Posts Tagged ‘Kenny G’

Just A Night Out

I am a lover of music.  If you follow my writing, you’ve probably figured out that music inspires me.  However, when I try to make my own music, the result is never what I plan.  I have to rely on the gifts and talents of others to fulfill this need.  So when my favorite performers visit my city, I indulge in the opportunity to see these talented musicians.  Since I don’t miss these opportunities, my sisters tease me … groupie.  Of course, I refuse to wear that label.  I am NOT a groupie.  But here’s my latest little story of simply a night out … with Kenny G.

Last August, I received a flyer from the local symphony for the upcoming pop series season.  One of my favorites headlined the brochure – back in town to perform with the symphony in January – my birthday month.  No more shopping required!  We went on line to purchase tickets (remember last August) – not soon enough for the best seats, however, for either of the two scheduled performances.  We had to settle for choral loft which is behind the stage (musicians’ backs to us).  The only other choice was very top, upper grand tier, on the sides.  Having been to Helzberg Hall several times, I knew there wasn’t a bad seat in the house but was a bit bummed that we were six months away and had to “settle” for these.  I had hoped for the orchestra or parterre section.  I printed off the tickets and tucked them away in a file awaiting my birthday month.

A few months later, I also scheduled a foot surgery for the first of December and really hoped I would still be able to attend the concert on January 17.  I had just ditched the crutches the day before the concert and felt I could leave the foot down long enough for the performance and wear my walking boot.  But I did think it would be a good idea to valet park.  So I went on line to buy the valet parking ticket and noticed an additional performance had been added.  Seriously?  I couldn’t believe it.  I could probably get better seats for the added performance on Sunday, but we already had Friday evening planned.  So I thought, “Oh well, not worth the trouble. We’ll just go as planned.”

We arrived early, and I had a plan to buy Kenny’s latest CD, wait in line to have it autographed, and be included in the drawing for the saxophone giveaway.  (He gives away one at all of his concerts.)  I walked through the front doors of the magnificent Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts just as the ushers were being released to man their posts and immediately saw an old friend, Heidi, a retired school teacher who now works this seasonal, part-time job.  We chatted for a moment catching up, and she asked jokingly if I was one of those crazy fans they had been warned about who might storm the stage.  A groupie?  Not me!  We laughed, and I assured her I would only take my chances at winning the saxophone in the drawing.

I was the first one to buy a CD and the first to wait in line for his autograph.  I waited patiently.  He arrived at the table about 45 minutes before curtain time and autographed the CD.  I said: “Thanks for coming back to Kansas City, Kenny.”  He smiled and said, “Sure thing.”  Without further ado, I yielded my space to the next person (no groupie here 🙂 ).

My foot was tiring, and the boot was a bit heavy, so I asked to squeeze in on a bench by the southern glass wall of the modern architecture.  We sipped coffee.  I decided to “check-in” on Facebook and was in the middle of the post when, to my surprise, there he was about four feet from me!  He had picked up the saxophone from the display table and brought it over to the light.  I shifted gears quickly to snap a picture.  But silly me somehow clicked away from the page before posting and lost the close-up picture.  Not to be completely discouraged, I walked over to the table where he had returned and had to “settle” for a back shot.

It was time to find our seats in the loft.  We took the elevator to the next floor up, and I had to negotiate a few steps down to the first row of the loft.  I found our seats a few spaces in, right center.  Instead of individual seats, it was a curved bench seat with a back and completely cushioned – very comfortable.  And I was surprised with the tremendous view.  Had I been a “real” groupie with two good feet, I surmised I could jump down right on the stage with them – all of them – Kenny, his band, and the symphony musicians.  Instead, I settled into my assigned spot and observed the sheet music in the percussion section, “My Heart Will Go On.”  I removed the heavy boot and leaned it against the railing wall in front of me as the musicians filed into their seats.  And not being a rookie or a groupie, I didn’t need to see the difference in wardrobe to recognize his four band members over the symphony musicians, although that was an appropriate distinction and quite striking.  (The band members were the “men in black” and the symphony musicians were in white.)

Maestro entered the stage floor with a warm applause; and then from behind me, I heard the familiar sound of a horn, the soprano sax I have come to love.  The vessel for this wonderful sound walked down the same steps I had just taken a few minutes earlier and came to rest on – you guessed it – the front row of the choral loft!!  Of course, being rooted in legalism, I wasn’t about to snap a picture during the performance.  That is prohibited.  But I certainly did enjoy all of the moments – yes, the entire song.  When the song was over, Kenny traveled the entire length of the front row choral seats all the way to the other end.  Oh my goodness, he was headed straight for me and my boot was in the way!!  If he (all 135 pounds) tripped over it, I could reach down and pull his ringlets.  But then my sisters would be correct – I really would be a groupie.  So what do I do?  I cleared the way; grabbed my hefty boot, purse, and scarf; and protected my bum foot as he barreled in front of me “slapping five” with everyone along the way.  (What a moment!)  We smiled as he headed down to the stage, and the evening passed all too quickly.  I thoroughly enjoyed my early birthday present.  Unfortunately, he did not draw my ticket out of the fishbowl.  I was not the lucky one to whom he serenaded and handed over the saxophone.

Heidi found me again as I waited for the valet to bring around our vehicle.  She noticed where we sat, that we witnessed so close the impressive entrance, and wished I had won the sax.  Yes, it would have been nice.  But I enjoyed every note of every song and think I understand why the musicians led the way into battle in the Old Testament stories, why Gabriel will blow his horn on that all-important day, and why there is singing in heaven.  And I am grateful that we have all of these things – gifted people and music – to enjoy a little bit of heaven on earth on just a night out.

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Let It Snow

Why do I love this white stuff that others detest, even abhor?  I don’t know.  Let us reason together.

The first decade in my life was lived out in my birthplace town in southern California.  On clear days, I remember peering out the window in our dining room and seeing white-capped mountaintops.  They seemed close yet were so very far away, especially the white stuff on the top Mother said was snow.  I believed her, although the only snow I had ever seen fall was on Christmas television specials.  I remember longing for the white Christmases I would see with Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Andy Williams, and the like.  Snow in these programs added magic to the holidays and the Santa story.  But Santa always seemed to make it to our house without the snow and without the chimney.  Thank goodness!

I remember going to my older sister’s Christmas program at school and loving the part where she walked around with a boy in a winter village while singing “Winter Wonderland” and thinking how neat that was.

I remember one year, snow was predicted north of us.  Mother planned a day trip to take us and our friends to play in the snow.  But tonsillitis struck; and I wound up staying with my friend’s mother while she, my sisters, and their friends got to go play in the snow. 🙁

The next year, snow had fallen again north of us and Mother tried her best to get me there.  But by the time we arrived, it had melted. 🙁  Was I ever going to get to see and touch real snow?

I also thought it would be wonderful to wear a fur coat so frequently pretended that my house robe was a fur coat when I dressed up and played “house.”    I watched Mother pack to travel back to the Midwest one autumn for her brother’s funeral (way too young to die) and was fascinated with a cardigan with a fur-trimmed edging going in the suitcase.  It looked like mink, but I’m sure it was just a good imitation.  She told me it could already be cold in Missouri.  I wondered if there might even be snow and thought how lucky she was to get to make the trip, although it was a sad time.  The first thing I remember asking her when she returned was, “Did you wear the sweater?”  (Alas, it wasn’t cold enough – didn’t get to wear it.)

Then the year came that Daddy moved us to the Midwest – the summer of 1965 – and I couldn’t wait for the first snowfall.  As I was getting ready for bed on that first Christmas Eve, the weatherman said there could be a flurry or two but nothing to be concerned about; and, certainly, we didn’t need to expect a white Christmas.  So off to bed I went a little disappointed but at least the excitement of Christmas was still in my heart and I was hopeful that the next few months would produce a few snowflakes.  And, of course, Santa was still very real so there were presents to look forward to.

I woke up the next morning, early as usual, and first thought I had slept in.  The room seemed especially bright.  The house was quiet, and I was sure no one else was awake.  Had we all overslept, even Daddy?  I peeked through the curtains and couldn’t believe my eyes.  SNOW!!!  The entire ground was covered.  In fact, I couldn’t see anything but snow.  I couldn’t wait to wake up my sisters.  And so, my friends, I learned the weatherman does “miss it” sometimes – a white Christmas indeed.  I believe about ten inches were officially recorded and, thus, I finally got my day in the snow with a few more days added on for good measure.  Sisters and I built a snowman and had our first snowball fight.  And while I didn’t have a fur coat, I did have a coat with scarf, mittens, leotards, and boots.

After a few years, the novelty wore off and I realized that snow could also dampen our modern running-to-and-fro lifestyle, but I always appreciated the beauty, especially the beauty of undisturbed snow.

My first trip to the Rocky Mountains surprisingly came in the summertime as a baseball mom.  For two straight years, we traveled to Steamboat Springs for a baseball tournament.  One of my sons and I thought it would be really cool to return in the wintertime and learn how to ski.  We kept that secret to ourselves since the remainder of the family didn’t share that sentiment.

A few years later, I visited Lake Tahoe with my sisters and Mother in the fall.  Although there wasn’t enough snow to learn to ski during that week in November, the majestic mountains capped with snow surrounding the lake provided us with some of the most breathtaking views known to man.  And then one winter, I specifically took a winter vacation to Estes Park just to be around the snow.  By that time, I had given up on learning to ski.  It was sufficient to sit around the fire and admire the views.  I still loved snow.

But maybe there’s a deeper reason.  I love my recently-paid-off car.  It’s pearl white, the color I wanted when I purchased the car before it.  I watched someone drive that car off the lot as I returned to make my down payment.  I had to settle for a blue one instead.  So when I shopped for my current car and found it in pearl white, I didn’t hesitate.  My very first car was also white.  I once had someone point out that white is a sign of hope.  And I read that white depicts faith, purity, and perfection.  [Hmm … pondering]

Although I do have an appreciation for the ocean and a tropical vacation, if I could pick only one dream vacation, it would be to hunker down with the fire, cocoa, and my journal with a blanket of snow surrounding outside amidst the mountains.  Yes, I do love snow.  But since I live in Kansas City, I must settle for  four or five blankets a year and appreciate the beauty when it arrives – like the other morning.  While others were cursing the cold and commute to work, I smiled and watched the sun rise up over the winter wonderland on this second day of the brand new year.

I pulled out of the drive in my white hope, and since I hadn’t tired of Christmas music, listened to Kenny G serenade  … sleigh bells ring are you listenin’ … – you guessed it – “Winter Wonderland.”

And one other tidbit that comes to mind:  “Though [my] sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow …” Isaiah 1:18  (NIV)

Maybe that’s why I love snow.

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Hope Deferred

Here I go again – talking about HOPE.

It occurred to me this morning that I speak a great deal about this – HOPE.  If you stroll down my archived blog, you will notice just how much (Hope Again; Hope, Even When We Don’t Want It; even in some that do not have the actual word “hope” in the title).   Seems I blog about what I need most.  I must have HOPE to hang on in my desperate situation.  I know that I am not alone.  We each have our own desperate situations at times.  Mine happens to be a financial predicament, much of which was not my own doing – but that’s another story.  This predicament of mine has continued for a few years.

I find myself chipping away at an iceberg that seems insurmountable, but I am “chipping” away.  The problem is, if I lose focus and stand back to look at the very large picture, I am overwhelmed and hopelessness creeps in.  There seems to be no way out.  To keep my focus on the daily task of “chipping away,” I have to keep the possibility of a “miracle good happen” in place.  So silly or not, here’s what I do:

  • Buy one lottery ticket a drawing, whichever one is the highest (hey, you never know and it’s just a dollar or two) 🙂
  • Keep a vision for Reflections (hey, it could be the next Chicken Soup for the Soul or the next Songbird – the song that changed Kenny G’s life) 🙂
  • Imagine that I write the song of the year that Jim Brickman plays and Carrie Underwood sings (hey, it could happen) 🙂
  • Consider that someone like Donald Trump could read my blog or my book and want to do something to help (sort of like that long-lost, never-known billionaire relative dying) 🙂

So you notice the little happy faces after each item?  These are my miracle possibilities, and they help me stay focused on the practical thing of “staying the course” and slowly chipping away through daily commitment to my job, my source of income.  And someday, just like in that famous race, the unexpected tortoise may come out the winner.

You see how important HOPE is?  We cannot lose it.  And if we lose it, sometimes we need help to restore it.  I lost my hope this week, was overwhelmed, unable to focus, and actually became physically sick from hopelessness.  I am not ashamed to say I called my mother for prayer.  That very night, I felt the heaviness float away. (Thank you Mother and Lucy!)

My hope was restored; and, yes,  the morning brought about another work day – another day of chipping.  But wait a minute, I better check my ticket from last night’s drawing – you just never know! 🙂

WE MUST HAVE HOPE!  HOLD ON TIGHT TO YOURS!

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  Proverbs 13:12  (NIV)

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