Sunday, July 16, 2017

Pacific Adventures

The Jewel of the Mariana Islands:

Hafa Adai (Hello)
Blue Linckia Sea Star
Two Lovers Point:
WWII History:  From Occupation to Liberation
Narita, Japan

Offering incense in exchange for healing power and cleansing hands/mouth before entering the temple to experience the The Goma Fire Ritual at Shinshoji Narita-san Temple: Chiba

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Venomade Lemonade 2017

Over 1,000 young entrepreneurs participated in this year's Galveston Country Regional Chamber of Commerce Lemonade Day Program.  

Ella partnered up with her friend, Trenton, and formed Venomade Lemonade. They worked hard, had fun, won several awards, learned a lot, earned a lot, and donated to good causes.

Special thanks to Hugh & Jeff's, Rainforest Pets, and all of our friends and family who supported Venomade Lemonade.
Program Requirements:  Invest 1/3, Save or spend 1/3, and Donate 1/3.  Trenton and Ella split their $780 profit, leaving $390 each.  Ella donated $130 to her deceased cousin's benefit for his two surviving children, deposited $130 in her savings, and meets with the Friend's Church committee on Wednesday, May 31st, to present her food bank donation.

Another successful year!  Thank you Gina Spagnola and Galveston Chamber staff who work with so many to make this opportunity available to our little ones.  

Previous years:  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Texas Folklife...

...and two of my favorite "little fiddlers."
Lesson in between waves of cyclers

For more than a decade now, riders cresting a hill in Belleville have been greeted by this incredibly humble--yet legendary--fiddler standing roadside playing (for four+ hours), smiling, and supporting the MS 150 cause.  Hundreds of riders stopped to get pictures and express their appreciation. 
This year, as part of the Texas Folklife Apprenticeship Program, Ella had the opportunity to join in and play with Mr. Robert, his son (Jonathan), and grandkids.  
Like father like son...good musical genes
 She had so much fun...
...and beat to her own drum.
To boot, she had her first "jam session"

"She could have [played] all night, she could have [played] all night and then have begged for more..."

So glad our paths crossed with this one-of-a-kind iconic musician--and his beautifully sweet family.  Another living tradition practiced and passed along.  Gotta love folklife!

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Yesterday, Ella auditioned for the Bay Area Youth Symphony and later that afternoon received an email that was music to our ears.

Dear Ella,
Thank you for auditioning for the Bay Area Youth Symphony. BAYS is pleased to offer you a position with the Preparatory Orchestra for the 2017-2018 season. To accept this position please respond to this e-mail....  

Special thanks to Mrs. Christa Razem (Bay Area Montessori House after school music teacher) for recommending she audition--and for having confidence in her, knowing she would only have a couple of days to practice a piece of Suzuki violin music she hadn't played in three years.  

She went in with butterflies and came out with smiles.  "It was a good day for a good day!"

Saturday, January 7, 2017


Exciting news this week from The Texas Folklife Apprenticeship Program, Austin, Tx: 

Ella and Mr. Robert Herridge ("the little fiddler" of Gilley's, "Urban Cowboy" fame) were selected into the Master/Apprentice "Folk and Traditional Arts Program."  They were selected "from a pool of highly qualified applications by a panel of esteemed professionals and Folk Life staff."  This organization specializes in the accordion-based traditions found in the state of Texas and special consideration was given to Polka and Zydeco applicants--a reason we were pleasantly surprised. 

What this means for Ella, is she will have the awesome opportunity to train under Master Robert from March - September 2017.  The program will provide support to offset the costs of his time and training, travel and supplies.  The goal of this program is for master artists ("finest practitioners of their craft") to help the apprentice improve his/her skills and work with the community to help carry on the cultural tradition.  

Special thanks to Gary McKee, Editor of Polka Beat Magazine, for telling us about the program and encouraging us to apply.  

Oh happy day! 

P.S.  I read the email from Texas Folklife to Ella when I picked her up from school Wednesday.  She was so excited, and the first words out of her mouth were, "Thank you God for putting it on their hearts to choose me."


...was a little hectic this year--not in the shopping-kind-of-way, but in the moving EVERYTHING in our house, garage, and attics, so the long-awaited home remodel could begin.  
Ella asked Santa for the usual wooden top and candy cane (which he obliged:).  
He also surprised her with roller skates and a special handmade Luke Skywalker costume--complete with Jedi robe.  
She played violin in her school's Christmas program.
Made gingerbread cookies with her friend, Gabby.
Stayed true to Christmas pasts--celebrating the journey and birth of our great King.
Enjoyed Elf Shennigans:  "Three Kings" 
Coveted daddy time
And...ended the season with our gift of experience:  
family massages to relax those-oh-so-sore-moving-muscles.
Happy Birthday Jesus!