Monday, March 19, 2007

Swingtime in Alabama!

(Posted by Michael)

In order to fully explain the contents of this entry, we have to go back in time. In the spring of 1991, I was sitting in my psychology class at Samford when my friend, Andy Underwood, turned around and simply said, "Harry Connick Jr." I had heard this name several times in the previous month, but I was at a loss for who he was or what he did. I asked Andy, "Who is he?". The only response I received was "He is bad" (bad meaning good in this instance). So, I went home to Huntsville that weekend and while visiting my Grandmother, I notice that she has a little extra glint in her eye and some more spring to her step (she was a tap dancer in her younger days). She told me that she had just seen on television the "next" Frank Sinatra. I knew that this "next Sinatra" must be somebody special for her to make that kind of statement. She had seen Sinatra when he was at his peak-- from the bobbysoxer days to the the Rat Pack era. Naturally, I inquired the name of this person. Harry Connick Jr. The pieces of the puzzle started coming together.

I drove to the music store (Camelot for all the Huntsville readers) and purchased his new CD. The bonus was that he was touring and came to Birmingham that May. After that concert (which was fantastic), I proceeded to tell my friends to never miss the chance to see Harry Connick Jr. in person. With Harry, not only do you have the singer, but he is also the conductor and the piano player. Not just the piano player, but one of the best in the world. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to see Harry three more times over the years and was very excited to surprise Paula with a Valentine's present of tickets to see Harry in Birmingham. For those of you who read our blog on a routine basis, you already know that plan was thrown out the window when dates were added to the tour and Huntsville became a venue. Miss fancypants had to get her front row seats (which were actually the fourth row because SOMEbody did not take into account the orchestra pit area). Hindsight being 20/20, it all worked out in the end. Being so close almost felt like being onstage with the band.

Mardi Gras came to Huntsville that night. Harry brought New Orleans and the French Quarter to us. The people who attend concerts in Huntsville know and appreciate their music. You do not have to ask the crowd to get out of their seats. This kind of appreciation always brings out better performances from the artists. It was entertaining me to notice that most of the front row was occupied by women....ladies of all ages who came all dolled up, convinced that they had a chance to steal Harry from his lovely wife, Jill. Poor ladies. Harry is a family man.
The little extra for me this time was that I held onto those seats in Birmingham and actually saw Harry two nights in a row. Trust me, this man gets better every time you see him. At age 39, there is a lot of music left in his soul that has not been tapped. I look forward to enjoying his music with Paula for a very long time.

Wherever life takes you, have a happy heart and a little swing in your step.

With a Wink and a Smile,

Real Men DO Drink Tea

(Posted by Paula)

Michael and I have been married for a year and a half. I knew it was time to confront our little problem. Our little drinking problem. Michael and I were sitting at the kitchen table one night after dinner, and the time seemed right for me to bring it up.

"Michael, we have a problem that really needs to be addressed," I said. He looked at me puzzled. I knew what he was thinking. He was thinking he was perfect, and there's no way he had a problem! (do I know my husband, or what?)

I continued. "You see, Michael, my love, I enjoy a glass of wine on occasion with dinner. And sometimes I enjoy visiting a winery and participating in a wine tasting, but you HATE wine...won't even let a drop touch your tongue."

"Yea?" was his response.

"And I LOVE to go to tea rooms and order wonderful teas or make pots of tea at home, but I can never drink an entire pot of tea along....but you? You won't even THINK about drinking a cup of tea and helping me out, and you HATE going to tea rooms!."

"Yea..." he said, the worry beginning to creep into his voice.

"Well, don't you see Michael?! We have a drinking problem!" I said. "I like to drink tea and an occasional glass of wine....and you DON'T! Can we remedy this?!?!"
He thought that was funny, not realizing that I was serious about coming up with a plan to get him to go to tea rooms with me.

It was at that point that I developed a plan to make him like tea. I was going to have a tea party in his honor and make him the BEST cup of tea he ever tasted! He laughed at first, until he realized I was serious. It was then that he stood up and walked quickly toward the door. But there's no escaping me when I have my mind set. I pleaded with him to let me just TRY to make a cup of tea that he would like. Reluctantly, he sat down with the look of a man who was none too excited about what was about to happen. In fact, he looked down-right miserable. I could see that the wheels were still turning in his mind to come up with a way to get out of this. I was persistent, though. I reminded him that we've only been married for a short time, and that it is important for us to expand our horizons and respect the interests of the other. His look didn't change one bit. But he sat there. At least he wasn't running for the door again.

I proceeded to grab the coffee pot and fill it up with water. "I'm not drinking HOT tea!" Michael yelled.

"Why not?!?!"

"Because it's HOT...and it's TEA." He replied.

I knew I could change his mind. I busied myself with making the tea. I grabbed a teapot, two matching cups, two of my cute sterling spoons, and the kitty creamer. It was then that I realized Michael had sneaked out of the room when I wasn't looking.

I called to him. No answer. I called again and again. Finally, he answered me. I begged him to come to the kitchen...that I had a surprise for him. He walked in the door, took one look at my little tea setting and turned around to leave. "Noooooooooo," I begged. "Just TRY it."

I poured a cup, added the creamer and sugar and sat it in front of him. I waited. He looked at it. He didn't try it. "Come on, Michael. Just one taste."

He looked at me as if he couldn't believe he was about to do, and he picked up the cup and stuck his tongue down in the hot tea. He sort of resembled a dog lapping at his water dish. "You know, Michael, you do actually have to get some of the liquid in your mouth to be able to taste it," I said.

So, he sipped it. He put it down. He said it was hot. He watched it cool. Finally, with a bit more begging from me, he picked it up and took a drink. He sat it down on the table, scooted back in his chair and put his hands on his knees, as if to say (without really saying the words), "I did it, now can I go?!?!?"

"Is that all you're going to drink?!?!" I asked.

"Uh..." He picked up the cup and drank more. Finally, as I sat watching him, he drank the rest of the cup.

"Now, that wasn't so bad, was it?" I asked. I knew that I had turned my husband into a tea drinker with my EXCELLENT cup of strawberry tea.

But, he told me that it probably wouldn't be on his daily menu. I did get him to later confess, however, that the strawberry tea wasn't so bad. That's a start, right?

But for now, I guess I'm doomed to drink tea alone at night...and visit the tea rooms without my husband. He actually said, "Don't you have some GIRLfriends who'll go to the tea rooms with you?" I told him that it would be more fun to go with him. He thought that was funny, too. I could just picture him lapping at the cup of tea while sitting in my favorite tea room, The English Rose. He'd be a lot of fun to watch!

So, since turning him into a tea drinker didn't work so well, I'll have to work on getting him to drink a glass of wine with dinner. That will probably be less successful than the tea experiment, but I'm willing to take a chance.

By the way, Michael says that by writing this, I've made him sound like a "pansy." I'm not sure what that means, but I've assured him that only REAL men, real MANLY men, drink tea. Please don't tell him anything different.

A Possum Tale

(Posted by Paula)

You know, our adorable little puppy, Molly, who grew into an adorable HUGE puppy, is always full of energy. In fact, she's about to drive Michael and me crazy. She's at this new stage where she likes to ignore us, so when she goes outside, no matter how long and how loud Michael and I call for her, she does her own thing. Michael came in the house the other morning absolutely fit to be tied. You have to understand...Michael NEVER gets upset, but that morning he was mad. He told me that he'd been trying to get Molly in the house for the past half hour, but she was totally enamored with a possum that had wandered into the yard.

Mr. Possum waddled around the yard for a while but never played dead, according to Michael. I thought that was something they did when a big ferocious puppy wanted to play! Molly was out to make him her best friend, but he really didn't want to have anything to do with her. He was more interested in the big ole fish he had in his mouth.

"WHERE did the fish come from?!?!" I cried, to which Michael replied nonchalantly, "From the creek." He said it as if I was supposed to have known that.

Now, granted, I've only lived in this house for about a year and a half, but NEVER in that time did I ever notice our little creek being deep enough or clean enough to have fish in it. Especially a big ole fish like that. I may be wrong, but I think Michael was pulling my leg...or he just wanted to impress me that he knows everything, including where that possum found that big ole fish.

Well, finally, we herded Molly into the house. I think she was a little hurt that Mr. Possum didn't like her very much. She quickly got over it, though, because the next day when she found that Mr. Possum had left her a lil present -- a dead fish carcass in the yard.

Now, I didn't notice the fish carcass until Molly wouldn't come in when I called her, and I found her in the yard playing with something. She kept sniffing it and chewing on it, and then, she...and I'm not lying...turned on her back in the yard, laid on the fish, and rolled all over it. I still didn't know it was a fish at that point. No, I found that out when she decided to come in and jump on me and try to give me fishy kisses. Needless to say, I TOTALLY freaked out. Michael, of course, thought the entire thing funny. So much so that instead of picking up the fish, he leaves it out there another 8 hours so that Molly could go play with it again and do the same thing to me later that evening. Upon witnessing my display of hysterics mixed with a bit of anger, Michael has now seen to it that the fish is no longer on the property. Very smart move.

So, Mr. Possum is no longer allowed in our yard or in our creek if he's going to catch the fish and leave them for Molly to play with. No, there will be no more presents of fish remains. Molly is disappointed, but I'm sure she'll find something else just as smelly to play with.

Anyone with any tips on how to keep possums away (that does not include using an illegal firearm, poison, or any other devices or chemicals that could bring long-term harm or death to the possum), please let me know!!

An Evening to Remember...

(Posted by Paula)

Well, Harry, Harry, Harry...what can I say? The man didn't disappoint. We attended the Harry Connick, Jr. Concert in Huntsville with friends, Missy and Kevin, and my parents, and we all were impressed with show!! It was definitely one of the best concerts I've ever attended, and Michael (who has seen Harry in concert about five times) said that this was the best concert he's seen Harry do. It was a great night! My seat was wonderful, and he was so close that I didn't even have to use my little opera glasses that I took. The band was amazing and so close that the sound nearly blew me away. The most amazing musician of the night, in my opinion, was Lucian Barber, who nearly ran away with the show!

If you've read my earlier blogs, you know that I bought Michael a ticket that was sixteen seats away from me on the front row. Well, the two girls who were sitting beside me left and went to the orchestra pit section (illegally, of course), so that freed up the two seats beside me, and about halfway through the concert, Michael was actually able to sit beside me! What a relief! Of course, that signified to Harry that I was taken.

One of the highlights of the evening was that Kevin caught a strand of beads that Harry threw out into the audience, and he was kind enough to give them to me! (BIG HUGE HARRY THANKS TO KEVIN!!!) I guess they didn't go with his outfit, so he didn't mind giving them away. *smile* I told Michael that I want to be buried in my Harry beads...and I wore them the rest of the night. They are now preserved, along with my ticket and my illegal Harry pictures from my cell phone (that I'm not going to sell or otherwise distribute in any way) in my personal archives with my most cherished possessions and memorabilia!!

Ah, Harry, my Harry. *sigh*