Buds and Gin Have A Night Out

We were celebrating the 24th anniversary of the day we met. When the opportunity for tickets to The Bluebird dropped into my lap, I knew it was the perfect surprise for Buds, and it promised to be a heck of a night for both of us.

From the website: “The Bluebird Cafe is one of the world’s preeminent listening rooms and the venue has gained worldwide recognition as a songwriter’s performance space where the “heroes behind the hits” perform their own songs; songs that have been recorded by chart-topping artists in all genres of music.”

We had certainly heard of The Bluebird, but tickets are incredibly difficult to get, so we have never gone. Not knowing what to expect, we asked a couple friends about the food, what to wear, how the line at the door worked, but our most critical insight came from our favorite contractor Weston.

Weston came over on Saturday morning to discuss the basement project, so we plumbed his musical knowledge. Weston had been a touring musician and song-writer, so we knew he had probably been to The Bluebird. He told us about the food, what the seating would be like, the expectations (People go to the Bluebird to listen!).

Then I asked him, “Have you played at The Bluebird?”

“Oh, sure, several times.” He replied.

“What did that feel like?” I asked.

He thought for a minute.

“I have absolutely played in venues where no one was listening, and as a musician it tears a little bit of your heart out. So to play at The Bluebird, where people are truly listening, it gives a songwriter pieces of their soul back.”

That sentiment was echoed by Jeff Cohen, the song-writer spokesperson on Saturday night.

“What the Ryman is to musicians, The Bluebird is to songwriters.”

Last night felt a little like being on hallowed ground.

Ready to go and a little dressed up for us.

It was just getting dark when we arrived and there were two lines waiting at the door. One to the left and one to the right.

Photo from here: https://cdn.styleblueprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/IMG_3230-800×600.jpg

As you can see, the exterior is not imposing. It’s tiny (90 seats) and this doesn’t look like a location where magic would happen.

The line to the left is for folks with reservations, and we spent a pleasant hour in line visiting with Cathy and Mike who were right in front of us in line.

Yes, even if you have reservations you get there an hour early because you don’t want to risk your seat going to someone standing in the line to the right. Those poor saps are hoping to get any seat for either the early or the late show.

After we were allowed in (They let you in the door by pairings.) we gave our name, and they showed us to our seat. I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t choose to sit with Cathy and Mike since we had been having such a great visit with them, but when I realized where we were sitting, my disappointment disappeared.

I could sit in the lap of the songwriter in front of me.

We were actually a little shocked. Weston had told us that the venue was small, but it was still surprising, plus the musicians were obviously going to be sitting RIGHT NEXT TO ME!

The video above shows the space and also shows me over talking with Mike and Cathy, exchanging contact info. They had great seats, too.

We enjoyed visiting and reminiscing while we waited for the show to begin. We ordered food, but as friends had told us, people don’t go to The Bluebird for the food.

The evening began with a message from Anna-Gene, the Alive CEO. She’s a wonderful speaker and leader, and the way she shared Alive’s mission and the power of the work we do was heartwarming.

Anna-Gene O’Neal, Alive Hospice CEO

The evening was part of the month-long series to benefit Alive Hospice, and Jeff Cohen shared a powerful story of his first experience with Hospice care when his grandfather was dying.

Jeff had been asked to put together last night’s early show (6:30 p.m.) and he reached out to an assortment of his songwriter friends.

The line up.

Being so close allowed us to both hear the music perfectly, as well as hear the interactions between the songwriters, and gave me the chance to be entranced by the hands of the musicians as they played. I’ve been learning to play the guitar, and to watch the easy flow of sound coming from these talented folks and the speed of the fingerings. I was in awe.

These were song-writers. They thought of themselves as technicians rather than (capital-A!) Artists or (capital P!) Performers–a kind of person that they worked closely with. They were trying to find a way to sell this or that song to an audience of one (the Performer) who would then introduce their work to an audience of millions. The songs they played were a mix of songs that had already taken wing and the unhatched eggs. They were collegial and supportive of each other. Laughing, joking, beating their guitars in rhythm when another was singing and joining in light harmony on choruses. And shaking their heads in mournful appreciation; “I just don’t get why an Artist hasn’t picked that one up.”

The songwriters getting set up. The woman in the shot is Victoria Banks.

Our table was the resting place for Andrea Young.

Andrea Young made a surprise appearance and that was a thrill for the other performers as well as the audience. With no preparation she would listen to the songwriter begin to play, assess the key and tone of the song then jump in with her fiddle to add extra ambience. It added so much warmth to some heartbreaking songs.

We left with a sense of quiet awe and inspiration from rubbing shoulders with these hard-working, hopeful, talented, soulful folks.

First Family Book Club

We love Family Movie Nights, and we love when friends come over for game nights, so we decided we needed another tradition. Monkey and I used to belong to a Mother-Daughter Book Club; good food, good friends, great books, a recipe for a perfect event.

Monkey knew immediately what book she wanted to share with us, so her book was our first.

by Intisar Khanani.

Buds had the idea of everyone snuggling on the two beds together in our room so we could be sure of connecting without distractions…besides the cats.

This first book club was great. Great discussion, wonderful insights, and the first book in a trilogy, so more to read.

Starting the talk.

One family picture attempt.

We’re going to need longer arms.

Peter Mayer and Singing

Editor’s Note: Lots of videos in this one.

Monkey just informed me I needed to write a post about Peter Mayer and how much we all love to sing along to his songs. She says not enough people know about him and more should.

Our family has known of him for nearly a decade now from back in our UUCF days. He sang in the service on Sunday morning then Monkey and I attended a concert of his that night in the sanctuary. We loved, loved, loved him. Then, after we moved to Nash, he presented a concert down here at the other UU church and our whole family went.

Blue Boat Home is the one song our entire family knows all the words to and we will sing it with abandon. One of my favorite Italy memories; we were walking into the Piazza dell’Anfiteatro singing our little hearts out.

(We aren’t professionals, but we are certainly sincere.)

In addition to his heartfelt UU-hymn type songs, Peter has many hilarious songs. Among the favorites for us:

Buds gave that one to all his co-workers at Juice.

One of our favorite days: Jama Day:

The ear worm song:

And finally, a haunting reminder that Everything Is Holy Now:

Happy Singing.

What a Sunday!

What a whirlwind Sunday turned into.

We all had a lovely morning hanging out together. Buds and I got in a workout before church. It’s one of the reasons we love that our church service doesn’t begin until 11 a.m. It makes for a relaxed way to ease into your Sunday.

Because once we got to church, the day didn’t stop.

It was one of the infrequent Sundays where Buds and I got to be in the sanctuary to hear the homily together. Normally one or both of us are teaching Religious Exploration, so this was a delight.

On top of that, one of our favorite guest speakers was presenting:

January 28, 2018 – Guest Speaker, Amy-Jill Levine, Ph.D. – A reflection on “The Parable of the Dishonest Steward” (Luke 16.1-9): The right thing for the wrong reasons? The wrong thing for the Right Reasons? How do we find a moral center?

A.J. presented her message as a talk-back session so there was lots of lively interaction, which our congregation loves. The nugget of the message was talking about how knotty a parable this one is, and what the heck was Jesus meaning?! There were also questions about how our morality is tied up with our perception of how much a person has. (Is it worse to steal from a rich person or a poor person? Should one truly be “better” than the other?)

That led to great discussion for Buds and me, but the discussion had to wait until later.

After church I had a Board Meeting and Monkey had agreed to provide childcare. I only got a picture of her with one of the children, but at one point she was entertaining six kids on the playground outside. She had brilliantly convinced them all to sit on a big swing together so she could keep them corralled.

After she was done she told me, “I’ll gladly babysit again, but I’m exhausted.”

Playing with a 40 year old game that still works!

While Monkey and I were taking care of business at church, Buds and the littles went to cousins’ house for crepes. It sounded like they had a delicious time there.

THEN, we met up at Aldi’s to get our family grocery shopping done. We love that little store, and the family was excited to tell me when we walked in that there was a queen-sized mattress for sale. Buds and I love our Aldi’s mattress, so Monkey got a new mattress, too. Luckily we had driven two cars to church so we had room for all the people, all the food, and the new mattress.

After we got home, Buds had a brilliant idea.

“Guys, remember how in the big yellow house and the Reston house we used to have the two mattresses side-by-side? Let’s do that for Family Book Club!”

Yes, we still had Family Book Club left for Sunday afternoon.

So while I grabbed some lunch, the rest of the crew got the new mattress all unpacked in our bedroom.

I’ll write about Family Book Club in a separate post, but to wrap things up here I searched up a picture of our old double mattress set up from the Reston house:

Buster is zonked.

And seeing Buster sleeping like a zombie led me to another favorite sleeping picture:

What the heck had we been up to on this day? They are wiped!

I love old family photos.

What A Saturday.

Before our Saturday workout, Buds and I headed to the library to see what was planned for our local favorite playground. Red Caboose Park has hosted many hours of fun for us over the years, and there are plans shaping up to completely renovate the park.

After that, the weekend really began with a workout, as it generally does.

Uncle Z and I get a great deal of juvenile enjoyment in teasing “Coach Buds” as he lays out the workouts for us.

It was cold in the garage as Coach wrote the WOD on the board.

Coach lifting big.

After the workout we always have coffee and conversation with Uncle Z and any cousins that have come with him. It’s such a delightful way to begin the weekend.

On this rainy Saturday our afternoon included a reception and play from Room In The Inn to thank the folks who have volunteered over the year.

Waiting for the play to begin.

Notice the two male trolls in the pictures above.

“I just want to get one quick family picture,” I said.

“Okay,” they said.

Interestingly the play and reception were also held at a United Methodist Church, as was the shelter on Friday night. This was a huge church downtown with a theater on the 4th floor of one of the buildings on their campus.

Stand was a moving, sometimes difficult play to watch. I’m very glad we went for a variety of reasons.

The car ride home lead to interesting discussion about what sacrifices individuals need to make, and if, as in the play, you agree to support someone emotionally, financially, in whatever way, recognizing the gravity in that commitment.

The play also led to Buds, Monkey, and me having an emotional, heartfelt conversation about how we are making the world a better place and the deeply private fears and anxieties or guilt each person carries within themselves. Tears and love can heal so many aches.

Though, as the play showed us, not nearly all the pain for some people.

We wrapped up the evening with reading together and kitty snuggles:

Waffles gets wiggles.

That MoonStar face.

What A Friday!

Editor’s note: Post contains video. View at the website for best viewing.

Two wonderful gentlemen replaced our gutters on Friday morning. This is one of many, many steps in the plan to “Keep The Basement Dry!” The house had a mishmash of various sized gutters with underground drainage that was useless and too many downspouts.

Now we have larger gutters, larger downspouts, no mishmash of sizes, and a much cleaner look. That was a great beginning to the day.

Plus they liked the cookies I baked for them.

Friday afternoon the children and I headed off for our first time volunteering with Open Table Nashville to set up the shelter for the homeless folks who would be staying that night.

We set up beds for 16 folks, which is nearly twice the number we host at our church. This shelter is held at a United Methodist Church which has a large gymnasium.

Ready to make some beds.

The space we had for beds.

It was interesting to see how different facilities organize space for the guests. The beds were set up quite close together, although the coordinator told us folks would push them around to get a little privacy. This shelter also houses both men and women. They have restrooms with showers, which is a bonus.

The church brilliantly had an attic space where the mattresses and supplies were stored. These were tough, plastic covered mattresses. (Think college mattresses that are pretty indestructible.) The coordinator told the children to toss them down the stairs.

Stairway to mattress heaven.

Let the fun begin:

It took us a little over an hour to make the 16 beds. The guests were arriving as we finished up the last bed, so we got to say hello to them and wish them a good evening before we headed out.

Buds was waiting for us at home, preparing a delicious chicken tetrazzini dinner.

Everybody helps.

We had a hilarious time as Monkey tried to get our google home to play her Peter Mayer song list. As you’ll see, technology will take over by driving us slowly insane.

Friday night is Family Movie Night at our house. It was Buster’s night to pick and he was open to suggestions.

Buds on the phone with my mom as she makes movie suggestions.

Buster chose “Strictly Ballroom.”

Buster thinks he still only takes up a little space.

I love how Buds has about 4 inches of space but still refuses to yield the couch.

Another delightfully relaxed Friday with those we love.

We See You. We Love You.

I’m about to write a post about what a splendid weekend we had. Lovely family moments happened that we want to remember in 30 years, and this is the repository for those remembrances.

Before I can wax on about those moments though, I have to note those we love who have had or are having tough things happen.

Three of our nieces lost their beloved other grandfather this week.

Beloved friends said good bye to the only pet their children have ever known.

One of my many uncles has entered hospice care.

My mom is spending lots of time supporting her 95 y.o. aunt as she transitions into assisted living.

There are health issues and financial worries, work turmoil and environmental concerns. The world can be a hard place and life certainly isn’t fair.

We’re sending love for the issues we know about and the ones we don’t.

That’s Really Not That Much…

As most of you know, the brother closest to me in age won $1 million dollars in the Power Ball Lottery a couple weeks ago. Our family was so happy and excited for him, and it has made a fantastic conversation starter for me with friends and strangers.

An interesting twist has been happening with friends that I know well when we discuss this exciting, curious event. These have all been friends who are similar to Buds and me socio-economically, which is a critical factor. Several friends, and Buds and I even said to each other shortly after George’s win, “A million dollars isn’t really that much.”

Taken in context, all of us are folks on the side closer to maturity than childhood. We have children and homes and vacation plans and retirement dreams.

I understand.

Living the lives we do, it really isn’t that much money considering the adventures we’d like to have.

Yet when the third person said, “It really isn’t that much money,” in connection with my brother’s lottery winnings, it really gave me pause.

$1 million dollars.

$1 million dollars.

What sort of a life do I have that I said, “It really isn’t that much money.”

Think about that.

There are children who live within 5 miles of me, probably 1 mile of me, who are sitting in their classrooms with empty stomachs.

There will be eight homeless gentlemen sleeping on air mattresses in the sanctuary of my church in one week. They will have slept on air mattresses in 7 different congregations between now and then.

The horrors and fear and needs could be listed endlessly. We all know about them.

I don’t have some grand, make myself feel better wrap up to this essay.

This economic disparity isn’t something that’s likely to change. Buds and I are at a certain economic level, and thanks to the family base we come from, the odds are very good that should our personal economics fall apart, there’s only so far we would fall.

And there’s no false modesty here. Buds and I have worked hard and made solid decisions for many, many frugal years now. But, we started on a higher platform than so many other people.

$1 million dollars.

A point worth pondering.

The Country Music Hall of Fame

Editor’s note: Post contains video. View on the website for best experience.

Our local library has coordinated with the Country Music Hall of Fame downtown so that children from our county can go to the Museum for free any time, and adults can check out a “passport” from the library for two adults to go for free with the pass.

Buds, Yessa, and I took advantage of this chance yesterday on the first warm day we’ve had in a long time. We parked at Buds’ office, and enjoyed the walk downtown.

The museum was nearly empty, beautiful, and one of our first stops was to pick up one of the scavenger hunts they offer in the Taylor Swift Education Room.

We’re not huge country-western fans, but I do have lovely memories of watching Hee Haw with my parents growing up, and learning about Nashville history and the many ways that music can bring people together was interesting.

This recon visit was a success, so I’m looking forward to heading back there when we have friends visit.

Reminiscent of Buddie’s New Hampshire Compulsion Medallion

He’s a troll with a smile.

The picture above makes me laugh. We were making medallions to wear around the museum, as suggested in the education center. Buds got in trouble with Yessa because her name had been misspelled the day before with an “h” on the end.

She was displeased.

At the museum, to troll her, he had to misspell her name on her initial medallion, and when she protested that, he assured her he’d make a new medallion for her with her name spelled correctly.

He spelled her name correctly, but made tiny little “h’s” as the background pattern.

The way these two tease each other makes me smile.

Add a line for a song.

Our meta-picture.

Filling out the scavenger hunt.

Nudie’s sewing machine. When Todd and Gina were in town, I think Nudie’s honky was one of the places we tonked.

Boot design

Interactive history of Country Music.

They had sound booths so you can listen to different songs with various studio musicians and names we recognized.

Smokey and The Bandit-another movie Dad and I loved to watch.

Taylor Swift’s notebook page of a famous song.

The Dixie Chicks’ outfits. We love the Chicks.

Gina and I laugh about how folks from the U.S. will toss coins into any puddle of water.

We saw many beautiful instruments.

After the museum we headed to the Farmers’ Market for lunch, then home to enjoy the rest of the weekend with a workout and time with the whole family.

My favorite kind of weekend.

Snow, Snow, Snow, Snow

We cobbled together a couple weeks of ice and snow down here in the south. Buds worked from home for many of the days, cousins got to spend a snow day with us, and sledding, snow angels, and snowy bounces on the trampoline all happened.

It’s so rare to get snow down here, we’re always delighted when it happens. And we’re grateful that our schedules generally allow us the option of staying hunkered in at home, warm, dry, safe, and fed. I don’t take this privilege lightly.

Cousin angels.

Fleecey face masks made by Grandma Vermont many years ago still getting grateful usage.

The trampoline created an ice heart.

Tastes delicious.

Big, puffy flakes.

Four-legged family members impressed too.

Looking out in awe.

He had to wander around to find a quiet place to work sometimes.

What a lovely white skirt.

Of course, Buds did have to bond with Waffles to pass the time after many, many days at home.

We’re back up to 50-60 degree days now, but we loved the snowy winter while it lasted.