Tuesday, December 26, 2006

SO Much Goodness!... SO Little Bandwidth...

The Not a Christmas Tour was just amazing!

Now, please understand... I am not a huge fan of Christmas music OR Lenny Bruce... but THIS one 'bout turned my head and heart around completely!..

I am just so amazed by the abundance of talent and the amount of sacrifice that the Clackgatherer's offer us each and every tour. And if I could just hug them all right now, I SO would.

Seriously, this all really started out to be just a wee little selfish collection for myself of all my favorite banter (that everyone else had gathered) from this tour and then... all of a sudden I felt SO compelled to share it!!! heh

In fact, I felt the compelling so strongly that I just couldn't even help mahself!

So you are very, very welcome!

And thank you!

And COMPLETELY vice-versa...

Part 1 - Waukegan & Merrilville:

Part 2 - Verona & Englewood:

Part 3 - Baltimore:

Part 4 - Norfolk:

Part 5 - Williamsport & Wilkes Barre:

Part 6 - Easton & Hartford:

Part 7 - Long Island:

Part 8 - West Point:

Part 9 - Red Bank:

Part 10 - Detroit & Grand Rapids:

Part 11 - Jacksonville & Charlotte:

Part 12 - Greensboro:

...The End...

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I Never Would Have Believed It.

For years I've felt like a stranger in a strange land... an island unto myself. My marketing strategies have been completely ineffective. But last night, I turned around and look up to the balcony and finally realized that I wasn't alone in this town afterall. And it was an amazing and goosefleshing moment.

Because Clay Aiken sang to my town last night... and IT loved him! And the only thing he had to do was DO what he does.

And since then?...

I have been home...

And it feels really, really good...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Nucular Fallout and Clay Aiken... (???)

And so what in the heck do these two things have in common?...

Just hear me out, ok?

I attended elementary school in the 60's. Yes, I am THAT old. And I remember one day while sitting on the jungle gym when somebody said that we were suppose to be having a nucular war attack that day. Now... being in elementary school I seriously believed her, even though I had no idea what nucular meant... or even how to spell it.

Then the same obviously more educated person than myself said that the actual ATTACK was not something to be feared... but the fallout itself... something about how there would be stuff falling from the sky.

And so, I remember looking up to the bright sky and closing my eyelids against the sun and and as I watched those particles floating down remember saying "I can see it!!!"... and feeling so smart. Have you ever done that?... and tried to focus on them? Because they are elusive.

Surely I am not alone here...

Anyway, only many years later did I realize that it was only eyeball residue I was seeing... but at the time I remember feeling really wow'd that I'd actually been able to actually witness the fallout and still be alive to tell about it.

And so what does this have to do with Clay Aiken? Seriously?... I have no idea. It's just one of those random things that struck me as the perfect analogy.

Because today?.. no matter how many times I try to shut my eyes against the sun... he's still there. Burned permanantly into my retinae...

Except this time I don't think I'm gonna survive...

Click to enlarge

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Did I Forget to Give Thanks?

Oh my gosh maybe I did!

Or then again, maybe not.

No, I didn't sit around the family table this year stuffing myself full of something that may have been strutting around minding it's own business the day before... even though I have to admit those things are yummy and there's really nothing that compares to them on the third Thursday in November. Cornish game hens don't cut it... in the same way that frozen burritos don't, on Thanksgiving that is... any other time they're perfectly fine! I have a friend who chose to cook prime rib this year. I friggin LOVE prime rib! But for Thanksgiving?...just no.

But where was I? I think I was thinking about how holidays can sometimes end up feeling just like any other day when you don't have family around to share them with. Not that there's anything wrong with "other days" or being alone, in fact I kind of enjoy them/it. My question is this: Isn't it entirely possible for a holiday spent alone to be just as meaningful as one filled with a lot of mess and chaos? Not that there's anything wrong with a lot of mess and chaos occassionally, but there's nothing wrong with a kitchen sink free and clear of greasy turkey and stuffing residue occassionally either...

At any rate, in revisiting my initial question I believe I have to take back my original response. For example... if a tree falls in the woods and there's no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound? Or... what is the sound of one hand clapping? And who invented clapping anyway? I find that last question to be particularly thought provoking.

So in retrospect I feel that my day was spent giving thanks a plenty. Some of my thoughts that day included the following:

  • I am thankful that everyone in my family, WAY out West, was able to spend the day with loved ones.
  • I am thankful to be lucky enough to still have a mother who calls me and says "Are you sure you're ok? We miss you!"
  • I am thankful for two beautiful and wonderful daughters who have never, ever given me any cause for worry or concern except for the fact that they have to go out into the world everyday.
  • I am thankful for my job (for the most part.)
  • I am thankful to have a refrigerator and freezer full of food, even if there ISN'T a turkey in sight.
  • I am thankful that Comcast is having no issues on this, my one and only day off.
  • I am thankful for the beautiful weather which has finally allowed me to get outside and turn my acre of lawn into something remotely resembling a baby's behind.
  • I am thankful for friends. Lots and lots of friends.
  • I am thankful for Clay Aiken. I am thankful for his hand.

Where the Hand Has Been
In response to Kelly Ripa’s comments that she doesn’t know where Clay’s Hand has been, I may be able to address that issue and hopefully eliminate any of her fears. You see, I am a student of that Hand. I’ve made it my point to learn where it has been in the past, where it may be at any given time of the day, month or year and to speculate where it may be going from this point forward. No, I am not a stalker; just a fan.

I have learned that from the time Clay was a baby, that Hand (like the Hands of most children) has been held firmly by his mother. I am sure there were times as a youngster when he may have felt he was giving her as much in comfort as she was in guiding him since a single mother often only has the touch of her child to remind her of love. From early on, the Hand was reminded to join with the other Hand as he knelt in prayer. Faith is an important part of the Hand’s life, you see.

The young adult Hand didn’t go many of the places the Hands of many of the places adolescents seem to go these days. It wasn’t seen rolling a doobie, drinking with friends, hanging with a gang or falling prey to unfortunate peer pressure. Rather, it was living a good life in a relatively small town where it learned the importance of family, education and service, most often at the YMCA where he worked and volunteered. At that time, the Hand was introduced to the Hands of a young man whose disabilities would lead Clay to an important goal in his life, working to insure educational and societal opportunities for children who otherwise would be misunderstood or lost along the way. Decency and Service are also dominant factors in the life of the Hand.

From that point on, the life of the Hand seemed to take on a life of its own. Once the beauty and the voice of the man were exposed to an audience much larger than the one in his hometown, it didn’t take long for the Hand of the son, student and community leader to realize that he had been given a special gift from God. The Hand has been wrapped around a microphone in recording studios and concerts to entertain and bring joy into the lives of his fans. The Hand has been seen making a sweeping gesture at those times to bring to the forefront back-up singers, band members and even members of his audience. Sharing; yes, that is another element of the Hand’s existence.

But this is not an ordinary Hand. Having accomplished fame for his talents was not enough. Now, the Hand was put to Clay’s purposes in life, the first of which being the establishment of TBAF to raise awareness for children with educational disadvantages and to promote inclusion of them in areas of life most of us take or granted. The Hand was seen at countless telethons and fundraisers for charities other than his own. It went to Capitol Hill a couple of times to speak before our nation’s leaders about the importance of medical research for a cure for autism and the enactment of laws to protect the rights of children who are disabled to the same quality educations as those without disabilities. Whenever there was a time of disaster, you could count on the Hand to be there to assist as a UNICEF ambassador to analyze report on the devastation of a village in Banda Aceh as the result of a tsunami or the needs of a child in Uganda left homeless, hungry and in peril due to the ravages of war. Service takes a major role in the life of the Hand.

So you really don’t need to worry about where the Hand has been. It has been and no doubt will continue to go wherever a good Hand is needed. Even at its early age, it has gone places and accomplished deeds that boggle the mind of this older woman. I have little doubt the Hand will travel to many more places during its lifetime, to entertain, to teach, to observe and to promote. The Hand is placed firmly in the Hand of a greater being. It seldom makes a decision without first going there for advice and guidance. That comforts me, as it should Ms. Ripa. It gives me no reason to worry about where the Hand has been but much to anticipate as to where it is going.

~Essay by Cincy15.

Anyway, maybe it's just me. But when I think of those expressive hands and all of the many places they've been, well, I don't really think that I would mind at all having one of them clasped firmly against my mouth. But then again, I'm kind of a rebel that way.

Ha, I think I may have just killed two birds with one hand... Or something like that...

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Inspired by... Oh, So Many Things.

In August of 2005 I had to do one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do... that being, putting my daughter on a plane as she headed back to school to complete her last year of college.

What made it so difficult was not only that the times I was able to spend with her had become so few and far between, or the fact that she was now at the age of majority and I was coming to the realization that she was no longer my baby… but because something was wrong. Really wrong. And we had no idea what it was.

For a week or two prior to heading back she had been waking up every morning with an increasingly bad case of double vision, to the point where trying to compensate for it had begun to cause serious muscle spasms in one side of her face. Visits to emergency rooms, optometrists, chiropractors, you name it… rendered no answers. Finally she made the decision to wait until she got back to school where she could pay a visit to her physician who had, two years previously, falsely diagnosed her with Multiple Sclerosis following a bout with numbness in her legs (which miraculously disappeared just about as quickly as it had come). Needless to say this misdiagnosis had come as sheer relief to this ballerina (and family of) who’d been dancing since age three and well, who basically lived to dance.

But anyway, fast forward to the summer of '05.

Not only did she face the challenge of going back to school, but had arranged the purchase of a car which she had planned to pick up at the airport of her destination city in order to drive back up to school. She was in no condition to do this. So a friend of hers, who we'll call "Aaron"... (Okay, so that's his real name) offered to meet her at the airport and do the driving for her. This was the first time I'd ever heard about this "knight in shining armor"... and in retrospect, didn't realize at the time just how genuine that title would become.

In subsequent days he also took on the hour drive to see her back and forth from the doctor, who was finally able to confirm with rested assurety that our girl did, unmistakably, have MS.

I suppose the first vision one has when one receive this type of news is of a future filled with wheelchairs and walkers and the inability to lead the ultimately productive life... and in cases where this disease remains undiagnosed or untreated this could become true... but there are many options available to help stave off the reoccurance or progression with much research being done to make those treatments less cumbersome. If you're interested in finding out more or learning about ways to help in finding a cure, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has a wonderful website.

Whitney now gives herself weekly injections of the drug Avonex, and though not the ideal Friday night date activity (Friday nights work best for her due to the side-effects), Aaron has always been there with her... every single time. (Though, from what I understand, their first Friday night date squicked him out a lil' bit.) But now they are both handling it like a couple of champs.

Whitney and Aaron were married on May 6th 2006...

This montage, which I promised to make for them quite a while ago, is long overdue.

Whitney and Aaron will be walking for a cure on May 19th 2007.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

If The Shoe Fits...


And I was all excited about entering the FCA Montage Contest! I worked on it all weekend in fact!

And THEN… a few minutes ago I just happened to read the fine print… and realized that I was supposed to have used a track from HIS album. Oops.

And anyway…

I’ve been known to squander away my weekends in MUCH less productive ways…

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Was it a whole year ago that this little pumpkin’ won me 1st place and a day off with pay in our company pumpkin carving contest? Why, yes I think it was. How strange.

And how strange also that just a year ago that silhouette bore a spooky resemblance to Clay Aiken. Or should that be “spiky?”

THIS one is spooky…

Halloween. What a strange holiday.

Vampire Clay Photoshopped by Kelly of LBFCA

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Peek-a-BOO... "D".

This is my daughter... "D". I'm sure of it!

Even though the last time I checked she was a blond and I think the time before that.. a redhead. But it's the eye that gives her away. Such a pretty one.

They say that "the eye" is the window to the soul and I can attest to that... as she has such a pretty soul too.

"D" has friends with pretty eyes and souls as well. This particular one belonging to her good friend "E".

"D" is away at school now and HAS been for two long years. And I miss her... a bunch.

I miss her beautiful voice always singing around the house and the way her hands bring the piano to life with such beautiful music.

I miss her laughter which always seems to come from such a place deep within as if it's just been waiting inside there bursting to be set free.

I miss the gourmet Quesidilla's, Kraft Mac N' Cheese, and the "strawberry smoothies to die for."

I miss my house being perpetually clean.

I even sometimes miss trying to maneuver 2 cars into a 1 1/2 stall garage and being overly concerned for her safety when she's not home at the stroke of midnight.

But most of all I just miss "D".

And no, "D" doesn't stand for "Dramatical" tendencies. But even if it DID... I'd probably miss those too.

Taken the day of her big sisters 1st ballet recital. I call it "Not In The Limelight..."

In My Daughter's Eyes
... and yes, she really DOES have two of them...

In my daughter's eyes I am a hero (I hope)
I am strong and wise and I know no fear (?)
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I wanna be
In my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes everyone is equal
Darkness turns to light and the
world is at peace
This miracle God gave to me gives me
strength when I am weak
I find reason to believe
In my daughter's eyes

And when she wraps her hand
around my finger
Oh it puts a smile in my heart
Everything becomes a little clearer
I realize what life is all about

It's hangin' on when your heart
has had enough
It's giving more when you feel like giving up
I've seen the light
It's in my daughter's eyes

In my daughter's eyes I can see the future
A reflection of who I am and what will be
Though she'll grow and someday leave
Maybe raise a family
When I'm gone I hope you see how happy
she made me
For I'll be there
In my daughter's eyes

To hear "D" sing... go here.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Leaves From the Past...

I remember snapping this photo as if it were yesterday.

Whitney was six months old at the time and we had just sold our home in Mamaroneck, NY in exchange for a “second floor walk-up” in Hastings-On-Hudson. Something to do with money, I think... New York is beautiful in the fall… typically crisp and sunny. “Frisky weather” as my now long-time ex liked to call it. Very, unlike the damp and dreary days we've grown accustomed to in Michigan these past many years.

Anyway, we’d moved into this cozy little abode in “the town with the deceptively affluent sounding name” on my 29th birthday. I only remember this because after my husband at the time had left to take the U-Haul truck back en route to his job in “the city” where he was performing the lead in a current Broadway Show, I stood amongst the multitude of boxes and disarrayed furniture and sobbed. I’m still not sure what I was crying about the most… the fact that I now had to somehow deal with all this mess with a baby in my arms?.. or the fact that in all the fuss he’d forgotten to buy me a birthday card… Or, in retrospect, if perhaps that may have been the night when I realized I’d lost my wedding ring…

But for whatever reason I don’t believe at any time that evening did it ever occurred to me that there might come a day when I might look back on that time of our life and just smile, or wish that once again I could be standing in the middle of a room full of clutter with a baby in my arms. Babies grow up so quickly. They do! And we just don’t get a ton of chances to relive the present over again too often. We don't.

Meanwhile, and in keeping with the theme…

I threw this costume together in about 30 minutes… using a Glad garbage bag and some scraps from my sewing kit. This was prior to the day when I would have found myself stressed into ad nauseam over such a daunting task..

This one didn’t take so much effort…

.... which ended up being no big deal since she slept through most of it anyway.

In 1985 we dressed her up as Strawberry Shortcake and that was the first year she actually went “Trick-or-Treating.”

I will never forget her skipping down the sidewalk in Brooklyn (where we lived then), ringing doorbells and shouting “Trick-or-Treat!… and collecting candy through the wrought-iron gates of the brownstones. This was SO far from my memories of the tradition, but I’ll never forget her excitement. That is until she took a nose dive on the sidewalk and tore up her white tights… blood running down and mixing with the green horizontal stripes. Still, I think she continued collecting candy.

My “favorite” Halloween memory EVER though occurred in 1987 after staying up until 4:00 am one morning putting the finishing touches on the “Rainbow Bright” costume. (Please… never, ever attempt to do this at home!) I finished it and trudged off to bed, hanging it on the edge of the door frame and in the morning she said to me… “Mom, I really, really like it… a lot!.. but do you think I could go as Cinderella?”

She went as “Rainbow Bright.”

I'll let these next two Halloween memories speak for themselves…

I think these were probably the last Halloween costumes I made for her...

…and I know for a fact that this was the last October that I had her home.

Perhaps the reason I don't like the fall so much is on account of all the "leaves"...

But still... I wonder how many times I'll have to keep reminding myself over and over again about how quickly these seasons tend to change and how things just have a natural way of springing anew...

...in so many different ways...

:sighs again:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Turning Over A New Leaf...

Another leaf? Ackkk! Perish the thought!

But anyway... I've decided. I'm not going to think about Clay so much anymore... at least for a while. Because years from now when my children get around to realizing that they're finally cool enough to read my blog I SO want them to know that THEY were absolutely the most precious things in my life. Hands down! And not just some... Rockstar.

Doesn't mean I won't be tempted to share pictures of him from time to time.

Like this one...

...or THIS one.

Meanwhile, in this brief interim, and in the month or so that I have before things start to get crazy again, I think I'm just gonna try to spend a little more time pondering over the blessings in my life, above and beyond him... which have somehow lost focus these past few years and yet have always and will always matter the most.

And anyway, to THAT I'm fairly sure he'd say to me...

Either that or...

So in either case, I win...

Friday, October 13, 2006

It's Definitely Fall In My Neck of the Woods.

Although today that's questionable since… it’s snowing. No, I mean it’s REALLY snowing. Not like the occasional October spittle that we sometimes get but like the big flakey February stuff that STICKS majorly and makes driving trecherous. Really Weird.

And it’s only October 13th…

I’ve lived in Michigan for 16 years now and this it the first time I have ever seen this happen.

I was born… in California on a HOT October day. On October 13th to be exact. My mother tells me the thermometer measured 98 degrees the day I was born. And growing up?… I’m quite sure that all of my birthday parties were held outdoors. At least in my memory… sitting in my bedroom pretending to not know about the birthday preparations that were being carried on in the kitchen and looking out the window I remember seeing green. Lots and lots of green. I also remember swinging upside down on the monkey bars on the school playground one birthday and thinking… “Wow! I’m lucky 7 already!” And I remember not wearing a sweater. I don’t know why I remember that day so absolutely vividly! Perhaps it’s because I think it may have been my first Friday the 13th birthday and I was realizing that the day was going pretty well for me so far.

Anyway, right now… California and 1961 seems like a million miles away.

I used to love the fall. Really. LOVED IT! Even after I first moved to Michigan… back in the days when I use to live in that big house when people would come and do my yardwork FOR me… and when my biggest challenge of the day was to assure that the spider web facsimile or cornstalk/pumpkin assemblages on the front porch were perfectly displayed.

Tough times.

But then “after”… when I moved to this “new” house… with it’s massive expanse of property… I remember still thinking… Lucky me!!!… All THIS!... and all for the mere price of a home! I will love it and nurture it! I will take care of it daily… prune every bush weekly… keep each and every blade of grass mowed within an inch of it’s life… and I have succeeded in doing this for almost a fifth of a century! But those same blades of grass keep growing… and those same leaves keep falling year.. after year.. after year. No, really… trust me! I know each and every one of those grasses and leaves intimately and yes, they are the same ones. They keep coming back to haunt me and I’m sure they are laughing. Sometimes I feel like I’m living groundhogs day over and over again… or doing the dishes… or the laundry… except without hot water.

Bottom line? I have a huge yard. No really… I mean HUGE. I’m not kidding.

But somehow… I guess I just have to keep believing and remembering how much I am gifted year after year on my birthday a beautiful arrangement colored in yellows, oranges and reds. I guess. And this year I cannot wait to rip off the beautiful white gift-wrapping in a few days to be so utterly surprised by all that awaits… beneath… ugh.

I guess all I’m REALLY trying to say here is… Please, to those whom might ever be inclined to send me a gift... Please no Clay CD’s. Trust me, I have plenty!…and in fact you will probably be seeing one your own very self really, really soon... No jewelry. No Bath and Body Works products either.

Library Boy mouse pads are good though...

...as are really beautiful roses...

...singing voicemails… and of course money.

*sends hugs out to various family members*

Anyway, it's nearly midnight, and though it's still yucky outside, so far I don't believe there are any late-breaking bad-news stories to report on this Friday the 13th... except for perhaps the fact that I am now another year older.

Monday, October 09, 2006

When I See Him Smile... It Makes Me Wanna Do Stuff.

For some reason I can't seem to get the following stanza out of my brain...

Baby there's nothin' in the world that could ever do
what the touch of your hands can do,
It's like nothin' that I ever knew.


I know, silly. I mean, there's this whole album of goodness out there and yet I just seem to keep fixating totally on this one little snippet. I just love the way he sings it! No it's even more than that... I am totally addicted to those three lines! So much so that I sat down this morning and opened up my rusty ole' Windows Movie Maker and had ALMOST come up with something decent before I realized how it was way past my bedtime. And then... just by chance, I realized that Shasta had already beat me to the punch anyway! Now I don't know Shasta from Adam, but still, she's so totally cool in my book because she unwittingly saved me from this obsession of mine... and of having to stay up until like 4:00 in the morning probably... PLUS she has the behind the scenes clips which I've been searching hi and low for to no avail... and also, she did a really, really good job. So I'll just tuck my smiley pictures away for another day. *sulks off*


OK, well thanks ALOT Shasta! : ( I really don't remember what this video was all about, but I'm betting it was really good...

... At any rate... as much as I love (and I mean LOVE) his new look, there's still something about that earlier smile that I fell in love with. Ya know the one that he use to do before he knew? So yeah, ok… I know… he ALWAYS knew… but I mean the ones during that time when we were first discovering that he knew that we knew.. that he knew? Anyway, the first time I saw that first one I think my stomach did somersaults. Nevermind that it’s now moved on to doing backflips, there was still something so indescribably extraordinary about those early-on smile memories that I just don’t ever, EVER want to leave behind.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And then, of course, there are always those unexpected little moments when fandoms collide... and completely entertwine themselves.