Thursday, December 31, 2009

20 Minutes and Counting

It's almost 2010 here in Northern UT. In 20 more minutes I will say goodbye to 2009.
It's been the year that pretty much sums up my life's motto... it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I was really blessed to have a job, with some flexibility (at least for the time being), to have a family and two new beautiful granddaughters, a home, and many things that I probably take for granted far too often.

I am blessed to know of a God who loves me and Jesus who died to reconcile me to him.

I am grateful to be relatively healthy (albeit now minus one gallbladder) and I'm very aware that not everyone has been so fortunate this past year.

I'm grateful for friends both on and off the internet, and a church that feels like home.

I'm very fortunate to be able to attend lots of concerts and take photos which I love to do (well, most of the time... someday I'll be really good at it.) LOL

Okay, so this isn't thanksgiving, but if I were to have a New Year's Resolution, it would be to every day remember the good things that I have and not to dwell on the trials. I see so many people who are so miserable, and I think a lot of it is that they just can't see what they have already. Granted, I feel I have more than many, but this year has not been without it's share of trials some of which it wouldn't be too appropriate to share on the www.

So, suffice it to say that I am grateful for what I have, and committed to remembering this in 2010 come what may.

Happy New Year!!

God's blessings to you and yours,

P.S. I will try to blog about my Christmas tomorrow... procrastinating already. LOL

Friday, December 18, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter Wonder Slam

Winter Wonder Slam (hereinafter referred to as WWS) wasn't coming to Salt Lake City. That is nothing new, and not particularly surprising. However, WWS was coming to Nampa, Idaho (and for those unfamiliar with Idaho, that is just a bit outside of Boise.) Also, for those that may not know, Relient K is the main opener for WWS, and if you read my blog at all, you know that Relient K is my favorite band.
Now, it's not really all that unusual for me to drive to 5 or so hours to Boise for a concert once in a while. However, I have a rule: No Boise concerts after Halloween. The weather isn't usually to bad before Halloween, but after that date, one just never knows. I broke the rule one time before. You'll never guess who I went to see in Boise in February. LOL But it was Relient K, so I broke the rule. I bought a ticket for WWS on December 8. Then I hoped and prayed for decent weather. When the weather-types were predicting snow the day of the show, I wasn't surprised. I think my exact response was: "That figures."

Originally, the plan was to stay at the Nampa Hampton Inn the night before, and drive home after the show. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how one looks at things, Metallica was playing the night before and the hotel was booked up on December 7. I got on the waiting list for a room.

Oh, to make things even more interesting, I decided to see "A Christmas Carol" at the Haile Theater in West Valley on the 7th. The show started at 5 p.m., so I hoped to be out early enough. After some thinking, I decided that I should be able to sleep about 7 hrs. or so and then head for Boise about 3 in the morning on the 8th, and then just stay the night. So I got back online and booked a room at the Hampton for Dec. 8. I think that was the better plan in reality.

On December 7, I actually slept decent. I had everything ready to go, except I needed a few personal items. I made a trip to the mall to take care of that business and dressed up in my new top and new green satin skirt. I thought I might be a tad overdressed, but dressing up is fun and I wanted to look festive. I think it worked out.

The play was remarkable. I went with a group of friends from church. A group of us went for a couple of years running, but then stopped. I was really happy to be able to go again. A Christmas Carol is done with lots of music, smoke, things that move and go bump in the night. Scrooge was very animated. In the end when he was happy, you felt like dancing with the guy. It was really a lot of fun. Afterwards, the group of us went to a Chinese restaurant nearby. It was a challenge trying to moderate the fat content there, though. Hopefully I did okay. The food was pretty good and so was the fellowship. I arrived at home somewhere around 10:30ish, and made sure I had everything together. I decided to set my alarm for 3:30 a.m. I woke up before it went off.

I got up and tried to get everything by the door, dressed, and ate breakfast. I unburied my car from the snow, and decided to shovel the sidewalk, since the snow was not too heavily stuck, and I figured it would be later. It was bitter cold out (somewhere between 3-6 deg. F) and my fingers really began to hurt badly by the time I was finished. I went inside and warmed them up with cold water! Then I finished loading up the car and headed out at exactly 4:06 a.m. It's a good thing I had plenty of time to get there. Even on the freeway the top speed was 45 for the first hour or so. Then 45-50 for quite a ways. Still, I arrived in Nampa I think a little after 10:30 a.m. I parked my car at the hotel, and went inside. The staff was wonderful, and let me hang about, watch tv, make some tea (I had cup and teabags, I used their hot water. LOL) and kill time until about noon, where they got me into my room early. I took pics of my room and the view from my window. I went downstairs and used the computer in the business center (very slow, but hey, it was available and free.) I killed time until a little after 1 p.m., and then went to check out the venue. I came back to the hotel and warmed up until about 2:15 or so when I decided just to wait it out at the venue until show time. Yes, I am certifiable!
IT was another hour and a half or so before anyone else showed up. It was too cold... definitely too cold. I did okay except the last hour or so when my toes pretty much began to ache, much like my hands did after shoveling the snow earlier in the day. A family showed up early and took turns in line. Then a couple of gals showed up and we chatted a lot. They watched my place in line while I bugged people at the will call window about my photo pass, and stressed over it a lot (I should really quit doing that, it's not an endearing quality.) IT was close, but I got my pass in time. One of the gals kinda freaked me saying it might get there before doors, and it might not. (This was gen. adm. entry I waited hours for? And they wouldn't let me in with camera without it, even though the security and one of the in charge gals both knew it was coming. And it had gotten to late to take it back to my room. Sigh. Hence, the stress.) Anyway, I was relieved when the pass showed up.

In spite of me freaking myself out, I made it to the floor in front with no problems. It's not that I wasn't slower than molasses, because I was. There were also a few hitches, but no one was running, and the dance floor really wasn't at all crowded. It was kind of nice, actually. NO pushing, no being squished within an inch of my life. I could really get used to that. LOL My right foot hurt extremely badly as it began to warm up, but it eventually quit. I played around with my camera, chatted, checked out the merch table, came back and waited. Finally it was time for the show to start.
B Reith was the first one to perform. I really am not a huge hip hop fan, but he actually had more singing than rap, and he was just a lot of fun! He had I "heart" Boise on the bottom of his shoes. His set was very short, but enjoyable.

After B. Reith was Stephanie Smith. Stephanie absolutely rocked. The girl can sing and I loved her music. Later I would go up and buy both of her cd's. I was impressed. I was able to get some decent photos of her as well.

After Stephanie it was time for Relient K. Hoopes was still out for a family emergency, and there was another guy filling in on the first song. All but of a couple of the songs played were acoustic. Ethan played drums on the first song, and guitar on the others. Hoopes was definitely missed, but it was still a great set, and it was especially awesome to hear, "I Celebrate the Day" live for the first time. A good bit of Relient K's set were Christmas songs. Someone shouted out "I'm Getting Nuttin' for Christmas" at one point. That made me laugh. I have the same complaint everytime (although probably more truth to it this time than most) which is that it was just too short.

I had some gift cards for Relient K, and I tried to get Jon's attention, but without much luck. Then I went up to the merch tables, and one of B. Reith's guys said he would get the gift cards to them for me. (And he did, so that was pretty awesome.)
I met B Reith briefly and had a photo taken with him.

Toby Mac's set was starting, so I headed back down to the barricade. Onstage, Toby has an amazing amount of energy, and he surrounds himself with very talented people. I've seen him a few times before, and he always has a great show. I was surprised that I knew and/or recognized as many of the songs as I did. I did laugh at one point when he did a medly of songs, most of them I recall from when I was younger. I definitely knew those songs. LOL

After the concert was over, I headed back upstairs. I met Stephanie and her band and had a photo taken, and bought her cd's. Stephanie seemed really sweet. I talked to Travis Culver or KTSY - he actually spotted me first, and I had a photo taken with him before I left. I figured I'd better leave before they kicked me out, so I headed back to the hotel.

When I arrived back at the hotel, I was tired and hungry. I went to my 4th floor room, and got ready to take a dip in the pool before I went to bed. I figured it would help me sleep to swim a few laps. So, I swam about 8 laps of the pool and then sat in the jacuzzi for a bit. It was hard to leave just because it was so toasty warm. :) I dried off as best I could and went back to my room and changed again. I went to use the business center and to ask for a wakeup call. A gal came into the hotel lobby to leave flyers for their Deli. Their food was all organic and home made, and they were open and delivered until midnight. OF course, I ordered right there. Then I stayed in the lobby and chatted until my food arrived. I ate, got ready to sleep, and slept well.

The next day it was time to head for home. First I stopped at Calvary Chapel to drop off some gifts for Luke and bandmates, and then I stopped to visit a friend who was working at a nearby mall. She bought me a late lunch, even. I did a small bit of shopping and headed for home. By then it was nearly 4 p.m.

I drove probably less than an hour before I started to feel sleepy. Now, that is an issue with me on long drives sometimes, but not usually only an hour after heading out. I did't think that was a good sign, but at least the roads were clear. I ended up stopping twice at rest stops to take naps along the way, but I finally made it home around midnight.

I'm not sure I'm anxious to do this again too soon, but I am very glad I made the trek. I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

Kudos, to any "novella" readers who made it through this whole post. :)

Peace out,

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Everyday should be Thanksgiving

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. I have met some amazing people, seen amazing shows, I have a job, a home, food to eat, a church I love, I've been happily married for 33 plus years, I have 3 grown children, a beautiful baby granddaughter, and another one who will be born any day now. I am thankful for many fond memories, and a crazy, but loving extended family. And if that isn't enough, I belong to a God who loves me and covers me with grace.

How can everyday not be thanksgiving?

Wednesday I was up somewhere between 8 and 8:30 a.m. to put the turkey in the oven. According to the temperature charge on the turkey bag, it would take 5-1/2 to 6 hours to cook the turkey. Then I noticed on the turkey bag, that the time for a 24 lb. turkey was 3-1/2 hrs. instead. Of course, I see this when it is out of the package, and ready to go. Timing would be tricky. So I figured out what I'd do when it was done when I didn't have to be at the church for Thanksgiving dinner until 4 p.m. I went back to sleep and woke up after about 3-1/2 hours to check on the turkey, which was definitely done cooking. I opted to keep it in the oven on warm and hoped it wouldn't dry out. Judging by the amount of juices in the bag, I figured it was a safe bet.

At 4 p.m. Ed and I arrived at the church. Others had already arrived before us, which is a good thing. :) We took the turkey, camera, etc. in and waited for my daughter to arrive. We had a very nice enjoyable dinner. I took quite a few pics.
The food was all pretty good. I ate carefully, but a little more than normal. There were a few really sweet, sweet potato dishes that were amazingly tasty. One of them was more like dessert, almost. I splurged with a little bit of apple pie. The nice thing was that there was a portion where most of the crust was gone, so it ended up probably being a little lower fat. I'm sure I exceeded my usual sugar levels by a good bit, though. Anyway, it was good food, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I was limiting myself. Bethany and Ed left not too long after dinner, and I was a little sad because I really wanted to see Avalyn a bit more. Jonnie, and Beryl read a few pieces on Squanto, and Thanksgiving from different perspectives, and I stayed and visited, took photos, and helped a little with clean-up.

Normally, after the event people have stayed and plotted Black Friday. IT's always been a good time. This year, though, people left a bit earlier, and I stayed while Jonnie made up a schedule of what opened when. The ads were all out on a table, so I looked through them a bit. Then I said my goodbyes to Pastor Mark and Jonnie, and headed for home.

When I got home, Bethany was still there, so I was able to see that sweet granddaughter of mine a little longer. I got to change her diaper.. lucky me. LOL
Then Bethany and I tried to decide what to do for Black Friday. We could neither one decide. I was supposed to call if I decided to go, but at 3 a.m., I still hadn't made a decision. I just worked on uploading and editing photos in the meantime.

I wanted only a couple of items from Black Friday sales, and they were in different places. As it turns out, Staples had a couple of things I wanted, but I didn't see their ad until I went through the e-mail later, so really late, I decided to just head over for Staples.

I arrived at Staples at about 4:30 a.m. En route, I noticed the huge line at Starbucks drive through and it made me laugh. Before I left I told Ed where I was going, and said I'd leave if there was a huge line. There were less than 20 people waiting, so I stayed. Sears was already open and it was just a hop, skip and a jump away, and a couple of gals held my place in line while I went over to take a peek. I must have looked rather ridiculous with my hoodie up around my head, and wearing a blanket. LOL (I had someone take a pic of me in my getup, but for some reason it didn't save.) :(

The only thing I found that I really wanted at Sears was this adorable dress for Avalyn that was only $9.60. So I bought it. So far, Sears is the only place I've seen some cute holiday dresses in the 0-3 mos. size. Then I went back and waited in line. I chatted lots with those around me and froze. It was rather chilly. At one point a guy in a van and his adorable little girl were selling hot chocolate. Later on, a Farmer's insurance rep. came by and gave out free chocolate with his bus. card. Clever people. LOL
Dress on the right was the one from Sears.. the other came from K-Mart:

At 6 a.m., the doors opened and the place was soon crowded. I found all of the items I had come for (an 8 gig CF card for $25, and a 4 gig CF cfd for $12.99, an AT&T cordless phone system with $15 instant rebate and $35 rebate, some CDR's and DVD-R's, etc.) I decided to kill time and wait for the neverending line to subside.
It wasn't happening, so I decided to bite the bullet and get in line, but not before I found a Universal Power Supply for $19.99 (didn't realize the $30 savings went to my Staples Card, though, until after I bought it, but still not a bad deal.) At one of the service counters, there was a sign to check out writing checks only, and hardly anyone was in it, so I wrote a check and escaped the huge line. $239, later, I left Staples and headed for home.

Before I even was able to catch any sleep, Bethany called, and wanted to go to Kohl's and K-Mart, which we did. She wanted an exercise bike for Christmas/birthday at K-mart, so I got it for her, and a few small items, including a dress for Jocelin who should be born any time now.

The line was long, but it wasn't too bad a wait. Then we fed Avalyn, and headed for Kohl's. I was able to get some warm sweaters in my size (that were not cardigans.) I haven't been able to find them anywhere. After Bethany and I finished shopping, we went to get in line. The line kept going, and going, and going.... and wound around the back of the store. By this time I hadn't eaten in a while, and it had been well over 24 hours since I'd had any sleep. I almost didn't make it and had to sit down a few times.
We finally made it through the line more than an hour later. Baby girl was starting to get kinda fussy, and so was I. LOL The checker was really nice, but not very fast. We made a bee line for the car. I told Bethany, that if I had found warm pull over sweaters anywhere else at all, I would have left the line. She said, "I probably would have let you." LOL
My KOHL's sweaters:

On the way back to my place, we stopped at Arby's and bought something for lunch and took it back to my place. We visited for a while, and after Bethany left, I just passed out on the couch.

I am really grateful for the things I was able to find on Black Friday, and I think Thanksgiving should be everyday, but praise God Black Friday comes but once a year! I have a feeling the retail staff agree about now. LOL

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Day!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

On this night

In case you aren't familiar with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the title of this blog comes from the Christmas Canon.

Christmas came early tonight in Salt Lake City. Trans-Siberian Orchestra was in town. I left for the show later than I would have liked. There was an afternoon show, however, so I was concerned that parking might be even more difficult if I arrived too early. Trying to time things right seemed tricky. The timing worked out great, as it turned out, and I arrived about 1/2 before doors. It wasn't too long to wait, even if it was a tad chilly out.

Once inside, I purchased the program and headed for the merch table to purchase Night Castles." I still had to wait a little bit for the doors to the arena itself to open. Once the door opened, I made my way down the long flight of stairs to the floor, was able to get my wristband on, and find my seat pretty easily - Floor 1, Row 8, Seat 3. I was pretty far to the right, but since Al Petrelli usually spends a good deal of time on the right side of the stage, Jane was practically in front of me, and there is a platform on the right near the balcony. So I had decent seat after all. I even got really lucky and no one 6 foot tall sat in front of me!!! :) I made conversation with those around me, as I always do. Most of those sitting around me had not seen the show before. :)
The lights this time around were as big and bright as ever. Laser lights, stage smoke, steam, flames, and even fireworks. This is what the lights looked like when they were off, before the show (pardon the really bad cell pics...)

Nothing like fireworks indoors:

I absolutley loved every minute of the show. Anthony Gaynor's voice as narrator for the Christmas Eve story line is a joy to listen to as he almost sings some of the words. Bart was completely awesome as the bum this year as he always is. The singing was top notch as always, as the show goes from classical to totally rocking and pretty much everything in between. Jeffrey Scott rocked it with his bluesy, gritty voice. Tommy Farese was moving as always as the "father" in the story line, and I think this was the best year ever for his vocals as well. This year there still was no Anna Phoebe, who went to the East Coast tour last year, but there were two really amazing violinists. I will get their names down soon, but they were good and fun to watch as well.

After the show ended, I made my way to the autograph table and stood in line. I think I was pretty much in the middle. We waited quite a while, and I finally went up and checked at about 11:36 and the table was still empty. Finally we heard the cheers and knew they had arrived. Al Petrelli was at the head of the table (usually he is at the end.) I was able to talk to him briefly. I sort of got in trouble talking to Bart and Tommy this time around. I can't help it.. you get 1 minute a year to say everything. LOL I told Bart that he almost makes me cry every year. He said, "almost" how could he get a tear. I said he actually did last year, but I pretty much know what to expect now. His vocals this year were the best ever, and his singing was amazing. I totally love Bart. At the autograph table (which they do ever year), Bart was sitting next to Tommy Farese, whom I really just adore. I know if Al, Bart, Tommy, Angus and a few of the others every leave that will def. get a tear from me.

At the end of the table I grabbed my autographed program (more of a book of pics than an actual program, really) and security told me which way to go. I asked if I could take a photo, and the guy said, "just one" so I tried to get Bart & Tommy. Someone walked in front as I was taking it, so I waited to get an acutal photo. Just as I was about to snap it, the lights went out, so I tried again and Bart gave me the thumbs up. It really didn't work out so well in the dark, but this is the result:

Tommy was joking about the fact that the lights were turned out and said they should tell ghost stories. I had to leave at that point as I couldn't really find a good justification for staying (other than I wanted to hear if Tommy actually did come up with a good ghost story.) LOL I headed for the car and finally for home.

I can't wait for next year. Some people say that the Christmas season should begin after Thanksgiving. For me.. it begins with TSO. It's fun that they are so close together for me this year!

Rumor has it there may be a spring tour. I can't wait to see what is in store.

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!!