Thursday, August 6, 2020

No Cheese

THE CHEESEBURGERS ARE taking a break. All five members agreed this week we will not play again in 2020, in light of COVID-19 concerns and Kirk Gribler getting the virus.

Kirk is still struggling with fatigue some three weeks after getting COVID-19. This is no hoax. This is real. His health is paramount and we aren't going to mess with it. Replacing him, even for just a show or two, wasn't appealing to us. 

We haven't played since March. We canceled our Music Under The Stars show in Hannibal in two weeks. This was a bucket list show and we are bummed. It would have been one of the better shows we've done, had we been ready. But the band was not ready. We had a few other shows planned, but almost everything got canceled during this long and strange F-2020.

So, The Cheeseburgers will not book any shows for the rest of the calendar year, and we will wait to see what 2021 brings. I think we'll play again at some point, but our days of playing regularly every weekend are long gone. There are fewer places to play and it gets harder and harder to practice and prepare.

Then there's the physical effort involved. I'm not complaining - playing music for people is a blast and if it looks like we are having a good time, well, we are. But the last few years haven't been as fun, and it takes two or three days to recover after a good night. We have a lot of stuff to set up, and it requires back-breaking lifting and hauling. Again, no complaints, but we aren't spring chickens anymore.

A few weeks ago I saw Non Stop play. They are a local country cover band. They are really good. The gig was outside at a benefit and the crowd was small, but the band couldn't have cared less. They were busting their butts to entertain on a steamy summer night, even though most of the people there hung out by the beer truck (never put the beer in the back. That kills the crowd's interest in the band every single time). As I watched I thought of the countless times The Cheeseburgers did the same thing.

It's been an amazing 10 years with a lot of great players. Now it's time to put The Cheese in storage for a while. Hopefully we get back and hot off the grill again.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Lost child found

SHERYL WAS WORKING in the front yard Sunday morning around 8 when she heard someone screaming “MOMMY.” She ignored it and kept on clipping the front shrub near the neighbors yard. The screaming continued and got just a little bit more frantic so she put down her shears and stuck her head over the shrubbery. Way up the block was a little girl running up the sidewalk screaming for her MOMMY. Diaper, T-shirt and socks. Perfect.

She went over and calmed the girl down and asked if she knew which house was her mommy's. What car? What is mommy's name? Last name? If you have ever talked to a 2-year-old, you know that Sheryl couldn't understand a word. So she called 911 and asked for assistance.

Several Quincy Police officers showed up. They decided to have Sheryl keep her in the house while they canvassed the block. Mom and dad would be missing her soon so they were totally confident of finding them.

The toddler had a fresh diaper on and looked healthy. Strange, a little one like that roaming around the street. You think the worst and you wonder if there are other issues at home, etc. Sheryl told me not to put those negative thoughts out there. She was sure it was just a child that had gotten out of the house somehow.

With permission from the police officers, we made her scrambled eggs and bacon, and gave her chocolate milk. She had quite the appetite. Bacon and eggs - yum!

When the officer came back, the little girl got scared again and insisted Sheryl pick her up and hold her. The officer asked the little girl a couple of questions but still got nothing. We told him it was fine. We could just keep her calm and keep her company.

A few minutes later, an officer located mom. Turns out she lived nearby and had been up really early, and she simply fell back asleep. Apparently the little girl managed to get outside and on the porch, then wandered away and became disoriented.

Mom was glad to see her baby. After some thorough questioning, police determined there was no willful neglect. I've seen the mom with several small children before and she keeps a close eye on them when they are walking out to the car or playing on the porch.

Sheryl used to be a foster parent and her old shepherding skills came in handy. We'd like to think our little stretch of Calftown is a safe place and we all look out for each other, but you always wonder about the world, too. 

It ended well and I still make a mean breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon. She did drink my chocolate  milk. Hopefully I’ll get over the trauma.

Monday, August 3, 2020

No seeds for squirrels

ISN'T NATURE WONDERFUL? Isn't living in harmony with our fellow living beings a joy and beautiful to behold?

It is. Unless you are a squirrel and you are eating Sheryl's sunflower plants.

Sheryl grew some beautiful sunflower plants in an area separate from the garden. They were doing really well until last week, when she noticed several had been destroyed at the stalk. Upon further observation she noticed a squirrel doing all the damage, likely to get at the seeds in the flower itself.

Squirrels put their lives at risk when they are in our yard. Our three dogs love squirrels. Genie, our English Shepherd, is the only one fast enough to catch them. Most of the time the dogs charge off our porch and into the yard when they see a squirrel, and it climbs up one of the two bigger trees, chittering back and angrily defending its right to cross our yard. We also have a pear tree with tons of pears this year that are actually edible, so they go to town when the dogs aren't around.

On Saturday afternoon I was in the middle of a busy day in the
music store when I got a text from Sheryl. Attached was a picture of a dead squirrel. Apparently it was eating the sunflower plants again and this time, Genie managed to murder it. BAM. One quick lunge and the squirrel was in trouble.

I think Genie and Angus played with it for a while but it didn't take long for the lights to go out. Then Sheryl went to take a look and noticed Malcolm licking the squirrel's face, so it was time for the Squirrel Removal Posse to get rid of the body.

The squirrel looked younger and not fat but full. It's been a good growing season in the Calftown hood and they've taken full advantage. The sunflower patch was just the most recent section to take the squirrel hit. Good for them, except when the dogs charge out to defend their turf.

This morning I was back there and two young squirrels were hopping along the fence and squeaking like mad at me. "Killers!" they said. "Murderers! We are only getting ready for winter! And do you know how bleeping good sunflower seeds are?"

The dogs came out and the squirrels ran away. "You were destroying our plants. Enter the yard at your own risk," I yelled.

Ah, the balance of nature.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Caution wins the day

MONDAY'S POST ABOUT Kirk Gribler dealing with getting COVID-19 has more than 9,000 views. I'm glad he's helping get the word out.

First off, I commend two local establishments for deciding to cancel all of their August band shows. Both Red Light and The Dock have canceled for the month, citing the need to stay safe and keep social distancing in place. It's not an easy decision and potentially hits right in the pocketbook - bands draw big crowds in the summer, and big crowds drink lots of beer.

The Cheeseburgers haven't played since March. We have two outdoor shows coming up, and we'll wait to see how Kirk is doing and how the area is responding before making any decisions to cancel.

Cori, Lincoln and I (HartLyss) have played a few outdoor shows, but none have had more than 50 people and we've been comfortable and distanced enough from the stage. I've turned down a bunch of potentially good-paying indoor gigs - it's just not worth the risk.

We've been holding our own at Second String Music and we are confident we'll continue to do so the rest of the summer. We are keeping a close eye on the numbers (Adams County is one of the worst in the state) and if we have to, we'll go back to being open by appointment only. Our phone number will be clearly displayed on the door and we can be at the store within minutes if there is the need.

Sheryl is asking that people call (223-8008), email (, or send us Facebook messages if they have simple questions or are in need of random information. Minimizing contact is our main goal. We will still take your order/payment over the phone, and deliver it to your car.

We appreciate all of our customers and we are always glad to see them in person, with a mask, of course. Our compliance rate on masks in 100 percent right now and we haven't had any anti-mask or hoaxers come in lately.

I continue giving guitar lessons. We are 6 feet apart in the lesson room, though I'm considering moving back out into the bigger area for more distancing. This week we've had four students decide to stay home because of COVID-19 concerns - one had direct contact with an infected person at work, and three others recently got back from summer vacations and are self-quarantining for a week just to be safe.

We'll look back at all of this mess someday and be glad we took precautions. Sheryl is determined to not catch this virus. Let's help her and be safe out there!

Monday, July 27, 2020

Kirk's COVID story

THIS IS KIRK Gribler. He lives in Quincy and is a chiropractor. He plays drums in our band, The Cheeseburgers. Kirk is a good guy who is never at a loss for words when we are hanging out and driving to and from shows

Kirk got COVID-19 almost two weeks ago. Here is his story. Watch the video and decide for yourself what impact this awful virus has on us  - all of us.

He got it at work. Let's just be generic about the details, but Kirk had no idea he was encountering somebody with the COVID-19 virus. The next day he got a phone call from the Adams County Health Department saying he'd been exposed. Kirk immediately went to get tested, but they sent him right home and told him to come back if he started showing symptoms. He immediately canceled all further appointments at his office and waited it out.

Sure enough, a few days later, Kirk started feeling fatigued, and he lost his sense of taste and smell. He got tested. And it came back positive. It isn't life-threatening for him, but he likens it to having a bad case of the flu, only the symptoms are lasting a lot longer. It probably feels like the morning after a really good Cheeseburger show. Watch the video and you can see it for yourself.

He is going to miss about two weeks of work. He's self-employed. He downplays it. But losing your income is very difficult no matter who you are.

His awesome wife, Susan, is quarantined for 14 days. She is able to work from home, thank God.

Health is the most important thing. He's feeling better and hopes to be back at work soon, but only when he's completely symptom-free. There are many other things about getting the virus that pale in comparison. Kirk and Susan are social creatures and often have people over to the house to enjoy the pool and hang out. I think they had a vacation planned but that got canned, too.

The Cheeseburgers haven't played since March, but we do have some outdoor shows coming up. Maybe. The running joke was that you can mess with somebody's life and livelihood, but screw up band practice? F-2020, indeed.

Kirk was inspired by Kathleen Birsic's post last week about getting COVID-19. He wants people to know it's real and not a joke or something to dismiss. Stay socially-distant, wear a mask if you go out and go inside a store or public gathering place, and be kind to your fellow human beings.

Hopefully, he's back at work and behind the Cheeseburger drum kit soon, and kudos to him for sharing his message.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

COVID hits home

I AM DONE dealing with people who think COVID-19 is a big hoax, masks are useless and the whole thing is a political conspiracy. Done. DONE. A very good professor friend once said, "Never argue with a person who knows they are wrong." Right.

It especially hits home when somebody you know gets it. I have a friend who was diagnosed yesterday. He's in the medical field. He got it from a patient he treated. The person didn't know he had COVID.

He is fatigued and he lost his sense of smell. He'll be fine. But he can't work for two weeks - he's self-employed - and his wife now has to quarantine for two weeks, so she can't go to work.

I have a guitar student whose 92-year-old mother is in a nursing home. She fell the other day and they didn't find her for a long time. This guy just wants to go see his mom. But the nursing home is in lockdown and not allowing visitors. There are grandparents unable to see their grandchildren.

A man I used to know in Quincy many years ago recently caught COVID and spent the last week of his life on a ventilator, alone.

It's caused a lot of anxiety for Sheryl, who is a Type 1 Diabetic and would likely be fighting for her life if she gets it. She is already at the top of her anxiety scale and back on medication.

We get lots of people in the store we don't know, and they have to wear masks, but still - do they have COVID and not know it? How safe is it? We have warnings posted about Sheryl's auto-immunen disorder, people just ignore them. The woman who came in the other day and said, "I choose not to wear a mask" didn't help one bit. You can make whatever choice you want, but we'll help you once you move back over to the door or just ask you to leave, thank you.

If you are going to be virulently anti-mask, just call for the information you need. Don't put other people at risk because you think someone will relent just to get your business. We won't. This IS life or death for so many people.

There is so much unknown about all this. You can have it and not know it. Or you can get it and die, no matter your age. One of the silliest arguments around is that people don't know if  COVID is causing all these deaths. Yes, immune-compromised people have other things to die from. But it's pretty simple - they get COVID, and they die. Not hard to figure out, Einstein.

Be safe. Be courteous. Think of others when considering you responsibility to wear a mask. Don't go to big indoor gatherings, and make sure you practice social distancing. Cori and I have a few more outdoor shows this summer but even those are risky and the more we think about it the more we are not sure about playing anywhere.

The Avenue Beat girls have it right - F2020 (warning, it's graphic. But right on the money). We are so proud they made it into Rolling Stone!!

We are so ready to be done with all of this but it can end until everyone does their part to keep everyone safe. #MaskItOrCasket