Friday, November 24, 2017

Happy Thanksbirthday

EVERY FEW YEARS my birthday falls on Thanksgiving. Two birds, one stone. Or, a bird and a lamb, to be more precise.

Sheryl and I enjoyed an awesome meal and company at the annual Mays family Thanksgiving gathering yesterday. We are honored to call them friends, and hanging with Grannie Annie Mays is the best. She and Bob Mays “adopted” us some years ago and she is always sending us cards and checking up on us. She has been a wonderful mother to both of us orphans.

Then it was off to the annual Noble family and friends Thanksgiving. Cori and I played for them for the third straight year, and I knew it was going to careen out of control when they sang Happy Birthday to me minutes after walking through the door. They know how to have fun and it’s one of the best gigs we do all year.
A Noble Bash.

It helps that Roberto Stellino shows up with a lamb dinner. Yup, the owner of Tiramisu makes us dinner. So let me get this straight - we get hired to play music for a bunch of happy and crazy people, AND Roberto makes us dinner?

Happy Birthday to ME!

Geesh. This birthday on Thanksgiving business is too much.

Anyway, we lived to tell about. Thank God we don’t do Black Friday, just our regular 10 am - 6 pm hours. Steve Rees and I are decorating the store today and we are gearing up for Small Business Saturday. Come on down and help us clear the cobwebs, and recover from Thanksbirthday. The Keurig is on!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Low carb pumpkin pie

GENERALLY SPEAKING, SHERYL doesn’t cook. We both are lower carb, she eats way fewer carbs than me. I don’t mind making steaks and vegetable meals. Sometimes it can be a challenge finding new ways to cook mushrooms and asparagus. Dessert is really hard to make, so we go our own way after dinner.

We have a Thanksgiving dinner with the Mays tomorrow and we usually just buy a couple of pies to take. This year Sheryl wanted to try to make a pumpkin pie and see if it tasted good enough to share with family. So she found a recipe and tried to make sure we had all the ingredients. (HyVee to the rescue again!)

Sheryl made a test pie last night and bought extra ingredients to make one to share tomorrow. I mixed ingredients because “you have better mojo in the kitchen,” she said. Sounds like a way to keep me from watching the hockey game, but if it keeps her away from Flip or Flop Ursa on HGTV, we both win.

After grinding the walnuts, finding all the spices and putting the new ingredients around our tiny kitchen, Sheryl realized we still needed a few items from HyVee. (“What? We are out of almond flour for the cornbread?”) Sheryl popped her creation into the oven, and she also made low carb cornbread. Both turned out well and we even had pumpkin pie for breakfast this morning. It was guilt free and delicious.

Wow, who knew I’d eat low carb pumpkin pie and enjoy it? I might have to demolish a bag of Doritos to make up for it, but it’s not bad and I recommend it to anybody watching the carbs and eating better.

Can we use almond flour and walnut meal to make pizza?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Recovery, Keurigs and the NFL

WE HAD AN absolute blast Saturday at the annual pre-Thanksgiving party. Our friend Karen Armstrong won the guitar raffle and is super excited about learning to play. The jam session was epic and my fingertips were like raw hamburger after hooting and hollering for eight hours ..... so much fun! Ev Ben had some Cheesey drumming. Thank you to everybody who joined the fray.

We recovered by doing yard work yesterday. Now we can’t move. See what hard work gets you? Nothing but pain and a clean garage, shed and mulched leaves. I’d rather jam for eight hours.

So I watched a lot of football, too. I enjoyed the Lions win and they are so good at teasing us, n’est pas? I am watching other games just to watch. Also, Sheryl bought a backup Keurig because we only have two and you never know when one might break or Sean Hannity might show up for coffee. (Plus they were on sale!) So we are good to go.

It’s going to be a great week at Fifth and Maine, with Thanksgiving, milestones and two HartLyss gigs looming. Come on by for coffee this morning and we’ll both get ready!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Stranger things in the backyard

WE JUST GOT done watching Stranger Things, both seasons. I liked it because the main characters are geeks and nerds, so I can relate. The story requires you to suspend belief and logic. It’s based in the mid-80s so there’s awesome and awful songs as the soundtrack. And lights flicker. A lot.

The other night we were binge-watching our way through the second season when we hit pause and I stepped outside with the dogs for a minute. Sure enough, the light above the back door of our neighbor’s house flickered on and off four or five times. It happened again last night when we got home late from the store and running errands.

This wouldn’t be so strange, except our beloved neighbor, Don, passed away last month after living in the house for 60 years. I think the light is motion sensitive, so maybe it was the wind, or a critter by the back door, or a loose light bulb.

Or maybe it was Don saying hello and wondering how he was going to get the backyard leaves picked up.

Nah. I don’t believe in that ghost stuff. It’s too strange, and there’s an explanation for everything.

Right. Now, about the light in my mancave doing the same thing .....

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Electric Co. scams

TWO YOUNG MEN from Ameren Illinois were just in the store and are downtown today to warn businesses about scammers pretending to be utilities.

Not a month goes by that somebody doesn’t walk in and ask to see our electric bill. The answer is a polite but firm “no.” I’m sure you are legit and I’m sure you will save us a lot of money, but we are good to go, thank you very much.

This is a brilliant PR move by Ameren. All the major media outlets were down here to do stories. Look! Ameren is warning us about bad guys! It makes them look good and you can’t blame them a bit. When I was a reporter Ameren was one of the best companies to deal with when it came to PR, and they know how to play the game.

When it comes to scammers, it’s like locking your car or front door - a little common sense goes a long way. If somebody calls you and promises you the moon, asks you for immediate payment or your debit card number, it’s obvious something ain’t right. Be smart and always be on guard for people trying to take you for a ride.

In other words, keep the lights on. It’s what you pay the power company to do.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Rare Gretsch find

A FEW MONTHS ago I bought a 1968 Gretsch Cutter. It’s a long story but let’s just say we got a good deal, and Sheryl worked her usual magic to fix it up and get it playable after it sat unused for many years. It’s a single pickup hollow body with all original hardware and it sounds like a choir.

It’s missing the pick guard, and it has the original owner’s Social Security number etched into the back plate. It has a tone unlike any guitar I have ever played and I’m taking it to gigs.

We’ve named her “Stella” after the original owner. We put light gauge strings on her, and she had some intonation issues - shoot, we are about the same age and I have intonation issues too. She’d go out of tune quickly and I’d fight all night to lock her in.

Steve Rees looked her over last weekend and suggested thicker strings. I wondered if the old girl could handle them, but Steve was right as usual, and the tone is even purer coming from the aged wood and chambered body. Stella is staying in tune and I can’t wait to play her more with Cori Lyssy and solo shows, and this Saturday at our store party.

The older the better!