Broadway Bound (well, in October!)

I’ve been a huge Bruce Springsteen fan since he appeared on the scene all those years ago.  I lived in Texas when he hit the airwaves but I’ve always considered myself a “Jersey girl” because both of my parents are from NJ and that was the place we headed between military assignments or on vacations when I was a kid.  My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins made it seem like home even though I only lived there a few years off and on throughout my life.  And if you’re a self-described Jersey girl, you have to love Springsteen.  Okay, I know there are a few people who DON’T, but I don’t want to know them. LOL

I’ve attended many of his concerts over the years and he and the band never disappoint.  My kids grew up on his music and know his songs almost as well as I do.  We are the embodiment of that meme that goes around periodically:  You know you’re from New Jersey if….at least three people in your family still love Springsteen…and one of them is your mom.  🙂  Our family includes way more than three fans.  Including MY mom.

Anyhooooo, last year it was announced that Bruce would be playing a limited Broadway run, just him with his guitar and piano, talking about his life and playing his songs.  Because he was playing at a small theater and only for a certain number of dates, people could register as “verified fans” and *hope* for a code to get the opportunity (not the guarantee) to buy a ticket.  Sarah and I signed up as verified fans and when the first sale date came around, we were on standby, never to get a code.  Another date came and went and we had the same experience.  So disappointing!  Then he extended his run and we had another chance–no luck!  I think this happened several times over the past few months.  Of course we could buy tickets from scalpers for thousands of dollars but we’re not in that category of spenders!  Imagine our surprise when he extended his run once again, this time through December, and we were given one more chance.  AND OMG, Sarah got a code!  We were beside ourselves! On top of that, she was lucky enough to be assigned the first hour of the day of sale so we thought our odds might actually be pretty good!  I went over to her house 30 minutes before the sign in time and we messed around on the website to make sure we knew what we were doing. Well, apparently we didn’t, because when the time rolled around, we couldn’t get on!  We were nearly in panic mode as we tried several different options and followed instructions to the “T,” to no avail.  Finally Sarah said she was going to go directly to Ticketmaster and try from there–lo and behold, it worked!  We were already 10  minutes into our assigned time and worried we wouldn’t be able to find anything.  We had researched dates and best seats so we knew what we wanted; we went right to October 16 and found two seats in the 4th row. We debated looking further but were afraid we’d lose our good seats and not be able to duplicate them on a different date.  Let’s do it! We clicked on those seats and WOWIE, we are going to see Springsteen on Broadway!  We couldn’t be more thrilled!  And thanks to my very generous daughter who bought my ticket as a gift.  Now that’s a great kid!  🙂

We also found really cheap plane tickets from Dallas to LaGuardia so we are doubly excited.  We’re going to spend a week on the trip and also pop in on my mom and NJ relatives while we are there.

Grainy photo or not, those women are happy!

October is Fading and We Turned our Heater on

Suddenly it’s rather chilly in Dallas!  Even after all those years in Alaska, I still hate to be cold so it’s true when I say we “braved” 36 degree weather this morning to watch Beck play one of his last fall baseball games.  I layered up in one of my AK hoodies, took a hat and a blanket with me, and thankfully I was just fine with the sun shining down on the bleachers. These kids have really improved since last spring and suddenly they are all hitters! I don’t think anyone struck out today. Beck got a hit each time he was up to bat and he seemed happy about that.  Sarah says he doesn’t really like baseball too much (even though he wanted to play with his friends) so it’s good when he enjoys himself on the field. He mostly played outfield but took at turn at catcher in the last inning.  Cute boy!

Earlier in the week, we finally prepped our garden plot and then went back another evening with Beck and Jack to get it planted.  The boys had a good time helping Grandpa dig in the dirt, planting potatoes and a variety of greens, brussels sprouts and broccoli. Hopefully the rats will not get our produce this year!

Last Sunday night we went to the beautiful Majestic Theater downtown to see Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul.  I mostly know Steven from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and from his activism against apartheid in the 80s but he’s also well regarded for his role on “The Sopranos” and his radio show “Little Steven’s Underground Garage.”    Mainly I know that he loves music and all of its history and its forefathers and foremothers, definitely on fabulous display at this concert.  First off, he has a band with a capital B–a full horn section, two percussionists, keyboards, bass, another guitar besides his, and three amazing female back up singers/dancers.  They started out with a Tom Petty song, “Even the Losers,” and rocked on for a couple of hours with a combination of classics, originals, and showcases for each of the band members.  Although I expected to like the concert, it definitely ranks at the top with my all time favorites.  Great job, Stevie and Disciples of Soul!

Finally, a little shout out to my youngest daughter, Susan, who was named Employee of the Month at the nursing home where she works.  Susan has a pretty significant learning disability and has struggled in school and work most of her life.  This year she completed a CNA course and passed her state certification test, which was a huge accomplishment. She loves her residents and I know she is a very caring person as she tends to them daily.  She has improved in her skills over the last year and was deservedly recognized by her coworkers this month.  I am really proud of her and know that this honor will give her more confidence as she continues in her career.

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Teen Time, Cousin Time, Soccer, Camp, Concert, Oh My!

Aidan’s mom asked him on the phone one night if he was bored and he said no.  She asked how long he wanted to stay and he said “another week.” After another week and a day, we drove half way to meet Susan last Saturday.  We had a great visit and the house seems a little empty without Aidan now! He was a typical teenager: staying up too late at night and sleeping in most mornings (unless we made him get up for an activity), eating a lot, wanting to lie around on the couch with his phone in hand, and not talking much.  🙂  Still, he’s really agreeable and pleasant and would do anything we asked, including math and reading and cleaning up after himself (most of the time).  We tried to come up with something fun to do each day, though it’s been so hot outside that some things were just out of the question.  He swam in our pool, we went to see “Wonder Woman,” we played a round of miniature golf in the beating sun and enjoyed ourselves, though we were a sweaty mess by the end.  We played lots of games at home including a never ending game of Rack-o in which we are keeping on ongoing score, and Rich taught Aidan how to play backgammon. We watched several movies on TV.  The guys went kayaking at White Rock Lake while I was at my volunteer work, and they went to see “The Mummy,” which I declined to attend. 🙂  I “made” Aidan take a walk with me around the neighborhood a few nights after it cooled off and we visited the nearby neighborhood garden with chickens. We went out to eat a couple of times and made his favorite meals at home, stopped off for frozen yogurt and snacks while out running around. We had some talks and laughs and made some memories. Can’t ask for more than that. Love this kid!

Meanwhile, Elle’s team won the championship in the soccer tournament in Illinois, so that was pretty exciting!  Over the course of many games, her team scored 30 goals and she had 10 of them.  Sarah said this tournament really increased Elle’s confidence and she played strong.  They also had a lot of fun vacationing in the Chicago area.  They got home while Aidan was still here so he got to have some cousin time; he might have been thankful to have some younger people to hang out with after all those days with grandparents. 🙂

And Emery went off to camp for the first time! She was excited to go and suddenly seems awfully grown up at age 7!  Things have really changed with camp–now you can look on a website to see photos and can send your camper emails.  We sent a couple of messages but never heard back so we assumed that was a good sign that she was having fun. Sure enough, Bonnie said she loved it!

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Sister was glad to have Emery home again!

Aidan spent his last night at Sarah’s with his cousins as Rich and I had longstanding tickets to see Boz Scaggs at the casino just over the border in Oklahoma. We had fun at the concert–kind of an early birthday present for Rich who has always liked Boz and his music. Once again we found ourselves with all the other “old people” at a casino concert–seems so odd! Thankfully Boz put on a good show, still sounded strong, and there were apparently a lot of fans there who knew all of his songs and were most appreciative of the performance.  Michael McDonald was the opening act, originally the singer for the Doobie Brothers, and he also sounded great (plus he still has a full head of white hair, which annoyed Rich a bit). We drove back and got home around midnight, then picked Aidan up the next morning to take him to meet his mama. We were sorry to see our boy go,  but I think he’s coming back again this summer either with his sister or at a different time.  We will have a couple of weeks off before they or their Amarillo cousins come to town.

“These Songs are Still Relevant Today”

U2 is one of my all time favorite bands so when we heard they were touring for the 30th anniversary of their “Joshua Tree” album, of course I had to see about getting tickets.  My friend Karen and her daughter Kaci wanted to go, and my daughter Sarah as well.  Kaci is a huge fan and had never seen the band before so she and I decided we’d both go online at the opening of ticket sales and hope that one of us could get four tickets. As usual, tickets were immediately sold out.  I really have a hard time understanding how that can  happen but it seems to be my experience any time I am trying to get tickets to a well known act.  Finally Kaci was able to score four tickets in the nosebleed section, which irritated me to no end but at least we were able to get into the building, right?!  As the months went by, I would log in periodically and check to see if I could find anything better but I really couldn’t unless I wanted to pay an exorbitant price to a third party seller, plus fees, etc.  So we sucked it up and kept our crappy seats.  :O

As a side note, Susan and Corey had planned to come to town the same day for a Soundgarden concert at a different venue so we were going to meet up for dinner and then go our separate ways.  Sadly, singer Chris Cornell committed suicide the week before they were to be in Dallas.  I hated to hear that news.  Rich and I had just been listening to some Soundgarden and Audioslave tunes in the car driving to Clyde for Ally’s softball game.  As a mental  health professional I can certainly understand from a clinical point of view how a person can come to the place of feeling that life is no longer worth living.  But it’s still sad and I am sorry that individuals get to the point that it seems like the best option they have. He was a talented guy and a humanitarian and left behind two young daughters.  I know he will be missed.

Susan and Corey decided to go to Waxahachie instead to visit some friends but they first came by our house to spend most of the day.  We had a good visit, Rich fixed homemade pizza for lunch, Susan went with me to the store to buy some beach towels and stopped for groceries, we hung out awhile, and then all went over to Sarah and Miles’ so they could say hello.

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Originally Karen and Kaci were going to come in to Dallas for dinner and then we were all going to ride to the concert together but we decided it was silly for them to drive through Arlington (where the concert was) only to turn around and go back; it was the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and there was also a Rangers game going on so we were pretty worried about traffic. All of this led Sarah and me to catch an Uber over to Arlington to meet Karen and Kaci for dinner near the stadium before the concert.

Our Uber driver was an older woman who kept up a running commentary about places she’d lived, schools she’d attended, landmarks around town and so on as we drove through Dallas.  It took us over an hour with the traffic so it was a good thing we didn’t keep our original plan.  We had a fun dinner that took forever and left the restaurant with no time to spare. Parking at the venue was going to be $45 so we decided we’d leave Karen and Kaci’s vehicles in the lot at the restaurant and take an Uber the short distance to the concert.  Of course traffic was terrible and we didn’t arrive till 7:10 for a 7 o’clock show.  Luckily The Lumineers, the opening act, had not gone on yet.  I suppose due to the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in the UK, there was heightened security and we were all “wanded” at the door.  The security guard asked me if I had on a belt or anything metal because the wand was beeping. I said no, just my jeans, and lifted up my shirt as my daughter turned around with a puzzled look on her face.  🙂  We were soon waved in and found our seats in the highest rafters, at least with a good view of the two stages.  We were also facing a huge screen at the stadium so we thought we would be able to see the band there, but alas, they never used it and we were left to watch some little ants far, far away.

The Lumineers were good but the sound system at ATT Stadium was horrible and we couldn’t make out anything that was said between songs.  The music sounded kinda murky as well but it was fun to see them for the first time.  Finally around 9 PM, U2 took the stage.  Despite the bad seats, the not-the-best acoustics, and not being able to see anything close up, we had a wonderful time singing along on all of these great songs that, as Bono stated, are still relevant today with the current state of the world.  Maybe even more so than when they were first played 30 years ago. Like a Springsteen show, a U2 show is half spiritual experience, half rock and roll party.  There’s a message and a dash of activism and a bit of preaching going on, along with the music being played full-out, joyfully, alternately loud, raucous and quiet, introspective.  I could hear Sarah singing along next to me, telling me several times, “This is the soundtrack to my childhood!”  I remember having “The Joshua Tree” on a cassette tape which I played constantly in the car driving the kids from activity to activity when they were young. I’m sure they knew it by heart at the time!  Something about those memories along with hearing the songs in person had me crying throughout the night!  It was very emotional.  We were all in awe and were so glad we went.

Afterwards we had a bit of a comedy as we trekked to a nearby parking lot to try to get an Uber back to the restaurant.  There were a ton of people waiting to be picked up and we couldn’t get a ride.  Kaci talked with one driver who didn’t want to take us such a short distance and hung up on her.  They were having “surge” pricing since they were in high demand and only wanted to take people on long distance rides so they could make more money.  We then decided it wasn’t “that far” and we could walk back.  At first we were on the street with lots of other people and eventually the crowd thinned out till we were almost completely on our own, after midnight, in an unfamiliar place. Thankfully we had GPS.  :O  It took us about 20 minutes and by then we were hot and sweaty, I was rubbing a blister on my foot, and we were nice and tired, but we made it with no problem. Then we still had to fight the traffic back to Dallas, finally arriving home at 1 AM.  All in all, well worth it!!

Karen and Kaci spent the night and we had a nice visit the next day till Kaci headed to Houston for a visit and Karen went back home to Abilene.  No rest for Rich and me as we had to get our apartment ready for some short term renters spending Memorial Day weekend!

It’s May!

Bonnie and her kids were in Granbury for her cousin’s wedding and decided to come back to Dallas to visit for a few days afterwards. We were happy to have them and they had a great time with their cousins as well.  It’s always fun to see the kids enjoying their time together.

We are getting in our share of concerts this year.  Sarah and Miles, Rich and I went to see Kings of Leon–we bought our tickets separately and weren’t sitting together but saw them before the show and gave them a ride home when they found out that Uber wouldn’t pick them up at the venue.  Lucky for them Gigi and Grandpa didn’t leave early!  🙂  Another great show and lots of fun to see the band in person.

Beck has started taking piano lessons and had his first recital a couple of weeks ago.  There were over 40 performances and I was kinda dreading it, truth be told.  Of course we wanted to see Beck play,  but weren’t sure we wanted to sit through all those other kids’ turns!  In the end, we enjoyed the whole show quite a bit.  There were students from PreK through 12th grade and I have to say that they all did a fabulous job–quite a bit of talent there!  We were super proud of Beck and he played “The Mickey Mouse Club” very well.  He was one of the youngest students and was so cute.  I took piano lessons a few years ago in Alaska and never progressed very far so I was a bit envious that even the 7 year olds were better than I was.  🙂

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Finishing out April

Babysitting, volleyball, out to breakfast with Jack, a little one on one time with Beck.

The Dallas Public Library sponsors a huge (*free*) book fair every year with all kinds of speakers and sessions on a wide variety of topics. Rich and I spent most of the day there and I was in nerd-heaven!  We attended the first session on street photography together and then went our separate ways.  I went to a couple of panel discussions by women authors, a talk on race and racism and another on patriarchy, bought several books and stood in line to get them signed by the authors.  🙂   Meanwhile, Rich attended a session on coffee and another on chocolate making, then browsed the cookbook section. The downtown main library is huge (8 floors!) and we will have to go back again to explore all of its offerings.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers came to town and I’d been watching ticket prices, trying to decide if we could/should go or not.  I hate it that concerts are so expensive!  And it’s so hard to get good seats!  Here’s a blast from the past: a ticket to Bruce Springsteen for yes, $7.50.  My, how things have changed!

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Anyhoooo, one good thing about living right here in Dallas is that we can wait till the last minute to make a decision!  An hour before the concert, we bought some nosebleed section tickets for $32 each and jumped in the car to go downtown for the show.  We were literally in the last row at the top of the venue but it was great anyway.  Joe Walsh was the opening act and actually sounded really good.  I was especially fascinated that he had two drummers and they were great!  Tom Petty was very humble and thankful for all the fans coming out and sounded pretty much like he’s always sounded.  I dislike it greatly when these old guys from our past come out and sound so weak and off key.  🙂  I think they should know when it’s time to hang it up but I guess that’s hard to do.  We were glad we made it to the show, last minute or not.  Oh yeah, we were puzzled and disappointed that the Heartbreakers did not play their biggest, best known hit “Breakdown.”  What’s up with that?  Not the best pix from the rafters but thank goodness for the big screen!

We finished out the month by attending a Bill Maher show–he was hilarious and irreverent and right on the mark with his observations about the current state of affairs. He can be raunchy but I love him anyway and appreciate his stance on most issues.  We were up top so I didn’t even try to get a photo with my phone!  This was a make-up appearance because he’d had to cancel in February due to plane issues.  He said he has only missed two appearances in all of his years as a comedian and both were circumstances beyond his control as he prides himself on keeping his commitments.  Anyway, apparently he treated everyone who missed the first show (and returned for this one) to a free barbecue dinner before the performance, plus he donated his fees to several local nonprofits.  Unfortunately we did not get in on the free meal because we had not actually bought tickets to the first show–picked some up when he rescheduled.  Still, well played, Bill.  🙂

Bill Maher Performs At The Pearl At The Palms Casino Resort

That time we went to see Bob Dylan at a casino

Bob Dylan, Nobel prize winner.  Bob Dylan, poet and troubadour.  Bob Dylan, soundtrack of our youth.  Bob Dylan, casino act.  🙂

Awhile back, we bought tickets to see Bob at the Winstar Casino, just across the state line in Oklahoma.  Am I the only one who thinks that’s just a little bit wrong?

We had a nice drive, arrived a little early so we could grab some dinner and wander around the casino before the show. We are not big gamblers but we’ll spend a few bucks just for fun.  We didn’t win anything, of course.

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Waiting for the show to start–the only pic we were allowed to take

Bob still had a very strong voice and sang exceedingly well, especially for a 75 year old! He still sounded like Dylan with that scratchy, nasally voice that is so easily identifiable. He did not play guitar at all (which I had recently read somewhere else) but played piano on quite a few songs. The band was excellent, though Rich and I laughed about the fact that we often had no idea which song was being played at first because Bob changed up the arrangements and lyrical phrasing so much. He looked snappy in a suit and hat–took the hat off when at the piano and still had a bunch of bushy hair.   When he stood at the mic and sang, he swayed and bopped like a little old man, but it was cute and endearing. He sang several of his best known and loved songs (“It’s All Over Now Baby Blue,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” “Tangled up in Blue,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Things Have Changed,” “Desolation Row,” “Hwy 61 Revisited,” “My Back Pages”) along with some old standards (“Why Try to Change Me Now,” “All or Nothing at All,” “Stay with Me,” and others). Although I would have liked to have heard more of his own songs, his rendition of classic tunes was quite lovely. 

The casino smelled like smoke. Who lets people smoke in public any more?? Apparently this place! The room was set up like we were at a conference with rows of dining-table-type chairs. Kinda hard to see for a short person like me since everything was flat on the floor at the same level. But I managed to peek between people’s heads.   The crowd was mostly our age and older (including a sweet elderly woman near me who had a garland of flowers in her short grey hair–too cute), but also some youngsters and some parents with their grown kids. We were forbidden from taking photos and security staff actually escorted out those unlucky ones caught trying to sneak a shot.

Ever Dylan, he didn’t speak a word during the whole concert. No “hello,” no “goodbye,” no mention of the Nobel prize, no introduction of the band, no “thanks for coming.” He returned for a two song encore and then walked off silently. It’s a little disconcerting for a Springsteen fan like me, so used to lots of audience interaction and mutual love. But Bob’s Bob and it didn’t really take away from the overall feeling that I was super happy to see him. Beforehand, Rich and I talked about whether we’d love the concert, think it was just okay, or be disappointed. We agreed we’d probably be somewhat disappointed since many of the singers and bands from our youth cannot even carry a tune any more. But in the end I was NOT disappointed at all. Loved being there and in the presence of such a genius. We listened to Dylan songs all the way back to Dallas. Thanks, Bob.

Family Fun

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My Mom with her 4 kids, 3 of their spouses, all of her grandkids (and most of their spouses) and all of her great-grandkids–5 years ago. There are quite a few more now!

Truth be told, we probably wouldn’t have retired in Texas except for the desire to be near the kids and grandkids.  We’re fortunate to have one family here in Dallas and the other two in Clyde and Amarillo–a little bit of a drive but at least it’s no longer two days of flying to get to see everyone!  It’s great to be a part of the Dallas kids’ day to day lives,  which makes me wish we had the same opportunities with the others. There really is a difference between seeing them on visits and vacations and living in the same town.  On the other hand, hopefully we will now get to see them enough that we are not just “visitors” any more.

Though I hope to have readers and interaction on the blog, the main reason I am doing this is to keep a record of our lives so we can look back on fond memories and reminisce about where we’ve been and what we’ve done.  I started my first blog in 2008 and have periodically had it printed into blog books–we have quite a stack at this point. It’s always interesting to look back and surprising to realize how much we don’t remember! For that reason, I love having this reminder and I hope one day the kids will enjoy having the books for themselves.

It’s too much to try to catch up on several months’ worth of activities so I am just going to post some family photos and a few comments here.

Oldest grandkids Aidan and Ally came for Spring Break and we had a great time! Ally had just turned 9 and Aidan was about to turn 13 so we had a little birthday celebration for them.  Aidan requested a trip to the Flight Museum and we also rode the DART downtown and wandered around (see the Giant Eye?!). Their Amarillo cousins Emery, Luke and Ada came to visit part of the time and we hung out with local cousins Elle, Beck and Jack.  Even attempted a photo of all 8, which was largely unsuccessful.  🙂

Continue reading “Family Fun”