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The Last Waltz

January 9, 2013

Stan and MP write:

The Last Waltz was the movie of The Band’s farewell concert.  We thought that would be appropriate for this blog.  We have been writing this blog for a while now and it has been fun, funny, and un predictable.  It has also served as a “what’s happening with mom/dad” for our children and a cool new relationship perspective for our friends and readers.

Times are a changing……and so is this.  We are not going to write weekly anymore and post when the mood hits.  I am also changing my weekly blog that was the driver for getting this blog out. We really loved what we did and still do… is just time for a change.

Our biggest fan award goes to MP’s daughter, Isabel.  She faithfully followed our blog and whenever we were late or we missed a week, she reminded us how important it was for her to know what goes on in our lives…..kind of a virtual check in if you will.  So to Isabel…..we are sad that we are changing this and will assure you we will do our best to keep the eclectic, funny and heartwarming stories coming in some form or fashion…..We just don’t know what that will look like.  Thanks Isabel for doing what you do best…caring and loving.

And to the rest of you who have read this….thanks for caring enough to read our stories.  We are both the creative type so you can rest assured plenty of new stuff will be coming.  In the meantime, check out MP’s website and mine for our continued creative art and music (and follies).

Have a wonderful new year and we look forward to connecting with you very soon……peace out.

Christmas Spirit

December 20, 2012

Marie-Pierre writes:

Less than a week til Christmas and I am just barely getting into the Holiday spirit.  Not sure what this is about.  For a while, I blamed the weather, the mosquitoes and the sunshine but I really think Christmas no longer looks like it used to and I am having a hard time adjusting.  Growing up, we celebrated on Christmas eve with a long family dinner interrupted by the midnight mass.  We would return home at 1:00 a.m. to eat dessert, open gifts and dance until the wee hours of the morning.  Christmas day, we would wake up late and have another long lunch at my grandparents’ house.  Once I moved to the states, I kept the Christmas eve tradition with friends although things were never quite the same.  This year is odd.   Kelsey is in Australia, Isabel and Madison are both working full time, my parents are staying in France.  I am not sure why I am hanging onto a idea of Christmas that I last experienced almost 30 years ago.

Today I felt the first stir of holiday excitement: I am planning on making a pear and almond tart for our holiday lunch.  It’ll be grand.

Stan writes:

This year’s Christmas season has been very different from years past.  In fact, in the last few years, each year has taken on a different feeling.  When MP’s parents are here with us, there is a certain energy that happens and when all of our children are here is the same yet different.  When everybody is here at one time, it again is different.

This year MP’s parents are not here, Kelsey is in Australia and Madison and Andy are in Dallas.  Emilio and Isabel are in town yet this year, Isabel is staying with us and working long hours on the campaign trail for an election after the first of the year of a State Senate seat that was vacated by the death of a Senator this year.

It is suppose to get cold this weekend, but other than that we have had warm weather and that is never helpful to get into the season.  No Christmas songs are being played yet we did manage to get some lights up and our tree up.  Yes, one could say Bah Humbug and that would be partially correct except I am not unhappy about Christmas, just having a hard time getting the Christmas spirit.

This past week I did get my shopping done and with a few exceptions, I felt as if I was going through the motions and that was weird.  I usually like this part, yet this year…..something is different.

When I text Kelsey telling her I missed her and this Christmas was not the same without her (first ever since she was born) she said that it was hard for her too and the way she was dealing with it was to enjoy what she had and to know that when everybody was all together, it would be that much more appreciated and celebrated.

This year MP, Jimmy and I are going to midnight mass on Christmas eve and the children will come over to open presents on Christmas day and then we will have a few of our friends over…..the connection is what connects me to Christmas… maybe we are moving away from tons of gifts to tons of time with our friends and family….that I can get excited about……Happy Holidays.

The Grammys

December 6, 2012

Stan writes:

I almost didn’t go….I was going to find a reason why I could not attend……yet I did.  My friend Dan Workman, who has been a part of the Recording Academy for many years reached out to me and asked me to go to a mixer for artist/musicians/producers to connect and to look at becoming a member of the Recording Academy…..yes the same one that sponsors the Grammys every year.

 I did not go because the sponsored the Grammys, I went to connect, to meet people and to see what The Recording Academy was really like.  I had gone on line and seen that it did so many wonderful acts of service for musicians that I was really interested.

Right before I left, I texted MP and owned how scared I was yet somehow I knew that this was where I was supposed to be.

Since that date, I have become a member, been nurtured and praised by MP many times, been nurtured and praised for all my friends, and most of all I got to go back and take a look at what I have done with my music and I even impressed myself and my inner critic.  For once, my inner critic was speechless……my work is to keep it that way. 

So you think any of my family will want to go the Grammys with me when I go……I don’t think that will be a solo trip.

Marie-Pierre writes:

Stan is now a voting member for the Grammys.  How cool is that? 

I am very impressed with his accomplishments: all the original songs he’s created and all the music he’s played.  It’s fairly easy to overlook the talents of the person who shares my life sometimes.  As it so happens, the only voting member of the Grammy I happen to know is the same person who drops his dirty clothes beside the laundry basket three or four nights a week.  Somehow that detail sometimes takes a whole lot more importance than it deserves.  I also get to hear many, many, many repetitions of the very same chord, over, and over, and over whenever a song is brewing so it’s hard to get excited about the end product sometimes.

How many times should we listen to a demo CD?  On every trip to the grocery store?  Or only every other trip?

But there are rewards.  I have been telling everybody I’ve met that my sweetheart is a voting member of the Grammy.  The oohs!  The aahs!  It’s like living with a baseball star.  Utterly worth listening to a thousand demo CDs.  Absolutely cool.

Thanksgiving Week

November 28, 2012

Marie-Pierre writes:

Thanksgiving in France was nothing like I had imagined.  Forget the scrumptious food, the holiday shopping and the long walks on the seawall: our entire family got sick.  We spent our time nursing each other and swapping notes on the local virus’s progress through our bodies.  Goodbye buttery croissants and steaming cafe-au-lait, welcome dry toast and water.   On the bright side, we had plenty of time to talk and watch television, especially one very long documentary on elk breeding in the soviet union (I am serious too). 

I cooked homemade soup.  The local doctor made a house call and happily reported that half her patients were down with the same bug.  I faced-time Stan and Emilio, gave them virtual grand tours of the house and made them cheer whoever happened to be in bed. 

Just a year ago, my parents’ internet connection was a spotty affair that provided limited access on a slow home computer, but they’ve recently upgraded to wi-fi, opening up a new world of communication.  Isabel set my mom up with Skype and I was able to speak with Stan at will.   No matter the setbacks, it was a nice visit. 

My parents are getting older, making plans for what they know will be the last phase of their lives.  They are putting the family house on the market with the intent to move permanently to their summer house in southern France.  I am glad that they are so clear about what they want and sad that I will soon lose another connection to my past.  With my parents gone, there will not be a reason for me to return to my hometown.  I don’t want to think about it too much.

I’ve promised to come back when it is time to pack for the move, in six months, a year, more.  Who knows?  At least it’ll be one more trip “home”.

Stan writes:

Thanksgiving week this year was different than the past years.  Usually MP’s kids go with their father and visit his family in Mexico and I alternate years with my ex-wife.  This has given us some really nice Thanksgivings as we tend to fill in the gaps with our friends that are spending Thanksgiving alone…..we call them our orphans.

This year MP went to France with Isabel, Kelsey is in Australia, and Emilio is in Canada.  So I was looking at spending Thanksgiving alone and I was OK with that.  My daughter Madison and her husband Andy would have nothing to do with that and wanted to come and celebrate with me…..I was thrilled.

We had the best day.  We cooked all the old recipes, we watched the Texans, we ate, we napped, we watched TCU beat UT and we laughed and Dan (Andy and Madison’s dear friend) came over for desert which we enjoyed by our new fire pit, courtesy of my daughters for last years birthday present.

It was a special time and I LOVED IT. I missed MP terribly as we Facetimed every day almost and my buddy Jimmy came over the weekend for a little connection and sound time.  I never got lonely and this house is never the same without my sweetie……it is truly OUR house.  Many, many things to be thankful for this year.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 21, 2012

We want to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving and even though we are separated by distance (MP and Isabel in France….Stan in Houston)…..we are so grateful for each other, our families and friends, and for all of your attention to our sharings each week….from us to you…….happiness and gratitude.

The Texans

November 15, 2012

Stan writes:

This is the time of year where you will hear the word Texan spoken a lot around our house and especially on Sunday.  It also has nothing to do with the State and every thing to do with our local football team…..the Houston Texans.

I have been an Oiler/Texan fan all of my life and I really am cherishing the fact that they are doing an amazing job this year and I am cautiously optimistic that we can go all the way.  Sundays have become win days, something that was not always there… fact, they are winning so much, they have spoiled a lot of us.  Anyway, one of the Texans biggest fan is my son in law, Andy.  He had purchased tickets for him and his best friend Dan to fly to Chicago and go to the game.  This is where the story gets interesting.

Long story shorter….It turns out his tickets to the game are counterfeit.  He purchased them off Craig’s list and is a very prudent shopper.  When he found out they were counterfeit he double checked and hand a friend email them and ask about the same tickets Andy bought and he said he had them….Andy knew it was a scam.

He contacted the local police and Chicago tv station and he ended up leading a sting operation to bust this counterfeiter who had 44 arrests. Andy got on TV, got tickets to the game, and got to attend the game of year AND the counterfeiter got busted…….way to go Andy.

This added a whole new dimension to my Texans……integrity………maybe this is our year.

Marie-Pierre writes:

I know it’s game day when I see Stan wearing his lucky red Texas shirt.  The shirt has been washed quite a few times now but it has not lost its power to make the team win.  Without it, the Texans would simply go to pots.  

Each Sunday brings a great deal of anticipation and excitement: the television room needs to be just so, we need to have beer and barbecue on hand and the garden needs to look impeccable (although I am not sure why).  I don’t usually watch the game but I will check on it from time to time.  Mostly I want to know that the Texans are doing well and Stan is going to be o.k.  Losses make him grouchy.

I used to go out during the games.  Now, I just like to work in the studio.  I am used to the ritual and I enjoy the company of Stan’s friend, perhaps one day I’ll buy a red shirt too.

The Zombies

November 7, 2012

Marie-Pierre writes:

I am addicted to watching “The walking dead”.  It started when I noticed the series appearing in our Netflix queue, indicating that one of our children, most likely Isabel, had been watching the series.  

 I clicked on it, partly out of morbid curiosity.  I am not a fan of horror movies.  My imagination is far too vivid to allow for more monsters under the bed than I am already able to produce on my own, and I won’t stand for the kind of horror porn that dwells on torture and chain saw massacres, but I will occasionally stomach a little fright if the plot is good.

I love a good Stephen King book and I love “The Walking Dead.”  There is nothing to be too terribly frightened about.  The zombies’ make up is so obviously fake and overdone and the zombies are so slow-moving and dumb that a ten year old can beat them with a broom.  But the living characters are outstanding: the small band of survivors making it on their own with the same set of clothes and perfect hair for three straight seasons.  Once in a while, someone gets eaten by zombies and we get to see lots of fake entrails oozing in bloody ketchup but basically, “The Walking Dead” is just another version of the classic boy-scout survival tale in a wilderness.  Grizzlies have been replaced with zombies is all.
The plot is outrageous but riveting.  The best kind of fright is the one that’s completely fake.

Speaking of fake, Stan has taken to developing his own zombie persona, frequently appearing in my studio dragging his left leg and lolling his head with a vacant look and hanging tongue.  He is as good as most of the zombie actors on “The Walking Dead”.  

I’ve caught up with both seasons and now watching live on Sunday nights.  It’s a good life in the land of zombies.

Stan writes:

When MP gets hold of something, she can really go with it.  The local flavor lately has been Zombie movies while she does her art.  She loves to distract her mind with music or a movie while she does art as she is a wonderful multitasker and it quiets her monkey mind.

Zombie movies did not stop there.  She got so hooked on them, and probably ran out of the good movies, that she has taken on a cable series call The Walking Dead, and is slowly catching up with the most current shows.  In fact, she did catch up this weekend and watched her first series “real time” Sunday night.  It was almost a religious experience for her.

Usually she does not do well with scary movies late at night, but the acting in these movies are so fake that she knows that this is not real and so she gets more entertained than scared.

My favorite part is to act like a zombie and slowly walk after her.  Even though she knows I am faking, there is a part of her that gets scared, and she denies it vehemently.  It is just like when her son was young, she would do the scary witch to him and he would run and get so scared. Well, when she does it now to him, and he is 21, he acts like he is not scared but you can still tell that the scary witch still gets his goat…….and that is exactly what MP does…….two peas in a pod.

So we are having some fun with Zombies around here……so the big question is why do all zombies drag their right leg?

Fire Pit

October 31, 2012

Stan writes:

Both of my daughters gave me a fire pit for my birthday and it has been sitting in it’s box since then.  With the first cold front that came through, it was a perfect time to put it together and to claim a part of the back yard that had previously not been used.

To make matters even better, this was the night I was having all the musicians over to my house to celebrate the arrival of the Flyin Blind CDs from the duplicator……project finished…..time to celebrate.  So I put together the fire pit and it was awesome. Since my daughters gave it to me, it made it that much more significant.  MP seemed to have some excitement about this project, as long as the mosquitos were not out when we use the pit.  Fortunately, the colder weather drives mosquitos away.

I had gotten all the trappings and when everyone arrived they were greeted with fancy ass beers and soon we were all off for a Mexican Food feast.  When we got back we stoked up the fire and the pit roared.  There is something about sitting next to a fire that is mesmerizing and comfortable.  The fire was a hit, the party a success, and many ideas for our next project were flowing.

The icing on the cake was the chairs that we used to go around the firepit were now there and it opened up room for some lounge chairs by the pool……..that idea MP and my daughters really liked…..I guess everyone is tired of laying on the ground.  It seems like each month we find more ways to call our house our home……thanks Madison and Kelsey for the last push.

Marie-Pierre writes:

 We got a rare night around the open fire last weekend.  The temperature had miraculously dipped into the 40’s, killing most of the mosquitoes and sending us scrambling for a sweater and…firewood.  Stan’s daughters had given us an outdoor fireplace that had stayed in the box throughout the summer months.  It was time to assemble it and pretend we lived in a cold enough climate that we could huddled around an open fire with a drink and a good story.  Stan did a superb job at setting the outdoor fire pit between the pool and his studio and at stacking eight bundles of logs nearby.  It was glorious.

We ended up going through all the woods.  Not that it mattered.  The weather is back in the 80’s today.  We won’t need the fireplace for a while.  Or maybe we’ll just crank it up so the smoke will deter the newest batch of mosquitoes.  It’s Houston, land of the near-permanent sweltering summer where Fall lasts a day.

Google + Skype

October 24, 2012

Stan writes:

Since Kelsey went to Australia, our connection has been Skype.  At first, I really wanted her to have a phone and texting…..yet my real connection is on Skype.  We have worked out the texting and she now has an Australian telephone number so we can contact each other….yet my real connection is Skype.

Two days ago I was able to Skype with Kelsey and Madison for the first time since Kelsey left.  Usually I am one on one with Kelsey, yet this was more of a party than a phone call.  Skype got a little spotty when we tried to add the third party so we went to Google + and everything worked great.  We had set that up before she left.  What is cool about Google + is that you can put on different costumes over your pic like hats, accessories, and sound effects.  MP has used Facetime with Emilio and when I get my new Iphone that may be another option also.

With Madison and Kelsey on Google+, I looked down and Madison had on this goofy hat and sunglasses….on the screen….and that started it…..after that it was a free for all.  Before long we were cracking up and it was like the old days… Madison and Kelsey getting really silly and all of us laughing until we cried.  That felt really good…..I miss having those times.  Now that my daughters have grown up and moved on, those times are not as often, and when they come I cherish them.

I love my daughters and I love technology that I can see Kelsey weekly in Australia….even to the point where a regular phone call seems lame.  Thank you Skype and Google + for letting me connect in a special way each week.  I think this will help me get through the times Kelsey is away.  I get to see Madison this weekend so I am happy and I know we will laugh and probably get online to talk to Kelsey for some more fun……this is very cool.

Marie-Pierre writes:

Every few days, Stan sets up a Skype appointment with Kelsey in Australia.   He sends reminder texts an hour or so before start time and he dials in at least five minutes ahead of time.  Since the skype conversations come over the speakers, I do my very best to stay clear of the office and tune out any bits of conversation that might reach through the door.  Not that anyone would object to me dropping by and saying “hello” (I’ve been invited more than once), but we have the tacit understanding that we do not interfere with each other’s children.

A couple of days ago though, I was invited to participate in a “google hangout” with Kelsey, Madison and Stan.  The atmosphere was decidedly upbeat.  

There was Kelsey in her hotel lobby in Australia, Madison at her apartment with her little dog, Holly, jumping around and barking, and Stan and I sharing a chair in Stan’s office.  Google hangout offers a vast array of virtual props (fake hats, mustaches, etc…).  We had a great time being a little foolish.  Stan and I found out we could pass a virtual halo between our heads.  The girls giggled for no good reason.  It pretty much felt the way some of our regular encounters do, including me bailing out early to bed.
The wonders of technology…

Fashion Consultant

October 18, 2012

Marie-Pierre writes:

I am the first one up and since our space is completely open, I get to talk to Stan while getting ready for work.  If he is in a good mood, I can expect a running commentary on my lengthy process of picking just the right clothes for the day.  I generally try several outfits, even if it’s just swaping  shoes or jewelry.  And I have to stand in front the full-length mirror and turn this way and that to judge the effect.
On bad days, I might take at least 30 minutes to go through the routine.  On good days, only five.
Stan likes the brighter colors.  “Try the green sweater,” he’ll say or “boy, all grey today, are we exciting.”
He loves when I take his suggestions.  He’ll call himself a “personal fashion consultant” which is true, especially for the last minute calls:

– You black shoes are by the front door where you left them yesterday
– If you are looking for your silver earrings, they are by your bed
– There’s about a dozen hairclips in the middle drawer
– Your red sweater is in the back of your car
– You left your blue sweater on the couch downstairs
– The last time I saw your orange t-shirt, was in the laundry room
– Do you know there is a blue shirt in the refrigerator?
– Your phone is on the shelf
– Your phone is in your underwear drawer
– Your phone is under your bed
– Your phone is on the dining room table
– Your phone is in your left shoe by the backdoor
– I just put your phone in your purse so you wouldn’t forget it

I don’t know how he does this. I am impressed.  I feel loved.

Stan writes:

Every morning that MP works, we have some rituals.  First I hear the foghorn that she has an alarm and on an average morning she takes a while to get up.  I think it is the ol “set the alarm earlier than I need to so I can get that extra  15 minutes of sleep that I can be awake to appreciate.”

MP usually gets up before me although I am wide awake just getting ready for my day.  This is a time I love to breathe and get focused on my intentions for the day.  MP has other plans…..sometimes.  When MP wants to talk, breathing is not an option she wants to hear.  She says that when I don’t talk she thinks something is wrong with me, but I have my quiet times too.

What I have found that she really wants is my world class unique fashion advise.  When she dresses for work, it can be a lengthy process if it is one of those morning where no clothing combination is working for her.  I usually hold my thoughts because my fashion advise is so spot on that I don’t want to make her feel bad.  So who believes me so far???….any takers…..come on Isabel.

Anyway, lets just put it this way…..I will let my fashion advise stand on its own and you can ask MP how many mornings I give her awesome fashion input… is priceless and most of all it is unique.  I guess if music doesn’t work out I know where to go………to write more music…..see you next week.