Thursday, October 01, 2009

Fall reflections...

It's October 1 - plenty of changes in the fall air...

A little known fact about me is that I have had an oldish Oscar Schmidt autoharp in my closet for about a decade. It's had a couple buzzing keys, and it was a pain in the nether-regions to tune (there are thirty-six strings to tune!), so other than using it for a couple of kids' sermons in the 1999-2001 period, I never really pulled it out much.

But something stirred in me when I found out about the Champaign-Urbana Folk & Roots Festival, and the fact that a couple ladies were going to be doing an intro-to-autoharp session. I also was astounded to find out that fully chromatic tuners are available pretty cheaply (thus easing the whole tuning-nightmare issue). They are basically a pocket-sized electronic gauge that shows whether a given note is sharp or flat). You pluck C-sharp, and if it's flat, the little red "flat" light shows, and a dial shows how far off you are. If it's flat enough, it shows up as C; you tune it up, it switches to C#. They've had them for guitars for years - but I'd never known they had them fully-chromatic for instruments like the autoharp. Pretty damn amazing....

It also turns out one of the ladies doing the workshop is actually involved in recovery in a nearby town, so we have a double connection. She's quite an enthusiast, and renewed a long-submerged desire to sing and play. She is also experienced in autoharp maintenance and repair - so she should be able to help me fix my buzzing keys. So I'm pretty excited about getting back into some kind of folk music again.

There was also a session by the C/U Storytelling Guild - a dozen or so folks doing storytelling in the area. This is another area that I'd never thought I'd get back into - frankly, I never was that good at it, especially since a large portion of the stories I told had been lifted from other tellers. But their story examples gave me some inspiration - so we'll see. I'm good when it comes to starting stuff - not so hot about follow-through...

This weekend is the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. I remember being appalled at how the weekend price had grown from $60-70 to $160 a person (and then reflected that I'd spent $50 a ticket to go to a Supercross race in Indianapolis, which was basically only 8 hours). So my attitude about Jonesborough has changed - although it probably won't happen next year, either - our travel budget will be stretched anyway because of the AA 75th-anniversary international conference in San Antonio next July.

I'd like to try it out on Chris at a couple smaller festivals first - I heard that the Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival is a pretty good festival in the western Chicago suburbs (Geneva, IL) over Labor Day weekend. (I'm kicking myself about not knowing about the 2009 FV festival - Pete Seeger's sister, Peggy Seeger, did a workshop there!).

This weekend was also saying farewell to Chris' Yamaha WR426 enduro/dirt bike. We had tried a number of different riding areas, trying to get Chris up-to-snuff to get back into amateur motocross again, but Chris never really felt comfortable enough to do the kind of riding he needed to do. And any riding area for enduro/woods riding were an hour east, or two hours west. So he put it up for sale - and after a dozen false leads (including a couple different scams, and an offer to trade it for a set of AR-15 assault rifles!) he finally found a buyer from Chicago who came down to get it on Sunday.

Sunday night, seeing the dirt-bike riding away on someone else's trailer, was kind of a melancholy evening for Chris. For quite a while, he'd had the dream of winning one more race, even in the "seniors division," so this was a little bit of an end-of-the-era for him. But he's much more comfortable on his mountain bike (bicycle, not motorcycle), and he enjoys the exercise on that so much more. So he'll continue to do that at nearby Kickapoo State Park, and do some road-rides out in the corn-n-beans around Urbana.

And we had to postpone our trip to Kansas - we had put off getting our motel rooms to stay, not aware that this weekend is NASCAR weekend in the KC area. Every motel room in the area - even as far away as Liberty, MO - had their prices doubled. And while I love the folks in KC, the idea of paying $106 a night for a Motel 6 (!) was more than I could handle. So we've rescheduled for Oct 16-18, and will look forward to seeing folks then.

For now, I need to get things wrapped up at work, and get ready to have an enjoyable weekend. And, perhaps, more than one post a month here in the blogging world...

5 comments:

Heidi Renee said...

love that you are engaging your creative side again steve!

Black Pete said...

Exercise that autoharp, Steve man--it's a living thing, and sounds better and better as you play it more.

Kyle said...

My mom has an autoharp... I think.

Bear Me Out said...

I wished I'd known you were in Jonesborough. I'd have come over the mountain to see ya.

Michael Dodd said...

Didn't I see something on FB a while back about you spending a sleepless night composing new blogs ...?