Saturday, December 15, 2018

What is one of your favorite stories that you tell over and over?

My favorite story, which could have been a complete and total disaster, is the time our band, Front Porch Jam, played On the Waterfront in Rockford.  I decided I needed to relieve myself before going on stage, just in case.  There was a port-a-potty at the back of the stage and so I went inside and did my business.

As you know, port-a-potties are not very comfortable and actually, quite a tight fit.  I arranged myself as well as I could.  Walking out of the potty and starting up the steps to the stage, a lady that had been waiting for the potty stopped me and told me that the skirt of my dress was in my underwear.  Talk about wanting to die just before you are really going to live.

I am so thankful to that woman, whoever she was, for having the courage to tell a stranger that they were going to make an ass of themselves in front of hundred of people.  There are some women out there who would find humor in someone else’s catastrophe. 

Peace be with you.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Who were my favorite teachers in high school and why they were great?

This really brought back some flashes from the past for me.  I had to get out my yearbook and refresh my memory.

My absolute favorite teacher was Coach Ledford.  He was only a few years older than us Freshmen and had graduated from Carlisle High School as we would in four more years.  He was funny and very serious about Biology.  I love dissecting stuff.  He was my homeroom teacher also and so I got to see him twice a day.  Once when we were all kidding around, he had his paddle out and accidentally whacked me on my hip bone.  I cried ouch and he was so embarrassed that he turned all shades of red.  He took me and one of the basketball players to Frisch’s one night after a ball game.  I don’t remember why but I remember I had a Big Boy platter and an extra Big Boy.

Another one of my favorites teachers was Mr. Scott for American History.  He not only taught us dates and shit but told very interesting stories about history.  The best one I remember was when “Silent Cal” Coolege died, Alice Roosevelt asked, “How can you tell?”

We had a new very young, very tiny English teacher in my Senior year.  Her name was Mrs. Crecelius.  Loving English and Literature as I did, I just held on to her every word.  She was very gesticulating in her manner and sometimes we would imitate her.  Like this one time she told us she had this friend, and she held her arms straight out from her body.  Someone in class imitated her and then we all did.  It was so funny.

Our Senior cheerleading advisor was another of my favorites although not really our teacher.   She chaperoned us during practices and drove us to games that were away at other schools.  She was Native American and the first one I had ever met.  She was from North Carolina and had the loveliest accent.

The teacher I spent most time with in high school would be Mrs. Conneroe.  She was our Choir director and she was a blast.  When she directed she would wiggle her behind and looked so cute.  She was an excellent Choir director and we all just loved her.
And of course, there was my beloved Mrs. Vivian Kruse who told me I was a good writer and that I should continue to write.  Bless her heart and soul wherever she may be.

Memories, trapped between the pages of my mind…

Sunday, November 25, 2018

What concerts have you gone to and enjoyed?

The first concert I ever saw was The Temptations.  My boyfriend at the time was going to Xavier University in Cincinnati.  I drove down to Cincy and we attended the concert.  The Temptations were very popular at that time.  When music was real!

The next concert I went to was also in Cincinnati.  My boyfriend took me to see Sly and the Family Stone.  We were in the third row and were surrounded by a sea of black folks.  They stared at us in the beginning but when the music began, we were all up and dancing and singing.  I had to stand on my chair to see the musicians.  I didn’t stand long as it was a folding chair.

I have seen Jethro Tull at least four times that I can remember.  The last time I saw them I realized that Ian Anderson’s voice was going.  I guess that comes with age.

I saw Joni Mitchell in concert in Oxford, Ohio.  It was so wonderful to see her in person.  Every song was amazing.  She played her guitar, dulcimer, piano and some other gadget that I didn’t recognize.  She was at her finest.

Simon and Garfunkel were also an amazing show.  Art Garfunkel sang their new song, Bridge Over Troubled Water and you could have heard a pin drop it was so fantastic.
I was so glad to see Dan Fogelberg.  He died about two years after that concert in Rockford at the Coronado Theater.  The band that played with him were musicians from Spirit.  I guess they all lived close by in Colorado.

A really wonderful concert was James Taylor, again at the Coronado.  He had a picture screen behind him and showed various photos and told stories about the pictures.  He played acoustic guitar and at one point another musician accompanied him.

The Dave Mathews Band concert was a disappointment.  It was on a hill in Wisconsin and the band was about two inches big.  Everyone around sang to every song and we danced also.

I have seen Emerson, Lake and Palmer three times.  The last time was the last really big concert that we saw.  You could smoke in the arena in those days and there were more than just cigarettes burning.  My eyes cried, and my ears were about to burst.  I gave up concerts for quite some time.

I do love the venue at the Coronado and wish they would have more good concerts there.  I’d love to see Cat Stevens (I know that is not his name now and he sings children’s’ songs).  Bonnie Raitt is another musician I’d love to see.  The Barenaked Ladies would also thrill me.

My favorite live band, The Blue Olives, have changed.  They have a new guitar player and I only see them playing in Wisconsin.  I wish they would come back to the Best Dan Bar.

There is just nothing so special to me as live music.  Photo is The Blue Olives.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

If I could have a talent, what would it be?

Yesterday, I went to Monroe, Wisconsin with my girlfriend, Lauri.  We went to see A Star Is Born.  I saw the trailer on line and have wanted to see it ever since.  I loved the old one with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristopherson.

Lauri and I arrived early and decided to walk around the square.  We put in a reservation at Pancho and Lefty’s and were told there would be a twenty-minute wait.

We went into Baumgartner’s.  She used the restroom and I looked at cheeses.  They had a piece of Roquefort, but it was like thirty dollars.  I asked the kid behind the counter what cheese sandwich was the most popular.  Unbelievably, muenster was the answer.  Ish and ick.  For those of you not familiar with Baumgartner’s in Monroe, Wisconsin, it is the home of the cheese sandwich.

We sauntered back over to Pancho and Lefty’s but Lauri (Miss absent minded) couldn’t find her glasses or her phone.  She went back to her car and I grabbed us a seat at the bar. We split a bacon bleu cheese burger and guacamole.  We had a short Spotted Cow beer which was on tap and was actually very good.  I don’t usually like Spotted Cow in a bottle.

BTW, if you haven’t been to Monroe to Pancho and Lefty’s you must go.  That bacon bleu cheese burger is the best burger I’ve had in a very long time.  They also have some smoked ribs that look pretty appetizing.  And Korean tacos that sound amazing.

We decided to check out the chocolate shop and I got a piece of chocolate shaped like the state of Wisconsin.  I intended it to be my treat at the movie but forgot it in my purse and didn’t eat it.  Lauri got some chocolate dipped cookies.

We still had a few minutes and went to the ice cream shop and got a small Butter Pecan cone, which was truly delicious.

Finally making it to the movie theater, we got excellent seats as there was no one else in the place.  And it was only $6.50 for the tickets.

And so, the show began.  It was a little slow but as I didn’t have any knowledge of either of the actors, I found it interesting.  A couple of the songs were very nice.  I wasn’t taken by Lady Gaga’s (what kind of name is that?) voice at first.  She has a lovely low range but when she hits the high notes, I think she is kind of creepy.

This guy, Bradley Cooper, is gorgeous!  I read that he practiced for a year and a half to play the guitar for this movie.  He was pretty good.  God, was he hot!

I had heard this story was a tear jerker and knew that from the old movie I had seen in the 70’s.  But when she walked onto the stage with Jackson to sing a song she had written, in front of thousands of people, I cried.  I love to sing in front of people.  I have sung at On the Waterfront in front of a lot of people and it was the absolute thrill of my lifetime.

If I could have one talent it would be to be able to read music and play an instrument, so I could sing along.  In elementary school when they introduced music, my parents decided they couldn’t afford the rental of the instrument.  And so, I missed my chance at learning music.  I can sing and play things by ear but given the sheet music I am at a loss.  In choir, I listened to the part I was to sing and could sing it back easily.

In choir once, I was asked to sing my part.  As I was singing solo my best friend at the time snuck up behind me and pulled my half slip down around my ankles.  I did not sing again until I was in my 30’s.  A group of friends would get together and play guitars and sing and I was encouraged by my good friend, Joe Clark, to sing before the microphone.  I will never be able to thank him enough.

Music is my favorite language.  It brings people together.  It makes people happy.

I am going to a local bar today to hear my friend, Joe Clark, and his new band.  I can’t wait.  Celebrate live music whenever you can.

Peace be with you.  And music too!

What have I changed my mind about as I grow older?

When I was a child, I thought the world so wonderful and beautiful.  Everything around me was so fun and special.  I loved playing, singing, being around other people.  As I have grown older and seen much more of the world, I now know that there is a division in the kinds of people in the world.

There are givers and there are takers.  And these taking people take and take from those around them and never offer anything positive to the world.  And the givers wear themselves out trying to keep the peace.

And there are people who get up in the morning intending to put anger and hatred into those around them.  There are people who see nothing but hatred and negativity in the world.  They look upon their fellow man as an enemy and want to take them down any way they can.  And I feel sorry for these people, but I try my best to avoid them whenever I can.

I worked with the public in many of my jobs and have been treated like a piece of fecal matter.  I have had people attack me for no reason at all except that they hated their lives and wanted everyone around them to feel as badly as they did.

I have also known folks who wear their heart on their hand and would help anyone including those negative assholes I mentioned above.

I have tried to stay in the middle.  If I have contact with someone whose aura is negative and infuriated, I try to steer clear of them or at least to maintain my calmness.  But if I meet a real human being, I give it my all to share happiness and positivity.

I have always said that I don’t really care for 80 percent of the people that I know.  But that other 20 percent, they are my people.  They are the true human beings and I appreciate them to the fullest.

Life is short.  Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Peace be with you.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

I have this sorry-ass best friend.  Her name is Garnett Smith.  She is a hermit and lazy and can avoid things you cannot believe.  She didn’t avoid death this past week.  My heart is broken as I loved her like a sister.

Garnett was a state of Illinois employee and like most government employees, got pretty used to being lazy.  Garnett was a registered nurse for most of her life.  She got her start in the Navy.

I don’t remember when I met Garnett.  She lived two houses away from me for years.  I think I met her at my closest neighbor’s when she threw a party.  Garnett wasn’t much for parties, but she loved her music.  I believe we became close when all our friends used to play music in our garage.  The neighbors would put lawn chairs out in their driveway and listen to us practice.  I think Garnett walked over and joined us.

Garnett was pretty shy with her musical talent.  She sang only on occasion and I only heard her play her guitar once.  One of her favorite songs was “Over the Rainbow”.  She played it for me and sang once.

Garnett worked at Singer Mental Health facility when I met her.  I signed up as a temp and got a job working in the facility with her.  My first introduction to this job was the employees discussing a patient who had tied her shoestrings around her neck while wearing her bed sheet.  I had many horrendous surprises while working at Singer.

Garnett and I took walks at noon around the campus.  When we got home from work we would meet up and ride our bikes around the lake which is six plus miles.  We would get halfway around, and she would beg me to turn around and go back because she didn’t think she could make it.  (This was so like everything she did.)  When we made it back to our house she would yell, “Let’s go around again.”  I resisted smacking her.

The Singer place closed down and Garnett and her husband retired.  I lost track of her as she had moved to Rockford.

One day I was at a local gas station and she was working as the cashier.  We started up planning to get together and it didn’t happen.

Years later I got to know Garnett’s friend, Charyl.  She, Garnett and I decided to go kayaking at a nearby lake.  We got to the place and headed for the rental area.  Garnett decided she couldn’t do this, and she wanted to sit in the car and wait for us.  Charyl said, “Absolutely not, you are coming with us.”  We almost dragged Garnett to the checkout.

We got to the kayaks and Charyl went first.  Then I got Garnett settled into the kayak and pushed her into the lake.  She yelled, “There is a snake in the water!”  As I am deathly afraid of snakes I almost backed out.  But I persevered and got into my kayak and pushed off with my oar.

We kayaked out into the middle of the lake.  Charyl and Garnett popped a beer each.  There was no alcohol allowed at this lake.  I joined them in a beer.  Garnett went on and on about how much she loved kayaking.  I threatened to hit her with my oar but was afraid I would overturn.

Two weeks later I discovered that not only Charyl, but Garnett had purchased their own kayaks.  I continued to rent, or borrowed Charyl’s is she couldn’t go with us.
Garnett and I kayaked on the lake where we lived.  It was early morning and hardly anyone was on the lake.  It was so peaceful.

Garnett not being shy about bodily functions was a big belcher.  She proudly let them roar anytime she felt the need.  Out on the lake, her belch roared and echoed.  She was so proud!

Our mutual friend, Terry, had cancer and was very ill.  Garnett and I visited her, and Garnett explained that she also had been told she had cancer of her aorta.  She had surgery and they removed the artery and replaced it with one from her leg.  She was slightly deformed by the surgery, but it was a miracle surgery.  Our friend unfortunately did not have a miracle and passed away.

The surgeon had nicked a nerve in Garnett’s tongue during the surgery and she had so many problems because of it.  She lost two teeth.  She also talked like she was shit faced (which she probably was) but I knew better.  She had a medical marijuana card and enjoyed it frequently.  She also carried a mug which usually had a beer with water in it.  She snuck Rumchata into restaurants and added it to her coffee.

The worst part of the nerve damage was that she couldn’t eat much.  She couldn’t’ chew meat and gave that up first.  She was a steak and potatoes or Mexican food freak.  Breakfast was usually a tostado for her.

She couldn’t’ taste much either and ate mostly French fries with a lot of salt.  I’m saying salt on the plate and dipping the fry in it.

I decided she was going to discover other foods and I took her to a Greek festival and she fell in love with stuffed grape leaves.  We went to an Indian buffet and she ate an entire plateful of food and went back for seconds.  We ate at that buffet many times.  I also introduced her to Thai and Chinese.  She didn’t take to either as she didn’t like or eat rice.
We had many adventures when I got her out of her hermitage.  We went on a tour of the Japanese Garden in Rockford as well as a tour in a boat on the Rock River.  We visited the Nicholas Conservatory and saw the butterfly display as well as the orchid display.  We tried to go to the Rotary Gardens in Janesville but got lost and I was to blame.  Charyl was with us and she gave me what for!

We found out that Garnett had never seen the Rocky Mountains and so Charyl, my husband and I took Garnett to Denver.  We had too much fun as usual.  When we left she called the mountains, “her mountains”.

Charyl had this most wonderful garden at her house.  It was covered and surrounded by lattice.  She had a hot tub, firepit and a dining room in this garden.  We three girls had a sleepover at the garden one summer evening.  We had entirely too much fun and I was surprised the neighbors didn’t call the cops.

I learned many surprising things about my precious friend.  She was half Mexican.  She had a baby when she was young, and his name was Christopher.  He died of SIDs when she and her husband were out for New Years Eve.  She never celebrated on NYE ever again.  She was in the Navy when she was just out of high school but got discharged when they caught her dealing marijuana.  Bless her heart!  She also had polio as a child and had very weak legs as a result.

She also had a daughter.  Her name was Jenny and she lived with Garnett and her husband for maybe a year or two during high school.  Jenny didn’t like living with Garnett and went back to her Dad.  Jenny also, for some reason unknown to me, never communicated with her mother again.  Garnett would visit her on occasion when she went to that town to visit other relatives.

The last few months of her life, Garnett did so many things on her bucket list.  Charyl had moved to Florida and Garnett and I flew down and stayed with her for a few days.  I couldn’t believe it, but Garnett went back not once but several times by herself.  The last time in June, Garnett went parasailing with Charyl.  The next month she, her husband and her son, Peter, went skydiving.

Our mutual friend, Nancy, got a day off from her hell job and Garnett, Nancy and I went out to lunch at one of our favorite places.  They have a deck and you can eat outside.  We spent at least two hours there laughing and enjoying several dishes.  Afterwards we went back to Nancy’s and tried out her new swimming pool.  Nancy’s neighbor, Steve, joined us girls.  We were lounging on our little floaties when Nancy suggested I try her new floatie.  As I jumped on it there was a tremendous wave and Steve was thrown into the air and out of the pool.  I thought I’d pee myself laughing.  I think Garnett and Nancy did.

I am so thankful for that wonderful day because it was the last time I saw my friend.  She became quite ill and didn’t know much of what was happening around her.  The cancer had returned.  Her husband said she didn’t want anyone to see her like that.

My husband got a call last Saturday from Garnett’s husband and he said she had passed that day.  Her husband and son were by her side, as well as her daughter, Jenny.

There is a hole in my heart and soul.  Garnett lived the last five years of her life with fourth stage cancer.  We had so many adventures and I will never forget her.  There will never be anyone quite like Garnett.

Friday, October 12, 2018

What are my favorite songs?

I have so many favorite songs that it is difficult to choose.  One of my most favorite songs is by the Beatles.  “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make”.  I have always lived by that line in the song.

Of course, Jethro Tull, being one of my very favorite bands, I have several favorites by them.  is one of the most beautiful love songs ever written.  Look into the Sun is also “Reasons for Waiting” a favorite.  “My God” is part of my Pantheist beliefs.  “He is the god of everything, he’s inside you and me.”  “Slipstream” is another favorite Tull song.

"Crazy Love" by Poco is one song I love and I just love to sing. " As the Raven Flies" by Dan Fogleberg is another that I love and love to sing.

Leon Russell wrote another one of the most romantic songs ever written.  It is “A Song for You.”  The hubster and I danced to this song while Leon sang it live.  That is one of the most memorable moments in my life.

Speaking of the hubster, there are two songs that made me fall for him.  Years ago when I was a teenager, I used to listen to the radio at night.  I tuned in all kinds of weird stations and one of them was a Chicago station that was so popular at the time.  They played this song that I fell in love with.  It is “Not Enough Love to go Round.”  The hubster had this album and the song was on it.  It is by Rare Bird.

The other song is not a song but an album.  It is Dvorak’s New World Symphony.  The hubster also had that album.  The section called “Goin’ Home” is really one of my all-time favorites.  When you girls were in choir, you sang that song and I cried like a baby.  Thank you.