What I Learned This Week: #205

Monday, July 26 – Sunday, August 1, 2021

The Day in (Briefly) Christmas in July: One one of the week’s hottest, humidest, sunniest days, I crossed the street in front of a car with the windows down blaring “We are the World.” I couldn’t quite find my place in the song in the few seconds I heard, and I quickly realized I was mixing it up with “Do They Know It’s Christmas?.” Both songs have very similar videos and a similar vibe, that of very sincere famous musicians belting it out for charity. I took We are the World for the Christmas song, and even though that’s not correct, I did have a brief, self-delusional, Christmas in July moment.

The Week In Dry: For the last several months, the travel mug that I use to transport my morning coffee to work has, sometimes, but not every time, leaked. Each morning I would fill it up and turn it over to make sure it was shut tight. No leaks. But still, on many days the bottom of my backpack would be wet because the jostling of my walk was too much stress for the mug. Because I’m cheap, I didn’t just run out and buy a new mug, but instead, put the leaky mug in a plastic bag every morning. That solved the problem of the bottom of backpack getting wet, but also caused my coworkers great distress on my behalf. After all, they are putting mugs in their backpacks with no adverse effects. What that hell was my problem?

Anyway, I finally broke down and bought at new mug. It does not leak and my coworkers are very proud of me. Plus they think it’s pretty. Awwww!

The Week in Tragedy and Comedy: The Cincinnati Opera concluded their abbreviated season this week covering both the tragedy of Tosca and the joyous comedy of the Barber of Seville. I have seen Tosca a time or two and had forgotten that all three of the leads die at the end. I mean when Tosca believes that the firing squad is just going to “pretend” to shoot lover I do want to have an intervention, but I just sit there and take it quietly. He dies, of course, as does the suitor vying for Tosca’s affection, as does Tosca. It’s a lot. Tragic, in fact.

But from the moment Barber of Seville starts, you just know the young lovers will triumph in the end. Plus Barber is short, happy, and has both a great opening overture and the killer aria Figaro. No deaths and lots of funny stage business. Good stuff.

I’m glad the opera got to put on some shows, and I never want to see opera under COVID restrictions again.

The Week in Yearly Evaluations: This week I received my 1 year evaluation at work. Work evaluations are weird. They tend to be meaningless unless it’s a bad one. I never know what to do with my face. I want it to seem like I’m taking the process seriously, when, in fact I AM NOT taking the process seriously. Luckily, mine was very positive, and I didn’t have to fight back a single eye-roll. Also, my raise was in effect before my review was even written and I, thankfully, did not have to write out goals for the coming year. My standard answer for the “what are you goals for the coming year” question is simple, “To be hear next year so we can do this again.”

What I Learned This Week: #204

Monday, July 19 – Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Week in Conspicuous Consumption: I vaguely remember ordering a candle wick trimmer weeks ago when my scissors we not…cutting it…as far as reaching down into a jar candle. I guess one day I must have had enough.

Part of my reaction to the pandemic is to buy from small vendors. Thing is, I don’t need things and shopping is a chore. Candles, though, are something I’ll use. Of course boutique candles are WAY more expensive than my usual TJ Maxx purchases, so I want to burn the good stuff properly, ie, trimming the wick before each session of burning, ie feeling the need to own a wick trimmer.

I bought the trimmer with a few other “make my life easier” items, all the rest of which I received within days of placing the order. I’d actually completely forgotten about the trimmer. When I saw a package in my mailbox this week, I thought the package was a long-ago ordered shirt that I believe got stuck in that tanker that buggered up the Suez Canal and was finally set free. Well, it was the trimmer, and, after all these weeks, it’s kind of anti-climatic. And that’s why I try not to order stupid shit from the internet.

The Week in Opera: The Cincinnati Opera got completely hosed in 2020, what was supposed to be their 100th anniversary, but turned out to be a complete bust. This year they were desperate to put on performances and they worked with tight Pandemic restrictions to pull it off.

Most notably, they moved the performances from Music Hall downtown to an outdoor venue, the lawn at Summit Park, in the suburb of Blue Ash. The lawn was marked with squares, “pods,” and tickets were sold by pod. You sit in your pod and no one else is allowed in. The upfront people got chairs, the back people had to bring their own. The opera was minimally staged and lightly edited, with the chorus off stage and just the main cast members and a few dancers.

The entire season is just over two week and they are squeezing three operas in. This week the presented Carmen, squeezing the 3+ hour show into 2 hours with no intermission. Carmen has two “hit” songs, Habanara ( “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” ) and the Toreador Song and a tragic love story that kills me every time.

Not to get too into it, but when we first meet Don Jose, receiving a letter from his mother, I always want to warn him how tough the next two hours are going to be for him. And Carmen never learns either. One of these days I’m going to go up on stage and just tell the two of them to straighten up and be nice.

The Week in the Olympics: The much maligned Tokyo Olympics began this week. I’m not an Olympics junkie, but I can’t help but get caught up in the emotion and pageantry of the games. I mean, c’mon. These athletes are among the most dedicated, focused, and fit people in the world. Their training and dietary regiments blow me away and that’s BEFORE I even see them compete.

My friends threw a party for us to watch the opening ceremony together, practically a perfect show to watch with a group of people. Very quickly, my geography nerd friends who knew about fun-facts about countries, and my fashion friends who commented on each country’s outfit emerged as our star commentators. Our favorite part of the ceremony, by far, was the acting out of the the Olympic pictograms. Very funny and clever. Go USA!

What I Learned This Week: #203

Monday, July 5 all the way to Sunday, July 18, 2021 (Two week’s worth of minutiae!)

The Week in the Week That Got Away: I usually write these once a week musings on Sunday night, occasionally on Monday if the weekend gets away from me. Sunday is both my day of reflecting on the past week, and prepping for the next. I make sure my apartment is in order and food prep several meals. Except for taking my Mom to the grocery, it’s my day. I love it. So, it’s with moderate chagrin* that I’m “allowing” my friends to lure me out of the house on Sundays for a more sociable Sunday-Funday. Still a great day, but it really throws me off. Hence, two-two-two weeks in one.

*Chagrin, a totally out-dated word meaning distress or humiliation. I mean it as distress, very mild distress, a chagrin-y distress!

The Week in First Days: The newest employee at my office is straight out of college and this is her first non-college related employment. When she got to the office Friday morning she proudly exclaimed, “This is my first Friday!” It was the most wholesome moment of the week.

I am assigned to be her work-buddy, something every new employee gets no matter what position they are hired into. The Work Buddy is there to help a new person navigate the office. I always say it takes 6 months to feel moderately comfortable at a new place. By then you are good at getting to and from work, you’ve got your meals and snacking into a routine, and you probably have a favorite bathroom/stall. A buddy is a new employee’s guide for office culture and how-to-do stuff.

Each new employee is different, and even though I got the freshest and newest of employees, I was hesitant to give unsolicited life/work advice to my person. I did it anyway. My two tips were, 1) This isn’t your forever job, so make the most of it and always keep your resume updated, and 2) invest in the pretax investment plan, even if it’s just 3%, and I explained how it worked. She listened very intently to that second one and then said her parents had jobs that didn’t have investment opportunities and she didn’t know anything about them. Now she does. I hope she invests, but even if she doesn’t, I’m glad she has the info to make a good choice.

The Week in Life Choices: On the same day I was leading a young woman to a potentially brighter future, I came across a man at the very busy bus stop in front of the court house who I chose not to assist. As a neared to him he was literally reeling and beginning to double over. He was headed toward a low wall, perhaps seeing it as a spot to anchor. I looked at him and looked around and two men were watching both the distressed man and me. I asked if “that guy” was all right. They both waved me off as if to say he would be fine. Then one of them launched into a story about a time he drank some moonshine in Kentucky and could barely climb up a curb. In others words, they figured the dude and just taken something and would be okay soon. The bus stop is more their space than mine. I trusted them and walked on. I’d like to think, in this instance, that was the right thing. Maybe a brush with authorities would have been more detrimental to this guy then the episode I was witnessing. I’ll never know.

The Week in Company, Friends Version: On the Sunday where I missed posting, I was out watching Euro soccer and having some beer with friends. After the match, I got a ride home and invited my friends up for a night cap. I did so knowing the place wasn’t a total wreck, but not up to my “company” standards. Friends can see that version of my life, after all, they know they “ruined” my cleaning day!. My book club who came over on Friday though, well, they got a scrubbed down apartment.

The Week Company, Book Club Version: Book Club was my first sustained COVID era guests. I made sure the place was CLEAN! I actually changed the liner in my bathroom trash can instead of artfully laying a Kleenex on top of the bagful of bathroom detritus, camouflaging it instead of cleaning it.

I was also happy to get right back into the swing of entertaining. I made some of mine and their favorite appetizers (pimento cheese and deviled eggs). Delicious. Dessert though, was another story. In good news for the next people to come over, I made (not on purpose) one of the worse desserts I’ve made in years. It should be all uphill from here. The dessert was from a Paula Deen website and I only used hers because I could not find the one I usually use. But hey, Paula Deen and Peach Cobbler should have been a slam dunk. I slam dunked it right into the trash can! After book club I went back to the website and read comments for the recipe. Some of those posts noted that the recipe, as written, omitted ingredients and instructions used on the TV show. Are. You. Kidding. Me? Ms. Deen is not on my most favorite personality list right now!

The Week in Finding My Way Around a Bookstoor: My Book Club’s next selection is in the True Crime genre, not typical for the group or for me. I circled Joseph Beth Bookstore twice before I remembered they have a tiny upstairs area. Maybe, even though true crime is having a renaissance everywhere else in the country, it was still a niche genre in the upscale neighborhood where the book store is located. Welp, true crime was a teeny section, but my book was there. I counted that as one of days tiny victories.

The Week in Wine at Lunch: Pre-Pandemic, every Sunday my Mom and I would go to lunch and then go to the grocery. For the most part, Sundays are the only time she leaves her house and I’ve tried to “mix it up” getting her to go to new places and try new things. To her credit, she’s always been game. She tries everything, her only preference being that she can have a glass of Chardonnay with her meal.

The pandemic put that on hold, but a problem with her vision delayed her official comeback as she can’t see the menus and is generally uncomfortable with that. A couple weeks ago we ate at Skyline, where she knows what she wants without seeing a menu. Of course, Skyline has no wine. This week we finally got to a restaurant, you know, a “real” one with wine. We ate at Pepp & Delores and she ordered the Italian sandwich that I had and posted about previously. One of the best parts about eating with my Mom is how excited she is when the food comes. She has a very small appetite, so always, as the food is coming across the table from the waiter, my Mom is excited to try it but already knows she won’t be able to finish it. She always says, “Wow…box” which is shorthand that she can’t finish it, even though the waiter doesn’t know what the hell it means. She loved the sandwich and the wine and yes…she got a box to take the other half home. We’re back!

What I Learned This Week: #202

Monday, June 28 – Sunday, July 4, 2021

The Week in Prime: On one of the mornings of last week’s Amazon Prime shopping event, my 3 year old coffee make made a whale of a sound while brewing my morning Joe. 3-4 years life span is what I expect for the amount of coffee and tea I brew, though I ditched one pot after about 3 very patient years of dealing with a faulty carafe that made it impossible to pour a steady stream of coffee into a cup. I broke up with that machine, but more often the machine has just broken down leaving me scrambling for morning coffee solutions until I can get a new pot.

So, I felt extremely lucky to have heard the death throes of my current machine on a day when Amazon was making it cheap to fulfill all my consumer whims. I ordered a new machine (and a couple tchotshkes, of course). In the days waiting for the new coffee pot, my current one reverted to its old quiet self. Apparently, buying a new machine bought additional life in my old machine. Not sure how I feel about that.

The Week in Rain: One of the first things I learned about living downtown where I walked instead of drove to places, was the importance of weather gear, especially rain gear. I bought my first pair of rain boots, a great waterproof jacket, and several umbrellas. I keep two umbrellas in my desk at work; one for me, and one to give to any coworker who forgot theirs but has to go to the bus stop. I have big umbrella if I’m planning to walk far, and several small ones for short trips. In short, on the umbrella front, I’m covered.

This week on my way home from work, a storm was blowing in. I had an umbrella, but I was Olympic style race walking my way to my apartment to beat the storm. The pre-storm mist had just turned to a light sprinkle when I got to the corner across from my building. A woman, umbrella-less, hit the corner at the same time. Polite “storm is coming” conversation ensued and I asked her how far she was going. She still had about 3 blocks to go. I pointed at my building and told her that when I peeled off to go in, I was going to leave my umbrella with her. She was like, “what?” because what I offered is not typical. I convinced her to take it though, and as I opened my building door I heard her say out loud to no one, “I got me an umbrella.” Yes ma’am, you do.

Storm brewing, umbrella at the ready.

The Week in Work: I celebrated my 1st anniversary at my main job. At that job, which is an office job, I take pride in getting the job done and not being a pain in the ass about it. I try to remember that every piece of work that leaves my hands, ends up in someone else’s, so I try to be respectful of my co-workers and not make their lives more difficult: I try to make their lives easier. This isn’t some heroic activity, it is just basic work decency.

At my part-time job, which is a retail job, I apply the same work ethic. I work with a lot of kids who are at their first ever job. They don’t know shit about work but most of them give it a try and it’s fantastic to watch them grow. But there are a few who aren’t going to grow. They want the money, but they really don’t do much of anything.

This week, two young guys were “working” in the back room where merchandise is processed to go to the sales floor. Dozens of boxes needed processing and there was way more work than the few of us scheduled could do. Unlike a lot of places, management didn’t come back and push us, they just sent us back to, you know, do our job. Anyway, these two yahoo’s spent about two hours mostly discussing the state of the NBA and moving a small amount of merchandise. They didn’t do nothing, but they didn’t do much of anything. It was so egregiously bad, the manager said something to both of them and then sent them to take a break. Turns out, they were good at the break part…they never returned. No loss, really. People, just do your job.

The Week in Lunch: I go out to lunch almost every Saturday. I’m coming off my 7 am – 12 pm shift at my part time job and I AM STARVING. Usually, I sit at the bar, order a high powered beer, and get a little buzz going before my lunch is served. After I eat, the buzz is gone, but I still got a quick, instant “high.” This week though, my mood led me to Pepp & Delores and a slightly more sophisticated lunch than normal. The bartender recommended the Italian sandwich and, to feel like a real Italian, I went for a glass of wine. No buzz, but wow, I love that sandwich!

Classy sandwich!

The Week in Cracker: In the 90’s, the band Cracker had a few minor hits, and their song Low still gets played a lot. They came to town this week as part of the free Fountain Square music series. It was my first “real” concert in that I stood shoulder to shoulder with the audience pushed up against the front of the stage. I’m short, and can often move pretty close to the stage. Cracker draws and older audience of mostly dudes, and those guys were not giving an inch up close. I did not give up. I drew on my old concert skills, working first past probably the tallest dude in the whole city, then past two regularly sized dudes who would have no problem seeing over my head, and finally, past the fall-down drunk guy who was just taking up too much space. I made it to the front! I liked the show a lot which, based on listening to their songs on Spotify that afternoon, I did not expect.

What I Learned This Week: #201

Monday, June 21 – Sunday, June 27, 2021

The Week in Multi-Tasking: There’s a thing in retail called “recovery” and it is almost as dramatic as it sounds. Recovery is an attempt to overturn hours of shopping to put the store into a fresh state for the next day. It’s a reset, and an important part of keeping a handle on the way the store looks.

Generally, recovery is the last thing you do. In my TJ Maxx, we recover for the last hour that the store is open, a time when customer traffic is tailing off and some ya-hoo isn’t going to come right behind what you’ve just recovered and have their way with the merchandise.

This week my young manager asked me to recover for my entire 3.5 hour shift because the District Manager was due to visit first thing in the morning. Oooooh. The District Manager! Oh, My.

I have been with the company for 22 years, and I know 3.5 hours of pure recovery is the more boringest way to spend a shift no matter whose coming. I told her I would make my part of the store beautiful and I would also put out merchandise from the back room while I was doing it. Two things at once. She was not happy, but I know stuff that she doesn’t. Like the DM wants a tidy sales floor, but he also wants an empty back room. Two things at once. I made her nervous until the last hour when I went to full recovery. Luckily, I didn’t have to recover her from a blown gasket.

The Week in Grumpy: Met a friend for dinner ’cause she was feeling “grumpy,” so grumpy, in fact, she thought she was having a mid-life crisis. Turns out, oysters, hush puppies, and beer and good conversation, are a (temporary) fix.

Oysters in the Mid-west aren’t even that good, but whatever. Hush puppies are fried dough and fried anything is good no matter what part of the world you’re from.

The Week in All-Staff: My work had it’s first large staff gathering since March 12, 2020. I didn’t work there at that time and was hired mid-pandemic. I did not recognize some people! But we ate a large sheet cake and got back to basic work rituals.

The Week in Movies: When I got home on Friday something was happening on the lawn outside my window. There were a couple barrels at one end. I looked out a little later and a black strip of plastic had been laid down. I look out a little later, and they had inflated that thing to a large movie screen. Ah, that’s how they were going to achieve movies on the lawn.

The film was Perks of Being a Wallflower, a pretty good little film, but kind of serious for summer lawn viewing. The sprinklers went off at one end of the park for a few minutes. Fireworks from the Reds game drowned out a little dialog, as did a few passing motorcycles. The whole thing was perfect!

The Week in Sloppy Joe: I have some ground beef in the freezer that I have to use or lose. I went for a recipe I cut out of Bon Appetit in 1991 for Summer Sloppy Joes, a recipe I like so much I have both the cut out and a hand written copy. I assume I had planned to give the handwritten copy to someone, but never did. I’m not finding the recipe on line, so I’ve got a collector’s item.

30 years after finding it, the recipe holds up pretty well. These days I tend to cut back on the amount of meat recipes call to focus more on the vegetables. I also found a chili sauce that has a lot more flavor than the Heinz chili sauce from my childhood. It was funny shopping for chili sauce with my 80 year old Mom. When I need an obscure ingredient, she kind of gets into helping me find it. She’s good at it. While I was thinking about it she walked me right to it. She said the last time she bought she was probably making Sloppy Joe’s, too. In fact, I do have to look up what to do with the rest of the jar. I have no idea.

What I Learned This Week: #200

Monday, June 16 – Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Week in Milestones: What I Learned this Week is 200 posts old. I started blogging in 2017 to practice writing. At first, I wrote on random topics on random days, but soon settled into once a week “reporting.” For 64 days during the early lock down phase of the pandemic, I wrote daily as one of my coping strategies. But the bread and butter of this blog is weekly 500-1000 words recaps of my week and my very routine activities.

The blog is based on my physical journal, a book where every day I write three things that made me happy. Focusing on the positive minutiae of the day, is what the journal and this blog is about and I believe happy thoughts make me a happy person.

I’ve though about walking away from the blog at 200. I’ll see what I think about that next Sunday. I still like this brain exercise. And looking at the thrilling topics below, wooooooooweeeeeee, life is just fine!

The Week in Tartar: Dental Hygienists seem to love the thrill of scraping tartar off teeth, and I do my best to grow as much as possible between visits. I am growing tartar right now, in fact. Anyway, my dental office is currently missing a hygienist which makes me sad because the one that was there for my last visit had the best touch of any hygienist in my oral history. This tech, who came to them through a temp agency, not only loved scraping the tartar, but she appeared to like the sight of blood more than any hygienist I’ve encountered. Brutal. But, she was amusing to talk to, so it wasn’t a total loss.

The Week in Colonoscopy Delay: I have been taking steps to schedule my routine colonoscopy, one of the great and efficient medical procedures that modern medicine has given us. This week I called the office where I need to go a couple of times. The wait times are ridiculous and I had to hang up and try again. Finally, I got through. The woman said the office was in total turmoil and a large group of doctors was about to leave the practice. She told me to call back in July. I didn’t realize the scheduling part of the colonoscopy was going to resemble scheduling my car for body work.

The Week in Sweet and Savory: At Maize this week I sat at the bar for dinner and the staff kept delivering food to the empty seat 2 stools away from me. First an appetizer appeared, and a little bit later, the main course. And the food sat. Without warning a dude came running in from outside, sat down and started to dig in. Turned out he worked there but he also eats there a lot because the food reminds him of what his Puerto Rican Mom cooks.

He wanted to share the food with the bartender in training, but when she said she was vegan he shifted to lovingly explaining the balance between sweet and savory flavors that Latino food is known for. He was so enthusiastic, I couldn’t help but listen, and in a few minutes his disappeared again, this time reappearing with a small plate so he could cut off a piece of his fish and share it with me. Delightful! Both him and the fist dish he shared!

The Week in Surprises: Friday was full of surprises. My Mom’s eye morning eye appointment got canceled while I was on my way to pick her up. No appointment, but a surprise breakfast with Mom. Then, President Biden’s signature on Thursday to make Juneteenth a National holiday, gave me a surprise 1/2 day off. But the best surprise was at the meat market where a familiar looking man said he knew me. It took me a second because his hair was white, not the brownish red he’d been dying it for years. And it took me a second, because I’d heard he was real sick, and I honestly thought he’d died…period, not just his hair. Welp Bob was alive and well as charming as ever. A truly great surprise.

What I Learned This Week: #199

Monday, June 7 – Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Week In Bye-Bye Zoom: For the first time since February 2020, my book club met in person. We shared snacks. We read each others’ nonverbal cues. And, bonus, we all like the book. Next month we meet at my place which means I have to do a company-ready cleaning of the place. I mean, the place isn’t a pigsty, but it not ready for scrutiny.

The Week in Prescriptions: Got my new glasses this week that called for only a slightly stronger prescription than my previous pair. In the office, they checked the glasses by having me read a card, the kind with big print at the top, and teeny tiny print at the bottom. That card was clear as a bell (so to speak). As I walked out I got a sensation of movement that didn’t seem quite right and by the time I got off the elevator, I felt I was wearing someone else’s glasses. Sometimes new glasses take a minute to get used to, so I decided to continue back to work where I found that if I held my head in a very specific, very steady position, the glasses were perfect. Then I got in my car and highway signs were blurry and, I’m no eye doctor, but that’s not right!

I took them back, obviously, and the office, at first, thought that they did everything perfectly, but maybe the doctor wrote done the wrong RX. Okay. Maybe. Then they took a look at my current glasses to compare prescriptions, and all of the sudden, she said “maybe” the lab entered the wrong number and ground the lens wrong. Maybe? LOL. New lens arriving this week.

The Week in The Kids Are Alright: One of my favorite things about working my part time job at TJ Maxx is working with high school kids and watching them grow. I’ve always learned a lot from them about culture, and the general state of how things are. They tend to tell it like it is. They are sullen and joyous. Savvy and ignorant. Sometimes within a few minutes. Plus, when I was in high school there was absolutely no way I could have had my shit together enough to have a job and go to school. I’m always a little in awe of these kids.

This week I saw one of my young co-workers looking at crystals and I told her the only real ones were the ones that felt cool. The fake ones feel like plastic. She loved that I knew anything about crystals and showed me a video she took of her “meditation” table in her room. The table was where she laid her stones and crystals and poetry books. I would not have expected any of this from her by appearances. And then she recommended Amanda Lovelace’s poetry book The Princess Saves Herself in This One. I’m 1/2 way through it, and it’s a great little book. I loved that she shared this with me.

The Week in Movies: For the second time post-COVID I went to the movies. In the preview package to In the Heights, and in between trying to sell me more Coke, the cast of the movie, and the overlords of the Cinemark Movie chain, effusively thanked the audience to coming to the theater in person. I saw the first showing of the day with maybe 10 people in the theater. Seats are still blocked off and COVID safety protocols are still pretty tense. Honestly, the best thing about going to the theater is the screen size. The rest of the experience, buying tickets and snacks, the unending commercials and previews, just make for a less than pleasant overall experience. That’s coming back soon, I’m sure, no matter how much they pretend to grovel about appreciating me. They appreciate my credit card.

Anyway, the reason I did go to the movies this week, In the Heights, did not disappoint. The film is joyous and hopeful despite some serious underlying themes. Some of the dance numbers were exuberant, others were just sweet. I was surprised and pleased that the film includes a full-length song sung by an “old” person. I say this because in mainstream movies, old people, if they are in movies at all, are often relegated to the sideline of the plot. When actress Olga Merediz starts singing Patience and Faith, a song about her life now at its end, I could feel the tears welling up. The movie spent a lot of time letting us know how important Abuela Claudia was to the neighborhood. Her big song is a pivotal moment in the film and compliments and serves as a counter point to the lives of the young lovers that drive the plot. The song ended up killing me.

The Week in Bravery: The park outside my window is generally unprogrammed. There’s a kickball league out there a couple nights a week, and some morning yoga on the weekends, but mostly it’s just a place for people to hang and to walk their dogs. This weekend park scheduled a concert. They didn’t promote it very heavily (I saw a mention on Facebook, I think) and they only set up about two dozen chairs. At 6 I heard the faint strains of a guitar. I looked out my window and saw about two dozen empty chairs and a young woman standing under a tent playing a small guitar. BY HERSELF. Just playin’ and singin.

I grabbed a beer and a coozie and ran down to take a seat. She was playing a ukulele and taking requests, both of which I found charming. In between songs she and I would talk and, of course, her comments were on the mic and being broadcast across the lawn.

I was there for several songs and a few people came and went. The best, and what I’m sure will be on of the highlights of summer was when the young family who’d stopped to listen, asked for a Taylor Swift song. The family and the singer and the sparse audience agreed that Shake it Off was the best song to sing. The Dad and a five year old girl and her younger brother walked over to the mic. The girl was shy, but giving it a go. A few words in, another kid, just a little older than the girl, who’d been playing by himself behind the tent, ran to the mic, leaned in and started singing all the words. Turned out he was the older brother (the Mom said she agreed it looked like he’d just appeared out of the woods to sing). The four of them singing, with the Dad leaning in to sing out Shake it Off was about the sweetest, most wholesome thing I’ve seen in a long while.

Kryst Kuer on the Uke. Bravery and confidence off the charts!