Tag Archives: music


We have returned from a successful Will McLean Festival. We will have a lot of dyeing to do to get ready for the Florida Folk Festival in May, but now we can afford to order blanks. This was our third Willfest and the other two had cold weather. We sold a lot of long-sleeved T-shirts and socks. This time, we checked the forecast and left the long-sleeved T-shirts at home. We took tank tops instead and that turned out to be a wise decision. It was a good weekend for tank tops.

One thing we love about this festival is that we get to camp right behind our tie-dye booth, which is very close to the main stage. We get to listen to music all day while we’re selling tie-dye and when it gets dark, we just zip up the booth and retire to our campsite, where we can listen to music as we eat supper. If we have any energy left, we can move our chairs closer to the stage to enjoy the music. If we’re exhausted, we can crawl into our tent and continue to enjoy the music as we fall asleep. I can’t imagine a more convenient arrangement.

Our booth and our tent

Our booth and our tent

This year it was particularly convenient because our space was right next to the funnel cake booth. These weren’t just regular funnel cakes, either. You could get a regular funnel cake, sure, but you could also get toppings. The one that tempted me was Boston Cream Pie. I went to get a funnel cake that I thought I would share with my daughter. As I was ordering it, she informed me that she didn’t want toppings, she wanted a plain funnel cake with powdered sugar. I wasn’t giving up my Boston Cream Pie funnel cake, so I ordered two funnel cakes. They were gorgeous.
Funnel cakes!

Funnel cakes!

The Boston Cream Pie funnel cake was the best funnel cake in the history of funnel cakes, but it was huge. I learned something new this weekend. A half-eaten funnel cake that has been stored in a cooler for two days is an abomination, but if it has Bavarian Cream on it, I will still eat it. Oh, yeah.

The Will McLean Festival is held at the Sertoma Youth Ranch, which is a beautiful place full of huge trees, a lake that attracts sandhill cranes and a meadow that fills up with mist every morning. It’s so pretty, I ached to find time to paint some of that scenery while I was there, but I just couldn’t manage it. I took a lot of photos with my iPad and I may try to use them as references for a painting now that I’m home, but I know the photos don’t capture the magic of the place.

I couldn’t pull off all the messy set-up and clean-up of a painting, but I did take out my watercolor pencils and sketch something I could see from the tie-dye booth.

Willfest sketch

Willfest sketch

I’m happy that I didn’t take art supplies all that way for nothing.

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.


I don’t talk about music much in this blog. I guess that’s because I started this blog to motivate myself to do the creative things I was not doing and music is the one creative pursuit I never abandoned. Music has been a constant source of joy and connection for me since I was a child. I grew up in a house filled with music. When I was a teenager, we took it on stage for the first time at the Florida Folk Festival. About that same time, I wandered into a chorus rehearsal during my unstructured time at a new high school. Someone put music in my hands and I was instantly hooked. I love vocal harmony with a pure and ever-present passion.

Music fills my life with light. It is the one thing I can count on to get me through the dark places. I am remembering that now because this past week has needed extra light. I lost two family members since my last blog post. One was my nephew’s wife and the other was my sister’s ex-significant other. Both were taken out by cancer, the woman after a long battle and the man after a shockingly short one. When I was trying to decide whether to list him as “friend” or “family” I remembered that he had been in the circle around my mother’s deathbed in 2003. He helped us sing her to her rest. Definitely family.

It’s what we do in difficult times. We sing. I imagine we would fall apart if we didn’t. We sang at my father’s funeral. I will never forget my mother standing in the front of the church, singing my father’s favorite song, a tearjerker called “Last Farewell”. There was not a dry eye in the church, except my mom’s, because she needed to keep it together to sing that song for him. It was probably the hardest thing she ever did, but music was her strength and it carried her through.

When her own time came, my brother found her unconscious and she was rushed to the hospital. The family began to gather, but my older sister lived seventy miles away and it took her a while to get there. Mom waited. She did not regain consciousness, but her monitor showed life signs until my sister arrived and we gathered around to sing her one last song. When it was done, the lines on the monitor went flat. She was just waiting for her song.

That night, I was scheduled to play Sister Berthe in a community theater performance of The Sound of Music. The show went on. My cast mates were shocked that I showed up, but that’s how we cope. We keep on singing. We do what sustains us.

This week, we will do it again. We will gather, we will hold tight to each other and we will sing. It’s what we do. It gets us through.

Rest in peace, Sandra. Rest in peace, Ron. I know we’ll meet again in a bright place filled with song.