This morning I drove to nearby Denton for dulcimer club. I arrived at ten and stayed until noon. One kind person loaned me her tuner, and another kind person helped me tune when I went a bit astray. The group focused on Christmas songs, because the regulars are working towards a public performance on December 11 in Dallas. I am too much of a beginner to join them, but it was fun to play. My dulcimer drew a nice compliment, though it is an older one without a 6 1/2 fret, which is a disadvantage. I may have to get a 6 1/2 fret installed.
I found that my skills improved a good bit since the last meeting I attended in July.
I credit for that the can-jo with which I started, which helped me get the feeling of fingering the fretwork. Playing the melody notes on a mountain dulcimer is just not hard. I am not sure I have much interest in learning to chord the dulcimer. I had a total blast just playing songs with eight other folks who are not judgmental or rude,but just helpful and encouraging.
We played "What Child is This?", which is really just "Greensleeves", as well as "Up on the Rooftop", a song I do not believe to have been common in Appalachia, and also
"The First Noel", which is pretty cool, because you get to use that high pitched sound that comes from depressing the 10 fret. When someone said they did not know the melody to "The Holly and the Ivy", I found myself rendering a surprinsingly workable vocal solo, which no doubt shows I have some primordial connection with Bryan Ferry, as yet unknown to science. When I said that I think that the "Holly and the Ivy" also serves as the melody for some folks songs about people getting killed, I think I am right, but I sure as heck don't know which ones. What possesses me, sometimes, I don't know. It's like I have this vast store of useless knowledge, always ready to bubble to the surface. A reverse La Brea Tarpit, popping up woolly mammoth bones.
On the drive back on Highway 380, I passed a sign with an big red arrow pointing down a country road. The sign said "Preacher's BBQ". There is a rule in life. When a sign says "Preacher's Sermon about the One True Answer, this way", then you can safely drive on by. But when the sign says "Preacher's BBQ", then you turn around and go, because somehow you just know that the preacher can do ribs right.
The "Preacher's BBQ" was a mobile home with tables, in front of which the preacher sat. He showed me that today's special was a quarter of chicken and Cajun rice, with turnip greens, cornbread and pinto beans. I ordered just this special, and was soon confronted with enough soul food to feed a football team, while a big boom box played
a piano-and-vocal-chorus rousing rendition of good old-fashioned "kick out the jams" gospel music. The preacher did me right, and the preacher's wife was charming. The
preacher said they hailed from Paris, Texas, which gave me a fantasy about taking a weekend away in Paris, London, and Rome, Texas.
We went to a wedding at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas for my law firm's "of counsel" attorney, who just looked stunning in her wedding dress while she exchanged vows with her fella, who wore a grey morning coat that was somehow light-hearted for all its finery. They were a really cute couple, and I liked the way that they figured out a good way for her 14 year old daughter to also do an exchange of rings. I was not so taken with the minister's emphasis on the "male being the head of the household" and "submission", as Wilshire is known for being moderate, and the whole thing sounded a bit conservative to me. But I made a mental note to try not to judge other people, to the extent I could, and struggled on.
Our secretary from work sang the solo, and was just amazing. I had known she periodically takes a day or two off for church sings, but I had never heard her full-bodied, appealing voice. Isn't it curious how people who sing reveal things in their voice that you never expected to hear? I am sure my singing voice reveals "Could have been a CPA if he'd studied harder" or "Remember, Monday is Trash Day". The flower girl at this wedding was the bride's toddler niece, and marched with a fixity of purpose. No doubt she will someday be a mayor of something.
The reception in the church basement was delightful,as I like my partner, his wife, our office folks, and I liked the various folks we did not know that I met. We sat outside, in balmy 70 degree weather, just outside a church fellowship hall. It was all a charming event, well done.
While my wife went to visit our neighbors, I loaded our two dogs in my car for a trip to Celebration Park. The older dog, Scout, is too old for long walks. I decided that if Scout can't walk to the park, I could drive Scout and Teddy to a park. She loved it. Although she has a doggy door at home and gets out often, there's just something about a big park full of grass for a dog to walk in. On our drive back home after the short jaunt, she hopped into my lap, a sign of special favor.
We went to Brazos where I ate healthy chicken and vegetables. I liked the food, although I would have enjoyed the Preacher's ribs.
I must decide where my friend Gene and I are to go next weekend. I'm thinking maybe Brenham, or maybe Oklahoma. As my wife started a new job recently, she will want to stay home and rest up. Although it's better when she can come, it's still fun to road trip and retreat. But I must pin down where.
I like that guy Dr. Axelrod. He sets it straight out about tropical fish.