Saturday, February 28, 2009

Greg Brown Tonight...and tomorrow night too!

The other day I mentioned that Greg Brown was coming to town. When we ordered the tickets in early September it sure seemed like the end of February was a long ways off....and now, all of a sudden it's here....woohoo!

I've been a fan of Greg Brown for a long time...since around 1986 or so. My friend Mark gave me a cassette of an early recording way back when and I've been hooked ever since. I've tried to figure out why I like him sooooo much, and I think that what it comes down to is that he sings about things that I can instantly relate to using language that I'm familiar with. Simple thoughts and words that mean so much more when put together like only he can do. He understands relationships, he understands finding importance in the little things, he understands small towns and being in the country....all things that are important to and a part of me.

One of the songs on that cassette was "Early"....about a little town in Iowa. I love the chorus.
"Oooo-ee, ain't the mornin' light pretty,
When the dew is still heavy,
so bright and early.
My home on the range;
it's a one-horse town,
And it's alright with me."

Then there is "Wash My Eyes" which has more meaning to me now than when I first heard it all those years ago.
"Wash my eyes that I may see
Yellow return to the willow tree
Open my ears that I may hear
The river running swift and clear
And please
Wash my eyes
And please
Open my ears

Wash this world that is one place
And wears a mad and fearful face
Let the cruel raging cease
Let these children sleep in peace
And please
Wash this world
And please
Let these children
Sleep in peace.

When I was taking Graphic Design classes a few years ago, one of the assignments in Photoshop was to make a poster. I did a Greg Brown poster. I scanned actual ticket stubs that I had kept over the years and used them in the poster. I liked how it turned out. The best part about it was looking back at all the shows I had seen. :-)

My instructor liked it too. :-) Another song that I really like is "You are a Flower". I've always thought that it could have been written for my mom.

Your smile makes me smile
I can always see your face
You help me make it through every day
You're with me every place
You left so much here with us
Your love is all around
Your children's children
will smile that same smile
and say "oh look what I have found"
You are a flower
shining for a while
You are a flower
What a life,
what a woman,
what a smile.

There are many many more that really touch me. Simple words that say so much. But I have to say, not all of his songs are nice and flowery...and I really like those too. Probably more than I should. How can you not like a song about being down at a Mill where they shoot the $h*t with a 30 / 30? Huh?

On a side note...last night the moon was very cool...and it is supposed to be the same tonight. A little sliver of a moon with Venus (I think) just above it. It's best right at dusk. I tried to get a picture of it but couldn't come close to doing it justice. Shooting the moon is harder than you'd think...really.

So...if you get a chance, check it out. I gotta go and listen to a little Greg Brown now...just because he might say something I wanna hear.

Friday, February 27, 2009


One of the cool things about the boys getting older is that the creations that come home from school keep getting better and better. Brian did this sculpture of a tennis player in 7th grade. It is made with a wire frame and covered with some sort of paper. Can't you just feel the action?

Last year Billy brought home the same type of sculpture. His is a football player running with the ball. Long and lanky...sort of like him.

When Brian was in 8th grade one of the classes that he really liked was Wood Shop. Billy is taking it now and really likes it too. This is one of Billy's projects, it's a marble game.
Brian made one just like it, but I couldn't find his, so I'm showing two pictures of Billy's. That's how I do things....usually with no rhyme nor reason.

Another Wood Shop project was building a Jelly Bean dispenser. Billy's on the left, Brian's on the right. They are really cool. The hole on the top is threaded and the top is a mason jar that screws right into the wood base. There is a cam inside of the wood base with a slot that the jelly bean falls into when you turn the dial. Don't tell Billy but I snitched a jelly bean from his jar today...just my luck I turned the knob and a black one came out. Yuck. Oh well, I ate it anyway.

I like jelly beans...just not the black ones. Jelly beans remind me of Easter, which reminds me of Spring, which reminds me that it won't be too much longer until the weather gets warm again. I like the pretty colors too. Except the black ones. Is black really a color or just the absence of color?

The next picture is an African Clay house. Both of the boys made these in 8th grade art class. The first one is Brian's. His teacher liked it so much she kept it in the class room for two years. When Billy saw it he asked her about it and sure enough it was Brian's. Billy brought it home for him. I thought that was pretty sweet of him. Do you see Africa?

This is Billy's clay house. I think that it was done around has sort of a haunted look don't you think?

I didn't have wood shop in school, but I loved art class. Loved working with clay, loved painting, loved learning about different types of art and different materials that you could use to create things. Even thought I didn't have shop I did build things with wood when I was a kid....a tree house, a fort....I was always making something... well, according to my mom what I usually was making was a mess....but I thought I was making some cool stuff. I'd like to take credit for my boys creativity...but I'll let you in on something that you might not know....I think they get it from their dad. Eric doesn't take time to do creative things very often anymore, but he has some hidden talents.

This is a clay sculpture that he did in high school. Dad is carving a ham, son is playing with a car at the table, and mother is scolding the son for tipping over his milk.

There is a lot of detail in the sculpture. He started out with a block of clay and carved away the extra material until the figures emerged.

The figures were painted with glaze and the whole thing survived being fired in a kiln. Seems like my stuff used to explode in there. Eric's mom was pretty proud of what he had proud that she entered his sculpture in the State Fair in the creative arts building. And you know what, it won a ribbon!

And it wasn't any old was a championship purple ribbon! First Premium in creative activities. That's a pretty high honor for a high school art project if you ask me. So when the boys bring home all that cool stuff from school...the credit goes to Eric.

As for me, I'll just keep shaking my finger at 'em at the table and tell them to quit making a mess. After all, I've got to contribute something around here!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What can you count on?

Some people say that the only thing you can count on in life are death and taxes. Might be true, but it seems like a pretty bleak way to look at things to me. I took a quick overnight trip to the farm last night to help my Mom try to deal with both those things. It was pretty bleak. My Dad always did the taxes. Now, at 77 years old, my Mom is trying to figure out just what it was that he did....especially with the farm taxes. I'd be in the same boat...I don't know nuthin' about paying the taxes. I guess that I should learn...

...but I'd rather not. Death and taxes aren't the things I count on, or want to think about. What I count on is the sun setting every evening.

Some days the sunsets are better than others, but the sun still sets. This was last night.

I count on God and count on my faith to help me through the tough times and to celebrate with during the good times.
Just at little side note...this is the oldest Methodist Church that is still active in Minnesota. The structure was built in 1861...but the church was established in 1859 and is celebrating it's Sesquicentennial this year. It's a beautifully simple historic little church.

Back to the counting. I also count on the sun to rise each and every day. Just like sunsets, some sunrises are prettier than others. This was this morning.

One thing that you can't always count on are weathermen. :-) For weather I usually count on the old saying "red at night sailors delight, red in the morning sailors take warning." But...what does it mean when it is red at night and red in the morning? means that you should listen to the weatherman. I was eager to hit the road this morning and get back home before the snowstorm hit. They said that the snow would start in the western suburbs at 10:00 a.m. It was about 10:30 when it started. Close enough for me.
I was out here long enough to sit down and take this jeans were already turning white with snow!

The birds were busy loading up to prepare for the storm.

They were so intent on eating that they didn't even scatter when I opened the door to take a picture.
They were predicting an inch an hour at times. I believe it! I saw one forecast that called for snow and freezing fog. Have you ever heard of freezing fog?? I hadn't.

Oh...I almost forgot. One other thing that I can always count on is that if the dog is in, she wants to go out, and if she's out, she wants to come in.

I can't say that I blame her today!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Guitar Hero

When Eric and I were first married, in the PK (pre-kid) days, one of the things that we really enjoyed doing was to going to concerts. Not the normal loud, flashy 1980's concerts, but small intimate concerts with acoustic music. Most of them ended up being folk music with a couple of guitars in a small venue. A summer highlight was always the Redhouse Records Summerfest folk festival, usually at the Carpenter Nature Center near Hastings. Redhouse was small enough at that point that I had all of the CD's on their label. My favorite was Greg Brown. Still is. People that know me are's not an obsession....really!! Once the kids came along, going to hear live music took a back seat to pretty much everything. We have made a point to see Greg Brown whenever he has been in town, but that's been about it. The good new is, this weekend Greg Brown will be playing in town at the Cedar Cultural Center.

And we've got tickets! :-) They've changed things at the Cedar a little bit. It used to be that if you wanted to get good seats you would have to get in line and stand in the freezing cold for several hours to get in the door first. Ugh. Now they are selling a limited number of reserved seats. And we've got some! Thank goodness, because standing in line for a few hours just isn't quite as exciting now as it was all those years ago.

Another reason I'm glad that we won't be standing in line this time is because we bought a 3rd ticket....and our guest wouldn't be too thrilled with that idea....and I really want it to be a fun experience for him. Have you guessed who will be going with us?

Yep...this little guy....well, he used to be little. Brian, my very own acoustic guitar player. In about the 5th grade Brian said that he wanted to play guitar. My response...yessss!! An instrument that I would be able to stand during all that early practice!! :-) OK, I would have said yes to drums or the oboe or whatever...but this was soooo much nicer.

Then he said, I want to play bass guitar. Huh? Are you sure? Yep...bass it was. Thump, thump, thump...hmmmm. I suggested that he might like to play a real guitar...but I didn't push it. He was playing, he was happy, that's what mattered.

Then after a couple of years he says, Mom, I'd like to play electric guitar. Hmmm...that is getting closer! He got one for Christmas that year. Afterwards I told him that he could try out my acoustic anytime he wanted to. I didn't push it, just mentioned it...and turned down the amp on the electric whenever he wasn't looking.

After playing the electric for a year or so Brian said, Mom, there's this guitar that I really like, do you want to go and look at it sometime? And there it was, a beautiful acoustic. He got it. He's happy, momma's happy. How cool is that? And to top it off, he's good!

I love to listen to him practice. He's written a few songs. He played Amazing Grace at my Dad's funeral. I've never been so proud of him as I was that day. What a tribute.

Brian also played to a large group on a mission trip last a standing ovation from what I've been told.

He's played for a group of older cute girls at church, and he's played in the classroom at school.

It's a pretty neat thing when your kids enjoy the same things that you do. And it's really a neat thing when they find something that they love and are good at. It also helps when it's something that makes the girls swoon. Look at this girl...she's so enamored with Brian and his playing that she brings him socks. A high compliment in Penny's eyes.

That I can handle. It's the girls throwing their panties onto the stage that worry me. Wait, how would I know about stuff like that. We went to folk concerts....

...well it was Greg Brown. Maybe we shouldn't bring this guy after all. What have I started?

Monday, February 23, 2009


It's that time of year when fevers abound. Boy home with a fever today...check. Spring fever...check. Baseball fever...double check. What, you've never heard of baseball fever?'s a tough one to shake. And once you've had it, it recurs every Spring. Mine returned full force last week when the Twins reported to spring training. Baseball news in the paper everyday. Signing new players...or used starting in a couple days. Thinking about Florida and how nice it would be there about now. And we're stuck here in reality in the frozen tundra trying to figure out how to cure that baseball fever.

Hmmm...can we say dome? No, not the Metrodome...the E.P. dome. Billy's been doing baseball clinics every other Sunday this winter. I've never gone to watch...but Sunday I was home and feeling like I needed to get a little tiny fix of baseball.

So I asked him if I could go and watch for a little bit. He said that I could as long as I didn't follow him around. :-) I could agree to that.

I did feel very stupid walking in there with my camera...but I decided that it didn't was baseball. Boys throwing balls. Boys hitting balls. Boys running around. The snap of the ball hitting the mitt, the ping of the bat hitting the ball...yes, the crack of a wooden bat would have been better, but this was still good.

They get into groups of 10-12 boys and rotate from station to station. There are batting cages, base running drills, relay drills...and I'm not sure what else because I wasn't allowed to follow him around.

There are coaches, assistant coaches, just plain assistants, and some high school kids that help out too. I think that the coaches are trying to find a cure their baseball fever too.

It's fun to see how much some of the boys have grown since last summer. It's also funny how their mannerisms don't change with time and you can spot the ones you know from across the field without really even seeing their faces. They do seem a little more serious this year.

My pictures in the dome don't turn out very well, and I was sort of hiding behind the net...but it was fun to be there for a little bit. And fun to absorb the sights and the sounds.

This guy is always eager to help...he must have baseball fever too. Add some warm summer sun and the smell of grass and that fever might start to fade away.

But for now the dome and some astro turf will have to last for just a little longer. Winter sure seems long in Minnesota.
But life is ball!