Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Last Concert of 2015

I saw the Foo Fighters on Monday night and y'all, it was so good. My brother has always said I'm the biggest Foo Fighters fan he knows, which I personally consider a huge compliment. So, when they announced a tour and tickets went on sale back in February, you'd better believe I took advantage of that pre-sale and ended up in the nose bleed section. I was in the building, people and that's all that matters. 

My cousin Lauren accompanied me for the show which was in Nashville at Bridgestone Arena. We made plans over the weekend to leave town at 3:30 p.m. so we could get to Nashville in time for dinner before the show. That morning, I was scrolling through Twitter when I notice that my friend Grayson said he was pumped about the show and so I contacted him and his wife Margaret Anne (who is one of my closest friends) to see if they wanted to ride with me and Lauren. They had gotten tickets at the last minute which is a long story in an of itself. MA and Grayson got to my house a little after 3:00 p.m. and we soon headed over to pick up Lauren and made our way north. 

We got to Nashville a little after 5:00 p.m. and met MA's sister and her boyfriend at Five Points Pizza for dinner. MA's sister had the tickets that MA and Grayson were going to use that evening. Is this story getting confusing yet because I feel a little confused and I was there. Anyway, we ordered pizzas and sodas and enjoyed a yummy dinner together before parting ways. We found a spot to park downtown and walked to the arena. Grayson and I bought t-shirts because we each were in desperate need of a new t-shirt (she types sarcastically); but, it was the Foo Fighters and truth be told I've had a Foos shirt on my Christmas list the last couple of years so it's justified. 

As luck would have it, MA and Grayson's seats were in the section right next to mine and Lauren's seats which worked out perfectly because we were able to find each other very easily after the show. Gary Clark, Jr. was the opening act and he wasn't too bad. I'd never heard of him before so I was pleasantly surprised. Gary wrapped up his set a little after 8:00 p.m. and the Foo Fighters were scheduled to come on at 8:30 p.m. 

The Foos came out right on time and put on a fantastic show. They played for about two and a half hours and played songs old and new. There were a few songs I had my fingers crossed for that didn't get played, but that's the way it goes. I suppose they can't play every song or else we'd be there all night. Really, that would have been okay with me. Dave Grohl was hilarious as always and seriously big props to that guy for playing this tour with a broken foot. He had a "throne" designed so he could still play and sing while keeping off his foot. I had a great time at the show and cannot wait until they go on tour again, hopefully some time soon. 

We made it back to the car around 11:15-ish and were back in Huntsville around 1:30 a.m. We were all exhausted but everyone did a great job of keeping the conversation going so that no one would fall asleep. I think this is the last concert for me for 2015 which is kind of sad. You never know though, in a weird twist of fate I may end up at another show of some kind; but if the Foo Fighters is who I end the 2015 concert season with than it was a good note to end on.Can't wait to see what the 2016 concert season holds!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Cleaning Out The Attic

I need to begin by saying I should have taken some before and after pictures, but sadly I did not. Hind sight is 20/20 as they say. The last time my dad and I cleaned out the attic at my parents' house was probably 10 years ago. In the time since then, the attic has acquired a lot of junk. We started working on cleaning it out again earlier this summer on one of those rare cool Saturdays. We didn't get too much done that day. We did manage to put down some new plywood just so we would have somewhere to move things so that we could get a start. Justin had a lot of furniture and things up there so we moved all of his items to the new plywood and called it a day. I think Justin and my dad worked up there one day and Justin threw a few things out. 

This past Saturday, we decided to tackle it again. There still wasn't much room to walk around up there, but before the day was out things were looking a lot better than they did to start the day. There was a large pile of stuff in the middle section of the attic and we got that section cleaned out. Some of the items were thrown away, others were sent down the stairs to be put in the garage sale at the end of the month and a few things were kept in the attic. The middle section actually had carpet on it and we wanted to vacuum, but there isn't an outlet up in the attic and we couldn't find a working extension cord. So, next week when we do some more work up there I'll bring an extension cord with me so we can do some vacuuming. 

We found carpet and linoleum remnants from when the house was first built. The linoleum and carpet found in the attic had been replaced years ago so there was definitely no need to keep those items any longer. So, we hauled those out to the street. There were also a random assortment of cheap curtain rods up there and all of those got tossed as well. By the time a few hours had passed, we had finished cleaning out most things. The main thing we didn't tackle was the Christmas decorations and we plan to go through those come Christmastime. 

We'll finish up purging the attic next Saturday and will start pricing stuff for what will surely be the last garage sale of 2015. Here's to hoping we sell a lot of treasures. 

The Concert Was A Bust

So, this past Friday night I had tickets to a concert. The concert was in Huntsville, which is weird because usually people I like don't make it to Huntsville for a concert. The person who was performing was Jason Isbell. I bought my tickets the day they went on sale and have really been looking forward to the show for a long time. 

I asked my friend Nevin to go with me. We always have fun when we hang out and so I thought he would make a good date for the night. He came by to pick me up and we went by Taco Mama for dinner. I'm a big Taco Mama fan, but for whatever reason the food was just okay on Friday. It might have had something to do with the fact that there were no seats inside and we had to sit outside where it was cold, the wind was blowing and it was sprinkling rain. It would have been nice if Taco Mama had maybe put up the outdoor umbrellas for us, but I guess that was too much to ask. I was also a little miffed because Nevin didn't offer to pay for my dinner. He was getting a free concert, after all so it would only have been the right thing to do; but, then we must remember that he is 26 and young and immature and these are all the reasons why we would never be a good match. It's just all so much more than my old self can tolerate. 

After dinner we made our way to the VBC and I paid for parking because Nevin didn't have any cash (are you beginning to see a pattern here and maybe why I was beginning to be in a bad mood. Lesson learned I hope). The other person playing that night was John Prine, who I had never heard of. So, I wasn't in a big hurry to go inside because I didn't know any of Prine's songs and figured we would go in after Prine played and just listed to Isbell. So, after sitting out in the lobby and people watching for 30 minutes, I caught on to one of the songs being sung and realized that Isbell was actually playing at that moment. We went inside, walked over 20 people to our seats and heard three songs before Isbell's set was over. As it turned out, Isbell was the opening act and Prine the headliner and as I've mentioned, I have never heard of Prine and had no desire to hear him. We asked the man next to us if Prine was any good and didn't get a resounding yes. The man told us Prine was in his 70s and he doubted his voice was any good at this point. So, with that, we left. At that point, I was just not in a good mood and was ready to be home in my warm bed and so that's where I went. 

Yes, that's right, I bought concert tickets and heard about three songs. It was very disappointing to say the least. We should have gone in to see who was playing before assuming it was Prine. Apparently a lot of people were upset about it because I heard people rumbling about it in the lobby and Isbell made mention of it on Twitter. Seeing as how he is from Green Hill in North Alabama, I think more people were there to see him and were also disappointed when it was discovered he wasn't headlining. To top it off, that afternoon I sent off my second set of tickets for his show at the Ryman because I had sold them on Stub Hub that morning. Really, I'm not too torn up about that because I made really good money on the tickets and had decided I just didn't want to go to Nashville for a show on a football Saturday; but, still, it was kind of laughable. On the bright side, I think Isbell has a promising career ahead of him and I'm sure I'll get to see him perform more than three songs at a show some time in the future. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Leah's Dirty Thirty

OK, first, let me say that this whole "Dirty Thirty" thing must have come about in recent years because when I turned 30 all those years ago, "Dirty Thirty" wasn't a thing or else I would have had a big time with that phrase. Moving on... 

My friend Leah turned 30 earlier this month, September 5 to be exact. For her birthday bash, she decided to take a train excursion leaving from Nashville and the one she picked took place on September 26. So, this past Saturday was the big day. The train was scheduled to pull out from Nashville at 3:30 p.m. and you could start checking in at 3:00 p.m. I rode up with friends Christy and Amber. Our friend Holly was also supposed to ride with us, but she wasn't feeling well and had to back out at the last minute, So, our group of 11 became a group of 10. 

We found out seats on the train and soon were on our way. The train ride went from Nashville to Watertown, about a two hour trip one way. Christy and I were at a table with Jonathon and Caley and Caley looked like she was not feeling well at all. As it turns out, their daughter, Jonathon, and Jonathon's mother had all recently had the stomach virus and Caley felt like she was about to lose her lunch. She spent about half of the ride in the bathroom. When we got to Watertown, Jonathon and Caley stayed aboard the train while the rest of us disembarked. As it turns out, Caley felt so bad that they ended up calling a cab to drive them back to Nashville. One day, this will make for a funny story. So, our group was now eight. 

The eight of us walked down Main Street to Nona Lisa Pizzeria. Paul (Leah's husband) had the brilliant mindset to call ahead and order our pizza so by the time we got there, everything was ready. Also about the time we got there the bottom fell out of the sky and there was a steady rain for the next hour or so and we had two hours in the town. We managed to find outdoor seating under an awning and ate our delicious pizza and most of us managed not to get drenched. The pizza was seriously very good and Paul was super smart to call ahead because most everyone had to wait a while to get their food. 

There was a store across the street from the pizzeria that was open and I walked over there to see if there were any umbrellas. I was wearing a cream colored shirt and forgot to bring a rain jacket so I wanted to try and stay as dry as possible. They had one umbrella left and it was $4 and perhaps the cheapest umbrella of all time. I went ahead and bought it and of course it stopped raining soon after. Hey, if it took me spending $4 for the rain to stop, I'm okay with that. 

We spent the rest of the time in Watertown walking around the town. There was a candy shop, Walker Creek, that sold the most delicious caramels I have ever put into my mouth. You can order online in case you are into that sort of thing. Seriously, so good! There was also a "shootout" in the town for our entertainment but I missed all of that. The people who performed in the "shootout" were also the ones who "robbed" the train on the way to Watertown. I guess I forgot to mention that part. On the way up, we stopped about 30 minutes before arriving in Watertown to allow the robbers to come aboard and rob the train. They collected actual money which goes into a scholarship fund for the local high school. They've apparently provided over $10K in scholarships over the years, pretty impressive.  

After our time in Watertown, we boarded the train and headed back to Nashville. We arrived back around 9:30 p.m and were quickly in our cars and back on the interstate headed home. I think I got in bed about midnight Saturday and was thoroughly exhausted after a day full of activities. Happy 30th Leah! Glad I was able to celebrate with you and glad to have you as my friend!  

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Color Run Huntsville 2015

This past Saturday was The Color Run Huntsville. It was the second year in a row that The Color Run took place in our city and this year it was more colorful than ever! 

A few months ago I received an advance sign-up email for the run and set up a team (because the price was a little less if you signed up on a team) for me and my cousins. Four of us signed up - me, Jan, Lauren, and Anna. Friday afternoon on the way home from work, I stopped by Kohl's to pick up our race packets. The process went a lot smoother this year than last. Last year there was a bit of a wait to get up to where you checked in and this time, they had plenty of people to get you checked in and on your way. The whole process took about 15 minutes and I picked up four packets. 

This year's race started at 8:00 a.m. which was an hour earlier than last year and perfectly okay with me as I had a lot to get to on Saturday. Jan, Lauren and Anna all ran down to the race start while I drove because admittedly, I'm lazy and they are training for yet another half marathon. Some people like running, I like strolling. I was in line to pay the Boy Scouts $5 to park when I noticed an unoccupied lot up ahead (well, it had one car) and a couple walking from that direction.  I decided to save my $5 and park in that lot and many other people followed suit because by the time I got back to the car later that morning, the lot was full. 

I walked over to the start which was a different and much more convenient location than last year and quickly found my trio of cousins. We headed over to the start line and not long after we were on our way. Jan and Lauren were content to enjoy the festivities and walk and have fun. Anna had to be talked into walking with us as she's the more hard core runner of the three. So, we walked and talked and enjoyed getting splashed with orange, yellow, pink and blue along the course. 

It took us an hour or so to walk the three miles and when we crossed the finish line, we were splashed with silver metallic powder and then handed a gold medal and a color and metallic color packet. We made our way over to the stage where there was an emcee and a DJ and at that precise moment, a dance off. Lots of additional color packets were thrown into the crowd and soon everyone was tossing color powder into the air and jumping up and down and acting a fool - including us! The air was so thick with colored powdered you could hardly breathe. Lauren had to abandon the chaos because she got hit in the eye with some color. For all I know I could have been the one that doused her, but hopefully not. By the time that fun was over we had color from head to toe. 

There was a tent set up (sponsored by Shout) to blow the excess powder off and we walked through that because we did, in fact, have a lot of excess powder. The girls decided to ride back in the car and I brought some sheets with me in case they decided to do just that. We spread the sheet across the back seat of the car and we were soon on our way. I dropped Lauren and Jan off at Lauren's and then Anna and then pulled up to my house where I promptly changed clothes so that I could sit down and eat some breakfast without getting colored powder everywhere. 

It was a fun morning with fun people and I look forward to doing it again next year! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

House Hunters Huntsville - House One

I've got some exciting news to share. Well, I think it's exciting. My dear friend Erika is considering buying a house and has started looking at homes. Erika has always been a renter since she moved out from under her parents' wings all those years ago and she's just about hit her limit recently thanks to her new neighbor. 

For the past several years, Erika has rented a duplex in the medical district in our fair city and has had some good and some bad neighbors throughout her time there. The neighbor that most recently moved in, came with a dog which was a little surprising since the landlords had never previously allowed pets. However, their heart strings were tugged upon (or something like that) and they decided to give the new tenant and her dog a trial run, much to Erika's chagrin. The new tenant's dog is apparently yappy and then tenant is also loud throughout the day and at odd hours of the night and so basically, Erika is just done with neighbors in close proximity. So, she has decided to consider buying a home of her own so that she is her own landlord and doesn't have to deal with yappy dogs and loud people on the other side of her wall and y'all, I couldn't be more excited for her! 

Erika sent me an email with the link to a house she wanted to look at and asked if I knew anything about it or the area. It is close to where I live and where some other people I know live and when she scheduled the appointment to go and take a look, I invited myself along. I also asked if I could chronicle her house hunting and she agreed so just consider this House Hunters Huntsville or something like that. 

The viewing of the house was this past Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. Erika and her mom came by my house and picked me up and we drove over to the house for sale. Erika's friend Michelle also met us there because four opinions are better than one. Erika and her mom and I walked around the outside before the realtor arrived. The backyard is very spacious and fenced in. There is a covered patio which would be great for entertaining. The front yard is sodded and has been kept up nicely over the years. It looks very nice and neat and well manicured. 

The house itself has three bedrooms and two baths as well as a garage with plenty of space for two cars. It comes with a fridge, but since Erika already owns a fridge, she could move the fridge already at the house into the garage and be like a "real" adult with a fridge in the garage for extra food and drinks. Most all of the floors are the original hardwoods and are in very good shape. The kitchen and dining space have been replaced with laminate which matches the original hardwoods and looks to be of good quality. The bathrooms have the old retro tile from the late 1960s, but Erika loves that and wouldn't change it for anything. There are lots and lots of closets throughout the house including one in one of the bedrooms that has a lot of shelves perfect for storing all manner of knick knack. There is a laundry closet in the hallway for the washer and dryer. This closet seems to have some rotting from a leaky washer, but hopefully nothing that the inspection wouldn't catch and fix. The kitchen is gigantic and has so much storage space I wanted to cry. Seriously, the kitchen alone may sell the house. The central air unit, roof, range, dishwasher and other items have all been replaced within the last 5-10 years (if I am remembering correctly) and so there is likely a low chance they would need to be replaced any time soon. There are some cracks in the walls from either settling (hopefully) or foundation damage, but should Erika decide to get this house, those things will be determined in inspection. 

Overall, this is a great house and very affordable. The area is a nice neighborhood and when we left it was dark and there were lots of people out for an evening stroll which indicates they feel safe in the area - a big plus! The realtor is going to pull together some other homes for Erika to look at before she makes a decision. So, I have no doubt we will be looking at more houses in the near future and I'm just tickled to death about it. It's such an exciting time for my friend and I'm glad to be tagging along and offering her support through this journey. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: The Carols of Christmas

Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas or at the very least Christmas carols? I think not. After all, Christmas is 14 weeks away from today. I mean, you can at least start making a list and checking it twice. As for carols, have a strict policy about not listening until the day after Thanksgiving. So, I wouldn't suggest listening to carols right now because you might be burnt out come Christmastime and that would be a shame.

I suppose most people have a love or hate relationship with Christmas carols. I, for one, love them and am baffled by people who hate Christmas carols. As someone who loves to sing, many carols bring back some of my favorite childhood memories of singing in the car on the way to our grandparents' houses and often getting lyrics wrong. For example, in the song "Winter Wonderland", I used to think the line, "Later on, we'll conspire," was "Later on wilken spider" and it never made sense to me. I think I was an adult before I figured it out.

One of my very favorite Christmas albums is the The Statler Brothers "Christmas Card". I know I've mentioned it on the blog before. My parents' owned the album, or vinyl as we say in 2015, and we later had a cassette tape and would listen in the car often. I now have it on CD and load it up on my iPod every December and listen to it over and over and over again. It brings back great memories.

There is so much more I could say about Christmas carols, but I write all of this as a preface of sorts because the book I'm reviewing today is called "The Carols of Christmas" and it was written by Andrew Gant. The subtitle is "A Celebration of the Surprising Stories Behind Your Favorite Holiday Songs."

The subtitle of the book basically sums it all up. Mr. Gant gathered stories and the history behind some of the oldest Christmas carols. There are 21 songs in the book of which Mr. Gant tells of the origin and/or history of each. Many of them are not of English origin so the original words in the original language are also usually included. There are also illustrations and snapshots of some of the oldest version of these songs. At the end of each chapter are the lyrics and notes in English as you and I know them.

The 21 songs included in the book are:

  1. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
  2. O, Christmas Tree
  3. The Holly and Ivy
  4. I Saw Three Ships
  5. O Little Town of Bethlehem
  6. Good Christian Men, Rejoice
  7. O Come, All Ye Faithful
  8. While Shepherds Watched
  9. O Holy Night
  10. Ding dong! Merrily on High
  11. Angles from the Realms of Glory
  12. Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
  13. Away in a Manger
  14. I Wonder as I Wander
  15. Good King Wenceslas
  16. Personent hodie
  17. Here We Come a-Wassailing
  18. The Twelve Days of Christmas
  19. We Three Kings
  20. What Child Is This
  21. Jingle Bells
The content of the book is about 200 pages and the print is rather small, so, there is a lot of content. I found the stories to be rather interesting, but I am a  lover of history and tend to like to know the origins of this, that and the other. So, this book was right up my alley. If you  or someone you know enjoys songs, carols, and knowing the origin behind such things, then this book would be a great addition to your library. It retails for around $20 on Amazon and you can check it out in this link.