Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas commercials to make you cry.

Today I've got absolutely nothing deep or wise to share with you. I've been working on developing some sort of self-care routine, which, apparently, does not involve as much blogging as I would like. But priorities, right?

In the mean time, it's Christmas, and I feel the need to look at John Lewis ads.
John Lewis is a department store in the UK. It's huge, it has a haberdashery, and it's got the best commercials I've ever seen, always guaranteed to make you weepy.

Here is one for this year:

Here's my favorite ever:

Seriously, that one. Tears!!

This week in Louisville:

12/23 at 10:30am Holiday singalong at Mama's Hip! $10/family. No signup required.
12/23 at 7pm (I play at 8) at Headliners Music Hall. $10/person or FREE with new or gently used blanket to donate. Johnny Berry headlines. Just decided to make this a band show, so I called out a couple of friends to play with me. Bring your dancing boots!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Establishing a self-care routine while parenting and working from home. Impossible?

Louisville! I'm playing at Headliner's next week. So maybe if you're in town, you can come? 

Facebook event for more details and tickets. I play first -- at 8:00. Doors at 7. Then I'm just gonna hang out and dance because that's what one should do at these sorts of events.

103.9 The Hawk presents Johnny Berry Presents Honky Tonk Holidaze
featuring Steve Cooley, Jeff Guernsey, Emily Portman, Stephen Couch, Ricky Puckett & Dave Johnson with Brigid Kaelin and a special appearance by Hillybilly Santy Claus
Wednesday, December 23
Doors 7PM Show 8PM
$10 or free with a new or gently used blanket for Salvation Army

What else has been going on?

Poor puppy was sick last week.
No one got anything done:(
I'm trying to establish some kind of routine for myself. Pre-motherhood, it wasn't much of a challenge. Or, rather, a routine wasn't really necessary to my actually getting things done. I've never enjoyed linear work or workdays. Some might call it ADHD, but even in school (and I was a straight-A student, people) I always had a million books or projects or whatnot going at once. I'd do half a math assignment, start the english paper, come back to math -- it worked for me. 

I'm starting to realize now that I need a routine. There just isn't enough time to myself to work the way I used to work. All internet searches for daily routine or self-care routine or whatnot lead me to the conclusion that none of these people have children. Of course it would be great to "start the day with 30 minutes of exercise, followed by a 10-minute meditation session and a 20-minute hot shower!" I read one yesterday that continued this fantasy of "not doing anything but rehearsing or writing music until noon." It's laughable. But it's a really nice thought, people.

I am stuck in this little world of self-employed-work-from-home-parent. That is vastly different from work-from-home-parent or stay-at-home-parent or work-away-from-home-parent. 

Anyway ... trying to find a little room for self-care in the midst of winter illnesses and holiday stress and thousands of dollars in unexpected home repairs has me, um, a little stressed out. Anyone out there have it all figured out? Can you just print me a little PDF, so I can tick off the items nicely? Thanks. I'm working on my own, but I'm sure you have much better graphic design skills.

Maybe I just need a little more coffee.

Reminder: Family Music Jam this week is WEDNESDAY 12/16. 10:30am. Drop-in. Come sing holiday tunes with me:) $10/family at Mama's Hip. www.mamas-hip.com 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ukuleles for preschoolers! And potential class in Louisville?

Playing music with your kiddo is the best. Also, I know
this is a banjo, not a uke, but the Wee Boy is asleep with
a cold right now, so I shan't bother him for a photo shoot.
People ask me ALL the time if I will take their 5-year-old on as a piano student, and I always suggest waiting until the child is 7. I'll write another blog about all the reasons why, but today I wanted to throw out the alternative that I usually suggest: buy a ukulele.

Once you are able to communicate with your kiddo that perhaps s/he shouldn't throw it across the room, then you are fine to get an actual, real, will-even-stay-in-tune ukulele. Then grab a book or get on the YouTube or sign up for a Parent/Child Intro-to-Uke class to get them started. Louisville friends, Guitar Emporium has many ukuleles in the $40-55 range that would be perfect. I stopped by this week to check out their selection and was pleasantly surprised with the choices in stock.

On that note, Louisville parents, I'm considering offering a Parent/Child intro-to-ukulele class specifically for those families who might be welcoming a uke into their families this holiday season.

I'm always hesitant to offer new classes, but several parents have asked me about teaching such a class. So maybe get in touch if this is something you'd be interested in? I'm looking at doing a 4-week class in January either on Monday or Thursdays, early-afternoons, location TBA, but in the Highlands/40205 area for sure (I'm car-free, remember?) Probably a 6-children limit. 45-minute class. Aimed at ages 4ish-5ish. One day I'll work out a group piano class for preschoolers, which I find more effective and a better use of your money than private lessons at that age, but for now: ukuleles for wee fingers, it is.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Candlelighting and free music and funny videos and stuff.

It's that time of year! I didn't make it home from my gig with The Birdies until after sundown, but we didn't let that stop us from eating all of Grandma's homemade latkes. Here's Grandma (my mom is now known as Grandma instead of Mom because the circle of life and all) passing down a bit o' culture to her grandson:

Speaking of The Birdies, we played two SOLD OUT shows this weekend at Indiana University SE, singing with a 15+ piece band and spreading holiday cheer. Here's a much more calm version of us on the radio singing a version of Silver Bells with the addition of our Hanukkah verse at the end:

And OF COURSE .. here are my two classic Hanukkah tunes. Available as free downloads here:

Or just watch the silly videos on the ol' YouTube:

Happy Hanukkah, y'all! It's been quite a year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Road trips, Nashville with the Wee Boy, Free music, and an alligator.

Last night I cooked a dinner, and two of the dishes had only one ingredient. It was completely amazing. Don't get me wrong, I like Thanksgiving food. I like it a lot. It's comfort food (i.e. the Kids' menu in adult portions), and it tastes delicious. We ate Thanksgiving food or road trip food or takeout-because-we-didn't-want-to-mess-up-our-kitchen-for-the-Airbnbers food for at least week. Macaroni and Cheese is amazing, but it is not a vegetable. Last night we had curried quinoa, roasted butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts. I could feel every cell in my body thanking me with each bite.

Anyone else still hungover from Thanksgiving? We had a fun holiday. We traveled to Arkansas and spent 5 days with David's family in a condo. My introvert self was a little freaked out by the close quarters, but the company was good. The Wee Boy had an absolutely blast playing non-stop with his cousins, yelling to wake everyone up as early as possible, and eating sugar all week. He also pet an alligator, which you've already seen if you follow me on Instagram:

We also learned that he inherited our weak stomachs for car rides. The boy is an amazing traveler on planes and trains, but take this boy on a car trip and yikes! I lifted my screen-time rules and let him watch the iPad about 30 minutes into our journey, and he puked EVERYWHERE shortly thereafter. I ended up reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz aloud to him to kill time, which was, honestly, mostly delightful. He really liked it, particularly the Winged Monkeys and "the soldier with the green whiskers."

I got a little accidental down time yesterday, when the horrendous driving weather forced our hand. We stopped for the evening in Nashville, exhausted and ready for bed. After a swim in the hotel pool and a little alone time, I felt reinvigorated and wanted to show the Wee Boy a honky tonk. I had never even thought about it, but it turns out that most of the honky tonks on Lower Broadway are all ages before 6pm. We wandered to the Second Fiddle, danced, clapped, tipped, and eventually settled in at Robert's Western World for some comfort food and some comfort music. The Wee Boy, of course, is no stranger to live music, but he was still mesmerized. We left just before it turned 21+ and pretty much went straight to bed.

I'm now plotting the next time we can get down to Nashville for an entire day of honky-tonkin' with the Wee Boy. I don't know why I had never thought of that before.

Speaking of country music, it's time again to start forcing you to listen to my Hanukkah music. Here's a free download or listen to "Blue Dreidel No. 9" from a Christmas Compilation (I know, I know, ironic?):

Also: Louisville parents: Bring your kiddo to Mama's Hip on Wednesday morning for Family Music Jam! 10:30am, drop-in, lots of fun. $10/family. Pretty please?? We have so much fun there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Speaking to adults after baby.

Has anyone figured out how to re-learn how to speak to adults after having a child? I suppose it depends what your work is. My work is mostly teaching kids and singing my songs, so I haven't had much practice in real conversation. Are there classes out there? I feel like I need social skills.

I was talking to one of the moms in my music class this morning about how so often we say things that are horribly offensive to other moms without even knowing it. For example, I upset a friend a few months ago because I was speaking passionately about how the maternity care system is so much better in other countries than it is here. (This is a huge passion of mine, and I get worked up. I never mean it personally, of course.)
Poor kiddo was sick all last week.
At least we cuddled a lot.

So many times, other moms have upset me by their casual comments about how mean it is to have just one child. Perhaps they don't phrase it like that, but they'll say something like, "Oh, the greatest gift I ever gave Brunhilda was her sibling." Or, "I just don't want him to be an only child because I don't want him to miss out or be spoiled." They surely don't realize how insulting that is, or I don't think they would say it at all. It is very frustrating to hear, speaking as an only child who absolutely loved and benefited from being the only one.

Anyway, specifics don't matter -- we all say dumb things. At least, parents of young children say dumb things, it seems. I don't quite know how to re-enter society. I feel like I should be reading some anthropology book aimed at foreign visitors to America because I am really missing the basics here.

Anyone feel similarly?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How many pairs of pants does a 3-year-old actually need?

My 3-year-old has over 60 pairs of pants (re: trousers for my UK readers). These are all long pants, size 3T. I have not bought him a single pair, and for that I am forever grateful. Seriously, the hand-me-downs have been amazing, especially for people with massive graduate school debts and a hatred for shopping. But I have got to pair down and donate what's not needed ... because -- even though I hate laundry, and 60 pairs of pants could probably get us through the winter without a washing -- that many pants don't actually fit in his chest of drawers. Also, laundry isn't the worst household chore. (That would be: dishes.)

But, legitimate question, how many pairs of trousers does a 3-year-old boy need? Anyone have a system? Please comment and help! He's been potty-trained for over a year, so we don't need extra-just-in-case-pants. Help me out here, experts!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Confessions and random thoughts.


  • I have been going to bed before 9pm all week. Tonight I have an early gig, and I'm still hoping to be in bed by 9. 
  • My kid wasn't affected in the least by the time change. I think that's what comes of him being a generally not-great sleeper. He doesn't ever care what time it is. I read updates of people whose kids are "begging to go to bed," and I am confused. A parenting success out of a failure!
  • I want to cook a holiday feast. I think maybe I now like the holidays. I'm not sure what that's about. Speaking of...
  • I saw someone walking down the street with a Starbucks red cup earlier this week, and now I wish I lived within walking distance of a Starbucks. I know. I really know. But I still want one.
  • I got into Yerdle for a few weeks, accumulated some Yerdle dollars to buy stuff (which I haven't used yet because I don't actually like to buy things), and now I think I have stopped Yerdling. It's a time-suck, and it involves trips to a UPS store, and I'm starting to think it's a part-time job. I have enough trouble balancing my 6 part-time jobs as it is.
  • We had a rental car for a month because of David's work. It was very weird, and I don't think I enjoyed it. More on that in another blog.
  • I really like to browse Pinterest. It is so mindless and distracting.
  • My feet have grown, but I do not want to part with my amazing lifetime cowboy boot collection. I am letting go, slowly, but it makes me sad.
  • I found a bunch of notes and letters and journals from high school in the basement, and I threw them all away after re-reading only two. Because, really, who needs to be brought back to high school, if even for an afternoon?
  • I am working on a new record! The songs are old (to me) at this point because I have not created anything new in ages because I had a baby who was then a toddler who was then a preschooler and I don't know how to balance art and motherhood. But I am excited to finish this record and tour it and make room in my head to create something new. (Can I play a house concert for you next summer/fall, please? Seriously. It'll be fun. Email me. Let's work this out.)
  • I still have culture shock, though I have been back in Kentucky THREE YEARS today. Even though I love Louisville and my family and friends, I really wish I could convince them that we should all move to Scotland. Remember, remember.

    Here is a new photo, by Joseph Mays of Alien Twilight Photography. I had some new pictures taken last week, before I decided to eat all of the holiday cookies, and I'm so glad I did. Joe is a huge talent, and I'm amazed by all of the images he sent. Here's one of my favorites:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New video of The Birdies + cute picture of the Wee Boy.

It's The Birdies! Here's a quick montage of some songs we sang at the Outskirts Festival last month. We've got our electric band here. I think we are bringing a toned-down version (acoustic guitar, Dennis?) for our Tuesday, December 8, appearance at the Library. Check back for details on that, but I'm pretty sure it's a free and public and all ages show and starts at, like, 5 or 5:30pm. We are adding some holiday tunes to the repertoire. I wonder if it's possible to 1940s-a-fy "Mazel Tonk" because, let me tell you, there sure aren't many vintage Hanukkah songs floating around out there.

Also, it would be super sweet if you could "like" The Birdies' Facebook page because, oddly enough, the number of "likes" actually matters to venues and promoters and immigration workers who grant work visas for international tours.

Hope everyone had a great Halloween. The Wee Boy was a Wizard for his preschool parade, but then he switched to his dragon costume for trick-or-treating. I kind of wish he would wear a costume every day of the week because isn't that what every 3-year-old should do?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Just a cute kid in a costume.

Friday!! You get a cute kid-in-a-costume photo today because I can't follow my own time-management advice enough to actually blog something interesting. But don't we all prefer cute kid pictures to deep thoughts or whinges about not being in Paris anyway?

I've been putting together a video montage of The Birdies tunes, but it's not ready yet. We have a few upcoming public gigs in December, plus a few private holiday parties that you cannot come to. Wouldn't you just love to book an Andrews Sisters-type group to come sing a few old tunes and, you know, dress up all vintage and make an appearance at your event? Get in touch!

Monday, October 26, 2015

11 Time Management Tips for the Self-Employed

When David and I were both self-employed a few years ago, I offered him all kinds of time management advice. It was pretty good stuff, I thought, but I'm having quite a time adhering to my own advice. In the interest of completely procrastinating on actually doing work today, I'm going to make a new list of all the tips that I know help. Voila!

1. Make a list on Sunday night of what you need to accomplish that week. But don't do it right before bed because that can just stress you out. Just know that it's on the list, so it will get done. Then go about enjoying your weekend.

1a. List your to-dos by category

My business and daily life get mixed up, so when I remember I have to pay some bills, I keep a separate "home" list. I also keep an "email/communication" subcategory, along with Bookkeeping, Writing, Home, The Wee Boy, etc.

2. Slim that list down on Monday morning of what you absolutely need to accomplish that day. 

It's too easy to flip out looking at a massive To Do list. There's actually a pre-printed planner, called the Planner Pad, if you're the ink-to-paper type, that organizes your week like this. I have trouble keeping up with both paper and Google calendar, but they have an e-version as well.

3. Identify tasks that can wait until other days and assign them throughout the week.

4. Set a timer for tedious tasks, and stick to it. 

If you know you're only going to be spending 15 minutes on something, you'll know it won't be so bad. Also, it helps you stay focused -- no straying from the task until the timer sounds.

5. Only check email a few times a day

This saves time and stops you from doing that thing where you read the email, think 'I'll respond to that in just a bit because I'm doing something else now,' and then you completely forget about that old email because it's no longer bold-faced in your inbox.

6. Leave the house.

If your house is in a state of disarray, you aren't going to get as much accomplished as you could. It's too easy to say "Oh, but laundry, but organization, but dishes, but etc etc etc." I'm sure it would be lovely to hire a professional organizer to come in and makeover your home so you feel all zen and able to work at your dining room table (or even home office if you are so lucky!), but for now: go to the coffee shop. While you are there, remember to set a timer to make the most of your time

7. Work when you are most productive

This one is super-hard when you have kids, or at least it has been for me. My childcare starts at 9am, but I am not a morning person. I am most productive and creative beginning at around 2p, basically just before I have to pick up the Wee Boy. If you don't have such restrictions, enjoy the freedom and make the most of it. You can set your own hours, so set them to when you can be efficient. 

8. Schedule your social media posts. 

You can use "schedule" feature on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. so you can post at optimum hours without being tethered to your laptop or phone at those exact moments. This ties in well with #7 -- if you write best at midnight, then write then. But schedule your post for a more prominent social media time. 

9. Give yourself a break.

This one is hard for me. I am the meanest boss around. But every employee needs a break. Take a walk around the block, do a 20 minute yoga video, sit down for a cuppa, whatever will re-energize you. Just again: Set a timer, so it doesn't turn into a Netflix marathon.

10. Learn your limits. 

Don't be too hard on yourself. Self-employed workers are doing the work of at least five (and probably more) employees. Understand that you are taking on a lot, and be good to yourself. 

11. Remember that your job is important.

I struggle with this one, especially because so many of my friends just do not understand self-employment. Most either think I am a stay-at-home-mom or that I am available to have lunch or coffee on a moment's notice if my kiddo is in childcare. I shouldn't care what they think, but it's rough when the same friend calls every day right during the time my clients start arriving (and when they have known your schedule for 10+ years!). It's easy to be dismissive of your own career, but do your best to remember that your job is important.

Now, to follow my own advice! Singing that song from Alice in Wonderland ... "I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it." Sigh. 
What are your time management tips?? I'd love to hear them.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The best student-budget meal we had. And a free download.

In my Europe daydreams, I keep going back to our favorite student-budget meal. We did not live the life of luxury while we were there, but this meal still feels like the be-all-end-all of what-would-you-eat-if-you-had-a-million-dollars to me. It's probably because real (unpasteurized) camembert is both legal and incredibly inexpensive over there. And because we were so close to France, the cheap red wine is a quarter of the cost of American liquor stores.

A baguette,
a wheel of camembert,
broccoli florets and garlic cloves,
all roasted for 10 minutes
a bottle of red.

£5 for all.

So good. Considering how pricy cheese is here, this is not exactly student-friendly in Kentucky. But you know I'm in a daydreamy mood.

I may try to replicate that tonight, minus the unpasteurized cheese, of course.

Why can I not find a photo of this most delicious meal ever??? What, was I too busy enjoying my time and company and not stopping to Instagram it?! Fool. I'll hunt through my old iPhoto when I get home and update this if I find something. Check back? Instead, here is a picture of something dreamy: chocolatissimo from a cobblestoned sidewalk cafe. Because dreams do come true.

In the mean time, how about a wistful rainy-day-song? It's a little more serious than I like to share, but I do so love the combination of me on piano and Peter Searcy on cello. Free download if you like. Or it's on Spotify, if that's your thing.

And: what I've been reading: this week, it's Elvis Costello's memoir, which I am enjoying so very very much. I've actually been listening to the audiobook while walking from here to there, which is so very pleasant because I've spoken to him in person so many times, which is surreal still. Anyway, I recommend it. He is one of the smartest people I've ever met -- both in book knowledge and street smarts. His writing supports this.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A woman, alone, in a French cafe. (Daydreams of Paris - unending.)

Thirty minutes to myself this morning before my music class begins. The wee boy is fighting a bug that seems to mostly be gone. It was just a short-lived fever that left him less energetic than usual and gave us a bit of a rough night ("I'm hot! I'm cold! I'm hot! I'm freezing!"). I've left him at home (with company!) today, which made him a little sad -- he absolutely loves coming to Family Music Jam at Mama's Hip. 

I thought I would be disciplined and self-therapeutic in my alone time and write away some crazy in my lovely red Moleskin™. Being the prepared writer that I am, however, I have forgotten a pen. That's what I get for following one tiny suggestion by that fool who clearly has no children, Marie Kondo, and taking everything out of my purse. (Another blog about that. Very little need to purge your stuff if you've moved TransAtlantic recently. But I like to read the water-cooler books. Or Moms-Groups books, I should say more accurately.)

Anyway, instead I'm catching up on long-unanswered emails and messages, sitting with a half-caff espresso in a tiny cup, a blank page on my iPad, and yes I will admit this the September 2015 Anthropologie catalog that I can't seem to throw away because: Paris.

It is Paris.

It is laughing, confident women with a glass of wine strolling down a Rue de MyLifeIsBetterThanYours with dangly earrings and a manicure. 

It doesn't make me sad or envious. It doesn't make me wish I could be those woman; I have been those women. Occasionally, I still am those women. 

But I want to me those women again sooner rather than later. 

And then I look around at other people in this coffeeshop and imagine what they think of me: a woman, alone, sipping an espresso, nibbling on a crepe, writing, daydreaming, a guitar case at my side. Overall, it's pretty good to me.

I shall now pin these on my "Things that make me happy" Pinterest page and move forward.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Finally: the Chip and PIN in the US ... sort of.

In today's chapter of Brigid Remains Completely Culture Shocked by America...

Businesses around America (my own included) have been warned that, by the beginning of this month, we could be held liable for any transactions we do via magnetic swipe cards. By October 1, we were supposed to be set up to take the new EMV aka "chip" credit cards.

My faithful readers in Europe (about 30% of you) may spit out your tea or whisky at the thought that America -- yes, America -- is only just now, in October of 2015, switching to the Chip readers.

You see, it's been at least 15 years since Europe made the switch to those credit cards, while America has continued to swipe and sign. When travelling abroad, you'll even find that some places don't accept the swipe cards at all (generally because the shopkeeper has no idea how to complete such a transaction). If you do figure out how, you have to sign the slip. You had better have signed the back of your credit card and have your passport with you as ID, or prepare to have your card cut up and receive dirty looks as if you might be a criminal. (Personal experience.)

The chip & PIN cards are, indeed, more secure than the magenetic swipe & sign. When you "pop in" your chip card in Europe, you are prompted to then enter your PIN. Only then will the transaction complete. With the old swipe card, you can sign "Elvis" on the screen, and you can still completely your purchase (Again: personal experience.)

Anyway, the switch should be a good thing, overall, considering if someone steals your wallet, they theoretically wouldn't be able to go buy $700 worth of junk at Target because they wouldn't know your PIN!

Except here's the insane thing: the Chip card readers in America (at the four different establishments where I've used my new card) haven't actually asked for my PIN at all!

I have asked the store clerk, "Where do I enter my PIN?"

They either have looked at me blankly or replied, "You don't have to enter or sign anything."

I am generally a huge proponent for change, but ?!?!?!?!?

In happier times, I stopped doing my Saturday classes at Mama's Hip because I need my weekends back. But I'm still there on Wednesdays ... bring your littles in for some egg shaking and dancing:

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday links: Birth TED talk, Vegetarians & protein, and GEOGUESSR!

Some links! Because ... FRIDAY.

Nicola Goodall's TEDx Talk: Reframing Birth. 
We had one of those posh things called a doula when we were in Scotland, even though the entire birthing process is a thousand times more humane than it is in America. Her name is Nicola, and she is brilliant. Here she is giving a TED talk that I just adore:

Just for fun, here she is chillaxing on the couch, quietly knitting a cap, while I'm in the birthing tub, you know, birthing and stuff:

But where do you get your protein?
In light of yesterday's blog about my vegetarian child, I actually get this question twice. It still annoys me, mostly because doesn't everyone know how to Google things? And so, if you ask me this, it seems like you are choosing not to Google and instead to poke and prod at my lifestyle choices ... but then my head tells me that's my defensiveness, which I am working on, talking and not necessarily the intent of my inquisitors. Anyway, Google away. I found this one right away, from Harvard. They know stuff at Harvard.   And another one. 

GeoGuessr - my favorite thing on the internet.

I spent a week this summer completely obsessed with this game. It somewhat satiates my travel needs, though when it shows me a castle in Scotland, I melt with longing. Seriously, this game shows you a Google street view of ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD and you have to guess where it is by dropping the pin on the map. The closer you guess, the more points you get. I think my top score was, like, 13,000 or something this summer. It can be very tough, but it's fun to explore.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What happens when you feed a vegetarian meat?

The wee boy has had a rough few weeks. He's okay, but we had a scary ER visit because of a bad head wound caused by another child hitting him with a toy. Most recently, someone unwittingly gave him a hot dog (I'm sure this person feels guilty enough; this post isn't meant to shame anyone -- just inform others).

Now, I know it's common knowledge among vegetarians that you'll likely get sick if you haven't eaten meat in a while and you revert. I also know there are some people with magical intestines who aren't phased by meat at all, no matter how long it's been. I also know that most of the non-vegetarians of the world think this illness is completely psychosomatic.
Wee boy walking the Labyrinth to do a little
soul-searching after a rough week.

If that's your thinking, let me tell you that you are WRONG. 

My poor boy -- who has never had any kind of meat (nor did I ever eat meat during pregnancy, and he's still on the high end of the growth curve, so hush your judgmental mouth about if he's getting enough protein) -- had just a few bites of a beef hot dog last week, before noticing it "tasted different than my vegetarian hot dogs, so I threw it away." And I have never seen him so sick. So sick. Both ends. Off and on for hours. Ugh, I get angry and weepy just thinking about it.

I've been giving him probiotics to help out his poor little gut, and some of the rage has left me (I was on fire with anger, even though I know it was an accident). Mostly, the wee boy feels sad and guilty because "a cow died for me" (my main reasons for being a veggie are environmental, but the wee boy's are a mixture of "what's good for the earth and for the 'aminals'") Ugh.

In good news, his reaction seems to confirm that no one else has given him meat sneakily before. And it also warns future meat-givers that any attempts will be busted.

A little deep thinking now, extrapolating from this teeny incident: it irritates me to no end that people still brush off vegetarianism. Gluten-free people get more of a pass these days, at least in America (I mean, there's a gluten-free cafe at Churchill Downs, but no vegetarian one). Maybe you're thinking that gluten is an allergy, and vegetarianism is not. But tell me -- would you feed a rabbi's child bacon, or a Hindu a cow? brushing it aside as a preference rather than an allergy? And also, vegetarians can get very ill indeed from eating meat, which might as well be an allergic reaction.

Grrrrrr. Anyway, he's fine now. I am getting over it. I know it won't happen again, at least not from this person. And before you jump down my throat, yes, if the wee boy chooses to eat meat on his own one day, that's totally fine. He can do anything he like when he's older. For now, our family doesn't eat meat.

Deep breaths. Deep breaths.

Maybe I'll watch this video I made of Scotland to remind me of simpler times.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wanderlust and ER visits are mutually exclusive.

I have The Wanderlust again. As usual, I don't want to go just anywhere. I want to go to Europe. You see, I'd rather hibernate for months at a time, cooking dinners at home, hoarding my pennies, taking public transportation rather than spend the money on a car payment & insurance, all for the benefit of Europe at least once a year. I don't need professional haircuts or Thai takeout. I don't need the dollar aisle at Target or weekly date nights. I don't need a yoga studio or Halloween decorations or the Anthropologie bedding that I drool over. 

I don't even need a business class ticket. I don't need a fancy hotel. I just need a plane ticket and a couch. A wander around some cobblestones. A view of a castle. Enough local currency for a crepe and some wifi. 

Yes, I totally get how entitled it still sounds. But... consider a plane ticket my therapy. It's cheaper than therapy, for sure, considering our shameful health care system.

Anyway, no Europe for me anytime soon. We've got some road trip travel plans, but nothing to satiate my castle cravings. It also INFURIATES me that I have spent enough on emergency room visits in the past month to buy three round trip tickets to Europe. No surgeries -- nothing beyond IV antibiotics and close monitoring. Still: thousands. Dollars, not pennies.

Then, and rightly so, I get to feeling all guilty because my trips to the ER mean that I don't get to go to Europe. Many people's trips to the ER mean they don't get to eat. 

And then I get the urge to buy a one-way ticket instead.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Radio debut of the Birdies and other fun stuff.

I was live on the radio this morning with my friends Laura and Su and Duke and Dennis! You can hear us chat and sing two old-timey tunes in 3-part harmony here:
I'm itching to plan a Europe tour so badly ...  maybe we should take The Birdies on the road instead of my cheeky solo stuff? Book us, and we will come.

It's a weekend of music in my world:

Brigid Kaelin Band 
Saturday, October 10
6:15pm sharp at the Douglass Loop outdoor stage
Belknap Fall Festival
Free, all ages, outdoors.

The Birdies
Sunday, October 11
Sunday 9:20pm (sharp, I hope!) at Art Sanctuary
Louisville Outskirts Festival

I'm working on a few other projects here and there ... in fact, I'm going to sign off from here right now, so I will stop stalling on editing this podcast I've put together. I swear, I thought podcasts were so 2006, until I realized that apparently they are so 2014. I should really stop being so dismissive. Anyway -- cheerio, friends!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Shout-out to others: Some Links I Love

Rather than complaining about how far behind I am in everything (including email, text, basically all forms of communication with everyone I have ever met, not to mention business things AAAAACK!), I am instead going to focus on some links I like today. You know -- direct your attention elsewhere.

Article: "The Secret to Making Your Life a Hundred Times Better"
I could have written this myself. But of course I didn't because I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHERE THE DAYS GO ANYMORE. I loved this though. It's about giving in to little conveniences, like online grocery delivery, but -- and this is the hard part -- not letting the guilt take hold. 

How many earths would it take to sustain lifestyle if everyone on the planet lived like you?
This is one of my very favorite online calculators. Take this test, and try to tell me I'm crazy for not using paper towels.

The Mama's Hip Online Community
Basically, the only sane internet moms' group that I have ever been a part of. It's a paid thing. That keeps away the trolls. Because trolling should be free, you know? Anyway, if you're new to Louisville, or new to parenting in Louisville, and you are tolerant of people different from you, then hop on over.

And now, a selfish link:

The Birdies
"Like" our Facebook page, won't you? Then people will know we're legit. Catch us live on WFPK just past 8:00am Eastern this Friday. Anyway, please like that page ... it seems like it doesn't make a difference, but it's one of those small ways you can support indie artists. You know, since music is free these days and all.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

And a Happy Birthday to the Wee Boy!

While I was in Nashville working, my wee boy turned three. No guilt trips, please. I am still wrenching from having had to leave him at 9am on his birthday, don't worry.
Two cakes for the birthday boy. I baked and frosted from scratch, but had no energy left to paint ships and submarines.
Instead, we printed out some images and put them on with toothpicks. 

We didn't do a big bash, but some family came up from Texas to have a taco party. It was going to be a Dragons Love Tacos birthday party, but at some point the Wee Boy decided he needed to have another Yellow Submarine birthday cake. Then he also wanted a "Captain Ahab's Pequod Big Ship" cake, and because that is the cutest request ever, I baked him two cakes. I mean, how can you say no to a 3-year-old in a dragon costume?

The boy wore his dragon costume all the day long, just like you should when you're turning three. He played with the neighbor and opened some big gifts from grandparents. We got him two apple trees -- exactly what he asked for. I swear, this perfect little boy wants a Moby Dick cake and apple trees as a present. Could he be any cuter?

To stick with the taco party theme, I also cut out bunch of new cloth napkins with some festive Day of the Dead and Chili Peppers prints for all to use. (I absolutely despise paper napkins and paper towels for so many reasons -- another blog about that someday.) Anyway, it was a fun afternoon and kinda-sorta made up for the guilt I still feel about missing his actual birthday. Next year, NO WORK ON BIRTHDAYS!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

StitchFix Review #2 - summer tanks and a dress.

Stitchfix! I have been really bad about updating you on my fixes (and about everything on the blog. New Season's resolution: be consistent here). I've gotten three new ones since I last checked in, but one was all the way back in February before my United Kingdom tour. Another was an accidental shipment (or rather, I totally forgot it was coming, and therefore forgot to update my style profile or let my stylist know what I needed). Even though summer technically ended last week, I'm going to review my most recent summer shipment. If you'd like to sign up to try out your own personal stylist, pretty please use this link? I get a credit towards my next fix, and that would make it seem like I make money on my blog. It would also make me happy.

To remind you: I hate shopping. I'm also not really interested in style or the latest trends. I love pretty dresses and cowboy boots. I love bootcut jeans and vintage t-shirts. I don't work in an office, so I don't have to wear business casual (whatever that means). To be honest, 95% of my wardrobe for the past 15 years consists of hand-me-downs (albeit really nice hand-me-downs) or Goodwill finds. I didn't know I liked "boho" until I filled out the style profile and was apparently drawn to that stuff.


I will spoil the blog and tell you straight up that I kept everything. This was on the heels of me returning everything in a previous box, so it's not always a bullseye. I think the key is making sure you give your stylist enough feedback on previous shipments and regularly update your style profile.

For this box I was after some specific pieces, so I made sure to add a note. I decided this was the summer to upgrade my summer wardrobe. I generally rotate 3 sundresses and 3 swimsuits with a few knit tank tops. I asked my stylist to give me some tank tops appropriate for walking in the Kentucky heat that weren't Old Navy knits. This fix arrived on my birthday, so I also asked for something festive.

My stylist sent 3 sleeveless shirts, none of which I would have ever picked up off a rack in a department store. David, my trusty husband and the stylish one of the two of us, loved each of them and insisted I keep them. I wasn't sure, but my husband will be looking at them more than I will.

First was a white collared tank with black polka dots. It had a very rockabilly feel, and the knot in front was actually cute and not loud at all like I was expecting. Who knew?

Next up was a multi-colored but mainly pink tank top that flowed very nicely and had a super cute zipper in the back, not to mention blue ribbons for straps. I liked this one because I don't have to wear a bra with it, but it still seems a step or two up from my usual go-to-tanks. I paired this (I learned to use the phrase "paired with" from my stylist's postcard, which, by the way, always has too many exclamation points) with nice jeans and a necklace, and I looked like I was actually put-together.

The next shirt was another multicolored tank. I loved the turquoise straps, and David just thought it looked great. "Yep, keep it."(I'm pretty sure he was actually interested rather than just trying to get the Fashion Show over with.)

Another specific request was a "loose-fitting summer dress a step up from my usual knit strapless sundress." We walk everywhere, so I needed something that I wouldn't sweat through by the end of the block. I believe David's comment upon seeing this was, "Buy one of those in every color." It is super flattering, has nice detail, nice enough to wear to a cocktail party, but somehow unbelievably comfortable.

The fifth item surprised me: it was a purse. I recently unchecked the "don't send me handbags" option, but had forgotten I'd done it. For most of the last 37 years, I've carried a Crown Royal bag with my wallet in it. I've really been trying to get into purses since the Wee Boy was born and, you know, act like a grown up and say "paired with" and stuff. This bag is a nice addition. The color is bright enough for summer, but warm enough for autumn. I love the secret compartment on the flap -- perfect size for my Kindle or Moleskin. Purses aren't something I ever think about when I'm shopping, so it was really nice that someone else chose it for me. It was more than I would have paid (though still less than fifty bucks), but I got a 25% discount for buying all five items.

All in all, a great fix. I still love that I would never have chosen any of these items if I were picking clothes off a rack in the store. It's not always a home run, but it's fun, exciting, and totally worth it to not have to bother or waste my time at the mall. I think my favorite part of all is that I never have to hem dresses or pants -- it's in my profile that I'm a shorty.

Anyway, if you're at all interested, give it a shot. There is a $20 styling fee for each box of clothes, but it is credited towards buying the items (so you get the money back if you buy even one item). I swear one of these days I'll post photos of me in the clothes.

Tyra, if you're still reading this, then I still want to challenge you to a local StitchFix box;) I am sure you'd be better than my stylist.

Also: If anyone local to Louisville is reading, Wednesday & Saturday Morning this week means FAMILY MUSIC JAM at Mama's Hip! 1559 Bardstown Road. 10:30am. no signup required. Only $10/family. Best deal in town, and a trained teacher/musician:) 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Nashville adventures, Americana Music Association conference 2015.

Don Henley at the Ryman. This one's for my dad.
It's been a week. Some sad family things that I'm not going to write about on the blog (believe it or not, I don't actually tell you everything that is going on in my life). Some happy family things. Some things that have compelled me to be contemplative and keep to myself. It's not particularly good timing, but then when is it ever?

I'm down in Nashville for the first time in so many years. Five maybe? I can't recall. I used to come down here once a week, do session work, write songs with people, play utility man in bands, go to Loser's at 2pm and find accordion work. Nashville (and 90% of the people here) seems to have had its teeth whitened a few times since then, and I barely recognize the place. Buildings and storefronts have come and gone since the 2007 era (remember that season of Nashville Star when I was a semi-finalist? Ha ha, I had forgotten too! Hey, lookie at that list, Kacey Musgraves was a semi-finalist too that year.).

But Noshville still has challah french toast, and it's still worth the 175 mile drive from my house.
Challah french toast, a Kindle, a blank notebook. Solo time.
The Americana Music Association conference has also changed quite a bit since the days when I was a regular delegate. The enthusiasm is still there, but the music has enjoyed such mainstream success that the conference seems huge now.

I'm not one to roll my eyes at anyone or anything who has success. But popularity, combined with difficulty in flipping on the extrovert switch (I swear, I used to be able to just take that deep breath and introduce myself to strangers), has made this year's conference somewhat uncomfortable for me.

Part of me feels irrelevant. Part of me feels like I've been doing it right all along. Like, the panels are about self-releasing and how you don't need labels anymore, which is, um, what I've been saying for a hundred years? Because labels rarely do any of the work for you any more, so then why would you share the profits? Especially in an time when there ARE no profits? So unless you have a trust fund, or you're living with your girlfriend rent-free, then you kind of need to pay the bills.

Anyway, it's funny when I go to a panel that suggests doing things that aren't related to music in order to stay engaged with your audience. "Start a blog! Post pictures of your pets or breakfast on Instagram!"

I still haven't been able to answer the question I came down here with, however, which is: how does an indie artist do a self-release in 2015? I knew how to do it in 2008. I knew how to do it with small EPs designed only for small tours in Europe. But I'm working on a full-length recording that I hope to finish very, very soon. What do I do with it? Specifically, what are the steps? Do I bother hiring radio promoters? I had tons of "adds" on the last album, but none of those adds translated into sales. Do I just hire a booking agent and tour like crazy? That means hiring a tour nanny because no way can I leave my kiddo for long periods of time.

Anyway, I start babbling about the music industry on my blog, and that means my loyal blog readers flip over to their Pinterest pages ... so I shall stop here.

Houndmouth at the Ryman. 
Keb Mo at the Ryman. With Lucille, BB King's guitar.
I went to a lot of AMA UK events because I am obsessed with the UK. As you know. But this is an American band, the Wild Ponies. How do I get on the AMA UK roster???? I loved seeing this band because it was the only time at the conference I saw an unestablished woman artist who was over thirty performing. She was awesome.

A panel at the AMA conference. Singer Amy Black, on the right, offers excellent advice.  

Buffy St. Marie singing "Universal Soldier" at the Ryman.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

New TARC payment system rolling out [eventually] -- some thoughts.

I have a love/hate relationship with the bus system in Louisville. It is the worst public transportation system of any city I've lived in, BUT when it works, it works so well. I was at my destination less than two minutes after hopping on the bus this morning. Granted I was only going a mile and a half, but, still, it was quick and efficient.

Now, I have had plenty of family and friends who have worked in government, so I understand that things are not easy to change. I go back and forth between being just completely angry and grumbling things like HAS ANYONE IN METRO GOVERNMENT ACTUALLY RIDDEN ON ANY OTHER CITY'S PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION BEFORE?!?!? I get that change costs money, and I get that people in Louisville loooooooove their cars. And most of the people with the time to go to goverment meetings and public forums, well, public transportation is not at the top of their concerns list. But but but but but but but but... 

Something good that is coming is that we are FINALLY -- almost 20 years after New York -- getting a MetroCard type option: https://www.ridetarc.org/mytarc/ . It's called MyTarc, and the signs have been posted on the buses all summer, telling us it's coming sometime in 2015. The website now says winter or spring 2016. This gives me hope that maybe they are going to make it a little better than the website says. 

Some things I love (starting with the positive):

  • You will be able to buy them ahead of time and store money on them.
  • There are unlimited-ride options. $3.50 for a day pass and $15 for a weekly. 
  • The cost is only $1.50 a ride, while paying cash for a single ride is currently $1.75. Note that even now you can buy $1.50 single tickets in packs of ten ($15). Of course, you can't actually buy them on the bus. You can have someone at TARC mail them to you in 5-7 days, or you can go down to Union Station like David did and buy a pack in person. It turns out you can also buy them at the Main Library or any 5/3rd Bank location, which I can't believe I didn't know having lived here most of my life. The tickets are pink and sparkly, and I love them. I keep 4 in my wallet at all times, so you and I can go on a spontaneous adventure without searching for $1.75 each.
Lousiville TARC single ride tickets. 

Some things about the new system I wish they would fix:
Okay, okay, I really really don't want to be so grumbly. I'm adding this paragraph because my list of complaints, as it turns out, IS very grumbly. I know that someone downtown is working super hard and probably has had to argue to a committee or a supervisor who doesn't understand and maybe the person in charge of the system has the same gripes I have, but this compromise was the best they could do. I just really don't understand how a system that costs $5 million to update is still not as sophisticated as the MetroCard system of the late 1990s. 

  • You can add money to your card, BUT you cannot allow your friends or family members to use your card. That is, you can't swipe twice and pay for the person behind you. Not the biggest deal, but if you have family in town, they'll need to buy their own card (which you cannot buy from a bus driver).
  • Your swipe comes with 1 free transfer within two hours (they say this isn't any different from now, but every paper transfer I've ever gotten has been good for three hours), BUT once the MyTARC smart card system is in place, anyone who pays cash will NOT get a transfer. The website says this will save the drivers the time of tearing off that piece of paper that seems to actually take no time to tear off at the moment. 
  • This is the one that makes me shake my head in disbelief. You can use a credit card (not Amex, another grrrr), BUT ... "If adding value using Visa, MasterCard or Discover cards, allow 48 hours before use as fare."  So, if I'm reading this correctly, I will not be able to stand at a bus stop, use my phone to add value to my card by credit card, and then get on the bus a few minutes later. Yes, I totally realize that this sounds like I'm taking for granted the amazing future in which we live, but it's absurd that the city is spending $5million dollars on a very cool new system that won't actually allow credit card purchase in an immediately-useful way. Which means the people in my we-love-our-cars-even-though-the-bus-might-be-cheaper-and-quicker-neighborhood (Highlands/Bardstown Road) are still probably not going to take the bus
  • Where's the App????? Please, please, I hope I'm able to correct this blog entry and say, "My bad! Fully functioning app ready to roll out with the new cards." But seriously ... $5 million ... just toss in an app to let me scan and store my smart card, so I can ideally wave my phone at the new scanning system, but at the very least, not have to visit a website to add money to my card. And maybe the goal isn't to increase ridership (though shouldn't it be?), but it seems like it would make things a lot easier for Millennials and anyone who doesn't absolutely-have-to-take-the-bus if you could figure out a route and buy a ticket on your smartphone while standing at the bus stop (and not relying on Google Maps).
Anyway, I've been hesitating hitting "publish" on this blog for a while now because, again, I don't want to be so grumbly. Mostly, it's the credit card thing that seems completely insane to me. I love progress. I love change. I am all for people ditching their cars and riding the bus. I just think we can do better.
Again, I would love nothing more than to correct or edit or write a new blog saying that Louisville has got it right! How can I help?? I know this is just a blog. I thought about pitching an article to a news outlet in town, but I'm swamped these days. Maybe IL wants do more research and keep me posted?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Labor Day signature cocktail: Basil Gimlet Tonic

Beth gave me some swanky gin and even swankier tonic water for my birthday, so it was about time I busted it out. I'm going classic here with the weekend's Signature Cocktail. I'm also satiating the part of me that can't see all that bolted basil in my garden go to waste. Once the basil shoots up flowers (bolts), the leaves get a bitter flavor that just isn't good enough for pesto or caprese. But even though it's September, I can't bare to cut down the basil plants; those bees need a place to frolic!

I decided that using the late-summer basil leaves to infuse a simple syrup was a perfectly good function for them, and, truly, the syrup did not taste bitter at all.


The basil gimlet!

First: The Basil-Infused Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.5 bunches of basil leaves (a large handful), finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup of water
Heat on stovetop or in microwave until the sugar is dissolved (about 3 minutes in microwave). Steep the leaves for at least 30 minutes, then strain.

The cocktail: 
  • 2 parts Gin
  • 2 parts simple syrup
  • 1 part fresh lime juice
  • 1 part tonic water
The classic gimlet doesn't have tonic water, but I like to add a dash to make the drink last. It also gives it a little kick of carbonation that keeps summer alive for me. I used an old-fashioned glass, but some sticklers would tell you a highball is preferred. Your choice!

Have a great Labor Day Weekend! I've decided not to work too hard. I hope you don't have to either. See you at the pool.

Monday, August 31, 2015

More ranting about mothers/artists and some upcoming gigs.

After Friday's rant about the music business, I spent the weekend pretending like I was on vacation. I believe the proper term is "staycation," but it's one of the few wordplays that annoys me. Except when I sing it to the tune of that GoGo's song. I am an enigma.

Anyway, a couple of more thoughts I didn't go into:
   1. It irks me to no end that the woman who asked the question about Amanda Palmer crowdfunding her baby, also said:

When you have this baby, either him/her/it will suffer, or your career will suffer. 
Agonizing, cruel and unbelievable to point this out when it's pretty much the fear of EVERY WORKING MOTHER!

  2. This woman who penned the letter also wrote:

And most of the new songs you’ve released lately are the simplistic, feel good, ukulele tunes. Which are fine. But I know that those songs take less time and effort to write, and they offer much less brain-heart stimulation than your older work. 
I have a massive issue with this just being, well, wrong. Again, I don't know Amanda Palmer's music, but I would suggest that, in general, it is way easier to write an average depressing, heartbreak-y song than it is to write a genuinely good simplistic, feel good song. Any other writers out there agree? Maybe it varies artist-to-artist...

Anyway, just a few things I didn't actually write last week because I was vacillating between fury that a woman would dare ask another woman any of those things and that my own career was doomed and what's the point and I might as well just make a pot of coffee and read 19th century Russian novels all that.

But some upbeat stuff because what good is being an artists if you can't have manic mood swings?

Tuesday September 8: I'm singing an In-the-Round at Clifton's Pizza with Danny Flanigan 8:00-10:00. It's free, though tips are beyond appreciated, and it's family-friendly.

September 16-20: I'll be down in Nashville for the Americana Music Association Conference. Ah, I used to play a showcase there, but I'm a bit irrelevant these days because my career has suffered because I had a baby. Instead, I'll be there trying to figure out what's going on in the music industry and catching as many live music acts as possible. I'm putting it out there on the blog that I'm actually going to Nashville so as to prove that I'm not canceling the trip. Last year I couldn't get child care, and I had to cancel at the last minute. THIS YEAR IT'S ON, even though it means missing my child's 3rd birthday which pretty much makes me the worst mother in the world. SEE WHAT I MEAN??? CAREER OR CHILD??? AAAAAAAAAACK... anyway...

Saturday, September 26: I'm playing a solo set (well, Peter Searcy will be joining me on the cello) at the NuLuFest. Catch me from 3:00-3:35.

Saturday, October 11: I'm playing a full band set (featuring Peter Searcy, Dennis Ledford and Donnie Arbuckle) at the Belknap Fall Festival, which is my favorite festival. I'm going to try to teach the guys as many songs from the new album as possible to give you a preview. (No the album is not out yet because I'm still trying to figure out how to pay for it.)

I've also got several bookings for The Birdies, my 1940s-style trio, that I'll announce when publicity allows. We're already booked for three holiday events, so think about us for yours. We can perform without a band (singing to backing tracks) if you don't have the space for a full band in your venue.

Also! Signup 4-week parent/child music class at Mama's Hip series starting this Wednesday. We are making it a signup class so it doesn't get too crowded. But I need two more families to sign up to reach the minimum class size:) https://squareup.com/market/mamas-hip/family-music-jam-september-sign-up-series

Anyway, this morphed into business rather quickly. Please come out and say hello at one of my shows though -- I miss my friends!