Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bluegrass 2016

The girls and I went to the Bluegrass Festival yesterday, one of our most beloved traditions.
We spent the day listening to music, buying more tie dye, looking at craft exhibits, talking with friends, and just spending time together.

 The festival was a bit strange this year as the river beside the festival grounds flooded last week and all of the hundreds and hundreds of RVs and campers and tents had to be evacuated. The festival itself went on as usual, but it looked and felt different without the campgrounds just beyond the boundary fences. There was torrential rain on Friday and lots of mud pretty much everywhere, but yesterday was sunny and hot. Maybe too sunny and hot.
We had the world's best reuben sandwiches and cherry limeades for lunch...
...and then listened to more music. The festival is such a safe and family friendly place that I have no qualms about letting the girls roam on their own. Katherine went off with friends for most of the afternoon and Rachel made trips to buy more drinks or visit my sister at another stage and relished the sense of independence. And when there weren't people to chat with, she entertained herself with whatever was at hand, including making a "tongue" with a water bottle label.
Katherine loved wandering through the instrument vendors stands, looking at all the interesting things for sale. The vendors are patient and knowledgeable and encourage people to try out their wares. Katherine strummed several ukuleles...
...and then found a fiddle display. She eagerly accepted the offer to try one out and then thought for a minute about what to play. Then she tightened the bow and started fingering In the Hall of the Mountain King from the Peer Gynt Suite. There are a huge assortment of songs performed at the festival, but this may very well be the first rendition of Edvard Grieg played there! The sound of classical music in the midst of the banjo and mandolin tunes brought amused grins from the passing crowd.
After a long afternoon of music and people watching, we visited the food stands for some supper. I had to laugh at our choices: Chinese stir fry, a gigantic tamale, and an Indian taco. Surrounded by hamburger, pizza, and fried catfish stands, we all opted for ethnic food. Typical for us! It was tasty, too.
By evening the girls were tired and dirty and ready to go home. I stayed around for a couple more hours to hear more music and reflect on a beautiful day.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Playing Ukulele

Katherine went to a pre-festival ukulele workshop in the park this morning.
She has tried to teach herself how to play through YouTube videos, which has been rather frustrating for her. She really needed someone live to watch and learn from and this was a perfect opportunity.
The workshop leader was Linda Tilton, the much loved sign language interpreter at the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival.
Linda was great. She calmly and gently explained the basics, from how to correctly pronounce the name of the instrument (it's oo-kulele not you-kulele), to the names of the strings, to how to finger chords.
Katherine was by far the youngest player there, but she didn't care and neither did anyone else. Most of the group were complete novices, so Kate fit right in. She settled in next to Seth, my friend from college days, and listened intently.
And I hung out the back, just watching. Within 45 minutes Linda had taught everyone two song, Hank William's Jambalaya and Let the Circle Be Unbroken. The weather was gorgeous, the lighting was cool, and the thrumming of ukuleles soothing. I was more than content to sit and people watch.

I have a feeling that this won't be the last time Katherine sits around playing songs with a circle of strangers. And really, I can't think of a better way to spend a morning.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Match Play

Katherine has joined the Middle School tennis team and she loves it.
She goes to practice every day after school and has learned a lot and become a better player. She is solidly in the middle of the pack, ranked 10th out of 20 girls, and seems perfectly comfortable there.
As she openly admits, "Tennis is fine, but I LOVE being part of the team." My introverted kid is spreading her wings and becoming really quite social! And she really does enjoy the other girls on her team. They laugh a lot, and that is good.
The girls' tennis season is short and intense - 10 matches in the month of September and then they are done. Her first two matches were away games, which we did not see. (Grandma and Grandpa made the long drive to watch both times! My girls have such wonderful grandparents.) She played doubles at both places and won one and lost one, coming home with a grin on her face both times.
Today she finally played at home, so we had the chance to watch. I am a complete non-athlete and sports really aren't even on my radar, so I was mostly at a loss as to what was happening with determining who played whom and how games are scored and all but the most obvious rules. I knew enough to sit down, keep my mouth shut, and try not to be too obnoxious with my camera.
The meet was laid back and the coaches were funny and encouraging. The girls had a good time hanging out together and no one took wins or losses too seriously. I so appreciated that.
The opposing team had half the players as ours, so the scheduling was a little strange. Their girls played our top 9 and then played the next 9 on our roster. That meant Katherine played against the other school's top seed. And lost. She was frustrated during the game, but shrugged it off afterward. She knew it's not a disgrace to lose to the best.
She was supposed to play doubles against the same opponent, but the other team forfeited, mostly because their girls were worn out. Katherine's coach had four of his team play instead. They giggled so much they had difficulty playing at times.
There's another home match on Monday. I'll have another chance to watch my girl play. And maybe get a better grasp on how the whole sport works.
I do know that in tennis, when you have nothing, you still have love. That sounds pretty good to me. And it seems to be a good thing for my girl.

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way