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  • Back from a Great Mid-Winter Cruise

    jeanne_sas_2011It is a real rude entry back into reality when you have just spent eight days on a cruise ship in the Western Caribbean! Coming back to freezing temperatures and snow showers today is not easy to take. Our weather on the cruise was absolutely perfect. It was 80 degrees every day with pure sun. We boarded the ship in Fort Lauderdale, Monday, Jan. 3. It is amazing how they maneuver those huge ships in such tiny spaces. There were at least five huge cruise ships in Port Everglades. Our ship, The Navigator of the Seas, was berthed directly on the Intracoastal Waterway, and our cabin was on the starboard side, so we got to watch all the freighters go by in a very tight space. By 6pm we were underway and the excitement began.

    Since we all had the 6pm seating for dinner, our cruise started with dinner. We all were so excited to be on board. Every evening there was excellent entertainment after dinner, with either the singers and dancers or the ice show which was really quite exciting. How on earth do they do an ice show on a cruise ship? Amazing. The dining experience was entertainment in its own right every evening. We really had a blast.

    I started every day at about 5:30am. Just couldn't get out of my sleep pattern. So I would go down and get coffee and then go up to the top deck and take the sea air in and wait for the sun to rise. Then I would attend a stretch class and afterwards, I would meet Larry and we walked the track. He did three miles. I was impressed. Walking on the top deck of a ship is a favorite for me. I was born to be at sea. During the entire cruise, we kept reminding one another that we really were looking forward to taking our sailboat down to the islands once we retire. We have a wait ahead of us. 

    The rehearsals on board are always interesting. I am not a fan of electronic pianos and that is what I have when I am on a ship. And we don't have many rehearsals to prepare for our concert, so it is a push. But we are all there to have fun and relax, so nobody gets crazy. We just make it work.

    Our cruise last year took us out of Baltimore, cold and windy Baltimore, and then we had three "at sea" days. That allows us to do some really good rehearsing. Then we had three days of ports with some rehearsing, and then three days "at sea" back to Baltimore. So lots of rehearsal time. But, if you go out of Baltimore, it's cold.

    Going out of Lauderdale was delightfully tropical. But, we only had one "at sea" day before we started going into ports. So it is a trade off. But oh those warm temps! And the lovely sun! It was fabulous. We had five rehearsals and we worked hard. And we gave a great performance! And we had a really good time doing it!

    ne of the excursions Larry and I took was out to a sand bar on Grand Cayman to swim with the stingrays. Absolutely wonderful! They are such gentlecreatures. We often see them in the Chesapeake Bay and I really wanted to be up close to them. We loved the experience. And we snorkeled in Cozumel. Saw some very pretty fish and coral. I could get used to that way of life, but only for about three months out of the year. Maybe we should have an Encore Chorale in the Caribbean? Any takers???

  • Enough With the Winter Already!

    w01a_sas-02The Chesapeake Bay is in a deep winter sleep. The cove is iced in, but I am very happy to see a little melting. The Bay is gorgeous in the winter, with the air clear and fresh. You can see the sand beaches on the other side of the Bay.

    Many boats are out of the water, including our beloved Cantabile. They finally were able to haul her out while we were on the cruise. I went to visit her the other day. She looks sad and cold. She would much rather be romping on the Bay. So would I!

     very large Hatteras Yacht pulled onto the bulkhead of the marina beside our home. At night, they had all the lights on and it reminded me of the large yachts we had just seen in Fort Lauderdale. But there a major ingredient missing........warm temperatures.  I loved seeing that yacht lit up at night. And then as suddenly as it came in, the folks left, probably for the remainder of the winter, and now the yacht is dark. 

    The buffleheads came into the cove, but I haven't seen them in a few days. They are so much fun to watch, popping up and down in the water. And the heron is not too crazy about standing on the ice. Don't see him as much.

    Go away winter!

    I always have the same dreams (nightmares?) in January. I dream that it snows and snows and snows, and our Encore rehearsal schedule is a mess with snow cancellations. And then I worry we won't be ready for our spring concerts. And I must say we are not off to a great start. We had to cancel our first rehearsal for both Potomac at GMU and Langston. Can't drive in ice.

    Go away winter!!

    I had set aside Martin Luther King Day as the day I would make the rehearsal CDs. But alas, I got a cold and could not sing. Now getting that done is part of my nightly nightmares. Oh me. Gotta get those CDs made!

    There is precipitation outside.......in the form of rain. But I just looked at the long range forecast. Hmmmmmmm Come on winter......I don't want to do our May concerts in July.

    Go away winter!!!

  • Gratifying Support for Encore

    00_kc_hc_2010-04It is amazing to me that fifty years can go by so quickly, but the memory is vivid.   Fifty years ago today, President Kennedy was sworn in as our 35th president.  I can remember clearly sitting in our family living room, glued to the TV.   I remember their happiness with the fact that the Kennedys were young, energetic, and  brilliant.  Fifty years............simply amazing.

    I am so pleased to report that Encore has been awarded a Maryland State Arts in Community Grant by the Maryland State Arts Council.   It is a small grant, but now we are recognized by the state of Maryland and will be able to apply for larger state grants in the future.   It is a beginning and Encore will run with it.  And we will make Maryland proud.

    The new year is 20 days old and Encore is still receiving tax-deductible contributions for our first annual fund drive.  I can't tell you how much the generosity of our Encore singers means to Encore.   The contributions  will allow us to strengthen, grow, provide scholarships and continue to provide huge free community concerts in first-class venues.   Knowing that so many people have shown such a strong belief in the value of Encore  is truly humbling.  Our sincere thanks go out to all of you.

  • Will Signatures Soon Be a Thing of the Past??

    cursiveI just literally leapt off my couch to write this blog.  I was watching Good Morning America and reading the newspaper, as I do every morning,  and there a disturbing story talking about the State of Georgia considering whether or not to drop the teaching of cursive.  They think their instructional time may be better spent teaching computer techniques.   Oh my heavens!  What are they thinking.  Absolutely ridiculous.   How will these children do life?   What about hand written notes?   But really, they seem to be becoming a thing of the past.  This is the first year I received a Christmas gift thank you via email from our daughter Tiffany.  It was always a lovely handwritten note.   But with new little Lucas,  she has a good excuse.  But really, not teaching cursive would be a huge mistake.  Who is heading up our schools?????  Ok, glad to have gotten that off my chest!

    Yesterday the ice melted in our cove, so we are completely ice free.   The heron was back on his perch, holding court with all the ducks.   And this morning the buffleheads are out in number, swimming around the cove, happy to have their water back.   They are so funny to watch.   One pops below the surface and then one by one, they each submerge.  Then one by one they pop back up.  It's amusing to watch them swim into the wind.  They look effortless, but you can tell their little webbed feet are working big time under water.   I can compare it to a good singer.   Singers take a deep breath, without heaving their shoulders, and then they spin out a gorgeous tone effortlessly, without any sign of distress.  But you know their diaphragm muscle is working up a storm.  Good analogy singers!!

    The wind is already roaring out of the north.   Without any buffer, it gets really cold out here on the Bay.   And to my Tuesday Encore singers at Potomac Academy of GMU at The Woodlands and Langston Senior Center,  I am looking at an ominous weather prognosis.   That four letter S word is showing up.

    If we have to cancel again,  we will have to have a makeup.   Just like school.  

  • Sunday Morning Musings

    adsc_0200All is frozen here on the Chesapeake Bay. There must be over 1000 sea gulls sitting out at the end of the ice shelf. I love watching them all stand facing the same way.

    Down here in the sticks of Southern Anne Arundel County, we have many geese hunters. They go out in their tiny camouflage skiffs and the bone chilling cold and sit there and shoot. I sit in our living room reading and the gun shots totally annoy me. Then they upset the gulls and all the gulls take off. Hunting........I hate it. I have been known to run out to the end of the pier and make lots of noise so the geese don't come by and get shot. It seems like such a cowardly thing to do....sit in a duck blind or a camouflage skiff and shoot at these beautiful birds. Can't these people find more productive things to do with their time? Now you all know my take on this subject!

    Run...don't walk... to see The King's Speech. It is a fabulous movie. The acting and screenplay are superb. I think it definitely has the edge over Black Swan. The Social Network was excellent also, but my money is on The King's Speech.
    Larry and I love movies and we always try to see the movies up for Academy Awards. Next in line to see is True Grit.

    The Encore singers are enjoying my choice of music for the spring. Only one has spoken up about the spirituals. Can't please everybody. But I do try really hard!
    Now if the weather would just behave. Looks like we have an "event" coming on Tuesday. That's not good, because we have already had a Tuesday snow day. Nothing we can do about Mother Nature. And after the horrible commute many endured last Wednesday, I am going to be very careful about my decision. We can always make up. But then again, those early May concerts don't move!

  • Singers Enjoy "Singing at Sea"

    sas_2011Encore Creativity for Older Adults' third “Singing at Sea Journey” was a huge success from beginning to end. The 25 singers boarded the huge and beautiful Navigator of the Seas on Monday, January 3, sailing out of balmy Fort Lauderdale.   Many of the passengers were on deck when the ship glided out of port in Port Everglades.   They were all excited to be on board,  and ready to visit beautiful ports, rehearse daily and enjoy the many activities that the ship offers.  The weather was fantastic for the entire cruise…………..80 degree temperatures and bright sunny skies. (VIEW PHOTO ALBUM HERE)

    A lovely dinner was served the first evening followed by an exciting song and dance review.   Then off to sleep, ready to awaken for a full day at sea.

    Days at sea can be relaxing or full of different activities, whatever you choose.   Encore singers enjoyed the pools and walking tracks, trivia games, movies, etc. and their first rehearsal going through new music. The singers had only six hours of rehearsal to prepare for the final concert.

  • PHOTOS: Singing at Sea January 2011

    25 Encore singers, including guests from Kansas and Philadelphia, PA enjoyed a seven-day cruise to the Western Caribbean in January, 2011. Ports of Call included Cozumel; Grand Cayman Island; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Labadee, Haiti. Between stops, the chorale rehearsed daily and performed a concert for ship's passengers on the final day of the cruise.   

    Photo albums below. Click on the picture then click on the right side of the displayed picture to advance to the next photo.

    Part I:  {gallery}SaS_2011{/gallery}

    Part II (includes concert photos): {gallery}SaS_2011-2{/gallery}