Had a Hard Time with “Hard Times”

I’m sure you know how it is … you practice and practice and practice and think you’re ready for your performance, and then BAM! It blows up in your face. I had been learning and practicing the song “Hard Times” for the Deer Creek Fiddlers Convention since last August. I thought I was ready to perform it yesterday. And yet when I walked up to the stage, I was literally shaking, nervous, feeling like I had lost it.

My performance was the furthest thing from stellar. I could hear myself in the sound system and was totally shaken by what I was hearing, and that only added to the flop. I’m not sure why I got so nervous – could have been that someone I knew was there to hear me, could have been that I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before, could have been that I hadn’t eaten all day (except for half a banana in the morning with my coffee) … I could use any of those as an excuse, but the bottom line is that I sucked.

This is what the song was supposed to song like …

"Hard Times" (cover)

It’s so pitiful that I wrecked the song when I sang it on stage.

Maybe next year will be better.


What a Weekend!

Great weekend! I passed my Project Management Professional certification exam on Friday. I’d been studying for the exam since the beginning of February when I started a prep course at UMBC Training Centers. A huge sigh of relief as I walked out of the testing center on Friday.

I read two books this weekend (only because it was a 3 day weekend) – “50 Shades of Grey” and “My Sweet Saga”, and both were good reads. Next up is “50 Shades of Darker”. Several of us leave for a business trip to Reno next weekend, so I’m planning to get a lot of reading done while in the air. Yes, I’m making up for lost time since I only read exam-related materials for four months!

I’ve also been practicing my song for the Fiddler’s Convention which is right around the corner. Should be fun. Jamie’s been working on his songs too.

Watched several episodes of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” and admit that every time Guy goes to Chicago or some diner is serving a Chicago style something-or-other, I get a little smile and think of how great the food is back home. Got to get back there soon!

Hmmm … My iPod is playing “Longer Boats” by Cat Stevens. Love that song!

What I Did on My Vacation (so far)

It’s Wednesday night, and I can say without a doubt that it’s been one heck of a week so far. My vacation started on Monday, but I put in a lot of work last weekend to make up for so many things that haven’t gotten done around the house.

I had six yards (Jamie calculated it to be 81 bags worth) of double-shredded black dyed mulch delivered early Saturday morning, and by nightfall it was all removed from the driveway. Well, except for some stains on the concrete that won’t go away (yet). I still have some smoothing and placement to take care of, but for the most part the front yard is done and the back is about 70% complete. The dye bled through the garden gloves, and it looks like I’ve been playing in dirt for days. I’ve tried acetone, goof-off, stuff they told me about at Lowe’s, and regular nail polish remover. Most of it is gone, but there are some lingering spots on my cuticles and under some of my nails that look just plain awful. I might have to paint my nails since I have a supply chain meeting to go to tomorrow night at Towson State University.

Sunday, Mother’s Day, I did the laundry, went grocery shopping, stopped at Lowe’s to pickup some flowers for the deck and porch, and then did some stuff around the house. I decided it was time to replace my burned-out dryer too.

On Monday I went back to Lowe’s and ordered a dryer to be delivered on Tuesday. Just a head’s up – I saved around $120 at Lowe’s compared to the exact same model dryer at Sears. Just sayin’ …

Tuesday the dryer arrived and I promptly did a load of laundry to test it out. On Wednesday I switched the washer and dryer spots since the dryer stuck out a little too far next to the garage door. Mowed the front lawn, did the edging, went to the bank and the Post Office …

And in between all of this I’ve been studying for my project management exam (late next week) and practicing a song for the Fiddler’s Convention in June. Whew! Oh yeah, and checking email at work and taking care of a few things there too.

I love being busy!


Who Turned up the Music?

I have gone instrument crazy over the past few weeks – musical instruments, by the way.  I guess I could blame this on The Deer Creek Fiddler’s Convention early in June, or I could throw the fault on Common Ground on the Hill and their Roots Festival last weekend.  But honestly, it’s all me.

I bought a used hammered dulcimer after the Fiddler’s Convention, and last weekend I bought a mountain dulcimer.  Jamie plays both (you recall Jamie, my boyfriend who is a musical wizard and who provides for my auto needs since he works at Mr. Tire).  All told, there were three trips to House of Musical Traditions in Takoma Park, one trip to Appalachian Bluegrass in Catonsville, and the weekend (yep, both days) at the Roots Festival at the Carroll County Farm Museum.  Lots of miles, lots of money.  Okay, not an exorbitant amount of money, but enough where I guess I’ll be going back on my Weight Watcher’s diet now (salad, salad, and more salad).

I love the string instruments.  Guitars are still my first love, of course, but now I’m going to open up my hands and fingers to other strings.  (Oh, did I mention I bought a mandolin last year after the Fiddler’s Convention and haven’t even started trying to learn that yet.)  Oops, I forgot about the ukulele I picked up also (thanks to Dee, my nephew’s wife who now plays).

Look at it this way – even if I don’t learn these fine musical things scattered all over my house, at least Josh will be able to sell them and get some money after I’m gone – right?  So I guess you could say I’m helping provide for him after I die?  Okay, that’s a stretch.

Anyway …

Thanks to Jamie I’m already learning a few songs on the hammered dulcimer.  And just like Jamie, I’ve become a hammer whore (his term, not mine).  Yep, you read that correctly – we are both hammer whores.  I think he’s got something like twenty or so pairs of hammered dulcimer hammers.  I’ve got ten pairs.  All different woods, all different handles, all different styles – all for different sounds on the strings.  The pair I’m loving right now is single-sided rosewood with a heart cut-out and circles on the hammer heads.  Stunning.  Handmade by Bob Bedard in Catoosa, OK.  Sweet guy – included a handwritten note when he shipped my other two pair of hammers.  I highly recommend his hammers – beautiful in looks, magnificent in sound.

And if you’re interested in hearing some great music on both types of dulcimers, check out Dan Lundrum (hammered dulcimer) and Bing Futch (mountain dulcimer – totally awesome!).

It’s 8:30 am, Saturday morning.  Buddy (my 9-year-old dachshund) is barking in the basement at the squirrels under the bird feeders.  I’ve got the deck door open.  Sunlight is filtering in through the trees behind the deck, crickets (locusts?) are doing their noisy thing in the woods, birds are chirping and singing to each other.  My coffee is still decently warm as I sip in-between writing this blog.  I’m waiting for delivery of my new mattress.  Josh is coming home from Atlanta later today.

Life is exceptionally good.

Just Checking In

Yesterday was Fathers Day.  My parents had a rib cookout with the family back home in Illinois.  I’ll find out on Sunday how everything went (it’s the day I usually talk to my mom and sister).  I’m sure it was great.  My dad is an excellent cook and exceptional with grilling.

Jamie’s out on the deck putting some new strings on my new-used hammered dulcimer – he’s replacing the low strings with wound strings to make it sound better.  He’s teaching me how to play.  I got the bug after the Deer Creek Fiddlers Convention a couple of weekends ago.  Now I can’t wait for the Music & Arts Festival at the Farm Museum the weekend of July 9-10.  David’s Dulcimers is supposed to bring a new stand that they’re holding for me.  It’s cherry and should match my dulcimer.  By the way, I named my hammered dulcimer Rohan (it’s got a red-stained top).  And my beautiful Martin did so well for me at the Convention that it finally gave me its name – Aiden.

I got an extremely wonderful surprise on Saturday that I can’t share with anyone (except for the few people who know about it) because it would probably get one of the involved parties in trouble.  Don’t you just love a mystery?

Josh is doing great with his dad in Atlanta.  He’s seeing what the working world is like – getting up early, getting home late – eat dinner, sleep, wake up, go to work, come home, eat sleep, get up … and on and on.

Other than this, not much is going on.  Work is really busy (budget season), I am constantly working in the yard on weekends (weeds never take a break), and I am already looking into what I play and/or sing at next year’s Fiddlers Convention.  A full life is a wonderful life.

Talk to me.

A Perfect Sunday before Memorial Day

Today was the day I took all of Josh’s dorm room bedding and my queen comforter to the laundromat.  My washer and dryer couldn’t have handled the volume.  I enjoyed doing this little task – it gave me time to read more of “War and Peace.”  I’m hoping I’ll finish the novel sometime in the next couple of years … 🙂

When I got home I went down to the basement to get some Diet Snapple to put into the fridge.  Buddy followed me because he wanted to go outside.  So I let him out and decided to sit with him for a few minutes.  And then I noticed all of the weeds and the edging that needed to be done.  I donned my garden gloves and grass trimmers and started clipping away.  It was hot and a bit humid.  I was sweating.

I got half a brown lawn bag full of weeds and grass clippings by the time I was done.  Buddy sat patiently by the door waiting to go inside and cool down.  As I carried him up the stairs (he’s getting older and has arthritis in his right front leg) I remembered the Snapple.  I finally got a few bottles in the fridge.

Then I listened to a song Jamie wants to learn for the Deer Creek Fiddler’s Convention and tried to learn the chords on the guitar.  And then I listened to “The Scarlet Tide” from the movie “Cold Mountain.”  It would be cool to play that song too.

I tackled a few things in the garage afterward, like taking the bottle holder off my bike (it’s too close when I dismount) and straightening some things up.  Then paying bills and listening to Lady Gaga songs on iTunes.  Sitting outside again with Buddy and taking more photos of the birds in the backyard.  The driving range with Jamie after he got off work.  Steaks on the grill.  A bottle of wine.  “Criminal Minds” marathon on A&E.

What a perfect day, don’t you think?