Monday, November 01, 2010

Tall Buildings Spied

While I don't know a lot about architecture, I do know what I like, what sparks my imagination, what stays with me & moves me. Somehow, I just don't think that 100 years from now people will be waxing nostalgic over this generation's great contributions to the everyday landscape. "Wow, look at this one! They used to call it a McMansion. You can tell that at least three-fourths of the front of it was garage doors. Now that was style!" Hey, I could be wrong. But my guess is that in 100 more years, folks will still be looking at the few remaining town squares & main streets preserved from the 1800's. Function met beauty and adornment was everywhere. I saw a lot of these buildings in Louisiana & Hannibal, Missouri this autumn. More photos at my other blog:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Autumn in 600 words or less

It's been a busy autumn here in Lake Beentoolong, my home town.....

You know you're busy when you don't have time to edit your photos. Or even get them pulled off the memory card. But things should be evening out here soon. Busy doing what?

Back in September I helped out a friend with the local Nordstroms Rack grand opening. Then it stayed busy. so I stayed on. And on. And on. And now it's a regular part time gig. Extra money is nice, a discount on super-cool shoes is a good thing, and in this economy, having a back up to your full time job is prudent. But I'm a lot older than the last retail gig I had where I was on my feet all day, almost eight years, and boy, do I feel it when I work an 8 hour shift. Epsom Salts are my new best friend. A little lavender oil in the water and it's what legs crave.

Then there was Florida. Visiting family there is always a treat, if a tad exhausting. You hate to waste any of the 144 hours you have there, so it's always a dead run. I took over 600 pics, so sooner or later they will be showing up here and there. Multiple beaches, a hike in a swamp, a bike rally, an art show, the flea market, shopping, dinners out and derelict lakefront property.

Not long after returning, we trekked to Hannibal for the Folklife festival. It's always a favorite of ours; good food, music, art, fall color. Stopped in Louisiana, MO along the way and took tons of architectural shots. The old downtown is full of great late 1800's structures, built when their river port was a-bustling. Those will show up, too.

But wait, there's more... There was a dinner party, my husbands birthday, the Shawnee Wine trail, and a celebration music service at church, all tucked in between double work, stuff at home and a partridge in a pear tree. Yes, it's been a busy, busy autumn.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

I swear, it followed me home

The Martin SW00DB Machiche is a limited edition "sustainable wood" guitar. Only 125 were made. This one followed me home and how could I turn it away? Poor baby.

I do have a thing for the limited edition stuff. Guess it's the collector in me. First time I've ever bought a guitar without playing it first; a little scary. But everything turned out better than fine. I think it needs an ivory saddle and I haven't decided how to amplify it yet. When I get that all figured out, I'll have Mike at Midwest Guitar take care of it, he's always done me right.

In the mean time, I'll just lower the tusq saddle a bit on my own, put on my fave strings and warm up to the newest addition to the stable. No name yet, but since it's part of the Women & Music Martin group, my smallest guitar and as a bastardization of the wood, I'm leaning toward "The Chick."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Loufest 2010

It was Loufest's first year. I'm very glad to say I was there & a part of it!

Being the jaded ex-record retail junkie that I am, it's pretty hard to really impress me. I'm often beyond critical, especially after working my fat patootie off in the heat all day. But blown away I was. The Carolina Chocolate Drops were already on my radar. I'd heard some cuts, liked 'em a lot and was excited to be seeing them. To say that they did not disappoint would be the understatement of the year. The 'Drops exude passion. They are intense, fun, amazing musicians and freakin' musicologists on top of it! They didn't just learn old songs. No, they excavated them from the depths of history with the finest musical archeology tools imaginable, then made them their very own. Everything old really is new again when the Carolina Chocolate Drops are involved. Maybe I should have just said..... wow! Best set of the festival. (Sorry, Alejandro, but you were in the top three. Love the new record!)

Everyone knows I'm a Tweedy fan. Yes. Yes, I am going to gush over Jeff's solo set. All official day mayoral proclamations aside, it still sucks to play on a hot stage with the sun setting directly into your eyes. But the show went on and Jeff held the audience rapt with attention, hanging on his every word. Usually STL crowds are not respectful, but somehow it happened. It was fun to sing along to New Madrid again and be flooded with memories during Jesus, Etc & Misunderstood. After all these years, it seems Jeff has finally become at ease with his past. Maybe I should take a cue from him. For a thorough review & set list, click over to the RFT blog. You'll find reviews of the whole fest there, too.

One more shout out to Loufest..... It was clean! Tons of recycling stations, even manned ones to tell you what to put where, resulted in very minimal trash on the ground. There were tons of reasons to like Loufest, maybe next year you'll have the opportunity to discover some yourself.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why do I?

To answer the question, damned if I know.

Sometimes I wonder why I do the things I do. Hours of my life are spent taking pictures few will see, writing words few will read, composing songs few will hear, creating art few will experience. Is it time wasted? Is it a life wasted?

Yet there is that voice inside that pushes me forward to do these things. Without them, I am not whole, I am not true; I am not me. But like the tree that falls in the forest, if no one hears the song you sing, does your voice exist? Certainly it does, as does the tree. But does anyone care? More importantly, does it matter one way or the other if anyone cares?

Art for art's sake, art for the emotional sake of the artist, most likely describes the majority of notes, words and brush strokes created since the dawn of time. It feels good. It feels bad. It feels. A spirit from within is released as the soul of the work is captured. This is magic. But why do I feel the need to create?

As children, it seems we all have this creative urgency. Imaginations run wild in a world of pretend. Some never leave. Others do. Why? Doctors try to explain it away with left brain, right brain, nature and nurture. But it seems that there is something more. An secret yet undefined at the heart of art.

With the dawn of the internet, sharing art is a click away. Websites are filled with photos, drawings and MP3's uploaded by millions of people. You're reading my words, you see my photos, at another page you can hear my songs. Few of the many, but there nonetheless. It makes me no money, it gains me no fame, no one will remember me when I'm gone. So why should I do it? Why do I? Because.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Presto Pesto

Ah, pesto. So green, so fresh, so summer in a jar. Yes, it's the annual pesto post. Basil was plentiful this year. My plants loved growing in their five gallon pickle buckets, much more so than in the garden proper.

And why not? Although I cannot deceive or claim it to be organic, because the secret to their happiness was Miracle Grow Potting soil and those weird granules that turn into a gelatinous, water-holding goo in your container. So be it, I have basil to beat the band and it's delightful!

We've made caprese salad, put it in bruschetta topping, livened up drinks, dropped it into all sorts of recipes, but the main reason I grow so much basil is to make pesto. On pasta, on pizza, in salad dressing, on cheese garlic bread, in either a cream or red sauce as variation, stirred into soup, a jar of pesto can be a chef's secret weapon.

It can be a bit time consuming, I'm picky so I pinch or snip off only the leaves which takes longer. (You can use the stalks to make basil water. Bruise, steep, strain, freeze in cubes, use in soups, stocks & refreshing drinks. Thank you, Martha.)

Grind it up with garlic, pine nuts or cashews, really good extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, some citric acid to keep it green, lemon or powder, and some romano or your choice of hard cheeses. Experiment! Everyone likes it a little different. Some like it chunkier, some like it smoother, some like lots of garlic, I like a lot of basil and less nuts & cheese, (I can always add more cheese when I use it).
There're even pestos made from parsley & cilantro... but to me that's just not "Pesto". Not really. Give that stuff another name and leave me to my basil. We're very happy together.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Three times I've been downsized. Three times I have luckily managed to land on my feet. Most of my friends have gone through this experience, two more of them today. It's almost a rite of passage now. You can pretty much expect to lose at least one job for no good reason before you retire of your own volition.

People say things like, "When God closes a door, he opens a window." And, "It's a blessing, you were so unhappy." They mean well and by and large they are right. This fact does not make it suck any less. While my last involuntary go-round in '03 was a relief, you still mourn. You leave behind friends, income and part of your identity. Change is frightening, staring into the unknown, even more so. Then, after a while, things settle and you move on. Hopefully to a better existence.

I hope my friends don't lose heart. On second thought, I know they won't. Here come those feet, in for a landing.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Riders of the Purple Sage

"Look at all those bees!"
Yep, they like the sage.
"Sage blooms purple?"
Uh-huh. I tried not to answer too sarcastically. We've had sage in the garden for over ten years and he was just now noticing it?
"So.... New Riders of the Purple Sage..."
That's where they got it.
There are purple blossoms all over the garden. Chives, sage, lavender. There were multiple iris, violets, lilacs, hyacinth. Even the first blush of color through the snow, the crocus, shined a glossy royal purple in the sun. And tonight the sunset is amaranthine, streaking its mood across the horizon. Deep, velvety and kissed with the softest coral. Somehow, I know it is a gift to soothe my troubled day.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Many years

Many years ago we were young. Many years ago we were thin. Many years ago there was no grey hair. Many years ago we were in love. At least one thing is still the same.

When I look at this photograph, the memory of this Christmas eve is as clear as day. His brother had a dog named Barney, whose slobbery ball is cropped just out of the picture's foreground. We drove up after I got off work, drinking beer and listening to Bruce Hornsby & the Range and Joe Vitale. It snowed that night. Wee hours of Christmas morning were spent lounging in the hot tub, drinking wine & watching the snow fall, multi-colored fairy lights twinkling above us. Good cheer does not even begin to describe it. Finally, we slept the sleep of drunkenness, crashed on pushed together, overstuffed basement couches. The next day began with amaretto laced coffee and snowballs on the deck. Christmas could not have been better.

A lot has changed. That deck is now a screened in Florida pool, the hot tub has long since been disassembled, pets, jobs, music and wines have come and gone. Love, however, love remains. Twenty-three years is a long time to be married these days. Twenty-three years is a long time to love someone. But it can happen. Just like that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Nashville Lament

Oh, Cumberland, look what you have done
I almost don't recognize the road.
But I'm a lucky one, my friends are safe and sound.
Not everyone was lucky, as you know.
Water rising, damage not foretold
The picture of the Opry made me cry.
Watching in disbelief, waiting for the crest
Another guitar silenced in the night.
I know they're just strings
Strung across warped wood
But they wound around my heart and held my life.
And I know they're just things
But they brought the world joy.
Nothing can erase those memories
And water cannot stop the ones who sing.

©ruralgurl music 2010

Monday, May 03, 2010


Facebook is everywhere. Not sure how I feel about that. Actually, I'm not even sure how I feel about having a "page". I really didn't want one. Wasn't a blog, twitter, myspace, youtube and four different email accounts quite enough, thank you? Apparently not. It got to the point where in order to get a coupon, know about a sale, find out a band's tour schedule, or contact certain friends, a Facebook account was required. After much foot dragging, I reluctantly caved.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Luddite. I love my macs (and I've had quite a few), I prefer email to a phone call and I check my Twitter feed regularly. But there's something a bit off about FB. Maybe it's the whole "friend as a verb" thing. Maybe it's that I'd rather not even have to deal with "not friending" people from my past who I wasn't friends with in the first place. Maybe it's that FB is yet another time-sucking vortex. Yet, in the mist of all the crap, there is a redeeming factor. Friends. Real friends. Cry-on-your-shoulder-friends. A community can quickly rally around a cause, lend emotional support, and even fundraise for disaster or charity via a circle of friends. It's quite amazing. I think it may even be some folks' lifeline.

Perhaps Facebook isn't the evil empire that the little voice on my left shoulder says it is. For now, the little voice on my right shoulder is winning. Sorry Roger.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's a Growing Time

Springtime is my favorite gardening season. Everything is so new and full of possibility.

The Ozark Black apple tree that tried so hard to die last year has rallied in a nearly miraculous way, filling out, blooming and setting fruit. Its companion, the Winter Banana, is abundant with apples to the point of needing thinned. St. Francis stands careful watch over them day and night.

No, there's not much to eat yet. A bit of lettuce, a radish or two. But there's arm loads of iris to perfume the house and peonies close to bursting. My grandmother's poppies are beginning to open, shocking the bed with iridescent orange. Purple cone flowers sport crowns that will turn to buds, and eventually to seeds the finches adore.

Tomatoes and peppers are new and without blemish. As I weed around their still fragile stems, I dream of fresh salsa, bruschetta and caprese salad. Herbs are taking over. Mint has marched into the yard, no amount of tea, mojitos or juleps could ever use it all, but try we must as the run for the roses approaches.

Blueberries are flush with tiny nibs, still green, while the blackberries continue in a riot of fluffy white. They'll both soon need netted, lest we lose the crop to birds.

From the sprouts to the budding, the flowers to the frisky birds, it's a time of miracles. Hope. It's a growing time.

"It's a growing time
It's the springtime of the year
It's a growing time
The sun is moving near
It is yours and mine
The days are ours to share
Within our peaceful garden
And this growing time so fair"
-Dan Fogelberg

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Always climbing

Mountains, stairs, figurative, literal, it seems I'm always climbing, yet rarely find the top. Perhaps that is the way life is supposed to be, striving eternally. If you stop learning, you stop living. I agree, but must everything be a never ending ascent of Everest? Treadmills, stair climbers, elipticals, spin bikes. Our most popular exercise equipment is all about going nowhere forever. The mentality of them has crept out into the world, poisoning the joy of just being.

There is something to be said for being. Lying in the grass and watching the birds feed. Sitting on the river bank and enjoying the play of sunshine sparking on the lapping water as it rolls by. Walking aimlessly down the beach in the moonlight and listening to the roar and crash of waves and sea. Or is the restoration of my soul through the simple quiet of being also a continuous climb... toward peace?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Too long in the wasteland

These trees, photographed three weeks ago, are now covered in tiny chartreuse leaf sprouts. But I like them bare. Naked to bone, nothing to hide, comfortable in their own stark reflection. Dimming sky and a pale full moon laid the winter to waste.

Now I'm planting. The lawn is mowed, purple henbit and violets that covered the hill are just memory. So many first flowers of spring wear shades of my favorite color. Crocus, grape hyacinth, tiny bluebells just emerging; it begs you to wonder why. Then the dandelions, forsythia and daffodils chime in, spreading golden cheer. Spring's not a secret anymore.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jeepers, Peepers

Yesterday as I walked to my truck, the air was full of sound. A beautiful, deafening, trilling chorus. It caught me off guard, stopped in my tracks. Birds? No. Crickets? Too early. Oh! Peepers! Their song came from the direction of the creek across the road, calling to each other, calling to me, heralding spring.

So I headed out the back way, toward old Route 66. Radio off, windows down. Every large ditch or small farm pond rang with the voices of hundreds of tiny, inch long frogs. No one was behind me, so I rolled slowly over the old creek bridge. Thousands of peeps upon peeps upon peeps. My breath was a sigh. I was so happy to hear spring at last.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

You know you're sick when you don't even check your email.

I feel like I've been sick forever. Two trips to the doc, three prescriptions and 3 & 1/2 sick days later, I'm at least feeling a bit more awake. Seriously though, how much can one person cough? My new exercise DVD, "Abs of Phlegm" will be featured soon on an infomercial near you!

Being in bed a lot has given me large blocks of reading time. Finished The Lost Symbol yesterday. I won't spoil anything, if you haven't read it, but while a fun, fast read, it was too predictable. I had stuff figured out before Dan Brown turned the corner on just about every twist. This wasn't true with the other two books. And it seemed like he was writing Robert Langdon's dialog with Tom Hanks' vernacular in mind, especially toward the end. Personally, I liked Angels & Demons the best.
I know, everyone's a critic.

Been tanking up on satellite TV, too. Caught up on all my BBC faves like Cash In The Attic and Bargain Hunt, indulged in Doctor Who over on SyFy, laughed at Chumley spinning around on a Segway on Pawn Stars, traveled the upper midwest with American Pickers, figured out that the king's servants are also supposed to be lemurs on the Penguins of Madagascar, (I thought it was a koala & a fat squirrel), and decided I needed a Ninja Master Prepp & Ron Popeil's Showtime Six Star Knife set. Thank goodness my credit card was out of reach. Now, if they are supposed to last a lifetime, why do I need 2? It was all great short attention span TV. I feel like my mind has eaten a bag of Cheetos, a box of Twinkies & topped it off with a bomb-pop. Mmmmmm. Good.

In two more days I'll try to go back to work again, hoping that the HVAC is better regulated so that my cube is less of a sauna, and toting enough Puffs Plus to build a small fort. Maybe that will be the end of it. One can only hope!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Oh crap! I think I'm a cougar.

Maybe it's the hair. He's got awfully great hair. Whatever the reason, I'm a Shaun White fan. In the perennial water cooler question of what to do with all that winning lottery money, a snowboard lesson from Shaun is on my list. Mind you, I've been on a snowboard only three times and while less disastrous than my poor attempt at downhill skiing, it was not all that pretty. But he makes me want to try again. There's an exuberance about him, some mischief, kindness, and that odd mix of shyness and gregariousness that many celebrities have. Sure, he's a kid, but I like him. He inspires me. He has so much more to offer, probably more than he himself yet realizes. I wish him all the best for a long, long time.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


Nearly seven years out of the record biz and I'm still watching the Grammys. Really, I don't know why. They suck me in and I can't change the station. Ya hear that Nielsen?

Even before I was in the industry, I was a jaded Grammy watcher. The artists and bands I thought were worthy often didn't get nominated, let alone win anything. After a few years of pushing baby bands and ingraining my brain with knowledge of genres I never thought I'd like, my indignant attitude grew. How could Neil Young and 2Pac both never have gotten Grammys? (Okay, Neil did win for best packaging this year & was the MusiCares honoree, but still....WTF?)

Now that I don't have to be or follow the taste makers, I find myself able to delve even further into the music that I love the most. No, I didn't see the Fleet Foxes or Peter Bradly Adams on the Grammy list this year, but that in no way deters my enthusiasm for their great music. Just like their lack of inclusion by the Grammy machine doesn't stop me from watching the overblown pageantry of the yearly ceremony. Old habits do die hard.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Busy, Gone, Busy, Gone

The end of January. How the....?

There's still ornaments to put away. Seems I just rolled out of Christmas and it was off to California for a week. It's disconcerting to lose a week in the middle of the month. Especially in a different climate. I left behind a winter wonderland, then landed in a bizarre mix of spring and summer. There were blueberries ripe on bushes and poppies swaying like crepe paper on the breeze. Then the rains came and I left.

At home the January thaw had begun. Snow was a memory, everything was soggy, mornings were foggy. Where had winter gone? But like my time on the coast, there was so much to do that precious little else got done besides work. Pity. Fog is so mysterious. I hope someone captured its essence in my absence.

Now, the struggle back to normalcy. Such as it is. Is it?