Tag Archives: singing


I sing in a choral group. In order to perform with this group, I need appropriate concert attire. I’ve been singing with this group for twenty years and I’ve been wearing the same gown for most of those years. I love that gown, but I realized this past week that it was time to admit that I am not the same size I was twenty years ago. I had a concert on Sunday, so I pushed myself out the door Saturday morning to go in search of new attire. I know what you’re thinking, but honestly, no, I couldn’t make myself start this search any earlier than the day before the concert.

I knew the guidelines. It had to be black. It had to be floor-length. It had to have sleeves. It couldn’t have any other colors on it, or rhinestones or sequins. It needed to be tasteful and not distracting – in other words, no plunging necklines, no cut-outs, and no thigh-high slits in the back or sides. It could be a skirt and top, or it could even be palazzo pants and a top, as long as they were formal.

I knew I wasn’t going to find tasteful formal attire in any store that wasn’t at least pretending to be upscale, so I started, of course, at Burlington Coat Factory. You didn’t think I was going to pay retail, did you? Burlington did have a few formals but the only black ones were covered in huge fake gems or sparkly silver trim. No luck there, so I moved on to T. J. Maxx.

T. J. Maxx had come through for me when I needed clothes for jury duty, so I had high hopes when I went in there. They did have formals. They even had black formals. I found one pretty dress and another jumpsuit that I hoped might qualify as palazzo pants, and I took them to the fitting room. I tried the dress first. It was smaller than my normal size, but it looked big, so I hoped for some vanity sizing and I was not disappointed. I put it on and, oh, my goodness – it fit! I looked in the mirror.

I couldn’t believe what I saw. I looked stylish. I looked elegant. I looked beautiful. The dress could have been made for me. I loved that dress, until I turned around. Oh, dear! The dress emphasized a part of my figure that I definitely wanted to camouflage. I was whining about this to my daughter later and she said it was not a mistake; it was a trend. Um…no. At my age, I do not want to look “bootylicious.”

I put the dress back on its hanger and tried the jumpsuit. It fit, but it did not look like palazzo pants. It just looked like pants. I’ve seen other ladies in the group bend this rule a bit, but I just couldn’t do it. I was the original chairperson of the attire committee; I had to set a good example.

For the record, I did not volunteer to be the chairperson. I was drafted. I did volunteer to be on the committee, but that was just to make sure nobody tried to put us all into puffed sleeves and sweetheart necklines. I’d seen it happen in my daughter’s high school chorus and, believe me, not even the few girls with perfect figures looked good in those dresses. God help the big-boned or flat-chested.

But I digress. I was shopping for a new gown and I was not finding it at Burlington or T. J. Maxx. I was forced to go to the mall. My nearest mall has four big anchor stores. Surely one of them would have something that would work. I parked at Sears and went inside. They had formals but they were aimed at teenagers and covered in bling. I headed for Dillards. No luck there, either. Belk had more formal attire than any other store in the mall, but none of it was simple and elegant and black.

That left J. C. Penney, which happened to be having a huge clearance sale. I was desperate at this point, so when I found a straight, black skirt that would go with the top I had bought for jury duty, I figured I would find a way to make it work. I ended up having to replace a big brown button on the top (oops! I forgot about that) but I did make it work.

The New Outfit

The New Outfit

I know. I looked like a short, red-haired Bea Arthur…but I could breathe!

River Party

I am about to get crazy busy. In just four weeks, I will be leaving for the Florida Folk Festival. Two days ago, our yearly huge order of blanks arrived. I started pre-washing them yesterday. I continued that task today, while also beginning to put things into pre-soak. Pre-soaking is something that must be done while the sun shines, so I couldn’t waste this lovely day. There are two more sunny days in the forecast this week, so I will be pre-soaking tomorrow and the next day, too. Then comes the tying and the dyeing and the rinsing and the washing and the drying and the folding and the stuffing into bins.

I will be working long hours for the next few weeks, so I’m glad I had a chance to relax at a low-key festival this past weekend. It was the Old-fashioned River Party in Manatee Springs State Park. The festival was just Saturday, but we camped Friday night and Saturday night. Even with a portable hot spot, I couldn’t get internet access, so I was unplugged for nearly three days. Once I accepted the fact that I could not update my games, I had a lovely time just reading, singing and enjoying the great outdoors.

My husband had been working on his second handmade kayak for years and he was really pushing in recent weeks because he wanted to have it finished in time for this festival. Manatee Springs has a boat ramp and crystal clear water, so kayaking is a favorite activity there. We brought his first kayak there a couple of years ago and I had a chance to paddle a little bit, but I didn’t go far because I didn’t know what I was doing and I was alone on the water.

This time there were two kayaks, so my husband and I were able to go paddling together. That made a huge difference. I still didn’t know what I was doing but he was right there to help me learn. I will admit that I was nervous at first, but I made a conscious decision to put my fear aside so I could enjoy the delightful new experience. It didn’t take long to learn how to use the paddle to control my direction and speed. The morning was calm and we had the springs to ourselves. We paddled out to the Suwannee River, circled a small island there and then paddled back to the boat ramp in Manatee Springs.



It was heavenly. I don’t think my husband is going to be able to go kayaking without me any more. I am absolutely hooked.

Sunday morning, I decided I wanted to try to use the paints I had brought with me. My husband wanted to get most of the pack-up done early, so I missed the morning light, but I finally escaped about 10:30 and took my supplies up to the sinkhole I had spied out earlier. It’s a favorite spot for scuba diving. The surface of the water is covered with light green duckweed and the dark water shows through in places where divers have disturbed the weeds.

Florida Sinkhole

Florida Sinkhole

Painting the sinkhole was an ambitious plan. Way too ambitious, as it turned out. That’s okay, though. I learned a whole lot while I was working on it. I learned how many things I can comfortably carry along a woodland trail and how much flat space I need to set them all out and work with them. I learned how fast acrylic paints dry in the hot sun, even when there’s a Sta-Wet palette involved. I learned how hard it is to work quickly, especially when there are people around asking questions.

These are important things to know and now I know them.

Road Trip

I think I’ve figured out how Wednesday became my regular weekly blog posting day. I’m pretty sure it was related to a folk festival. I had been posting on Fridays and then on Sundays for a while, but then I must have seen a folk festival coming. I normally drive to a folk festival on Thursday and then I’m without wifi all weekend, so I can’t do blog posts.

I’m thinking about this because I’m getting ready to go to a folk festival. I have festivals where I perform and festivals where I sell tie-dye and one festival where I do both. The one coming up this weekend is the Will McLean Festival, where I am a tie-dye artist and not a performer. It’s my tie-dye partner’s favorite festival because I don’t have to leave her alone in the booth while I go somewhere to sing and yodel. It’s also the one where we don’t bring extra family members. It’s just the two of us, with a tie-dye booth and camping equipment.

We love this weekend, but we sure are exhausted before we get on the road. It’s eight o’clock in the evening as I’m writing this and my daughter is still checking all the lists to make sure everything is loaded up in the van. Everything that’s on a list, anyway. I try to improve my lists by reading Morning Pages from last year to see what I forgot to bring. When I did that this year, I saw that every single day of last year’s festival, I was wishing I had brought art supplies.

I still can’t remember when I found myself with enough down time to want art supplies, but I wrote it in my Morning Pages every day, so I am not leaving them behind this year. The art supplies are in the van. So are a lot of other things, taking up every inch of space, but we’re probably still forgetting something. When I find out what it is, I will write about it in my Morning Pages and we will remember to bring it next year.

I guess I’d better not forget to pack my notebook after I write tomorrow’s Morning Pages.

Ready for Morning Pages

Ready for Morning Pages