It's weird to be home at this time on a Monday. I'm really happy about it, though, because this weekend was so busy that I quite possibly would have passed out if I'd had to get up and teach today. Thankfully, today is Fair Day for my district (and I notice from the storms that woke me up this morning that it's just a lovely day for that), and tomorrow's an in-service for the classroom teachers, so I get a day off then as well. Granted, I'll have two full hours of teaching at the store today *shudder*, and combo and big band tomorrow, but I caught up on a lot of sleep last night and will get quite a few things done in the next two days.
The weekend started way too early on Saturday morning, as once again, one of my middle schools scheduled a master class at 10 a.m. (they did this on Labor Day weekend too). That went fine, and there was air conditioning in the building, unlike last time. The rest of the early afternoon was devoted to getting things ready for the province big band the next day, and then Angie came over to ride up to the UNT football game with me. We met up with Halfling and his family at the tailgating area (it was Family Weekend, so they had been there since the night before).
At the last game we had attended, it was almost unbearably hot; this time was quite pleasant. There had been a cold front of sorts the night before, though I think the radio/TV guys overestimated its power; the hoodie I brought remained unused the whole time I was there. The best thing was that UNT won! After an 0-4 start through a set of challenging non-conference games (Texas, Colorado, etc.), the Mean Green continued their dominance of the Sun Belt, extending their conference win streak to 19 games. We went up to the Administration Building to watch the clock tower get lit up in green (this has always happened after a victory, but now they make a big deal out of it. It's still just throwing a switch--no flaming-arrow-fired-into-a-bowl like at the Olympics or anything--but it was nice to see at least a small crowd in attendance. The obligatory trip to the Tomato would end the evening.
The first part of yesterday was devoted to the Sinfonia Founders Day concert. Though the event is run by the DFW Area Alumni Association (DFWAAA), we decided to expand our definition of the Metroplex this year and take the show to Stephenville, home of Tarleton State University. Tarleton got its start as an agricultural college (and I understand that 60% of the student body majors in agriculture now), but it's also part of the Texas A&M system, so they have lots of financial support and the nice facilities that go with said support. It's pretty isolated but a nice place to visit.
I'll chronicle the roadtrip in a separate post; there are always little funny-named places and what-not that come with a trip like that. When I got there, my first stop was pre-ordained: a little gas station on the edge of town that sells Dublin Dr Pepper. If you've never heard of this stuff, there's a bottling company in Dublin, Texas (not too far from Stephenville) that still makes Dr Pepper with Imperial Sugar, rather than that "high fructose corn syrup" stuff that's in use now. (Imperial, of course, is the company which used to be headquartered in the place my parents live, as I noted at Christmas.) It's really good stuff, even better than regular DP. I snagged a few cases and went on about my business. (UPDATE: I realized from linking to the Dublin site that I just missed 10-2-4 by one day; "10, 2 and 4" were the times you were supposed to drink DP during the day in a classic ad campaign from back in the day.)
One of the highlights of the Founders Day Concert is the province big band, which I've had the privilege of directing the past few times. It's a band that plays only one day a year, and this was that day. We basically have an hour to put together three tunes with players from however many chapters show up, plus the DFWAAA. I think this year was the best one so far; it helped that 3/4 of the rhythm section was local (meaning that they'd played together already and there were no equipment panics like we'd had in previous years) and the other 1/4 plays professionally. When no bari player showed up, the faculty advisor from Tarleton (an old schoolmate of mine and an alumnus of the One O'Clock) stepped in, so we had a really cool Duel of the Pros on our opener, Big Dipper. We also did Li'l Darlin' and Kris's tune Matt's Mexican Special, and I was really happy with what we got done in an hour's rehearsal.
After the concert (which also included a brass quartet, province chorus and a jazz quartet featuring the two aforementioned pros), we went to this barbecue place on the edge of town called the Hard Eight. I'd highly recommend it if you ever end up in Stephenville. The pit is right there on the side of the building under a metal roof; you order and pick up your meat from there before you even go inside. I had an insanely huge pork chop and some corn-on-the-cob; the beans and bread were free, and Dublin DP flowed from the soda fountain. Great stuff.
By the time this ended, it was 5:30, but my day was nowhere near done. As I'd said previously, there was a benefit concert for my old schoolmate Jonathan Beckett at Hailey's in Denton, so I took the Fort Worth leg of I-35 to head up there and snag Halfling. The concert had been going on since 3:30 in the afternoon, so we missed the One O'Clock, Jim Riggs' big band and Wayne Delano's group, but got there in time for Shelley Carrol (his set started late, so we got to catch the end of Buddy Mohmed and American Bedouin, a Middle-Eastern flavored trio of guitar, violin and tabla). We stuck around for the other two acts, the Nawlins Gumbo Kings (part dixieland, part comedy) and the "nuclear polka" band Brave Combo, who got their start right there in Denton. It was a great night of music, and all the proceeds went to Jonathan's medical fund (he's battling lymphoma). Good stuff for a good cause.
And now I'm gonna enjoy these next two days to the hilt, catching up on sleep, practicing, arranging...and all those TV shows I've taped for the past month or so. It may not be a full week like Plano gets, but it'll hit the spot for me.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Will that be all for you?"--Cashier at the Chevron station, as I plopped my two cases of Dublins on the counter. I said that it must have been obvious that I was from out of town and this place was my Dublin hookup, but she said that one lady bought over $100 worth every time she came in!