Thursday, July 21, 2011

10 things about my Maternal Grandma

1.       Her name was Urath Cromwell Cockey Gibson.
2.       Today, July 21, 2011 would have been her 100th birthday. 
3.       She was born in 1911 and when she was of school age her grandmother insisted that she come live in the city because surely the country schools were not going to teach her much.  Her grandmother was a woman who was born in the 1850’s and so she imparted her Victorian ideals on her young charge.  As a result my grandmother was very Victorian in her manner and attitudes, and yet, she was also very modern.  She didn’t marry til she was 28 years old and she didn’t start having children until she was in her 30’s.  Her last child wasn’t born til after she turned 40.  But here’s the most amazing thing about all that to me…she was living in West Virginia, it was the 30’s and 40’s and she had a FEMALE OB/GYN!  How progressive is that? 
4.       Grandma was always reading and the best advice she ever gave to me was to always carry a book with me and I’d never be bored.  I wonder how she’d feel about Kindles?
5.       Grandma got her college degree when she was 78 years old.  She took a computer course cause she was so curious about what everyone on tv was talking about.  She never quite understood the “information superhighway” but she wanted to know all about it.  She also took a typing class and when she couldn’t type fast enough for the timed tests she would hold up her 77 year old hands and tell the teacher she was going as fast as she could and the teacher would let her off!  (As I had just struggled through typing class in high school I was quite incensed by her ability to get away with this!  Ironically now I make my living typing.)
6.       At her funeral the eulogist said that grandma had “boundless curiosity” and I realized in that moment that I had inherited that trait from her.  She was curious about everything and everyone she met.  She pat the space beside her and say “Come sit here and tell me what exactly it is you do?  Where do you work?  What did you study to get there? Where do you live?  Where are you from?  Where are your parents now? How do you parents like this life you’ve chosen?  What do they do? 
7.       She liked company but wasn’t shy about shooing you out of her house when she’d had enough for one day.  I remember going to visit my grandparents on Sundays when I was a child.  When 60 Minutes came on at 7pm silence was called and all the grandchildren had to settle down.  I remember lying on the oriental rug in front of the tv watching the show.  I didn’t understand most of the stories, but I loved that ticking stopwatch and to this day when I watch it I feel like my grandfather is over my left shoulder.  As soon as the show was over Grandma would order everyone out, it was time to get home so we wouldn’t be driving late at night.
8.       Grandma loved a view.  Her house sat on a hill and her favorite chair was by a window where she could watch the birds and the cows and the traffic on a nearby road.  She passed that down to my mother and to me as well. 
9.       She was fascinated by the weather!  She should have been on the news talking about the weather.  She had a rain gauge always and in later years when the electronic weather stations were small and affordable my uncle bought her one, then she would tell you all about the windspeed and rainfall and anything else you might want to know about the weather that week at her house.
10.   Grandma died several years ago, but she lived a very full life.  She was very independent and died in the home that she and Grandaddy had built back in the 30’s.  She lived alone from the time my grandfather died in 1980 until her illness at the end of her life when she had 24 hour nursing care.  I never heard her express regret about any part of her life.  She always seemed content to me.  I wish she was still alive so I could ask her about a million questions that I never thought of while she was living.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I have a new favorite drink.  Betsy came over here one Saturday a few weeks back and asked if I'd ever had an Icehouse.  I had heard of Icehouse Beer, but not the mixed drink.  When she described it I wasn't convinced I would like it, it sounded rather odd.  You make frozen margaritas and then in each glass you pour 1/3 Dos Equis Beer and 2/3 frozen rita.  Let me tell you, no matter how odd that may sound to you it is absolutely delicious!!  There is something about that mixture that cannot be beat.  We've only had them that one time, but I have been craving them ever since and I'm not much of a drinker, so that is really saying something.

Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Me in Grad School? Whaaaaa???

So my friend Kiki was badgering me the other day about contacting GMU and contesting the fact that they want me to repeat classes from 27 years ago.  I have been avoiding this partly because it's painful after everything that happened to me last fall and partly because I feel like I'm asking for special favors and I don't want to do that.  But to shut Kiki (and TWQ and CAB and everyone else who has commented on this recently) up I wrote an email to my favorite Folklore professor who is also one of the "chairs" in the English department.  I was FLOORED by her response.  She said that she was so saddened to hear that I was not in school and not finishing because she had hoped I would go to GRAD SCHOOL!  Me!  In grad school!!!  The idea is SO ludicrous to me because it has taken me so long to get this fucking degree, the last thing I was thinking of was CONTINUING.  But then the idea that she thought so highly of me and my writing that she wanted me in her field really gave me pause.  What if I did go to grad school.  What if I did become a professional folklorist (that sounds so silly considering that folklore is something you learn from someone else and not from a book).  The thing is I am a folklorist now, I love to hear other people's stories and share my own.  I write about my adventures on my blog.  I take daily joy in life.  I don't need any degree to do that.  But still...I'm intrigued.  Grad school.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I Heart The Birchmere

Hello my friends,
I am still blissed out after another fabulous night at The Birchmere.  I bought tickets to see Kasey Chambers the moment her new tour was announced.  Originally I thought my bestie Betsy was going with me but she made plans to visit her family at the beach (and who could blame her) then I thought I'd force Miles to join me, he's my child he has to do what I say right?  Well he made other plans as then I invited EVERYONE I could think of including broadcasting it on Facebook, but NO ONE could/would go.  So you know what I did?  I went all by myself!!!  I had a blast.

The Birchmere is my favorite venue, it relatively small and intimate and it has open seating, so it doesn't matter when you buy your ticket, it only matters what time you line up at the door the night of the show.  I have a system and a favorite seat and so far I have not been disappointed, since I started my system I have always sat at the same table with the same fabulous view of the stage.  Last night was no different.  I showed up at 4:30pm last night which is actually late for me, I've been known to get there as early as 3:30 and been first in line!  Last night I was #20 in line.  I sat on the ground with my back against the building and read my book until 5pm when they opened the door and gave me my tickets and line number.  Then I sat in the bar and read my book (really good book btw) until 6pm when they opened the Music Hall door and called my number.  I sashayed my way right to my favorite table, a 4 top, and sat down and opened my book again.  Within a few minutes a gentleman walked up and asked if I was alone and if he could sit with me.  Well of course you can!  Turned out he was an education professor at Towson University, one of my alma maters!  Also turned out he was a big fan of Kasey and folk/bluegrass music so we had a great conversation about music and we each made a list of acts and albums to check out.  Also turned out that he is married.  Sigh, the story of my life.  Shortly after Mr. Professor and I dove headfirst into conversation two more guys walked up and asked if they could sit with us.  We said SURE.  They sat down and talked to each other.  All three of these guys were age appropriate, tall, handsome and obviously had good taste in music.  I figured the other two were gay.

The opening act was a young guy I had never heard of although this didn't bother me in the least because I have discovered both Red Molly and Justin Townes Earle when they opened up for someone bigger at The Birchmere and they are two of my favorites.  This kid's name was Owen Danoff and he just graduated from the Berklee School of Music.  He did an excellent job, he was funny and self deprecating and he and his partner (who's name was Adrian something) were terrific at the guitar and at harmonizing.  Turned out that his mother was sitting at the table right behind me so I got to talk to her as well.

I talked to all three of my table mates during the break between acts.  Mr. Professor went out to the merch table and the other two and I compared notes on what we thought about Owen.  Turns out they were brothers although they looked NOTHING alike and one of them is a Lighting Guy on Broadway!!!!!!!  Needless to say I SWOONED at that!  His brother was the local of the two and when we had a discussion about the best pizza, he actually named Melting Pot before I could!!!!  We were each suitably impressed that the other knew about our favorite pizza.

Then Kasey and her band came out and brought the house down.  She is amazing and last night she was 6 months pregnant which makes her even more amazing in my book!  She had her dad with her on stage as always and this time she had another girl and a young guy as well.  She did a great job as always but I think my favorite part of her shows is her storytelling between songs.  She played my two favorites "Not Pretty Enough" and "The Captain" but I think my favorite song of the night was a bluegrass primer for Aussies.  She said that they don't really know bluegrass in Australia so she is trying to introduce them to it gently.  And then she played the funniest medley I have ever heard!!!  All four bandmates stood up around one microphone and started playing bluegrass sounding music and then began singing Not Pretty Enough followed by The Captain followed by Stayin Alive followed by Beat It!!!  I thought I was gonna fall on the floor laughing.  It was priceless and I only wish I had video of it!

When the show was over Mr. Pizza and Mr. Broadway waved and left before the lights even came up.  Mr. Professor said how glad he was to meet me.  I turned to Owen's Mom and told her what a great job her son had done and then I made my way to the parking lot where I read my book for another 15 minutes while the traffic jam cleared off.

All in all it was one of my best concert experiences ever and other than the fact that I had to eat a ticket, it may be my favorite one so far.  Definite proof that I don't need a date to have fun!!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Selling the RV

Here she is from the front.

28' feet of beauty and comfort

the kitchen 

the dining, game playing, talking, reading hanging out area

 here's where the driver sits in comfort while motoring down the highways...
 here is where you can sit in comfort while you're waiting for your dinner or guests to arrive...
plenty of tread left on those babies...

the view from the front, it sleeps 6 altogether

I don't want to do it, but it has to happen.  It makes no sense to keep the RV when I have no one to travel with.  I put signs on it last week and yesterday I went out to Mama's and took pictures of it.  I sobbed on the bed in the back in spite of the 99 degree temps inside.  I cleaned out most of the personal stuff that was left, I took a bunch of pix and I listed it on Craigslist and Facebook.  I have had 5 people contact me to ask questions but no one has moved beyond that so far.  Here are the pix, let me know if you or anyone you know is interested...