earl & steve in mo

you know how i ended up in lampe, mo the other day?  well, i always keep track of who’s playing at the ryman, home of the original grand ole opry and currently hosting more than half of the broadcasts while the big house is being repaired.  while browsing through the upcoming acts, i was thrilled to see that earl scruggs and his family would be appearing and i figured, hey, this could be the last chance to see earl since he’s got to be, what?  80 or so?  just as i was about to buy the tickets, melissa informed me she and em would be visiting that very day.  i’m such an earl fan that i considered taking mel and em–i know they would have enjoyed a trip to nashville and any kind of banjo music, but it was not the right time, obviously.  so i looked around to see if earl was doing some sort of tour or something and discovered they would be at this place called black oak mountain amphitheatre, listed as being near branson, and this time with steve martin. well, it looked like it was Meant To Be.  Husband helped me pick our seats, and we were on our way.  Turns out, it wasn’t in branson at all and so it became even more of an adventure as we tried to figure out how to get there and what to do, etc. —-that’s another story, though, so i’ll skip to the part where i’m at a very nice brand-spankin-new outdoor venue in a remote part of the ozarks,  hothothot, sweaty and hot (like every place else in the country right now) feeling like woodstock, $5 beer and no professional cameras allowed.  rhonda vincent, who is a very fine performer, sang first.   oh, we had great seats, by the way.  just as the sun was going down, from the side of the stage, out walks this tiny, osteoporotic figure, arm up waving to us all; he walked to the center of the stage where there was a comfortable chair set up and his sons handed him his banjo.  for some reason, i started crying at the sight of the 86!!-year-old man, sitting there looking rather stroked, but still obviously earl scruggs, my hero.  he never said a word, just played his banjo:  earl’s breakdown, sally goodin (he’s probably been playing that one for 86 years), foggy mountain breakdown, fingers still picking, using his distinctive clawhammer style.  he’ll be 87 soon and we all shouted happy birthday to him, and i was so glad that i went to the work to get there, to say the least. 

earl scruggs


i don’t want to sell short the experience of seeing steve mar-tin, though.  he’s doing a rather limited tour, so i felt pretty honored, but he’ll hopefully be around a long time to entertain us all.  the man is sooo funny.  he played with the steep canyon rangers for about 45 minutes, then left them alone for about 15min and came back to just sit solo on his stool with his banjo and play and talk.  he’s just great.  when the band came back, rhonda vincent came out and joined them all to sing the dolly parton part of my favorite steve song, “pretty flowers”.  we went on our way very pleased and happy (and drunk on $5 beer, if you’re us). 

steve martin


this will be our last roadtrip of summer 2010 and we had a grand time.  i’ll tell you more about the scenery and where we stayed over at my garden blog.     

down the road we go

greetings from the days inn, eureka springs, arkansas. 

eureka springs looks very interesting with a main street full of victorian buildings and houses built right into the hills.  i haven’t seen the 7-story-tall jesus yet (maybe i won’t), but it’s right up the road, complete with a big piece of the berlin wall.  really. it’s the site of the “passion play of the ozarks”.  there are some healing springs and people have flocked here for years to partake of them, so the place is full of baths, massage parlors and spas. there’s art and food, and they even have opera (real opera) in season. however, it seems that most of the shops are closed on wednesday….tomorrow….the day we’re here.  plus, the drive here from the site of the concert is waay to curvey for me to survive if we have to drive it after the concert.  so we’ll walk around town in the morning and head back up the road to snag another room closer to the venue.  

as i get closer to the 30th wedding anniversary, i think so much about how we have adapted to our differences.  as we drove down the interstates, i constantly lectured him re: my theory of driving:  1 ) 65mph speed limit means 70, 70 means 75, and if somebody’s going over 80, get behind them and they’ll get the ticket.  2) we pass trucks–trucks don’t pass us.  3) if you see one of those signs with the slanty-truck (i call it the tipsy truck), don’t be NEAR any trucks or they might fall on you.   there are more, but he takes it well.  but…then we get into the hills, 2-lane roads with those snakey arrow signs every several miles and changing speed limits—25-30-35mph—-and suddenly, he’s taking my interstate advice.   i don’t use my passenger brake anymore, i take it well. 

anyway, doubt we’ll have wi-fi tomorrow, but i’ll fill you in as soon as i can.

Road Trip

We’re leaving shortly for Eureka Springs, AR.  We’ll be attending a concert tomorrow night at the Black Oak Amphitheatre in nearby Lampe, MO that includes Earl Scruggs and His Family, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers and Rhonda Vincent.  Earl is one of my long-time idols and I was the first on my block to buy Steve Martin’s “The Crow”, so I’m verry excited.  We’re only gone 3 days, so you’ll hardly miss me.  To tide you over, here’s the picture that Emma drew while she was here, hanging where she carefully placed it with the magnet she made for me. Notice the excellent rendering of  “thumbs up”.   

gilgert matey---you can call him "matey" (he has an eyepatch, bro)


words cannot express how grateful i am for my family, all of them, near and far.  emma was so much fun.  i love to play with little kids.  i will not pass up the chance to play marching band, hide-and-seek or blow bubbles.  i’ve always thought 4-years-old was a peak of  curiosity and wonder, creativity and energy.  emma has all of that.  many, many questions had to be answered as well as i could—sometimes you have to refer her to grandpa.  grandpa took her down into the woods on the tractor and she “helped” him tremendously by telling him when the cart was full.  she was my assistant when i watered the flowers and i watered her, too.  she helped with snapping beans and setting the table, she tickled us awake in the morning and we told millions of knock-knock jokes that made absolutely no sense and then heartily laughed at our silliness.  she’s such a city girl, asking “does grandpa take the train to work?” and occasionally embellishing her speech with a distinct new york accent.  she loved the birds and even the bugs, and especially noticed (as i’d hoped) the summer sound of cicadas/tree flies.  “i hear music…what is that?”  i told her they were crickets and made their sounds by rubbing their back legs together.   the next day she was drawing a picture that was a “pretty cool guy” “pirate” named “gilgert matey, you can call him matey” and as she worked, she asked again about the crickets:  “why do they do that?”  i told her that sometimes they were just talking and other times, when they get real loud, they are singing like a choir.  she asked, “what do they say?”  oh, stuff like: hi, did you have a good day?  yes, i ate a lot of bugs!  great, me too, let’s sing!  “what do they sing?”  well, happy songs.  we admired her progress on matey, then i began another story, but she stopped me and said: “shh.  listen:  they’re singing Christmas.”     i listened; she was right.  

havin' fun with emma


yet another week-end wrap-up

olivia came to visit Saturday morning!!! it was a short visit (from about 8am to 11am), but we managed to pack it with play:

camper's okay, but tape measure is fascinating

she loves to water the flowers

grandpa helped a little

after jess and olivia left, i headed over to the track and had a Fantastic bit of luck:  won $19.40 on a $2 show-bet.  YES.  lana and charley were there and sister came over to visit with the birthday girl.  i didn’t get any pictures (lana is glad) because the camera battery was dead. 
lana and i were back together on sunday to attend the new harmony theatre’s presentation of  “the glass menagerie”.  their productions are always top notch and that’s a wonderful play. 
we’re gearing up for the big Visit from the newyorkers this week, cleaning and such, and i reupholstered my dining room chairs—check them out over at my gardening blog, where you can also get a glimpse of my tomato crop. 

big week ahead:

it’s soo-oo damn hot….but we’re getting ready for some company….

saturday olivia will drop by with her mom for a quick-visit to the piano and the camper.  they have plans for 11:30,  so after they leave i’ll be goin’ on over to the track to snag a table at my “new spot” for cousin lana’s something-something birthday.  i do hope the humidity lets up so my poor old cuz can breathe.  sunday we will be over at new harmony (lana and i) to the theatre:  the glass menagerie.  i’m sure it will be good (also air-conditioned). 

then we’ll have to get in gear to prepare for melissa and emma’s arrival in the hoosier state.  i’m driving to indy on the 21st to meet up with the jose’ folks and bring the dashing duo to sonnystone.  they’ll be here the 22nd and 23rd, then we’ll drive them back up to indy for a flight out.  it’s a quick trip, but mel has to be in nyc on sundays, so what can you do?  i’m happy with it.  i know that we’ll go to ellis on friday afternoon, but otherwise, the plan is to just be together.    after we drop em and her mom off at the indy airport, we’ll swing by lafayette to see olivia before heading back home (this on the 24th). 

ya’ll are welcome anytime…..

the sunday opener at ellis

it feels so exhilarating to walk into Ellis Park for the first time each summer—as exhilarating as you can muster in oppressive heat and humidity.  post-time is 12:50 this year and we got there around 11:30 to get our usual spot.  now, our usual spot isn’t in the shade until 1-1:30 except for some small slivers where we shoved some chairs and waited.  by the time we sang the national anthem i had sweat entirely through my clothes and as i removed my hat, my eyes were covered with streams of sweat.  though this experience is not new, i am older.  i’ve always resisted the idea of sitting in the clubhouse air-conditioning watching the races on tv, rationalizing that you weren’t really at the races unless you’re hanging at the fence shouting and rooting your horse in.  but sunday i discovered the best of both worlds.  after the first race we gathered our duds and went on down to the beer garden.  we elbowed our way onto some stools that were directly in front of the tv’s, but with a grand view of the horses being shown and led out.  sitting under a canopy with large fans blowing from every corner, having our dollar beer served to us, betting booths close by, plenty of  people shouting and rooting for their horses, and re-runs of close races with angles we could never have seen at the fence…..it’s my new spot, folks.  

the beer garden from my barstool

that was a close one

i did move my sweaty self  around to take some pictures of the horses, but the day was so bright that most of the them are rather blown out.  i started out badly, losing an across-the-board wager in the first, but i rebounded and won in each of the others that i bet.  i can hardly wait to go again this friday!!