Thursday, October 30, 2008

Colorful Colorado

Here are some pictures from a restful weekend in Estes Park, CO.
Ann and I at Lake Lily
And by restful, I mean scaling the walls of a chapel...St. Malo
Ann's Dad caught this ice in running water by the Chapel
Another picture captured by Ann's Dad - beautiful!

Twist and Shout

Ah, the annual tie-dying of the shirts. Our school colors are tie dye (ok, that's more of a style than an actual color), and we are wearing tie-dye shirts at a big, city-wide concert coming up in November. Wanting to give my kids the opportunity to own a tie dye t-shirt without breaking the bank, I actually make the shirts myself in my home. I charge them $7, which is way less than what the normal school spirit wear would cost.

First, I take the color orders from the kids. They choose any kind of combination of orange, blue, and purple. Most kids choose all three colors. This year, I made over 60 shirts. The entire process completely takes over my home, as seen in this picture. The shirts are so white and clean before I start!

I learned the hard way last year that unless you put on super-protective gloves for the entire process, your hands will turn purple and become very raw. (You also cannot touch your face, or you will have have red, irritated skin. Forgot that one. Ouch.) I had a nice pair of YELLOW gloves, but I tore a hole in them on the first day. Consequently, the fingers on my right hand are purple, and I was forced to purchase these PINK gloves in order to save my remaining digits.

After the shirts have soaked in a really nasty chemical bath, you ring them out like there is no tomorrow. Next, you put the shirt face down on a clean surface and twist. This seems like a really simple step, but those dang sleeves always get in the way. The swirled shirt pictured here is an example of a perfect roll. It was my 57th shirt....about time!

Here is one batch of swirled shirts, ready to be blasted with color. It's so hard to squirt dark dye onto white shirts. Goes against everything I know about clean clothes. I squirt the color into 1 quadrant of the shirt, making sure it is really saturated. Extremely technical term: dripping.

Ah, the after picture. Once the shirts soak over night in a plastic bag, I wash them twice to get rid of any excess dye. They are dried, folded, and put into clean plastic bags, and are ready to give to the kiddos. I love seeing the shirts all over the school, as the kids wear them often. They don't have any specific markings that say 'choir' or our school name, so they can wear them for any occasion.

2 Days. 62 shirts. And I thought I was on vacation.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

At a Loss for Words

I'm desperately trying not to jump in a car, and drive to Eau Claire, WI. My dear friend and former piano professora has begun at-home hospice care for her husband. We speak to each other weekly, mostly by phone, sometimes by e-mail. I know that there is absolutely nothing that I can say or do - the distance from CO to WI is achingly far.

She seems focused on her task at hand - enjoying the time she has left with her husband, making him as comfortable as possible, and prioritizing what does and does not have to be done right now. Family members have volunteered to assist her in caretaking, which is a relief. Still, you can hear the hurt in her voice, and it absolutely tears me up. I'm guessing the woman is all of 5 feet tall (at the most), yet carries herself like a woman twice her height. Where she draws her inner-strength, I'll never know - she has always been an amazing rock. Her love and adoration for her husband is evident, and my heart breaks to think of her angst.
This woman has made an indelible mark on my life, my music, my heart. Her influence shaped the teacher I am today, and the musician I continually aspire to be. I write these thoughts to spread a sense of warmth and comfort to her family, as all I can really offer right now is hope, support, prayer, and love.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Not exactly what you want to hear from the nurse who is holding the flu shot needle that is protruding from your arm.

"Oops?! What exactly you mean by Oops!?" I ask, as the needle is withdrawn from my arm, and the blood begins to drip from my now-forming wound.

"Well..." the nurse says, as I turn away from the long line of my students who are watching their brave teacher get a flu shot before them. "I think that's going to leave a bruise."

A bruise. A lump. A puncture wound. An incapacitated left arm.

I deflated the nurse's tires as I left the parking lot. I feel much better.