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The Ardennes; and the WWII Battle of the Bulge.

My big strong grandpa passed away in 2007.  The WWII stories he told me were about watching porpoises swim alongside the ship that took them over to England, the cool trains that took them from England to the Channel for their sail to Europe, a singer with a beautiful voice at the USO in Liege, and being assigned to build POW camps in the last weeks of the war.  He didn’t say anything about the battles.  He was a Combat Engineer.

Engineers poster

In battle, the engineers would precede the infantry and sweep for mines, clear pathways with explosives, build temporary bridges, repair tanks, and whatever it took to keep their division on the move and the enemy at a distance.  They sometimes blew up bridges and blocked roads so the enemy couldn’t use them.  When battle circumstances called for it, such as in the Battle of the Bulge, the engineers also operated as Infantry.  Below are sample pictures of what combat engineers were doing in the Ardennes.  Notice they are wearing dark colored uniforms.  In December and January 1944-45, the Ardennes had record snowfall and cold.  Their Division was without camouflage against the snow.

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The Battle of the Bulge got its name from the Germans’ surprise attack and advance into Belgium in mid-December 1944, that created a ‘bulge’ outward from the Siegfried Line.  This map from www.army.mil shows the advance and the bulge.

Battle of the Bulge map

After my grandpa was gone, I continued to read published accounts from his unit, and looked up locations on Google Maps, determined to learn what his Division had been through.  Then it occurred to me that I had a little stash of frequent flier miles.  So, I began planning my first trip to Europe, to see these places with my own eyes.  The last week of October 2008, I left for Belgium.

The Ardennes in Person.

I stayed in the town of St. Vith, which was central to the start of the Battle of the Bulge.  The town was virtually destroyed in the battle, but its Büchel Tower from the 1300s mostly survived, and was repaired.  It had been damaged in fires and battle in prior centuries.

St Vith bomb damage

The town has erected a memorial to the US soldiers of 1944-45.

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The owner of the inn where I stayed had her own personal story from the battle.  She was 9 years old in 1944, and with her parents had to hide out in the woods for the month from late December to late January.  Our GIs gave them food and helped them survive.  As an inn owner, she has hosted many returning GIs and their families, and proudly showed me this certificate hanging on the wall in the inn’s restaurant.

Certificate for St Vith Inn Owners

In my rental car, I covered as much ground as daylight would allow for three days.  The fall colors were stunning, as opposed to the bitter cold and snow the soldiers endured that winter.

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This 20 km stretch of road from St. Vith to Malmedy is still there.

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Malmedy-St Vith Route signs aMalmedy road

The field where the Malmedy Massacre took place on December 17, 1944, is preserved.

Malmedy

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Another massacre also took place that day in Ligneuville, between Malmedy and St Vith.

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The owners of this Ligneuville inn were able to distract German officers and save the lives of several captured GIs, who would have been included in the massacre otherwise.  Ligneuville hotel a

The village of Poteau, 10 km from St Vith, was the site of the longest US tank battle.

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Poteau

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My grandpa was not at Bastogne, but I did visit there, as it was significant to the last part of the battle, and only 50 km from my St Vith base.

Taking a break from the seriousness of the battle for a moment:  One of my fave movies, ‘If It’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium‘ (1969), has a light-hearted scene of an American and a German visiting the Bastogne Mardasson Memorial, telling their battle memories.

For some views inside the Bastogne War Museum at the Mardasson, check out this informative post by the Diverting Journeys blogger, on her recent visit there.

On my last afternoon, I visited the American military cemetery, at Henri Chapelle, Belgium, where nearly 8,000 of our GIs are buried on 57 acres overlooking a beautiful Ardennes valley.  Another 450 names of missing GIs are listed on a marble tablet under the entrance canopy.  The cemetery attendant printed me the names and locations of the six members of my grandpa’s battalion who are buried there, so I could visit each one.

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The closest simulations in movies to what I learned on my visit, and what my grandpa described, are probably Fury and Saving Private Ryan.

The Wereth Eleven documentary (available on Amazon Prime and Netflix) tells about yet another particularly brutal massacre that happened at the same time as the Malmedy and Ligneuville massacres.  Wereth is 13 km from St Vith.

 

The day after returning home to Kansas, I voted in the 2008 Presidential Election.  Then a few days after that, it was Veterans Day with my own new realization of what that means.

About planning a trip to the Ardennes:  There are quite a few people in the area who will assist and advise someone planning a personalized visit to the battlefields and related sites.  They were truly kind and helpful to me.

About that singer with the beautiful voice at the USO in Liege.  This was her song.

 


Poppies

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen anyone selling poppies here for Veterans Day, so I’ve now bought myself a jewelry poppy brooch to wear each year.  It came from the UK Poppy Shop, which has a great, ever-growing selection of affordable poppy jewelry, with proceeds going to the Royal British Legion.

Poppy Broach

The blogger With My Hands Dream recently posted a tutorial for a diy fabric flower that resembles a poppy brooch and uses reflector fabric for visibility.

There are also quite a few knit and crochet poppy patterns and tutorials available online.  For starters, try these two collections:

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Sticky Fingers–what I’ve been reading

Though I’m only halfway through this book, I’m ready to write my thoughts.  Maybe I’ll finish the book, and maybe there will be a ‘Part 2’ of my review.  But it’s just as likely that I won’t have anything further to say about it.

Sticky fingers cover

Great job by the writer, Joe Hagan, on detailing the life of Jann Wenner, the long-time head of Rolling Stone magazine.  Hagan held his nose and dug deep, aired out the smoke and weeded through the hype and delusions to reveal the actual person.  How the book came to be is almost a part of the story now:  Hagan was selected by Wenner to do his biography.  Hagan was given access to Wenner’s lifetime of files and writings, and had Wenner’s blessing to talk to anyone in Wenner’s past.  (Well, except the things I found out when reading that he didn’t consent to.)  Then, when Wenner didn’t like the book because it made him look bad, he withdrew his support for the book…which no doubt has added to the book’s intrigue.  “Well played,” I say as I roll my eyes.

Wenner comes across from his earliest years, as a cheater, user, backstabber and bully; and at the same time impulsive and pitiful.  I don’t want to retell stories that you can read in the book, so here is my general characterization of Wenner:

Think of a person who doesn’t bring a dish to a potluck dinner, then goes through the line first, and takes big helpings of the best food, and then doesn’t eat it all, criticizes the cooks, and knows no one will call him out for any of it.  Then he’ll do the same thing at the next potluck dinner, and the next.  While those around him graciously refrain from confronting him about his unacceptable behavior, he has moved on and is pronouncing himself to be a food critic, and invites the biggest names in gourmet cooking to cook for him in return for feedback and ‘promotion’.  Hungry for publicity, the cooks play along with him, when the whole time he’s driven not by the professional he’s held himself out to be, but by his fan boy desires for selfies with celebrities.  It’s pure absurdity.

We needed something better than what Rolling Stone magazine was from the start.  It was a publication that filled a void and for that reason, couldn’t fail.  Willing investors could always be found when Wenner’s reckless spending caused instability; which was a continuous state of affairs.  It didn’t hurt the bottom line that the writers and staff often weren’t paid as promised.  Wenner hired many people who were beginners, or were down and out, and not in a position to hold him accountable when he failed to make good on promises,…like pay for work done.  The magazine’s identity and credibility were doomed from the start, in the hands of an impulsive druggie fan boy.  From the start, he doctored articles and reviews to suit his desire to hurt or help friends and associates.  By maintaining its place in that generation’s music culture, the magazine occupied turf that could have otherwise been held by a legitimate publication that observes certain standards of journalism.

Music fans and music artists also should have something more legitimate than what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was when he controlled it.  Here I’m resisting the urge to rant further about the damage done to this institution, because honestly, rock and roll at its most basic is anti-institutionalization and anti-establishment.  Just because someone latched onto a tourism business opportunity and borrowed the rock and roll label, doesn’t make it rock and roll, or a hall of fame.

By the way, ‘Jann’ isn’t his real name.  His parents named him Jan.  He added the extra ‘n’ to appear cool.

I appreciated reading the professional critics’ reviews of the book on the Amazon page, almost as much as the book itself.  And there are a lot of reviews quoted there.  Lots of critics wanted their say about this book, or the subject.  For some reason, the book empowered journalists and critics to come out and say what they really think about the guy.  I guess I’d ask each of them why they felt the need to wait until now.  This biographer did excellent work; with a pitiful subject.

Where to find the book:

Things look brighter from here:  I’ve just been notified by the library that my reserved copy of “Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story” by Roger Daltrey is now available for checkout.

Thanks a Lot Mr Kibblewhite

So that is my incentive to finish up with Sticky Fingers.  

This is your brain on spicy food

Shun anything spicy, is what I did until I was well into my 30s.  Even the ‘mild’ sauce option was a no-go for me at restaurants.  Then came a New Mexico bus tour guide.  His explanation to us of why people get hooked on spicy food changed my food life, literally.  It’s because spicy foods make you feel good!  It’s an endorphin release.  So, the me who has always believed in the power of endorphins when it came to exercise and chocolate, resolved to test out the effect of spicy foods.

First, the important thing:  How do you get relief from the burning sensation when the heat gets to be too much?

  • Take another bite.  This will only cool things off for a brief moment, because eventually you run out of the food you are eating.
  • Drink milk.  This will soften the burn.  Other dairy works too, such as sour cream or cream cheese.  Milk had always been my go-to relief, and the tour guide confirmed it is the best relief.
  • Water and soda pop don’t work.  The soda actually magnifies the sensation.  The tour guide confirmed this, too.

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Ways to start adapting your palate to spicy foods:

  • Picante sauce.  If you usually get mild, try medium by using less sauce and keeping milk or sour cream at hand for a quick cool down.
  • Rotel tomatoes and melted cheese dip.  Aka, ‘Queso’.  Who doesn’t know how to make this tailgating staple?  It’s got your spicy hot flavor and dairy combined in one scrumptious dip.  Rotel makes several options for how hot you want it.

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  • Hot Italian sausage.
    • Make it your go-to pizza topping.
    • Substitute it for ground beef in homemade Spaghetti and Lasagna.
  • BBQ Hot Links.  Almost every barbecue restaurant around here offers hot links on their menu.  It’s my standing order.  For home cooking, I like to buy my spicy hot links here.  https://www.yodermeatsks.com
  • Spicy jams and jellies.  If you don’t see them on your grocery shelf, try the nearest farmer’s market, or order it online.  I order from Simply Homemade, a maker in Minnesota.  She and I have been friends for several years, because of her hot pepper jellies, and our shared love of ’60s music.  (Scroll down on her page for the hot pepper jellies.)  The jellies are great on buttered toast or Ritz crackers.  To control the heat, first spread a layer of cream cheese, then dab the jelly on top of the cheese.

Grow your own?  For the first time, I’m trying to grow peppers.  Apparently, I got them planted too late in the season, so I haven’t been able to pick any yet.  There are a bunch of little growing peppers and blossoms on the plant, so I’m trying to keep the plant from freezing.  I badly want my first-ever harvest of Poblanos.

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More from the web on spicy foods and their mood-elevating effects:

1.  From Northwestern University.  “Now that we know why peppers are hot, you might be asking yourself, “Why exactly would anyone seek out this burning sensation?” The answer to this question can be found in the way our brains are wired. Capsaicinoids trick the brain into thinking it is being burned, which is a painful experience, through the transmission of neurotransmitters. Remember, earlier when I said your neurons play telephone. Well, when your body senses pain somewhere like the tongue that message has to make it to the brain. The message is sent from the location it is initially generated to the brain through a network of neurons by talking to each other via neurotransmitters, which are essentially chemical messages. One such message produced by capsaicinoids is substance P, which transmits pain signals. The brain responds by releasing another type of neurotransmitter known as endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural way of relieving pain by blocking the nerve’s ability to transmit pain signals. Additionally, the neurotransmitter dopamine, responsible for a sense of reward and pleasure, is also released. In essence, for some people eating large amounts of spicy food triggers a sense of euphoria similar to a “runner’s high”.  Source:  http://helix.northwestern.edu/blog/2014/07/your-brain-capsaicin

2.  From MedicalDaily.com. “If you haven’t jumped on the Sriracha bandwagon yet, maybe you’ll want to after reading this. Spicy food, that oh-so-tingling, burning, get-it-out-of-my-mouth food, actually induces a natural high minutes after eating it. And hey, the spicier the better.

Chili peppers in particular contain high levels of the substance capsaicin, which causes the burning sensation in spicy food. The chemical has been proven before to work as a topical painkiller for arthritis, and also forces the brain to release endorphins. “The endorphins work to block the heat,” Paul Bosland, cofounder and director of New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute, told ABC News in 2012. “The body produces them in response to the heat, which it senses as pain.” The result: a strong head buzz and numbness.

Some research even suggests capsaicin in higher levels can have mildly hallucinogenic effects. According to History, Mayans used them over 9,000 years ago as stimulants, while today’s chili eaters have reported seeing objects that weren’t even in the room and losing feelings in body parts.”  Source:  https://www.medicaldaily.com/pass-spicy-food-4-ways-get-high-without-any-drugs-whatsoever-323588

3.  Chile Facts‘ is a useful information page on the various hot peppers.  http://chilefacts.nmsu.edu/


So there you go.  If you’ve always shunned spicy foods, you may be denying yourself a great dose of endorphins.  Pour yourself a big glass of milk, and try to expand the limits of your taste buds.

And yes, the title of this post comes from the 1980s commercial.  It’s still true.

 

Tomatoes–what I’ve been growing

This is my one tomato plant I grew this season.  It was supposed to hide in the middle of the 10-foot planter, surrounded by marigolds, vincas, petunias and alyssum.  Instead, the tomato plant went all ‘Little Shop of Horrors‘, and took over the planter and pushed the marigolds out of the box, and choked off most everything else.  It has grown out of the planter on all sides.  The plant is about 15 feet wide.  There is a wire tomato cage buried somewhere in the middle.

Tomato plant 2018

In mid-October, we had a surprise early freeze, with snow, so I bundled up the plant with a series of blankets and tarps, two nights in a row.  (No homeowners association rules here, thankfully.)Tomato plant 2018 covered RSR

The snow covered the ground and the tarps all night.  The windchill was in the 20s Fahrenheit.  The snow and freeze broke four very old weather records.

Now we are back to sunny warm afternoons and chilly but not freezing nights.  The plant came through the freeze mostly okay, and has a boatload of green tomatoes currently ripening on the vines.

Some of the tomatoes got scarred from the freeze, but continued to ripen.

Freeze scars aw RSR

The scars have so far been confined to the surface.  The inside growth pattern is odd, but the taste is normal.

Freeze scars sliced aw RSR

The planter faces south and gets a full day of sun.  With luck, I’ll get another dozen or so tomatoes before I have to give up on the growing season.

My foster garden helper got adopted by her forever parents this past week.  The little digger was with me for almost 6 weeks, and gained 12 pounds during that time.

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A dress to match the cuffs.

“Don’t buy a suit to match your tie,” is a proverb that has served me very well… except when it should be ignored, such as with this project.  It started with a picture of knit+crochet cuffs I saw online, which led me to grab knitting needles and some cotton yarn from my stash, and experiment with the design.  Soon I had a set of cuffs I loved, with nothing to put them on.

Cuffs RSR

So, with cuffs in hand and no plan except that I might like them on a dress, I went fabric shopping, and came home with this lightweight rayon plaid:

Fabric RSR

For a pattern, I decided on the “Coco dress” from Tilly and the Buttons.  The dress has simple, basic lines; is fast to construct; and worked well for me on a prior dress.

Coco-cover_grande

I sewed the dress and attached the cuffs before deciding what to do with the neckline.  At that point, the answer was obvious–make a collar to match the cuffs.

Collar RSR

The finished dress:  Tada!

Dress on form2 RSR

I’ve now worn the dress once, and am quite happy with it.  Here are a few thoughts on the dress and fabric:

  • The A-line skirt makes the dress bicycle-friendly.
  • The cotton cuffs and collar, and lightweight rayon make a very comfortable dress.
  • The lightweight fabric makes the dress fit easily under a blazer when called for at work, or under a jacket for chilly Fall mornings and evenings.
  • The weight of the dress feels quirky on the hanger because the fabric is lightweight and flowy, while the cuffs and collar are weightier cotton.  The weight disparity isn’t evident when the dress is being worn.
  • The rayon fabric is not very durable.  It will be susceptible to snags.  The edges of the fabric fray profusely, so I had to finish all of the edges first thing.
  • About that plaid.  I should have had my head examined for buying flimsy fabric with a plaid that had to be matched.  Eventually, I figured out a method that mostly worked, but not before several frustrated do-overs.  Marking a straight hem was a bear, too, because of the shifty fabric and the plaid.

A few more views:

The back neck closure was finished with two self-fabric covered buttons and crochet button hole loops.

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The horizontal plaid matching.

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Hall mirror selfie.

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Project Details:

 

The Dressmaker–what I’ve been watching

From the opening images of a sewing treadle in motion, and then street scenes in Liverpool 1944, I was hooked.  The Dressmaker is an independent drama film, 90 minutes long, released in 1988.

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Liverpool 1944

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Then a fleet of US Army trucks came through.  Scores of Yanks in uniform came pouring out into the streets, and the story was on.

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There’s no official trailer that I can find, so here are some screenshots from the movie.

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The colors in the movie are vibrant, which pleasantly offsets the reminders of life in wartime Liverpool, such as grocery store lines, crowded homes and blackout curtains.  I love all of the colorful calico dresses and the household textiles, along with all of the 1940s fixtures, settings and scenes.

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The story line of an orphan teenage girl living with her two very different aunts, and dating a Yank soldier, was intriguing.  But even if the story wasn’t my kind of thing, I still would have watched with no sound, just to see the scenes and clothing.

The movie is based on the book ‘The Dressmaker“, by Dame Beryl Bainbridge, a writer who was born and raised in and around Liverpool.

As the credits rolled, a surprise appeared.  The delightful Freda Kelly, former longtime secretary to The Beatles, had a role in the movie, as part of ‘Couple in Doorway’.  So of course, I had to rewind to find a couple in a doorway.  No luck.  I’ll have to watch the movie again more closely, if I’m going to spot her.

Credits pointing to Freda Kelly

The Dressmaker is currently available for free on these channels:

More on The Dressmaker (1988) movie:

There is a 2015 movie by the same name starring Kate Winslet.  It is not the same story.

Desert Trip; has it been two years already?

Two years ago this week, I went to the best music festival ever–Desert Trip.  I tried writing about it when I got home, but it was all too fresh and overwhelming.  Two years later, it still seems surreal.  But it’s now easier to condense it down to the high points.

This was my first time to see Bob Dylan in person.  I was on cloud nine, hearing Bob sing Like A Rolling Stone and Tangled Up in Blue.  Earlier in the week, he’d been awarded a Nobel Prize.  On this night the Nobel Prize poet treated us to new/alternate lyrics to Tangled Up in Blue.

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The next night, Mother Nature provided a stunning real time harvest moon as a backdrop to Neil Young’s performance of Harvest Moon.

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This was my first time to see Neil perform live, and I couldn’t have been happier with his set list and performance.  He’s a rebel!

My fave song of Neil’s set was Long May You Run.

Sir Paul had my other fave song of the festival, when he called surprise guest Rihanna out onto the stage to do Four Five Seconds.

Each night had amazing fireworks at the end.

McCartney fireworks

On the third night, guitar windmills whirled,

and pigs flew.

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I had a general admission ticket, and decided not to fight for a spot at the front of GA, which was a dense crowd pushed up against a fence still far from the stage.  So I took a spot near the back, where everybody was relaxed and had room to breathe.  I could set my beach chair in place, and then go get a drink or food and easily get back to my spot.

My watch spot Desert Trip RSR

When I say I was far back from the stage, I mean, the performers were like ants on the stage.  I didn’t care.  The sound was great, and so was the vibe around me, and there were excellent video screens.  It felt relaxed, like a concert in someone’s back yard.

Stones arrow

(The band on stage is actually those teeny tiny people in the lower center.)

Accommodations

I opted for tent camping, of course.  This was my little outdoor paradise.  I had cool neighbors all around.  Some brought their own guitars for campsite jam sessions.  It was pure contentment when at the end of a long, amazing day, I would lay down and drift off to sleep hearing people congregated at nearby tents, singing and playing guitar.

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The tent village was well organized.  On my arrival, I was assigned an ‘address’, and driven to it with my stuff by a nice guy in a golf cart.

I took my Esbit alcohol stove, and prepared a few simple meals at my campsite.  One was Curry Cashew Chicken Rice & Veggies in broth.  I adapted this recipe from the amazing backpackingchef.com.  For the veggies, I used carrots, broccoli and cauliflower; all dehydrated at home in advance of the trip.

Curry rice chicken soup from Backpacking Chef

I also took my Bemco backpacker oven, and made myself a couple of scrumptious campsite pizzas.  I’ll save the campsite pizza details for a later post.

For coffee, I took my travel french press mug–a nice gift from my brother.  By loading it with ground coffee and water each night, I had a nice cold brew ready each morning.

French Press

More sights from my little home and the totally awesome tent village:

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For the campers, there was a pop-up downtown with general store, cool vintage boutiques, food vendors, hair salon, game room, entertainment, outdoor games and more.  I could have spent a lot of time here.  The downside was the typical US festival price gouging, but only at the general store.  $12 for a dozen eggs?  Nah, I’ll walk a few more steps and get a scrumptious pancakes and sausage breakfast for $5 instead.

Campers Center food vendors

There was a cool upcycle boutique.  I borrowed this shirt idea for my brother’s birthday gift when I got home, using a t-shirt from his favorite local band.

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One vintage boutique had a type-in ‘Guest book’IMG_20161016_1301236_rewind_kindlephoto-27061867a-w

There were dozens more pop up restaurants, pubs, shops and activities in the main festival area.  One was a vintage vinyl record shop, where the line just to get in the door was never short.

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One vendor served ice cream floats in these awesome metal cups.  The cup is now a permanent part of my camping kit.

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The taxi bikers were creatively shielded from the dust.  There’s an awesome review I’ve linked to at the end, that tells all you need to know about the dust boogers.

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Along with dust boogers, there was the near-permanent dust tan.

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Another totally awesome high point of the festival for me, was meeting up with a cross-country friend.

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Sure, it was hot, but I managed to keep my clothes on, unlike some people.  What the _?_

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During the 3-day festival, people were speculating on who would perform at the next Desert Trip.  A Led Zeppelin reunion was universally mentioned.  Some thought Springsteen and a few others from that next generation of big stars.  Others I thought of were Eric and Ginger as Cream, Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Paul Simon, and Ringo Starr.  Anyway, the answer to date, is that Desert Trip was a one-off.  I’m good with that.  While I’d love to go again, I can’t think of another lineup that I’d be as excited about as the original.

The best music festival ever deserves the best review ever, and here it is!  Seriously, I read it while on my trip home from the festival, and had to hold my hand over my mouth to stifle my laughter so as not to annoy the people sitting around me.    http://www.apparentlythismatters.com/2016/10/desert-trip-review.html 

To that I can only add that I went; I experienced; I got the t-shirt(s).

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Desert Trip wallpaper RSR mark

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And that’s enough reminiscing for now.  Next week…a sewing project.

Pirate Radio–what I’ve been watching (and listening to, and knitting to)

This past weekend I caught a nasty bug, which means I spent lots of time on the couch, under warm blankets.  When I would get tired of napping, I’d sit up and drink warm tea, watch feel-good movies, and work on this knit+crochet project.  It is going to be the collar for a dress which is finished…except for this piece.  Stay tuned for a finished garment post.

Knit crochet collar2

One of my most fave feel-good movies got another watch– ‘Pirate Radio–The Boat That Rocked‘.  It’s a fave for a lot of reasons, some of which are:

  • The unbelievable story of how the British government tried to ban rock and roll radio in the 1960s
  • The cool mid-1960s clothes
  • The great 1960s rock and roll music
  • The cast of cool movie stars, who all portray great characters
  • The great ending.

It’s a really entertaining movie.  Here’s the trailer:

For me, the best movies are the ones that give me something new to look up, or read or listen to, to continue the experience after leaving the theatre.  Sometimes it’s a biopic that sends me in search of the biography to read.  (Examples:  Walk the Line, The Aviator, A Beautiful Mind.)  ‘Pirate Radio‘ compelled me to order the soundtrack, and look up some of the gazillion album covers shown in the movie and credits.  Let’s say there were some surprises…

Most importantly, the movie led me to Radio Caroline, the pirate radio station the movie was substantially based on.  The station now streams online.  On finding the station, I became an instant regular listener, and still am.  The station is staffed by real live DJs from the pirate radio days.  Each DJ plays the music he/she wants; new and old.  If it weren’t for them, there are current artists and new music I would never have been exposed to here in the US Midwest stranglehold of corporate radio.  Back in the early days of Radio Caroline, it is shocking ‘who’ we music listeners might never have heard of if it weren’t for pirate radio.

“Without Caroline, we would not have sold a single record.  …  Sometimes the law is more than an ass.  Pirates?  They were angels.” Pete Townshend

“Radio Caroline was more adventurous than most stations around in its day.  It championed bands like the Kinks, who owe much of their early success to Radio Caroline and Tom Lodge.”   Ray Davies  (link)

The Caroline studio today is located in Kent, UK, but several times a year the DJs broadcast from their old ship, the ‘Ross Revenge’, which is now permanently moored in the River Blackwater.  The DJs broadcast, eat, sleep and hang out on the boat, and mix music with their stories and memories from the early days.  During one of these special broadcasts a few years ago, they offered a t-shirt for donation, that I couldn’t pass up.  It was a replica of a Radio Caroline t-shirt worn by Keith Moon.  It’s a fun thing to wear for just the right occasion.

 

(These photos are from the site wornfree.com, that once sold the shirts.)

I could go on and on about what a cool organization it is that keeps Caroline going strong.  But instead I urge you to explore their website, if interested.  They have an extensive online web shop, and they have a fun ‘daily quiz’, of trivia questions.

(Sample Quiz)Radio Caroline Daily Quiz example

In 2017, Radio Caroline commemorated the 50th anniversary of the UK’s enacting of the Marine Offences Act, the law that was intended to shut them down.  Coinciding with that 50th anniversary, the station was finally awarded its own official over-the-air broadcast frequency by the British Government.  Ironically, it was an old BBC frequency.  It was an emotional thing, seeing Radio Caroline finally recognized for its valuable contribution to our culture.

Wikipedia on pirate radio in the UK: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirate_radio_in_the_United_Kingdom 

More Pirate Radio.

Coincidentally, Radio Caroline is doing one of its special broadcasts from the ship this coming weekend (October 20-21, 2018).  For your own real-time Pirate Radio listening experience this Saturday and Sunday, go to the Radio Caroline website, and click the ‘Radio Caroline North’ play button in the header.  I’ll be listening as much as my schedule allows.

They decided to tear down the baseball stadium

This was the last game ever for the Wichita Wingnuts professional baseball team.  After eleven years as a team, they have called it quits, because they are losing their stadium.  This was also the last game to ever be played in the historic Lawrence-Dumont baseball stadium.  The city plans to tear down the 84-year-old stadium and put up a new structure.

The view from the tailgating-picnic lawn outside:

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This towering light scaffold is one of the originals installed in the ballpark.

L-D light tower

The old scoreboard was really fun.  When the opposing team failed to score in an inning, a goose would travel across the board and drop a goose egg for that inning.

The stadium is also home to the National Baseball Congress World Series, which has been held annually for 84 years–the oldest baseball tournament in the country.  Many, many famous MLB players played in the NBC World Series in the early days of their careers.  I wrote about the tournament in 2016.  It’s not every day that Roger Clemens, Adam LaRoche, Jeremy Guthrie, and more ex-MLB stars form a team and show up to play in your tournament.  They brought their families and spent the week with us at the ballpark.  They did it again in 2017, and brought Chipper Jones, Roy Halladay, Heath Bell, Joe Nathan, and some more memorable players with them.  That’s over now too.

National Anthem

Coming back to 2018 and this last game ever.  There was a good crowd in attendance.  Rain threatened all day, but stayed away during the game.

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The first few innings progressed like any game.

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In the 7th inning, the crowd’s singing of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ was particularly spirited.  “And it’s root, root, root for the Wingnuts!”

The ‘Garbage Gremlin’ made his last pass through the stadium.

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Kids who have collected a bag of trash in the stadium get to walk in a procession behind the Garbage Gremlin near the end of the game.

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Too soon, it was the top of the 9th inning.  The ‘Nuts were ahead 4-1.  Their opponent, the Sioux City Explorers, had 2 outs, so this was likely the stadium’s last batter ever.

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The crowd stood.

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Then it was all over but the handshakes and hugs.

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In 2019, there will be no stopping at the ballpark to watch some baseball before heading home from the office.  There will be no more yelling, “Go ‘Nuts!”  The NBC World Series will have a temp home at the university.

After 2019, we don’t know for sure what the new stadium/venue will look like, but we have now been given an idea.  It may be designed to accommodate other uses too, such as soccer and outdoor concerts.

New Lawrence Dumont Stadium rendering 9-2018

It’s also been confirmed that a new baseball team will move in and take up residence in our new stadium.  Wichita will be the new home of the New Orleans Baby Cakes, the AAA affiliate of the Marlins.  Not too shabby.  Stay tuned….

Velvet Colección–what I’ve been watching

The setting of the Netflix series, Velvet Colección, is a fashion design house in 1960s Barcelona.  The series is in Spanish.  I had several years of la clase de Español in school, but am not fluent.  I understand sporadic phrases supplemented by body language.  Regardless of the language barrier, I’m watching every minute of every episode because of the super cool 1960s dresses, the interior decor of the offices and homes, and the catchy music.

Velvet promo picture

Velvet Colección is a spin off of ‘Velvet‘, a series about a 1950s fashion design enterprise based in Madrid.

Velvet dress

The Velvet Colección story is one I’m sure I would enjoy, so I’m trying to follow as much of it as I can, despite the language barrier.  But, it’s the 1960s dresses, the decor and the music that keep me coming back to watch more episodes, to be inspired to make my own dresses reminiscent of that time.

Velvet setVelvet dresses

There are supposed to be three seasons of Velvet Colección.  According to Wikipedia they’re stopping at three.  Netflix is only offering Season 1 at the moment.  When I finish with Velvet Colección, I’m looking forward to watching Velvet, for lots of lovely 1950s fashion.

Velvet Colección links:

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvet_Colecci%C3%B3n

IMDB https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6762348/