Sunday, June 21, 2015

(Not) On the Dance Floor Again

That's getting to be My Song.

There really wasn't a weekend of rest and relaxation between the Wedding Event and the Quilt Stroll. So how could I almost forget that Our Little Town got its annual visit from Travelin' Band, a Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute band with lead vocalist Michael Furlong? It's time to want again to dance - but still can't.  I won't recite the reasons, again. Foot-stomping, head-bobbing, clapping and finger-snapping are not precluded.

I arrive early-ish at the Groveland Hotel's Yosemite Courtyard Cabaret.  I seat myself, center, second row. The instruments are ready and waiting. Other patrons trickle in, filling in the seats on the main patio floor and at the garden  tables above and behind it. A couple I know well sits behind me and we chat during quiet moments. There's another couple next to them and they watch me as I chat with my friends. They look familiar somehow, maybe from sometime in the past? I puzzle.

No one takes the seat directly in front of me. I won't have to hold my camera overhead for photos.


Dusk. It has been a warm day and I bring only a bright floral scarf/shawl that I can pull down over my shoulders and twist around my arms if it gets chilly.

The musicians wander onto the stage. Whether it's by design or omission, there is no M/C to introduce them. No programs and no introductions. They just play.

I don't write down the song titles as they play. But I Google a CCR Top Ten list. They play all of them and more, and some of them more than once.

Dancing always starts a little slowly. A bolder woman finally makes a move toward the dance floor and several more quickly join her. The lady in the reddish top and white pants dances every single dance.

Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
Proud Mary
Fortunate Son

As the sky darkens, the dance pace picks up and the dance floor gets crowded. Some men join in but most of them not with the intensity of the women.

Born on the Bayou
Down on the Corner
Up Around the Bend   

The puzzling-people-from-the-past, seeing me take so many photos, ask me to take theirs on their camera phone. I can't keep their phone "awake" long enough to snap their picture, so I take one on my own, offering to email it to them.

I finally ask them whether we've known each other in the past. We exchange queries and finally figure out that they're Sister's part-time Neighbors-Next-Door. We'd met at a big party at Sister's house a year or two ago. ("Past" is relative.)

Green River
Lookin' Out My Back Door
Bad Moon Rising

The men have finally been lured out of their chairs in greater numbers and participate with enthusiasm.  (I don't think they have as much endurance as the women do.)

Who'll Stop the Rain
I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Long As I Can See the Light

I take a video of the dancing. I'm a total novice at videoing but it comes out pretty well. When I review it, I see it has several seconds of the Neighbors-Next-Door dancing but when I go to email it to them, the file is too large to send. I try to post it here, but it's too large for blogger software too.

Lodi (Stuck In)
I Put a Spell on You
Cotton Fields

Travelin' Band
Run Through the Jungle
Midnight Special

Someday Never Comes
Susie Q

The songs wash through me, songs so familiar to my generation and those bracketing it. Just one more encore. Another.  I sing them at the top of my lungs, even though I don't really know the words, just maybe the end of a refrain. It's visceral. The heavy beat aligns every cell in my body, making them pulse in harmony. It's euphoric. I'm smiling, again and again. Smiling as the last notes fade away and applause replaces them. Smiling as people finally realize there are no more encores and begin drifting out to their cars or up to their hotel rooms. Shivering -- it has cooled down --  but still smiling as I head for my car. Smiling as I park at the post office to go in to check my mail. Smiling at the cats when I get home.

Dancing in my living room where if I fall the carpet is soft or a chair will provide a landing spot.

*     *     *     *     *

The music makes me smile. Coming up later this summer, another favorite, an Eagles tribute band. I have my ticket.


Monday, June 15, 2015

It's been cool, until the Quilt Stroll

Every two years, the quilt guild in the little mountain (or foothill -- it's right on the cusp) town of Groveland, California, holds a Quilt Stroll, hanging quilts over everything that stands still. All the locals turn out to stroll, to look at quilts, to buy local hand-made crafts and foods, and to meet-and-greet. The northern-most highway into Yosemite passes through the center of town and not-a-few curious tourists peel off the caravan of cars to take a look around.

Last June, the Quilt Stroll was well-warmed by temperatures over 100°. You can see the first of two blogs I did on it here. This year stroll planners have tried to keep more quilts in shade, and the vendors in inside venues. Although it's beautiful to see quilts fluttering from clotheslines in the park, they are very difficult to string up, and keep up if it's windy. People also commit the quilt show sin of Touching the Quilts. So quilts are missing from the park this year.

This has been a weird weather year. There's the California drought you've likely heard about, almost no snow nor rain in this neighborhood, yet temperatures have been almost chilly until a couple of weeks ago. Until a few days ago the daily forecasts leading up to this weekend wobbled around a lot between 95° and 104°. As a quilt stroll attendee, I've certainly been cheering and groaning as Saturday predictions go up and down. I'm sure stroll organizers feel the same.  Attendance took a hit in last year's heat.

I don't actually manage to get myself there at opening at 9 a.m. to beat the heat. I snag a parking space in the commuter lot behind the jail. Last year I think I tried to take a picture of every quilt. This year is more like a sampling. I risk hurting the feelings of unphotographed quilts. I've got plenty of pictures here, but I mostly post them for the looking and lighten up on the narrative.

Here goes.

This is the jail. Quilts are hung on the exterior and there is a little quilt lesson going on at a picnic table behind the jail.

Across the little street from the jail:

Be forewarned. Here's what happens if you touch the quilts and that jail is maybe 75 feet away.

Irresistibly cute kitty cats.

On Main Street


At the Groveland Hotel

This VW has been a staple at community events in the area for many years. You could have an opportunity to help paint it. It was much more psychedelic in some of that era. I think it has not had a public painting in quite awhile.

The fire station

I grab the maker of these little folded log cabin blocks. "I want to touch the quilt. I want to see how they are made."  She laughs and moves on. She's a busy lady.

This is a two-color quilt, kind of Mondrian in style. I take a close-up to show the interesting quilting on it.

This is a big quilt. I'm loving the small scrappy blocks on print backgound. It's a quilt you'll want to cozy up to.

Chickens. I adore quilt chickens.

If I can get into my quilt studio and quilt sometime soon, maybe I'll have something in the quilt stroll in two years.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Addendum to Unicorns: Mystery of the Koala Bear Revealed

Just a quick update here to answer the mystery I posed at the end of Unicorns, Rainbows and Ninja Cats. Where were the koala bears?

My son FB'd me with the answer.

" So if you look at the picture of the drone, just above the microphone is a small brown object. That was the koala that held onto the rings. Our "ring bear"...  "

This is one of the moments when I wish I had used my "good" camera instead of the phone camera so the "bear" would show up better.

Oh, and he also received his own "real" ring this week.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Unicorns, Rainbows and Ninja Cats

Pt 1 - Getting There, click here.
Pt 2 - Wear Costumes, click here.

Mother and Daughter

It's quiet at my son's  house when I first wake up early wedding day morning to go to the bathroom down the hall.  Except when the honey-colored dog decides to bark vociferously. "Be quiet, Honey, you'll wake everyone up."  She hadn't made a peep to me the previous morning.

I remember little very clearly from this morning. I'm just watching the ebb and flow around me while I'm waiting for someone to give me directions. If I were a good grandma, I might be attacking the chaos in the kitchen, but I wouldn't have a clue where to start. The groom and groomsmen are shuttling around passing things out. Shoes. They'll all have the same shoes. Things the groom is not allowed to see. He asks when something under cover passes by, then lets them keep their secrets.

There is one large tray, loosely covered with paper, carried into the room.  Someone asks what. "Bears," is the answer. Another person laughs. "Koala bears. Little tiny koala bears." "Well, koala bears are bears." More laughter. I'll be on the the lookout for tiny bears later. How do they fit into the Unicorn, Rainbows and Ninja Cats theme?

Granddaughter and her friends head out to the Strawberry Festival not far away to get strawberries and check whether the Groom's ring is ready yet at the shop. (Running a little tight on that one, are we?) They've been checking every day. They ask me if I want to go.

I decline. I remember driving through it the day before, past parking signs for $10 and $15. That or walk. I'm not up for a long walk, or even a short one.

They're back, more quickly than I expected. Like I said, things are a blur. I think there is no ring and someone is tasked with finding a suitable substitute.

"The bride's ring is ready."  I hope?  I'm assured by my son.

Somewhere along the way I ask when "we," in our varied cars and locales, should be at the wedding venue. Text messages go out to concerned drivers so that all riders can be given notice.

Things are in motion.

The wedding venue is the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. Although it's technically a motel, it has put a unique stamp on history on California's Central Coast. I haven't been here before, even with my California roots. Our event is being held at its Expo Center, where we're greeted by the Unicorn and Ninja cat. I learn way after the fact that the Bride and Groom have engineered this "Beericorn" to dispense beer and hard cider from barrels within, through a couple of orifices in the beast. I'd glimpsed it at the Rehearsal Dinner last night but never got my camera back to the room with the bar.

Our family and its associates scurry around, getting the right front row cleared to accommodate the Groom's Party. I am advised to go wait in the back row for Grandson, who in his role as Best Man will escort me down to the aisle seat front row. I am so clueless about wedding protocol. Nothing could have been smaller than my two weddings!

Some waiting ensues and an announcement is made that there is a slight delay in the arrival of the bridal party. It wasn't too long. The orchestra repeated its program for us. The Bride has recently taken up the cello and I wonder whether this is her group.

(I'm forbidden to take crowd photos as I'm escorted down the aisle to my seat, but I resume when the Rainbow of Bridesmaids lines up Stage Right.) The significance of the green tutu for the puppy yesterday becomes clear now. I have my eye out for koala bears.

The groomsmen line up Stage Left in their rainbow shirts.

The little flower girl has been towed down the aisle in her rainbow wagon and lets out a wail as Daddy, I presume, lifts her into a chair and starts to depart.

Here comes the Bride, on the arm of her Mama. That's their handclasp at the top of this blog.

We get the full glory of the Rainbow in her train. Her Sister, the Maid of Honor, stands at our left. The Officiant is, to my surprise, Granddaughter's BF. That's Grandson, Best Man, to the right of Son.

Here is the Sweetest Part of All, where my son sings to his bride. I don't think it's just Mama's pride that he sounds wonderful.

The Best Man makes a speech to his Dad. I wish I had a recording of that.

We hear a bit of commotion to the back of the room, the buzz of the audience, then an even more persistent buzz, a mechanical buzz, and the Ring Bearer, in aviator helmet and goggles, comes piloting his drone down the aisle to deliver the rings. (You do see a look of utter surprise on Bride's face and the look of assessment on how to grab the ring packets on the Groom's.)

The ring packet successfully delivered, the pilot prances off to our right, led by his drone.

The vows and rings are exchanged, the knot is tied. Applause.

The Unicorn cake is unveiled on the cake table, as are five additional wedding cakes made by Granddaughter.

Beer and hard cider flow from the Beericorn, after technical difficulties in establishing a flow are overcome.

The DJ who will wrangle the music during dinner sets up his mammoth array of music-playing equipment.

Daughter's Youngest Daughter and her BF make googly-eyes in front of the stage.

Daughter's Eldest Daughter (in Unicorn onesie) and BF (in Kangaroo onesie with a joey in its pouch) ...

The First Dance

Table decorations

The Unicorn cake is cut. I miss the Groom decapitating it (just as well, I might have cried) and Skittles cascaded down from the head. The Bride hands the Unicorn's horn to a thrilled guest.

A rapprochement between Bride and Flower Girl ...

The Wedding Night's dancing begins. We're a little more sedate tonight after last night's long evening.

Sister and Brother-in-Law behind Granddaughter ...

The members of my son's bands who played at the Rehearsal Dinner are among the wedding guests tonight. They've hired another local band to play for us.  They're a good band, with some nice vocals.

I've declined dancing these two nights, as much as I've wanted to dance, to avoid the spectacle of a face-plant by Granny on the dance floor. But my son is strong enough to catch me if I fall, so I get to have this one dance with him. Can you tell I'm smiling, inside and out?

Sister dances with the Kangaroo ...

... who shows off the joey.  We're all getting ready to say good-bye to the party. The Groom invites us all  to breakfast tomorrow at the Inn.

*     *     *     *     *

I've looked closely at all the photos for koala bears. I've magnified the bride's bouquet to inspect the flower fluffs. As close as I can tell, they are little fluffy unicorns. I think back at the giggles when they told us "koala bears."  I think we've been victims of misdirection. Why am I not surprised?

And so the Big Events moves toward its close.