Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in pictures

Baseball.....lots and lots of baseball.......
World famous tuba player, Patrick Sheridan, performs on the Winter Band Concert.

I pulled out the whistle and coached the 7th grade boys basketball team.  What a great group of guys!!  They improved so much throughout the season!

The Bombers had another good season.  They lost a really good group of seniors

By the time Stardusters came along, I already knew my position was being eliminated.  During the last playing of Stardust I just sat backstage and cried.  None of the kids knew at that time and they must of thought I had lost it.

My final concert.........

This year I had the opportunity to work with the State FFA Band where I got to meet this interesting young man.  He kept us entertained with his interesting playing style all week.

We took a trip to Minneapolis with some good friends.  As luck would have it the Royals were in town at the same time.

Another awesome Symphony in the Flint Hills!!!!!!

We got a lot of rain right before wheat harvest.  Here is a look at Milford by the boat ramps.  Notice the bathrooms on the left side of the photo?  They were eventually underwater.

Wheat harvest 2010.  Didn't plant as much wheat this year so it went pretty quick.  Luckily no major breakdowns!

Went to New Orleans for the NEA National Convention.  Along with going on a swampboat tour and seeing some alligators and getting to visit the 9th Ward, we also went to a little hole in the wall jazz place called Snug Harbor and got to see Ellis Marsalis.

Still did the color guard at the high school.  I had an awesome group of girls!!

Felt like I was a first year teacher all over again with teaching elementary music.  Here is some of my first graders writing quarter and eighth note rhythms.

Had a great Christmas with family.  Here is Uncle BBG wearing his gift from "Santa."       

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another Christmas in the books

Well, another Christmas has come and gone.   Now for a few well deserved days off from school and trying to get a few things done around the house.  It was a good Christmas.  We spent Christmas Day at hubby's sister's house.  We had a awesome lunch and spent the afternoon playing cards (not as much name calling as in the past, but still fun).

Sunday we went to my Grandma's.  The little one kept us all entertained and she still calls me "Grace."  None of us are really sure why but she also thinks I'm really tall so she can call me anything she wants.  We observed our usual traditions of someone reading the Christmas story from the Bible and then Grandma handed out Hershey bars to everyone. 

After that we went to Mom and Dad's and the other Grandma came out.  The dogs got to spend some quality time with Sophie and Harvey (no fights this year!).  The highlight of the evening was the kids trying to teach Grandma how to bowl on the Wii we got for Mom.  The next morning, Allie was trying to help the niece play Dance Revolution (actually she was trying to grab the remote but it was still funny, and not to worry, the smack in the face did not affect her one bit.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another Wednesday

1. What does it mean to have the 'holiday spirit'?
I am one of those folks that if I did not see anything Christmas related until mid-December, I would be fine.  Don't get me wrong....I love Christmas.  I just don't love Christmas stuff hanging next to the Halloween costumes.  Holiday spirit has sadly been overrun by commercialization.  Let me observe Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then let me think about Christmas.
2. What sits atop your tree (s)? Why?
This year I finally found a suitable tree topper for my tree.  It is a metal and plastic, antique looking star that I found at Wal-Mart.  On the top of our other tree sits Sluggerr.  He has adorned the top of the sports tree for many years since we lost the top of the tree (long story).

3. When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back?
This is one of those things that I should probably learn how to do more often.  I do not tend to blow my own horn (no pun intended).  I'm learning that maybe sometimes it is okay to make people aware of what you do.  Something in brain has a hard time with that though.  I would rather the focus be on the kids, not on the person whose backside you see all the time.
4. Which of your senses is most sensitive this time of year?
Wow, Mrs. Hays pretty much summed it up.  Do we really have to send some of these kids home for 2 weeks? 

5. What do you have too much of in your kitchen?
COLD AIR!!!!  Its on the north side of the house with what I am sure is not an energy rated door.  The other night the door knob was as cold as a can a pop you pull out of the fridge.  There is also a basement underneath so the floor is also freezing!

6. What do you do for meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Big meal? Breakfast tradition? Open the cookie tins and have at it?
It kind of depends on where we are.  On the Groening side, ham, sausage, zwieback, and then a huge snack tray after we open presents.  On the Helmer side, casenoodle, ham, and the best sugar cookies in the world.  The Brenzikofer celebration usually includes a meal which we breeze right through to get to the pies and then some wine with a vicious game of Michigan Rummy or Pitch.
7. What is the best thing about winter?
Anytime the wind is NOT blowing.
8. Insert your own random thought here--Only 5 more days to survive!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday Hodgpodge

1. Have you ever been on a real sleigh ride? How about the warm weather version - a carriage ride?  We did take a carriage ride around the French Quarter in New Orleans this summer.  It was very interesting, especially the cross dressing strippers. 
2. What's your policy on 'chain mail' know, the emails you receive that are often some sort of poem/blessing/good wish that ask you to send it on to 10 or 12 friends? Do you delete without opening, read and trash, read and trash and then worry you won't be blessed/lucky/protected? Do you delete the sender from your contacts or just go ahead and send the love onward?
3. Who is your favorite character in any of the Christmas movies and why?
Buddy the Elf, hands down.........he has so many memorable quotes that can be used in so many different situations.
4. Share a favorite quote.
Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
Victor Hugo  
5. What's your favorite holiday scent?
Sugar cookies or spiced apple cider (even though I don't like to drink it)
6. Does the Christmas season stress you out? In what way?
Depends on how the family celebrations line up.
7. What's the best thing about your life right now?
I'm relatively healthy, one vehicle is paid for, and the end of one student loan is in sight.......(granted there are still 3 years worth plus grad school)
8. Insert your own random thought here.
See prior post about 3D televisions.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I wonder......

I am starting to see more and more advertisements for 3D televisions.  It makes me wonder..........if we have the technology to make a 3D television why can we not come up with something better than those dorky paper glasses to watch it with??

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Santa's Workshop

Anyone who grew up getting the Wichita television stations rushed home after school (or as fast as the yellow bus could get you there) to watch Santa's Workshop.  My sister-in-law and I have had several discussions about the virtues of Toyboy versus Kakeman.  Kakeman is the first edition of Santa's little helper.  I don't know when they started calling him Toyboy but that is the only name I remember him by. 

Toyboy will always be number one in my heart.  I don't know if its the voice or the fact that he gets away with so much behind Santa's back............ They just don't make shows like this anymore.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Almost December

Ho, Ho, Ho!  The trees are up.  The doorways are lit. 

My family cannot call me Scrooge this year!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Something new


Thanks to the return of Mrs. Hays to the blog-o-sphere I finally have a topic to write about!  I did miss you Mrs. Hays even though I see you almost on a daily basis..........

1. Do you think you're more like your mom or your dad?  While I admit I have some of my mom's tendencies at times, I strive to be like my dad.  No one can make me laugh like he can and no one really gets most of my jokes like he does.  He always comes through for me (which is why when I call him at 9:45 at night he will agree to bring me his pickup the next morning).  My favorite time of the year is when I get to go for wheat harvest and drive truck and hang out with my dad and my uncle.  To some people being hot and sweaty and dusty would be torture, but it is heaven to me!

2. Do you like roller coasters?  I didn't used to..........but I have to say now that I am older, I am a definite fan.  Granted I haven't been on anything nastier than what they have at Worlds of Fun but I would love to try out some others.

3. How did you name your blog and do you now wish you'd thought about it maybe another five minutes before you hit publish? Would you change your blog title if it were not a huge pain in the derriere? (French makes everything sound a little nicer doesn't it?)  One of my favorite Garth Brooks songs is "Against the Grain" and since Grains was one of my monikers in high school it seemed like a pretty good choice.  

4. What is the best wedding gift you received? Not married? Didn't get any gifts? Then what is the best wedding gift you've given?  This year we will celebrate our 13th anniversary  (and yes I did have to think about it).  I have to admit there are still some wedding presents packed away in the one untouched room in our house.  I think its mostly casserole things and other glass stuff because quite honestly I thought I would have broken a lot more of it than I actually have.

5. What is the one bill you most hate to pay?  The mortgage.......only because I know it isn't going away for a very long time.  Most things you pay off after a while, not so much with the mortgage.  And my own personal rant, I hate those shows on HGTV where they are deciding which remodel job got the most bang for their buck.  The show I watched the other day was a great room renovation and these 3 couples spent more money remodeling one room than what I have spent on my entire house!!!  Does $150,000 for one room seem ridiculous to anyone else??????

6. Is the glass half full or half empty?  At this time last year, it wasn't half empty it was just plain empty.  I am trying to be a more of a glass half full person.  Thank goodness I have some great positive friends!

7. What is your favorite word? Okay okay. Calm down. How about one of your favorite words?  While I do enjoy the word zesty, my most favorite word would have to be ONOMATOPOEIA.  It is fun to say and I have a great story to go with it.  After a basketball road trip to a local school, I noticed that in their restroom stalls they had state assessment related questions.  After checking out the social studies, science, and math stalls, I settled into the language arts stall and oddly enough the question was about onomatopoeia (ironic for a bathroom, isn't it?)  After sharing this information with my players, I had my whole team of 7th grade boys convinced that the stall would lock and would not let you leave until you correctly answered the question correctly.   They were all kind of scared to go to the bathroom after that because they didn't want to be locked in the bathroom trying to solve a math problem during the game.

8. For this last one, we are supposed to place our own random thought here. Here's mine:  If a man is in the forest and there is no one there to hear him, is he still wrong???

Have a great Veterans Day!! 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Breaking Winds in Lady Gaga Saga

I am not even sure that there are words to describe this, but Halloween appropriate none the less!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

iMovie, Websites, and Blogs, OH MY!

Today I spent about 2 hours fighting with iMovie.  I HATE IMOVIE 09!!!!!!  I was trying to edit video clips from 3rd grade music this week, a job that would have taken me maybe 20 minutes per class.  Thanks to iMovie 09, however, it took me considerably longer and that was only for 2 classes! 

The plan is to start a blog with pictures and video clips of some of the things we are doing in music class and link the blog to the school website.  This involves getting the blogged unblocked by the school's filters and me figuring out how to create new pages on the website again.  I hope to get it up and running in the next week so be on the lookout!

On a slightly more bizarre note, the dog's basketball in the backyard has finally deflated enough and they have figured out......well, just watch the video.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chilean Clarinet

The clarinet recital, in case you were wondering, was excellent!!  I never realized that the clarinet was really the only wind instrument that Brahms wrote for.  It almost inspires me to pull out the Brahms Sonata in F Minor and attempt to not butcher the 3rd movement.  Got a closeup look at the Chilean clarinet at the end.  It was all one piece and the guy that made it is a clarinet genius!  He makes them in a way that solves a lot of the common clarinet problems (besides the squeaking).  The register key was like a saxophone octave key.  While this might seem sac-religious to clarinet purists, as a wanna be saxophone player I was totally digging it!  Something else to add to my "When I win the Lottery" list.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Inherently Happy People

You know the people I'm talking about right??  Those people who always view the glass as being half full as opposed to half empty, the people who love their job everyday, the folks who walk around with cartoon birds and woodland creatures buzzing about them because they are so know the folks that tend to disgust you from time to time.

I have a friend that is a happy person.  Have you ever been around a happy person when they have not had a stellar day?  Its a very odd sensation, kind of like there is some riff in the force.  I am hoping tomorrow is a better for my friend.

On another note, I am going to a recital tomorrow and I am actually kind of excited about it.  Brahms Sonatas played on a Chilean clarinet.  Yes, I realize that statement puts me in a whole new category of band geekdom, but I don't care. 

Side note, Brett Favre just threw his 500th touchdown might be okay to retire now, just a thought........

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Random Dozen

1. Do you believe, somewhere deep inside, that blondes do indeed have more fun? That they are "dumber" than brunettes or redheads? Be honest!  My friends who are blondes are fun to be around so I don't know, there may be something to that........

2. Which animal would you most like to observe in its wild habitat?  Cows, but their habitat really isn't that wild 

3. This week the U.N. announced that Dr. Mazlan Othman has been appointed the official "Alien Ambassador," should any extraterrestrials contact us. Have you, or has anyone you know, ever seen a UFO?  Let me email my friend Greg who lives in Roswell, NM.  He may have....

4. Name your favorite Hitchcock film.  I can honestly say I have never seen an Alfred Hitchcock film.  I have seen an episode of the The Simpsons that parodied one once though.

5. Would you rather spend time at the library, the mall, a craft store or home?  I would rather spend time at the golf course but I guess I will say home.

6. Which Disney princess is your favorite? (Or Disney character, if you are a guy)  Mulan, that girl kicks butt!!!

7. What kind of art is your favorite?  Artwork from my students.  Thanks to some talented kids I have things to hang on the wall.

8. How do you feel about viral videos, that is, videos made by amateurs that end up on Youtube receiving thousands of hits?  Some of them are pretty funny, others are just plain stupid.  I have to admit that no matter how bad of day I am having, Tracey always makes me laugh.  Peace and blessings, peace and blessings.

9. Where do you buy your jeans?  Where ever they are cheap and I find some that fit!

10. Tell me about your first automobile accident.  Well, let's see......I flew my dad's pickup for 30 feet and then rolled it three times, all while not wearing a seat belt.  I pretty much totaled the pickup.  I ended up on the floor on the passenger with one knee shoved up under the dash.  I swear to this day I still have pieces of glass in my back although my husband thinks I'm nuts.

11. Have you ever been honest when you knew you would benefit more if you would be dishonest?  *Sigh* 

12. If you were appointed "Ambassador to Aliens," what would you show and tell first about life on Earth? What would be the most difficult thing to explain?  I'm not really sure if the aliens would find it interesting but I'm pretty sure I could get  World Series tickets that way.  I think politics would be the most difficult thing to explain.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fun with Harmonics

As a musician and a fan of science and math, this video caught my eye.  It was posted on Facebook on the "Teaching Music in the 21st Century" group that I am a part of.  I would not suggested having your speakers turned up very loud especially at the end.  The frequencies used were really messing with my ears and I'm not sure that I even heard all of them because of the damage my ears have sustained.   Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Classroom

Here are some pictures from my room.  The chairs are not always this neat.  In fact by the end of the day it kinds of looks like a tornado has hit the chair area.

The left side of the room are the instruments that are made out of wood.  We have maracas, shakers, wood blocks of all shapes and sizes, claves, guiros, castenets, rhythm sticks, two tone wood blocks, and our xylophones.
This is the right side of the room which are the instruments that are made out of metal and drums.  We have our resonator bells, cowbells, triangles, agogo bells, glockenspiels, wind chimes, finger cymbals, sleigh bells, jingle sticks, cabasa, tambourines, and the bongos and the hand drums. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

hmm.....what to blog about.....

Well, I suppose I could tell you about my weekend.  Friday night started off with a trip to Peabody Kansas.  I have some fond and not so fond memories of Peabody.  I remember their poor little cheerleaders when I was in junior high chanting PMS on the sidelines.  They changed their name to Peabody Junior High not too long after that.  I remember playing basketball in their little gym with the sidelines at the walls and the spectators up in the balconies.  Kind of a fun place to play except I went diving for a ball out of bounds in one of the corners and went rolling down a spiral staircase for my trouble.  And then there was our freshman basketball tournament where we ended the championship game 3 on 4 because everyone else had fouled out.  We won by the way, I still have the medal. 

Saturday was laundry day.  I don't enjoy doing laundry but it is better than cleaning the dishes and cooking which is the deal we have worked out in our house.  I did however, get to watch Back to the Future one and two, Snow White, and Aladdin in the process.

Then there was Sunday.  I took the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers to the bugs and the tar on my pickup.  Two and a half erasers later I was finally ready to head to the carwash.  After I got the truck back into presentable condition, I swept out the garage and we cleaned all the leaves and twigs off the back patio.  I went to school for a while to work on lesson plans for the week and showed the hubby my cool Interwrite Board, which I absolutely love!!!  The rest of the day pretty much consisted of "The Dukes of Hazzard" on CMT.  I loved that show when I was a kid.  I still like watching it but I have my dad's habit of dissecting shows and pointing out all the things that could never possibly happen. 

This week will include a visit to the Kansas State Fair.  I usually love going to the fair and I could spend all day there.  Unfortunately, this will be a pretty quick trip that will require me leaving before 5:00 am.  At least I can sleep on the bus!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Student of a Student

Tonight was my school's Open House.  Things got pretty intense in the music shack for a while. It was great to have so many kids and parents come out to see the room (even though there may have been some bribery involved). 

A few years ago I had a former student show up at 5th Grade Band Night.  I still remember seeing him coming down the hall grinning at me.  He was there with his two 5th grade step sons.   He then continued to torment me for the rest of the year showing up at parent/teacher conferences and every concert.  While this made me feel slightly old,  I reminded myself that these were not HIS kids.

Tonight, in walks one of my former students with her kindergarten daughter.  Yikes!!!  I guess this is it, I am now one of those teachers.  Luckily, I am so tired that I don't really have the energy to think about it right now. 

All elementary teachers deserve a reserved spot in quote Mrs. Hays........just sayin'.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pauline @ 99

Today was an absolutely great day!!  An entire community payed tribute to a special lady that has had such a huge influence on every who has ever played a note of music in Clay Center.  Happy Birthday Pauline!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Return of the Random Dozen!

1. When was the last time you laughed until you cried?
  While there have been some very amusing moments at band camp this week I about died on the golf course one night when my teammate Gayle started telling one of her stories.  I took a drink of water at the exact moment she was acting out part of her story and about choked.  It was wasn't funny at the time and I was maybe crying because of the choking more so than the actual story but I'm going to count it anyway.

2. If you found $10 today, what would you do with it?
Put it in my pocket........duh!

3. Do you volunteer anywhere?

4. What is your favorite summertime veggie or fruit, and how do you eat it?
Not a huge fruit or veggie eater but I won't turn down good cantelope or honeydew.

5. Is your social sphere (circle of friends) small, medium or large?
I guess mine is mediumish, once you count all the folks I talk to at band practice in Con.

6. When was the last time you attended a family or school reunion? How did that go?
Actually have never attended a class reunion because I've always been too busy playing band director.  Haven't really been to any family things for a while either.......

7. When you're feeling blue, what is the best way someone can cheer you up?
Quoting the "Peter at the Perk" video from YouTube will usually always put a smile on my face........Peace and blessings, peace and blessings.

8. Have you taken a vacation this summer?
  Actually 2!!!  We went to Minneapolis and New Orleans.

9. What is the most unnecessary item you carry with you all the time?
What is the point of an unnecessary item??

10. What is the best summer flick you have seen so far?
I have not seen one movie released this summer.   

11. Describe a perfect summer day.
A COOL day kayaking on the lake or playing golf.  Not so much digging the triple digits at this point.

12. Please a share a favorite photo from the summer so far!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Amazing what you find........

While in the process of setting up a new room I have made some very cool discoveries.

Discovery #1 - a box of flutophones that were probably used in the early 1960s.  There were some cases in the box and one name in particular that I recognized.  After doing a little research I discovered this person graduated from HS around 1970.  Not sure why you keep these things around for so long, but hey, an interesting history lesson none the less.

Discovery #2 - light switches on the side of the room that I have a key for.  This may not seem like a big unless you have ever had to navigate through a band room in the dark.  The dance lights, the sound system, the water fountain, the music rack and tubas have all had choice words directed at them and know my shins and shoulders intimately.  Oh, how I love the ugly big red door!!

Discovery #3 - a phone jack!  For the first time ever, I will have a telephone in my classroom!!

Discovery #4 - four, count them four sets of resonator bells.  While this probably does not excite you in the least, it is fairly exciting for me.  I'm kind of a dork like that.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Randomness and a Heartfelt Tribute

I was perusing my iPhoto files and pulled a few random pictures.  Enjoy!
In honor of tomorrow's projected 100 degrees, remember when???

Ahh, Photo Booth, one of the greatest inventions ever, wouldn't you say?  I have not laughed as hard as the day we messed around with Photo Booth.  This is one of my particular favorites because the girls look like psycho squirrels (their words, not mine).

And finally, a shot with how I started my summer....... I got to spend a week working with the kids that made up the State FFA Band.  This is a picture of one of my students with a student from Peabody.

A Tribute to a Great Man.......

This week, music education in Kansas lost a great friend, colleague, and supporter with the death of Bob Marshall.  Bob was the band director at Peabody High School when I was in school.  He later went on to work at Senseney Music where he was the guru of everything band.  You could call Bob with your instrumentation and he could list 4 or 5 pieces that would work with your group right off the top of his head.  Bob was a huge help to me finding music for clinicians to play with our groups.  His wit, wisdom, and smiling face will be greatly missed.  RIP Bob, thy will be done.

Monday, July 12, 2010

NEA Representative Assembly

The whole reason for the trip to New Orleans was for the National NEA Representative Assembly.  There were delegates there from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  The RA involves taking care of business for the next year including legislative positions, amendments to the NEA Constitution and new business items brought to the floor by delegates.  The Kansas delegation met every day from 7-9 am and voted on the items that we felt were most pertinent to Kansas educators.  Most days the RA started at 10:00 and ended anywhere from 5-8. Here are the members that attended from the Konza Uniserve.

Another huge focus of the RA is fundraising.  I learned that none of the dues collected for being a member of NEA go to lobbyists or political causes.  That money is basically all raised by members and this is a huge focus of the RA.  The Kansas delegation had two outfits that you could buy and have other people wear for a half hour.  You could also buy insurance to make sure that you didn't have to wear these snazzy outfits.  Guess these folks didn't buy the insurance!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Music of New Orleans

Well, I have been home now for a whole day.  Most of the laundry from the trip is done (thank goodness).  Now I am gearing up to send hubby off to Atlanta at the end of next week.  Since I didn't do a very good job of documenting the rest of our trip I will post some general stuff.  The first installment will be about the music of New Orleans which was probably my favorite thing about the city.

Upon the recommendation of William, the most awesome doorman in New Orleans, we headed out to Frenchman Street to Snug Harbor.  It is a little hole in the wall place, the dining area sat only around 60 people.  In the back was their performance area which was two stories, but there is a reason it is called Snug Harbor.  We were sitting shoulder to shoulder in the little performance area.  We got to see Ellis Marsalis, who is the father of Wynton and Branfort Marsalis.  He is a fabulous piano player and is really soft spoken.  There were times I really couldn't even hear what he was saying as he was introducing the pieces.  He has a great sense of humor though and it was a great evening.  It is very obvious where his sons get their talent and their charm from.

Also on Frenchman Street was The Blue Nile.  Being a Deadliest Catch junkie, I have been watching the episodes of After the Catch which were filmed at this club.  They have been featuring some great Zydeco musicians on After the Catch and I have been enjoying watching the episodes.  Just think, I could have stood where Sig or Captain Andy were!!!!!

We ate at Mulate's which also had a live Zydeco band performing and it is hard to walk down the street without hearing some sort of group or individual performing.  One of my favorites was a guy who wandered around the French Quarter playing his sousaphone.  We tried to get a picture of him but they all turned out kind of blurry.  We took a riverboat cruise the last evening we were there and they had the Emmy Award winning Dukes of Dixieland on board performing during the two hour cruise. 

My absolute favorite street performance was the New Orleans Navy Band that was performing between the Riverwalk and Andrew Jackson Park on July 4th.  They had a dixieland band that performed as well as a full concert band.  Both groups were stellar although I must admit the dixieland group was a lot of fun.  It was a great prelude to the Dueling Barges Fireworks display on the river for Independence Day.

Friday, July 2, 2010

New Orleans - Day 2 & 3

Wednesday started off with a bus ride to go to our Swamp Tour.  We rode on a six person air boat.  We were hoping to avoid the rain but it sprinkled most of the time we were out on the water.  Not too bad as long as you were sitting still but when the 454 Chevy Big Block that powered our boat got up to full speed (about 35mph) it felt like someone was throwing pins at your face.  Our tour guide was a great guy.  He was very knowledgable and brought some alligators right along side our boat.  He explained that if you measure the distance between an alligators nose to his eyeballs you can turn that into feet and that is about how long it is.  So the guy pictured above (which he called an alpha male) is about 20 feet long.  The second picture is a lot smaller, maybe only 8 feet.  He explained how alligators how alligators recognize the voices of the different guides and that's how they got them to come to the boats, well, that and marshmallows.  He called marshmallows alligator crack. 
Towards the end of the tour he pulled out a baby alligator and let us all hold it. 

By the end of the tour it was really coming down or I would have gotten some better pictures of the controls and of the engine.  I would love to go on an air boat again but maybe with a little more sun.

Later that day we went to the World War II Museum.  It was very interesting but the best part was a movie they had made about WWII.  It was billed as a movie in 4D so we weren't really to sure what to expect.  They had screens and props that came up through the stage and down from the ceiling and the chairs shook to feel like an airplane or tank ride.  It was pretty cool.  We strolled through the French Quarter a little more to look around.

On Day 3 we actually had to go to some meetings.  We had an orientation in the morning for first time delegates and went to the convention center to get registered.  Then the Kansas delegation met for about 3 hours in the afternoon.  We got some reservations made for Friday and walked down the Crescent City Brewery for supper. 

On the slate for Friday is a bus tour of New Orleans, where we will get to go down the 9th Ward where the flooding from Katrina was the worst.  We also have tickets to see Ellis Marsalis tomorrow night at Snug Harbor.  We are still trying to figure out a spot to catch the fireworks Saturday night.  The display is shot off from two barges on the river so that should be pretty cool.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Orleans - Day 1

Water, water everywhere!!  Day one in New Orleans was spent dodging puddles and avoiding rainstorms.  We did find some dry moments to walk around the French Quarter and even took a carriage ride from Pierre, who seemed to know almost everyone.  The picture above is taken looking down Bourbon Street.  Strip clubs, bars, and art galleries.....strange combination, I know. 

I learned that in New Orleans you can carry alcohol with you on the street as long as it is not in glass.  We passed one place that had a carry out window just for drinks.  One of my favorite places I have seen has daquiries in slushie machines.  They have probably 10 machines all lined up.  I will try to take a picture and post later.

On the schedule for tomorrow is a swamp tour and maybe the WWII Museum.   

Monday, June 28, 2010

Evidently, I'm It

1.   What’s your staple meal (ie. what meal do you cook most often when you can’t be bothered to be adventurous)?

Considering I am not the cook in my family, I guess I would have to say Mac and Cheese.  It is honestly one of the few things that I haven't managed to screw up over the years.
2.  What do you want to be when you grow up?
I was going to be an architect.  I started taking drafting when I was in 5th grade and continued through high school.  I learned how to use AutoCAD and VersaCAD and oddly enough how to bury naughty computer games so a teacher couldn't find them, but that is a story for another day.  I stuck through architecture for one year at KSU and traded in the four white walls of the studio for the four white walls of a practice room.  I do have extremely neat handwriting because of all those years of drafting though.
3.   What book are you reading at the moment (if any)?
I am currently reading 1776.  I have a book about Nannerl Mozart ready to go and my grandma just loaned me four books about the Amish so I should be set for a while.

4.  How do you relax?

This may sound odd but working on the farm is my idea of relaxing.  After wheat harvest I always feel much better.  I also enjoy playing any of my instruments for relaxation except guitar.  I'm not good enough at it yet for it to be relaxing.

5.   What color are the interior walls of your home?

Up until a few years ago, everything was white and it was driving me absolutely nuts.  I may have gone a little color crazy but here goes........entryway - medium blue-green, parlor - darker blue-green, living room - purple, dining room - just started painting it olive green, downstairs bathroom - light lavendar, kitchen - brick red and yellow gold, upstairs hallway - same yellow gold as kitchen, bedroom - light green, my office - blue, Matt's office - imagine Kaufman Stadium. I have wallpaper bought for the upstairs bathroom that is purple, green, and gray.

6.  What is your guiltiest pleasure?

hmmm......I guess it would have to be my pickup.  Do I need a truck?  Not really, but I love my truck.

7.  What time is bedtime and getting up time?

I try to go to bed around 10:30.  During the summer I have been getting up and walking at 7:30.  During school, maybe 6:45.  Thankfully it doesn't take me long to get ready in the morning.

8.  How long do you spend reading blogs (per day or per week)?

Not very long unless people on my list post new stuff. 

If you have read this and haven't been tagged yet, I guess you are it. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Harvest 2010

Harvest for my family is officially over!  After a little more than 3 full days of cutting the last load is in the elevator.  It was great to see all my buddies at the elevator. 

There are still two employees left from when I worked there when I was in high school so it is always nice to see them and talk about the "good old days" before hydraulic probes, computers, and a fancy shaker machine figure out dockage.

These days I drive the truck.  Since my uncle bought the semi harvest has been much more enjoyable for me.  My right arm would be almost dead after the second from all the shifting so a new automatic is heaven!  Here is my pickup with the semi in the distance.  I sometimes wonder what my grandpa, who was the official truck driver for as long as I could remember, would think of this truck.  It has air conditioning (even though my uncle swears it doesn't work right), a radio, air ride seats.  A far cry from the trucks we had when I was a kid.  My favorite truck, which we lovingly call Pinky, does get to come out at least once a year to collect the seed wheat.  I remember Grandpa heading to town in Pinky with usually 2 or 3 of us grandkids with him.  First, I really don't know how he put up with us and secondly, I don't know how we fit into that cab!

There was usually not a lot of sitting for Grandpa.  As soon as he got back from town the other truck was sitting full waiting for him.   I don't know that Pinky would hold a full dump from both combines.  The semi holds at least 2 from both combines and a little more.  Needless to say, I do have a little down time between loads.  So I take a book along and I can be found either sitting on the top rung of the ladder or leading against a tire in the shade reading. 

Thankfully harvest went pretty smoothly.  My uncle broke the belt to his spreader in the next to last field.  Other than the tarp handle attacking me and almost knocking me out, the belt was the only casualty.  The guys have planted a lot more corn this year so hopefully I can play hooky from school a day or two and go drive truck for corn harvest.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Symphony in the Flint Hills 2010

This was our fourth year to attend the Symphony in the Flint Hills.  This year's concert was in Chase County in pastureland owned by a Texas billionaire.  If you don't know about the Symphony in the Flint Hills you are missing out.  The grand finale is, of course, a performance by the Kansas City Symphony, but this even is so much more.  They bring in people to give talks all afternoon about the history of the area, the wildlife and vegetation, and other topics.  You can take a covered wagon ride across the prairie, go on a wildflower walk, and even stargaze once the sun goes down.  There are local musicians, cowboys, great food, art..........and it all takes place in the middle of a pasture somewhere in the Flint Hills.

This year's concert was threatened by weather all day long.  Mother Nature is a big part of this event happening.  Thanks to technology, we got text messages updates all day about the status of the weather.  Even though we drove through some rainy spots to get there it was an absolutely beautiful evening.  As you can see from the pictures, it was a little hazy, but it was still a stunning view from the hill.  No highways, no power lines, just grass as far as the eye can see.

They only sell about 5,000-6,000 tickets each year and every year it sells out within the first couple of hours.  It is always interesting to find a spot to sit and just watch the people go by.  You see all kinds.  One of our favorites this year was a gal walking around in her stiletto high heels.  Not exactly my choice of footwear for walking through a pasture, but hey, it takes all kinds.  Even the parking lot is an interesting experience, everything from Cadillacs and Lexuses to pickup trucks.

There is really no other way that I would rather listen to the symphony.  This year was a little different with the addition of a guest artist that performed with the symphony.  Lyle Lovett, who is a friend of the landowner, performed and while I am not a huge fan the selections that he did seemed to fit in.  Here is the website if you want to read a little bit more about this event.