Hold My Beer, Vol.1 by Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen (Album of the Week)

Hold my beerAlbum: Hold My Beer, Volume 1

Artists: Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen

Year: 2015

About: 10 songs; 39 minutes

Choice: Deliberate Obfuscation

This is a 5 hook album. It was somewhere between Austin, Texas and Kansas City, Missouri that I made a connection with Hold My Beer, Vol 1. For me, it is a well known truism that gas stop convenience stores on any road trip offer the flavor of the territory. They have been the source of many of my favorite post cards that highlight the stereotypes that you may expect of whatever location you are in. It’s not mean-spirited, but more boastful – we are what we are, darn it!

Anyway, this one particular stop had a rotating rack of CDs labelled something like “regional music.” Within that rack was Hold My Beer, Volume 1 by Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers. I pulled that one out to have a look (hook # 1 = catchy title). The cover was pretty great too (aka hook #2): stark landscape, single building, two guys (one with a guitar case; one with a satchel) looking like they are skedaddling someplace. The reverse listed the 10 tracks, which also piqued my interest (hook # 3 catchy song titles: Reasons to Quit, Standards, Hangin’ Out in Bars, It’s Been a Great Afternoon). So what did I do? I put it back in the rack and got back in the car and off we went. Sometimes I just am not reasonable.

Regret immediately set in. I should have bought it. About five miles later, I put that baby in my webstore shopping cart and brought it into my library. I regret that I did not make the purchase from the store. They should be supported for putting some interesting music choices out there. I hope I have learned my lesson.

So how is the album? This, readers, is your classic Texas country album. This is Tom T. Hall and Waylon and Buck Owens and Charlie Rich. This is fiddles, steel pedal guitar, honky tonk piano, and lots of picking  and twang. They are songs that you can follow the lyrics like a Jimmy Buffet song, and you get a flavor of who these guys are. Even if this music is not your bottle of beer, it would be difficult to listen to this and not want to sit down and here these guys exchange stories. Where do you hear someone so pleased with who they are and what they are that they openly declare:

Well we’re not sure how we got here

But somehow we stuck around

Some days I feel like we can fly

And some days I think we’ll drown

I guess what they say is true

All you need is one good friend

And in the next life, we wanna be ourselves again

I don’t know either Randy Rogers or Wade Brown, but apparently they have substantial solo acts and this collaboration is their labor of fun. It sounds as much. This is one of those albums where you hear the smiling as these two guys and their band play. They tackle all of the classics: telling the record man to take his ideas and shove ’em, tagging a know it all boss as a certified S.O.B., and being able to turn a morning with a first class hang-over into a great afternoon (hook #4).

Oddly enough, in reviewing the album, Dan found out that Randy Rogers will be in Kansas City next week and he put the date on our calendar. Turns out that Dan likes these guys as much as I did. He nicely associates what we heard on this album to what we saw with our own eyes in a honky tonk in Austin.  

Just as our last album was not my jam but I could open up my ears to it, this one was the same. These good ol’ guys hooked me (hook #5). They also made me ready for another road trip of  discovery.

Next up: Special Effects, by Tech N9ne

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Last Week’s Good Things

Feb15Pickles! I need to get this blog post done before the name becomes obsolete! Just to put you in the right place, the last week that I am talking about is the week of February 15. I know! That seems like longer ago than a week to me too! Maybe it is the waning days of winter that seem to adjust the speed of time or something. Anyway, before it expires, here are a few of the good things that brightened my last week.

BirdieBirdie Arrives – Okay. I am going to cheat here a little bit. On February 20 a little girl arrived into this world who was anticipated to be adored to such a level that she would likely always have a sunshine aura around her. Birdie has a mom and dad who have waited so patiently for her and who will probably be some of the best parents a girl could have. She has grandmas and a grandpa who will be there for her always. She has aunts and an uncle ready to embrace her as a new part of their lives, and that just can’t help but make them better. She has cousins who will be friends and playmates. She has extended family that are all so excited to meet her and fall for her too. And she has people like Dan and me who, though we share no blood, we feel as much a part of her family as genetic boundaries allow. The cheating part of this is that even though Birdie arrived last week, I did not meet her until this week. And she is perfect, and she is loved well.

JasonAnother Gushy Review of Jason Isbell – On Tuesday we went to see Jason Isbell and his band play at the Uptown Theater. This was #6 Jason Isbell show for us. I would say it was probably the best yet. His band is so good, he was so engaged and seemed to be having so much fun. There was something else about seeing him this time. This is weird coming from someone who has never met the guy, but I felt so proud of him. When we first saw him in 2009 he was a different man from the one he is today. You see it in pictures from the time – talent out the wazoo, but hazy from drinking. On Tuesday, along with all of the fabulous musical moments, was his presence as a healthy and happy man. It has been his journey, but as a person who loves the music he makes and the persona that he shares with the world through social media, I feel like I have had some read into where he is now. He and the band encored with the Rolling Stones’ Can’t You Hear Me Knocking which was rocking good fun. After that, this part of his tour ended and he went home to be with his wife. A couple days later on Instagram he posted a picture of his hand on Amanda’s slightly rounded tummy. Happy and healthy.

A Saturday Walk – The weather has been super weird. One minute they say it will snow, but then it doesn’t. Last Thursday, I heard nothing about snow, but I left work (minus my boots) in a real dilly of a snowstorm that kept me crawling through the downtown streets, but as soon as I got a couple miles south the sun was shining and the inches of snow on my car looked very out of place. Weird. Last Saturday was supposed to be weathery, but it turned out to be beautiful. Dan and I are still working hard on getting our steps in, so we used the opportunity to take a walk to Waldo Pizza for lunch. We were extraordinarily good and had salad bar and no pizza. We rewarded our goodness by chasing our salad with one of the best deals in beer flights (and a great selection) in the city.

raylan-boydFinal Season of Justified Started – Raylan Givens is a bad ass, and Boyd Crowder is too. I will be sad when this program ends. In the meantime, I will savor every moment of this show and be so happy every time there is a scene where Raylan and Boyd talk to each other. It is tv brilliance.

Movie Night – We have not been very good with keeping our monthly movie date with our friends. This month, however, we got it done. It’s a good way to end the day to leave work and sit down with people that you want to catch up with and fill in the gaps since the last time you did that. We did that and then we went to see American Sniper (not a huge fan, but, oh, that Bradley Cooper!) and then we went and had some more catchup over a nightcap.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week as March rolls in!

Last Week’s Good Things

weekHoliday weekends bring free time to catch up on things that didn’t get done in the lead up to said holiday. This is a little outdated, but what can be wrong with reflecting on good things that came my way in the recent past?

fantastic-mr-fox-20100322013810854-000The Morning Fox – Nope. This does not refer to anything that has to do with the Fox network. What happened is that I stepped out my front door last week at about 5 AM. It was dark and cold and still. While I walked down the steps to fetch my papers, a beautiful full-grown fox came running down the middle of my street. It was so swift and pretty. The memory of it still is a thing of beauty. Wildlife in the middle of the city happens.

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Anne Lamott talkAnne Lamott was in town last week, talking about her new book, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. Hearing her talk was a wonderful thing! I got to know Anne Lamott first via her book Bird by Bird. It is a wonderful book about being a writer, and writing, and life. Hearing her talk is just like reading her words. She exudes a comfort with herself that makes the space comfortable. She speaks off the cuff and with humor and grace. I love the life that the words she writes and she speaks hold. My favorite essay from Bird by Bird is the title one. In it she remembers her brother whining over a school project that he had to do about birds. He could see no way that he could possibly tackle such a project. Her dad gave him the how to lesson that always sticks with me when I have a big project that looks overwhelming in front of me. How can it get done? Bird by bird.

chrissieChrissie Hynde at the Uptown – This seems like forever ago, but it was officially last week. Dan won tickets to go see Chrissie Hynde perform at the Uptown. She is on a solo tour, but she is backed up by a super band. While I like the Pretenders, they aren’t among the bands I would put among my all time favorites, so seeing Chrissie was something I looked forward to, but I wasn’t over the moon excited about. Dan and I listened to her new album in our listening blog series this year, so I was ready for those songs. She did lots of those along with several Pretenders songs. I gotta say that I really loved this concert. Chrissie was charming in her banter with the audience and band, and her voice is amazing. I don’t know what it would sound like if you did a side by side of her singing thirty years ago, but I don’t think that she has lost anything. One interesting thing about the concert was a big warning that she did not want cell phone pictures taken during the concert. She explained later that the screens really mess with her eyes and she doesn’t like it. When the last number was about to start, she told people that they could use them. A sea of cell phone rose in the air. It was a fine example of give and take! She also writes charming and sweet Facebook tour updates (photo above from that).

Lunch with Friends – Some friends from out-of-town were here visiting other friends last weekend and we got to meet up with them for lunch. We met at BB’s Lawnside BBQ. Man! If you want to hang out on a Saturday afternoon, catch up with friends over a couple good beers and some smokey good meat, BB’s is hard to beat. We have been going there since it first opened in 1990. It has always been a place with good food, friendly staff, and great music. Lucky us!

A new tracker App – I have been trying to pay more attention to some lifestyle things and I found an App this week that I think may be an easy, manageable way to do this, and I can 86 my homemade Excel sheet. TrackNShare comes with some items built in for daily tracking – Happiness, stress, weather, sleep. You can then add other things you want to track and decide on what kind of scale you want to track them. For example, you can choose yes/no, severity scale, a number, a volume scale. It is easy and having it on my IPad and IPhone make it convenient to an extent that makes me not have too much of an excuse not to do it.

That’s some of my story from last week. This week – one in which thankfulness was the dominant theme – is filling up my pages. Thanks for reading and I hope that your good things are many.

Last Week’s Good Things

weekI’ve noticed that many people are using the month of November – the month of Thanksgiving – to post a daily gratitude on Facebook. That is a really nice practice and one that really is a good personal exercise to pay attention. That has always been the intent of this “weekly” posting of my good things. When I don’t post good things, I am still trying to note them in my book. Even that, I don’t do as well as I should. The goal will always be to do better, because whether I am paying attention or not, there is a bunch of good stuff around.

Here are a few of mine that are nice to remember:

royalWatching the Royals from afar – I probably have talked about the Royals more than any other sports team I have written about in the past or in the future (this would be a different story if I was 12 year old me – passionate about the Buffalo Sabres). When the Royals made it to the World Series, love from around the country started to show up in social media. It was great to see friends, friends of friends, and perfect strangers lining up behind the fun ride that the Royals gave us. Probably the sweetest example of this for me was to see Sam and Jean sitting around with other Kansas City fans in an apartment in New York City watching the game – many in Royals regalia. Because of Facebook and Instagram, I got to see that as it happened. That made me happy.

06.RamHanuSitaRainReflectSita Sings the Blues – One of my co-workers shared a copy of a DVD of an animated film called Sita Sings the Blues with me. On my day off, I watched this awesomeness while I was  trying to get some other things done. Man! It was hard to get anything else done, because this is so good. It is really hard to capsulize this, but it is the film-makers retelling of  an Indian legend of Ramayama. The story leaps back and forth between a modern couple’s troubles and the legend of another troubled relationship. In the background, and incongruous, but surprisingly working soundtrack of Annette Hanshaw, a 1920s jazz singer, plays on. It sounds bizarre, and it is. It is also sparklingly beautiful with the colors of India drawn in exaggerated 2-D fashion. Once I had finished, I needed more, so I watched the film maker’s interview. It turns out, there is much more to the story dealing with the rights behind using the music. It is a great story in itself.

nutBoulevard Nutcracker – This is the time of year that Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City releases one of my favorite beers : Nutcracker Ale. It is a full flavored winter specialty ale that is fragrant and warm and delicious. Saturday, while preparing for a little gathering at our house, Dan came home from the store with a six-pack of the newly released 2014 Nutcracker Ale. Cheers!

Oil Pulling – This may be a weird one, but I want to put it out there in case someone may be interested, because it really has been a good thing for me. Oil pulling is a routine of rinsing your mouth with a natural oil for a period of about 15-20 minutes. The technique is an ancient one that has found a new following in the natural healing movement. I had never heard about it, but when I was talking with a friend about my continuing mouth issues, she mentioned this. The thought behind the practice is that it picks up and removes a lot of the nasties hiding out in your mouth. My experiment of trying this for about a week has been positive. My issues aren’t gone, but between this and my other routine, I am feeling like I am at least holding steady.

fallWalking in Fall Leaves – I probably have noted this one before, but walking through beautifully colored autumn leaves that have fallen and are covering the sidewalks is one of my favorite things! I have been able to enjoy that a bunch lately.

Keep looking for your good things; I will too.

Good Things Recently

journalI am not going to pretend that this will be a timestamped archive of a particular period of good thing tracking. When I look at my calendar and see that next week will end the month of October, I am busted! I have let another month get by without really getting my act together. Sure, I have excuses, but none of them really amount to anything insurmountable.

But, I have collected some items that I would like to take some minutes to write about and remember. They reflect some of the last few weeks good things. I hope that as the days have gotten shorter, the trees have taken on brilliant colors, and World Series fever has come to a city that wondered if it ever would again – your days and weeks have brought many of your own good things!

YayA Little Road Trip to Celebrate a New Job

Dan has a new job helping a wonderful agency bring in dollars. The mission is one that means a great deal to him, and it means some very positive lifestyle changes that we are both incredibly happy about. To celebrate, we went to destination location, Bentonville, Arkansas! Seriously, it was a fantastic weekend road trip that we have wanted to do for a while. The attraction is an amazing art museum that is courtesy of one of the WalMart heirs. I am not a WalMart fan, but I am sure a fan of Crystal Bridges. This lovely glass structure sits amongst trees and water and nature trails. The galleries are full of an amazing collection of American art beautifully curated. The big draw for us was the special exhibit that is there through January – State of the Art. The concept is a team from the museum visited 1000 working artist studios across the country and picked 100 of them to include in the exhibit. The variety of media blew me away. There were interactive displays, videos, collages, toys, photographs, paintings …. It was visual fun, and a very great way to spend a morning. After the museum trip (which is free, by the way), we drove to Fayetteville to pursue my passion of visiting independent book stores. Nightbird is a charmer right in the downtown area. The little trip had multiple highlights. Being in Fayetteville on college football day meant we got to see grown men walking around with razorback hogs on top of their heads. Sitting next to our hotel was a Waffle House. Dan had his first and second experience at this iconic joint. We had some good food and bought some beers that we can’t find here. Yay Roadtrips!

Jean Got Her Ring – One morning there was a text message from Sam that the rings they had ordered were in and he was going to surprise Jean at work. The next thing, there was a picture of a hand with a beautiful ring. It was sweet to see the outpouring of likes and offers of congratulations when the engagement status got put up on their Facebooks. The happiness of good news spreading is a nice thing about social media.

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Royals – To be still writing about the Royals is something! This team has not only boosted the happiness level of this city, but they have charmed the socks off of countless the world over. There are good stories every day about something this team has done, or that others have done that make this more than just a baseball story. As I have already confessed, I am not a terribly active baseball fan, but right now I can name a good portion of the roster and I am even contemplating purchasing my first Royals t-shirt.

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Wordless! performance by Art Spiegelman + Phillip Johnston – I remember seeing the book, Maus for the first time and needing to buy it immediately. It was something so new, and I loved it. In it, Art Spiegelman told an amazing story via a comic book format. It had humor, but it also had tragedy and wickedness and sorrow. It became one of my favorite books ever, and it made me a fan of what was to become a whole new genre of literature. I saw on a blog that Speigelman was touring with a jazz ensemble and delivering a lecture about the advent of wordless books. Delightedly, I read that Kansas City was on the tour. I bought tickets and Dan and I went to the performance at the incredible Kauffman Center. It was fantastic, and the way that the images that Spiegelman highlighted were so well supplemented by the jazz of the Phillip Johnston group was crazy great!

I think I will just stop there, even though I have several more items that I have noted in my journal. Suffice it to say that I am feeling pretty lucky these days.

September’s Good Things

coloMy blog might suggest that, thus far, September has been devoid of good things. Untrue! The first week of the month was spent in Estes Park, Colorado where the sound of the Big Thompson River greeted us each morning and put us to sleep at night. While there, we had visits with friends, did some hiking, read some books, marveled at nature, discovered some new breweries, played some games, and kicked back. Back home, however, things immediately moved into overdrive. What September lacked was that balance between vacation and not vacation. With the end of the last week of the month nigh, I will attempt to summarize September and head into October with at least a hope to get things back on track.

Colorado in September – The first week of September is a wonderful time to visit Colorado. Pictures will do better than any words I can come up with.IMG_1670

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This last page of the September issue of Esquire Magazine – I count myself a fan of Esquire magazine. As a print magazine, they always do interesting things with the layout, and their reporting pieces are killer. The writing is always strong. It was, however, the last page of the magazine that really captured me in the last issue that I read. I giggle over it still. even though I tore it out and sent it to Ali. I can’t find a copy of it on line, so you will have to get an idea of what I am talking about by looking at the picture I took of it.

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Visit from the Tooles – We unexpectedly got to host Carly and Thad as they drove across country to set Carly up in her first gig as a physical therapist in Leadville, Colorado. Carly is Ali’s best friend, college roommate, maid of honor. Thad is in the running for brother-of-the-year. We had a great time sharing some KC hospitality – including teaching them how to play Catchphrase and filling their bellies with waffles for their final leg of their journey.
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I won a fantasy football game – the fact that I put this on my list gives you an idea of what a rarity this is. The poor dude that I beat must be feeling pretty badly.

Steroids – I came down with this very weird mouth ailment that became more and more irritating and painful as the month went on. After several false starts, I started on a taper of steroids that kicked out whatever it was that was going on. I am not a medicine fan, but that action was pretty impressive.

The Royals – I watched the Royals win the World Series that first year I was in Kansas City. Sam was a newborn and Dan was a Cardinals fan who could not believe  what happened. Sam just turned 29 and Dan remains a Cardinals fan – but we all feel good about the Royals finally seeing a playoff game.

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The Ken Burns’ Roosevelt series on PBS – The storytelling in that multipart series was riveting! My favorite was Teddy Roosevelt being shot while delivering a campaign speech and proceeding to talk for another hour before agreeing to go to the hospital to see about the bullet in his chest.

Making Cookies – For one reason or another, I made three batches of cookies during the month. The first was Amish Sugar Cookies which I became familiar with when I was growing up and I went to my friend Sue’s house. They are soft and sugar goodness. For fajita night book club, I made peanut butter cookies that I amped up by putting in some cayenne and sea salt. For dinner with friends, I made the killer rosemary shortbread cookies in the Flour cookbook. I kind of think that cookies are the perfect dessert.

Cards from future in-laws – As wedding planning continues, we are excited to get to know both Jose and Jean’s families. This month we received notes from both – sharing their happiness that our children have found happiness.

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My new fountain pen – I hoarded gift cards for a couple years and finally spent them at the awesome Pen Place in Crown Center. Yes! A store of pens! My pen is beautiful and writes beautifully. It is also filled with some equally awesome orange ink. I love it.

I have left off some other pretty big things that may get some extra coverage some other time. Kind of a silly list, but all things that made me happy during an uneven month.

Last Weeks’ Good Things

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I have two weeks worth of good things to report on. We had a great roadtrip to Louisville, Kentucky for the Forecastle Music Festival. That occupies most of the spots in this recap, but there were other mentionable good things too.sharon

  1. Lots of festival music – Over the three days at the festival, we moved from stage to stage to hear some amazing and fun music. The three headliners that ended the nights were Outkast, Jack White, and Beck. I loved them all, but Beck was my favorite. While his latest album is rather quiet, you would not have thought so listening to his show. He covered lots of his territory along with some covers like Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean – and then he finished with Where it’s At. It was enough for Dan to throw a somersault into his dancing. I also saw my man, Jason Isbell who was fantastic. My best surprise was Sharon van Etten. I had her on my list to see, but didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. She was great and her personality was winning. Sun Kil Moon was disappointing, but the set-up just didn’t work well for his quiet style. Hayes Carll (more on him later), delighted me. He was on the smallest of the stages and it worked fantastically. Others on my dancelist: The Black Lips, Spoon, Against Me, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Lord Huron, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Dwight Yoakam (wasn’t expecting much from this one, but it was great fun – especially watching Dan enjoy it!), Jenny Lewis. Music is good for the soul.hayes
  2. Hayes Carll – After enjoying the show at Forecastle, we realized that Hayes Carl was going to be in Kansas City this week. On Wednesday, we went to Knuckleheads and enjoyed another show by this great storyteller. His Louisville and KC sets differed quite a bit. If you have not listened to this guy, I would recommend you take some time with him. He is another one of those songwriters with a gift for language and his songs tell life stories. Wednesday, in honor of his son’s birthday, he sang a sweet and tender song about his love for magic. The very next song was a hilarious one about his baby stealing all of his wife’s attention. Good stuff.bourbon tent
  3. Fancy, air-conditioned portable bathrooms – WIth our festival tickets we also sprang for tickets to the Bourbon Lounge. That got us a fun, insulated cup that vendors inside this huge tent, willingly filled with bourbon. That was great, but as good was that it also gave us access to these special portapotties. This may be a thing, but I have never seen them before. It was like a big trailer that had regular stalls. It was kept clean during the day, and it was air conditioned. I adore this concept.
  4. Lending an Ear – I was sitting alone at the Jenny Lewis concert when the woman sitting behind me asked if she could join me. I said sure and she proceeded to pull her blanket up and we chatted on and off during the show. She seemed to have a bunch going on and she teared up a little as she talked. It wasn’t a big thing, but when the show was over and we got up to leave, she gave me a big hug and thanked me for my kindness. That felt good.ali & jose
  5. Roadtrip meet-up – The other great thing about the trip was not only being able to travel with J & M, but we also met up with Ali and Jose, who made the trip from New Orleans. Over the days, we got to share in some fun music watching, silly dancing, good food sharing, bourbon sipping, late-night pizza ordering, and Catch-phrase competitions (even though the boys won the last night, I am confident that the girls were superior).braceletsThose weeks will be tough to beat, but I am ready for what this week has to offer. How about you? What good happened during your week?

Last Week’s Good Things

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Last week’s good things were multiple, but here are a few of the more noteworthy ones. 

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Jason Isbell, Willie Nelson & Alison Krauss at Starlight – As I have noted before, Jason Isbell is one of my all time favorite musicians – maybe my favorite. My most recent opportunity to hear him was at Kansas City’s Starlight Theater – a beautiful outdoor theater in Swope Park. The sound that night was spectacular! Jason was the opener, so he only had six songs, but he was brilliant as usual. I have not listened to Alison Krauss much, so I didn’t know what to expect there. She has a lovely voice, a great stage presence, and her sharing the spotlight with her other bandmates is winning. Willie Nelson put on a great show. We had heard him a few years ago at Red Rocks. That night he was okay. At Starlight, he seemed to really bring it more and more as the night went on. The night ended with all of the performers on stage singing gospel songs and looking really happy. So was I!

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Keeping Positive – Our new office building is wonderful and to have most of our group in one place is the best! Last week, we had our first Division meeting and there were loads of good sentiments passed on by attendees. I was the recipient of some words that mean so much to me. There is a good vibe in the new building that is palpable. One thing being done is having everyone write on an index card what positive commitment they are making. These are hanging on the bulletin board in the breakroom. Seeing the number of cards grow each day is heart lifting!

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Jean’s beer – After her visit here with Sam, Jean sent Dan a bottle of special beer. It came with a very sweet note and explanation of the contents. Of course, this spoke to Dan in a big way and he reciprocated with a flowing thank you and commentary on hows and whys of beers. Then we actually drank the beer, and enjoyed it for what it was and how it came to us. The whole process – seriously good!

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Scanning Pictures for Ali and Jose’s Engagement Party – We couldn’t attend the engagement party that Ali’s New Orleans’ friends threw for them. What I got to do, however, is provide a photo history of Ali that they used. Sitting and looking through photo albums is the best history ever.

Dan and Pet Videos – Our morning routine during the week is early rising, Dan making breakfast, watching the news, reading the paper, and looking at our computers. Dan laughing at pet videos in the morning makes my morning.

I hope today and every day has many good things for you!

Bonus Good thing: Jason Isbell singing Cover Me Up at Starlight Theater

Last Week’s Good Things

goodWhen you can’t sleep, what better thing to do then just get out of bed and write about last week’s good things? 

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Making and sharing pierogies for Easter – Although it seems like a gazillion years ago, Easter was officially during last week. On Easter Sunday, we had family and friends over – 13 in total. Late in the afternoon, Dan’s sister came over and the three of us became a pierogie making machine. Pierogies, if you are not familiar, are a Polish dish – very much like a ravioli. The family version that Dan and his sister enjoy is filled with cottage cheese, sour cream and lots of pepper. Our finely tuned system included Dan making and rolling out the dough, me filling, cutting and crimping, and Laura boiling, buttering, and baking. The result was delicious, and because it was such a beautiful day, everyone took their plate out to the patio. We sat around talking of pierogies of old, the welcoming of spring, and whatnot. That was a fine example of a holiday celebration.

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Austin KleonAustin Kleon is an artist and author. He has done a TED talk and a keynote at SXSW about creativity and being out there with your creativity – show your work. As part of Kansas City’s Middle of the Map forum, I got a ticket to go hear Austin speak on Tuesday night. Work has been more than hectic these days, so leaving work at a reasonable hour seemed decadent. Add to that, going to a cool space in the Crossroads arts district – where they welcomed me with a free copy of one of Austin’s books and a cold Boulevard Pale Ale – heavenly! Austin’s talk was all about fostering creativity followed by a charming Q & A session. He also has one of the most fun book signatures I have encountered.

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Happy Hour Symphony – I guess I can’t whine about work hours too much since last Monday, Dan came to pick me up at work so we could go to the Kansas City Symphony’s Happy Hour. I had no idea that these existed, but we got an invite to come along with friends. This is a free series offered by the symphony and it includes time prior to the concert where you can hang around the beautiful lobby in the Kauffman Center and have a drink and chat. The concert itself only lasts an hour, so many people were there with their kids. We heard three pieces played by various ensembles. I had not been in Helzberg Hall before, but it is fantastically gorgeous with not a bad seat and incredible sound.

Mary Roach – It was a eventful week! Thursday night, I met friends at another beautiful Kansas City space – the Kansas City Central Library. It always makes me think of a New York Public library at a smaller, but just as lovely, scale. Thursday’s menu was a talk by author, Mary Roach. Mary’s most recent book is Gulp, which is a guidebook of your alimentary canal. The talk was a dialogue with a library staff member, followed by questions and answers. Mary has had a pretty fascinating writing life – writing books about sex, cadavers, life in space, and the afterlife. A author who spins science well is a friend of mine.

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Happy birthday to Dan – Saturday we got to celebrate Dan’s birthday. Because he had to go into work in the morning, I spent some time doing some shopping and preparing for the requested birthday meal. The main dish was T-bone steaks which I got from McGonigles. I made twice baked potatoes with cheddar, sour cream, bacon and added a good amount of heat. Heirloom cherry tomatoes with avacados made the meal healthy. Dessert was Shatto vanilla ice cream with a choice of toppings. Friends were over to share in the bounty. We welcomed Dan into his new year delightfully well.

It is Wednesday already so I need to start enumerating what has been going on this week. I hope that your good things are piling up!