My father loved to play the harmonica. Thinking back, I really can’t remember the songs he played. I’m sure they were old favorites. My grandmother was a very religious woman — Methodist or ?. I’m sure she would NOT have allowed modern music. A music radio station played religious songs all day. Our dogs did NOT like the sound of the harmonica, it hurt their ears. So Dad did not play it often.
Why am I remembering his playing now. That is easy to say this morning. Yesterday I went downtown to the Blues Fest. I did NOT recognize any of the names of the performers. The transit worker at the train station told me that Friday had the best music. I thought I might stay later than planned.
Listening to the weather on TV before I left, I heard that it was 60 by the lake. I dressed for cool — sweat shirt and heavier jacket. I try not to carry a purse so I loaded up the jacket pockets with necessary items. I restricted myself to no credit card and only $10 in cash. My knees were yelling — Motrin and cream were necessary. This was Chicago’s 36 year hosting the Blues Fest. I LOVE MUSIC! I didn’t go for many of the years. Then I realized that the possibility of my husband going with me was slim and if I was going to go — I had to go by myself. My pins date back to 2007.
I ALWAYS have a good time. I knew that if I stayed home, I would be unhappy with myself. Sore knees, cool temperatures, I was going. It was NOT as cold as I heard on the TV. I was ROASTING! I would have bought a tee shirt BUT I didn’t bring enough money, no credit card either.
I found a comfortable place under a tent, with chairs! The sides were pulled back to let in the breeze. I did NOT recognize the performer but I was comfortable. One of my favorite sounds in the blues is the harmonica (harp). Credit goes to my father. The musician Grady Champion was a joy to listen to. As a matter of fact, when his set was over, I was ready to go home.
I decided to refill my water bottle and stop in the bathroom before the trip home. The program at the bandshell started at 5. Since it was after 4, I decided to listen a bit before going home. I had trouble understanding the words in the tent, I was hoping the sound system at the bandshell would be better. IT WAS!
Not only was the sound better, I could understand the words. My sweatshirt and jacket came in handy. I was comfortable. I got a fantastic surprise. The artist: Charlie Musselwhite was a MASTER at his craft. He played the harp EXTREMELY well. I would easily have bought one of his CD’s if I had cash or a credit card. I stayed for the entire set. Before leaving, I bucked the line to tell him how much I enjoyed his playing.
I worry about me sometimes. I especially worry when I don’t remember where I put something or when I forget when it comes to money — checkbook, paying bills. I don’t get upset when I arrive in the kitchen or the pantry and forget why I felt I needed to get something. Usually if I relax and think for a minute, I’ll remember what I needed.
I’ve told myself that I need to start writing notes. Sometimes I remember and sometimes it works — especially at the camper. When we leave in the Fall and I’ve moved stuff — it is helpful to find a note telling me where the item is.
The forecast for the weather for the week after Thanksgiving was interesting. Two days in the 40’s, then the temperature drops below freezing, with snow. Time to put up the lights outside.
Finding the boxes that hold the decorations was easy. Our son brought them up from the basement for me. Taking off the lid contained the lights and the garlands. EXCEPT — I didn’t recognize the lights. I saw large bulb, multicolored lights — FOUR (4) boxes. QUESTION: Where did they come from? I didn’t remember buying them but I knew neither our son or my husband would have. There they were.
We use tiny cascading lights hanging on the porch. I found three bunches. They also were multicolored. I didn’t remember them either. We usually have either white or blue. I looked for a note reminding me of the lights in the box. I didn’t find one.
I have to admit that my notes to myself are not very complete. Either I forget to write things down or decide it is not important enough to remember. Maybe I thought that I would remember. Sadly, memory is marvelous — it must be full because it is VERY choosy about it keeps.
Recently our local public broadcasting station had a pledge drive to raise money. One of the programs that was included was music of the 60’s. It surprised me that not only did I recognize the name of the singer whose voice I heard, but just hearing the first notes of the song — I knew what the song was. Of course the 60’2 — it was my music and I was YOUNG! My memory bank was full and overflowing.
I LIKE the multicolored lights on the porch. Getting new strands to replace those hanging this year would probably be a good idea. Maybe that’s why we have 4 boxes of multicolored large bulbs that I don’t remember. I wonder what we were going to do with them?
It is hard for me to put my relationship with God in words. To say that He/She has my respect and gratitude is a true statement. To say that I am ALWAYS GRATEFUL is also true. To say that I am obedient to the plans for my life is often up to debate. When I was young, I told God that I would have as many children as He/She gave us. I had three children born and a couple of miscarriages. I said that when the children were in school. That was it, I was done. And God laughed. Our youngest daughter was born.
Today is her birthday. All of our children have been a blessing. The job of our youngest was to keep me young and with her children, they are trying their hardest. I have to admit that I argue with God. I used to feel guilty but I read somewhere that God likes a bit of spunk, within reason. Well, I certainly have spunk.
My recent debate is my job of writing the blog. I have had a thought ramble publishing every week for OVER six years. The problem is that I always want it to have some influence of Spirit. The second problem is that my brain seems to be asleep or in hiding. I have suggested that I quit or at least take a break for a time. One of my suggestions was that I could reprint some of my earlier thought rambles. I’m not sure how any of my suggestions have been received. I have often mentioned that I neither see or hear “my friends in high places.” God is in the highest place!
Today is my youngest daughter’s birthday. I wasn’t in the mood to send her a sugary sweet card this year. I looked at many cards that made me laugh but she is TOO YOUNG for them. She told me I should have sent them anyway. I found a card that passed the sweet test and mailed it. This morning I sent her an instant message “Sing with me, ….” I don’t have a smart phone, just an old flip. I seldom access Facebook, looking at the thought of the day, not spending much time. This morning I followed suit. AND WAS AMAZED!
Just for me, balloons, music — “Happy Birthday with a picture of her daughter taken years ago when she had braids, eating corn on the cob.” Of course I sent it to my daughter.
The only words I had: “Thank You.”
I have to admit that I don’t see them but I KNOW that I am seldom alone. Some times their activity is more noticeable. Early on a Sunday morning out in the country, I headed for the 8:00 Mass at St. Patrick’s. As I drove up a small hill, I saw figures on the road ahead. Slowing my speed, as I reached that spot, I saw 4 deer — two adults, two spotted fawns on the side of the road by the cornfield.
I enjoy the guitar music at St. Patrick’s, the songs are printed on loose leaf paper, assembled into a small booklet. The last time I was at Mass, I couldn’t find the song book. I looked over the shoulder of the woman in the front pew to sing the song. That morning I FOUND the booklet in the pew, hiding behind the official songbook. The pages were included for the beginning and ending songs — two songs, 14 and 16, offertory and communion, were missing. No one had a song book in the pew ahead of me, I didn’t know the songs. I couldn’t sing along, so I hummed the tune.
Acorns were already falling at the camper. The deck of our porch was already loaded, even though I had swept them off once before. Thankfully the roof of our deck protected us as they fell. As I pulled into the drive and turned off the car, two acorns banged onto the hood of our car with force. I decided that I needed to back up the car, out of the range of the acorns.
The events of the morning had already caught my attention. But I was surprised when I made a phone call to a friend. After our conversation, my cell phone rang, telling me I had a voice mail message. Calling voice mail, I listened to most of our recent conversation. I have NEVER had that happen before.
I decided that someone was “helping”, but who? I asked my husband to phone his brother — he has 4th stage lung cancer. His brother was fine, staying out of the heat in air conditioning but my husband learned something that I find very interesting. It might of answered my question. That Sunday was his father’s birthday. Where the two father’s having fun on my behalf?
I suppose it is no secret that I LOVE MUSIC . Even though Chicago has hosted the Blues Festival for 35 years — most of the early years was held without me. My husband DOES NOT LIKE CROWDS. He does not LIKE to go downtown so for the many years when we were raising our family, I didn’t go to any of the festivals in Chicago. One year I came to the realization that I could go by MYSELF. And so I did. And I continue to go by myself when we are in town. Sometimes he will go with me but not often.
We were scheduled to be in town for the 35th Blues Fest. Recently it moved from Grant Park to Millenium Park. Exact reasoning is yet to be determined but the city is able to provide more security for the event. In this day and age that is not a bad thing. In town — I planned to go. Rain was predicted for the Festival but I thought that if I wore a raincoat and limited the stuff I was carrying, I would be alright.
I noticed that the Festival was honoring Bob Koester for the 65 years that his record company, Delmark records, played an important part in the blues and jazz of the city. The Koester family lived down the street and around the corner from us. My middle daughter babysat for his children, my youngest daughter was good friends with their daughter. I stopped at the Delmark both to inquire. I learned that the entire family was present. BUT WHERE? Millenium Park was a smaller place, but thousands of people attended the Blues Fest.
I stopped at Southwest airlines to spin the prize wheel and won a canvas tote. I stopped by the stairs to reorganize stuff. The gentleman that I just talked to at Delmark records walked by. He asked if he had just talked to me. When I said he had, he told me where Sue, Katie and children where. I didn’t waste any time — they were sitting by a table at the restaurant. I had no idea who I was looking for so I looked for children. I asked a young mother if she was Katie AND SHE WAS! Happy — understatement! I phoned both of my younger daughters and they ANSWERED their phones. They both got a chance to talk with Katie. Made all of our days!
I enjoyed the music but I was HUNGRY. I hadn’t brought enough stuff to eat. I decided to find McDonald’s since I knew I could control the sodium level. If I turned right after leaving the park, McDonald’s would have been right there. Instead I turned left and walked FOREVER. After getting something to eat, I decided to keep walking over to State street. I knew there was an elevator by the Library stop. An elderly couple looked confused, I asked if I could help. Easy, they wanted the Red Line — subway train that was on the block we were on. At the Library, I made it up to the mezzanine — connecting platform between North bound and Southbound trains when I encountered a man who also needed help. No one there to help him find the Blue Line. Taking a couple of minutes to think, I was able to give him directions.
Frosting on the cake!
I have to admit that I have never been to Ireland. I don’t know if the opportunity to visit will ever come. My mother’s father was from there. I have finally learned the county that he was from but since I don’t know his birthdate or any other pertinent information, and his last name was very common — I’m not trying to learn anything more. I’ve titled this thought ramble Irish Morning not because the day reminded me of Ireland but because I was having lunch with a dear friend. She is not only Irish but she came from across the water. For years she lived on my block, went to Mass with us on Sunday. But time passes and our bodies reflect the passing. She had trouble walking up and down the stairs in her house. She moved to a Catholic senior residence. Even though she is on the third floor, they have elevators.
She phoned a few days ago and invited me for lunch. Of course, I accepted immediately. Then she fell, and we postponed the date. Then the snow fell on rain drenched stairs and I didn’t like the crunch as I swept the stairs. And we postponed it again. The day finally came, cold but with sunshine — blue skies. If I gave serious thought to the meeting, I wouldn’t have arrived empty handed. Ooops!
Her residence has many opportunities for a person to stay busy. I passed a room where art work decorated the window. I recognized the name of a friend and stopped to take a photo. A woman passed by with her son and asked if that artwork was mine. I admitted that it was a friend’s, I wasn’t a resident. She had recently moved in and was having trouble adjusting. I had to share a story of my recent painting experience and a photo of the finished art work. She didn’t paint or draw. She used to sing but has lost her voice. I suggested she just sing to herself inside her head. She was on her way to therapy. I was navigating the halls, looking for the building were my friend’s apartment was.
SUCCESS! We had a pleasant visit but more snow and rain was in the forecast. I really didn’t want to get stuck out in the weather. I learned that she had had a stroke a couple of years before. Somehow I missed that information. Her son used to live on our block and shared information about his mother. He rented their house a couple of years back, and moved to an apartment. I no longer receive current news. She is doing well now — in her late 90’s. Not bothered by the aftermath of her fall.
Going back down I shared the elevator with a woman who had a lovely accent. When I asked, she admitted she was from Ireland. Walking down the hall with her, I voiced the question of a bathroom. Two gentlemen going in the opposite direction pointed to a sign on the wall. I told my companion that I’ve noticed that when I ask a question, I often get an immediate answer. I wondered if the same thing happened to her.
Leaving — I met the same woman I saw when I first arrived. She hadn’t slept well the night before and was heading to her apartment for a nap before supper. I mentioned that it must be hard, giving up her house, her car and living in a new place. There were people there from her parish but the friendship is just starting.
Looking back — it doesn’t seem that many years ago. Looking for landmarks — reality sets in. It was an EXTREMELY LONG TIME AGO! Our youngest daughter was a toddler. I’ve always loved to dance. The opportunity arose when I learned of square dance lessons in our neighborhood. It sounded like fun. My husband agreed to try it. It was fun! We learned the basic steps, then the opportunity arose to learn more — advanced to be specific. That also was fun. The caller announced he was going to teach lessons to introduce people to calling. I thought my husband would enjoy it. He liked to play chess — my reasoning — he would enjoy moving people.
AND HE DID. The problem occurred as he became more accomplished in calling. He LOVED to call, he didn’t want to dance anymore. I became extremely good at dancing the male part. I became his agent, handling bookings, and other assorted tasks. I learned how to call line dances. And life was busy. He added more equipment and records to his arsenal. I don’t know exactly why he stopped calling. We had gotten older, he wanted to take evening classes at college, being out at night so many nights of the week was tiring? What ever the reason — he gave up calling but kept all of his equipment and records. FOR YEARS!
Recently he redid his office and moved a lot of stuff to another room. Remnants of calling included not only his phonograph, but also boxes of records and three sets of speakers. The speakers were huge, and heavy. Since his equipment was still in working order, we didn’t want to put it out in the trash. The many square dance clubs that we had known, where no longer functioning. Their members like ourselves had aged.
I thought we could donate it to a music school. Every time we learned of a person who was still calling, for one reason or another the lead fell through. Our computer ended up being a great help. My husband put in a request for square dancing in our area and learned of a new club that was only minutes from our house. They had members who were interested in learning to call. They would love to have his equipment.
For the last time –he put some records on the turntable, hooked up his microphone and enjoyed calling. He sounded terrific. But we both agreed that it wasn’t something we wanted to go back into. I don’t think my knees would let me, not to mention if I would remember more than a couple of steps.
We were VERY HAPPY to donate the equipment were it would still be used.