I'm all ate up today because we have the hugest week and weekend coming up. Tonight, a monster rehearsal for a long-awaited re-engagement of The Swinging Orangutangs at the Whipple Tavern on Friday, February 13. Oh my goodness. Our small band of hangers-on is primed to storm the Whipple (as everyone calls it), have a ball, dance, and not smoke. Two rehearsals today: the gig rehearsal, and also one for Phoebe's and my maiden recital on Sunday--she for piano, me for voice. Eek.
Phoebe and our teacher Jessica Baldwin will play the duet, "Old Abe Lincoln," while I'll sing a pop song, because that's what I do. No German opera just yet.
When I'm practicing my song (I'll sing "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Mike Reid/Allen Shamblin, made popular by Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Hornsby) I have to push away this image of Simon Cowell saying, "That was in-DUL-gent, it was cabaRET, it was an AB-so-lute dis-AHS-tah." He's always there, up in my head, although I have been able to get through the song twice recently without hearing that voice. I think I am watching too many American Idol auditions.It's funny how I can sing in front of a lot of people in a bar without breaking a sweat, but call it a recital, put me alone by a piano with a bunch of well-dressed people sitting politely with their hands folded in their laps, and it's a whole 'nother beast. A recital is like golf---all mental, instead of a gig, which is like basketball, where either you're able to pound the ball down the court and into the basket or you aren't, but either way you don't have much time to think about it. You just get down and deal with it.
So Friday we'll be going nuts with the Orangs, and Sunday I'll be in recital mode. I don't know if that's a good thing or not; I just hope I don't shred my voice at The Whipple. That's mainly why I'm taking voice lessons--I want to save what I've got; I want to be singing when I'm 88. Whatever Simon says.
So, in addition to the gig and the recital, we have friends coming down from Columbus to catch the gig and visit us. They are the city mice to our country mice. Although they spend most of the summer in the country in Vermont, and absolutely love to hike and be outdoors, they are accustomed to, shall we say, somewhat finer provisions than we are able to get 'round these parts. Luckily, they bring them to us, always offering to make a Trader Joe's stop for us before embarking. If you are a fan of Trader Joe's, you MUST watch this video.
If I have succeeded in embedding a video, the recital should go just fine. Thanks to my fine friend Matthew for alerting me to this homemade masterpiece.
Anyway, I thought I'd share a few pictures of Yo, Kate, Anna and Kellie from their last visit.Yo and I went to high school together in Richmond, Virginia, and for a couple of years we even waited at the same bus stop. We had the same amazing English and World Lit teacher, my guiding light who I love and still talk to after 30 years. I was a year or two ahead of him, and we didn't really know each other, and it kills me now to think that we were a couple of blocks away and didn't hang out. We're making up for lost time now. Yo heard me talking about a dying beech tree on NPR one afternoon, emailed, and now we're yakking all the time. The best part is that our kids get along like a house afire. The worst part is that our kids now pester us constantly to go to Columbus and Whipple.
We took the Yo's, as we call the family, down to Beechy Crash, a place where, 17 years ago, a huge beech smashed down in a ravine. That beech is nothing but a mossy log now, but the name stuck. There are always good icicles in the weepy seepy cliffs of Beechy Crash.
Luckily no one was impaled. I had to tell Liam to get out from under the icicles; he was catching drips with his tongue...Kids don't think that the icicle's ever going to come crashing down, but I've seen them crash, and no kid of mine is going to be under something like that when it lets go. Shila and I learned that the hard way in Beechy Crash a few years ago.
We came up to the old car that used to run a wildcat oil well deep in the woods. It's slowly deliquescing, and I commented on its beauty. The kids wanted to know what was beautiful about a rotting car. Well, I said, take a look at this:
and then there's this bit:Abstract paintings, all, reminiscent of lichens and shells, landscapes and skies...
and let's not forget this:
and I believe they looked at the car a bit differently then, with more sympathy and reverence for all it had once been.
We visited the beech tree, OK 1902, which brought us together in 2007, and which is now thoroughly and sadly dead. If bringing us together was its highest purpose on earth, I hope it is content.
We were hiking along when suddenly Bill hurried forward and disappeared up the trail. It wasn't long before the smell of smoke came on the air, uncomfortably, alarmingly close. I never want to smell that unless I know exactly where it's coming from. It took me a minute to figure out what was going on. I was pleased but not surprised to find my caveman hunkered down near the carcass of OK 1902.
In no time at all he had a fire big enough to warm Liam's feet, which were very wet after a slide down a steep bank into the stream.
It was time to put out the fire (Bill, Liam and Yo took care of that in the most manly of ways while the females went on ahead) and turn for home. This gave Yo, a frighteningly well-versed oenophile, a chance to razz us about our "wine cellar," which is a climate and humidity-controlled cardboard box nestled against a roll of extra insulation and some mops in our messy basement.
He went through our collection, which is heavy on Ohio wines because those are the ones that are left. This one is from Trader Joe's, and it was a special buyout, and it wasn't very good. It has a train on the label, so we took to calling it Night Train.
Yo likes burgundies and vouvets and all kinds of types of wines I haven't even heard of, and he brings bottles for us to experience and completely ruins us for the grocery-store rotgut we usually drink. It is no favor he does us, though it's really nice at the time.
If he weren't so cute, and didn't arrive bearing burgundies, I'd probably clobber him with a bottle of Terra Cotta Sweet Red Table Wine.
Plus, Chet Baker likes him.
And anyone who will let Chet Baker fall asleep in the crook of his arm and stay still until he wakes up is a friend of mine.
We were all kind of cold from the walk so we started a fire and put our feet to it, but in a nice way.
These photos are by Bill Thompson III. The first, ugly flash photo is to show the lineup. But this is what it really looked and felt like.
Friends are the best.