I have no pictures today. But I've taken a mammoth step and offered my services as a pianist to our church next year. True - I've been playing the piano since I was 5 years old and was able to crawl up on the piano bench in my grandmother's parlor. True - I took piano lessons for years from Miss Georgia Shaw who was not only a great pianist but a wonderful violinist as well. She also taught me to play the church organ and I'm really hoping that some of her teachings come back to me.
I'll never forget Miss Shaw. Two bucks a lesson and she was the kindest, gentlest person I've ever met - then and now. She made me believe that I was never less than wonderful. And I think every kid should believe that about themselves in some area. I'm not so sure whether she taught me nearly as much about the piano as she did about life. She had polio when she was a child which left her bent over nearly into an upside down U. She wasn't married. She obviously loved kids which was why she taught us all how to play the piano. She often told me stories about her life and I don't think I ever remember her saying anything negative about her life or about anyone. She was the happiest, most optimistic person I have ever met. She taught me that stuff happens to people - really bad stuff - and yet we muddle through. We survive to play beautiful, beautiful music. She taught me that I didn't need to be perfect as long as I put my heart into it.
Miss Georgia Shaw taught me that music was the great equalizer but I failed to see at the time what she meant by this. When Miss Shaw played her violin or the magnificent pipe organ for me, she was not a little, bentover person with a hairy chin - she was.........larger than life and in my ears anyway, she was perfection. No violin or organ has ever sounded so sweet to my ears.
So in memory of my piano teacher who believed in me regardless of the missed lessons, of coming in smelling of cigarette smoke, of giggling throughout my lesson, or my obvious lack of practice, I've promised my church that when needed, I would play the piano for them and for her.
So I will be praying - fervently. And I hope that I will receive some other prayers along the way because I'm going to need them. It is one thing to have shaky hands while singing, but while playing the piano - shaky hands are not so good.
So my first song is for you, Miss Shaw. Thank you for your patience in showing me the beauty of music.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Last week I had the opportunity to go to New York City for the second time of my life. The first visit was only for a day and to chaperon a student council. This past week I left on Sunday and returned early Wednesday morning. The highlight of my trip was that I enjoyed the company of my oldest son.
I haven't spent this kind of one-on-one time with Ryan since before he went to college and a certainly hope that we have the opportunity to spend time together like this again.
New York was nothing like I thought it would be. I expected to have profanity hurled at me at every step. I expected to meet with faceless New Yorkers who would rather trample me than smile at me. I expected to see people dressed as fashionably as models. I expected to be mugged in Central Park.
Surprisingly, what I found was people just like us. People of all sorts, really. I saw people who were dressed to the nines and people who dressed as if they just walked off the farm. I saw people who were in a hurry and people who were tourists.
I found that if I smiled at someone they would smile right back at me. I had more than one experience of someone holding the door for me, allowing me to go through first. I experienced valets who remembered me and greeted me with a smile even though obviously, I wasn't a big tipper.Yet another stereotype has been crushed for me. I've found so far this year that whether I am in Denver, CO or New York City, NY or State College, PA, people pretty much treat me the same way that I treat them.
Crazy New Yorkers!
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
And my beloved JoePa. That breaks my heart. I've known of JoePa all of my life. I certainly did not know him personally but I knew of him from the way my parents talked about him, my interactions with his family on committees on which I've served, from the way that the media (on good days, in winning seasons) have portrayed him. Poor judgment and the assumption that superiors within the University would appropriately take care of matters are what has brought around JoePa's end as coach. I think that is incredibly sad.
My parents taught me right from wrong - there is no doubt about that. As a kid the worst possible consequence of careless acts on my part would be to disappoint my parents. But yet, how many times have I made a decision to do something that could potentially harm someone else? Not waiting for a bigger break in traffic before making a turn, not returning a phone call, not volunteering for something, not keeping my word.
It is really sad to think that so much of this horrific mess could easily have been avoided and lives spared if someone along the way had done the right thing. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and I think that there have been many weak links. There are always weak links.
As a Penn State alumni and a Penn State employee, I will always be proud of my University. Because Penn State is the students, the faculty who teach them, the staff who work hard to provide the best, most excellent service to our students, the ones who don't earn 6 or 7 figure salaries who oftentimes, can barely make ends meet but yet show up to work each day because we believe in the value of education.