Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Dogs eating glasses

OUR NEW AUSSIE, Genie, has fit in pretty well. She likes to play with her two adopted brothers and she loves to run. She has limited skills when it comes to people and social interaction - she just wasn't raised socially, and she's 2 years old. She is a bit of a sneak and can get herself in trouble by snatching food or things off the tables.

For the past month we've had to watch where we put our stuff, because Genie likes to eat the computer mouse, socks, shoes, shirts, blankets, books, plates, cups .... everything left within reach.

I'm not used to it. I just throw my stuff down and forget about it, because I'm a man. When I can't find it, I blame karma or the dogs. Can't someone else keep track of my stuff?

Last night I put my glasses on the table right next to me and started reading a book. Genie grabbed them and a little bit later, Sheryl found them on the bedroom floor, mangled beyond repair.

Sweet Genie
I got really mad at the dog first. Then I cursed myself - don't leave stuff lying around, dumbass! The real moral of the story is - don't get too engrossed in that book.

This morning I went to All About Eyes. I got my new glasses there a year and a half ago and I was really impressed with their staff and prices. I didn't know I had a warranty on the glasses and the replacement cost was a lot less than I thought it would be. I even had enough cash left to buy Sheryl a venti soy latte from Starbucks.

So. Genie. You and I gotta start seeing eye to eye on this eating stuff business. We need to talk. Now.

But first let me put my glasses in a safe place

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

We are the "almost everything" music store

"YOU DON'T SELL sheet music? Well then, what kind of music store are you?"

She was calling for a certain song, saying it was for her daughter's wedding. She wasn't happy when I told her we didn't have sheet music. Lots of instruction books and some "Fake Books" with tons of songs, but no specific sheet music.

"Well," she huffed, "I'll just have to cross you off the list."

Phew. I was really worried about that list.

We get all kinds of interesting people in Second String Music, and all kinds of phone calls. When we get a difficult caller - they are not that common -we are always polite and do the best we can, but it can be exhausting.

Now I was the one venting. So Sheryl looked at me and said, "Don't worry about it. We don't do sheet music. It's that simple."

Still, the question from Crabby Mother of the Bride resonated in my head. What kind of music store are we, anyway?

This is where we started!
Well. We are small and slowly growing. We specialize in affordable guitars like Breedlove, Takamine, Dean, Luna and Ibanez. We have the amazing Goodtime banjos. We've had a huge school band rental season thanks to our partnership with Boyd Music. We have tons of the little things musicians need. Tons.

Above all, we try to be friendly and to make sure if you come into our store at Fifth and Maine, you get treated well and we do everything possible to find what you are looking for - even if you are just browsing.

I would love to have high end electric guitars hanging from our walls, and be independently wealthy. I'd love to have massive drum kits everywhere, a dedicated room for huge amp rigs, an entire square block of PA equipment, and not a care in the world. I'd love it if we had to hire full-time staff to handle the crush of musicians rushing in through our doors at all hours of the day and night, and live the jet set life of a pampered man.

But I'm good with who we are. We are Second String Music. I'm proud of our little Mom & Pop music store we started from nothing, and I mean nothing.

That's what kind of music store we are - minus the sheet music, of course.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Post-benefit relief

SHERYL AND I got to hang out with the Bursics and friends Sunday. The night before, Bill and Kathleen hosted a huge party at the Oakley-Lindsay Center to raise money for their late daughter's foundation. Click here for more info.

KC, Mel and Kathleen
Photo by Mike Sorenson
Sarah Bursic passed away a few years ago. Dealing with the death of a child is beyond comprehension. For some, it's a very private thing. The Bursics decided to establish a foundation in their daughter's memory, and it's not an easy thing to undertake.

Bill and Kathleen don't want to be in the limelight. They remind me a lot of Chuck and June Otte, who put on the Sammy Fund event for many years with an awesome group of volunteers. Chuck and June would rather dig a hole and hide than deal with the many responsibilities and public demands of having a huge fundraiser. Yet they did it for years and years with dignity and class.

So yesterday at the Bursic home, the fabulous and legendary "Patio 910," Cori Lyssy and I performed as part of a Humane Society fundraiser deal struck with Craig Freeman. We had a blast. The thing I noticed the most as both Bill and Kathleen bustled around making food, serving beverages and chatting with people was a sense of relief. There is an incredible amount of work that goes into doing big events, and the Bursics will tell you their friends deserve extra credit.

Maybe so, but I want them to know I respect them and appreciate them more and more. The air was coming out of the balloon on a Sunday afternoon, and you could just see it escaping.

It was an honor to be a part of it.

Friday, September 25, 2015

It's been three years, Mr. Alderman

YOUR IDENTITY IS tied to your occupation. For 16 years I was The Guy From The Paper. And I was fine with it.

About once a month somebody will come up to me and say, "I really enjoy your stories in the paper." When I tell them I retired from The Herald-Whig three years ago, they look at me like I'm nuts. "Really?" they say. "Huh. I didn't know."

That doesn't bother me a bit. We are all accustomed to routine and we all engage the outside world in our own little way. There is no such thing as keeping score when it comes to who is leaving our local media outlets. I tend to pay attention since I used to be a media person.

Where I work and where I write my blog.
However, when you are mad at me for something I've written on my own personal blog, it might behoove you to do your homework and read the blog first, and realize it's not tied to any news organization out there.

I'm not mentioning any names, but there's a certain Quincy alderman who called The Whig recently, all bent out of shape about this blog. I have no problem with him being upset - the blog was controversial and I had several discussions with other aldermen about it. If they didn't get the point, well, maybe I need to be a little less obtuse.

It's bad enough this alderman didn't realize I wrote this on my own blog, and it's not tied to any other media outlet. But when he was informed I haven't been a full-time reporter at the paper for three years, he proceeded to rant and rave and go off, blah blah blah.

I have no interest in rehashing the whole thing now. But, for the record, Mr. Alderman, if you do get mad at me again (and you probably will), you can find me at the corner of Fifth and Maine most days, hanging out and strumming my guitar and just generally at peace with the world.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Breedloves are here!

OUR FAMILY OF guitars just welcomed the newest Second String Music addition - Breedlove Guitars!

The Breedlove story is pretty cool - two guys who worked for Taylor and broke off to start their own guitar-making company. Click here for more - it's a tale of determination. Sounds kinda familiar ....

The Breedlove Pursuit Concert guitar.
We are starting with the affordable Pursuit, Solo and Studio guitars. We also have the Solo Concert and Studio Concert guitars in stock. The Studio Concert guitar is incredible - I've never heard a guitar ping and project quite like it. All the Pursuit Breedloves have Fishman pickups and come with gig bags, and they all have USB ports for easy recording and live performance sound. The Solo and Studio Breedloves come with L.R. Baggs pickups and hard bag/cases.

I'm falling in love and I'm getting one soon enough. But I'll give our customers first crack and be patient, a hard thing to do when you get a new batch of incredible guitars.

Come in and see us at Fifth and Maine - and be among the first to try these amazing instruments in Quincy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Now I can find my euphemism T-shirts

SUPPOSEDLY THE TERM "cleaning out my closet" is a euphemism. I thought a euphemism was somebody who lived north of the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. But apparently it means substituting a less offensive phrase for a more offensive phrase.

There is nothing offensive about cleaning out my closets. Nothing. The only problem is that I now have all my T-shirts organized and I can actually find them, and my daily routine of wasting time rummaging through piles on the closet floor has been disrupted.

It started a few days ago when Sheryl cleaned out her closet. She ended up with two huge garbage bags of clothes and shoes, which she donated to the Salvation Army.

So Monday morning, I went through my closet and discovered two pairs of shoes, a belt, a long-lost box of macaroni and cheese (I used to have to hide food, it's a long story), a box of golf balls and doctor's scrubs. Doctor's scrubs? Ah yes, left over from a Halloween band gig a few years back.

Worn at 2015 Dream Court in Quincy
We organized my dresser drawer and the closet. This morning I counted how many T-shirts I have, and arrived at the magic number of 95. That means I could wear one every day for three months and not duplicate. Of course, I haven't worn probably a third of them in a long time, but you can't throw away or donate a vintage Who concert shirt, and that Whig softball shirt has a lot of meaning and memories, too. So does anything with the Snowmass. Oh, the list is endless.

Then I realized I have an untold number of T-shirts in upstairs closets. I don't go upstairs much anymore, because Sheryl's nephew is temporarily living up there (this is related to me hiding food, but it's a long story, even though I've mentioned it twice). I have archaeological layers of Gus Macker T-shirts, hats, jackets, and sweatpants up there, hundreds, probably thousands. And there are bags and bags of rare and valuable T-shirts from my days at Central Michigan University, The Alpena News and other places I no longer remember.

So. I've cleaned my closet. (But I haven't cleaned out my closets, yet.) I feel better about it. I know where stuff is. And if I want to use a euphemism for it, well .... I can find my bleep now, thank you.

I was getting hungry for mac and cheese, anyway. Nutty bar anyone?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A different perspective on tragic case

ED KOCH KNEW he wasn't coming back for a long, long time. He was in the store Saturday, two days before his sentencing in Nebraska. "I'm going away," he said. "It's going to be for a while."

On Monday, a Nebraska judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. Exactly a year ago, Ed was driving a vehicle on a Nebraska highway when he hit the back of another car, and the two people inside were killed. The victims were 22 and 24.

Local media reported Ed was driving about 90 miles an hour. He had alcohol in his system. He told the judge Monday he was "self-medicating" and that he suffered from severe mental illness. He apologized to the families during the sentencing.

I don't know the victims, or their families. But everything else fails to compare to their pain and loss. This is not an attempt to minimize anything. Friends and families of the deceased have to live with this forever. So does Ed, though he got a chance to say goodbye to friends and family last weekend. The victims never had that chance.

I don't claim to know Ed that well, but he's been a good store customer. He's a very good guitar player and musician, playing in bands like Them Damn Stingrays. I hired Ed to play with Justin Haubrich at our noon blues concerts in July. They rocked Washington Park that day.

So that changes things. When I covered crime and courts for The Whig, 90 percent of the criminal cases involved a bad guy, a dirtball, a person you could loathe. It wasn't easy, shutting it off when entering the courthouse to report on a murderer, a thief, a sexual predator. But there was little sympathy and the focus was on the case, and the victims.

But what if the bad guy isn't really bad? What if he just made a serious error in judgement? What if he's just a regular dude like the rest of us?

What if he's Ed Koch? You know, Ed, the guy who plays guitar at the open mic nights. The great guy with a big heart in little old Quincy, Illinois?

He's not a bad guy. He's not this evil, twisted monster we root against and hope rots in prison. He's the guy we know. And it's all too close to home.

If anything, take this away from the case of Ed Koch - there but for the grace of God go you and I. And the next time you have a few beers, and you get behind the wheel, and your wife or your friend says, "You shouldn't be driving," listen to him or her. And give them the keys.

Ed won't be coming back to Quincy for awhile. But the two people killed in the crash will never come home. And we know the guy who was sent to prison because of it.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Three different gigs

IT WAS ANOTHER wild musical ride this weekend. I am amazed at how gigs vary and audience reactions dictate the flow and the go.

I saw a Facebook post from a local musician who was at a Kacey Musgraves concert in St. Louis, and he couldn't believe how rude people were during the show. Many were talking to each other and ignoring the huge talent on the stage. Hey, if you want to waste $50, so be it, and I couldn't agree more with his reaction.

On Friday night, Cori Lyssy and I played at Cellar 21. There wasn't a huge crowd and it's a small venue, but the people there were into it and respectful. There was an amorous couple that kept it interesting, too, but I'll leave most of that story alone. We had a blast - I always do with Cori.

Saturday afternoon, I played the coolest solo gig ever. It was for the Yoga7even street party at Eighth and Hampshire. I played for an hour in the sun in front of a class of about 15 people doing Yoga, and at the end the instructor had everybody use a hula hoop. Great fun - Beatles and Buddy Holly songs go great with hula hoops! Again, it has nothing to do with the amount of people, it has everything to do with the vibe and environment.

Then came Saturday night. The Cheeseburgers played at a private party near Hannibal. I understand that we were paid to play, and I thought we played out hearts out. But it was outside, at night, in a field, and everybody either sat by a huge bonfire or chit-chatted with friends by the main building. Both were at least 50 yards from the stage.

It was difficult and the energy level on stage suffered, and it's my fault for letting it get to me.

I've written many times about being professional and not letting small numbers or indifferent audiences get to you while you are playing. And I appreciate the gig, and playing live music on a beautiful night with a bunch of great guys.

You know what? I'm ready to do it again. Every gig has a story, and when you get paid to play, you play your heart out, whether anybody cares or not.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Alex Sanders and crazy Cheeseburger ideas

THIS IS HOW we come up with our crazy ideas at Second String Music.

Alex Sanders was here Thursday and said, "You guys ought to grill up cheeseburgers in honor of the big day." Sheryl said, "No thanks." But I put it on Facebook, and we were encouraged to pursue the idea.

So Frank Haxel, ever in the wrong place at the wrong time, is going to get the grill and we are making Cheeseburger Sliders at Fifth and Maine this afternoon. Why? To celebrate the big day, of course. And because we can.

Alex played in a great band called the Texas Funerals. We are not celebrating National Texas Funerals Day, unless it pertains to the band and the band only. Alex agrees, too.

Everybody is invited. I bought a bunch of stuff but supplies are not endless. Sheryl also made bacon but I'm not sure she will share. Stone Soup, anyone?

Uh, wait a second. Everybody is invited but our (NOT) friends, the Outside People. Apparently a local TV station reporter wandered into Washington Park the other day and interviewed them about their political views and the Republican debates. I haven't seen it and never will, but the unintentional hilarity, along with the incredible irony, is off the chart. Sheryl asked, "Aren't they Democrats?"

We simply can't have that kind of politically-charged atmosphere across the street. Sorry, Outside People. No cheeseburgers for you.

But everybody else is invited! Food will be served from 1 pm to 6 p.m. and the fridge will be open. Happy Cheeseburger Day!

OH, and since we will be eating and partying.... We will be having a Jam Session too.  #NationalCheeseburgerDay

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Yoga, music and the streets

HERE'S A WAY cool idea that has quickly taken off and will be a lot of fun Saturday.

It's the second annual Yoga and Street Music Festival, brought to you by the good folks at Yoga7even. The stage is set up right in front of the Yoga7even studios near Eighth and Hampshire, and there are Yoga classes every 90 minutes.

Quincy needs more unique events like this. Cheeks McGee put the musical lineup together and I'm honored he asked me to play. I'm up at noon and hopefully followed by George Cate - no way am I playing after that guy, he's way too good! It's a solo gig sandwiched between HartLyss at Cellar 21 Friday night and The Cheeseburgers at Pop's Club in Hannibal Saturday night.

We'll sleep when we're dead. Or after Yoga class.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

National Cheeseburger Day

FRIDAY IS NATIONAL Cheeseburger Day. It's perfect timing, as The Cheeseburgers get ready to kick off the fall portion of the Hot Off The Grill Tour.

Dark side of The Cheese. Yum!
Brian Myles of KICK FM in Quincy gave us some major love in honor of the big day. Click here for the must-read interview. And if you think it's easy to play guitar when your hands are full of sesame seeds, well, think again.

We play Saturday night at Pop's Club in Hannibal from 7 to 11. We've never been to Pop's and we've been promised it's a good time, and we are ready to rock. Justin Sievert will be playing bass.

The next Saturday we are at the 104 Grill in Meredosia. We have shows Oct. 31 at Quincy University, Nov. 14 in Carthage at a wedding, Nov. 21 at the Elks Lodge in Quincy, and New Year's Eve at the Keokuk Yacht Club.

Can't wait to celebrate our own big day - National Cheeseburger Day!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

City council crybabies

SO THE QUINCY City Council has some aldermen who aren't happy with being "lectured" or "attacked" by our chief of police.

Read the Whig story here.

My take? Wah, wah, wah. Some of our aldermen are crybabies who fail to see the big picture. Our chief isn't happy with four officers being cut from his staff. He's trying to get them back. Our city council and especially our mayor are concerned with fiscal bottom lines. So guess which side wins?

Chief Rob Copley has always been media smart and maintained relationships with aldermen. But he is obviously getting tired of having less officers. The recent spate of gun violence has bolstered his pleas.

I'm not sure how much longer the chief has left to serve. He's done a very good job for a long time. Perhaps he feels he has little to lose now, and doesn't really care if he ticks off aldermen.

Good for him.

A few years ago I forgot to duck and I got assigned to cover a city council meeting. One of the aldermen, and he's still on the council, asked Chief Copley to step up patrols on a busy street because he was getting complaints of speeding.

After the meeting, the alderman came up to Copley and said, "Thanks, chief. Appreciate it. But please tell your officers to not write tickets - just issue warnings."

That's not the way it works, Mr. Alderman. You can't act like you are taking charge, then back off.

So here's your warning, city council - our chief is trying to do his best for his department and our city. I'd listen to him and put the hankies away if he is blunt. By now, it's about the only way he's going to get through to you.

And if you think he doesn't need more officers, and our city is just fine the way it is, so be it. Election time is always around the corner.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Downtown Coffee Shop

THERE IS ONE thing downtown Quincy could really use. It's a nice coffee shop, one that stays open past 2 p.m.

There have been coffee shops down here. I don't know why they haven't stayed open. I just think there are a lot of people downtown who would support the idea. There are places downtown with coffee, but not about coffee.

There are more and more people living down here. Lots of people work here. I just went to 30th and Broadway to get my glasses fixed (Genie, our newest addition, loves to eat things. I need to learn to put my things up, too).

Of course I had to go into Starbucks. Their coffee isn't anything great, but they've captured the whole earthy coffee shop essence. Hey - a pumpkin scone sounds cool and sounds like it might be good for you. So does a Venti soy latte. It's about going to the place as much as the place itself. Put on your sunglasses, head phones and stare at your laptop while sipping an iced Frappuccino. You are cool. You are in Starbucks.

A small and locally-owned coffee shop could make it down here. Downtown people need to be cool too, you know. And there are places with great space for rent, too. Ahem.

Get on it, downtown Q-Town. I'll be your first and best customer.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Angus and doggie short stories

ANGUS THE YOUNG, our little Corgi-Cattle Dog, is quite the athlete. He twists his little body into various shapes and can leap way up in the air to catch a ball. Genie, the newest addition, has paid attention and also likes to play ball, though she's not good at bringing it back - yet.

The other day we were talking about Angus and how he'd be a good baseball player. The next thing I know, Sheryl is writing a short story about Angus playing semi-pro baseball, and being scouted by a New York team in the Doggie Baseball League. So Angus decides to leave his mom and little town to pursue the dream of playing big league doggie ball.

The story is very entertaining. Sheryl is mortified I am writing about this - "Now people will expect me to finish it," she says.

Not really. It's just for fun.

Just a boy and his ball.
"I could write a whole bunch of stories," Sheryl says. "Angus could go back to the farm and play with his mother and father and fall into a big pile of horse poo. Boys love poo, you know."

Angus could have all kinds of adventures. He could jump out of an airplane, go to the moon, start his own business, become a canine police officer, save the world from Donald Trump. The possibilities are endless and Sheryl is quite excited.

"You shouldn't blog about this yet. Shouldn't we shop it to publishers first?," she says.

Angus takes it all in stride and demands to play ball, and chase Fast Eddie around the store for good measure. We've impressed upon him that he and Tucker have to properly train Genie. Wait a second .... that could be another great story.

So. This blog has gone to the dogs, as it has many times before. And Sheryl is writing funny stories just by looking at Angus and his one droopy ear.

Woof. It's a dog's world. We just live in it, and write about it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Make me the NFL Discipline Czar

EVERYBODY IS UP in arms about Tom Brady and his soft balls. He was suspended. Then a judge rescinded the suspension. So Brady, a Michigan man, will be throwing his balls Thursday night when the NFL season kicks off.

The NFL, ever image conscious, couldn't have scripted it any better. As if there isn't enough hoopla surrounding the season-opener, now we have Brady and his balls to make it even more interesting.

No Soft Balls allowed.
We are enduring endless stories about the balls. ESPN has already basically devoted an entire magazine, show and budget to Brady's balls. We will have a needle on the sideline to make sure Brady doesn't overinflate his balls. The announcers will make glib comments about Brady's balls being too soft or too hard when the receivers drop his balls.

The NFL Commissioner, Roger Something Or Other, is concerned and may try to hire somebody to discipline players. I suggest he hire me. And here is why - it has nothing to do with Tom Brady's balls.

I don't like anybody in the NFL.

I don't like the billionaire players who crash head-first into each other and take interview lessons from Richard Sherman. And I don't care about the owners, who couldn't care less about the fans, who couldn't afford to go to an NFL game unless they win the lotto. And I don't care about Roger What's His Name, who collects millions to oversee an empire.

Sure, I watch the games. I have all my life. Sure, I'd love to see the Lions make a run and get into the playoffs. If chosen to be the new Discipline Czar, I will show severe favoritism to the Lions, who need all the help they can get. The Cowboys cheated to beat them last year, and that won't happen again under my watch. The Dolphins might get some help too, just for Sheryl's sake.

But I don't care about any other teams. I do care if Rams and Bears fans aren't squirming and complaining about their quarterbacks completing passes to the other teams.

Hire me, Roger. I will learn your last name, and I'll lay the smack down on anybody who dares to play with soft balls. Or cheats. Or roots for the Steelers, Packers or Jets.

And everybody better play with their proper balls.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Back to reality

BACK TO REALITY after a great few days up north. I could sit and stare at the lake all day. Much love and thanks to Mikey Tsillis, brother of the legendary Marian, brother-in-law of Rock A. Bye Johnny B. He has a beautiful place near Vicksburg, south of Kalamazoo.

The drive back was amazingly a non-event, save for Greg Ellery nearly running into the toll booth on I-80. Wasn't his fault the cars didn't get out of the way. We even got around Chicago without delay, though we did leave early.

And now that we've stopped at the Dixie  at McLean, IL, well .... we can rest easy the rest of our lives.

Hope you all had a good Labor Day Weekend and we are ready for bidness as usual at Fifth and Maine!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I want a new Gilligan hat

WHEN I WAS in high school, I somehow acquired a yellow "Gilligan" hat. I wore it all the time. It went with me on my Grand Canyon adventures, through my college years, and survived many a social event.

I loved my Gilligan hat. I put a Canadian flag pin on it. It was filthy and lopsided and turning more grey than yellow. It was everything I wanted in a hat.

It sat mostly unused for 30 years in closets. Every now and then I'd get it out. On my Lake Michigan beach outings, that hat was my friend.

This isn't my Gilligan hat - this one looks too good.
Last week, the unthinkable happened. Somebody ate my hat. I won't mention his name, but his initials are Angus The Young, and he is a little bleep. We have to be careful about leaving stuff on the floor, and I don't know why the hat was downstairs on the bedroom floor, but it was. And Angus ate it.

I was heartbroken. Not my yellow Gilligan hat! Ah, Angus, you adorable rodent impersonating a dog, you.

Fine. You can eat my hat. But you can't kill the memories. Sniff.

So I'm on a quest for a new floppy hat. I bought one a few years ago for Cheeseburger shows but it actually fits and looks good, and I don't want that.

I went to the new Crossing Thrift Store. It's big and neat and organized and has no floppy hats. Ugh.

I went to the Salvation Army Family Store, the new one at Fifth and Broadway. It's huge and neat and organized and has no floppy hats. Double ugh.

I went down the street to the People's Choice thrift store. It's crammed with stuff, has no aisle room and there are always interesting people in there. I love it. The employees said hello and asked if I needed anything. At the other two new places, the employees looked a little harried and busy - it can't be easy working in all that space.

Anyway, the place down the street had some floppy hats, but not the right kind.

So. I'm on the lookout for a good floppy hat, preferably used and without any shape. Yellow or orange would be nice. I'm doing some serious water activities this weekend (i.e., sitting by a lake) so I need it soon.

And there is no way Angus is getting anywhere near it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Getting away

SHERYL AND I are heading north for Labor Day Weekend. We are staying with a buddy near Kalamazoo. He lives on a lake, a little slice of paradise. We will take Sheryl's sister, Stephanie, and her better half, Greg Ellery. It's gonna be a blast.

I might take them to Lake Michigan. Or we may just sit and veg and enjoy our idyllic surroundings and do nothing. That's the beauty of it - no plans. Just get up there and enjoy the time. Our host is a great guy and he likes to entertain. I will play a little guitar in exchange for us crashing in one of his cottages.

Steve Rees is taking care of Second String Music. Sheryl's nephew is watching the dogs. It's been stressful around here lately, just life itself and a lot of stuff going on.

It gets cured with a road trip. Getting away is always good. Then there's the whole coming back to reality thing, but really, I have no complaints.

Road trip! I'm ready.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Altering the backyard landscape

Day after storm clean up.
BOY, DOES OUR backyard look naked.

You might remember the July 13 storm which blew down about half of Quincy. It knocked down a massive maple tree in the very back of our property, and it took our garage and shed right off the foundations.

Sheryl dealt with the insurance folks and fortunately we were covered. So we're getting a new garage by the back alley, where the old garage sat.

All three structures are a little crooked.
The guys doing the work started yesterday morning, and the garage was basically flattened by the time we left for the store. It was strange to come home at noon and then after work to see nothing there. Even the 6 foot remainder of the tree was gone from the site.

You get used to things being around. When they are gone, everything just seems a little bit off kilter. We soldier on until things get replaced or back to normal.

The men doing the job are busting their butts in very warm weather, even when we discovered the concrete pad had to be replaced, too. Same with the back sidewalk. Both sections of concrete had been lifted out of the ground by the massive trunk of the tree. Until the rest of the maple was removed yesterday, it was tough to see the total damage.

The concrete is being poured this morning and the new garage itself should be going up soon. I'll be glad to have it back - our car should fit into it a little bit better, and all the stuff in the backyard can go back inside. The shed is also being replaced and will hopefully be up within a week or so, too.

When the storm hits, you weather it, and you rebuild. It takes time and it's not always easy. It's how you deal with it that counts. You build more patience and flexibility, and you get stronger for the next storm.

And soon we'll get used to looking out the back door and seeing our new garage and shed.

No garage, no shed, no 100-year-old maple tree. Just a cracked foundation and concrete pad.