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Archive for the ‘music’ Category

What Were We Thinking?

It was cold. Really cold. Now I know why stories of pioneer life mention people going to bed just to get warm.

Last year we had tickets to the Lake Eden Arts Festival in mid October in Black Mountain, NC. Of course, the Great Leg-Breaking put that plan aside for the year. Therefore, we still had tickets left over. They were burning a hole in our collective pocket. That was the last warm idea we had.

Every other time we’ve camped there, it has rained. No, not this time. It was too ever-lovin’ cold. It would have snowed, if that had been the case! Because we were camping in a big meadow, there was no electricity. So there was no hope of even a small space heater. Just two wonderful sleeping bags — rated to 20 degrees. I grabbed my book and little reading light to hunker down inside the bag and read, hoping the little light would put out some more heat. Bruce kept saying, “I can’t hear you.” Of course not, my head was stuffed inside a flannel lined bag. Poor Bruce is too tall to crunch down inside. He had to use the flannel blanket we brought as an after-thought to cover his head.

The next morning I went to boil water for our coffee and found ice in the kettle. Again — what were we thinking?

This was our swan song for cold weather camping. Now that our brains have thawed out, we’re finally thinking again.

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Switcheroony

Several years ago Bruce bought me an ipod for my birthday.  He loaded it up with the kind of music I enjoy.  I was all set up.  Except — I seldom used it.  Truth is I like my music in the room with me.  And I do mean — in the room — surround sound style.

I think I’ve seen too many shows and movies where someone sneaks up on another person because they weren’t “tuned in.”  I grew up with a deaf mother who jumped when she didn’t know you were there.  I’ve even tried to vacuum facing the middle of the room since I too hate finding Bruce in the room when I haven’t heard him coming.  It just creeps me out.  Really, the only time I want to be tuned out to the world is on a crowded airplane.  Then I’d do anything to get the coughing, the crying babies and the yakking and giggling to go away so I don’t have to think about how many humans are actually crammed into that plane.  Music in my ears and some Zen meditation or a good book are perfect.

Consequently, the ipod sat in the drawer and I felt guilty.  Then one day he asked if he could use it and since then, it’s been on his desk, not mine.  Awww, end of the guilt trip.

On his last birthday, after much deliberation, he asked for a Kindle.  We had already picked David’s brain about its pros and cons.  He-who-likes-electronic-devices dutifully loaded it up and used it.  For about two weeks.  Then he admitted that it gave him a headache and eye strain.  It sat deserted on the coffee table.  I eyeballed it every once in a while.  Finally, I realized that there was a solution to the huge hardback book I was struggling with.  I was loving The Fall of Giants by Ken Follett, but the physical book weighs several pounds — it’s enormous!  Usually, I try to buy the long historical fiction that I love in paperback version.  They are simply easier to handle.  However, Bruce had this one from his book club and had heartily recommended it.  Once in a while, that gigantic book would fall on me — and it hurt!  So — going against my usual frugal adage — don’t buy another version of anything you already have — I purchased an electronic version of The Fall of  Giants.  Now I curl up with “my” Kindle, set to a nice easy to read font and away I go to Fictionland.  I even use a clip on reading light — just like on an airplane.

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PEWS

This is what our priest defines as “people enduring wooden seats”.  And we did, indeed, endure the equivalent to them several weeks ago.

I already mentioned that we find unusual things to do on Saturdays.  A couple of weeks ago, in anticipation of our trip to north Georgia and a Bluegrass Festival, we drove over to Leesville SC for the Fourth Saturday Bluegrass jam in the Haynes Auditorium.  One main draw is that Shealey’s Barbeque is located there too so we hit their down home buffet.  They kept running out of fried chicken livers as they are more than popular.  I, with a smile, even threatened to snatch some off the plate of the man sitting across from me.  Shealey’s has three big rooms filled with tables so with your plate in hand,  you find a spot and make new friends and a waitress brings you a cold beverage.  They have creamed corn like my grandma could make.  From scratch and not bogged down with that icky corn starch crap.  As always, the banana puddin’ is also worth the hour drive.

But I digress.  I had researched on the internet the location of the music night.  However, it would be rather difficult to get very lost in Leesville.  Just pull over and ask someone sitting on their porch.  Anyway, we got there early and found seats.  The auditorium was exactly like the one in the old Davidson school where I taught, although about half the size.  The old school was built in 1926 and when we moved to the new school in 1996 it was literally falling down on our heads.  We could sit in the auditorium and as we clapped watch the paint flakes fall like snow.  This auditorium had been part of a college so was it better shape, however, the first seats we found were not bolted to the floor.  We found another spot.  There was a stack of cushions in the lobby and I grabbed two as we entered.  I suspected they were there for a very good reason.  Apparently the people from the Twenties were used to suffering or they had softer behinds than we do today, which I sincerely doubt is not the case.

The show started and I thought — oops, this is another Grits Festival.  One of the first group of performers was so young I could count on my fingers how many years she’d been out of diapers.  Bluegrass likes to start them young.  Fortunately,with each new group the music got better.  One group even sang “Beautiful, Beautiful Blues Eyes” which I hadn’t heard for a long time and my mother used to sing to me when I was a child.  However, mother changed the words and Brown Eyes got top billing.  Although, mother, like the rest of our family, couldn’t sing worth a flip, the song always made me feel special.  I also judge the music by how many songs Bruce can sing along to.

The evening was pleasant and fun in a small town kind of way.  Fortunately, Bruce and I both grew up in places and in that era before television when it was normal to be simple, enjoying the old ways our parents and grandparents knew.

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We got back from our latest camping adventure earlier in the week. Overall, the trip to North Carolina was fun; we were able to set up our camp during a beautiful day, had rain and cold nights, were able to strike camp and move an hour further up the mountains to Hugh’s neck of the woods (literally) during good weather and return home on a sunny day. The rain, in between putting up the tent and taking it down, is incidental. We prepare for it.

However, we didn’t prepare for the music at the Lake Eden Arts Festival  (LEAF) to be sooo mundane. It was totally blah. One group thanked their mommies and daddies for their support. Well sure — they were all too young to drive! Of course, they needed their parents’ help. None of the groups really turned our collective cranks. Totally unmemorable.  There was such diversity that there wasn’t really a theme or any continuity.  Something for everyone can also mean not much for anybody.

So — to make up for the music deficit, I started hunting for another festival nearby. We found a Bluegrass festival in the north Georgia mountains next month. We bought tickets and booked a camp site on the grounds, and even booked Ginger for the kennel. Now I’m ready to tap my toes properly.

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Leaving for LEAF

We’re off to the Lake Eden Arts Festival in Black Mountain, NC. This will be our third trip up there. Mountain air, lots of music, nights in our new tent, coffee and tea under the stars, Spam and grits for breakfast and fried egg sandwiches for lunch! Then we go further up the mountains to camp again and see brother, Hugh and sister-in-law, Sylvia. Hamburgers on the grill — what an elegant dinner! And so American. . . . .

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We spent the weekend in Black Mountain, NC at the Lake Eden Arts Festival. We arrived early at LEAF so we could set up our campsite and be rested when the festival started Friday night. We had both been battling a stomach virus earlier in the week. The drive up there seemed rather long because my stomach was still a bit tricky, but I loaded up on meds and we made good time. At our campsite, where we could bring our car, we found a good spot, near the port-a-potties (given our situation), however, not right next to them. Although the shower houses were a long walk away, the water was hot. Even the rain showers later were quite soothing for a snuggly night’s sleep. Amazing how every bite of food tastes twice as good as normal. The fresh air, I guess. The mountains were dressed in their golden leaves; the air rich with the incense of wood smoke.

Friday night we saw the one and only Leon Redbone from “N’Awlins”, preceded by Scott Perry, a NC native, on acoustical guitar. We spent all Saturday afternoon and evening watching/listening/singing along to back to back bands, mostly bluegrass and rock, ending with Robert Earl Keen. The fried egg sandwiches were wonderful!

Man — was it ever COLD that night! Although we brought layers of warm clothes, we still drank cup after cup of hot coffee and chai tea to stay warm. Our sleeping bags sure felt good that night. We bought them last summer, when it was 95 degrees, so the 20 degree rating seemed rather extreme. Bruce (aka the First Sergeant, ol’ bivouac himself) insisted we buy the lower rating, however, and we were (thankfully) toasty warm.

The artsy crowd at this festival tends to be a bit hippy-dippy, so we brought our tie-dye shirts and sandals and blended right in. It’s funny how complete strangers will come up and admire the camping gear. We got A+ approval on our electronic start Coleman stove and our deep inflatable Coleman mattress. Even the new fry pan with the foldable handle got admired.

Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. We discovered vinyl tablecloths make good wind screens and covers from dew or rain. Clothes pins are handy for about anything.

The festival was sold out. So there were lots of tents — lots– looking like multi-colored mushrooms covering the fields and meadows — and no two seemed to be alike. How is that possible? Wouldn’t you think there’d be lots of duplicates? I guess that happens the same way that with all the many VW buses there, we saw no two alike. Who would have thunk it?

One recommendation from the mattress admirer was a suggestion we add a foam cover to keep our bags from slipping around. So indeed, we now own one and we are ready for the next camping adventure. North Georgia is our next destination. Cold up there, too, isn’t it?

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Oh, Mother

I’ve said before, the simpler holidays are usually the best. So it was with Mother’s Day, this past weekend.

On Friday we took Emily to a Greenjackets baseball game. It was hot dogs and french fries and lemonade for supper, popcorn and soda pop for dessert. The game was good, The Jackets had been on a nine game winning streak. They ended up losing 5 to 3 to Columbus but it was a good game. Augusta’s mascot is a green yellowjacket (if that makes sense) who Emily called “The Bumblebee.” She got to high five “Auggie” the mascot and, as usual, was well-behaved, however the game was about two innings too long for a five year old. “Is it time to go, Nana?” It was also past her bedtime. She conked out about five blocks from the stadium. So by the time we got her home, she was sound asleep. Bruce had to carry her in to the house. It was a great evening.

The next day after baseball practice we took off for a blues festival in Thomson, a little town about 20 miles from here. The concert was held in a field with a stage set up. Bruce brought the umbrella for some shade. It was fun to sit and listen to music while enjoying hamburgers and low country boil. Although, billed as a blues festival, they also played gospel and country — a great eclectic mix. We got home about dark.

Sunday after church we ate German food for lunch. Then Jim came over with a new family picture and we sat on the porch on a breezy afternoon and talked for several hours. The gift of his time was a wonderful present. David’s card was so on the mark, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. A diverse weekend with simple days all strung together. Perfect.

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