The Boss.

4:00 pm yesterday afternoon the phone rang.  It was Guitar Shop Ryan (not to be confused with several other Ryans we know and love), wondering if I wanted to claim his spare ticket to the evening’s Bruce Springsteen concert.
Having already passed on a free Bruce show once that day (motherhood and schlepping someone to piano lessons took precedence), I saw this as karma for letting motherhood make me a better person without a lot of grumbling. Okay, so maybe motherhood was the excuse I used when really my main reason for skipping the free show downtown that afternoon was because it was also a political rally and I just simply cannot. stomach. any. more. politics. at. all. on either side.  I’m not a huge Bruce fan, but his concerts are legendary.  I did spring for a ticket a few years ago, spending more than I swore I would ever pay (and will ever pay) again for any concert, and it was worth it. And here a free ticket was being offered up.  Hell yeah I’ll take it.

The seats were terrific.  The last time I saw Bruce, we had nosebleed seats, I swear I could touch the roof of the arena we were up so high and they were off to the side, so down low, smack dab in the center, was perfect.  The first time I saw Bruce, I thought it was an amazing show.  This one blew that experience away.  Three solid hours.  And words absolutely escape me at beginning to describe it. 
A Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band show isn’t just a concert.  It’s a mystical, spiritual, musical, patriotic and all that is right with the world happening.  It is an experience every music fan should have at least once.  Even if you aren’t a huge Bruce fan, you cannot walk away from that show without an overwhelming amount of respect for the musicians on that stage.  I fail to find the words that adequately convey the energy of last night’s show.  The entire arena singing the opening verse and chorus of “Hungry Heart” (a 45 I still have!), Bruce crowd surfing his way from the platform midway through the floor section back to the stage,  pulling audience members up to dance on stage for “Dancing in the Dark”.   Closing with a kick ass rendition of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out”.  Very quite possibly the best concert I’ve been to, which I know is a strong phrase, but I stand by it.  Definitely.
I’m blogging for the C-ville Weekly today, on our adventures in beets. 
And just a reminder, you have one more day to enter the cookbook giveaway. Facebook comments, emails and blog comments are all accepted as entries. 

Seriously Old School.

Back in the day, Friday nights were Big City nights.  Big City was the underage club downtown that all the cool kids hung out at.  And by cool kids, I mean those of us that didn’t really fit in at our various area high schools.  It was really about the music, which was definitely not anything being played on radio.  The friends I made there had a far longer lasting influence on me than most of the folks I went to high school with – it was a friend I made via Big City that told me I should consider checking out this school in Alabama called Auburn.  And the rest, as they say, is history.
Friday night, in the town I grew up in, was the Big City Reunion.   I realized it was a great excuse to go see some folks I hadn’t seen in forever, mostly my old friend Amy.
I’ve known Amy since third grade.  We have moved in & out of each others lives ever since.  Separately, we are both strong personalities, together?  We are the people your mother warned you about.  Our own mothers warned us about each other.
In grade school we would walk back & forth the mile or so between our houses.  We’d walk to the mall and play Frogger for hours at the arcade.  We’d go to the roller rink and skate Saturday away.  We were Girl Scouts together.  We grew apart for a few years in high school, but by our senior year, we had rediscovered each other and Amy was the friend who introduced me to Big City, so it seemed fitting I go to the reunion with her.
No matter how much time has passed between visits with Amy, we always pick up exactly where we left off.  That much hasn’t changed since third grade.  Actually, there’s a lot that hasn’t changed between us since third grade.  As we were getting ready Friday, she opened up her closet to dress me, neverminding that I had brought an entire suitcase for a one night stay- and despite my initial horror that she owned a Kim Kardashian skirt, despite the fact that I swore up one side and down the other it was trashy as all get out with it’s studs and fake zippers, I tried it on and realized it looked fabulous on me.  All that gym time has definitely paid off.

So of course I proceeded to wear it. 
With the tag still attached of course.
Definitely not the first time I’ve worn something of Amy’s before she had.  Probably not the last.  At least this time she didn’t even bother with “You’re not keeping that” and just skipped ahead to “Go ahead and take it home with you”.  Which I totally did because I need to have something to wear to shows that’s not my standard circa 1992 demin skirt – instead, I’m going to rock my standard 1986 taken from Amy’s closet look. 
Really, the only thing missing from our Friday night ritual was Amy’s mother sprinking holy water on us. 
Amy had a pre-reunion gathering at her house. A.J. showed up and it was great to catch up with him there – A.J. lived across the street from Amy back when we were all in grade school together, and his sister was great pals with my sister from Kindergarten, so he was one of those people I just was used to having around back in the day.  And he’s still one of those people I like having around, who understands I need to carry a spare outfit in his back seat, just in case I change my mind about that skirt.
It was also Bike Week in York.  I knew it was Bike Week, but yet I didn’t really consider what that meant. I drove up the back way, avoiding the DC beltway, which meant coming up through Gettysburg.  The route is generally clear sailing until you get to Gettysburg and then you turn onto Rt. 30, which is the old Lincoln Highway and other than paving that route, I can assure you, the road has not changed since Abraham Lincoln was President.  It has been 2 lanes my entire life and what should be a 20 minute drive always turns into the last hour of hell on a roadtrip.  As I was coming into town past the fairgrounds, it hit me that it was bike week, because there was a line of cycles pulling in, queuing up for their parade in a few hours. 
A few hours later, neither A.J. nor I put it together that Bike Week was BIKE WEEK, so as we decided to ‘cut through’ downtown, we got caught up in the mess that was going on, which meant roads blocked off and bikes everywhere you looked.
 When I called home Friday afternoon after pulling into town, I mentioned to first Pat, then Edie, that it was bike week, and both asked if that meant motorcycles.  I forget how so very different the town I grew up in is from where I live now.  In Charlottesville, Bike Week would probably be a convention of road bicyclists, dressed in spandex, not leather.  York is the Snack Food Capital of the World, while Charlottesville has been named Locavore Capital of the World.  Very different foodie destinations indeed. 

The reunion itself was a grand time.  It was held at a bar, with a dance floor of course.  Five of the old DJ’s took turns spinning records and we danced for hours.  It was great to see familiar faces that I hadn’t seen in forever.  It was like a high school reunion, but with only the people that you really wanted to see and far better music.  The vibe was exactly the same as it had been all those years ago, especially so because you can still smoke in bars in Pennsylvania.
Best of all was spending time with Amy.  A hell of a lot has changed over the last 35 years we’ve known each other, but our friendship hasn’t.  She is truly an original free spirit, my best friend from third grade and one of my most favorite people in the entire universe.  And quite possibly the person your mother warned you about.

Once in a Lifetime.

So while most of my weekend was spent doing boring house chores like cleaning both bathrooms in a single day, I did have one interesting event of note.
I worked a catering job Friday night with a friend’s catering business.  It was a dinner thanking the supporters of the University of Virginia Marching Band, in their rehearsal hall. I drive past that building quite a bit, as I cut through Culbreth regularly, so it was neat to see the inside.  I hadn’t been wowed by it before, but having been in it, I can say that I am now.  Clean lines, warm finishes and lots of big windows with a great view of Lambeth Field behind it. 
While we were setting up Friday afternoon, we got to listen to the entertainment for the evening do a little warm up and sound check, running through the majority of their show for later on.  While they weren’t in costume for this performance, I think it was the better one of the two I saw.
Although their costumes definitely added something to the later performance.
That, dear friends, are The Temptations.  I took the photo on a friend’s phone.  They were dressed all in pink, right down to their shoes.  Warming up, they started their rehearsal with a few acapella gospel numbers before moving on to all their hits, including my favorite “Papa was a Rolling Stone”. Tell me you don’t find yourself moving to that beat. And “Ball of Confusion”, another favorite of theirs, although I was in my thirties before I discovered that they did the first version.  I always thought it was a  Love and Rockets original. I am an Eighties New Wave child through and through. 
Definitely a once in a lifetime experience, watching them warm up in a room of less than 20 people, although seeing them in a room with less than 150 folks later in the evening was a once in a lifetime experience as well. Pretty hard to top that, so yeah, other than seeing The Temptations, the highlight of my weekend was cleaning both bathrooms.  What an exciting life I lead.

Rules of the Road.

You know the closing shot of “Dazed and Confused” where they are heading down the road, windows down, radio cranked, driving off into summer?  I love that scene.  It sums up one of my favorite parts of summer- the roadtrip.
 We are a roadtripping family.  We take them all year long, but come summer, when we are free of school and the routine that comes along with it, we have a tendency to hit the road with much frequency.  We haven’t had a proper vacation in years, but we have lots of roadtrips and mini-vacations.  We seem to have a number of friends who either live near, have second homes near or access to a family member’s second home near a large body of water.  We like to renew those acquaintances during the summer months when school is out and yes, enjoy the large bodies of water.  It doesn’t have to be a large body of water, it could be a creek, as long as there is water nearby, and we are there. We are not limited to just visiting those near the water, but certainly, water bumps you to the top of the must see list. 
This summer is no different, with our first big family roadtrip this week to Virginia Beach.   While Edie & I have a certain groove all our own for mother/daughter trips, and Pat & I have a groove for our roadtrips,  there are some rules in common for all our family roadtrips.
1.  Music is the driver’s choice.  If you don’t care for the music, you are welcome to put your headphones on at any time.  Edie can and will sing louder than you can play Slayer when she has her headphones on.  Daddy might cut her some slack and play the Pandora channel he set up on his iphone for her that is chock full of Taylor Swift, but I’m not that nice.  (I’m pretty sure the Taylor Swift channel is a total result of her outshouting Slayer. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.)
I like to think of our time in the car as a chance to work on her musical education and explore new music with her.   Of course, I also have a tendency to listen to the same music over and over which drives everyone nuts, but hey, that’s life.  As a family unit, there currently is a small handful of artists we seem to agree on.  Last Christmas, we spent 10 hours one way in the car only agreeing on NPR’s All Songs Considered series of podcasts on Bob Dylan celebrating his 70th birthday.  (If I could find the podcasts to link to I would. They were great to listen to.) I spent the rest of the time trying to drown out the little voice behind me in the back seat that insisted on singing Michael Jackson over and over while it competed with what her father was playing over the car stereo system.  Clearly I had neglected to pack my headphones.
2. Road food.  I will pack a cooler with drinks, mostly water bottles,  but we are fans of the pit stop at gas stations and truck stops.  I might pack a few snacks, a bag of goldfish, an apple or two, but honestly, we eat junk food on the road.  Everything in moderation, including moderation.  We eat healthy the majority of the time – even when we reach our destination we eat healthy (with the exception of Oysterfest, when we have funnel cake for breakfast), so in the car, it’s whatever you want.  I personally have a thing for BBQ corn nuts on roadtrips. We are also big fans of the Buffalo Hot Wings Preztels, which seems so wrong on one level and yet, they are so good.  
Summertime is also perfect for slushies, preferably half cherry half coke slushies.  Sometimes there really is nothing better on a hot summer day than an ice cold Coke.  Not Pepsi, Coke.  In a glass bottle. 
I’m also always on the hunt for Orange Nehi.  It’s nearly impossible to find anymore.  If you happen to know of where I can find it, will you let me know? Thanks.
3.  Maps.  You may have picked up the fact a few weeks ago when I talked about how impressed I was with my friend Bonnie for bringing her own map on our roadtrip that I am not known for having current, up to date maps in my car.  I don’t even always print out directions, rather I scribble notes down from mapquest and if I remember to bring them, great.  If not, well, we’ll get there eventually.  I happen to think I have a great sense of direction, no matter what my family says.
I recently got rid of the pocket sized 1989 road map that got me everywhere I wanted to go from my college days until it’s replacement with a newer version.  I now have a road atlas from earlier in this century I picked up at The Green Valley Book Fair for something like $3.  It’s never quite in depth enough for my husband, who’s job has required much traveling over the years to the point where he carries his own Gazetteer in his work truck, but never seems to have it on hand when we are in the family mobile.  He has a habit of stopping and purchasing a new map for my vehicle that always seems to end up in his work truck at some point before our next roadtrip that could utilize the map.   
Now that he has an iphone and we have access to whatever app it is that tells us how to get where we are going, we no longer find ourselves stopping to buy new maps.  Not that I bother myself with them anyway.  Despite this, he still listens to me when I give directions and we still find ourselves sometimes slightly uhm, not exactly sure where we are.
4.  Route.  We prefer back roads to interstates.  Sure, there are times when we take the highway, but there are only a small handful of destinations we go to that require the highway route.  This is generally where it can be an issue that I don’t always carry a proper map.  I think it makes for more of an adventure myself.  
I don’t always remember road names or route numbers, but I remember the landscape surrounding a turn I know I should take.  Sometimes it’s the name of a town on a highway sign that tells me where to turn – not a final destination, but I’ll recognize I want to drive through a particular burg to get where I’m going.  This can drive my husband nuts.  Tell me to turn left at the dog and I know exactly where I’m going everytime.  It’s not for everyone, just those of us with extra special senses of direction.
5.  Packing.  We are not pack ahead people.  I might do laundry before hand, but for the most part, we are get up, pack up and hit the road people.  If I’m feeling especially on the ball, I might write up a list the night before of what I want to bring, but don’t count on it.  Really, the only thing I do ahead of time is make food to share with our hosts when we arrive.  The important stuff.
Each man is responsible for themselves.  I started making Edie pack her own road entertainment bags when she was still a toddler and then a few years ago I started making her pack her own suitcase.  I used to double check her bags before we left and sometimes if I remember to do that, I still do it.  There have been times when we’ve gotten somewhere and I’ve realized she’s packed no books to read, or worse, no clean socks or underwear.  I chose to look at it as a learning experience for her.  I’ve learned from it too, in that I now remind her to pack underwear. When I remember of course.
6.  Departure Times.  We as a family are not necessarily known for our promptness, especially if we are headed out for any sort of fun.  I once overheard a friend say to another friend “I knew when they said they were leaving at 8 am that they’d be here for lunch.  Always add two hours to whatever time they say they are getting on the road and you’ll know when to expect them.”  That still rings true.  Even when we do manage to leave at our announced and we really mean that time, we always seem to have to turn back to pick up some forgotten essential.  Our last family roadtrip, it was the tent we were supposed to be camping in.
7. Windows down vs AC. I would always much rather drive with the windows down and the air conditioning off.  I love having the wind in my hair.  I do make exception for those roadtrips in the middle of those brutally hot days, but if I’m alone, I’m driving with the windows down, period.  I don’t care how hot it is. 
8. What we leave behind.  It’s always something.  Perhaps it’s a statement on how much fun we’ve had that we don’t want to leave, but one of us always manages to leave something behind when it’s time to go home.  Always.
And that is how we roll down the road.  Music blaring, junk food eating, not always exactly sure where it is we’re going but knowing we’ll get there and half the fun is the journey, right?,  hoping we didn’t forget anything too terribly important and if you know how to translate us, right on time.
So if you are within a few hours driving distance, have any access to water and would love company this summer, just let us know.  We’ll bring baked goods.

Housekeeping Notes and Other Stuff.

I’ve done some housekeeping on here.  I changed the comments settings, taking away word verification and moderation.  There was a stretch in which I was receiving some snarky and rather insulting comments, from someone who wanted to remain anonymous which seemed to have stopped.  I don’t mind snark, but own it, you know what I’m saying?  I’ve realized from commenting on other blogs what a pain the new word verification settings have gotten to be.   Some of you have thought blogger has been eating comments lately, but through the magic of the internet, they’ve shown up and been published.  Well, the ones I know about.

I’ve changed some things around on my side bar too.  I hadn’t updated my blogroll in quite some time, so I added a few new ones. My friends Ryanne, Julia, both of whom are new bloggers and quite entertaining.  I’ve also added Suzicate’s “The Water Witch’s Daughter”, which I find inspiring.   Suzicate, I’d love to go winery hopping with you next time you’re in Nelson.   There are a slew of other blogs I read, so I hope to be better about swapping them out a little more frequently on my sidebar. 

The conversation on Facebook that sprung out of the link I posted to my canning class yesterday led to it being restructured a bit.  Instead of tomatoes and peaches, I’m going to teach canning tomatoes and pickles.  I’m even more excited about this now.  If you’ve paid attention to my posts over the last couple of summers, you’ll know how much I love to pickle things and that I will pickle anything.  I plan on doing bread & butter pickles in the class and I will be sharing some of my other favorite pickle recipes.  There’s a link sign up for the class on the sidebar now too.

I’m pretty sure I’m the last person out there to discover First Aid Kit.  I can’t even take credit for discovering them, my dearest babydaddy heard them, realized I needed it and he made it the tunes I cooked to one day.  I do love that man.  Best Coast has a new album out, that I’ve heard great things about.  I haven’t listened to it thoroughly yet, but I do like what I’ve heard.  Anyone catch “Birth of an Album” on NPR this morning with Neko Case?  Totally made my morning. 

In a year of non-parties, the Oxford Road Block party was last weekend.  I was worried when I wasn’t hand delivered my invite and instead happened to catch a flyer on a telephone pole.  Turns out they didn’t invite anyone, it was all they could do to get the flyers up. At least they had the party though. There was a wonderful ‘mom circle’ that happened that refreshed my spirit that day in a much needed way.  I heard other women that were there say the same thing.  Maybe we need to do those things more often ladies.  D- I’m totally serious about Wine Thursdays, just hollar.  Also, I want that recipe please.

The best part of the evening though may have been watching Edie give the Fein boys a firehouse bath in the driveway.  All is always right with the world when there are boys who understand she holds the hose and stays dry while they get soaked.  I blame all older neighborhood boys who catered to her so much in her toddler years that she now expects all boys to do exactly what she tells them to do.  The male portion of humanity has no idea what they have wrought upon themselves.

Running Past.

We woke up Saturday morning to the sounds of a race being run in the street past our house.  I later realized when Saturday became the longest day I’ve had in a while, that there was a certain message from the greater universe in that.

The phrase that best describes the end of last week into the weekend is ‘everything at once’.  Seriously.  Starting Thursday afternoon, I found myself having to be in two and three places at once.  I know from having spent the better part of almost the last 20 years with a man who is an environmentalist that this is his busy time of year.  It’s this point every year that we become ships passing in the night, communicating by post-it notes on the counter and emails.  I go to bed before he comes home some nights, he’s gone before I get up and the only way I know for sure that he actually came home is when I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, he was beside me in bed.  Also, he might sometimes leave a fresh pot of coffee on.

Friday night, we made a little time for a date night.  Sharon Van Etten was playing down at the Jefferson and as she was on the everyday rotation there for a bit with my better half, who, by the way, puts almost no one on the everyday rotation, it was definitely a must-do.  It was a lovely show and didn’t run too late, although Pat & I, being the music geeks that we are, even when we know we have to get up and be productive first thing in the am, can’t just come home from a show and go to bed.  Oh no, we have to talk about it and listen to more music and maybe have another beer into the wee hours. 

I had gotten an email from my hairdresser last week, telling me she had a spot for me on Saturday morning.  She stopped being a hairdresser full time a few years ago, but she still is kind enough to do the hair of those of us who couldn’t find someone else we trusted enough with the task.  I will go months on end without a haircut and then frantically decide I need one immediately.  Over the years, she has figured out almost precisely when this is about to happen and will call or email me to say, I’ll see you this day at this time.  I love this about her, almost as much as I love how freaking fabulous she is with my hair.  Even when I haven’t had a trim in months people tell me what a great hair cut I have.   She knows how to cut my hair so that I don’t need a trim every 6 weeks, something else to love about her.

I have taken Edie for exactly one haircut in her entire life.  I trim her hair myself, because really, it’s not that hard, I cannot take her to one of those el cheapo places that I know will ruin her hair as they did mine growing up and I’m not springing for a haircut I can give myself. (I am THAT cheap.) This is what I’ve told myself for years.  Last summer, I trimmed her hair and I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but I butchered it.  Really.  One of my neighbors got an eyeful of it and immediately asked ‘was there wine involved?’  No, there was not.  Our then 13 year old babysitter looked at Edie and said, “I can fix this for you” and that is how a 13 year old became my daughter’s new stylist.    She had not had a cut since and her ends were getting horrific.  She refused to let me trim it and so I would mention maybe I’d take her for a cut.  Maybe we could just go to one of those hair places….and I’d trail off.  That kid held her ground.  She told me for months that I should just take her to my gal.  She’d throw in little comments like ‘Oh, you’d take me to one of those places at the mall?  That means you’d have to go to the mall.  You’d do that?’ because she knows that in addition to being cheap, I just cannot bring myself to go to the mall.  Last time we were there, we were totally accosted by one of those perfume people and neither one of us has yet to recover.

So, when Boop emailed me last week, I asked if she could fit us both in. I waited until Friday night to share this with Edie, mostly so that she wouldn’t gloat too much.  Boop could indeed fit us both in, so we headed downtown early Saturday morning to get our hair done.

We hit the farmer’s market while we were downtown, headed home for quick change to soccer gear, grabbed a sandwich, then we headed out to soccer.  Her soccer game was west of town and Pat just happened to be working a festival just 10 minutes west of where we were, so as we left the game, she asked if we could go visit Daddy.  He was scheduled to not just work this festival, but attend a dinner that evening, then work another festival the next day, Sunday.  And he’s got to work the next few weekends, so any face time we can grab with him this time of year, we take.  I had every intention of making it back for the upcoming elementary school garden festival committee meeting later that afternoon, but I had forgotten the festival he was working was also a wine festival.  Fly fishing AND wine tasting?  That is something for everyone in this family.  There were only a handful of wineries there, but most of them were new to me, so I had to check them out.  Meanwhile, Pat had to boogie off to a talk on the Jackson River Lawsuit, where he presented a check on behalf of his employer to the defendant to help with the now $80,000 legal fees he’s racked up in trying to keep Virginia’s rivers open for public use.  It was interesting to hear about the case from some of the other interested parties, including Beau Beasley, a most entertaining fly fishing writer.  We somehow ended up staying for the festival’s foundation dinner at the nearby country club that evening.  Prime rib dinner I don’t have to cook or clean up and there was chocolate cake for dessert?  Twist my arm. It was a lovely evening, but driving home at 9:30 that night, I realized I had been on GO since I had awoken to the sounds of a race early that morning.  Needless to say, when we woke up to cold, gray and rainy yesterday, along with the news that the Earth Day Festival Pat was supposed to work that day cancelled, we joyfully all stayed in our PJ’s, read and watched movies all day long.  It was glorious.  We introduced Edie to “Gone with the Wind”.  Apparently some of her classmates have seen it and some thought it over hyped and not nearly as good as “Mama Mia”.  She expressed an interest in seeing it and since it is one of my all time faves, I jumped at the chance to watch it with her.  She liked it, although she thought it was too sad in parts (welcome to Southern Gothic my dear, my absolute favorite genre) and she thought the ending left you hanging.  We told her that was the classic problem with GWTW, does she ever get him back?

Today was another cold, rainy day, but I already know this week is going to be a repeat of last week, so there was no more glorious curling up in PJ’s like yesterday.  I have successfully knocked out most of my to-do list in a wild burst of productivity and put off the fun stuff until last.  I have a birthday cake to make for a dear boy who is turning 13 this week.  He requested chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and maybe some fruit, so I need to go figure out exactly what cake I’m making him.  I need to figure out what my Girl Scouts are doing this week, as the meeting I had planned was panned by the girl in my house.  (I may just ignore that and take my chances, which I know, can end in disaster.).  I swapped some bee balm for raspberry bushes so they, as well as the rest of the veggies for the garden need to get in the ground.  (Today’s 40 degree temps definitely made me happy I’ve waited until the right time to plant, despite the unseasonably warm temps.).  There’s end of the school year things piling up, like camp applications (We got confirmation today she’s off for another 3 weeks at Camp Lachlan!!), class picnics to plan and last night the evening news reminded me to purchase pool passes.  Ah, summer, I can hardly wait!  Not that I want to rush the season though – as it is spring is running past me!  How is it the end of April already?

Spring Soundtrack

I looked outside my kitchen window this morning and couldn’t help but notice that the dogwoods in the back yard next door are starting to open up.
They always open up a little earlier than the ones in my yard.  I have no clue how or why that is so.
Growing up, we had a pink dogwood in our front yard
that said spring to me.
As a supposed grown up, I have a pink dogwood
 in my front yard now that I throw parties under.  
A big old pink dogwood in the front yard feels like home.
Just like sheer white curtains blowing open in the breeze are home.

Right now I want to bottle the smell of the magnolia tree. 
It’s fragrance fills half a block around it.

And the birds. 
They are twitterpated.
I think the wrens are building a nest under the back porch again.
I’m sure there is a family setting up shop in the basement, through a small hole in a window under the sunroom.  They scare the bejesus out of me when I’m down there doing laundry and they fly over.
We’ve had dinner at the picnic table and in the sunroom this week.
The weather has gone from snow last week to summer this week.  Apparently spring was last weekend.

The soundtrack of my spring is always, always R.E.M.   Old R.E.M.  
Starting with Chronic Town, when it first came out.  Yes, it goes back that far.
They fell out of favor for a bit, but then my last year in high school, along came Document. 
At that point I had my grandfather’s 1976 Ford Grenada, which I had fond memories of sitting in the back seat on old country roads when I was a wee one, while he was driving, listening to the jazz and big band music on the radio and him whistling along. 
I would put a boombox on the front seat to be able to listen to tapes in that car and that’s exactly what I did so that I could listen to Document.  Did I mention it was a 1976 model and the stereo didn’t have a built in cassette player?  The boombox on the front seat was the only way to go.
This morning I realized I had worn out yet another copy of Document.
I think that’s my first CD version, I know I’ve worn out at least one cassette before that. 
After Document was Green.  That was the soundtrack of me moving to Auburn.  The soundtrack of me leaving my parents house in Pennsylvania on a cold, snowy morning in March, driving 14 hours by myself and arriving in full on spring in Auburn and that’s why I decided I should go to college there.
Also, there were a number of pretty boys with long hair who also listened to R.E.M. so it seemed like a good place to go to college.
That was probably biggest decision of my life, since it has affected everything that has come since.
It’s good it turned out so well since I really didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it.
Clearly, the universe smiles upon me.
And Green, I’ve lost track of how many copies of that I’ve worn out.  Two cassettes and 3 CD’s. 
I tend to listen to the same album over and over and over.
There is other music I associate with spring, but I always go back to  R.E.M as they are my soundtrack for spring. They’ve been there for me since I was 14.  I can only say that about so many folks.
I once told Pat I was going to paint our bedroom the color of the room in this video.
And he knew exactly what I was talking about.
That is why I am married to him, he just gets things like that.
It really sorts of sums our marriage beautifully.
Something done on a whim, with a random obscure music reference thrown in for good measure.
You really can build a life around that.

On music and motherhood.

There are certain things everyone says they will never do as parents.  Of course, most of these declarations are when we are all knowing and childless.  Sometimes these even run into the first few years of being a parent, when you still think you are somewhat in control.

The top of my list was becoming a soccer mom, going to a PTO meeting and listening to top 40 radio.
The first two have been violated, but I’m holding fast to that last one.

I have no problem admitting I’m a music geek.  I love all sorts of music (generally), as does my husband.  Even if our taste isn’t always the same, we both like discovering new bands and sharing them.  Over the years, we have both made mixes (first on CD, now on itunes for her ipod) for Edie.  Now that she’s getting older and starting to develop her own taste in music, she leaves us lists of what she’d like loaded on her ipod next.  There is a frightful amount of what I call ‘that new crap’ on those lists, and so I hand it over to her father.  He takes the time to listen to everything first, making sure it’s appropriate for her 9 year old ears.  He will also then throw some songs in there that he thinks she would like.  She recently complained that the last time she handed her father a list, he took the opportunity to practically fill her ipod with HIS music.

‘He put Nirvana on there.  And Gillian Welch.  And some other stuff you two like”. 

Suddenly, we are being roped together in this music battle – Us vs. Her.  (And yes, we’ve had some battles.) I’ve realized that my freakishly nerdy 80’s music trivia knowledge is being matched by my daughter’s equally deep knowledge about today’s music.  A few weeks ago, she was curled up in the den watching the red carpet for some music awards show and knew who everyone was.  There was some fellow I had never seen before and she started rattling off everyone he had been playing with – Nicki Minaj (I had to look that up!) as well as Usher.  How does she know this?!?!  We don’t have cable, her screen time, both TV and computer is generally limited and supervised.  I get that she wants to listen to what her friends listen to. I worry that she’s liking it, despite our work of making sure she only listens to ‘good’ music.  Our definition of good of course. 

There are moments of hope though.  I was cleaning her room a few months back when I stumbled upon an old Red Hot Chili Peppers CD in her stash.  I asked her where it came from and she answered “Well, I needed something new to listen to, so I went through your CD’s and thought that looked interesting.” (She liked it!).   She loves Ozzy.  Driving home from market on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago, she recognized the Dead playing with Dylan on one of his songs, “Stuck down in Mobile….”.  I was so proud.  After all, how many 9 year olds can identify a Bob Dylan song?

That’s the thing about parenthood.  You enter it with all the best intentions, only to have most of them shattered by those beautiful little creatures.  You have to learn to let go, to surrender control and just hope that some of what you want to imprint upon them sticks. 

Mixing it up.

I’m a total music geek.  I’m not alone – our house has some sort of music playing device in every room but one bathroom.  We have CD’s stacked in well, a good number of rooms.  I listen to music at work all day, something that took the people I work with some time to get used to I think.  I must have a soundtrack at all times. 

I drove the same car for over 15 years.  At one point, the cassette player bit it and the radio antenna came unattached, so it was a bit of a black hole, musically.  For Mother’s Day one year, my dear husband got me a macdaddy car stereo that was worth more than the car.  It played mp3 discs, I could hook a thumb drive straight into it and not even bother with burning a cd.  My musical choices when I drove suddenly exploded.  This was good.  And then, last fall, my beloved 1995 Honda Civic needed too much money to keep it on the road.  It just wasn’t worth it anymore.  The new car is a 2001 and has a nice Bosch stereo, with a cassette player and a cd player that doesn’t played burned cd’s, so it’s a wee bit outdated (but nice.  and in good shape).  So while the new car is nice and runs well and has things like working air conditioning, I miss my old stereo. 

Over the years, there are certain albums that have become my personal soundtrack.  I have a tendency to listen to the same album over and over, day in and day out.  There is always a current favorite (right now it’s Jenny & Johnny’s I’m Having Fun Now), but then there are the go-to’s, like Nothing’s Shocking.  Green. The Caution Horses, among others.  Those 3 albums listed I’ve worn out several copies of.  I just burn a new copy and go on with myself.  Not to mention the shows I’ve been to that I like to listen to – Pat went through my ticket stubs and got me every Dead show I ever went to, every Wilco show we’ve been to.  Suddenly, I can’t have these on hand, in my car.  I’m slightly freaking out.

I got an iPod for Christmas.  Yes, I’m slow on the technology.  I haven’t seen that much of a need for it frankly.  I’ve got a boombox or stereo in every room, a decent car stereo….oh wait….

So the iPod has become critical for my musical pleasures in the car.  But this means I have to get organized about what I put on there.  And, it means examining what has been my lazy musical attitude for years.  Maybe it’s time to switch up the ‘standard’ car music.  This means taking out some stuff I’ve kept in the car since high school.  Yes, that long ago.  My dear husband has pledged to help me by telling me if I tell him what I need to have loaded into iTunes so that it can go on my iPod, he’s willing to do it.  However, I’ve realized my iTunes is a mess too.  We had a major computer crash about this time last year and I lost all my playlists.  I don’t even know what all is loaded on my iTunes these days.  Pat will find some new band he thinks I’ll like and load it up for me to discover.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve been attempting to organize my iTunes.  I found several new artists I didn’t know were there.  I got some listening to do…. and I’m pretty sure Edie will applaud this.  We have mother-daughter music disagreements on a daily basis, since I do spend a little bit of time hauling her around.  Apparently I really burnt her out on Band of Horses and She & Him when they were my daily fare.  She’s burnt me out on Arcade Fire and Gorillaz.  Sometimes we have to just listen to radio because it’s the only thing we agree on. 

All in all, I’m excited about changing my approach to music.  It’ll be good for me. After those few warm winter days where I drove around with the sunroof open and realized I really do need REM’s Green in my car, he totally loaded it onto my iPod for me.  He is such a keeper.