Well, the calendar says it's May but hear near the lakefront (except for two teasingly hot days last week), the mercury says early March, or even February. I hear that with moisture and a projected low of 38 Sat. night the forecasters are muttering, sotto voce, the dreaded "s" word (the fact that they've added the qualifier "flurries" does not help my mood). Had a new deck put on my house (when the old one literally was rotting away and a hole opened up), and got it stained just in time for the temps to go from 84 and sunny to 45 and rainy. The stain is lovely, but it stinks. Literally. We need at least a couple more warm sunny days in a row for the VOC's to fade away enough to use my grill before I leave for SERFA and beyond.
You haven't seen much activity on my gig calendar--mostly because of matters (such as those above) on the home front, Stephen Lee Rich's solo touring & Musicians United organizing schedule, family travel and recording/pre-and-post-production sessions both down in Sparta and via e-mail. Taught "Shalom Rav" (the familiar Klepper-Freelander version) at last week's DSNI meeting--first time since 1981 I had to stop and think and codify a dulcimer piece with both mountain tab and hammer std. notation. Kudos to DSNI Pres. (and Hogeye Music dulcimer teacher) Janet Swartz for her patience and assistance and to Program Chair Susan Van Dusen for helping her make my pencilled chicken-scratches into legible and playable printed music. It was so long ago that I taught dulcimer: I used to teach beginners & kids when I was barely an intermediate player myself, long before I'd developed techniques and idiosyncrasies I'd never had to demonstrate before--just have muscle memory let me play on autopilot. Hats off to music teachers everywhere. Those who can, do; but those who can do AND clearly explain how they do it, teach. (Rewriting the old maxim).
Next up on the music front: SERFA, down in Montreat, NC in the beautiful Blue Ridge next week. I will be co-teaching a humor workshop with Greg Trafidlo, demonstrating dulcimer to middle school kids in a traditional music concert, hosting a humor song circle in the Local 1000 Showcase-Free Zone and room-showcasing both solo and as half of Andina & Rich the whole time. Then on June 4, Andina & Rich will be doing a free-to-the-public (no tip jar!) concert at the public library in Alton, IL (across the Mississippi from St. Louis)--after which I zip on over to Sparta to spend the rest of the week recording.
Then my left knee will be replaced June 12 (giving me the second half of a matched set). Started pre-op physical therapy yesterday, something I neglected to do last year, so that my good leg will be up to the task of keeping me from falling down during the insanely early get-out-of-bed-and-stroll they make one do less than 24-hrs. post-op. Last year, when it was time to stand up and use the walker the day after my right knee was replaced, my poor left one shook and literally crunched--quite audibly. This time the right knee won't crunch, as it's nice and smooth titanium; but with strong quad, glute & hamstring neither should it tremble. I know I'm in for a long haul of recuperation & recovery; but as my left knee is going to be less of a challenge (no fractures, no tibial hardware) there's an even chance that I'll be discharged to home rather than rehab.
But either way, unless I am bedridden or so zonked out on painkillers that I can't sing straight, June 21 should find me onstage (worst case scenario, in front of the stage) at the Horseshoe Saloon on Lincoln s. of Irving Park for Larry O. Dean's "Folk You" showcase. Let's hear it for taxicabs! By my next gig after that, July 10 at Metropolis, I should be cleared to drive again and off opioids--because I don't drive with my left leg, I'll be cleared to drive at 4 weeks rather than the 6 it took last year. And at exactly 6 weeks, I drove to a gig!
A couple of weeks ago, Bob & I returned from our first trip to the Napa Valley since Gordy was a preschooler. Back in 1988 I marveled at how much it had blossomed--the number of wineries and fine dining and lodging having burgeoned dramatically from the mid-1970s, when we used to drive down from Seattle and camp in the state park. But it is a wholly different world there today--easily 20 times as many commercially-known wineries (and scores more "boutique" ones) as in 1988. We were down there for a cardiology course (Bob was, I spent the mornings practicing and transcribing that dulcimer piece, as well as taking a voice lesson by Skype). The classes finished at noon, and we were taken on winery tours in the afternoon. We were able to taste all we wanted without worrying about getting behind the wheel. But we also noticed that the days of ambling up to the tasting room counter and sampling for free are history. There is a steep tasting fee now almost everywhere in the valley (except for Sutter Home). The fee is applied to your wine purchases if you join a winery's subscription club, and at least two tastings came with a free souvenir fine crystal glass. Amazingly, we got our four glasses (and two bottles) home safely in a special insulated carrier meant to be checked as baggage; the other bottles have been trickling in via UPS and FedEx. The weather was warm and gorgeous (though the pollen count was a challenge), in contrast to the torrential rains and floods back here that week. And we had some terrific meals--including eating at the restaurant of Iron Chef Morimoto. We were too late for the omakase (chef's degustation) dinner, but even the two a la carte courses we each had blew us away (and the wines and sake weren't exactly chopped liver, either--not even remotely chopped liver, though I'm sure that if given that as the "secret ingredient" or "Chairman's Challenge" Iron Chef Morimoto would turn it into something yummy with no hint of Hester St. whatsoever).
So I must have gained quite a bit of weight there, right? Not so fast. On doctors' orders, I went low-carb starting in late Jan. I didn't gain at Folk Alliance in Toronto, and I came home from Napa two pounds lighter. (Not talking "pounds sterling," either, though if you do the exchange-rate math, our wallets came home about a ton lighter). Seems everyone in NorCal has gone modified-dead-animals-and-leaves. I miss good artisanal bread and pastas, even a nightcap of cereal & milk or morning oatmeal; but not desserts (I get to eat a little dark chocolate and my gummy vitamins every day, as well as all kinds of berries). And if I never taste another potato, no loss. Since I started my diet I've lost 20 lbs. 30 since last year's pre-op exam, and 35 since I left Northwestern Memorial. Hope that may make recovery easier--it's certainly made my knee feel better but still not well enough to keep putting off the surgery.
So I will next log in here closer to SERFA--not from there, as internet'll be spotty (even cellular) and I'll be too busy to do much online but check e-mail.