Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Musicians Guide to Hippos

Well, I stand corrected.

I have finally had some time to read through the text "Musicians Guide to Evangelical Worship", and I was completely wrong when it came to what I should have expected in regards to the Vigil of Easter. (If you missed my original thoughts, I'd read this blog entry first: The Hippo Song)

Here are some excerpts from the Guide:
  • portions of the Vigil of Easter are very flexible in many ways
  • the musical possibilities are endless
  • the assembly gathers at the fire in silence
  • the procession of light moves from the first to the place of the word
  • a significant part of the Easter Vigil is hearing stories from salvation history; at least 4 are prescribed every year: Creation, Deliverance at the Red Sea, Salvation Freely Offered to All, Deliverance from the Fiery Furnace
  • whatever instruments, bells, or percussion are available may be added to the assembly song
  • the baptism continues...alleluias should be sung in abundance whenever possible
  • the service continues with a simple by joyful service of holy communion
Hip, Hip Hooray: Now, my blog gets more hits per week because of "The Hippo Song" than any other reason. People type in some version of "hippo song" into a google.com search, and VOILA, they end up on my blog. Welcome, completely random visitors.

One visitor in particular, a Christian author from Virginia named Betty Benson Robertson, stopped by my blog today, and gave me a great idea: she listed the website for Mary Rice Hopkins, the lady who wrote "The Hippo Song" - I should have included her website link in my original post. So, I need to make sure not to double my mistake, and will include the link to both Betty's website (she has a blog, too) and Mary's song website. Enjoy.

Back to hippos. I guess the inclusion of the song in the Easter Vigil would certainly fall under "the musical possibilities are endless" category. Looking back, it did engage the younger children in the congregation, and allowed the adults a time to stretch. Plus, it directly connected to one of the 4 prescribed stories (Creation). Now knowing what an ELCA Easter Vigil is all about, I stand corrected.

Or, rather, I stomp corrected.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bosom Buddies

The passing of Bea Arthur was a sad part of this past weekend. Her command of the stage, be it on Broadway or television was impressive. The characters she portrayed were sarcastic, spunky and full of life. Arthur passed away at her home on Saturday, April 25th, at the age of 86.


Her bond to Angela Lansbury, another actor I cherish, ran 40+ years strong. Lansbury released the following statement regarding her friend, Bea:

"Bea Arthur and I first met when we did 'Mame' together in 1965. She became and has remained 'My Bosom Buddy' ever since. I am deeply saddened by her passing, but also relieved that she is released from the pain. I spoke to Matt, her son, yesterday and I was aware that her time was imminent. She was a rare and unique performer and a dear, dear friend."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

All is Forgiven

Being a picture, picture, picture person, it's hard to understand how people can go for months on end and not download the pictures that are trapped inside their camera. That being said, I also do not have small children at home who HIDE the camera, preventing the download process from being completed! Therefore, these pictures from FEBRUARY have just been sent to me, and because of the extremely adorable nature of the children involved, all is forgiven.

Sweet Pea! Here's Miss Elizabeth!

She warmed up to me pretty fast!

LOVED her books. Little reader!

Miss Hannah, finally home from Kindergarten!
Yes, Brenda is wearing a tiara.

My Thoughts Eggsactly

Ever had an idea that you just had to bring to fruition? The only logical answer to that question is a hearty YES! Well, for some reason, I had deviled eggs on my mind. Why? Beats me. Perhaps it is a post-Easter thing. Perhaps I really like eggs. Who knows!? I do know they are delicious!
First, you need an army of eggs.

Next, a bag of egg yolks, low-fat mayo, dijon mustard,
and a a splash of white vinegar. Tasty little concoction!

Finally, combine all on a lovely hand-made platter.
Take pictures for blog, then ENJOY!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Blossoms of Beauty


Today is one of those gray, wet, Spring days - the promise of growth is visible, yet the lack of color is depressing!

So, to combat the gloom, here is a lovely bouquet of flowers I found on my desk this past week. Made with love, and full of color.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sew Beautiful

Yes, I am aware that posting the picture of my brand new apron on the same day that I blow up the marshmallows in the microwave is more than a bit ironic! (All I was trying to do was make Rice Krispie Bars. Apparently, you need to provide a large enough bowl for the ever-expanding marshmallows. Goo? 1 point. Microwave? 0.)

Look at that apron - isn't it beautiful!?! I had no idea my friends are so good with the sewing machine! Notice the colors are pink and green - I'm seeing a theme for 2009! Thanks to my new apron, I did NOT get any of the explosive marshmallow goo on my clothing! Thanks again, Shawna - you rock!

Baby PK, the Gardening Twins, and One Little Nugget

It had been WAY too long since I had seen my Regis pals, Marcia and Corrina. Now that Marcia added baby number 3 to the brood on St. Patrick's Day, we simply had to find the time to get together! After stopping by Corrina's new house in Arvada (did I mention the indoor pool?!), we headed on over to Westminster for a yummy, cobb salad lunch and some serious kid time!

This is all we saw of Patrick Kelly (PK) for the first hour!
Isn't his tiny fist just darling!?

Here he is! Corrina and Baby PK - sweet boy!

We didn't want 4-year old twin sisters Josephine (Joey) and Corinne (Cory) to feel left out, so Corrina and I grabbed a couple of Big Sister gifts for the girls.

Here's Joey, sifting through her new garden supplies: visor, water bottle, gloves, scraper, trowel, seeds, and of course, a bubble-maker! We threw in some extra stickers for their hats, too!

He was so content just being held and rocked!
We were happy to oblige!


I turned in my video application to sing at a Denver Broncos Game this week. I'm not sure my sad little "Hi, I'm Brenda" DVD will make the cut, but I had to try! I find out within the next 3 weeks, and then there are public callbacks. Game on!


ANOTHER sweet little boy joined the world this week, too! Look at that little nugget! Henry James (Hank) was
born to my PE colleague Brian and his wife, Clancy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

145 Miles

Sunday, April 19th, was one of those GO GO GO days. After being trapped in the house for a full day and a half due to snow (that's like a month in Brenda-Time), I was ready to hit the open road and have some fun with PEOPLE! I put 145 miles on my little red car yesterday! Here's the scoop:
  • 8:00 am Worship at Bethany
  • 9:00 am Town Hall Meeting - lots of budget details and emotion - still processing this meeting
  • 10:30 am Discussion about the ELCA Social Statement on Human Sexuality - I could say the same thing for this meeting: lots of details and emotion involved - still prayerfully processing this, too
  • 12:30 pm Headed back to Castle Rock to grab Lucas, Emma, and Evan
  • 2:30 pm Back to Denver for a concert with the kids "Brass Under the Big Top" - Denver Brass - awesome, circus-themed concert!
  • 5:00 pm Back to Castle Rock to drop off the kids
  • 5:40 pm Travel to Highlands Ranch to play with Sammie, Gabe, and Sean for the evening
  • 1:00 am Collapse into bed after a long, wonderful day!
The four of us before the Brass Concert!

The lovely Ms. Emma

Are they not the most handsome little guys!?

The always delightful Sammie, Sean, and Gabe

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturation Saturday

I think we've reached the precipitation levels we were hoping for. Thus, I believe it can STOP snowing now. NOW. We're approaching 2 feet. Too much of a good thing is too much!

Mr. Plow, finding the sidewalks again. And again.

Rather picturesque, wouldn't you say? Cold, yet quaint.

Twilight picture of a Plum Creek Parkway in Castle Rock.

The Brendamobile, unearthed.

Free at last! My little car could now escape! DRIVE!

Odds and Ends

My camera captured the most random images this week. Enjoy!

I have some fun tambourines/percussion instruments in my classroom. Apparently, this one wanted to look just like its one-eyed owner. It broke in the classroom, and the kids though it was absolutely hysterical. First graders are so easily amused!

In yet another moment of classroom excitement, the 528-pound upright piano decided to release one of its base wheel sets. My ├╝ber strong 5th graders and I guided the injured piano to a nearby corner, where it sits, resting pathetically out of commission. At least it didn't fall flat on top of me this time...you've seen enough X-rays for one week!

"Say hello to my little...pedometer." Accelerometer, to be more accurate. It clips onto my shoe, and uploads all my movement and activity to a health and wellness website in my school district. I sure hope it can keep up with me!

Here is my view of my little 2nd grade friends, peeking from the top of our (at that time) still functioning piano.

Introducing Calvin Dunn, the babe of a high school pal.

Hello, Mr. Robin

Mr. Robin, enjoying some quiet time last Sunday.
I'd like to think that this was the same little bird,
seeking refuge from the never-ending spring snow storm.
Don't worry, little fellow, the sun will shine again!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Only Crushed

Good grief. I should know better than to say anything about not having to visit my local ER out loud. So dumb. I was 40 minutes into our morning choir rehearsal, happily singing and conducting my little kids, when I exuberantly threw my hands into the air for one final move. Bad move.

My right hand flew full force into the corner of the TV cart, sending me into unbelievable pain. The knot in my hand formed immediately, and I had to fight the sickening nausea. Oh, that hurt. My poor hand swelled to the size of a bear's paw, and my kids knew I was in pain. They got me an ice pack, and we finished the last 10 minutes of our rehearsal with me playing just the left hand of the songs.

I iced the injury all morning, wrote some rather pathetic sub plans, and drove to the nearest, workman's comp-approved clinic, where they took multiple X-rays of my swollen hand. The doctor said that my X-rays showed I had crushed parts of the top of my hand, but hadn't actually broken anything. Whew!

I did convince the doctor to give me a copy of one of my X-rays! Too cool! This is the view of my right hand, as seen from the back. Aren't my non-crushed bones amazing!? So, I'm at home, icing my brilliant injury. I am thrilled that I didn't need to be casted or put into a splint. Still, that didn't make typing this blog entry with one hand any easier!

Holy Week at Bethany

I can't remember a time where I enjoyed a Holy Week more than this past one! I have to admit, even Lent was more bearable this year - I was focused on my daily Bible study and thoroughly enjoyed the daily devotions via podcasts produced by my pastor. I was introduced to the work of a new musician, Peter Mayer, and have found that I enjoy his melodic, soothing tunes. They provided just the right backdrop to the Biblical texts of Lent.

Palm Sunday services allowed congregation members to take a quick study of the 14 stations of the cross. The stations were brought to life by the needlepoint group at my church. I so enjoyed the service, that I attended both the 8:00 and 9:00 am services, thus the two palm branches!

Maundy Thursday brought a touching service where 53 third graders received their First Communion. Celebrating the Last Supper, the pastors washed the feet of these young children - it was so sweet. The families of Bethany received communion with their children - it was an endearing sight. Another evening of great music and reflection. It was a wonderful, full-circle moment to sit with Marie, as we had begun our Lenten journey over a month ago at the Ash Wednesday service, and here we were singing together again.

Pastor Ron displayed amusing church signs throughout the week, inviting anyone who passed the church via Hampden Avenue to check out our congregation and join us for Easter.Good Friday set the true tone for the coming of Easter, and the stripping of the altar was a powerful experience. To lose both light and the visual decor was a reminder of why this was such a commanding day in history. It was great to meet Marie's mother, who attended this solemn evening service. Both the cellist from Ash Wednesday and Bethany's Chancel Choir added their skill and artistry to the night.

Saturday's Easter Vigil gets its own blog entry. Why? For many hippo and fire related reasons.

Easter Sunday - what a wonderful day! I awoke at 4:30 am, wanting to go to the Sunrise service. Looking outside at the pouring rain, then at the forecast on my laptop, I opted to instead attend the 7:30 am service, as the sun would not be making an appearance at 6:00 am as I had hoped.

What wonderful music - The Aries Brass Quintet played Mozart's Alleluia with speed and precision, a truly wonderful prelude to what would be a musical morning. The church was PACKED, as in 'everyone, please move to the center of the aisle' kind of packed.
Bethany's choir again added to the musical ambiance.
What a wonderful way to celebrate the Resurrection!

Sunday's Easter meal was celebrated at the Herrell's home - 17 people in all, including a bunch of wiggly, giggly, happy little girls! Ross finally had some male company with a darling 6 month old baby, the son of a family friend, who joined us for the afternoon. The meal, the company, the day was a great blessing! Happy Easter!

The Hippo Song

Update: April 29, 2009: Visit the blog entry entitled "Musicians Guide to Hippos" for the second half of this story.

I'd have to admit that the Easter Vigil last Saturday was the first time I was thrown for a loop at Bethany. Perhaps the phrase 'vigil' had me prepared for a peaceful service, in the traditional noctural, devotional sense. Um...not so much. The night was announced as "a service to include a number of other ELCA congregations in the Denver area, including our brothers and sisters from the Spanish-language, Ethiopian Oromo, and Indonesian Batak communities. The service will feature guitar, piano, organ, and brass; as well as music and readings from around the world." Sounded educational!

The 38-page bulletin should have been my first clue, complete with translations and photocopied song excerpts. Pastor Ruth Ann sat next me for the service, which was fun. She's a former music teacher herself, so the two of us sight-reading foreign text was a hoot. We'd miss words, create some of our own, make up a new melody than what was written - quite amusing!

Did I mention The Hippo Song? Why, no, I believe I have not yet mentioned The Hippo Song. By all means, let me now mention The Hippo Song. Everyone in the congregation that evening had lit a candle to symbolize hope. The visiting minister, forgetting that even the children were holding little, flaming tubes of wax, invites the kids up front for the Children's sermon. Pastor Ruth Ann, realizing that we are about to have a holy ignition if the children do indeed rush the altar with lit candles, slips up to the pulpit to encourage a rapid extinguishing of all things flaming. The children, now holding their sad, fire-less wax drippers, join the visiting Pastor, who grabs a guitar, and starts showing everyone the motions to The Hippo Song.
For those of you who might have missed this exquisite anthem, here are the words:

In the beginning, God made the sea,
And the forest filled with trees.
He made the mountains up so high,

And on the top he placed the sky.


God's fingerprints are everywhere,

Just to show how much He cares.

But in between He had loads of fun,

He made a hippo who weighs a ton.

Hip-hip-hip-hippopotamus,

Hip-hip-hooray God made us!

Hip-hip-hip-hippopotamus,

Hip-hip-hooray God made us!


Mary Rice Hopkins


Did I mention I was hoping for an Easter Vigil? Something to link the days between the solemn nature of Good Friday and the joy of Easter morning? Somehow - while stomping like hippos in the pews, watching two plus hours advance on the clock, scrambling to find which page we were actually on the bulletin, two complete infant baptisms, and one out of tune guitar - I think we missed the vigil boat! This would have been a great service for the middle of summer - something outdoors, inside, full of culture. July. August. Perhaps next year. Just as long as The Hippo Song makes a repeat appearance.