The Whistler's Dream

Everybody needs a dream...
Mine is to go to Oklahoma and play whistles for The Pioneer Woman. (Having been invited, not in a "creepy stalker" kind of way, for the record.) Heck, I'd play in a pup tent in the backyard for the joy of the cows and critters. What can I say? I'm a fan.
Everybody needs a dream...

Random Fluffy Foto!

Random Fluffy Foto!
Writing in bed, and Beka editing by ear. Really. The ear typed some letters. Really.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Rumor confirmed! Cap'n's on iTunes!!!

It's confirmed... Angelica's Waltz is on iTunes! :-D Wow...

If you have iTunes on your computer, this link gets you there:
(if the link doesn't work, search in the New Age catagory for Cal Olson and you should find me)

If not, you can check out the same samples on the CD Baby page - just click on the album cover on the right of this page to get there.

Now, can I ask a favor of those of you who have the CD.........

Could you take a moment or two and leave a review? Either at CD Baby or on iTunes? Reviews help other folks decide to check out the music, and since I can't write those myself, it would really help to have some from others who have the album... And, it really helps if those happen to be positive. So if you're using the thing as a purple coaster, well... :-D Reviews help generate sales, and we can use all the help we can get. Thank you SO MUCH for helping out!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Oh there's no place like home AFTER the holidays

I'm really surprized that Vicki's parents put up with me for an entire week. :-D

We had a Newberry Christmas this year - leaving on the 24th and getting home this afternoon. Some things that were either lessons learned or worth noting...

- Playing the wind controller for carols and hymns in church rocks! When the folks sang "I heard the bells...", they really did! (handbells from the windsynth, that is!)

- Ezri and Vicki's dad still aren't the best of friends. But at least he tolerates her (and me)

- It's really better for me NOT to have cable. I become a recliner potato, to the point of staying up until 3am watching stuff on the Discovery channel. Vicki got especially irritated when she woke up at 4am and found me staring at the tv... with the sound off... just watching pictures and surfing channels... eeeeep... (we are toying with getting cable again, and using parental control to block all but a few channels - Discovery, TLC, HGTV, Hallmark, AMC and some local channels. We'll see... might be better not to open that box...)

- I have some MAJOR exercising to do, to make up for all the goodies I had this week.

- "Over the Hedge," "Nanny McPhee," and "Cars" all look really amazing on a wide-screen tv.

- My nieces are the cutest kiddos on the planet!
(young ladies actually - since one of them turns 16 in January... I feel really REALLY old...)

- I need to get a portable lamp to go with my "portable jewelry shop." Made some pretty pieces, but light was a slight issue. Had a ball, tho...

- It is possible for Ezri to get tired of playing, but I will always wear out long before she does.

- The Pizza Place in Newberry still makes the best pizza ever! If being near The Pizza Place was the only factor in deciding where to live, we'd be packing now...

- It's a real blessing to have an amazing relationship with my in-laws. Actually, I never think of the "in-law" part - they're just Mom & Dad to me. :-D

- I'm not going near fudge or peanut brittle for a few months. Yum-O, but I've had enough to last me until my birthday or so...

Happy New Year, and goodbye 2006 (not to mention good riddance)... don't let the door hit you on the hiney on the way out. The Lord knows what awaits us all in 2007, but I'm hoping for something different than last year. 2006 was necessary, but I'm glad to see it go...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Blessed Christmas!

Hymn to the Heavenly Gift, from the musical "Heaven Rejoices"

Heavenly gift, You were sent from above.
Treasure of Heaven, rich jewel of love.
Worthy of worship, the angels declare.
Heaven was poorer while You were not there.

Heavenly gift, of the gifts we could bring,
nothing is worthy of so great a King.
Purest of gold or the most precious stone,
all we could offer, You already own.

What gift can we bring to the richest of Kings,
who walked on the gold streets of Glory?
Our lives we can give, every day that we live,
and we'll be like wise men, adoring.

Heavenly gift, from the Father so free.
Richest of riches, most precious is He.
Honor this gift, lest it be turned away.
Now accept Him as your Savior today.

What gift can you bring to the richest of Kings,
who walks on the gold streets of Glory?
Your life you can give, every day that you live.
And you'll be like wise men, adoring.

What gift can we bring to the richest of Kings,
who walks on the gold streets of Glory?
Our lives we will give, every day that we live.
And we'll be like wise men, adoring...

Blessed Christmas, friends...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A comparison...

This is Cal without his Optivisor...

And this is Cal with his Optivisor...

Any questions?

(an Optivisor allows someone to see small things really big... kind of like reading glasses on steroids. And that round lens thingie is an Optiloupe - adds another 2.25X to that eye. This thing is way cool! Except I now see all the imperfections in the stuff I've been making... oi.)

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's just a rumor...

It appears that a certain whistle-playin', jewelry-makin', storytellin' person is coming to iTunes.


I knew that CD Baby would submit the project to iTunes. But I didn't expect it to make it onto iTunes.


Within the next 30 days, we'll either be able to confirm or deny the rumor.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Bling Bling...

I did my first craft show - albeit a really small one at our church - and it tanked. I sold a few CDs but only one piece of jewelry. :-( Ah well... I think it was more the night than the pieces...

SO - if anyone needs that extra-special Christmas gift, I DO have some VERY nice pieces all made up and ready for immediate delivery. :-D Just let us know and we'll hook you up. :-D

I've also made some of my first rings - great fun! I've got a couple of honkin' big silver and gemstone rings that I made for my big ol' fingers, so the bling factor around here is pretty high right now.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Goodbye, Grandma...

Vicki's Grandmother, Helen Osborn, went home to glory last night.

Wait - let me correct that last sentence...

Our Grandmother, Helen Osborn, went home to glory last night. She was one of those grandmotherly grandmas - lots of hugs, lots of love, lots of humor, and a sweet, quiet spirit. She's had a special place in our lives, and we will miss her.

If you think of it, please pray for Grandpa - Herschel. He's the one that turned 100 last March, and to be honest, we don't know how he'll do now that Grandma is gone. They were married over 77 years, and Grandpa will have a large void in his life. And, since he loses track of people, dates and such, we really have no idea what will happen with him.

Rest in the arms of Jesus, Grandma - we'll see you someday soon...

On a different note...

Ah - Blogthings. Where would civilization be without them...

Dark Purple

To others, you seem a bit dark, mysterious, and moody.
In truth, you are just a very unique person who doesn't care what others think.
And you really enjoy your offbeat interests and friends.

Friday, December 01, 2006

On being a trophy husband...

1) A shirt I wish I could wear... saw this in a catalog - it proclaims, "I'm sick of being my wife's arm candy." I can't count the number of times I've thought that very same thing... it's about the same number of times I've ever used the phrase "Git 'R Done!"

2) From Arm Candy to He Sugar... This morning, one email from "Shirley" (that's my mother-in-law's name, but somehow I don't think she's the one who sent it...) had the subject line of He Sugar. Which leads me to two possible conclusions... either the word has gotten out about being my wife's arm candy, or "Shirley" doesn't know her "he" from her "hey". I know it's obvious which is the correct conclusion, but allow me to ponder it anyway.

Thus it goes... back to the jewelry bench, watching the snow come down whilst sipping a cup of mocha cinnamon swirl coffee and thinking that this "working at home and not having to go out to the office thing" ain't all bad. Oh - and maintaining my status as arm candy - that does take a lot of time out of the day.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Available on CD BABY!

album cover
Yup. Angelica's Waltz is now available through CD Baby. Of course, we do a little better if you order it directly from us, but it's still cool. And, you can hear samples of all the songs on the CD Baby page. Just click the album cover to check it out. :-D

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I'm thankful for...

Faith... because it all starts here.

God's love, grace, mercy, etc. ... all of which I have experienced deeply over the last year.

Family... for keeping me sane through this last year.

Friends... see above.

Music... the language that allows me to express my joy, sorrow, praise, gratefulness, and a whole range of other emotions without having to find the words.

Being laid off... as Scott Krippayne says, "Remind me this is more than just a mountain - soon to be a story I can tell of Your faithfulness. I will not forget. Take me to the place."

The new CD... may it be as much of an encouragement to others as it has been to me while making it.

Making jewelry... not only something I can do to earn income, but something to express creativity.

The Word of God... even when our pastor uses it to kick my butt on a Sunday morning.

The 10 things that make life easier... see previous post for the list.

Looping pliers, step pliers, and flat nose pliers... if you work in wire, you understand. If not, trust me. These are VERY good things.

The Internet... even if Al Gore did invent it. Keeps me in touch, provides information and entertainment, and allows me to know the financial plight of people in Uganda. And why I should send them money right away. That stuff is all true, right?...

Our church... this is covered under family and friends, but let's put it right out there - we love our church family!

Folks in Retirement Communities... because they like music, they ask cool questions, and it makes me smile to watch them as I play for them.

CPAP... keeps a fella breathing all through the night. And not snoring, thus shaking Vicki out of bed and making Ezri come over and see what all that noise is about.

Babbling on a Blog... which would wrap up this list.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!
and as Tiny Tim would say,
"God Bless Us, Every One!"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Come and git it!!!

Our UPS guy was definitely wondering what was going on here when he dropped off the 14 boxes today. :-D Yes, the CD is done, and is here.

If you're at C-stone, or in the neighborhood, you can drop by Vicki's office - she has them there, and will be glad to pass them along to you.

1st Cov folks - just let us know if you'd like one or more, and we can place them in your mailboxes at church.

Not one of the above two? No sweat. Drop me a note at and we'll hook you up. You can send us a check, or we accept PayPal, and we can ship your order right out.

The cost: $15 for the first CD, and $10 for each one after in the same order. (Of course, if you ordered one, got it, liked it, and want to buy others, we'll probably extend that discount to you... if you're especially nice to Vicki. She's the boss, after all. :-D ) Shiping goes on top of that, if applicable. We'll let you know what the total is when you contact us.

We're working on where this is going to be distributed, so that's still in the future. It'll also be available to purchase via download - I'll post those details soon. But, of course, if you download it, you miss out on all the cute pictures and the commentary... OK, the latter isn't a big selling point. But the pictures ARE really cute!

(Macey, who is our "Angelica" and whose pretty face is all over this puppy asked her mom, "am I famous now?" Yes you are, kiddo - you surely are!)

Thanks for all 4.78 of you that read this - you've seen the "behind the scenes" of the CD. And, at last, what I've been thinking about over the last few years is now reality. To God be the glory - great things He has done!

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Arrival - 2 days!!!

The shipment is on the way! In two days, the CDs will be here!!! Oh joy! Oh rapture! Oh boy oh boy oh boy...

The larger question is, will Cal sleep over the next two days? Only time (and some really good drugs) will tell. In the meantime, I'm trying to get rid of a cold, enjoying oatmeal made in the rice cooker, and making a bunch of jewelry for a small craft sale at church. :-D

Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy........

Thursday, November 09, 2006


You heard me. Oatmeal.

For the last 10 months or so, this blog has been on a more serious note. Granted, the rather profound changes that have been happening to me would seem to warrant that. But, the dust is settling, the new path is getting a little more comfortable, and thinking about WCSG having sharathon next week is putting a smile on my face.

(you can figure out that last part. Suffice it to say I'll be thinking of all of my former co-workers, whilst in my slippers and robe, and be laughing... a little.)

So, I'm going to make an effort to lighten things up. And it all starts with oatmeal. Yes, oatmeal. Dreaded by some, loved by others. We would be the latter around das Olsonhaus... We've always loved oatmeal - no milk, maybe a bit of butter, and definitely a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on your viewpoint) dollop (spoonful, shovelful, pass me the whole bucket, would ya?) of brown sugar.

Instant oatmeal? Well, it'll do in an absolute emergency. Quick cooking? No - if you're going to take that much time, you might as well take the time for the regular old stuff. The problem? Even the long cooking stuff can be done in 5 minutes, but you end up with oatmeal where the oats are a little too al dente for me. I like my oatmeal to be more mush and less chewy. You only get that either by soaking the oats, or cooking it a long time, watching it like a hawk lest you get something that resembles a tan block of cement in your pan with a golden black underbelly. A double boiler helps avoid that, but still a little too much time invested for this impatient man. You can also do it overnight in a crock pot, but that's a song for another day.

So, to this little scenario, we add one element that has brought joy, laughter, and morning-time yumminess to our home. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...
The humble rice cooker. (TA-DA!) Yes, the rice cooker. And I'm not talkin' one of those luxo-top-o'-the-line best rice short of a trip overseas thingies. We got ours for $20 at Costco. Cheap works. Really.

So, here's how it goes down. You make the oatmeal according to the directions on the package. Only you put everything in the rice cooker. Then hit start. And, 20 minutes later (or so, depending on your machine), you have oatmeal. Actually, we then leave it on the warm cycle for a while, just to make sure it's softened enough. We can make it when Vicki gets up, so she can have some, leave it on warm, and I'll have some when I get up. (yes - my wife rises earlier than I do. And, for the record, usually I'm up to see her off. But sometimes... not.)

The added benefit, besides being able to use this gadget for more than just rice? Ours allows you to preset it. We set it for however many hours we want to have oatmal ready in, go to bed, and the next morning, voy-lah, there it is. Grab a bowl, a spoon, and a case of brown sugar, and have at it.

And, best of all, the 9 pound box of Oatmeal is on sale until the 12th at Costco. We now have enough oatmeal to get us through most of the winter... maybe.

So, like oatmeal? Got a rice cooker? You got it made. YeeHaw.

Friday, November 03, 2006


Oh boy oh boy oh boy...

(alright, round boy... enough with the exclamations. Get on with it...)


We got the "final approval" disc today - how the disc will sound, now that it's all mastered and tweaked and whatever else they do in that process. I was instructed to listen to the entire disc, without interruption, to evaluate it. This is my last chance for input, so it's kind of the point of no return.

And we were a little nervous. It's a few hundred dollars to have the entire mastering process done, and we were trying to do what would make the CD the best it could be, without wasting money. So we debated a long time about spending the extra to have it mastered.

The result? Worth every penny. No question. :-D The detail of the sound is so clean - everything in its correct "sonic space," so you can hear the layers of sound in the songs. You can pick out the textures of the different instruments, and it all sparkles like a polished diamond. It sounds amazing - and for me to be saying that about my own music is something indeed. :-D

And, when we play it on our DVD system in the living room, the titles of the songs show up on the TV. It's a geek thing, but it's REALLY cool. :-D

Having heard the final result, I am very proud of it. It's been a long trip to get here, but we're almost done. Tentative ship date for the CD is November 14th, and when it finally gets in our hands, you'll be able to hear the shouting all over Grand Rapids.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Cal's Top 10 Things That Make Daily Life Better

I've been going on and on about the CD so much, that I thought I'd ramble (or babble) for a bit. I've been thinking about my daily routine - or lack thereof, and discovered there are certain things that make things better... So, here they are. Some of them may be helpful to you... others are one-of-a-kind, and sorry - I'm not giving those up. :-D

(In no particular order... sort of...)

10) Senseo coffee
pod brewer - Since I'm the only one who drinks coffee in our house (and that would be flavored, with LOTS of cream and some sugar...), it makes sense not to have a conventional brewer. I can also make one flavor in the morning, and switch to another one anytime I want to! (

(I should also mention the LARGE water tank for the Senseo - VERY important!)

9) Cool Beans Coffee Pods - (makes sense - you need coffee pods for the brewer, right?) Cool Beans has a lot of flavored decaf coffee pods, as well as some teas. Chocolate Raspberry and French Vanilla are some faves of mine, along with Mocha Cinnamon Swirl and Gingerbread Cookie (which I happen to be enjoying right now...). Good stuff! (

8) Ezri. She makes sure I don't sit in one place too long, since every couple of hours she comes to wherever I'm working and asks to go play in the back yard. And, she keeps me company on those days when I'm feeling a little lonely.

7) High Speed Internet. 'Nuff said.

6) The Neverlate Alarm Clock - This little puppy ROCKS!!! 7 seperate alarms, that you can set once and leave alone. Don't have to remember to turn on the alarm for the next morning, since it goes to the next one each day. So I can do one time Tuesday-Friday, a later one for Saturday, earlier on Sunday, and later on Monday. BRILLIANT!!! I love this thing!!! (

5) A headset for my phone :-D - I use it to make appointments, take information from clients, and just generally have my hands free when I'm on the phone.

4) An iPod and a Bose Sounddock - A continuous background of music to work by. Except of course for when I'm working on music. :-D (

3) Rock 'N' Roller Hand Truck - This little puppy expands into a platform cart so I can take my entire rig into a gig in one trip. Needless to say, it's essential.

2) Really good pliers - the better to make jewelry with. :-D

1) Vicki. Yes, she's a PERSON, not a thing... but she keeps the computers running; her eye for design and proofing is what will make the CD look better than it sounds; Her heart is huge, and she shows me what God's love looks like every day.

And, she is the one who decided that her 47 year old hubby would stay home and follow a path to creativity, instead of going back to a day job. That vision has brought smiles to the faces of many senior citizens, and hopefully to many others when the CD is released. She is amazing, and she is my beloved!

And over it all? The grace and love of God, giving an old dog like me a chance for a new path. To Him alone is the glory, for His love endures forever...

Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, October 27, 2006

So when are you due?... (CD, not baby...)

To answer Jenelle's comment on the previous post, yes! The CD should be back in time to be a great Christmas gift. (I'm blushing a bit as I write this...) Here's where we are at:

The CD is at the plant, getting mastered and having the artwork finalized. We hopefully will see proofs of the artwork early next week, and if all continues on schedule, they should hopefully be back near the end of November - maybe even before Thanksgiving! The project manager we're working with has been super - very helpful and lots of great communication.

One feature that was added that we didn't even realize could be a feature: when you put the disc in a "smart" CD player, like your computer or a car player with this capability, the player will display the titles of the different tracks. :-D Call me a geek, but I think that's just plain cool! Or, if you import it into iTunes from the CD, it should recognize the text on the CD and load the titles for you. (I'm guessing on that last one - we'll see when it comes back...)

Now, a question for the fine and friendly folks that read this blog...

We're working out what to charge for the CD, and I'd like some input. We're taking into account what it cost to make the thing, not only the actual duplication and artwork, but the hours and hours involved in the whole process - from writing the songs to recording the tracks to mixing, etc. So, the price we're thinking of is $15 for the CD, and a price break from there when someone buys more than one.

So, what do you think? Does $15 seem fair for a 54 minute CD? I know folks who think that all music should be free, and while I can understand and appreciate that, the $3000 and-then-some dollars to make the thing has to come from somewhere. We were going back and forth between $10 and $15, keeping our costs in mind, and are leaning toward the $15, not only to pay for this project, but to make future ones possible. (including replacing a couple of computers, to make sure that the studio system doesn't die in the middle of the next project, leaving the fate of the songs in near-jeopardy... coming that close to losing them just about freaked me out...) I already have two songs that are definite for the next disc, as well as a couple new ones that are just in the process of being written. I'm also hoping to do something special with part of the proceeds from the next CD - details forthcoming on that...

So, if you'd take the time to leave a comment, it'd give us a totally non-scientific sampling of an admittedly biased audience. :-D Thanks! Now we sit back and wait... anxiously. :-D

Sunday, October 22, 2006


It's 2:30am, and Vicki's gonna kill me for being up this late...

BUT - the CD is finished!! A couple of weeks late, and too late to have them for the photography exhibit I'm playing on Thursday, but still - it's DONE! It goes out for mastering and duplication on Monday, after which I think we're going to Mongolian BBQ to celebrate.

AND - it appears that my songs are finally going to actually start playing on MySpace! Appears that the files I sent were too big... of course, they didn't TELL me that. I just had to figure it out for myself. *sigh*

The link is here, in case you'd like to check it out:

So, there we are. I think I'm going to take Sunday off, and actually REST for a change... I'm going to try and talk Vicki into going to Rivertown and play games all afternoon in the food court. (after church, of course!) So, if you're out there Sunday afternoon, look for us. Maybe we'll be there, playing our new favorite game, Starship Catan. :-D

Thursday, October 12, 2006

How to do what I do

If you should ever contemplate doing what I do, playing music for folks at retirement communities, there are a few things you should know...

1) Allow yourself two hours to set up. Trust me - you'll need 'em. Unless, of course, you're one of those talented people who can just show up and sing, or show up and play their piano. If you schlep any gear at all, 2 hours.

2) Realize that most of those two hours of setup will be in front of an audience. Especially if you're in the dining room for your gig, and it's just after lunch. The folks will just turn their chairs around, face you, and watch you for two hours. I know - we usually use setup time to get our game on - to get mentally ready to play. Tough. This is part of what you're being paid for, so give 'em a good show. Sweat. Groan. Lift heavy objects. And don't forget to smile.

2a) If they didn't just stay after a meal, or they came from another building, they will arrive 40-60 minutes before you begin. Again, see #2. Don't forget to smile...

3) You will be asked the same questions about 20 times. Smile, be patient, and don't correct them when they get your name wrong. Instead, see how creative you can be in answering the same question 20 different ways.

4) The more equipment you have, the more astonished folks will be that you a) bring all that stuff, b) know how to hook it all up, and c) know what to do with it all. Smile.

After you have the privilege of playing for these dear folks...

1) Many of the same people who just sat through watching you setup will sit through watching you tear down. Once again, smile, lift heavy objects, sweat a bit (but not enough to gross anybody out - I always have trouble with that part...), and keep answering the same questions.

2) Also laugh at the witty things they say - they'll keep saying them over and over again, so keep laughing.

3) Be aware that even though they just watched you get all that stuff out, that was 2 hours ago, so they'll be amazed that a) you have that much stuff, b) that you know where everything goes when putting it away, and c) that you know how to take it all apart. (Again, if you don't take any equipment to gigs with you, you don't really get this part. It's a shame, because you're missing out on a major part of the experience...)

4) They're going to tell you how wonderful the music was, how much they enjoyed it, and how talented you are. Now, even if you just played the worst hour of your entire musical life, which, if it had been recorded, would be a piece entitled "snail snot on a kazoo," thank them sincerely for their kindness. DO NOT go into what an off day you were having, how the key on your widget stuck, etc. That's your problem, not theirs. They just had a bright spot to their day, enjoying music and your company. Don't take that away from them with reality.

5) Schlep all your dollies and dishies back out to your vehicle, load it up, get in the driver's seat, and reflect on what a cool thing it is to be able to play music for these sweet folks. Thank God for His gift of music, pray that the folks that just heard it were encouraged, and hit the road with a smile on your face.

Repeat. Again. And again. And again...

Lord, thanks for another great day of making music. Thanks for the folks in Jenison - bless them, be dear to them, and thanks for allowing me to bring a bit of light into a dark, snowy day. Amen.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sneak Preview!!

If all this new-fangled technology works the way it's supposed to, y'all will be able to hear a bit o' the new CD on my MySpace page. (of course, since I'm the one who set it up, it'll probably crash the whole eastern seaboard or something...) Anyway, cross your fingers and head over to:

The songs should appear within the next 24 hours, or so the folks at MySpace tell me. :-D And hey - if you're a MySpace person, consider adding me to your friends, and I'll do the same.

Technology. Scary...

DONE!!! (with this part anyway)

I finished the basic work for the last song this afternoon. It's fitting that the first song I ever wrote is the last song I finished for the CD - the title track, "Angelica's Waltz."

Fine tuning is next, and finishing the copy for the booklet. Hopefully tomorrow our software arrives for us to begin the design of the materials, and we'll finish that this weekend and have the CD out to the duplication company on Monday.


And yes, I'm a little nervous about the whole thing. What if folks get it, listen to it, and think "what the HECK did I spend actual cash money on this thing for?" Or, "Look mom - a new coaster." Yes, I'm insecure - it's like putting something very personal out for public display and commentary. Eeeep.

Soli Deo Gloria...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

And then there were two...

As of 6pm, we're down to two songs left to complete. :-D The solos are all recorded - now it's down to editing (known as doing a "comp" track - taking many performances and selecting bits and pieces to combine into the finished solo) and then the final checking. We're hoping to have it off to mastering and duplication by next week...

Two to go...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Oi!! The Album cometh...

Unbelieveable. We're actually at the "get the pictures for the artwork and start writing the copy to go with it for the little book" stage of the CD process. I've still got recording to do for about 3 songs, but we're so close to finishing. The goal is to have the CD done, off for duplication, and back in our hands by October 28th. I'm playing at a photography exhibit of pictures from Ireland, and although it's a freebie gig, they asked if I would have CDs to sell. So, the deadline is in place and we're sprinting toward the finish.

We have begun working on the album cover, and I
've started writing the copy for the booklet. The legal part of the songs is pretty well set - there was only one song for the CD that wasn't either public domain or one of mine, and I've received permission to use that song, so we're all green on that front. :-D

Vicki and I didn't realize until just a week or so ago that the album actually has a theme - I didn't plan it that way, but Someone did. :-D The album is about healing, and hope in the midst of darkness. Considering the events that caused me to have the time to complete the CD, it's not surprizing that the process of healing in my own heart and life would be reflected in the content of the CD. (and, the CD is much MUCH closer to completion than the process in my heart is... but we're getting there) Songs like I Will Arise, Lead Kindly Light, O The Deep Deep Love of Jesus and my friend John's wonderful song, The Healing Starts Here all point toward God's love, mercy, grace, and how He cares for us in all things and in all ways.

Anyway, the final sprint is on, and we're working hard to finish this thing. The odd thing? I've actually got some material left over and am contemplating CD #2 - now THAT'S a scary thought... :-D

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Happy birthday, my beloved!!

She is kind, loving, has an amazing laugh, has incredible skills, makes beautiful things out of fabric (and insures that my beautiful things out of beads and wire look as good as they possibly could), drives us to different places and never gets lost (usually...), is a gifted musician, is one of the most patient persons you will ever know (especially when it cones to dealing with her hubby...), will go out of her way to help anyone, anywhere, at any time, is a loyal friend, and is the delight of my life and my beloved.

And now, she's all those things AND a year older. Happy birthday, beloved - I love you!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Um... here's the news... quickly...

Apologies to all three of you that still read this... (actually, we're down to 2.35 readers...) I know it's been a while. So, here's a fast lean update sans babble...

Played at Meijer Gardens on Sunday night for an event for grandparents and grandkids. I was outside in the children's garden, and it was VERY fun! I always love it when kids dance to the music, and it's expecially nice when grandparents were dancing too!

- Playing tonight at Calvary Church for a Promise Keepers event. (the pre-event event...) They needed a worship band, so Jeremy (our worship leader at Church) and I are joining a few others (including his sister, who has one of the most incredible voices I've EVER heard!!!), and it should be an amazing night. :-D

- Leaving for Ohio tomorrow, to play for a cousin's wedding. Vicki and I are so thrilled to be a part of it. Kati asked her to serve as the mistress (or matron?) of ceremonies, and I think that's a lot nicer than watching Vicki squirm in her seat as she tries not to jump up every 5 seconds to go help with something. Making it official is so much easier on her... and on my nerves... :-D

(my, wasn't that fun? At least until next month when Vicki finally catches up on her blog reading...)

- Toonz has gotten a bit of a shot in the arm, which is adding to the creativity of it. I'm sure there are some underlying dubious motives behind it, but I'll leave those buried for now. The show is sounding really good, so I'm content with that.

- I have some commission pieces of jewelry on the books (including one for the mother of the bride in this weekend's afforementioned wedding), so I'll be getting those done in the next week or so.

- I'm WAY behind on phone calls to retirement communities, so although I have a couple of gigs on the books for October, September has only one. I must admit that the one thing about this life I'm pursuing that I'm pretty bad at is making phone calls. I find it difficult to know what to say, or who to call to try and find playing opportunities. I'm trying to get better at it, but for now that's the weak link in the plan. Second worst is working on stratagies for selling jewelry. In other words, the stuff I'm bad at is the stuff that generates income. And Vicki wonders why I get a little down at night...

(Enough of that line of thought. I'm already going to be bleeding for the previous comment... And all God's people said, "yeah, right. Like Vicki EVER would make you bleed..." Obviously, you don't know her that well... :-D )

(oops... that would be considered number three, wouldn't it?... )

Enough. There's where we is at. Now I'll return all 2.32 (we lost a bit more from the start of this thing...) of you back to your regularly scheduled whatever. Happy trails, friends...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Good friends

Had a chance to catch up with a dear friend tonight - Dr. John Mulder, who's been a part of our lives for many years. I've played on a couple of John's albums, been with him in numerous concerts (at the beginning, my upright bass and I were "The John Mulder Band" :-D), and have been encouraged by, instructed through, ministered to and blessed by his friendship.

Don't you love it when you reconnect with someone, and it's one of those relationships that continue to grow, even though time and distance often seperate them? There are a few friendships I have that are like that - we grow older, and the things we talk about are different now than the things we talked about 20 years ago, but the connection has remained and matured through the years.

I've had a few, though, that were pretty much stuck in high school - "remember when we did..." And things never move beyond that. Granted, those were ok things, certainly worthy of a hit song like "Glory Days," but high school was almost 30 years ago. Hasn't anything changed since then? So, we tend to distance ourselves from those relationships - the ones that kind of stay frozen in time, and don't seem to have any relationship to where we are at now, in life and in faith.

Aren't you glad that our relationship with God doesn't stay stuck in high school? That He sees us today, now, here - and that His plan, His presence, and His love for us continues? That's the point, isn't it? His love is what makes our relationship grow and mature.

Think I'll go find my old yearbooks... and bury them. :-D (just kidding...)

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Garden

A plant in a garden, happily growing, doing what it thinks the Gardener would have it do...

A cold winter morning, and the plant is uprooted. Laid outside the garden gate...

But there's a new part of the garden, a part that the plant had known of, had lent its voice to, something wonderful - a dream for the future the plant, like others, was looking forward to. And even though the plant lay outside the garden wall, it managed to find a place to put down temporary roots. To find a place to live.

And in limited plant knowledge, it had believed that it was just awaiting transplanting. That when the new part of the garden opened - the dream come to fruition at last - that it would be transplanted. To feel the joy of being part of something new.

The plant did not see the reality all around it. It missed the point totally.

And so, the day came. The new part of the garden opened. And finally, the dense, stupid plant saw what it had ignored or simply hadn't realized for so long...

This was no transplanting place, holding plants waiting for their new place. This was the rubbish heap. For the new place to be, the weeds had to be removed. The plant was a weed, and had to go. Reality settles in like a crushing blow, as the plant realizes its fate. There is no future here - only past.

Now, we know that the God of All Comfort has a way of redeeming weeds. He uproots them, prunes them down to the ground, and places them in a new plot of ground. So it is with this weed. But all the weed can see right now is the view of the new garden - the dream that will not be, and the place it will not have in it. The plant cannot see that it's no longer on the rubbish heap... that it's in a new place, waiting to be reborn. All it can see at the moment is what was, and will never be again. There is hope, but it is clouded by memories and incrimination... Could I have grown bigger, better? Could I have done something different, so that I could have stayed, instead of being uprooted and tossed out with the trash? Where did I fail? How did I fail? I'm a worthless plant, only fit for the garbage. The voice of the accuser can be loud and persuasive indeed...

And the Gardener knows that the time isn't right yet. The plant has some growing to do before it sees the new place, and can know its part in it. There's no way to tell the plant to wait - it'll be all right. All the plant knows is loss, and seeing the new garden without being a part of it.

Lord of plants and weeds, have mercy on me, a weed... waiting to grow... hoping to change... wanting to believe that You have a plan, but only able to see the new garden, and that I have no place in it. Only feeling the sting of failure - a weed, cast out so the garden could grow. Mercy, oh Father of All, and help me to see You. You care. You are there. You are not silent.

Kyrie eleison
... Christe eleison... Kyrie eleison...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Progress - it's a beautiful thing...

Vicki mentioned fall convocation today, and that she had to stop and pick something out of the catalog for her 20 year award. And, had things not gone the way they did, I would have been doing that too...

So my intent was to write an entry that deals with how disappointed I was about not making 20 years... At least, it was until I read my last posting, and realized that I'm not all that broken up about it. My path is different now, and the person who would have been at 20 years today is not the person who sits here, getting ready to transfer a tape to CD for a friend, maybe work on some commission jewelry pieces that I need to finish, and get more done on my CD.

Besides - the REALLY important anniversary comes next August - when my sweetie and I celebrate 25 years. All others aren't that big a deal. :-D

Have fun picking out your prizes, friends... I think I got the best one. :-D

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Of Rothbury and Rock Tumblers

** Babble Alert! Mindless Wandering! Read at your own risk!! **

(with big props going out to Denise :-D )

Alright - it's been a bit since I blogged... life has been busy, which is a very good thing...

Today was an AMAZING time at Rothbury Community Church - Vicki and I did a storytelling and magic show for their Promotion Sunday. They are a friendly and fun group, and their potlucks rate at least 10 - maybe 11 - on the potluckometer! YUMMM!!!

And, in jewelry world, we added a new tool to our arsenal... a rock tumbler. But not for rocks... See, I've read a number of places online that mention polishing your wire pieces in a tumbler, since it burnishes and hardens the metal. So, I've run a couple of batches of wire through the tumbler, and while it works great on the gold wire, it's not so hot on the silver. I've yet to try sterling silver or gold filled wire in it - perhaps those metals will do better than the gold and silver colored copper wires.

Anyway, my world is pretty sweet. Yes, I actually said that, and yes, I really do mean that.

A number of folks recognized my name in connection with WCSG and His Kids Radio, and for the first time I was able to respond with a simple "yes, I was" or "yes, I'm still on weekends on HKR" instead of "well, I was with them, but was laid off in January." No retelling the sad tale - instead, I recognize that was then, and this is now. I'm a self-employed musician/storyteller/magician who also makes jewelry. No regrets - no doubts - and no pity. Just joy at where I'm at, and actual trust that He who brought us to this place will continue to provide and lead.

Like I said - my world is pretty sweet. God is good ALL the time, and ALL the time, God is good!! It's taken 7 months to get here, but here I am. :-D

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Back on the ReBike again...

OK - I'll admit it. I was a slacker for a couple of weeks. I missed our Tuesday night ride last week (I was at a gig - which counts as a legitimate excuse...) and hadn't ridden much at all. We did get in a couple of miles (Vicki will chime in that she thought it was more like a mile, but I think it's closer to 2) while we were in Oscoda this past weekend, but that's about it.

So, my legs basically thought we had given up riding for Lent or Advent or something, and they were quite surprised to discover that not only do I still own a bike, but that I still intend to ride the thing. They were discussing the situation with me, quite loudly as I recall, on the 5.5 miles out to Rockford.

And, I almost gave in. I almost said, "You're right. There's no way we can make it all the way there, not to mention the trip home." It hurt, it was hard, and I didn't think I could keep pedaling.


I wasn't alone. Vicki, who could have just taken off and flew up the trail, stayed at my pace. She rode with me. Others from our group paused with me, checking on me, encouraging me. And, Vicki reminded me that it gets easier within the last two miles - it starts going gently downhill into Rockford. And, I made it. :-D

Now, if it's downhill into Rockford, you would rightly guess that it's uphill going out. Yup. And once again, I began to wonder and doubt and hurt and do all those things that we do when we get discouraged. For 2 miles. Then, the fun begins - it's a gradual downhill from there to where we started our ride. And, Vicki and I took off - using that momentum to get into higher gears and cruise. Sustaining around 16 mph for a while - just flying down the trail.

(flying being a relative thing here - we still get dusted by those bone-thin little cyclists on their bikes made out of fishing line that weight what, maybe an ounce?...)

And I got a glimpse of what it would be like if I had less of a load on my bike, and maybe eventually a faster recumbent. I got a glimpse of what the world would look like if I keep after my weight and I keep riding, even if it hurts. (and believe me, this morning it hurts :-D ) I get to do something that I love with my wife. And, there's no better feeling than flying down the trail (see previous reference to flying...) and seeing the wonders of the woods all around us.

And so it is with many things in this pursuit of life. If your pursuit is punching the clock, or just trying to get motivated to get to work at home (like mine is). It hurts to get started, but a downhill is coming, and when you get the momentum built up, the day will just fly.

And, it helps to know we aren't riding alone. So Lord, let's go. We've got quite a ride ahead of us, but it'll be amazing, because we're riding together...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

24 Years and Counting

I didn't post about it on Monday,'cause I was off celebrating...

Here's to 24 years together. I can't say enough about this fabulous lady who is more than just my "better half..." She's the half that makes me whole. I thank God that in His plan, He planned Vicki for me.

Happy Anniversary, Dearheart. Let the countdown to 25 begin... :-D

Saturday, August 05, 2006

A great Ramen recipe

I tried an experiment tonight for supper, and it came out great! It's a Ramen noodle frittata. (if you don't know what a frittata is, Google it - it's a great dish, and has many varieties) Anyway, check it out at All Recipes. This one is vegetarian (depending, of course, on what flavor of vegetarian you are - I think Hannah would eat this one), and there's another one that includes ham in the recipe here. The thing I love about the first one is that it's all done on the stovetop - the second one is finished in the oven. (which is typical for most frittatas) So, we have a recipe that is done in about 15 minutes (a bit longer if you have to shred cheese), only includes like 4 ingredients, and makes use of Ramen - what's not to love?

Vicki's rating? "LOVE IT!" Which is, of course, the most important consideration. :-D

Did you notice that I've learned to put links right into what I'm writing? I love it when I learn something new... but perhaps I love it a little too much... sorry. I'll get over it soon...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Cindy's gonna whoop me...

So - here's the deal... While conversing with our friend Cindy at camp last week, we talked a bit about my weight and the struggle therein. So, Cindy suggested that Vicki and I do what she and Michelle do - no eating after 8pm. And, if I want to eat after 8pm, I have to call her or Michelle first and get permission. (like that will happen...) It's just one thing, but hopefully will get me going in the right direction.

Cindy is one of those all-in, gung-ho, full throttle, "do or do not - there is no try" type of people. (though I don't know if she's ever used that quote from Master Yoda...) I love that about her - especially considering that I'm one of those all-out, gung-what?, got-no-throttle, "son, in about a minute I'm gonna cry like a little girl" kind of people. (She does Yoda - I do Chicken Little. Get the picture?) So, when Cindy makes a suggestion, it's more like a "do this or I'm gonna whoop you so hard you'll be lookin' at life through your shoelaces." Just the kind of person I seriously needed, and the Lord knew that when He prompted her to inquire about how things are going. I was at 366 lbs, and am back up to around 405. Not surprising, considering the year I've had thus far, but still - at this rate I'm heading back toward 486 where I started this whole thing. Not good. So a firm kick in my titanium tuckus is exactly what I need. Bottom line? August 1st, we began. No food (except for water, caffeine-free diet soda, and plain veggies) after 8pm.

Last night? Cindy calls before 8pm, makes sure I'm on board, and encourages me. Good. Nothing but water and some carrots at bedtime. Oh - and a caffeine-free diet soda. All legal. All permitted.

Tonight, on the other hand, is another story. Had a gig at Sunset Manor - out there at 6pm, eating a quick bite on the way, do the gig (and have a GREAT time playin' for the friendly folks in Jenison), back in the van and on my way home at 9pm, stop at Speedway for a snack at 9:15pm, realize that I'm eating at 9:15:30, and live with the fact that Cindy's gonna open a big ol' can of WhoopCal on Sunday. And if she doesn't, Eric (Michelle's hubby) will. Either way, it's gonna hurt, and it's gonna leave a mark.

This is a tough one, because I ALWAYS grab a snack after a gig. It's such a habit that I don't even think about it. So, there I am. I guess I have to work on a new strategy, like packing a cooler with veggies and soda for after the gig.

I'll have plenty of time to think through that... while I'm recuperating after Cindy gets done with me. :-D And now that the whole world knows about it (all three people that read this puppy), I'm guessing that more folks will be packing a can of WhoopCal, just in case... :-)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

We're HOME!!!

Back from another amazing week of Family Camp at Portage Lake Covenant Bible Camp. Vicki and I had some major relaxation, some swimming, some bike riding, and quite a bit of just loafing and reading in the shade. It was a great week with good weather and excellent company. Who could ask for more?

Major thanks to Hannah for watching over our baby girl while we were away. I assume from the soggy rugs, the crumpled stuff in the bedroom, and the long leash still attached to her that there were some interesting moments?... We'll look forward to hearing the details.

Now - back to the real world. Kicking, screaming, and ready to just throw it all back in the van and take off again, but back nontheless. :-D

Friday, July 21, 2006

Farewell, dear friend...

Note: If you're the type of person that thinks that it's silly to mourn the passing of an animal companion, this post is not for you. Feel free to move along...

It's time. This afternoon, our beloved husky, Kira is going "to sleep." She's been declining for a while now, and things finally ran their course. We'll be broken up for a while - she's the first dog that we've raised from puppyhood, and was special in many ways... so please indulge me as I say goodbye...

Thanks for doing the Kira dance when Vicki comes home, even when you got to the point where your legs would give out...

Thanks for rubbing your head and cuddling so well.

Thanks for your beautiful blue and brown eyes, your soft fur, and your gorgeous husky smile.

Thanks for being Buddy's "seeing eye dog," and teaching him to be a great dog.

Thanks for accepting Ezri, even though it meant that she'd run all over you. That's ok - she runs all over us, too.

Thanks for being a great companion, even though you would "blame" me when Vicki was gone for a few days.

Thanks for being Vicki's dog. You were always momma's Baby Girl.

Thanks for coming home when you'd sneak out of the yard. Hope you enjoyed the ride to the airport with the neighbors, before they returned you.

Thanks for being my mom's favorite - and for coming home with us even though she wanted to keep you.

Thanks for taking Vicki's place when she would have to get up before me - so smoothly that I didn't even wake up or know she'd left.

Thanks for being a friend. We will miss you, TinyDog.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Dark Chocolate is BACK, JACK!!!

According to an M&M's email they sent to those of us interested, dark chocolate M&M's are being released again. They were out for the last Star Wars movie (get it? The DARK side?...) but then went away. Which bummed me to the MAX, since I LOVE them. So, according to them, these little discs o' yummyness are available once again.

Which means I'll be stockpiling. I'm not taking any chances that they're going to vanish again. :-D

Friday, July 14, 2006

Over the river and to the lake...

Nice riding adventure last night - we rode out onto the pier at Grand Haven. At times it was more a game of DodgePedestrian ("if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a pedestrian") than a ride, but we were treated to a golden sunset and a great supper at my all-time favorite mexican restaurant - Pruebelo. It's amazing - expecially the refried beans, since they don't use any fat or lard in them at all - just beans. Delicious! So, a great dinner, about 3 miles of riding, and some nice sunset photos to boot - gotta love it! And check out the shirtsleeve tan on the Captain - my lower arms have been getting a lot of sun this year, as is obvious by the lovely fish-belly white of the uppers. Ah well... :-D

Monday, July 10, 2006

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Income...

So, here we are. July. Sheeesh... As for where we are at, my "career" these days goes off in three directions:

1) Jewelry making: We're looking at a couple of outlets for selling the jewelry on consignment. And, we want to get pictures of some of the pieces on our site VERY soon. People keep telling me that it's good stuff, so I guess we continue to pursue this.

2) Storytelling & Magic: Two gigs on the books for fall, and a mailing to churches going out hopefully before we leave for Family Camp. Also a re-design on the promo material. By the way - if your Church is looking for someone for a special program for Sunday School, Children's Church, AWANA, etc., PLEASE direct them to :-D

3) Music: Only one retirement community on the books, for August. That leaves a lot of empty days before and after Family Camp. I wonder sometimes if this whole "creative pursuits as a career" thing is really going to work, but it seems to be what my path is right now. I DO love playing for seniors - they sing along with their favorite tunes, and ask cool questions. :-D

I'm finalizing what songs are going to be on my CD, and really REALLY want to release it in August, but we'll see. I'm also trying to see where else my style of music might be used, and thus find other potential places to play.

I love this path, except for the income thing. We are pretty tight right now, but keeping our noses above water. And, Vicki is totally with me on what I'm doing right now. If she felt differently, I'd change directions immediately. But, since we both agree, here is where I stay for now. And, I see all of these changes as mercy, not punishment. God knew I needed this, and even though it hurt deeply, He is there, He is not silent, and He continues to provide.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th, people!!!

Happy 4th of July, everyone! We're heading over to the Ludge-Pointe 4th Bash - that intimate little event that takes over a quiet neighborhood every July. We're in charge of music, so I've got the iPod all loaded with the usual eclectic mix that makes my friends dance one minute and look at me as if I'm from Mars the next. Always fun - just don't hit Eric with a water balloon, or you're getting thrown in the kiddie pool.

One of these years, I'm going to throw one at him, just to see how determined he is. If he can get ME into the pool, heaven help the others. :-D

Happy 4th, everyone! God bless America!!!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Another Rockford Run!

We rode to Comstock Park again Thursday night - just Vicki and I, which was quite fun. And today Tammie & Greg invited us to do another Rockford ride. :-D So, another 11 mile ride, with a stop in the middle for some ice cream. (Traverse Bay Cherry Fudge - YUMMMM!!!! It was SOOOOoooOOO good...) Did alright. Got a little sore within the first two miles, popped a Motrin, told my knees to stuff it, and got down to some great trail riding through beautiful scenery. It was hot and sticky, but still a great ride. And a nice time of food and fun at the George's afterward.

Have I mentioned we LOVE riding our bikes? No? Well - let me tell you about it...


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tuesday night cruise

Members of our small group have been wanting to get together and ride on Tuesday nights. Well, the first one happened last night. Since it was a little late, with VBS the next morning for the kids, we decided on a "shorter" route, instead of going all the way to Rockford. The shorter ride, to Comstock Park, was 8 miles instead of 11. Funny - it still felt like 11. :-D

The high point of the ride? You know that bridge that crosses West River Drive that says White Pine Trail on it? I crossed it. :-D On the way to CP, I actually rode up the hill to the bridge, over, and flew down the other side. (I have a theory that the only thing that keeps a bike rider going is the thrill of going down the other side of the hill...)

The low point? Something went boinky with my front wheel on the way back, so the wheel was wobbly and didn't want to turn. So I couldn't ride up the bridge - had to walk it up. :-( Vicki (and Greg and Jon) think it's the bearings in the hub. So, I get to earn more frequent flyer miles on another trip to Freewheeler. Ah well...

Great ride - some tough stuff, a few mishaps with the kiddos, but a great ride. And, I now know good places for ice cream in both CP and Rockford! :-D

Finally, I actually saw some improvement in my riding. My legs were a bit better last night. I took the day off on Monday, and they seemed stronger last night. I'd like to get a short ride in today, but we'll see when Freewheeler can get my wheel fixed. But it's nice to see that my legs are starting to adapt to riding again. Good times, as Hannah would say...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

One Bike, Two Bike, Red Bike, Blue Bike

One small trip for a normal cyclist - one GIANT ride for me. :-D Thanks to our friends Tammie & Greg, and their kiddos Madison, Mitchell, & Macy, we took quite a ride on Saturday. We went from their house to Rockford, spent some time relaxing (and giving me time to stop panting...), and then rode back to their place. The total? About 11 miles (round trip) of riding. It was Macy's first time to make the trip, and she did GREAT!

How did we do? Well, Vicki flies on that beautiful blue bike of hers. As for the big guy, I actually did alright. Got a little tired at times, and my knees crabbed at me at times, but the sense of accomplishment I felt at the end of the ride made it all worth it.

How I felt SUNDAY, tho, is a different matter. :-D I'm kidding. I'm a bit stiff and sore today, but not all that bad. Good thing, considering I think we're going to do that ride again on Tuesday with our small group. Yee haw! :-D

Friday, June 23, 2006

I LOVE playing music for older folks!

Here's a couple of choice comments from the folks at Covenant Village, when I played there Wednesday at their "Welcome to Summer" party...

(to her friends at the table, noting the different instruments I use) "He's used three different things, and I haven't recognized any one of 'em yet!"

(when looking at my wind controller) "What d'ya call that thing?"

(when looking at the whistles)
"What d'ya call those pipe things?"

They're so cute! It's a joy to play music for them, because their reactions are so wonderful! They really appreciate the songs, and especially appreciate that my system makes it possible for them to listen to the music, and still have a conversation at the same time. I came away from this encouraged that Vicki was right - this is definitely the path I need to be on right now. :-D

OK - one more senior comment, this time heard in Riverside Park. I haven't talked about Vicki's new bike yet - that'll come soon. But it's a recumbent, similar to mine (but MUCH nicer! :-D), and she is usually out ahead of me, since she flies on that puppy. Well, a couple of older ladies were sitting on a bench, and as I followed along, some distance behind my honey, one said to the other, "He must go with that other one."

Have a weekend, li'l tater tots!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Babble On...

So, a friend said they were reading my blog, and noticed how I babble about stuff, and thus am just kind of thinking out loud. So, that must be how I process things - by writing them out.


Hmmm... While I understand what they meant, I have to admit that the word babble brought to mind the blog equivalent of posts like "yabba-dada-goo-goo-squeak-giggle-drool..." Not exactly flattering.

But, in essence, isn't a blog digital babble? I know certain folks who impart Deep Thoughts or Important Information or Things That Thou Must Read that smack of holy writ, but for us normal human beans, our blogs are a place to tell our friends (and other semi-interested or not-so-interested people who wander by) where we is at. So, if we were communicating face to face instead of "you read my blog, I read yours," does that limit the babble factor? Or, do we tend to babble even when we see each other? I've had some conversations that have gotten deep and profound, but the majority of them are a path to re-connection. Just to catch up with each other.

And, let me tell you, for conversational re-connection, babble is the super glue that holds it all together. :-D

So, I could tell you about playing bass at the Evangelical Covenant Annual Meeting for the past two nights here in Grand Rapids - a huge event that I was honored to be a part of. Or, about Vicki's new bike, and how she flies past me on the bike path. But, I think I've "babbled" enough for one day.

And to the unnamed person who made the babbling comment - no, I didn't take offense. I actually found it funny. :-D


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Festival and the rolling umbrella stand

Before I get into Festival, it should be noted that I now have a pair of the coolest shoes on the planet. Not only are they real Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars (low cut), but they're PURPLE!!! Purple Chucks! I smile just thinking about them... And, since I wore them to Festival, we move along to our current topic...

Our yearly visit to Festival was, as usual, delicious! :-D We went Sunday afternoon, with great weather, and had our usual goodies - Saigon Sate, Chocolate Waffle Sundae (Vicki's favorite treat), some grilled shrimp, and a huge chocolate chip cookie.

Vicki, my ever-clever wife, discovered something that came in handy, using our beach umbrella (the kind meant to stick in the sand). She found that if she put the bottom half of it in the cane support on my wheelchair (a little platform that allows me to stick my cane on the back of the chair), and velcroed it in place, that she could use me as a rolling umbrella stand. I'll admit - I thought it was a tad silly, right up until we were sitting in cool shade on a sunny sidewalk. We'd pick a spot, Vicki would grab some food, and then up goes the umbrella and we eat in coolness. And, on the long walk back to the car, things were a lot more comfortable as she was helping me roll along since we again had shade that traveled with us.

My wife is a genius! Sir Vander Molen would have been proud of us...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I believe... I think...

Recently, I played background music for a couple of hours at Covenant Village of the Great Lakes for a health fair. The unusual thing is that I recorded my playing. I need some samples to send to our cousin, who's thinking of having me play for her wedding in September, and she wants to hear what the whistles and such sound like.

I don't know that I've ever recorded my whistle playing before - maybe once for another demo, but it's been years. Anyway, I listened to some of what was recorded last night and a bit today, and I realized something...

NOTE: the following is intended with all modesty. No, isolation hasn't made me forget to obey my cardnial rule ("never believe your own press releases"). And, yes, I do expect people to still say to me, "don't quit your day job." The thing is, this IS my day job now...

OK - here it is. I'm just gonna say it out loud. (takes deep breath... shudders, pauses, and then continues...) I'm not too bad of a whistle player. Or wind controller for that matter.

"That's ALL?" I hear you ask? Well, if that surprizes you, you don't know me well enough. My self image has always been low enough to observe life on the ocean floor. I always believed that while I could play background music at events, all I was doing was just toodling little melodies, but nothing all that accomplished. Certainly not worth recording. Certainly not worth trying to sell folks a CD of. But actually hearing myself... wow. I heard something there that reminds me of the gift God has given me - that actually lets me believe that my music is something worth doing, is worth recording, and is actually something unique. That there is some skill, some unique ability in what the Lord allows me to do - I play because I have gifts and abilities that bring forth something worth hearing.

Granted, there is room for a LOT of improvement. And, I really need to practice daily, not just when I have a gig that day. But, being someone who plays a lot of different instruments, I thought that my only "claim to fame" (for lack of a better phrase) was the variety of instruments I play, and not in the skill with which they are played. But I hear a unique voice, something worth offering.

One more reminder - no big head here. No over-stuffed ego. Just trying to understand what these thoughts mean.

What does it mean? It means that for the first time, I actually believe. I believe that when my album comes out this summer, that it will be a good album. That it will offer something worth hearing. That when I do a program at a church or retirement community, I'll be bringing something worth their time and money. I believe that making part of my living doing music is alright, because I actually have some ability, and (dare I say it?) talent.

I believe what Vicki has been telling me all along. I believe that this will work. I'm not unemployed - I'm self employed. I do a bit of jewelry making (and some speciality sewing - more on that later), a bit of music (recording and performing), and a bit of storytelling and magic. And, on the side, I host and produce Toonz, and do a little volunteer tracking for His Kids Radio. And, until He says otherwise, this is my path. It allows me to do lots of things I love, it accomodates the unique way my creative mind works, and it hopefully will bring in enough income to supplement what Vicki does, so that we can actually live. Not just survive - but live.

There. I said it in public. Now Vicki can point at this and say, "See? What have I been telling you all along?!!" And, when my friends hear me beating myself up, they can say, "Hold it. That's not what you REALLY believe." Thank you Lord - for not forgetting me, and for having a plan, even though I had a hard time accepting it and believing it. And, thank you Vicki - you never gave up on me, even when I did. I believe. I accept. And, I'm grateful to God for this new direction. I think... (still backsliding just a bit there...)

Hmmm.... maybe I'd better hit DELETE before this becomes officially public. Nope. Too late. :-D

Friday, May 26, 2006

Sneakin' off to the Drive-In with my honey!

We did a downright spontaneous thing last night. Vicki said she was in the mood for a movie, leaning toward seeing MI3. I, on the other hand, and as might be expected, was thinking more along the lines of Over The Hedge.

So, how about both, featured in a double feature at the Getty 4 Drive-In in Muskegon. Yes - Over The Hedge, followed by MI3, on the same screen. So, we grabbed some pillows, some blankets, some munchies and beverages, and headed off to Muskegon.

Show starts at Dusk. Which, unbeknownst to us, means around 10pm. So, MI3 didn't start until around 11:30, ending around 1:30, and that put us home around 2:15 in the very AM.

But it was WAY fun! We hadn't been to a drive-in for over 20 years, and it great. Sure - sitting in your car for 5 hours has its issues and challenges, but it was a nice night all the same. Certainly won't be the last time we go this summer.

So - anybody want to go to the drive-in?... :-D

Monday, May 22, 2006

You say it's your birthday...

And a lovely time was had by all.

Great service at Church Sunday am, even though Tammie just happened to mention that it was my birthday... (just wait until September, dear...) Then out for lunch after with some dear friends, Tammie & Greg & Georgelets, and Matt & Sam & Mulderlet.

Sunday night, we had a little snackie at Red Robin, and Vicki didn't even "out" me to the waiter, so no singing RobinFolk. What a nice present! :-D

Today, the final birthday bash over lunch at Mongolian BBQ with Hannah, and as Amanda told me to, I ate a sundae the size of my head. Not quite that big, but still...

Now, enough celebrating. Time to move on to jewelry, and other errands for a Monday. Including a ride in the park, hopefully. And, as Vicki has informed me, nothing but salad to eat for the rest of the day. :-D

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Busy... but confused... but learning...

Had a couple of Mother's day commissions, both of which seemed to be liked by those to whom they were given. (that was a clunky sentence, wasn't it?) And, we've put a good stock of pieces out at Kristin's - she who does our hair. :-D And, we'll see how they go. We've at least sold a couple of things... to Kristin, that is... :-)

This week is a zoo... doing at least one Toonz program, and hopefully two (to finish May) which will bring me to two months of doing Toonz as a solo act. I'm playing at the Covenant Village of the Great Lakes on Thursday - a good opportunity to get a little exposure for my music, and have a wedding to play at on Saturday, so there's a lot to do (and practice) before the weekend. No playing with jewelry this week I'm afraid. (except, of course, for any custom work that comes in - that always gets worked into the schedule.)

Oh - and my personal trip odometer turns over another year on Sunday. Yes, this year, I turn Thirty-Seventeen.
The countdown to 50 has begun - only three years left... The folks at Mongolian BBQ were kind enough to send me a coupon for a free meal with the purchase of one, which I DO intend to use, just maybe not on Sunday. I'm thinking a birthday lunch on Monday will be a good thing.

Turning a year older... this time last year, I wouldn't have imagined the place I'd be for my next birthday. It's been a tough year. I'm making progress toward some goals, but whether or not those goals are the ones I should be working toward is another question. I do know that nothing is ever going to be the same, and I am concerned about the future - especially financially. I'm hoping that I am learning to trust more through this - and we'll see how that all comes along in the months ahead.

My friend Josh and I are learning this together, as the Lord only reveals enough of the path ahead to see the next step or two. It drives me nutzzz at times, but I guess it's the lesson I need to learn. If we can only see a step or so down the path, it makes sure we stay close to the one who is leading us. After all, if you are in a car following someone to a place you've never been, you don't whip around them on the expressway, put the hammer down, and then expect to find the place on your own. You stay behind them - one car length or sometimes more if someone got between you. And you don't take your eyes off of them (or their vehicle). You watch for direction changes. You try to keep them in sight. And, even though you don't know where you are, or where you are headed, you keep your eyes on who you're following, and trust that they know the way.

I've quoted the hymn Lead Kindly Light before in this blog - so just the words from the chorus to close...

"Guide Thou my feet. I do not ask to see the distant scene.
One step enough... enough for me."

Friday, May 05, 2006

Welcome to CaptainCal.Info!

Thanks to some VERY slick work from my beloved Vicki, and the ever-amazing Ryan (aka "Ironbutt"), we have something up on our very own website. It's enough to give contact information, some info about my musical gigs and storytelling, and a little bio information. Not to mention a nice picture of our family, including The Girls, Ezri and Kira.

We needed it to at least have that much, since I'm getting a mailing ready to go to area retirement communities about doing musical programs or background music at their facilities, and we didn't want to send the mailing and then have to follow up with contact info.

Want to see the newly hatched and hopefully soon to expand site? Check out

In the future, we'll have expanded sections on music, storytelling, add in some things about the jewelry I make, and (hopefully this summer) release information about my CD.

Thank you, Ryan - you rock! And, thank you, Vicki, for believing in me when I stopped believing. I love you!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Where we is at...

The jewelry keeps moving ahead... I delivered my first commission pieces on Monday, and the recipient seemed pretty satisfied. *whew!* Then, on Tuesday, another class - this one in wire. I'd put up a picture of this little puppy, but Blogger seems to be having a hairball about images. Maybe later...

Now, sterling silver wire is NOT cheap, so it would add up to a pretty pricey necklace, when you also add in the handmade lampwork bead that is the focal point. But, Vicki loves it, so we won't be selling this one anyway. I'm looking around for different wire sources, as well as other wire I can work in, so we'll see how that goes. I do know I LOVE working with wire - almost more than either basic stringing or working with thread.

Met with my friend Brian, the marketing guy, and he gave me some great directions to go in as far as my music and magic. And, Toonz is now through the first month, and is taking less and less time to do as I figure this new format out.

So, am I better? Not totally - but we are making progress. We still need additional income each month to break even, and we desperately need my mom's house to sell. We pray, we wait, and although I still wonder about it all, I'm learning to trust in what I cannot see. God is faithful. He is there. He cares...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Another great class!!!

Went to another jewelry class last night, and learned to make a VERY cool bracelet called Floating Orbs. Vicki loves this one! :-D I actually liked this one better than the last bracelet I learned, because although they both use needle and thread (which I'm not as good at - I work better in wire), I found that this one was a little less tedious for me to do. Not that I'll never make another millipede bracelet - just that I enjoy this one more. I'll try and post a picture of it - we're working on getting pictures of my pieces on our website... which still needs to be designed...

So, Blog Friends - anybody need some custom jewelry? :-D I've got a few pieces for family on the books, as well as a commission that I'll be finishing this weekend. And I really enjoy this work. Can I make a living at it? Doubt it.

But who knows what the Lord has in store... I sure don't, :-D

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

All dressed up and no place to go...

So. We now own a domain name. Actually, we own 4 domain names.


What do we do with these domain names? Um... I'll let you know. Why did we get these domain names? Well... it's to develop a website. For me. To... um... Well, Vicki understands it all. I think.

Actually, I'll take the keyboard off of Village Idiot mode, and explain. The site will be a way to promote some of the creative stuff I do, like music, storytelling and magic, and even the jewelry designs. To generate interest and (hopefully) bookings or commissions.

Vicki believes in me, as do many others. So I'm trying to hear their voices instead of the one that says (quoting Casting Crowns here) "boy, you'll never win." She also plays Voice Of Truth for me every time she gets a chance, and then sits there and grins at me. My wife. She's amazing.

So, what's our domain name going to be? Um... ask Vicki. :-D

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A little light shines brightly...

It's been a tough week... the finances aren't working out the way we were hoping, so it's going to get tough. Our spirits have been down this week, ending with the van giving us some MAJOR issues at Church this morning - looks like transmission trouble, on top of everything else we have to deal with right now.

So, the Lord gave us some refreshment on this Easter Sunday evening. We were invited to dinner over at the home of Eric and Michelle - some dear friends from church. Let me tell you, friends, I haven't laughed so hard in months. It was an amazing time of laughter, fellowship, and yummy food.

So, to the group of 9 Monkey Friends - thanks for bringing some light and joy into our hearts. We love you guys!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I loves my nieces to pieces!!

I know that by posting this, I risk another large salvo from Hannah of nephew pictures... but hey, when you've got the world's most ultra-cute nieces, you just gotta let it show! Here's (l to r) Kara, Adrianna, and Kassandra, all smiles with Weird Uncle Cal.

And, yes, they do call me that. I told them to. :-D

Friday, April 07, 2006

I wish I was as smart as our dog...

Ezri, for all of her anxiety issues, is a smart dog...

- she knows the Windows shutdown sound, which always makes her come around the desk to see what happens next.

- she knows the sound of my amp shutting down in the studio, and knows the difference between that and just shutting off a switch.

- she knows a lot of different words, even similar words like ball, bone, bar (another toy, not a command to go out drinking...) and bedtime. And, when she hears a word she knows, she responds correctly.

- she knows our routines... what we do at bedtime, what suppertime means, what we do when we say "wipe paws," etc. She even knows when wiping paws (after coming from a muddy backyard) that I have to do all four paws. Just to test her, I did one front, another front, repeated the first one, then the two back. She knew when the last one was done, and was ready to go in.

- she thumps her tail louder and louder as I approach her, asking most definitely for a belly rub.

She understands her world. And, she responds appropriately. Not perfectly - not always, but usually. I know we humans are supposedly a smarter species, and that our world is much more complex than a dog's world. Still, there are times when I wish my response to God was as instinctive as my dog's response to me. Maybe if I listen as carefully as Ezri does, I can learn to hear my Master's voice as clearly, and to respond. And, maybe by simplifying my world and taking away certain things, that's what He's trying to teach me. Get rid of some distractions - listen - and respond.

Time to go give my dog a belly rub. She's earned it. :-D