After sleeping in a bit this morning, I got up and addressed a few book packages from my book giveaway. Then I drove for an early afternoon hike on Trinity Trail. Lots of flowers I call cowslips (but everyone else may call something else) appeared since my last hike, as well as some charming yellow flowers. The butterfly count was reduced from July, but plentiful. I saw one gorgeous heron, and took some nice digital camera flower pictures.
I drove to Farmersville, and stopped at the IGA grocery for a soft drink. They had postcards of local landmarks such as the Onion Sheds. I had to buy a few, prompting the manager to ask if I was "just visitin'". I said that no, I lived in nearby Allen, but apparently, that indicated to her I came from roundabout the dark side of the moon. I remembered growing up in an Arkansas town about that size, from which Arkadelphia, population 10,000, distance 16 miles away, seemed like it was a ways away.
I stopped in the antique mall in Farmersville's downtown, and found some inexpensive 10 x 50 binoculars, as well as a reprint of the 1908 Sears Roebuck catalog. It is not only amazing how much inflation has changed prices, but also how much less we pay in real dollars for so many things than people did then. Folks forget their relative affluence. In another antique store, I barely resited the three foot high upright Schoenhut toy piano with adult-sized keys.
I stopped at the flea market in Princeton, where the crowds were sparse. A kind sun-drenched blonde store owner told me that "third Monday" in nearby McKinney siphoned off the business. I bought fifteen Dallas postcards for a dollar, as well as east Texas beefsteak tomatoes for future salads at home. I like my tomato on pizza or in soup, but my wife likes them fresh. I'll just take the slices out of my salads.
On the way home, the lyrics to a folk song came to me, based on an event in local history. The melody came to me as well. I knew the melody was similar to an old spiritual, but I could not remember which one. It was a "Baptist hymn", and I grew up in the Methodist church. Unitarian hymns usually were liberal protestant hymns with the words altered, New England lilting melodies, or curious second or third world imports into the hymnbook, so that background was no help at all. I could not remember the core hymn. I imagined it was "Jacob's Ladder" sped up, but I was wrong.
I assume my googling of Woody Guthrie sites put me in that folk songwriting frame of mind. When I got home, I got out my Korg electronic tuner and sang into it to determine the right chords. Then I taught myself how to play the song on the autoharp. It was incredibly easy, and the words just flowed. I gave Scott the refrain and chords when he arrived.
Tonight our friends Scott and Donna, as well as our friend Dell, came over for dinner. Dell lives in rural north Texas, near the Oklahoma border. He had had a hog he raised converted into food, and shared it liberally with us. We were gathering to eat bbq ribs and pork chops. The meal was fantastic. Everyone but me seemed to have added something to the meal--I wished, a bit, that I had baked cookies. Scott's Dutch ovened potatoes were amazing, and the fresh pork was unbelievably good. I had Dell walk me through the economics of the proposition of hog raising.
We all talked for a while, and watched Olympic gymnasts and swimmers on television. Dell eventually had to leave, as he had the longest drive. He has a deep voice. I confirmed with him that he will come sing when Scott and I do the folk album.
I got out my autoharp, and Scott borrowed M.'s old guitar. We began to play the new song. Scott worked out some key changes for the stanzas to give it a nice variation and lilt. I worked on octave selection within the autoharp strokes. We soon had the song in nearly "ready to go" shape, thanks to Scott's genius at such matters.
Scott, of course, could tell me which hymn the song is based upon, which, as it is a very old one based on a folk song in the public domain, is perfect folk song fodder. I'll have to look up what the folk melody is called. Active southern Baptists have a built-in advantage in gospel melody recognition.
Then we switched gears a bit, and Scott taught me how to play one of my favorite songs on the autoharp. I never realized that Be Bop Deluxe's "Adventure in a Yorkshire Landscape" had such easy chording. I do not believe I will be able to improvise a ten minute autoharp solo to duplicate either the live or studio version of Bill Nelson's amazing guitar talent. I hear that particular guitar solo, and I am at peace about the existence of a spiritual order in the universe. I will pay the small royalty required to get permission to cover this song on the folk album. We'll do it unplugged, I think, although Scott may have an electric glissandi-note guitar fantasy more palpable than having two kings in the hand in Texas Hold 'Em. But I think I prefer the folkie route. Scott will have to come up with something gentle and fun on the baritone ukelele to cover for the fact that we aren't Bill Nelson. Otherwise, I'll have to play a kazoo solo.
I had such fun singing "lead" in my serviceably ordinary voice, while Scott played the guitar. I'm ready to write more songs, now that I have a "vision" of what kind of songs I want--simple, relevant, lyrically interesting, and within easy access of my meager skills with voice and autoharp. Meanwhile, I'm filling used diet root beer bottles with water and playing notes with a mallet, and generally just being a bit silly.
I noticed earlier today that I somehow managed to bid on two dulcimers simultaneously on eBay. Fortunately, I lost one auction today, although with hindisight I might have preferred to win that one. Tomorrow we'll see if I win the other dulcimer upon which I've bid. If not, I'll go to Denton and buy one I liked there. I found a great website for cardboard dulcimers. I wish I were skilled with saws--I'd just make a wooden one.
This was a good day, and tomorrow I hope will be better still.