Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Saturday Treat

Members of the Texas A&M University Orchestra
photo by Joan
Pictured left to right: Evan Cherry, violin, Arlington; Jenn Chu, violin, Dallas; Colin Bryson, violin, Arlington; Katie Burke, violin, Denton; Kelly Locke, violin, Dallas; and Alma Lahnum, cello, Midland.
Saturday was a busy day.
Ashton represented his school in Picture Memory at the UIL meet at Bryan High in the morning.
We heard that the Aggie orchestra was going to perform at the nursing home where Thelma is a resident, also on Saturday morning. Friday afternoon, when I was visiting, I had asked Thelma if she would like to go see the orchestra from A&M play on Saturday. She wasn't talking, or looking around that day, but she did say, "Yes", enthusiastically. She would love to go see the orchestra.
Parents couldn't watch the competition, so the plan was for me to make sure that Thelma got to enjoy some good, live music and Ashton's mother would drop me off there, while she dropped Ashton off at Bryan High. She went back to go to lunch with the group, then returned to pick me up at the nursing home before the awards ceremony for UIL.
Some of the third floor residents gathered in the dining room at the nursing home, eagerly awaiting the orchestra. My daughter stayed for a while, until she had to go to lunch with the group from Ashton's school. We thought that they may not come and wondered how they would get all those students in this small space.
Soon, six students set up their music and instruments, and performed beautifully as morning sun streamed through the wide windows. They played such classics as "The Hungarian Rhapsody" for a most appreciative audience.
Thelma seemed to sleep through the performance, but she was listening. One man rolled his wheel chair right up by the cello and kept perfect time with his head and his foot. I wondered if he had once played in a band or an orchestra, or maybe had been a director. I thought at first that he wanted to look at the music, or maybe sit in the middle where a director would have stood. He did seem to enjoy the music.
I was trying to remember which foot we used to keep time when we were in band. I think it was the right foot, and the left foot went forward, as we played for concerts. Or was it the opposite position? I remember that, for UIL band contest, we were told to pat our toes in our shoes to keep time, instead of allowing people to see us patting our feet. I thought of this, especially, as I watched the young orchestra members, tapping their toes to the beat.
After the concert, I talked briefly to the members. I asked them if they knew of Joe Tom Haney, who had been our band director in Calvert, and was a long time band director of the famous Aggie Band before he retired a few years ago. They said the name was familiar but didn't know who he was. So, I told them. You can't go to an Aggie game or hear the band without hearing some of Haney's songs, and the drill field was named for him. And, now, there is a room with memorabilia from him in a new music store in downtown Bryan.
It's always so nice to be around the students. They are all so smart, talented, well-mannered, and full of life. And they do so much to share with the community.
One man asked if they had any trumpets. I thought that it would have been nice to hear some flutes, too, since Thelma and I had both played flute in the band.
Thelma did talk to the students as they were leaving. Just a little bit, but she did communicate. I asked her which song was her favorite and she told me "The Hungarian Rhapsody #2". I think she was doing better than I was in remembering the names of the music. They didn't announce the titles, so I was trying to remember. I believe that one was by Bach and I kept thinking of "Bach's Air On The G String" (my favorite), but I decided that it was another similar piece.
I hope that they, and others, will return to share more of their talents. I know the residents enjoyed it. That's so much better than tv, radio, or even a CD. And, I'm sure that many people were used to going to concerts, or played instruments themselves, when they were able to do so.
A big thank you to the students who took time to brighten the day for a lot of people.
After the program, I visited with Thelma for a while, then went with my daughter to the UIL awards ceremony. The cafeteria was packed with parents and students from the elementary schools. We hoped that Ashton would do well. He was nervous about it.
He was disappointed that he got 6th place, but we told him that he should feel good because a lot of kids didn't get anything. I felt like he should have practiced writing the titles and artists' names more. Last year, he didn't practice that at all. In fact, they didn't know they were going to have to write anything, then. I told him that the important thing was that he participated and represented his school, got to get out and be with other kids, and learned a lot.
Another activity in town Saturday was the big International Festival in downtown Bryan. Ashton and I wanted to go, but his mother was tired and wanted to go home. So, we came home, and she took a nap. Ashton worked on building boats with Legos and I worked on my blog during the rest of the afternoon. Pictures on tv, later, looked like it was really interesting. Maybe next year. As I've said before, it is so inconvenient to not be able to drive and just go when you want to go somewhere. I guess we had a busy enough day.
And, of course, the evening was topped off with watching the British comedies on Houston PBS. "Keeping Up Appearances", "Last of the Summer Wine", and "Are You Being Served", and looked forward to "EastEnders" on Sunday night.
If you would like to say "Thanks" to a soldier, you can go to . Xerox will give a card that you select to one of our service members. You can select from cards designed by children. That would be a good thing to do at this time of giving thanks.
I looked on the NASA website to see if the space shuttle/station will be going over us again anytime soon. It doesn't look like they will be going over us for a while. Maybe they will before the Endeavor returns. I'll have to check again later.
If you want to check to see if they will be passing over your area, and when, go to .
You can also see where they are, live, at .
While you are on that site, you can see who the astronauts are, what they are doing, and there are interactive things to do, things for kids, teachers, parents, the media, etc. I was looking at some of the photos of this area, taken from the space station. It's a strange feeling, to think of what they were seeing while we were looking up at them.
I was amazed at the photos of the space station and shuttle. Despite my warped view, due to my Macular Degeneration and cataracts, what I saw looked a lot like the space craft photos, just thinner and smaller, and with rays around it. I didn't see just a dot or moving light across the sky.
I hope that you are preparing to have a big, memorable Thanksgiving with family and friends.
I miss those big family dinners, with all the favorite recipes, the good china, silver, and crystal, although it seemed kind of boring at the time. The ladies bustling around the kitchen and dining rooms for days, people gathering and visiting, everyone eating until they were thoroughly stuffed, then going back for "just a taste" during the afternoon, kids trying to find something to do and just hanging around while the grownups worked or talked, the crew gathering in the kitchen to wash and dry the dishes, going out to the pasture to pick out the Christmas tree, or watching the Aggie-Texas game on tv, going for a ride, then having turkey sandwiches for supper, along with more left overs and more dessert.
My dishes will sit in the china cabinet again this year while we go out to eat. Less work but not so memorable, or tasty.

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