A Fiery End to an Extremely Hot Day

Sunset Saturday 14 July 2012
Sunset Saturday 14 July 2012 (click image for rest of album)

I can blame nobody but myself.  I gave up the opportunity to sit in an air conditioned smoke-free bar (Woody’s Watering Hole in Leavenworth), where I could have listened to my husband and his band buddies perform classic rock to support A Ride for the Wounded.  I could have supported a worthy cause through my presence and donations and had a great time with old friends.

But no, I thought I would have a better time with my co-workers at our firm’s summer event, where the beer, barbecue and baseball were all free.  And so was the scorching heat and unrelenting sunshine beating down on us on the unshaded Bud Light Party Deck in right field at the T-Bones stadium.

Sizzle greets Toni and Tracey
Sizzling on the Bud Light Party Deck

Since I don’t drink beer, I walked back down along the concourse to purchase a very tall and cold glass of lemonade. The bottle of water I’d gotten on the Party Deck with one of my two free drink tickets had been warm. I hung out with coworkers, many of them people I see everyday, Monday through Friday, in our small corner of the universe called IT. I ended up giving my other drink ticket to my of my female coworkers, but not before attempting to exchange it for something first (like another lemonade?).

I hardly noticed when the game started. The T-Bones played against the Wichita Wingnuts (who used to be known as the Wranglers when I lived there in the 80s and 90s, but that team name has since moved to Arkansas). Staring directly into the sun from right field and unable to clearly see the scoreboard behind my right shoulder, I completely missed the Wingnuts scoring a run in the second inning. I did notice multiple rookie errors on the part of the T-bones. The only scoring for the home team came with two home-runs (with no one on base). I gave myself a headache staring into the sun for nearly an hour, when it finally hid itself behind a thin cloud bank approaching from the northwest.

With no comfortable seating available on the Party Deck (and because I’d opted to take a ‘left over’ ticket for the firm’s summer event), I decided enough was enough and left the park during the bottom of the fifth inning. Five innings, two runs and five errors on the part of the T-bones.  The Wingnuts had no errors and two runs.  I could see where this game was heading.  As I walked to the van, I could tell the sunset was shaping up to be a fiery one (click first photo above for entire album).

After taking a few photos from West Mary Street, I returned home to discover the bass player’s car parked where I usually park the van. I thought that was odd, since it wasn’t even nine o’clock yet. I found Terry and Sean in the nearly empty band room, eating a late supper and reporting that the gig went extremely well. This perturbed me to no end. Since my home hosts most band practices for this group, I get exposed to the best and the worst of the amplified rock music. So I had a somewhat jaundiced view of this latest collection of musicians’ ability to pull it together.  Who knows, if I had attended, I probably would have jinxed the performance.  But it still would have been nice to sit in a cool air conditioned bar and drank something other than beer (or lemonade … unless it was Hard Lemonade) and listen to my husband sing Cumbersome (which he’s not).

Terry singing (and playing) Cumbersome (Sat 14 July 2012)

Classic and Southern Rock Rolled Through Local Benefit Concert

Junction Box reunion
Junction Box Reunion

Sean, Terry and I ventured downtown Saturday evening to listen to several local bands perform in a benefit concert at the American Legion hall to help raise funds for Sara WarrenWolfguard‘s lead guitarist, Steve Bequette, had reunited with former band mates to play a couple of sets as the old Junction Box band.  Other local bands included Silas Dogan and Southern Reign.  I must apologize for the blurriness of the two photos I took last night with my cell phone.  If I’d been thinking, I would have brought my good Canon digital camera along to get back shots.

We were fashionably late, arriving just as Junction Box finished setting up their equipment.  We missed hearing the Silas Dogan band, but enjoyed hearing Junction Box cover ‘Takin’ Care of Business’ (BTO), ‘Dreams’ (Molly Hatchett), ‘Gimme Three Steps’ (Lynard Skynard), ‘Three ‘Whiskey in a Bottle’ and other classic and southern rock favorites.

Between sets (Junction Box switched out the percussionist and bassist once each), raffle prizes were drawn.  I had purchased a few tickets when we arrived, but didn’t expect to win anything.  The third ticket drawn happened to be one of the ones I’d purchased, so I retrieved a nice golf or polo shirt sporting ‘Effen Vodka’ on one sleeve.  Being a medium, I handed it to Terry.

Eric nails Stranglehold
Eric Gassen with Southern Reign performing Stranglehold

After Junction Box wrapped up, Southern Reign took the stage again, but not before local guitar legend Eric Gassen (current project the Edge of Forever tribute band) treated us to a song that’s primarily a guitar solo … Nugent’s Stranglehold (also the first song I ever heard Terry play on his Ibanez Artist).  Eric borrowed Steve’s guitar and Line 6 pedal while Southern Reign’s guitarist, bassist and percussionist provided the backup.

Southern Reign closed out the concert with a short set including ‘Can’t You See’ (Marshall Tucker Band), ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey), and ‘I’m the Only One’ (by Leavenworth’s very own Melissa Etheridge).  Terry and I left, waving goodbye to the band, as they performed the last song of the evening ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ (Guns & Roses).

A few minutes later, we were on the road, headed south through Leavenworth and Lansing.  Once back in the house, I removed the present my daughter and her boyfriend gave me for Christmas:  opal earrings.   Opals are my birthstone, since I’m an October baby.

We had a good time listening to some local Leavenworth talent and hopefully helped ease the burden for Sara Warren.

The Little Lost and Forgotten Canon That Could

During the drive in to work today I heard one of my favorite Baroque music pieces, albeit not in performed as originally written or arranged.  A piece of music history that lay forgotten for centuries and only a single original manuscript copy survives to this day.  Rediscovered in the early 20th century, it’s popularity remains undimmed nearly another century later.  I’m speaking of Pachelbel‘s Canon.

The version I heard this morning via KLOVE had been massaged by the Trans Siberian Orchestra and transformed into a ‘Christmas Canon Rock.’

I can’t explain my reaction to this music.  Just three notes into this song and my chest tightens, I have trouble breathing and my eyes tear up.  No wonder this piece is wildly popular at weddings.  And it doesn’t matter what form or genre morphs this music.  The original genius and simple beauty always shines through.

My tiny bit of research this morning yielded an entire site devoted to this piece of music and how often it shows up in modern music.  Admittedly, the chord progression contained in the Canon in D is very common (I -V-vi-iii-IV-I-ii-V).  A few of the modern songs that caught my eye were:

  • “Cryin” by Aerosmith
  • “Let It Be” by the Beatles
  • “Tunnel of Love” by Dire Straits
  • “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister
  • “With or Without You” by U2

And I’m glad I clicked on the videos link there or I would have never watched this comedian’s rant on his cross to bear in Pachelbel’s Canon in D:


While I enjoyed TSO’s ‘Christmas Canon Rock’ version, I think, at the end of the day, what really puts a smile on my face and a zing in my spring, would be the ‘Ultimate Canon Rock’ as seen here:


Rock On Johann!

Sevens and Seventy-Sevens

I rarely turn the radio on in my car.  I will when I’m driving the van, because forty-five minutes is a long time to maintain a conversation.  But when I step out of the van and start up my car for the two mile drive home, there just doesn’t seem any point to turning on the radio.  The fall weather this week begged me to open all four windows, though, and crank the volume.  So I did.  I caught the tail end of a Scorpions song on 101 the Fox (don’t ask me which one … it was probably “Rock You Like a Hurricane” … but I’m not entirely sure).  The next song immediately grabbed my attention, as I hadn’t listened to it for years.

The Grand Illusion (Styx 1977)
The Grand Illusion (Styx 1977)

First, let’s take a giant leap backwards to the late 70s, specifically July, 7, 1977, the release date for the seventh album of a band I couldn’t get enough of in my early adolescence . . . Styx.  Back then, I barely knew what rock ‘n’ roll was.  Heck, I hadn’t even officially made it to the ‘teen’ years yet at that point.  But over the coming months, you couldn’t turn on a radio without hearing “Come Sail Away” or “Angry Young Man” or “Miss America” or, as I heard last night “The Grand Illusion.”

I’ve played piano since I was five (more than forty years), so I naturally gravitated to Dennis DeYoung‘s compositions (my all-time favorite being “Castle Walls” from this album, but my favorite to perform is “Pieces of Eight” from the eighth album released the following year).  And, yes, I could play at least the opening to “Come Sail Away” from memory when I was in high school, along with the Entertainer, which was still popular thanks to that movie with Newman and Redford starring in it.

So even though I arrived home mid-way through the Grand Illusion, I sat in the garage, with the windows rolled down and the stereo blaring until I reached the bubble-bursting end-of-song stanza below:

America spells competition, join us in our blind ambition
Get yourself a brand new motor car
Someday soon we’ll stop to ponder what on Earth’s this spell we’re under
We made the grade and still we wonder who the hell we are

Back in the late 70s, before the recession (and heat wave) of the early 80s, and the dot-com bubble pop that followed later (was it the 90s or the 00s?) and now the ‘Great Recession,’ I can really feel the pain of these words.  Does America still spell ‘C-O-M-P-E-T-I-T-I-O-N’? or have we outsourced it all?  Are we blind to ambition or just blind?  I have yet to purchase a ‘brand new motor car’ and probably never will.  I’ve been pondering for decades what spell we’ve deluded ourselves with because I still don’t think I’ve made the grade and I think Roxy has more of an idea who she is than America does right now.

So I’ll close with a quote from my aforementioned favorite song from the Grand Illusion album, something I previously  consider a mantra, but have long since moved on to something more positive, encouraging and inspiring (check out Phil. 4:8 for my ‘life verse’):

Life is never what it seems
And every man must meet his destiny

What a Wild and Wacky Week

Winding back to Tuesday evening, Terry and I jumped in the car as soon as I got home to return the bluetooth stereo headphones to Best Buy at the Legends.  In an effort to one-up my surprise anniversary gift of a 24 inch widescreen HD monitor for Terry, he purchased a Nook Color for me.  I spent the next couple of hours playing with that new gadget and finally getting the recent software update to download and install.

Backyard Astronomer's Guide
Backyard Astronomer's Guide

Not having enough to do, I setup the telescope near the mailbox  on the driveway since the night was exceptionally clear for an early May spring evening.   I was able to view Saturn and at least one of it’s moons and I saw the shadow of the rings on the surface of the planet as well as some contrast between the clouds of that gas giant.  I tried a filter, but couldn’t remember the exact number I should have used from my reading of The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide (Part 1).  I swung around to the north-northeast to view Mizar in Ursa Major and attempted to find the Owl Nebula (M97) and as well as M81/M82 (a couple of galaxies).  However, the light pollution from the Lansing Correctional Facility and my neighbors porchlights and yard lights (and possibly some haze in the atmosphere) prevented me from find any of the deep sky objects. I packed everything back up and went off to bed.

Wednesday morning, I left early to visit my local Wal-Mart to find a protective cover or sleeve for the Nook Color.  Even though two employees were in the Electronics department, stocking shelves, they managed to ignore me the entire time I searched for said product.  I found a leather-looking folio-type cover which had the word ‘nook’ on the packaging and purchased it for about $30.  Once out in the car, I quickly discovered that ‘nook’ does not mean ‘nook color’ as the product was too small.  I had run out of time though to return it immediately and rushed to meet my vanpool and commute to work.  During lunch, I took a fifteen minute walk to the Country Club Plaza Barnes & Noble to pickup the cover I had placed on hold via the B&N website.  Since most of my lunch hour still remained, I walked back east and decided to try Firehouse Subs.  I had just received my order when a couple of my coworkers arrived and asked to join me.   We had an enjoyable visit before I headed back to the office building.

Elvenbane (unabridged audiobook)
Elvenbane (unabridged audiobook)

I easily transferred the 15 CDs worth of MP3s for the audiobook Elvenbane using the microUSB cord provided and a spare 4GB microSD card I originally purchased for my unsmartphone.   The Nook has a regular headphone jack (instead the proprietary one for my Samsung cell phone) which allows me to use a comfortable pair of wired stereo headphones.  I enjoyed an hour’s worth of listening during the commute back to Leavenworth.   That means in about a week I should be able to finish this book and write up a review for Fantasy Literature.  I’m about one-quarter finished and a bit exasperated with the current characters, who are children acting like children, even if they be dragons or half-elf/half-human in origin.  I usually avoid young adult fiction and/or fiction that focuses on children, pre-teens or teens because the melodrama usually makes me nauseous.

While on the phone with an IT colleague in our St. Louis office, I received a call from my daughter.  I asked her if I could call her back as I’d been trying to connect with the St. Louis  person for several days.  I surprised myself by remembering to call my daughter back when I finished.  Rachelle reported she passed her opera divisional jury easily.  The jury panel once again wondered why she was a music history undergrad student and not a vocal performance one.  She consoled them by affirming she planned to study vocal performance as a graduate.  We also discussed the best way to send her the rest of her summer tuition, debating the merits of PayPal versus a traditional check.  She opted for the latter and I mailed said check promptly Thursday morning along with several other items I had forgotten to mail throughout the week.

Wednesdays mean Wolfguard rehearsal, focused for their benefit concert this Saturday afternoon.  I didn’t hang around for the first set.  Instead, I ran back to Wal-Mart to return the nook cover.  Ironically, after finding all of the items on Terry’s shopping list (except for the nine volt batteries!), I spent the same amount that I had just had refunded to me.  I made it home in time to catch most of the second set rehearsal.

I had trouble dozing off, tossing and turning until well past one o’clock in the morning.  So when the alarm went off at five o’clock I felt like I’d had a nice nap.  Joy of joys, Thursday mornings are trash days in Lansing, so I dealt with the garbage and the recyclables before dragging myself to the van for the morning commute.  I again listened to Elvenbane while trying to stay awake without the assistance of a caffeinated beverage.

My morning flew by as have the other two days of this work week.  So much to do, so many projects to juggle and so many distractions and fires interfering with my well laid plans.  Just after the bi-weekly Change Management meeting broke-up and as I was settling down to compile some information, I received a call on my cell phone from an unrecognized number.  The woman on the other end was the Director of the Leavenworth Library, calling to tell me my mother had been ambulanced to Cushing Hospital a few minutes before eleven o’clock.  I asked the Director what her symptoms and/or condition was and she replied that she had been dizzy and incoherent, on the verge of passing out and once the EMTs were on site, her blood pressure and blood sugar were both very high.  I, of course, assumed the worst — that she was having a stroke or heart attack.

I spent the next several minutes making phone calls to determine how best to get home.  Since I don’t drive to work, I can’t just jump in my car to return home when an emergency occurs.  However, one of the benefits of participating in the Guaranteed Ride Home program for the last several years (first as a carpooler and for the last year as a vanpooler).   Never before have I had an emergency occur where I couldn’t find an alternative way home without invoking this benefit.  Today was the day.  I explained my situation and they provided a limo service for me since I live over thirty miles away from work (although it’s a similar fare if you are going from the Plaza to KCI, since I live very close to KCI, just across the Missouri River on the Kansas side).  One of the last call’s I made was to Cushing Hospital ER to get an updated status on my mother.  I was able to talk to her (she hadn’t seen a doctor yet) and I told her I probably wouldn’t make it to Cushing until close to one o’clock in the afternoon.

The ride home was uneventful but dreary, as rain had arrived in Kansas City.  However, by the time we reached Lansing, the rain let up and the clouds began to break-up and patches of blue sky became visible.   In fact, when I parked the Firebird at Cushing, the sun was warming up the recent rain and promising some humidity and haze.

The ER reception desk at Cushing was unmanned, although I sign indicated I should sign in on a clipboard.  I hesitated to do so since I was not a patient needing care, but rather a relative seeking to visit an ER patient.  After standing around for fifteen minutes, a woman returned to the desk and asked me if I had signed in.  I explained I did not need treatment but wanted to see my mother.  She shocked me by stating that my mom would be released in a few minutes so I could have a seat while I waited.  True to her word, my mom arrived in the waiting area about five minutes later.

The ER doctors had run an EKG and a CAT scan and found nothing of note.  He encouraged her to rest for the next couple of days and eat more frequent small meals.  Apparently, her appetite has been suppressed recently (in fact, she’s lost enough wait to wear clothes two sizes smaller than usual).  I’m not sure if that’s a result from her previous trip to the hospital a couple of weeks ago and the prescriptions she’s been taking for that incident.  I got her into the Firebird (which rides low) and took her home so I could switch cars and gather up Terry.  I fed her a light lunch to make sure she got something to eat before we drove out to Easton.  We stopped by the Library to drop off her doctor’s note excusing her from work for the rest of the day and tomorrow.  I drove her car back to Easton while Terry and Mom rode in the Bonneville.

I am grateful nothing more serious occurred to my mother, especially since Mother’s Day is this Sunday! That was my other reason for taking her to my house – her card was sitting on the kitchen table for Terry to deliver that afternoon.

Rainbow on May 5th
Rainbow on May 5th

Terry and I stopped at Denney’s Produce on the return trip but couldn’t find many appealing or appetizing veggies.  Once home, we talked for a few minutes and then watched three days’ worth of Jeopardy episodes.  Then I took Roxy for a walk and saw a vivid rainbow just before the sun set.

It doesn’t look like I’m going to get a break until Sunday.  Tomorrow night might be all right, but Saturday is chock full of activities – first Spring book sale for the Kansas City Public Library at the City Market (undecided if I’ll attend), the Wolfguard benefit concert and opening night at Powell Observatory.  I feel tired just thinking about the next forty-eight hours.

Three Hours and Fifteen Hundred Stitches Later

I tied off and finished my second crochet project of 2011 this evening.  I probably could have made the moebius scarf just a bit bigger, but it will do.  When I drape it over my head and then double it around my neck, it snuggle covers my ears and keeps my throat toasty.

Moebius Scarf folded into open triangle
Moebius Scarf folded into open triangle
Moebius Scarf folded into a closed triangle
Moebius Scarf folded into a closed triangle

After taking a few final photographs of my new scarf, I immediately began a second scarf as a Valentine’s Day gift for my hubby.  Using Lion Brand Yarn’s Wool-Ease (worsted weight in black), I started crocheting an extremely simple ribbed scarf pattern.  I should easily be able to finish the scarf before next Monday.

3rd Crochet Project: Ribbed Scarf
3rd Crochet Project: Ribbed Scarf
Ribbed Scarf Closeup
Ribbed Scarf Closeup

I crocheted during WolfGuard‘s regularly scheduled Wednesday evening rehearsal, approximately three hours, and by my estimate crocheted over one thousand five hundred stitches on the third project of 2011.   While they worked on some new cover songs during the first session(Aerials by System of a Down and Cumbersome by Seven Mary Three), the last half of practice included such classics as Rush’s Finding My Way; BOC’s Godzilla; Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls; and, the show-stopping, heart-pounding, easy-to-lose-count-of-your-stitch-in-time Iron Maiden’s The Trooper.  If that doesn’t tangle your skein, nothing will.

Revisiting My Purse’s Contents

After meeting a friend for dinner last night at Jazz at the Legends, I rushed home, changed clothes and cars and headed to exciting downtown Leavenworth to Sweetwoods Bar & Grill to listen to various local bands, including WolfGuard, perform during open mic night.   I got there in time to hear Smoking Gun’s version of Dreams (one of my all-time favorite Molly Hatchet songs) with Chuck Ebbe as guest bassist.  Also got to sing along with the great Janis Joplin classic Mercedes Benz.

Terry had just ordered some appetizers when Smoking Gun introduced WolfGuard so he abandoned his boneless hot wings and pepper poppers to setup to perform.

So why did I entitle this post ‘Revisiting My Purse’s Contents’?  Because, Chuck Wiley, WolfGuard’s drummer, wasn’t using his electronic drum set.  Oh, no!  He was using an accoustic drum set.  And, I know it’s hard to believe, that two amplified guitarists and one amplified bassist (all set to 11 on their amps no doubt), playing heavy metal and hard rock, can be completely overwhelmed by an accoustic drum set.  And the one thing NOT in my purse was my ear plugs.

So if I don’t respond quickly to phone calls today, it may be due to the excessive ringing in my ears this morning. But the guys did great, playing some BOC, STP, Rush, Alice in Chains and Def Leppard.  Looking good, and sounding good!

Wolves on the Prowl

Good news for Wolfguard fans this week.  The band shook off the rust tonight at  rehearsal.  Terry will be taking it very easy, as his back, ribs and ankle are still not fully recovered.

Tomorrow night, come out and hear them play a few songs for open mic night at Sweetwoods Bar & Grill in Leavenworth.

China Grove from June 2010

Wolfguard at Sweetwoods back in September 2009