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"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful."
- Unknown

"That which does not kill you, makes you stronger."
- Handed down through the ages.

"Life's tough. It's even tougher when you're stupid."
- John Wayne

The Last of the Season's Big Weekends

Okay, here I am. Exhausted but upright. (Does sitting count as upright?)

Since last Wednesday, our life has been a bit of a whirlwind. This past weekend was the big fall (as in autumn) shebang at the local folk school. Many, many folks were enlisted to volunteer; including board members & their spouses (i.e. yours truly).

So, Tom worked last Tuesday, the 23rd, and - with only one other volunteer to help him - removed ALL the timbers that had recently been treated for a new timberframe building from inside the HUGE tent. (Do you remember me writing that each timber weighs, depending on how dry it is, between 200 and 400 lbs.?!) Then, he swept the ENTIRE tent all by himself. (Did I mention that it was a HUGE tent?)

On Wednesday, I stepped into the fray and made/decorated the 24 centerpieces for the linen-covered tables for Friday night's traditional fish boil (where we were expecting 250 guests). In this picture, the ones I've completed are sitting on the table in the rear-right of the shot.

I headed back into town on Friday to nanny (this picture shows what happens when the nanny takes the digital camera away after the baby stops heeding the warnings of, "Nuh-uh! Not in your mouth!" ;) As soon as my nanny shift was over for the day, I changed clothes and slapped on some makeup and headed down for the evening's festivities. Primarily, I helped clean up after the dinner and then helped ready the tent for the evening's contra dance.

Tom, meanwhile, was hosting the presentation by Per Helldorff, the weekend's featured speaker. He carves the MOST INCREDIBLE mechanized, gear-driven toys and gadgets. I can't even begin to describe them. Take a peek at his website and then go to the 'täljd mekanik' and 'lönnfack' links to see what I'm talking about. (The site is in Swedish, but you can look at the pictures!) His carved bananas are, in particular, surreal! But, to top off his "what makes him money" skills, he's an unbelievable guitarist and singer! So, the performers (see later in this entry) asked him to sit in and perform a song or two. It was amazing and, afterward, he suddenly VAULTED off of the stage with his guitar and case in hand, making Kathy Mattea give a little shriek! (I'm sure Per had no idea who she was!) Verrrry fun!

Saturday night was the big to-do, though. Tom was immediately whisked away to man one of the three entryways to the tent, and I set to opening bottle upon bottle of wine for the wine & cake pre-auction 'Welcome'. This is what the 'commissioned-to-look-like-a-timberframe' cake looked like. (I have no idea what's up with the green icing . . . .) I never got so much as a taste of it, though, because every single piece FLEW off the table! It was so funny because, before I had begun prep for this gathering, there was only a HANDFUL of folks outside. But, pop open a wine bottle and cut a delicious cake, and they come out of the woodwork! Within minutes, it was elbow-to-elbow standing room only! And, you can see that illustrated in this second picture taken during the end of the silent auction when 4 or 5 large items were auctioned "live".

(An aside: it was hotter than . . . well, a cramped space with too many people in it on a September evening . . . in the building, and I - in my post-menopausal hot-flashing state - was a wee bit miserable. I'd "done myself up" quite nicely for the event, but non-stop wine service put me in a rather . . . glistening . . . state. A girlfriend came up to me at one point and commented (say this with a strong 'Fargo' accent), "Ohh! Geez, Wes, you're really sweatin'!" Umm, yah . . . thanks. I was HOPING it didn't show!)

Anyway . . . by the time I'd cleaned up from the 'Welcome' reception, Tom had done his usher / doorman duties, and the concert had begun. Husband and wife team Jon Vezner & Kathy Mattea headlined the intimate show (Jon and his brother have property up here - not too far from us). They were accompanied by Bill Cooley (Kathy's guitarist, among many other accomplishments) and A Prairie Home Companion's Dan Chouinard. Here's the folk school director introducing them and welcoming everyone to the event. (He's the papa of the little peanut I used to nanny for. You'll see a picture of her later on in this post.)

As I returned to cleaning up from the reception and auction, I heard someone playing the guitar upstairs in a roped-off campus building where I was putting something away. "He's good!", I thought . . . but all the performers were on stage. I just figured it was maybe one of their crew doing a warm up on one of the instruments for use later on. Fast-forward an hour or so, and I'm (still) cleaning up after the auction. Above mentioned musician is now meandering through the building I'm in with his guitar over his shoulder. Then, I heard the on-stage musicians "announcing" someone. The guy whips off his jacket and struggles with his hooded sweatshirt. I walk up behind him to say, "Need some help with that?" He says, "Yeah, would you fix my shirt?" I do, and he pops into the tent and up on stage to massive applause. Turns out he's "just another friend" . . . and another phenomenal artist! He was (still is, I imagine!) Michael Johnson of 'Bluer Than Blue' fame back in the 70s. Remember that song? "I'm bluer than blue. I'm sadder than sad . . . ." He had major bypass surgery last August (a year ago) and is now getting "back to it". He did a great rendition of Roy Orbison's 'Blue Bayou' which he said he "co-wrote with Roy after he was dead which made it a really easy collaboration'. He turned the song into 'Blew By You', and it's all about losing one's toupee in the wind! Very funny - he had everyone singing along on that one.

Okay, I'm gonna sign off for now and post this (half-done). I'll be back, though!


  1. Oh, I am jealous!! I loved that song :)

  2. I'm glad you survived and it sounds like it was a hit; mainly, I'm glad it's done (for your sake)!

  3. I still say the best concert I ever attended was back in '79-'80 at Concordia College in Moorhead ... just Michael Johnson and his guitar in their fieldhouse or something. Despite the huge space, it was such an intimate concert. He was funny and cool ... the music was incredible ... it was the BEST.


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