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.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Random Monday

All 2.48 of you who read this thing occasionally want a general update. So, here it is...

Dan Fogelberg passed away yesterday at age 56... Thanks for the music, gentle minstrel. Next time I play "Leader Of The Band," it's for you.

My FINAL Christmas Gig is THIS FRIDAY!!! Friday night, 7pm at Frenz in Rockford. I'll be doing selections from the new CD, as well as other holiday faves. Come on out for a great evening - Christmas music, good company at Frenz, and downtown Rockford on a December night. Should be lovely!!

Rudolph's Razzle Dazzle Christmas WAS A BLAST!!! A great time was had by all at both shows. Jeremy & Cara were fabulous, the music was wonderful, and we'll definitely have to do more than two shows next year!!! And, Four Friends Coffeehouse is a nice place - right across from the skating rink in downtown GR. It was fun to be able to see people skating as we were jamming away Saturday night!

Musicians tend to see the holidays in terms of number of gigs - how many gigs do I have left before I'm off for the holiday? Then we count down until the end and we can actually relax. I'm down to three - Friday night in Rockford, Sunday morning at church (it's an acoustic week this week, so I'll be playing whistles & recorders - fun!), and Christmas Eve up in Newberry. Three gigs to go before Christmas rest and relaxation!!! (and the annual Lord Of The Rings Marathon in front of the big screen in Mom & Dad's living room. We've invited the niecelets this year - the eldest is definitely looking forward to it!)

Three to go, then it's CHRISTMAS!!! :-D

Monday, December 10, 2007

Want some Christmas music???

Most of you know this, but let's make it official...

Vicki and I are proud to announce the arrival of the new CD!!

WhistleWonder: The Carols Of Christmas contains 11 fresh arrangements of traditional carols, as well as my version of Pachelbel's Canon (the Kicked-Up Kanon). All instrumental, with the sounds of whistles, woodwinds and keyboards arranged and performed by yours truly. :-D

Want a copy or several? Send me an email, and we'll hook you up. Cornerstone folks - just stop by Vicki's office or give her a call, and she'll set you up. First Covenant Folks - let us know and we'll deliver them to your mailbox.

CDs are $10 each. And, for those of you who haven't gotten a copy of the first CD, Angelica's Waltz (which is normally $15), you can purchase both CDs for $20.

We're very VERY proud of the new CD, and have had a great response to it thus far. Let us know if you'd like one. I'll have samples online soon...

Merry Christmas. :-D

Monday, December 03, 2007

All I'm gonna say about that is...

I'm sad for former colleagues, especially one in particular...

-and-

105.7 is no longer an acceptable number on my dial.

'nuff said.

Live shows AND THE NEW CD!!!!

Hey there, Hi there, Ho there! :-D

First, the sad news... I'm not going to be playing in Hudsonville in December. :-( It's my own fault - I didn't get things in motion in time. So, apologies to all my Hudsonville peeps. Tell ya what - if you're a Hudsonville fan, and take the time to drive to one of my shows in Grand Rapids, (or even the one in Holland for that matter...) we'll give you a special price on the new CD. (not going to mention what it is, 'cause I haven't talked it over with The Boss yet... :-D But you know Vicki - she'll make it worth your while...)

The good news is, there are 4 places where I WILL be playing this month...

SOLO CHRISTMAS SHOWS:

Saturday, December 8th - Dillenbeck's in Grand Rapids

If you've never been to Dilly B's, you really should check it out. It's a lovely place, and a great venue for music, conversation, and relaxation (and they make one of the best mango smoothies in the area!!!). This will be my first "official" release of the new CD, and it will be available for purchase at the show! (hopefully... :-D)

Friday, December 21st - Frenz in Rockford
This is one of my favorite places to play! Not to mention Christmastime in downtown Rockford is amazing! I'll be at Frenz from 7 to 9pm and will be featuring the new CD so come and celebrate the holidays with us!!

RUDOLPH'S RAZZLE DAZZLE CHRISTMAS!!!
When I'm not off toodling my little flutes, I have the privilege of being part of Jeremy Hoekstra's band. This year, Jolly Jeremy and his sister, Cara(ling) are putting together a Christmas extravaganza that you won't want to miss. Check Jeremy's site for the details, and come out for the music, the prizes, and the fun!!!! (not to mention that Cara's voice is worth driving any distance to come and hear!!!!!!)

I'll also be playing some of the tunes from the new CD as part of the show!!!! :-D

Friday, December 14th, 8pm - Lemonjello's in Holland

Saturday, December 15th, 7pm - Four Friends Coffeehouse in Grand Rapids

Finally, THE BIG NEWS!!!!!!!

Say hello to our brand new CD!!! "WhistleWonder: The Carols Of Christmas"
It should be in our hands this week, and we're SO excited! Folks who heard it Sunday night at First Cov said they loved it, and since they put up with my music all the time, they should know!!! 12 songs, including well-known and not-so-well-known carols of Christmas with the sound of whistles, woodwinds and keyboard, all arranged and performed by yours truly. :-D And, I'm joined by a special guest on three of the tracks - Greg George on drums.

How do you add this to your holiday music library? Well...
1) Grab one at a live show (ok - BUY one at a live show)
2) Church folks or CU folks can just let us know - Vicki will have some in her office at C'stone, and First Cov folks can get them delivered direct to your mailboxes at church.
3) Send us an email with your name and address, and we can mail it to you and bill you. We can also accept plastic in person or via PayPal.

HOW MUCH?? We've been thinking about that one... It cost us less to produce this one, so we're going to pass that along...
WhistleWonder: The Carols Of Christmas - $10.00
By the way, if you haven't had a chance to purchase the first CD, Angelica's Waltz, here's a great opportunity for you. Angelica's Waltz sells for $15, but if you purchase it together with WhistleWonder, you can have both CDs for $20.00!!! And, additional copies of either one will be $10 each. Just let us know, and we'll set you up!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Shotgun update...

This has nothing to do with either a "shotgun wedding" or buying Vicki a gun for Christmas. As I said in an earlier post, I'm not giving her one, since she's WAY too good with it.

No, this is one of those "here's everything all at once" updates, to kind of clear the plate and make a clean start to December...

The Christmas CD: YES! It is finished!! Should be back in our hands by December 6th. I'll post an announcement soon, including the title and so on.

Employment: I am still part-time with CBH Ministries, and am LOVING it! I work in post-production for Down Gilead Lane, and it's really a good fit for me. Vicki is still in Database Services at Cornerstone, which she loves.

Way-late congratulations to my wife who was selected by her peers to be the 2007 Cornerstone University Staff Member Of The Year! As my friend Ruth would put it, I'm so proud of her, I'm bustin' my buttons. (hmmm... that last could also be an after-effect of Thanksgiving...)

The Anla'shok: my beloved bike is a work in progress. Steering and handlebars are still not quite right, and I've fallen off of it a few times, once really hurting my knee. So, we've still got some tweaking to do.

Weight and Health: Not so good. My weight is WAY up - I've been afraid to look at the scale to see if I've actually gotten back to where I started a few years ago. We are in process of getting insurance approval for gastric bypass surgery, but I keep dropping the ball and not completing a couple of tests needed. Things kind of got neglected when we were finishing the CD, so I really need the courage to get back on track.

In the meantime, walking across the room is really hard, standing is impossible, and I feel pretty much like I did before I started this whole thing. Folks at church might have noticed me limping a bit more as I climb down the stairs from the platform on Sunday mornings. And setting up for a gig by myself is almost more than I can do. Unfortunately, that means I have to call Vicki in more than I'd like to help with setup.

My Mom's House: did officially sell, so that's now behind us. We're trying to be wise in using the money, although I've probably not been wise enough. So, we'll do what we can with what we have. It's a great blessing not to have to think about it anymore.

Depression: I'm still taking my "happy pills," but the good news is that since I started working at CBH, I haven't needed to use the sleep meds. I've been falling asleep on my own. I still use a stimulant to help me get going in the morning, but that's alright. It's a real blessing to be able to fall asleep on my own.

Thankfulness: is pretty much where I live these days. God has once again shown His faithfulness, in so many ways, and I'm so undeserving of it. He is good, and I am humbled.

That's a good place to stop, don't ya think? :-D

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Lord of all, today (and EVERY day) I give thanks...

For Vicki

For Ezri

For our family

For our church, and our Pastor

For our friends

For our jobs

For creative gifts used to give You glory

For sunshine on Thanksgiving day

For our home (messy as it is)

For the abundance that You give us, that we don't deserve

For things that aren't really necessary (like coffee) but are good

For music

For our country

For the New CD - thanks for helping us complete it!

For all those people You bring to mind on this day, and for what they mean to us

For Your Word

For turkey, potatoes (sweet, mashed, or otherwise), stuffing, pumpkin pie, and all those things we will consume today

For antacids, Pepto Bismol, Alka Seltzer, and all other things we may consume later today

For football, marching bands, and other festive things

For quiet, to take us away from all those distractions

For rest, for relaxation, for a break from routine (at least for some of us)

For those who work today so others can take a break

For Yourself, best gift of all

Lord of all, to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise!

Friday, November 02, 2007

The sound of silence...

Not much to say right now... because we're trying to finish up the Christmas CD and get it off to the plant for mastering and duplication. So, pardon my silence. Lots going on - just no time to tell you about it. :-D

Saturday, October 13, 2007

If I was half the man my wife is...

As you will remember from a couple of weeks ago, this is my wife shooting a big ol' manly rifle...
And, here is my wife driving a big ol' manly truck...

As for me, I play my little tooty thingies...

And make stuff out of shiny bits of metal...

Weird, eh? I guess "normal" really is just a setting on the dryer. My father-in-law is a very patient man. He wanted a son-in-law... he got me. I don't golf. I don't watch sports. And, I knit. I think he likes me in spite of it all, but sometimes ya gotta wonder.

What a weird life. :-D

Friday, October 05, 2007

To gig, or not to gig?

So, here's a question for all 2.37 of you that read this thing... Is my music the sort of thing that you'd go out to hear?

Lemmie 'splain. I started to play in coffeehouses last March, and since then I've noticed one trend: nobody shows up. :-D No - that's not totally true. But even the owners of the places have noted that it seems REALLY empty on nights that I play. So, this begs the question - is the type of music I play live the sort of thing that people will take an evening out of their busy lives to come and hear?

My show schedule is getting light again, and I'm just wondering if it's worth the time and effort to fill it up again. Or, should I concentrate on other things. Coffeehouses don't pay to have an artist appear - revenue comes from tips and selling merch - CDs, etc. And, although everything in life isn't about the money, it is a factor.

Or, do I just need to do some major marketing, and give this thing a real go? I'm just not sure if the type of folks who would listen to my music are the type of folks who would come out and hear it at a coffeehouse.

So, anybody want to weigh in on this one? :-D

Monday, October 01, 2007

Why you should NEVER mess with Vicki...

Let's see... what quotes should I do here?
"Say hello to my little friend..."
"Hasta la vista, reptile..."
"It's an 88 magnum - it shoots through schools..."
"Be afraid... be very afraid..."
"Goodbye, Mr. Anderson..."
"'How was that?' 'Not bad.' 'For a girl' 'For a girl?? That was not bad for RAMBO.'"
"First you put your two knees close up tight..."
(oops - that last one was from later in the evening, whilst watching Haunted Honeymoon)

Thanks, Dan and all the IS folks - a fun time was had by all. And no, I'm NOT going to buy Vicki a rifle. She's WAAAAAAY too good with it.

Friday, September 28, 2007

First ride, first fall...

The Anla'shok came home today. It was here last week, we worked on assembling it Friday and Saturday, decided it had a couple of issues that needed professional help, took it to Freewheeler on Monday, and it came home today. Vicki rode it home, and she did a fine job even though it was kind of like watching a 3 year old trying to ride dad's bike.

She went back to work, I adjusted the seat a bit, and took it to the end of the block and back. Oi. I thought I knew how to ride a recumbent, but this bike is very VERY different. Not in a bad way - just different.

Then, coming back to the house and up the driveway, I answered the question of when the first crash would be. :-D Fortunately, it was on the grass, and the bike didn't seem to get any damage. Took me a while to figure out how to get up off the ground, but there we are.

And yes, I did get back up on it and try it again. If you fall of the horse, and need a forklift to get back up, get on the bike again before the horse poops on you. Or something like that. Almost ditched it the second time, but I managed to stick the dismount.

Opinion? There's a learning curve, but this thing flies. :-D The guy at the bike shop said, "the steering is a little weird at first, but once you get going, this thing flies - I was going about 25 mph without much effort at all." Pretty much sums up the recumbent world - when you get going on them, they haul shell.

Pictures soon. But for now, the Anla'shok is in da house. A gift from some folks who want me to be around for many years to come. I know the snow will fly soon, but until then, I'll be hitting the trail on the new ride.

Just as long as I'm not hitting the trail... literally. *ouch*

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Happy birthday, beloved...

I'll admit it - in all the fervor of celebrating Talk Like A Pirate Day, I did let something slide by. But I wanted to save it, to give it a proper place. So, here it is.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY VICKI!!!! (yesterday, that is...)

So, stealing an idea from Amelia (who's blog you'll find a link to over on the right), I'm going to make a list. Now, Amelia only had to do 30, for Ked's 30th. But, without revealing Vicki's age, I think I'll go for a bit more than that... Say... Um... oh... 45. Don't have ANY idea why that number popped into my head. Really. No clue...

45 things I love about Vicki...
1) She's a true technogeek
2) She likes to fix things. LOTS of things.
3) She makes amazing grilled cheese sammys
4) Her singing voice is lovely
5) She rocks on the tympani
6) She's a good pianist too
7) Her problem solving skills are truly great
8) She has GPS DNA - if we need to get there, she'll find it
9) She loves to drive
10) Her taste in music is eclectic as mine
11) She's just as crazy as I am
12) Her laugh - which can be heard over great distances
13) Her smile, which brightens up my day
14) Her eyes, lovely green - I sometimes call her Bright Eyes
15) She gives great hugs
16) And back scratches
17) She loves God deeply
18) She serves others selflessly
19) She cares about others deeply
20) She has mad math skills
21) She is patient... very VERY patient
22) She loves dogs
23) She cries at movies
24) She loves me unconditionally
25) She will drop everything to help someone else
26) God has gifted her with a servant's heart
27) She is in this marriage for the long haul
28) She wouldn't mind being an OTR truck driver
29) She looks at me, and doesn't see my weight first
30) She's very curious
31) She makes the "monkey face"
32) She loves with her whole heart
33) She works with her whole heart
34) She lives with her whole heart
35) She always does what's right even when no one else is watching
36) She shows me what God's love looks like
37) She was (and is) a true daughter to my mom
38) She's as into quotes as I am
39) Her sense of humor - we laugh a lot around here
40) Her intuition - I always trust her instincts
41) She's beautiful - both on the outside and the inside
42) She's my #1 fan
43) In any situation, her thought is, "how can I help?"
44) She is exactly who she is - never false, never unkind, never petty or cruel
45) She's The World's Best Kisser!!!!!! (T.W.B.K)
(What, Amanda? Did you think I'd leave that one out????)

Happy birthday beloved. I love you more each day...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wednesday - it's that time again. ARRRR!!!

Avast, ye scurvy goat-kissing mule-brained dogs!!! 'Tis time once again for that grand celebration - International Talk Like A Pirate Day!!!!!!! And, as usual, I got me a pirate name. I actually like this one better than others - it's from fidius.org

My pirate name is:
Mad Sam Kidd
Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. Even though you're not always the traditional swaggering gallant, your steadiness and planning make you a fine, reliable pirate. Arr!

And, as usual, I also ran Vicki through the thing...

My pirate name is:
Dread Pirate Flint
Like the famous Dread Pirate Roberts, you have a keen head for how to make a profit. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

There ye be. Hoist the colors!! Swab the poopdeck. Prepare to fire!!! ARRRRRR!!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The arrival cometh...

Got word on Friday that the Anla'shok is in transit - should be here on Wednesday, which is both Vicki's Birthday and International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Talk about a celebration... riding the Anla'shok, toasting my beloved's birthday, and yelling "Avast, ye scurvy dogs!!" at passing bikes on the bike trail. Should be a wonder to behold.

If you don't know what the Anla'shok is, see August's posts. :-D

Life is really good. My focus is to remember all lessons learned in the valley, so that I don't get too comfortable on the mountain and have everything go splat when I roll down the other side.

God is good. Always. :-D

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Playing Saturday Night in Grand Rapids!!!!

Saturday Night at Dillenbeck's!!!

If you've never been to Dillenbeck's, you really ought to come and check it out. It's a very nice venue - one of my favorite places to play. Do the clicky-clicky on the date over to the right, and you'll get the scoop on Dillenbeck's!

Hope you can come out sometime to say hi, enjoy some music, and support the arts and local businesses in West Michigan!!!

And, a great time was had by all Wednesday night at Mocha-n-Music in Hudsonville - what a great place!!! I'm there again at the end of the month, and really looking forward to it!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The summer o' Frenz is done...

Well, with a lot of balloon sculptures and some fun stuff (including Vicki and Tyrone, the Snapper Duck), we had our last storytime at Frenz on Plainfield this morning. A good time was had by all.

So, would I do it again next summer? Yes... with a couple of changes. I learned a LOT this summer, and I'd make good use of it next time.

Rich from Frenz in Rockford has been asking when we're going to do some stories out there, so we'll see. Captain Cal may be coming to Rockford sometime this fall.

In the meantime, it was a fun summer, but I'm glad to be finished. Time to press toward the finish line with the new album. :-D

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Anla'shok

I haven't said a lot about it, but I thought I might fill in some details on that which has been ordered, and which I'm waiting anxiously for... The Anla'shok.

"The WHAT?"

Lemme 'splain. No. 's too long. Lemme sum up... (and yes, that is a VERY familiar quote)

This is the model upon which my new bike is being based. The differences being that my bike will also have a fairing...

And, my bike will be extremely customized for my weight and my size. My seat will sit down in front of the rear wheel, to lower my center of gravity, and will accommodate my short legs. It has 26" wheels front and back, which will give it greater rolling efficiency, and should be a bit lighter than my present ride, the mighty ReBike.

The color? Well, it might be purple. Or, it'll be blue. Depends on what paint they have when it's finished. If you'd like to see more about it, and the AMAZING company that's making it, check out Lightfoot Cycles

Oh... the name? Well, this Lightfoot model is called the Ranger. And, being a die-hard Babylon 5 fan, I'm calling mine The Anla'shok - known in the B5 universe as The Rangers. Cute, huh? :-D

(Someday, when we can afford it, Vicki will probably also get a Lightfoot cycle. Hers will be called Entil'Zha, also from B5. Entil'Zha (although there isn't an exact translation for this one) is the leader of the Rangers, also known as The One. And, Rangers are known as those who follow The One. (yes, when we ride, Vicki is usually in the lead...) Also appropriate when one knows the Ranger oath - "We live for The One, we die for The One.")

So, when The Anla'shok arrives from its present location in Montana, there will be a joyous shout. :-D

Yes, Denise - I know... Lots o' Babble today. Babble, Bikes, and Babylon 5 - nice, eh?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Support Local Business!!!

Beanabox is closing. :-( And I'm bummed.

I played there Saturday night, doing my thing as Jeremy Hoekstra's bass player. Also got to hear Julie Belle's sweet voice once again. And I learned the news that Beanabox is closing at the end of the month. Four years of business, and they're closing.

Bummer.

And a good reminder. Support your local businesses. Especially the folks that encourage local musicians like me with a place to play. They don't make a lot of money for providing those extra touches like live music, books to read, games to play, and comfortable spaces to just kick back.

Not trying to put down the franchises. But I do believe that a trip to someplace like Beanabox (or Frenz, or Dillenbeck's, or Mocha 'N Music, etc.) is a nicer experience. Friendlier, more personal, and you'll find stuff there that you don't find at a franchise place.

Support local business!! Support local music!

OK - enough of sounding like some sort of activist or protester. :-D Now off to support local businesses, including Theatricks, Kingma's Market, Kay Pharmacy, and Meijer's. (yes, Meijer. I never I said I was consistent - just sincere.)

Goodbye, Beanabox. Thanks for the music and the friendship and fun. I'll miss you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Zoom... Zoom... splat

"There's a wideness in God's mercy I cannot find in my own. And He keeps His fire burning to melt this heart of stone. Keeps me aching with a yearning, Keeps me glad to have been caught, In the reckless raging fury that they call the love of God." **

It's really hard not to become a die-hard cynic.

We had a buyer for mom's house. For a couple of blissful days, we saw freedom. Thinking about what life looks like without the concerns of everything that goes with having a house up for sale in a market that's down so low, they have to use the up elevator to flush the biffy.

Then, when all seemed like a done deal, at the last moment, splat. The buyer backs out. He had gotten exactly the price he wanted, and he backs out.

(if anybody even breathes Romans 8:28 right now, I'm gonna go postal.)

So, how does one keep faith when in this situation? How does one avoid putting on the heavy-duty armor of cynicism and never believing, never trusting, never hoping again? How many times does the bug get splattered on the windshield before he packs his wings and never leaves the ground again?

"I will praise you in this storm, and I will lift my hands. You are who You are, no matter where I am. Every tear I've cried, You hold in Your hands. You never left my side. And though my heart is torn, I will praise you in this storm." **

I can't believe those words right now. I can't sing those words right now. I place them here in the hopes that by seeing them, and remembering them, I will eventually believe them again. And my heart will become soft again, instead of stone.

"I will lift my eyes, to the Maker of the mountains I can't climb. I will lift my eyes, to the Calmer of the oceans raging wild. I will lift my eyes, to the Healer of the hurt I hold inside. I will lift my eyes, lift my eyes, to You." **

Sometimes, when the hurt is too raw, when the wound is too deep, when I can't find the strength to open my Bible and hear the words of life, only the lyrics of certain special songs will penetrate the darkness of my thoughts and heart.

"Take me to the place I remember, Take me down the road You've led me through. Help my heart to see this as another way to be close to You. Remind me this is more than just a mountain, it's soon to be a story I can tell... of Your faithfulness. I will not forget. Take me to the place." **

The Spirit intercedes for us at times when we have no words, communicating our hearts to God when we have nothing to say. When we have no way to express our hurt, our bewilderment, our pain, our doubt, our uncertainty.

St. Patrick's Breastplate
I arise today

Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity

Through the belief in the threeness,

Through confession of the oneness

Of the Creator of Creation.


I arise today

Through the strength of Christ's birth
with his baptism,

Through the strength of his crucifixion
with his burial,

Through the strength of his resurrection
with his ascension,

Through the strength of his descent
for the judgment of Doom.


I arise today

Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,

In obedience of angels,

In the service of archangels,

In hope of resurrection
to meet with reward,

In prayers of patriarchs,

In predictions of prophets,

In preaching of apostles,

In faith of confessors,

In innocence of holy virgins,

In deeds of righteous men.


I arise today

Through the strength of heaven:

Light of sun,

Radiance of moon,

Splendor of fire,

Speed of lightning,

Swiftness of wind,

Depth of sea,

Stability of earth,

Firmness of rock.


I arise today

Through God's strength to pilot me:

God's might to uphold me,

God's wisdom to guide me,

God's eye to look before me,

God's ear to hear me,

God's word to speak for me,

God's hand to guard me,

God's way to lie before me,

God's shield to protect me,

God's host to save me

From snares of devils,

From temptations of vices,

From everyone who shall wish me ill,

Afar and anear,

Alone and in multitude.


I summon today all these powers
between me and those evils,

Against every cruel merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,

Against incantations of false prophets,

Against black laws of pagandom

Against false laws of heretics,

Against craft of idolatry,

Against spells of witches
and smiths and wizards,

Against every knowledge
that corrupts man's body and soul.


Christ to shield me today

Against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wounding,

So that there may come to me
abundance of reward.


Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.


I arise today

Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the threeness,

Through confession of the oneness,

Of the Creator of Creation.

Kyrie Eleison

Christe Eleison

Kyrie Eleison

** "The Love Of God" - Rich Mullins
** "Praise You In This Storm" - Casting Crowns
** "I Will Lift My Eyes" - Bebo Norman
** "Take Me To The Place" - Scott Krippayne

Thursday, August 09, 2007

When the story "gets" you...

Well, one more day for my first "official" week of part-time work at CBH Ministries. (week 1 of 6) How's it going? IT ROCKS! I absolutely love the things I'm getting to do.

I've been editing the voice parts for some of the shows for season 9 of Down Gilead Lane, and since editing is one of my all-time favorite things to do on the planet, the days are flying by!

Today, I was working on a show where a Bible story is part of the story line. And I'll admit, as I heard the actors communicating the story of Hannah and the birth of Samuel, I teared up a bit. And I felt a whole lot of gratitude to the Lord, for allowing me to have a small part in communicating that story in such a great way. God has brought me along such a winding path, and along the way He's given me some incredible opportunities. And I am SO thankful. :-D

I've also realized that I want a scooter. I saw Uncle Charlie's motorcycle sitting in the parking lot today, and I thought what fun it would be to park my scooter next to it. (especially when it gets 70 miles per gallon...) Not to mention the leather jacket with the name "Captain Cal" across the back.

But, alas... like many dreams, this one probably will never be. Besides, I can't imagine Vicki as a biker babe. Or a scooter babe, for that matter...

Season 9, show #7. Be looking forward to it, 'cause it's a GOOD one. :-D

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Party on, dude...

We decided that something like our 25th deserved at least a little celebration, so we toddled off to MingTen (which has become our favorite restaurant on the planet... or at least in the top 5) and then went to see Harry Potter in the IMAX. (2nd time seeing it - the last part that's in 3D is VERY cool...)

-- BABBLE ALERT!! BABBLE ALERT!! BABBLE ALERT!! --

For the first time, I wore my 2nd "distance" lens. (readers of this little slice of sunshine I call a blog will remember that my contacts are set for "monovision" - one eye for distance, one eye for reading...) When I got new lenses this year, I got a third one - the distance lens for my right eye. So, when on a road trip or bike riding or someplace else where I'm not likely to need to have closeup vision, I can exchange my reading lens for a distance lens, and have full distance in both eyes.

-- END OF BABBLE - Thank you. --


It rocked! It was nice to see the movie without any hint of a blur, especially for the 3D part. Monovision is very cool, but I'm glad I got the third lens.

Lovely anniversary with my lovely bride. She's more beautiful to me every day. (not to mention being T.W.B.K.**)

** that's especially for Amanda - believe me, she'll really appreciate it. :-D

Monday, August 06, 2007

25 years and counting!!!

25th Anniversary = SILVER anniversary
August 7th, 1982 - August 7th, 2007

Does the silver refer to the color our hair is gradually becoming?

Or is it the silver wire that I make jewelry with?

Since Vicki moves like quicksilver, is it talking about her?

We both enjoyed Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - but I don't think it's talking about that...

Silver coins (true silver ones, that is) are very valuable, so it might be referring to that...

We got a silver tray for our wedding - I guess we should haul it out, eh?

Since silver is a "precious" metal, I guess this is our precious anniversary
("Yesssss it is, my precious...)

The Bible says that God is more precious than silver, so that gives me a good idea of its value.

We're not doing anything special today, since we don't have a lot of silver these days... or green for that matter. :-D

So, on this silver day, I give thanks to our precious Lord, that 25 years ago, He brought us together. And that after 25 years, we're just getting started learning how "two become one."

I love you, Vicki Sue.
Happy Silver anniversary.


Life changes...

I've been a little busy to post about this, but here we are...

This week, I begin a part-time job!! I'm going to be doing post-production editing for Down Gilead Lane from CBH Ministries - editing voice parts, helping in sound design, etc. on a 6 week trial basis. I did a couple of days of training last week, and I loved it!!! I've got tons to learn, but it's a BLAST! :-D

So, I'm getting back into the groove of regular hours, and I also have to get into the habit of packing lunches. Haven't had to do that for YEARS, since we had a lunch plan at CU. The idea I'm playing with is the concept of the Japanese Bento Box. (If you've never heard of a Bento Box, feel free to Google it :-D )

A Bento Box, from Wikipedia

The idea is a variety of stuff, presented in such a way that it's both good to eat and good to look at. I think I'll start with good to eat, and worry about the presentation later.

The other good thing about working from a bento box perspective is that since I'm intending to make everything cold (as opposed to having to heat it that day), I should be able to make my lunches for the week on Monday, and have them ready to go for each day. We'll see how that comes off, but I think it should work.

So, this week, I'm going to do some cubed chicken with seasonings one day with a side of cold noodles or some flat bread with dipping oil; maybe a ramen frittata with bacon and peas that tastes amazing cold on another, and add some things like veggies, fruit, a goodie like a brownie or a granola bar for a treat. The idea is variety, and balance in the diet, which can only be accomplished by planning ahead. Something I really need to do, so this should be a good thing once I get the hang of it.

But probably no sushi. You gotta draw the line someplace...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

THIS WEEKEND!!!!

This weekend, I'll be playing a couple of places... Would love to have you stop by. It always means a LOT when people take the time to come out, enjoy some music, and support the businesses who provide it. So, I'd love to see you at either venue (or both! :-D)

FRIDAY NIGHT (8/3)
, I'll be in Rockford at Frenz Coffee House, starting at 7pm. I'll be joined by Jeremy Hoekstra, and it'll be a GREAT night of music - c'mon in, enjoy some tunes and a cool beverage from Frenz... an ideal way to beat the heat!

Then, on Saturday Night...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Light in a dark place

OK - I'll admit it. I don't know '90's music. I'm a child of the '70's, I worked in secular radio (and listened to a lot of music) in the '80's, but when it comes to the '90's, um...

Where did I put my Captain & Tennille Greatest Hits CD?...

So, what am I doing, playing such songs as "Wonderwall," "One," and "Walk On The Ocean" ? Doing what a bass player does, I guess. :-D My friend Jeremy Hoekstra, who is a fine singer/songwriter (and if you get a chance, you should really go hear him sometime - check his site for his schedule) asked me to play bass for those gigs where he wants a full band. Evidently, old dogs can be taught new tricks. :-D I play electric upright bass on those gigs, and it's a very nice sound along with Jeremy on acoustic guitar and his dad on drums. (his dad is a VERY good drummer!)

And so we play in coffee houses, and it's a blast. And, he's been asked a couple of times to play at The Break Room on Plainfield. Not exactly a coffee house. :-D And it's interesting to see how folks respond to his songs, where his faith is not shouted but rather strongly implied. And you can tell there's a difference in the music, and how it relates to people, and how it's received.

And for a while, a light comes into a dark place.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Just for the record...

Yes, I do have the new Harry Potter book.

Yes, I have read it.

Yes, I know which characters die.

No, I'm not going to tell you.

Yes, I do know how the book ends.

No, I'm not going to spill the beans on that either.

Yes, I certainly can understand that you're sick of all the Harry Hype.

No, I don't hope Harry was eaten by a hippogriff.

Yes, I do know what a hippogriff is.

No, I'm not going to explain it to you here.

Yes, I did enjoy the book - a lot.

Yes, I did read the ending first. And yes, that always gets a "comment" from Vicki.

Yes, Vicki is reading the book now.

And, yes, that's why I'm not saying anything about it.

Yes, we do have all 7 books. And all of them in audio form.

No, at this time we're not lending them out. Except to certain people who shall remain nameless.

Yes, I can understand why you would call me that name. And no, I don't blame you a bit.

Yes, I'm done with this. You can move on. :-D

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Where we is at...

For those marginally interested in how we're doing these days...

- We're in the appeal process for bariatric surgery, trying to jump through the correct hoops so that the insurance company will smile upon us...

- Health-wise, things are tough. The depression seems to be hitting harder than ever, so my counselor and I are working through it, seeing what can be done. That makes it tough to get things done, even things that I love, so the world is pretty grey right now.

- Gig-wise, the bottom seems to have dropped out of my retirement community gigs. Not really sure why, but I'll use this time to work on the new CD. It's a matter of calling places, finding places to play, etc. And, I've discovered that promotion and calling places and such is really my weakest area. Not good for someone trying to do his own business. :-D

- Our 25th anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks. Any big plans? Just trying to make sure the bills are paid and that we stay afloat for another month.

- Property-wise, no movement either on Mom's house or our farm.

- But, the new bike has been ordered! Hopefully sometime in September, it'll be ready. What we'd really like to do is to go out to Montana, see Vicki's brother and his family, and pick up the bike in person, seeing some sights on the way out and back. Don't know if that'll happen, but it'd be nice.

Things aren't bad these days, even though it seems like that. God is good, Vicki is amazing, and being able to work through these issues without worrying about holding down a job at the same time is good. I'm enjoying my 2-3 hours of voice work on WCSG per week, and trying to sort out the rest of life. God is indeed good, all the time.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Like a pitcher of cool water...

My last two gigs were refreshing to me... for two different reasons.

Friday the 13th, I played my electric upright with Jeremy Hoekstra. Just guitar, voice, and bass, all through my Bose system which gave it all a nice, intimate feel. And it was amazing - the way the two instruments interacted with Jeremy's voice over it all.

Don't get me wrong - I LOVE playing with a band, locking it down with a great drummer, and sitting in the pocket all night long. But it's also fun to have a conversation with just two instruments - the give and take of making the music, the punch of the guitar's rhythm, the subtle growl of the upright... very nice. (Vicki thought so too... :-D)

Saturday night, I played solo at Beanabox. Great night - not a ton of people there, but it was very nice. The best part - a dear friend who I haven't seen in QUITE a while came out to hear me play. And that was like a cold drink of water on a hot day. Refreshing to my spirit. We both read each other's blogs, so we know (on some level) what's going on in our lives, but to catch up a bit was great. And, let's face it - a blog can't deliver a hug. :-D

And that's why I love playing different places. Different experiences. Different opportunities to remember God's goodness and His faithfulness. Even if we don't speak of Him directly (although we usually do), He is present in our conversation, in our fellowship, and in my music.

And that is refreshing indeed. :-D

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Is anybody else tired of the Beanabox Ad?



I'll move it to it's own thread... and put in a new random picture. :-D

That doesn't mean you shouldn't come on Saturday night, btw... :-D

Friday, July 06, 2007

What a little hope will do...

Just got back from doing voice work at WCSG. It feels amazing to be there again, even just for a couple of hours a week, although leaving the house tonight to "go to work" was a strange feeling. It's also alright to stop by the HKR studio - those wounds have finally healed, and life is moving on.

Really moving on. :-D Through some arrangements that I won't reveal here, something amazing is happening... I have a new bike on order. :-D It'll be customized for my weight and my size, taking into account my long torso and short legs, with a big ol' comfy recumbent seat, some VERY nice handlebars that'll put my hands at a better angle with no stress on my wrists, and a fairing to help me move through the wind better. Oh - and 26" wheels front and back for less rolling resistance. Altogether, it'll be a much better bike, designed from the ground up for me. God is so gracious, as are the people who made it possible. I realize it's an investment in keeping me around longer, and I'll do my part to make it that way.

Saw the orthopedic surgeon Thursday, to talk about knee replacement. It's inevitable, but he'd really like my weight down first, for many good reasons. He'll consider doing the replacement, especially if the road toward bariatric surgery looks to be a long one (like two years for example), but he'd like to see the timetable before making that decision.

In the meantime, he wants me to try a knee brace, to see if that'll give me less pain and more mobility right now. So, next week or so, I'm off to Mary Free Bed to have them do a casting and measurements for a knee brace. Then I return the next week for the fitting. We'll see how the right knee goes, and if it goes well, we'll consider one for my left knee also. If it'll give me some help so I can get out and move, I'm all for it. I can't ride very much at all right now, so some help in hitting the bike trail would be excellent. (I know the First Cov Bikers would love to have me back in the pack on the Rockford run!)

A little hope... a small change here and there, and who knows what can happen. God shows Himself in the small graces...


Saturday, June 30, 2007

"He Gives and Takes Away..."

The Lord saw fit to give me a piece of my heart back today... As of this weekend, I'm back on the air at WCSG, doing the weekend overnights. :-D Just a few hours a week, but that's more than enough.

And it gives me back something that I lost in being laid off - it lets me know that I still have skills and experience that are worth something. It tells me that what happened was not my doing, or my lack of doing - it just was. The Lord reminds me that He still sees me, He is still in control, and He still cares.

And that makes all the difference. :-D

Friday, June 29, 2007

On the other side of a three gig day...

Yesterday was an example of why anybody who thinks that being self-employed is all about kickin' back, working when you feel like it, and money will just flood in is pretty much crazy.

Gig #1 - played at a retirement home at 2:30. Nice people, good time. Started setting up at 1pm, finished playing at 3:20, car is loaded and I'm driving home at 4:30.

Gig #2 - music at Dillenbeck's. Setup at 6pm, play from 7-8:45, packed and out the door by 9:10. Sold 1 CD. (and got a free mango smoothie that was amazing!!!)

Gig #3 - playing bass for Jeremy at The Break Room on Plainfield. Arrived at 9:23. Time to start playing: 9:30 for a 45 minute set. Jeremy had taken my stuff to the gig, so all I had to do was get out my bass, plug in, turn it on, tune, and we're off. Torn down and out the door by 10:45.

Money made for this day's work? Less than $80. Amount of joy getting to play at these different places? Priceless.

Amount of appreciation for Vicki, who sacrifices a lot so that I can continue to pursue creative things? Unmeasurable.

How tired am I, the day after? Very, especially since my brain decided that sleeping from 1am to 5:45am was all the sleep I needed, even though my body said, "are you NUTZZZ???" Ah well. I think Vicki and I are going to sleep in tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Like riding a bike...

But this post is not about bike riding. :-D

Isn't it amazing how a skill that is once learned can come back? It's been a long LONG time since I've done a regular storytelling gig. My usual thing is take my routine to a church, do a program, and I'm gone. Sometimes, they call me to come back, but usually it's a while between.

This summer, I'm doing a weekly gig at Frenz Coffee House in GR. Every Wednesday morning at 10:30. Which means I see some of the same faces every week. Which means, I need to have something different every week. :-D

The magic is not an issue - I have enough equipment, left over from my days doing this as my full-time gig to get me through a couple of summers. But the stories are another issues. There are some that can be repeated, and if I see mostly new faces like this morning, I'll repeat a story or two. But mostly, each week needs new stories.

The point? Although it's been a while since I've done stories and magic this regularly, the skills are still there. The gift and the passion that the Lord put in me for telling stories is still there, as strong as ever. I'm having to stretch, learn new material, and practice a lot, but that's good. I was due for a change anyway. But the basic abilities are still there, just waiting to be used.

Has the Lord given you a gift, a skill - something to use for Him? Maybe it's time to take it out, dust it off, and give it a go. You never know where or when He might use it.

And when He does, it's amazing!!!! Just drop by Frenz some Wednesday morning at 10:30, and you'll see what I mean. :-D (but not next week - I'm off for the 4th of July)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

"Now THAT was fun!!"

Why, yes - that title IS a movie quote. Thanks for noticing. :-D

Our worship leader, Jeremy, is also a solo artist with one CD out and another being finished. Well, tonight he played at Beanabox here in GR along with Julie Belle, and Jeremy brought along his band.

The band, being his sister Cara (she of the voice like an angel) adding vocals, his dad, Dave playing drums, and the one non-Hoekstra present, me playing bass. It was a sweet time, and a ton o' fun for me.

Then, I got to hear Julie Belle, and if you ever get the opportunity you should too. She has an amazing voice, and writes her own tunes. Good stuff indeed.

Jeremy and Julie will be back at Beanabox on July 21st - write it down and come if you can. It's a night of good music. And, really good smoothies! (I recommend the mango; Vicki gives props to the strawberry banana)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

To be what He made me to be...

Why do I so stubbornly refuse to become all that God intended me to be?

Instead, I spend my time moaning about how I ought to have a real job, how I'm not keeping up my end of the responsibilities in our family, how nobody in their right mind tries to make a living doing creative things. The musician's #1 credo? "Don't quit your day job."

And I waste precious time and energy wallowing around in my own misery...

"Well I picked up all these pieces,
and I built a strong deception,
and I locked myself inside of it
for my own protection.

And I sit alone inside myself,
and curse my company.
For this thing that has kept me
alive for so long is now killing me."


(Bob Bennett, "Lord Of The Past")

So, instead of saying that nobody in their right mind tries to make a living doing what I do, what if I accept the fact that 1) I've never been what you would call "normal," and 2) I've not been in my right mind for years. (ok - that last was a joke...) What if I allow myself to believe what God has been saying all along - that I was created for something very different, very wonderful, and if it doesn't seem to be what is "normal," well that's just fine. Instead of thinking what I "should" be doing, or imagining what others think I should be doing, what if I simply DO. What if I believe that God made me very unique, that He gifted me in so many ways that I can't count them, and that He wants me to use all of those things to give Him glory in as many different ways as possible?

What if I see myself as HE sees me, fearfully and wonderfully made? What if I take my eyes off my own pity parade, and instead acknowledge and affirm His blessings in making me what I am? What if I turn all of my energy and time and resources into becoming everything that He intended me to be?

What if?

I don't know. But I intend to find out...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Rejection

It's tough when you've worked yourself up to something, only to be told "NO."

I had accepted the fact that I need the gastric bypass surgery. I can't do it on my own. So, we tried to navigate the mountain of requirements that the insurance company has for the surgery. We thought we had covered everything, that I certainly would be approved, and off we would go.

Nope.

Apparently, there were some requirements that I didn't meet. We thought that everything was covered, but (as insurance companies are wont to do) some of the i's weren't dotted, and some t's weren't crossed. So, they said no.

And that's tough. Having gotten myself mentally ready for doing this, almost certain (as was our doctor and my counselor) that approval would come, and having started to get my head wrapped around what the future might look like, the path ended before it even got started.

So, now what? I don't know. Thinking about Romans 8:28 is not a welcome thing right now. The last 1.5 years have beaten me down quite a bit, and this is just one more thing. So, as I've done so much lately, I wait. There's nothing else I can do.

2Busy2Stop2Post2TheBlog

In the last two weeks, we have...

- Traveled to Columbus OH for a Cirque du Soleil show (Corteo, which I believe is now our favorite one...)

- Traveled to Newberry MI (in da UP, eh?) for grandpa's funeral. This also had the AMAZING benefit of getting to see Vicki's brother Dennis and his daughter Dillon. (and allowing me to get a soon-to-be-posted picture of all FOUR of my cuter than cute nieces, which should pretty much settle the competition with Hannah once and for all!)

- Drove home with Ezri on Sunday, while Vicki went down to Ohio with her sister for the memorial service and burial on Tuesday.

- Delivered the first of some music I've been working on for a new podcast from CBH. It's a fun project, and I've got more to work on...

- Did the first of our summer story hours at Frenz on Plainfield last Wednesday, and a really fun time was had by all - even by the folks who came in during the gig and wondered what in the WORLD was going on...

- Got a notice from the city that if we don't get our yard under control, we're in trouble. Sheeesh. Yes, I'll get that done in the next day or so.

Add to that some rehearsals coming up for a couple of different gigs, getting ready for some possible voice tracking work, and trying to keep the house and our lives afloat... I'm tuckered. :-D

Enough of that. Time to make some calls and get to work. :-D

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wednesdays are FRENZdays!!

Wednesday morning is the start of something new... for me, and for Frenz Coffee House on Plainfield. They are doing a summer story hour for families at 10:30am, and I'm the storyteller for the summer. :-D I was thinking I was going to be one of a few tellers, but Kevin the manager said, "you're it." Whoa. And, Yikes-A-Roni...

Good incentive to learn a BUNCH of new stories, as well as to polish up the ones I already know. GREAT incentive to drop many pounds - storytelling and magic take about 2 or 3 times the energy out of me that playing music does. If I don't drop over of a heart attack, it should be very good indeed.

So, if your kiddos say, "THERE'S NOTHING TO DO!", bring them to Frenz on Plainfield. Wednesday mornings, 10:30am until the end of summer. (except for July 4th, that is!) Hope to see you there...

And hope to make it through the summer. :-D

Monday, June 11, 2007

Goodbye, Grandpa...


Vicki's Grandfather, Herschel Osborn, passed away Sunday night. He lived a long, full, Godly life, (he was 101 years old!) and he and Grandma were an example to us of how love and faithfulness endures in a marriage when the Lord is the center of your home.

He was the only Grandfather I knew - none on my side of the family were around enough for me to have memories of them. And my fondest memory of him was the night before our wedding when Grandpa, having made his living as a tailor, hemmed my pants.

Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A good night at Frenz

We had a great night at Frenz! And, some friends came to hear me play, which is SUCH an encouragement!! It means a lot when you know folks took time out of their busy lives, came all the way to Rockford, had to park many miles away because of the "start of summer celebration," (Rockford was wall-to-wall people on Friday night!) all to hear my music. Wow.

Thank you, friends... Vicki and I are grateful indeed!

The Captain jams on at Frenz in Rockford

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The tooth... the tooth... the tooth...

(actually, the subject line is a quote, but a fairly obscure one...)

I get the joy of having two teeth extracted today. :-/ Yeah. One is broken down to the gum line, so they get to go digging for it. The other has been giving me grief for a couple of weeks now. Thought it was going to get a root canal and crown, but when the endodontist looked at it, he decided that it would cost more than it's worth to save it.

Now, I get to have a little session with the oral surgeon. "Oral Surgeon." Two words that you don't really want to hear together.

The upside? Is there one? Yeah - no more pain from that tooth. That'll be worth it.

We're expecting to get the news that Vicki's grandfather has passed on any day now. He's 101, and is very close to his journey to (as C.S. Lewis would say) "the far-off country." And even though he is well along in years, there will still be pain at his passing. But that pain for us will be a release from pain for him and an entry into joy everlasting. It could be many days before it happens, or it could be today. And for grandpa, it will be worth it. No more pain, no more suffering.

Kind of like losing a couple of teeth. Some discomfort ("Prepare for a lot of stinging!" - that's a less-obscure quote...) and then it's over.

We have a good friend who knows about this - his mom left for glory over the weekend. Her pain and burdens are laid down. For those left behind, tho, the pain and loss will be around for a while. We're praying for you, friend!

Depressing? No. Just longing for the day when "the grey rain curtain rolls back, and then you see it... green hills, and a swift sunrise." The far-off country.

Keep your eyes on the green hills, friends. One day at a time, and soon we'll be there.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Let's Hear It For The Dogs

Reading Amanda's post about the departure of one of their dogs made me want to give a shout out to canine companions - present and past.

Buddy I - the U.P. dog. Shepherd/Malamute mix. Nice guy - loved to ride in the car. Trashed the kitchen carpet when he was mad at us. Had to leave him behind when we moved to Grand Rapids. Don't have many memories of him, since we didn't have him all that long.

Buddy II a.k.a. "The Old Man" - Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix. Our cross-eyed boy. Meek and mild, confused most of the time, with the sweetest temperament. He became ours when he was 1 year old, and passed away at 10. He was my dog, no doubt about it, and I miss the Budster.

Kira - Vicki's Baby Girl. First one we raised from puppyhood. Husky/Lab mix. One blue and one brown eye. Smart, willful, energetic, loving, and was Buddy's "seeing eye dog." She taught him that people are alright, and even nice to be around. We said goodbye to her July, 2006 at the ripe old age of 16. She was a special one...

Ezri a.k.a. "Ezzie The Wonder Dog" or "BusyDog" - The current canine occupant of our home. She's a true "What Is It?", a mutt down to her toenails. She's probably the most intelligent dog we've had, and plays constantly. Affection doesn't motivate her - toys do. She's a bit anti-social, which is a shame, 'cause she's fun to play with and fun to watch. She's my girl, and keeps me company working here at home. Oh - and she LOVES Hannah and Denise! But not Ryan... :-D

Here's to the others, belonging to friends & family... Binky (the Pygmy Water Buffalo), Lady, Teddy, Nemesis, Roscoe, and so many others. Thanks for the joy and companionship you gave to us. And thank you, Lord, for the gift of our animal friends - be they dog, cat, feathered, finned, sleek, scaly, or other.

Time to go outside and play with Ezzie. :-D

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Backyard Haven

We did something new this year, and it's been the best thing we've done all year...

I've discovered that I need to be outside more. Getting out of the dark house into the light improves my mental health a lot. So, we've made a little oasis on our back patio.

First, 'Mater. As in Tuh-Mater. :-D We're doing some container gardening this year - tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli, and flowers. And yes - one of the tomato plants is named Mater and the other is Tuh. Fans of "Cars" will appreciate that.

Then came the canopy. We found one on sale, and were originally intending to use it for craft shows. Suffice it to say that we got a second one for the business - this one is staying right where it is.

Next, we discovered that this particular canopy comes with accessories! (Mystery quote: "You got the one with parameters? You must have waited 63 weeks for that!" ... Anybody [except for Amanda and Dodd] recognize that one??) So, our canopy now has screen walls. There are even tent walls and floor that we can get for this canopy. Maybe later... :-D

Now for the rope lights. :-D They go in tonight.

I'm going to try going out there next week with my laptop and mini MIDI controller, and see how much of the new album is written on the back patio.

So, if you want to find us, don't bother knocking on the front door. Just come up the driveway, and you'll probably find us in back. Pull up a chair, we'll grab you a beverage, and sit a spell. S'mores will be served later.

(Think I'm kidding? If you know where we live, and you see both cars in the driveway, c'mon back. :-D )

10:15pm - UPDATE... The first night with the lights was wonderful! We spent a glorious Sunday out on the patio, and ended tonight with lovely lights. Good for the psyche indeed! :-D Have a great holiday - I know we will!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Summer Fun at FRENZ!!!

Kevin, the super friendly manager at Frenz on Plainfield, is trying something new for the summer... he's having a morning storytime on Wednesdays at 10:30am, starting June 13th.

And, I'm the first Teller!!!! :-D So, not only do I get to play at Frenz on occasion, but I get to tell stories there too!!!!

So, mark it down - Wednesday, June 13th at 10:30am. The GR Frenz is on Plainfield where it meets I-96 - in the same plaza with MC Sports and the Hallmark store. C'mon in for some stories and fun!!! :-D

I'm geeked - can you tell?...

Don't ya hate it when...

You're slurping down your last bit of cereal, drinking out of the bowl since you're the only one here (except for Ezri, who is not only not offended at drinking out of the bowl but wants to join in...), only to discover that somewhere in that last morsel of yummy goodness was a burned Frosted Flake?

"YECH! EWWW! PAH-TOOIE!!!"

If you can make it through that, first thing in the morning, the rest of the day should be a piece of cake. :-D

"Life is like a bowl of cereal... with a burned flake in the bottom..." I'm glad Forrest Gump did chocolates rather than cereal.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Busy Weekend... and birthday stuff...

Whew! A busy weekend indeed...

Had two gigs on Friday - Pilgrim Manor in the afternoon, and then Frenz in Grand Rapids that night. A wonderful time was had by all at Frenz - including the group that stopped in as we were wrapping up for a mini-concert. Some of the most amazing things happen when you're not expecting them. :-D I'm very much looking forward to going to the Rockford location in June, as well as returning to the GR Frenz sometime soon.

Saturday was rest, and then babysitting that night.

Sunday was the usual in the morning, and that night I led the singing at a hymnsing at church. It was a blast, but boy was I tired when we got home. You wouldn't think waving your arms around for an hour would take that much out of you, but it did. :-D

Then today. We went over to Saginaw to meet my aunt and celebrate...

my birthday. Yup - the Captain is now Thirty-Eighteen. (48) Two to go to the big five-oh.

So, what am I looking forward to this year?

Bariatric surgery I'm in the "hoping the insurance will give permission so we can get on the waiting list to get it scheduled" phase of the process. As with all medical things, it's a hurry-up-and-wait thing.

Knee Replacement We've had a visit to the orthopedic doc, who (of course) told me that in order to have knee replacement (which is not an if, but a when), I need to lose the weight first. But, to lose the weight, I need to be able to move and exercise, and with my knees as bad as they are, I can't do that, so I need the knees replaced, but they won't do that until... Get the picture? Grrr.... So, we're trying to find a surgeon that will go ahead and do the knees, knowing that once the gastric bypass happens, the issue of weight will change. And, frankly, after the bariatric surgery, all other surgeries get a LOT more difficult (because of nutritional balances, etc), so I'd rather get the knees over with, and then do the tougher stuff of the gastric bypass. So, we wait until the next appointment, with the surgeon in July. And we pray.

Bike Riding? Not right now, unfortunately... The knees are bad to the point where the bike is going to be almost out of the question. However, I am praying about a replacement for my ReBike, since I've pretty well gotten to the point where it won't work for me anymore. There is a place that will build a new bike for me, to my frame, allowing for my long torso and short legs, but that'll take a LOT of cash. We're praying that the Lord sells either mom's house or the farm, and we could go ahead with the new bike, which SHOULD help even with my bad knees.

Does that sound like a bad year? I really don't see it that way. It's simply time for a change. I've taken a year to get over this major life change, to try and accept my new path, and now it's time to move along. There's some hope on the horizon, but it's a little far away yet. But it's there... and getting closer. :-D

Happy birthday to me. :-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Friday at Frenz!!!

As you can see by the list of upcoming shows to the right, this Friday I'll be playing at Frenz Coffeehouse in Grand Rapids. I'm looking forward to it - it'll be my first time there, and I've heard a LOT of good things about this venue.

So, if you're able, come and join us! I'll be playing at 7pm, for a couple of sets, doing some tunes from my CD, as well as other relaxing music. And, I guarantee that if you bring a friend, you'll be able to enjoy the music AND have a conversation at the same time! :-D We'll have CDs available, as well as handmade jewelry. (and yes, this time we WILL have the jewelry... someone came to my appearance at Beanabox especially to see the jewelry, and we didn't have it! SORRY! :-/ Jewelry will be in da house on Friday!)

If you can make it, the support would be appreciated. Sometimes, management will use attendance as a factor in inviting someone back, so if people show up, that really helps! :-D

Friday, May 11, 2007

"Get Off My Lawn!!"

I realized something today. I've decided not to be the grumpy old man who yells at the neighborhood kids, "get off my lawn!!!"

Ezri went off this afternoon, big time. So I figure the disturbance must be local, rather than across the street. I go out on the porch, look down the driveway, and see a little yellow Corvette parked up near the van. As in VERY little - and electronic. I hear a girl in distress down the street, then realize they're coming toward me. I ask, "are YOU the one who got a car stuck in my driveway?" Her dad says, "it don't got reverse..." and picks up the car to turn it around. Then they both get in (on) the car, and drive off, while I smile and wave.

So, no - I'm not going to be the grumpy old man. Besides, if the kids crawl all over the lawn, maybe they'll stomp it down enough so I can put off mowing for a while. (since I have to mow with a weedwhacker, I tend to put it off as long as I can...) Kids playing in the neighborhood mean families in the neighborhood, and that's a good thing.

Besides, how often have YOU had a yellow Corvette stuck in your driveway? :-D

Thursday, May 10, 2007

ROAD TRIP!!!!!!!!

Regular readers of The W's W's (the Very Few, the Semi-Proud) know that we are Cirque Du Soleil fans. We've seen three of the shows live (Varekai, Drallion and Quidam), and it's my semi-goal to see all of the shows sometime. (Except for one - which shall not be named. It's a Las Vegas resident show, and I was sad when Cirque decided to do it...) After my life changed in 2006, I was expecting that my Cirque days were over - not much money left for extravagnaces like shows.

Two new shows have come out since we last went - Corteo and Kooza (the newest one), as well as a couple of resident shows and two arena shows. (Delirium and Saltimbanco, which used to be a touring show before being converted to an arena show) Well, I was looking over the tickets, found a couple of perfect seats in the cheap section, and before you could say "Happy Birthday To Me!", we are going to Columbus OH to see Cirque!!!! :-D

(Yes, that birthday remark was made for me, btw. May 21st, to be precise.)

It'll be good to see Cirque again. And good to go on a road trip like that again. My spirit needs a bit of that, as do we all. Doesn't have to be a big honkin' thing - just a small break to refresh us. :-D

And a small break at White Castle. A few of them, actually. But no Waffle House - you gotta draw the line someplace.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A two gig day...

Yesterday was the first time since being a semi-full-time musician that I had double-booked (as in, two playing gigs, back-to-back). Oi... The problem was, I booked them too close together, and the first one started 20 minutes later than I was told on the phone.

Gig 1 - Third Reformed church. Nice time with their seniors, and they appreciated the music very much. But, as mentioned, it started 20 minutes later than I expected. So, before I played, an emergency txt was sent to my road crew, calling in some help. Thanks to Dan Da Man for allowing Vicki to skip out for a bit to come to the aid of the rotund whistler... Vicki came in, cut the tear-down time in half, and we were on to...

Gig 2 - Beacon Hill Open House. My friend Brian is the director of marketing for Beacon Hill, and asked me to play at their open house. Got here at 3pm, had to play at 4pm. But, having called in the big guns, Vicki and I had it set up in time. TONS of people, and a good event. Applause catered the event, and I was very impressed with them - they did an amazing job!

Two funny things... one couple came in, and said "we hoped to see you again, but we didn't think it would be this soon!" They had been at lunch at Third Reformed, and here we were again. :-D And, one of the folks from Applause came over while I was playing, and said "I wanted to take a look at your rings." Later, she talked to me about them, and will be contacting me to make her a ring. :-D

POSTLUDE: Took me about 90 minutes to tear down, load the van, and get home. I was exhausted. So, the lessons learned from my double-gig day? 1) There has to be more than an hour between gigs, or else I can't do it myself. 2) I have GOT to get back to work on my weight. When I was 366 and falling, I could have done this. At 425 currently, it almost kills me. The weight is the biggest issue in pursuing this creative vocation. I simply don't have the stamina to move all my equipment, perform, and get it all home. Not to mention the day to day operation of a 3 part business. Don't know how I can turn this around, but it needs to happen.

So, my friends, your prayers are appreciated. This is obviously a good path for me, and I'm glad the Lord put me on it, but my physical condition is making it nigh unto impossible to keep up. I'm in the process of getting insurance approval for bariatric surgery - I had hoped to do this all on my own, but I know I can't. But the surgery is risky, and I'm a little scared of it.

A tough day, but I learned a lot. :-D