Thursday, April 18, 2019

Angus turns 5

ANGUS SPENT HIS fifth birthday at Second String Music getting doggie massages and putting up with silly photo sessions. He curled up under the table in my lesson room and later passed out for a couple of hours while we strummed and hummed. Lately he's been going to the coffee shop next door and waiting patiently for the employees to give him treats. Brianne calls Angus her "work buddy" and gets some pretty good selfies with him.


Much of the time he sleeps at Sheryl's feet under the counter. He'll get up to greet the delivery guys and the many customers who demand to see him. He's had a little hip issues lately, common with Corgi and Cattle Dogs, and we had our vet take a look and prescribe a little pain medicine. He seems to be doing better. Of course, Angus is 35 in dog years so maybe this is all part of his mid-life crisis.

At home, Angus hangs out with the two cats and his adopted brother and sister. Genie and Tucker run like the wind on their daily excursions and Angus faithfully scoots his little legs as fast as they can go to keep up.

One of his ears still doesn't stick up, meaning he only half listens. He grumbles when asked to do something he doesn't want to do. He gets a little jealous when people hug, and he's very patient around children.

In other words, Angus is our irascible and loving Corgi Cattle Dog. We couldn't imagine life without him. Happy birthday, ya little bleep, and here's to many more!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Erupting in awe



THE BEST THING about teaching guitar is when a student gets it. The light literally goes off and the reactions are priceless.

I have an awesome student, Anna, who is 17 and a high school senior. She started on the guitar, switched to ukulele, and now is back on guitar. Her biggest challenge right now is prom - she got her nails done and she has to contort her fingers to press on the strings. "Another two weeks!" she said last night. "Look! I'm getting better."

Senior prom happens once in a lifetime. Anna can play the guitar for the rest of her life, I suppose.

Anyway, we were talking about alternate tunings and I let her strum my Fender Strat. "My brother has an electric guitar and I play it once in a while," Anna said. We plugged the Strat into the amp. "I never plug it in. Wow!" she said.

Soon all these amazing noises were coming out of the amp and she was over the moon. I used it as a teachable moment - "Practice your scales on the electric guitar because it's way cool," I said.

She was enthralled with the sounds. So I used it as another teachable moment. "In 1978, music sucked," I said. "Then along came this guy. He was from another planet. Nobody had ever heard these sounds coming from an electric guitar."

We listened to "Eruption" by Van Halen. Her jaw literally dropped and she stared in amazement at the iPod. "THAT is coming from a GUITAR?" she said.

With the caveat that Eddie Van Halen is from another planet and nobody plays like him, she vowed to go home and practice her tapping techniques. With her long nails, there are endless possibilities and noises to make.

Rock on, Anna. I get way more than I give when a student like you discovers new and exciting music!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Saving The Chicken

THE REAL QUESTION is not "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

The real and burning question is, "How the heck did that chicken survive wandering around the Calftown jungle for two days?"

I took the dogs for a snowy run Sunday morning and when we got back, there was the chicken, calmly walking around the alley behind our garage. Sheryl and I walked up to the chicken, who was dining on something disgusting, and she calmly picked it up without a struggle.

It clucked a few times, and we brought down alley to Mary Dickerman's place. She and Tony have chickens. Mary said, "That's not our chicken. Donna next door asked us a few days ago too."

Sheryl thought about calling Animal Control the next morning. I said, "Why not put it on Facebook? Isn't there a lost and found thing for animals?"

She agreed. We put the chicken in the garage, got it some food (chickens eat anything, apparently, even our cat food and random seeds), took some pictures and put a post on my Facebook page. Within seconds we were getting responses and page shares. And, about 15 minutes later, the owner contacted us with an emphatic "My baby!"

Turns out the chicken lives one block south of us, on the other side of Jefferson. It escaped Friday and somehow avoided the many feral cats, roaming dogs and other creatures of our hood. It even survived a nasty little rain/snowstorm Sunday morning.

How did it cross Jefferson street without getting smushed?

The owner came over and there was a joyful reunion involving much clucking and hugging of a chicken. It's home safe and sound, and everything is back to normal in the Calftown hood.

Whatever normal means. Cluck cluck cluck!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Goal off the face



THE STANLEY CUP playoffs have started and it's a great time of year. I tried to explain how important it was that the playoffs had started to Sheryl and she looked blankly at me and said, "What??".

There were some amazing games last night and it was fun clicking between the Lightning collapsing, the Islanders OT win and the Blues gutting out a 2-1 win at Winnipeg.


Hockey players are the best. They don't care about getting hurt or throwing their bodies into the fray. Last night, Joe Pavelski of San Jose scored a goal off his face and lost several teeth in the process. He barely missed a shift.

I broke my schnoz three or four times playing sports. I have a vague memory of a soccer ball blasting me in the face but I think it rolled out of bounds and nobody cared about my bloody nose. As a goalie I took a few off the face mask, too.

Sometimes on Sunday mornings when I'm recovering from the rock and roll truck, I'll put on a soccer game from  England, and it never ceases to amaze when a player gets tripped how he's suffering from death and in severe agony. He rolls around and screams and cries, slowly gets up and limps around for a minute gritting his teeth, then starts running at full speed like nothing every happened.

Suck it up, buttercup. April means Stanley Cup playoffs, and these guys aren't going to let losing a few Chicklets stop them. All the more reason to love hockey and the next few months!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Sheryl finds her Camry

SHERYL USED TO have a '94 Toyota Camry. She gave it to her nephew a few years ago, and the darned thing is still running. It will have to be humanely destroyed and buried in the infield for it to die.

We've been a one-vehicle family for a long time. A month ago I finally bought a used Pontiac Grand Prix to zip around town. As you read last week, it was hit by another vehicle while parked on Maine Street, and eventually declared a total loss.

Angus likes the new ride too!
It wasn't a fun experience, but I will say the driver of the other vehicle was apologetic and it was an accident, nothing more. His insurance company was decent to deal with and we ended up with a good settlement. We are still waiting for the check because the title from the Pontiac still hasn't arrived from the good old state of Illinois, but hopefully it gets here soon.

Sheryl started searching for another car. We thought about getting another Jeep but it was too expensive for something decent.

Yesterday we were trying to find a solution to our problem and Sheryl suggested we switch it up and try finding a vehicle for her. She doesn't need to haul anything but the dogs. It might be easier to find something if our criteria were simpler. She called our friend Brad Mintle, who sold us the Jeep. He started working for Poage in Hannibal about a month ago and he came up with a couple of great options.

This morning we went down there and picked up our new (to us) Toyota Camry. I'll drive the Jeep since it fits all my gig stuff, and Sheryl is really happy with her new ride.

Brad, Lonnie and the people at Poage were awesome and we are finally ready to put our vehicle woes behind us. Don't knock on that piece of wood, please.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Delays and a familiar face

PEOPLE OFTEN ASK if I miss my old job at The Whig. The short answer is no. I do miss some of the people and every now and then I'll see something which takes me back, but that's about it.

Then you read about a murder trial being postponed because the defendant hires, at the last-second, and actually after the last second, a lawyer who used to live in Quincy and was arrested for killing his wife and had two trials and eventually found not guilty.

That's right. A guy accused of murder hires a lawyer who was accused of murder but was found not guilty. You may have seen his story on Dateline and other shows.

You. Can't. Make. It. Up.

It's amazing in a small city like Quincy how you have personal connections. I knew the lawyer, Curtis Lovelace, because he was an Assistant State's Attorney and was always very good to me as a reporter. His son took guitar lessons at Second String Music. And I played at Curtis' wedding.

I knew the victim in this case, Carlous Wires, because Emily played basketball with his two daughters and his son worked on our building.

And, of course, the defense attorney now out of job, Drew Schnack, is somewhat of a legend around the courthouse and the city. He's a shark and he's fierce and he always tells you what he thinks.

Read the story and click on the Facebook interview with Drew in his office after Monday's hearing. It's classic. Some of the stuff he's talking about you kind of have to be around Fifth and Vermont to understand what he's really getting at. But his comment about Curtis being "a pimple on my butt" and the inner workings of lawyer-client relationships are right on the money.

I spent many an hour in that very office talking about cases with Drew and he was always good to me. He understands the role of the press. We did have disagreements, but only once did it get out of hand and I shrugged it off because, well, that's Drew.

I will say this. If I ever got into serious trouble around here, God forbid, Drew would be at the top of my list to hire.

Again ... You can't make it up. Ever.