Saturday, December 5, 2009

15 Minutes With Angela Curran

Posted by Michael Floyd

Here is a 15 minute interview with Angela Curran that the Bluegrass Widow recorded way back on January 9, 2009. Apologies to Angela for not getting it on the blog sooner than this.

Click on the link below to listen to the interview in your web browser or right click and choose Save As... to save a copy of the MP3 file to your own hard drive. Be patient; it may take a few minutes before the audio begins playing as the file is 14 megabytes.

Click on the image to see a larger version of the same.

speaker icon Interview with Angela Curran.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Does Anyone Want a Bass?

We have a stand up bass in the corner of our livingroom. Big deal, you may say, but since there is not a great deal of real estate in the livingroom, the bass, or at least it's size, do indeed become a big deal.

At Christmastime we had to make a decision to either find somewhere else to put the bass in order to set up a tree, or just decorate the bass. I wasn't opposed to just hanging some balls from the antique tuning thingys at the top of the bass, but some people decided it would look tacky and we set up the tree instead.

When we drove to Halifax two weeks ago for my sister Heather's wedding, we took the bass along with us. It needed special glue, I was told. It turned out to be $260.00 worth of glue...damn right it's special. I'm thinking good old Elmers School Glue will do a fine job next time. Picture this, too. In order to get the bass into the car, the following must be done in exactly the correct order, or the bass will not fit.

First, open all four doors and raise the trunk lid. Next, lay down both back seats, making certain that the seat belts are far over to the side and out of the way. Now, move the driver seat as far forward as it will go. Move the passenger seat as far forward as it will go, and then drop the back rest of the passenger seat only back as far as it will go. Then, one person, taking hold of the bass and standing at the left rear open door, carefully angles the bass in and then forward, toward the rear view mirror, being ever careful not to bump the roof of the car, the mirror or the back of the driver's seat.

The other person (yes, it really does take two people to put the bass in the car) waiting expectantly at the open front right passenger door, gently easing the part of the bass nosing forward around the driver's seat and away from the rear view mirror..."not TOO hard, it might damage the bass!". Whatever. Then, the second person carefully pulls the bass toward her at an impressive angle, and seeing that the bottom of the bass is now actually in the car, eases the bass backwards carefully, and then down, so as to position the bass neck nicely between the two front seats, with the bottom end of it stuck halfway between the trunk and backseat. If Bass Loading were an Olympic event, Michael and I would be gold medalists.

All that to say that I'm finding the bass to be a pain in the butt, not to mention expensive. If you want it, come and get it. But please, bring a truck and your own people. This athelete is changing sports.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Floor is Clean...Sort of...

Been going through a lot of family stuff lately. As I wrote that I wondered if they (my family of origin) also think we are going through "family stuff" or if they are oblivious to it all. I'm not sure of what they may be thinking, but I know beyond a doubt, I am going through FAMILY STUFF.

I spoke with my sister tonight; she is getting married in less than two weeks. In itself this is not odd, but the fact that she announced the engagement little more than a week ago puts a different light on the situation. Every time I speak with her lately I end up feeling jittery and pacing, and the cure is to do housework. Argh...

Friday evening, I vacuumed the whole house. Tonight I tackled the kitchen and dining room floors. At one point they were white and over time, well, since Christmas, they have faded to grey. On Monday the Sears repairman installed a new part in the dishwasher (thank you God!) and he left his boots on, and it was rainy out. After he left I peered at the floor in front of the dishwasher and that was when I realized that the entire floor was the same color as the grit he had left behind. Time to clean it, I guess. After talking with the sister on the phone this evening, I needed to do something, so I got out the mop thingy and some spray stuff and polish. I like the smell of floor polish. I don't smell it often. Whaddya mean Uncle Johnnie's not coming to the wedding and now I have to drive 5 hours each way with Uncle Roger who is extremely hard of hearing and thinks I am too? Are you kidding me?

I got down on my hands and knees and sprayed and scrubbed and sprayed, and then mopped up the excess wet stuff, all the while the conversation with said sister ricocheting through my mind. Yup, it was starting to look white again. After I washed and rinsed the whole floor and let it dry, I brandished the bottle of polish enthusiastically, feeling pretty good about my accomplishment. Whaddya mean you want me to have Cheesecake because it's your wedding and after all, it's just cheese. Are you kidding me?

Back on my hands and knees I liberally souse the floor with polish...mmmmmm...smell that. I smile and start...well, polishing. As I move backward across the kitchen floor, away from the corner and toward the door, cuz I'm not stupid, ya know, I keep having to lift my knees from the floor in order to move them...they are sticking to the floor. First I scrub a spot, then separate the knees, then drag them backward, causing my toes to drag across the floor. Scrub, scrub, peel, peel, drag, drag...and so it goes. After a short bit I notice circular blobs of blue on the floor, and just beyond this long lines of red. What the heck...? Whaddya mean my twenty year old daughter is invited to your staggette party, but I'm not? Are you kidding me? Oh man, the circular blobs are from my jeans sticking to the floor. I can't figure out what the red stripes are...oh wait...that's Sally Hansen "Hard as Nails" Crimson Red. Shoot.

Now I do scrub, scrub, peel, peel, wipe, wipe, and point the toes as I drag, drag. I manage to get the whole kitchen and dining room done in this fashion, trying to ignore the cramping in my feet. I am getting bored however and rather than moving the laptop bag, I polish around it. In retrospect this was a poor idea as tomorrow when I lift the bag to take it to work, that spot will be dull. Whaddya mean you want me to wear light purple in your you mean Easter egg light purple? Are you kidding me?

I wait upstairs patiently for the floor to dry so that I can put the chairs back. I tested the floor and it seemed fine so I stood a moment, surveying my nice clean floor and the fruits of my labour with satisfaction. Stood a moment too long, I will wager, as when I started walking I ripped a layer of skin off the bottom of both feet. I screamed in agony and expected the husband to come to my rescue, but, too late, I hear the faint hammering of Groundhog on the banjo. I could die 5 feet away and he would not know. Whaddya mean you want me to find the knife and cake server that I used at my wedding 25 years ago. Are you kidding me?

I limp back upstairs to wash the dried on polish off my hands, and to find something to put on my feet. I notice that the knees of my jeans are shiny. I have to go through the kitchen to get to the laundry room, so hopefully the polish will wash out later. I'm tired now, and feeling fairly good about my clean floor and hoping the pain will pass soon. Tomorrow evening, after I speak with her, I will clean the bathrooms. And no, I will not be eating the Cheesecake, one day at a time. And I'm not kidding!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Interview - 14 Minutes with Mike Scott

I'm getting down to the last of the interviews I did in December of 2008.

Here is my 14 minute interview with local Bluegrass musician and all 'round good guy, Mike Scott. This interview was recorded on December 21, 2008; I hope you enjoy it.

Click on the link below to listen to the interview in your web browser or right click and choose Save As... to save a copy of the MP3 file to your own hard drive. Be patient; it may take a few minutes before the audio begins playing as the file is 8.5 megabytes.

Click on the image to see a larger version of the same.

speaker icon Interview with Mike Scott.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Interview - 20 Minutes with Harvey Arbo

Thanks for tuning in again to the Bluegrass Widow blog.

Here is my 20 minute conversation with local Bluegrass musician and good friend, Harvey Arbo. The interview was recorded on December 20, 2008; I hope you enjoy it.

Click on the link below to listen to the interview in your web browser or right click and choose Save As... to save a copy of the MP3 file to your own hard drive. Be patient; it may take a few minutes before the audio begins playing as the file is 11 MB large.

speaker icon Interview with Harvey Arbo.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bane-Jo of My Existence

As I was drifting to sleep last night to the melodic and wistful lulling sound of “Ground Hog” being hammered on the banjo by my darling, I was thinking of a blog. Unfortunately, when I woke up, all I could remember was Ground Hog. It’s a beaut, let me tell you.

I do recall a few random thoughts. I was actually laughing to myself remembering the last blog I wrote that I was not allowed to post. When I say ‘not allowed’ I mean that out of respect for my husband, I won’t post it. He didn’t feel it was near classy enough for me to post. We’ve been married nearly 25 years. The poor man is still living in a delusion.

Anyway, the blog was about a horrific episode in a dressing room at a local department store where I was attempting to buy a new bra. After reading the blog, Michael sort of sat up straight and knit his eyebrows together (he does this when he’s about to impart something important) and said “I don’t think the words “boob” and “torpedo” should be used in the same sentence.

The other thing I recall is not funny at all and very painful – I may need counseling. As I was giving our bedroom a good cleaning (yeah, right) last weekend, I noticed a receipt on my dresser that had “BIRKS” stamped on the back. I didn’t open the receipt as that would be dishonest…who is that girl and what has she done with Helen? ...but I did a bit of jumping up and down and clapping my hands together that a purchase had been made at BIRKS, which is a very high-end jewelry store in uptown Saint John. I do love shiny stuff. As I was clapping and squealing like a stuck pig I wondered how I could (a) find out what was bought without (b) acting too greedy. Impossible.

That night, all cozy on the couch next to Michael, I took his hand and, batting my eyelashes at him, I said “I see on the dresser a receipt for BIRKS…I promise I didn’t open it! But I’m dying to know what you bought”…twitter, bat, twitter, bat, bat, bat, bat.

The response dealt a crushing blow. SIGH…so much for batting and twittering. Michael said “oh, that... I bought a special cloth for shining up the gold on my banjo.” Like, just stab me. So, lemme get this straight… the banjo got a present from BIRKS and I didn’t? There is something seriously wrong with this. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

The stupid cloth even came in a fancy box with BIRKS stamped on the outside of it, and I would like to add, the stupid cloth cost something like $18.00. Use spit and paper towel to shine stuff, BUD, like the rest of us.

Shoulder up your gun and call up the dog
Shoulder up your gun and call up the dog
Goin' to the woods, gonna' catch a ground hog
Ground hog

Yonder run a whistle pig under that log
Yonder run a whistle pig under that log
Lord have mercy when the world might pause
Ground hog

Meat's in the cupboard and the butter's in the churn
Meat's in the cupboard and the butter's in the churn
If that ain't ground hog I'll be darned
Ground hog

Little piece of corn bread layin' on the shelf
Little piece of corn bread layin' on the shelf
If you want some you can get it yourself
Ground hog

Yonder comes Sally with a snicker and a grin
Yonder comes Sally with a snicker and a grin
Ground hog grease all over her chin
Ground hog

I’m still shaking my head. I love shiny stuff and all I get is Ground Hog. Could someone please send me a hubcap?? SNIFF!!

Unless you made other plans, have a happy and peaceful day. Keep doing the next right thing.


TIP - Click on either of the images above if you'd like to see a larger version of the same. Click your web browser's BACK button to return.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Interview With Reg Gallant

Bluegrass Widow Interview with Reg GallantI'm breaking in on the series of interviews I did before Christmas to present you with my latest - a lengthy chat with New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Reg Gallant.

I should like to point out that in my interview with Reg, I make mention of "Michael" playing the banjo behind Reg at the Saint John Marina. This Michael I speak of is my husband, but he is not the Michael you hear on the audio samples throughout the interview. The banjo player you hear during the interview is Mike Scott. Just wanted to prevent any confusion that could possibly occur.

This interview is long; a whole 40 minutes, but I think you'll find it informative and interesting. The interview was split into four 10-minute parts so downloading won't take too long. Click on the links below to play each part of the interview in your web browser or right click and choose Save As... to save copies of the MP3 files to your own hard drive.

Be patient; it may take a few minutes before the audio begins playing as the files are 12 MB in size.

speaker icon Interview with Reg Gallant - part 1.

speaker icon Interview with Reg Gallant - part 2.

speaker icon Interview with Reg Gallant - part 3.

speaker icon Interview with Reg Gallant - part 4.

Tip Click on the image if you'd like to see a larger version of the same.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Interview - 16 Minutes with Ed & Becky Betts

Bluegrass Widow Interview with Ed & Becky BettsWelcome back.

I hope you enjoy my interview with Ed & Becky Betts. This was the first interview I conducted in a series of interviews I did just before Christmas.

Click on the link below to listen to the interview in your web browser or right click and choose Save As... to save a copy of the MP3 file to your own hard drive. Be patient; it may take a few minutes before the audio begins playing as the file is 15 MB large.

speaker icon Interview with Ed & Becky Betts.

Tip Click on the images if you'd like to see a larger version of the same.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Interview - 15 Minutes with Larry & Carlotta Walsh

Bluegrass Widow Interview with Larry & Carlotta WalshThanks for tuning in again to the ole blog site... you’re just in time to hear another interview with the Bluegrass Widow, this time with Larry and Carlotta Walsh. Hope you enjoy it, and even if you don’t, pretend.

Larry Walsh with Jim Mills Huber BanjoClick on the link below to listen to the interview in your web browser or right click and choose Save As... to save a copy of the MP3 file to your own hard drive. Be patient; it may take a few minutes before the audio begins playing as the file is 14.2 MB large.

speaker icon Interview with Larry & Carlotta Walsh.

Tip  Click on the images if you'd like to see a larger version of the same.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Interview - 14 Minutes with Kenny Innis

Bluegrass Widow Interview with Kenny InnisJust before Christmas 2008, Michael and I recorded a series of interviews with some of our Bluegrass friends. The intent of the interviews is for the inclusion on a DVD slideshow that will highlight some of the events we've shared as a result of our common interest in Bluegrass music. Michael took care of the technical aspects; I did the interviewing.

For the whole world's enjoyment, I'm presenting the interviews in my blog. As a common courtesy, Michael asked each interviewee for their permission to post their interview; only those interviews for which permission was granted will be posted.

The interviews won't necessarily be posted in the order they were recorded. Here is a link to the second interview we recorded in the series (recorded on December 20, 2008). I hope you enjoy 14 minutes with our good friend Kenny Innis.

Click on the link below to listen to the interview in your web browser or right click and choose Save As... to save a copy of the MP3 file to your own hard drive. Be patient; it may take a few minutes before the audio begins playing as the file is 13 MB large.

speaker icon Interview with Kenny Innis.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Camel Named Art

It's been such a very long time since I was on this site that I had to stop and think about what my password might be. Amazingly enough, I remembered it. I say amazing because Michael assigned this particular password, and he tends to use the most cryptic passwords imaginable. Yes, I realize you're not supposed to use personal information such as family member's names or birthdays or such, but Michael will assign a part number from a tube that he used to fix a 1967 RCA black and white television set when he was 20 years old, that part number having no less than 20 characters, both alpha and numeric. The fact that I remembered the password for my blog site is truly amazing.

I'm finding this winter to be rough going. I have, along with most of you, no doubt, had quite enough. I see that the clocks are going to spring ahead this Sunday, so that is a sure sign that Spring is coming, right? I know, wishful thinking.

Let me tell you a story - this tale is about a camel named Art. Two Saturdays ago our new bed was delivered and I decided that along with a new bed we should have a new bed spread and bed skirt and fancy poofy pillows and some matching fake flowers for the bedside table. I set out shopping with the spread and skirt in mind; the pillows and flowers were just a nice surprise along the way. I love it when stuff matches. Anyway, in my travels and spending glut I stopped in to a lovely home decor store that is usually too expensive for my budget and while I think everything in the store looks fabulous, I cannot picture it in our house. It would lose something in the translation. But, I ventured in for a peek anyway.

I was alone and roamed around the store for quite some time, delighting in the colors and just feeling happy to be surrounded by such pretty stuff. I rounded the corner by the clearance shelves and there in front of me was the most adorable iron camel I have ever seen. He (hard to say, actually) stood about 3 feet high. There was something appealing about him...not sure what. The original price tag said $120. and he was marked down 75%. I gazed at him for a while, roamed around a bit more, and kept coming back to the camel. A stange woman came up behind me and admired the camel too - I said, while shaking my head, "I'm not sure my husband will love this" (I was thinking more that he might despise it, or worse, ridicule it). She said "if you keep coming back to him, he must be meant for you". She goaded me; she led me to believe that the 3 foot tall iron camel would fit right in with the decor of my house; she convinced me that men are stupid and have no taste. It's all her fault.

Happily, and as if I were in my right mind, I proceeded to the cash register. Setting Art on the counter (he had not actually assumed a name at that point), I asked the woman behind the counter this question: "Can I return this if my husband hates it?" The look that passed over her face can only be called mystified. Clearly she had no clue what I was meaning. Finally she said "why would it matter if he hated it?" I asked her if she were married. Then I spotted the engagement ring. Alrighty then.

I paid for the camel after I got confirmation that I could indeed return him if he posed a problem on the home front. The strange woman was behind me as I was leaving and she told me not to worry, that I could always re-gift it. Why would I need to re-gift something I was buying for myself?

As I was driving home I tried to picture the iron camel at our house. A vision of Harvey and Kenny in our livingroom, banjo and mandolin in hand flashed through my mind. Just beyond them sat the camel, totally out of place. I knew even before I got home he would not fit in, but what the heck. I tried anyway. I knew it was going to be a problem as Michael was walking upstairs and yelled "what the heck is that in our bedroom?" The camel looked ridiculous in the corner of our bedroom, and even worse on top of the entertainment center in the livingroom. It just looked so stiff and unnatural and ... iron. Michael, who has a real flair for understatement said, "What is that, anyway? ART??" And that was how we named Art the Iron Camel.

On Monday we returned Art to the store. We had grown fond of him, but still, he didn't fit in. Or should I say I had grown fond of him, and Michael had grown fond of making fun of him. Anyway, the same person was working the counter as the Saturday before and she recognized me. As Michael roamed off to look at the pretty stuff she leaned toward me and whispered "did it not go well?" I'm pretty sure she thinks Michael is a big meanie and made me return Art, which is not the case. As I defended Michael I wondered if this was how battered women feel when they have to cover up to protect the illusion of their happy life. I grew tired of trying to convince her that returning the camel was my idea and that he didn't fit in with our home...I even called across the store and told Michael to come and give Art a good-bye kiss. As we were leaving the woman put Art in the store window so he could watch us leave. It was all just too funny. We're still laughing.

In the car I said "I feel really sorry for the people that actually paid $120. for Art." Michael said "I'm pretty sure you bought the only one."

I like to refer to that Saturday as the launch of my own economic stimulus plan. And the bedspread and fake flowers look really pretty.

Thought for today:
"The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not."
Mark Twain

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bad Hair Experience

The last time I went to Elizabeth, my hair person, she cut and dyed my hair back to brown from the blonde that it had been for two months. Michael didn’t like my hair blonde; the fact that he kept calling it “yellow” made that point pretty clear. So, I went back to brown, but there were still a few light streaks. I told Elizabeth that I would be dying it myself the next time, and she said “make sure you don’t wait too long”. I wondered at the time what the warning meant, and exactly how long “too long” was, but I didn’t question her vagueness at the time. I wish I had.

Over the ensuing weeks the thought went through my mind how long too long was, but I don’t like the messiness of dying my hair, and even though I was mildly curious about her warning, I didn’t ask, and didn’t dye my hair.

On Friday past, I decided it was time. Since I’ve done this a few times now, I know how to do it and didn’t feel any obligation to re-read the instructions, except to remind myself of the time needed to complete the task. Unfortunately, I did forget one key part of the instructions, which was to dry my hair before applying the dye. Dye bottle in hand, I immediately started applying the dye to wet hair. Medium brown, the box stated. When my hair started going black almost instantly, I remembered that I had missed a step. That, along with the fact that the dye was running down the sides of my face, sent me scrambling for the instructions, and then for the phone to dial 1-800-ISCREWEDUPAGAIN.

Just as I had hoped, there was an 800 number on the instructions for such calameties. I dialed the number, hands shaking so badly I had to dial twice before I got it right. Couple shaking hands with poor eyesight and knowing I was getting dye all over the phone too. When they say permanent, they were not joking.

Ring, ring, ring.

Recorded Voice of someone that was clearly not having a hair emergency. “Welcome to the Clairol Hotline. Please listen carefully before selecting one of the three following options”

Me: I take a deep breath. Begging a recorded voice will not help me.

Non-Hair Emergency person: “Press “ONE” if you are a professional hair stylist”

Me: I consider pressing one. After all, who do I know that gets more hair comments (most not complimentary), owns more hair product, or changes their hair color more often then me? I wait for the next option.

Relaxed Clairol person, clearly with no hair issues: “Press TWO or say TWO if you are a consumer and would like to continue in English” Gratefully I say TWO quite loudly. Let there be no mistake on this, I think.

French speaking and relaxed Clairol person “…(I dunno what she said but I cannot believe my bad luck, and I can feel the dye running down my cheeks. The face ones.

Me: I push a few more buttons, desperately. The French continues. I hang up. I call back, I’m reminded of the movie The Pink Panther where Steve Martin is trying to correct his heavy French accent with the help of a speech coach. Perhaps how I say “Two” in English should like “Trois”. That would explain a lot.

So, yes, I call back. This time when I’m prompted, I, foolishly, say TWO a little louder. Guess what happened? Indeed, I was reconnected with the French speaking and extremely relaxed sounding Clairol person that I could not understand because of my lack. I am totally to blame. At this point, I’m approaching desperation.

I call back a third time. It’s a weekday during business hours so I feel safe in believing that I will be connected, should I press the right button combination, with a real live person who can help me.

Ring, ring, ring….This time I waste no time saying anything, I press TWO. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…you know.

To my delight, upon pressing the number TWO the phone rings again as if I’m to be connected with a live body that can hear the panic in my voice and help me…the dye is now running down my neck. Also, I had a look at my ears before I went to the phone – they’re both black. Oh my.

To my horror on comes another recording. A relaxed voice with a strong southern accent comes on: “Our offices are closed today due to extreme weather conditions. If this is a medical emergency please call 1-513-xxx-xxxx.”

Needless to say, I’m shocked. I hang up slowly. Feeling fearful, I go to the shower and rinse the dye out of my hair. I scrub soap on my face, but I already know that won’t work. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Upstairs I remove the towel and do damage control. Black hair, brown in a few spots, but mostly black. Think Mrs. Adams Family black. My ears are black, I have black residue outlining the entire hairline, roughly an inch the whole way around, and some streaks down the cheeks. Not good. After dying my hair and trying to scrub the dye off my face, I try to cover it with makeup. I wonder how much I would have to use to cover this mess. I put on a lot; it’s still visible. I make a decision then not to leave the house for a few days, or I get the stains off, whichever comes first.

Then I remember the handy dandy stain remover book I bought for five bucks. I bet that will tell me how to get dye removed from skin. I’m ready to use Vim at this point…I have nothing to lose.

Unfortunately the book does not mention removing dye from the skin and only mentioned hair dye briefly. Paraphrased, it said that if a person gets hair dye on anything, either get used to it or throw it away. Hmmmm…this is not what I want to hear. Sigh…I flip through a few pages in a desolate way, hoping that some inspiration will appear….then, Voila!!! I see the answer. Hairspray.

Granted the book was talking about using hairspray on something else, but I thought what the heck…I’ll try that before the Vim. I sprayed some on a towel and rubbed at my left ear…the stain started to lift. I had three different types right in front of me, so I tried all three. The least expensive worked the best, but the good news, and I’m sure you share my relief, is that the hairspray removed all of the dye stains and I was able to leave the house and not have to turn into a recluse.

I was mentioning this to Michael later that day…I asked him had he heard about any extreme weather conditions in William of the Mountain country and then I shared with him my suspicion that there was a plot out there to keep me from getting the help I needed from my hair emergency. He said “yes, Clairol has a plot for all the stupid people that won’t read the instructions….they’re all laughing at you right now.” Whatever. I’m just really grateful I don’t have green hair. And Elizabeth, can you not be so vague next time?

Thought for today: Don’t let a little wind keep you from going to work…

Friday, August 22, 2008

Studio 16 and Other Stuff

We’re driving home from visiting Aunt Faye and Uncle Jack at their cozy home near Grand Lake. The temperature was perfect, as was the lack of mosquitoes and the stew we had for supper. I love visiting Faye and Jack – they are down to earth, welcoming and easy to be around. Michael and I are making an effort, a real effort to spend some time visiting people. Life, it seems, is far too short.

Just as we were exiting their road and starting out on the main highway, which once was the Trans Canada Highway, at Sheffield, Michael reminded me that he had put his laptop in the back seat for me, in case I felt the urge to blog. I said I didn’t really much feel like it, but I was reminded that I had so much to write about. Such as? Oh yes, all the events taking place lately at Studio 16. How could I forget?

Right now the car is stopped along the highway in Maugerville (route 105). We saw a sign indicating the Ch Church Rd is coming up. We have stopped to take a picture of the sign. What is so remarkable about that particular sign, you might ask? Well you should. Michael has a cousin, Gary, that thought for many years that the Ch at the beginning of every road sign meant “church.” Gary, like the rest of us, was born and raised in bilingual New Brunswick, but somehow he missed the fact that “ch” stands for “chemin” (road en Francais) and has always thought it stood for “Church.” Because of that, we thought it funny that Gary would say this particular signs says “Church Church Rd”. Never mind. Perhaps it’s one of those things that you have to be there to understand. Oh, and don’t miss the fact that we’re taking a picture of a road sign…

For those of you that don’t know, my dad passed away on August 8th. I miss him terribly and as I said when mom died on May 25th, 2007, the fact that people miss you after you’re gone is perhaps the best legacy that a person can leave. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our many dear friends in the Bluegrass community. We are deeply blessed with true and real friends.

Back to the blog – Studio 16. Little did I know, many years ago when we married, that I would someday be married to a recording studio engineer, and constantly having celebrities in my home, and most impressive of all, having to listen to take after take of the same song. I’ll call it a song for lack of a better word. Yes, I’m rolling my eyes.

First, it was the fish song. Michael’s brother Steven wrote a song about a fish – a muskie, to be exact. Someone please shoot me in the head if I have to listen to that one again. Like, man! Oh, and I loved how Steve was at our house and Mike the recording studio engineer kept saying “your timing is off, do it again.” It didn’t take me long to figure out where I’ve heard that before. I hear it every single time I go near any musical instrument, regardless of whether it has strings. Even with the triangle, I struggle with timing. It should be noted that when Michael said “your timing is out, do it again,” Steve would rebel, to the point where I imagined that they sounded like that when they were 10 and 13. And in between the hollering, I had to listen to the song. I don’t need to wonder why people take valium.

We moved from the fish song to Southern Flavour, which is supposed to be a Bluegrass song. I’m thinking it sounds like something from Cape Breton, but Michael assures me that it’s Bluegrass. I don’t think it has a Bluegrass arrangement, but the recording studio engineer / Bluegrass music committee member tells me different. Mark me as not impressed.

So, right off the go there’s a problem in that I don’t really like the song, and I’m ticked because I hear it in my sleep and in my head and I want it to go away, and then he starts dissecting it. First, the bass track. Then 492 takes with Kenny the mandolin player. Kenny wasn’t liking the recording studio engineer too much at the end either, I bet. Then, the fiddle track. Somehow Michael lured Matt Hayes up to our house with the promise of a tuna sandwich. I was told that day’s fun consisted of 30 takes. What I find absolutely remarkable is that they all literally sound the same to me. Not that I would know. I vacated. I’d like to tell you that I was thrown out, but that is not the case. After I made the tuna sandwiches, I exited, stage left; call it survival instincts.

First I went to a craft store for a short visit. I love the stuff in that store but I had the sensation that it was probably too expensive for me to breathe in there. Usually I end up just buying a candle, but even that was more than I wanted to spend. Next I went to Fabricville, which is lovely. So many colors, so much material, so little time. I spent an hour and a half in there – pure luxury. It’s probably the only store I’ve ever been in where I just wanted to throw myself on the piles of fabric and roll through the aisles. The colors and patterns and textures are so appealing to my senses. Then I went to the Baptist Bookroom (I didn’t know they moved!), then to Wal-Mart. This morning I heard Michael say in a loudish voice “You bought another pair of shoes?!?!” Place the emphasis on *another*. I didn’t answer him, but I’m fairly certain when he reads this blog, he’ll know I heard. A smart woman would be hitting the backspace key right now, but not me. I also bought 10 spools of black thread for making more quilts, and two flower pots for splitting up the beautiful plant that the Bluegrass Friends sent when Dad died. Thank you very much for sending it. My sister Heather wanted to take it home with her, but I talked her into letting me keep it and I promised I would split it in two. She said ok, hesitantly, and then asked if I still had a problem with keeping plants alive. Har har har. Very funny.

Then, I had to go back home. Matt was still smiling. I can feel your pain, Matt. I smile through it all too. Oh, I forgot…in between the mandolin track and the fiddle track, Tom came up to have his banjo fixed. He said it was making funny noises since he had replaced the strings. I hate to tell you this Tom, but it’s a banjo. It’s always going to sound funny.

My buddy Mike (friend Mike not husband Mike) was telling me that he saw half a dozen banjos at the Sussex flea market. I asked Michael (husband Mike not friend Mike) if he wanted to go up to Sussex and check them out – maybe one of them was a pre-war whoosit whatever. He said that there’d be no way they would still be there. I love it when he feeds me ammunition for the Gotcha Gun. I said “no one bought those things – in fact there are probably three more there with them!” Jeepers. Seems so obvious to me.

I’m feeling so much better. Nothing like a good blog to get the adrenaline flowing.

I’m really looking forward to Thomas Point. Michael keeps saying that we’re not going, but I know we are – that’s what I bought the new shoes for.

Happy day, everyone!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday Afternoon Bloggishness...

I slept in kind of late this body was achy and it was saying "get out of bed" but I couldn't get my eyes to stay open. Rather a conflict, but eventually, I did crawl out of bed.

Michael and I are going to a family reunion this afternoon, at some point, at my Aunt Freda's house in Norton. This is a reunion of my mother's side of the family, brought about because cousin Pat and her husband Gerry are here from Saskatchewan. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, but I must admit I am missing my mother acutely today as she will not be there. I am again, back to accepting the things I cannot change. It will be lovely to see all the cousins again - we don't seem to get together too often, anymore.

Something scary happened at our house one morning this week - we were getting ready for work and listening to bluegrass music on the stereo in the living room. The CD was Dr. Ralph Stanley playing a duet with a bunch of different people, and Michael asked me if I noticed anything different about how the banjo sounded. "Yes", I said "It's being played in the Ralph Stanley style and sounds quite different from the Scruggs style". Michael was quite impressed that I could tell the difference. He was not the only one that was impressed.

Actually, the thought has occured to me a couple times that this shift in my thinking cannot be a good thing. Is it possible that I'm starting to like Bluegrass music? Is it reasonable to think that I, of all people, could actually notice the nuances in something as complicated as how one banjo style differs from another? Nawwwwwww...isn't possible.

How relieved was I, while we were driving home from the Fredericton hospital one night this week, when Michael told me that Montgomery Bell was Cluck Old Hen and I believed him? I was happy when his eyes rolled upward. Pardon my grammar, but I still don't got it. Yay! I will admit that I am still happy to be supportive in all things for Michael, and most especially all things musical, still happy to be surrounded by those that understand and do "got it", and happy that I can be a good sport and play the triangle in front of people.

Speaking of the triangle, we were at Mama Floyd's house last night having a visit when Michael's sister Tracey and her new husband Justin dropped in. They are home for a bit from Alberta. We had a stimulating conversation and it was nice to see them again. Miss you guys! Tracey was astounded when I said there is a video of my triangular debut while playing Petticoat Junction with the boys, and she even made me say 'honest'. Later we realized she thought it was on YouTube, but fortunately, it's not. Too much for the world to handle, I'm thinking. There was some good-natured digs about how much talent does it take to play the triangle, anyway? Well, I have to agree. Not much. I guess that's why I'm the one playing it :)

I'm supposed to be dusting and vacuuming and then getting ready to go to Norton, so I'll end this blog on this:

The things that matter the most in life are not things.

Bye for now...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Been a Long Time Coming…

It was pointed out to me last night, a couple times, that I have not blogged in a while. Since May 15th, to be precise. And we do seem to be all about being precise, some of us. Anyway, it’s not that I’ve not had anything to blog about; simply more that time does fly. Hardly seems possible that I had that first triangle lesson and the jam at our house that started it all (for me) two whole months ago. A lot has transpired since that eventful night.

Let me see…where to start. I think I will start at the end, actually. Last night Michael and I had the very great pleasure of having friends to our home for a summer party in our lovely back-yard. I say ‘lovely’ when referring to our back yard because I am quite delighted with it. Michael has put a huge amount of energy into taking what was an over-grown, rocky, miserable mess and turned it into a very pretty retreat. With help from our good friend Kenny, he built a deck last summer, and the idea of sitting on the deck on our swing and listening to the birds and squirrels fills me with peace and contentment. We were both very excited at the prospect of having our good friends for this party and delighted that so many could come.

Michael’s brother Steven arrived just in time to do some cooking, allowing Michael to continue banging away on the Bass Fiddle. I fully expected some neighbours to stop over, but no one showed up. No doubt they were scared away by all those William of the Mountains (aka hillbillies) smack dab in the middle of Pine Avenue.

I was remarking to Steven, as I was looking at our good friends, that other than he and our daughter, Mallory, Michael and I didn’t know the rest of the people two years ago. We truly are blessed in our friends. Thanks for coming up to the house, everyone.

Two months… seems like a long time… On June 2nd we started up the Monday night Bluegrass Jams again. There had been an eleven month hiatus, but the time had come to resume. There was a good turn out that night, and Michael had organized a huge birthday cake in honour of my birthday the next day. That was very nice, I thought. I personally had a lot of fun that night since I made my Triangular debut on stage. I would like to point out that along with playing the triangle in non-perfect time, I was also burdened with the responsibility of Harvey’s train whistle. Rather a lot of musical stress, I thought, for someone that had not played anything in public prior to that night. I use the term ‘played’ loosely. The amount of talent required was virtually nil. Mostly I just needed some air in my lungs, the ability to open my mouth (never a problem), and the memory of which end of the triangle stick thing to hold on to. Actually, I’m fairly certain the sound coming off that hunk of metal would be the same no matter which end of the stick I used. But again, we’re all about precision. I was stressed out by trying to remember to blow or ding at the appropriate time, and which instrument should be stuck in my armpit.

The entire experience was rather humiliating, along with being fun. I’m not sure it’s something I can put on my resume, unless I am looking for a job where I act like a fool. Becky recorded the session, and a CD of me making a fool out of myself in non-perfect time, complete with Lola’s booming laugh in the background, can be purchased for a mere $10.00. Or, I can lend you my copy for free. You will note that each time I put the train whistle in my mouth, and my cheeks puffed out in readiness, the laughing hit a new high.

Ed had told me a while ago that when musicians are getting ready for a song to close, they lift one leg. I thought he was joking but I have seen Ed and Harvey both lifting a leg while they were on stage at the jam, and since it looks so silly I couldn’t imagine them doing it just to string me along. Last night several of the girls stuck one leg up in the air when it was approaching midnight, signifying that they wanted to go home, and yet, the music continued on. One over-tired woman even stuck both into the air, and still, the music played on. I think I have it figured out – if the man lifts a leg, the song will stop. The women – nothing. Well, a laugh maybe. I don’t get that.

I am typing this blog on the way to and from Fredericton as my Dad is back in the hospital. Michael brought along his laptop and left me with absolutely no excuse not to put my thoughts on paper; scant though they may be. I’m at the point now that I’m struggling to recall what else has happened in this past couple months. As soon as I close this blog off I’m going to yet again launch into the pros for Michael going to the Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival over the long weekend in September. I find it difficult to type and nag at the same time.

I hope you’re all having a blessed and peaceful summer. One thing that helps me is this prayer:

“God, if I can’t have what I want, please let me want what I have.”


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