Category: Life

Our Drive-In score this far: 1 to 1…

It’s drive-in season once again!! YAAAY! We made it out to the Getty 4 tonight to catch a couple of movies, and as usual had a great time. We love the drive-in, even though we don’t get home until very VERY late. 😀

But, alas – the score for this double-header was split…

Round 1: Wild Hogs
Pretty funny, which is not surprizing considering the cast. The language was a bit excessive, (no dropping the f-bomb, but enough other “stuff” that we got tired of it) but not a bad flick nontheless. The last scene of the movie was a hoot, and the bits over the closing credits was some of the funniest stuff in the movie… Take that to mean whatever you wish.

So far, so good… little did I know what was waiting in…

Round 2: Bridge to Terabithia
OK – so like a fool, I actually believed that the previews of this thing had something to do with what the movie was really about. WRONG!… We go through about half of the movie, getting attached to the two lead characters, and getting introduced to Terabithia. Then, after what some would call a “major plot twist,” but what I would call an “emotional punch to the gut,” we make a hard left turn away from fantasy/adventure movie and head straight to something else. In this case, you can interpret “heartwarming adventure” as “emotional time bomb just waiting to have you flinging fluids all the way home from Muskegon.” By the time the credits rolled, I was thinking “what the HECK did I watch this for?”

(Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with a movie that tugs at your emotions. It’s just that my emotions tend to get a little too intense, and I wind up not sleeping. Those movies are OK for normal folks – but bad for me. 😀 )

We got home around 1:30, and it’ll take me another hour or so to finally settle down enough to go to bed. So, NO, I don’t think I’ll be buying the DVD. Not unless I feel like flooding my contacts right out of my eyes.

So, drive-in season starts with one “not-bad” and one “no way am I watching that again.” Ah well – there’s always next weekend. 😀

Only “LIVE” music…

This is the first time this has happened to me… I called a coffeehouse about playing there. A couple of friends had said I should play there, ’cause they thought I’d fit right in. So, I gave their booking person a call. Told him what I do, and he asked was I a solo artist, or part of a band. I told him that I play solo, using backing tracks.

He replied, “we only use LIVE music.” Then he muttered something about copyright, etc. But the point was not allowing folks to perform with “canned” music.

Grrrr… Yes, I know that it’s always good to have live musicians. It’s more exciting. And some people play along with tracks, and sound as canned as the music. I would like to think that I’m an exception to that – I try and tweak my tracks so that they don’t just sound like music-in-a-box, but that they add to the performance. And frankly, for the amount I make at a gig, I couldn’t afford to pay another player.

Just kind of stings when you believe that you’re doing good stuff, and trying to keep it good, and you don’t even get a chance. Just “oh – we only use LIVE music” and that’s it.


So, I won’t be playing in Hudsonville. All because I’m not “live”. Grrr…

Help save Internet Radio

There’s an Internet radio station that Vicki listens to every day – She loves it. Well, that may all become history, thanks to those fine upstanding folks in the RIAA. They’ve pushed through something that threatens to put small internet broadcasters out of business, and I personally feel that it um… sucks.

Get the details here:

Internet radio is one of the few places independent artists can get airplay, since mainstream radio is not indy-friendly. (some have asked why I didn’t submit my CD to radio stations… simple answer: because they wouldn’t play it. Not casting stones at the folks I used to work for, but without turning this into a whole essay on how radio works, bottom line is it wouldn’t get played. Period.) And the RIAA is doing it’s usual wonderful work to insure that any money there is to be made off of music is going to be made by them.

Anyway, please check that site out, and if you feel as passionately as I do about having choices in music listening on the internet, take the time to write your representative or sign the petition. Thanks!

I went and did it…

Blame it on a coupon for a free bottle. Blame it on the events of the past year, which have contributed to the issue. Blame it on spring. Whatever the case, I did it.

I tried Just For Men. And, despite Mr. ‘beek’s constant reminder over the years that “tenors aren’t REAL men,” it would appear I am, since Just For Men worked.

Yup – I “washed away the grey.” Not to mention the white. Hey – it was free, after all. 😀 Vicki found a color that pretty much is an exact match to my hair, sans white of course, and when the deed was done, my hair ended up a lot less white/grey and a lot more ash brown. I doubt if most people would even notice, since the color didn’t change – just the grey and white.

Vanity of vanities? No – not really. I’ve always held to the truth of Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life. Now, if my hair would all agree, and go white, I’d be happy. But this gradual turning of the leaves is taking a little too long. So, if for now Vicki likes the look of it, I’ll keep it this way.

*sigh* So now, I go to the same hair stylist that Vicki does, we both use goop in our hair to style it (actually, I use more than she does…), and we both, um… “enhance” our color. ‘s ok with me – she’s adorable, and I’m just tryin’ to keep up. Not to mention my status as my wife’s arm candy. We high-maintenance trophy husbands have to keep ourselves up, right? 😀

How many people does it take to change an Autoharp?

Answer: One. But it takes 4 hours.

Cal, have you lost it this time? If that was a joke, it wasn’t even funny. Just weird…

OK – as Ricky said to Lucy, “lemmiesplain.”

Last fall, I played at Covenant Village – one of my favorite places to play. Afterward, as I normally do, I invited folks to come up, look at the instruments, ask questions, etc. One lady asked me if I had ever played the autoharp. I said I hadn’t, but that I wanted to get one sometime. She said, “wait here…”

She came back with an autoharp that had seen a lot of use. She played it and loved it, but it got caught in some water damage. She took it to a shop, it was going to be a lot just to see if it worked, etc… In the meantime, her husband bought her a new one. And she’d been trying to decide what to do with the old one. So, she gave it to me, along with a new set of strings. “If you can fix it, you’ve got an autoharp. If not, junk it.”

So, “Otto” (as he’s now affectionately known) and I spent some time together today, taking him apart, including removing all the rusted strings. He got cleaned, treated with orange oil, and then began the long process of restringing him.


Bear in mind that an autoharp like Otto is a 36 string guitar. Actually, it’s more like stringing a piano – big strings all the way down to the little ones that could put the hurt on you if they snap in your face. (yes – I was wearing safety glasses the whole time)

Hours and 8 broken strings later, he’s semi-playable. Some of the new strings broke off the bat, others were, um… mishandled… But hey – I now have at least some idea of how to string him. Sort of.

And, when I next play Covenant Village, you better believe Otto will be there. Even if it’s only for “Michael Row the Boat Ashore.” (also known as “My Dog Knows the Bowling Score”) So, she passed along something that she had enjoyed, and with some time and some effort, I’ll enjoy it too.

Let’s hear it for the Small Graces – the little places where God meets us in the unexpected. 😀

Snow Day

It was just one of “those” days… The snow was coming down fast, yet very pretty, giving a kind of cozy wonder to the world. So, after dispatching my obligations to my high non-paying radio-on-the-side career, my co-worker and I here at Wonderllama Studio decided that a snow day was in order. Actually, a snow afternoon.

So, off to the Craftmatic went I, with knitting and DVD player in hand, with a few snackies and some diet Pepsi. My co-worker was pleased with a medium doggie chewie, and we settled down for a few hours of Star Wars and knitting. And looking out at the fluffy white world outside the bedroom window.

Reminds me of days of my childhood, when the snow was dumping down all night, and we hoped to hear that wonderful sound – the phone ringing between 5:30 and 6:30am, telling my mom that school was cancelled. She’d say those blessed words – “go back to sleep, no school today!”, and we’d sleep in. Then she’d make French Toast, and we’d settle in to a day of playing Monopoly on a card table in the living room.

Everybody needs a snow day every once in a while. 😀

Points of clarification:

1) Yes, my co-worker here at the studio is, indeed, Ezri the Wonder Dog. And an afternoon of doggie chewie and snoozing suits her right down to the ground.

2) No, this subject did NOT violate the banned subjects list. This was not about the joys of working from home, but rather the joys and memories of snow days.

There – are we all clear now?… 🙂

Oh there’s no place like home AFTER the holidays

I’m really surprized that Vicki’s parents put up with me for an entire week. 😀

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– It’s a real blessing to have an amazing relationship with my in-laws. Actually, I never think of the “in-law” part – they’re just Mom & Dad to me. 😀

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

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

On being a trophy husband…

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

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

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

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…


You heard me. Oatmeal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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