— click on any picture to see greater detail —
|One of the many CountryPlace faces of Adrien!
Asked to sing The Last Time I Saw Paris for a Singers concert, I disappeared backstage during the song being performed before my solo, did a quick apparel change and dashed mascara on my beard and mustache, then surprised even our director Nancy with this outfit fit to the song! Beret and scarf created by Susan.
I have worn a 3-piece suit as a Wall Street executive and a business partner privvy to Washington D.C. conference rooms; and I have proven my effectiveness as a business leader in countless meetings and projects. But CountryPlace also brings out the rest of the real Adrien: getting dirty on community projects, getting wild and crazy to entertain, and getting happy having fun with our CountryPlace family!
It was Earl Newman — a deeply loved CountryPlace leader, our next-door neighbor, and a father to me and Susan — who in March 2017 first urged me to run for the post of President of the CountryPlace Board.
The previous year, the community had honored Earl as “Mr. CountryPlace” at a celebration attended by Earl’s family, the Pearland mayor, and many CountryPlace residents. Prior to that celebration, Paul Borchardt arranged for Earl and several close friends to visit Ellington, which was then hosting the last flying model of the SB2C-5 “Helldiver,” the plane Earl was piloting when shot down in the Pacific defending our freedom during WWII.
Thanks for so very much, Earl!!
|In Spring 2015, shortly before I was selected to be Coordinator of the Special Projects Group, I helped install the initial test lamps for what was to become the major project being completed as I assumed leadership: replacement of all of CountryPlace’s exterior lamps. Here, I am mixing concrete.|
|Not only did our lamppost project extend well beyond mere repair, significantly improving the visual character of CountryPlace, but the project was completed at a fraction of the cost that would have been incurred via outside contractors, both due to highly qualified work by Special Projects Group volunteers and by generous donations by residents and CountryPlace groups. Susan and I donated the funds for this lamppost, out by the lake.|
|Before Jack Slack nominated me to assume duties as Coordinator of the Special Projects Group in May 2014, Jack groomed me for the position by helping me take over management of an annual group project he had led: holiday decoration and un-decoration. Susan helped out by creating and donating two wreaths for the Social Hall, together with a huge wreath for the front of the Carriage House. Here, Susan herself joins me up one of the two ladders it takes to hang the beautiful monster.|
|Susan made Christmas bows to add to our monument decorations, and I stretched to help put everything up (then later, to take everything down).|
|Still leading the Special Project Group’s participation in Christmas decoration and un-decoration three years after Jack Slack passed that torch to me, our duties include checking the lights several weeks before the decoration date, getting all interior and exterior decorations out of storage, coordinating teams for the various decoration areas, fixing any problems that arise along the way, then reversing the whole process after the holidays have passed . . . and reaching up to the high parts so our ladies needn’t go up those ladders!|
|Another one of those endless tasks undertaken by the Special Projects Group — cleaning mold from the gazebo and other CountryPlace structures and signs.|
|Just one of the numerous tasks performed by the Special Projects Group — staining the fence on the east side of the Golf Pro Shop in preparation for the Grand Opening of the renovated course. (This is the short side . . . finishing up after we did the long side.)|
|Here, I worked with the Special Projects Group to shovel a mountain of mulch into wheelbarrows for the Green Thumb Club to spread throughout CountryPlace flowerbeds.|
|I don’t have the handyman skills most of our Special Projects Group volunteers bring to our work, but I can always get down and dirty helping out with unskilled labor. Here, I was getting set to go down in the mud for our guys working on the bubbler pump bringing water from the lake at Hole #10 over to the lake at Hole #1.|
|A bit of simple golf math: 18 holes x 4 tee boxes per hole x 2 markers per tee box x 2 nails per marker faceplate = 288 nails. A simple, but time-consuming job: assisting the Special Projects Group cut and paint tee markers, then nailing most of the marker faceplates, to give our golf course a small but meaningful touch of class!|
In preparation for re-striping the Lakeview Lodge parking lot, the Special Projects Group power-washed all the old lines. Posing for this shot, I’m pretending to point out a spot missed by our 2016 Volunteer of the Year, Leonard Meinke.
And as but one of the hundreds of Special Project Group tasks that went into building the new storage area, we prepared the area by pressure-washing the concrete that was to be the floor for the new structure.
|Actually, pressure-washing has been one of my favorite CountryPlace volunteer activities since the Special Projects Group spent the better part of two days clearing the community entrance and exit curbs of mold and grime.|
|CountryPlace’s biannual fashion shows — always well-attended and very much enjoyed! — bring together a diverse group of volunteers, from those beautiful fashion models (and, in spring 2017, their daughters . . . and for a few, their dogs!) to the decorating team, from the organizers and announcers to the food preparers, from the ushers to the servers. I have had the honor of volunteering at several fashion shows . . . not as a model, of course, but as I am posed here for the 2017 spring show, as a server.|
|I usually steer clear of the Sound & Lighting Booth, having a very strong preference toward leaving that mission-critical volunteer work to our qualified experts. But when we’ve been short-handed, I’ve been known to man the controls . . . as long as I’m told exactly which buttons to push!|
|Late in 2016, the Special Projects Group began what likely will be a permanent, ongoing project that ultimately will save the community over $1 million over the next several decades — repair and improvement of the golf cart path.|
|I’ve been taking over leadership coordinating and helping with set-up and take-down of everything for our community’s annual Casino Night. For several of those events, I have also done a stint at blackjack dealing.|
|After moving to CountryPlace in November 2012, the very first event that Susan and I attended was the Singers’ 2012 Christmas Concert. Susan enjoyed it so much, it was the first CountryPlace event she joined, while I wandered off to join the Ragtimers. Eventually, we influenced each other to cross over: she has performed with the Ragtimers, while I joined the men’s section of the Singers. Here, I’m singing a solo as part of a men’s medley at one of the Singers’ recent Christmas concerts.|
|Susan and I were among several CountryPlace singers backed by the Gulf Coast Concert Band for a Memorial Day concert held in the Social Hall. We did a Gershwin medley — Susan sang “Man I Love”; I sang “Embraceable You”; then Susan and I sang a duet on “I Got Rhythm.”|
One of several roles I played for A Night of Glamour at the Copacabana, directed by Ann Landry — the Tin Man in an Oz ensemble. Follow that Yellow Brick Road!!|
|The main role I played at the Copacabana event was Tennessee Ernie Ford, singing his rendition of “Bright Lights and Blond-Haired Women.” (To hear my take on his rendition of “Sixteen Tons,” join us at one of the CountryPlace Karaoke nights.) For Copacabana, Susan was one of the Andrews Sisters, singing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”|
I served as an assistant director to Ann Landry for her Space Odyssey production, with duties ranging from converting karaoke files into keys more suited to singers to managing too few lapel microphones for so many singers.
Then I had fun singing various songs for the production, starting with Purple People Eater as Ann Cisneros danced on the main floor as our one-eyed one-horned alien.
|One of the fun challenges I had for Space Odyssey were various costume changes I went through. With only a brief narrative interlude after Purple People Eater‘s purple and white garb, I was back out on the floor dressed in orange with Jan Zuerner and Ron Bertram for a medley, first singing (and swimming) Three Little Fishies, followed by backing up Ron Bertram on Octopus’ Garden.|
Another Space Odyssey costume change put me on stage to sing Ghost Riders.
While practicing the song at home, I mused how it felt to me like the song would work well with whip cracks. So Susan bought me a fine 8-foot leather whip . . . forcing me to actually learn to crack it! Thanks to Paul Hamilton for showing me a safer method than the “Indiana Jones” style I started out trying to master, I managed to punctuate the song without damaging any stage lights . . . or any CountryPlace residents!
|And yet another Space Odyssey costume change, together with coming up from the low end of my vocal range (for Ghost Riders) to about as high as my voice can reach, I harmonized for a duet with Ann Landry on Somewhere Out There.|
|In the quickest costume change I did for Space Odyssey, I had only barely left the stage from my duet with Ann Landry before I was back onstage for a male quartet, singing the “Willie Nelson” verse of Highwayman.|
|For my final costume change for Space Odyssey, I donned hippie attire for the closing group number, Age of Aquarius.|
|For one of the Players’ Carol Burnett production, I played the soldier-turned-minister for the Gone with the Wind skit. That scene gave Diane Williams a rare opportunity many have wished for: she got to crack me over the head with a chair! (Thanks to Bud McMenemy for making enough breakaway chairs to see us through enough rehearsals and stagings to get through our performance without sending me to the emergency room!)|
|In another skit for the Players’ Carol Burnett production, I had the extraordinary pleasure to play the sick patient getting rather impatient at Bobby Montalvo’s old doctor.|
|One of the things I’m most grateful to CountryPlace about is for giving me the opportunity to sing duets with Susan. Before joining the warm family of this community, she and I never sang together in public. Then . . . first, at karaoke . . . next, for Ragtimers and at a special Memorial Day concert . . . then for Singers . . . and inevitably, at one of Ann Landry’s productions. Here, I join her — yes, I lie not, that is my wife! — to sing How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life.|
Whatever else I do after I retire, I will rejoin the Ragtimers — work commitments forced me to go on sabbatical from the group.
Here I am strumming my uke beside Jack Rudy for a Christmas concert.
|For the CountryPlace Players’ production of The Boardinghouse, I played a role obedient to the demands of the boardinghouse manager and nagged by two wives!|
|Never let it be said that I’m afraid to have fun! When Barb Hamilton sang Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini for a Ragtimers concert (all proceeds benefitting the lamppost project), I provided the visuals for her song. So, who was enjoying the backside of my bikini most—Susan? or Bobby?
Curiously, my bikini didn’t win me as many advances from CountryPlace gentlemen as did my grandma nightgown . . . .
|For the award-winning Red Riding Hood ensemble at a Halloween Party, I played Grandma. My grandma costume, along with the costumes for Red Riding Hood (Dru Helms, Earl Newman’s daughter) and the Big Bad Wolf (Susan), were designed and sewn by Susan.
During the course of the evening, I swear I must have received more dance invitations from CountryPlace men than any other man at CountryPlace has ever seen in a lifetime!
|A month after appearing as Grandma for the Red Riding Hood ensemble at the Halloween Party, I performed a reprise of the role for Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer for the Singers’ Christmas concert, together with Bobby Montalvo and Len Columbus.|
|Everybody won at our 2017 Kentucky Derby Dance! Susan created her hat and baked that delicious Kentucky Bourbon Butter Cake; then she designed and together we created the posters of the horses in the race. Dancing and partying with neighbors capped off an afternoon watching the race together!|
One of the best things about living at CountryPlace — so many great events! One of our faves is Oktoberfest — food, fun and the best of friends!|
|For a spell, Susan and I collaborated on posters for CountryPlace Events and Programs — Susan came up with the creative ideas and poster design, then cut the letters and images out on her Magic Room equipment; then I helped put the pieces together. This Singers’ poster was one of our biggest headaches and most time-consuming efforts, probably consuming more than 50 hours between the two of us . . . but like so many difficult projects, it became our personal favorite! My fave feature: the suitcase opened up to provide a fold-out listing the songs being sung at the concert (which matched the locations shown on the map).|
Besides a year’s round of Events and Programs posters, Susan and I have collaborated on numerous other CountryPlace projects — engraving the glass on the new door for the Golf Pro Shop, table centerpieces for the Fiddler on the Roof production and for one of the fashion shows, and outside signs and programs for the golf course’s Grand Opening, to name but a few. Susan does all the creative design and makes the parts that go into each project; and I help out with construction.
For painting “Country Place” on our new lifesavers, Susan worked on the stencils (not easy getting the curvature just right), then I taped and painted.
|The CountryPlace Player’s production of Steel Magnolias had no male roles. But I still found a unique way to participate. Reflecting a notable reference from the wedding reception, I baked and decorated a red velvet Bleeding Armadillo Cake for our cast party! Very little of our “roadkill” was left to bring back home.|