Choir Concerts Part 2

Posted by on Aug 1, 2016 in Musings | 0 comments

I only intended to do two of the choir concert posts, but I found something today that predicates one more. You guys won’t believe what I’m going to post next week!

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Choir Concerts Part 1

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 in Musings | 2 comments

Hi all. I had planned to have all the choir concerts posted in addition to a pithy little blog post to introduce them tomorrow. But it’s late Sunday night, I only have half of the concerts uploaded, and I just realized I didn’t eat dinner and am starving. Best laid plans.

Shades of RedTo make up for it, I am posting a photo of my eighth grade choir that I told you about in the Choir Girl blog. The choir where we had to wear ruffles and red corduroy jumpers. And by jumpers, I don’t mean the British sweater type, either. I’m at the top on the right. That’s Sheila at the top in the middle.

The concerts are (and will be) available via the drop down tab labeled “Choir” at the top of the blog. You can click on individual links on the drop down list, or go to the main choir page on the tab for a regular list.

I’m going to go find something to eat. Goodnight and good luck.

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Choir Girl

Posted by on Jul 4, 2016 in Autism, College, Musings | 7 comments

One day last fall I was having coffee with Marathon Girl and mentioned that I was planning to join a choir in the spring. Her response surprised me. “You sing?” she said.

Of course I sing. Everyone knows I sing. Except, apparently, one of my best friends. I guess I stopped talking about it somewhere along the way.

My mom always wanted me to be in the marching band. She saw how close those kids seemed to be and thought it was the best way for me to be part of a group. I was already playing piano, so I added flute to my repertoire. I wasn’t bad, so I was able to start junior high as third chair flute in the top school band.

But, I hated to practice. I refused to do it, which made it relatively easy to beat me in a challenge (when a lower chair challenges you for your chair). By the time I was in ninth grade, I was 22nd chair. I didn’t really care, though. Band was never my thing.

In eighth grade, my friend, Sheila, talked me into joining the girls’ choir with her. Sheila was a second soprano. I was an alto, but I joined the choir to be with my friend and I wanted to sit next to her, so I moved myself to second soprano.  The choir director kept trying to move me back, but it just wouldn’t stick. It didn’t really matter because I knew both parts anyway.

Montage singing Song A

Montage singing Song A

Sheila left choir after that year, but I was hooked. In ninth grade, I was in band, choir, volleyball, and cheerleading. I dropped them all for choir when I got to high school. There were two special audition choirs at our school: Montage (show choir) and Madrigals (chamber choir). I made it into Montage my first year and both choirs the remaining years. I played a character with a name in all three musicals and made All-State Choir both years I was eligible. I ate lunch in the choir room every day and hung out with my choir friends after school.

There’s not a memory of high school that’s not colored with song for me.

So, it probably shouldn’t have surprised me that the first year of college was incredibly lonely for me. But it was and it did.

So, as a sophomore, I decided to join a choir. I auditioned for the school’s concert choir and a small jazz choir directed by one of the teaching assistants from my History of Jazz class the previous spring.

I’m a mezzo soprano, which means not too high and not too low. Your basic mid-range singer who can do well as a first alto or second soprano. I prefer alto because I like to harmonize rather than carry the melody. They are different skill sets.

Imagine my surprise when the concert choir offered me a second alto spot and the jazz choir a first soprano spot. I was more comfortable with my upper register at the time, and had no experience with large choirs, so I chose the first soprano spot in the jazz choir. Huge mistake on my part, but hind sight and all.

Had I chosen the concert choir, there would have been other people singing the same part. The jazz choir only had eight people, one for each part.

Had I chosen the concert choir, I would have been singing harmony, which is well within my comfort zone. In the jazz choir, I was often carrying the melody. All by myself. With notes I could barely reach.

Had I chosen the concert choir, I would have made friends. I might have continued in music and had a much more fulfilling and enjoyable college experience. The jazz choir was competitive, bitingly so, which made friendship impossible.

I played a tape (this was waaaay before mP3s) for my high school choir director and a few former choir members. They were less than impressed, which hurt, but I understand why.

I left the jazz choir after that one semester and didn’t glance at a sheet of music for 15 years.

After Sparky and I moved to Washington state, I decided to give it another go. I auditioned for and joined a community choir in our area. The director was demanding, which takes a bit of nerve when you’re working with volunteers who have full-time jobs and lives. He would single people out and embarrass them. He managed to suck all of the joy out of choir for me.

I left that choir after six months, too. I had, apparently stopped talking about it, as well, by the time I met Marathon Girl two years later.

Something, probably a desire to escape from stress, brought choir back to mind last fall. I found a different community choir, one that invites singers of all backgrounds to join, and contacted the director. They were in the middle of rehearsals for their winter concert, but she encouraged me to come to their first rehearsal in January. I am so happy that I did.

The director is funny and warm. The choir members are friendly and quirky, just like me. It’s like I’m 15 and starting off in Montage again. We did a show tunes concert in June and I loved every minute of it. Two of the songs we sang were even different arrangements of ones I sang in high school.


Song A High school Montage:


Song A Redmond Chorale:


Song B High school Montage:


Song B Redmond Chorale:

In case you missed our concert in June, you can catch us at Redmond Derby Days on Saturday, July 9th, at 3pm. In front of City Hall, I think.

Did I mention that I’m so glad to be back in a choir?



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No Rest for the Bullied

Posted by on Apr 25, 2016 in Autism, Justice | 4 comments

**EDIT** Folks that know us in real life, please don’t mention this to your kids. I thought a lot about Zoo Keeper’s privacy before posting this and decided that bullying is something that needs light shone on it to wither and die. What I didn’t realize was the possibility that his friends would find out, by good intentions on their parents’ part, and they would treat Zoo Keeper differently. I don’t want that. What you can do, is talk to your kids about what bullying is and what to do if they witness or experience it.


It’s happening again and I’m just so very tired.

Young boy sitting on the ground, arms crossed over his knees, head resting on his arms, and sad-looking face turned toward the camera

Young boy sitting on the ground, arms crossed over his knees, head resting on his arms, and sad-looking face turned toward the camera

Zoo Keeper is being bullied at school. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The bullying has been going on for Zoo Keeper, in one form or another, since his first month of kindergarten. Before then, actually, but right now I’m just talking about incidents at his current school. He’s in third grade now, so we’re coming up on four years of bullies.

Just this past week, Zoo Keeper was called names and locked out of his classroom after an emergency drill. Ironically, the kid who helped him get into the classroom was his predominant bully earlier this year. The one who threatened to slice our dog’s head off and kill the rest of the family, leaving Zoo Keeper an orphan. My brain doesn’t really know what to do with that knowledge.

I had a talk with one of Zoo Keeper’s therapists on Friday that upset me enough that I decided to go to school with Zoo Keeper every day to sit next to him, protecting him with my presence. Because I haven’t been able to protect him with complaints to the school.

I wrote an email to the advocate I hired to help with his IEP (Individual Education Plan) asking her to edit my email to the school about bullying. She replied that it’s totally unacceptable that he’s experiencing bullying like this and there are legal protections we need to discuss. And that I shouldn’t have to sit in the classroom to keep him safe.

We discussed options on the phone this morning and she’s going to draft an email to the school tomorrow. She asked me to give her an idea of all the bullying Zoo Keeper has experienced, so I went through emails with the school dating back to September 2012, when he started kindergarten.

Here’s the first paragraph of email in response to her request:

Closeup portrait of an angry young boy displaying the loser sign, finger and thumb in the shape of an L, on his forehead while pointing at viewer with disgust.

Closeup portrait of an angry young boy displaying the loser sign, finger and thumb in the shape of an L, on his forehead while pointing at viewer with disgust.

He’s experienced bullying every year since preschool when he was 4. It generally takes the form of following him, mimicking him, excluding him, lying to him about how something bad (he’s going to die from his cough or have to go to the principal’s office…) is going to happen to him, pushing him, pulling him by his backpack, closing doors in his face, and calling him names. One year the name of choice was shrimp, right now it’s grandma.

Looking back through all those emails reminded me that I have been proactive about the bullying over the years. While it relieves me a little to see that I haven’t just ignored the problem, it infuriates me that my actions have not improved Zoo Keeper’s school experience at all. He thinks school means getting bullied and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

So I had a talk with Zoo Keeper. I told him that the advocate and I have been working on getting him a better IEP – and that an IEP is the document that tells the school what kind of things he needs to learn, like that he needs a fidget and a wobbly stool to sit on and his Neo. And that we realized that the bullying is the thing he needs to stop the most, the thing that’s keeping him from really learning at school, so we’re going to meet with the school to figure out what to do to make sure it stops this time. Because it’s been what’s normal for him and he needs to know that’s not okay and shouldn’t be the norm. He said that would be great.

I also told him that they might try switching him to another class first, to which he said that won’t work. I think because lots of this happens on the playground, so it doesn’t really matter which class when they’ll all be at recess together and he is well aware that there aren’t enough teachers out at recess to notice what’s really going on. I told him I agree that it won’t work, but the school may want us to try it anyway.

And he agreed to tell me when bullying happens so that we can tell the school and get them to really do something about it this time.

As the advocate and I finished up our phone conversation this morning, she asked if I felt any better. I told her the truth: no. I think I’ve been worn down by the lack of results almost as much as Zoo Keeper has and it’s hard to believe that anything will ever change.

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Just Say Thank You

Posted by on Jul 10, 2015 in Musings | 2 comments

Conversation in our house this weekend:

I could have sworn it was 20 lemons.

I could have sworn it was 20 lemons.

Sparky: Here you go: 20 lemons.

Me (laughing): Right. Two. Twenty. What’s the difference.

Me (turning at the sound of 20 lemons hitting the fruit bowl): What’s that?

Sparky: Twenty lemons.

Me (staring, dumfounded): But I asked for two lemons.

Sparky: I know.

Me: I only need two. Why did you get a whole bag?

Sparky: I don’t know. They were all there together and it was just easier.

Me: It was easier? Easier than lifting two…you know what? You brought home the lemons I asked for. Thank you for getting me lemons.

Sparky: Your welcome.

When someone does something you asked them to do, don’t question the manner in which it is done. Just say thank you.

It’s not as easy as it looks.

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Dog Days

Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Musings | 4 comments

So, this happened. Photograph of a small, white dog.

So, this happened.
Photograph of a small, white dog.

As many of you know, I’ve been searching for a rescue dog for several weeks. Last Thursday, I talked to a woman from a local rescue about a dog she had available. She said that particular dog wouldn’t fit our family, but she was getting a terrier in from a California shelter on Saturday and I should come by to meet her. My mom was arriving Saturday for a visit and the rescue was on the way home from the airport, so I talked her in to going with me. It didn’t take much talking, as she’s the one who fostered my love of dogs in the first place.

Here we are mid-snuggle. Photograph of two women holding a small white dog on their laps.

Here we are mid-snuggle.
Photograph of two women holding a small white dog on their laps.

As it turned out, the dog that arrived on Saturday was not a terrier, but a corgi/American Eskimo mix. She had been there only two hours when the woman led her in to meet us. The dog came right over to me and jumped up for a snuggle. I gave her some love and she turned to my mom to join in. She was calm and sweet and affectionate. It was quite the love-fest.

The rescue lady brought in another dog she thought might be interesting to me. The new dog was lanky and hyper, but the white dog remained calm and was submissive. He tried to play with her, but she was having none of it. She stuck right by me, seeming to broadcast softly that I was hers and she’d appreciate it if the interloper would just move along. And he eventually did.

We had been looking for a dog that was two to three years old, potty trained, and weighed around 20 pounds. This white dog was supposed to be about a year old, possibly potty-trained, and about 17 pounds. So, only one definite out of the three. P.S. she’s not potty-trained, so it ended up one out of three. But it was the right one.

Anyway, the dog didn’t bat an eye when the rescue lady looked at her teeth and told me she seemed more like seven months. The lady got the paperwork and the dog puppy turned out to be six months old. Should have been strike one, but I was already too far gone.

She was very dirty (you can see in the picture with Mom and me that she looks more tan than white) and I couldn’t tell for sure if I was allergic to her. But, again, too far gone, so we took her home to foster for a week before making the final decision. Turns out she cleans up nice. Once we got all the dirt and grime from her truck ride from California off, I could tell she wouldn’t trigger my allergies, which was good, as we’d already pretty much decided to keep her.

Sitting in the backyard with her that first day, Zoo Keeper asked what her name was and we said she didn’t have one yet. He looked over at her and said, “Come here, Anonymous.” I laughed so hard I knew it had to be her name. We call her Annie for short. Though one of my nieces pointed out that we really should spell it with a y. Maybe An’ny’. Unfortunately, we’d already had her tag engraved, so she stays Annie.

For the first day or so, Annie was totally quiet and very calm. Sparky was even beginning to wonder if she had the right energy level for our family. Right after he said that, though, she grabbed one of her toys, smacked me with it, and began to play. Energy level, check.

We’re working on the potty training. I think today was the first day with no accidents. Progress. Yay.

This is pretty much what she has to look forward to. It's a rough life, being our dog.  Photograph of a man lying on the floor next to a dog bed, snuggling with a small, white, dog.

This is pretty much what she has to look forward to. It’s a rough life, being our dog.
Photograph of a man lying on the floor next to a dog bed, snuggling with a small, white, dog.

Her fur is soft and silky. I just want to bury my face in it. She has corgi ears, feet, and long body, but her face is all Eskie. We knew she looked a lot like our dog who passed eight years ago, Samantha, but the depth of the resemblance didn’t hit us until she started to play. Her play movements are just like Sam’s. It’s uncanny and a little unsettling. We’ve decided to look on it like a blessing. As if Sam is giving her stamp of approval for this new puppy to join the family.

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