Jun 23

Raise your hands high

Guess who we’ll be spontaneously seeing soon? I’ll give you a hint.

That’s from the last Indigo Girls show I saw, in Indianapolis in 2017. This will be my seventh show. Reportedly, they’re on the road with a full band right now. I’ve never seen them play with a full band. This is quite exciting. And it moves us, quite neatly, into …

The latest installment of the Re-Listening project, the thing where I’m listening to all of my old CDs in the car, in the order in which they acquired. And this installment is the Indigo Girls’ “Come On Now Social,” their seventh studio album, released in 1999. I guess this was my third Indigo Girls album, after “1200 Curfews” and “Shaming of the Sun.” I caught up on the rest of the back catalog later, and this album’s consistency was what made me commit. You wear out a double live album and then find two studio albums in a row that you lean into, hard? Caught the live act two or three times by then, too? You found yourself a band.

This is one of those things I wish I could go back in time and put this on again, turn up the sound and hear it for the first time. I’d love to have this first impression again.

I won’t do this through the whole post, but since we’ll see them in concert again soon, here’s a live version.

I want to hear that again for the first time, almost every time, because even now, decades later, I’m still finding new things to be awed by in that track.

Also, I suppose that’s the second protest song (of my generation) I ever picked up on as being a protest song (non-Buffy Sainte-Marie division.) Anyway, I’m trying, right now to read the Meridel Le Sueur essay that’s spoken into that song. But Amy Ray just buries herself and she’s beautifully, wonderfully distracting.

Always with the Re-Listening project I am trying to find some memory that matches a track, a mood that meets the album. Sometimes these things stand out. But, always, when Emily Saliers is painting a picture, it’s just an attitude. It’s a credit to her storytelling ability. Her imagery crowds out my memories. But to think of whatever this inspires in you isn’t such a bad thing, even if it is an imagination rather than a memory.

The difficulty here will be in not playing the entire album. But it’s my site, and I’ll play a half dozen tracks from it if I want to. Anyway, if you’ll overlook the VHS and NTSC analog quality that YouTube compressed here, this is a gem. For fun, I always sing the chorus as “There ain’t no way I’m gonna let this heart win,” and it changes the song substantially. That’s neither here nor there.

When the banjo and the mandolin come out … God bless the Indigo Girls.

Speaking of imagery. The other day, when this next track came on, I was at a red light. It was a bright morning. Lots of sun. But the mood here is anything but. I was initially drawn into the band for the harmonies, but then found the … let’s call it the visceral, emotional core of truth … but the thing that’s not at all subtle, not at all to be disregarded, is the quality of storytelling Ray and Saliers can put around all of that.

But then they have to pep it up a little. Here’s a little drum fill, a few horns, and an under-appreciated song from Saliers. This is the one song that charted off the album, small HAC hit that marked the end of the Indigo Girls’ crossover success. (Because the music industry is powered by corporations and so often has no real relation to what we hear, what we like or what artists play. But I repeat myself.)

Feels like a cookout song to me. Who needs a cookout?

This song references a real person, it was quite high profile in the late 1990s. Do you remember?

The hidden tracks are in that YouTube video, if you are interested. Just scrub to about the seven minute mark.

And, when we see the Indigo Girls next weekend, we’ll be having a blast.

Jun 23

The cats, bike rides, video and more

Since we were away visiting last Monday we didn’t have our regular feature — the site’s most popular feature, mind you — of checking in with the kitties. And they have been sure to remind me of that omission continually. So let’s dive in.

Phoebe has thoughts on all of these notions of travel. She is not a fan.

She would much rather I stay here and admire her stretching abilities. And also give her belly rubs.

Poseidon, meanwhile, was a little more chill about it — and that’s a phrase I never thought I could use with him. Here, he’s just snoozing a day away on the top of the sofa.

He was, however, none too pleased with our spending part of Sunday afternoon on the back deck without him.

The cats, in other words, are doing just fine.

We went for a bike ride on Saturday morning. Up and away before it got too warm. We finished and it was about 80 degrees and I was once again amazed at the difference in the last moments of a ride and the first moments after you dismount. Nothing ever seems so hot as those few seconds where I am turning my bike computer off, taking off the bike shoes and trying to get inside to cooler air.

We did about 27 miles. I was ahead of her by just a few seconds when I took that photo, somewhere in mile 11 or so. She would catch up with me in the 14th mile, we stayed together for a few more miles, and then I dropped her. So, nice guy that I am, trying to demonstrate good bike date etiquette, I waited for her. Then, after mile 17 she recovered, just as I predicted, and shot herself out of a cannon.

I did not see her again on Saturday morning until the odometer read 26.59. And, even then, she was but a colorful dot way up the road.

Today, it was just me. I put in 29 more miles, basically the same route, with a slight change at the end. It was harder, I was faster, and now I’m trying to keep my shoulders from cramping up. But there’s video!

Today’s ride made this year my fourth-best in terms of miles. By the end of this week 2023 should be in third place. It’ll take some time to crack the top two, however.

Sunday scenes. This is the big beautiful maple tree in the backyard. It dominates one half of the view from the deck. It’s a good view.

And it has been a long time since I noticed this, but the way the house is oriented, and because of the features around us, we don’t see the best sunsets here. But if you look around at the right time you get a nice sliver of light coming through the front door.

The light is pointing east. So was I, more or less, when I shot that photo of the maple tree. The photo of The Yankee on her bike? I’m facing the west. The two shots of Poe? He’s pointing east-ish. Phoebe? East, then west. What does it all mean? Not the first thing.

Jun 23

Time is funny

It got up to about 90 degrees today. I watched most of it from my office window, in a climate-uncontrolled office.

There’s a thermostat in my office. It has a digital readout with green lights telling me what the university has programmed for us. They sprung for the deluxe version, too. There are two buttons on the thermostat that don’t do anything. They’re just there to make you feel as if you have some control over the 76-degrees-in-the-summer. You don’t, but it’s a gesture.

And that gesture did not help when, at quitting time, I opened the door and felt 90 degrees today for the first time since last September 21st.

That’s 254 days.

Now, as I get older, I find that I don’t relish the real flesh-burning heat of my youth. It once was a badge of honor or something, I guess, now it is just a thing to endure until you find some air conditioning. (I blame a bad bout of heat exhaustion I had in the late-oughts.) Ninety isn’t bad, unless you’re working in it. Ninety is good and warm, no matter what you’re doing. But you can, in a few days or so, get adjusted to it.

There’s a reasonably fine line here, I would say, and I think that changes over time, over the course of one’s experience and, again, what you’re having to do outside. Anything in the mid-90s seems right up next to hot. If you get over 106 degrees or so, in our usually humid climes, and it just feels painful.

But even 90 degrees, the first time you get above the mid 80s, can feel deflating.

What I’m saying is, 254 days is a long time to go between summer temperatures. This is a dawning realization, one that will prompt me to spend more of the summer outdoors.

What I’m really saying is, how is it June already? And, simultaneously, how did this month take so long to arrive?

This is where I erased 1,600 words on the notions of things that are far off and close at hand, how time flies, but also sinks into the muck on the bottom of a lake.

It was warm enough that I decided to not go for a bike ride today. Par for the month. Err, last month. May featured the fewest rides of the year, so far. And it is starting to show on the mileage chart. Computer, show us the mileage chart!

It’s a humble set of marks, but, for me, these are good numbers.

Except, look at all of those scary little plateaus in the purple line. This chart is based on a daily mileage spreadsheet (what, you don’t run spreadsheets on things like that?) and plateaus on this chart mean no bike riding was done. Meanwhile, the colorful average daily lines just keep marching on. It’s your classic case of when projections and realities sometimes wind up at odds with one another. In May, some travel, illness, and busy schedules slowed me down. That’s something we’ll have to remedy in June. Starting tomorrow. There needs to be more distance between the purple line of reality and the only mildly ambitious green line which signifies averaging 10 miles per day.

But, first, since it is the second day of the month, I’m already one day behind on updating all of my spreadsheets, cleaning the computer, and so on. This is how I will start my weekend, which begins right … now.

Have a great June weekend everybody, and thanks for stopping by today.

Jun 23

Happy June

Welcome to June! A month I am starting by playing a dangerous game. The guest bed at my mother’s didn’t treat me very well on that trip. First one shoulder would ache, and then the other. I could feel the tightness in my shoulders, could feel it moving into my trapezius muscles. I thought, for a day or so, that maybe it was stress-related, but what is there to be stressful about?

Turns out it was that bed. And now, today, I can feel that odd, cold sensation moving further up my trapezius, which is scary. If I have not sufficiently gotten the muscles to chill out, it will all go to my head. For my money, there’s not much worse, headache-wise, than a muscle-borne headache.

Migraines and the like notwithstanding.

So I came in from the office today and I took some Ibuprofen and did nothing. I didn’t even want to turn my head too much, for fear of turning my neck too far.

To make up for it to you, dear reader, here are a few more photos from the drive back to Indiana.

We had lovely weather for it.

These four, in fact, are all in Indiana. And, to be fair to the climate here, considering how much I can complain about the winter, the late spring and summer is not without its charms.

This is my favorite part of the weather here. The timestamp says it was almost 7 p.m. Look how high the sun is.

There are still hours of daylight to go. That should make the muscles relax, right?

The alternative is that this lasts for days.

May 23

Photos from the drive back

The long weekend was long and fun and now it has come to an end. I know this because we got in the car and drove in the reverse direction we enjoyed last Friday. Through the hills and onto the interstate, meeting a friend for a quick lunch in Nashville, and then back to the big roads to go all the way to Indiana.

Here are some of the views. These are, I believe, from somewhere in western Kentucky.

And this one too, out of the passenger window.

Near the Kentucky-Indiana border there’s a weird turn we always miss. We even make mental notes of it, and sometimes say it aloud: don’t miss the weird turn. We missed the weird turn.

So we went eight miles up the road, took the next exit and a scenic detour.

Everything looks great to start the summer.

Seasonal changes happen at their own pace, and our perceptions of them take their own time, too. In a few days we’ll grow accustomed to all of that green again.