Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fun in the Sun...

Okay, so I've been in Orlando all week. But it's not been all that much fun... I've been reading pages and pages and pages and trying to keep another work ball up in the air back in Chicagoland at the same time. I'll be here for another six days, and then I can come home to Jeff and Mifune, whom I miss an awful lot. And, of course, my lovely new guitar, which I also miss!

I would be lying if I said that I didn't appreciate the warmer weather here. It's been quite lovely, although there has been precious little time to enjoy the out of doors. Today Margo and I (the other editor who is down here for the duration of this assignment) went to the Harry P. Leu Gardens, a lovely botanical gardens in town. We had originally thought a nice afternoon at Sea World, which is within walking distance from our hotel, would be just the ticket... until we found out how expensive tickets actually were! Close to sixty bucks per! And you can't expense a ticket to a theme park!

But the Leu Gardens were lush with camelias of every conceivable variety and citrus trees heavy with lemons and grapefruit. There was a historic home on the property, begun in 1888 and added onto over the next fifty years or so. Not a huge mansion, but rather a modest but well-appointed home that reflected the eras in which it was constructed and renovated. There was a butterfly garden, a floral clock, vegetable and herb gardens, and a rose garden that must be spectacular in season, but which was not in bloom yet. Rhododendrons were were blooming all over the place, though, making me yearn for the Blue Ridge in late spring. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon, if you couldn't spend it being amused by porpoises and orcas.

This hotel--a modest suite hotel--is completely adequate and until the weekend hit, it was very quiet and sedate. Now it has become a madhouse. This is the weekend of Megacon, apparently THE big comic book convention in the Southeast. So the hotel (and the sidewalks all up and down the nearby stretch of International Drive where the big convention hall is located) currently swarms with teens and twenty-somethings dressed in all their gothic and/or fave comix character splendor. It's very amusing, I must say, but some of the costumes are, well, more successful than others.

Tomorrow Margo and I are braving Fleaworld, the self-proclaimed largest flea market in the world. We will see. I only hope it is not the world's largest flea market selling nothing but tube sox, cheezy T-shirts, and T-fal cookware.

I will keep you posted!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'm in Love...

I have the bug. I think I may have caught it from Jeff. But last Saturday when we went to Guitar Works so that Jeff could get a nut for one of the tuning pegs on his mandolin, I wandered into the room of acoustic guitars, and there it was:

A Blueridge Adirondack guitar. And what a honey.

Now, I would be lying if I told you that the magpie in me was not first attracted to the inlay on the headstock:

But I know by now that sparkles and sheen and mother of pearl and that spiffy dalmation tortoise pickguard do not matter if a guitar doesn't sound or play well.

So I picked it up and played a little, and I was swept off my feet. The tones were so round and mellow; the action was smooth and the neck was so playable... and, although it claims to be a dreadnought, the body is much smaller than my current acoustic: a Washburn D10S. That's one of the problems with the Washburn--I like it a lot, but it's so big that I can't really sit down and play it. And it's really loud--it tends to drown out Jeff's mandolin, even when I try to play softly. Apparently, the Blueridge is made in an old-fashioned, pre-war style. I was smitten.

And then I looked at the price tag. Not so bad, compared with what you would pay for a Martin or a Taylor, but still more than I've ever paid for any instrument for myself. I figured there was no way to justify buying it--after all, I have a perfectly fine (but big) guitar. Still, as I sighed to Jeff as we drove off to continue our Saturday errands (with a tip o' the hat to Hepburn and Grant), "My, she was yar."

So now, I'm thinking that despite all the economic uncertainty, despite the fact that it is a rather frivolous purchase when weighed against the downward spiral of our retirement accounts, despite the indisputable fact that I'm not a particularly accomplished musician, I want to buy this guitar. It is calling to me as no instrument has since I walked into House of Guitars in Rochester, NY, in 1979 and saw my short-scale Rick hanging there waiting for me...

Tomorrow I'm going to call Guitar Works and see if I can trade the Washburn in to get a bit of a break on the Blueridge. And then, I'm going to have to take my playing a little more seriously, with an instrument like this one!

So... this will stimulate the economy, right? It is my patriotic duty to buy this guitar, n'est-ce pas?

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oh My Goodness Gracious!

It's been more than a month since my last post! Shame on me!

I really have no excuse, except for the usual: insane work schedules (including weekends), general fatigue in the few moments of the day when work does not call, and the time-sucker that is Facebook.

Facebook is wonderful. Facebook is also horrible.

First, the wonderful part. I've gotten back in touch with friends I thought I'd never hear from again. People I went to school with long ago (one of them is my nursery school teacher's son!), one or two old pals from my comedy widow past, several people from my brief reign as a Syracuse new wave superstar... And, of course, it allows me to keep up with the closer friends who lured me into the Facebook experience in the first place--on an hour-to-hour basis if I so wish--and I've been able to have several live chats with stepson Greg, which is great, and one wonderful chat with my old pal Amy, who is in London at the moment. How cool is that?

But there's the horrible part, too: It eats up so much time. Once you start catching up with people, you can't stop. The urge to view every photo posted by someone you haven't seen in twenty years or more is surprisingly strong--almost impossible to resist! And there are the invitations to join this cause, to play that game, to become a fan of just about any performer, artist, writer, etc. you could think of (except, apparently, the incomparable Irma Thomas! Feh!)... and then there are the friend requests. Because one of my original Facebook friends (one of the folks who lured me there in the first place) is a rather well known genre writer, she has LOTS of friends. And a whole bunch of them suddenly wanted to be MY friends. Not wanting to be rude, I accepted most of them. But now I have all these friends I don't know, asking me to join this and become a fan of that. Enough!

The die is cast--I'm a confirmed Facebook addict now. But I will try my best to stop ignoring my poor little blog here!

I have lots of kitty pictures I can bore you with (Mifune, it turns out, is much smarter than Shelly was... and just as much of a pill), and I think I will take advantage of the scanner to upload old road trip photos, since the odds of a road trip in my near future are slim (given the aforementioned craziness of work). I'll do my best!

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