Archive for June, 2009

___ , drugs & rock’n’roll

DSC01389Well, we can talk about two of them anyway. Finally via a Walgreens pharmacy in Cleveland, we were able to get the over-the-counter sudafed we needed to help Dale get over the nasty throat congestion that’s afflicted her most of the time in the States. We had managed on the useless versions of Sudafed purchased since our arrival. (Imagine a product advertised as Sudafed but without the essential pseudoephedrine). We pray it does the trick.

This is after all three of us ending up at Emergency (think … outpatients) at Robinson Memorial Hospital in Ravenna. The good news is that none of us have swine flu; the intriguing thing being how a US hospital works – I was tested for the same symptoms by at least 3 of the 5 people who saw me. They’ll send the combined bill in the mail – thank God for travel insurance! An hour at that US pastime called Walmart followed this

Today we spent time in Cleveland (thanksto Dale’s uncle Jim Bowers) at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – well and truly worth seeing over its 7 floors; and righton the shores of Lake Erie.

Some classic exhibits, video footage and memorabilia, covering a huge cross-section of rock music history. It’s really done well, including a hastily – prepared series of tributes to Michael Jackson. The top two floors were devoted to an excellent exhibition on the life and music of Bruce Springsteen.

Tonight – we’re at a Chicken Dinner (specially roasted ) at Dale’s mom’s church: St Ambrose Roman Catholic church in Garrettsville

Later on tonight (all 3 of us are sleeping in cramped quarters @ Dale’s parents) the challenge will be: can Jeremy get to sleep amid my snoring and Dale’s coughing!

See y’all

Red Roofs, sham tours … rotten coughs

l_1600_1200_A2F647B6-F3B9-4E0E-A9A3-567DC1167358.jpegI type this from just north of Cincinnati in southern Ohio, having driven about 8 hours and 500 miles yesterday. Yesterday, having checked out from Nashville, we began the long drive back to Dale’s folks’ home in NE Ohio.

The American highway/interstate system really comes into it’s own at times like this! I’ve done my share of the drive north … which I really enjoyed.

We ended up at a budget motel (part of the Red Roof Inn chain) in Cincinnatti. $50 US, so not bad.

The unfortunate thing at present is that Dale is not real well; she’s been suffering for days now from a bad version of a cold/throat/ears bug I came down with across the Pacific. I’ve still got the vestiges of it, as has Jeremy (who’s been with Diana & Tom in Pittsburgh these past few days).

So … once we’re at our destination later today – after another 5 hours on the road, all 3 of us are off to the doctors for some antibiotics … we hope!

Meanwhile we find ourselves needing to make new Washington DC plans for this coming Friday. Seems like the DC tour we paid for back in Oz was bogus and we’ve been defrauded $300. Our travel insurance will hopefully cover this but that’s not the point. Explains why all my phone calls & emails to confirm things went nowhere !

Two great days

IMG_3150Bit of everything these past two days here in Nashville.

Dale’s sister Diana, and her husband Tom and daughter Maria have joined us from Pittsburgh for three days.  Things are shaping up really well for this family reunion – the fact that everyone has to travel considerable distance to get here (not just us) really levels the playing field.

On Monday, in three cars we headed to Bowling Green, Kentucky – about an hour north, to check out the Lost River Cave – an underground river deep within beautiful forest surrounds. You take a flat boat rider on a guided tour into the cave.  I’m afraid, due to a tummy upset, the cave remains lost for me … but the others seemed to enjoy it.

As much a highlight was the afternoon tea stopover on the way back at this drive-in fast-food place, where rather than collectingDSC01336 at a drive-through window, you drive into one of MANY bays, order via a speakerphone, swipe your credit card, and soon a smiling young person on roller-blades and carrying a tray full of food, wheels out to your waiting vehicle.  Only in America!

Tuesday – was our check out the Nashville country music thing a bit more.  With Dale’s Dad’s car, Dale, Jeremy and I drove into downtown Nashville and spend a few hours at the Country Music Hall of Fame.  You don’t have to like country music to appreciate this museum.  I’ve been before, and if I ever get the chance again, will be back.   It goes as much into the history and sociology behind the music as the music itself.   DSC01347After this we headed to a bar on the main drag (Broadway) for a light lunch.  Up and down the street you’ll find bars (clean and tidy) where you can go in, grab a drink & snack and listen to some live music.  We weren’t disappointed.

On the way back (or almost anyway) Dale and I bought the mandolin we’ve been hoping for – for some time, at a Gibson store.  It’s not top of the range, but will do us – now I just need to write some songs to use the thing with!    Then last night we all showed our photos (believe it or not that are about 13 Apple computer devices among us al present – counting iPods, Macbooks, Macbook Pros, iPhones … not complaining, mind you!) – Dale’s got some very artistic blood in her family – comes through in some great paintings Donna has given us and in some beautiful photos that siblings Danny and Diana have taken on their travels.

DSC01375The night finished with several of us playing “spoons” (I watched – that’s an experience in itself).  If you want to see Dale really come into her own, witness her playing “spoons” – it is a sight to behold.

Tried all day to find out whether any American cable TV station would be showing the 2nd State of Origin game, so you can imagine my delight to wake up and find that (6.30 am Nashville time) Queensland were leading 18-10 … and went on to win.  Queenslander!

Haven’t managed much reading yet, but have enjoyed the first few chapters of Phyllis Tickle’s The Great Emergence.

Today, Danny and family head back to North Carolina, while Diana, Tom, Maria and Jeremy head back to Pittsburgh.  Donna and Jacob head home to Texas tomorrow; while Mom, Dad, Dale and I head to Garrettsville, Ohio on Friday.

I feel like I’m on holidays!  See y’all.

A slow day

Today’s been a slower day – just as well with my cold set in for the long haul. Another afternoon coffee at Barnes & Noble (I could spend a whole day there and not just drinking coffee) … such a range; and browsing the Opry Mills Mall. Shoes are so much cheaper here and Levi jeans for $31 (about $40 AUD)!

Ended up at a welcome party associated with the Wyndham place we’re at … featured lots of people spruiking beauty treatment, Elvis Tribute show & Redneck comedy tour promos. Fortunately they had a house band of reasonable country-rock standard full of “almost made it” musos.
Mom & Dad Butrick enjoyed it – plenty of Buck Owens, Tammy Wynette and Johnny Cash covers. To be fair it was better than it could have been. Jeremy struggled with all this country music – but we ARE in Nashville.

Still haven’t started the Grisham book; started Phyllis Tickle’s “The Great Emergence” on the plane over … might finish that one first

Still trying to see if any of the US cable stations will be showing the State of Origin rugby league live …

See y’all

it is well with my soul

kraussWell, yesterday was our first full day in the States. The hayfever of the flight over has morphed into a dinky-di David MacGregor-type cold, but I think it will be manageable.  While it’s fair to say that we Queenslanders by-and-large don’t really know what a winter is, it’s still been quite a contrast going from a Brisbane winter to the climes of Nashville in summer.

We walked the kilometre down the road to the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store for breakfast yesterday – with our friends Glenn and Jan, we frequented the place when here in 2007, and it’s still an amazing place to visit and has great (and fairly inexpensive) food.  We over-ate, but gee it tasted good.

Last night all 10 of us (Diana, Tom & Maria arrive from Pittsburgh this evening) went to the Grand Ole Opry – a country music institution here in the USA, and the longest-running radio show in the country. It was great to do this as a family.  Imagine a 2 hour concert – in 4 sections (each sponsored by a different company, with live ads between songs) – and with about 10 different acts, and completely live – including square-dancers – you’ve got the Opry.  If you intensely dislike country music, don’t go.  I happen to like a reasonable amount of it!

The final quarter (sounds like an AFL game!) was the best.  It started with Vince Gill coming on stage just with acoustic guitar and singing with that beautiful voice of his.  I like his music, having heard him in “bluegrass mode’ two years back at the Ryman.  He introduces a trio called The Whites – they mainly sing traditional stuff and have superb harmonies.  If you have the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack, you’ll know them from there.

Final act for the night – Alison Krauss (see photo from last night – thanks Jeremy).  She and Robert Plant did a duo album last year which won a major Grammy earlier in 09.  Alison Krauss is near the top of the pile when it comes to country music royalty; having started out quite young.  She has the most pure and beautiful of voices.

From time to time I hear and sing songs that really move me: three years back it was A Place at the Table at Iona; a week back – three guys from church singing The Water is Wide.  This evening, it was Alison Krauss, along with the Whites and simple guitar (and often acapella) singing that classic American gospel hymn – It is well with my soul.  They actually held hymnals as they sang.  It was so, so beautiful – a rendition I’ll remember a long, long time.  Undoubtedly the highlight of the evening, and one of several “gospel”-flavoured songs throughout the night.

I might be cursing the thought of a cold upon arrival in this country, but it lifted the spirits to hear someone sing It is well with my soul.

Blessings.


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