2018 Christmas Letter & JibJab

The dreaded letter (reproduced below if you dare) will get sent to some folks via e-mail.  They’ll also get this link to the JibJab: https://www.jibjab.com/view/make/disco_christmas/b079887c-1399-46b3-99d9-734253cdf3e0


Hope your 2018 has been a good year. Mine was a dandy. Saw more live music than ever. It was Awesome.

Crossed several artists off my “bucket list”…a bunch of old coots like me: Moody Blues, Steve Winwood, Poco, Dave Mason, Judy Collins, Bruce Hornsby, Todd Rundgren, Gordon Lightfoot.
One of my bucket list shows was the best show I saw in 2018….and I saw a LOT. The concert on June 8 at The Peabody in STL was an absolute Spectacle. Hard to describe. And unforgettable. David Byrne ROCKS!!
One bucket list artist was terrible. Thankfully sweet Judy blue eyes played and sang with Stephen Stills. He sux. It made me sad. She can still sing. And she can still rock it in heels.

I stalked a couple of folks in 2018….twice I saw 3 shows in a 4 day span.
I saw Neil Young’s solo acoustic tour in STL, and then in Chicago twice. Killer. (Plus I got to spend time with my bestie from my first college experiences. Charlie babysat me often when I was hitting the sauce….Thanks!)
Shelly and I saw the Wheels of Soul tour in STL, and twice at Red Rocks. The show was the Tedeschi Trucks Band, with the Drive-by Truckers and Marcus King opening. Three great nights.

Had an absolute blast at Folk Alliance in KC in February. I shoulda let Jeanette talk me into this years ago!! Music, music, music. Not many zzzzz’s while at FAI.
She also talked me into square dancing at the Rock House. Do-si-do Mofo!!!

I made a solo trip to Orygun. Saw several friends. Stayed in some interesting places: the Bad Boy room at The White Eagle in PDX; the lighthouse room at a small property in Yachats; a tent on the banks of the Metolius River. Crossed another artist off my list when I saw Amos Lee twice in 6 days. Both times with friends.
A friend who I hadn’t seen in 51 years fixed us breakfast in Bend. We coulda talked longer. Next time.

There were a few lowlights too.
1. My garden was disappointing. I’ll blame it on the weather. It was hot. And dry. Then it turned cool and wet. Then the cycle started all over again. It was unpredictable, even for this schizophrenic state.
Had luck with a couple of crops: radishes and green beans. Two of my favorites were slim pickens: tomatoes and brussel sprouts. The latter were abysmal. WTF?
2. On my birthday I was diagnosed with “Fatigue”…and I have the document from the doc to prove it. That’s what I get for burning the candle at both ends for too long. So I slowed down…a little, for a little while. I don’t ever expect to “act my age”…why the heck would I want to do that? But moderation in some things, more sleep, and more H20 might be smart.
3. I gave a house full of people a “do you remember the Thanksgiving when” story, but I did learn a new word: if you wanta get the details of my syncope event go to:  http://slw913.com/life-events/isnt-it-ironic-or-not/

The highlight of my 2018 was the first weekend of October.
I threw myself a party to celebrate completing 70 trips around the sun. The 25,590 Day Shindig took place at The Rock House in Reeds Spring 23 days after my birthday. The timing was driven by the schedules of the bands out of KC, and by my own concert schedule.
The party was Epic. Family, friends, music, food, more music, a pie auction and a silent auction of items by some artist and musician friends to benefit one of my favorite non-profits: The Rock House Center for the Arts. Then there was more music.
Some of the guests traveled from Floriduh, Hotlanta, Chicago, or the other side of MO. We took over the Shady Acre motel in Branson West for the entire weekend, and spilled over into another motel.
Damn…I’m a lucky old coot.

One more highlight ahead of us in 2018: Shelly and I will be making our “Third Annual” trip to Gulf Shores, AL at the end of December. This time we booked for 10 days at the beach.
We don’t do much while we’re there….and we love that. We watch the sunrise over the gulf in the morning; go for a morning walk; have brunch and mimosas on the balcony; take a nap; take another walk; watch sunset on the gulf; binge watch DVDs that we pack for the trip. Repeat.
Year 3 of our Christmas at the beach is gonna have a couple of special treats: guests after Christmas. Bruce&Jeanette (they ARE The Rock House) will be crashing in the condo’s second bedroom for a few nights after visiting her folks and family in Nashville. Tom&Gloria will be coming down from Cumming, GA and will be at the same property. There will probably be a picture and a story or two.

I’ve never been much on planning. More about just being. But I do have a few things I wanta do in 2019:
1. See more live music than I saw this year. That won’t be easy. I’m off to a good start with 5 concert and 2 festival tickets in hand already for events in 2019.
2. Get to Orygun in late August or early September for at least a week.
3. Get to Colorado in July…for longer than we did this year. That will make both of us happy.
4. Take a road trip “back east” after the 15th Annual Music Festival. Check off a few bucket list items…and spend time with friends in several cites&states….some who I haven’t seen in double-digit years.
A 3 week trip for me; 1 week for Shelly. Not sure where her flight will land. Shelly will mark several states off her bucket list, and I’ll get to Vermont for the first time and round out the lower 48.
I wanta ride some roller coasters at Cedar Point. I wanta spend more time at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I wanta see Niagara Falls. I wanta see live music in several cities and venues. This roadtrip is a bit of a BHAG. Stay tuned.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Happy New Year. All the best. Keep in touch. Hug the people you love. Be. Just Be.


Love is The Answer

It’s short. It’s simple. It’s true. Love trumps hate. Period.

The 33rd Imagine Concert was the last “large venue” concert of the year for me, unless something unforeseen happens. I saw LOTS of large venue shows in 2018.
12/8/18 was a great evening in too many ways to list….but I’ll try:
Bar food
Music by friends
Music with friends
All of it with the person I love, and who loves me.
Damn, I’m a lucky old coot.

Today started with brunch in a hotel here in town. Got the room for a steal in a silent auction for a good cause. Got stuck in an elevator on the way down to eat. Could see the front desk across the atrium as we called for help. The person who caught it after we were on the elevator seemed to be having a bad day. Laughing woulda made it better for her.
It did for me.
Just sayin’.

Came home and listened to The White Album. I’m getting ready to spin disc 1 again.
Earlier, Shelly and I sat on the couch and listened to the album that I heard for the very first time just over fifty years ago.
A couple of years ago I wrote about “first time tunes”…FTTs. Songs, often with places attached, that are indelibly stored on my body’s hardrive. I used over 200 words to describe the first time I heard the White Album….in KC…in 1968.

The magic of music…and memories

As we listened to “While my guitar gently weeps,” I hummed and caterwauled along.
And thought:
about the lyrics;
about yesterday;
about John Lennon;
about my life today;
about my past;
about the future;
about being.

Just then the CD changer moved to the next disc: one that I burned of songs by many of the artists who I saw in 2018.
The first song that plays off my “mix tape” is by a guy who I finally crossed off my bucket list last year, seeing him twice in a six day stretch. Both times with friends from my first time living in Orygun.
Friends, music, pie…heaven.

I’ll be seeing Amos Lee again in just over 100 days in KC.
Damn, I’m a lucky old coot.
I expect him to sing this song on 3/26/19, which summarizes what I was thinking as I listened to the Fab 4 this morning and contemplated the meaning of being.

“I believe in the power
Of love, love, of love”

Isn’t it ironic…or not?

Like the lyrics of Alanis Morissette’s song, what follows is not ironic. But maybe it’s situational irony. Whatever it is, it is a two part story.

Part One.
We went to Shelly’s youngest for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s about 50 miles from our apartment to Eric&Ashton’s place in Ava. We left at about 4.
The crowd: her three kids, their spouses and their 6 kids; the father of her kids; his mother; his brother; his sister and her husband. Nineteen of us.
Our conversation on the drive jumped from topic to topic. And then I said this: “I got the notice from my life insurance company that my term policy terminates in February, so if I don’t kick the bucket before then there won’t be a check for you from Northwest Mutual!”
Shelly is always kidding about me “spending her inheritance”…and I always remind her that my philosophy is to Live Rich & Die Poor. Then we both laugh.
She didn’t think my comment about kicking the bucket on 11/22/18 was all that funny.
(She doesn’t think it’s funny when I say “I’m gonna blow my brains out” either…and she knows that means that I’m pulling out the bong. She has no problem with my fondness for being herbalized…she just hates the phrase.)

Part Two.
I learned a new word on Thanksgiving.
And I gave several people a “remember that Thanksgiving at Eric’s when….” story.
The word: Syncope.
The story: Eric came out to get something from a car sometime after 8 and came back in and said: “I think something is seriously wrong with Steve!”
He found me collapsed on the driveway, between 2 vehicles with my head resting on the back of his truck.
When I came to, Shelly was slapping me around and Jordie (her son-in-law) was supporting me from behind. I was dazed and confused…and a shade of gray.
EMTs arrived and checked me out. Vitals were all normal. No cuts or bumps or breaks. After a show of hands I gave in and let them take me to the hospital for overnight observation.
They think I might have been dehydrated, or maybe it was a “vascular event.” We’ll never know why, unless it happens again.
Doctor’s orders: just keep on keeping on…and drink more fluids.

The situational irony:
On the drive down we talked about lapsing term life insurance, cremation, a raucous wake, and spreading ashes.
On the drive back to Springtown, I was on a stretcher in an ambulance hooked up to a heart monitor and a blood pressure cuff. Shelly was following us, alone in her car, with lots of thoughts running thru her head…including death, cremation, a raucous wake, and spreading ashes.