Thursday, May 29, 2014

Activity Day Talent Show and Party

For Activity Day yesterday we had a talent show where the girls played instruments, sang songs, and did a contortion act.

Heather and I even joined in with a rousing sing-along rendition of If I Had a Hammer, which none of the kids knew (yet). They tried their best to sing along with us.

It threatened seriously to rain all day, but at 4:30 it was  bright and sunny, so we were able to play with the parachute while we waited for the s'more coals to be ready.

Heather brought her son, Ethan, who built us a roaring fire for marshmallows. It was hot enough outside that we didn't want to get too close!

These are some happy s'more eating faces! We'll have one more activity in June, and then take a break for the summer. We'll miss Activity Day. It's been so much fun for Heather and I as well as the girls!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book It Sisters Same Kind of Different

Mary hosted the Book it Sisters last night. We read Same Kind of Different as Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. She went with a soup kitchen theme, and made ham and bean soup and cornbread. She strayed a little bit from the austerity to give us homemade ice cream sandwiches with chocolate chip cookies! We didn't complain!

To make it even more fun, she made us eat out of tin cans and gave us newspapers for placemats. We had everyone there, including our newest member, Megan (on the right). The book was a great discussion book, and it was especially enjoyable, as everyone had a slightly different reaction to it. Mine was mostly guilt. To read our unique reviews, visit, where you'll get the real scoop! Thanks Mary for a fun evening!

Monday, May 26, 2014

New Bikes

Ed and I got new bikes on Saturday, something we've been meaning to do for several years now. Our old ones are approaching 20 years now. If these last that long they just might be our last bikes! We got two Diamondback Interval Carbon Flatbar bikes. We hope they're good!

The roads are narrow and have no shoulder in Maryland, so we risked our lives to go for an on-road bike ride. We chose Chick-Fil-A as our first destination. It was only four miles from home, and we had a great dinner there! It turns out there are a few more hills than I remembered while driving around in a a car!

We came home and relaxed on the back deck with Coda, who said, "I liked it better when we used to go for walks together!" Maybe we can get a bike seat for her!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tornado Warning in Aurora

Crystal lives in Colorado and said she had a tornado warning at the hospital, yesterday. People were required to shelter in hallways. She works in the basement lab, where they just went on about their work. She was surprised to see this photo of Children's Hospital taken from across the street. If she had seen this while she was hunkering down she might not have been so blithely indifferent to her situation! I'm glad it turned out okay for her. On a less cheerful note, Ed was also in Colorado yesterday, and his rental car was trashed when he drove through a hailstorm!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pearl Strings Recording Session

The Pearl Strings started recording our summer songs today. It was tangled mess of wires, but went much better than last time. This time the computer didn't freeze up on me, thanks to Ed telling me the input device from the FireStudio is not "hot swappable." Who knew?

The only problems we had today were the headphone wires had to be wiggled just right to be able to hear each other. June got some nice pictures of us. Here's Jen getting ready to sing!

We were glad Barb was home from Florida long enough to record! She is the foundation of the band!

June is not only a great singer, but she's pretty good with her i-phone as well! Without her help we wouldn't have these great pictures to remind us how much fun we had today--which we truly had.

But, wait, where is Helen? follow these chords...

There she is in the closet! Me made her go in the closet because she was playing to loud! She was a good sport and we had a good laugh about it!

It is fun being a member of the Pearl Strings!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Musical Day

I started voice lessons last Monday with Lynette Casey, who was highly recommended by my bandmate, Jen. I never in my life expected to take a voice lesson, but after mixing recorded songs for the Pearl Strings this year, I decided I needed a vocal intervention. I only sing a verse here and there, or maybe harmonize occasionally. But, as I listened to the recordings, it became painfully obvious that I needed help! My only goal is to sing in tune. We're hoping some proper singing technique will fix the problem. It turns out learning to breathe is a bigger problem than one would think. I spent all week trying to find new muscles around my ribcage. I think I found a couple!

Then I went to guitar lessons with the great Frank Dalzell, where I felt much more in my element. It was fun, though because I used Sentimental Journey, one of my guitar songs for my voice lesson. After I learn how to sing I'll be the whole package! (Or, alternately, I can continue turning the volume on my vocal tracks down low!)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Save it for a Rainy Day

It has been threatening to rain all week, and last night it started in earnest. It was like an entire weeks worth of rain is falling in one day!

We have such a lovely stream in our back yard when it rains.

Mushrooms popped up overnight!

Coda hates being out in the rain, but doesn't know that if she stood with me under the umbrella she could keep dry.

Even the horses wouldn't venture outside the barn. They ordered their breakfast inside today.

Coda usually likes to chase geese and deer while I'm inside the barn. Today she would not leave the barn unless she was sure it was necessary!

Since I had my cool red rubber boots on I took a walk up to the culvert to see how our new grass was faring. The grass on the right looks like it will survive. The rest of it is covered by mud from the road drainage!

And the drama continues inside our poor shed. There is so much water draining from the deck that it splashes outside the gutter pipe.

To get a better look at it, I took a video. The good news is, that the foundation in the back corner is dry. That problem has been solved!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Barn Visitors

Guess who showed up for feeding time this morning! Lenny! He came home from the hospital Monday night, and couldn't wait to see the horses again. Kay and Michael helped him come down to the barn in the golf cart.

Mr. Genes was so happy to see him that he gave him a big kiss! I think he really missed Lenny! It was good having him home again. I think it will be a good while before he can feed the horses again, but he's definitely on the right track!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Hay, Watch it! and Cinco de Mayo on the Tenth!

Ed came over to the barn to help me get some bales of hay down. He was very careful not to fall into the hole!

However, if he had fallen down, I would have been there to catch him (or at least break his fall)!

Ed gave Bali a good scratch today. I don't know why she lets him do it and I can barely touch her! He got in there behind the ears and gave her a vigorous rub. She liked it so much she actually wore him out!

Morgan and Kristen, two of the neighbor girls, dropped by to help with the horses this afternoon. They were very good with the horses, and I enjoyed showing them around!

Afterwards, we went over to Kristen's house, where her mother, Megan, had prepared a Cinco de Mayo feast for the entire street! It was delicious, and a fun way to get to know all the new neighbors on Tally Ho Court! It turns out, they're a nice bunch of people!

Lenny's Back!

We stopped by to visit Lenny in the rehab center last night and were happily surprised to find him sitting up in bed and eating a doughnut! He can now use both of his arms and has lost the sensation of numbness in them! He also can move his left leg and his right leg seems to be showing signs of movement, too!

His sense of humor hasn't left him, and we had a few good laughs at some of his comments, some of which were a little to saucy for this blog!

Yard Sale Weekend

The Pearl Strings Benefit Yard sale was a fun way to try to make money for the band. We all cleaned out our basements, which is might be the real benefit we got out of it!

We sat outside under the trees at Jen's house on two beautiful days (Friday and Saturday) and enjoyed just visiting, and playing a little guitar, banjo and uke. We scraped up enough shoppers to make about $175--not quite enough for stand banners, but if we can sell a few extra things on Craig's list, we just might make it.

We closed up shop about an hour early on Saturday, as it started to rain, but we were grateful that the weatherman was wrong about the morning rain, and we made it till 1 p.m. with no problems!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pearl Strings Benefit Garage Sale

If you want to help support the Pearl Strings today and tomorrow, drop by Jen's house, where we've cleaned out our basements to earn money for the band. June and I risked life and limb walking down highway 97 yesterday posting these signs!

We need $200 to make embroidered banners to hang on the front of our music stands. They'd look something like this. If we have any leftover money we'll use it to print our CDs. If you don't want to buy anything, but have some goods you'd like to donate to the cause, come on over!

County Comes Back

The county workers came back again yesterday to try to fix our culvert drainage once and for all. Every time they have graded it and planted grass it has washed out and eroded the soil into rivulets. This time they're not taking any chances. They've stapled this grass carpet down, so no amount of rain will destroy their work. We're keeping our fingers crossed!

Mirror cat

We went visiting teaching to Jesse this week. She got a new kitten, which was so cute and friendly. When she stretched out like this I thought she looked like a meerkat. Then we all laughed, because she was really a mirror cat! Maybe you had to be there!

Deutsch Macht Spaß!

We're winding down our semester of German 201 at Carroll Community College. It's been a fun time, and we've learned a lot. I wanted to take a picture the first day of class, but didn't know if the other students would like it. After four months together we've become friends, and everyone was comfortable posing together.

I've enjoyed Maureen, our teacher, (first on the left). She's had a lot of experience teaching as well as travelling to Germany. Tony and I are the two that got the discounted senior tuition. Then, we had two students from McDaniels college who are graduating this semester, but couldn't fit a language at McDaniels into their schedules. We've learned a lot what each of us does on the weekend, as every Monday morning the teacher asks us, "Was haben sie am Wochenende gemacht?" With only four students in the class, everyone gets a chance to answer the question!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Der erste Stammtisch

Today we had our inaugural meeting of the Carroll County Stammtisch. This is a club for those who want to practice their German. Judy, Gudrun and Frank were our first members. We introduced ourselves in German, then made up stories from manners cards, which were great prompts for storytelling. We had a fun time and even learned a bit in the process!

We plan on meeting monthly at the South Carroll Senor Center, generally the first Monday at 10 a.m. Everyone is welcome to come (if you are 60 or over). We'd like to double our membership next month!

Es ist ironisch, dass wir zum ersten mal am fünften Mai (Cinco de Mayo) versammelt  haben!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

No More Fun and Games

The Hartmanns taught us how to play Tenzi and Heads Up last night, which was a lot of fun. Stacking 10 dice on top of each other is harder than one might think, but, look--we did it!

Tom and Carla went back to Denver today, and the party is now over. It was fun having them here--just like a stay-cation for us. They left us with some great memories!

Sweet Day in Hershey

Yesterday was Northrop Grumman Day at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, so we took the opportunity to go up with the Hartmanns and check it out! It is a clean, pretty amusement park with a German architectural theme to it. I guess chocolate and Germany have a long history together!

We decided we wanted to ride at least the three wooden roller coasters. Carla, as you can see was a little nervous.

Tom, however, was fearless!

Judy loved the first one, and half of the second one. But, by the third one her stomach gave out on her!

The ferris wheel had a beautiful view of the park, as well as a calming effect on Judy's queasy stomach.

Ed is still smiling in this picture, as he had not yet found out that he had lost his car keys somewhere in the park. They must have gotten all shook up on one of the roller coasters!

We all went on a tour of the chocolate factory, after which Ed and Tom went out the parking lot to get the license plate number of the Audi and Carla and I made chocolate bars.

It was fun watching them roll along the conveyor belt. Mine had butterscotch, toffee and crispy rice!

We ended the day with a taxi ride to the airport where the nice people at Budget fixed us up with a rental car in which to drive home.

The happy ending to the story is, that today Ed and I retrieved both the car and the car key, which was found last night in the park. So, aside from some inconvenience and expense, all is well that ends well. (And I have something to tease Ed about for the next 20 or 30 years!)