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That Was the Year That Was

Well 2007 is a wrap [1] and you may be observing [2] that you haven't received a Tolopka Tattler. What's our excuse? Truthfully, there were days we just didn't feel like writing. And days that just kinda faded into the mist. And some days we were too darn busy to care. So basically, our excuse is lazy, hazy, crazy days. And with that homage to Nat King Cole, here's a slightly musical look at the News That Give Us Fits.

Ya Gotta Have Heart…

The year didn't have the greatest of starts. Not long after Janet's mom passed away last January (2007), Steve's mom was rushed to Louisville for emergency heart bypass surgery. [3] Steve, his brothers Ken & Dan, and their wives tag-teamed in Louisville & Glasgow at different times to be with Mom & Dad during and after the surgery. While the recovery process wasn't trivial, we're happy to say that she's more or less back to being a reduced-speed version of her old self.

Oh! The Yellow Rose of Texas…

For the fifth time, we headed off to San Antonio in April with the Get A Life Marching Band to participate in the Fiesta Flambeau Parade. Actually, we played our first-ever parade double-header, with the more intimate King William Parade in the morning and the raucous Flambeau that same evening. The King William is a neighborhood parade that doesn't generally include out of town units, so we were honored to be invited. Very fun parade with great crowd interaction; they loved us and would even like us to come back again!

The Flambeau is always an amazing parade with an excited, rockin' crowd. [4] With this year's Grand Marshall being a finalist from Dancing With The Stars and a local boy, the crowd climbed toward 700,000 and was rowdier and louder than we've ever seen it. At its craziest, Steve was blowing his whistle at the top of his lungs to tell the band what songs to play, but the crowd was so loud that only Janet marching next to him could hear him. The front and back halves of the band were actually playing at two different places in the same song - and you couldn't really tell there was a problem. Those Texans do party!

(At right, Janet is her own "Yellow Rose" with the One More Time Around Again Marching Band for the Rose Festival's 2007 Grand Floral Parade)

Band(s) on the Run

As regular Tattler readers might surmise, there's plenty more music news, with our bands playing dozens of events from block parties to summer concert series. The two of us were honored to receive a Get a Life Marching Band 2007 Director's Award for "exceptional enthusiasm, tremendous spirit, and true dedication to our band family". GAL took the Sweepstakes Award in Long Beach, WA for best unit in the entire parade and handled its first "marching band emergency" [5] at a National Night Out event after another band finked out two days before.

Celebrating the Long Beach Sweepstakes Award
TiRC Publicity Photo -- We baaaad!!!

Remember the horn band we formed last year? After discovering that our original name was taken by another group, we renamed the band Treble in River City, added a terrific singer, and started booking gigs. Treble's 2007 highlight was the Scappoose Sauerkraut Festival, where we sampled sauerkraut ice cream and deep-fried pickles while pleasing the crowd with two sets of rock 'n' roll favorites.

Second Wind Jazz Ensemble had its busiest season ever with a dozen bookings, including a concert relocated to the Woodburn City Council Chambers because of inclement weather. We even played an elegant forties-themed wedding! Makes us feel like we've made it to the big leagues-ok, maybe it's more like AAA minor league, but that wedding was quite the shindig.

Portland Community Wind Band launched its third season; [6] we both remain on its Board of Directors. And of course, the One More Time Around Again Marching Band did its thing throughout the Rose Festival season.

Like a Horse and Carriage

In July we trekked down to Eugene for a wedding. We've known Kelly Dennis all her life, so it was like watching our niece get married. Kelly sang a love song to her new hubby at the reception, accompanied by the band they hired. We hadn't heard her sing since she was in junior high- that girl definitely has a great set of pipes!

O, Canada!

For vacation this year (yeah, we actually took a vacation that wasn't a band trip), we headed off to Eastern Canada. We started off with a couple of days in Quebec City's Old Town with its historic fort, famed Château Frontenac hotel, quaint shops, and good food. Our hotel overlooked the Plains of Abraham where, as you learned in history class a zillion years ago, British general James Wolfe defeated French general Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, bringing Quebec under British control. [7] Seeing the steep drop to the St. Lawrence River brought new life to those seventh grade stories of British troops scaling the heights in the dead of night.

Steve ponders the meaning of life with Quebec City friends
Even in Canada we can't stop the music!

In Quebec City we boarded the Canadian Empress for a week-long tour of the St. Lawrence Seaway. As usual, we were about the youngest of the 40 passengers aboard (despite now being well into our 50s), but had a great time just the same. The cruise line ran a trivia contest throughout the cruise and we avidly flung ourselves into the fray. Steve won a fierce & vicious competition by the skin of his teeth [8] with Janet coming in an extremely close second. We learned about the history of the Seaway, [9] visited a couple of ports of call on the way, and enjoyed the fabulous scenery of the Thousand Islands. [10] It was easy to see what attracted North America's wealthiest families to establish "summer cottages" on the islands during the area's heyday around the turn of the previous century. One highlight was seeing the world's shortest international bridge, spanning perhaps ten meters between a home on a tiny Canadian island and an even smaller one on the American side.

A typical "summer cottage" in the Thousand Islands

Shortest International Bridge - Canada on left, US on right
You can see the flags on the bridge if you click to enlarge

Shore excursions included two major shrines (Quebec seems to be a hotbed of miracles). We clip-clopped through a horse-drawn carriage ride to Upper Canada Village, an authentic recreation of an 1860s village built with buildings rescued from the rising waters when the St. Lawrence Seaway was completed. "Authentic" is an understatement; when we visited the village was holding a funeral, complete with black-draped casket in a darkened home, grieving widow, and a fresh grave yawning in the churchyard.

An eye-catching building atrium in Toronto

Following the cruise, we hopped the train to Toronto. We reached our hotel kind of late and the hotel desk clerk asked if we would mind being upgraded to a suite since the type of room we reserved was not available. Let's see … oh, I guess that might be acceptable. And, wow! This turned out to be a spacious two-room suite with a large sitting room & adjoining bedroom. Heck, it even had two bathrooms! [11]

We had dinner and checked out more hockey sticks than we've ever seen in one place at Wayne Gretsky's restaurant (where Janet's desert was a brownie made to look like a hockey puck with Wayne's number on it - fortunately, it tasted a lot better than a hockey puck) and followed it up with a show at Second City Comedy, which was right next door - a fun evening! Spectacular views of the skyline via bus tour, shopping along Bloor Street, just wandering through the city - all in all, a great time. Toronto's a city we'd like to go back to.

Those are OUR baby-boomer dots!
We added them to this work-in-progress project along the Toronto waterfront.

Toronto is just FULL of opportunity for a hungry band person!
Hey hockey puck - that's MY dessert!

Hang on Sloopy

Now here's trivia fact you may not know: Hang on Sloopy [12] is Ohio's official rock song. Sure, it's not Louie, Louie, but then what is? Anyway, Janet made two trips to Ohio this year to visit with her brother, Jim, her mother's best friend Chris, & Holly (Chris' adorable little puppy). She was glad to be able to spend time with them and to catch up with the goings on in their lives.

How to Succeed in Business w/o Really Trying

In October, we attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing [13] - Steve's third Hopper, Janet's first. One of the goals of the organizers is to help women in technical fields stay in those fields, Computer Science being incredibly male-dominated. The conference included presentations on technical topics and presentations aimed at showing young women that a technical field like computer science is not just for boys-girls are good at it, too. 1600+ attendees (primarily women) heartily agreed.

The conference was held in Orlando near Steve's brother's family, so we got to hang out with them and even saw Janet's Uncle Frank when he drove up for dinner.

Takin' it to the Street

After our Orlando visit Janet drove to northern Florida to visit her Aunt Bobbie, cousins Robin, Kelly & Jeannie, their spousal units, & 2nd cousins Bret, Jason, & Chris. It was great catching up, remembering stories from growing up, and seeing Jeannie again after so many years.



This song by Chicago is 'our song'. This fall, Western Kentucky University asked alumni who met while in college to submit the stories of how they met. Six stories were chosen to be included in the Alumni magazine, and ours was one of them. [14] The university held a really nice dinner in the Van Meter Hall lobby for all the couples who sent stories, ending with a multimedia show of pictures submitted by the entrants. The next morning, we went to a small gathering at Dr. Kent Campbell's home (he was the marching band director when we were students) and had a great time reminiscing with folks who were at WKU when we were students. That night, we attended a WKU football game and sat in the President's box. The other great part about the weekend was getting to spend a little time with Steve's parents.


See page 16 of the full WKU Spirit alumni magazine (57MB PDF download) for the published story. There's also a second version online with different photos and much shorter download time - click here to read it.

Who are those handsome devils from the 70's?
Spectacular Mysore Palace

Baby Elephant Walk

In November, Steve went on a business trip to the other side of the world. He spent a week at the Intel site in Bangalore, India meeting with parts of his extended team & giving four presentations. India is sensory overload - new sights and smells, gorgeous corporate buildings side-by-side with one-person businesses, aluminum shacks, and blue tarpaulin tent cities. The traffic is insane; there's twice as much traffic as the road can hold, lane markings are considered purely advisory, drivers tap their horns constantly as a kind of 'sonar' for surrounding drivers. "Rental cars" come complete with drivers; there's no way they'd let somebody who didn't live there drive a car. Steve successfully crossed the street once during rush hour - possibly his bravest act ever!

While most of the week was business, one of Steve's colleagues accompanied him to Mysore on the day before he left. While the trip through the Indian countryside was pretty cool all by it-self, the clear highlight was Mysore Palace, a sprawling construction completed in 1912. One of the touristy things Steve did there was ride an elephant, [15] and he has the actual elephant butt hairs [16] to prove it. For some reason, his mom and devoted wife [17] were more impressed with the jewelry and sandalwood he schlepped home.

Life's a Beach

While Steve was in India, Janet took off for a cozy beach weekend with friends. The weather was cold, wet, & rainy making it a quintessential Oregon Beach weekend. The weekend included eating, shopping at factory outlet stores, eating, sleeping, hot tubbing…oh, did I mention eating?

How About a Toast?

Metro (Janet's workplace) started a program known as the Regional Leadership Initiative (RLI) about 2 years ago. Part of the RLI was to start a Toastmasters chapter about 1½ years ago. Last summer, Janet joined the Metro chapter of Toastmasters. She figured it would be good for her-kinda like taking castor oil. But it turns out she really enjoys it and has found that she is pretty good at giving speeches. Her speeches so far have had a common denominator in their titles ('What Does the Evil Queen Do For Fun?', 'The Evil Queen & The Devil's Horn', and 'The Evil Queen & the Magical Glass Ceiling'). (She took that nickname as a bit of a joke. People in her work group thought they should all have Disney character nicknames. Since her boss didn't want it, she said she'd be the Evil Queen.) As is typical of any organization she joins, she was elected treasurer. Fortunately, officers can only serve for one year. Whew!

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, …

This brings us to the end of another year and another newsletter (I can hear the sighs of relief out there). It's been an eventful year filled with both good and band (or should I say 'bad'?). Looking back, we were surprised at the amount of traveling we did. In fact, Steve's trip to India put him into United Airlines Premier Grand Exalted PooBah Class. [18] After all the traveling, we were only too happy to spend a quiet holiday season at home.

The loss of Janet's mom has been difficult. This was the first Christmas without her and it wasn't easy. Keeping busy with various tasks at home during the holidays helped.

We're looking forward to a great 2008 [19] and wish the same for you.

With love,

Steve & Janet

Time for us to blow this joint!

[1] In case somehow this fact passed you by.

[2] Possibly with uneasy gratitude.

[3] After first ascertaining that she couldn't drive Dad home. No, we're not making that up!

[4] The fact that they sell alcohol on the streets may slightly influence the party nature of the crowd.

[5] The organizer's actual words!

[6] Current motto: "Making music for over a fiftieth of a cen-tury!"

[7] Though many Quebecers do not seem to have accepted this fact.

[8] Janet's interpretation. In reality, it was a crushing defeat …

[9] And promptly forgot it by the time we docked.

[10] Yep, this is where Thousand Island dressing was invented - and we had opportunities to buy souvenir versions of the most expensive salad dressing we've every seen!

[11] No waiting!

[12] Which we call the Pacific Northwest National Anthem.

[13] Named for Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, an early pioneer of computing and an amazing woman. She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I calculator, developed the first compiler for a programming language (COBOL), and popularized the term "bug" after finding a moth gumming up a computer relay. Her (involuntary) retirement celebration at age 79 was held aboard the USS Constitution; at that moment, she was the oldest officer aboard the oldest ship in the United States Navy.

[14] Find it on page 16 of the Fall 2007 alumni magazine at http://www.wku.edu/alumni/magazine/fall07/fall07.pdf.

[15] As Dave Barry would say, we are not making this up!

[16] Well, tail hairs - but Janet's version is funnier! Oh, and no photos available since we couldn't bring in the camera.

[17] That's Janet, in case you were confused …

[18] There's still Ultra-exclusive Kingpin Honcho Class to aspire to.

[19] Although we've used up 13% of it already …