Tag Archives: music



Because it’s a time of endings and beginnings, May is definitely my favorite month of the year.  The spring semester ends in May, and we feel exhilarated and celebratory for all the work we’ve accomplished in our classrooms, whether we are teachers or students.  Anticipation for summer travel and summer projects is keenly felt.  Summer is a time to reconnect with friends and enjoy lengthy family dinners followed by a good game of Shanghai Rummy.  (I’m thinking a few games of Feely Cup are in order . . . )  I’m pretty sure my family would say in May, Mary is completely spastic, but I would respond saying, “I’m feeling positively giddy!” (My earworm this week is The Wind by Cat Stevens.)

May is also a time when our college student moves back home.  We couldn’t be more excited to move William home from Flagstaff this Saturday (you might recall Eve moved back home at Christmas to finish her degree and save some cash).  I’m trying not to be too worried about transporting William’s huge bed and couch to a storage unit three miles from campus in Hubby’s RAV4.  I have a strong feeling the Universe will smile upon us and all will go well.  If, instead, there is some bad karma to be reckoned with, I will be cleaning the apartment toilets at 10 pm while Hubby is out renting a truck to haul all our crap.  I’m trying not to give this move on Saturday much energy, instead focusing on how happy we will be to have William back home for THREE WHOLE MONTHS!!!!  With Eve here, too, it’s going to be a crazy, fun summer for sure.

Speaking of having our adult children back home, I wish I could travel back in time two years and slap my “oh pity me” self, who was so super angsty about becoming an Empty Nester.  OMG, what a WHINER she was.  Apologies all around to whoever had to hear my sad story about how my kids were abandoning me.  I’ve hated change my whole life, but once it happens, I’m filled with renewed vigor and vim.  (I know it’s usually “vim and vigor,” buy I’m doing a social experiment to see if I can change it.)  Hubby and I actually embraced being the only two people in our house (besides the three cats and Ruby the Wonder Spaniel).  The house was always clean and quiet, and we never ran out of toilet paper or toothpaste. There were always milk and eggs if we wanted them.  After raising three children, it felt extremely civilized (but a little boring).

If I could turn back time, slapping my old pitiful almost-empty-nester self would not be at the top of the list.  I would change a thousand things before changing that one thing.  At the top of my list of things to change would be being a better student instead of being such a wild child, visiting my grandparents in Illinois more often, being more patient with my children, and appreciating how good my life was even though we had little money.

I’ll wrap up with an interesting story from my classroom today: Our students begin the year at age three, and most of them have reached their fourth birthday now.  They are a very social, distracted bunch, so I appreciated when my lead teacher, put in place a strict lunch policy.  All children were to stay in their seats “attempting” to eat their lunches until the clock read 11:55.  This has been a challenge since our students don’t know if 53 or 59 come before, or after, “55.”  Today one boy thought he noticed the clock moving BACKWARDS, and Andrew (wise beyond his years), said, “Time never moves backwards. If any one of you can figure out how to go back in time, you will be the most famous person in the world.”  This gave them so much to think about that they quietly finished their sandwiches and fruit, their tiny containers of hummus, applesauce, and yogurt, and went out to recess with full bellies to play.







Big news:  I’m a winner!

That’s right—for the first time in my whole life, I’ve won an election.  I guess it’s not that amazing if you consider the fact that I’ve only ever “run” for something once before, and that was for 5th grade class treasurer.  I was new to Rural Elementary that year, having just moved from Illinois, so I’m thinking it must’ve been my mother’s idea.  I remember making posters decorated with tin-foil coins and buttons I made classmates wear that read, “Keep it rockin’—vote for Mary Koppen.”  It was not a surprise when Mary Ann Hendrickson won—I mean, she’d gone to school with those kids since Kindergarten . . . and in all honesty, I was a bit relieved.

This week’s election was for the Warner Ranch Phase II HOA Board.  My competition was a lovely neighbor who has served on the board for years, and a cranky woman I’ve never met who ran on the platform of breaking up “the old boys club” who didn’t even bother to attend the annual meeting!  I was a shoo-in, but still, I came home from the meeting feeling special about my glamorous new appointment.  (I’ve threatened to run for years.) My (hidden) agenda is to try to convince the board we really don’t need to call the attorneys every time somebody leaves their car on the street overnight.  I’m all about saving us some cash, yo.

In other news, Ruby the Wonder Spaniel is having a health concern.  Suddenly her breath is terrible, and when I say terrible, when we drove by the dairy farm in Maricopa last weekend on our way to Mexico, our car smelled BETTER with the windows down to allow her stink OUT, and allowing the cow small IN.  Her breath is so terrible the cats back up with their ears down and run away when she attempts to kiss them.  It’s so terrible that my car still smells like her death breath a week after our road trip, even though I’ve been driving around all week with the windows open.  Ruby has a teeth cleaning scheduled in two weeks, so hopefully it’s something as simple as a rotten tooth that needs pulling.  Her teeth have rarely been brushed since we are very selfish and value the existence of having ten fingers over Ruby having healthy, clean teeth.

This next week is HUGE.  You may want to sit down to hear this news.  Are you sitting? BASTILLE IS COMING TO TOWN!!!! My favorite band is coming to town on Tuesday, and on Friday, Hubby and I are driving to Vegas to see them a second time.  I’m giddy.  More than giddy, I’m nervous something will go wrong and I won’t get to go to the concerts. A sick child, a car accident, the loss of a finger when brushing a dog’s teeth.  I know I’m being ridiculous.  I’m THAT excited.  This morning I hugged Hubby and said, “You are the sweetest husband in the whole world to take me to both Bastille concerts this week!!!”  I think he’d forgotten because he looked stricken . . . and now I’m looking for a sub for him on Tuesday.  I think our daughter will go with me.

I know I should be embarrassed to be so excited about a musical group at my advanced age, but answer me this:  Why is it okay to be gaga over classical music, but not progressive music?  I went to hear Gustav Holsts’ The Planets a few years ago and there were PLENTY of old people there who were clearly exhilarated to hear this performance, yet when I mention going to a rock concert, I feel the quiet mocking.  And let me tell you, Bastille concerts are 100% more interesting than the Phoenix Symphony playing Holst (it was quite the snooze fest).

Last but not least, I was happy to see a new sculpture installed in the lobby of Phoenix Art Museum.  I’m a big Yayoi Kusama fan, and her large-scale aluminum pumpkin with holes cut out of it is whimsical and charming.  Come check it out!






Singing the Old Songs


Last night I had a lovely happy hour with Susan, Erika, and Patti at Pita Jungle. Each one of us have boys who graduated from high school last week, making all four of us empty nesters. We sipped our cocktails, nibbled at our appetizers, and did our best to solve the Problems of the World.  I was feeling so great when I got home that I decided another cocktail would be a good idea, especially since I needed to clean the floor and do some cooking.  All we had in the booze cupboard was gin.


William was out with friends, and the house felt too quiet.  So after my cocktail, instead of cleaning or cooking, I decided it would be fun to do a little kitchen dancing so I turned on the radio (I like the randomness of radio).   The music stirred up deep emotions, and I became very introspective (read: sauced).  I texted strange things to a variety of friends, mostly telling them how much I care about them and how much they’ve meant to me in my life.  Then I shed some tears over how much I’m going to miss my students (only five more days until summer vacation, and many of our students are transferring to other schools.  It breaks my heart, truly).  My thoughts turned to William’s high school graduation last week, and my eyes filled with happy tears as I thought about how proud Grandma Summers and GG Mom Evelyn would have been of our wonderful boy. I was maudlin, melancholy, and generally a big puddle of sorrow.

Funny how songs can trigger emotions and memories.  “Tiny  Dancer” by Elton John took me back to a summer night in 1982, driving with the car windows open singing along loudly as my boyfriend smiled his “pirate’s smile” at me.   A while later Peter Gabriel was singing, “Sledgehammer,” which took me back to 1988 when Hubby and I were dating for the third time around and making plans for the future.  Tired of the radio commercials, I put in a cd and sang along with “Sleep on the Floor” by the Lumineers. This song stirs up strong angsty feelings of my youth when I was so desperate to move away, to start over, to be something great and make a difference (things I never did).  I was filled with disappointment at myself thinking about lost opportunities, lost relationships, and the very normal and unimaginative life I have lived. From The Lumineers:

“Pack yourself a toothbrush dear
Pack yourself a favorite blouse
Take a withdrawal slip
Take all of your savings out
‘Cause if we don’t leave this town
We might never make it out
I was not born to drown
Baby come on.”

Last night I did not vacuum.  I did not cook anything for dinner.  I did not mop my floors.  I DID put myself to bed early, where I continued to text people and watched a few sentimental music videos on my phone, then finally fell into a  fitful sleep.  Ruby the Wonder Spaniel sensed my mood and chased the cats very loudly off and on all night.  I woke up with the dawn feeling completely exhausted and ridiculous and wondering what other people do in their free time.  Because I’m thinking it’s probably not what I do.

And that is why, my friends,  I should never, EVER, drink gin.




Yum Yum


If I had to create a title for the past few weeks of my life, I would call them “Angst.”

To begin with, William’s high school graduation is looming. We’re getting calls from Northern Arizona University where he will attend.  There is the graduation party to be planned.  It is a joyful time, and we are so proud of our youngest.  But seriously, would someone explain to me where all the years went?  It seems like just yesterday he was two years old and pronounced his name “yum yum.”  I do not want him to go away to college in August.  He is our youngest; my baby.  Always smiley and sweet, I simply can’t imagine not seeing him every day.  Graduation is happening in 35 days, whether I like it or not.  Watching William get his senior photos taken in the greenbelt on Saturday (thanks again, Jim) really drove the fact home: THIS THING IS HAPPENING.

More angst:  What soothes/heals/invigorates/ignites my soul is music. The fact that we were not able to attend The Killer’s concert last Sunday was a major bummer.  It was the music we listened to with our kids on car trips, at the beach, and while playing board games in the kitchen.   I think back to my youth and think of Willie Nelson and Arlo Guthrie for starters. What music is nostalgic for you, or defines an important time in your life?  Whenever I hear Sting, I smile remembering the year Hubby and I were married.  I recently read this quote, “All it takes is one song to bring back a thousand memories.”  So true!

I need to know why nobody told me Bruce Springsteen was in town?  I found out by looking at Facebook and seeing many friends who apparently didn’t miss the memo. Dang. I’ve never seen him, and it’s most def on my bucket list.  But I do have my Dixie Chicks tickets for July, my Lumineers tickets for October, and have plans to see a small British indie band at Valley Bar in May.

I will not bore you with the  other 100+ angst-filled moments of my life which occurred during the past few weeks, but will finish with this last one.  It’s a biggie:  Hubby will be traveling to Bangalore and Shanghai at some nebulous date in May.  ACCCKKK!!!  He will be gone for a total of two weeks (or more!), and I will be a lonely little petunia in an onion patch at home angsting (there’s that word . . . again) while my BFF is off galavanting halfway across the World. Actually there will not be much time for galavanting, and instead he will be analyzing/measuring/deducing/scrutinizing the Honeywell sites for IT updates.  I’m honestly super excited for him. I hope he gets to see the Taj Mahal.  I’ve heard it’s one of the best “mahals.” (ha)

And what do I do when I am feeling angsty? I cook!  One night this week, Hubby saw me getting out a bowl and exclaimed, “STOP!  Don’t cook anything new!  We have a ton of food!”  Sigh. He was right.  Imagine how excited I was to be able to cook for the Corona Band Booster Board this past Sunday?  I made these, and they were good.

Teriyaki Meatballs


1 lb lean ground beef
2 eggs
1 Tablespoons minced garlic
½ cup any type of  bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons Teriyaki sauce
3 green onions, sliced
½ tsp ground pepper


½ cup Teriyaki sauce
2 green onions, sliced, optional
2 Tbls sesame seeds, optional
2 green onions, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet (with a lip) with parchment paper.

Stir together meatball ingredients (using hands if necessary) and form 1 to 1½ inch meatballs.  Then place meatballs on prepared baking sheet with a lip (so they don’t roll off).  Bake for 20 minutes or until meatballs are thoroughly cooked. Sprinkle on additional green onions and sesame seeds if desired and offer a small bowl of Teriyaki sauce for dipping with toothpicks.






Saying a Proper Goodbye to 2015


Seriously, I can’t believe it’s already 2016.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I hate how quickly time passes.  The days of my life blow quickly by, just like in  old movies where the passage of time is depicted with calendar pages being blown into the wind.  Yep, that’s my life.

Now is the time where you would expect me to share my New Year’s resolutions for 2016. I’m keeping it simple by making the same resolution I’ve made for the past ten years: EAT MORE PIE. Pie is delicious and makes me happy. If it is a fruit pie (my favorite), then it’s a healthy choice. If it’s an apple pie, it will keep the doctor away (according to that old adage).

New Year’s resolutions are for amateurs.  Instead of making a stupid list of stuff everyone knows you’ll give up by mid-January, this is my proposition:  How about we  look back on the past year and make a list of what we’ve learned? If you are a sentient human being, you will no doubt have a) made mistakes b) made note to do things differently next time and c) likely did some cool stuff that you didn’t expect to do. Instead of examining our psyches and making a list of flaw with vows to make radical changes, how about look back at the A, B, and C (which I just listed). We can call them the Mistakes, Changes, and What Went Well.  And then (if you feel like it) you can add a list of things you are working on. We can call that list “Guilty Pleasures.”

Here’s some stuff I jotted down:


  • Decided working at Pier One would be fun (a ridiculous waste of time where I spent paycheck on pretty things).
  • Decided writing and self-publishing a book would be fun and profitable.
  • Chose to eat two lunches and two dinners each day and not exercise.


  • Worked hard to find a meaningful job (Yay, Awakening Seed School!).
  • Persisted while learning the very difficult computer program to publish my book about Mexico which nobody bought.
  • Chose to eat in a more healthful way and am still trying to lose the weight gained last year.

What Went Well This Year:

  • I found a job in a stimulating environment where I am able to use the skills unique to my person and which makes me very happy.
  • I self-published a book called Beach Dreams about my vacations in Rocky Point, Mexico. It has a beautiful photo on  the cover which I took myself, I’ve had great reviews from the very few people who have read it, and it is available on Amazon.
  • I’m enjoying my first year of owning a plot at the community garden where I’ve grown yummy veggies.
  • I have four pets who are entertaining and adorable.
  • My children are generally happy and nice to spend time with.
  • My writing hobby gives me pleasure (and saves me in therapist bills since I work it all out on the page.)
  • I’ve had many adventures in hiking with friends on new and different trails in the Phoenix area (Cacti, Coyotes, and Gila Monsters . . . Oh My!)
  • I’m extremely fortunate to have a nurturing group of friends and family who make me feel loved.

Guilty Pleasures (areas of improvement and notes to self):

  • Words with Friends is probably good for your brain . . . but probably not healthy if you play it two hours each day.
  • More novels—less Facebook.  Oh how I love looking at posts from friends!  The photos!  The sharing of adventures!  If it makes me happy, is it wrong?
  • Which leads me to this: Tequila is clearly not the answer . . . what was the question???
  • Reminder:  Food you eat whilst standing up in the classroom, or while driving in the car, or while prepping a meal REALLY DOES HAVE CALORIES. Don’t give up on your figure–you can be fit.
  • Stop expressing your love for certain bands and talking about music so much. People think it’s weird (even though it’s your passion–it’s okay to keep some stuff to yourself).
  • Stop being so preachy on your blog—people liked you better when you talked about recipes and art.

Wishing a Happy New Year to All, and remember for health and happiness,  eat more pie!



The Day the Music Died


Yesterday was the 56th anniversary of what’s become known as “The Day the Music Died.” Musicians Ricky Valens, Buddy Holly, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in that plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 3, 1959 as their plane encountered problems in a winter blizzard. Pilot Roger Peterson was also killed. They were headed to their next gig on their “Winter Dance Party” tour in Minnesota.

Growing up, I was very aware of this tragic day because it had made such an impact on my parents, who were sophomores in high school when it happened. They danced to Holly’s band, The Crickets at their high school dances and parties, and made out to them in the backseat of my dad’s Buick. They must have experienced the same feelings of grief that I felt when John Lennon was killed when I was 15. I loved the Beatles and was in my “White Album” phase in 1980 when Lennon was gunned down by some nutjob waiting outside his home.

What was your first “song crush?” I had so many that I can’t remember which came first. The first songs I loved were the folk songs my dad played on his banjo at our frequent house parties–songs by Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary, and the Clancy Brothers. I moved onto Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, then had my first celebrity crushes on (don’t laugh) John Denver, then James Taylor. In my teen years, I was all about Phil Collins, first in Genesis, then later when he started his solo career. I wore out my vinyl copy of Face Value (what a great make-out album!), and even had a bumper sticker on my car that read, “I heart Phil.” That bumper sticker was a lifesaver, deterring many a suitor, who thought “Phil” was a real boyfriend. I was such a geek magnet back in the day–was I too approachable, too nice? Anyway, that bumper sticker was irrefutable proof that no, I can’t go out with you Friday night. I’d shrug my shoulders and say, “I love Phil.”

In my 30s I dreamed of being a Dave Matthews groupie, but Hubby talked me out of it (“who will take care of our children??”). Their band’s had a very long dry spell in creating new good songs, and Dave’s ruined his voice with cigarettes, but back in the day, Dave was The Bomb. Listen to this from Live at Luther College in 1999: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOKIX8giFzk&index=1&list=PL7924F904A7C28664. I’ve seen Dave and his band 12 times, and will certainly get tickets for their gig here in Phoenix in September. After Dave, there was John McCrea, Jason Wade, Luke Lalonde, James Mercer, Brandon Flowers, Gary Lightbody, and of course, Dan Smith. So many talented voices that have touched me over the years.

Back to The Day the Music Died: I certainly should have included Don McClean in my list of voices I’ve loved. His song American Pie was written in 1971 and commemorates the plane crash. The lyrics are a bit obtuse and Mr. McLean has generally declined to comment on these interpretations, only admitting that the repeated references to “The Day the Music Died” describe the death of rock & roll icon Buddy Holly. Of course I know every word and have to listen to it each time it comes on the radio.

This has been my little version of This Day in History. Or more like The Music of My Life. Or perhaps Musical Confessions?