1. Must summer insist on going faster and faster EVERY year?
2. The boys survived their first few days of school. Leo seemed relatively cheerful about it all. Owen found each day to reportedly be as long as a week and was somewhat in despair. He said he's sorry he joined drama. I said, "Well, you didn't really join it honey, it's a class...." He sighed and said, "Yeah, I'm sorry I joined."
3. Does it seem odd that you can't buy a bottle of water at lunch in high school?
4. Leo's happy he has open lunch since he's a junior. He's hoping he can make it over to Fries and Peanuts for fries sometimes.
5, Our house is a mess.
6. Our yard is as big a disaster as it every has been.
7. The windows are OPEN! I am so grateful that I have a/c but I am so tired of being closed off. It felt heavenly to sleep with the windows open last night.
8. The next week is going to be chaotic. I can't wait for Matsuri to be over. Crossed fingers that it goes well...and any prayers, wishes, etc. for good weather would be much appreciated.
9. In house concert news I am sad to say that we've had to postpone the Eric Brace/Peter Cooper show in October. Peter is reportedly becoming a bigwig and can't make it. Since I unabashedly adore Peter, if it's good for him, it's fine with me. We will reschedule, I promise.
10. The good news is that hopefully we will have Amy Rigby the last weekend in October. Fingers crossed because it has been WAY too long. Amy is freaking brilliant and I love her dearly.
This is an old video but damn....it's so very, very perfect....
11. And with that I am off to a work meeting and some stacks of emails to send. Come ON September!
Good God in heaven. I have two boys in high school. Well, one today actually. Leo doesn't start til tomorrow. As a freshman, Owen starts today. And he IS starting today even though I considered killing him when I got up at 3:15 in the morning and found he hadn't gone to sleep yet. I just kept hissing, "GET INTO BED" louder and louder. He sat there placidly looking at me in puzzlement. What doesn't kill me makes me stronger, right?
Owen today.... (and yes, he's going to roast in that shirt at Central...sigh)
And Owen on his first day of kindergarten....
I love this picture. Look, there's a pool and a couple of bikes in the yard....such a different time in our lives. The BEST thing about this picture though, once you've admired young Owen, is that when you look carefully in the vines of the arbor you get just a glimpse of Leo hiding in there because he refused to let me take his picture.
1. Even though I live in town, I don't get to campus all that often. It's not as though I haven't driven through though, and seen all the construction...but it STILL was like being in a foreign land when we got out of the car. I could still see Altgeld in the distance so I knew it really was Champaign....
2. I couldn't stop smiling when I looked over toward the door and saw Ernie and Mark Rubel standing together. Missed having Sasha there dreadfully, but at least I had a good hug from a Rubel.
3. I don't absolutely hate this picture that Pete took of me and the lovely Wendy. It captures how I felt. It also was before I got hot and pulled my hair back. A little more a/c wouldn't have hurt Brother's...I can't imagine how hot the folks playing were... I probably didn't think about things like that back in the day... Just like the fact that I wanted to get there early enough to snag a seat. Never did that back in the day either!
4. On Sunday I was damned tired and slept late. We ended up not going out for breakfast with friends...which we probably should have forced ourselves to do. As it was we did absolutely zero. Even Ernie didn't get dressed all day...which is unheard of for him. We curled up and watched part of season six of the Sopranos and talked about the night before, checking Facebook for new pictures periodically. Leo stuck his head in at one point and I said guiltily, "We're having a particularly lazy day," and he smiled and said, "I noticed." I made some chicken stock and some chili to have for the week. Then I made a pretty great salmon dinner. I just sauteed the salmon with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. After I took it out of the pan I threw in some cut up tomatoes from the garden, some garlic, a handful of black olives, and a few pieces of chopped red bell pepper. We served it with zucchini on the side and some fresh basil; the whole thing was lovely. Forgive the fuzzy picture.
5. So many pictures I didn't get...no Annette D'Anna? No Kenny Draznik? No Juliet? No Dawn? No Rob Arrol? No SO many damn others? And so many people I saw but didn't get a chance to talk to! I can't regret a moment of it though...well, expect the white zinfandel they gave me when they ran out of pinot grigio, which they gave me when they ran out of chardonnay. Other than still having the taste of that in my mind I feel almost embarrassingly happy and content. I just want to rub my head against John Isberg like an affectionate cat. Sounds weird, but if you have cats you know what I mean....
Mabel's Night last night was a somewhat surreal experience. I expected the space to feel familiar but I didn't expect it to feel SO FAMILIAR. It felt like, well, it felt like Mabel's.
Some things were new of course. I got to the top of those very familiar stairs and the bouncer asked me for an ID. I paused and said, REALLY? It had never occurred to me...I never bother carrying ID around town. I pushed my glasses up on top of my head and said, "LOOK at me!" He hemmed and hawed. I mean, I can't blame him, I should have thought about the fact that it's a campus bar. He said he'd have to get his manager and a few minutes later his manager came over while every around me that I knew laughed at me. His manager looked at me quickly and said, "Uh, let her in." HA.
Immediately I saw Melissa Records and Eileen oops Ilene Wells...and of course it went on from there.
The bands were all great. I loved Three Hour Tour, the Martyrs rocked it, Nix 86, Last Gentleman were great (how could you not be with Tom Broeske on bass?), and of course our beloved Jans Project. But the heart of the night to me was the Surly Bells, Kenny Draznik and Jimmy Wald from the Vertebrats, and later, when Kenny and Jimmy joined the Jans Project for Left In the Dark. Kenny and company ripped through it. It was glorious and it just about broke my heart in the very best of ways.
I've written about my love of the Vertebrats before. I came to Champaign in fall of 1980 as a freshman. My very first night in Allen Hall, I met Doreen Baskin and she played some Sex Pistols and Bowie for me, and told me there was a street dance the next night. So my roommate Eileen and I went and it was the Vertebrats… and I fell in love. The next night I tracked down a fake ID so I could get into Mabel's to see them. I think cover was something like $2. I've tried not to miss a show since.
On a certain level, they changed my life. There were other great bands before them, and after them, in Champaign, but the Brats to me were special because they somehow made music, and their music community, feel so accessible to all of us. They somehow made music a bigger part of my life than it was already. And I am so grateful for that, because, I don’t know about you folks, but music is what gets me through. There were probably other bands that created that kind of community at other times...but for me....it was the Vertebrats. Friends. Music. Community.
And that's why, I don't think I was the only one that found that moment last night...hearing Left In the Dark ring out...the heart of it all.
SO much love to John Isberg for making this all possible, to all the bands, the sound guys, Willie, Jimmie, and Frank, Charlie Edwards, Brothers, and all the folks that felt it. That's what it's all about. Feeling it.
I felt it.
Melissa then made me stand in the bathroom so she could photo document how much bigger it is...
Ernie and Pat Daily...David Conroyd, the other third of Milktoast, was there too...
The Surly Bells, a bunch of guys we love:
the lovely Adam Schmitt and Dawna Nelson:
Jimmy Wald and Ernie...why didn't I get a picture of Kenny too?
Our beloved Michael Pollock...and got to see Dr. Henry Pollock too!
Steve and Nick breaking down and getting Red Bull. I love you guys.
The inimitable Paul Faber and a bit of the lovely Joy.
The Jans Project
Getting to see Tom Broeske chat with Mark Rubel with the Jans Project playing behind them. Oh yeah.
And I'm stealing this picture and these words from our beloved Steve Lindstrom...cuz he got it just right.... "I was moved to take a snap of Ken Draznik when he capped the night with an all-out arse-kicking version of "Left In The Dark" w his able accomplice James Gregory Wald -- and all the lads in The Jans Project. Whatta treat..... Love this guy. He left it all out on the field last night and it was foogin' glorious!!
I sat down to write this post about the fact that I had such a good time last night that I didn't have any pictures....because I was too 'in the moment' and happy. Then I realized that I did have one bad fuzzy iPad picture. Heh. I just can't help myself I guess.
Our living room, not fully recovered from last house concert, replete with ripped wallpaper (damn cats).
We had our dearest friends Ann and Bob and Sophie over for dinner last night and it just felt heavenly. Ernie got a good PSA reading from his oncologist, I snuck him out for a quick celebratory drink and then we tumbled home and I sauteed some boneless chicken thighs and roasted some beets and sweet potatoes. That and sliced cucumber and tomato---which Sophie got ready as the boys set the table. The meal was simple but tasted good, conversation was great, it felt like a family dinner. It felt like home. Later we sat and talked and listened to music in the living room. One of the loveliest nights I could possibly imagine. The comfort of friends is a mighty, mighty thing.
I don't always make dessert but when you have Ann over you HAVE to have dessert. She's just a dessert kind of girl. I'm still trying to do the no carbs/dairy/sugar thing so I was in a bit of a quandary. I did cheat with this dessert because I used sweetened cocoa powder but otherwise no carbs/dairy. I gotta say, it was delightful. I toasted a few pecan bits in olive oil and salt so we could sprinkle them on top. I didn't have cute little ramekins so I pulled out the cups from my mother's china. And, uh, I forgot to take a picture...
Chocolate Avocado Mousse
Four ripe avocados
1/3 to 1/2 cup sweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli and it was great. I could probably have used a bit less, this was pretty strongly chocolatey)
sprinkle of salt and cinnamon
Whirl in a food processor until smooth, and chill in serving dish or ramekin
Here are the three kids 13 years ago...man.... Oh, look there was torn wallpaper back then too!
Here it is...my favorite album of the year. Now mind you, there are a LOT of other ones I love...and yes I know it's only August, and yes, Ian Hunter will have a new one out next month and Aaron Lee Tasjan will have one out in October. But before all that happens, I am naming my favorite album of the year, the one that I go back to over and over again. Melody, lyrics, pain...it's got it all.
We met Bob Woodruff a thousand years ago when we were at one of the early BR 549 shows with some of the guys in the Mavericks at Robert's Western Wear. We were there to hit some of the antique shows that popped up around the Heart of the Country show. It's not a meeting he would remember but it's a little memory I have tucked away. And all these years later I sit and listen to this. Life is funny. All the circles that connect....it's just one big chain surrounding us.
He redoes a couple of his older songs on this and the new versions hit hard in a way the old versions couldn't.
Oh, and an amazing cover of Stop in the Name of Love...how often can you say that?
My beloved Mary Sack reminded me on Facebook of this wonderful video of Fats Kaplin and Kieran Kane. I love those boys. So much. And good God...as soon as Kieran picks up those brushes I'm reminded of what a fucking rhythm machine he is...one of the many things that made Kane Welch Kaplin so great. Well, that and great songs such as this David Olney song.
A picture about a year and a half later, at our house....
This all serves as further reminder that you can get Kieran's new CD from CD Baby... and you should DO THIS because it is great.
There's nobody like Kieran Kane.
I loved the series of videos that Lucas Kane did while they were touring.
A lovely weekend. It started with drinks with Ann and Bob, whom I hadn't seen in way too long, and Sue, and hearing about Ann and Bob's summer travels. Saturday we were semi-productive and cleaned the refrigerator and our pantry out, moved some things around in the kitchen which was sort of embarrassingly satisfying. Then a long drive in the country. The fields smelled intoxicatingly good.
We got home, hung out with the guys a bit, and fixed dinner. A quiet day that left me feeling good. Sunday I slept late, read the paper, looked at the news online, shook my head and realized why it's so tempting to click on things like "Four uses for your colander you never thought of" because anything is better than the news. Shook that off and read a bit. Later, Ernie and I headed to a visitation for the husband our old friend Peggy Ball. We took the back road to St. Joseph and smelled the fields and grass again. We got there and stood and stood and stood in line. The turn out was incredible...what a tribute to a loved couple. My heart breaks for Peggy. Peggy has a wonderful laugh....my favorite picture out of the many on display was the one of her laughing with her husband....
As sad as it was to be there, we saw other old friends we love and so the weekend began and ended with beloved friends. As hard as it is to get up on Monday morning, it helps when you have a good weekend behind you....
O.k....folks...I have decided that we will also accept Mabel's calendars as well as ticket stubs....let's see what you have! Remember...a free pair of tickets to whomever posts a picture of the most Mabel's tickets, calendars, or a combination thereof....
Mabel's Night is almost upon us. This Saturday, Brothers Bar & Grill, site of the late lamented Mabel's, will host a gathering of just a few of the bands and folks from the heyday of Mabel's. Bands appearing are Last Gentlemen, Nix 86, the Martyrs, Three Hour Tour (Darren Cooper), the Jans Project (B Lovers/Turning Curious), the Surly Bells (Ken Draznick, Jimmy Wald of Vertebrats & special guests) and a dj set by Charlie "The Quaker" Edwards (Record Swap, The Quaker Goes Deaf, Reckless Records) between bands.
I know. I KNOW!
Needless to say we are looking forward to it with almost ridiculous fervor. The only sad spot is that A. it's not ALL the Vertebrats, and B. kids under 19 aren't allowed in even with parents. Three quarters of our family are very sad about that last one. Sigh. (anybody need a roadie?). Regardless....I am so looking forward to seeing people, hearing music, and just feeling the space. I haven't stepped foot in Brothers since it opened, not sure what to expect. I think the last time I stepped foot in Mabel's was sometime in the 90's to see Strutter, the Kiss cover band. I believe that was the night our cat Harlan showed up on our doorstep. A long, long time ago...a life far away, huh?
A hell of a lot of memories are in that place. Even after it closed every time I looked up at the windows I somehow could see the old windows angled open with the sound of Vertebrats sound check coming out (I always got there early as I had a fake ID and they tended to be looser if you got there early...don't know why but that's how it was). I can still feel the sense of urgency, rushing to get there....
So now, in honor of all that free floating emotion about the place, the Sandwich Life has been honored by our erstwhile promoter Mr. Isberg, with a MABEL'S NIGHT TICKET GIVEAWAY!
Whoever can post a picture of the MOST Mabel's ticket stubs in the Mabel's Night Facebook event page, along with a nod to The Sandwich Life, will win a PAIR OF MABEL'S NIGHT TICKETS!
This cat woke me up this morning by biting me on the neck.
She'd been purring loudly and trying to nose her way under the sheet while I tried my best to stay inside my dream and sleepily ignore her. She finally decided she'd had enough of me ignoring her and went in for the kill, biting me solidly on the neck. THAT got my attention. Much like when a two year old Leo decided he'd had enough of his father and me ignoring his tantrum and stood up, walked into the middle of the room, and loudly and clearly stated, "SHIT FUCK HELL." Yup, he got his point across just like Hattie did. God I love that boy.
It was time for me to wake up anyway though, Hattie was right on that point. After a delightful breakfast of the Egg Master's scrambled eggs with ham (from the Meat Lab, ham for two, highly recommended) and guacamole, now I sit with the day in front of me. No particular things on the agenda. Last night at various times I announced that we would A. work in the yard, B. clean out the refrigerator, C. clean out the bathroom closet, D. clean up the bedroom and finish sorting the stack of clothes we don't know what to do with. Right now I'm thinking maybe E. long drive in the country.
2. We stopped by Fries and Peanuts last night (sadly because the Peter Case show fell through and Ernie was trying to cheer me up) and before we even got in the door we'd been handed sweet corn picked that morning by our lovely friend Rex.
3. For some reason even the weeds in my yard aren't bothering me as much.
4. I still have Walter Salas-Humara's voice and songs going through my head. When a house concert can last a week you KNOW it's a good one.
5. We saw Teri and Kurt and Myrle last night and Teri bought us a drink.
6. I cooked the simplest of summer dinners and it was delicious.
7. The corn was so fresh that the kernels popped like little water balloons when you bit into it.
That's all I have for now, but it's enough, huh?
Listen to this video....this is how I feel today....