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We are now in our third week of school which began August 28th for the students.

So far, my 15 year old son,┬áJose, is doing well, and really attempting to make greater strides than he did in middle school. I went to open house last week, met his teachers – most of whom I already knew – and received glowing reports… so far. I am still concerned about his study habits, and his first test in world history on 09/18 will determine a good deal. Jose has had ample time to prepare for this test, but I do not see him studying.

Teaching is going well, and the students seem more driven this year. I am also pushing a little harder, and raising the bar as they continue to progress.

The summer was great: a week in the Outer Banks, marching band starting up (a new chapter for our family despite my former life as a band director), band camp, visits from family and friends, movies, fireworks on the beach, Kings Island, family walks, church events, and several very fun gatherings. It was a busy summer, but so relaxing, and refreshing.

In August, Jose and I spent several days with my brother, Destin, my sister-in-law, Stacia, and my two year old nephew, Parker. That Saturday, we met up with my mother, sister, Dena, and my two nephews, Jonathan and Andrew at Indiana Beach for the day.

Labor Day weekend, the entiure family came over for the Holiday At Home festival and parade here in Kettering. Saturday night, the Stevens family – Monte, Chris, Nathaniel and Adam, joined our family for taco salad and strawberries. Sunday, we had a Thanksgiving dinner, and I prepared the turkey – my first. My sister-in-law, Stacia, is expecting their second child in November, and I suggested we have a dinner in the event she is not able to join us in November. It was a fantastic weekend.

So far we have had two football games at home, with our first away game Friday, and our first band contest this Saturday. I am excited.

Jose’s new haircut has been a success – his long hair just hid too much of his face, personality, and self-confidence.

I am busy finishing the writing of THE BIRD LET LOOSE, a musical on the Wright family – Wilbur, Orville, and their sister, Katharine. This is not the typical story that everyone knows – their life prior to their first flight at Kitty Hawk, December 17th, 1903. Our story begins in April 1908, five years after they first flew. Their story following 1908 is so compelling.

I am will also begin working with a student/co-writer, Nathaniel Stevens, on a musical about a wonderful family at our church. The youngest brother of five grown children brutally murdered his parents while on a cocaine high. He admitted to his crime, and requested the death penalty. While in prison for a very short time, his three sisters began communicating with him again, realizing that without drugs in his system, he was the sweet, adorable younger brother they knew when younger. The older brother could not readily forgive. The day before the execution, the older brother gave way to forgiveness. The family gathered in the booth to watch their brother’s execution. I am sure this sounds rather bizarre for a musical topic, but it is one of the most beautifully inspiring stories I have learned through the years.

Flyer, my 6yo Springer/Lab/Huskey is just as thrilled with life as she normally is. Logan, my cat who is now in her 14th year, is not slowing down with her activites of combing the yard for critters, but she is beginning to slow down physically – mostly in her ability to jump to higher areas. Once, she could scale the 6ft. privacy fence; now, she hesitates to jump three feet. Still, she is sassy, and ever affectionate.

I still feel as though I am terribly behind in my blogging, but time seems to be grabbed away from all directions – and most know how I keep my self organized and on a schedule!

 

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MODENA, Italy (Reuters) – Legendary Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, who brought opera to the masses, died on Thursday after a battle with cancer. He was 71.

“The great tenor Luciano Pavarotti died today at 5 a.m. (11 p.m. Wednesday EDT) at his home in Modena,” his manager Terri Robson said in a statement. “The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life.

Although his health had been seriously failing for a year, the death of the genial, bearded tenor known as “Big Luciano” saddened everyone from stars, impresarios and critics of ‘bel canto’ to fans who could barely afford tickets.

“There were tenors and then there was Pavarotti,” said Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli.

While past opera greats often locked themselves in a gilded, elitist world, television viewers around the world heard Pavarotti sing with pop stars like Sting and Bono in his famous “Pavarotti and Friends” benefits for the needy.

“He was one of those rare artists who affected the lives of people across the globe in all walks of life,” London‘s Royal Opera House at Covent Garden said in a statement.

“Through his countless broadcasts, recordings and concerts he introduced the extraordinary power of opera to people who perhaps would never have encountered opera and classical singing. In doing so, he enriched their lives. That will be his legacy,” said Covent Garden.

Already famous in the opera world, he rocketed to planetary superstardom when he, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras sang at Rome‘s Caracalla Baths during the 1990 soccer World Cup in Italy.

Sales of opera albums shot up after the concert and the aria “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s Turandot, which has the famous victory line “At dawn I will win,” became as much a feature of soccer fever as the usual stadium chants.

ROOTS IN THE PROVINCES

Born in 1935, his father was a baker who liked to sing and his mother worked in a cigar factory. The people of Modena, a provincial town in northeast Italy, mourned a man who remained attached to his hometown even as a superstar.

Venusta Nascetti, a 71-year-old who used to serve Pavarotti coffee in a local bar when he was a teenager, remembered him as being “full of joy, he had a happy spirit.”

“He always loved us just like we loved him,” the frail old woman, wearing dark glasses to hide her emotion, told reporters outside Pavarotti’s house where she went to pay her respects.

The tenor’s funeral will take place in Modena on Saturday.

Pavarotti shot to fame with a stand-in appearance at Covent Garden in 1963 and soon had critics gushing. His big break came thanks to another Italian opera great, Giuseppe di Stefano, who dropped out of a London performance of “La Boheme” in 1963.

Covent Garden had lined up “this large young man” as a possible stand-in — and a star was born.

In 1972 he famously hit nine high C’s in a row in “Daughter of the Regiment” at New York‘s Metropolitan Opera, which he referred to as “my home.”

His last public singing performance was at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin in February 2006.

FINAL ACT

In July last year, Pavarotti underwent surgery in New York for pancreatic cancer and retreated to his villa in Modena. He had to cancel his first planned public reappearance a few months later.

Pavarotti was taken to a hospital in Modena last month and treated for more than two weeks. He was released on August 25, and spent his final hours at home with family and friends nearby, the statement said.

“He remained optimistic and confident that he would overcome the disease and had been determined to return to the stage to complete his Worldwide Farewell Tour,” his manager said.

Robson said that up until just weeks before his death, Pavarotti devoted several hours a day to teaching pupils at his summer villa in Pesaro, on Italy‘s Adriatic Coast. Pavarotti launched an academy for young singers in Modena two years ago.

“He was also planning to complete a recording of sacred songs and unveil the next phase of the Pavarotti International Voice Competition,” the statement said.

Although Pavarotti began singing in a church choir aged nine his passion was soccer and he wanted to go professional. But his mother convinced him to be a teacher, which he did for two years until realizing his vocation and starting singing lessons.

In 2003, Pavarotti married Nicoletta Mantovani, an assistant 34 years his junior and younger than his three daughters, after an acrimonious divorce from Adua, his wife of 37 years.

As Nicoletta was bearing twins, the pregnancy ran into complications and their son Riccardo was stillborn.

He is survived by Nicoletta, their four-year-old daughter, Alice, as well as three daughters from Pavarotti’s first marriage.

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