Sunday, April 27, 2008

Of May Apples and Morels

The woods are alive in the spring with delights for all the senses. Birds greet the day with a chorus of song. Bushes bloom with perfume of lilac, azalea and viburnum. Pathways seem to be lined with every hue of flower; bluebells, tall phlox, spring beauties, trilliam, dog tooth violets, columbines, firecracker pinks and if you get down to the ground and peer under the leaves, may apple blossoms. Looking down from above, you'll miss them as they hide under the spreading umbrella of the may apple leaves. Like so many other treasures of nature, you have to know where to look.

And so it is with morels. I've never been good at finding morels, living instead off the kindness of friends who would rather share their bounty than reveal their secret hunting ground. Locally the season is almost over. Farther north should still be going after a good rain. A few years ago, morels even started showing up in select grocery stores. Well, that does take some of the fun out of it, but take advantage while the season's still here. Morels have a culture all their own; not just a distinct texture and flavor. A great deal of folklore and more than a smidgen of mysticism define the morel. They bring good fortune, they are an aphrodisiac, they insure good harvest, they make women conceive male children, dried and powdered they are in love potions and health tonics... sounds like they could save the world! Personally, I think that a little butter and garlic and a saute´pan is magic enough to save my morel world. From the forest to the kitchen, salute once more the spring.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

'til we meet on the other side -G'bye, Bob Childers

Until I went to the Woody Guthrie Free Folk Festival, I knew nothing of Bob Childers or his music. I was more than saddened to hear yesterday of his passing; I felt like I'd lost a friend.

Like so many others who fell under his spell, once you dig Bob it's a forever thing. His music is honest, Red Dirt Poetry. Tinged with sadness, exuding hope, singing about life the way people live it. Call it roots, red dirt country, folk, americana, rainbow rock or what have you, Bob's songs would always hit you in the deep down spot where your soul was thirsty. Listening to his music makes you feel a little more alive, even in the wake of sadness like today.

But the music was only part of the magic of Bob, or mostly a reflection of it. He was just a damn good guy. Kind, gentle, honest, self-effacing, quick with a smile and ready to laugh, often at himself. His genuine thankfulness for those who showed appreciation for his art was touching. Any time with Bob was memorable. Woodyfest will not be the same without seeing the bleary-eyed, but reliable, Bob squinting against the Oklahoma sun at Mary Jo's Pancake Breakfast (see above photo).

Travel safely, Brother Bob. Say hi Woody for me. See you on the other side.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Bottle Rockets Rock Record Store Day

You can't listen to The Bottle Rockets without smiling. And foot tapping. And singing along. Real people making real music that anybody who's ever spent some time livin' can relate to. So when my friend at Euclid Records told me they were doing a set there for Record Store Day.... what better way to start a Saturday?

Stripped down, they still rocked. From the lyrically challenged version of 1000 Dollar Car ("don't buy your music on the internet, just look up lyrics") all the way through to a bleary-eyed Gotta Get Up audience sing-along, the boys did what they never fail to do, make the people happy. Best of all, we were treated to one of the new, yet to be recorded songs from next year's forthcoming record. You're gonna love it. Promise.

But that was only the start of Record Store Day! Five more bands played, plus special DJ Spins and great grub from local eatery Highway 61 Roadhouse. (Which was quite fitting, since the Roadhouse occupies a building just down the street that for years housed Streetside Records, a now defunct local indie chain that I used to call home.) All this plus give aways, ear candy and goodies galore! Hey, it just warmed my heart so see so many people in a record store again. Shopping, buying, trading, chatting, it was magical. Don't let this be your only trip to your local indie record store this year! Stop in often, talk to the record schleppers, tell 'em what you like and let them turn you on to stuff you won't be able to live without. One less fancy frappuccino a week could get you a used CD that won't be gone in 22 sips and has zero calories. You can do it, I know you can, you won't regret it. See ya at the record store.

Friday, April 18, 2008


It's a hard habit to break. Kmart was a great place for a kid from the sticks to shop. Giant bags of fresh popped popcorn, blue frozen slushie drinks, a mechanical horse you rode for a nickel, goldfish, bouncing balls, whole aisles of cheap plastic toys..... life could not have been better for a four year old. Like Woolworth's, Kmart was the big time. The big city. Dad could buy an oil filter for the Pontiac, mom could find a new nightie, and if I was basically good but begged mercilessly, I could wind up with something to shut me up.

Over the years Kmart has remained a stop along my shopping route, picking up on-sale laundry soap here and a tee-shirt there. Martha Stewart cafe curtains still hang in my kitchen, right next to the Williams-Sonoma bowls. Doesn't bother me to mix Kmart jeans with Nordstrom sandals in the same outfit. But I do prefer to be the one doing the mixing. Today my husband and I stopped by the newly remodeled Kmart for some sale goodies and found the Internet Cafe. ??????? What sort of odd parallel universe had we stumbled into? Kmart Internet Cafe? Ooooooo, with free printing! So the hub says, "This is not Kmart." I answered, "Yes, it is." inspecting the machines. "Three stations out of six are out of order." Now that's MY Kmart.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring is more than a promise

When I look at the calendar I feel like spring is almost gone. Never mind that it's still arriving. Saucer Magnolias are stunning right now and my Virginia Bluebells are carpeting the shade garden in hues periwinkle and sky. Sweet man that he is, my husband picked handfuls of daffodils and hyacinth from the yard, just to cheer my day. I'd like to clear my date-book, chuck out all meetings, all responsibilities, all plans, and just live the evolution of spring. Take a sabbatical. Stare at the sky. Drink coffee on the patio and watch the birds feed. Drive to the mountains to witness the retreat of the snowline. Sit by the river and feel it swell up to my toes. Learn from Mother Earth. Breathe the quiet stars. Step away from the clock, away from the calendar. Enjoy the spring before its gone.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Bottle

Every ring of the phone is a knife
Cutting deep, forging scars upon scars
Just when the blood had finally stopped
Now, you bring it back.

Pride is foolish, there's no virtue
To the patience that I've lost
And the honor that I've stolen
Has come at such a cost.
So I shy away at safe passage
Negotiations ill advised
Blindly running, going nowhere
And I hold the thoughts inside.

Trying hard to ignore the pain gnawing
Grinding teeth, steeling nerve against nerve
But the harder I work to forget the past
You have to bring it back.

Pride is foolish, there's no virtue
To the patience that I've lost
And the honor that I've stolen
Has come at such a cost.
So I shy away at safe passage
Negotiations ill advised
Blindly running, going nowhere
And I hold the thoughts inside.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Spring Rain

Hyacinths are blooming, perfuming my yard, my doorstep and my house. Their fragrance astounds me with its delicate beauty and endless reach. It wafts on the breeze through my bedroom window to soothe my fitful dreams then gently wake me before the sunrise. It is a scent that instantly brings a smile to my face and calms my soul.

Many years past, on a trip to Arkansas, in a strange little shop, I found a lotion called Spring Rain. I bought the shower gel and lotion as a vacation treat. Road weary, my husband and I pulled into the cheapest motel we could find in the driving rain. It was clean and quaint, a crackerbox with not much more than a bed and a shower. After a long day, any shower is welcome. The Spring Rain was heavenly. I'd never smelled anything like it. I felt restored, soothed, calm and peaceful. Outside the rain had slowed to a drizzle. All the motel dwellers had opened their doors, breathing in the scent of the fresh earth. People sat out front visiting with strangers, watching the rainbow brighten and fade. We joined them, then walked down the street and ate the best catfish ever fried. The moon lighted our path home through the puddles and the cool night air. A magic moment, a miracle day. Still, every time I use Spring Rain, I remember that day and feel that same sense of calm, the same feeling that the hyacinths bring to me. The beauty, the smile, the peace, the promise of spring.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Wilco + Fishman = Happy

Occasionally, long-time real-life friends who read my web musings express concern that I am slipping into depression. Again. The sentiment is not without credence from those who have seen me on the dark side before. It's not that bad, though, really. Some of my therapeutic journaling, songwriting, etc, tends to creep into cyberspace, making for a much more morose picture than is actually being painted. I just can't help writing in a minor key.

Today, however, today I am happy. No, not found-a-new-job happy. No, not bought-the-D-41 happy. But pretty-damn-happy happy. Yes, after selling out two shows that I did not get tickets to, Wilco added a third and Ticketmaster be damned, I have tickets in my hot little hand. We'll end up camping out in the bar for hours to snag the best gen-adm spot, but what else have I got to do on a Saturday in May? I cannot wait. This stands to be the concert highlight of the year for me, especially after listening the the astounding Winter Residency shows from the Riv this year. Wilco has never sounded better.

And now, neither have I. Part two of today's happiness equation is the new Fishman Matrix Infinity acoustic pick-up. Just when I was about to purchase an old Acoustic Matrix II, this turned up at the Winter NAMM show. Oooooh..... yeeeeeesssss. Adjustable tone & volume at the soundhole in an under-saddle pick up without hole cutting. But wait, there's more! It's re-voiced, more balanced string to string, has new switchable voicing and is far less "quacky". Had to wait until stock finally became available, then had it installed in my Sigma Anniversary along with a little neck adjusting and a new saddle, installed a forward strap button after all these years and brought it home for a trial run. It sounds like my guitar. Perfect. Or at least perfect enough. That's not an easy feat, to preserve the tonal qualities of an acoustic guitar when using an under-saddle, or any pick-up, without the aid of a mic. Fishman has done an excellent job of tweaking this thing. Playing through a Fender Acoustisonic amp, the natural qualities of my guitar shine. I like it.

Right now, I'm happy.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Strong but so fragile,
Protect me
When I lie down.
You say I am both
Earth and sky,
But you need more.
Beyond just water,
Sweet clear air
Is what you crave.
An ungiven gift,
Not withheld
But forgotten.
Pray we remember.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

My Dad, the April Fool's Baby

Today would have been my Dad's birthday. Over twenty years now he's been gone. Finally, after all this time, the troubled teen years have faded and most memories of my father surface as warm and kind. He was 40 when I was born, already living a previous life as record rep, schelpping 78's from radio station to record store and back, then serving in the Army Air Corps.

His second life was the one I knew, as an airplane mechanic for Walston Aviation, at the time, the largest Cessna dealer in the world. His Walston service pins are still in my jewelry box. I loved the airport and I loved flying. Small craft still doesn't frighten me, they feel like home. While most kids were pretending to drive, steering from their daddy's laps, I was pretending to execute perfectly smooth touch 'n' go's from my Dad's knee. I grew up knowing about magnetos and plugs, drag and lift, and I could identify the different planes buzzing over our farm just by the sound of their engines. This was the best part of my childhood. Dreaming of the blue horizon. Dreaming of the happy times. Happy birthday, Joe.