Monday, October 30, 2017

Crockpot chili, house concerts, and 18th century dress!

I hosted a house concert last night, and it was just the most fun, pleasant little experience. My house isn't very big, so I didn't invite many people and ultimately had to decline a few people's interest for the sake of everyone having enough personal space in my living room. Still, it's amazing how much room you can find when you move the furniture out of the way and bring in a few folding chairs. We had a nice group of around 20 adults and 5 kids. It was plenty -- any more would have been uncomfortable -- but it was the perfect mix of neighbors and friends and family.

And The Black Feathers were just brilliant! I say "brilliant" partly because they live in England, and that's a very British word. Mostly, however, it's because they are really, really good. Tight harmonies, great picking, and just really pleasant to listen to.

It makes me want to build an addition onto my house purely for the sake of hosting house concerts. Or at least knock down that pesky living room wall.

I did make a crockpot chili that was popular -- though I think I used too much cinnamon.

Fabulous photos here:
Crockpot chili!

Also- I had 7 gigs last week, and one of them was a fantastically fun show with an 18th Century band that required Fancy Dress! My neighbor sews beautifully accurate historical clothing, so she dressed me. Then my Wee Angus promptly messed up my laces and undid my scarf, which made someone dressed like a RedCoat walk past and shout "Madam!" while covering his eyes. Oops. I'm an 18th century tart! But playing the musical saw and the mandolin was fun.

Monday, October 23, 2017

UK Tour dates... almost ready to announce...

I'm currently trying to fill in dates on this United Kingdom tour that I've booked for February. Some of the dates have been really easy to fill, but I'm now trying my best not to have any days off. Days off when you're on tour just mean you have to 1) pay for a hotel room and 2) not make any money. I've been staring at a Google doc I made, and my eyes are spinning now.

Here's what I'm looking to fill:

Sunday 28 January & Monday January 29 in Dorset or Somerset or South Wales
Saturday Feb 3 in Northumberland or the Scottish Borders or even Glasgow would be great

Anyone have any leads or ideas on pubs/venues/folk clubs or maybe even interest in hosting a house concert? House concerts can be as small as 10 people ... you don't need a huge place :)

In other news, I am hosting a House Concert at my place on Sunday, Oct 29. It's the Black Feathers, from Gloucestershire, England, and they are just wonderful. Message me if you're interested in attending ... it's looking like it'll have to be an indoor event because of weather, so I'll have to cap the RSVPs at 30.

Here's some of their music:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fixing things and gardening.

Wee Angus running through Dages Paint!
Have y'all ever flipped a house before? I am sort of doing that, except that it's a rental I've had for 14 years. And it's only ever cost me money because something major breaks and because pretty much every tenant -- no matter how nice a person -- has left the house damaged in some incredibly expensive way. (I swear, I've never been much of a Hobbesian, but being a landlord has given me reason to lean that way.) So really, I suppose, it's the opposite of flipping ...

Anyway, we are getting rid of this house, and we're fixing everything properly, unlike the people I bought the house from, who just sort of polished some things up and sold it to a sucker like me.

Fixing things up properly, it turns out, takes a lot of time and money and energy.

But I'm happy to see this lovely house shining again. I love old homes -- their history, their details, even their dirt. Schnitzelburg was a dairy farm back in the day, so the dirt there now is basically a massive compost bin (that doesn't smell). Gardening in Germantown made me feel like I had an exceptionally green thumb before a neighbor pointed out the amazingly lush history of the dirt.

Stressors abound lately, and throwing in selling a house just makes it laughable.

I know, however, that my life is pretty great. It's great to have a home to unload. It's great to be able to use that money to fix up my parents' home. It's great to be able to buy local for fixer-upper supplies (Dages paint got all my money, yesterday!) It's great to be married to David, who knows how to fix everything. (Also, he's really hot.)

Update on my mom here:
Ways to support indie musicians:

Monday, October 16, 2017

Blogging from the chemo lab.

Gooooood Monday morning, y'all! I'm writing from the Norton Cancer Institute where, for the first time in months, I'm able to accompany my mom to her doctor's appointment. I lost my nanny in August, and it's been a struggle to piecemeal childcare. My in-laws are visiting this week, however, so they're snuggling wee Angus, so I can snuggle my mommy.

Things I'm observing: it's been 3 months since she's been able to have treatment because her blood counts have been off, making it dangerous to have chemo. Good news/bad news, of course, because no treatment gives the tumors time to grow. Good news is her hair is growing back.

She'd been dying her hair red for about the last 10 years because she had this redhead daughter and had just always wanted red hair. Because of the dye jobs, none of us ever noticed if her hair was graying or not.

It's grown back, is about an inch or too long, and I'm here to tell you that at 66 years old, her hair is 98% brown. She has a super cut tiny white patch on her upper right forehead -- and that's it.

She's also been having some fun with her faux-hawk for the past month and dying it various bright colors that fade after a couple of days. Today she's sitting in a hospital chair, hooked up to a bag of fluids, scrolling through Facebook, with a burgundy stripe in her hair.

No word on whether there's treatment or not today -- I hope she can have it -- but in the mean time, I'm making good use of a rolling desk and hammering out emails and blogs this morning to catch up with work.

Super fun weekend of playing music with friends! Belknap Festival was brilliant. Photo below.

Ways to support indie musicians:

photo by Robert Pieroni

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mommy-tracked in the Music Biz. EYE ROLL.

A music business friend I hadn't seen in ages asked me what I've been up to lately. "Oh, just gigging, doing self-employed work, hustling, playing lots" -- all of which is true.

His response? "Oh, I didn't think you'd been playing much since you had kids."

It's making me CRAZY, y'all. I didn't realize it was possible to get Mommy-tracked in the independent musician business, but argh, it is, and it's irritating as can be. Longer essay on that to follow, but this is just my blog, you know.

Anyway, I don't always tell you, dear readers, about every single gig I play -- and that's mostly because I play a ton of private events and that just seems mean to tell you about. Like, hey, y'all, I'm playing this amazing house concert this weekend, and the homeowner is making 3 kinds of chili and an entire buffet of desserts and YOU CAN'T COME NANNY-NANNY-BOO-BOO!

Just for fun, here are some photos of one of these house concerts. Maybe they'll inspire you to host your own event because aren't party-leftovers the best? And bringing live music to your living room is something you'll talk about for years on end.


United Kingdom I've got dates available:

  • Monday, January 29 in Somerset or Dorset or South Wales or Bath/Bristol?
  • Saturday, February 3 ideally somewhere between Yorkshire and Edinburgh, but, hey, I'm not about backtracking. 
I'm all about work these days, y'all. Work work work work work work work.

Also, I'm selling my house in Schnitzelburg. Anyone want it? 1350 sq ft? 2/1? You know it's hott there right now.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Sukkot celebrations and tricks.

Graham as a pumpkin in 2013. 
We spent last weekend building a shed, or as I like to think of it, preparing for Sukkot. Y'all, I think I'm going to start getting *really* into Sukkot. I grew up more Jewish than Catholic (interfaith parents), but I still didn't know what Sukkot was until I learned my kid's preschool canceled school for two days because of it. Further research revealed that Sukkot is probably the holiday behind Thanksgiving -- not necessarily a cultural appropriation, but more, like WHAT A GREAT IDEA FOR A HOLIDAY, LET'S ALL DO IT.

This year Sukkot happens to coincide with some houseguests who are not Jewish, but always very inquisitive about Jewish traditions. I'm tempted to play the most wonderful tricks on them and make sure they are get a chance to craft a proper "Sukkot hat" and attend the "Traditional Sukkot Seance" while making sure everyone at the table is wearing the "Orange Sukkot Scarf." But not everyone things my jokes are funny, and I don't want anyone to think I'm being mean, rather than playful.

Instead, I think I'll just, as stated above, get really into Sukkot, and we can all have Thanksgiving in October. Because, really, Thanksgiving is just the best holiday, so why not have two? Or, more accurately, I suppose we'll have Sukkot, and then we'll have Sukkot again the fourth Thursday in November.

BUY MY CD PLEASE. Or download it for free, whatever, but maybe buy a t-shirt?

Monday, October 2, 2017

Laundry and marriage and folding boards.

I mean, why does it matter how you
fold DIAPERS when they are just
gonna get POOPED on anyway?

How do you all sort out laundry with your partners? 

For years, we each just did our own laundry. But three years into David traveling all the time, and his laundry piling up because I didn't want him spending our family time doing laundry on the weekends, I decided to take over laundry completely.

I honestly don't mind. It's not like I love laundry, but I do work out of my home office, which happens to be right next to the laundry room. So when a student is late while I'm teaching, I'll switch a load, or while I'm creating invoices or answering emails, I'll switch another load. I generally do 6-8 loads of laundry on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and it's finished.

I thought it was working quite well.


I apparently do not fold his clothes properly.

This is not surprising, and it should in no way be construed as a "man has wife who does his laundry, but is critical of her folding techniques," even though I suppose that would be a factual headline. I am the one insisting on doing the laundry, however, because I am tired of the massive piles of dirty clothes on the floor and doing everyone's laundry helps keep me on a schedule.

A few weeks ago, he said he would rather me not fold it at all than to fold it incorrectly.

So I stopped folding his clothes. Sometimes I carry up a wad of clean clothes in a laundry basket. Sometimes I just lay everything flat in a big pile and put it in his office to deal with. I'm not sure I love this, however, because now there is just a big pile of clean clothes rather than a big pile of dirty clothes, so how is this solving a problem?

He asked me, "Would you like me to show you how to fold them?" I promptly replied that if he enjoyed being married to me, he would absolutely not teach me how to fold his underwear. But since it seems important to him, I would watch a YouTube video that shows me the way he likes them folded and adjust accordingly.

He has yet to send me such a video, so the wads of clean clothes continue. I suggested that he maybe create his own YouTube video, but then I thought that might make him a huge enemy to all women -- a video of a man teaching his wife how to fold his old fraternity dance t-shirts probably does not endear him to the world.

And, my friends, he is very endearing. He just cares a little more about right angles and matching socks than I do.

I asked a friend about this, but she was no help because she uses a FOLDING BOARD. Someone point me in a more civil direction?


Gratuitous photo of adorable children just because:
Brothers holding hands on the sidewalk.