Tenacious Dedication

I feel nostalgically melancholy today.  I am remembering a time, about a decade ago, when I seethed with frustration surrounding a disappointing rejection my daughter suffered through.  When I requested an explanation for the rejection, the response I received  accused my daughter of “not being dedicated enough.”  In my mind, “not dedicated enough” became “not rich enough” because the evidence supporting that theory appeared overwhelming.  Other more affluent students with less talent and training achieved admittance, while my daughter was passed over.

Across the intervening years, I’ve watched and listened to my daughter devote countless hours in vocal training and coaching, music studies, daily practicing, auditions, rehearsals and performances.  Her perseverance, tenacity and, yes, dedication, knows no bounds. Her vocal coach is amazed out how extraordinarily large my daughter’s voice is, the largest she has heard.  I weep with pride, joy and love when I get a chance to hear her perform.

She recently performed the Contralto solo in several performances of Handel’s Messiah.  My only regret is I couldn’t afford to fly to Seattle to listen to it live.

Next week, my daughter flies to New York for her last audition of the year.  To date, she’s flown over 20,000 miles this year for auditions, all across the Continental United States:  from San Francisco, to Chicago, to Houston, to Chicago again, to New York, etc. etc.

Where are these other ‘more dedicated’ students now? Personally, I could care less.

Break a leg next week Rachelle!

Posted in Art, Family, Music, Mutterings, Vocal Performance | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Personal Reading Challenge Met Early

lastsixreadingchallengesOn the ides of November, with forty-six days left in 2016, I achieved my self-inflicted reading goal.  I have read seventy-five books so far this year.  I will read more before 2017 arrives.  I am currently reading four books simultaneously in various formats: an audiobook (classic mystery by Christie); an ebook (one of next year’s most likely to succeed Hugo Nominees); a hard cover (non-fiction Kansas Notable); and another ebook (bible study ongoing).

For the most part, I avoided reading duds this year.  I only abandoned two books, both of them book club reads that I just couldn’t get into.  I read a lot of books for discussion groups.  That leaves me little room to squeeze in the must-read new releases that I buy to support my favorite authors.  Of the seventy-five books read since January 1st, I added fourteen to my ‘loved-it’ shelf and forty-eight to my ‘liked-it’ one.  The remaining thirteen books wallow on my ‘meh’ shelf, which is just slightly elevated above my ‘disliked’ and ‘abandoned’ shelves.

Since 2011, I’ve averaged eight-nine books per year, with peak reading occurring in 2013 (102 books read) and 2014 (136 books read).  My lowest reading year occurred last year, where I only read a measly sixty-two books.  I can’t remember why I didn’t get as much reading done last year.  Still, that means I’m reading  between seven and eight books per month.  Makes sense when you consider that I’m involved in 3-4 real world book clubs and a couple of virtual ones plus tackling my huge to-be-read pile not associated with any discussion groups.

I should be able to finish another half-dozen books by year’s end.  In fact, I’ll probably read another ten or so.  I have several novellas I need to read, and those usually only take an hour or so to finish.  Perfect for lunch time reading.

But what to challenge myself with next year?  Should I play it safe, again, and set the bar back at seventy-five?  That might be a wise decision as I’m returning to college after a decades long hiatus to complete my degree.  I see the mist of my spare time for leisure reading evaporating before me.  Perhaps fifty might be an even safer bet?

Only time and my capacity to absorb the written word will tell.

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Winter Is Coming So Help Build a Snowman

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The Lansing Community Library kicks off its first ever Winter Reading Program Saturday, November 19, 2016 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. There will be games and refreshments for the kick-off.  The theme for the Winter Reading Program is DO YOU WANT TO BUILD A SNOWMAN?

The program provides challenges for all ages (two through adult), with a chance to qualify for prize drawings.  You’ll have until January 7, 2017 to complete all nine challenges in your age group. Patrons may sign up online (see detailed how-to instructions below) or at the library during the kickoff party.

Fun & Games

The kickoff party will feature several hands on games for children, including pin the nose on the snowman, building a snowman, magic color scratch snowmen and a story time.  Healthy snacks as well as a hot chocolate bar will round out the fun.

Tic-Tac-Toe

The Tic-Tac-Toe challenge sheets may be picked up at the library.  Each age group – 2-7 years, 8-12 years, 13-19 years and adults – may complete up to nine (9) challenges. Patrons who complete 1-2 challenges are entered into the drawing for a Freddy’s gift card. Complete 3-5 challenges to be entered into the drawing for a $25 AMC gift card. Complete 6-8 challenges to be entered into the drawing for a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card. Complete all nine (9) challenges to be eligible for the grand prize drawing for a Kindle e-Reader. There are additional drawings in two age groups (8-12 and 13-19 years) for LEGO kits.

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Posted in Books, Family, Reading, Seasons, Winter | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Recipe Review: Cranberry Spinach Salad ~ 5 Stars

Cranberry Spinach Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered
  • 1 pound spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook and stir almonds in butter until lightly toasted. Remove from heat, and let cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, onion, paprika, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, and vegetable oil. Toss with spinach just before serving.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the spinach with the toasted almonds and cranberries.

My Thoughts

My husband and I have made this salad several times for ourselves and family members.  I discovered spinach later in life and now it’s my favorite leafy indulgence.  The dressing perfectly compliments spinach and the cranberries and almonds add tartness and texture.

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Posted in 5 Star, Musings, Ratings, Reviews | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

11.11.16 ~ Honoring All Who Served

Veterans Day 2016 ~ Courage

Thank you to all the Veterans who have served with honor and courage.

God of peace,
we pray for those who have served our nation
and have laid down their lives
to protect and defend our freedom.

We pray for those who have fought,
whose spirits and bodies are scarred by war,
whose nights are haunted by memories
too painful for the light of day.

We pray for those who serve us now,
especially for those in harm’s way.
Shield them from danger
and bring them home.

Turn the hearts and minds
of our leaders and our enemies
to the work of justice and a harvest of peace.
Spare the poor, Lord, spare the poor!

May the peace you left us,
the peace you gave us,
be the peace that sustains,
the peace that saves us.

Amen.

 

Posted in Autumn, Family, Seasons | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Eclectic Adventures in Adult Group Reading

The Lansing Community Library Adult Book Group recently celebrated their first anniversary.  Since last year’s banned book celebration in September 2015, we’ve read a variety of fiction and non-fiction, classics, essays, award-winning fiction, graphic novels and touched most genres.

This month we try to solve the mystery of A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George.  We’ll meet to discuss this book on Thursday, December 8, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. at the Library in Lansing, Kansas.

About A Great Deliverance

To this day, the low, thin wail of an infant can be heard in Keldale’s lush green valleys. Three hundred years ago, as legend goes, the frightened Yorkshire villagers smothered a crying babe in Keldale Abbey, where they’d hidden to escape the ravages of Cromwell’s raiders.

Now into Keldale’s pastoral web of old houses and older secrets comes Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley, the eighth earl of Asherton. Along with the redoubtable Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, Lynley has been sent to solve a savage murder that has stunned the peaceful countryside. For fat, unlovely Roberta Teys has been found in her best dress, an axe in her lap, seated in the old stone barn beside her father’s headless corpse. Her first and last words were “I did it. And I’m not sorry.”

Yet as Lynley and Havers wind their way through Keldale’s dark labyrinth of secret scandals and appalling crimes, they uncover a shattering series of revelations that will reverberate through this tranquil English valley—and in their own lives as well.

And Then What?

The continuing mystery of any book group is always what to read next.  And this time of year we start to see the ‘best of’ lists or, in the case of GoodReads, the annual Choice Awards (voting ongoing).  We’re scheduled through May 2017, so we’ve got some time to fill up the rest of 2017.

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Book Review: Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck ~ 4.5 Stars

Of Mice and Men

by John Steinbeck

Read by Gary Sinise

Listened to late Oct/early Nov 2016

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Synopsis (via GoodReads): Of Mice and Men was John Steinbeck’s first masterpiece. Originally published in 1937, it’s the timeless story of George Milton and Lennie Small, ranch hands who drift from job to job, always one step ahead of the law and a few dollars from the poorhouse. George is small, wiry, sharp-tongued and quick-tempered; slow witted Lennie is his opposite—an immense man, brutishly strong but naturally docile, a giant with the mind of a child. Despite their difference, George and Lennie are bound together by a shared vision: their own small farm, where they’ll raise cows, pigs, chickens, and rabbits, where they’ll be their own bosses and live off the fat of the land.

My Thoughts

This review is a follow-up to my previous post on challenged books for 2016 (click here to refresh your memory) .  Of Mice and Men is my first Steinbeck.  I must admit I’m impressed.

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Posted in 5 Star, Books, Fiction, Ratings, Reading, Reviewing, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments