Tuesday, November 25, 2014

To-Do List

In my family, we would call today a goof-off day.

I mean, come on, it's the first day of the shortened holiday week, it was 77 degrees and all I wanted to do was take advantage of it all.

The first thing I did on waking up was open every window in the house. Such a treat in late November.

Step one: a long, sunny walk down Colorado Avenue to Texas Beach (five people, five dogs, water cold but not freezing) and then back via the North Bank trail (surprisingly all but empty: two joggers, two bikers).

Soaking up sunshine on a rock at the beach and then again on Bubba's bench overlooking Belle Isle. Heavenly.

Step two: a saunter through Church Hill near Libbie Park with a stop at a 1904 house that's being renovated by a couple from Pittsburgh. The trunk room is becoming an office, old ceiling joists are becoming a dining room table and there are still raccoon hand prints on walls from the two years the house was uninhabited.

After the nickle tour and lots of conversation, I fell madly in love with this couple when she told me they weren't going to put in air conditioners, allowing the natural air flow to cool the house in warm weather. And here I thought I was the only one who turned my back on artificially frigid summers.

Step three: a seat on the patio at Conch Republic with a view of the river (even a couple of boats on it), happy hour Sauvignon Blanc and some steamed shrimp, ordered because my partner in crime said they couldn't mess it up. Wrong. All the spice was sprinkled on the shells after the fact while the shrimp had clearly been steamed without it. Duh.

Our server turned out to be a Charleston transplant studying environmental science at VCU so he can work at the Dismal Swamp when he graduates. A discussion of the summer the swamp was on fire ensued because we all remembered it.

His first concert was Kings of Leon (unless you count the Red Hot Chili Peppers show his Dad took him to which he doesn't remember), a band he went on to see 15 times since. I told him I'd seen the band in Chicago in 2007 and it had been the loudest show I'd ever seen. He grinned and agreed.

We watched as the sun set behind the trees, streaking the sky with peach and violet clouds and the thinnest sliver of a moon (2-3% visible, according to the meteorologist at the table) and vapor trails began appearing out of nowhere.

Step four: dinner at the bar of my neighborhood joint, Bistro 27 alongside an Ashland mother and son headed to the James Taylor concert at the Coliseum. She was beyond excited to finally get to see JT.

Her first show had been Chicago in 1978 and she recalled going with older friends who got stopped and searched for pot. Turns out she had the bag of weed on her person and no one bothered to check her. She shared this story out of the blue, saying it still gave her a laugh.

My dinner was French onion/mushroom soup followed by a petite crab cake while people continued to arrive for dinner before the big show. But by the time I was eating my double chocolate torte,  the dining room had cleared out. Time for fire and rain, I suppose.

Step five: a show at Sound of Music studios, in yet another location from the last time I was at a SoM show. The place looked dead from outside but a small sign directed people to the alley behind the building.

There, a burly man stood guard and when asked if this was the place, responded, "It is to rock and roll." In we went.

Lady God, a fairly new band, was already playing their pastiche of garage, soul and pop to an attentive crowd. I was sorry I'd missed any of their set based on the sound.

I ran into the baker/DJ who reminded me that the last time we'd seen each other had been at Metzger when Mr. Fine Wine deejayed. He was kind enough to tell me I was a great dancer but then shared that when he'd taken off his jacket to dance (at my insistence) and tossed it aside, his phone had been a casualty.

He wanted to blame it on my aggressive dancing but was quite happy because now he has a much nicer phone to replace it. All's well that ends well.

Next up were the lo-fi Beat Awfuls from Kentucky, notable because they had a female drummer. "This place is cool," one of the Awfuls said. "Is that ceiling tin?" Sure was.

Twice while the band was playing, a stranger walked up to me and introduced himself (Hi, Tom! Hi, Adam!). Maybe I looked like I could use some conversation.

During the break, I geeked out with my favorite nerd, discussing his trip to Shirley Plantation today (showed me his ticket to prove it), mine to Menokin (a place he's been keen to visit) and Fort Brady.

The evening's headliner was Warren Hixson, the band that reliably delivers surf guitar, pop gems and tight performances. Tonight was no different and, as usual, I leave their shows wishing they'd play out more often. I'm especially fond of the shared male/female vocals (Nelly and Brent) that distinguish their sound.

Did I do any work today? Sure, I made an appointment to do an interview late Wednesday afternoon when most people will have left work behind.

Did I make the best possible use of this gloriously unseasonable November day? Sure did. I didn't even go inside until a couple of hours after the sun set.

One more notch in my lipstick case for another stellar goof off day. Oh, I'm good at this.

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