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Archive for July, 2008

Please Join us for JazzFest Lansing, Saturday!

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

fabheftonessafety1full16.jpgI have had a few people ask me about our Fabulous Heftones music gig this weekend. Here are details:

First, on Friday morning, AM talk radio 1320 at 8:30am we will be playing maybe 2-3 numbers spread out between other news. Whatever they want!

We have to show up at 8:30 (WILS AM, we’re very grateful for airplay). It’s a show called amLansing. I’m usually asleep at that time of day, but I’m all about singing any time I can! Thanks to Mike Skory who does the music/entertainment update on that show, for inviting us.

Then about the show:

Old Town’s
JazzFest Lansing

5p-6:15p Saturday August 2
The Fabulous Heftones
River Stage (near fish ladder, in parking lot where Turner Street dead ends into Grand River, just east of bridge).

It’s a big deal, at least to me! Some shows (other stages) get an hour, we get an hour and 15 minutes. Lots of the acts are not from Lansing. We get dinner hour on Saturday, perfect for bringing kids. There are also street vendors for food if you want to skip cooking.

If you have not heard us before, we mostly do the romantic and novelty tunes from 1900-1930. Brian plays ukulele, I play bass, we both sing and whistle, and Brian does a little vocalizing as if he’s a trumpet (this is called eefin’ and was common in the 20s).

Want to hear? here are some Youtube videos recorded with visiting ukulele friends, all of whom played at least one New York Ukefest (first one recorded early this year, 2nd was September ’07):

Row Row Row, with Bosko and Honey

Shake that Thing, with Lil’ Rev

For a few songs without video, our MySpace Page:
The Fabulous Heftones, on MySpace (will play without an MP3 player on your computer)

or our own web page (click the MP3 link below song title):

I sure hope some of you can come. I totally understand if you can’t… but you sure couldn’t come if you didn’t know about it in the first place!!!

Saturday Dancing in the Park

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

On Saturday around noon, I danced with the Habibi Dancers at Hunter Park in Lansing. This park is on the East Side, between Foster Center/Rae’s Yarn Boutique and my home, maybe 2 miles from my front step. These are “my stomping grounds,” as Brian would say.

The event was sponsored by the Lansing City Parks and Recreation department. These are the same folks who manage the Foster Community Center where we rehearse (and where I teach kids to knit during the school year).

We were in the area which was both entertainment and exercise. We gave a dance show/concert and then we invited the crowd to join us. It was much fun.

Of course, I took these photos which means I am not in any of them. I put together a Flickr photo set with more shots, if anyone would like a peek.

(Added later: Another dancer’s mother took a big collection of photos that day which include me dancing in the group numbers. No surprise, I’m the one wearing the most bright colors in one costume! Turquoise beaded dress, magenta hip wrap, etc.)

Music and Family at Altu’s

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Saturday evening, Brian and I performed as The Fabulous Heftones at my friend Altu’s Ethiopian restaurant. It was an extra special evening because the crowd included my mother and my brother, Eric Oscar. I don’t see Eric enough. It was his birthday just after the 4th of July but this was the first I had seen him since then.


Mom invited everyone she knows, or something like that. She knows many loyal friends and three of them came out. Also, Regina (friend from Working Women Artists among other places) came and sat with my family and the friends. Not only that, we had other folks come out just to hear us who we know just because we play this music. Fans. Imagine that!

It was too bad that Eric’s wife, my friend/knitter Diana, couldn’t make it. We missed her but sent food home so she could enjoy that part, anyway.

It was a hot day so it was perfect for wearing the Ethiopian dress brought to me by Altu’s sister a year or two back. It’s so lovely and so cool in this weather, and I especially love wearing it at the Ethiopian restaurant.

For the textile lovers out there who read this blog, the fabric is a very fine semi-transparent gauze which is handspun and handwoven cotton. The bodice is shirred with elastic thread (a modern style) and the full gathered skirt has a built in slip. The wrap is one loom-width of fabric with synthetic colored woven trim on both ends. They use synthetics where there is color, to avoid dyes running.

In Ethiopia most people do not have a washer and dryer. If you are well established, you typically will have a maid/cook who will hand wash your clothing for you. Therefore, easy upkeep is valued highly. Synthetics have been embraced to avoid dye-migration problems in otherwise lovely woven items. I noticed much embroidery was also done in synthetics, no doubt for the same reason.

So here we are, the three of us who grew up together so to speak. Mom was widowed at age 38, I was 14 and Eric was nearly 13. At the time we had zero relatives in Michigan. It was the three of us, a team, for better or worse. There were difficult years but we have all come out strong and happy. There is nothing like a good ending, don’t you think?


(Thanks to Regina for taking second photo: Mom’s longterm friend Fred, Mom, Eric, Me, Brian.)

SummerKidz at Rae’s Yarn Boutique

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Summer is in full swing. This means that potential students are on vacation and my classes are thinning out. I started summer with five kid knitters but for the last two weeks I have been down to two loyal and dedicated young ladies.


Last week, I was sitting on the couch between these lovely ladies and Carol (another instructor at Rae’s) noticed that it might be a nice photograph to get the three of us sitting like that. So thanks to Carol, here is a shot of us, the two girls with knitting in their hands.

This has been a wonderful summer thus far. Thanks to the kids and their families for making it so.

We still have August to go, and I am looking forward to it. These girls are not just good knitters, but they are good company as well.

Incredible Cloud

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

I was on my way to the post office the other day (it is across from a farm owned by Michigan State University) and saw this incredible cloud. It was just huge, and almost at the top of the fluffy cotton-candy structure, there was this sort of swoosh that was smooth and totally horizontal. It looked a bit like a brim on a hat.


I have never seen anything like this cloud before. I pulled over into a parking lot to take photos before the cloud changed shape. The odd thing was that it stayed that shape for a long time (though the swoosh got more pronounced as time passed).

Beautiful, isn’t it?

A Downpour

Monday, July 28th, 2008

A week ago Sunday, Brian and I were making our way home from Dulcimer fest via a family gathering near West Branch, Michigan. It’s a beautiful part of the state, much north of us and a bit east from the Dulcimer Fest but a worthy side trip on the way home.


Brian has a cousin who now lives in Ireland. She was back in Michigan so the family pulled together a group. This family is big. You can not believe the amount of chicken they grilled, corn on the cob they prepared, the works. They had a big house, a barn, a canopy over the food, a bonfire and a huge area with lots of chairs, a badminton court, all sorts of places to hang out with bunches of other people.


When we got there it was sunny and lovely. I took photos of the lake from up on the plateau where the house stands. We planned to camp in our tent on the grounds that night. And then the most unusual summer storm blew up out of nowhere. There was no thunder or lightning, but it poured buckets for what seemed like forever.


When the downpour came, we moved as many of the chairs as we could under the 10×10 canopy with the food and a few tables. I sat in a folding chair and watched the children enjoy the downpour. In the distance I saw the teenagers playing a new sort of badminton (huge “birdie” with a ball the size of a tennis ball, and stronger rackets to handle that side. They were mostly in swimsuits anyway (the site was on a lake) so they just kept on playing when the water hit.


But the ones to watch were the little ones. There were a good number of kids too young to go to school, and they were the most fun of all. At first a little girl maybe 6 years old ran out into the rain, face raised, arms out, almost flying in celebration of it all. Then a number of other kids joined in.

It did not take long for the ground to become waterlogged. I was wearing a lightweight cotton skirt over a pair of leggings. It turned out my feet were underwater in a puddle below my chair, and my skirt became waterlogged. I shed the skirt (thank goodness for the leggings) and took photos of the kids.


The younger ones found a low point in the ground where they ended up with a natural wading pool. There was much splashing and later someone found a tiny slide which they lined up next to this pool. At one point two of the littlest boys just shed their clothing entirely, I’m sure that was more comfortable than soggy cotton clothing.


The rain just kept on coming, so thick you could barely see out of the tent. At times the rain hit the canopy above me with such force that tiny water vapor bits came down on us. I had to clean off the lens of my camera several times.


When the rain finally subsided, we decided to give up on the camping idea. We drove home that night, getting home around midnight. It was actually lovely to sleep in our own bed again.

This is the sort of thing nobody will forget. Every person at this event will keep this one in the memory banks as “remember that time when…”

Evart ODPC Dulcimer Funfest

Sunday, July 27th, 2008


In a small town named Evart, Michigan, USA every year, acoustic music lovers descend upon the Otsego county fairgrounds for over a week. There is an official event which happens from Thursday through Sunday, but people come the weekend before and stay through early the next week because they have so much fun.


Neither Brian nor I play either type of dulcimer (this festival started because of hammered dulcimer enthusiasts). However, Brian has been teaching basic ukulele workshops for the festival for maybe a half dozen years now. I’ve helped out for 3 years, but he did it alone before that. Also our friend, Bruce Evans, always shows up at Brian’s workshops. He helps us out without even being asked.


We were in Evart this year the longest time yet. I used to come up for one day, then one overnight. This year I dove in and went up from Wednesday night to Saturday noon. We went to a family gathering on Saturday or we would have stayed in Evart through Sunday.


It is getting to be a wonderful reunion to go up there now. I know enough people that it feels like “old home week” in many ways. Ukulele is starting to really take off all over the western world right now, and it is starting to show at this festival. Instrument vendors often sell out of ukuleles and the unofficial Friday night ukulele jam session gets bigger each year.


This year we signed up to play on the main stage on Thursday night. It was rainy and hot, and we had a tuxedo and gown in the car just trying to wrinkle and get messed up, so we just dove in and played right away. We knew we were leaving Saturday and there are so many acts hoping to play on Friday nights that we did Thursday… and had a wonderful time.

The crowd at Dulcimer Fest is so appreciative of our music! Not only do they like the general genre (Tin Pan Alley, mostly love songs and novelty numbers from the 1920s) but they listen to what we are doing in a focused way. Three times during our 20 minute set we had the audience clapping in the middle of the song. That touches me in a soft spot in my heart, it is so wonderful to be that appreciated.


When off stage, we connect with friends, jam with them, jam as a duo, and eat pie. Well, Brian eats pie anyway. The Lions club of Evart has the best homemade pies ever. You have choice after choice and all of them are good. Brian likes pie for breakfast sometimes, and a few snacks over the course of the week as well.


He loves a good crust and I do not make crust. Because of food allergies, I have to make a lot of foods from scratch to just get foods that nurture me and fill me. I am not fond of any cooking, though baking I like a little better.

But the mess that making crust requires is just not acceptable to me, and so I either buy frozen spelt crusts at the health food store or I make crumbles with oatmeal. (I like oatmeal better than crust, anyway.) So the pies at Evart are a special feature of the week. We enjoy the folks working the booth, as well, and I get much iced tea when I’m there as well.


I guess I could say that they also have home cooked dinners such as meatloaf. For us, fruit pie overshadows mere dinner, I guess. (Well, I can’t eat the pie but it does make me very happy that it’s there.)

I made sure to get to Karol Evans’ workshop on pronouncing Hawaiian words. With all the interest in ukulele (which is a Hawaiian instrument though used for many music types, not just Hawaiian music), there was a nice crowd at their event. At the end, Karol did a hula for us with Bruce playing ukulele and singing “Lovely Hula Hands.” She looked beautiful as ever.


Friday night once more we attended a uke jam session hosted by our friends in the Uke ‘n Sing ukulele club from the southeast corner of Michigan. A big highlight of this event for me each year, is hearing Gil Ogawa perform the Hawaiian War Chant (which was based on a late 1800’s love song, but had English words added in 1936). Gil is not just a musician, he is fully a performer and a delight to watch and hear. I loved that! (He is so expressive when singing it is hard to get a photo… this was just after he finished one or another of his songs.)


Photos: 1-3) stage acts including The Fabulous Heftones (me and Brian), Uke ‘n Sing, and a trio who met at the festival… middle guy on banjo is Sam, my knitter A’s big brother. 4-5) the first workshop in the poultry barn (it’s a fairgrounds) which was more than a bit crowded but the acoustics were good with all those big metal boxes somehow. 6) later Friday afternoon workshop in open-walled pavilion, which was followed by a ukulele jam session where we numbered over 90 participants. 7) Two views of the Lions’ booth where spectacular pie can be found. 8 ) Bruce and Karol Evans at the end of the Hawaiian pronounciation workshop.9) Gil Ogawa with guest singer Nancy Penny (thank you, Bruce Evans, for reminding me of her name), at Friday night uke jam.

Mom in the News

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

My mom made the front page of the Local section of the Lansing State Journal today. Thanks to Priscilla for spotting it right away. They do not mention her name but the photo says it all. Dance is very big in Mom and Fred’s social schedule. They get out quite often.

You can read the article online (time to again mention how much I appreciate the LSJ.com website). It’s about a “senior prom” which raises funds for senior programs (supported by a team of police agencies in the area).

Mom and Fred are dancing front and left, you can recognize mom by her beautiful long white/silver hair and her bright blue dress. I still say she has the prettiest hair I know.

And I wonder where I get my ColorJoy gene from? Hmmm…

A Goofy Shot

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Brian and I sang for a private luncheon a few weeks ago. We dressed up and forgot to ask anyone to photograph us. So we sat down and held the camera and took a photo of ourselves. It was a giggly sort of fun. Here we are.

For the record, I’m wearing the white alpaca circular Peace Shawl that Alison Hyde knit for me as a gift. The pattern is available in her book, Wrapped in Comfort.

Colorful Traveling Quarters

Saturday, July 26th, 2008


At Dulcimer Festival last weekend, I spotted these three very stylish traveling quarters. Two are old GMC vehicles, and one is a new thing I had never seen before. All look just artful and lovely to my eyes.


I’ve finally really come to terms with the fact that I really do care what things look like. I drove an ugly 1985 navy blue VW Golf for 250,000 miles and I adored that car, but I did in fact embellish it by painting three stars on the back side hatch. I love my ’98 New Beetle (not that new anymore, at 134,000 miles), though, and she is SO pretty!


Looking at these “camping boxes” really made my eyes smile. So pretty! I’d never really noticed the GMC camping vehicles before, but I guess they were planning to have a gathering of about 30 of them just outside the area where we stayed.

Too cool. Very ColorJoy. Even cooler than shiny Airstream trailers, perhaps!

BlissFest Photos

Friday, July 25th, 2008

dominicandrachel.jpgWe had such a great time at Blissfest near Cross Village in northern lower Michigan a few weekends back. We knew a lot of the musicians, many had Lansing connections and are in our circle of acquaintances. It was wonderful to hear them play.

I took a zillion photos. If I were to write all details about the event, I’d never finish writing. I can touch on a few photos, anyway.

It’s a pretty intense weekend. There’s a sort of anti-dress-code way of dressing, lots of tie dye and batik, lots of color. The event is a weekend full of sensory overload… colors, sounds, foods, people. Intense in all the good ways, I’d say.

The first photo above was Rachael Davis and Dominic John (Shout Sister Shout) on Saturday. These two have a lovely baby almost a year old, and are really great people to hang around with, when they have time to hang out.

There is also a full-group shot of Shout Sister Shout on Sunday, with guest guitarist Ray Kamalay (2nd to right). Ray was SO into this piece, he has been a pro musician for decades and he’s still so excited to play one more song, it’s invigorating. His favorite music overlaps the repertoire of this band, he was a perfect guest. I loved being in the audience!


Next, Detour (bluegrass). The banjo player is Kevin. Brian has known Kevin for a long time.


This is Rusty Blaides. I know Joe Wilson (also from Steppin’ in It) on pedal steel guitar center-left, and Tamineh Gueramy (also in a zillion bands… once in a fave of mine, The Weepers), center-right on fiddle. These guys really kick out the danceable tunes, I was sorry we got there (to the festival itself) just in time for their last 2 songs.


Next, some dancers just outside this small stage. Lots of dancing is part of Blissfest, and I always hope for great photos. This isn’t great but they do look like they are dancing, anyway.


This band’s name I don’t recall. at left here is Joel Mabus, and another member of the band is Ray Kamalay. These guys have been professional musicians about forever it seems… they were already old pros in Lansing before I ever hit the scene. Talented guys, who just really enjoy playing music. Together, they are unbeatable. The guy in the black shirt, center, was a guest (he’s from the band Detour, above).


A view of some camping in the wooded area on Sunday. Some folks had already packed and gone home by this time. This is a lovely area and we camped to the left of the photo.


A stick construction/gate which opens up to the artist/craft booth area. There are a number of stick gates around the festival but I’m thinking this is the grandest of them all.


A magnificent salad made just for me, with ingredients just picked that morning. This food vendor is incredible, mostly or entirely organic, and more than accommodating. I found several things to eat there over the weekend, a true miracle with the number of food restrictions I have. This salad was WONDERFUL.


Susan Fawcett of Fox on a Hill. She is a dynamo, a wonderful talent who lives in Petoskey. The instrument she’s holding has a small drum-like item at the bottom of a single string which is bowed like a fiddle. She was singing in Spanish with it, I think it’s from somewhere in Latin America but I did not catch the details. It sounded like a woodwind instrument, it was beautiful to hear. We just chanced on her demo and I’m so glad we did.


A night concert at the smaller stage, with Earthwork Music musicians (including Susan above) and the guy at front in the hat is Seth Bernard, the strong but gentle leader of the whole “clan.”


I only wish I could have bottled the energy and the music for you all. This crew is full of hot young musicians from northern lower michigan, incredible talents.


Seth and “Daisy” May Erlewine won 4th place in a national young songwriter/performer contest that Garrison Keillor had a year or two back.Just the two of them. The three bands before them were bands, not duets, I’m told.


They are that good. And their friends are equally talented and entertaining. Prime music. I was so happy to be there. The next day Brian and I both woke up singing music from this concert. Incredible.


Also notice the intent crowd members. Brian took the photos of the backstage and of the crowd.


It was SO much fun. I’d say it was worth sleeping in a tent.

Before there was Sidewalk Chalk…

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

…there was writing in the sand with a stick. These photos were taken at the Evart Dulcimer (Acoustic music) funfest last week. I think one dot says “Emily.” Perhaps another says “Mom?”



Final Traverse City Photos

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008


I can’t resist these last 2 photos of Traverse City. Two guys with tubes heading for the water… and a sign on a shop downtown.


They take their cherries very seriously in Traverse City. Bringing Cherries to the World, indeed. Hey, you can’t buy passion, so follow it when it leads!

Colorful but Small Sea Creatures

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

In looking for other things, I found a reference to this amazing article on Colourlovers about nudibranchs. These creatures are small relatives of the snail, without shells but with amazing colors and shapes. They live in salt water.

The photos are wonderful alone, but they also analyze each photo by making a grouping of colors found in the photo. I think it’s exciting in many ways. Maybe you’ll go check it out?