Mama Diaries

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Herding the Deer

Our German Shepherd, Schultz, got into a little trouble yesterday. It started with a game of fetch the tennis ball.  It was uneventful until Schultz spotted a herd of deer in the woods. Then the adventure began. He took off after that herd, at breakneck speed. He and about ten of those oversized rodents disappeared into the woods.

My husband called the dog, but there was no response. We knew it was time to send out the search party. My husband got into his truck and checked the usual places, which included Schultz's girlfriend's house. The Golden Retriever was sunning herself on the porch, but there was no sign of Schultz.

Two hours later, there was still no Schultz. We were getting worried. After hiking through the woods, calling the dog's name, my husband decided to go out with the truck one more time. I stayed home to see if anyone would call to report that the dog had been found.

A half hour later, I got a call. Schultz was about five miles away. Dog tired, he had wandered into someone's yard. That person had a couple of dogs, too, so I guess Schultz figured that was a good place to go. The person gave us their address, and my husband went to get him.

I hope he really enjoyed chasing those deer over the river and through the woods. I can only imagine how tired and terrified those deer must've been to be chased by such a ferocious beast for that long!

(Schultz, in case you are wondering, is still quite exhausted from the ordeal. I don't think he'll be doing any more chasing any time soon!)

Before I go, I want to let you know that The Thing That Turned Me Anthology, for which I am a contributing author, will be released on May 31, 2016.

Here's the info on my piece:

Title:  Finding My Voice
Genre:  Nonfiction/Inspirational
Blurb:  One caring teacher plus a little music equals a life changed for the better.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Possum Encounter

My daughter came home from school and showed me a picture someone had sent her on Instagram. It was a picture of a dead opossum.

"Why would somebody send that to you?" I asked.

She laughed. "Because the kid who sent it is twisted and thinks dead possums are funny."

I frowned. "Whatever."

Fast forward to the next day. I was standing at the bus stop with my son, when I noticed a putrid odor. "Dude," I said. "What is that awful smell?"

Bubba shrugged. "Probably the dead possum."

I raised my eyebrows. "Dead possum? There's a dead possum around here?"

"Yeah, Mama. It's right over there." He pointed to a place about twenty feet away on the sidewalk. Sure enough, it was a dead possum.

"Do you know why there's a dead possum on the sidewalk?"

"Um hmmm." The boy said. "My friend took it out of the street and put it there."

I looked at the kid. "Seriously? And let me guess. He took a picture of it, too, didn't he?"

Bubba grinned. "Yep."

Obviously, it was the same possum my daughter had showed me on her phone. It was far worse encountering it in person. Good thing Instagram doesn't have smeller vision, or that picture of the dead opossum would be making a lot of people sick!   

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Music and Words Award

I would like to thank my super awesome blog buddies, Shady Del Knight and Chrys Fey, for nominating me for the Music and Words Award. I guess they know how much I love music and words!

The Music and Words Award was created by music fan Andrea aka Miss Andi for the purpose of acknowledging and bringing together music loving bloggers from  all over the world and sharing info
about artists and music of all genres. No one is obligated to accept the MWA, but those who do are asked to  follow these five steps:

1.) Link back to the person who nominated you.
2.) Answer the questions with words AND music.
3.) Pass the award on to 5 other people. Make sure you notify them.
4.) Tag your post with #MWA for Music & Words
     Award so we can all find you down the line.
5.) Quote these 5 steps and display the award icon
     in your post and also on your sidebar if you wish.

Now on with the questions:

Question number 1:  What does music mean to you?

 Music is a huge part of my life. I play and teach violin, viola, and piano. This is something I do almost every day, and I really couldn't imagine not doing it. Music is a way of expressing things that can't always be expressed in words. It's also a language that can be understood, no matter what country you are from, or what other language you may speak. Music has some great benefits, too. It helps one think analytically, creatively, and can help with social skills. That's why I'm a huge supporter of music education.

Question number 2:  What is your first music-related memory?

Ever since I was a little kid, I've loved music. I always gravitated toward musical toys. It probably drove my parents crazy. I remember banging on a toy xylophone when I was two years old. I secretly think that when I couldn't find it, my mom had hidden it so that she wouldn't have to listen to the incessant cacophony! Here's a picture of me when I was three years old. I had gotten a toy guitar for Christmas. It was the best thing ever. As you can see, I was far more interested in the guitar than anything else!

Question number 3:  What was the first album you purchased?

It was a CD by Selena, called Dreaming of You. You can find it here.  The first time I heard Selena  (Selena Quintanilla) sing, I thought she had the most beautiful voice. It was also at a time when I was interested in learning Spanish. I thought listening to her music was the perfect way to start learning Spanish. I think I have every CD she ever made - and I memorized all the lyrics, too!

Here's a video of her, if you'd like to listen. This is, I Could Fall In Love, one of her hit cross-over songs.

Question number 4:  What was the latest music you purchased?

Calm Within, Music for Relaxation of Body and Mind, by my friend, Grammy Winning Artist, Laura Sullivan. You can find it here. Laura is a very talented pianist, and her music is very calming. If you're familiar with Secret Garden, it's kind of like that.

Here's a sample of music by her. This is called, Lady of the Lake. 

Question number 5:  Which song did you listen to last?

Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. The orchestra I play with is performing it for our next concert. I always like to listen to the music I'm going to play, so I can get an good idea of how everything fits together.  This is Leonard Bernstein performing it:


Now I'm supposed to nominate five other bloggers for this award. I would have nominated Shady, because he's such an obvious choice. In fact several other people thought so, too. He's been nominated several times. If you don't follow him, stop by. He shares a lot of music information and videos of music from the past. Plus he's a great guy!  I'd also nominate Alex Cavanaugh, but he's probably another one who has been nominated a billion times. In case you don't know him, he's the guitar-playing ninja captain. Janie Junebug does Battle of the Bands on her blog from time to time, so I'm going to nominate her. Plus she's a really nice person, too. And a good editor! Finally, I'll nominate Dawna. She shares the coolest African music and reggae music on her blog. It's not stuff I'd normally hear, so it's fun to go over and have a listen. I know that's only four, and two probably don't even count. So, if you are a huge music fan, and/or a participator in the Battle of the Bands thing that goes around in the blogosphere, consider yourself nominated!

So, what does music mean to you, and what is your favorite type of music?   

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Bath Bomb

My teenaged daughter is a girly-girl. She likes makeup, fashion, and spa experiences. Her latest craze is something called the bath bomb. It's a multi-colored perfumed chunk of rock that you throw in a bath. I wasn't quite sure what it did, but I found out rather quickly.

Last night, she decided to bath-bomb my tub.

"Mom, check this out," she said after she had tossed in the bomb.

I watched as this thing fizzed and made the water turn pink.

I nodded. "That's nice," I said.

"Keep watching."

I did. The water turned purple. It had a very distinct smell, too. "Okay. You enjoy your bath."

Apparently she did. When I checked my tub after she was finished, I got the full affect of the bomb part. Gold glitter covered every part of the tub. It looked like a leprechaun's pot of gold blew up in there. 

(I had to check and see if my daughter had turned into a leprechaun. She didn't, but she definitely had a certain sparkle about her!)

Here's a video in case you'd like to see the bath bomb phenomenon:


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Ugly Jug

The other day, my son came home from school with this fine piece of artwork:

"Dude," I said. "What is that thing?"

"An ugly jug," he said.

 It sure is!  I thought.  "You made it ugly on purpose?"

The boy nodded. "In African culture, ugly jugs scare away evil spirits."

Evil spirits. Interesting. "Do you think we have evil spirits here?" I asked.

Bubba looked around. "No. But I know where some are."

"Where?" I asked.

"At the house on the corner. The one that's been for sale for three years."

"How do you know there are evil spirits in it?"

"Everyone knows the place is haunted. Five people died there. Lights flicker on and off. Doors bang shut. It's why nobody wants to buy it."

I have heard a lot of rumors about the place, but I've never seen or heard anything myself. "So, you're going to bring your ugly jug over there, and scare away the ghosts?"

He nodded. "I'm going to sneak up on the porch and put it on the window ledge. It'll scare any ghost that sees it."

All right, then. This will be interesting. Do you think the ugly jug will scare away the ghosts, or do you think the ghosts will knock over the ugly jug and smash it to smithereens?    

Friday, March 11, 2016

Signing the Cod

My son, Bubba, has been speaking with an accent. I'm not sure if it's because he's around so many foreign kids at school, or if it's just because he thinks that sounding like an Australian dude is pretty cool. Regardless, it has been challenging to understand what he's saying.

The other day, it was his teacher's birthday. When he came home from school, I asked if they did anything special for her.

"Yeah, mate. We signed a cod," he said.

"You signed a cod?" I asked. "How did you catch it?"

He looked at me funny. "A cod. You know. A cod."

I nodded. "A cod. One of those fish things that swim around in the ocean. I know what a cod is. I imagine it would be difficult to catch one and write your name on it. They're kind of slippery. And I'm not sure how well a Sharpie marker would work on it. So how did you do it?"

He rolled his eyes. "Mama, you know what I'm talking about. It was a paper cod."

"Oh. A paper cod. So, it was a cod in the shape of a cod?"

"Yeah, Mama. We signed the paper cod."

Oy! This is way too confusing for my primitive mind to comprehend!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Mi Casa es Su Casa and Question of the Month

It's time for the Question of the month hosted by Michael D'Agostino.  The question is, "Have you ever met the person you admire greatly and who is your roll model/ idol? And if so, how did it go?"

There are a few people who have served as inspirations/roll models in my life. I have only met one in person. That person was Josef Gingold. He was a famous violin teacher/performer, who happened to be my teacher's teacher. I met him through her. Not only was he a wonderful teacher, but he was a wonderful human being who served as a paternal figure for many of his students. When I met him, I was struck by his warmth and kindness. He is someone I strive to emulate, both in my teaching, and in the way I conduct myself.

Here's a recording of him playing the violin:

Here's a short interview with him:  (I loved the sound of his voice!)

The other two people who serve as inspirations  are violinist, Itzhak Perlman (who I've seen perform in person, but never actually met him), and Mother Theresa (who I think was an amazing woman).

Now for the story:

This past weekend, I came downstairs and found two teenaged boys in my kitchen. They were not my kids. My kids were nowhere to be seen. These two boys were busy making cookies. I was a little surprised, but since I knew these kids, I wasn't alarmed.

"Hello," I said. "What's up?"

They looked at me and smiled. "Hi, Mrs. Ellis. We're baking cookies."

I nodded. "I see. Where are my kids?"

They shrugged. "I don't know. Bubba was here and let us in. Now he's gone."

Okay. I watched them mix the batter.

"Does this look right?" one of the boys asked.

I nodded. "Yes. Perfect."

"Now what do we do?" the other asked.

"You'll have to heat the oven and put the batter on cookie sheets."

"How do we do that?"

I showed them how. "Have you ever baked cookies before?" I asked.

"No. But we've always wanted to."

All right, then. I really didn't think I'd be teaching the neighborhood kids how to bake cookies. And I really didn't think I'd find neighborhood kids in my kitchen attempting to bake cookies. But I guess they know where the fun house is!

We baked the cookies together, and they turned out great!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Mindless Mama

I've been doing a lot a running on the "hamster wheel." I honestly don't know if I'm coming or going. There's just so much on my plate! As a result, I've been a little absent minded.  I try to write down things I need to get or do, but even with a written reminder, I forget.

The other day, my son asked me to pick up a few items from the grocery store. "Okay, Bubba. But I might forget," I told him. "I'm brain-dead."

He looked at me funny. "Brain-dead? Mama, being brain-dead is the first leading cause of death."

"Really?" I asked.

He nodded. "If your brain is dead, your heart and lungs won't work. And if your heart and lungs don't work, then your body dies."

I could tell he was taking this seriously. "Okay. So maybe I'm not exactly brain-dead. Just mindless."

"What exactly does that mean?"

"It means that Mama's mind is out of her head and circling around the galaxy, weaving in and out of asteroids, trying not to collide with celestial bodies."

"Oh," he said. "That makes sense."

It makes perfect sense to me, too!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Great Meme Hop

Today, I am participating in the Meme blog hop, hosted by Christine Rains, C. Lee McKenzie, and Tara Tyler. I'm supposed to create a meme that encourages, inspires, or amuses you. I thought long and hard about this. Usually, I go for the amusing option. But this time, I'm going to do something different. I'm going to inspire.

So, this is for everyone who thinks they are at the end of their rope. People going through hard times. Writers feeling like they can't get a break and are getting rejection after rejection. Anyone who just needs a lift. Hang in there!

Here's my creation for you: