Tag Archives: Florida Folk Festival


Well, it was bound to happen eventually. Yesterday was Wednesday and I didn’t blog. I don’t even have a good reason. I just forgot. I fought my way groggily from sleep this morning and then let out a big gasp that startled my poor husband. Then I had to explain that it was not that big of a deal, but that it was Thursday morning and I just realized that I hadn’t put up a blog post Wednesday.

Okay, to me it’s kind of a big deal. I kept that Wednesday blog post going for more than a year and I wanted to keep it going indefinitely, but I guess some part of me wanted to let go of the obligation. Some part of me let me go to bed last night and sleep soundly without bringing up the fact that I had not put up a blog post.

It sure wasn’t a matter of not having anything to blog about. Between last Wednesday and this Wednesday, I survived an entire Florida Folk Festival. I sold tie-dye for three days. I left my daughter in charge of the tie-dye booth once each day so I could sing and yodel with the family act that’s been performing there since 1971. I saw lots of wonderful old friends and made some new ones.

Our Tie-dye Booth

Our Tie-dye Booth

The Makley Family

The Makley Family

My Grandson Making Friends with a Park Ranger

My Grandson Making Friends with a Park Ranger

It was a busy week. I guess the intensity of the last month just finally caught up with me yesterday. I got lazy in the evening. I watched TV. I read a magazine. I ate leftovers for supper and I went to bed early. I slept peacefully for eight solid hours and then I woke up and gasped at the realization that Wednesday had passed and I had not blogged.

Oh, well…it was bound to happen eventually.

Festival Time

I am up past my bedtime on the night before we have to get up early and drive to the Florida Folk Festival and I have plastic wrap on my head. I believe I am going to drive my daughter home with plastic wrap on my head. She’s putting her things in the car now.

We procrastinate every year but this might be a new record. My daughter was going to dye my hair for me last night but then she looked into her box of hair-dyeing supplies and saw that she was out of developer. If I want bright pink hair, she has to bleach out the natural color before she applies the pink dye and bleach requires developer. We couldn’t go on a developer run at that point because we had too many other things to do, so we put it off until today.

Today was full of even more things to do, so we put it off until this evening. That’s why I’m up past my bedtime with plastic wrap on my head. On the upside, we did finish all the tie-dye.

Tie-dyed Dress

Tie-dyed Dress

Still May

The long days of dyeing have begun. The pre-soaking went smoothly because we were blessed with four or five days in a row of perfect pre-soaking weather. Even though we live in Florida, which is called the Sunshine State, anyone who lives here knows that a lot of that sunshine comes in liquid form, particularly in the warmer months. To have several days of bright, breezy weather with low humidity is rare and we are grateful that they came exactly when we needed them.

The humidity continues to be low, something I know without looking at a weather report because I’ve been mixing dyes and my measuring spoon has not become encrusted with sodium hexametaphosphate. That’s water softener. I could say water softener, but I get a kick out of saying sodium hexametaphosphate. On humid days, there’s so much of it stuck to my measuring spoon that I’m pretty sure I’m no longer getting an accurate measurement. Today that spoon stayed dry all day.

It was hot, though. We didn’t get started with the dyeing until late morning because we needed to go to the grocery store. You can only put that off so long before you start running out of food and you can’t face long dyeing days without food. We know what the long dyeing days are like, so we bought plenty of Breakfast Essentials. Okay, it’s not a real meal, which is probably why they stopped calling it Instant Breakfast, but it will sure get either one of us from early morning to noon with no trouble.

By the time we put away our groceries and started working this morning, the day was already beginning to heat up. A lunch break cooled us off, but going back outside in the afternoon was a challenge. After we had been working a while, my daughter disappeared into the house and then my husband came to tell me he was taking her home.

“She’s coming back, right?” I said.
“Yes, she just needs to get something from her house,” he replied.

I kept working, enjoying the solitude. I don’t get much of that now that my husband is retired, so I appreciate it when it shows up. After a while, my husband and daughter returned with a surprise. My sneaky daughter had discovered cash left on her Starbucks card and bought us all Frappuccinos. A venti Frappuccino is a lovely treat when you’re working outdoors on a hot afternoon. It got me all the way through an entire category of Rainbow cottons. I finished the Starbursts and Accessories.

Rainbow Starburst

Rainbow Starburst

I thought about moving on to Rainbow Hearts or Rainbow Guitars, but then I caught myself putting purple next to green on a bandana and knew it was time to stop. When I can’t remember ROYGBV, I am too tired to make tie-dye.

May? How Did It Get To Be May?

I was just sitting here, innocently checking my iPad games and wondering how early I can retire for the night, when I suddenly realized it’s Wednesday. Wednesday! Wait … that means I have to come up with a blog post before I can retire for the night. I’m sleepy, people. I have a long day of pre-soaking ahead of me tomorrow and I need to get some rest. Yes, I am still working on pre-soaking, not dyeing. Yes, I know it’s May the fourth. I’ve been on Facebook; I know it’s May the fourth.

Thanks to my friend George, I got my first “Happy Star Wars Day” wish at 6:35 this morning. He knows I’m an early riser. I returned the good wishes and got back to my morning pages. Once I made it to the internet, I saw a lot more such wishes. I shared one on Facebook myself. May the fourth comes but once a year, after all.

The problem with it being May the fourth, of course, is that means we’re already in the month that also holds Memorial Day and that is the holiday weekend when we attend the Florida Folk Festival, our biggest tie-dye event of the year. We’re in the month of May and we haven’t dyed anything yet. It’s going to be a busy month.

We have made progress. Since last week, we have washed and dried all the new cotton blanks and we have finished pre-soaking all the Rainbows. Pre-soaking the Rainbows took a whole day, because, between the cottons and the Rayons, they took up all four of my clotheslines. My daughter has started tying those Rainbows. I have finished listing all the cottons we need to dye and all of those blanks have been sorted into bags by color palette. I have cleared out all the old dyes and located all the dye bottles. We use eight-ounce squirt bottles for our dyes and we have dozens of them, so keeping track of them in the slow months is not easy. I have found them. I know where they are.

See? We have made progress. Tomorrow the forecast calls for sunshine all day, so we should be able to get four more clotheslines full of pre-soaking done. More progress! With that goal in mind, I’m going to wrap up this post and get it published, so I can get my rest. There you go. I blogged. Now I’m going to bed.

Back to Work

Okay, I’m getting closer to painting again. A few days ago, I went to a book store and bought, not only a copy of The Artist’s Magazine, but also a copy of Plein Air Magazine. I’ve already read a great article about squinting. That’s as far as I got because I had tie-dye things to do.

New Reading Material

New Reading Material

This morning, I cleaned out my Sta-Wet Palette. I had to use a new sheet of Acrylic paper. The old one had dried out completely, with a whole lot of paint on it. The paint had dried out, too, along with the sponge underneath. The Sta-Wet Palette does not stay wet if you leave it alone for three months. Good to know.

Now my Sta-Wet Palette is wet again, but I just had time to get it to that point and then I needed to do tie-dye things again. The problem with having a successful Florida Folk Festival is that a whole lot of tie-dye goes to new homes, and then we need to make more tie-dye. It happens every year, and every year we think we’re going to go straight home and get busy replacing all the things we sold.

We manage to forget that we are exhausted when we get home from the Florida Folk Festival. We manage to forget that we can’t even begin to replace the things that sold until we order more blanks, and we can’t do that until we know exactly what sold. We shouldn’t even try to replace things until after our end-of-June inventory, but then there are the special orders.

When we run out of a certain style of item, we could just say, “Sorry, we don’t have any more of those” and leave it at that. It’s hard to leave it at that when someone says, “Can you make one for me?” and agrees to pay in advance. When we’re in our happy festival mood, it seems reasonable to accept these special orders. We love making tie-dye and we love making our customers happy.

Then we get home and remember that there are only two of us and we are exhausted. At least one of us has usually injured something at the festival or during the pack-up or while we’re unloading the van. We want to get the special orders done as quickly as possible, but we need to recover first. We’re sorry. If you ordered something from us, we are determined to get it to you. If what you ordered is in the Blue Raspberry color palette, we will be mailing it out tomorrow.

If it’s in Rainbows, Fruities or Greens, we’re working on it. We promise. I just hope I can get back to my Sta-Wet palette before it dries out again.

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!

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.

Application Procrastination

Today is Wednesday, October 1, 2014. All performer applications for the 2015 Florida Folk Festival must be postmarked by today to be considered. I have been performing at this event since 1971 and I still find the application process intimidating. Back in those days, my mom was the contact for the family yodeling act, so I had no idea how intimidating the application could be. My Mom is gone now, but we still have five family members who want to perform at the Florida Folk Festival. Somehow, everyone agreed that I would be the new contact. They say it’s because I’m the one who lives in Florida year-round, which really makes no difference, since I can’t complete the application without contacting all the other group members, no matter where they’re living.

That’s the first thing I do once I realize it’s time to fill out the application. That gets a little tricky, because the e-mail address the festival organizers have is the one for the family act and it almost never gets any e-mail. I forget to check it. There is also the past history of the application process to trip me up. In recent years, the poor woman who has to organize the event has had way too much on her plate. The applications went out late and consequently, the application deadline was extended well beyond October first. I should have been paying attention. I should have been checking that e-mail, but I just didn’t realize time was getting away from me.

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you know that my own plate has been a bit overloaded lately. You also know that some days, I’m just not very good at coping. I hide out and avoid stressful things until I feel better. The Florida Folk Festival application is a very stressful thing. This year, someone took something off the festival organizer’s plate and she sent out the applications on August first. I wasn’t checking the family e-mail, so I failed to notice. My sister woke me up to the deadline after attending a meeting in the town that hosts the event.

That was a couple of weeks ago. I should have jumped on that application as soon as I heard from her, but I found myself procrastinating. I had good excuses, including two memorial services to attend during that time frame. Still, the biggest reason I procrastinated is that the application process stresses me out and I just couldn’t face it.

I know. Believe me, I know. It would be a lot less stressful if I would just open up the application as soon as I know it’s there and start filling it out. I do know, but I still procrastinate. I had to gather information. Would all the regular participants be planning to attend this year? Would they be bringing the same guests they brought last year? Were my sister’s granddaughters ready to join us this year? These are the important questions I sent out via Facebook messages and I did nothing at all until I heard back from everyone.

Well, I did a couple of things. I breathed and I waited. I needed to do those things before I could face that application. Then the messages were answered and I had no more excuses. That’s when the panic hit. I downloaded the application and saw that we needed a new recording this year. We didn’t have a new recording. More Facebook messages were sent. More procrastination occurred as I waited for my sisters and my younger daughter to tell me they didn’t have any recordings, either. I scoured my files again. I found something that would work, but I needed to get it on a CD and I’m technologically challenged.

My older daughter saved the day. She put two songs on a CD for me. I folded up the application, tucked the CD inside and put it all in a padded envelope. I sealed the envelope. Yay! The application was ready to mail. I decided I could get some rest and mail it in the morning.

That was last night. This morning, I realized I had never actually listened to the CD to make sure the recording was successful. I tore open the padded envelope, pulled out the CD and popped it into the nearest player. Yes! It worked. Then I popped it into a different player, because the application had asked me to do that. It worked there, too! Whew! I addressed a new envelope and sealed the application and CD inside. Then I drove to the Post Office and stood in line to mail it. I explained how important the postmark was and the nice postal worker stamped it twice, in different places, just to make sure.

A great weight is off my shoulders – at least until I check the tie-dye e-mail. Performer applications went out on August first. Vendor applications were scheduled to go out October first.

I did paint while I was procrastinating. It’s two pine cone lilies in a handmade vase.

Pine Cone Lilies

Pine Cone Lilies

We know it’s Autumn in Florida when the pine cone lilies turn red.

A Good Day

There has been a lot of upheaval in my life these past few weeks. We normally spend the month of June just recovering from our biggest tie-dye event of the year, the Florida Folk Festival. This year, we were coping with illness before we even left the festival. My grandson’s cold was the little snowball that rolled through the family and down the big hill of my husbands weakened immune system, becoming a huge problem when it turned to pneumonia. That was on top of the heart attack we didn’t know about until we went to the Emergency Room because of the cough that wouldn’t go away.

I caught the cold, too, of course. We were both still coughing a bit when we went on our vacation to North Carolina. That was a wonderful experience, but it was still a big departure from our normal routine, which I was starting to crave by the time we returned to Jacksonville. I wanted a quiet, ordinary day with room for some self-care.

Today was that day. I finally got back to Sweatin’ to the Oldies. Go ahead and laugh, but Richard Simmons keeps me moving for an hour and nothing else has ever done that, so I’m grateful. I had no idea how much aerobic exercise could help my mood until I went off anti-depressants a few years ago. The medication got me through menopause, but I wanted to see if I could manage without it once I made the passage. It turned out exercise was the key. It makes almost as much difference as medication and it’s a whole lot cheaper. I had let it slide since the festival because things were so crazy, but I knew I couldn’t do that much longer without falling into the depression pit. Today, I worked out.

After a shower, I sat down to meditate. Every time I do that, I remember why I want to do it more often. The whole day goes more smoothly if I practice self-care before I do anything else. Once I got my day off to such a good start, I was able to enjoy running errands and taking my daughter and grandsons shoe-shopping. I also played some games on my i-Pad. These are free games designed to tempt you into spending real money in order to speed up your progress. If you’re determined not to spend real money, you have to take long breaks to let energy or coins build up. They’re perfect for someone like me, who will play obsessively as long as possible but will definitely NOT spend real money to do it.

I also painted. I planned to make a squash casserole for supper, so I bought some yellow squash when I went to the grocery store. I decided this would be a good day to add to my series of tiny paintings of fruits and vegetables. I took a look at the others and realized I didn’t have one with a blue background, so I set up some squash on a cutting board in front of a blue cloth.

Yellow Squash

Yellow Squash

I worked out, I meditated and I painted. It was a good day.