Saturday, May 30, 2009

another blast from the past

I received a phone call today that was totally unexpected. Steve, the keyboard player from a band I played in over 30 years ago, called me out of the blue. I had recently been in touch with one of the guitar players from the band after a mutual friend died. Apparently Steve heard about that and asked for my contact information. Steve lives here in Memphis!!! He is a studio musician and wanted to know if I still played the guitar and sang AND if I would like to join him and some mutual friends in a jam session.

Wow. I didn't know what to say! I haven't played my guitar in a while and I don't even know if I have the time or the energy to do something like that. But I must confess, it took me back to those days of learning new songs, then rearranging them, which was a specialty of Steve's. I remember performing a super-fast version of Carlos Santana's "Evil Ways" with me singing a harmony to the entire vocal, then morphing into a slow song that was written by Doug, the guitar player, with lyrics by me. We were performing in a local talent show and we won. But the hours we spent crafting that two song performance, trying different ways of putting them together, stand out to me as such a memory of the creative process. Five guys and me, in a basement, smoking and arguing and playing music. It was a heady time. It was fun and magical. It all came back to me today.

I finally agreed to come down and just hang out a bit. What can it hurt?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

two women & their soap

I don't know exactly when Maureen and I became friends. We stumbled across each other playing Scavenger Hunt on Facebook. The more friends you have playing, the more chances you have to find the items you are hunting. One strategy we each used was to add more "friends" who were playing the game already. (There are "add me" discussion threads full of people who are willing to do this. Typically, one creates a special security group to put these "friends" in, so they will not have access to your personal information. Nobody wants a complete stranger tracking them down and calling them at work.)

We got to know each other, a little bit at a time. Maureen can usually be found at King's Landing, a historical settlement in New Brunswick, Canada. She does demonstrations of the old ways of spinning, soap making and herbal medicines. Having been a huge Williamsburg fan, I was immediately facinated by what she does. Several months and conversations later, I removed her from my tighter security group and added her to my RL (real life) friends. She is the only person I have ever done that with.

Today, I received a package from her that contained five bars of soap, three lip balms, a sachet and a solid lotion bar. My house smells so good right now. I have the bars of soap displayed on my coffee table. I keep picking them up and holding them to my nose. One bar is Black Raspberry & Vanilla. Another is Oatmeal Goatsmilk & Honey. There is Apples & Cinnamon. There is Celestial, which smells like a cloud looks. But my favorite is Green Tea & Sea Mud. I can't seem to put this one down!!! The lip balms are "Just Peachy", "Cherry Fudge" and "Chocolate Mint". I have the peach on now. Yummy feeling. (The photo at the top of this blog entry is just a random soap picture. The battery in my digital camera is dead.)

The packaging for each bar of soap is unique. The labels have different pictures and different fonts. But each says "Made In The Kitchen In Millville, NB" and the words "Two Women & Their Soap". Very cool! Thank you so much, Maureen!!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

you can even eat the dishes

straight from

Every Friday through the end of September, you stand a chance of getting a free chocolate bar or candy because of the Mars Real Chocolate Relief Act. Mars initiated the program last week, giving out coupons for chocolate treats to the first 250,000 people who logged on at on Friday and requested a coupon. The response was so large that Mars is doubling the chance for free chocolate this week. A half-million coupons will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis and mailed to those who qualify. Coupons are redeemable for any full-size Mars chocolate product and are limited to one per person per week.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"next blog"

Periodically, I repeatedly click on "Next Blog" and see what I find. The last time I did this, I remarked about how many blogs are in Spanish and I vowed to purchase software so I could teach myself Spanish, which I did!!! Well, I bought the software. Naturally, I bought the best - Rosetta Stone. And, of course, I splurged and bought Spanish I, II and III. I think I did manage to get them out of the box. Sigh.

So - no vowing this time!!! (Is 'vowing' even a word?)

I will simply hit the Next Blog button and see what I find. I always find a jewel or two hidden among the rest.

Here we go .....

Recovering alcoholic exploring her sprituality

SCORE! Wrinkled Blankets appears to be a brand new blog with only two entries to date. But you can't go wrong with pictures of Steve McQueen and an entry of poetry by Virginia Woolf, for goodness sake. I can't wait to see where this goes, so I will follow for a while.

Spanish futebol (soccer)
Free style prose with no intent to order the thoughts
Artist - paintings
Korean travel blog
Spanish futebol
Cooking blog - brand new - one recipe so far
Japanese cartoon download blog

SCORE! Tulip in the Thicket is a blog by a woman who is probably about my age. She is blogging about various things, nothing meant to be profound or profane, but her quiet communication is interesting and touches my heart. I will follow for a while.

Artist - paintings
Artist - photography

SCORE! To Know Him and To Make Him Known is a blog written by a young man who is spreading his Christian faith through his blog. Nice job, Nate! I will follow for a while.

Okay, that is enough for tonight. That was fun. Now it's time for bed!!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

swine flu

I am at home today, feeling very pukey. Since I just returned from Mexico, people keep asking me if I think I have the swine flu. NO!!! I do not think that I have the swine flu! I think I would be a lot sicker if I had the swine flu! My goodness, people panic so easily!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

rainy drive, twisty turns, brad paisley, girlfriend time

Saturday morning, I got up with the intention of getting on the road early to drive from Memphis to Nashville, which is about a three hour drive. I didn't want to rush, though, so I deliberately took my time getting everything together.

I drove over to McDonald's, ordered food and coffee, with lots of cream "on the side". I intended to drink that one cup of coffee with part of the cream, then make another cup of coffee with the other cream after I finished eating. When the gal in the window gave me my bag, I looked into it (which I have learned to do after one too many disappointing moments of getting home to discover something missing). There was no cream. I asked for six creams. The gal in the window said, "They are already in your coffee." I asked for six more. She looked at me for a sec, then handed them over. I figured I could dilute the over-creamed coffee with some I made. I got home, started to brew the coffee, took the top off the McDonald's coffee, only to find no cream in the coffee. It's a good thing I asked for more!!!

I ate a leisurely breakfast, savoring my second cup of coffee while I checked my email and my Facebook games. (I am addicted to Mousehunt.) I packed my overnight bag, then jumped into the bath. As I was letting my hair airdry, Brenda called me to tell me that she had to run a little errand and wouldn't be back until about 3 p.m. I told her that I would wait until a bit later to hit the road, which sounded great to me!!!

I finally left the house at 2 p.m. For directions to Brenda's house, I had her address and two specific directions from her. From I-40, turn right on Murfreesboro Road, then left on Nashboro Road. It sounded simple to me, so off I went. The drive to Nashville was uneventful. There was some light rain here and there, but nothing major. I love being on the road, listening to music and singing along. At 5 p.m., I heard the live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion begin on the radio. It was not until that moment that I realized that the show we were attending, at 9 p.m., would not be on the air. I'm not sure why I was so slow! Of course they wouldn't broadcast both shows!!! (My only regret in attending this later show is that there is no recording of it on the website, so I can't listen to it again! And "The Lives of the Cowboys", which did air on the show, was not repeated in the show I attended - very disappointing!!!)

When I reached the outskirts of Nashville, I pulled up my GPS and typed in Brenda's address. My GPS did not know the address. Well, I thought, no harm - I'll just look for the Murfreesboro Road exit. I got all the way to the other side of Nashville without seeing a Murfreesboro Road exit. Hmmm. I called Brenda. She said she wasn't sure where I had gone wrong. (She just moved to Nashville herself and had forgotten that I had to take one exit off I-40 before I got to the Murfreesboro Road exit.)

I decided to put the closest cross streets Brenda had given me - Murfreesboro Road and Nashboro Road - into the GPS. Eureka! I had directions. Off I went again. When my GPS unit announced that I had arrived at my destination, I looked up to find myself at the intersection of Murfreeboro Pike and Nashboro Boulevard. Sigh. I called Brenda. She asked me to describe my surroundings, which I did. She said, "You're here!!!" A few more turns and I was at her apartment.

I took my things in, we chatted a while, then we were off to the Ryman Auditorium. We agreed we would splurge again and park as close as we could get and ended up in the parking garage next door. Then we walked over in a light rain. I've never been inside the Ryman Auditorium before. It is the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, so it has seen a LOT of celebrity in its day. And, of course, it has appeared in many, many movies including a favorite of mine, Coal Miner's Daughter, starring Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn and Tommy Lee Jones as Mooney Lynn (Loretta's husband).

Brenda and I had great seats down on the floor, in about the 8th row. The seats are wooden church pews. To my right was a very nice couple from Knoxville, Tennessee. The wife was a 54 year-old kindergarten teacher with a little girl voice. She and I were dressed almost identically, which was kind of funny to me. She mentioned that since we were not attending the live show that had to conform to a specific time frame, that the show was probably going to go longer than the typical two hours. (She was right - it turned out to be three wonderful hours!) As soon as we were seated, Brenda left to go get us drinks. We enjoyed a nice wine while we waited for the show to begin. Sound technicians came out and checked everything.

Then, out they came, Garrison Keillor and the rest. Tim Russell can do anybody's voice and did quite a few during this show. Sue Scott does the same for the female voice. But my favorite performer on A Prairie Home Companion is Fred Newman. That man can make any noise, from a train to a ship at sea to a car screeching around a turn. And he puts his whole body into each sound creation. This visual aspect of his work was unknown to me since I had only heard him on the radio. Now I have even more admiration for his work.

And the show's regular musicians are just spectacular. Richard Dworsky can play the piano like nobody's business. Pat Donahue is a fantastic guitar picker. (He did a really great song that was about stealing guitar licks from Chet Atkins, called "Stealing from Chet".) Gary Raynor was on bass. Peter Johnson played percussion. Andy Stein plays the violin and the saxophone

The Sam Bush Band was on the show this night. Sam Bush is an unbelievable mandolin and fiddle player. He was a nice addition to the show. He brought his band with him: Stephen Mougin (guitar), Scott Vestal (banjo), Byron House (bass) and Chris Brown (drums).

Garrison Keillor graduated from college in 1966. That means he is about fourteen years older than me, which makes him about 64. He has a ton of energy and obviously enjoys doing this show! He is a master story-teller and a pretty good singer. He is a star, but seems to really enjoy pushing anyone and everyone to the front of the stage. He is a great showman.

The guest that really surprised me was Brad Paisley. This guy is a superstar of country music. But on this night, with the exception of a couple of songs, he was just a member of the band. There was one skit that featured him. The premise of the skit was that he had gotten carried away by his passion for geology and his agent was trying to get him back into music with a live performance that featured a woman being shot out of a cannon and Brad singing "La Bamba". It was hysterically funny.

Later, when he was singing a song by himself, he forgot the lyrics and asked if anyone could help him remember. Someone from the audience sang out the "La Bamba" lyrics, cracking up the audience. Brad handled it all well. He is clearly a very humble man. He debuted two songs at the show. He and his wife have just been blessed with the birth of a baby boy. Brad sang "Anything Like Me', which he had just written. I suspect it will be a huge hit. He also sang another song about men who boast about "wearing the pants" in the family. I don't know the name of that comical tune (which he dedicated to a male heckler in the balcony section), but the punch line vocal is, "It's Not the Pants, It's the Skirt". It was very funny.

There was also a surprise visit from Little Jimmy Dickens, from the Grand Ole Opry. For those of you who aren't fans of the Grand Ole Opry, Little Jimmy Dickens has been a mainstay there for decades. He sings ballads that often have a comic air to them and he tells corny jokes. He also wears very "loud", rhinestone-covered outfits. You will recognise him on awards shows because he is older and is under five feet tall.

The whole experience was incredible. I am so very glad that I went to this show!

After the show, Brenda and I went to the Waffle House. I just love the Waffle House. You really see the salt of the Earth in the Waffle House. Our waitress was a large, butch woman sporting a black eye that neither of us dared to ask about. I had an omelette. It was really good. Brenda is a night person so she had cup after cup after cup of coffee. By the time we got back to the apartment, it was 2 a.m. Then we stayed up talking another hour. I felt like I had a hangover the next morning, which I didn't. Speaking of salt of the Earth, Brenda is such a wonderful person - so many stories!!! I am very happy to have made this new friend!

The drive back to Memphis on Sunday was beautiful, spoiled here and there with light rain. There are a number of lakes not too far from Memphis. I made a mental note to check if there are any rentals on any of the lakes I passed. That would be a nice weekend break!