Friday, May 31, 2013

Down on the Farm Videos

I'm posting videos of the Pearl Strings' performance of their program, titled, Down on the Farm. There are only two songs really about farms, but we tried to find ways to tie the other songs in as well! Most of the videos are from the May 30th performance at Fairhaven, but two of them are at the Carroll County Senior Center, from May 23rd. Here they are in the order we sang them!

The Girl I Left Behind combined with the Yellow Rose of Texas was one of only two instrumental numbers.

Down on the Farm is also titled, I Want to Go to Michigan, but it reminds us just as much of a farm in Maryland!

Jamaica Farewell was one of the songs Helen's father used to sing at the top of his lungs from his seat on the tractor as he mowed the grass on his farm.

The Raggle Taggle Gypsy is the sad story of the lady of the manor leaving her two fine babes to run off with the Gypsy boy. Perhaps he had a nice voice!

Shoo Fly Pie makes is one of our favorites. You can imagine sitting on the front porch, sharing a piece of pie with your neighbors!

Jen points out it rains on the farm, as well as in our real lives. We should be ready for any adversity, so here we sing, Bring on the Rain!

We sang Eleanor Rigby because we like it and it was lots of fun to try something new. It was a little more difficult than we imagined...

By the Light of the Silvery Moon was the perfect song to sing along with us! Everyone knows this song!

Helen and I played Ashokan Farewell while Barb read the Sullivan letter, which makes the melody even more poignant. Barb was able to keep from crying by imagining the audience in the boxer shorts...or something like that!

We did When You're Next to Me last year, but we loved it so much we had to do it again!

What would a farm be without Country Roads? And what would a folk band be without John Denver? 

Back to the farm again, we sing How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm?

We ended the program with one of our favorite hymns, God Be With You Till We Meet Again!

Hot Dogs

It's warmed up to 90 degrees the last couple of days, and walking is not what it used to be. Suzanne and I are working up a sweat! It turns out the dogs are, too!

I had never seen Coda even dip her toes in the water, but Wednesday she just sat right down in it! Harper is a real water dog, and I was hoping she could teach Coda to swim, but so far, this is as far into the water as she likes to go.

We threw a rope ball in for her to fetch, which she was willing (but not enthusiastic) to do for treats. We only threw it in a few feet from the shore. That seems to be about as far as Coda is willing to go for now!

Last Bell!

We had our last bell concert for the season last night. It was at a retirement center called Nells' Acres, and we had a nice crowd. It has been a fun run, and I was so happy that I got through the entire concert with no major mistakes! (I didn't get lost once!) We get the summer off, but look forward to  coming back together again in the fall, when we can get some new and challenging music again!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Down on the Farm at Fairhaven

The Pearl Strings played at Fairhaven today, to a really nice group of people. We did the same songs we did last week, but slightly better. Apparently, we get better with experience!

We celebrated by going out to Panera afterward. Amanda had gone with us to record us, which we really appreciated. Kate (the little girl with her back to us), was the hit of the show. She was so patient and good throughout the show. The seniors enjoyed watching her as much as us!

Farm Clean-Up

We had a group of Young Women and Young Men from church come over last night to help with a little bit of farm cleanup at Miss Carol's place.

They scraped trees to get them ready to paint.

They hammered loose nails into the fences.

And they picked up fallen sticks and tree limbs. Lenny wore his Dennis Pitta jersey. He's hoping Dennis (who is a member of our ward) will drop by to see the farm some day when he's not too busy with football.

They threw the sticks over the fence so the horses wouldn't trip on them.

It was so much fun that even Ed got into the act!

Andrew found a tiny frog and wasn't afraid to pick it up, either!

Everyone admired the farm. It was so beautiful. It was the perfect evening--warm, but not too muggy. The farm looked so pastoral, a magical little oasis in the middle of the neighborhood! We're lucky to live right next door!


Okay, do we have the world's cutest dog, or what? Maybe we're prejudiced, but we just love that dog! She's sitting in the middle of Miss Carol's farm road here saying, "I love it when I get to go to the farm!" We love it, too!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Memorable Day

The Stephens' annual Memorial Day bash is really more of a ward party. It redefines "going dutch." Everyone with a hankering, brings their dutch oven over and cooks up a terrific selection of meats, stews, enchiladas, as well as desserts! In addition, everyone else brings sides and desserts.

This is our third year attending, and has become something we really look forward to. Every year I say I'm going to bring a dutch oven, too, but somehow, I haven't got around to trying that yet. In the meantime we specialize on eating what everyone else has cooked! I made trifle and mac' n' cheese, which were both, thankfully, finished off before we came home. I feel like a successful cook when I bring home an empty bowl!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Play First, Work Later!

Ed and I got up early Saturday morning and went to see the Star Trek movie. Since Ed had seen it last week with Amanda, we decided to mix it up and see the IMAX 3D movie. It was terrific, but since we might be biased, since we love all things Trek!

Afterwards, we came home and worked around the house. Ed finished up his new sprinkler system, designed specifically to keep my petunias alive. He had to dig underneath the pathway to bring a hose from the faucet. Last year most of our petunias withered up when it stopped raining. We're hoping our new sprinklers provide us many weeks of bright color this summer!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Brady's for Lunch

My brother, David and his family stopped by for lunch today. They're on their way to Cornell University to attend their son, Sandy's college graduation. Kate has a few days off before she starts her summer internship, so it was nice to see her, as well. David and Rachel are batting 1000. Two out of two children are both now enrolled in doctoral programs!

This was Rachael's first visit, so we had just enough time time to show her the house and eat, and then they were off! It was short but sweet. We're hoping they drop by with Sandy on their way back to North Carolina next week.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pearl Strings at South Carroll Senior Center

The Pearl Strings played at the South Carroll Senior Center today. We had our most ambitious program to date, and it lasted for a full hour! I'm exhausted just thinking about it. We heard that the vocals where we had three part harmonies were everyone's favorite, but we also had someone ask for the music to Ashokan Farewell. What's not to like about that song?

Here is our gig list:

The Girl I Left Behind Me
The Yellow Rose of Texas
Down on the Farm (I Want to be in Michigan)
Jamaica Farewell
Raggle Taggle Gypsy
Shoo Fly Pie
Bring on the Rain
Eleanor Rigby
By the Light of the Silvery Moon
Ashokan Farewell
When You’re Next to Me
Country Roads
How Ya Gonna Keep ‘em Down on the Farm
God Be With You Till We Meet Again

We play again next Thursday at 10:45 a.m. at Fairhaven in Sykesville. It's like having a second chance to get everything just right!

Bringing Colorado Back to Maryland

I'm feeling a little guilty this morning, sort of like a houseguest who swipes something from their host. Verlene and Paul not only fed and housed me for four days, but they let me take a picture right out of the bedroom home with me. It is Verlene's award-winning aspen trees watercolor painting.

The trees have found a great place in our new home in Maryland. They are not only beautiful, but a reminder of Colorado, where we lived for 24 years, as well as my sister and her artistic gift. I can't wait to go stay with Verlene again!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pillows, Twisted Sisters and Highland Bookies

Crystal and I got up early and made it to Park Meadows mall by 9:30 this morning. Unfortunately, they don't open till 10:00 a.m.! But fortunately, they had one pillow to match the two we bought in Aurora yesterday. They looked so nice on her couch. Crystal has a real eye for decorating!

Crystal lent me her car for the day and I got to see not one, but TWO groups of my favorite friends. In Broomfield we piled the group formerly known as the Twisted Sisters into Lori's car and went out for Mexican food. We talked for hours. We had a lot to catch up on! It is so wonderful to be in the company of women you love and trust. The band was never really about the music. We always spent more time at our practices in group therapy than actually singing. It must have been successful, because we all turned out great!

The Highland Bookies met for dinner in Castle Rock. We hadn't met for so long that we decided to forgo reading a  book and just get straight to the chatting! Sheryl (on the left) told us she is getting married, and Diane (2nd from right) told us her husband was just called to be Bishop in their ward! Martha, in the middle, just finished her Ph.D. in Physical Therapy. I guess that means Nora, who we lovingly call Poindexter is no longer the smartest person in the book club! I love the Bookies so much. We've been redefining the classics  since 1996. And over the last 17 years we've also been redefining ourselves, hopefully, for the better!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Shopping and Art

 Crystal was so proud of her llama that she decided to frame it. We got a beautiful mat and frame for it that really added to the look. We then spent a good portion of our day shopping for the perfect ottoman for her living room. Sadly, we came home empty handed on that score.

I did, however, in the course of our journy get to drive by the hospital where Crystal works, Children's Hospital of Colorado.

We joined my sister, Verlene, for the meeting of the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Decortive Painters Society. They meet in the training room of a sporting goods store!

Verlene is one of the younger members of the group and has been recruited to serve as vice president. She's hoping Crystal will join some day. You never know!

We got to hear a discussion on how to mix colors. I think I've got the color wheel down pat now! It's just like the circle of fifths. I think all the other ladies didn't learn anything new, but I did, and was glad I went, as much to meet Verlene's gracious friends as to learn to create a custom shade of brown.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Old Friends (but not too old)!

Crystal and I went to church in Broomfield today. I remember why we love that ward so much! It is chock full of wonderful people! We stayed afterwards to visit with some of them. The chapel is quite old and we remembered thinking how dumpy looking it was when we first started attending church there. Now it just feels like home. We loved it.

Robin invited us over for dinner after church, and was nice enough to invite some friends over, so the visiting went on and on!
We had a great pasta bar, with garlic bread and salad and bundt cake for dessert! It was a true feast!

We've been in Maryland three years now, and the adults haven't changed a bit, but some of the kids have grown a foot taller!

We enjoyed sitting in the Reichman's new sunroom, which had windows on three sides. Rumor has it that it's just as beautiful during a snowstorm as it is on a sunny day. I would have stayed all night, but Crystal pointed out that perhaps it was time to leave.

We did make it back to Aunt Verlene's house in time for Crystal to finish her llama! Verlene is happy, thinking she has finally turned her niece into a painting soul sister!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Crystal's New Car and Apartment

I got to ride in Crystal's new Mazda 3. It is so cute and I love the dolphin blue color.

I also got to see her new apartment, which she shares with Alicia,  a friend from our old ward in Broomfield. It was so nice, and I was happy they could live in a cheerful place. But the highlight was going to the grocery store with Crystal and watching her buy her own groceries. Our baby is all grown up and out of the nest!

Ripped Paper Art

We spent the afternoon at my sister, Verlene's house. She had planned an artistic project for us. She's always trying to suck us into her art world, and when we found there was no drawing involved, we all agreed to join her in a craft afternoon. We had such a good time, and were pleased with the results

Verlene sketched out all the pictures, and our job was to rip paper and glue it to it. Barbara left before I got a picture of her great crows. Verlene did some beautiful tulips, which she is still tinkering with.

I did a picture of Coda sitting in a chair (in case you can't tell what it is supposed to be).

Crystal is quite the perfectionist, and is going to have to come back and work on her llama tomorrow.

But, you can  see, her attention to detail is really paying off, and her llama is really cute!

Paul pampered us by cooking dinner. He always  does a great job in the kitchen.

The schnitzel was to die for. It reminded us of our trip to Germany last summer where we had to remind ourselves it wouldn't be prudent to order the schnitzel more often than every other day!

It was also fun to see Brandy again. Look, she is just like Coda, perching on the sofa, looking out the window. If they could ever meet they'd have such fun hanging out together!

Bear Creek Trail

I came to Denver to visit Crystal, but as she had to work last night, she dropped me off at my sister Barbara's house last night. We enjoyed spending this morning biking from her house in Lakewood to Denver along the Bear Creek trail and the Platte River trail. It was so great to be back and enjoy the great biking Denver has to offer.

We returned to Lakewood on the newly finished light rail.  That didn't save us from having to do a little uphill riding, which got a little challenging! I enjoyed borrowing Barbara's bike, which is much nicer than mine, and to sweeten the journey she lent me a pair of padded pants. That made the journey even cushier!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Let Freedom Ring

Our bell choir is sponsored by the Freedom Area Recreation district, so here we are, letting Freedom ring! Ed captured this picture of me with a worried look on my face. It is surprisingly easy to mess up, so I'm giving it everything I've got!

We had our annual concert at the library tonight. Mostly our families and friends showed up, but they had a nice room for us, where we didn't make to much noise to disturb the patrons.If they did hear it, they probably just thought it was angels playing. The bells are kind of like a harp in that they just sound pretty even when you play wrong notes!

Carrot for Bali

We're feeding the horses this week, and it's so much nicer now that the weather has taken a turn for the better! We miss Coco, but it's nice that there are still three horses left. My favorite part is giving them the carrot and the apple after the feeding. For one brief moment I think, "They really love me!"

Recording Session

The Pearl Strings had a recording session this morning, and I'm exhausted. Playing well is much more tiring than just rushing through everything!

Amanda was with us every step of the way, running the tape and testing the mikes as we switched instruments and vocals. She's planning on using our band as her opportunity (with Ed's help) to learn to mix music.

It was nice of Amanda's friend, Dallas, to take some candid pictures of us during the ordeal.

I liked this one of Jen because she looks like she's having fun! I think we all had a little bit of fun, but the pressure of knowing your bad notes are suddenly immortalized on tape keeps you from really relaxing. Hopefully, Amanda will work her magic and we'll sound like pros by the time the mixing is done!