May 28, 2013

Memorial Merriment: Dancing On the Stage, Golfing On the Green, Marching In the Street

Oh, how I love to hear the words "Memorial Day Weekend" -- those three May days that honor the men and women of the armed forces and commence summer festivities in colorful style. There are always so many things to do and places to go. As I got out of bed on Saturday morning, I decided to start things off the right way by whipping up a batch of red, white, and blue pancakes. The kids really enjoyed helping me in the kitchen with the preparations. It was patriotic culinary fun.

Saturday turned out to be a rainy day making outdoor activities undesirable, however, as evening rolled around, we were off to the High School to see my daughter take part in the annual recital for her dance school. I've been going to these recitals for years now and I must say that the dance numbers and musical selections this time were outstanding. The show was titled "Dance Is The Word" and centered around a Grease-theme. Things kicked off in exciting fashion with a medley of Grease songs (which I haven't heard in ages). Another favorite moment for me was a dance done to music from the soundtrack of "Pirates Of the Caribbean." It was intense, the costumes magnificent. Mostly, I really love to see my daughter having fun on the stage. It makes me very happy.

Sunday was much more of a golden day, so we spent the afternoon at a new amusement park called Station Sports Family Fun Center. This place features an 18-hole miniature golf course replete with fountains, waterfalls, and even a cave. I always enjoy a game of putt-putt, though, sadly, I just couldn't seem to sink a hole-in-one. The park also has a western-themed paintball shooting gallery (that was a blast) and a series of batting cages. I didn't realize just how out of practice I've become with the bat. Out of twelve slow softball pitches, I was only able to make solid contact with three or four. With the possibility of a team starting up at work this season, I better get into game shape quickly.

Memorial Day Monday was the most pristine day of them all. Sunny. High 70s. Blue skies with the traces of a few wispy clouds. Just an ideal day for the annual parade. I took a seat on the sidewalk under a shady tree and watched as a procession of veterans, scouts, firefighters, and classic cars rolled by. The people lining the streets cheered and waved flags. It was a feel good type of day. Love & light...

"We know
that we live in him and he in us,
because he has given us
of his Spirit."

~1 John 4:13


May 23, 2013

Autobuses, Arts, and Articles

Well, tomorrow is Graduation Day at the University. This past week, my duty was to wash the bus fleet in preparation for the ceremonies. I really like doing outdoor work like this. It feels kinda nice to be able to show up to the job in old clothes and beat up Timberlands. Most of the days were sunny and hot; I even turned the hose on myself a few times, very refreshing. I must say, the fleet is looking spiffy. I've been a part of the last 13 graduations and they are always special. The people always come so dressed up and happy. If seeing a procession of sparkling buses on campus adds to the joy of the day even a little bit, I'm happy with all of the work that I've done.

While on my way home one day during the week, I saw the familiar "Art Exhibit Today: Free Admission" sign in front of the Mills Pond House Gallery, so I stopped in to check out the latest showcase. This time, the works of six artists using many different mediums were on display, my favorites being the mixed media pieces by Nicholas Valentino and the acrylics of Gia Schifano.

Curious Yellow
Nicholas Valentino

Nicholas Valentino

Nicholas Valentino

Still Cruisin'
Nicholas Valentino

Ellen's Sunset
Gia Schifano

The Forest
Gia Schifano

Paul's New Orleans
Gia Schifano

Morning on Agawam Pond
Gia Schifano

And speaking of schools, I received a clipping in the mail of an article from the Summit Sun about the performance that I gave. I'm very grateful to them for including me in their newspaper.

Other than that, this will be Memorial Day Weekend! The unofficial beginning of summer. I don't really have any plans for the three days as of yet, but I have set up the first event for the Avant Garden Poetry Amphitheatre. This year, we'll be opening up the festivities on June 22. Good times are on the way. Cheers!

"Finally, all of you,
live in harmony with one another;
be sympathetic,
love as brothers,
be compassionate and humble."

~1 Peter 3:8


May 16, 2013

Different Stages

After ten weeks of vigorous actor training (with all kinds of believability exercises and script studies) under instructor Jeff Bennett, the efforts of the class finally culminated with a performance in the Bare Bones Theater Company's "Spring Showcase 2013." I was very excited going into it because I had seen the growth in each of our actors and I couldn't wait to see the whole thing in action. After tickets were announced for the event, the box office sold out with in the matter of about a day and a half. 

I had the honor of doing a comedic scene with Lois Morton in which I got to portray a somewhat goofy detective. The piece was called "Chocolate," a short play written by Frederick Stroppel. I had never done comedy in the past and I must say that it is a very gratifying experience to be able to make an audience laugh. It was a good time. You can see the video footage of it by clicking HERE. On the whole, the night was excellent and everything came together very smoothly. I enjoyed it all so much, though I am a little bit crestfallen at the moment over the fact that there won't be another class to attend next Monday. At this point, I'm quite sure that acting is something that I would like to pursue further. I'm going to start looking into auditions for parts at local theaters and see what happens.

On Tuesday, I got to enjoy the arts a little more at my son's 4th Grade Band Concert. He's doing very well with his clarinet and he's thinking about taking up the saxophone next year. I would love to see that happen. I'm in the process of writing a few simple pieces of music that I can play along with him on the guitar. And speaking of guitar, I bought a new one this week. Ibanez Artcore. Hollow body electric. Beautiful finish. Very jazzy tone. I've always wanted an instrument like this and the price was just right. Overall, this has been a very satisfying week. I'm happy. Hope you are too. Love & light...

"Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man
who trusts in him."

~ Psalm 32:10


May 7, 2013

Tiptoeing Through Tulips

I must say, this last weekend for me was a very productive and inspiring one. Between Saturday and Sunday, I must have put in about ten to twelve hours of yard work, accomplishing most of what I needed to get done (and I got a little bit of a tan in the process). It has been somewhat overdue. About two weeks ago, the dump truck came by my house with its 8-yard load of mulch, which had been sitting in my driveway ever since. My kids affectionately dubbed the pile "Mulch Mountain" and made up a song about it. After this weekend's work was complete, they've had to change the title of their tune to "Mulch Molehill." Over the two days, I also made several trips to the nursery to get more plants to fill in the flower beds. The land is really shaping up nicely. I just need to put on a few finishing touches and then the Avant Garden Poetry Amphitheatre will be ready for action.

In other news, on Sunday morning, my family and I headed out to Heckscher Park in Huntington for their annual Tulip Festival. It was a pristine day and the sight of the earth covered with an entire spectrum of colorful buds absolutely delighted us. I always wish that tulips could last longer into the season; they're so beautiful. We also got to see a swan on its nest and lots of turtles in the lake. It was an enjoyable day. On top of all of that, we've decided on a destination for our July road trip. This time, we'll be heading up to Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. Looking forward to this one. Cheers!

"Live a life of love,
just as Christ loved us and gave himself up
for us as a fragrant offering
and sacrifice to God."

~Ephesians 5:2


May 3, 2013

At the Summit and the Showcase

This Wednesday, I had the joy of being able to perform my "Whitman Sampler" program for the students and staff at the Summit School. It was really an excellent experience. The kids were very enthusiastic and the principal told me afterward that they were inspired by what they saw. That made me very happy to hear. I was a little bit nervous going into it because my allergies started acting up on Tuesday evening. I had sniffles and a raspy cough; I was very concerned that my voice wouldn't sound strong, however, the moment that I spoke the first line of poetry, the worry left my mind and I was able to do the show without anyone having any idea that I was under the weather. After my performance, I answered all of the questions that the students had, most of which were about Walt Whitman and poetry, and a few that brought a grin to my face -- Q: How do you get your mustache to stay up like that? A: L'Oreal Hair Putty. I even turned the Q&A session into a bit of an open mic with some of the students sharing their talents. It was very cool.

Now that the Summit show has passed, I can focus all of my attention on the Bare Bone Showcase that I'll be performing in on Monday, May 13. For the last ten weeks, everyone in the class has been working hard toward this performance. I'm really looking forward to seeing it in action. If you're interested in attending:

"Dear friends,
if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence before God
and receive from him anything we ask,
because we obey his commands
and do what pleases him."

~1 John 3:21-22