Mammajuana Go to Saona Island (R&R Part Three)

Life keeps getting in the way of my blog, yet I will eventually finish this tale, if you will just hang in there with me. 

Our first “excursion” on this vacation was a trip to Saona Island.  It took a few hours to get there from our resort.  More than an hour by land, and then the rest by sea, as you would expect because it is, well, an island. 

 

Our bus picked us up a little bleary and unfed (the dining rooms weren’t open yet) early, early in the morning and, lucky us, we were the first stop.  Meaning we spent probably 45 minutes just picking up other people at other resorts.  Nap time for Alex…

Once everyone was aboard, our driver took us through the beautiful Dominican Republic countryside and educated us a bit on the history and the lives of the people in this country. 

The native people are descendants of Spaniards and Africans.  The Africans were brought to the D.R. as slaves in the early 1500’s, as the world seemed wont to do during that period.  Most people today are poor and live in villages.  Their houses are what we in  the U.S. might refer to as shacks.  The nicer houses are made of concrete, and painted in various colors. 

Farming is the main industry in the D.R., the chief crops are sugar cane and tobacco, but also fruits such as papayas, mangos and bananas.  Cattle farming is another big industry here.  While in the U.S. meat processing takes place beyond consumers’ eyes, not so here.  They skin the bodies right on the street, which we witnessed outside some of the shops that we passed by.

Not many cars in the D.R.  Most people travel by scooter, if they have a vehicle at all.  They carry multiple people on these little scooters and transport EVERYTHING.  Our driver told us that he once saw someone toting a washing machine on the back of a scooter, and we did see several people carrying propane tanks on their scooters.  I tried to get a picture, but moving targets, you know.

We drove through the main city in the region, Higüey, past the shops and daily commerce.  As you can tell by the clouds and the wet roads, it was raining off and on.

Here is a park in Higüey.  Note the murals of the Disney characters!

…and the most famous and significant landmark, La Basilica de Higüey, the religious destination of locals and foreignors alike.  Except for us.  We were on our way to an island, but the driver slowed down so we could snap pictures.  Apparently, the interior is also a marvel to behold.

During our ride, we were cruising down the road and heard a loud snap, of sorts.  Not such a good noise.  We stopped, and the driver got out and examined the bus, then came back to tell us we had ourselves a situation.  While it was not a mechanical emergency, we had a choice to make.  We could limp to a little store and wait for a new bus, or we could suffer to our destination and a new bus would be there at the end of our trip.  We chose to suffer, and suffer we did.  No air conditioning.  As I mentioned earlier, the humidity in the D.R. is incredible.  We put on our big girl panties and endured.  We were not so sweet smelling when we finally arrived at our drop off point, but we finally arrived, sweat and all.  I don’t remember what this place was called, but it looked a little like a bombed-out war zone.

 

This was a resort under construction, but the developer was stopped for non-payment of taxes.  Not an uncommon sight in the region.

We walked down the path you see in the picture above to the pier to catch our speedy ride to the island.

Back to the deep blue sea.  You can see our ride at the end of the pier in the picture above, but here’s what we looked like while we were riding…

This was actually another boat on the same excursion, but as you can’t get a picture quite like this of yourself riding in a speed boat, we’ll just have to assume that we looked way cooler than they did.

See what I mean?

A little scenery as we’re passing by.  Look at this blue-green water!

 

We stopped in the middle of the boat ride to cool off, and search for starfish and such on a little sand bar.

Notice (several pictures above) the bow of the boat.  At high speeds like this, the bow is so high you wonder how the captain can even see to drive.  Well, turns out he can’t.  We were speeding along, and suddenly our captain swerved mightily, we heard a sickening metal kabam, and felt a jolt.  We stopped, and here’s why…

We seriously hit this boat.  Apparently unattended, maybe a runaway from a not so far away dock, I still hope.  We circled the boat a few times, didn’t see any sign of life… gulp… and forged ahead.  No damage, or not much to our boat.  Yep, we just left this little boat in the middle of the ocean for someone else to find.  I’m hoping they at least radioed to someone, anyone, to come fetch this little runaway, but it was out of our hands.

Close call, but here we are, finally, on the island. Yes, I am taking a long time to get to the point, aren’t I? But, you know what they say, it’s all about the journey…

The beautiful Island of Saona.  We had a lunch of questionable worth here (not complaining, but hey, it just wasn’t so good), but considering all the excitement so far, and the fact that we had not eaten yet, we had no problem chowing down.  The beach here was not any more beautiful than the beach at our resort, and there were more shells and so it was tough on your feet entering the water.  Still a beautiful place, though. 

Johnny and I took a walk, and it started to pour.  It started to pour every time we took a walk on the beach during our trip .  Yeah, thank you Alex!  Tropical Storm and soon to be Hurricane Alex!

The rain didn’t persist the whole time, so we still had fun.

 

We were told, rather warned, ahead of time of the commerce on the beach.  We were approached right in our lounge chairs by people selling hats, jewelry, cigars. 

Cigars, anyone?

 

Palm frond hats?

Time to leave.  The trip back was on a sailboat instead of a speedboat.  Slower paced, probably safer, unless the weather picked up again…

 

Great picture of Dan the Man…

The day was now etched into our memories, and onto the bottle of mamajuana herbs below.     

Mamajuana, sweet nectar of the Dominican Republic!  It’ll put hair on your chest!  Hmmm, think I’ll have some.

More to come…

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It’s Not a Hurricane Yet, So Quit Your Beachin’ (R&R Part Two)

As we approached Punta Cana, the view was breathtaking from the airplane. Stepping off of the plane, the view was a little less spectacular. Not because it wasn’t beautiful, but because I couldn’t see squat. Or anything else, either.

My eyeglasses immediately fogged up, and turns out so did the camera lens. It had been raining, was raining even as we landed, so it was a wee bit humid. Just a wee. I tried to wipe the lens off a little because I really wanted a picture of the airport with its foot-thick thatched roof. This one is better, but I took several pictures, wiping off the lens each time, as we walked from the plane into the airport, and few turned out.

Made it through customs, and then boarded a bus. We were on our way to the Iberostar Bavaro, our home away from home for the next seven days.

Picture courtesy of http://www.twohigs.com/dominican_republic/hotels/iberostar_bavaro.html. It was also hard to get a good picture of the front of the resort because of the vegetation, so I stole this aerial view. Apparently, no one else has figured out how to take a picture of the entrance either. The water and the beach really are this beautiful, though. I have pics of the resort, the building we stayed in and some of the common areas, which I will include later on.

The purpose of this vacation was to do nothing, for the most part, at Alex’s request. He did not want a walking, sightseeing, or a learning type of vacation. Alex felt he had done all the learning he wanted to do for a little while having just graduated from high school, so eating, playing and soaking up sun were high on his agenda.

The sun proved somewhat elusive, but considering we arrived at Punta Cana just as a tropical storm was developing in the region, I guess we were pretty lucky it didn’t ruin our entire vacation. Yes, a tropical storm. Named Alex. We got some mileage out of that! It was overcast and rained every single day we were there, but most days we had at least part of the day to frolic or lounge on the beach. Ok by me. As the old saying goes, even a bad day at the beach is better than a good day at work. If you’re reading this, boss, that was just a little joke!

The first couple of days we just hung around the resort. We found out that the D.R. is primarily a European destination. Meaning two things. Multiple languages, and multiple boobs on the beach… and I don’t mean drunken fools. I mean real boobs. Bare Boobies. Not pictured here, of course. Some were even worth gawking at, but mostly, no. Plenty of thongs and speedos, too. Most just made me wonder. It’s a culture thing, I understand. I’m an uptight American and they’re boobloose, I mean footloose, Europeans. I get it.

Daniel and Alex played a lot of beach soccer. From what I understand, beach soccer is quite strenuous. It was fun watching them because the other kids didn’t speak much English, and our kids don’t speak much Spanish. Between them, they managed to play some pretty good soccer.

The staff at the Iberostar was second to none. They made sure we were fed, our rooms picked up, and that we never wanted for something to do. We were accosted at every turn to join this game or that, to come and make fools of ourselves for the sake of good fun. We obliged, no one was going to see us except all you people here reading this blog, so we did have fun, even as it rained. Below is one such game (this one on the beach). The good ol’ egg toss. Alex and Daniel paired up, and Johnny & Sara paired up. I took pictures.

The first toss about to begin, only a few feet apart this time.

A little further…

The stakes get higher, as do the tosses. Psyching up for the next throw…

Back at ya, cupcake…

A tricky backwards throw and Daniel making the dive…

… and ready, set, hike!

Yes, that is Sara getting ready to hike the egg like Dallas Cowboys Center, Andre Gurode (and yes I had to look it up) to Tony Romo. Only this Tony is about a mile away, and preparing to catch an egg.

After the game, I worried that we’d step in sandy rotten egg yolks or cut our feet on broken egg shells, but the beach just gobbled the eggs up. I never saw any egg goo on the beach.

Speaking of beach, can you believe this beach? Sand so white, and the beach so wide and 30 plus miles long in this area. Incredible. Lovely. Incredibly lovely. 🙂

Sara and Alex also arm-wrestled, well, not each other. They were beaten by beasts, I tell you, beasts!

They also took some Merengue lessons…

While Daniel and Johnny watched.

…and Mamma Paparazzi took pictures. That’s what Andre (an employee, except I don’t remember his name actually) called me as he tried to coerce me into arm wrestling. Me, arm wrestle? You really think that would even be a contest? Maybe if I pick my own opponent!

Here’s another shot of a couple of the beautiful flamingos that populated the resort. You’ll see more of these next time!

Stay tuned. Our trip to Saona Island coming up!

R&R in the D.R. – In the Beginning (Primero)

In honor of Alex’s graduation, we let him pick our vacation destination this summer. Well, we let him pick the kind of vacation we would have, because “I want to go to the beach” isn’t terribly helpful. So, off to the travel agent we went, thinking an all-inclusive resort somewhere so we wouldn’t constantly have to decide matters such as, what are we going to do? Go to the beach, of course. Where do we eat every day? How much alcohol can we afford to drink? Can we afford to eat like kings & queens for an entire week? When you pay for it all up front those decisions are, for the most part, already made. Sort of like a cruise, and we have so enjoyed the two cruises we have been on.

Playa del Carmen and Costa Rica came to mind, we never even considered the Dominican Republic at first. We ended up picking the Dominican Republic largely because of price! Our travel agent convinced us it was beautiful, and for a price tag of $2,000 less than other places we had considered, we felt like bargain hunters in a thrift store. Sort of.

Map courtesy of welcome-dominican-republic.com.

I knew that the Dominican Republic was in the Caribbean. It still is, actually :0). I don’t want to sound like a dummy here (duh, too late), but I’ve never been so good at Geography. I confess I didn’t realize at first that the D.R. is actually connected to Haiti. We’d heard all the stories about how callous the cruise lines were for docking cruise ships close to Haiti so soon after the devastating earthquake. We certainly didn’t want to feel like voyeurs to this tragedy, given that aftershocks had occurred not too long before we booked this trip. However, we were flying into Punta Cana located at the opposite end of the island. What if, OMG, what if another earthquake occurred while we were there? Not to sound callous like the cruise lines, but again, we would be on the opposite end of the island. So I crossed that worry off of my list.

The only worries that remained? What to wear, of course, and getting our 5 collective butts to the airport with all the stuff we needed in time to catch a 7:00 a.m. flight and, it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway, the plane crashing. I have said a prayer over each and every plane I’ve ever flown in, and also flights that my significant others have taken without me. If I’m traveling on a plane, I must touch the outside of the plane upon boarding and say a silent little prayer before the flight attendant can pry my hand off and direct me to my seat. So, now you know my little ritual. It has worked for me every time…

As every trip must have a beginning, here we are in the beginning (except me, I’m on the other end of the camera), bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 5:00 a.m. boarding the shuttle to the airport.

A little desolate at D/FW Airport at 5:30 a.m.!

We saw this strange object and felt obliged to point it out to the kids. This thing here, kids, is a p-a-y-p-h-o-n-e, and back in the day… I mean, when is the last time you saw one of these things?

On the plane (after said touching-praying ritual described above)…

…and to make Sara happy, here are the goofy ones.

Daniel didn’t get the memo.

and shortly after takeoff…

We were on our way to some fun in the sun! Definitely fun. I’ll fill you in on the sun part soon. Turns out these terms can be mutually exclusive…

Let the Commencement Commence!

Milestone at my house last weekend.  Alex graduated from high school on June 12th.  Very likely the last school district on the planet to hold commencement exercises, but that’s ok.  It let me hold on to thoughts of my baby just a couple of weeks longer.  Oh, okay.  I’ll hold on to them forever, but those twelve years went by in a flash. 

Graduation is held at the University of North Texas Mean Green (only they’re just not that mean) stadium because it’s the only place around here that can accommodate the gigantic schools in the district.  The FMHS Class of 2010 had about 635 735 kids (update, Alex corrected me on this).  Add all their brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and some friends, and that’s a house full.  Here the graduates are lining up.  Alex is the guy in the dark gray shirt, black tie. 

We were late getting there, so we made him walk from the service road to the stadium.  All students had to leave their contraband behind.  Alex was looking for us when we finally got there because he couldn’t take in anything except one car key.  Nothing else.  Except underpants.  No extras, though, but I can see where an extra pair of underpants might come in handy on graduation day or any other ceremony where you have to walk in a long dress without tripping in front of thousands of people!  He had taken his wallet also, and so it was a good thing we happened by when we did, ’cause he didn’t have his phone to call us either (phones were definitely on the no-no list).  

We were glad Alex had highlights so we could find him in the dark blue sea of 635 735 graduating seniors.  

Finally, the “N’s”!

…looking happy and a little bit proud of himself!

Receiving his diploma… 

 and hugging a favorite counselor on the way back to his chair…

 

Alex after the ceremony with Sara and Daniel

with Anna Pam and Uncle Don

with Nanny and Grandaddy

and with us.

…and then the five of us.  The Neal grandparents and Aunt Kelly were also in attendance, but unfortunately we only got pictures of them before the ceremony, on their camera.  They were out in the parking lot bravely fighting traffic as we took these pictures.  I’ll have to post an update at a later date.

Getting back to the basics, playing with bubbles back at home (bubbles, the perfect graduation gift!).  Actually, we did get Alex something else to mark this momentous occasion, but bubbles seemed a nice little extra. 

The next day we held a brunch to honor Alex and his friends and bandmates, Tyler & Jacob.  I took a few pictures just before the party, and didn’t take any more after it actually started (again, unfortunately!), but here’s the cake before it got mutilated.  We talked about carving Nick’s head out since he hasn’t graduated yet, but that seemed a bit harsh.  However, Daniel managed to carve Alex’s head out of the middle of the cake and showed everyone whose head he was about to devour.  Then the other guys mutilated each other’s faces on the cake, so you see, just because a kid turns 18 and graduates, doesn’t mean he’s grown up.  No, not so much. 

A collage poster that Alex and I put together the night before…

Some band memorabilia and the band – Tyler, Alex & Nick (unfortunately, Jacob is missing from this picture).

So, happy graduation guys!  The future is bright!  As of this writing, Alex has already been to his college orientation and registered for his fall classes.  Being the last to graduate also makes for a short summer!  Before you know it, he’ll be moving into the dorm.  Nope, don’t want to think about that just yet…

Update… after reading my friend Char’s blog about her son graduating also, I realized I didn’t even say how  uber proud we are of Alex.  Sorry, Alex!  I know you told me never to use the word “uber” again, so I’ll rephrase… we are ultra proud to be your parents, as proud as we can be, and are absolutely bursting at the seams with pride and love for you!  I’ll stop there because I’m out of kleenex.

There, that’s better!

About That Map …

I’m on a back to nature adventure of late, my bike rides for instance. Ok, ONE bike ride. To be fair, that particular bike ride was actually a “city” bike ride, but seeing that I was on a roll, I asked my daughter if she wanted to go on a hike with me last week. She did want to, yippeeeee!!!

So, on Memorial Day we packed up the hippest fanny-pack ever with a few essentials and set off for the trail at Lake Grapevine. The same tortuous, winding and bone-crunching trail I described last time through the eyes of a sexily clad mountain biker, the voice of a wounded trail-beating warrior, and the instinct of a shameless tree hugger (and if you read my last post, you’ll know that the tree hugging part is absolutely true …). Namely, me. I was bound to do better on foot, but if not, my daughter would be by my side to tend my wounds.

This is Texas and it is hot in Texas (really?). The trail is fairly shady, so it was comfortable in the shade, and hot as hell, er, Texas, out in the open. We saw some pretty flowers …

some beautiful butterflies …

I was so close to this butterfly and he didn’t flinch. Sara said he was showing us his stuff to try to scare us off. Scary little guy! We saw a bright blue butterfly twin but he did not want to show us his stuff. He just teased us for a bit then left us in the dust. Below are a few scenic shots for you. It’s a lovely trail, and doesn’t seem so treacherous now, does it? Ha, try it on a bicycle!

We even went through a bamboo forest. Honestly, I’ve been on this trail a few times, but didn’t know (or at least didn’t remember) that we had a bamboo forest at our very own Lake Grapevine. Amazing!

Taking in the fresh hot air and the awesome scenery, we just couldn’t get enough of hiking, until suddenly we did. Achingly tired tootsies and hunger pains commenced. What we had figured to be a two hour hike had turned into something more.

Johnny (Daddy-man) had drawn us a map before we left, which looked reasonable enough.

… and gave us these instructions… go for a long way, cross a gravel road, see a log, then do a loop back around and you’ll end up back at the trailhead where you started and where your car is parked. Or some such instruction like that. Who knows, it didn’t work and neither did the map. There were many logs, several gravel roads, and trails here and there, so after a while, the map went back in the fanny pack and we just walked in the direction we felt would get us back to my car, more or less. Turned out it was less.

We kept going further and further and figured, what the hell, we’ll just go to Little Pete’s, get a cold drink, a snack, then suck it up and call Johnny to come get us. We peeked over the trees (we were in a hilly spot) and could see Little Pete’s. Seemed a reasonable thing to do, no way in heck were we going to find the car. Yep, Little Pete’s was just over there. We’ll just take this little side trail and we’ll be there in no time. No time at all. Except we passed Little Pete’s and suddenly (no, not suddenly, more like a half-hour later) we were on the other side of the marina looking at Little Pete’s from the opposite direction.

Toes were throbbing and I felt like my feet were giant logs. They no longer seemed like my feet, just plodding hurting things. There were neighborhoods around, surely there was a street, but nope, nada dang street despite what the GPS told us. We were getting nowhere fast except further from our destination, and we ran into a couple on the trail and did the forbidden thing, the thing that a man would NEVER do. We asked for directions.

No, young ladies (well, one young one and one old one) no way to get off the trail for a long time this way, might as well go back from whence you came. It was time to make the dreaded phone call. Yep, we’re sort of lost. Johnny says I can meet you at the MADD hut. We never found the MADD hut, but we did finally find Little Pete’s. Honey, please come pick us up at Little Pete’s in a while? We’re going in to get a cold drink and a snack. Oh, and bring money ’cause we don’t have any. Fanny pack was stuffed with sunscreen, kleenex, lip stuff, bug spray, and we each had a water bottle. It was only supposed to be a two-hour hike, after all. No room for nonsense such as money and IDs.

Four and one-half hours later, aaaahhh, refreshments at last!

and a drink for Johnny, too.

We had fried pickles, and neither one of us is even pregnant. Well, pretty sure of that, but they did taste heavenly.

Johnny arrived to pay the bill and fetch the little women and he gently reminded us of the map, and what about the directions he gave us? Yeah, about that map … Funny thing is, Sara told her boss about our adventure the next day, about the map and the directions, and the first thing her boss said was, “Is he an engineer?” ‘Nuff said. Neither of us really speak that language.

Here we are below, tired, but alive and well, a few insect bites perhaps, but no open wounds!

One Bad Momma Biker

Today I rode, finally. I bought a brand new bike last year to replace the one I’d had for about 20 years. The one Johnny bought me when we were first married. We both had mountain bikes and used to go out and see who could get heat stroke the quickest … I always won! Not really, but think I came close a couple of times!

Anyway, back to the bike. Nothing was wrong with the old one really. It was a pretty bike, a white Panasonic something or other with pink wire thingies sticking out from the gear shift thingies. Still worked great, with occasional hiccups, but everyone in my family has newer bikes and I got a bit green. Not the environmentally friendly kind of green, the ugly jealous green. I, too, wanted a bike with no wire thingies hanging out of the gear shifts, with a state of the art braking system, and most important of all, a cushy seat and shocks. Yes, shocks. Couldn’t believe bicycles today have shocks, but turns out shocks do make a difference when you have a scrawny butt like mine. I hit a little bump, and then feel a teensy little bounce, hit a little bump, feel a teensy bounce. It’s all good. Less bruising in the area of the unmentionables.

Yep, got a cool black & teal sexy little mountain bike, especially alluring with me perched atop it. Donning my helmet and my black diaper-like bike shorts, sexy just doesn’t describe it. I usually complete the ensemble with a white and turquoise tank with black trim, and my big fat white tennis shoes. Add to that the blinding glow from my little white legs left exposed between my diaper and my tennies, and you’ve got the picture. But you won’t see it here. For that, you will have to accompany me on my ride, and if you take a picture of me, I will chase you down on my super sexy new bike and hurt you bad …

Speaking of hurt you bad, yes my bike is a mountain bike. While we don’t have any mountains in these parts, we do have a great trail at Lake Grapevine. It’s an awesome trail with some very difficult spots. My husband rides it all the time and comes back unscathed 95% of the time, and bloody the other 5%. I’ve ridden it (well, the less difficult parts of it) about three times last fall, and still have the battle scars to prove it. It would be funny really if it weren’t so sad. Definitely an art to this mountain biking, I’ve discovered. I didn’t realize what a mental workout it is, along with the physical. Naively, I pedaled down my first easy little stretch not realizing that I wouldn’t have time to admire the scenery. The name of the game is concentration. What gear should I be in to go up that little hill, oh and damn there’s a tree, hell, I can’t turn while I’m going this fast, and oooh crap, I didn’t see that ditch, which is about the time my brand new bike ditched me. Disloyal little witch.

Each time I rode the trail I gained a little finesse, and by the third ride, I was making progress. Well, that’s not really true because I fell each time. However, by the third trip I was indeed thinking hard. I was damn sure trying to figure out what gear I should be in – a high-ish gear – and how fast to pedal going down the hill – fast but not so dang fast that I can’t still navigate a skinny curvy path and avoid trees. Then, I finally figured out that, prior to arriving at the very bottom of the hill, I already need to know what gear I should be in (not so high, and make the switch instantly) so that I am in good shape to start back up the hill. That way I can get some traction and actually make progress up the hill before I fall over sideways. Seriously, this happened to me, as if I suddenly decided to stop, and just fell over. Yeah, go ahead and laugh, I definitely would have if I had seen someone else do it. The other problem I had was not being in a high enough gear going down the hill, my feet racing around the pedals like lightning trying to make them catch, all while trying to change gears and avoid smashing into Mother Nature. Then one time I did smash into Mother Nature. I ran into a tree, but it was a very small one …

So, you see, while I have a sexy mountain bike and look sexy in my mountain biking gear, I am really not a mountain biking kind of girl. I’m more of a clear wide dirt path biking kind of girl. However, I will try this again someday soon, and don’t worry, I will never ride the trail alone. If I get on the trail, it will be with my husband so he can attend my wounds when I get them. Today I rode alone, but only in and around the neighborhood. I rode down to one of the trailheads (which is close to our neighborhood) and saw all the hardbodies getting ready to bike the trail after work. You know the type, muscle-y, bike racks on their cars, all the latest gear (even better than mine). Yep, I’m down there like I’m one of them, then I just nod my head, take a healthy swig from my water bottle, smack it back into the carrier, and turn my sexy little bike around and head off in the opposite direction. Kind of embarrassing, but even if I had the cujones to get on the trail by myself, which I can assure you I don’t, I can just imagine how PO’d the world would be at me for stopping traffic on the trail about a jillion times. Not cool.

I will ride again some day, though. Some un-busy day at the trail, just me and my husband. Him in front guiding the way, yelling back at me to warn me of the various obstacles up ahead so I can mentally prepare my physical response. Then him stopping finally because he realizes that I’m not behind him. Did I get lost? Nope. Did I crash? Yep. I don’t ride hard, though, so doubtful I’d ever hurt myself bad. Just bumps and scrapes. Bumps on my shin from banging into my bike, and scrapes when I slide down the little trees …

Wanna go biking with me? :o)

A Symphonic Encounter

An unusual Saturday.  First of all, it’s 7:15 and I’m up.  Unusual because on Saturdays I usually sleep in a little.  I have nowhere to go this early, yet I woke up at 6:45.  Unusual because my main squeeze is out-of-town and another has taken his place in my bed.  What a hussy, you’re thinking, and yes, she really is.  She’ll lay in anyone’s bed.  Scandalous, but true. 

Laying here with a pup to my left (he had the decency to stay in his own bed), and the one you see here to my right.  I’m drinking my modified coffee, and thinking about last night.  I went to the Lake Lewisville Symphony last night.  Another unusual event for me, attending a symphony, but I really did go.  That alone is probably enough to make the earth quake more than a scantily clad woman.  Is that not the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard?  Well, unless you go to the other end of the spectrum to Pat Robertson’s explanation for Haiti’s troubles.  How did I get so far off topic?

Guess I’m not so far off.  Last night, the symphony was a benefit for Daniel Pearl, the journalist who was tortured and killed by extremists in Pakistan in 2002.  I believe that attitudes like the above, as ridiculous as they seem, are the driving force behind such hateful and unfathomable acts such as the Daniel Pearl murder.  There are some really unbalanced people in this world, and a little trash talk is all they need to behave abominably.  Last night’s performance, sponsored by the Daniel Pearl Foundation, was an attempt to bring people together through the power of music.  To bridge the gap, close the divide, remind us that we are all brothers and sisters despite our differences.  Lofty goals, and I’d say in that room last night, it was a successful endeavor.  Trouble is, I doubt any extremists were in attendance, but still, it’s all goodness.  Daniel Pearl’s father, Judea Pearl, spoke of his son and the Foundation’s goals of freedom and equality for all.  World peace, if you will.  I wasn’t the only one whose eyes misted over. 

Oh, and the music was beautiful.  Last night was all strings and choral.  Daniel Pearl was apparently an accomplished violinist.  The last half of the concert was a piece commissioned by the Daniel Pearl Foundation and written by a composer right here in Lewisville, Texas.  Accompanying the strings were five high school choirs from our school district.  So, now we get down to the bare bones, the reason I was at the symphony.  To hear my baby boy Alex sing, along with 300 other high school kids.  Yes, my kids are responsible for my cultural education.  I can’t take any of the credit!

A few notes (♫) on attending the symphony.  As you know, I won’t go away without making fun of something.  Am I the only toe-tapper out there?  Are all symphony-goers sit up straight, don’t act like you’re enjoying it, and for God’s sake try to look intellectual types?  Am I being intolerant?  I guess I’ve been to too many rock concerts and clubs where people truly lose all semblance of social appropriateness.  In other words, they let it all hang out.   I’d like to think there’s a happy medium, and that it’s ok for me to express enjoyment if I stay keenly aware that I’m not at a U2 concert.  Which is to say, I was getting into the music.  Oh all right, not full-out chair-dancing, but you know, nodding my head in time, and light, but respectable, foot tapping.  The place was packed.  In my line of sight, I only saw one person, save the conductor (who was so animated he was practically a cartoon, in a good way!) and the musicians, that moved any body part at all …  and that was from his neck up.  My bet he was a choir parent.

I must confess, I Facebooked before, during intermission, and after the concert.  Had to brag about being at the Symphony, you know.  My phone was on silent and in my purse during the performance, so don’t get your panties in a wad.  Hey, I’ve got some class, you know.

When it was over it was obvious how much everyone had enjoyed it, in spite of their stoicism.  Lots of clapping, standing up, sitting down, standing up again, sitting down again, clapping all the while, but as you would expect, minus the hoots and hollers and whistles you would hear at a rock concert.  So, perhaps it was just a more serene, sophisticated type of enjoyment.  Yeah.  Afterwards, the lady sitting next to me asked, do you know someone performing in the choir tonight?  I guess it was obvious that I’m not a season ticket holder.  Wonder what gave that away?  Hmmm … was it my lack of symphony-esque attire (I wore a cute short-sleeved turquoise top, white pants and flats),  my Facebooking between acts, or the toe-tapping?