Tuesday, September 23, 2008


My brother is visiting again. This time so we can play some concerts with my mom. One raised 5 thousand dollars for the Topeka Symphony-- the other raised the bar for performances for local children.

The time with my family has really been great-- especially compared to the last visit when I was all sad and grumpy. Enough was enough. I duct taped up my shattered heart-- slapped a little mud on for texture and viola!! Family fun time.

Well sort of. My mom's not too much into fun, although she did go for her second ever pedicure. The first was on the prior visit.

I made sure I did a long run (15 miles) with the MudBabes on Friday. We billed it as the "nooner/hookie" run. Lots of fun. Part of the fun was a slide into mile 9. Another home run, earning a score of 10 from Superhero mudbabe Debbie Webster (Webbie) . Dirt from my shins to my chin with no major injury. There was even dirt in my nostrils. And my mouth.
"Hey -- take my picture-- this is awesome!! Look dirty mud everywhere!"
Ample chatting is part of the MudBabe movement. Since I was mid-sentence when I fell, I took in quite a bit. Oh that's a leaf she's pointing at.

Still, Mizuno Mudbabe Kelley Johnson joined us and said my trail running is vastly improved. As my brother would say: "Outside validation is sooo important."

My arms were pretty sore on Saturday. Actually everthing was sore, including an odd spot at the small of my back. Strange since I fell forward into the mud. Fortunately it didn't affect my violin playing too much. In fact, it might have made it a little better.

I was really anxious about the Sunday concert. I haven't performed a solo concert like this in 12 years. My brother was there to play some duets with me-- but for one selection it was me and the piano (my mom). The duct taped heart shined through. I played with power, heart, soul and lots of passion.
I drove my mom home after the concert.
" You sure didn't sound like you haven't been practicing regularly for 12 years."
There were a few seeds in the musical lemonade, but like a couple rocks and roots on a trail, it just added flavor. After the concert I popped over to the station to anchor. A 2 sport day for the mind. Phew. I felt stretched.

The real star is my brother. He played like a classical rock star. Power, accuracy, intelligence and color. He peppered the intimate performance in a Symphony Patron's house with humor as he introduced our selections, and played with true inspiration. I'll admit, as I was turning pages for my mom, I was so proud I teared up. He was playing his own composition. It was hard-- and incredible.

"This world class composer is my brother."

The same brother who patched up my house.

His friend Summer Jones came in from San Diego for the concert. She added some zip to Casa Spencer where she stayed on the fine accomodations of my spare room and an air mattress. Summer got a math degree in between stints as a dancer with the Rockettes and now works as a choreographer in San Diego.

"Philip said you played wonderfully."
Wow. My super talented brother told Summer I played well. He told me too, but I wasn't sure if it was real until I found out he told someone else.

Shucks. She's sad in this picture, because the trip was too short. Don't worry Summer.. you'll be seeing me again sooon.

Not much time to breathe though-- concert number two is looming. Taking kids to a new level is time and talent consuming. And as multi-talented as I am, I needed a lot of help to make my brother's vision come through on this one. I got us into doing the concert and the payback came from Philip when he told me I was going to have to sing. While I'm pretty confident about my narration skils-- singing is another world.. but I was up for the job.

He wrote a song with piano trio accompanyment to a poem called "The Perfect Pig." The pig doesn't like itself, so the other animals offer up their best features. Since it was written in 2004, the pig doesn't get a tube of lipstick.

Philip wanted an actor or dancer to dress as a pig-- and then put on other costumes to represent the other animals on top. Favor number 1. My friend Clare gets her friend Ric Averill who is uber theater/music/children's everything guru, to pony up some costumes. Philip did the rest.

We need a page turner. A local retired heart surgeon who also plays the piano helps with that, and recorded the show, and is let my mom practice on his outstanding Steinway all week. Incidentally, he also hosted concert number one. Thank you Dr. Paul Kindling.

Meanwhile, I've taken my mom away from her job teaching French and piano at Luther College for a week to accompany us. Thank you mom.

Oh and the actor. Yikes-- who to ask. I start calling around. No luck. No luck anywhere.
Then Craig Gold our morning meteorologist shows up to pick up some tickets to the Royals, I got from an old friend in KC. He's perfect. And says he'll do it!

Nancy at the library has helped with everything along the way. Thanks Nancy.
I have a video camera, so I'm all set there-- but I could use some editing. I'll tackle that later--

Finally we needed an audience. Thanks to my neighbors on Pembroke Lane, my trail running buddies and all the folks who saw the concert promoted on KTKA.

It sure seemed like everyone enjoyed our musical offering.. Craig was adorable as the pig-- prancing around in an assortment of costumes-- and afterwards I let the kids try on the pig/fish/stag/ elephant etc parts. Now that was cute.

Most of all, I loved to see their faces-- entranced at watching the violin's bow-- or seeing a new picture that went with the animal sounds the violin represented. Grow little keepers of new experiences. Grow.

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