Eden Casteel Music Studio

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2013, Resolved

Goals for 2013  What I resolved, and how I did: I want to learn how to prepare a few more healthy foods. I didn't learn how to make the Thai rolls, but I did make a lot of smoothies. That counts, right? I learned the hard way that kale doesn't blend so well in my blender. Bleech.

It's time to say goodbye to brown clothing -- forever. Khaki, you're next. I ditched all the brown, AND the khaki pants! I could never find anything to wear with them! Gray and black are my neutrals. What's more, I've said goodbye to about half of my closet. I just kept giving away stuff that didn't make me feel good, didn't fit well, or didn't fit my life anymore. It felt wonderful. I'm no minimalist, but I am really tired of managing crap I don't care about. Really tired. Let it bless someone else's home and life.

I love teaching, and I love breaks from teaching just as much. Keep doing this. I did this! I welcomed many new students into my studio, and I also started using Genbook to schedule lessons, which allowed me to schedule downtime, too. Genbook rocks! 

Breathing 101 with members of a church choir in Hartford, CT (April 2013)

 

Pray more and more and more . . . because prayer works. Yes. Yes it does. Prayer saved my brother in law's life in November. While my mother deals with the effects of Multiple System Atrophy, prayer keeps me from despair and overwhelming anxiety. Prayer is the most powerful way I can express gratitude and thankfulness. I pray in the shower, when I'm driving, when I'm running, and yes at church. Pray to whomever or whatever you want. Just pray.

Look who's kicking? The woman who never intentionally exercises, that's who! Way to go Mom.

Run a half marathon. Run a 10K. Run a 5K. Run. Or just tone up. Or just look like I've lost 10 pounds. My emergency trips to Ohio this fall did result in a 7-pound loss, so I ate 7 pounds of Christmas cookies to compensate. I ran a 5K on New Year's Day in Phoenix, and I ran a 5 mile race in Narragansett in October, but didn't run anywhere else. I promised my husband I would run a half marathon with him in 2014 so I'm beginning to train again. Happily, my 13 minute miles are quickly decreasing to 11 minute miles. How on earth did this happen? I blame the extra conditioning I have been doing with Fitness Blender and the LoloFit 7-minute HIIT Workout app.

Restrict Facebook and other cyber time wasters. The best thing I did: I removed the Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone. It is very hard to care about tweets when you can't see them on your phone. Glorious.

Say a long goodbye to my 20 year old cat Rebel, and have him make a peaceful trip over the Rainbow Bridge. After the big blizzard last winter, we both got terrible colds. I got better, but Rebel got worse. On Friday, Feb. 22 at 2pm we took him to the vet and said goodbye.

Goodbye my friend.

Five hours later I was onstage singing a recital. I had water, cough drops, and tissues on the piano, not sure what was going to come out of me besides music. When I walked in, I asked the (dear) organist Joey if he knew a certain piece. He did, and so I ended my Valentine's Day themed recital with "For I Will Consider My Cat," a love song by Benjamin Britten that was perfect for him and for us. 

I'm writing a short children's musical about Saint Francis. I wrote it, I directed it, and it was performed in May. My son stepped in to play Francis, only two weeks after playing Oliver in his high school musical. You can perform Francis Makes A Scene at your church if you like! I dedicated it to Rebel the Cat.

The Wolf, eater of birds, aka St. Francis' future pet. (May 2013)

St. Francis and his homeboys (May 2013)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also wrote a third edition of "Quonnie The Musical," and created a website for the show, and the theater camp that preceded it. It was our biggest cast, and our best show yet!

QTM's Madame Director with two talented cast members! (July 2013)

Paint some landscapes. I aspire to be Winston Churchill. Paint some walls, too. And the garage doors. I painted nothing, not even my wagon. 

Travel more. Last year I enjoyed short trips to New Orleans and Montreal. This year: Colorado? Key West? Graceland? India? Nah. I made a lot of trips to Ohio to be with my family. Each trip was worth it. 

Figure out that contact lens prescription once and for all, and write it down so I can find the right contact for the right eye. I think I keep mixing them up. Fail.

Plant a smaller vegetable garden, to make room for more flowers and trees. This happened and it made me happy. Eden can only handle so much garden! We demolished most of the vegetable garden and decided to support local farmers' markets instead. I planted more bushes and trees this year; it will be fun to watch them grow. And I think we're getting asparagus this year!

Blooms, blooms everywhere (August 2013)

Continue to celebrate the end of orthodontia payments, car payments, and house payments (ALMOST!). My Michigan house finally sold at the end of January 2013, almost three years after it hit the market. On the night of the closing, we went to eat at a restaurant I had been saving for just this celebration. The restaurant turned out to not be worth the wait gastronomically, but emotionally it was the feast I had been waiting for.

Be at peace. That's my resolution for 2014, and my wish for all 8 of you who read this blog. Well, that and . . .

 

The Seven, Vol. 4: Dansko Mystery Solved

1. You recall my Missing Danskos. Well, I accepted that they were gone, even though I wondered where they'd gone to. I bought a new pair of Kates on eBay, for $29! After I won the auction, my daughter looked at the screen and said, "Those look just like the shoes I saw outside." WHAT?!?!?

And so she led me outside, to a grassy area about 50 paces from our back door, and sure enough, there was a shred of what used to be my Danskos. My son joined us. "Oh, I wondered what those tan pieces were," he said as he found several more hiding in the lawn. Those pieces were the remains of my missing Danksos. At first we thought some fetishist coyotes snatched them from the back porch. But, we quickly realized that a powerful lawn mower probably unknowingly sucked them up, ground them up, and spit them out. . . .the kind of lawn mower that comes to our house every week or so.

Rest in Peace, Dead Danskos.

2. So . . .new Danskos!  Okay, they're not flashy. O.J. Simpson would call them "ugly-ass shoes." So, there was only one other bidder. Yippee for me. They're SO comfortable, and they're not tennis shoes! The style is called the Kate, size 38, and the color is a muddy green -- or, as Dansko calls it, "Moss." I'm wearing Kate, Moss.

Kate Moss would not wear Moss Kates, but I will

 

3. In a supreme expression of spousal love, I have agreed to run the Ocean's Run Half Marathon with my husband, next March. Yes, I am aware this is 13.1 miles. I am terrified. . . and also a little intrigued. Can I do it? I just ran-walked the "Get To The Point" 5-miler in Narragansett last Saturday, and the first few miles felt surprisingly easy. Then, as soon as I saw the Mile 3 marker, my legs turned to stone and I sluggishly walked most of the rest of the course. Fail. I also grabbed water out of another runner's hands by accident and she gave me the stare of death as she stumbled off. I let her beat me.

4. I use the Jeff Galloway method of running with walk breaks, so I average a tortoise-like 13 minutes per mile. No, I haven't figured out my actual walking pace vs. running pace. Yes, I will do that. But, to cover 13. 1 miles at all I will have to practice running faster and for longer. Incredibly inspirational runner-blogger Sheryl Yvette (aka BitchCakes), who is running her first New York Marathon this year, started doing some speed training with a local running club and reported improvements in pace and stamina. So, I have started incorporating a little speed training into my (short) runs. I'm slowly extending the time I run before I take a walk break (right now it's only about a mile, but previously I've been able to go for two miles and twice in my running "career" I actually ran for three straight miles). I'm occasionally doing the "Magic Mile" test where I see how fast I can just run a mile -- last Sunday I did it in exactly 12 minutes, which is GREAT for me, and I was even able to pour on some speed for the last minute or so. Progress! I have never really discussed my turtle-riffic running life with the world at large, because everyone else seems so much faster. They ARE faster! But, I believe I'll get at least a little faster than I am now, and that will make my half a least a little more enjoyable. I'm definitely one of the gals who loves the feeling when the running is OVER. That Gatorade tasted really, really good.

I don't deserve this Gatorade . . .OH YES I DO!

5. My husband (AKA The Best Photographer In The World) is running his second New York Marathon on Nov. 3. He's excited but also really ready to run it. I'm very proud of him for putting consistent effort into his training, and prouder still that he has raised over $10,000 for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, through the Fred's Team running club. My job on Nov. 3 will be to track him on my phone, and maybe show up with a snack, somewhere around Mile 16.

6. A student of mine played a lead role in a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical last weekend, at a local community theater. I'm not at all objective and this is not a review, but he did do a great job! Solid performances by the entire cast, lovely voices, excellent costumes, and the audience was enthusiastic. I give an automatic standing ovation to any production that lets me drink wine and eat Snickers while I am seated. I'll offer only one criticism. Apparently, there is no room for an actual piano in the theater or in the wings. That's a tough situation, and you do the best you can with the space you have. However, the keyboard reduction and synthesized strings were a distraction for me. I'm probably more sensitive to this, than a "lay" person who has not music directed a bunch of shows. I am no fan of karaoke musicals, but I wonder if prerecorded tracks might have actually worked better here.

7. If you want to experience the best live musical sound ever, here's what you do: Sing in a choir or ensemble, and stand behind a full orchestra, in a packed house. Sonically and spiritually, there is just nothing better. Nothing. You're coming to hear The Chorus Of Westerly sing Morton Lauridsen and John Rutter on November 17, aren't you?

Jamming with the Q Band

Once a year I get to jam with the neighborhood band, in my own back yard. They come to support my husband's fundraiser for Fred's Team, a charity that supports the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. We eat, we drink, and make noise. Our set list includes "Kansas City," "The Girl From Ipanema," "Route 66," "Oye Como Va," and anything else we can convince the rest of the band to try. We rehearse about four times a year and play a few local parties each summer. It is great fun. New window box, installed and planted about an hour before guests arrived, laden with Fred's Team colors!

 Here we are performing "Your Cheatin' Heart" by Hank Williams, in the key of Patsy Cline. I think I look a little too serious here, but I was concentrating on playing the bass line, trying to fill piano riffs and singing lead. (Oh shut up, Eden. Elton John can do it, so can you. Bring me another White Pumpkin Russian and I will!)

Ron's running medals from previous marathons and halfs. So proud of him.

 

 

Summer of '13: The Summer of Love

This website is still under construction, but I've been hammering away elsewhere! I taught a camp for young actors and oversaw the vocal health of 120 singers, wrote and directed a musical for the third time, played organ at church and filled in as a singer here and there, became the vice president of a pancake company, hosted friends and relatives, and have spent time with my family here, in New York, Ohio, and Indiana. It's truly been a Summer of Love, doing what I love to do with people I love to be with. What a blessing!

Visiting the Cornell Plantation gardens with my sister Liana

An unforgettable "Quonnie The Musical 2013," with my son singing a la Tony Orlando, with 15 adorable Dawns.

Watching Ben Hutto, music director of RSCM Newport, "conduct" the procession of choristers. He can probably conduct electricity, too.

 

Ooh! Grossing out Royal School of Church Music choristers with stroboscopes of the larynx and vocal folds! A picture is worth a thousand gags!

 

Watching my mom read to my nephews Harry and Trevor. Precious.

Lou-Lou Kitty "helps" with piano lessons

 

Finally made it to the beach . . two months after everyone else. My nephew Malcolm topped up his tan and got stung by jellyfish.

 

Quonnie Theater Workshop was an awesome experience -- behold, "The Wave"

Yum-Yum Pancake Mix is up and running

Facing the next season, smiling and wide-eyed.

The Last Five Years

My website design is almost five years old. That's got to be 10,000 in cyber years. Back in the fall of 2008, I had a dormant website (a gift from my dad) and a bubbling career. I wanted to highlight my singing and libretto writing, hoping to do more of both. Alex Linebrink gave me some gorgeous custom features that we now take for granted. ("Grunge Garden" design! A blog! Widgets! Media players!) I wanted a personalized "Eden's Garden Of Ideas" theme full of flowers and music and glamour shots of me. I hired an old college buddy to photograph me cavorting in a few private Toledo gardens. He was in town for his high school reunion and squeezed me in, no charge.

Alex is now CEO of his own company in Detroit, the career is still bubbling, and I married the photographer in 2010.

"Is it normal for the photographer to chase the client? Oh, it is? Never mind then, keep going."

After five years, it's time for the website to get a little facelift. I've started the revamping process by looking at hundreds of templates. When I needed to quickly build  a site for the musical I do every summer, I chose WordPress' Bueno and it was quick and painless. I'd like my own site to be that easy to build and manage. Technology says it can be.

My decision-making style is . . . deliberate. Ask my "go ahead, pull the trigger" husband and you may get a different answer. I gather information, I ponder, I investigate. Then I go back and do it again. And again. Finally, when a deadline approaches, I make a decision. I knew four years ago that I wanted a tree in my front porch area. I was not studying the light or waiting to find the perfect specimen - I was investigating at garden stores, walking several local garden tours, and observing. I tore out other plants in the spot to make room for my tree, then left the ground bare for two years while I pondered some more and spent my tree money on things like house inspections. Then one day in April, I walked into the local garden store and made my choice. I'm very happy with it.

In the meantime, it will be a wonderfully active summer for Eden Enterprises. I'm gigging and playing organist du jour at a local church, I'm researching new scenes for the musical, I'm learning Sibelius 7 and preparing my children's cantata Francis Makes A Scene for a second performance. I'm developing a children's theater workshop, I'm writing songs for two Very Special Clients, I'm making new garden beds for the plants that seem to triple in size each summer, and I'm getting to see more of my family. As my dad says, "I'm too blessed to be stressed." I wish the same for you.

New Cleveland Pear tree on the left. It was worth the wait.

Until then. . . under construction.