Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Look Back: Thanksgiving 1969

Thanksgiving 1969, 42 years ago. I was 20 years old. This is an excerpt of my diary that day:

And here is a very old faded picture of that dinner at Aunt Patty's house. Clockwise from the top: Uncle Fred, his mother, Aunt Patty, me, John Gause, Beth, Jean Ann, Dad and Mom. I believe there were other tables set up in the living room, and little Andrew was crawling around, 6 months old.

Happy Thanksgiving 2011!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Heartland Dulcimer Festival

Last weekend I took my two grandsons to their first dulcimer festival. G is 14 and E is 10, and I decided they were just the right age. The festival was in Elizabethtown, KY, and the festival is called The Heartland Dulcimer Festival. It was a one-day event that began in the morning and lasted until after the concert in the evening, or whenever we were ready to leave. There were four workshops of various musical instruments with various instructors. There was a special set of workshops for kids between the ages of 9 and 18. I knew most of the instructors and thought it would be a good experience for the boys. And it was.
We left on Friday evening after G’s wrestling practice and drove to E-town. We stayed at a Ramada Inn, ordered pizza, went swimming, and watched The World’s Funniest Videos. Then the boys had a major altercation over E’s DS, and it was time for bed. But we got up early, had breakfast and arrived at the festival.

The festival was in a beautifully renovated old theater called The Historic State Theater. The workshops were held in the green room, backstage, and in the theater’s museum. The boys were given their nametags and schedules, and off they went to their workshops. We met up at lunchtime – which was a lovely lunch of vegetable soup and submarine sandwiches and chips and drinks and cookies. Then the boys went to their afternoon workshops and I went to mine.
After the workshops we had a couple of hours to kill, so we drove to Hodgenville, KY, to the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. It was a beautiful drive through the autumn countryside. When we finally made it to Hodgenville, the park was closed for the day, but there were a couple of museums (also closed) on the town square and we looked in the windows. We also saw two great sculptures of Lincoln and took pictures.

As we left Hodgenville, G said he saw a Sherman tank and asked if we could stop, so we found it and stopped. I think this was the favorite thing they did. They climbed all over the WWII Sherman tank, which was part of a memorial to the soldiers lost from Hodgenville in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

There was another memorable moment as we were driving back to E-town for the concert. We were driving through the KY country roads as the sun was setting, the windows were rolled down, and I was playing Crosby, Stills and Nash’s album “So Far” on the stereo. G asked who was playing and I told him and it was just a really nice moment where I felt like we connected.

We stopped at a Cracker Barrel for dinner, and then went to the concert, where the boys really seemed to enjoy the music. We left before it was over because of the two-hour drive home. It was a memorable weekend for me, and I hope for them, too.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Almost Hit A Deer

I almost hit a deer the other night. In all the years of many road trips, I have always thanked my lucky stars that I had not been the one to hit the deer lying dead in a bloody heap on the side of the road. The only near miss I’d had was driving home from Madison with my roommate in her yellow VW bug when I was 21. We were on a county road along the Ohio River, it was dark outside and we were rolling along when suddenly a huge buck – I know it was a buck because it had antlers – ran across the road right in front of us.
We had no time to brake, only to scream and look at each other in amazement afterwards. We didn’t hit the buck. It was a miracle.

The other night I was driving home from Elizabethtown, KY, on I65, at about 11:00 o’clock at night, with my two grandsons, who were asleep. I was approaching the exit for Columbus, when just all of a sudden there was a deer in the road right in front of me, a little to the left of the car. Oh my God. It was a very pale brown and looked up at me like, what are you doing here?

I slammed on the brakes and swerved to the right. My car did that zig-zag maneuver where you feel like you’re losing control, and my little Honda quickly righted itself. But my heart was racing and it took me a little longer to recover. There were no other cars around me, and the boys slept innocently on.

They say you’re not supposed to swerve, to just hit whatever animal that might stray in the road. I didn’t do that, and it turned out okay. But you just never know. It was scary.

P.S.: I did not take these pictures.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Gobble-uns 'll Git You

An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you

Ef you



Out! We are having a beautiful Fall season here in Indiana. The leaves have turned red, yellow and orange, and are falling from the trees in the breeze. It's really nice.

I went trick-or-treating with the kids on Halloween. But first, we had to get the princess ready! Both mommy and daddy put on the finishing touches. She turned out to be Belle, wearing her princess dress from Disney World. She loved her gloves.
Her mommy took great pains with her makeup, including lots of glitter!
The princess waves to her adoring audience.

It was so cute to see the princess and her little friends comparing their costumes.

This fellow was an Alien. He was very scary with his mask on. He said he guessed he didn't have to smile for the picture with his mask on.

Oh, look. The alien turned out to be a 10 year old boy! Still pretty scary!

The End.

Friday, October 28, 2011



by Emily Dickinson

The morns are meeker than they were,

The nuts are getting brown;

The berry's cheek is plumper,

The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,

The field a scarlet gown.

Lest I should be old-fashioned,

I'll put a trinket on.

The End

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Our Delusional Relationship

This picture was taken last summer at the John Hartford Memorial Festival. I got to meet Tim O'Brien, a popular Nashville recording artist I have admired for years.

I found the following article in 2002. It was written by Brian Peterson. I related to it so much that I have held onto it all these years. I found it in a drawer the other day and thought I would share it with you. Hang in there - it'll all make sense in a minute!

Our Delusional Relationship

"Recently, I had a peculiar, and, to my shocked realization, disturbing experience. While listening to poets Li-Young Lee and Jay Leeming give a reading at Butler University a few months back, for a moment I entered the fantastical mind of the obsessed fan - the person who gives a largely sane audience a bad rap. And while I was able to maintain my composure and not step outside the healthy celebrity-admirer zone, I was nonetheless startled when I recognized in myself an inkling of how a fanatic's delusion can begin.

I'm talking about that peculiar, one-way connection extending from artist to audience. I'm sure we've all felt it at some point: reading a poem or listening to a song and feeling in our hearts that this artist has expressed something we, too, have experienced exactly. And I say poem or song because those forms are what have moved me most.

Of course the stars of all art forms can have a similar effect on us, and they, too, have their crazed admirers. My idea of the poet is someone whose art speaks from his or her soul and enters mine, making me a different person from who I was before. And so, when it comes down to it, definitions and categorizations are moot. If the person you hear or see is a strong enough force to overwhelm you, then you are in the presence of your poet.

The poet communicates what is in his heart and mind. The song/poem is such a compact and potent form, existing at such a personal depth, that for that brief length of time the artist becomes our father, or mother, or lover, or close, life-long friend and confidant. The song or poem becomes something meant solely for us and no one else. Whether alone or sitting amongst a throng of admirers, our interpretations and emotional responses occur within us, and so the message is for us. At least, this is how it feels. We know there must be thousands, if not millions, of others hearing and reading the same intimate message, but we indulge in this fantasy that we alone are being spoken to.

And if we experience enough of these messages, the artist and giver becomes a very real force in our lives, someone who may even feel closer to us than our own family and best of friends. We may even love an artist unconditionally, loving even a song or poem we disagree with or don't understand, because it is, simply, a child of the same author.

Of course, the grand and saddening irony in our affection for our artists is that they usually have no idea who we are and never will. Or, if they died before our lifetime, there was never that chance to begin with.

In my case, Li-Young Lee and Jay Leeming were living, breathing and standing before me. The wondrous quality of any live performance (especially poetry) is that, with the physical presence of the author and his own tone and inflection, you can be moved to an emotionally stronger degree than if you'd been reading alone. I know I would not have had the same experience sitting with a book by myself, relying on only my inner, un-emotive voice.

After the reading, I was moved to buy a book by each author and convinced myself that I would wait in line to get each one's signature. Again, here is when that grand irony came into play. In my heart, I wanted to be the friend of each poet and already felt we were well on our way to friendship. I wanted to give each a hug and nod of understanding, that "yes, I too feel as you do," and then drive to a pub somewhere and catch up on the last 23 years. In my fantastical vision, I saw myself corresponding with my new life-long friends in Chicago and New York. Then the realization came to me: "If I ever acted on any of this I'd be a lunatic to these guys." While for me our friendship had advanced so much in just an hour, to them I was really just another face in the audience, another admirer wanting an autograph that's only as personal and individual as my name in its salutation.

And it is this overwhelming feeling of unrequited friendship that gives me some small insight into how fans can be deluded to believe that there is some mutual connection, that when Bob Dylan or Billy Collins speaks to them, it is for their ears only, advice from one heart to another. Then again, maybe this really is a two-way bridge. Maybe the poet feels my frustration in speaking to a mass of people with the risk of never knowing its response. And doesn't he have to worry about maintaining a private life in the face of fame and admiration? Whatever the case, I do know this. I do know the frustration of imagined brotherhood fizzling into a handshake, wanting to say so much, but settling on "Thank you. I really enjoy your work."

By Author Brian Peterson

Friday, September 23, 2011


I have been crafting! It must be the change of weather or something, but I have been feeling very creative. Last Saturday I drove to New Palestine, IN, for a garage sale that had been listed on Craig's List. I am looking for a dress form, and they had one advertised. New Palestine is a little suburb of Indianapolis, on the southeast side of town, not far. As I followed the signs, I found myself on a road with beautiful fields on either side. I stopped and took a picture. Oh, by the time I got to the garage sale, the dress form was already gone.

I have had this little stool for a couple of years. It was painted a very dated blue, but I could just see it painted white, like a milking stool. I finally painted it, and then stenciled on the top. It turned out so cute!

This used to be a purple corduroy butterfly chair. I used it in the yard and it got very faded and dirty, so I decided to make a new cover for it. I used fabric I already had. The plaid was from the skirt of a jumper, and the polka dot from a shower curtain I got at Goodwill for the fabric. It was quite a project. I ended up staying up till 3:30 AM one night working on it. I was obsessed!

I picked up this cute kitty cat material at a garage sale long ago. I decided to make my granddaughter and her best friend matching skirts. I could just see them wearing matched outfits. They are both in Kindergarten. They are just simple little skirts with an elastic waist, and I added a "fussy-cut" pocket, so they could tell their skirts apart. So cute!

That's it for now!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I went to see Arlo Guthrie play with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra at Conner Prairie. It was a very hot summer night. Even when the sun finally went down, the heat and humidity was overwhelming. Here is what Arlo wrote about the performance in his blog:

"We followed the heat as it crawled eastward to Indianapolis, IN, where we played outdoors at Conner Prairie with the Indianapolis Symphony and the boys in "Time For Three." They were a lot of fun to share a gig as well as share the bugs that were flying around the stage. The bugs we fairly squishy and tasted great - not a meal but more of a snack. We did two nights there. There were far fewer bugs the second day - which goes to show you how much we ate the first night."

Doesn't that just sound like something he'd say?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Trip to the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival

What an adventure I had this summer! I made the trip from Indianapolis to Oak Hill, New York, to the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival. It was a 13 hour, approximately 850 mile drive (one-way). I had never been to that part of New York before and it was so beautiful! I loved the mountains and the views.

Upon arriving at the festival, I set up camp. I camped five nights in my little tent, sleeping in my sleeping bag with just a mat between me and the earth. The days were pretty warm, in the upper 80's, but the evenings were cool, requiring a sweatshirt and long pants. It was great sleeping weather!

I was a volunteer at the festival. I worked on the Shower Crew for a total of 12 hours during my five days there, in return for the entrance and camping fee, three meals and a snack a day, PLUS access to backstage. Also, the first ten rows were reserved for VIPs and Volunteers. They even had a massage tent, where 15 minute massages were available for free to the Volunteers and VIPs.

The festival is held on beautiful Walsh Farm. The only trees were around the perimeter. The only shade was man-made. The sky was simply beautiful, lots of big fluffy clouds floating by.
And the sunsets were fabulous!We were also treated to a full moon that week. Simply beautiful.

There were so many people at this festival. I don't even know how many people were there. Thousands. There were older folks who had been coming since the '70's. There were teenagers. There were young families with their children. Everyone was having a great time.

The campsites were divided into areas where people would be the happiest. There was the High Meadow, which was way up the hill. No cars were allowed up there. The shuttle buses helped carry camping gear up there, and then you were on your own. There was the Quiet/Family Camping area where things were quiet after 10:00 PM. And then there was Picker's Paradise Camping, where jams were going night and day. There was Generatorville, where people with RV's could camp together. No matter where you camped, there were only Port-a-Pottys available.

But the reason everyone was there was for the music. What a wonderful lineup! I'll have to say my favorite concert was Chris Thile and Michael Daves. They really put on a great show!

One day I left the festival to explore the area. I found a wonderful organic restaurant right on Catskill Creek. I had a lovely breakfast there and sat outside and enjoyed the creek as it gurgled by.

After I finished my strawberry smoothie, I couldn't wait to find a path down to the creek and take off my sandals and put my feet in the cold water. Ahhh.

I sat there a long time enjoying the water, the sun, and watching other people enjoying Catskill Creek, too.

In addition to the Main Stage, there was the Master's Tent. It was a smaller venue and you could get up close to the musicians.

Tony Watt, Chaz Justus and Michael Daves, Guitar Masters!

Oh, my, I had a wonderful time!

The Fiddlers' Gathering 2011

Every summer I am drawn to the Indiana Fiddler's Gathering held in Battle Ground, Indiana, the last weekend in June. Battle Ground is about an hour's drive north of Indianapolis. The main focus of the festival showcases fiddle players, but there is always a potpourri of music. These are two of my favorite ukuleles, my Fluke and my cigar box uke.
There are always lots of vendors at this festival selling everything from homemade soaps to hula hoops.

My favorite group this year was La Vent du Nord. They were from Quebec and really put on a great show. The instrument on the left is a hurdy gurdy - not seen very often in Indiana.

The fiddle player also played percussion with his feet - it was great!

They were joined by uilleann pipe player Chris Layer, a local favorite. The uilleann pipes are the characteristic national bagpipe of Ireland, and they blend well with Northeastern seaboard's song traditions, as well as Breton and Celtic tunes.

I was accompanied by my handsome 14 year old grandson this year. He was interested in the guitars that were for sale - and also the food vendors.

I loved this girl's beautiful red hair.

And hula hoops are all the rage these days. What's old is new again!