they would do after they were too old to dance any more, the group launches into "What I did For Love" led by Diana. In this production, Diana was played by a woman named Rebecca Riker. She did a good job of singing "Nothing" but it was her hauntingly lovely performance on "What I Did For Love" which sent goosebumps up my arms.

Sadly, that one song was pretty much the only goosebump causing moment in the show for me. I enjoyed the entire show, of course, but, it was basically just "okay." The dancing of all the performers was very good and fun to watch but the lack of really exceptional vocals just made the show a bit lack luster for me.

Of course, as I say that, I remember that "The Music and the Mirror" was done well and came very close to goosebumps. The actress who played Cassie, Robyn Hurder, did a very nice job.

Hubby's favorite part of the entire production was the scenery. The only real scenery was a wall of mirrors which rotated so that at times they were hidden and at times they were exposed to reflect all of the dancers. The decisions as to when the mirrors would show and when they wouldn't did enhance the production but, I think Hubby just liked seeing them rotate. He also liked the fact that there was no intermission - so the show went faster!

All in all, I really don't think you can go wrong with A Chorus Line. It is a good, solid story with enjoyable songs and some outstanding choreography. If it heads your way, go!


Voice Update: Doing well but still a bit tired. Susan will be back at work this week - it will be interesting to see what she thinks.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

That was then . . .This is now!

Hi All!

Do you remember when Skor got into my piano and cut one of his front feet and one of his back feet? We had quite a struggle keeping him from licking the things and getting them messed up. We had this lovely cone . . .

As you can tell, Skor really, really enjoyed this cone! NOT!

Well, we got his feet healed - finally! And he was allowed to be cone free. He enjoyed his freedom.

How could you sleep like this if you had a big cone on your head? And this isn't the weirdest position Skor sleeps in!

Sleeping on the computer while "helping" me write my blog each morning would also be difficult with a "cone head!"
Yes, Skor was really happy that he didn't have to endure the cone any more!
However . . . . things can change in an instant!
This week I had noticed that Skor was licking his right front paw a little more than normal and I tried to get a look at it but . . . Skor would have nothing to do with that! Plus, I was working so I didn't have as much time as normal to get a glimpse of the offending foot.
Then, I noticed that Skor's breath was NASTY! I know cat breath is never very good but this was just plain horrible! Hubby even noticed. I also thought Skor's feet smelled but assumed it was because he licks his feet with his smelly tongue.
Yesterday I was enjoying my time off with both kitties snuggled up in bed with me. A very unusual event and I was determined to try to make it last as long as possible. However, it was not too long into the "love fest" that I saw it.
Skor was licking his paw - again - and I saw it.
The pad of his paw was red and swollen and the fur around it was nasty - like dried blood.
Well, that sort of ruined snuggle time for me. Oh, I still stayed there and petted both kitties but I was thinking about what I needed to do. I needed to get a good look at that foot. Skor, however, was still determined that I not look at it.
When Miss Cleo finally decided to go sleep in the sun, I made my move. I snatched Skor up and got a glimpse of that foot. EEEEWWWW! It looked bad.
We went into the bathroom where I attempted to clean the thing off and get a better look at it!
Then I called the vet and made an appointment for that day. He told me what I already knew - that Skor had a cut on his pad and it was infected. He cleaned out the foot and put on antibiotic spray (which I had taken with me from the last foot incident). Then I got the lovely antibiotics that I "get" to shoot down Skor's throat two times a day. Fun, fun.
And Skor . . . well . . . he got this . ..

Doesn't he look absolutely thrilled?
Voice Update: Doing okay. Need to do some serious massage and stuff today AND rest my voice!

Friday, July 17, 2009

More Alaskan Pictures - Valdez

Hi All!

I haven't shown you the rest of my Alaska pictures so - here are some more. This time, let's look at Valdez!

Even though the day was pretty grey, the colorful bench, banner, and flowers welcomed the ship to Valdez.
Like most of the Alaskan ports we stopped in - there were beautiful mountains as a backdrop to the city. As you can tell, the clouds were hovering around and, in fact, Hubby and I got rained on a bit while walking around town.

The last time we were in Valdez, we took a tour so we didn't get to see this guy. Isn't he impressive? While we were there, I took a picture of another couple in front of the statue and three Magpies (birds) landed on his head. Unfortunately, they left before I could catch them with my camera.

Here is the story of the statue. I have never heard of Peter Toth or his mission to create "Whispering Giants." Have you? It would be neat to see other statues/carvings he has done. Maybe I will have to look him up on the Internet!

One of the shops in town, The Glass Mermaid, called my name. Hubby and I went in and it just so happened that it was the first day that the store was open! The woman on the right is the proprietor and the woman on the left just brought her flowers. They were both kind enough to pose with T.O.D.D. However, I unfortunately forget the names of these wonderful women. If you ever get up to Valdez, check out the store. It is also a working studio as well. A very interesting place and such beautiful glass work!
That is the end of my Valdez pictures but, I want to tell you about the Magpie Bakery. I stopped at this little bakery to get a snack (a wonderful strawberry cupcake with butter cream frosting!) and found that this bakery is so much more. They apparently serve breakfast and lunch here and everything smelled so darn good!
Okay - another Alaskan memory! It was such fun traveling up in Alaska. So relaxing and COOL! As I sit in the Texan summer heat I remember Alaska fondly. *sigh*
Voice Update: My voice is doing fairly well. Working and talking on the phone has really been rough on it. Luckily, it is only four days a week and there is also plenty of time when I don't have to talk! Another plus is that I work for speech therapists so - throat massages when I need them. I have been taking my "thumper" to work and taking a couple breaks during the day to massage. Yesterday I got a massage from H - one of the speech therapists. It was nice. Different than Susan but nice. Very relaxing at the end of the day!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Caught in the Act!

Hi All!

Yesterday's post was waylaid by a nice headache! I decided that the wisest course of action was to take some meds and get a little more sleep before heading to work. Luckily, the strategy worked - until I got home from work when the headache reactivated. Oh well!

This morning I still have a little remnant of the headache which, I hope, will be wiped out by some meds before I go to work.

Well, do you remember my post about Hubby not feeding the cats before heading to bed? Well, I don't normally like to complain about Hubby since he is such a wonderful husband but I let a little complaining slip out in that post. I guess life is telling me to watch myself since he found out about it! Hubby, who never reads my blog, found out about my "complaint!" Yikes! Now I really have to watch what I put in my blog. I have an "informer" out there somewhere who knows Hubby!

Luckily, he was just having fun yanking my chain and wasn't upset at all! However, I don't think that I will hear the end of this for a while so I will have to watch my content!

Returning to yesterday, I had an interesting day at work. I can't divulge details but let's just say it involved a divorced couple, hints of violence, the possibility of police, and safety escorts out of the building (not for me - this happened in the morning). It was certainly an interesting day at work! Everyone was safe and the violence we were expecting never materialized but it was a bit nerve wracking!

Join me in hoping that today is MUCH less exciting!


Voice Update: Doing well. I have gotten out the "thumper" to work on my neck and it certainly helps a lot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Is "I'm Sorry" Enough?

Hi All!

Last night before we went to sleep Hubby asked if I had seen Miss Cleo. Apparently, he though he heard her scratching from the inside of my armoire. Nope. I had no clue where she was.

However, at about 4:30 this morning, I was very well aware of where Miss Cleo was. She was snuggled up right next to me in the bed. With Skor trying to usurp her position. With violence. There was growling and snarling and tussling. At 4:30 this morning!

Well, both cats charged off the bed to continue their "argument" and I went back to sleep. I tried, I should say. About ten seconds later, Miss Cleo was once more up on the bed nestled at my side. Skor jumped up on the bed and after a brief tussle which Miss Cleo refused to dignify, took up position on the opposite side next to my head.

Both cats were purring to beat the band. If you are familiar with cats I know that you understand that cats have several volumes of purrs. Some are soft, contented purrs. Others - not so soft and definitely meant to get attention. These purrs - they were lawn mower loud!

Then Skor decided to up the stakes and begin massaging my throat. With his claws.

Over the past several weeks Skor and I have come to an agreement that massages with claws are not acceptable. However, this morning - at 4:30 - he would not stick to his agreement! The claws, which need trimmed, were out.

Finally, I decided that these normally loving creatures must want something. I stumbled out of bed and headed to the kitchen. Miss Cleo and Skor ran in front of me and led me directly to their obviously empty bowls. The bowls were so empty that it looked as if the cats had literally licked them clean.

Hmmmm. I got the container of food from the laundry room. Empty.

I got the big container of food from the pantry (note: Because our cats like "fresh" food we transfer smaller amounts into an air tight container which we put in the laundry room. The larger bag is then put into a big airtight container in the pantry for filling up the little container.). Fumbling around I managed to fill up both bowls and to spill a fair amount of food on the floor in the process. Leaving both the empty small container and the larger container on the kitchen table, I headed back to bed.

The cats left me alone until normal wake-up time a very sad couple of hours later.

I didn't sleep too well between the cat feeding and the wake-up time.

Hubby, who always makes it to the kitchen before me and who slept through the entire 4:30 feeding incident, noticed the containers on the kitchen table. As soon as I made an appearance, he said "I'm sorry! I forgot to give the kitties food last night." He repeated this phrase several times during our morning routine.

My question to you all is this - is "I'm sorry." enough for missing sleep and being clawed in the neck?

At least he cleaned the litter box before going to work!


Voice Update: I am doing well but still have that "I don't want to talk to anyone" feeling going on. Of course, I HAVE to talk to people since I am still working. What a conundrum!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Oh, You Pretty Chitty Chiity Bang Bang!

Hi All!

This post is a little late - considering that we actually went to see this musical more than a week ago - but . . . better late than never, right?

On July 4th, Hubby and I went to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Now, I guess I should be totally honest and tell you that, due to my not looking closely at the tickets, Hubby and I arrived at the theater 30 minutes late. You see, the musical started an hour before the "normal" starting time. Hubby and I were at the theater in plenty of time for the "normal" starting time. However, we were LATE for the early starting time!

Being late meant that we missed the first five songs in the first act. Hubby was happy - he isn't too much of a musical kind of guy. I was bummed.

Anyway, we went in during the applause from a song, sat down and enjoyed the rest of the first act. While we were watching, we noticed that there were numerous people doing the exact same thing we did. So we weren't the only people who didn't look at the tickets!

The musical. I enjoyed the musical. It stayed pretty true to the movie version - which I absolutely adore. The actors did a nice job of both acting and singing even though the man who played Caractacus Potts could have done a bit better in the dancing area for my taste. The scene where he was the rag doll playing against Truly Scrumptious's music box girl just didn't have the same effect as the wonderful job Dick Van Dyke did in the movie version.

The music was fast paced and catchy. I found myself singing several of the songs over the past week, much to Hubby's annoyance! The scenery was well done and that villain, The Child Catcher, was masterfully villainous. In fact, several of the small children in the audience began crying when he appeared. I think that is a sign of realistic villainy!

The car. Oh, the car! Even being fully cognizant of the fact that at some point this car was going to fly, I was amazed when it actually did. It was amazing! I didn't see any wires or pedestals. How was this thing flying? And it flew around the stage pretty darn well! You saw all sides of the car - even the back - and it flew high and low and from side to side. What a mystery. It was great! No matter how many times I looked at the flying car through my binoculars I just couldn't figure out the secret. Impressive.

If you are a fan of the movie, or even if you aren't but just like fun, family-friendly musicals, this one is fun to see.


Voice Update: I still don't feel like talking too much - not that that stops me, of course! I have been massaging around a really sore spot in my neck. I hope it goes away soon! I also have been "e-ing" my way through showers and walks. Voice exercises are such fun!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

SD on Saturday

Hi All!

For those who are regular readers, I am going to go into my background with SD again so you may just want to skim this post. I might get some more interesting stuff going at the end.

Okay - here we go!

In January of 2007 I was diagnosed with Spasmodic Dysphonia - ABductor Spasmodic Dysphonia to be specific. This is a neurological disorder which affects the larynx. Basically, the muscles which control the vocal cords are told by the brain to spasm and those spasms either hold the cords closed (ADductor SD) or hold the cords open (ABductor SD) depending on which muscles are spasming. With either kind of SD it is very difficult to talk.

ADSD spasms make the voice sound choked and strained. ABSD spasms make the voice very breathy and faint. Both kinds are very difficult to live with and very, very frustrating!

When I was diagnosed, I had basically no voice. I could whisper because, interestingly, whispering doesn't involve the vocal cords much, if at all. I was teaching and had to quit because the stress of trying to keep everything together with no voice was just too much for me and was making my voice that much worse.

Luckily, I met a very experienced speech therapist, Susan, who has worked with quite a number of people with both types of SD. I began going to see Susan at least once a week and became obsessed with the exercises she gave me. I was determined to do absolutely everything that I possibly could to try to regain my voice. After all, I didn't want to look back in ten years and regret not doing something to help my condition.

Because the outlook for me regaining any "normal" voice looked pretty grim, Susan had me begin speaking on the inhale. Speaking on the inhale seemed to be the only option I had at the time for being able to speak at all. I practiced this very "different" method of speaking with focused determination and became pretty darn good at it. In fact, the people who know me the best said that I was starting to sound pretty much "normal."

Surprisingly, while working on developing my endurance while speaking on the inhale, I noticed that words would "pop out" normally once in a while. This led to a shift in the focus of speech therapy to strengthening my "normal" voice. Apparently, speaking on the inhale which involved the vocal cords in a different way than "normal" speaking tricked my brain into letting my vocal cords work normally!

After many months of speech exercises done with my usual obsessive focus, my speaking voice is about 97% of normal. Thank God and Susan!

Despite the fact that my voice no longer sounds like a typical ABSD person most of the time, I still do have ABSD. If you stress me out or get me talking a lot to wear out my voice, it becomes more apparent. I struggle with unvoiced consonants and have breaks in my voice once in a while no matter what I do. Speech exercises and laryngeal massage is a constant reality in my life. If I "fall off the wagon" and don't do my exercises, my voice suffers. If I do my exercises like I should, my voice sounds good.

I record a podcast called Learning to Live With SD. Its purpose is to help others with SD. My listenership is small since this is a very specialized content podcast. This blog was originally started to help spread the word about SD. I am active in local SD events and co-lead a SD support group. Advocating for SD is very important to me.

If you or someone you know has SD and wants to "talk" about it via email or even by phone, let me know. That is what I like doing.

Recently, I have gotten two different emails from people who don't know me but who have SD. It is so rewarding to know that I can help people in some way. Both of these ladies found me via the internet and I am excited to start a dialogue with them.

Even though returning to teaching doesn't look like a good possibility due to the amount of speaking involved, I am keeping busy with advocating for SD. Most people have never heard of it and I want that to change.

Thanks for reading my SD background. I just wanted to get it out there again.


Voice Update: My voice is very tired. It is sounding pretty good but I notice more breaks with those darn h's and p's. Also, I just don't feel like talking too much. It is taking too much effort again. I need Susan to come back and give me a good going over. I will ask one of the other therapists to help me out this coming week when I am at work but . . . I like Susan the best!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Kodiak Kodak Moments

Hi All!

Are you ready for some more Alaskan pictures? I have lots of time today since I don't work on Fridays so . . . .I can tangle with Blogger to get them on my post!

I can't remember if I told you that Hubby and I requested a room on the "bottom floor," the lowest floor that passengers have rooms on. We were on the same floor for our last cruise and we really liked it. The third floor! There are only 15 rooms on one side of the ship. The rest of the floor is for the crew. Being on this floor means it is quieter and you meet a lot of crew members as they walk through to go to or from work. It is fun.

Anyway, on the third floor you get a porthole. I love taking pictures through the porthole!

While the landscape isn't that fabulous, I like the shot!

We were in Kodiak pretty much all day and Hubby and I didn't take any excursions so we had lots of time to "hang out" and I took lots of pictures. We went up to the top deck of the ship to take pictures (and for Hubby to play with the golfing net thing - I will show you pictures of that later).

The American flag was blowing nicely in the wind. I couldn't get a really nice picture of it since it kept blowing back on itself.

I spent some time watching this ship making its way around this point. I think I have pictures of it in many different positions. The weather was a bit overcast - hence the darker picture.

Here is the same ship closer to our ship.

Hubby and I went to eat at The Channel Side Chowder House. We were there last year and really enjoyed it. The view out the windows is fabulous.

The Chowder House is right on a channel between Kodiak island and . . . another island (I forget its name). While eating we saw boats go by and even saw what we thing was a sea lion swim by. Of course, I didn't get a picture because by the time I got outside to take it, the sea lion was gone. Isn't that always the way?

These are the crab legs that Hubby and I ordered at the Chowder House. Fresh, hot, and wonderful!

Can you tell we liked them?

What would Kodiak be without seeing a bear? Hubby and I sort of cheated. This guy is in a sporting goods store along with an Arctic fox whose tail in the orangish thing in the lower left corner of this picture.

Here are the bear's stats. Quite impressive, don't you think?
After our visit to the bear, we walked to an area where locals were set up selling their crafts. We had a mission - to see the man who we had met last year and who we have emailed with a few times. Last year he was in a different spot and there were not as many vendors there. This time, he was closer to the dock (well, a bit!) and there were more people selling stuff. Paintings, jewelry, pictures, shirts, tote bags, all kinds of stuff!
Being a bookie, I stopped at this man's table.

This is G. William Yngve. He wrote a book called A Cold, Dark Place to Die. He claims that Quintin Terrentino (or however you spell his name) is going to make a movie of the book. We will see! Can you tell that William is a bit of a character? He went to Harvard and then moved to Alaska to work on fishing boats! Now he writes and publishes books. I bought his book and have read it. Look for a review in an upcoming post.
The main mission, seeing the man we have emailed with, was a success!

This is Jeff. He makes salmon leather products. Never heard of salmon leather? Neither had we until we met Jeff! It is neat stuff! Anyway, last year we met Jeff and asked him if he had ever though of making bookmarks. He hadn't and that was the subject of our emails. This year, he had a great display - see the boots in front of Jeff? The toes of the boots are covered in salmon leather! He also has wallets and key chains and earrings!!! and, of course, bookmarks.
Jeff made four prototype bookmarks and I wanted to buy them all but restrained myself and bought only three. Two for me and one for Theresa. I love these things. However, I realize as I write this that I don't have any good pictures of them. I am going to rectify that today and I will get them on my blog ASAP!
By the way - this picture of Jeff and me . . . it was about the hundredth try. Jeff's table was right in front of windows and Hubby couldn't get the pictures to come out due to the glare.
Our trip to Kodiak was fun - especially since I got a book and some bookmarks!
Voice Update: My voice is getting tired. All of the phone work at work this week is taking its toll. I am still doing pretty well but I notice that I am missing more of those always frustrating unvoiced consonants - especially H! SD can certainly be frustrating to live with!