I was in the band in high school. I played flute. (Go ahead. Throw out your best American Pie joke. I’ve heard them all.) I was a member of the colorguard. I loved every single second of it. Most of my favorite memories of those years are tied to one band event or another, and I took pride in being a member of the band. I learned so much in my years in band. There are many, many elements of my personality and point of view that were molded through the discipline and leadership band demanded of me.
But I’m going to be brutally honest here. The band was the afterthought when I was in school. My years were spent battling for attention from the community, the rest of the school, and even the state as no matter what we did it wasn’t good enough. Membership dwindled. Those of us that cared surely had our moments of wondering why we even tried at times. But then there were those moments when it was magic. And it was those moments that kept you going.
Fast forward to today. My nephew is a member of the high school band, and its a whole different world for him than it was for me. Membership is swelling. There is a pride that you can FEEL when you are in the band’s presence. It is NOTHING like it was when I was there. It’s a bazillion times better, stronger and respected.
When I was a member of the Yoe High Band, we couldn’t have even dreamed of being acknowledged by the Texas House of Representatives!
They’ve won at the state marching contest. And, as the resolution reads, they were named the State 2A Honor Band.
These kids… they have talent beyond what I could have dreamed of having cultivated when I was in band. Their band director, Steven Moss, clearly is an amazing leader. He works them hard. But he also treats them with respect and rewards their efforts and successes. From the top-down this band is, in a word, amazing.
Last Friday, I traveled with my parents down to San Antonio, TX, to see the band perform for the Texas Music Educators Association conference. I sat in the front row and was moved time and time again by the performance.
One of the pieces they performed was commissioned by the band to be written specifically for them. How many bands can really say that has happened for them!? Sure as heck wasn’t going to happen when I was there!
During the performance, they took a moment to honor the band, band director and to thank certain guests in attendance in the audience.
They asked all Yoe High alumni in attendance to stand and be recognized for setting the foundation on which these kids have built upon. I’ll be honest, I was a little amazed by this, even as I stood up. I joked later that we set the bar low, so they had no where to go but up. But that was purely my being funny. In reality, I think part of the band being where it is today IS due to our fight in our years to be acknowledged and recognized. We had to go through those years to, today, stand up and go, “HEY! PAY ATTENTION! The band is amazing and deserves all the support and recognition and honors it gets.”
I’m going to piss people off with this. And I don’t care. Texas is a football state. Generally, we Texans will eat, breathe, sleep, drink and live the game. Even if its just armchair quarterbacks. Its in my blood, and I won’t deny that. But it also makes me downright ANGRY to see the band programs in so many schools get brushed aside to make more money available for the football programs. To hear people suggest a band director should be payed less than a football coach gets me seething mad.
Studies upon studies have been done that prove music helps learning. I know when I was in school, very, very few band students failed out of being able to participate. Show me a band student in college today who didn’t get there through sweat, tears and hard work both with their instruments as well as in the classroom. Whereas just recently CNN did a report about college athletes who read at a 5th grade level. Think about that for awhile.
I’m not here to point fingers. I’m just here to point out that these students in this band work their fingers off and deserve every bit of attention and respect they’ve gotten… and then some.
I’m so proud of the Yoe High School Band. I’d be proud of them even if my nephew weren’t a member, but its safe to say he’s my favorite member and makes my pride in the band more personal.
Congratulations, band! You have done Cameron, Texas proud. You’ve done yourself proud. You have surpassed everything I could have ever dreamed of doing when I was a member of the band… you amaze me every day and remind me all is NOT lost and there is still a lot of amazing and positive youth in this world. You don’t get to hear about them much, and I’m sorry that is the case. But keep it up, and all the positive accolades will continue to come your way. You deserve it all.
Sending love from your fan and alumni member living in Music City…
Last night, my husband and I invited some friends over for a “wine-and-cheese party.” We had Tillamook Cheese we wanted to share with our friends that we brought back from our recent trip to Oregon, and we figured what goes better with cheese than wine?
My husband and I happen to really love hosting get-togethers at our house, but we haven’t done it much in the last few years. We just felt like our house was too small to adequately host friends. The house we rented prior to the one we are in now was PERFECT for parties, but it was a little ways out of town and hard to get people to come out to visit. We moved into town, but downsized dramatically. We felt like our party hosting fun was still on hold until we moved again.
Boy were we wrong!
So what if we had to haul my desk chair from the office in and another chair up from basement?
So what if we didn’t have room on the table for plates, so we all just picked out our choice of finger foods with our fingers?
So what if there was a line to our one bathroom at one point?
It didn’t diminish the wonderful evening that we had one bit. We put together a spread of cheese, veggies, fruit, bread, sausage, etc. We had Merlot, Moscato, Rosé, sparkling red, vodka, beer, Irish whisky, and water.
We had conversations.
Face-to-face conversations. We told stories, laughed (a lot), high fived over the table, and bounced ideas and thoughts off one another. No one was on Facebook. No one was on Twitter. We were all there, in that moment, together, enjoying each other’s company.
It was amazing.
When the party broke up, we all agreed that THIS was what it was all about. Friends getting together and catching up. And we vowed to do it again. We vowed to do it more often.
When our friends left, my husband and I looked at each other with big grins. I told my husband, “This just proved no house it too small when your heart is this full.”
On January 1st, I listed out my goals for 2014. I thought I’d take a moment to see how I’m doing on a few of goals as of the beginning of February.
1. Write a letter every month of the year. Done for January! I sent out three postcards from Oregon to family in Texas.
2. Get back to what I weighed at my wedding. Well, I don’t think I gained anything, but I didn’t really lose anything either. But then if you ate the food we ate in Oregon, you’d understand. It was worth delaying the weight loss to enjoy!
3. Photography. I did have one mini-photoshoot this last week. I wasn’t really happy with how it turned out at all, but to my defense it was super fast, badly lit and it was my first time using my new external flash. I was destined to have a difficult time. I am, however, as I type this, downloading Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5. Taking advantage of Adobe’s deal right now of getting both for (after taxes) around $10/month for the next year. Can’t wait to try out these updates and see if they open up my abilities even further!
4. Bookkeeping. Well, it took me forever to get my finances for 2013 together to file our tax return this month. I was doing better until the great computer crash of this last weekend. Now I have to pretty much start over from scratch. I have, at least, gotten a great folder together for our tax receipts, etc. And I’m, so far, keeping it up. So I’m going to take that one as a win.
5. Journal. I did great until I got sick last week. Now I’m so far behind, its pitiful. However, I think tomorrow night will be a big catch up writing night. Its time to get this one back in order!
So… tell me. How are your 2014 goals going?
It’s no secret that long before I was a “musician’s widow” to a musician playing country music, I was a huge country music fan. I mean we’re talking rabid fan. We’re talking the girl people came to in high school to ask the scoop on the latest country music gossip because they knew I’d have researched it all thoroughly already. I could name a song and artist on the radio within seconds. Heck in many cases, I could tell you what kind of car they drove, their favorite food, and the name of their first grade teacher. I was obsessed.
Today, I live in Nashville, consider several artists dear friends, and I have a slightly different look on the country music scene as I did back then. But at heart, I am still a huge fan of the genre. So when Country Faith: 56 Reflections from Today’s Leading Country Music Stars came up for review as part of the BookLook (formerly BookSneeze) program, I jumped on the chance to get it. If I could once tell you an artists favorite food, shouldn’t I know their favorite bible verses?
And, that, my dear friends, is exactly who this book is for… the country music fan who wants to know more about their favorite artists and/or songs. The one that wants to know more about the faith driving many today in the music industry.
Personally, I love this book. It’s a great coffee table book or a gift book. It’s a book you can pick up, open to any page, and just start reading. It features new artists (some even I didn’t recognize!) as well as older established artists. The book’s layout is beautiful, and the stories are inspiring.
I highly recommend this book for any country music fan — hard core or casual alike — who wants to know a little more about the people they hear on the radio.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Last week, a friend mentioned having had their laptop stolen awhile back. My heart stopped in fear FOR them. I’m that paranoid person who leaves home for work and splits up her laptop from the power cord (after reading it makes it less interesting to thieves because a laptop without power is worthless.) My life is on my laptop. Photos. Finances. Business programs. Everything. Losing my laptop… I couldn’t even…
Then Saturday, it happened. I asked my laptop to do too much. Or something. It crashed. It locked up, wouldn’t do anything, and I did what I always do: a hard reboot.
But nothing happened.
So I rebooted again.
Finally it went into a self-repair. That worked last time! Instead, I got, “I can’t fix myself. Get help.”
No. No no no no no. NoNoNoNoNoNoooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!
So Sunday, when I was supposed to be getting ready to go to a Super Bowl party, I was at Best Buy praying the Geek Squad could save me.
They tried. But they couldn’t even get into the diagnostics. Prognosis: she’s dead, captain. There’s no saving something that they can’t even read to save. S-O-L. Done. R.I.P.
I looked at my husband who just went, “Let’s go find you a new one.”
And we did. Got a GREAT deal on a new laptop. It’s faster. All fresh, clean hard drive. And it has a great graphics card for photo editing that I didn’t even realize I was missing prior to this. Oh and its HUGE. When everyone is going smaller, I went bigger. This will be awesome for photo editing while traveling.
I got lucky on one front. I was sick all week last week. (Hence being so MIA on Social Media and the blog last week.) I generally keep my laptop hooked up to an external hard drive that constantly backs up new files, but being sick I took the laptop to the couch with me. But even with THAT, I was only on the computer for about two days total last week. So I literally only lost 8 photos. That’s it. Oh and maybe one PDF copy of paying a bill. Otherwise, everything was backed up.
AND I finally delved into using “the cloud” so I could sync things between my laptop, cell phone and iPad. I knew it was awesome for that. I had no idea how it would save me on this front. I installed my web browser. Logged into my account. And ta da! All my stuff was there. Bookmarks. Passwords. Etc.
I have never had to start from fresh on a laptop before where I didn’t have an old laptop to refer to find things. It’s always been a case of transferring files. Trying to remember passwords. Looking for links. I was freaked out that it would not only take days to get back to where I was, I might not be back up and running for MONTHS.
Instead? It look about an hour. And I’m slowly transferring “must have” files from the external drive to the laptop, but I am being very picky what I transfer, allowing me to keep this new computer cleaner longer.
So. Who knew? A computer crash ending pretty positive? Never would have thought that, but that’s what’s happened! Taking it all in stride and realizing it is what it is. I still fear having my computer stolen, but at least now I know… its possible to get back on your feet fairly quickly. WHEW!
My parents own and run an income tax preparation service. And every year, I fly down for a few months to help them through “tax season.” Basically, everyone in Nashville just knows I disappear for about two months to “help do taxes” and then suddenly I am back after April 15th.
There is one big mistake in that assumption.
I don’t “do taxes.”
My parents do taxes. Specifically, my dad does taxes. He’s an Enrolled Agent, and that makes him pretty much a bad ass in regards to preparing tax returns. He takes pride in his work and he’s not going to “cheat” the system either way. When he does a return, he does it after having done all his homework. If his name goes on the bottom of the return, he’s going to stand behind his work.
I recently did a post over on Road Widows about bus driving, and I commented in it that I myself get really irritated and angry when I hear about careless drivers. In the same way, when I hear about tax preparers cheating the system to “get you the biggest refund” or they do extra work to charge their clients more money, I get angry.
I’ve worked for/with my parents long enough that I do have a decent grasp on some portions of the tax code. I mean, I found great amusement in my reaction to the report on New Years Day about twin babies born minutes apart, but technically in two different years. My reaction: “Bummer, they only get to claim one of them as a dependent this year on their tax return!” I can tell you a lot of the basics with complete certainty…
…but generally I won’t do it, even if I can.
“But you go to Texas for tax season every year…”
Yes, yes I do. I do clerical work. I like to say that I make the returns “look pretty” by putting the finished product in folders. Putting labels on the folders. Addressing envelops for payments to the government to be sent in by the tax payer. I do the occasional spreadsheet, etc. I may lay my hands on a return, but I don’t do any of the figuring or any of the work.
I’m not trained in the tax code officially, and I refuse to give advice.
So, if you come to me asking tax questions you’ll probably get me to listen. I’ll nod along. I might even ask a couple questions. Then I’ll end it with, “Well, I’ll run that by my Dad and get back to you.” Because HE knows the tax code. I do not. I will not answer your questions. And I ask you kindly respect that fact… because I am looking out for all of us in that. You can know you’re getting the correct answers, and I can rest easy knowing I didn’t give bad advice. Its win/win. Honest.