Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Little Wind to Clear The Mind

I love windy days.

I especially love being able to go for a long walk on a windy day. Now I'm not talking gale force winds, just nice strong breezes. Today is one of those days. After a week of real crap weather, this afternoon the sky turned blue and the winds which were so ugly yesterday in the rain, today were perfect.

The day began with a lot of cooking, preparing a few meals for the week, and getting ready for this afternoon's barbecue. All went relatively well until it was time to do some tech shit. Now dealing with computer issues was never my strong suit and it seemed like everything that could get screwed up, did. iTunes wouldn't even recognize me. Let's just say I was not in a good mood... actually, I was in a pretty foul mood.

So I grabbed the phone, the camera and walked out the door. We haven't been up to the lake in two weeks and the change in scenery is remarkable. As I've said before, spring comes late up here, and the last time we were here there were barely a few buds on the trees. Two weeks later, they are in full bloom and green is everywhere.

The temperature was just right for a long stroll, and as I was walking alone the company couldn't have been better. It being a holiday weekend, a lot of part-timers are up for the first time since last fall. But all in all, the lake was quiet and my mood lightened considerably.

On the last hill before home, I found a dollar bill. Completely flat on the ground, it was surprising with the wind, that I would find it. It seems my day will end on a good note.

Hope yours does too.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Road Trip Blues: A Diary for the Musically Inclined

So where to begin  telling the story of the weekend?

yeah, I'm officially a player
Another road trip, this time two states north to Connecticut and the Mohegan Sun Casino. A weekend of gambling... I think not. As usual, it's about the music. This time to see some old friends play and do an interview with one of the band.  For this adventure, the Drum Mama was riding shotgun... the best partner-in-crime on the planet.

We met up before 10 in the morning, both of us antsy to get the weekend started. Now, being from Jersey, we don't pump gas... ever. I've mentioned before that even with traveling through a hell of a lot of states, I've never been the one to actually fill the tank. Didn't plan on it Saturday either. What I did plan was to pick her up and fill up the tank right before we left Jersey and have plenty of fuel for the round trip.

The only problem is when we get together, we tend to talk a little lot and... well the best laid plans and all that. When I actually looked at the gas gauge and saw I had a quarter tank, I was just about over the Connecticut state line. As traumatizing as that was, I knew I had no choice but to keep driving, knowing full well my lifelong record of never touching a fuel pump was about to end.

Well, that wasn't the only first that day. I had also never been to a Casino before. Never had any interest even though we do have a town called Atlantic City a little south of here. I still don't have any interest, and I actually didn't even touch a slot machine until after midnight on Saturday. Working from home, I don't have a lot of outside influences in my day-to-day life. The noise and visual stimulation of the casino were way more than I needed, especially with the bit of drama occurring with the interview. For a while, I thought it might not happen, but in the end it all worked out and was more than what I could have hoped.

Anyway, if it was up to me, I probably would not have put a buck into the machines, but the Drum Mama would not hear of it. So, we played, I watched the machines quickly suck my cash and I was only too happy to go back upstairs, unwind, digest the whole evening and have a drink.

All in all, the show was terrific, the working end for me was very gratifying and the company as usual, couldn't be beat. It's always fun when your traveling companion has a bartender's license, not to mention manages to think of everything. BTW, we don't travel light, we travel prepared.

As beautiful as the hotel and casino were, I don't think I'll ever be a fixture at the slot machines. I can't tell you how disappointed my mother is in me.

There's a lot more coming about the weekend: a review of the show and the interview will be posted, hopefully in a few days. And look at the Music blog for a post called Almost Showtime for a preview of both.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wine, Women and More Wine

There are times when I look at my family as an outsider would see them and I think... this is not your normal tribe.

For instance, last night my side of the family went out for a Mother's Day dinner. Today is too tough to get together as the beautiful niece & her husband (who, and I applaud him for it, never seemed to think our family was unusual) need to travel back up Rt 95 north for a while, and we ride into NYC to visit the other side of the family. So last night was the big event.

Arriving at the restaurant from several different directions, we grabbed our table and because it was a BYOB, set out the beverages for the festivities. I looked at the bottles, looked at the family, and counted. Besides a small cooler with eight beers, there were nine bottles of wine. For nine people, and one of us doesn't drink. Interesting.

Now as far as I know, none of us is a fall down drunk. We are just a family who enjoys a little wine. Ok a lot of wine. And good wine. And it was good. And damn, if over a five course meal those bottles didn't start to disappear. Like good soldiers, they went down in the line of duty.

So we toasted the day, we talked, we drank, we ate, we opened bottle after bottle. At the end of the meal, two bottles of wine and four bottles of beer remained. Excessive? Nah, it was just right. Everyone was sober, stuffed and smiling. When it comes down to it, the wine was just a little lubricant for our dry throats caused by talking and laughing so much.

Our 3 generations of lovely ladies
It was an evening to celebrate my mom, it was a night for all of us to be together and it was, as it is always with my family... fun. Because when all is said and done, my family loves each other, and though we've lost some important members along the way, there is still a joy in being together.

Everyone should be this lucky.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rain, Wine, Music and Cupcakes... The Evening Begins

Went into the city last night, so there's always a little story to be told.

With a real crappy day of weather, there was a chance the drum-mama wouldn't be able to make it down from northwest Jersey. But apparently Mother Nature knows better than to interfere with these Jersey girls on a mission of music.

The ride into the city at rush hour was not great, but not as bad as it could have been. Had to drive way downtown for this show, a venue I hadn't been to before, but one I'll be going to again next week. Found on-street parking a block and a half away and went to grab a bite to eat.

There aren't a lot of places in the area to eat, it's a lot of commercial buildings, so many food joints are breakfast and lunch only. The show venue offered food but not what we were looking for. I had googled restaurants in the area and there was one called Mae Mae Cafe which was very close. Normally it's a breakfast/lunch place but on Wednesday they are open for dinner, with live music and with a liquor license. Perfect.

Basically a storefront restaurant, the walls were lined with bookcases with books. Yes, real books. And artsy, fartsy things and a bar. Limited menu but interesting. The parent company has an organic farm upstate so the meals have many home-grown ingredients. A delicious glass of wine was a good way to begin the evening.

A two piece band started to set up. A little live jazz before a night of rock & roll. It was an unexpected treat to hear these two musicians, and I can't remember their names, play their hearts out for a tiny audience. There were probably less than twenty people in the place... it's that small.

As we were about to leave, a fancy lady with a big red hat told us we couldn't leave yet. It was her sister's birthday and we had to stay and have cupcakes with them. In New York City, strangers inviting us to share in their birthday celebration... nice. Now I'm a cupcake girl from way back and they looked quite tasty, but it was time to head up the block to see the show. My waistline and cholesterol count are all the better for it.

The City Winery is a decent sized venue, open, with crowded tables. Sat down, ordered a glass of wine and waited for the show to begin. We were seeing an artist I interviewed on Monday, and both the interview and a review of the show are on their way.

The rain held off, my car was still parked where I left it... always a good thing in the City, and the show was wonderful.

I think I'll do it again next week.

The show we were seeing was Marshall Crenshaw. Review to come, but have a look at my interview with him here: Marshall Crenshaw Interview

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Yep That's Me: A Patriot At Heart

One day I was on the phone with one of my business partners and he mentioned that he'd received the second most feared piece of mail in existence. The "you've been snagged for jury duty letter." The first most feared of course is the "you're being audited" letter by the IRS. I've received both and trust me, the jury duty letter is like a Publishers Clearing House envelope in comparison.

Anyway, as we talked about the date he was to report, I said that it had been a verrry loong time since I had been called to serve. Oh yeah, two days later there it was in the mailbox.

Monday was the day. A dreary morning. Knowing I will be going through security screening, I have emptied out my large purse of possible items that would bar me from entering and making it necessary to go back to my car. As I approach the courthouse I notice a line formed at the door. Doors open at eight, five minutes of standing in the rain. Perfect.

The room where you would normally report and hang out all day while waiting to get called for a trial, was now being used by the Probation Department. Their entire building had been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, so this large, fairly comfortable room was no longer available. Instead we were directed to an actual courtroom. Small. With freakin' church pews to sit on. Hard freakin' church pews to sit on. The kind of church pews I hadn't sat on since I stopped going to church when I was twelve... and we all know that was a verrry loong time ago. And no outlets. You saw it in everyone's eyes as we entered, everyone scanning the walls to see where we could recharge our phones. Oh no, one outlet and the coffee makers were plugged into that. Immediately I went to Plan B, I would grab a sandwich in the cafeteria for lunch and take it out to the parking lot so I could charge the phone in the car.

Now the room had wi-fi, but a weak signal. My phone worked faster than my laptop. So much for that. I brought some reading material, two books I never seem to have the time to finish. The first, Stephen King's non-fiction exercise On Writing, and the second is my online bud Lance Burson's The Ballad of Helene Troy, a little sex, drugs and rock & roll novella... perfect for a courtroom setting.

So I read, I sat, I watched the people. I have to say, I was expecting a motlier crew. Most of the potential jurors weren't too shabby, seedy or even interesting. Except the guy sitting in the pew in front of me. He was large and burly. Maybe 6' 2", 250 lbs. Stubble beard, blonde with gray mixed in, jeans and bright orange t-shirt with Key West on the back. But the one thing I just could not stop looking at was his head. Buzz cut around his balding center, with the exception of one patch of hair in the middle back of his head. Not at the nape, in the middle he had this thin, straggly pony tail of at least 10".  I kept staring at it, seriously, I just couldn't stop. I had to take a picture.

And sadly, that was the most interesting part of the day. I was not called for a trial, that was most definitely a good thing. I came home with a headache, a backache and a sore ass. Along with a get out of jury duty for three years paper.

Call me a patriot if you will, just don't call me back for jury duty any time soon.