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Monday, March 31, 2008

It's Hard to Leave . . .

Today's the day. It started at 5:15 with me in the laundry room. Yes, that's 5:15 AM. I have found that when I do laundry early on Monday morning I do not have to fight for the machines. I have the whole place to myself. It's early, but then I am done for the week, which is very nice.

The rest of the day was spent doing chores to get us ready to pull out tomorrow. Randy spent the day outside putting things into the basement (yes, we have a basement – don't laugh!) and checking tires. He found that two of the tires on the rig were, for all intents and purposes, flat. He was pretty puzzled as to why that happened when the other two were fine, but we're hoping there's nothing wrong with them and he'll check them again in the morning.

I spent the rest of the day inside; cleaned the bathroom, put away pictures, began storing things for travel and shredded a whole BUNCH of financial papers. I hate shredding, but it's a necessary thing nowadays.

We went out to dinner with Dick & Pat to Cici's Pizza which is a buffet pizza place. It's cheap and decent pizza. When we got home, we walked around the park to say our good-byes. It's hard to leave; we've made such good friends here. This has definitely become our home away from home.

Tomorrow we're going to breakfast with Ron & Ruth and Dick & Pat for one last get together. Then, it will be time to hitch up and pull out. Florida here we come.

Until the next time . . .

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Jubilee Pickers Festival

What a great few days I've had! Sorry I haven't posted since last Sunday, but I knew this festival was coming and wanted to wait until I had something to tell you.

One of the groups I play dulcimer in, The Jubilee Pickers, hosts a festival every spring. We have a few vendors come to hawk their wares; other groups in the area are invited as well as any individual players or listeners who want to join in; and there is a professional dulcimer player invited to give workshops to those who are interested. We start Thursday morning with our usual practice session and then the festival itself begins on Friday evening and goes through Sunday morning. This year the festival was held at Southwind RV Park which is located very close to our park.

Friday began with folks coming in about 2pm ready for some jamming, then a potluck supper with more jamming to follow through the evening. I love potluck suppers!! The food is always great 'cause people only bring what they make best. I had the honor of being MC for this evening and Saturday evening. That's just a glorified way of saying I was to make announcements and pray for our meal. Well, any of you who know me at all know that I love having the microphone in front of a group of people! :) We had a good time and played some great music. There were a few items for silent auction; a handcrafted dulcimer with custom case, a wood carved whimiscal; and another handcrafted instrument called a wokamer (its body was actually made from a wok!).

Today's schedule was a busy one. Those of us helping with registrations were on duty from 8:30am until . . . uh, I think we're done. :) We had several workshops scheduled, two with our professional dulcimer player, Jeff Hames, ( and others with some of our own folks teaching hammered dulcimer, beginner mountain dulcimer and bowed psaltery. And throughout the day, we were selling 50/50 raffle tickets, giving out door prize tickets, showing folks where to put their donations to tonight's dinner and just trying to be helpful in any way we could.

I think all of the workshops went well. I attended Jeff's intermediate mountain dulcimer workshop during which we learned more technique in strumming and picking. Have I mentioned that Jeff is just 20 years old? Yes, I said 20 years old! He is such a nice young man – not cocky or obnoxious as you might expect a National Champion could be. He has recorded CDs; his first at the tender age of 17!! He was great with us old folks, very patient as he encouraged us in our stumbles.

After the workshops and lunch break, it was Open Stage. This is where folks who wish to perform sign up to do so. We had several clubs (including the two I play with) perform as well as soloists, duos, and groups. Lots of good music. I even took a deep breath and performed a solo myself. I played a song entitled “Lamplighting Time in the Valley” and sang. I was pretty nervous, but got through it without embarrassing myself or Randy. And I was proud of myself for doing it; I had almost backed out, but knew that I would be mad at myself if I did. So, I did it and glad that I did. Randy video'd my performance. Hope you like it! But, remember – it's not a professional recording!! :) Click on this link to see it.

Once Open Stage was over, it was free time during which some folks jammed and others went home to get their contributions to the supper this evening while still others just relaxed and chatted with each other.

This evening ended with a soup dinner and a concert. There were lots and lots of pots of soups and breads and all were good from the way folks were eating. Once dinner was over, Jeff Hames performed for us. It didn't take long to see why he is a National Champion. He was great. And it was a nice way to end the night.

The festival officially ends tomorrow morning with a Hymn Sing. We'll bring our instruments and gather together to praise God with our voices and our music. It will be a great way to worship and thank Him for the gift of music.

I have had a wonderful time playing with this group over the last three months. They are so warm and have completely welcomed me into the group. I am sorry to leave them, but look forward to seeing them again in the fall when we get back.

Gosh, just three days until we leave this park. While I am looking forward to traveling some, it's always hard to say good-bye to the wonderful friends we have here. We just hugged and said our good-byes to Darrell & Judy tonight. They leave in the morning for their trip north. I believe we are the next to leave. But, it's really never good-bye, it's more we'll see you down the road.

Until the next time . . .

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

What a glorious day to celebrate Jesus' resurrection! The sun was shining brightly and we spent the first part of the day worshiping and celebrating at church. I hope you and your families were able to spend some time together this weekend.

This afternoon we met at the clubhouse to have Easter dinner with about 130 of our closest friends. The park provided the ham and everyone brought a dish or two to share at their tables. As always, the food was good and the socializing was loud and fun.

I have to correct something from yesterday's post about Bill & Lark's home. It's on Mobile Bay, not Weeks Bay as I thought. Thanks, Lark, for setting me straight! :) And Lark sent me a couple of photos of the ceiling of the tower room. So, here they are. Beautiful, huh?

We are looking forward to a busy week as our time here in Alabama comes to a close. We'll be leaving a week from Tuesday, so we've got lots of good-byes to say and cram in as much fun as we can. Next weekend we'll be participating in another dulcimer festival that's hosted by one of the groups I play with, The Jubilee Pickers. I'm looking forward to that!

Until the next time . . .

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Gathering of Friends

Tonight our small group from church got together at Bill & Lark's home to celebrate our time together over this past winter and to allow us to all be together one last time before those of us who will be leaving take off. Bill & Lark live in an absolutely gorgeous home on the water of Weeks Bay. They are the only couple in our group who live in a house full-time. Their home is so inviting and when one walks into it, one feels a prevailing sense of peace.

Bill and Lark always wanted to live in a lighthouse so when they were nearing retirement, they built themselves one! Well, not exactly, but I believe it's as close as you can get. The house is on stilts as it sits right on the water and you can access the living quarters by an outside staircase or use the very cool spiral staircase they had custom made for their home. The staircase begins on the ground level and winds up through the main level up into the cupola on top of the house. This cupola is Bill's haven and it is absolutely breathtaking. It is a lighthouse, no question about it. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a good picture of it, but please believe me when I say it is beautiful.

We all gathered outside (after oohing and aahhing during our tours of the house) to socialize and eat dinner. Of course, food had to be part of the evening!! Then as the daylight began to wane and the wind picked up, a fire was built and we circled our chairs around the fire and waited for the “show” to start. The show was the sun setting over Weeks Bay. Bill & Lark say it is special every night as it is different each time. Well, we sure weren't disappointed. Although it was a little hazy, it was still a great sight to see. Seeing such a beautiful sight never fails to remind me of what a great God we serve. He provides us with so much beauty around us every day.

What a great way to spend an evening – friends, food, and a show. Life just doesn't get any better than that. Randy & I left Bill & Lark's home knowing that we are very blessed to be living a life we enjoy and be surrounded by folks we care for. Hope you can say the same.

Until the next time . . .

Ahhhhh, What a Life!

Last night we joined several couples at a campfire at Ron & Ruth's home. It was a gorgeous night for a campfire – slight breeze and a beautiful full moon. It was a wonderful example of just why we love this life. In what other world could about 20 people who didn't know each other 2 months ago sit for hours and share stories and laugh and talk like they've known each other for years? Not many places, I think.

I am so grateful to God for allowing us to experience retirement at such a young age. It is truly a gift to be able to enjoy life 24/7 with your best friend who just happens to be your spouse. And it's so much fun to find other couples who feel the same way.

Speaking of gifts, tomorrow is Easter. The greatest gift of all was given to us during this season when Jesus sacrificed his perfect life for us so that we may be able to live with Him in heaven for eternity. What joy to know Him in this way. If you don't know Jesus in this way, I encourage to you seek Him and learn about Him - ask me, I'll be glad to share my story with you. If you do know Him, then you'll be joining me in rejoicing over our celebration of Resurrection Sunday.

Until the next time . . .

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Just Gotta Share . . .

I know this is a travel blog, but it's also MY blog, so I figure I can deviate every once in awhile and share some family stuff. So, here's the most adorable, amazing, fantastic granddaughter in the world showing off her Irish!

On another note - it's WINDY here!! Good grief, they are calling for gusts up to 40 MPH. We are rocking and rolling in the RV now! :)

Until the next time . . .

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Unfortunately, I've been getting spam comments on the blog lately. UGH! Why don't these people use their talents and skills for good instead of evil????? Anyway, since this is happening, I have to resort to approving comments before they are posted. There will also be a word verification step that will help cut down on the spam. I'm sorry for the inconvenience. Thanks for understanding and please keep those comments coming!!


Fairhope Arts Festival

Went to the 56th Annual Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival. We had gone last year, too. This really isn't my thing, but it's something Pat really enjoys, so we go. I have a good time, don't get me wrong, but I have a good time no matter where I am. Last year, there was a huge exhibit of pelicans roosting on perches throughout the town. This year there was no such special exhibit, just lots and lots of booths with every time of art, craft, and widget you can imagine. Got pictures of the ones that were different enough to catch my eye. Click on "Guiler Pictures" under favorite websites (at the left of the blog) to see other pictures.

It's always fun to go into Fairhope, though. It's such a quaint little town and the architecture throughout the town is beautiful. Got pictures of that, too.

Loved this house; right in the middle of town. Just gorgeous.

Dick & Randy got their German sausage dinner/lunch at the Lutheran church. We had eaten there last year and they couldn't wait to go again. Pat & I declined, deciding to see what there was in the food court.

Just another day in the life. Tonight we're going over to Ron & Ruth's to watch a movie called, “Songcatcher.” It's about mountain music and one of our workshop leaders from the festival, Don Pedi, is in it. I'm looking forward to that.

Until the next time . . .

Robertsdale Rodeo

Well, I found out that I'm not built for watching a rodeo – at least not for three and a half hours! :) The tickets said that the the rodeo was to begin at 7pm so we got there about 6:30, figuring to look around and get seated. We did just that and found out that the show was actually going to start at 7:30! That was a bit annoying, but once the show got started we forgot about the bleachers (at least that's what we told each other!) I'm glad the bleachers had backs to them, that made it a bit better.

The show didn't disappoint me, for the most part. It was everything I thought a rodeo should be. When the horses

and their riders came out of the “shoot” during the opening ceremonies, it was

glorious. Those beautiful horses were preening for the audience, I'd swear. And they are fast. We saw how fast later in the show during the barrel racing event.

I did feel sorry for those calves, though, I'll tell ya. Those cowboys toss those ropes around the calves' necks and yank – hard!! But, the calves jump up afterward and trot down the arena and out the gate. Guess they aren't hurting too much.

Not sure how those cowboys and cowgirls do it time after time. Man, the way their bodies jerk and twist and hit the ground. Whew! I'm sure they are keeping the ibuprofen folks in business. I hurt just looking at them. And I'm complaining about my back hurting after sitting on the

bleachers!! I'm a wimp, I'll admit it.

The last event of the evening is the bull riding, of course. It's the highlight of the rodeo. Those bulls are big boys. I have to say I was a bit disappointed, though. The bull riders wore protective helmets and vests!!! Not what I expected at all. I know, I know. It's very dangerous. I get that. But, gosh, the cowboys don't wear that stuff in the movies!! Anyway, for the most part, the bulls won. I think there was just one or two riders who went the 8 seconds.

Until the next time . . .

Friday, March 14, 2008

There But by the Grace of God . . .

Yesterday the Jubilee Pickers performed at Robertsdale Nursing Home. Since I've been with the Pickers, this is the fourth nursing home we've visited. What a wonderful ministry this is – it is such a joy to play for these folks. They are so appreciative and fun! But, surprisingly, it's how I feel when I leave that is amazing. You know the old saying – it's better to give than to receive. Well, you want to experience that adage? Just visit the folks in a nursing home. You will walk away with your heart bursting with love, joy, and gratitude. If you don't, then something's wrong with you!

As I talked to each person after our performance, touching them, thanking them, it came to me that I could be looking at my future. You never know what God has in store for you and I could be sitting in one of those wheelchairs or beds. I pray it doesn't happen, but who knows? And, if I am in that situation someday, I sure hope there are groups that come to visit me.

A highlight of the visit was a sweet old lady who yodeled for us!! Yes, she did. I had watched her singing along with us and then her nurse asked how long it had been since we'd heard someone yodel. Well, I figured she was talking about herself. Nope! She wheeled this lady into the middle of the room and that wonderful lady proceeded to sing and yodel. What fun. And she sure enjoyed it, too. I hope I have that much spunk when I'm her age.

This weekend I'm going to have lots to share with you. Tonight we're going to a rodeo!! I am SO excited. I have never been to a rodeo and have always wanted to go. So, I'm going! I hope to get lots of pictures for you; I don't know, though, 'cause my camera doesn't do well at night. We'll see.

Tomorrow we're going to the Fairhope Arts & Crafts Festival. This is the event last year where those really cool pelicans were exhibited. The weather is supposed to be superb – sunny and 80 degrees. YAY!!

Hope your weekend is shaping up to be a fine one. Until the next time . . .

Some Pictures from the Festival - FINALLY!

Don Pedi, excellent musician and teacher!

A jam session

Ruth, Pat & me

Me & my new dulcimer

A glimpse of a workshop in progress

Monday, March 10, 2008

STILL No Pictures!

I am still having trouble uploading pictures. I'm pretty sure it's not me 'cause I keep getting an error message. So, until that gets solved, please go to our Webshots site to look at all the pictures from the festival. The site is linked at the left of this post but you can also click here:

Sorry for the inconvenience!

Until the next time . . .

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Lagniappe Dulcimer Fete

NOTE: I was having trouble uploading pictures to this post. Kept getting a Google server error notice. I'll try to put pictures up later today. Sorry, I know that a post without pictures is like Cheerios without milk - dry, but still edible. :(

What a weekend I had! Thursday afternoon I left Randy and traveled with Pat and Ron & Ruth Phinney to Port Allen, Louisiana to attend my very first dulcimer festival! Port Allen is just across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge and takes less than four hours to get there. I was very excited. Several of the women in my dulcimer groups had gone last year and said it was a blast. Ruth went last year so Pat & I picked her brain about what to expect.

Friday morning dawned rainy & cold – YUCK! Much of the festival workshops were scheduled for outdoors so we weren't sure what to expect when we arrived. Workshops started at 8:30 and continued throughout the day until 4:30, with a one hour break for lunch. Unfortunately, the first couple of workshops I wanted to attend were scheduled for outdoors (of course!) and the organizers were scrambling to find indoor space. I must admit, I was a little cranky at first 'cause I really thought there should have a been a “what if” plan, so the scrambling wouldn't have been necessary. But, “this had never happened to us before” - isn't that what they always say? Anyway, after a bit of doing, indoor space was found and we settled in for our workshop.

Most of the workshops I attended were led by Don Pedi. Now, being new to this dulcimer world, I knew nothing about any of the instructors, I was just picking the workshops by their titles. Boy, did I get lucky!! Don was a fantastic leader and the joy and passion he has for mountain music was evident for the first time he opened his mouth. He shared the history of the music, his own experiences and his knowledge. I loved it! We learned lots of new songs, some new techniques and honed other skills. What a gift Don has and I am grateful to have been able to take advantage of his experience.

The last workshop I attended was for Sacred Harp Music. No, it has nothing to do with harps! It is an accapella form of singing that is all about the music and the poetry (words) of the songs. It is four part harmony and is so pure. It is called “sacred harp” because the books most used by these groups is called “The Sacred Harp.”: The term “sacred harp” refers to the human voice, which is the musical instrument you were born with. When groups sing together, it is never considered a performance – it is an appreciation of the music and it is a spiritual experience. The style of singing is called “shape note singing because the four distinct shapes used in the musical notations which aid in sight reading. All of this information can be found at the Sacred Harp website, During our workshop, we learned four songs in just one hour. It was a amazing. There is something about singing without instruments that enables you to hear more clearly what you are singing about. Again, it was getting back to the tradition and roots of American music. I will definitely be looking into this for future festivals.

The best thing about the festival, of course, was the music. Everywhere you went, you saw large groups, small groups, and individuals just making music. Some of the “jam sessions” were scheduled while others just popped up throughout the venue. Somebody would start playing and then others would join in. There were mountain (lap) dulcimers like I play and guitars, fiddles, hammered dulcimers, bowed dulcimers, bowed psaltrys, banjos; gosh, if it had strings, it was being played. There was even a workshop for harmonica players! The talent and skills levels were all over the spectrum and each person was comfortable because it was about the music. What fun.

I did end up buying a new dulcimer. I have been wanting one and hoped to find a good deal. Well, I did. I was able to buy a used dulcimer, complete with case & strap, that is well made by one of the premier dulcimer makers. I had one of the fellows with whom I play on Thursdays check it out to be sure that it was a good buy. He gave me the okay and told me how to negotiate for it. I'm happy to say that I was able to get the price down some and am very happy with my purchase. I'll have a picture of it tomorrow to share with you.

Instructors of the workshops entertained us with concerts on Friday & Saturday nights. Gosh, the talent and skill they possess. We had a blast listening to them. After sitting in their workshops, it was pure fun to watch them in action. On Saturday night, the dulcimer orchestra performed. These folks had gotten to the festival early and paid an additional fee to participate in this event. It was very cool.

We left Sunday morning for home. As much fun as I had, I was ready to be home. I missed Randy and I missed my bed! There's just nothing like sleeping in your bed. I mean, that's one of the best things about full-time RVing – you're always at home! :) We rolled into the park a little after 2pm. Ron did a great job of chauffeuring us around. Poor guy – he was stuck with three “wives” for a weekend. He was great.

I'll post more pictures later. Ron took a bunch and I'll get them from him. Now, it's back to reality and the routine of retirement. Such a tough life! ;) Hey, I did laundry this morning at 5am. So, it's not all fun and games.

Until the next time . . .

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Another Good-bye

We had to say good-bye this evening to Wendyl & Tiffany. They will head for home tomorrow morning. We have really enjoyed getting to know them over the past few weeks and look forward to catching up with them sometime down the road. They are not full-time RVers (and we don't hold that against them!) and are feeling the pull to get back to their home in Oklahoma. They've offered to let us “plug in” at their house if we're ever in the vicinity. Such a nice offer! We told them they need to be careful – we'll probably take them up on it!

To send Wendyl & Tiffany off in style, the six of us (Dick & Pat, too) went out to an early dinner at Lambert's. Wendyl & Tiffany had not yet been to Lambert's and it is a must when you are down here. You get plenty of food and a little entertainment, too. I know I wrote about Lambert's last year. It is the home of the “throwed rolls.” When you want a roll, it is thrown to you by one of the staff. Other staff members are walking around with their “pass arounds” which consist of fried okra, tomatoes & macaroni, fried potatoes, black eyed peas and more. This is on top of very generous portions of good home-cooking. Needless to say we all brought home doggy bags.

After dinner, we met back at Dick & Pat's to watch a movie. They have a good-sized TV set up in one of their outside storage area. Yeah, this camping gig is tough! :) All too soon the movie was over and it was time to say good-bye. After lots of hugs and promises to keep in touch, it was time to call it a night. It's great to make new friends and hard to say good-bye to them.

Before I end this post, I need to share a couple of pictures with you from our exploration yesterday. We had gone out on a milkshake run and decided take a drive down to the Bon Secour River area. We had not been down there before and I wanted to see where the road would take us. We found ourselves down where all the local fisherman sell their catch. Gosh, that's got to be a hard life. And those boats! Man, they are tough looking. We found some sad sights, too; a couple of boats that had seen better days. We wondered if they had been swamped or wrecked in pasts storms. You can't look at these pictures without feeling sorrow for those who had sought their livelihood on them. At least, I can't. I wonder what their stories are.

Well, that's it for our weekend. It has ended much better than it started. I am feeling almost 100%. Thank God for antibiotics and cold/flu medicine! And it's a good thing 'cause I've got a busy week planned and was not happy about being sick. I am really looking forward to the dulcimer festival in Louisiana this coming weekend. Pat & I leave Thursday and will be back Sunday. I'm sure I'll have lots to share with you.

Hope you have a great week. Be sure to smile at someone tomorrow; it'll make them a little happier, too. Until the next time . . .