Word for the Week: Update

I was chosen to select this week's Saturday Scavenger Hunt Word by Jessica. It'll be UP. Since we have no words yet that begin with the letter 'u' and looking up at the gorgeous trees had made me happy all week! Awesome! So hop to it, fellow-scavengers! :)



Express Yourself

This week's Scavenger Word* is 'Expression,' selected by Jessica. Here's my photo entry:

This is the expression on the face of a person who is about to get kissed for being adorable. This shot was taken at the Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley, California. Also, please try to imagine this face as a baby, because it will happen, people! Soon! (Minus the goatee, we hope...)

*I participate in a weekly scavenger hunt for photos related to a select word. A group of us on the internet make the rounds to see everyone else's photos and comment on how they treated the subject matter. The only rules are 1) post on Saturday (something I often fail to do) and 2) only use pictures you yourself have taken. If you want to join the fun, let us know here!

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Skateboarding Budgies (you heard me)

Someone needs to get me some popcorn stat! This is the most entertainment I've gotten from a bunch of birds since 'Follow That Bird' released it's 25th anniversary DVD! So, in other words, since last month... :)

No, seriously, though. These budgies are awesome. Just see if i'm not telling the truth!

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Baby Hiccups in the Womb...

...are like having a tiny frog jump inside your belly
...give you the chance to let everybody who wants to "feel the baby"
...usually start after you eat or after the baby exercises
...let you know where your baby's chest is and so where the rest of the baby probably is in proximity
...can keep you awake at night
...are a sign of good health
...are surprisingly cute

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So Fresh and So Clean Clean

Saying hello to the world, this one day old is surprisingly alert for someone so fresh faced. Also, he is deliciously adorable. I love his giant hands. Or 'meat hooks', as his uncle lovingly refers to them. It's not my kid. Mine is still tucked away inside waiting for its debut. Happy Scavenger Saturday to everyone.*

*I participate in a weekly scavenger hunt for photos related to a select word. A group of us on the internet make the rounds to see everyone else's photos and comment on how they treated the subject matter. The only rules are 1) post on Saturday (something I often fail to do) and 2) only use pictures you yourself have taken. If you want to join the fun, let us know here!

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This is an old shot I took years ago (and appears in my photographs section of this blog), but it makes the most sense at the moment and I'd like to submit it as my belated Scavenger Shot picture*. I'm tired and feeling a little 'hungover' from Easter weekend. Looking forward to taking a nap. :)
*I participate in a weekly scavenger hunt for photos related to a select word. A group of us on the internet make the rounds to see everyone else's photos and comment on how they treated the subject matter. The only rules are 1) post on Saturday (something I often fail to do) and 2) only use pictures you yourself have taken. If you want to join the fun, let us know here!


Choirs of Angels: Palm Sunday (cont.)

(continued from earlier post)

Fighting fatigue and general pregnancy malaise, I headed to Sunday rehearsal at nine. My husband had gone for an early morning run with a friend and would meet up with me at church.

As I entered the building, I kept harboring a hope that I would faint or puke or do something that would otherwise force me to crawl back home to bed and to my sleep. The choir was gathering in the outer fellowship room. I took one of the few remaining seats, because I could barely stand.

*Plop* Down beside me sat the "Other Soprano." She smiled like an eagle surveying its lunch as her eyes shifted over to me. She peered deeply into my eyes through her coke bottle bottom glasses, furrowed her brow and asked, "How's everything in your life these days?"

This seemed an odd question, considering that she and I had never discussed my life or anything else, for that matter. I stared wide-eyed and made no reply. Was she asking about the pregnancy, which seemed to be a favorite topic of strangers? Did she really want to know my life story? And if so, where did I start?

After several seconds of my silence, she decided to help the conversation along with a gentle prod, "How are things going with this economy?" I was dazzled by this strange choice of direction and was egging my frazzled brain to fabricate a cohesive response when she continued the conversation without me, "I have the best job in the world. I make good money and I'm as happy as can be!" Then she launched into a thorough report of her long and varied work history. I stared helplessly around the fellowship hall. I had been so grateful to find this open chair so I could sit down and now I wanted nothing more than to run away.

After exhausting herself on this topic, she noticed I was rubbing my belly. It was a protective and self-soothing gesture on my part. She interpreted this as a fetal interruption to 'our' conversation. "Oh, settle down in there!" she hollered at my midsection, "We're trying to talk!" I suddenly truly disliked this woman.

She went on to tell me about her son and his lifelong habit of sucking his thumb in the most embarrassing manner. The doctor told her the boy would never stop when he was pictured numerous times in vetro with his thumb in his mouth and 'sure enough!' even when he was in the marines, he would get under his blanket for fifteen minutes in the afternoon for a 'nap' and suck his thumb. My mind was reeling with pity for this poor young man, whoever he was, and all I could think of was escape.

"I really should try to use the restroom before we begin," I said and waddled away as fast as my legs could carry me. Breathing a sigh of relief in the bathroom stall and then laughing under my breath at the poor mothered by this woman. All his life secrets spilling out of every side of her to complete and total strangers. I expect if I had sat there much longer, she would have told me of his extra toe or mismatched genitalia. If she were my mother, I think I'd cower under a blanket with my thumb in my gob as well.

I forced myself to return and found my assailant departed, so I resumed my seat. We practiced a song or two (while 'Other Soprano' attempted to contradict the director's instructions behind her back, only to be told by the rest of the choir, 'She changed it in rehearsal. You weren't there.') My husband came into the hall just before we all processed into the church. All I could manage was a weak smile as he walked in.

Madame Volume arrived in a sweeping floor-length red halter gown, covered in shining sparkles. Evidently, she was to sing a solo this morning.

In the Choir loft at the front of the church, we took our places and began one of the longest services of the calendar year (I wanted to curl up in a ball and go to sleep). The sweet woman next to me noticed I was clutching the railing in front of us and occasionally sitting down. She was extremely solicitous and after I began fanning myself for cooling relief, she put a wet cloth on my neck and rubbed my back. She and the alto on my right kept suggesting escape routes and times, but it made no sense to gather up every belonging I owned in the front of the entire congregation just to walk past my husband, get in my car and go home. I didn't really see what sitting in the outside room would do to make things better either. So I stayed and fanned and drank water till I nearly burst and tried to sing.

It wasn't till the communion solo by Madame Volume that I truly understood the attitude of the rest of the choir. As my husband came to the front, Madame Volume hit a particularly high note at full volume. My husband cringed. I laughed. The sweet lady next to me noticed and said, 'What's so funny?" I told her of my husband's reaction. "My fiance tells me to stop rolling my eyes up here when she sings, because everyone can see it. Truth is, no one can shut her up." Encouraged by this frank assessment of the situation, I confessed that she was the reason I had stopped coming at the onset. "Oh, I know." she responded. "We all know that!" I leaned in and asked her, "Do you ever feel... redundant?" She looked up at me with mock seriousness and said,

"The rest of us might as well go home!"

I snickered a little and she and I elbowed each other for the rest of the service every time the two sopranos fought over the same high note and made the windows rattle.

I crawled home and to bed. My husband made me breakfast and let me sleep. Bless him.

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Choirs of Angels: Palm Sunday

My husband and I attend a small community church since our marriage last July. The minister married us and we feel comfortable with the structure and enclosure that the community provides. It's a small church, a small building and maybe a hundred congregants. I have a conspicuous voice. I am a strong soprano. I like to belt out the hymns. But I try to tone it down for this church, which makes me kid of sad. I don't want to be the lone voice ringing through the rafters, but I miss giving things full volume. (That's what BIG churches are for!)

One particular Sunday as I sang the hymns with my husband, I was plucked from obscurity by the people in front of me; an Indian couple. They were so sweet. Immediately after service they turned around and complimented my voice (this happens sometimes, and I won't lie, it's flattering) and urged me (by dragging me by the arm) to join the choir. I was introduced to our friendly choir director, Sandy, given a time for rehearsal and urged to join. Sandy didn't need to hear me sing. Being dragged to the front by members of the existing choir was recommendation enough. That made me slightly apprehensive. I like a little standard to reach for. I disapprove of an 'anybody who wants to' kind of artistic efforts. I am a quality snob. Sorry.

But I went to my first rehearsal anyways. My husband was out of town. I had nothing else to do. So I went.
I was given my own folder (#18) and a seat on the front row (where all sopranos go). We did some warm ups. We began our first song. I was beginning to relax into the humble surroundings of this cozy, little choir. And then something magical happened: she arrived.
I'd seen her in services before. She sang solos often, in an operatic style and even though there was some degree of technical know-how to her presentation style, there was an even greater lack of self-awareness. I had commented to my husband in whispers during the middle of service one Sunday on why she wasn't a great singer, because she could not seem to control the volume on her top notes and because she occasionally slid around rather than placing pitches clean. And here she was coming to sit next to me. She had excited little nervous eyes and always wore skirts and open-toed shoes (despite it being winter outside). On Sundays, when she did have a solo, she wore floor-length evening gowns in some obnoxious hue that was designed to make her stand apart from everyone else. In the world.

She settled into her seat that particular evening with a condescending smile to me, the newcomer, and fussed over her choir folder and additional materials. We began a Mozart chorus. Her voice blasting over the pianissimo markings like a trumpet at Mardi gras. After the first song ended, I took in a deep inhale. That's when I realized, I hadn't really been breathing. She took my breath away. Literally.
As a soprano, I am aware that my position on the top of the musical staff comes with certain privileges and obligations: We are given the 'showy' bits more often. Very frequently we outnumber the other sections in sheer numbers. We have to curb those high notes and descants to give equal play to all singing parts. I am aware of this from my years of choir training. I flatter myself that I know how to fold my voice into the smooth texture of the whole, giving it a strength internally, but not giving myself a sore thumb quality. So, I was more than a little disappointed to find myself sitting next to 'Madame Volume' in a humble choir already decidedly tilted in the sopranos' favor. By the end of rehearsal, I was merely mouthing in an attempt to help the choir find its balance. Alas, no tenor was heard above the din to my right. I went home frustrated and confused.

I wrote Sandy the choir director an email stating the situation as tactfully as I could, "It is evident that the last thing you actually need is a strong soprano. If I was an alto, or any other part, I would gladly throw my weight behind finding the balance that is lacking." She admitted the faults of the choir and begged me to continue attendance as the soprano in question 'was not always able to attend.' This seemed too much like hoping for a miracle every Sunday, so I politely insisted that I would rather give my undivided attention to my new husband on any occasion when he was actually home and thanked her for her service to the church and the community.

That worked for a while. I could tell at the services that we did attend that the rest of the choir felt slightly rejected. They still smiled and showed delight with my growing belly, but there was a sadness in their eyes. I wished I could make them understand that there was no sense in my being in the choir when there was a loudmouth clanging like a drum over everything.

And in fact, there was not only one... there were two. Two sopranos; both with God-given talent and no apparent way of controlling it. The other soprano just as cock-sure as the first, was just as greedy with the high-notes, and just as likely to sing a solo during service to blast the ear drums off of all present. She had a little cloud of light brown hair and a wheelchair, which she didn't always need, and a husband who was a good half-a-foot shorter (which probably saved his ears from more permanent damage, now that I think about it). She had large spectacles that hovered over her watery, yet oddly piercing eyes. And if she ever cornered you, you wouldn't get out of the conversation without using Jedi mind techniques. Or abruptly walking away.

And last Sunday (well last Thursday, technically) I went back. I decided to go to choir to keep my lungs active as my belly grew. (I'm supposed to sing at a wedding one week before my due date. I want to keep myself vocally active so as to have fewer surprises the day of.) I went back and discovered that I had been deeply missed. Everyone seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when I entered the choir room. Sandy's face lit up like a Christmas tree, the little Indian lady beamed and patted my belly, the older gentlemen in the bass section hovered around and smiled and inquired after my health, etc. Everyone seemed so glad to have me there. I really couldn't tell why.

We had only one death-by-soprano there: Madame Volume herself. I made the mistake of sitting next to her. Again. (Or was it truly my mistake? It seemed to me that the little Indian woman threw me under the bus, as it was she who scooted over leaving the seat vacant next to the Femme Fortissimo! ) I got folder #18 down from its shelf and was fitted for a choir robe -which was snug around my tummy and made me look like a choir balloon animal. I found it humorous, so I said nothing, only thanked my assistor and sat down next to the cannon.

Rehearsal that night went much like you would expect; ears bleeding, spine tingling, wishing I hadn't come. But there was a new development. Sandy, the director, made earnest pleas for a softer soprano section the entire rehearsal. And not only she, but other members of the choir spoke up and called for equality among the parts. No one mentioned the soprano by name and she dutifully bent her head to her folder and took prodigious notes at ever suggestion, but ended up singing at the same unrelenting volume despite the not-so-subtle hints. And she had plenty of questions, comments, and recommendations of her own. She especially liked to throw out technical musical jargon... in their proper native pronunciations, of course. So that if the word's origins were Italian, for instance, she would say it with an Italian flourish, as though brandishing a quill pen and writing a manuscript of international importance. Her sciolism was equalled only by her evident inability to put into practice what her 'expertise' supposedly taught her to do.

Once again, I went home crabby and put off. I had missed a perfectly good evening with my husband to be tortured by the banshee of the choir loft. I complained to my husband (who had a good laugh) and then proceeded to wrack my brain for any excuse to get out of actually performing that Sunday. I didn't come up with anything good enough to merit an absence and so I dragged myself out of bed and went.
(to be continued)

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Welcome to the Mother 'Hood

Something strange happens to a woman when she begins showing a belly with her first pregnancy. Her place in society is subtly shifted. Whereas, she was mothered by other women, advised, encouraged by other women as a single or even as a young married, she is now initiated into a whole new relationship. She moves into a new echelon of camaraderie with those who have gone on before her to bear children. She undergoes an almost instant and unavoidable initiation into the 'Mother 'Hood' as I like to call it. Instead of gang tats or colors, she sports a bulging belly and an insatiable need to pee. Other mothers, as if by instinct, nod or smile as you go past. There is a look of knowing, of understanding, and in many cases, of a need to tell you what to do. You are now open to any and all helpful hints and suggestions that they can think of. And even though you don't want to admit it, they display another trait you yourself will soon bear: an almost irrisistible urge to share their birth story.

Birthing a child is like a secret sign or initiation that mothers share with one. Another mom can understand what you went through in ways no one else on the planet can. With one penetrating look into your soul, they can see a woman who has been through the waters of trial and produced a living human being from her own body, a feat no one else on the planet is capable of achieving. A look in her eyes says, "There may be millions of us, but we are still the proud, the few!"

I am kind of excited to be initiated into the 'hood. I didn't really know I wasn't included fully in the world of women. I thought I had a deep and reverent bond with all women, despite my lack of maternal experience. I have always felt strongly included in the world of women. I am comfortable with, can acknowledge and support them and they me. But I was wrong. I am understanding that there is another room to enter in this labyrinth of womanhood. I have been shown a secret, curtained entrance and my presence is expected and respected on the other side.

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Pirates of the High Seas

And you thought they didn't exist anymore!

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Easy as Pie

Pie is not easy to make, have you ever noticed that? It is actually fairly involved and complicated. So was this saying, "Easy as pie," actually an early example of sarcasm? We should investigate. According to WikiAnswers this refers to eating of pie rather than the making of it. And there, folks, is your answer.

For this week's Scavenger Word, EASY, chosen by Pamela over at A Woman of No Regrets, I continue on my theme (like a broken record) of being married to my husband. This is by far the easiest job that I have ever undertaken. Nothing could be easier than doing what your heart longs to do anyways. You could say that in marrying my husband I have found my true calling. It's a little bit like heaven on earth. Oh, don't get me wrong, it takes work and I have more responsibilities than I've ever had, but the sweetness of being with him more than makes up for the additional load. You want to know my secret? I just married the sweetest and cutest person I could possibly find. Easy, right? :P

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SCIOLISM: A Belated Scavenger

Here is my belated addition to last week's scavenger shot word:SCIOLISM. I think I look very knowledgeable peeking out from behind this massive law tome. I also appear to have some kind of a hair halo, which I think adds to my general appearance of smartitude.

Tara helped me out in my tardiness by picking No Regrets as this week's word picker. Thanks, Tara!

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