Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘The South’ Category

Kudzu Season

Erm, what road are we on?

Reaching for Heaven

No stopping it!

Even the little signs

The kudzu growing over the fence blends in with the peanut field behind it.

Thanks, God, for unexpected and exponentiated growth. Let us cling to Your Vine and be unafraid of new heights.

Read Full Post »

Braving Hurricane Barry, I put in my 9 hours’ morning work yesterday and took off at 3pm to go see Jonathan and Southwind’s last performance in the state before they left at 11pm for the rest of their national tour.

The neighborhood was in the middle of flooding but I took advantage of sneaking out between storm bands (no pun intended) to get on the interstate..

It was at least a 3 hour drive upstate, pounding rain and – thank You God – for a friend recommending audio books, so it was me and Brené Brown and her recent book on “Braving the Wilderness” (how à propos!), white-knuckling it up to Millbrook, AL. I had a mission, to see my kid, his band, the competition with other bands, to make good on a promise to get there and to deliver two corn dogs and a large hot fudge milk shake into the hands of said kid.

He reinforced a couple of times (despite my texts to move things up) that it would have to be AFTER the show (which would be circa 10pm) lest he barf up Sonic on the pristine football field and cost his team points.

Because they had the “home state advantage,” Southwind went last. But preceding them were several truly awesome drum corps, competing for a title.

One was Southern Knights, an all-age drum corps (and I saw young as 10, old as 70s) which rocked the stadium kicking off the competition.

In the middle were bands from Atlanta, the Carolinas, Florida, Louisiana and Michigan.

I would like to point out that I was most impressed with the Louisiana Stars from Lafayette, LA – which happened to be from just a hair north of Barry’s landfall, so these kids were safe and sound inland but probably internally freaking out how their families, pets and homes were faring during the storm which made landfall while they practiced here.

Louisiana Stars – God bless those in the path of Hurricane Barry.

The band from Kalamazoo, MI won, Legends, with their extraordinary drill team posing as Sirens of the Sea en masse, along with a dramatic story line about life in the sea with the gods and goddesses.

The Sirens did a creative wave number to the sound of my beloved sea waves, their long hair sweeping to and fro, emulating the waves of the beckoning sea

This drill team evidently was taught to seduce and interact with the audience with their hair-flips, alluring smiles and seductive beckonings. a perfect opening that wowed and wooed the judges.

With Southwind hosting, their last-on-program/late performance was stellar, nonetheless – and, compared to last week’s dress rehearsal (see previous post), the musicians were phenomenally precise, more artistic, theatrical and in the groove. I am excited for the rest of their tour and am confident they will rock the rest of the country!

Southwind’s precision

They handled the “cages” more expertly tonight…intentional in trapping their prey and skillfully orchestrating the profound exhilaration of freedom

Packing up for the next destination

Drilling the Drill Team – they rocked!!

That semi holds a place for each instrument, supply and uniform

The cages waiting to be loaded. What cage are you captive in?

Each member gets a medallion at the end of their home-state show, depending on how many years they’ve participated. This is Jonathan’s second year.

A competition well-performed

Southwind Mom’s Truck

Thank You, God, for children and their pursuits, for infusing them with talents, skills and interests that contribute to our world’s arts, sciences and teaching them all manner of What Life’s About.

God, please bless Southwind and all the kids this summer who are devoting themselves to greater purposes which ultimately make us better people and make the world a better place. May they go on to serve You in whatever capacity You deem appropriate.

(Here, Jonathan’s brother with Down syndrome pipes up, “Mama, you tired of Southwind?” Mama answers, “No, David, I’m tired FROM Southwind last night, not tired OF Southwind!”) David says, “We’re tired from rains and storms,” to which mama says, “Yes, David, and why we’re going to bed early tonight….”

Night night co-musers!

Read Full Post »

Today marks the start of the annual tour for Southwind, an elite drum and bugle corps representing the Southeast region’s best percussion and brass players.

(Oh, and coincidentally, today marks this blog’s 8th anniversary – thank you to all my readers and friends for 8 incredible years!!! xxxooo). Back to Southwind:

They will travel nearly 6,000 miles in six weeks, performing and competing in cities throughout the Eastern seaboard and the Midwest, culminating with a world class competition at the Colt’s football stadium in Indianapolis.

Southwind began 40 years ago and carefully selects its members from rigorous auditions and recommendations. This year, its members hail from 15 states. Lucky for us (and our son who plays the euphonium), they chose our county as Ground Zero for their many weeks of rehearsal camps leading up to today, so we didn’t have to go far to visit him.

Last night they held their dress rehearsal, before they leave tonight for Valdosta, GA, their first stop on the tour circuit. We will catch up with Southwind again next Saturday in upstate Alabama for one of their competitions, before they head north for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan and points beyond.

Some highlights from yesterday:

The schedule is dizzyingly intense, with few breaks

Local high schools house the Corps; boys in the gym, girls in the cafeteria, members over 18 in another room (members are from both high schools and universities)

Shoe blow-out is common – these students engage in marathon-training conditions in blistering heat and are fed special high-energy diets and go through gallons of water a day

Did I say “blistering heat?” This was what the sign said yesterday as I was leaving camp at 4:30pm

The supplies and resources necessary to pull off a tour of this magnitude are phenomenal. How every detail comes together is a miracle of the many staff and volunteers who expertly think of everything!

You just never know who’ll show up on tour with Southwind!

(wonder if this guy ever wishes he’d taken up the trumpet instead?) Everyone helps haul the instruments, props and supplies

Meals are served outdoors and consist of lots of high protein, high carb foods. I’m told that spicy and sugary foods are off the list for the most part.

It takes a crew to wash the uniforms, a crew to cook and clean up, a crew to keep track of the students, a crew to organize and pull off the tour, etc. Check out the Southwind website to see their talented Visual Staff and Percussion Staff.

Warming up on the field while the rest of the Corps unloads

Full percussion warming up with brass getting ready behind (note everyone’s gallon jugs precisely at their sides)

Just like a pro ball team, each position/section has its coaches. For the Corps, this includes experts in fine-tuning (literally, as in ensuring drums are properly tuned). The coach listens to each drum carefully, getting down to drum-level with his ear and instructs each player accordingly to ensure perfection.

Each instrument has to be inspected, each day

For each performance, they have a very short amount of time to assemble all instruments, props and supplies, so they learn, among other skills, how to, um, for lack of a better term, haul ass

The drum majors take the field. Yes, that is a roller coaster in the far background but it was so hot we didn’t see anybody on the rides!

The dress rehearsal turned into an un-dress rehearsal, as the searing heat even after the sun went down, prompted them to spare the uniforms for the tour and they did the rest of rehearsal in their bibbers (and white gloves – never ditch the white gloves, so sayeth the Lady, no matter what the conditions!)

The choreography, precision and talent are mind-blowing!

The performers put their heart and soul into each note

This year’s show is called, “The Cage,” in four movements. The first movement portrays what it is like to feel caged – the constraint, the sacrifice of self, the pain of stuck-ness. The second movement illustrates the frenzied attempts to break out of the cage, unsuccessfully.

Movement three is about what we might call learned helplessness, or accepting our circumstances, perhaps complacency and/or ditching the dream to be free and happy. Choosing to settle. Learning to be “happy” and giving up on potential.

In the last movement, the cage finally opens and we experience the joy of true freedom, being able to live life to its fullest capacity and the relief of being out in the open at last.

The show is copyrighted so we are forbidden to upload videos of the performance (plus we don’t want to give our secrets away to our competition before the tour!), else I would have loved to share the power of the sound and theatrics this talented group of students and staff produce.

Am I outside the cage, or in? What about you?

And, just like a ball team, they have their own mini-ambulance

Away from the action, empty hangers, backpacks and instrument cases line the fence

Ready to roll up the road to the next venue!

I caught up with him after last year’s show in Hiram, GA

Thanks, God, for opportunities You give us and our children to exercise talents, discover new skills and to experience great adventures. Thank You for freeing us of the many cages of our own making in which we ensnare ourselves….and may we always fully trust and be free in Christ.

(This hot summer – and now 16 and driving! – he values a shorter haircut than last year lol) – Godspeed, Jonathan William and all of Southwind!

Read Full Post »

Wishing you and yours a joyous holiday !

Scenes from my beach world this week-

Unexpected gifts continually wash up on our shores…

Baby Jesus hasn’t quite arrived yet in this scene, the fourth Sunday of Advent

Silent night ahead

Children playing outside in the courtyard, as seen through the church’s “eyes to the world”

A play on the term “Christmas Tag!”

Thank You, God, for gifts that don’t come in boxes…

…and for gifts that do. Merry Christmas, y’all!

Read Full Post »

Attending a swanky holiday soirée last night, my eyes spotted this tired Santa’s eyes, who was haplessly keeled over in the corner of the dining room, largely unnoticed:

9AF60837-2A4A-49AC-892C-89896339DC56

Poor Santa! He looks exhausted. I would be, too, if I were him, along with the Honorable hostess who created this magical holiday celebration.

3529E2C8-6D34-4124-B81A-0E3E67995681

88E4A8CA-B387-4899-8D90-C622B85FC16D

This was one of two giant, breathtaking trees in the home.

E248CA3A-5477-4ADA-9F0E-A207E58B77FE

I liked the eyes on this sun, too, the ceramic forming eyebrows and expression above the homemade custom tile backsplash.

9E555E21-1B61-45A2-A2C3-5D64A2835260

Private, outdoor bathtubs serve two other purposes in the coastal South besides bathing: to fill with water and cover during a hurricane so you can flush toilets when there’s no electricity or water, and to fill with adult beverages on ice during Christmas and Mardi Gras parties.

1AB13690-A85A-42A7-A9FF-3AF1F110DEBB

The giant, horizontal-limbed oak tree gets to wear lights, too.

028DAAB3-1BD4-4266-BE3E-6773C27CC0B7

Hey God, in the flurry of festivities leading up to Your Son’s birth, we haven’t forgotten the reason for the season! Thank You for giving us opportunities for both fellowship and solitude as we reflect on the many blessings You gift us with at Christmas. May we all have eyes to appreciate the many wonders of this season.

Read Full Post »

This week of Thanksgiving in the U.S., I decided to begin a few new traditions.

Research shows that you can improve both mood and health throughout the day by identifying one or more (different) things you’re grateful for, first thing in the morning. No more than 1-2, however, since studies also show that listing 5 or more dilutes the gratitude and its benefits.

So in that predawn hazy zone of waking up and just before I open my eyes, I then count a blessing or two.

(I wonder if saying a gratitude just before drifting off at night would yield better slumber and/or dreams?)

Our longstanding Thanksgiving family tradition is to walk off our feast down at the town pier at sunset. We are always thankful for the friends and beautiful scenes we see:

Cast netting…he might bring up crabs, mullet, shrimp, shark, eel or redfish

Colorful kayaks await tomorrow’s paddlers

A pelican under a wavy ribbon of clouds

Crimson Tide

Quiet fishing

Mother/daughter bonding through texting?

Roll, Tide, Roll!

Contemplation? Praying? No, hunched over texting…

Nautical Christmas spirit!

Serenity indeed…

Life is good at this latitude!

Thank You, God, for a holiday with a sole purpose of gathering to give thanks and gratitude for blessings past, present and for blessings to come. Thanks for the privilege of life, the bounty of love and the gift of mercy.

Thanks for beauty everywhere…for precious time…for forgiveness…for laughter…and for those people and things You that touch our lives in ways that make the world a better place along our journey.

May we never take these gifts for granted and always be grateful.

Read Full Post »

Swarming starlings like to congregate just inland from my beach, frequenting the harvested cotton and peanut fields. They are easily spooked by passing cars and en mass, rise like a black curtain – a Hitchcock-like shadow of birds:

The birds darken our skies every November. But today, happy spring shadows bring blossoms of new life and colorful promise, yielding fresh hope and energy!


Thank You, dear God, for bright, new life springing from darkness …for the hope You provide that carries us out of the shadows of loneliness and near-death, and rocketing us forth into a fresh cycle of light, connection, hope and renewal. 

Thank You for being on each and every walk with me – and for my bloggy buddies, too – through every season, storm, shadow and silver lining. 

God, You rock!!

Read Full Post »

Happy New Year to my friends and fellow bloggers…

Please join me in welcoming 2017 with some resilient sea-horsey sentiments, inspired by my new bloggy friend plainmama (yes, paint AND prose are just a couple of her many talents).

Consider the seahorse (species pictured are native to our Gulf coast) as we face the new year – may we be that creature which uses motion to stay the course, in which flexibly goes with the flow of the ocean’s current…confidently stretching ourselves to greater possibilities while instinctively coiling interdependently for anchoring:


Tranquil amid perpetual motion,

Simplicity dominates life;

Beauty and harmony in its movement,

The husband is the wife.

(Interesting side notes: The Latin genus hippocampus (hippos=horse, campus=sea monster) – the hippocampus is the deepest part of our brain governing memory, the part that looks like a seahorse deep within and is the first to go in dementia…and also flatlines when adrenaline rushes during a perceived threat, trauma or hardship. The sea horse does not stay with the same mate for life (fluidity!) and the female dumps thousands of eggs on the male at once because less than 1% survive…which is why I did this photo shoot since it is so, so difficult to keep seahorses in captivity (and octopi, a future blog topic) – carpe diem, baby!

Hey, God, thank You for another year of buoyancy amid the current and for keeping us in motion that we don’t get stuck, trapped or drowned – that You keep us moving amid the current of the universe without fail.

Fluent, fluid and flexible! Yes, God, please stretch uS to the ceiling of our potential while taking great comfort in the sanctity of each other….grounded and heaven-bound, all at once!

Read Full Post »

Where I live, the concept of a New Horizon draws many a soul each day. 

They flock to these shores resolving to make a fresh start, a golden retirement, a new identity or a temporary escape from their reality.

Living by the sea, however, still necessitates daily grind. Laundry and dishes don’t go away, things break and need fixing and, bless our hearts, there is no escape from this fine, white sugar sand tracked into the house daily…but I am NOT complaining!

So my new horizon for 2017 will be to to see my world anew through the eyes of our visitors – to actually pause to BREATHE deeply during the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. To be more mindful of the beauty surrounding me. To engage the 5 senses and escape back into my world here, anew.

2016 has been a year of tremendous transition in my life, and I bet in yours, too! 

I invite you to join me in rediscovering yourself and your calming peace in 2017….let us look through the lens together and see nothing but awe-inspiring beauty in the year to come.

Let us get out of the grind and into the moment!

Thanks, God, for an amazing year, for getting us through 2016 and delivering us to the doorstep of 2017. Thank You for all the things You’ve shown us and taught us. 

And most of all, for all the gifts, promise and beauty surrounding our lives. May we never get caught up in the grind and always see each moment of each day as a “present” from You. 

Read Full Post »

Home is definitely where my heart is…and Local is my focal:

Polo At the Point Classic 2016

Downtown

Famous Southern writers get famous here…

Special Needs Softball – Run, Forrest, run!

The destination IS the journey!

Spectabulous sunsets at the pier…applause is the custom

Rose garden by the bay

Church while you kayak!

A place like no other…


Thank You, God, for the special places You give us to live, to visit and to enjoy. Thank You for our differences and all manner of various cultures and customs. And thank You for being in each and every one of them!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »