Friday, July 30, 2010

A few pictures from the HOWSER MUSIC FEST reunion!!! More to come.....

Scenes from the Concert

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Rehearsing the band for the concert

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Chuck Lee, band director at a high school in STL and a former tuba player in F'town

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Vaughn Bentinganan of Chicago, a free lance sax player there....and Rob Crum of Washington DC.

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Nick Nichols, who is working on his Doctorate of Tpt Performance at Michigan State Univ with Michael Goldsmith, teaching Jazz at Mineral Area College

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Kevin Robertson and wife, Amy, from Ft. Lewis, Washington, a career US Army band member who played Tuba for me in Eldon

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Zane Simpson with two of his sons from Las Vegas, NV

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On my left: Johnnie Fowler and Sue Indelicato...two of the very first students of mine from 1970 in Linn, MO

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Nancy Hasty Calton, flute, from the Sacramento, CA area!!

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Four former students together from 2 schools playing for the reception...from OK City, OK; STL, MO; Wash DC; Chicago, IL.

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Three tpt students of mine in Eldon: Travis Duncan/Jefferson City, Kelly Powers/Jackson, MS; Robb Fair/Wichita, KS

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Before...1984....and AFTER...2010 with Brett LeNoble, a trombone student of mine!!!

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Fri, Jul 30, 2010: Yep......still alive and seeing more...AND, BETTER!

Yesterday......well, it was just a day of not doing too damn much for this sagging hulk of Me, who is trying to adjust to seeing what is way off in the distance.....WITHOUT glasses!!! The 1st Lady drove me to Cape G. yesterday morning for my 8:30AM post-op examination......and the great thing about that was that I could sip my hot Fr. Roast coffee all the way down there!

I got right in to see the Dr. who did the removal of the cataract and the implant of the new lens in my right eye. He said everything looked just fine, but to "not push it" with activity and to keep with the three kinds of drops that I had been given on Monday. The 1st Lady and I then went to Panera Bread for a mid-morning pastry and coffee/tea before we did a bit of shopping.

We went to Sears and to Lowe's to see about the self-propelled lawn mowers that they had in stock. I THINK I found one at Sears that meets MY specs.....not the glasses "specs" to having many settings for height adjustments, big wheels on the rear, and a good engine with a 22" cut. Sooo, as soon as I am allowed to lift anything more than a gallon of milk....dr.s' orders....I will box up the mower we got earlier this week and return it, as well as purchase this mower that I found. About the same price as the one we purchased......but with the things on it that I want!

She drove back to F' I am unbalanced with my vision since the glasses I have do not work with the new eye......haha, sounds bionic, doesn't it?.......and I can't focus on the up-close things like the speedometer, dash controls, etc, but OMG.....can I ever, ever see clearly at a distance!!!!! WOW.....what an amazing change!!!! I never have to wear glasses to watch TV now, but to read/do work on the laptop....yes, I will need reading glasses for those things. Not a problem.......I CAN handle that!!!!

The rest of the day, I just laid around, still not bending over nor lifting anything with much weight to it. Watched some tv, dozed a bit.....sure as hell did not sleep comfortably with that damn plastic eye shield which I must wear for five nights.......just kept waking up as I would in my sleep, lay my head on the right cheek...and the damn thing would push against my thick, ugly nose and wake me up!! Last was the order of the evening!!!

This morning, the 1st Lady went to go see Mike......and I remained at home this time. Have just laid around......still seeing some flashes on the right side of the eye when in the sun, but also see some kind of a "shadow?" on outline on the right side.....not sure, it could be my eyelid that is drooping a bit???? When I carefully push on the eyelid, that "shadow" goes away, so that is why I think it MIGHT be that.......???

Darrel and Dr. Jeni and kids will be here for the weekend, arriving sometime tonight. He WAS coming to race here in F'town, however in the past hour we have had probably 2" of rain....perhaps more, which cause a Flash Flood WARNING to be issued for F'town for this evening, so he won't be racing tonight.

We are going to celebrate Max's 2nd birthday on Sunday so it will be a busy and frantic time here in the sticknbrick with all the kids enjoying being here.

On Thursday of this coming week, I do have another eye Dr's appt, just a different person who will be checking the pressure in my eye....?? Not sure about that but I'll be there! Sure anxious to get the second surgery over with so I can begin to live a "normal" life again....instead of these restrictions placed on my activities!!!! Even with those things always.....

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where is my white walking stick??? Notice the Dr.'s initials on my forehead indicating he is my Dr.?????

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Jul 28, 2010: A NEW eye (lens)!!!!

Up at 5:45 AM......and in Cape Girardeau and in the Surgery Center by 8:15 for my 8:40 appointment. As always......they were running a bit late, but soon I was taken back "stage" into the inner sanctum of the Surgery Center. Given a gorgeous flowing "gown" to put to keep my pants on.....lovely blue paper sock covers, and matching blue paper hair cover, I was soon told to climb onto the bed and "relax"!!

Heated and warm blankets soon arrived and were spread over this sagging hulk of Me, then an IV line was inserted, oxygen tube into my nose, very burning eye drops into my eye, and blood pressure cuff on my arm.....and then they started putting a med through the IV into me. Well......time began to float by....and by about 45 minutes later....I felt myself floating down the hallway....kept wondering if I was actually floating or on the rolling bed???!!!! Opened my eyes but the hallway ceiling lights were WAAAAAYYYYYY TOOOOOOOOOO bright to see anything.....ahhh, guess the dilation drops had done their job!!! Someone said.....we'll start the sleep IV.....and I was gone!!!!

Next thing......the nurse was calling my name...and I was awake......only about 15 minutes had gone by since I left my little cubicle of a room. The Dr. came by, said everything went very well, and then they brought the 1st Lady back "stage" and after she assisted me with my shoes, she got the car, I was assisted down the hallway to the doors to where she was with the car.....and he helped me inside. Wobbly and weak, I was...I was!!!!

We went to Panera Bread for lunch and finally..........DARK ROAST COFFEE!!!!!!!! Sooooo good to get the coffee circulating through my body!!!!! Homeward we went........and, when we got back to the sticknbrick, I laid down on the sofa and fell asleep.

Still a bit weak, I am doing this early in the evening because nothing will change between now and then. I can already see sooooo much better: close my bad eye and look outside and everything is really good and clear already........close my good eye and OMG, it is all soooo fuzzy and not clear!! I can't wait to get that new lens inserted into the bad eye now!!!!!!!

Back to Cape G in the morning for an 8:30 post-op appointment, hoping he will lift the restriction on bending over.........and then say I can remove these stylish dark glasses which are HUGE and sooooo damn ugly!!!!

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tue, July 27, 2010: Another short post.....

The day has been busy as we have been needing a new lawn mower.....very much so! So, the 1st Lady picked one from online which are sold at Lowe's. Late afternoon found us dashing up to Farmington, buying it, and returning to the sticknbrick. This one is self-propelled, this evening I mowed most of the yard. Much faster, of course.....however.......the rear wheels are not the large one which makes turning sooooo damn much easier, it does not mulch nearly as well as our old one, and there are not enough settings for height adjustment.....only 5 pegs, with no way to do just a half adjustment from one peg to the next.

Am I happy with it......well, not really. In fact, after I get through with the next few days of restrictions, I will probably clean it up and return it to Lowe's. For $322, I want it to do the necessary things.....and the only thing that is better than our old one is the fact that it is self-propelled!!!!!

Soooo, the 1st Lady told me that it is my turn to pick out one.....think she is a bit upset because I don't like it, but.......I am the one who mows the lawn......except for the next four weeks.

Tomorrow, I will have the cataract on my right eye removed and a new lens put in. Yesterday the Dr. told me no bending over for a week, no lifting of more than 10 pounds for a week, etc., etc.......and so, after that week I only will have one week before the left eye is done!!! And, then the same restrictions will apply. Sooooooo....a bit of a slow down for

More pictures have been posted on FB, using the same Travis Duncan - Howser Music Fest - 2.....most of the concert, and sorry to say, tons of pics of me conducting. He does have a couple of mutiple images of me, layered over each other......rather cool, I must say!!!

And soooo, as always......until I return tomorrow afternoon.......

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!

Two of the very first students I ever taught....1970!!! Linn, MO H.S.

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If you can go to Facebook......Mr. Howser's Music Fest and search around there, there are several albums developing. Look for Travis Duncan's pictures.......nothing but art in the pictures he took over the weekend....beautiful!! Another site is: There are pictures there as well as entries in the "Blog" section.....

Also: on FB: Travis Duncan's Photos - Howser Music Fest - Part I

Tue, July 27, 2010: WORDS CANNOT DESCRIBE IT...........OMG,...!!!

I absolutely do not know where to even begin, other than to say: This was without a doubt the most wonderful, incredible weekend that I have ever experienced in my ENTIRE life!!!!!! I have been speechless in attempting to describe this is not possible to understand this weekend without having been there to experience it......just wonderfully awesome!!!

The 1st Lady and I left on Friday morning from here around 9AM....and arrived at the Resort at Port Arrowhead on the Lake of the Ozarks around 12:45.....about 200 miles over hill and through the valleys.....not a good way to get from F'town to the Lake no matter which way anyone takes to make the trip.

Checking into the resort hotel, I was told that there were TWO John Howser reservations??? spelled with a "w" and other spelled with a "u". I told them my cred card number and we were given the room I reserved, was a LONG way from where our room was located to the area which we would using all weekend. But........we drove to our building and unloaded in the intense, ungodly heat and humidity. This place was packed.....and the hotel told me there were no more rooms available....lots of things going on at the Lake this weekend.

We ran into Dr. Jeni and Darrel.....they had arrived a few days earlier, just the two of them, to celebrate their anniversary. His mother later on Friday brought the three little ones down to the resort for the weekend and she remained with us for the weekend. They had been having a great time as they brought their recently acquired boat with them to use on the lake.

After getting settled in to our room, I went to the Sale Office of the resort to get a "tour" of where our Music Fest was going to be....where the various rooms were located that had been "rented" for the parties, rehearsals, concert. Wonderful staff there.......just always trying to please and to make sure our experience was topnotch at their facility!! And, as we were being taken around the resort, I ran into two young ladies who had come from Fredericktown, former band members who were here for the reunion!! Soooo great to see them and sooo glad they came.

Soon, I was busy with the registration table for the Howser Music Fest.....and before long, former students began to arrive with their families. Ohhhhhhh, it was sooooooo great to see them!!! I didn't recognize all of it had been upwards of thirty years since I had last seen a few!!!! Before long, I was relieved of those in charge of registration arrived and took over this task. Badges had been printed with the school colors of each of the three schools where I taught, packets from the Lake Chamber of Commerce were given to each registrant, the schedule of the weekend was printed on the back of each badge, everything had been planned and readied for this weekend by the outstanding planning committee!!!!!!!

About 5pm, the 1st Lady, Becky and granddaughter Rachel, and myself decided to go have a bite to eat before things became too hectic, as the reception/party was to begin at 7pm...... Well, we were sitting in the restaurant overlooking the Lake and talking and laughing....and I realized that this couple were standing close to our table with a bit of a grin on their faces. I looked up....trying to figure out who they were.......and then he told me their names....and I couldn't get up from my chair quick enough!!!! It was a trumpet player who was in the 7th grade when FIRST began my teaching career in August of 1970 at Linn HS in Linn, MO!!!!!!!!! Johnnie Fowler and his wife.....and whom I had not seen since 1974......36 YEARS ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He was one of my favorite students there in Linn.....and, his wife, as a HS student, had baby set for our two oldest children.....who were 4 and 6 years old at the time!!!!!
Well....needless to say.....tears began.....and for the rest of the weekend, it was an hourly happening to me!!!

And.....the incredible reception for everyone was no different......students appeared with their spouses and children whom I had not seen since they graduated from high school......from the 70's through the 80's and 90's!!!!! Just sooooooooo great to see them hugs and tears became the way of the evening!!! Several brought their horns.....and before long there was a group of guys who played through the entire evening..........not knowing each other as they were from F'town and from Eldon.....but, music IS the universal language and that night certainly proved that statement to be true!!!! What great music we had!!!! Drinks, pictures, dancing, wonderful appetizer, laughs, tears, tears, band members from all three schools mingled and met and others renewed old friendships.......just a GRAND EVENING!!!! lasted LATE, LATE, LATE!!!!!

I fell into bed for a few hours....and then on Sat, I was up and going at 7am.....having some breakfast and going to the rehearsal/concert room where more former students began to arrive. I had FIVE band directors there, all former students or spouse, who ran the setup for the, chairs, stands, instruments that were loaned for those who did not any longer have, when 9am came for the downbeat, we were almost ready to begin!!!!! And....within 30 minutes, we were making great music once again, after decades of not playing, not being together, not even knowing the people around you or sitting next to you, from the two schools. The students from Linn did not play as it had been a LONG, LONG time since they had horns....of course!!! By the end of the rehearsal day, there were 45 or so in the band!!!!!!

The rehearsal lasted until 12 noon....and then broke for lunch, which was provided for the participants. I barely had time to eat as more former students continued to arrive and came into the luncheon to see their friends and to talk with me. At 1pm, we continued the rehearsals until 4pm.....and I was absolutely drained by that time......emotionally and physically!!!!!!

Returning to our suite.....oh yes, the other "John Howser" at the hotel registration was also ME!!! The hotel had given the 1st Lady and I a complimentary suite....two large rooms with two baths and all amenities!!!!!! The 1st Lady and my family had moved our clothes, etc, etc during the reception on Friday night.....and it was right next to all of the facilities which we were using in the Festival! No one had told us about the suite being reserved for that was the mix-up when we first arrived!!!!!

Of course, no rest for the weary, as more former students arrived to hear the concert...and they dropped by our suite with margaritas for everyone.....and lots of laughs and talk for an hour or two!! I managed to grab a I needed that to loosen up my arm from the muscles tightening from directing all day!!! A quick bite of food.....and then it was time to warm up the band.

Well over 150 people were there for the concert, more and more students and their families had driven in for this evening. It went really, really well.....WOW.....and everyone playing had such a great time doing so. Two wonderful video segments surprised me during the concert with pictures from my past, my various school performances and trips, and pictures of former students. The other video was full of testimonies from many, many students about the way I had influenced their lives.....and continue to do so. Humbling to say the least, emotions ran sooo high that I couldn't talk........a beautiful tribute to me that I will be forever grateful!!!

Following the concert, there were after the concert parties......and we were up until 3am celebrating this amazing evening/weekend. Brunch was served the next morning for everyone......and the 1st Lady and I left about mid-afternoon, having request a late check-out from the suite.

WOW..WOW..WOW....these words tell nothing about this just can't be described!!! I will post some links to the various pictures that are on Facebook and on the Howser Music Fest website very soon!!!! I just feel like I have written an assigned report for a class with this description does not due the weekend justice!!!!!!! IT CANNOT BE DESCRIBED IN WORDS!!!!!!!!!!

LIFE IS REALLY AWESOME......AND IT HAS BEEN JUST INCREDIBLY GREAT THE PAST FEW DAYS!!!!!!!!! I wish it could be this wonderful and amazing for all of you!!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thur, Jul 22, 2010: Another busy one....with sad news. was no different than yesterday....the day just flew by with tying up loose ends for the Howser Music Fest which begins tomorrow evening. More of my students are planning to be there....and many are on their way as I type. Such a great time it will be!!!!

With that excitement looming, I was working on the laptop and I was stopped with a chat line opening up to my pc, informing me from a former student that one of band students had died this afternoon quite suddenly........a stunning piece of news and one that has saddened me, especially as I approach this weekend.

I had just this week talked with Tracy Carroll....maiden name....who was in the Class of '84 from Eldon. The last time I saw her a year or two ago, she was wearing an oxygen tank in the grocery store. I just do not recall her exact problem, sorry to say. But.....this was sudden as she was planning to attend the reunion this weekend! She was a clarinetist in my bands from her 6th grade year until she graduated from High School. One summer she and three others went with me on a 5 week trip through Europe......and we had such great fun. She was always such a positive girl, always fun to be with in all situations. She will certainly be missed, of course....and I will have a more difficult time getting through the concert Saturday evening with her passing fresh in my mind.....knowing that she would have been sitting in the audience.

And, even with this upsetting news.......I still, as always, believe that........

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!......And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wed. July 21, 2010: much busier can it be....???

Up this morning and the Fr Roast coffee done, but before I could really get going, things began to pop around here with messages on Facebook, text messages, phone calls......and all pertaining to the upcoming Howser Music Fest!!!

And......I found myself spending the entire day and up until just a few minutes ago working on the plans for this weekend. At one time, I was making phone calls, and receiving text messages, and messages on FB ALL at the same time, and then while on the phone, another call was arriving. Yep......multi-tasking at it's peak today.....and right now my mind is mush!!!!

Much time was spent in obtaining percussion equipment for the band/concert as we did not really want to have to transport the big stuff across the state....and soooo, eventually I located some percussion from the Lake Ozark Orchestra's inventory......the Orchestra which I helped to originate and was the first conductor of this group back in the mid 1980's. took many phone calls to find just the right person who had the authority to let me borrow their equipment for the weekend. I don't have it yet, but the plans are in place for them to bring me everything on Friday and deliver it to the hotel!

And soooo, hopefully things that I needed to do are just about done. I have emailed a list of instruments which we are borrowing from a school in STL whose band director is a former student of mine....and he will bring them to the Lake on Friday. The music is all ready to be brought by two other band directors who were students of mine and who are now teaching in a public school in Illinois and in a community college here in MO. we will soon see who will be attending........

Tired, but feeling better about this weekend with some of the problems now solved ( I think) and sooo, as always.......

LIFE IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GREAT!!!!!.....And, I hope it is for all of you, also!!!!!!!