Monthly Archives: May 2015

Festival Fun

Some Wednesdays, I have a hard time thinking of anything to write about, but today I have recently returned from the Florida Folk Festival, so it’s hard to narrow it down. My regular readers know that I was a stressed-out mess last week because I was trying to get ready for this festival and the ticket vouchers were slow in coming. I never did receive any more of them but we all got through check-in just by giving our names, so that turned out okay. I should try not to let these kinds of things stress me out. They always turn out okay.

Check-in was Thursday and we settled into our campsite about two o’clock. If all I did was sing, this would have given me some much-needed kick-back time before the participants’ potluck at six, but I also sell tie-dye, so I just ate a quick sandwich and moved on to vendor check-in. From there, we went to the craft area near the Old Marble Stage to set up our booth. We did as much as we could before the potluck. The rest had to wait until Friday morning, after a good night’s sleep in the little blue teardrop trailer.

The Little Blue Teardrop Trailer

The Little Blue Teardrop Trailer


We finished our set-up and then the other members of the family yodeling group pulled me away for a rehearsal. Some of the group members came from as far away as New Jersey, so it had been a long time since our last rehearsal. We managed to pull a decent half-hour set together before our performance at 10:30, but I didn’t make it back to the tie-dye booth until after I finished singing. My daughter was not too worried about it because it was a slow day in the booth and my husband showed up to give her a hand.

The slow day on Friday worried me a bit, but we made up for it on Saturday. I had another rehearsal and another performance, so it was a good thing my husband was there to help my daughter in the tie-dye booth.

The Tie-dye Booth

The Tie-dye Booth


Sunday was another busy day in the booth, but our performance that day was on the Old Marble Stage. Most of the stages are far away from the tie-dye booth, but that one is so close, my daughter could watch our performance and still handle tie-dye sales. Forty-four years ago, when I first started singing at the Florida Folk Festival, it wasn’t called the Old Marble Stage because it wasn’t that old and it was the only stage there was. Memories wash over me every time I step on that smooth marble surface and it was a joy to share it with the extended family one more time.
Together Again on the Old Marble Stage

Together Again on the Old Marble Stage


We had beautiful weather, wonderful music and record tie-dye sales. We would be celebrating all that, but first we have to do the paperwork. That waits until I get home because I’m not bringing an adding machine to the Florida Folk Festival.
I finally got the sales tickets to balance--yay!

I finally got the sales tickets to balance–yay!

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Festival Frustration

I don’t have time to write a blog post today. I have to leave for the Florida Folk Festival tomorrow morning and I have a million things left to do. I need to start my slaw for the participant’s potluck. I have to cut up the vegetables for the veggie pitas we always have for lunch when we get to the campground. I need to put all my singing dresses, which I washed today, into the plastic hanging bags and load them into the van. I need to load up my suitcase and my super happy fun bag and my autoharp. I should probably practice with that autoharp one more time before I load it up.

All that and more, but there’s one task that’s driving me absolutely bonkers because too much of it is out of my control. The organizers of this event are trying a new method of distributing passes to participants. It’s supposed to be a lot more efficient than the old way and I suppose it might be if they had implemented it a bit sooner. Each group has a contact person and they are sending the vouchers to that person by e-mail. The contact is then supposed to forward the vouchers to the group members so they can print out their tickets and exchange them for wristbands at check-in.

It sounds simple enough, but vouchers started arriving in my e-mail last Friday and I still don’t have them all. I am the contact for the family yodeling act and I am also the contact for the tie-dye business. My to-do lists are long and I can’t check this thing off because I don’t have all the vouchers. I have family members coming to Florida from New Jersey for this festival and some of them have no vouchers.

I have a million things to do and I have to stop and check my e-mail every few minutes to see if any more vouchers have arrived. I haven’t received a single one today. I tell myself to just breathe deeply and do what I can do, but the longer I have to wait for those vouchers, the harder it is to remain calm. My group members are depending on me to get their vouchers to them but I can’t do that if nobody gets them to me. I’m breathing. I’m breathing.

On the upside, we have finished all the tie-dye and I have really pretty dryer lint.

Colorful lint

Colorful lint

Rainbow Rant

I am buried under a mountain of tie-dye. Rainbows, Midnights, Purples, Blues, Oceans…those are the color palettes that are dyed. I have started the Greens. My daughter (my partner in the tie-dye business) reads my blog and I want her to know that I have started the Greens. I dyed that one Extra-large T-shirt with the light beer on it, so the Greens are definitely started.

The Forests, Goldens, and Fruities are still to come. My daughter has tied the Forests. She still needs to tie the Goldens and the Fruities. She would have finished the tying by now, but she has been helping me with the dyeing. Our normal division of labor is that she ties and I dye. The dyeing takes longer than the tying, though, and this year we got a late start on the big tie-dye push for the Florida Folk Festival. It’s amazing how much more we can get done when my daughter helps with the dyeing.

When she’s here helping, I can get up and mix more dye without thinking that nothing is getting done. I know the mixing is part of the job, but it feels like just an annoying thing I have to do before I can get back to doing the job. It isn’t quite so annoying when someone is still dyeing while I’m mixing. In a more perfect world, we might have a minimum-wage minion doing the mixing, but in our world, that minion would be making more money than we are.

We are our own minions. We do the planning. We do the designing. We order the blanks and the dyes and the chemicals. We pre-wash, dry and fold every cotton blank that comes in and we store them all until we need them. Before a big event, we make lists of all the things we need to dye. We pre-soak them and tie them and dye them. We wrap them up and leave them alone for at least twenty-four hours and then we rinse them and wash them and dry them.

Sometimes people say to me, “Oh, you make tie-dye for a living. That must be so much fun!”

I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but making tie-dye is a lot of work. I like it a lot better than office work, but it’s still work. It’s not just making rainbows. An awful lot of it is just laundry. Load after load after load of very colorful laundry.

Sigh…my weekly blog post seems to have turned into a rant. It’s late. I’m tired. I am buried under a mountain of tie-dye.

In Memoriam

When I went to bed last night, I was thinking about today being blog day and wondering what I could possibly write about. Then I went to Facebook this morning and found posts and private messages letting me know that my former brother-in-law had passed away in the night. He and my sister divorced years ago, for very good reasons, but you just don’t forget someone who has been part of your family for years. My heart goes out to his children and my heart remembers the good times.

He and my sister formed a musical group and invited me to sing with them. The first time this group wanted to participate in the Florida Folk Festival, the one way that was offered was with a set on the Gazebo Stage, a stage dedicated to Florida music. We agreed to do a twenty-five minute set of songs about Florida even though we didn’t have that many Florida songs in our repertoire. My brother-in-law sat down and wrote some. They were good. They were astonishingly good.

I will never forget learning those songs and I will never forget singing them at the Florida Folk Festival, first on the Gazebo Stage and eventually on the Amphitheater Stage. We were able to do that for several years and they were good years, at least for me. He was a phenomenal musician and songwriter and I feel privileged to have had those experiences. My first trip to the Will McLean Festival was with that group. My only trip to Suwannee Springfest was with that group.

I remember that he learned about the nickname one of my older brothers had called me in childhood and became only the second person who ever got away with calling me that. He still called me that the last time I ran into him, shopping in the local Walmart, years after he and my sister split up. My brother passed in 2008, so that’s a nickname I will not be hearing again. I would not have thought that would make me sad, but it does.

I remember Halloweens and Thanksgivings and Christmases, times when he was there, part of the family, adding his special sense of drama and whimsy to the proceedings. My husband and I used to host an ornament making party every Christmas. There’s a glittery eyeball that still hangs on my tree every year, thanks to my ex-brother-in-law’s creativity. I remember one Christmas when I was strolling a shopping center with my children and we ran into Santa Claus. My kids were impressed when Santa addressed them by name. My brother-in-law was a “helper” that year.

I know the man was not perfect. He had flaws. He had issues. He and my sister could not stay together, but he was family for fifteen years and we will not forget him. There were plenty of good times and we will remember those. Rest in peace, my brother-outlaw.