Whirlwind Weekend in the books...

When we got the news on Wednesday morning that Gayla's mother, Marcella had passed away, we quickly adjusted our weekend plans to attend her funeral in Clarinda.  We got up about 6 AM on Saturday and were on the road a bit after 7 hoping that would allow enough time in case there was ice on the roads for the drive down.  We caught up to Mark and Lynn Corey's car before we got to I-35 and texted them as we tucked in behind them for the 2+ hour drive down to Clarinda.  Hugh and Nancy Lickiss made the drive down from Indianola as well, so our core group of friends was well represented to support Gayla and Chuck.  We all stayed for lunch after the service and visited with the family before driving back to Indianola.  Again, we offer our condolences to the Lines for their loss of Marcella.

We got back to Indianola about 3 PM and I took a 40 minute nap from the nearly 5 hours of driving in high winds on roads with a bit of ice causing me to have plenty of neck tension.  Our weekend plans had been to celebrate Tara's 56th birthday on Saturday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa by staying overnight to have family dinner with Zack who was an apprentice with the Cedar Rapids Opera for their production of Carmen, then seeing the Sunday matinee performance of Carmen before we dropped Alexa off in Iowa City Sunday night for her 2nd semester at the University of Iowa.  We were on the road with Alexa and all of her "stuff" by 4 PM.  We arrived in Cedar Rapids and checked into the hotel a little after 6 PM.  We met Zack downtown at a restaurant called White Star and enjoyed catching up with Zack who left home on December 27th for Cedar Rapids - so it had been a little over 3 weeks since we had seen him.  We all had a great time visiting, eating and it was exactly what Tara wanted for her birthday.

Sunday morning, we showered, had a great brunch on the 16th floor of the hotel overlooking the Quaker Oats factory, and then checked out of our room to head down to Iowa City to unload all of Alexa's "stuff".  She changed into her opera outfit and we headed back up to Cedar Rapids for the 2 PM matinee.  I really wanted to watch the Broncos/Patriots game, so my iPhone was set on silent with the score being updated throughout the opera.  I checked it at every intermission and was very pleased Denver led the entire way and came out victorious.  And the opera...

Wow!!!  It was really well done.  Great casting (espececially all of the men!!), excellent stage direction, great costumes (kudos Janie Westendorf), and the Paramount Theater is drop dead gorgeous!!!  All in all - it could not have been a better afternoon at the opera.  It's great to see such high quality opera here in Iowa and that the state is large enough to support and offer several venues for operatic performance (Omaha/Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids). 

In my opinion, the tenor stole the show with his wonderful singing and acting as he was a cut above the rest of the cast (which was also quite good).  The baritone was also spectacular with his ringing voice and technique.  It was fun to see Simpson alum (and Cedar Rapids area native) Janara Kellerman reprise the role of Carmen that I saw her do at DMMO.  She totally committed to the drama!  Micaela was also in the top ranks in my book.  I spoke with Simpson alum Jessica Mallow who worked on the marketing and she told me they had sold 2600 tickets for the 2 performances which set a new record for Cedar Rapids Opera.  That is excellent and I think the theater (previously they performed in a much smaller theater with only 400 seats) and choice of a classic grand opera via Carmen with a good production was the ticket for this success.  Zack, Rebecca Claborn, and Jenna Smith were all apprentices and really enjoyed their 3 weeks in Cedar Rapids being a part of this production and learning in a positive, professional environment.  Bottom line:  kudos to Cedar Rapids Opera for a wonderful performance!!!

We headed back down to Iowa City, bought supplies for Alexa at Wal-Mart, then had dinner before we dropped Alexa off at school.  Here are the two ladies while we wait to have dinner as we watched the 49ers and Seahawks...


Once we got Alexa back to campus, we were back on the road again.  I had two huge Diet Cokes in me to help negotiate the final leg of the trip driving at night.  We got home at 10 PM, unpacked and went to bed.  All in all it was a very emotional, and tiring weekend due to the lows and highs of events - not to mention the 10 hours of driving for me in very high winds.

Now back to work, back to planning meals and cooking them, and back into the exercise routine.  Tara will have surgery on Thursday to fix her hand, but we will not find out what time until they call us on Wednesday. 

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