Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Harmonicas and things

There's something about listening to the sound of a harmonica that makes me feel so...American. One of my favorite Counting Crows songs "Mercury" features a slow, bluesy harmonica, and it reminds me of driving down a dusty road with the top down and wind blowing through my hair. (ok, so that's actually never happened to me in real life, but it makes for a good 'pretend' memory.)

Last weekend my friend Tiffany and I went to the Bluegrass on the Harpeth festival in downtown Franklin. On our way into town we stopped to get BBQ sandwiches on the side of the road, which just so happens to be the best place to buy a BBQ sandwich. A man with a trailer named Moe Better BBQ was smoking all kids of delicious meats in a big black barrell grill. Tiffany and I got free samples and settled on smoked ham sandwiches. OooooWeeee they were yummy. Just as messy as they were delicious, too. After sandwiches, it was down to the square to listen to fiddles, banjos and you guessed it -- harmonicas. This one particular man that played was a world-class harmonica player, winning something like 9 world championships. I've never heard anything like it in my life. I sure wish I could remember his name so I could at least point you to his website (assuming he has one). For now, we're left with referring to him as Old Hippie Harmonica Man..and WOW he was good! We were standing there in the street with our jaws hanging open, and I know for a fact this man would lay John Popper to rest. So, we were grooving to his awesome harmonica playing and I was loving every second of it. Usually I'm more into the banjos (for obvious reasons), but I think this year the harmonica trumped my finger-pickin' friends.

The very next day following the festival, I was in my car perusing the radio stations and I stopped on Mix 92.9. There's nothing wrong with light rock favorites, right? Unfortunately, what I heard made my ears want to bleed. It was a harmonica...but this time it was terrible. Have you ever heard Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It?" That, my friends, is the kind of harmonica playing that Just. Shouldn't. Happen. Ever!!! eww.

Anyway, I really enjoy the bluegrass festival, but I wish it were -- well....just better. The festival has been going on for close to 20 years now, yet, the crowd is still small compared to what it could be. Growing up listening to bluegrass and hearing my dad play banjo gave me a great appreciation for this genre. And for the past 5 or even 10 years now, bluegrass has been growing in popularity. So why does no one come to this festival? It could be could be huge! And there's nothing like gathering in the town square with your fellow friends and neighbors to listen to some good music. People live for that kind of stuff, right?....especially people with kids, and especially Franklinites (and Nashvillians who wish they were Franklinites, like me.)

I'm thinking about making it my business to better this bluegrass festival in the future. Stay tuned...and at least try to join me next year.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Summer Vacation in Seattle

Well, kids....they're here. Yes, the long awaited pictures from our trip to Seattle. They're not exactly hot off the press, but they still came in under the 'One Month Old' mark (just by a hair).

Our first night in Seattle was the 4th of July, and we were invited to a small family party at a nearby lake. The view was gorgeous and we had our own private fireworks show. Despite my long sleeved shirt, thick sweater, jeans and a blanket, I was still very cold.

Little Henry Jensen and one of his many crazy faces

Sean and I at a Mariners game.

The Underground tour of Seattle was one of the first and most entertaining things we did in the city. Just as the name suggests, a guide takes you through the original sidewalks and storefronts that have been sealed underground for over a century. See, there was this giant fire in downtown Seattle in 1890 (or thereabouts) that destroyed a big chunk of the buildings. When it came time to rebuild, the city leaders decided to take advantage of the situation. They told all the building owners to construct their "new" main entracne on the 2nd floor. Reason being, Seattle had a big sewage problem...the pipes would back up every day at high tide. Poor you if you lived in the downtown area because your toilet would explode with rotten sewage. This was their chance to level out the city and re-work the sewage pipes. They raised the street up one level to what used to be the 2nd floor. Eventually, the ended up filling in the sidewalks too, which left the old main floor as a basement type thing. Over time, these basement spaces became un-used but they're pretty cool so people started giving tours of them.

Walking through a doorway underground

Underground looking up at the present day sidewalk. The grid looking thing is a skylight. Stace and Sean with the Spaceneedle
Sean visits the original Starbucks at Pike's Place. You might notice that the logo is different. That's right - it's the original logo where Miss Starbuck shows her boobies.
The Museum of Flight at Boeing Field was really neat, and I enjoyed all of it's interactive parts (because I usually get bored at museums). Sean was like a kid in a candy store here. We got to walk onto one of the Concord planes as well as the Air Force One that JFK used.

We went to the top of the Columbia Center building. I think it's the tallest building in downtown Seattle, and it has a much better view than the Spaceneedle . Here I was trying to get a shot of Mt. Rainier. Unfortunately, it was a very hazy day. Look in the center of the photo and you'll see a stream of clouds. Just above that, you can see the snow cap of Mt. Rainier. It's about 2 hours away from downtown, and it stands mightily over the city.
Pike's Place market - famous for fish-throwing mongers and large crowds. Sean and I made the mistake of coming on a Saturday. We grabbed lunch at a food stand inside the market where we had grouper sandwiches.

We took a ferry up to British Columbia to visit Victoria. Below you can see the famous Empress Hotel with all the ivy growing on it. For about $50 per person, you can have a proper Engligh afternoon tea. Instead, we opted for oysters on the half shell at a nearby bistro. There's also a shot of the British Columbia Parliment building.
We also visited the Butchart Gardens which is pretty magnificient, even if you're not into flowers. This shot below used to be a limestone quarry. Mrs. Butchart decided it needed some landscaping. She must have had a lot of free time on her hands....

One thing I learned about Canada: They have terrible ice cream. We bought some ice cream cones to snack on as we walked through the gardens, and it was like eating a mouthful of Crisco. There must have been 300 different types of roses in the rose garden. This was my favorite:
The Italian Gardens at Butchart
For our one night in Victoria, Canada we ate at an Italian restaurant. Go figure. But it was well worth it. I was very thankful for our own personal fireplace by the table. Canada was COLD!

Our last day in Seattle was "Nature Day" and we visited Mt. Rainier. Here I am near the top of the snow cap. Sean had plans to hike the glacier trail; however, i was wearing open toed sandals. I put a stop to the snowy trail and we made atlernate plans to go see a few waterfalls. Also seen in this picutre: my one and only souvenir, a $50 jacket. Let's just say I was not prepared for the weather.

This is a "bridge" we crossed on our way to the waterfalls trail. Notice the rapid, frigid water directly beneath my feet. And yes, you can also see my sandals here.
Here we are standing in the path of the 1940 Mt. Rainier Mud Slide. Behind us you can see all the rubble it left behind.
After hiking for a short while, we found a great place to stop and nap in the sun, and this was the view.
We finally made it to the waterfall.

We got to see and do a lot more than what you see here. I just didn't take pictures of everything. A few additional highlights were:
1. seeing the Seattle Symphony play
2. hanging out in Fremont, a very neat neighborhood within the city

3. eating delicious Mexican food at Agua Verde and watching the kayakers on Lake Washington

4. sharing our mussels feast with the Jensen's

5. coffee at Zoka and Herkemer

6. seeing signs for "Espresso!" everywhere (one dental office was named Espresso Dental)
7. accidentally eating lunch at a hippie vegan guru restaurant named Silent Heart Nest.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hello Again

Remember me? Hi...I used to write blogs on this thing.

Since I have a tendancy to write extremely wordy and overly-detailed entries, I decided that it might be a good idea to just hit some high points. You know...for an easy, quick read. Enjoy.

1. Tomatoes. Where the hell are they!? I planted my little green seedling plants in the 5 gal big boy pot and I got NOTHING. They have hardly grown at all since their move. I even bought organic mushroom compost soil. I know, I very hippie of me. So, no tomoatoes. Bummer.

2. Weather. It's hot....really, really hot. The kind of hot that makes you suffocate when you get in your car. And so, you crank the air up on max but you STILL can't breathe because the air is HOT air. But i love it. Summer is the best. I just wish I could get to the pool more often. I passed by a pool on my way to lunch today and I almost started crying. I also wish I owned more sleeveless shirts. (Note to self: go buy more sleeveless shirts.)

3. Work. Ohhhhhhh work. I love you and hate you and everything in between.

4. Neighbors. Sean and I finally met our VERY COOL new neighbors from across the street. We had them over for dessert last sunday. I really hope they like us because I would love to have some neighbor friends. It's exactly what's been missing for the past 2 years. We haven't been able to borrow sugar or eggs from ANYONE.

5. Other Neighbors. The trashy neighbors. They are currently shooting off fireworks while I'm trying to blog. People, it's JULY TWENTY FOURTH. So, you're about 20 days off. We need more of item #4 up in this 'hood.

6. Vacation. Seattle. Yes, we went to Seattle a couple of weeks ago and it was wonderful. I'm so glad I was able to get back after so many years, and thankful that Sean was able to go with me. He had never been to the west coast before. We had beautiful weather for the entire much so that Sean managed to get a sunburn. Our friends Vicki and Rick were kind enough to put us up for the week in their house, and we very much enjoyed spending time with their lovely family. I'm in the process of posting pictures from the trip so stay tuned!

7. Movies. Brought to me by the theater: The Dark Knight. LOVED IT. Oh, had me at "Kill the Batman." I loved your scary, messy face paint and your bloody mouth scars. What a phenomenal performance!!! (And I'm not just saying that because he died....)
Brought to me by Netflix: Into the Wild. Also loved it. This movie really spoke to the part of me that wants to quit my job, move to the country and become a corn farmer. (Although, that's totally not what happens in the movie.) I was so moved by this guy's beautiful mind and his courage. While most of the movie shared the breathtaking images of Alaska, I still don't have a desire to go there. No siree. I'm fine with watching footage on Discovery HD.

8. Books. Currently reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. And yes, you guessed it....LOVE IT. No really, it's great. I highly recommend reading it if you're a female. I see no reason at all why a man should ever read this book. He could never appreciate it...

9. And last but not least, cooking. Do I even do that anymore!?!? Yes, sometimes. I cooked mussels for the first time while we were in Seattle. Four whole pounds of mussels to be exact, which we shared with Vicki and Rick. I love a good pot of mussles with a rich, buttery broth. And I think for my first go-round, I did a pretty darn good job.