Zeal…I really DID build that!

In about 1975, my first husband and I had returned to Seattle from Minneapolis, and were living on a shoestring.  He had found a job as a transformer winder at a company that made industrial transformers, and I, with my MA in psychology, was working as a pricing clerk in a hospital pharmacy.  Now, Larry was ultra-handy.  He could and did work on anything and everything around the house and the cars.  He fixed anything that needed fixing.  But when our stereo tuner bit the dust, that was something he couldn’t fix (“no user-serviceable parts inside”).  So we were faced with needing a new tuner, and having little spare money lying around.

So we decided to get a Heathkit and build the tuner ourselves.  We looked in the catalog (no internet in those dark ages), and picked out a model that did what we wanted at a reasonable price.  We mailed away the order form, and waited for our tuner kit to arrive.  In the meantime, we made a trip downtown to Radar Electric, a local firm that sold new and used electronic parts and tools.  We both loved going there, just to see all the bins filled with interesting-looking stuff.  We bought a soldering-iron, solder, and other assembly tools that we would need.

When the kit arrived, we unpacked everything, and set up an assembly area on Larry’s workbench.  Then, he taught me how to solder, and together we worked through the initial instructions.  It turned out that I just had so much fun doing this electronic assembly that I said I’d do it all.  I literally kicked him out of his own workshop and proceeded to build the entire assembly all by myself.  I followed all the instructions to the letter, and did all the operations in the correct order, with the correct parts and pieces.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching that tuner take shape under my hands, and I had visible progress to show off every day.  I worked on that tuner in every spare moment when I was not working, eating and sleeping.  I remember at least one night when Larry had to drag me away to go to bed so I could get enough sleep to go to work in the morning.

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Finally, after about a week, all the circuit boards were finished, and it was time to do the final assembly.  We placed all the boards in the enclosure, hooked up the correct wires, closed it up and applied all the necessary knobs and labels for the various switches.  We hooked up the power cable, took a deep breath, and plugged it in.  And it worked!  All the lights came on, we tuned in our favorite station, and sound came out!  That simple Heathkit tuner did yeoman duty, and it lasted a good 15 years.  I was so proud of myself for having completed that project with little help.  I gained some very valuable skills, and learned a little about electronics in the process.  I never would have thought that such a task would totally capture my imagination, but it did.  And I think I gained from being able to finish what I had started and have it work from the minute it was finished.  I was zealous in attention to every detail, reading each instruction twice to make sure I had it right.  And thereafter, I could look at and listen to our tuner, and say to myself, “I built that!”.

[This essay was first posted over at Ricochet.com, where it has 21 “likes” and is under consideration to be promoted to the Main, public-facing, Feed]

Instant Happiness

Just recently, I re-discovered a band that I liked way back when they were new, in the 1970s.  Now, I could kick myself for not going to see Jethro Tull when they were in town.  For some unknown reason, maybe a snatch of tune heard over someone’s PA system, or a random mention in a post on another blog, I decided to see what was available on YouTube.  Much to my delight, I discovered a wealth of audio and video over there at the site of the Evil Google-owned YouTube.  Not only have people uploaded single songs and entire albums, but video of entire concerts!  Never having seen them in person, I sat in front of my computer and watched some of this 1977 concert.  It was so good, I begged my husband to watch it with me on our TV.

I swear, Ian Anderson is a veritable musical genius!  He just does it all.  How many other rock band leaders play a mean flute, in addition to every other instrument possible in a rock band?

So, I dropped by the iTunes store, and bought The Very Best Of album to load on my iPod to listen to at work.  I have a very demanding job these days, and when I put on my noise-canceling headphones and listen to this, I can’t help smiling and even humming along-my cube-mates wonder if I’ve gone insane.

I have decided that Jethro Tull = Instant Happiness.  It is impossible to listen to Bungle in the Jungle or Living in the Past and not smile, and forget your troubles (or those parts that were just rejected).  Now when someone asks you who said “He who made kittens put snakes in the grass“, you can say “Ian Anderson, Bungle in the Jungle”!

Candidates for “best song I never knew”:  “Steel Monkey”, and “Songs From the Wood”.  I just wish I had paid more attention back then.  It is fortunate that these songs are still readily available for anyone who wants to listen and enjoy.

YouTube has video of Jethro Tull concerts from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s, a truly great band, who has remained great for 40 years!  Remarkable!

 

Then, there’s this:

 

Instant Happiness, indeed!

Photo Challenge..Prolific Singers and Musicians

Every year on the day after Christmas, the University Unitarian Church in Seattle puts on a full-length Handel’s Messiah Sing-along/Play-along.  They do the full Messiah, all the arias, all the choruses, and all the recitatives; not a note is left out.  Everyone sings everything that is within his or her vocal range-no soloists.  You may even hear some of the musicians singing along.  They pack the place to the rafters with singers and musicians.  Performers spend three hours at it (two intermissions), and are exhausted at the end.  There are very few experiences that are as exhilarating as playing or singing the complete Messiah.  Here are some pictures from last year, taken from my place in the Violin I section.

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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/prolific/

 

Faces in a Crowd…of Accordions!

Notice all the faces in this group of accordion players getting ready for the big Accordion Parade down the main street of Leavenworth, Washington.  All ages, both sexes, no two alike.

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I’ll bet you could not tell that the man at the right with his back to you and the LIAC t-shirt is blind.  Yes, a blind accordionist, guided by the friend on his left.  Music makes every face a happy one!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/a-face-in-the-crowd/

 

Final Photo Challenge of 2017-Favorites-Travels with/to Friends

2017 was highlighted by travels, to various destinations to meet with friends, and to get re-acqainted with old (in both senses of the word) friends.  Here are my favorite highlights.

In February, Hubby and I traveled to Phoenix for a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar.  This was our third trip to Arizona with the Hillsdale folks, and was just a reinforcement of why we continue to support Hillsdale, one of the last, best, hopes for the future of higher education in America.  No “snowflakes” here.

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The view from our balcony was so peaceful in the early morning.

After the Hillsdale Seminar ended, we took a trip up to Prescott, in the mountains north of Phoenix.  An entirely different Arizona.  The reason was a meet up with our Ricochet friends.  We took sustenance from our Ricochet family, as we all watched the Left and the Deep State do their best to destroy a duly-elected President.

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No palm trees here!

In June, we took our annual trip to Washington’s “Bavarian Village” of Leavenworth, for Hubby to play accordion with his band.  They were just awesome this year, and everyone was impressed with their performance.

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And we always love the Accordion Parade, ending up in the Gazebo downtown.  Our hearts are warmed by watching and listening to all the players, from ages 7 to over 70.

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In September, we drove all the way to Montana and back, for the Ricochet meet up that had been planned since September of 2016!  Due to wildfires in Washington and Montana, we drove through thick smoke all the way-the skies didn’t clear for an entire week!  But the people we met were typical Ricochet, salt-of-the earth types.  We couldn’t imagine being with a better group of friends, our Ricochet Family.

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Yes, that is Lake Coeur D’Alene on the way over.

Sailing on Flathead Lake

On the second to last day, sailing on Flathead Lake.

And to top off the year, I had my Fiftieth High School Class Reunion.  My favorite part of that was tagging along with the golfers on the outing to the local golf course, and meeting a classmate who I had never met in high school!

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What beauty, hiding in plain sight.

We have been so fortunate this year, and had so many delightful experiences, surrounded by our friends, and our Ricochet Family.  Onward to 2018!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/2017-favorites/

 

A Weekend at Jazz Port Townsend

Back in March, Hubby and I attended the After Midnight Gala auction for the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, a wonderful jazz Big Band.  At that auction, we bought a weekend package that included two nights of lodging, and tickets to Friday and Saturday concerts, the weekend of July 31.  Port Townsend is across Puget Sound from our home in Everett, so the weekend started with a beautiful ferry ride from Edmonds to Kingston.  We just love this ferry, and sometimes we just go for a day trip.  It was sunny and warm.  Here are some pictures of what we saw from the ferry on the way over.

This one was taken from the ferry before we even left port!  The State is doing some upgrades to the dock, and I am always impressed with the big machinery.

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Next, I turned my camera in toward the car deck, and I just laughed to see this vehicle parked next to us.  Check out the license plate frame.

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We really do live in one of the most gorgeous places in the world.

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That’s Mount Baker, which is north of us, nearly on the Canadian border.

We drove on west through Kingston and Port Gamble, and reached Port Townsend in the late afternoon.  Here are a couple of pictures of the place we stayed.  This is a private home, which was donated by the owner for the auction (one of the SRJO board members had stayed there and loved it).  We had our own little suite with a private entrance at the back.  Beware that monster!

Friday night’s concert (and all the rest) was held in a former blimp hangar at Fort Worden.  Here are some shots of the outside and the inside.  No photography was allowed during the concerts, of course.

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Friday night’s performers were two groups.  The first group was called “Keep on Keepin’ On”, with Justin Kauflin (an amazing blind pianist), Doug Weiss, Bass, and Kendrick Scott on drums.  The second group “The Haris House”, consisted of Niki Haris, a wonderful singer, backed up by Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, Sullivan Fortner on piano, John Clayton on bass, and Joe LaBarbera on drums.  They were all fantastic, and had the audience captivated.  Jazz musicians tend to have a great sense of humor, too, and we all got lots of laughs.

Saturday had two performances, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.  Outside the hall in the afternoon, there were groups of student musicians who had been at the week-long jazz workshop, showing their stuff.  These kids are awesome!

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Saturday afternoon’s concert was incredible, featuring a lady who really screamed on her saxophone.  You don’t often think of sax players as ladies, but this one, Tia Fuller, really knows her stuff!  She was backed up by Sullivan Fortner on piano, Doug Weiss on bass, and Kendrick Scott on drums.  Beautiful woman, great music, and lots of laughs-what more could you ask for?

Next on the program “Lifting Voices”, consisting of Cedric Dent and Niki Haris vocals, Sullivan Fortner again on piano, Jon Hamar, bass, and Joe LaBarbera on drums.

Last came the “All Star Big Band” of the workshop faculty, directed by John Clayton.  They did get a little snippy with the conductor, but then they’re all stars in their own right!  Soloists were Jeff Clayton on alto sax, Adrian Cunningham on tenor sax, Wycliffe Gordon on trombone, Sean Jones and Terell Stafford on trumpet, Hubert Laws on flute, and vocals by Dee Daniels and Niki Haris.  The rest of the band consisted of Mark Taylor and Tia Fuller on alto sax; Adrian Cunningham and Alex Dugdale on tenor sax; Gary Smulyan on baritone sax; Brad Allison, Terell Stafford, Sean Jones, Jay Thomas, Andy Omdahl on trumpet; Wycliffe Gordon, David Marriott, Dan Marcus on trombone; Greg Schroder on bass trombone, Dan Balmer on guitar, Bill Cunliffe on piano, Chuck Deardorf on bass, and Matt Wilson on drums.  I swear, Matt Wilson looked like something straight out of Mad Men!  Needless to say, they were awesome.

After the Saturday afternoon concert we had some free time, so we went looking for dinner.  We first drove down to the Port Townsend Marina.  Beautiful!

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Saturday night’s concert was just wonderful.  The first act featured someone who I had never heard of before, Hubert Laws, whose instrument is the flute!  You don’t often think of the flute as a jazz instrument, but Mr. Laws is a past master.  Aside from the fact that the flute can get overpowered by louder instruments, the program was very fun, and Hubert Laws is a great musician.  The last act featured a tribute to Louis Armstrong, led by Wycliffe Gordon on his trombone.  All the musicians were really playing out, and we all felt that we had been really “jazzed-up” by the end of the evening.

As usual, we arose late on Sunday for the drive and ferry ride home.  Here are some of the things we saw on the way out of town to the ferry in Kingston.

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The Fort Worden Military Cemetery in just outside the gates.  That is a cannon way over on the edge of the enclosure.

Closer to town, we drove by this old building, being devoured by the vegetation, and I just had to get its picture.

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Most of my readers and followers know my political orientation.  This sign, which we saw all over town, shows the orientation of most of the town.  Opposite from mine.

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Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

Here are a couple of photos taken from the bluff just outside the east gate of the old fort.

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That’s the old officers’ quarters, which are now vacation rentals.

We got to Kingston around 4:00PM, and got in the ferry line.  I went hunting with my camera, and this is what I found.

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The newly-legal industry is doing their “good citizen” activity.  Sigh…

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Yes, even expensive Italian sports cars take the ferry.

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The Norwegian Pearl, starting its journey to Alaska from Seattle.  Three cruise lines ply that route, and it’s prime tourist season.

Once on the ferry, I got this one.  Beautiful sailboat, in a brisk wind.  She’s the Mata Hari.

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All in all, a wonderful weekend.