Saturday, April 26, 2008


One week ago today, I rented a car at the Nashville airport and drove off to explore the countryside a little. Being of a pathologically Scottish bent all my life, I had requested the cheapest skateboard in the Avis stable of cars. (I chose Avis because they opened the earliest the next morning, and returning the car as soon as they opened gave me plenty of time to get checked in and make my flight home.) Apparently they had no skateboards available, so they gave me quite an upgrade (at no extra charge, of course) and I found myself tooling around Nashville in a silver Mitsubishi Eclipse. Fun little car, if you like climbing into what feels like a hole in the ground. You barely touch the gas and it takes off like a bat out of hell.

Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows I enjoy chasing wildflowers. Being in Tennessee (a new state for me) I took the opportunity to see what grew locally, and found my way to the lovely Radnor Lake, which is not far outside Nashville. The nice lady at the visitor center desk asked me how strenuous a hike I wanted to take, and when I admitted I had only had about two hours of sleep, she suggested the lake trail, which is a little over 2 miles and circumnavigates the lake on level ground.

I got a few good pictures, which I will post a bit later.

Now to the curious part. On the way back into town, I took all surface roads because one can drive on a freeway anywhere. A wide spot in the road on the outskirts of the city boasted a used bookstore, so I stopped, in search of a book about local wildflowers so I could identify what I'd seen. Go figure. The store owner was only able to find me a nice book of ... California wildflowers. I actually bought it because it has some nice pictures in it. She asked me how I was enjoying Nashville, and I said everyone in town is very friendly, but out on the hiking trails, nobody looks at you and nobody says hello. In California, it's the opposite. People are not terribly friendly in town; but on the trail, everyone says hi, beautiful day, enjoy your hike, etc.

Tomorrow is the Big Sur Marathon, and as usual the girls and I are doing the 10.6 mile walk. I'm meeting them in 10 minutes at the expo where we pick up our bib numbers, T-shirts and bus tickets, so I'd best dash on down the hill now.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Not A Dry Eye In The House

UPDATE: For some reason these videos were not available for a time; apparently their URLs changed. But they're back and good to go now. Watch. Do it.

Someone caught Emma's performance of "Voices in the Sky" and posted it on Youtube. A couple of times they pan the camera over to Justin. I believe the person with the video camera was leaning against the post just across the table from where I was sitting. When it was over, Justin said, "I hope somebody got that!" Indeed they did.

Watch this. You will not regret it. Do it now.

After Emma was finished and left the stage, Justin and Norda did "Nights in White Satin" for their closing number. Amazing. After 40+ years of performing that song, he still gives it his all.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Adventures In Fandom

For those who care...

... the Nashville adventure is nearly over. All that's left is the plane trip home tomorrow.

It started off badly enough when my alarm went off at 4:30 Thursday morning. I looked at the clock, said a swear word, and then the phone rang. "Ma'am, your taxi is waiting downstairs." I had somehow set the alarm for the same time as I'd requested the taxi. "Tell him I'll be down in five minutes," I told the dispatcher--and I made it in seven minutes. That's got to be a record. Naturally I forgot a couple of things on the way out the door, but nothing fatal.

The next fun thing happened when the middle flight of the three was delayed--and by the time we landed in Charlotte, I had just 15 minutes to make my connection to Nashville. Lucky for me, the two gates were in the same concourse, albeit at opposite ends. I ran most of the way--and ran myself right into an allergy attack. As I huffed and puffed my way around the corner, the agents at the podium called me by name and said they were waiting for me. They just about shut the plane door on my heels, and we took off on time. I coughed uncontrollably most of the way to Nashville, and apologized to the soldier in the next seat; told him I wasn't sick, just allergic to something. I had some tea, and it finally calmed down.

I'd have been willing to bet money my checked suitcase wouldn't make the flight with me--and I was right. But it was actually a good thing, because I was going straight to a club from the airport, and that meant I had one less thing to haul with me.

Now, about that club thing... (Jill, if you're reading this, take a deep breath and put down your beverage.) I got a heads-up from an online friend (who has mysterious but impeccable sources) that Justin was going to be playing a small informal gig Thursday night at a club. In order to get there on time, I had to go straight from the airport, luggage and all. I met up with some of those online folks in the (short) line to get into the club. We got very good seats--I was maybe 8 feet from Norda, the flutist (who came along with Justin) and 10 feet from Justin himself. But before they went onstage... I bumped into them back near the restrooms. I asked Justin if I could shake his hand, and he said certainly, though he had just put cream on his hands. I said, oh, good, that means I get some too! He was very relaxed, personable, and put everyone at ease. Then Norda came along so I asked if I could shake her hand too. She freed up a hand and shook mine.

Some folks described this gig as a "jam" but it was more of a "round-robin" format, as I understand the term. Justin played a song, then the next guy in line played a song, and then a brother and sister duo played a song. And so forth. Justin and the next guy were joking around and trading mock-insults and banter. It was very entertaining. One of the highlights was when a couple of members of the "Moody Bluegrass" tribute band brought their 8 year old daughter onstage and accompanied her performance of "Voices in the Sky." I don't think there was a dry eye in the place. Even Justin (who wrote the song, for those of you heathens who don't know) wiped away a tear or two. This portion of the evening ended with Justin and Norda performing "Nights in White Satin."

After a break, another group went onstage to perform. Justin and Norda hung around to listen. During a lull I went by their table and thanked them for such a marvelous performance. Then Norda and I did a couple of minutes of flute-geek talk--right across Justin. He probably enjoyed the fact that for once, someone wasn't trying to get HIS attention. Norda is very friendly and down to earth. A little bit later I went back and got each of them to autograph one of the pictures I had come prepared with just in case. They both obliged and were very nice about it. Justin said, "Oh, I haven't seen this picture! Where's it from?" "San Francisco, opening night of this tour," I told him. Norda didn't think the picture of her was so great, but she signed it anyway. I told her I'd see her from the third row the following night.

The Ryman Auditorium seats are just like old wooden church pews. I was actually in the first row of regular seats, behind two rows of folding chairs in the "pit." So when it came time to rush the stage, as tradition demands, all I had to do was stand up. The show was fantastic, of course, as usual, and during both of the group bows (the ones before and after the "encore") I waved at Norda and she waved back and mouthed "thank you" at me. So that was pretty cool.

A bunch of other stuff happened, including Kerry flying down from Wisconsin to join me, a Maalox moment at the will-call ticket window when they had no idea who I was, and a trip this morning out to the countryside in a rental car to photograph a few wildflowers... but those things will have to wait. I'll try to report more later (and there may be pictures too) but I only manged about 2 hours of sleep last night, and I'm running on fumes. So I am going to take a nap. I have to be out of here at (gasp) 4:30 a.m. to get to the airport on time tomorrow. So ta-ta for now!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Call Off The Posse

No, I haven't been kidnapped by aliens.

I've just been working CRAZY hours, trying to get caught up with everything. Plus, one of our doctors just had her baby, so I needed to get all of her dictation caught up so when the other docs see her patients, they'll have all of her notes.

I'm not writing about politics because I am in total political fatigue--and it's only April. Many, many moons to go before they all SHUT UP.

Other than that... I've been watching an online "flame war" unfold with utter fascination. No, I'm not telling where it is or what it's about. But it has spilled across three bulletin boards and e-mail lists, and it's like watching a multi-car pile-up on a foggy freeway, in some ways. I have not publicly taken sides... but let's just say it's not too hard to see who's been drinking the nastyjuice for breakfast, and I have no time for nasty people.

In other news... long story a whole lot shorter, I actually won tickets to see (can you guess) the Moody Blues--in Nashville. So I'm using my frequent flyer miles to get there, and Kerry is flying in to meet me. We're meeting up with some other fans there, and should have a jolly good time. Kerry likes the Moody Blues but has never been to one of their concerts. She is for a treat.

And for any of you Moody fans who are watching... a few more pretty pictures. Enjoy!

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