Archive for August, 2009

Best. Readers. Ever. (Alternate title: ‘When The ‘Bloomr’s Away…’ **Edited to add new photo

I cannot begin to tell you how much you guys delight me!

I have read every single comment and laughed my middle-aged whoop-bottom off! Nothing could please me more than to know that good ol’ has served as some sort of a cyber-space Starbucks for all of you to swing by and have a conversation with each other while I was off gallivanting– seriously, it warmed my heart and also? Made me literally LOL more than once! Thank you so much for all of the participation and the de-lurking and the humor and the (WARNING: CLICHE AHEAD–) incredible sense of community you have all created here. You have made the newbies welcome and gotten to know each other better and shared your stories and faith with each other… Makes me proud to be a blogger, I tell ya. You blessed me.

(Only problem, of course, is that now anything less than triple digits in the comments section will be a horrible, horrible personal let-down to me and will cause me to reevaluate my worth as a human being… No pressure, just sayin’. *waggles eyebrows*.)

Moving on. In other news:

My house has gone to hell in a handbasket.

I honestly considered taking pictures of the unbelievably weedy overgrown area around the front of the house, and the truly impressive collection of suitcases in various stages of packed/unpacked that Russ has accumulated IN THE FRONT HALL OF ALL PLACES SO THAT IT IS THE VERY FIRST THING THAT YOU SEE WHEN YOU WALK IN THE DANG PLACE, and the overflowing piles of newspapers/soda cans/junk mail that desperately need to be taken to the recycling center and the scummy fish tank and the… well, you get the idea. But I couldn’t bring myself to actually document it on film because I want to preserve the illusion that we live in a bright, shiny, perfectly groomed gospel music castle with 24 hour unicorns and maid service. That is how you picture my life, right? I’m pretty sure that’s the impression I leave with people. *smiles primly and smooths skirt*

At any rate, I am looking at at least a good solid week of work in order to establish a beachhead of order in this island of chaos. Expect to hear lots of whining. Also? Some indignant foot-stamping and a smattering of eyes-raised-to-heaven muttering with phrases like, “Would it KILL them to bring their dishes downstairs? What is the deal with the wet towels on the floor? Am I the only one this bothers, for crying out loud???” thrown around for good measure. Then I’ll settle down and things will go back to normal– which means just the usual amount of clutter and disorganization!

The Alaska cruise was great– relaxing and fun, with lots of good food and laughing. Betty, aka themema, was on the cruise with her gorgeous granddaughter Sarah, and we actually got to sit down and have a few leisurely ‘visits’, as we say in the South. It was so much fun to have her there, she is such a remarkable woman. The weather and the seas were both pretty good, which in Alaska can go either way at the drop of a hat. We did miss two ports of call (Skagway and Victoria, B.C.), which is unprecedented for any cruise I’ve ever been on, because of high winds at docking time– or at least that’s what they told us! It seemed kind of weird to me that wind would be a factor when you are docking a ship the size of a small village, but what do I know? At any rate, the scenery was beautiful and it’s actually very nice to spend the day at sea, though I would imagine some people on board were disappointed they didn’t get to hit all the stops.

The video shoot was fantastic– Bill was quite concerned with this one, because there were so many variables and you really only get one shot at getting good concert footage. We shot some B-roll at a fish and chips lunch and a salmon bake in Juneau, but the big concert on the deck of the ship was “the money shot.” They actually changed the filming day because it was kind of gray and drizzly, which ended up being an accidental stroke of genius. The next day we happened to be cruising down this  gorgeous 26-mile narrow fjord with glacier ice floating in the water and an absolutely breathtaking ever-changing vista on either side of the ship– mountains covered in mist, then a waterfall, then a glacier, then a forest, then a cliff…It was like a kaleidoscope of one ridiculously beautiful backdrop after another! I think the footage will be unbelievable, and Bill was absolutely giddy with relief and excitement. The concert itself was great fun, even though it was more than a little nippy when we first started out. The singers were sporting all kinds of colorful, oh-so-trendy scarves which were really less of a fashion statement and more of an attempt to keep their golden throats from freezing up! I had a front-row seat, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but I kind of momentarily forgot that these video shoots can go on for-stinking-ever… My butt and my smile were permanently frozen for the next four hours, but it was still worth it. (Russ did a knock-em-dead version of “Somebody’s Coming”, by the way!) In my line of vision I could see Betty sitting right smack in front of the stage too, and she was grinning the entire time! I think it is going to be an incredible video.

One of my favorite things about the cruise was that even though I missed the girls like crazy (and I truly did, it was so weird not to have them there), I was able to be ‘off-duty’ for a week! Even though the girls are old enough and responsible enough that they don’t require constant supervision and entertaining, any parent knows that as long as your kids are with you, you always have one eye and one ear trained on them– ‘Where are they and who are they with? Have they eaten? What time are they supposed to check in with us?’  That kind of thing. So to have 7 days where I was only looking out for myself was a real novelty! I actually read 5 books, I am not even kidding. We had some lovely dinners with some of the artists that we never seem to be able to spend enough time with, like Michael and Marcie English and Kim and Dean Hopper. We had some great sitting-around-and-solving-the-world’s-problems talks over morning coffee with two of the best Deep Spiritual Thinkers I know, Mark Lowry and Gloria Gaither. All of the most recent babies were ooh-ed and ahh-ed over, and the ridiculous rate at which the older kids were growing up was dutifully noted. I got to hang out a little with one of my favorite people ever, Emily Sutherland, and I also met some really nice fellow cruisers. All in all, it was a great time, and though I’m SO GLAD to finally be home, I am so grateful that I got to go.

While we were gone Madi and Charlotte both started their brand new schools with great success. Madi is especially thrilled with BCA, and the fact that she only goes two days a week (and works on her own the other three weekdays) is going to be a wonderful thing, I think. Charlotte loves Brentwood Academy, though I can see a little lingering anxiety as she adjusts to the new responsibilities and expectations that come with being a middle schooler. It’s only been four days, so she is still figuring out her schedule and where all the classrooms are. It is very hard for this mother’s heart to hear her baby say, “I’m feeling kind of stressed this morning…” She’s such an earnest little thing and always wants to do things right, so I’ll be glad when she’s got enough days under her belt that she’s settled into her routine. It will be just fine, I know. *smiles a little too brightly* Right?!

Well, I better get going. I’ll leave you with a few shots from the cruise, and I promise the posts around here will start coming more regularly… Even though you guys apparently took up the slack without any trouble at all!!!

(Love you.)

**Here’s a couple of photos that will answer the question, “Why would anyone want to go all the way up to Alaska for a cruise?”

(Courtesy of Morgan Easter)

(Courtesy of Morgan Easter)

**Juneau, from our balcony.

**Shooting B-roll at a fish and chips lunch with two of my favorite people, Mark and Gloria.

**Russ and I

**Setup on the deck for the video shoot.

**Russ and David- how cute are they? (Though Russ does look a little bit like he doesn’t know where he is… MORE COFFEE, honey!)

**Know what’s even cuter? David helping Wes (aka The Pocket Tenor) get dressed.

**Every once in a while during the shoot everybody had to just stop a second and take in the glorious sights that we were gliding past… That is a big honkin’ glacier right there.

**Caught Bill mid-sentence. Shirt looks nice, though.

**Ever wonder what pieces of ice that have broken off from glaciers and are floating through the water look like? Well, now you know.

**Annnnd welcome to Ketchikan!

**No, he is NOT shopping for purses, he just stopped to check his text messages.

**This beautiful woman is a remarkable watercolorist, I bought three of her paintings! Her equally gorgeous daughter is named Claire, and I tried to buy her too, but no dice.

**These salmon were swimming right under this little bridge on famous Creek Street. Russ almost wept openly and went after them with his bare hands.

*****EDITED TO ADD: Emily Sutherland and I in our fancy-shmancy  dresses! (Thanks, Em– you movie star, you!)

**I’ll leave you with this moody little lighthouse and a very cheerful fish- more later!

OH, how I would love to be sitting next to you as you watch this!

OK, so I’m minding my own business checking my mail, and something from a site called “Forumeter” shows up on my Google Alert –yes, I Google Alert myself and Russ and Babybloomr, get over yourself– and here’s what it says:

“I found these videos of high school drama kids doing lipsyncs on a Beta tape that came with a betamax player I bought on eBay. Other tapes in the collection were TV broadcasts in Seattle … so these might be from the same area? If you know these people, send them the link.”

It’s dated February 2, 1988!

Apparently these two lovely young men and their friend behind the camera made this music video in someone’s basement (that just happened to have a wooden cross in it…?), or maybe it’s where their youth group meets, or something. Anyway, one guy is lip-synching his little heart out to Russ’ vocal on “I Still Believe” and his friend is rocking the guitar parts. The performance is not exactly what you would called ‘packed with emotion,’ which is even funnier considering their song choice. It is just all so incredibly 80’s-tastic that I just had to share it with you!

And here’s the thing: if ANYBODY on the face of God’s green earth has any idea who these guys are and where they are now I cannot begin to tell you how happy that would make me.

I wonder if they have any memory of even doing this?!

I wonder if they are pastors somewhere now? Or teachers, or car salesmen… or serial killers? Bless their sweet hearts, who knew that what they did way back when they were just two bored teenagers sitting around on a rainy afternoon with nothing to do would ultimately up in the hands of Russ’ wife (who just happens to have a blog, mwahahahaha!)  and that Russ himself would be sitting in his kitchen 20 years later watching it and saying, “Oh, bless their hearts…”

And so, I now present to you “I Still Believe” by Russ Taff and two random guys that will probably never know how much enjoyment their little artistic endeavor from yester-yore has now brought to so many!

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