Midwest, hats and ovens


Midwest & Chicago was a lot of fun. I didn’t venture too far away from the Hilton area but I met a lot of nifty new people, as well as got a chance to hang out with folks I already knew. It was great to have dinner with BOTH Montoya brothers at once. We went to Eleven City Diner and had yummy open faced sandwiches. There was more food on each plate than any of us could have handled. Why didn’t we split plates, guys?

I know you’ve read about the trials and tribulations of my getting to Chicago but I wanted to show you a picture of why I had so many troubles. Seems like the snow on Tuesday (when I originally wanted to fly out) never stopped. When we landed early Wednesday afternoon, I could definitely see why they closed O’Hare Tuesday night. A lot had been cleared at that point (I’m sure thanks to de-icing planes all morning) but that one point that had been driving through is still thick with snow.

I went to a few clinics and concerts but I must say that my two favorite concerts were Betty Pierce and the Grisham Middle School Band from my very own Round Rock ISD and the Ensemble Liberte Wind Orchestra from Kawaguchi-City, Japan. I actually did a lot more walking the floor and talking to people than I did going to clinics this year. Networking is a huge portion of conventioning.

Travis Ancelet and Damon Talley enjoyed the concert as well!

Speaking of networking, I was very excited to see all the folks who were at the Jazz Education Network open forum. I’m really glad that this is going to be about jazz and education and about all the members instead of being about the big names, as the previous organization became by the time I joined. I’m excited that I’m a charter (and the first “regular”) member. They asked me to be the forums moderator so if you’re a member, check out the forums and say hi!

I got to meet Ronald Carter while walking the exhibit halls. Paper is heavy and his new book is HUGE so I didn’t get to add his autograph to it (my buddy Ron McCurdy’s a co-writer and already signed it) but we did take a picture together. I think I’m going to ask TMEA to invite him to be an All State Clinician sometime.

Martin is the Director of the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park Band in Michigan and their “regular” tour company gave him tickets to see the Blue Man Group one night and he invited me to come along. It was a great show and after, we went to the top of the John Hancock Center for a reception. Catching up with old friends is always great. Especially when you have an amazing view of Chicago! πŸ˜‰

The rest of Midwest was a lot of fun. Like I said, I got to catch up with a lot of people and meet new ones. I talked at length with Frank Ticheli (composer) and Col. Alan Bonner (Executive Director for Kappa Kappa Psi/Tau Beta Sigma) and met composers Michael Daughtery and Eric Whitacre. Of course, I had a chance to hang out with Steve Bryant (congrats on the 2nd Revelli Award!!), John Mackey and Jonathan Newman. Always a great time at the Hilton.

Getting home wasn’t the easiest but it was smoother than getting out there. I had a nice time waiting and waiting at O’Hare with JD Janda, Kerry Taylor and his wife Valerie, Jack Green, Paul Crockett and DJ Jennison. Hanging out with these guys made the wait not seem so long!

Hat Parade
Both needing to do some last minute Christmas shopping this week, my friend Crystal and I ventured out to the craziness that is retail shops a few days before Christmas. When Crystal and I shop, there’s no stress because we can always make anything we do full of laughs and fun things. And my always having my camera with me captures the fun for a lifetime (gosh, don’t I sound like a commercials here!). Regardless of what we’re shopping for, we always keep our eyes open for cute shoes and while stopping at Marshalls, we found some hats we wanted to try on. Hence, our HAT PARADE!!

Gold and sparkly. I think there are Christmas ornaments or something on this hat!

Purple…just like the purse Crystal REALLY REALLY wants.

I do like how this hat fits but it’s wicker and that doesn’t work in the winter.

Gold and sparkly on Crystal. And here, you see the other side of the hat better, too. πŸ˜‰

I was actually going to get this hat but it was over $10 and would have matched my sweater. We were looking for a bit more outrageous than matching.

Plaid is fun.

This hat just makes us sad.

So, there you go. We finally picked these two hats to buy and wear the rest of the day. Fun hats make Christmas crazy not so…crazy! Yes, we wore them to dinner, even. πŸ˜€

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I love to cook. I’m not much for baking but I LOVE cooking things. My oven went out last September or so and I’ve been going nuts. I even took all my supplies and made my lasagna at Keith & Jones’s house about a month ago just so I could make something in the oven. They certainly enjoyed the fruits of my labor but I really miss having my oven working. You must be asking, “Why didn’t you just get the thing fixed?”. Well, I get this really nifty (not) trait from my dad called “gotta fix it yourself if at all possible” and with him being an electrical engineer, we usually can for very little money. Thanks to a very long and busy marching season (Go Tigers!), time for that hasn’t been available. Finally, about a month ago, I did a bit of research on “the internet” and found that it might be so difficult to do the repair ourselves and dad came over to take a look. After taking things apart, we still weren’t sure and had ran out of time so we decided to hold off until more research and time could be found. So, yesterday, we narrowed it down to one part…that we couldn’t get disconnected! We were quite frustrated and I decided that I was going to break down and call an appliance repair place. Appliance Connection from here in Pflugerville came today, diagnosed the same part that I had as broken and replaced it in a matter of minutes…and $200. Oh well, I can use the oven now!

So, this turned out to be quite a long post but I hope you enjoyed it. I thought maybe people had stopped reading my blog and I was going to stop blogging but it seems as though you haven’t so I won’t. Have a Merry Christmas, everyone! Cookies will be ready after I eat my frozen pizza….. πŸ˜‰


Take 3

As they say in School House Rock, Three is the Magic Number. At least it was for me in getting to Chicago this week. My flight Tuesday evening was delayed twice then canceled. Thanks to the efficiency of American Airlines, I was automatically re-booked so I got the back I checked on Tuesday afternoon and went home. On Wednesday morning, I got to the airport probably about an 1:15 minutes before my flight and spent almost that entire time in line to re-check my bag. So, when I finally got to the front of a line, it was only 29 or less minutes before my flight so the system wouldn’t take my baggage and I was told that this caused me to “miss my flight”. Needless to say, I wasn’t all too happy about take 2 being denied as well. They re-booked me (yet again, mind you) on the 11:55 flight but tried to get me a spot stand by on the 8:25 flight with no luck. Not even any more stand by spots left on that flight. So, I sat in the airport, watching Casino Royale (a much needed watch after being oh so disappointed with Quantum of Solace) until a few folks I knew came to wait for the same flight. Despite the drama, I’m glad I’m in Chicago. It’s been a great time already. Long day tomorrow so I’m gonna turn in.

Love you, mean it!

Ticket to Ride

I was thinking about trying to do some traveling this summer but I’m thinking against it now. It seems like it’s going to cost way too much to fly anywhere, especially if there’s any car rental associated with where ever it might be I travel to.

Last summer, I did some reorganization of my finances and I’m doing much better on saving money but I can’t just go spend it as soon as I have a little bit saved up. Not the most responsible thing to do with money. I have to save up so I’m not going into grad school flat broke.

Anyways, back to the point – I’m not doing any long distance traveling this summer. I am thinking about going to Six Flags or the beach or something, though. I think I can manage that. I am, however, considering purchasing a second vehicle that could save me some money – a motorcycle or scooter. I’m actually leaning towards a scooter with some power. I still have to do some research on what’s a good deal but I’m looking at the Suzuki Burgman 400 or 650. To your right, you see the 2008 Burgman 650. Yes, I understand I just said I’m looking at saving money and yet I contradict myself by talking about a new major purchase. But I’m thinking that I can save quite a bit of money in gas by purchasing something that has good gas mileage and a small tank for my daily driving. I’ve also considered a Vespa or something electric like it to save on gas completely. I also don’t know what license (if any) I need for a scooter. Again, more research is necessary. Any input is always welcome.

So, that’s it for now. I’ll keep driving the Mario Kart cycles and scooters until I can get one of my own. For all I know, this is just a whim and I won’t follow through with it. I do love my Honda!

All I’ve Got To Do

I haven’t blogged much aside from the garden lately. There actually have been a few more things going on besides my lovely little garden, believe it or not. The time frame of it all escapes me a little bit so I’m just going to talk about stuff, not actually put it in any sort of time line today.

My friend Kelly came into town and we met for dinner at PF Changs. It was very yummy (as always) and he and I had some good conversation (as always). He was going to stay with Ana so we were all going to meet that weekend at Austin’s Crawfish Fest downtown. Since this fest became conversation with other friends as well, Monica & I decided to go together and meet the rest of the folks who were talking about going as well. The entertainment was a lot of fun but unfortunately, we only “met up” with Sarah and her boyfriend Raz as they were getting there and we were leaving. Interestingly enough, we bumped into some band director friends of mine from RRISD so we hung out with them. We could have gotten quite a few good pics but because we seemed to be eating or drinking something (all very yummy) at any given moment, we only got in a self picture of our crawfish faces.

My dad skated a half marathon in the 2008 Round Rock Road Rash. He’s skated it before but this was the first time my sister and I were able to go watch and it was GREAT fun! The announcer was stupid cheesy but we cheered on everybody that was out there to have a good time (the pros didn’t look like they were paying attention…yes, inline skating professionals). He skated in the 60+ age group but I’ll tell you, there is quite a bit of difference between a 61 year old and a 78 year old. I’m thinking they should probably create more age categories everytime they have that large of an age spread. Anywho, Inline Planet published an article about the race and my dad got a nice mention in it.

The oldest skater on the course was Peter Benford, 78, of Austin, TX. He skated the half marathon in 1:09:46. The youngest skater was Braeden Kenney, 5, of Aurora, TX, who skated about one lap on the 4.7 mile course.

The half marathon was about 3 laps around the neighborhood of the Dell Diamond. Here’s my dad on the approach of the end of lap #2.

I mowed the front yard so I wouldn’t get a silly notice from the silly homeowners association. I left the backyard alone because the cats love the little jungle that’s going on back there. I’m going to have to mow it pretty soon but it’s not completely out of control yet. Here’s Pfema, king of his backyard jungle:

Speaking of the backyard, the garden is doing well. I’ve got some new tomatoes and LOTS of peppers coming in. The cilantro shot up like a kid with a growth spurt this past week. We’re in week 5 now and if you want to see pictures, you’re more than welcome to go on over to my Flickr album on the garden to check them out. I love the picture of the brand new baby jalapeno coming in (okay, I can’t resist and must post that pic for ya).

So this is UIL week and my band performs tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3:00 in Georgetown. I’m really nervous because my kids have been working REALLY hard. This group is further along fundamentally and maturely than the past 3 years and I’d love for their scores to reflect their hard work in preparing this spring. Unfortunately, they are all almost freshmen or sophomores with still a need for a bit of hand holding so it’s all a matter of “which group” shows up tomorrow as to how we do. Regardless, Brian, Matt & I are really proud of them. I hate that I don’t always get to realize the fruits of my labor. Because I teach the third band, the ones that work the hardest always end up in higher bands after all the work I put in and I end up starting over with a whole new set of kids the next year. Yes, I know, I can see how they’ve matured musically in that higher group and if they participate in the Jazz Ensemble, I get to continue to work with them but my spring ensemble rarely sees those kids over again and it can be frustrating at times. Oh well, we’ll have a good time tomorrow making music and that’s what will count. I’ve really enjoyed my groups this year and I almost hate to see this year come to a close. Oh, while I’m mentioning end of year activities, put our Spring Concert on Monday, May 12 at 7pm at the RRISD PAC on your calendar. There will be some really fun music and an amazing guest artist that the Jazz Ensemble will be able work with there.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=thebigbenfors-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=1401323251&nou=1&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrWith all that being said, I’m going to go continue to read my new book “The Last Lecture”. I think it was my colleague Paul that sent me the link to the Oprah episode about him but since I saw it, I’ve been hooked on knowing more about how he made his dreams a reality. He’s just such a real person that I think regardless of his cancer, I’d be fascinated with the adventures he’s had through his life and would want to know more. I got the book from Amazon.com the day it became available and read the first 65 pages in about an hour, and I’m not necessarily the fastest reader, either. I just couldn’t put it down. He’s an wonderful storyteller.

Have a wonderful rest of the week and if you’re in the Georgetown HS area on Tuesday, April 15 at 3:00 pm, come on by the PAC and listen. A real audience always helps the performance. πŸ˜‰

Love you, mean it.

What You’re Doing

I’ve just gotten through the halfway point through Spring Break 2008 and I have to report that it’s been very productive and fun!

I started out by going to an SPHS Girl’s Soccer game on Saturday morning. They played against Westwood at The Palace and after a slow start, did alright. Final score, tie 1-1.

On Sunday, I built my garden:

I can’t wait to eat my own veggies. I have 8 varieties of peppers, 2 types of tomatoes, some Japanese eggplant, arugula, fennel, sage, Greek oregano, cilantro, rosemary, green onion and garlic. Next to the garden box, you’ll see my compost pile. I’m feeling more and more organic every day!!

Thanks to Monica for her help in putting my garden together. That soil was HEAVY and I couldn’t have hauled and mixed it all up without her. After we were done gardening, we went to her friend Jeff’s for a BBQ. Yummy!!

Monday, I spent some time with my mom. We went to my favorite Chinese restaurant Hunan in South Austin for some noodles. I rarely get down there for them but when I do, OMG, they are magnificent!!

I’ve cleared out more of the garage and put more stuff in the “to be sold” stack. (no picture of the garage, sorry) I’ve laid out and have a nice little bit of lobster coloring that will quickly turn to tan. (no picture of tan lines, either)

On Tuesday night, we went out to go see Boombox, ATX. As always, it was a good concert.

Before we headed to Lucky Lounge for Boombox, we went to Whiskey Bar so I could try their creme brulee martini. She set the glass on fire. Very cool trick, I tell ya!

Yes, it was Tuesday night but with all the SXSW activities going on, I didn’t know if we would get even close to the bar!!


However, the guy who is too much a Longhorn fan was somewhere out there that night.

But we had a good time, as we always do!