1 Nephi 1: 1, 3
...therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.

^^That pretty much explains this blog.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What Are Your Special Gifts or Talents?

In my profile I say I am a "has-been" and it's true.  When I look back on all the talents I had and which are not too great now, I think how lucky I was to have been able to do all these marvelous things.  I can't carry a tune very much anymore, dancing is out of the question, my eye sight is horrible, so playing the piano is difficult and I don't do calligraphy anymore either.  I still paint, and now I have been able to tell about my life through writing.  Writing is my newest hobby.  And I love blogging.

I think the first 'talent' or hobby I loved was.... coloring and painting.  From the time I could hold a crayon I loved 'color.'  It was such a treat to get a huge Crayola crayon box, remember?  How many crayons were in that huge one--the one with the crayon sharpener?  96?  Of course, it was only a few times we ever got a 96 box, huh?
I also loved to paint.  Of course, I didn't know there was anything else besides paint-by-number.  My dad used to do them and I pestered him to get me some.  I think he was reluctant, but he got me some and I loved doing it.  It was probably the first compulsion I ever had.  I never went out of the lines!

I think I was getting over chicken pox in the first picture here. I must have begged my mom to let me paint. She set me up outside on the picnic table. I loved to do paint by number. My dad was proud of me when I did.

So painting and drawing.  I loved it all.  I used to sit up til all hours of the night drawing.  When I heard my parents coming to bed, I would quick turn out the light and pretend to be asleep.  Sometimes, if I dared, I would turn the light back on and continue.  I was a night owl even then.
My first oil painting was done when I was in 8th grade.  My mom was taking oil painting classes at evening school and I decided I wanted to try it, too.

I came upon my 8th grade sailboat painting only recently. I found it in a closet at my mother's house in Florida. I decided it was time to bring it home. I was 13 in that picture (for some reason, I loved that button-down shirt).
From the time I was 6 years old I think I said I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. Finally, when I learned calligraphy in 1980 and beyond, I felt like a real artist.

I also started piano lessons in first grade.  I loved playing the piano, even though I had to take lessons from old Sister Gertrude Mary, God rest her soul.  My grandmother gave me a tiny piano when I was a toddler and always praised me when I knocked out some noise on the little keys.  I thought I was destined to play the piano and I swear that is why I wanted to play.  I thought I had some talent!  lol

I love the photo of me with my little piano my MeeMaw gave me for my first birthday. It gave me incentive to take piano lessons in first grade.

Then I got to high school and discovered I loved to sing.  Funny story...I joined the Girls Glee Club in 9th grade.  I was so shy (actually shocked and bewildered) when I got to public high school after being in Catholic School.  I went from a class of 21 to a class of 656. Glee Club was something I looked forward to.  We were singing "When You Wish Upon a Star" from "Pinnochio."  At one point everyone stopped singing.  I was watching Miss Wamsher and I didn't see her give any signs of stopping.  Then I realized I was the only one singing.  Everyone else had stopped.  I was so embarrassed!  She asked, "Why didn't you try out for Bel Canto?"
I answered, "I went to Catholic School and nobody came to audition us there."
Well, Miss Wamsher tried to change my schedule so I could be in Bel Canto.  I was mortified!  I was just starting to make new friends and feel comfortable.  She couldn't change my schedule (I wish now that she could have because I missed a whole year of being in a choir), but the next year, she went to all the Catholic schools to audition the pupils there for Bel Canto.  I did feel pretty good about that.
In 10th grade I was finally happily ensconced in Bel Canto.  I also auditioned for Scott Singers and got in.  I earned the Music Award that year.  It gave me a lot of confidence.

Pictures: 1. Bel Canto, 1969-1970; 2. Scott Singers (I'm smack dab in the middle); 3. Wee Three: me, LuAnn Stern Glaister, Nancy Pollock Cole; 4. Meistersingers, 1971-1972; 5. My first District Chorus, 1971 . . .

Bel Canto 1969-1970

During 10th grade Miss Wamsher got 3 of us girls together that played guitar (?) or tried to, to form a little trio.  Nancy Pollock and LuAnn Stern and I first performed Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" for a Spring Concert.  We decided to add to our repertoire and she allowed us to perform with the Bel Canto and Scott Singers when we went to civic groups.  We called ourselves Wee Three.  We performed all through high school for churches, civic groups, and entertainment for anyone who would have us. We got matching daisy shirts (we thought they were so low cut in those days!), and we performed at the Old Maple Inn (in the picture) for a retirement party--hired by my dad. I think we got paid $10--total!

When I got to C.A.S.H. (Coatesville Area Senior High), I auditioned for Meistersingers.  That was my life in high school--singing and performing. 

Mr. Daghir was our music director.  He was like a second father to me.  He groomed me for District Chorus and Regional Chorus, which I participated in in both junior and senior years.  I still have the albums we made. 

In my junior year, I was 8th chair in 2nd soprano.  In my senior year I auditioned and got 2nd chair, but the 1st chair was sick during Regionals, so I was 1st chair in 2nd sopranos during Regional Chorus.  I couldn't believe it!

In 11th grade I auditioned for Laury in "Oklahoma" and got that part!  I loved it!  I decided then I wanted to be an actress on the stage!  Musicals were the best!

Photos: 1. "Many a New Day," performed as Laury in Oklahoma!; 2. me and Fred Martin, who was Curly singing "People Will Say We're in Love;" 3. Chester County Junior Miss Talent Competition, 1971--I won the talent portion--and I got a big trophy! I sang a medley from "Showboat," I made my costume, and I recorded myself playing the accompaniment. I even did a little soft shoe. 4. 5. Bloody Mary in "South Pacific," 1972.

Laurie in "Oklahoma" performing "Many a New Day"

 At the end of 11th grade I was asked to try out for the Chester County Junior Miss Pageant.  I set my sights on winning the talent award.  I figured I wouldn't be able to win the whole thing (due to my klutzy-ness, which didn't let me down during the evening gown competition when I tripped. . .but that's a different story), but the talent award, maybe.

That summer I made my own costume to sing a medley of songs from "Showboat."  Unfortunately, sewing did not become one of my talents.  But I played the piano accompaniment on a reel-to-reel tape and I sang "Cap'n Andy's Floatin' Show," "Old Man River," "Why Do You Love Me?" "Can't Help Lovin' That Man," and I made up a little waltzy-type dance to "After the Ball."  I did win the talent award and I still have the trophy!

I also performed in "South Pacific" in my senior year as Bloody Mary.  I sang "Happy Talk" and "Bali Hai." 
I was in my glory on that stage.  But I didn't want to be the comic relief. I wanted to be Nellie Forbush.  But my friend Sally wanted to try out for Liat, so I told her I'd try out with her and do the Bloody Mary part with her.  I could tell by the look on Mr. Daghir's face that he was pleased with my performance.  I was so upset I slammed the door when I got in the car to go home.  Sure enough. . .I was cast as Bloody Mary.  But I have to admit, I loved it.  It was so fulfilling to see people jumping to their feet when I came out for my bow.  Oh, how we all wished we could perform it for weeks and weeks.  Alas, we only had 3 performances.  I decided right then I wanted to major in Theater Arts in college.

I love that last bit in ithe newpaper article.  I guess I could do everything but chew gum!
After high school I hit a dry spell with performing, but I continued my art with a course in the Famous Artists School.  A representative came from Connecticut to sign me up.  I didn't want to.  My mom wanted me to.  I think SHE really wanted to take it, but I did it anyway, reluctantly.  I had to paint what they wanted me to paint and I didn't like that.  It was sort of like taking piano lessons.  When I had to play the lesson I was bored.  When I quit lessons, you couldn't drag me away from the piano.  I felt it was like a duty to paint and it wasn't fun.  I guess I was learning something (doubtful, though), but it was not fun.  It was a chore.  In fact, I only had a certain period of time to complete the course and, while I was in college, I also had to struggle to complete the paintings for this blasted course.  It was hard to do homework and then paint. I completed the course and got a little certificate which probably doesn't mean anything now.
In 1978 I joined a band.  I met up with a friend who worked with me at Sam Goody at the time and she asked me to come and sing with her new band.  The name was Syren and I was a singer and we performed in the Philadelphia and Wilmington areas.  OK. . .MY DREAM COME TRUE!!!  We sang original and cover tunes.  I did percussion and sang and occasionally played guitar when they were singing my songs.  I started writing songs about the time I picked up a guitar in 8th grade.  When I was in Boulder I bought myself a good guitar and really started writing songs then.  I was so happy the band was willing to perform them.  I was a folky.  We did folk, rock and jazz--Joni Mitchell, Jackson Brown, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Bonnie Raitt, and more I can't remember now.  Mostly our own songs.  Wendi was the prolific writer.

Photos: 1. Syren, taken about 1978, from left: Henry Farkas, piano and moog synthesizer; Wendi Bourne, guitar and vocals; Jay Mitlas, bass; Ray Taglialatella, drums; and me, vocals, percussion, and some guitar; 2. Trio with Wendi and Henry playing at the Wheelpump Tavern in Flourtown, Pa., circa 1980; 3. Wendi and I at the radio station, Gene Shey show on WHYY--1980; 

From the band was also formed a trio with Henry Farcus, the piano player, Wendi Bourne and me.  We sang at the Wheelpump Inn every Wednesday and on weekends we weren't performing with the band. 

We sang and played together, then each of us did solo performing so we could take breaks. 
I played the piano and sang and played the guitar and sang when it was my turn.
Wendi and I also did a duo thing and sang at restaurants.  It was so much fun.  I was in my glory!

When the band folded in 1981, I was asked to join an Appalachian clogging team, the Skipback Cindies, another dream come true.  Let's face it, I am a klutz.  I've had more accidents trying to be athletic--swimming, diving, skiing, riding my bike--but Appalachian clogging I could do!  YAY!  I loved it!  We performed all over southeastern Penna., Delaware, NJ, NY, Long Island. . .it was so wonderful being able to perform, and actually say I was a dancer!!!

Photos: 1. Cindy Dalrymple, me, and Sue Henderson Hay, waiting to perform on stage at Lincoln Center Outdoors, Summer 1981; 2. Skipback Cindies Summer Tour 1981--walking the streets of NYC, waiting for our performance time; 3. posing on stage--that's me in the middle in the purple dress--yes, I was that skinny; 4. 5. Southampton Park, Pa., July 4, 1983, a few months after having Alex. I wore the yellow, post-prego dress--Ha!; 6. Rochester, NY Folk Festival, 1984--my last dance; 6. Me, age about 4. I guess my dream of becoming a dancer came true--and I guess all those dance lessons finally paid off.

    Southampton Park, July 4, 1983

During all this time of being in the band and teaching evening school and dancing, I was also teaching piano lessons.  I was a traveling teacher.  I also sang solo at a piano bar in the Washington House in Sellersville. Background music, but I got tips!  When I would play and sing at home growing up, my dream was to be able to sing in a restaurant and put a glass on the piano for tips like in the old movies. 

Photo: Me and my little sister Kathy. I was 12 and she was 4. I adored her then and still do now. She is one of my best friends.

When baby #1 (Alex) came along in 1983, I decided to teach piano at home.  I lost about two-thirds of my students (I had about 25) but I also had a baby to take care of.  I stopped singing solo, too,

because I missed my baby too much!  
So when baby #2 came along, I decided to leave dancing and singing and teaching piano, and went back to art. 

About the same time I was in the band and dancing, I took quilting lessons in Skippack.  I am not a sewer, but I can sew a straight line to make a quilt, and wield a needle to quilt the designs.  I love color and this satisfied my joy of picking out colors and patterns and making a useful throw or wall hanging. My mother was a quilter and sometimes she would make a quilt top and I would quilt it for her. I sold some of my quilts at a shop in Peddler's Village too, as well as some commission work that I picked up when I did craft shows on the weekend.

I began to take Calligraphy classes in Doylestown in 1980.  The latter was right up my alley.  I realized I never really felt like a true artist until I learned Calligraphy.  I was able to go to numerous Calligraphy Conferences and taught classes through Souderton Areas School District's evening school/community education from 1982 until 2010.  I also taught other classes pertaining to calligraphy and paper art as well as One Stroke Painting.  I did decorative painting and sold my bird houses in Kathy Davis' cute boutique in the Montgomery Mall.  I taught private art lessons at home, too, up until I moved to Utah.

The photo appeared in the Souderton Independent in March 1985, two months before Zannah was born. Ellen Jamison did an article on me because I had an exhibit hanging at a bank in Telford. In the picture I am working on adding names to an old family Bible that belonged to a Mr. Souder of Sellersville.

Again . . . in my glory. 

About the time I found out I was pregnant with Jewely, in August of 1988, I was asked to audition for the lead in a Christmas Opera, "Amahl and the Night Visitors," the Reading Stake was performing in December 1988.  I got the part, then the next day took the EPT.  I called the director, Jane Kessler, and told her I would be about 5 months pregnant during the production, if she still wanted me.  She said she didn't care.  I would just look fat.  Haha!  It was the greatest thing I ever did musically.  Whoever knew I could reach a high A?  Never before or after!  Thank you, Jane, for having confidence in me.

Photos: 1. The cast of "Amahl and the Night visitors." I played the Mother; 2. Me and 10-year-old Matthew Kammerer who played Amahl.That's little Zannah on the right in the background, coming up on stage to see me. She freaked out a little when I was battling with the kings over "All That Gold."

Later, I discovered writing.  Long story, but I ended up being a newspaper reporter for about 15 years.  I even won an award in 2005--second place in feature story writing--2005 Pennsylvania Keystone Award. Tim accompanied me to a banquet in Harrisburg and everything.

So you see, like George Baily. . .I've really had a wonderful life!

Some of my art pieces:

And then there's crochet. I am thankful my Granny Tobelmann taught me how to crochet when I was in 11th grade. I started making cloche hats, like the one Jennifer Cavileri wore in "Love Story." I made them for my friends too. It was good practice. She also taught me how to embroider--just in time for the fad of embroidering on your jeans. LOL.

Sarah Schoendorfer Huchstep's twins sure made great models for my cocoons. As newborns, they fit in the same cocoon, Two Peas in a Pod. Almost a year later, for Easter, I made them bunny and carrot cocoons, which they modeled beautifully.

This was a long read.  I hope you aren't too bored, but my daughter Jewely wanted to know the answers to these questions in this book.

So, what are YOUR special gifts or talents?  A talent doesn't have to be artistic.  You can be a caregiver personality type and that is your special gift.  You can be an excellent mom and that is your talent and gift.  You can be a car mechanic, a cook, a financial advisor, a seamstress, a civil engineer, a nurse, a web designer.  Everyone has different gifts.  Think about what a boring world it would be if we all did the same thing.

The trick is to love what you do and be grateful for everything you have.


Traci said...

Hi! I stumbled across your blog while looking for pictures of two peas in a pod crochet items. I fell in love with what you created and am wondering if you could tell me where you got the pattern or if you bought it somewhere or still have it? I would love to make this for my friend who is expecting twins. Thanks so much!

Susan said...

Wow, Traci, I can't believe you read down that post and you don't even know me. Now you have TMI, I think.
But serendipity for you that you found the pea pod.
I believe I got the pattern from Aunt Annie crochet patterns. Google it and search for cocoon patterns. If that doesn't work, just try googling two peas in a pod cocoon, or something like that.
I did purchase the pattern, so don't feel good about sending it out, but if you can't find it, and I'll continue looking for it, let me know and I'll email it to you if you give me your email.

Susan said...

OK, Traci, I've tracked down where I got the pattern: AnniesAttic. Here is the URL that's at the bottom of my pattern (I don't remember my password and have since changed my email, so it's taking me awhile to hear back from them with information).
See if you can find it using this:
http://image.anniesattic.com/product/super_closeup/76228.jpg. That might only get you the picture.
Sorry, I purchased the pattern and am waiting to hear from the company.

Lisa Harris said...

Hi Susan,
I'm sorry to bother you but I have been looking all over for this pattern and I can't find it anywhere. It looks perfect! I have been asked by a dear friend to be the GodMother of her twin boys and I think they will so cute in this...when they arrive. Can you direct me to the pattern please? I've seen many others but this one just looks perfect. You can contact me at lisaandjamesharris@att.net. Thank you for your time.