Singin’ in the Wind

Join me in this little ditty to the tune of “Singin’ in the Rain”.

I’m singin’ in the wind,
just singin’ in the wind,
what an allergized feelin’,
I’m sniffling again . . .

I’ve done it five years in a row, played at the annual charity garden tour and at the Toledo Wednesday market. Why do I keep coming back with the fantasy of perfect weather, an attentive audience, and notes coming out of my throat like I’m some kind of angel? The reality: it’s hot, freezing or raining, and always, always windy. The few people who really listen tend to talk to me as if I could sing, play the guitar, and carry on a conversation at the same time. I’m usually planted right under a giant flower pot or on the grass in front of a lush flower bed, so my throat feels scratchy, and my mood gets cranky as I try to control pages of music that keep wanting to blow away.

Meanwhile people keep saying I have a beautiful voice and isn’t it a wonderful day? Yeah, peachy keen.

Why do it? I could say I’m singing for a worthy cause, but mostly I want the publicity and it fluffs my ego. Maybe somebody who takes my card will ask me to sing inside on a stage where people are quietly listening instead of asking what they put on that azalea to make it grow so well.

Also, it’s good practice, and this time I got to try out my new amp (love it) and the new action on my old guitar (love that, too).

When they call me next year, I should say no, but I probably won’t. I’ll throw on a hat, take an antihistamine and off I go . . .

Singin’ in the wind,
just singin’ in the wind.
Why do I do it
again and again?
I’m playin’ my tunes
on weekends in June,
just singin’ and snifflin’ in the wind.

Copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2009 😉


Playing with the Toledo symphony

The wind blew a percussive bass into the microphones, soft cymbals in the breeze blew under my shirt and riffled my sheet music. Children called to each other, birds sang a descant, and dogs barked tenor harmonies. Behind and below me, the train shuffled like blocks rubbed against each other. As I reached the finale of my song, the whistles blew and the whole orchestra came together. Shortly after that, the umbrella fell to the side, the tip hat blew across the stage and my music stand wobbled like a late-night drunk. The clouds turned dark, threatening rain. But I sang on as nearby listeners applauded and vendors selling their photographs, quilts, bird houses, plants, baked goods, and jewelry, held onto their wares lest they blow away. As I walked the street after my performance, many said they had loved my music. I never get enough of that.

This was the Toledo Wednesday Street Market, which happens all summer in Toledo, Oregon, a lumber mill town built on hills so steep that when I dropped my red steel water bottle getting out of the car, it rolled almost all the way down to Main Street, acquiring a new scratched and dented look. There was no way I could catch it; I could only watch and hope it ran into something before it fell into a storm drain or got squashed by a car. From now on, I’ll look at its scars and remember Toledo.

Once upon a time, Toledo was a happening place, the county seat and the main port of call for boats traveling up Yaquina Bay. Today, things are a lot quieter. It’s not unusual to be the only person walking down Main Street, but the city fathers and mothers have done their best to dress up the town. In summer, huge baskets of pansies and other plants hang from poles and fences. New restaurants and shops have opened, along with the many antiques shops. Artists welcome visitors for gallery tours, and Sam Briseño, who makes magical metal sculptures, has scattered colorful benches on the downtown sidewalks. Click the City of Toledo link for a list of events planned throughout the year.

I have been singing in Toledo one Wednesday every summer for years, thanks to host Frank Jones. It could be raining and cold, dry and hot, windy or not, but it’s always fun playing with the Toledo orchestra of natural sounds.

The street market continues every Wednesday during the summer from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with different musicians every week.

It’s an interesting life

Life has been interesting since we last met. Okay, it’s always interesting, but perhaps more interesting. For example, I had a colonoscopy last Thursday, which I am not about to discuss. If you don’t know what it is, Google it. As everyone says, the preparation is worse than the procedure. So true. But I do have a question: How come my husband got a muffin and coffee after his cataract surgery, and all I got was a tiny can of orange juice? He didn’t even have to fast for two days. Which leads to another question. I was going over insurance statements and discovered that the hospital billed over $200 for Fred’s post-op supplies. What was in that muffin?
Somebody ripped off 15 copies of my book Stories Grandma Never Told between the South Beach Post Office and the Seattle Bulk Mail Center. They sent back my box with a note and all the packing material inside. If the box had simply broken open, wouldn’t the packing material be gone, too? Meanwhile, I had a miffed distributor waiting in California and sent 15 more copies via priority mail. They arrived on Monday. He’s still miffed. I’m out $300. I hate to imagine what happened to the other books. Are they lying in a dumpster somewhere?
I have a new gig writing for a new airline mag for SeaPort Airlines, which recently started flying out of Newport. Suddenly I have to, like, work, but my first assignment is a story on the local lighthouses. Such hard duty going out to Yaquina Head on a warm, sunny afternoon to take notes and shoot pictures. But it is going to be a scramble to get four stories done by June 30.
I made my first post-move visit to my husband at Timberwood Court Memory Care Center in Albany, OR. It’s almost two hours each way. I’m stocking up on books on CD. Fred is settling in well at his new home. It’s a great place, with lots of activities, loving caregivers, tasteful dĂ©cor and delicious food. But it isn’t home, and it’s almost two hours away from where I live, so I can’t visit nearly as often as I used to visit him at Graceland. Fred has forgotten so much, and he will soon forget me. Save the pity party; it’s just fact. It will be easier for him when that happens. For me, no, but that’s life.

I have resolved to stop on each trip to see something I haven’t seen before. I’ll report back, with photos.
On the way to Albany, I finally got my guitar in for servicing at Bullfrog Music Owner Kurt Dietrich has moved the store to 423 SW Third Street, so when you’re coming into Corvallis from the coast, it’s easy to find, easy to park, and, praise God, it’s in the same building with a Subway restaurant and public restrooms, everything a wandering musician needs. Plus Kurt loves to talk music, jam, teach, and sell guitars and mandolins. He promised I would fall in love with my Martin all over again. I believe him. Meanwhile, I bought myself a new Roland amp I can’t wait to plug into. It’s easy to carry, has all the bells and whistles I want and will make me sound so good.
My dog Chico has found a new place to jump the fence, and he has escaped four times in the last week. The neighbors are getting used to helping me corral him. Sometimes even a dog treat won’t stop him. He just loves to run, and I’m certainly getting my exercise chasing him around the neighborhood, calling, “Here Chico, Chic, Chic, Chic, cookies.” I’ll walk for blocks, then suddenly see him fly by, foot-long tongue hanging out, teeth showing in a big doggy grin as he zooms past me. When I finally leash him up, he shows no remorse. Sixteen months old and counting.

A meeting of the moms

My dogs Chico and Annie were born at a home down Thiel Creek Road just past where the road forks, one way going uphill through fields of Scotch broom, wild blackberries and a rainbow of wildflowers, the other meandering downhill along the creek, bounded by ferns and fir trees. Usually we walk the upper path. It’s sunny and not so steep, but yesterday I took Chico down the lower path.

I hadn’t planned to take him to his birthplace. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t remember the house. He and Annie were only eight weeks old, 9 and 8 pounds of scared puppy, when Fred and I put them in the car and took them home that rainy April day last year. We had never had any contact with that family since then, and I don’t even remember their names.

But this time, the woman came driving by with one of her daughters. She recognized me and the dog and stopped to talk. “He looks just like his mother,” she said. Really, I thought, gazing at my dog. Perhaps. The mother dog, a Staffordshire bull terrier, was rounder and more mottled black and tan while Chico, half Lab, is primarily black. However, this summer his fur is lightening up, with more brown showing every day. And those eyes, those huge chocolate eyes, are unmistakable. Chico’s taller than his mom was, like a woman’s teenage son.

“Is he fixed?” the woman asked.

“Oh yeah,” I said, thinking about how my brother-and-sister pets were already humping each other at four months and I was relieved to have them neutered before Annie wound up pregnant.

The woman drove on after that. Later I wondered if she had thought maybe Chico would be a good stud for breeding. No way. Two crazy dogs is enough.

Having gone that far and been sighted by the human mother, we walked toward the house. We were still a couple hundred yards away when I heard a dog barking like crazy from the garage. I was sure it was Chico’s mother. While he didn’t recognize the blue house, he did react to the voice, head cocked, ears up. “Mom?” He didn’t bark back, but I could see he was puzzled.

I felt bad for the dogs, separated for life. “He’s okay,” I called out to the hidden mother dog. “Big and healthy. I’ll take good care of him. I’m so sorry.” And we turned and headed back up the hill.

It was a long walk home. We collapsed on the cool lawn, Chico leaning all his 64 pounds on me as I pet his soft brown-black head. “You’re such a good boy,” I said, wrapping my arms around him and hugging him tight.

Fred is happy in his new home

Miracles do happen. Fred’s transition to the Timberwood Court Memory Care Center was a smooth one. He was ready to go when I got to Graceland, and we hit the road. It’s 74 miles, so he started saying, “This is far.” Then it occurred to him we might be going to see his doctor, who is in Corvallis. He got a little worried when we passed that exit, but I assured him we were going the right way. Nonstop ’50s music on XM Radio helped us both relax. How can you be stressed when you’re singing “Lollipop, Lollipop” or screaming with Little Richard?

At Timberwood, the staff greeted him like royalty and quickly enveloped him in their world. Because he spent his career working in recreation, they plan to have him help with their activities. They have also sucked me into playing music for them. While they entertained Fred, I got his room put together. The furniture arrived during lunch, so it soon felt like home. At 2:00, Fred boarded the Timberwood bus for a field trip to a nearby historic site and I quietly slipped away.

This morning, the director reported that he shed no tears, stayed up late talking to new friends, and slept soundly all night. Hallelujah.

Me, I was chasing an escaped dog in the dark for an hour last night, and I had shed quite a few tears by the time I finally got him home. Today I’m enjoying a quiet day at my desk. At least it was quiet until the thunder started a few minutes ago. Maybe I’ll put off our dog walk a little longer and turn off the computer before the power goes out.

Search ends in Albany

Today was my last day with my husband Fred in Newport. Tomorrow I’m taking him to an Alzheimer’s care home in Albany, OR where I hope he will be happier and better cared for. It had reached the point where he sobbed every day and wandered every night. A week ago, he walked right out the door and down the road. I’ve learned the official term for that; it’s called “elopement.” No harm was done. Grace of the Graceland adult foster care home found him and convinced him to come back for dinner, but it was a sign that it was time to do something.

I spent last Thursday and Friday driving for hours from one “home” to another in the Salem and Corvallis areas. It was hot, I was late everywhere I went, and after a while everyone looked demented to me. But Timberwood seems to have everything I was looking for: a caring staff, lively residents, great activities all day long, wonderful food, a nurse on duty every day, and an attractive private room. But it is a locked facility. It is an institution. It is a pretty prison.

And it’s two hours away.

Today, after I packed my husband’s clothes and pictures and CDs in suitcases and boxes, we sat on the grass on the hill behind Graceland, looking over the new greenhouse Fred helped build, past the neighbor’s red barn to the ocean. We played with the house dog, Lucy, and we kissed and held hands and snuggled. Fred was full of questions like “How will I get there?” and “Where will you sleep?” “I’m anxious,” he kept saying. I doubt he’ll sleep much tonight. Perhaps he’ll do one more naked show at 2 a.m. But tomorrow he’ll be in good hands. Just not mine.

Buzzing at Cafe Mundo

I went to CafĂ© Mundo alone last week. I had been anxious to check out the Thursday night open mic. Now that all the TV finales were over, I decided to go. Events at the care home with Fred had been so upsetting, I just couldn’t stay home alone. In short, suddenly the owners were suggesting I take him home, a complete 180 from previous discussions in which they said I could not possibly take care of him by myself. Apparently some of his behavior is becoming a problem. But aren’t they being paid to deal with it? Just when you think you have your ducks in a row . . .

I got just buzzed enough on Great White ale to almost forget what was bothering me. That’s good, but that’s how you make an alcoholic. So I started making phone calls about the nursing home dilemma the next day. Stay tuned for how that turns out.

Anyway, back to CafĂ© Mundo. It’s a fascinating place hidden behind thick trees and shrubs right in the middle of Nye Beach. The restaurant used to be all outside, with quirky statues, hay bales and all different kinds of chairs and tables, like somebody’s backyard, except with a stage decorated in multi-colored fishing nets. But it was too cold most of the year, and eventually the owners built the new place to serve their fans year-round. It’s two stories, with most of the seating upstairs. You can look over the railing and see the kitchen and a few chairs downstairs. The food is a quirky blend of sushi, hamburgers and vegan/vegetarian cuisine. Food is pulled up to the second story on a dumbwaiter behind the bar.

The décor is eclectic, bits and pieces patched together, with steel beams and wooden ones, Japanese lanterns, photos, prints, hanging lengths of cloth blowing in the breeze from an open window. Each table and chair is different.

That night the clientele was young adults, many wearing knit caps. Everyone seemed to know each other, except me. I had envisioned that a lot of boomers, the same people who come to Nye Beach Writers, would take over the stage, but no. I drowned my depression with a Great White ale all alone, glad that I hadn’t planned on performing. Ironically, my table was painted cerulean blue with a big old yellow happy-face sunshine painted on it. It offered the perfect message: cheer up and join the fun.

At the next table, a dozen young adults celebrated a birthday. They brought in a homemade cake lit with candles, and everyone sang to the birthday girl. They were all so fresh, attractive and happy. I enjoyed watching them. I wished I could have had some of that cake with its thick white frosting and sprinkles.

Across the street out the window beside me, I watched this giant cream-colored dog, who looked like a blend of Airedale, poodle and wolfhound. For ages, he sat with his butt on the steps and his feet on the sidewalk of the funky little house where he lived. He just stayed there, like a statue, until the man of the house drove his red pickup into the driveway. Even then the dog moved just enough to avoid getting hit, greeted the man, and resumed his spot as a yard decoration.

As an open mic venue, I wouldn’t enjoy playing Mundo. My folky music doesn’t fit in with the youthful trend, and the roar of voices almost drowns out the songs, just as that Great White drowned out my blues.

When I reached the bottom of my tall glass of ale, I knew it was time to go. One more and I wouldn’t be able to drive. Easing down the stairs and pushing through the double doors into the fresh air and comparative quiet, I sat on a cushioned chair outside for a minute, looking around at the trees in the twilight. I could almost pretend it was my back yard—except for the faint whiff of marijuana in the air.

Time to walk off my buzz and drive home to the puppies.