This is the place where I round up a corral chock-full of mixed media art, vintage collections, digital escapades, and some occasionally snarky observations about life with junk, books, rescue dogs and nearly-grown children.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hurrah for Marching Band!

 Vintage Tuba Guy on Tuba Sheet Music.

It's Septemeber in Texas, and that means high school football--er, I mean Marching Band!  Yep, bring out the horns, warm up the drum line, fill up the stands with Band Moms.  Let's hear it for Band!

 Both of my children are Band Geeks--my son played Tuba from 6th grade through high school, both in Louisiana and in Texas.

 The Belle Chasse High School Band went to Walt Disney World in April 2005.  My son was one of two tuba players.  The 50-member Fighting Cardinal Band marched down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. This was taken after their march.  For some of these students, this trip was the highlight of high school before Katrina made landfall a few months later. 
--Photo, courtesy of the Interwebs.

 My son marched for two seasons in the Texas Tech Goin' Band from Raiderland in Lubbock Texas.  The Goin' Band is one of the largest university Marching Bands, with 450 members.  My son marched half-times at two college Bowl games.

 Band is serious business, starting with Band Camp at the end of July, two weeks before school starts.

I bought my daughter a new one-gallon jug because she said she didn't want to carry her brother's jug with "NIRVANA" and  "Blink 182" logos scrawled in Sharpie on the sides.  She is still carrying it and we have had four football games.

You need your equipment--above is my daughter's mellophone case and water jug. With temperatures in the high 90s, hydration is an important component of Marching Band.

The kids learn a new warm-up routine--this year's routine is set to the music of "Fireflies" by "Owl City".  Jumping builds synchronized movement:

At the end of Band Camp, the kids put on an Exhibition, highlighting the first dozen or so pages of music memorized and drill patterns learned.  My daughter is a junior, and serves as a Band Historian.

Our Band, The Woodlands High School Highlander Marching Band, has about 250 members.  The Band specializes in field show competition, using custom-prepared drills set to complex musical scores.  The kids play and march in challenging, precise patterns.  The average show is about 100 pages long.  The kids must memorize EVERYTHING.  The Band will compete this year in two Bands of America (BOA) competitions and up to three Texast UIL competitions, not counting the field show performances at half-time.

This is our district's Home Stadium, in use for it's third season. In Texas, high school football is the state religion and is fraught with ritual, tradition and passion.  There really is almost as much drama as you see on TV's "Friday Night Lights."
Photo courtesy of Steve Guberman.

Of course,  the football games, according to most Band kids, serve as a backdrop to playing "Stand Tunes" and provide a top-notch dating pool.  Student romances flower, bloom and wither every game.  We take school buses to the games, and the kids have to haul everything themselves.  The bigger instruments come by semi-truck.

This is our Band Truck.
The Band owns the carrier, and the Band Boosters  pay the driver with the tractor to haul our equipment.
Photo courtesy of Steve Guberman.

Our students are dedicated--many of them juggle AP classes and other activities as well as Band, which consumes 20 hours a week beyond school during Marching Season.

The kids play through all sorts of weather.  Football games are rarely cancelled--the last time this happened was during Hurricane Ike in 2008.  The games are played in heat and rain for most of the season.

 Rain threatened our second pre-season game.  The rainbow was cool.  The rain drizzles were not so great.

The field show will change many times over the course of the season.  For now, the Guard has white flags and black uniforms.  Later the girls will get custom-made guard uniforms and flags that go with the show theme.  The choreography of the marching will be tweaked and adjusted until a cohesive show emerges.  The judges look for the quality of the music, the challenge involved in the score, and the complexity and precision of the marching.  Artsy considerations also play an important part in the judging--what the half-time crowd likes and the BOA judges love are often two different things.

Photo courtesy of Steve Guberman.

Marching Band takes a big commitment, both from the parents who must pay the fees (I don't like to think about what I could have done with the money I've spent on my kids' Band experiences) and from the students, who must squeeze their school work in around grueling practices and late-night arrivals home from football games.

My daughter is an awesome, dedicated musician, and we're proud of her.  She'll remember her Band days fondly, I'm sure.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Summer Sunday

From my garden:

My latest foster, a tiny, cute Chihuahua boy who was starving to death in the Shelter due to stress:

Vintage compass on a vintage map.
My husband got me this lovely, palm-sized vintage compass at a ship salvage shop and antique dealer in Bangladesh.

 Vintage compass on a vintage map.

The walnut-toned wood box has a metal label reading "Negretti & Zambra, as does the compass itself, both on the cover, and under the glass on the rose's face. The outside of the compass lid reads "Edward VII Compass King & Emporer 1908". The date, 1908, and the word, "London" is inscribed on the compass rose under the glass. The compass has a fob, as well as a sliding knob to lock the floating needle in place when not in use.

The poem, Robert Frost's "The Road Less Taken" has been engraved on brass-toned metal and appears to have been attached to the inside cover. This poem dates to 1915 and was not really considered a classic until the mid-1920s. I'm assuming that the inscription was added later, particularly because the font-styles are more modern.

My husband isn't sure if the compass actually dates to 1908. Negretti & Zambra manufactured compasses, telescopes, monocules, barameters and other scientific items during this time period, but I was unable to find a similar compass style during a fairly comprehensive Internet search.

If you know anything about vintage compasses, please leave a comment. No matter whether this is a reproduction or an actual antique, it is still a wonderful addition to my collection of cartography and geographic ephemera.

Necklaces from Forever 21.  Owls and sweet Victorian designs are quite the rage at this trendy teen-fashion store.  A new, large store just opened in our local mall.  My 16-year-old is in swoony heaven.

Page scan from a vintage booklet about fuchsias.  It's far too hot to grow these beauties here in Houston.  During the 1980s, I worked in a landscape nursery, and fuchsias like these were very popular.  We would have quizzes from the boss to identify the blossoms by name.  I love the dreamy, soft hues of this old photograph.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pepper Gets a Home

I've been involved in animal rescue for the past nine years, and currently, I foster dogs from our County Animal Shelter.  I normally take the smaller dogs, especially the Chihuahuas.  I'm not a Chihuahua owner, but my Mom has always had them so I know the breed.

 Isn't that overbite and little snaggle just the cutest?

One of my little guys, a cutie named Pepper, got a home yesterday while I was working an Off-Site adoption at our local PetsMart.

 Pepper met Ms. Sonya Fitzgerald at a fundraiser held at Barker Street Bakery, The Woodlands, TX.

Pepper was terrified when he first came to my house, but had blossomed into a sweet, bouncy, barky little dog.  He got the chance to meet Sonya Fitzgerald, the pet psychic who used to have a show on Animal Planet.  I'm not a believer, but it was a fun experience.  Pepper "told" Ms. Sonya that he's a good barker and a very good guard dog!  And what Chihuahua doesn't have those skills!

Pepper wrestles with Tucker, another foster, while Cross, my little Rat Terrier oversees things.

It's always a bittersweet thing to send a foster dog on its way to a new, loving home, but it's something I love doing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

More '70s Time Travel

 Mushrooms!  Orange and yellow color themes!  Sweet daisies!  It's the '70s!

I was 11 as the 1970s began, and as I was the oldest child, and lacked older cousins or hip babysitters, I missed the Peace-Love '60s.   I only knew what a "hippie" was from novels or from reading "Time" magazine.  But I remember the 1970s!  My  16-year-old daughter is taking an apparel class this semester in high school, and she is fascinated by the punk fashions of the late '70s.

 Daisies...there were daisies everywhere in the 1970s.

She was disappointed when I explained that I never even saw punk fashion until I was out of college and was going to clubs.  Alas, she doesn't realize that the 1970s was about Earth Shoes, Ditto jeans, baseball jersey tee shirts (my favorite one said "32", for some special reason that now eludes me), plaid pants, and lots and lots of polyester knits, especially for dresses and pant suits, which girls were allowed to wear to school in the 7th grade on Fridays only.

Remember the Ecology flag?  Somewhere I have a patch with this design!

But, wait, there's more!  The 1970s I remember the most was the "back to nature" world of Whole Earth Catalogs, Mother Earth News, the ecology flag and those "ecology collages," which were wooden boxes with various-sized compartments and a glass top.

 This awesome book cover got me thinking about the 1970s.
Click the large size to appreciate the details.

We created primitive assemblages in those boxes, complete with seashells, river rocks and seed pods (or dry beans and popcorn kernels if you couldn't find the cool stuff) filling each little square.  We'd hunt through magazines for a dreamy nature photo--a seashore or forest scene, then we'd add a niche-appropriate plastic animal.  The boxes were hung in our dens and kitchens, next to a macrame piece woven on a real branch,  until bugs ruined the corn kernels or the seed pods grew moldy fuzz.

 Kwai Chang Caine, the Shaolin priest who wandered the American West.

My favorite part of the 1970s?  Well, I was a huge, huge fan of "Kung Fu," the ABC show starring the late David Carradine.  I wanted so much to be like the soft-spoken hero, Kwai Chang Caine.  I spent hours drawing dragons and tigers on my inner arms (and the arms of my friends) with ball point pen.  I watched the show, read the tie-in books and clipped any photos I could find.  In late high school, I took Shotokan Karate, rising to a 3rd degree green belt (one level below brown belt), which was a testimony to my discipline because I have no natural athletic ability.  Even today I still like the show--I have all three seasons in boxed DVD sets, but the first season and the first half of season two contain my favorite episodes.

I have to go find some apparel from the 1970s for my daughter's project--at this stage, all I think I have left is some costume jewelry and a couple Bicentennial scarves.  I wore snap-front denim jumper and a "Spirit of '76" scarf knotted around my throat for my junior high school photo.  Maybe I'll give my daughter that!

Invitation, daisies, ecology flag, and photo of "Kung Fu" lead David Carradine, courtesy of Google Search and Flickr.  "How to Tell it's the 1970s" is a digital art piece created by C. Bruhn