May 09, 2010

Tulip Time 2010

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It was a cold, rainy and blustery weekend for Pella's 75th annual Tulip Time celebration. Every one of the six weekend parades forced onlookers to wrap up in blankets in an effort to stave off the chilly temperatures and wind chills. It didn't, however, dampen the fun and celebration. On Saturday the world record was set for the most people Dutch dancing in klompen (wooden shoes). Madison joined in on the record.

We had our neice, Sophia, with us Thursday through Saturday. Sophia's mommy packed lots of shorts and warm weather clothes for the weekend, so poor little Sophia was stuck wearing the same outfit all weekend (the only one warm enough), but she didn't complain. She had a blast playing with all the kids at Chad & Shay's on Friday night as we gathered to celebrate our friend, Mark's birthday.

On Saturday, Wendy's folks and sister Suzanna came down to enjoy the day. Wendy's mom is an administrative assistant to former Iowa Governor, Terry Branstad. So, the Governor stopped by our house on his way up to the square. Wendy's college roommate, Tracy, pulled Tom out of the crowd to join in the Dutch dancing prior to the afternoon parade.

This morning (Sunday), Madison sang with the combined Pella High and Pella Christian High choirs at the community worship service. The service was scheduled on the town square but was moved inside the 2nd Reformed Church due to the weather.

So, another Tulip Time in the books!

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May 06, 2010

Simon Estes (& Madison!) Kick Off Tulip Time

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Simon Estes, Iowa's world-renowned bass-baritone, kicked off Tulip Time with a pair of concerts. Last night, Madison and the Pella High choir joined Estes in concert. Grandpa and Grandma came down to enjoy the concert. Estes, who is a famed performer in opera's around the world, was born in Centerville. He and his wife have returned to live in Iowa, and he is doing a series of "educational" concerts around the state to raise money for scholarships.

Estes was outstanding, singing a range of music from opera to broadway to spirituals. He was joined in the concert by local soprano Natalie Chamat, who was absolutely delightful. Pella's choir was equally outstanding and certainly held their own. The concert ended with Estes and Chamat joining the choir singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

As Madison prepares to graduate in a few weeks, she is winding down her high school choir career. Singing with Estes certainly ends things on a high note.

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May 05, 2010

Tulip Time 2010...And so it Begins

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I had a bill to get in the mail last night. I thought I'd run it up to the post office right before the 5:00 deadline. I jumped in the car to drive the three blocks. I should have walked. It would have been faster.

The streets of Pella are getting blocked off. The food stands are being set in place. You can hear the music getting blasted from the town square as the PA system is tested. It is time, once again, for Pella Tulip Time. For the next four days we will welcome tens of thousands of visitors who come to eat goodies, watch the parades and see the tulips.

Well, what's left of the tulips. Early spring this year. Most of the tulips are gone. Enjoy Stemfest 2010. There's still plenty of food and the parades will run as scheduled! Oh, and the town is getting in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people Dutch dancing in wooden shoes!

Wendy and I live just a block from the square. Stop by and say "hi." Let me know if you need a place to park.

May 04, 2010

Birthday 2010

It was my birthday last Friday. Thanks to everyone who took the time to send birthday wishes. I had been on the road last week and arrived home late Thursday evening to find that Wendy had an amazing candlelit dinner waiting for me. I walked in the back door and the scent of her Italian fried chicken combined with fresh baked Italian bread filled my nostrils and stirred my heart (It's a guy thing - you know, "the way to a man's heart..."). We had a wonderful evening celebrating quietly together.

On Friday morning I took off early with my friend,Matthew and we headed to the Playhouse. We have a deadline to get the basement finished by August, so I planned a weekend with the guys to work on it. My dad has been down there and did an awesome job framing out the place. There was relatively little framing to do, but electric had to be run, insulation had to be installed, and then drywall could begin going up. Matthew and I arrived and got the job site ready, received our shipment of 93 sheets of drywall, and made what would be one of several trips for supplies.

My friends, Chad and Dave, arrived Friday evening. The weekend was a great time, the four of us building together. We had excellent conversation while we hammered, drilled and sawed. More great conversation over meals, and then out on the deck or the dock. We ate a lot thanks to Wendy's abundant provisions and Grandma Jeanne's lemon cake, which was waiting for us when we arrived. There's still a lot to be done, but we made a lot of progress. I arrived back home late Sunday.

My birthday was perfectly capped off last night as Taylor & Madison came over for dinner and a celebration. They bought me a pair of Toms shoes (how appropriate)!

A few pics from the weekend below. More here if you care to see.

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April 26, 2010

Crazy

That's the way I'd describe the past few weeks. The play consumed every available hour for a couple of weeks, then the day after the show closed, it was off to Texas on business for three days. I arrived home Wednesday night at 11:00 p.m., then hit the road at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday for Minneapolis. I made a whirlwind up & back trip, returning Thursday evening just in time (I believe Wendy would argue that I was late) for dinner with Madison. Then it was off to worship team rehearsal. At 9:00 p.m. I arrived home and had to pack the pick-up for an early morning departure for the lake. Bed at midnight, and up at 5:00 the following morning for another 5:30 a.m. departure. Wendy and I spent a cold, rainy two days working on the Playhouse, then returned in an intense storm on Saturday night, arriving once again in the late hours. I played in worship yesterday morning.

Then we got to rest.

Briefly.

Hello, Monday.

April 20, 2010

KOLD Radio is Off the Air

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It was great to have a lot of family come to see KOLD Radio, Whitefish Bay this past weekend (thanks to Madison for taking lots of pictures for us!). Thanks to everyone who came to the show (and to Uncle Brad who came twice). The crowds weren't as big as we had hoped, but those who did show up left worn out from laughing! We performed four times and finished with a Sunday afternoon matinee. Then the cast and crew tore down the set and gathered one last time for a cast party.

Wendy and I had a ton of fun performing together and loved the little community of Whitefish Bay we established over the past five weeks. Now, we're happy to have our lives back. After rehearsing practically every night and weekend for weeks straight, we turned our eyes back to our messy house, stack of mail and list of to-dos.

Uff-da.

April 16, 2010

Shooting Star on Steroids


So, the other night after rehearsal Wendy and I are sitting in the couch talking. I look out the living room window and see this strange sight. A huge fireball rocketed across the northern sky and then was gone. It was like a shooting star on steroids. My mind conjured up images of the space shuttle falling out of the sky in flames. Not something you see everyday. I shouted and and ran for the front door. Wendy, who didn't see it, wondered what in the world I was so worked up about.

I found out yesterday that it was a meteor. The Astronomy prof at the University of Iowa was on public radio yesterday talking about the event. I guess it's a pretty rare sight to behold. The last record of a meteor this big in Iowa was about 150 years ago.

Awesome.

Speaking of Opening Night

So it was opening night of KOLD Radio, Whitefish Bay last night. We had a small but lively audience who seemed to really enjoy the show and it was great to finally get the show in front of a crowd. There were plenty of small mistakes on stage. Few, if any, would have been noticed by the audience. I always like it when opening night has a few glitches. It means that your best performance is still inside you waiting to come out.

Went out with the cast and crew after the show. What a great group of people.

April 14, 2010

Crack Me Up

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Last night was the first of two dress rehearsals for KOLD Radio, Whitefish Bay. The show opens on Thursday. Our friends Kevin and Becky came to the dress rehearsal since they will be out of town this weekend. The entire cast was glad they came. We needed an audience, even if it was a small one.

There is something that happens during the long nights of rehearsal. The jokes which seemed so fresh when you first read the script begin to taste stale as they come out of your mouth. You've said them so many times to an empty auditorium and felt the silence bounce off the back wall. You begin to wonder if the lines were ever funny, and then you begin to question whether anyone will laugh. There is a common statement made towards the end of the rehearsal process: "This show needs an audience" and it was certainly true of this show.

So, as our little audience began to chuckle and guffaw through the first Act last night, you could feel the energy of the entire cast lift. Things started to click. Everyone perked up. Spirits soared. And, everyone began to feel the humor of the show anew.

One of the things I pride myself in is the ability to remain focused on stage, and last night was a humbling moment. There is one line in the play that is so hilarious that it took a long time for Wendy to utter it without cracking up. In the tedium of the last few weeks that was not a problem. It felt so stale that we rolled right through the line without feeling so much as a twitch in our funny bones. Then last night we had an audience out there in the darkness laughing hysterically. The line which had felt so dead to us experienced a sudden resurrection. Wendy uttered the line. I broke concentration for a split second and cracked a tiny smile. Wendy saw the chink in my armor of concentration and proceeded to completely lose her composure. She broke into uncontrollable laughter, and I lost it too. It was like the old Carol Burnett show when Tim Conway had the cast in stitches or a Saturday Night Live sketch when the players can't hold it together.

It took a few lines fighting back the tears of laughter, but we got our groove back. Nevertheless, the rehearsal gave us all some new life as we get ready to perform this weekend. (By the way, there are tickets still available!)

April 11, 2010

After Six Years...The Last Dance

Last night was prom for Madison. This is the sixth straight year we've gone through the annual rite of passage for American teenagers. Taylor went to prom all four years of high school. The first two years were with friends, the second were with her husband-to-be. Madison skipped out on her Freshman year, but went to prom her last three years of high school.

I must admit that it was a little nostalgic last night watching Madison getting dressed up and heading off. As far as high school prom goes, this is the last dance for the girls. Wendy and I sat and tried to remember each year. So, here is a trip down memory lane...

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Taylor Prom

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