|Never a dull...||3/6/2017
|February rolled in with a weekend of birthday fun! My friend Debby had a party for our old high-school buddies Scott and Sandi, in town from Louisville. Nearly thirty friends made for a lively, lovely evening. But the sweetest (wink wink) moment was when co-guest of honor Sandi surprised me (two days early) and Scott’s sister, Susan, with a chocolate bomb birthday confection!
The following evening, my Ed took me, my sister and her son (his darling wife, a nurse, unfortunately had the night shift) out on the town for a beautiful birthday dinner. A delightful Veuve Clicquot champagne toast and a tray of delicate pastries lit by a candle made it especially festive.
My sister and her darlings had chosen a striking trio of gold bracelets for me, and I just love them. But my brother-in-law was missed all over again, as he is at every get-together since his sudden death last May. The next best thing was having their wonderful son in our midst, and at his mother’s side. It was a lovely evening.
The next day was...you guessed it, my official b-day! I opened a few gifts, one of which was a beautiful crystal bowl from my son’s gal, and another, a soothing rice pack from her aunt, which were much appreciated. Throughout the day, I received fun calls from close friends, as well as loving ones from my LA son and my sister in France. Not to mention the hundreds of birthday wishes posted on my Facebook page and my Twitter page! What a treat to discover all your lovely messages! February 5 may have been Super Bowl Sunday, but I was having a Super Birthday Weekend in my corner!
The following Saturday, Brickman Tour manager, Brynne, and I flew to Chicago, where we picked up a rental car and drove to Milwaukee. We were to perform that evening at the charming Pabst Theatre.
Milwaukee is also home to my equally charming cousins, Tom, Sue, Tim, Syma, Elliott and Ana and their friends, Bill and Jody. They greeted me backstage before the show. It was so good to see them all! I wished that we had had more time, but at least I would see them again for a post-show visit in the lobby.
Jim and I also got to catch up with radio friend, Stan, and his wife, as well as our old friend, Steve Brick (who brought beautiful gifts for both of us) and his lady. I never tire of seeing friends and family in our many stops across the country. It’s a fringe benefit of touring! Incidentally, the audience was perfect that night!
The crew spent the night in Milwaukee. The following morning, Jim, Brynne (driving), production manager Tyson, and I (navigating), made the four-hour road trip to The Honeywell Center in Wabash, IN. Since we arrived early and had a little time before sound check, Brynne and I checked into The Honeywell House, where we would be staying after the show. A magnificent, Italianate, historic house and museum, originally built in 1880…but more about that later.
Just before the concert, our good friend, Barb Richards, who had driven in with her husband, Jim, from Fort Wayne, IN, visited with Jim and me in my dressing room backstage. Barb used to be the PD at Majic Radio in Fort Wayne. A longtime supporter of Jim’s music and mine, she is now the Station Manager of CW TV there. It’s always a pleasure to see her and we all enjoyed filling in the blanks since we had seen each other last. The show went well, the audience was lovely and after our post-show meet & greet, we gratefully headed to our hotel. It had been a long day.
But the magical Honeywell House was ours--we were the only guests! Jim settled into the master bedroom in one wing, while Brynne, Tyson and I improvised a little photo shoot, as we explored the other.
To give you an idea of the layout, upon entering the house, you are struck by the grand center hall and its imposing staircase. To the left is the stately living room where wonderful parties must have taken place, with a nine-foot baby grand piano that leaves ample room for dancing. That room leads into a large sitting room which looks out onto the grounds and the greenhouse. To the right of the entrance hall is a charming parlor with the dining room situated behind it. From there we reached the kitchen and its adjacent pantry where, in lieu of food, the cabinets are stocked with magnificent china, crystal and silver.
The second floor has five large bedrooms, a sitting room, four full baths and a beautiful landing presided over by two carved throne chairs. The house is filled with graceful antiques and lovely paintings collected by the Honeywell family. We had fun, respectfully taking it all in…while hoping to come across a ghost or two. It was that kind of place, beautiful, peaceful, with the presence of those who had lived there almost tangible at nightfall.
Soon it was time to say ‘goodnight’. With nothing to haunt our dreams,we slept like babies in our lovely rooms! All packed and ready to go the next morning, we were supplied with tea and coffee for the road by the thoughtful staff. It was a quick trip to Wabash, but a memorable one!
After loading up the car, we stopped for a fantastic breakfast at a local restaurant. We were on the road by noon, and I offered to drive the two hours to the Indianapolis airport for our flight to Tyler, TX. This was to be a travel day--no show that evening.
Our 4:21 flight out of Indy was on time and we landed in Dallas for a two and one-half hour layover: just long enough to be treated by Jim to a scrumptious shrimp taco dinner and an out-of-this-world chocolate dessert—my second chocolate indulgence in ten days! We then boarded our flight to Tyler and landed at 9:30 pm. We rented our car and were checked into our hotel by 10:30. Our little travel day had taken 12 hours, to be exact!
The following morning was Valentine’s Day. Did I mention that that was what this little tour was all about? Poor Tyson awoke with the dreaded stomach flu and was not going to be able to work that day. Our Tour manager, Brynne, gracefully rose to the occasion to fill in as production manager. What can’t this amazing girl do? She keeps a cool head in all circumstances and is such a sweetheart. We are blessed to have her on our team!
And it didn’t hurt that everyone at the R. Don Cowan Fine & Performing Arts Center was wonderfully accommodating and very understanding of our situation. The nearly sold-out house was filled with a fabulous audience and the show went without a hitch. We checked on Tyson throughout the day and the poor guy was miserable. We (obsessively) washed our hands at every chance and used hand sanitizer too, to hopefully keep the bug at bay…
The next morning, Tyson was still sick, but feeling a little better. We had a show that night, which meant driving the two hours to Dallas to make our 10:40 am flight to Amarillo. Upon arrival, the hotel wasn’t ready so we went over to the Globe New Center for the Performing Arts. Tyson was weak, but just able to guide the local crew through the load-in and assembly of set, lights and sound. That accomplished, our good friend (and Amarillo local), Phyllis, called the hotel to make sure my room was ready (for a needed crash).
Brynne and Jim dropped me off on the way to a recording session for Jim’s radio show. And I sneaked in my little nap!
I was picked up later by Phyllis and her husband, George, whom I hadn’t seen in a long while. Jim and I got to know them many years ago, when we first performed there. They owned a lovely bakery at the time and would spoil us with wonderful goodies. They hadn’t changed. While catching up with news of each other’s families, I couldn’t help but notice the irresistible scent of freshly-baked bread, coming from a small Chanel shopping bag on the seat next to me. Phyllis, on the board of The Bread Bakers Guild of America, had baked fabulous whole-grain bread for us to enjoy, along with a wonderful dinner they brought us…after our horrendous sound check.
Yes, there were sound problems a-plenty. The venue switched to a whole new system to try and resolve them, but the new set-up was no better. And we had no choice but to forge ahead: the show must go on and all that jazz. What I was hearing out of my monitor was very unpleasant, but I did my best to sing “above” it and act as if nothing was wrong. It’s so frustrating when you have no control over a situation like this! The audience was wonderful, however, so maybe it was not as bad as I feared.
After the show, we bid our farewells to dear Phyllis and George and thanked them for everything. By the way, I took home the rest of the loaf of bread and Ed went nuts over it! I asked Phyllis if she could please start a freshly-baked bread mail order business. She politely declined and said that I would just have to return to Amarillo! It would be worth the trip, you know—it was that good!
Poor Tyson was sick yet another time before leaving the venue, and to add to insult to injury, we were hit with the most powerful fumes of manure I have ever encountered when we got back to our hotel. This is cattle country, so what could be more natural, eh? But ohhhh, was it pungent, even inside the hotel. Thank goodness our rooms were not affected!
The following morning, a wobbly Tyson, and Brynne were up way before dawn to catch their 5 am flights back home to Cleveland for Brynne, and to Boston for Tyson.
Meanwhile, Jim and I continued our journey to Houston. On our way to the airport, the driver explained that the fumes from the night before were blowing in from 20 miles away! We were just unlucky that they blew in our direction ;)
Our 10:34 flight through Dallas arrived in Houston at 2 pm. We were to perform that evening at The Dosey Doe Barn in the Woodlands, an intimate 350-seat venue where Jim and I had played before. Before the show, we had a short visit with Jim’s aunt Jo and her partner Nort who reside in Houston. Our 90-minute set was great fun. I really enjoy singing close to the audience: the first row was only two feet away! The people at the venue were pleasant to work with and the audience was warm and giving, making for a great closing night to our Valentine’s week!
The next morning it was my turn to get up at 3:30 am, and I thought of Tyson and Brynne the day before. Jim drove me to the airport in time for my 5 am flight through Dallas to Cleveland. Ed picked me up around 11am. It was good to see my hubby and great to be home! And to resume my routine of yoga, help my 91-year-old mom, enjoy a few dinners out, and work on my music with Abe.
On the last weekend of February, I helped my sister care for her adorable grandchildren (a baby boy of 9 months and his 3 1/2 year-old “big” sister), while their parents escaped to the sun for a couple of days. We took walks to the playground, played hide and seek, read stories, sang songs, baked cookies, and put them down for naps and bedtime. We had such fun! I can’t get enough of those kids--I love them so much!
But… remember Tyson’s stomach bug on tour? My sister’s entire household had it at around the same time. And she learned that it was going around all the schools in the area. Perhaps there were a few germs left behind? Whatever the case, I woke up early in the morning to the worst stomach bug EVER!
Oops, that was on the first of March. I’ll have to save the grizzly details for you until next month. I’ll bet you can’t wait…