Sunday, March 28, 2010

Clay Aiken, Raleigh PBS Taping Concert &
Finding a Retirement Home - March 2010

With the possibility of the family moving out of Wisconsin, I recently took the opportunity to visit the Coast of North Carolina with the thought of relocating to the area. I am retired, after all and should be somewhere warm. Right? The kids will be going to New Jersey, which 1) prices me out of the picture and 2) been there, done that.

First, the Concert

Since I was headed to Raleigh, NC to see Clay Aiken's concert that was being recorded for a PBS special it seemed an opportune time to make this journey. The concert was just indescribable, we are his fans and know he has a beautiful voice, but several weeks later what we heard that night in Raleigh is still being discussed and marvelled over. As a large and diverse group there is usually a negative Nelly or two that can find a hair out of place or a flat note, but I have seen none of that, everyone was quite blown away. The excitement in the room was palpable, Clay was more "on" than we have ever seen him. There was a note in Unchained Melody that, in my opinion, may have shattered the sound barrier. Crying, originally by Roy Orbison, was done as a duet with Linda Eder and it was simply glorious. Bring me up Buttercup (my favorite from AI) was so energetic he was out of breath when it was over and I don't think I've ever seen him quite that exuberant. LOL. All the songs were perfect and I can't wait to hear them again......and again. Anyway, watch for the concert during pledge week on PBS in June. The album, Tried and True, will also be out in June.

Some pic's from the night. The lighting was exceptional, he looked great and I think the concert will be a winner and the first of many more for PBS.

Now for the Retirement Location Hunt

So, with the wonderful concert experience behind me I headed west to New Bern, NC. Ahead of time I had mapped out houses in the area I was interested in so I would have some points of reference for prices and neighborhoods. Downtown New Bern and the views from the bridges were wonderful -

They had painted bears all over town.

This one is the pier at the campground where I stayed.

While the look of the town suited me, touring the neighborhoods and seeing the houses I had picked out did not cause me to once pull out my camera and take a picture. I didn't realize that until later when all of a sudden my camera was permanently hung around my neck. Now, I may have missed something stellar, perhaps I was still in the Aiken fog, but I don't think so. Nice, pretty town, but I'm not "feeling it".

I also drove up to Washington, NC - a little seaport town that I can only describe as shabby chic. The place to live here would be in one of the wonderful old Victorians in the downtown area. It really didn't matter if the paint was peeling a little, they were colorful and had much personality and verve. I didn't take many pictures here, either, although I was rather taken with the little place....kind of like I'd happened on Brigadoon one foggy March morning.

Back to New Bern to look at more neighborhoods. The only one that might have potential was a ways from town and was gated, so I couldn't get in.

Crossing the first two towns off my list I headed East to the Coast to Morehead City and Beaufort. I had been told I would probably love Beaufort. I came into Morehead City and Uh was a weekday in March and the traffic was pretty bad. Can't imagine what it will be like on a weekend in the summer. Now, I'm liking what I'm seeing, however Morehead City is a long stretch of a town with one main road and Beaufort is only reached by going all the way through Morehead City. The beach access to Oak Island is about halfway through town and again, a potential traffic jam. I did love Beaufort and found I could find housing within 5 minutes of town and there was a nice grocery close by.....but the Walmart and other shopping is clear on the OTHER side of Morehead City. Just not feeling the summer traffic here and I'm beginning to worry.

Two things I'm finding unusual - 1) There doesn't seem to be zoning in some areas. You will see a very nice stick built house, then a 1970's single wide mobile, then a 2000 modular and then something else that may be well kept, or not, and then back to a rusting trailer. Now, my price point is the nice (but inexpensive) stick house or perhaps the 2000 modular on a nice piece of land....but I'm not really excited about being sandwiched between, or having to drive through, an encampment of the rusty single wides to reach my home. So, a lot of the houses I've driven past do not necessarily have neighborhoods consistent with the one house I have plucked off I'm not surprised, you can photograph a house to look a lot nicer than it really is. 2) Secondly, and this is a silly, small issue, you can apparently park facing either direction on side streets. The first couple of times I made a right turn and saw a car parked facing me on the right hand side I freaked I was going down a one way street the wrong way.

After two days in the area I scratched off Morehead City, but left Beaufort as a possibility to be considered if nothing better shows blog, I head South.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Clay Aiken - Free at Last

From a People Magazine Exclusive:

Clay Aiken Leaves Record Label

By David Caplan

The rumors started when his likeness was removed from his record's Web site and now Clay Aiken is setting the record straight: the former American Idol has parted ways with RCA Records, Aiken's rep has confirmed exclusively to PEOPLE.

"We were unable to come to terms in a recent contract negotiation, and decided that it was best to move on," the rep, Cindi Berger, said Friday.

Although the gossip community is trying to spin this as "RCA dumps Clay Aiken", I think it is just another step in a master plan that Clay put in place quite some time back. I think he has been working towards this goal for some time.

Think back to before "A Thousand Different Ways" came out. Clay and his Executive Producer (and future mother of his son Parker) had put together an album of originals. Just what would be expected in his case. But, no, RCA turned down the album and told him to do a cover album of love songs. Since he was under contract what else could he do? Then, at the AI5 finale, he pulls a switcheroo on AI and we have the watercooler moment - here's the video:

This was shock and awe at it's best - but did RCA capitalize on it? Did they release a single right then and there and promote the heck out of it? Nope, they let it all die on the vine, released the wrong single, one that the original version was still playing ad nauseum on AC stations, and then sent him out on interviews designed to discuss his sexuality and not the album.

I think Clay decided at that point to get on with his life.....on his terms.

Thus we got Spamalot. Spam, Lovely Spam.

What a surprise. Broadway embraced him. Broadway supported him. Broadway PROMOTED him. Who Knew?

Then we learn Clay and his Executive Producer, Jaymes Foster are having a child. We learn it the bad way, the wrong way, from TMZ and the fandom spent some time wondering and worrying about that situation. This was a little blip in Clay's master plan, I am sure. I hates TMZ. AHA, in a People Magazine exclusive, Clay comes out as a Gay man. Some of us were not so surprised, some were totally blindsided and have since embraced who Clay is - oh, and a few have fallen away because they couldn't deal with the gay. Their loss.

In the midst of all this, "On My Way Here" is released. Surprise, no wonderful press releases from RCA, no single released ahead of the album, no video. Nothing. I think Team Clay was not terribly surprised, I think they knew it was the last album with RCA, but it's a terrible shame that wonderful album did not get heard. Thank you, Clay, for dedicating it to the fans.

Now, finally, he is free. All over the Clay Nation fans are rejoicing. The song of the day seems to be "Fantasy".

As you glide in your stride
With the wind as you fly away
Give a smile from your lips and say
Are you free yes I'm free
And I'm on my way

Here's a video of his performance of this song on the AI stage.

I am excitedly anticipating the opening of the next door in Clay's career. I think he has walked through fire and come out the other side, his own man. Although the music business and the nasty gossipy blogger types have treated him shabbily, he has earned the respect of many important and powerful people in the entertainment business and I think he will have the last laugh.

Clay's Fan Club
Clay Aiken News Network - A great new fan site - Don't miss it!!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Clay Aiken Blog

A wonderful new Blog has been started and I wanted to put it up here with links. You don't want to miss it! Lots of pictures and articles from a group of enthusiastic Clay fans.

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Friday, January 09, 2009


Clay Aiken and Spamalot

Who knew, at the beginning of 2008 that I would make three trips to NYC in the coming year, a place I hated visiting when I worked in NJ and had to go into the city on business. I mean, "who knew". ™ King Arthur.

So, in I go on the first trip. Part of the fun of Spamalot is getting the peasant seat. Not to spoil it, but it's the place to be. They rotate between seats A101, B101, C101 and D101. We didn't know the significance of this at first and sure enough I'm off to NY with an A101 and a B101 ticket in my pocket. Alas, I was not to be the peasant, but they're darn good seats.

I also had a seat in the first row of the mezzanine and I would have to say, that's the best place to see the show and see all the action.

One wonders, I suppose, why a person would see the same show multiple times, but Spamalot is a show that seems to always have something new, be it the Knights of Ni coming up with a new and unrepeatable name - or Rick Holmes with his outrageous French accent coming up with a new taunt - "I throw my shoes at you".

Oh, and then there's that Clay Aiken guy playing brave Sir Robin who sings and dances and soils his pants regularly, thereby negating the "brave" part of the description of his role. Clay did a wonderful job and was accepted on Broadway without all the crap he seems to find in the music business. I think he'll be back someday in a meatier role, hopefully with more real singing. But, Spamalot was funny, engaging, and a great first start. I came to love several of the other actors, namely David Hibbard who plays Patsy, King Arthur's sidekick; Rick Holmes who plays a myriad of roles, including Sir Lancelot, the French Taunter and Tim the Enchanter; Tom Deckman who is hysterical as "Not Dead Fred", Prince Herbert, the Historian and the minstrel who torments Sir Robin in the "Brave Sir Robin" number.

The trip in May was to see what we thought was the last show Clay would be in. Hundreds of Clay Aiken fans filled the theatre, along with Python fans and others. The place rocked, it was clear the cast loved Clay and, well, love was everywhere that night. There were so many people at the stage door Clay came out on the roof to wave goodbye to us all.

Then, all heck broke loose.....the album, "On My Way Here" dropped, Parker was born, Clay decided to tell the public he was gay and all of a sudden he was back in Spamalot in September, his run to continue until January 4th. So, another "finale" to attend, LOL. One's head spins considering all that Clay has had on his plate this year. But, boy, all the stage door pictures and video show a man who is happy, who is glowing and I think is back on track carrer wise as well as in his personal life. There are even rumors he has a very attractive, talented guy in his life and I hope it is true. No more "A Lover all Alone".

It was funny coming back to the show with a new King, Michael Siberry and a new Lady of the Lake, Merle Dandridge.

I think if I could see only one more show I would prefer to see Jonathan Hadary and Hannah Waddingham - maybe just because I saw them first and the roles "fixed" that way in my mind, but at any rate the new players did a good job. Michael played the role in a more comic manner, whereas Jonathan did it kind of dead pan with other players bouncing off him. Hannah, on the other hand, was just much better in the role. I missed her.

Sardi's, the famous Broadway restaurant acknowledged Clay's debut on Broadway by adding his caricature to their walls. As the newest portrait, it hangs on the wall just as you enter the restaurant, but will be rotated, as all the pictures are.

Now, this is a poster!!!!! If every floor on that building is 10 ft, it boggles the mind the length of this one !!!!!

Alas, all good things come to an end. Clay's last night was January 4th. The cast played a lot of jokes on Clay and/or the audience and it was side splitting funny - much funnier to those of us who had been often enough to know where the little extra's were thrown in. For example, when Clay does the yodel, Lance and Galahad usually pull him back in line....this time they left him out there and he had to move back by himself. Or, in the Killer rabbit scene when the knight is be-headed by the bunny...this time he gets up, headless, and takes a bow. Funny stuff.

The show closes January 11th, although the touring company will continue. Richard Chamberlain will join the cast in the King Arthur part and Merle Dandridge will continue as the Lady of the Lake.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Deierling Family Update

Although I've spent considerable time compiling information on the Missouri and Wisconsin Deierling families, I still don't have a concrete piece of evidence (other than instinctual) that these two pockets of Deierlings are connected to my great-grandfather, Gottleib Deierling (Darling).

A couple of interesting tidbits about the Wisconsin family, however.

1. Phillip Deierling's first wife was Barbara Langenbacher. They had two known children, Charles & Heline, born in New Orleans in the 1850's. I found a christening record for a Barbara Langenbacher -

25 May 1823 Evangelisch, Neustadt Haardt, Pfalz, Bayern

2. Barbara and her son, Charles, presumedly die sometime between his birth in 1857 and 1860, where the census records show Phillip with a new wife, Charlotte in Milwaukee, Wi. With them is Helena, his daughter with Barbara Langenbacher and an unknown child by the name of Elizabeth, who is 11 and also born in Bavaria. She is likely another daughter of Phillip and Barbara who was born before they emigrated to the USA. This puts their immigration date somewhere between 1849-1855 (the year Helena was born in New Orleans).

3. Charlotte, Phillip's second wife is much younger than he is. I discover her maiden name was Koehler (Kohler) and that she was also from Bavaria. Upon checking the same database where I found Barbara Lagenbacher, I discovered the following christening record for Charlotte Kohler.

01 May 1842 Evangelisch, Neustadt Haardt, Pfalz, Bayern

OK, and the best thing about that record? Her parents were Karl Kohler & Maria Langenbacher. My gut feeling here is that Phillip's second wife may well have been his first wife's niece.

4. Finally, I found a Karl & Maria Kohler living in Manitowac, Wi in 1880, both aged 70 - which fits. Manitowac is basicly in the same area Phillip and Charlotte lived.

Phillip and Charlotte had 11 children, only two of which married and had children of their own. If my theory pans out, I will do more research.

5. Gottlieb Direling's naturalization papers have been located and are on their way to me. I am not raising my hopes too high, but I'm hoping to find the city he came from. Neustadt Haardt is sounding good to me.

A link to my previous post re:
Darling (Deierling) family history

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Annual Digital
Scrapbooking Day

Who knew there was an annual digital scrapbooking day. Best part - lots of freebies all around today. In celebration, I thought I'd post a few scrapbooking pages I've done recently using some of the wonderful freebies available. I even bought some kits the past few weeks just because some of the freebies led me into web stores where I just couldn't resist the goodies. This is addicting, ya'll.

Here's the link for the Digital Scrapbook Day main blog.

First one of Clay - always a lot of pictures on the Clay Aiken boards to play with. This picture is from his recent attendance at the Friars Club Roast of Matt Lauer. Understand it was a pretty raunchy event, as usual. Clay was sitting on the dais and took some of the roasting heat himself.

Note: Clicking on the pictures will render them HUGE.

Credit for the paper and hearts goes to ArtTheraphy.


My grandmother is the subject of this page. She is the only grandparent I can recall, as she lived with us a short time before she died at age 88. The Allen's were long lived individuals, as you will see from the following page which shows Nell's father, John D. Allen.

Credit for the beautiful kit goes to Joni Grey. She has some wonderful free kits.


I made the frame on this one. Got the instructions on Photoshop Elements Techniques, a website for Photoshop Elements users. There's a lot of good stuff there. The paper and elements were from a kit called Vintage Dolls, which I purchased from the Digital Arts Cafe - They have some beautiful stuff, the designer for this is Rachael Hudnall. Uh Oh, I just noticed when I went over to get the link. They're having a SALE!!!


Before Halloween we went to a Pumpkin Farm here in Wisconsin and had a great time. Here are a couple of pages from that day.

I actually made the template myself on this one, including the sun. The paper came from a freebie from the Fall Splendor blog train group. I can't find the exact one right now. There were SO many. Thanks to the designers.


My son and two grandkids searching for treasure in the gold mining sluice. The paper was from a blog collaboration called Sisterly Love and the designer was Crystal at digiscrapalicious.


Used some of the same kit in this one of my grandaughter.


Enough, already.....I need to go and get on the downloading bandwagon.

Again, here is the link for the Digital Scrapbook Day main blog. From here you can find all the sales and events going on today and probably all weekend.

As usual, digifree and ikeagoddess are great places to find the freebies.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Clay Aiken

Blogged !!!!

October 3, 2008

Last night, on his official Fan Club, Clay blogged regarding the recent announcement that he is gay. I thought it was an amazing blog and since he said it could "travel", I am posting it here in it's entirety. (That way I can find it easier, later, LOL)

Killing the elephants in the room.


What a week or so this has been. In fact, it's just been
two weeks since I started back to the Spam. Jerome and I were just talking the other day, though, about how the past two weeks have felt like a month. So much routine to get back into and yet so much routine and consistency to break. No doubt, many of you have been going through quite a bit over the past week or so yourselves. What a bunch of headline news we have had in the past 10 days! Wall Street falling to it's knees. Congress propping it back up. Two debates. Hijackers in Somalia. New leaders in South Africa and Japan. You'd think with all of the important events going on in the world, there would be plenty to fill
up the pages of America's newspapers, websites and blogs without the need for information on the private lives of the country's singers and entertainers. But, alas, thats never the case. In fact for the last five years, I've found what seems to have been an inordinate amount of interest (not from the public, but from the media) in my own personal life. The questions never seemed to stop. Oh sure, they die down for a period, but they resurface. The wind blows another
direction, and I do yet another interview worried that my personal life will become a topic of discussion. No doubt the birth of Parker would bring the same scrutiny, just heightened. It's an interesting time we live in. Gone are the days when entertainers could go about their lives without the invasion of privacy that we now see everyday in the form of paparazzi and internet tabloid bloggers. So, in the hopes of being able to sing and act (and dance poorly) and do what I love to do for a living while raising my son in a hopefully more private and accepting environment, I chose to go ahead and confront things head on. Yes, I would have preferred to separate my personal life from my professional life. I would have been just as happy to go on without discussing my orientation. But, it seems like that was not an option. Make no mistake, its not because I am ashamed. No, not for a minute. I haven't always been as comfortable as I am now, but I am without a doubt, proud of who I am and make no apologies for it. Instead, I would have been happy to have kept my personal life private for that very reason. Because it's personal life and I have always considered myself a private person. But, living as myself without discussing my sexuality publicly would have been as impossible. One chance to expose the truth
would have been a payday for any greedy opportunist.

I went to American Idol, much like many of us did "back in the day". Naive. Unlike the contestants who join up today, we had no idea of the power and pull of Idol when we signed on. (I'm sure many of us season two folks like to think we are the reason the show got so big!!! ;-) ) There I was two months off of the biggest show in the country, sitting at a table with a reporter from Rolling Stone who was asking me every single question I would never think of. Twenty-four years old in the rest
of America is a LOT younger and more naive than twenty four years old in the media business. So when this guy started asking me about things that I didn't really know how to answer for myself... things that I was not yet ready to admit to folks like my mother and my family.... things that I found intimidating and invasive, I responded in what I assumed was a benign way at the time. I attempted to "out spin" a professional. I wasn't as good as I thought I was. But, I have no regrets. The truth is, I don't apologize for the responses I gave to that reporter or any reporter over the past five years. I did make every attempt I could after that one interview to never say "I am not gay" or "I am straight". And I never said either. (some interpreted my vague answers to mean that... but I never said either) Some will say thats misleading. In truth, it might be defined that way. But, a better definition and a more accurate way to describe it for me, is a redirection and an attempt to change the topic to something that matters more. For some of you it won't be enough, but I can't
apologize for keeping my personal business to myself. If someone feels that they were mislead, I can totally understand that viewpoint and apologize for that feeling, but I can't apologize for how I handled questions that affected me and my right to privacy.

In my opinion, sexual orientation is ALWAYS a private thing. I think the OVERWHELMING majority of people agree with that. Why in the world
should someone's sexual orientation be a news item? Why should anyone care? Yet, for all we espouse as a society about tolerance and open mindedness we forget to allow folks the opportunity to be who they are without judgement. Making a decision to come out to family is a difficult and heavy decision. But, for every young man or woman who is struggling with it, it should be a decision that is made on his or her own schedule ONLY. It's never acceptable for anyone to make such a decision for anyone else nor to coerce someone to take such a significant step before they are ready. Not a friend, not a stranger, not the media. So, I waited until the time was right for me. For that I can't apologize either.

There are plenty of you who have anticipated this blog in hopes that I would "set the record straight" or "admit to lying for five years and apologize for it". For that small group of people, I am afraid I will have to disappoint you. My decisions over the past five years have been made with lots of deliberation and at times even heartache. Always with concern for folks who might feel mislead. Don't doubt that. But they have also been made as an attempt, not to hide my true self, but instead to allow myself the same liberties and rights that every single gay man and woman in the world should have... the right to determine for myself when I was ready to discuss my personal life. In as much as that, at
times, was interpreted as misrepresentation, I feel badly. But I reserved that right for myself and I can't say I regret it.

I have endeavored over the past several days to allow folks to vent and express themselves as freely as possible without restriction on these message boards. There is no way to change a person's mind when you tell them they are wrong. We all, when backed into a corner, have a human instinct to swing. Having different feelings and opinions and viewpoints are only natural. The only way to deal with that is to accept everyone's right to disagree, and allow them to discuss their feelings. I always have, and I always will. That said, it hasn't been, nor do I imagine it will be, my intent to make the message boards or the OFC a clearinghouse or discussion zone for sexuality or such topics. I hope we can always continue to discuss the same things we have always found important. The need for inclusion for children with disabilities. The desire to make sure every child in the world has access to their basic needs for survival. And any other topics that will make our neighborhoods, our regions, our country and our world a better more acceptable place (where that relates to issues involving sexuality, I hope we are able to advocate, at those times for the acceptance of others)... and I hope we will all still use the message boards for the lively discussion of the need for better entertainment and music in the world!!!! ;-) That said, as of this posting, I have asked the moderators to archive the thread regarding the People magazine article and close it from discussion. For those of you who are still struggling, I encourage you to continue to talk to your friends and neighbors and fellow OFC members in the thread devoted to such support. It is not going to be as easy as accepting something over night, but I believe that we are on the right track. The moderators will resume their regular duties of moderating the boards in the fashion that they did prior to last week, and I (and hopefully all of us) will resume our routines in the same fashion as well. Talking about music, talking about potential tours and other performances and appearances, talking about me forgetting my lines of tripping on stage in Spamalot, and discussing with our friends how many times we have seen the show and will see it! (And... looking forward to the announcement of out Playbill contest winner!!!)

Finally, I will say that, also representative of most every other gay man and woman in the world, that I am not defined by my sexuality. No more so than each of you are defined by your sexual orientation. No more than a man or woman is defined by race or ethnicity. It is, simply, a small facet of the same person I have always been. Most of you realize that nothing has changed. I hope to continue being able to entertain you in the same way I have for the past five years. And I hope you will allow me to continue to inform you of the causes that I find important and entertain you with the music and performances I love. For I love and cherish you all. Yesterday, now and forever.

Be sure to go see Clay in Spamalot in NYC if you get the chance. It's a great show.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Clay Aiken

New Dad

This last year has been an eventful one for Clay. Starting with Spamalot on Broadway in January, a new album - "On My Way Here" in May, becoming a father in August, announcing he is a gay man in September AND returning to Spamalot as well for the balance of the year. WOW.

I would suspect the baby, created with love via IVF with his friend and record producer, Jaymes Foster, is the icing on the cake for Clay - and Jaymes, too. With my ever bulging collection of freebie digital scrapbooking pieces I put together a scrapbook page. The baby's name is Parker Foster Aiken and will be raised by both Clay and Jaymes in their homes in Raleigh and Los Angeles. Parker and Jaymes will be joining Clay in NY for the Spam run as well.

The gay part - or as I often referred to it in my mind "the elephant in the room" came as no surprise to me although I had decided some time back that since he was self identifying as straight, who was I to question it. It's kind of rude, actually to question a person in that manner. Not that the media minded being invasive. A quote I saw somewhere -

Privacy and security are those things you give up when you show the world what makes you extraordinary. by Margaret Cho

Certainly he gave up both when American Idol was over and he embarked on his career. Jerome, his body guard, was there from day one as were the gay rumors. Here are some clips of the interview he did with Diane Sawyer on GMA.

September 25, 2008 Clay Aiken: I'm a Gay Dad

September 26, 2008 Clay Aiken on Fatherhood

The fans are dealing with it fairly well. Most, like me, kind of had a moment of shock when they first saw the People Magazine cover, thought for a moment and then went "Oh, of course he is, that explains it all. When is the next tour?" There are those that have left the fandom. The fundamentalist Christian segment - you know, those that believe being gay is a "choice" (yeah, sure) and a sin and and totally unforgivable, constitute the bulk of those departees.

Some fans are all hung up in the idea that he has been lying to us - his not telling the world years ago was not lying, nor am I particularly blaming him for saying he was not gay the few times he actually answered the innappropriate question with a "no" in the beginning. How can you be lying when you are protecting your family and trying to come to grips with a reality that is contrary to the way you were raised and your family and friends believe. OK, maybe he did, technically, lie. So what. So would I under the same circumstances. It took him awhile - he said Kim Locke, who he met during American Idol, was the first person he told. Coming off Idol with microphones stuck in his face what the heck was he supposed to do? It was all still a new concept for him and he hadn't told his family. What should he have done? Wave at the camera and say "Hi mom, by the way, I'm gay". Duh. I admire him for putting his family first.

I do have empathy for those who, in the end, cannot deal with either the fact that Clay Aiken is gay or the fact that he wasn't ready to tell us and told some self protective fibs. But. I have to admit I don't understand the more extreme reactions.

At any rate, I'm certainly OK with it (as are most of the fans on the boards I frequent) and am looking forward to my visit to NYC in January to see Spamalot again. It's a goofy, funny show and Clay fits in wonderfully well with the seasoned Broadway cast. I will miss Jonathan Hadary as the King and Hannah Waddingham as the Lady of the Lake. They were supurb!!!

I've been downloading freebies all day. There is a blog train starting today with the theme of Fall. All the designers used the same color pallet and there are about 50 participants in the train. Check out digifree and ikeagoddess for links to ALL the freebies. I had to stop downloading all of them and just focus on what I MIGHT use in the future. Overwhelming, LOL.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Clay Aiken
Back to Spamalot

WOW, it's almost time for the orchestra to tune up, the audience to settle in, and the curtain to go up!! Clay's BACK. Ad from the NY Paper:

I think they missed him. I think the revenues went down after he left, I think the crowd at the stage door diminished to a few stragglers. The stage door crowds were huge. I was there in April and again in May and every performance I attended the crowd surged into the alley to wait for Clay to make a brief appearance. Some of my favorite stage door pictures:

Check out the crowd in the one above and the one below. HUGE.

And, who can forget closing night, when Clay came out on the roof to wave goodbye. Little did we know the goodbye was an "until I see you again" goodbye. Little did we know at that time how spectacular his album. "On My Way Here" was going to be and that little Parker would be joining the family.

I loved my two trips to NY to see Spamalot. Although I'd been to NYC on business in the past, I didn't like going ther. But, on vacation - visiting the theatre district, seeing Times Square, getting run over by crowds of people all talking on cell phones - well, that was a great adventure and I'll be back for this run. May even spend New Years eve in Times there's an idea. (tm The Lady of the Lake)

Clay, Break a leg!!!

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Digital Scrapbooking
Some Heritage Designs
Using Freebies

I've been having a ball chasing after digital scrapbooking freebies this last week. The weather was abysmal, so I didn't mind sitting at my computer playing with what I found.

The first one used a wonderful freebie template I found at Tracy's Scraps
What I love about templates is that you can add papers, embellishments and fonts from other kits you might already have, which is what I did in this case. The picture is a scan I made of my great grandparents silhouettes they had made back in 1885.

This one is a little different - it's a "Quick-Page" (some people call them Ploppers) and it's all done except for plopping a picture behind the frame and adding journaling and any extra embellishments you want. This freebie came from Au ScraPatou - a site that's all in French, so it was a little challenging to find the download button. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page click where it says Telecharger and you're good to go. The complete kit is beautiful and I might buy it for more Heritage pages. (They entice you in with the freebies, LOL) The younger gal in this page is my mom and the other her older sister Margaret. There were 12 "Darling" children in all.

This is not a freebie exactly, DigitalArts-Cafe is having a Birthday Blowout and one of the designer's (Rachael) put up three of her kits on sale for $1.50 each(reg $4.99) and if you uploaded a layout made from the kit she will give you two more of her kits - your choice, free. I looked at her stuff and quickly downloaded the Rue Beinville Page Kit because I loved this beautiful background paper. I didn't add too much because I thought the paper was wonderful by itself. Again this is my mother in the mid 1930's, either before or right after she married my father. She handcolored the black and white photograph. If you go to the Digitalarts-Cafe, you may have to register, but they give you a goodie for doing so. I think the Birthday sale goes through 9/23/08. Click on Rachael's name above to go to the page where she makes the offer. Click on the page to make it larger and check out the wonderful texture of the paper.

Enjoy - go and find some freebies. Be sure to thank the donors and if you love their work, buy a kit from them.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Whooping Crane
2008 Migration to Florida
Journey South Update

The Whooping Cranes at the Necedah Wildlife Refuge that are being trained to fly south following an ultralight aircraft are getting closer to take off. Unfortunately, one of the birds (#810) got a little hostile and one other chick was killed and two were injured. One of the injured birds was sent back to Maryland as it has super genes and they want to preserve it for breeding. The other one is OK, but the attack messed up it's feather development and it was having trouble flying. It will be sent to a Zoo, where lots of people will be able to see this amazing bird.

My little gal, yes I have "adopted" #824. She jumped out at me from the page of 15 birds and when I saw her number was my birthday I decided she was the one for me. I just read that in her group (there are three age groups or cohorts) she was the first to "fledge" AND she did it on my birthday 8/24!! She's apparently a good flyer, however she's also a little aggressive - from her writeup:

Cohort 3 (the youngest birds) has a few meanies — and #824 is one of them. However, these youngest meanies have been associating with other chicks with a little less hatred than the bullies in Cohort 1. She is a good follower but makes a beeline to peck at any other chicks that she sees.

"Chick #824 is one of the only two girls in the last group probably tries the hardest to be the most dominant bird. She will stand up so tall when #829 is near and give him the stink eye. He really doesn't want to fight, but she provokes him. She normally ends up turning and walking away."

Well, you go girl. Wonder if she thinks #829 is cute?

Some pictures of #824.

Pictures are from the Whooping Crane Journey North/South website.
Field Notes on the progress of the training can be found at the Operation Migration website.

Next weekend there is a Whooping Crane Festival near the wildlife refuge where these birds are being trained and we are camping near by and attending the festival. Should be a fun weekend and although I'm sure we won't get to see the flock, there are tours through the refuge and perhaps we will see some of the adults who are also about ready to take off on their own migration south. They have made the trip before and know the way.

I found some interesting video's on YouTube that I thought I would share for anyone interested in this fascinating process. The first is of them leaving Necedah and the second of a flock arriving in Florida.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Clay Aiken
Digital Scrapbooking

Clay Aiken Website

Several days ago I added a new link in my favorite blogs/websites list - it's a blog called digifree. Since then I have been having a ball downloading some of the wonderful wealth of freebie digital scrapbooking kits, elements, papers, etc that are available. Lots of wonderful artists are sharing some of their work for free while selling kits through websites and/or their own blogs. It's been a fun adventure, now I have to get creative to figure out how to apply all these goodies.

One website I landed on gave out a beautiful free kit called "No Milk or Sugar" just for registering on the forum in their site. Needless to say, after poking around I found something else I just had to purchase - the freebies serve a purpose!!!

Here is a picture of what is in the kit.

I only used a few of the items to make this scrapbooking page this morning.

Click for the digifree blog.

Each day the owner of this site runs a search for blogs that have freebies, today there were 190. Needless to say I won't make it to all of them, but there are lots I want to check out.

Click for the digitalarts-cafe website. Go to the forum to see how to download the freebie.

Off to see what I can do with some of my new treasures.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

and Friendship

I don't usually do two Clay blogs in a row but I have been doing some digital scrapbooking the last few days and found a scrapbook page I did awhile back in a competition.

We were to create a page using the phrase "Real Friends Don't Care if you are a Little Different"

Clay came to mind at the time because, if I have come to understand anything about Clay Aiken, it's that he holds his friends close to his heart and he practices what he "preaches" as regards inclusion.

It's not everyday you let your friends duct tape you to the wall, LOL.

For some reason, I suspect Clay is going to be every bit as great a father as he is a friend.

I'm looking forward to Spamalot well as whatever else Clay finds behind the next door he opens.

Oh, is you're a digital scrapbooker - check out the new freebie link I added to my Other Interesting Website list. I found some great stuff in there the other day.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Christmas in August
Clay Aiken
Minneapolis Orchestra

I meant to do this last month - you know, Christmas in JULY? But, the summer is slipping away, camping trips, gardening....all the things that fill my days. I had forgotten I had these videos from the 2007 Clay Aiken Christmas Concert in Minneapolis.

Although it's not far to Minneapolis from where I live, it was my first Christmas in snow country and I was a little afraid to drive so I flew!! I was meeting up with a friend and we connected at the airport and made our way to the hotel which was only a block from an entrance to the skyway. Downtown Minneapolis has a skyway linking all the big buildings so one can move around without having to go outside. Very cool - or warm, in this case. There are 8 miles of these glass "tunnels" connecting buildings. Minneapolis has the largest skyway system in the world, linking nearly 80 blocks of downtown attractions, businesses and hotels.

This concert was a twofer, December 19th and 20th at the Minneapolis Orchestra Hall.

Here's Don't Save it all for Christmas Day from the first night. Sorry, I missed a bar or two at the beginning, LOL.

I had wonderful seats, second row right in the middle and he looked and sounded marvelous.

And this one is obviously from Jingle Bells, LOL.

A silhouette during one of the story readings.

And for those that appreciate the hands on the microphone.

These last two videos are of medleys from the second concert. Again, I missed a little here and there and they aren't the best, but there are some wonderful moments that I think you will appreciate. It's glasses Clay - complete with the twinkle in his eye. Enjoy.

Remember, above, that I mentioned I was nervous about driving in the winter? Well, after two wonderful concerts and beautiful Christmas lights and atmosphere in downtown Minneapolis I arrived at the airport and discovered my flight was cancelled and since it was Christmas time - yeah, you guessed it - no flights available. I'll have to give them credit, though. They had a whole fleet of buses outside and they loaded us in and DROVE us back to Madison, Wisconsin. So, I ended up "driving" anyway!! And, I was only 6 hours late getting in. It was a scary ride, but I had my trusty ZEN to listen to and when I got to Madison at 2:00AM, my son picked me up and we slid into his driveway just as the roads turned to ice and the torrential downpour turned white. All in all and exciting adventure. And we had a white Christmas.

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