Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas and Farewell 2016

With the closing of 2016, or biggest year of change since 2011, I thought I'd give a Christmas lettery-ish type blog post, in lieu of thinking through, selecting photos, and writing out a formal, properly formatted letter. My blogging has always been far less thought-out and therefore better suits my current attention span. That makes it more fun, and if it's more fun, it's more likely to actually be written.

So here is a recap of 2016, our current lives, and looking forward to 2017:

Christmas Past: 
This time last year, cozy and warm(ish) in south Texas, we stuck Michael on an airplane and sent him off to Virginia to start a new job. The kids and I spent the rest of the month working out our final season in the Rio Grande Valley, teaching Mary to take over bass lines and working through music we can perform without Michael.  It was an excellent show, and that made it all the more difficult when spring arrived and we set down our instruments and headed out of the south for the last time. Due to family emergencies we cut our time short and went to Colorado for a time before heading to Virginia.

Some good friends rented us their garage apartment while we made the transition from a wandering group of vagabonds, to sticks-and-bricks inhabiters. In order to afford a larger sticks-and-bricks, we had to either find lots of performing jobs in the area or get ordinary jobs. Because of burnout and a desire to live on the other side for a time, we opted for jobs. Starting in the late spring, Katie got a job at Subway, and Alex held a temporary job at a fireworks booth.

In early July we moved into a 4-bedroom rental house, ranch-style, no basement or garage, and quite tiny, though huge compared to a bus. The exterior painting is an eye sore, like someone was a big Washington Redskins fan and took it out on the house, but it suits us otherwise.

At the end of July, Alex got in a fight with a BMW and lost the fight. You can read about that in a previous blog post. Her temp job at the fireworks booth was finished and she hadn't found a regular job yet, but 6 weeks in a cast put that back even further, killing her savings from the fireworks booth. At the end of her life as a Dufflepud, she got a job at Chick-fil-A and doesn't hate it. (Good enough for a fast food job.)

This summer Sean began working at McDonalds and seems to like it. He has been spending most of his money as quickly as it comes in, first on violin lessons, because as much as he likes fiddle, he prefers to have Vivaldi and the gang kick his rear. Second, he's been building the "ultimate gaming computer", complete with a 55" HD something-or-other TV in which to better experience the excess brain melting device. We agreed to the big TV (way too big for his small room), and the brain melting device on the condition that it stays in the main living room. It's his computer, all must have permission to use it, he has headphones if his games use too much potty-mouth for his parent and younger sister to listen to, and any gorish violence must be considerate of others as well. Plus, as a side benefit, I can better keep an eye on his brain melt when the TV is in the living room. He readily agreed, because, well, 55" TV, male, pew-pew... (Ok, his dad also wanted the big TV too. Go figure.)

Finally, he recently purchased a 5-string electric violin. I've declared an end to the excess spending after that and he'll now be saving for college.

Probably. The violin still needs special effects, new strings, and a YouTube channel, after all. Ah, parenting.

Continuing with summer of 2016, after we moved into the house we needed some additional supplemental income, and since I wanted to leave my days free to play chauffeur, I picked up a job cleaning buildings at night while I waited for more exciting opportunities. In October my new opportunity arrived when I got a job as a Youth Aid at a local library. Sadly, they can't give enough hours at this time, so I am working two jobs in hopes that the local county will decide the library is worthy of more money for youth service employees. It's tiring working both jobs, but I love, love, love the job at the library and I'll keep my foot in that door, so that when the county money gods of the region decide to grant favors, I'm first in line.

As for Mary, in addition to a youth choir at church, she started helping out as a volunteer for preschoolers at the library. She and other kids get to do the puppets behind the  curtain for the dance music and singing between story books. As you can probably imagine, she loves it! My job at the library is largely with the school age to high school kids, leading the Lego Club and Anime nights, with tween to teen book displays and posts, so I can just go be a patron and sit back to read when I take Mary to help lead the puppets.

Heading into fall, in October Mary and I took off together to visit Colonial Williamsburg for a weekend. That was fabulous!

Finding a church has been the biggest challenge we've faced after finding a home and jobs. During our time on the road we desperately missed having a church community like we enjoyed in Colorado but nothing in the area seemed to fit. We tried the mostly-homeschoolers church because we wanted the kids to be able to make friends and connections, and they enjoyed it, but overall it simply wasn't going to work.

So... this fall we started attending a church where we think we'll be happy. It's a historical church in the Old Town district, big and beautiful. They offer both a contemporary service, youth groups, with modern preferences, and also maintain a couple of traditional services, complete with old hymns, choirs in formal robes, liturgy, etc. It's wonderful to hear the choirs and sing the hymns in a lovely old historic church. Sort of like being stuffy where you like it, not because it's required, but because it can be beautiful. Love that.

Christmas Present:
Michael is doing well at his job. Training is very extensive and it's been rather stressful at times, but he appears to slowly be making progress and gaining more confidence in the work. Sometimes he finds himself climbing big water towers (his company deals in water treatment automated systems), and has occasionally taken pictures or video calls while high above the city.

We now have a dog. Boots, who lived with us for a time in Texas, was my parents' furry step child and he is now officially our full time furry step child. The cat hates him, but mostly she hates that he ignores her when she tries to taunt him.

Recently Alex and Katie headed out to tour Lord Fairfax Community College to see if there is any way they can meet requirements in time for this coming spring semester. They have to pay out of state tuition, so that's been a drawback and it may be late to gather funding, but neither feel like waiting until next fall if they can manage somehow. They've waited long enough. Needless to say, they loved the campus and are excited to start ASAP. Of course, they'll need a car to travel as well, so managing everything by January may be optimistic, but it's worth the try. Once they are in and through the school programs, and if they get high enough grades, the current thought is to head out after their associates to continue studies at one of the many great universities here in Virginia. Alex is leaning towards English, Katie towards something in biology.

What does this mean for the band??? Sadly, it means it may never fully resurrect, but there will likely still be music here and there. We have agreed to do a show in April and I may throw in our hats over the summer at a few other places if we feel we can make the schedules line up, but I suspect we'll now be one of those groups who just have the occasional reunion concert from this point forward unless the kids pull together their electric instruments and create their own project in the future.

But last weekend this happened:

The music definitely continues. Katie plays ukulele, Alex is hoping things will work out with school and work to leave her money to take lessons on the electric guitar, Sean now has his 5-string electric violin and has plans for some youtube arrangements and humorous videos, Mary is practicing guitar and singing in the youth choir. I planned to write a book about family and music. I have a basic outline and resources lined up, but with chauffeur duties and two jobs, it's shelved until at least the evening cleaning job goes away. Besides, all of my needs for a creative outlet are being happily used at the library.

Oh, and big news: We have a 7 foot Christmas tree! No more teeny-tiny bus trees. Yay!

Christmas Future:
Looking forward to 2017, my hopes for the year include seeing the twins further into the adult universe of life in studies and doing their own chauffeuring. Both are also looking at college programs that will take them to Japan to study abroad for a time, too. Not sure how they'll manage that with their cat... Our parenting responsibilities only go so far, right?

Sean plans to be a world famous YouTube personality with his electric violin and his "Ultimate Gaming Computer". He also wants to dye his hair red. I said no. He argued, because he's Sean, and I agreed after he gets his first 1,000 followers, because I'm me. Tune in next year to see how that turned out. We'll argue further over how far a PG13 rating his channel gets to go because pushing boundaries is what he does and pick battles is what I do. He also hopes to get his license. Virginia drivers beware.

Mary will do the choir thing, the puppet thing, and I'm hoping to find her either a drama thing or an art thing on the side when time and money allows. She's easily pleased, thankfully. She reads voraciously, mostly Warrior cat books so she can wake me at 1:00 in the morning after Erin Hunter kills off some cute little baby kitty and leaves her traumatized and in tears. And yet she still devours them, often at 1:00 in the morning when she's supposed to be sleeping.

Michael will work, I will work and eventually try to work only one job instead of two, the dog has no further plans, nor does the cat. We may or may not purchase a house again in the future, and will likely stay at this rental at least one more year.

All and all, this year has been one big roller coaster, but through God's grace, the difficult transition was made and now we carry the hope of all finding our footing on more solid ground in the coming years. Where there is a will, there really is a way, even if that way is sometimes a bit bumpy. Bumpy is at least not boring. Never accuse us of ordinary, boring, or normal, huh?

Have a blessed Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Parenting Off of the Stage

I've come to the conclusion that children are high maintenance.

Yeah, news flash. Adult ones too. Perhaps especially the young adult ones. Young adult children are too poor for cars so they need to share your cars or get rides everywhere. They don't know how to fill out forms and applications, tax stuff, and life in the modern world is one form after the next. Then this happened:

Leading to this:

I won't get into details on how but it had something to do with the tire of a BMW.  This created more forms along with lots of drives to the orthopedic doctor's office, and a sudden inability to look for a job after her summer temporary job was complete.  

(Rabbit trail: I've seen some articles going around that tell parents not to discuss their kids on blogs because it's mean. My kids read my blog and I don't put things on it that they would be bothered by, so rest your minds as I continue to toss our world out there. They aren't likely to sue me like that girl in Australia who is suing her parents because they post embarrassing pictures of her on facebook because suing me would mean filling out more forms.  There you have it.)

For the record, neither adult child was hired on at Starbucks. Their loss. Katie is working for a famous restaurant that shall not be named (so I can trash it later), until she is able to complete some swimming lessons and Red Cross lifeguard training in hopes that the recreation center will hire her. Alex, the kid with the broken foot, has been promised a job at Chick-Fil-A just as soon as she gets the OK from the doctor to be in regular shoes and walk around, which should be this Friday. She plans to return to school as soon as she can get the funds figured out and get in-state tuition through the local community college. 

Sean initially got a job at the restaurant-that-shall-not-be-named, but the general manager appears to be a slightly less stable muggle version of Professor Umbridge. (Harry Potter, fifth book, for those confused.) He's younger and his stress was very high so we suggested he quit and get a job elsewhere.  He was almost immediately hired on at McDonalds, which is one of the teen friendly job locations within walking distance, and he is doing great. He likes the job, likes the managers, (who are not related to death eaters, it would seem), and it seems to be teaching him a lot of valuable skills. He's just about to get his 3rd paycheck and is raking the minimum wage dough. Currently, he's working at the register but wants to Learn All the Things, from cooking to the drive through.  (I have asked him to not tell me about the food he eats while there and have increased his probiotics.)

Katie, still at the restaurant-that-shall-not-be-named, is getting 40-50 hours per week because they are constantly under staffed because no one wants to work for the place.  Go figure.  She appears to be the type of person to blend into the background enough that the less stable muggle Umbridge has not given her much trouble. She got a slight raise and is left to her own devices most of the time, with the general manager largely working at the other nearby restaurant-that-shall-not-be-named, so all is tolerable for now. 

Now for a word of advice: Use extra caution if you live in Virginia, because the boy child mentioned above now has a learner's permit and is driving. His dad is the boss of that.  Every time he gets behind the wheel I can be found at home curled up in a corner and praying.

The same child is back in violin lessons, which he pays for himself with his stellar minimum wages. His teacher seems to match his mental wavelength perfectly and gives him the end of each lesson to mess around with a 5-string electric fiddle. Sean is in heaven. Initially, his plan was to get money to build the ultimate gaming computer. Now his priorities have changed. He plans to get a 5-string electric fiddle, complete with all the electronic bells and whistles that will make it sound like anything he wants it to sound like. Then he plans to be a YouTuber and do weird creations online with the fiddle.

In the end, parenting off the stage is getting complicated for all except Mary. I had to take her to a play date yesterday, but that was fun for me too, since I had a nice mom-to-mom chat while they played. As the weather cooled to pants weather the other day, I found out every single one of her jeans are 2-3 inches too short, so shopping is a must. Other than that, she's the low-maintenance one. Does her school. Reads lots and lots of books. Does the dishes, too.

To round it all out, we now have a rental house that suits us quite well for now. I took an evening job cleaning medical offices after hours, partly to give us a financial boost with all the new changes, and because I needed to be free during the day to play chauffeur to the high-maintenance ones and do all that homeschool mom stuff, plus it's mindless work where I can escape with an audio book every evening. The local library has free audio books I can download onto my phone with an app. Ahhhh...

Benny is safe and sound for the winter, stored in a local lot. We've moved out and scrubbed him clean. Part of me already misses it, but ultimately we were more than ready for the change. If all goes as planned, we'll drive him back to Colorado in the spring for a visit and perhaps sell him. 
After cleaning every bit of stored clutter from under every bench, then moving it to a wall in my bedroom for sorting, I spend the last month wading through five years of STUFF. The piles are almost gone so as a reward, I hunted for a perfect desk, finding one this weekend at a thrift store. It goes with the awesome, comfortable, and like-new office chair I dumpster dove to get (literally). 

I'm hoping that the close of this post will eventually become the opening to the next phase for me. Because... I have plans. Mwahahahaha! Plans I've made and been forced to put on hold multiple times while on the road because running the band and travels did not allow for the time and focus to pursue anything else. Now that we've settled, if I can get the little ones, oops, er, older kids a bit more, uh, independent, I just may be able to jump in on that next dream.

I also want to sew again, make more of the cute clay jewelry, and enjoy life off of wheels for a change. It all starts with a work space and a few hours a day. Ah, dreams. They're free, you know, and now and then if you dream enough of them, one may come along you can actually grab.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Wanted: Band Members for Starbucks

The twins are looking for jobs and over the last couple of weeks Alex and Katie have done some initial job hunting, and both have decided their current life goal is to work at Starbucks.

The First Starbucks
2014 in Seattle
Why Starbucks? They're young. You can be anything you want to be, right? So why not look to be an engineer, write a novel, CEO of a major corporation, or any number of esteemed opportunities in life? Ok, so it's not the final life goal, but it's a great stepping stone and they want it for a few very good reasons.

First, they love coffee. They love the way coffee smells, the warmth of coffee, the many lives coffee can take, and the funny memes coffee inspires on Tumblre and Facebook. They get this from me. I may have failed in some parenting areas, but I like to think I got this one right.

Second, they love Starbucks. It was one of the pioneers to realize the art that is in coffee. Yes, we've traveled to some mighty amazing coffee places throughout the USA in our years on the road, but you have to give credit to a company that takes a great idea, makes a good business model, and convinces an entire nation that $5 is a reasonable price to pay for a cup of coffee. It's brilliant. You may think it's ridiculous to pay so much for coffee, and you may be right, but you can't knock the marketing magnificence that convinced so many others to cough up the money for a pile of milky, syrupy, artificial flavory cup of heaven. 
Nov. 2012 We still mourn the sad death
of this perfect coffee cup, purchased
at Disney World.

Finally, they want to work at Starbucks because they have a college option for good employees. Again. Brilliant. You get brainy employees that are goal minded. After having taken a year of online college and completely acing every subject, (that was an I-didn't-completely-fail-at-homeschooling plug, if you missed it), Alex has decided she likes this thing called college and finally decided on a likely educational direction in pursing a degree in communications, now that she is no longer an on-stage band diva. In watching this transformation, Katie has also decided school may be for her as well and she wants to pursue something in programming. Since neither have an interest in romance and are still determined to simply be crazy old cat ladies, they figure they have plenty of time, so they will take this year off to earn some money and get established in our new location, then look at beginning school in 2017. 

The problem is convincing Starbucks to hire them. Baristas are sought after positions around here and they turn down far more applicants than they hire. 

I've been helping them find ways to word their "past work experience" in a way that makes it look good, since I'll be doing the same, but I'm beginning to realize that it may be difficult to get a potential employer to look past the word "band" when they have 20 other applications on the desk, some of which can say "McDonalds", which looks so much more service related. 

Be honest. If you see the word "band" as the only other thing a young adult their age has ever done, do you sort of think of Wayne's World? A couple of young adults, living in their parents' basement, jamming to some obnoxious tunes. 

The reality is perhaps a bit different so I warned them that they may have to get some other job first and see if they can learn to serve people a sandwich and a drink, 'cause that's where you get the real important skills. Then after 6-8 months of this they can go bug Starbucks again and see if they will hire from that experience. 

Part of me sympathizes with the Waynes World mentality, especially when the only past employer the manager can call is the applicant's mommy. However, if they did call me, here is what I could then tell them.

Hire them. Do it. They know how to show up and work under some rather difficult situations and do it with a smile. 

Sept. 2012
First Pumpkin Spice of the season.
In a little "family band", they have played 3 hour sets in 45 degree weather where they could hardly feel their fingers on the metal strings and 4 hour music sets in 105 degree weather that made you almost dizzy. Torrents of rain? Done that. Wind that blew over the sound system? Yep.

They have gotten off the bus after driving 8 hours, set up a sound system, played music for a small group of people, sold CDs, then broke it down, to then drive to a Walmart and sleep a few hours before heading out again.

In a "quaint little family band", these young ladies have performed with fevers, sore throats, coughs, and have even had to sit down at times during the show from weakness from a minor illness, but they had to get through the show or we would not have the money to get by that month. 

May 2015
Some random Starbucks out east
After pulling out high energy for an hour on stage, they have taken their small 10 minute break to listen to some audience member who bent their ears about each of her grandchildren who plays various instruments and was a rock in a school show once, and how her cousin's brother's uncle's grandpappy played in a band once. They smiled. Their feet hurt and they never got that drink or run to the bathroom, then they got back up on stage to sing more. 

They have helped design shows, design original music, written their own solos, and learned 3 hours of challenging music without the aid of sheet music or lyrics. Then they have had to throw out the plan and wing it on stage when a string broke on the instrument that was to be featured next, cutting out a break or a whole verse of a song with only a look and a shrug, and the audience never knew anything happened. 

More importantly, they have lived in a small, leaky, sparse, 300 square foot bus for over 4 1/2 years with parents and siblings, learning to not kill one another when things get tough, the money ran low, and the days got long. 

Hire them. You won't get better.

So, anyone know anyone at Starbucks?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The End? The Brutally Honest Post You Probably Weren't Waiting For

Once upon a time there was a blog. The blog was started as a journey began, full of excitement and hope. As time went by the pages filled with exciting pictures of adventures, but occasionally a look at the challenges. Not often, as the goal was to look at the positive. As time went by the negatives began to weigh heavily and the new adventures, once so fresh and thrilling, became monotony with the constant uncertainties looming. Without a home base to unwind and recharge, burn out eventually was bound to set in. It took almost three years, but sometime towards the end of that third year, we knew we had to make a change.

The problem is, when your financial life revolves around a schedule that demands you book shows 6-12 months in advance, and there is no unemployment or cushion money available if a job does not arrive after you halted booking those gigs, it is easier to just kick the can down the road over and over again. Additionally, Michael's earlier jobs were in IT, a field that doesn't just stay put while you take off for four years. The technology moves forward. Younger, brighter competition comes on the scene with recent certifications and experience. Needless to say, the last year left us on edge. We put in our end date and sat back to see what would happen. 

According to psychologists, uncertainty is more stressful than knowing that something bad is going to happen. It could happen. But maybe it won't. But maybe it will... 

When we all started on this journey it was a giant leap of faith. Somehow, God provided, but often by the slimmest of margins, and sometimes to a deficit. We spent a lot of time treading water, having enough to scrape by, but not enough to move forward. Of course, that is the way we sometimes lived in a sticks and bricks home, balancing mortgage payments, utility bills, old vehicles, and the occasional layoff through various tech crashes. At least this time we were free of that rat race and on an adventure of a lifetime. It was worth every moment of uncertainty as we'd look to summer and hope to find enough events that pay in order to eat in six months. 

It was worth it all... until it wasn't. 

(Warning, Debby Downing ahead but we'll turn it around in the end.)

The decision was made, but left nothing to replace it. When you stop dreaming and planning on the future of the band, the next CD, the next show stopper, you have to find something else. Unfortunately, that something else was desperately unknown. We had no idea what part of the country we'd land. Could we risk trying to stop up north where we may find ourselves on minimum wages, in the bus with multiple adults looking for jobs, still unable to afford a decent place to live, and winter heading towards us in a bus with no insulation or built in heater, and while RV lots tend to close up for the season? What about south? We considered Houston but they have a rather significant down-turn right in jobs because of the oil industry. At least we could live in an RV lot all year, but that's a lot of jobs to cover in a down economy, on low wages, all to afford to live where we really didn't want to live. How do you get Michael back into IT? Where do the twins go to college? Can I homeschool Sean and Mary if I'm working full time trying to make ends meet? With no easy answers, a lot of dark thoughts can set in, stomping all over my preferred dreamy state of existence. 

It's show biz.
Dueling Banjos
Girl Style
Then add burn out to that, which can really do a job on you.

2 1/2 to 3 years on the road would have been a great run. 4 1/2 years almost took the joy from the previous. To be very clear, the first three years were filled with the usual ups and downs of life, but with the occasional punctuated side of FAN-TA-STIC. Transitions, especially major ones, are draining, and crossing it with burn-out and a bit of uncertainty can make you forget the awesome for a time.

But the downs do eventually find everyone and in this case, even the best of times can turn into drudgery when you find yourself in limbo on the next step. Uncertain limbo sucks. For me, I simply lost my desire to blog and checked out. I read one stupid book after the next, didn't fight the bus clutter monster, didn't care if the kids wore the same clothes 3 days in a row, and hit only the minimum three Rs in homeschooling. I wasn't depressed at all. I was checked out. Sort of in survival mode. It was almost fun, but not particularly useful. It wasn't just me, it was everyone, and perhaps especially Alex, who was also tackling online college and a deep dread of another winter season of playing pretend. Sean was bored and started to live off of video games, Mary was bored and watched way too much anime, and even Katie, who usually is the one to maintain function, stopped cartooning and reading about productivity. We were toast. 

Wearing Bronco colors
at a show, minus Dad,
who watched the
Super Bowl alone in VA
We found ourselves unemployed last fall and living off the credit cards as we could not go to our Arizona destinations. It was possible Michael may have to fly out for a job, leaving me to manage the van and bus, which terrifies me to drive. Instead we headed to our usual spot in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. When he finally started a job in December and headed to Virginia, the rest of us quickly reworked the show, having Mary take over bass lines on the U-Bass, with Sean, Katie and I occasionally filling in on the extras, removing banjo or mandolin when another had to take the bass, and learning more Irish tunes, which are very friendly to optional bass and/or banjo. 

Hospital stay for testing
 after a seizure.
From January through early March we went to our shows, minus Michael, dealing with a growing impatience from the lot, a seizure from our youngest which was followed by a hospital stay and tests we couldn't afford but agreed to anyway, then family tragedies that required an early departure to Colorado.

Would I now discourage someone else from taking such a dramatic leap into the unknown? Nope. Life will have ups and downs anyway and the last several months are a worthy price to pay for the previous years.

And so, here I've let loose my Debby Downer...

Well, guess what? We made it! Once again, through insurmountable odds, God provided. We have some wonderful friends who not only took a chance and got Michael a job in northern Virginia, but they opened their property to us while we try to scrape together the funds we'll need to retire the home on wheels and find another sticks and bricks home.
Blizzard in Colorado

As of today we have been here for almost four weeks. Michael, Sean, Mary, and I are living in an above-the-garage apartment. The twins are living in the bus, which is parked right next to it. We've had only one show in over a month, having had the one in Colorado canceled from a blizzard. Our next show is in August. I was supposed to try to find summer shows to keep us afloat but somehow my brain kept finding excuses, and everyone decided it would be preferable to just go get ordinary low-paying jobs instead. We'll play in August to remind ourselves how, then only when requested, and only as time allows. 

In the last month I have procrastinated pretty much everything, from laundry to slowly unpacking the bus. I didn't realize how tightly coiled up my nerves had become until they started to have a chance to unwind, unwind, then unwind some more. 

The uncertainty monster is still out there, as we try to find a vehicle to replace our poor, dying minivan, then get jobs to afford first and last month's rent in a place that doesn't cost more than we make per month. We'll be back to the usual lifestyle of barely treading water soon enough, only in a new location. Seems our lot in life, but I'm not particularly materialistic, thankfully. I long far more for peace. 

This time, while treading water, there is at least a place to stretch out and steady income, even if it isn't enough at this time to provide. It has potential and it's a starting spot. I'm gradually finding my optimism return as I can allow myself to dream about what I may want to be in my next life. There are so many options. Maybe I'll teach music again? Write that music curriculum? Sew and make clay items for summer festival booths? Write a book? Become a public speaker? (I actually like doing that. Go figure.) Work at Costco or Taco Bell... Ok, that last one is probably closer to the start, but I've never been one to do "normal" for long, so I'll go ahead and dream.

I'm not sure what that means for this blog. It may have served its usefulness. Part of me wants to write up a formal account of our journey someday, but it can't be right away. After our stressful year in 2011 as we prepared to launch on this adventure, the challenges we had getting out of the house and moving into the bus almost erased all the joyful times we had as a part time band and family simply living a quiet life in northern Colorado. I can finally look back on it with objectivity, and with a whole lot of joy and longing. I expect I will need time to shake off some of late 2015 and early 2016, then I can look back on this blog, our old calendar, and the wonderful pictures, with joy and longing as well. Then maybe I'll write that book about our journey.

Or that steam punk fictional book idea I had from a dream where this girl from the future is thrown back in time, and likely another dimension... 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Between the Moon and New York City

I had a summer fun failure. I never got around to connecting my phone to my computer and downloading pictures. After you neglect it for a bit, you realize that the amount of time it will take to have your computer scan and find all of the many pictures will take up more time than you feel like spending at any given moment so you put it off again. More pictures and more time passes and it just gets worse.

By the time I finally tended to all of the picture downloads I was behind a couple of months. Exciting months, too.

So, do I post the whole summer in one post, or in multiple little ones? I thought I'd do one big post so people could just scroll through, then I started posting and realized it was asking a bit much of my attention span. I'll hit the highlights of the Big Apple first, then get to Gettysburg, Atlantic City, and Montreal in a later post.

New York City

We had the privilege of visiting some long time friends from Colorado, who are now living in New Jersey. They spoiled us rotten for a few days and included a wonderful day trip into the city.

Two years ago when we went to NYC we took a tour bus, but you can't really get a feel for life in the city without riding the subway. So this time we did! I think my ladies look like they belong here.

The new One World Trade Center is absolutely stunning!

A volunteer at the memorial gave us a full description of the survivor tree.

I love the different layers you see through out the city.

I love to see unique buskers! I always try to have a few dollars available to give out and the more I'm blessed by the presentation, the more I give. It's a weakness.  The jazz band in the subway was amazing! I caught it on video but my wifi is too limited to upload. Trust me, they rocked the subway!

 Stopped off in Central Park where Katie did what Katie does best - a cartoon sketch of whatever catches her eye.

As the sun set we walked from Central Park, by Radio City and the Rockefeller Plaza, over to Times Square so we could enjoy the lights at night.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zeal!

Today is the final day of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. I don't know if I will join next year, but it certainly did give me a good kick to get writing more.

Alex and Katie  have pushed to get me to write a novel during the NaNoWriMo challenge in the fall, and though I don't really care to write fiction, but I may write on a non-fiction subject, or a memoir of our journeys, something. Anything I find for which I am zealous! I'll decide in November.

But for the end of  the challenge, Z is for Zeal!

I obviously have several things for which I am zealous and covered a few in this challenge. They include folklore/music history, arranging new music, and definitely children's music and instruction. I find it interesting that performing doesn't seem to be something I'm nutty over enough to write about, though I certainly love performing, but I think it follows as a result of the others. I think this gives me some clues as to what I may gravitate towards as we wind down our travels next year.

There is at least some zeal for fun with essential oils, sewing, crafts, etc. but it is perhaps secondary. The secondary ones are usually in the "mental health therapy" boat, being there to give my brain a break.

NOT that the band is ending - I don't want to give that impression, but for us to stop full time travel next year the band will need to move more local, wherever local may be. Bands usually have to travel to where the action is if they wish to bring home the bacon, so this means supplemental income may be helpful. I'd really like to supplement it with something I love.

Economically supporting zeal is the best kind.

Side note: For the MLM zealots, one thing I likely will not be doing is selling for a Multilevel Marketing company, so please don't ask. (I write this because of the sudden high jump in friends I have who now sell with MLM and invite me to one e-party after the next.) I'm not against it at all and even sold Usborne Books briefly ages ago. I liked the books and wanted some, but I was my usual broke self. Personally, I think liking the product is really the only reason to sell anything from an MLM company. Economically, it really doesn't add up.

Speaking of zeal...

Did you see the super cute necklaces I'm working on??? The little ice cream cone has a hole in the back where you can drip some essential oil. Hidden in the cone there is a different type of clay that is more fragile, but absorbs and holds the oils wonderfully. I want to make some for kids. I have a few interesting adult necklace ideas too, when I have time to play with clay.

You want one, right???

Sorry, they're not for sale yet. They're in experimental mode right now, but soon I will have your money, er, make these wonderful trinkets available.

I will admit, zealousness can be wonderful but it is also sometimes a dangerous thing. Not everyone is going to be zealous over the same things, and sometimes those things clash. I have friends on facebook who go at it now and then in a rather subtle fashion. One will post a string of articles that demonize GMOs in our food. Another will then post articles about how many lives GMOs have saved and the bad science behind the anti-GMO crowd. Food seems to be a big one lately, but I suspect politics will start to heat things up over the next year. I sometimes just get a mental bag of popcorn and watch the fireworks. I don't participate much anymore.

I haven't the energy.

I have clay necklaces to make, opinions to formulate over children's music programs, and a few new gospel arrangements going through my head that I need to get into the kids' heads so we can play them. Since Sean, Alex, and Katie all just got a new book on jazz improve for their instruments, I eventually need to figure out how to smush jazz licks into a few songs.

And I get to help Mary learn her new U-Bass. Isn't it cuuuutttee!

There is a lot of zeal in my head. You cheer mine and I'll cheer yours, deal?

That's it for my A to Z Challenge. We now return to your regularly scheduled blogging program.