Early morning musings

Our shed
Our shed

It isn’t the nicest shed I’ve ever seen, but I’m using this picture for a reason. In just a few paragraphs you’ll understand why I took this picture.

***

I was planning on posting another Music Memories piece today. It was going to start out in the Auburn, Indiana Pizza King, and move on from there. But I woke up around 1 a.m. this morning, and didn’t fall back into sleep right away. That meant I needed to think about something that would take my mind off of being awake, so I started composing the post in my mind. I had good intentions, but my mind started wandering.

I started thinking about the other pizza places in Auburn. There was the Pizza Hut. It was like all other Pizza Huts, OK but nothing write home about. That was really about it, except for frozen pizzas at some bars that I didn’t frequent. Then I remembered looking in the yellow pages one night, looking for a place that delivered. I found an ad for a place I had never noticed in town. I don’t remember the name of the place now, but I think t was something like the Pizza Spot, or something similar. I took a chance, called the place, and ordered a pizza for delivery.

When the pizza arrived I was pleasantly surprised because it was delivered by an attractive young woman. I was even more surprised when I started eating the pizza, because it was very good. It was better than either the Pizza Hut or the Pizza King offerings. This place became my favorite of the three. The pizzas were great, and the stombolis…oh, the strombolis…wonderful!

The place had one problem. They only had one delivery person working for them. So, if someone quit, which happened often, there was no one available to deliver the pizza. You had to go get it. That happened shortly after I started eating their food. The attractive woman quit, so I went to pick up the strom I had ordered. I drove past the place at least twice before I realized that the owner was operating out of a building not much larger than the shed pictured at the top of this post. There was only room for a couple of ovens, a cooler for soft drinks, a counter, and a couple of kitchen chairs for people who were waiting for their food. It sufficed.

I was a regular customer and I got to know the owner on a first name basis after a few months. After a year or two he told me that he had sold his shop to another person. That person had bought not only the property, but also the name and the recipes. Then he told me that in the contract was a non-compete clause. the old owner could not open a new pizza and sandwich establishment in Auburn for a period of five years. It was the first time I had ever heard of that type of contract. Now they are common.

So that’s where my mind went early this morning, from a plan to write about a song – to pizza establishments in Auburn – to an attractive woman delivering a pizza – to strombolis – to a pizza place not much bigger than a shed – to a non-compete clause in a business contract.

I eventually got back to sleep. I will get around to writing about the music some day.

Music Memories 10: Herbie Mann

Herbie Mann: At The Village Gate

At The Village Gate
At The Village Gate

I first heard this album when I was either a sophomore or junior in college at IU. I borrowed it from a guy who lived down the hall in our dorm. He had a pretty good selection of jazz albums, and after I started buying more jazz albums, we started loaning them to each other. I particularly liked this album. and Donald Byrd’s A New Perspective. I enjoyed them so much that I bought copies for myself. I have owned more than one copy of each of these album; buying a new copy as I wore out the others through multiple playing. Now I own them on CD, and have copied them to a flash drive for backup.

That is only one part of the reason this album was so important to my memories. Back inCensored 2

she said. And that’s the reason that this album means so much to me.

From where do these thoughts come?

What a difference a daymakes
What a difference a day makes

Yesterday the high temperature here was around seventy degrees F. I took this picture this morning. As You can see, there is a light snow cover. The temperature right now is around thirty degrees F. There were predictions of two to six inches of snow for this area, but unless a blizzard descends upon us, that isn’t going to happen.

***

For those who don’t know me, my father died in January of 2003. About a year later my mother had open heart surgery and started living with my sister. So, imagine my surprise, when for no reason, while I was walking down the hallway in the hospital one day last week, their old telephone number popped into my mind. I was tempted to call the number to see if it was now being used by anyone that I knew, or perhaps an escort service, or a farm implement store. Except for a few visits to the graveyard, I haven’t been back to Rolling Prairie since mom had a garage sale to empty out the house before she sold it. I’m pretty much completely out of touch with the folks back there. Still, maybe some day I’ll call the number.

***

I woke up this morning around 2:30. I was wide awake. As I lay there, not dying, out of nowhere the name Uncle Bulgy popped into my mind. Some of you may know that Major Amos B. Hoople of the Our Boarding House comic strip was called Uncle Bulgy by his nephew Alvin. OK, I had to look up Alvin’s name because I didn’t remember what it was.

I used to read that strip in the LaPorte Herald-Argus (http://www.heraldargus.com/) when I was a kid. It is the only one panel daily strip that I remember reading when I was that young. Three things stand out in my memory of that strip. 1) The Major often wore a fez when he was at home. 2) The sound of his snoring as he dozed in his easy chair was, I believe, Wrack Sploot. 3) His wife’s name was Martha. Looking back, he wasn’t all that likeable a character, but he was good for a laugh. maybe that’s where my sophisticated sense of humor was born.

***

In this day of cable TV and satellite TV, how many people remember VHF and UHF television? When I was young, very young, we were able to watch VHF stations broadcast from Chicago, using an outside TV antenna. Later, there were UHF stations being broadcast from South Bend and Elkhart. Dad, always a TV fan, bought a second antenna to capture those broadcasts. Who needed cable? We were able to watch network TV as well as more local news and sports. Those were the days.

Bits & Pieces from last week

B&W version of July 012 photo
B&W version of July 2012 photo

I forgot to add a photo to today’s post, so I’m adding this after the fact. I used a color version of this picture back in July 23rd of 2012. I didn’t feel like going out and searching for a fresh photo today. Just call me lazy.

***

A few parts of Cindy’s stay in the hospital and follow-up were not as serious as the two-parter I posted earlier this week. I probably found some things more amusing than she did, she was in a lot of pain, and I have a much broader take on what is humorous than she does…or most what people do for that matter. If you don’t even grin, I’ll understand.

I was paying attention in the waiting area of the emergency room (hoping for something amusing, one of my favorite “wait here” pastimes) while Cindy kept moving, trying to find a comfortable position. It wasn’t to be. Despite the actual ER being SRO, there were only two teen-aged girls and two twenty or thirty something guys in there. There was nothing special going on with them. One of the girls seldom raised her eyes from her cell phone while the other nattered on about boys. The guys were talking about high school sports. The only break in the inaction came when a woman came out of the ER carrying a pair of size 13, lime green tennis shoes. I know they were size 13 because one of the guys said, “My God. What size shoe does he wear?” She told him. She didn’t say why she was carrying them around.

Then there was the day that Flo, Cindy’s mom, called and told Cindy she needed for Cindy to go buy her some “Ward Bond.” She means, of course, Gold Bond, but you will never convince her of that. Cindy said, “Mom, I can’t go, I’m in the hospital.” Flo must have known that, because she had called the hospital room rather than Cindy’s cell phone. Flo called again yesterday asking for Ward Bond, and for Cindy to come over and cut her hair. Trina had arranged for the nursing home beautician to do Flo’s hair, but I guess Flo prefers to have Cindy do it. By the way, she is still waiting for Ward.

I wasn’t at the hospital when Cindy was released. She had sent me home because she had friends there who wanted to ferry her home. Cindy tells me that she was given no follow-up instructions, such as if she can shower, does she need to change her dressings, little things like that. The hospitaler (Really, that is a title? I thought they were crusaders.) just told her not to lift more than 20 lbs. for 2 weeks (which we already knew), and that she shouldn’t wash dishes because the motion in her midsection could pop stitches. Where did she get off telling Cindy not to perform domestic duties? I mean, REALLY!

They didn’t bring a wheelchair to take Cindy to the entrance. When Cindy tried to get the attention of the nurses, they thought she was waving goodbye, and they waved back.

So ended Cindy’s stay at the hospital. And so ends my tale.

How we spent our week – part 2

From Lee & Michelle to Cindy
From Lee & Michelle to Cindy

When I came home from the hospital Thursday night, I found these flowers on the front porch. Thy were sent by Cindy’s son and our daughter-in-law. They were so beautiful that I took this picture and attached it to a text that I sent to Cindy in the hospital.

***

I should have made the point in yesterday’s post that I may be making some mistakes in the actual sequence of events, and the timing of them. I thought about taking notes on things when I realized that Cindy was going to be there for a few days. But that plan didn’t seem worth the effort when I would see her either on the border of writhing in pain, or too drugged up to stay awake.  Perspective. Now where did I leave off yesterday…Oh, yeah…

***

She was admitted and taken to a room. IVs were started, and pain meds administered. Wednesday was a day of no food or drink by mouth. If someone asked Cindy if she needed anything she would tell them a glass of ice water. It was a joke she never tired of, only she wasn’t joking. Early that morning the doctor ordered an ultrasound of the gallbladder. Visitors came and went. A few times during the day Cindy’s nurse would call to find out when the ultrasound would happen. The ultrasound tech finally arrived around 6:45 that evening. She told us that things had been so busy in the ER, that she hadn’t been able to go anywhere else that day. She did her job and left.

By Thursday morning Cindy’s enzyme levels were much better. The doctor said she the ultrasound had detected one large gall stone in her gallbladder and that the pancreatitis was diminishing. She said that Cindy might be released on Friday. The hospital doctor put Cindy on a liquid diet for breakfast, and when she tolerated that, a full solid diet for lunch. Cindy handled that well, but the doctor was concerned that Cindy was still too dependent on the pain meds. Cindy, ever optimistic about having things her way, started making phone calls and made an appointment for Monday with her primary care physician to get a referral to a surgeon. There was one thing the doctor said that didn’t sit well with Cindy. She told us that they usually wait for a second attack before taking more aggressive actions such as removing the gallbladder. Cindy wanted it out. Now!

Late Thursday afternoon a surgeon (who resembled a tall, dark Doogie Howser) came in to discuss the possibility of removing her gallbladder. He told us that he didn’t think gallstones caused the pancreatitis, but that since the gall stone was so large it would probably cause a problem eventually. After minimal discussion, surgery was scheduled for Friday.

On Friday we sat around wondering when the surgery would take place. We didn’t know because they had to work Cindy into the schedule at the last minute. We only knew that it would be in the afternoon. Finally, around 11:30,  we got the word that Cindy was scheduled for sometime between 1:30 and 2 p.m.

Let me compress this next part. Cindy was taken in, the surgery (laparoscopic) took about an hour. The surgeon came out and told us that the surgery went fine and he made a minor joke about pathologists. Cindy was in recovery for a tad longer than an hour, was brought back to the room where she was very groggy. In succession Cindy asked for ice water, hot tea, and Diet Sprite. She was feeling better, surrounded by family and friends. She was on a clear liquid diet Friday, but the doctor said she could have real food for breakfast Saturday, to see how she tolerated it.

When I came in Saturday morning, Cindy had packed, dressed, eaten breakfast, and was waiting for the doctor to release her. She wanted to go to her Saturday morning get together with her friends. The doctor came in, and when Cindy asked when she could leave, the doctor told her that she wanted to wait until Cindy had also eaten lunch. Cindy was perturbed. After the doctor left the room, she suggested to me that I take her to her friends, and then bring her back for lunch. I declined. She did eventually get home around 4 or 4:30 Saturday. She feels pretty good, but not good enough to leave the house.

To be continued???

How we spent our week – Part 1

A visit from Maely & Trina
A visit from Maely & Trina

I took two pictures of the hospital, but I don’t like the way either of them turned out, so here is one of Maely and Trina visiting Cindy in the hospital.

Why, you may ask, was Cindy in the hospital, and by extension, why was I? Let us go back in time. Cindy has had digestive woes off and on for much of the time I’ve known her. Lately, however, they have become more frequent, and more painful.

On Thursday the 27th she started feeling pain in he upper abdominal region. I told her she should see a doctor, and she said she would the next day. She didn’t. On Friday there was more pain. On Saturday (her big social day) she said she felt better. On Sunday it was worse. On Monday it was so bad she missed work. I told her she had to stop putting off seeing a doctor. She promised to go to Urgent Care on Tuesday morning if she didn’t feel better.

Tuesday rolled around and she didn’t feel better. I drove her to Urgent Care. The doctor there decided, after prodding her stomach and listening with his stethoscope, that she has gastritis. He told her to go home, take Tylenol, and drink fruit juice. She did that, but as the day progressed, she felt worse. Finally, around 8 p.m., I noticed that she was bent almost double, clutching her midsection. I told her that I wanted to take her to the emergency room. She wanted to wait until morning in hopes that she would feel better. I asked her if our roles were reversed, would she let me stay home. She said, “Let’s go.”

We got to the emergency room, where it was so busy that we had to wait about twenty minutes for a bed to be empty. Once we got Cindy into a bed, we had to wait another 90 minutes or so before a doctor showed up. He finally ordered something for her pain, which had gotten worse while we waited. Her stomach was prodded again, and a stethoscope was again deployed; X-rays were taken, and they showed nothing. She was taken away for a CT scan, and then returned to me. Finally the doctor came back and told us that Cindy was being admitted because she had acute pancreatitis. We then knew why they kept asking her how often and how much she drank. Hey, she is the director of a drug and alcohol program, so the answer was not often enough to cause pancreatitis.  Next, they considered the possibility that gallstones were the culprit.

Tomorrow ~ Part 2

Music Memories 9: The Kingston Trio

The Kingston Trio: Goin’ Places

Goin' Places
Goin’ Places

This was the last album on Capitol Records that had the original trio lineup of Dave Guard, Bob Shane and Nick Reynolds. Guard left the group after a disagreement over royalties and the future musical direction of the group. I don’t remember the year that I bought this album, but I believe it was in 1964 or 1965. It had been on the market since 1961.

The first Kingston Trio album that I bought was Stereo Concert, which turned me on to live performance albums. I’ve seen comments on YouTube videos bemoaning the fact that a concert performance is not exactly like the studio version. To those people I say, “Grow up.”

I remained a Kingston Trio fan through the years, but I didn’t buy many of their albums after that first one. I spent my meager folk music funds on the Chad Mitchell Trio, The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, and Peter, Paul & Mary. I listened to friend’s copies of the Kingston Trio while I was in college, but didn’t buy any until I picked up a copy of Goin’ Places. None of my friends owned it. I saw it in a record shop in downtown Michigan City, and on a whim I bought it. I fell in love with that album, and remembered how much I liked the trio’s music. I started buying earlier albums by the group.

Are you wondering why there are four people on the cover of a trio album? Good question. The fellow on the right with the upright bass is David “Buck” Wheat. He accompanied the trio until Dave Guard left and formed  The Whiskeyhill Singers. When that group broke up, he started working with Bud & Travis. Prior to working with The Kingston Trio, Wheat had played with jazz groups, most notably with the Chet Baker Ensemble. Still, I best remember him as the bassist for The Kingston Trio.

In the past few years, Collector’s Choice has been releasing albums of Kingston Trio music that was recorded but not released by either Capitol or Decca records. After buying and listening to most of those albums, I understand why they weren’t released, but there are some musical gems in the bunch.  I’m something of an anal-retentive completest when it comes to collecting things. When it comes to music that I like, I’m anal.

Music Memories 8: Blood, Sweat & Tears

Blood, Sweat & Tears: You’ve Made Me So Very Happy

Self-titled album
Self-titled album

The first time I heard Blood, Sweat & Tears was when I was a student at IU in Bloomington. They had just released their second album Blood, Sweat & Tears and the song You’ve Made Me So Very Happy was getting radio air play. It may be a false memory, but it seems to me that when I first heard the song, a few friends and I were in the married housing trailer of Chuck and Lois, sitting around, drinking beer, and just generally acting like college kids. As I recall, it was me, Chuck, Jerry, and Hank.

When we would go to their trailer, Lois would greet us and then go into the bedroom and close the door until we left. She must have been soooo happy to see us show up on their doorstep, often unannounced. I better understand her actions now. When Cindy’s friends come over to play cards, I retreat either to the bedroom or basement and close the door. I do that to avoid the cigarette smoke, the loud voices, and the coarse language. Let me say a belated, “Sorry,” to Lois. 

Once when we were there, drinking beer and having a good time, Jerry decided to regale us with stories from his days as an alter boy. My goodness, the things those lads got up to. At some point Jerry decided to tell us about a Catholic mass. Jerry substituted potato chips for the host and a can of beer for the wine. Being protestants, Hank and I were paying close attention to this bit of arcana. But, being a little worse for wear, since we had been imbibing for quite a while, Jerry picked up a beer can and took a huge gulp of wine substitute. Wrong beer can. Jerry had grabbed a can that Hank and I were using as an ash tray, and he wallowed soggy ashes and at least one cigarette butt. The mass came to an early end. For years after, Hank called it Jerry’s black mass.

Back to B,S&T. I stopped buying their albums after their fourth or fifth. It seemed to me that they were losing their creativity. Then, a few years later, I saw them on Soundstage with Janis Ian. By golly, they sounded great to me, and I bought their then current album as well as the next two or so. Over the years they have given me a great deal of pleasure. I still listen to their albums on a regular basis, and every once in a while, when I hear You’ve Made Me So Very Happy, I think of Jerry’s black mass.

Follow-Up to Sergio Mendes post

Dad - December 1965
Dad – December 1965

Yesterday I was searching for a fountain pen that belonged to my father. I didn’t find it, but I did find an envelope of pictures that I had taken in 1965 with my Kodak Instamatic camera. I had forgotten about this picture of my dad plowing snow from our driveway. It isn’t a great picture, but it captures an aspect of his life. It also ties in to the fact that I may be shoveling snow later today. We have a couple of inches of new snow so far.

***

Shortly after I posted the musical memories post about Sergio Mendes, I realized that I hadn’t talked much about the music or about Sergio Mendes. I had concentrated on the female vocalists. I admit to a penchant for female vocalists. I lost track of the music itself.

I bought my first Brasil ’66 album on the last day of school, my freshman year at IU. Dad drove down to pick me up because freshmen and sophomores were not allowed to have cars on campus. Anyway, I bought the album, but I hadn’t heard it yet because I had already packed up my stereo.

On the way home we drove through Lafayette, where I now live. Dad wanted to stop and have a sandwich and a beer, so he stopped at the Tick Tock Tavern on the north side of town. He liked the food there. I couldn’t go in because I was not yet 21. So I sat in the car, looking the record album, and wishing he would hurry up so I could get home and listen to the music. He wasn’t in there long, but it seemed like a very long time to me. He brought me a hamburger (quite good as I recall) and we were back on the road.

Let me talk (finally) about the music. Without talking about specific songs, I have to say that I loved it. The songs were more slickly arranged than the trio work he had done earlier. As always, he piano backing to the vocalists was great. His occasional short solos brought even more life to the tunes. The other band members, especially the percussionists, were driving the melodies. There was certainly nothing to complain about with the song selection. I would have preferred Wanda de Sah as lead vocalist, but Lani Hall was an adequate replacement. I  fact, the arrangements were geared towards her vocal style rather than de Sah’s.

I’ve read that some people think Mendes sold out when he started recording for A&M. Maybe he did to an extent, but what made financial sense to him brought bossa nova and other Latin rhythms to a large audience in the U.S. Some of us would have been fans anyway because we had heard it before many other people, but without Mais Que Nada on top forty radio, many young people would never have heard the music.

Artists who stay in one groove and don’t explore and change, never grow. Certainly there was a loss of raw energy with the changes he made, but those who became hooked with the A&M records could go back and root out his older work. Heck, I just found Wanda de Sah’s album Softly on Amazon last week. And it is good.

Music Memories 7: Sergio Mendes

Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66
Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66

This is the cover of the first Sergio Mendes album that I bought, but it wasn’t the first music I heard by him. Read on for details.

***

I guess I’m over the cold and even the snow, because yesterday I found myself wanting to listen to Sergio Mendes albums. To me, Sergio Mendes music is meant to be played in  warm or hot weather.

I believe the first time I saw and heard the group, they were on The Lloyd Thaxton Show promoting an album. If you never heard of Thaxton’s show, think American Bandstand in Los Angeles and Dick Clark with a sense of humor. Everyone I knew in high school watched American Bandstand; contrarian that I was, I watched Lloyd Thaxton. I bought my first vinyl Mendes album in  the spring of 1966, I believe, because it was the only album I could find. I wanted to listen to the albums he made as leader of the Sergio Mendes Trio. Later, those albums were re-released under the name of Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’65, but they weren’t available.

Back to Sergio Mendes and Bossa Nova. Mendes has had a number of groups over the years, and I have enjoyed listening to most of them. My favorites have been his trio (a.k.a. Brasil ’65) and Brasil ’66. The trio’s female vocalist was Wanda de Sah. Lani Hall was the main vocalist for Brasil ’66, with t least two other backup vocalists over the years. Wanda de Sah was Brazilian, with a voice similar to Astrud Gilberto’s. I always found Gilberto’s voice a cross between wispy and wistful, and de Sah’s voice a bit more crisp. In fact in the song linked above, it almost sounds like she is attacking the lyrics. I love that song!

In contrast, I think Lani Hall’s voice (Lani is from the U.S. and learned the Portuguese lyrics phonetically) to be more colorful…if I can use that word. Overall I prefer de Sah’s singing, but there is a lot less recorded music available to listen to.

Of course, I’m comparing music recorded in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I also listen to more contemporary Brazilian music, but the older songs still draw me in. And I love listening to it by candle light on hot summer nights with the windows open. Boy, can I set a mood! I’m ready for a night like that right about now.