Tag Archives: guitar

A Love Letter, Teenage Talent, and a Zombie Baby…

It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon…Jim and the kids have gone to buy tires for the Corolla and have lunch at my least favourite fast food restaurant (I’ll give you a hint – its spokesperson is a clown with a rhyming name).  I wish they had taken Jake with them…he’s driving me crazy…wants to go out on the deck and chase the chipmunks and squirrels!  I’ve got a Hannah Georgas concert playing on the computer while I work (thank you CBC Concerts on Demand).  The second of three loads of laundry is spinning in the dryer…I’m saving a fortune on dryer sheets!  I bought a couple of those dryer balls at the dollar store, and they actually work!

One of the best dollars I ever spent...dryer balls!

The ear, nose and throat specialist called on Monday with the date for Jim’s sinus surgery: November 10th.  He’s having his deviated septum fixed, and they’re scooping stuff out of his sinus cavity.  I’m glad we’ve finally got the date: Jim’s been off work most of the week with another sinus infection…he regaled me this morning with a description of the secretions he’s harbouring.  Thanks, honey…I really didn’t want to eat lunch today!

Tuesday night was Dad’s chorus rehearsal night, and I was looking for something easy to make for supper…I had gotten turkey bacon on sale the day before, and had bagels in the fridge.  I cooked the bacon, sliced and toasted the bagels, spread them with peanut butter (both sides), put a couple of slices of bacon on, and top them with the other bagel slice.  Jim refuses to eat them (he ate his leftover jambalaya, which was good, but my wimpy intestine did not agree).  However, the girls and I love my bagel/bacon sandwiches!  Try it…you’ll like it!

On Wednesday, I wandered uptown to get some money from the banking machine…I saw one of my male friends pushing his daughter down the sidewalk in her umbrella stroller.  He was doing the “Daddy Push” as I call it…you know the one: one hand on the handle, walking beside it like, “This kid isn’t really mine.  I was just walking down the street and my hand caught on this stroller handle…”  In my head, I know it’s because umbrella strollers are poorly designed for tall people, but I can’t help thinking that there’s more to it when I see a man pushing a stroller that way…like it’s not cool to be a dad or something!

As many of you know, Thursday was the one-week anniversary of my blog being “Freshly Pressed” for the second time.  I had what I thought was an amazing idea…why not do a funny piece about the roller coaster ride that being FP’d is?  Unfortunately, my regular readers thought I was upset, and went about trying to console me!  So, here is a love letter to all my “peeps”:

Dear Fans of Herding Cats (you know who you are):

I would just like to thank you for taking the time out of your day to visit  Hammond River and the ramblings of my brain.  Your compliments and encouragement (and even your criticisms!) are always much appreciated!  I have been fortunate to be in the company of some truly talented writers, all of whom I consider friends, even though we’ve never met (please take the time to check them out on my Blogroll – He Said/She Said).  To my family and “touchable” friends, I love that you care about me enough to read what I write – it means a lot!

I will continue to write Herding Cats in Hammond River as long as we’re both enjoying it!  Thanks again!



P.S. Really…I’m FINE (and I wasn’t “harbouring small rodents in my eyebrows”)! WM      

Last night, Hope and her friend, Gabrielle, were signed up to participate in an Open Mic Night for kids aged 8 to 15.  Jim, Anna and I went to the Coffee Mill in Lancaster Mall for supper before the show (Hope was at Gabrielle’s and would meet us at the show).  Their average customer keeps his teeth in a glass beside the bed and gets a pension cheque once a month, so we missed the rush by arriving at 5:20.   They make the best Philly Cheese Steak sandwich at the Coffee Mill, and their fries are awesome too!  Jim had the roast turkey dinner, and Anna went for the chicken burger platter and chocolate milkshake.  Yummy! 

We got to the venue for the show, paid our $5 admission and took a seat in a large room where about a dozen teenage boys seemed to be making preparations for the show.  Jim and Anna got their cameras out…Jim was taking still shots, and Anna was doing a video of Hope’s performance.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally at 6:50 (20 minutes after the show was supposed to start), the director came to the microphone and introduced the first act: a kid about 12 who played a trumpet solo…not bad! 

Then the director called Hope and Gabrielle onstage.  We chatted amongst ourselves while technical difficulties with Hope’s CD were being sorted out.  No luck!  It was decided to bring up another act and try again later.  An 11-year-old came up and told an improvised story which only he and his relatives found amusing…please sit down, you obnoxious child! (I thought – I don’t think I said it out loud).  Then, Take 2 of the Hope and Gabrielle duet of “Bulletproof” by La Roux.  The informal tech crew was able to get the CD to play on some kid’s laptop.  The girls did a good job, although Hope kept glancing nervously around behind her at the laptop…her fears were realized when the CD crapped out in the middle of the song.  The girls stopped singing, we applauded, and the show went on.

Gabrielle and Hope in their "Bulletproof" vests...

After a performance by two cute 8-year-old girls who played violin, and then sang a Taylor Swift song badly, the next act came on: A trio of teenagers called All About Appearance.  The lead singer was a Justin Bieber lookalike who could sing and play guitar.  His sidekicks were a male guitarist, and a female drummer.  They were good, and sang three songs.  After that, the show went downhill.  We stuck around hoping it would get better…it didn’t!  Two brothers tortured us with an “experimental” techno song played on a synthesizer keyboard…it lasted an interminable six minutes  (it was at that point that my dad decided he’d had enough, and made for the door). 

The next band was four young teenage boys who were enthusiastic, and could play their instruments, but the lead singer couldn’t sing, and the other guitar player left the stage every two minutes to throw up (the lead singer felt the need to tell us that).  After four deafening “songs” punctuated with heavy drumming, we made our escape!  I’ve always frowned on parents leaving a show right after their child had performed, but I knew that if I didn’t get out of there, I might lose my mind!  I’m all for encouraging young talent, but I believe that some organization and some minimum standards for shows are necessary!

We dropped Hope off at her friend’s sleepover/birthday party on the way home…better late than never!

When we got home, I opened up Facebook to find that my daughter Kaylee’s profile picture had changed:

Zombie Baby...yikes!

I was not amused that someone with far too much time on her hands had turned my sweet “Puddin Pop” into a zombie baby…


Filed under blogging, cooking, family, food, music

Sounds That Soothe My Soul…Part 1, The First 20 Years

Music has been an essential part of my life for as long as I can remember…it is as crucial to my existence as food and water…without it, I would not be the person that I am.

My father sang throughout high school and university, in church (he was a Methodist minister) and at home.  He sings bass in the Saint John Men’s Chorus, and has performed as part of the chorus in a couple of local operas.  Dad prefers music of a classical or religious nature (his solo version of “They Call the Wind Mariah” is one that sticks in my mind), although he has done a few show tunes, and occasionally enjoys listening to more popular fare such as Kenny Rogers or John Denver.  Mom bought him a guitar when we were kids, and he taught himself to play.  I still have tapes of us singing “What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor?” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Dad - late 1970's

My mom’s father was an excellent organist (I remember him playing the theme from “The Sting”)…we used to stand around the organ at Christmas and sing carols.   Mom and her three sisters grew up playing saxophone or clarinet in high school band.  Mom loved music enough to want to major in it in university, but only lasted a year before homesickness sent her back to her parents.  She had “perfect pitch” – I think that’s why I find it so difficult to tolerate off-key singing.  Mom’s musical tastes were a lot broader than Dad’s – along with classical favourites such as Vivaldi and Debussy, she liked Simon and Garfunkel and other early folkies.  In the 1970’s, she discovered Roberta Flack – I always think of Mom when I hear “Killing Me Softly.”

Mom - Late 1960's

I began picking out tunes by ear on our piano at age three, and started formal lessons with Miss Goldie Roe when I was five.  Miss Roe was elderly, and one of the sweetest women I’ve ever known.  Lessons were a dollar for an hour, which was quite a bit of money for my parents in the late ’60’s.  I remember that Miss Roe had broken her wrist at one point, but wrote left-handed in my lesson book the pieces I was to practice – I still have those books, complete with the pretty stickers she gave me each week.  My lessons stopped the summer we moved to Canada – we sold the piano because it was too big to move (I was halfway through the Second Grade of John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano)!

My First Grade Piano Book...

Our first home in Canada came with an old pump organ, but it didn’t work very well.  I borrowed my dad’s guitar and taught myself enough chords to be able to sing songs I liked.  My parents bought me a recorder, and I learned to play that too – it wasn’t my favourite instrument.

About 1970, I saw an ad on TV for a compilation disc put out by K-Tel: “22 Explosive Hits.”  That was the first album I ever bought – it had the techno song, “Popcorn” on it, and several other classics.  I listened to it over and over again on my mom’s stereo – I was delighted to find it again in her record collection after she passed away.  Over the next few years, I would save my paper route and babysitting money, and go to “Sam the Record Man” and buy albums on sale (some of it was total crap!).  I would put on a record and dance to it, all by myself…I always played the whole album…I never had any respect for people who skipped songs!  I went to all the school dances in junior high – I loved Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Takin’ Care of Business”! 

My First Album Purchase...

Once I got to high school, I joined the school band – my parents bought me a flute, which took me a good week to learn how to get a sound out of.  I never was a very good player – had trouble narrowing my airstream enough to hit the high notes!  I loved the social aspect of band though – we got to travel around and perform.  Our conductor, Mr. Williams, was quite comical to watch, but very committed to his work!

When I was about fifteen, I had my very brief “hard rock” period – I bought Kiss’s double album – “Alive”, and played it all the time for a few months – my parents probably wanted to throttle me…

Kiss "Alive" Album...

After high school, one of my first jobs was in a camera store in the mall, which happened to be right next door to the record store – there was a very cute boy who worked there (he had an earring – the classic “bad boy”) – I was smitten!  My record collection grew considerably after that!  I was buying mainly pop – Bryan Adams, the Police, Billy Joel, and Elton John.  In 1981, I went to my first rock concert – a friend and I took the train to Toronto and saw Genesis with 40,000 other people at Exhibition Place – a scary experience for two teenagers from Prince Edward County!

To be continued…


Filed under memories, music, self-discovery