This is what I have been up to lately. =)

Hello, one and all! I thought it was about time I wrote another post to let you all know what I have been up to since my last post which was oh so long ago.

First, though, I would like to thank all my followers for hanging in there with me and all the new followers that have decided to read what I write here. I appreciate you all more than you know.

Okay, where to start with my news. I have no particular order in mind so I will write as things occur to me since this is not meant to be a timeline but more of a list of things I am or have been doing.

I am still doing soundboard duties at my church but now I have been learning how to run the presentation software that puts images and words up on the screen at the front of the church via the laptop and projector.

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So, this means that pretty much every weekend I switch between either of these jobs. Last weekend I was on sound and it looks like this weekend I will be too unless something happens and they need me on the laptop.

I had a woman from the congregation come up to the Soundbooth last Sunday and express her pleasure in the music and quality of sound she was hearing.

Some exciting news on the soundboard front! Our church will be getting a brand new mixer (soundboard) with 24 (edited)32 channels. Our current board has 14 so this one will be much bigger and newer.

I am excited because it means I get to learn how to control this new one and we won’t have to push the system as hard since there will be more than enough space and power which will make my job easier in the end.

Along with the new board, we are getting professional powered speakers and a new flatscreen monitor for the booth. When all this new equipment arrives I am going to feel like a kid at Christmas. LOL 😀

Our New 32 channel Board enhanced pic

This is the mixer we are getting it is a Yamaha MGP32X 32 channel board.

Now, on to other news, I finally got our taxes completed and filed with the government. It is April and tax time in Canada. We have until April 31st technically but since it falls on a Sunday this year the government will still consider taxes filed on time if they receive it by May 1st.

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I don’t like to leave it that late but it is a pain getting all the paperwork and receipts etc. together and filling out the forms and I dread it every year. I am so happy it is over for another year.  🙂

I have also taken on the job of getting all the music sheets together and organized for our church. Oh, what did I get myself into there!?

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I had to put them in order and fill binder after binder worth so that the songs would be easy to locate for each musician or singer that went looking for a particular song.

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That has been a huge undertaking that I have invested hours upon hours doing and I am thankful to report that the job is just about completed. I have to retype the indexes for each binder and take the whole huge box of binders back to the church.

Not to worry, I am taking time out from all these jobs to not only work on my YouTube channel and relax a bit too.

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My channel now sits at 830 subscribers at last count and I am gaining roughly three to four more each day. It seems ever since I hit that magic number, of 500 subscribers, my channel growth has been snowballing.

If you would like to come over and check it out for yourself I will put a link here (it will open in a new window to leave your reading of this post uninterrupted.)

Susan Millard’s YouTube Channel

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Of course, I am relaxing sometimes as well as I mentioned. I have been doing a lot of reading and doing some adult coloring. This is keeping me relatively stress-free for the most part while I tackle all these large jobs with paperwork.

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I have also been continuing to practice playing my mandolin. I am happy to say that my left-hand fingers are all nicely calloused which makes it easier to play for longer.

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I am currently working on different strumming and picking patterns to use with the mandolin. These instruments are not usually played like a guitar as they are meant for a different type of music; namely bluegrass and fiddle tunes and the like.

I have learned a total of 10 or 11 chords so far and am getting pretty proficient at switching between them. This has proven to be a difficult task, to teach me how to play using books and the internet.

A metronome has been a recent purchase to aid in my strumming and picking so that I can keep time properly, so that is helping I think. It was on sale for $10 at our favorite music store marked down from $28.95! That kind of deal I could not pass up.

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As for the book, I am writing for my grandson, Ethan, I am still plodding along working at getting that done as time permits. I have the basic storyline down and have some names picked out for the dragon although I have not decided on THE name yet, not for certain.

Getting the wording just right is proving to be tougher to do than I thought. The words need to be simple and I need to capture the story in maybe 15 pages maximum. A majority of those pages are going to be big beautiful pictures with great detail.

I do have the materials collected to put this book together but figuring out just what it is going to say and look like is frustratingly difficult. But, I will persist and work that out and get it done. It is for Ethan after all! 😉

Oh, my husband and I have just started seeing a new dentist right here in town so we no longer have to travel half an hour each way to and from North Bay for appointments.

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Yay! Our new dentist is kind and easy to talk to about our teeth and takes our point of view into account when it comes to planning treatment.

We have also had several good references from the people we know here in town who go to him. We both had a cleaning done today as well as a new patient exam by Dr. Wong.

Well, I think that does it, for now, you are pretty much up to speed with what I have been doing with my time while away from my blog. Again, thank you for being there and for stopping by to read my posts. I do appreciate all of you, so much.

Have a wonderful day/night wherever you are – until next time. 🙂

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I Am Finding That Being Part Of A Community Is So Important To Me

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It occurred to me that this, the topic of community, would be a great thing to blog about as I come back, once again, from an extended absence from my blog.

What has kept me from blogging this past almost month has been a community, my local faith community, and the commitments I have made to them.

My last post was on January 27th and I wanted to fill you in on what my February has been like thus far. First, though, I want to offer my deepest apologies for the lack of posts.

I have been more fulfilled and happy this past month, even though I have been extremely busy to the point of not getting to blog as much. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy blogging.

I plan to continue blogging but my posts will be as I am able to write them. If you are following this blog please know you have my thanks and I enjoy talking with you in the comments.

You will continue to be notified when I post a new blog. I hope that by expanding my time spent in my community I will have more topics and thoughts to share with all of you.

In one sense by being away from my blog, at times, I will actually be bringing more to it when I do write posts. At least that is my hope.

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The reason being part of a community is so important to me is because I feel like I am part of a team, that my contributions and volunteering of my skills matters and they are valued.

That is an amazing feeling. I think we are all hard wired with the need to belong.

From February 1st until today has been an extremely busy time for me. As many of you know I run the soundboard at our church. I also help clean the top floor of the church every week.

This means I have to be there for worship practice in order to set the correct levels ahead of Sunday morning’s services. We usually practice once a week on a Tuesday night.

Last week we had two practice nights during the week because we are introducing new songs to our church congregation. Our congregation consists of mostly elderly men and women.

These folks are so used to singing hymns and as a result, our church is not attracting any younger people in the community to come out and join our church or hear the gospel.

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The younger people are looking for a place to worship with a more contemporary feel and more upbeat music. So, the plan is to slowly (we are talking baby steps here) introduce new songs that are just that.

There will be a great deal of the music the congregation knows and loves but one new song will be added to the mix. That new song will then be repeated every Sunday for a few weeks so that people can learn and become familiar with it.

We started this Sunday (today as I am writing this) which, as I mentioned, was the reason for extra practice this week. It seemed to go over well but we shall see if the pastor gets much flak before next Sunday.

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On top of the soundboard and cleaning I do at the church I have been asked to take pictures of all the special events held at the church. These photographs will be posted on the church website.

The pastor explained it to me as a kind of free advertising to show anyone visiting the website that our church is active and doing things.

It is hoped that the pictures will help make others feel welcome and make them curious enough to come out and join us to see for themselves what we have to offer.

All I need to do is take the pictures as there is someone who takes care of the website and posts the Sunday message audio file on it every week. I record this as part of my duties on the soundboard.

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There have been two special events at the church this month and a third one began tonight.

On February 5th we held a free movie night to show a screening of the movie God Is NOT Dead 2. There was a modest turnout for the movie and I tried my best to take some photos even with the low light conditions.

On February 11th we held Valentine’s Day Dinner (actually just ahead of Valentines Day) which included a half hour of worship songs prior to going downstairs for a full roast beef dinner.

That was an event where I wore a couple of hats; soundboard and photographer. The music portion of the evening was an extra half hour of music to practice on top of our regular Sunday worship.

The man in the bottom picture holding the coffee pot is our pastor. His name is Pastor Dave Johnston.

Tonight, February 19th we began a six-week course entitled Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage. My husband and I attended this same course at our previous church many years ago.

We are attending this one as well since it is a good refresher and the speaker is hilarious to listen to while getting his points across loud and clear.

Besides, I am the official photographer and once again this is a low light situation so I must try to get the best shots possible.

I must take photos all while respecting that attendees may not want their photo taken for a website given that this is a marriage seminar. Here are the photos I took tonight.

I am thankful that there are five more Sunday nights to try and get better photos before they are posted to the church website.

Anyway, on top of all this activity at the church, I have been creating videos and uploading them to my YouTube channel, answering emails and watching what I can of other YouTubers videos that I am subscribed to.

I am pleased to say my channel is finally starting to take off; I am gaining subscribers, 726 at last count, and doing a little better in the financial department.

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I have also been working on my storybook for Ethan here and there when I can. I now have a name for the dragon Ethan befriends and a rough outline of the story.

Next up is the plotting of what the wording on each page will be and the general layout of the book. From there I will get down to practicing drawing Ethan’s likeness in the various poses that the wording suggests.

I will also need to create a dragon that looks friendly and yet can transform into a fierce companion ready to come to Ethan’s aid when he needs him.

In my spare time, that is after all of the above plus doing dishes, cooking meals, doing laundry (in other words – life) I have been doing a fair bit of reading.

Reading is my favorite pastime by far. Doing more reading was one of my New Year’s Intentions and on that score, I am happy to say I am achieving what I set out to do.

This year’s Goodreads Book Challenge I have set 40 books as my goal. So far this year I have read seven books, that is two books ahead of schedule. Currently, I have a further two books on the go. The one I read at night before sleep and the other I read during the day.

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It is now eleven o’clock at night and I will end this post here so I can proofread and edit in order to publish it to my blog.

Thank you, as always, for stopping by to read my thoughts today/tonight. I really appreciate you all being out there. Until my next post – remember it is important to do what makes you happy. This is not a dress rehearsal…this is life and it is too short to spend it unhappy. 🙂

Tomorrow Night It’s Curtain Time!

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The Kids’ Club Christmas play has it’s opening night tomorrow night at our church. The play is titled Wrapping All The Way and it tells the story of Jesus’ birth in a manger, the true meaning of Christmas.

There are several videos on YouTube if you would like to look it up and see basically what it is about and what it looks like. Just type ‘Wrapping All The Way’ in the search.

We have been practicing several times a week and our last run-through will be tonight at 6:30 p.m. before tomorrow night’s official production.

The play will begin tomorrow night at 5 p.m. and right after the play we all go downstairs for a full turkey dinner being put on by the church.

Everyone is welcome – the entire cast, the production team (which includes me on the soundboard and my husband who will be running the video camera) and all members of the audience whether they attend our church or not.

I took some pictures of the stage to give you an idea of what it will look like. Once all the permission forms are handed in pictures and video can be taken of the children performing the play.

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All safety steps are being taken to protect the children’s identity when it comes to sharing any photos or video of the night.

Things were a little rough in the beginning but now the children have their parts down and are beginning to shine in the spotlight. They are getting better at using the microphones, making my job easier.

The youngest cast member is just 6 years old and she is a dynamo! Wow, she has a great singing voice and not only knows her lines but pretty much everyone else’s.

She is a natural born actress. Her role is a dual one; playing Tanzie the star of the gift wrapping station in the town square and Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The story is basically one of a fictional town called Tuneville where the citizens like Christmas so much they declare every day to be Christmas Day.

They get so caught up in the excitement, gifts, and commercialism of the holiday that they forget what the true meaning is. So Tanzie tells them the story of Mary, Joseph and the angels heralding the birth of Jesus.

 

I am excited to be on the team helping to bring this play to life and I must admit a little nervous too. I just don’t want anything to happen that will detract from all the hard work these children have put in.

We have a whiteboard right next to the soundboard that has this written on it in red marker. “God gave you His best what are you giving Him?”

That always gives me pause to think every time I sit down at the controls. It is time to head off to the church for our final practice so I will finish and post this now.

Thanks to everyone that stopped by my blog to read what I had to say today.

Why Google is my friend!

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Today’s post is inspired courtesy of another selection from 365 Days Of Writing Prompts

Google and rescue operation What was the last thing you searched for online? Why were you looking for it?

The last thing I searched for online was a Peavey RQ 2314 14 Input Reference Quality Compact Console. It is the make and model of the soundboard at our church.

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Why was I looking that up, you ask? Well, because our worship leader asked if I would be interested in learning how to use it.

Every Sunday we have a group of musicians up on the stage leading worship. Usually, there are two electric acoustic guitars, a harmonica, two singers and a piano player.

This Sunday there will be a piano player, a harmonica, two singers, two electric acoustic guitars, an electric bass guitar and a set of acoustic drums.

There are two people in the sound booth, one to run the laptop that puts the words to songs and other messages on the drop down screen via a projector suspended from the ceiling.

The other runs the soundboard that takes what the musicians do on the stage and amplifies, modulates and tweaks the signals from all instruments and microphones.

These signals are then broadcast through speakers also hung from the ceiling so that the congregation can hear a strong, clean sound with which to sing along.

Also on this soundboard is a channel used for a hearing system we have in the church. Assistive listening devices are available for anyone who need them to help hear the spoken word.

Into these devices; only the lapel microphone the Pastor wears and the handheld microphone, that gets passed around the congregation  when it comes time for prayer requests and praise reports, are used.

I was more than a little nervous taking on this challenge and thought that a little research was in order before actually trying to use this piece of equipment.

I wanted to make a good impression since it is an honor not bestowed on just anybody. Only those with a good ear for music and sound are asked; hence the honor I spoke of.

The laptop duties are passed to anyone who is interested in helping but the program pretty much runs itself.

Timing is the only key to successfully running the laptop. Are the words on the screen at the proper time? Do the announcements appear on the screen when the Pastor is saying them?

Using the soundboard, though, that person is in control of what everyone hears; the congregation in the house and the musicians listening to their monitors on stage.

My biggest fear as I take this duty on this Sunday is not messing up with the handheld microphone or with the signal going to the hearing assistance system.

The handheld microphone is the most tricky to stay on top of. Too much on a dial can mean feedback screeching through the entire church,  too little on the dial means a muffled voice that no one can understand or hear.

Adding to the complexity with the handheld microphone is how some people use it. When handed to them everyone holds it differently which means a lot of constant adjusting.

Some hold it farther away from their mouth and the gain has to be turned up. Some almost eat it which means the gain must be turned way down or there will be a great deal of feedback.

The pastor is the main one we want to hear and his lapel mic should pick up his voice and broadcast it properly with the right tones so he doesn’t sound too high pitched or too low pitched.

We had a practice last night with the musicians on stage and I was in the sound booth for the first time ever. I was given a basic rundown of the board and shown how to adjust sounds for each person or instrument.

I don’t think I did too badly…the worship leader playing up on stage told me it sounded all right to him but he could not hear what was coming through to the house.

We would need an independent person sitting in the pews to listen and give their opinion but on practice night, of course, there was no one to fill that role.

Of course last night I was also not able to practice with the handheld mic, the lapel mic or the hearing assistance devices. This is really making me nervous.

So Sunday is going to be nerve-wracking for me until I get either compliments or complaints from the congregation.

What is going to make Sunday even more nerve-wracking is that there is both a baptism taking place and communion afterward. These two occasions do not usually happen at a normal Sunday service.

All I know is that I have been and will continue to do a lot of praying that I do everything correctly and the service goes off flawlessly.

I know, there is the perfectionist in me rearing it’s ugly head again. I can’t help it, though; this is too important to me.

My husband will be one of the musicians on the stage with his acoustic guitar and I really don’t want to mess up the sound and make him sound bad either.

I really am happy to be chosen for this job. I want to be able to help out at the church. My husband and I clean the upstairs part of the church each week and now we each have a part in the service as well.

This will not be an every week duty either; only when this worship leader is on stage. We are part of his crew; his hand-picked set of people to work with.

Some weeks we have guest musicians up there and some weeks there is another worship leader with their own crew.

Wish me luck guys; those of you in the faith, please pray for me. 🙂 Thank you all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extra, extra read all about it. =)

 

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This is what comes in the box and it IS the same color – Sunburst!

This is an extra post to my usual every-third-day schedule…I just couldn’t wait to tell you guys the big news. I am so excited because today I went and picked up my mandolin at the music store where it was on layaway.

We had the money to finish paying it off and bring it home. I told you I was paying for this myself, and I will be, but my husband is a wonderful man that is fronting the money for me so I can get it sooner.

I will then pay him back. So in the end, I will have paid for it myself because I think that is an important part of my motivation to keep practicing. If I fail to practice and learn I will be failing myself.

First of all, in my other post where I told you all about finding this and hoping to put it on layaway I was mistaken. I thought it was brown not sunburst but it IS sunburst.

I guess looking at so many mandolins on the internet, on our local buy/sell/trade website Kijiji and in the store I lost track of which one it was. LOL, I am pleased to tell you it is the sunburst pattern after all.

Just a couple of hours ago I did an unboxing video for my YouTube channel and it is compiling now so I can upload it later tonight.

I just recently learned how to embed videos in my posts so I have decided to embed the video from my channel below instead of posting a link. Enjoy! Please leave me a comment to let me know what you think. 🙂

This mandolin is just beautiful in person. Since Kevin, my husband, can’t teach me how to play (he has never played mandolin) which has a different string arrangement than guitar I am on my own to learn to play.

I will be learning by myself with the book that is included in the pack plus the various instruction videos on the internet plus printable chord charts, scales, and songs.

The strings on the mandolin are arranged in pairs…from top to bottom the strings are G, D, A and E. and that means notations and chords will be formed differently as well. I am totally psyched to teach myself how to play this instrument.

I can hear you now…sure, sure…they all say that in the beginning. Just wait, though, you will see. As I have told you already, I have an intense drive inside of me to learn this instrument.

The profile is much thinner than an acoustic guitar and the neck is both shorter and thinner than a guitar as well. Those two factors alone make this better for me to play as I found these the biggest factors in not being able to play guitar.

I have already found out how to use the digital tuner that comes in the kit and have tuned all eight strings to perfect pitch. In doing so, I have learned that the picks they include in the kit are too thick for me.

The strings will have to be tuned every time I play, especially since they are new strings and there will be stretching that happens. There will be lots of tuning before they settle down and stay in tune for the most part.

Back to the picks included, they are bulky and awkward. Luckily my husband has a ton of picks he has collected over the years. I am now using one that is .48mm thick which is much, much thinner and more responsive to strum with.

We will be getting more of that size so I can fill up the pick holder that Kevin gave me to stick on my mandolin. These things are good for keeping your picks from getting lost and keeping them handy to grab as well.

I have decided to begin learning by using the instruction book that came with my mandolin. It covers everything from the parts of the mandolin to the basic chords, how to hold the instrument and even has some songs to start practicing.

Tonight will find me once again picking up my mandolin to do some more learning and practicing. Since coming home with it I have played with and set it up with strap and pick holder and tuner.

I have, prior to all that, shot an unboxing video for my YouTube channel and edited it plus editing another video for my channel on how to make homemade beef stew in a crockpot.

On top of all that I have made lunch and now must do some dishes and make dinner. Then I will upload my videos to my channel and  while they are tying up the internet bandwidth I’ll have time to go back to my mandolin.

My fingers don’t hurt yet but I aim to make sure they do before I go to bed tonight. The calluses must be started if I ever want to be able to press down the strings and form chords without pain. 🙂

Wish me luck folks! Have a wonderful day/night wherever you are and thank you for once again stopping by my blog to see what I am writing about this time. 🙂 You are all AWESOME! 😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music: The soundtrack to my life.

 

 

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Today’s post is another one involving music from The 365 Writing Prompts. You can find them here -> 365 Writing Prompts (downloadable) by The Editors here at WordPress.com.

Musical:  What role does music play in your life?

My short answer to that question is that music plays a major role in my life. In my previous post, I shared that I used to play clarinet and flute in high school.

I have tried to play guitar and am now going to tackle learning the mandolin. That is my passion now, as you can easily see when reading my last post.

Aside from playing an instrument I really enjoy listening to music. It speaks to my soul and helps me relax or think about problems.

Music also makes me happy and sometimes it makes me cry. It touches me and moves me; that is what makes a song great.

I have a CD/Cassette Tape/AM-FM Radio tucked into the corner of my kitchen counter. Before I start doing dishes or cooking a meal I either turn the radio or the CD on.

It makes those daily repetitive chores pass by faster and more pleasantly. Quite often I find myself singing along…maybe off key (lol) but it makes me happy.

Then we have the CD/Radio deck in our car. We tend to put on music when we are in the car; we call it traveling music only turning it down when going through a Tim Horton’s drive-thru.

Okay, next place I really enjoy music is at church. We have live musicians at the front of the stage and words are put on a huge drop-down screen to remind us so we can sing along.

I do prefer the more contemporary songs in church as I can relate to them more and the beat and rhythm are more to my liking. There are some hymns we sing too, a lot of our congregation is made up of elderly people, and they like what they are used to.

I have a couple of huge folders of music on my computer that I have collected on CDs over the years and converted to mp3s so I don’t have to keep a stack of CDs on my desk or feed the CD/DVD reader-writer one after the other.

The music is sorted into the folders titled worldly music and Christian music. My taste in music is varied and I do have some favorite artists but I find they change over time.

The genres of music I tend to gravitate to are; the current hits playing on the radio, contemporary Christian songs,  I used to like country music although that doesn’t appeal to me now. The songs I listen to tend to change depending on what is going on in my life at the moment.

I don’t care for the grunge sound or head banger type of music. I don’t like a singer screaming into the microphone. I need to be able to hear the lyrics clearly and they have to mean something to me.

Songs don’t need to be ballads necessarily with a story behind the words but they have to make sense and resonate with me in some way.

I find music helps either rev up my energy level to power through household chores or helps me calm my thoughts and emotions so I can wind down for the day. Music is integral to my very being.

When I hear a song I immediately know whether I like it or not, as far as I am concerned music is not like food, there is no acquiring a taste for music types. Either you like it or you don’t.

For example, you can not force yourself to listen to opera music hoping to eventually like it. That sounds like sheer torture if it is not interesting to you right off the bat.

It is not like liver, it does not matter how you cook it…that is not the key to liking it. I don’t like liver by the way. LOL 😉

Please keep in mind that all of what I have written here is my personal opinions. If you like opera music that is great – I am glad you enjoy it. As for me, I am not interested in opera in the least.

What kind of music do you like to listen to? When do you listen to songs? Do you play an instrument?

All these questions are flooding through my mind right now. Would you do me a favor? Leave me a comment letting me know what role music plays in your life.

Thanks, folks, I appreciate everyone who stops by my blog to read what is on my mind. Wishing you a wonderful day/night whatever it is where you are reading this right now. 🙂