This was one of the most life changing things I have ever done. When I was a junior in high school, the Oregon Bach Festival started the Youth Choral Academy. It started out small, probably only about 50 or 60 of us, all from Eugene. They got one of the best choral conductors in the country, Anton Armstrong from St. Olaf College, to come and lead us with the help of an amazing Dick Clark from the U of O. I imagine we were not that great the first year, but I can tell you that I left that week of the academy a much better singer and chorus member. We got to work with amazing singers on vocal technique, body singing and so much more. We went to the ‘camp’ during the day, but were free to get into all sorts of shenanigans at night.
The next year, the administrators wised up, and put us in the dorm to keep a better eye on us. We were also much better the next year, coming from all over Oregon. Dr. Armstrong expected much more from us and kicked our butts a little harder. I learned even more. Unfortunately, my college women’s choir was a huge let down after singing with the amazing singers in the OBFYCA, so I quit singing after my first term in the choir. I did go back as a chaperone for the YCA the next summer.
I was a very strict chaperone.
This year was the 15th anniversary of the academy, so they invited all 700 of the alumni back for a weekend of rehearsals, a luncheon and to since a couple songs with the current YCA (now called Stangeland Family YCA) kids. The concert was this past Sunday, and I have to say I had so much fun. Only about 35 alums showed up, but there were 4 of us from the original year. I took Alma to the luncheon and it was pretty fun to imagine her singing in the choir in 15 or 16 years. Oh, how lucky she would be to have an experience like singing in the SFYCA.
Teaser was my first dog and she was the best darn soccer player who ever lived. She would run full steam round and round our backyard dribbling the soccer ball with her nose. She was truly amazing. She was a Welsh terrier and she was a good little dog. She could bark and jump with the best of them. Teaser loved our backyard on Ridgeway (but not our garage on Spyglass). When I was in middle school she ran away to become a TV commercial star and to live in the lap of luxury.
Susan, Molly, Felicity, Me, Samantha, Kirsten
When I first saw a Pleasant Company catalog I was smitten. I read that thing cover to cover and back again. Oh. My. Gosh. I was lucky enough to be given Samantha, then Kirsten. I also had quite a few outfits and accessories. I was also lucky enough to have a best friend who owned Felicity and Molly. Oh my did Susan and I have fun with our dolls!
What girl wouldn’t love these dolls? And the books! There is a book series that goes with each dolls (I still love to read these stories). Each dolls is set in a different time of America’s history and I could hardly tell I was learning while reading because the books were so good and the dolls were so fun!
My childhood bedroom with beds for both my dolls
This was one of my very favorite TV shows when I was little. I don’t remember reading the books, but I’m sure I did (I can picture them on the shelf at the public library). The are a few things I remember most about the show. I thought Alfonso’s name was really garbanzo – like the bean. My mom worked with a man whose mother played the mother on the TV show and I was still at an age that I didn’t understand the line between actor and role and I thought this guy’s mom was Laura’s mom. Doesn’t really make sense in hindsight – you know, different century, no sons, etc.
I used to run down the hill in my backyard with my arms out like Laura and her sisters. I also loved to wear a skirt of my mom’s that I thought looked like a pioneer skirt. I always loved playing pioneer.
I also remember liking Nellie, but I think it was because I just wanted her ringlets.
Activities at a Sumqayıt Hub Day
The Hub Night tradition in Mingəçevir (that I think is still alive and well!) came out of the random Hub Days during Pre-Service Training. Every so often all the volunteers got together for all day training and bonding. There were 55 Trainees in our group and for the first 3 months, we lived in small communities around Sumqayıt and only got everyone together for these Hub Days.
On our way to Mike's for a Hub Night
When we got to our site, Mingəçevir, we wanted to keep up the Hub tradition. We had the most wonderful site mates in Azerbaijan, so it was a lot of fun to meet up once a week or so for dinner. It was great to have the support from other volunteers, get ideas from them and most of all, eat wonderfully (almost) American food.
Nate playing with Mike's computer at a Hub Night
For the first few months, Mike was the only volunteer in Mingəçevir with his own place, so most Hub Nights happened at his apartment. After a while, we all moved out to our own houses and apartments, so we rotated it a bit.
Another common Hub Night activity... crowding around a computer to watch a movie or YouTube
I miss getting together with Nate, Mike, Cindy, Kate, Mariko and whoever else happened to be in Ming at the time. They were great nights with great friends!
Trying to fix laptops with head lamps and vodka... always a good idea...
The. Best. Show. Ever. What more could you ask for? LeVar Burton showed me so many wonderful things. People read me so many wonderful books. Children recommended so many more wonderful books.
So many of my favorite childhood books are Reading Rainbow books. This show did such a great thing for the minds of children, including mine! It inspired imagination, reading, doing anything, going anywhere!
But, you don’t have to take my word for it….