The Music That Fills My Soul

loud car stereoSpring has decided to grace us in the Pacific Northwest and the streets are alive with the sound of music blaring from the rolled down windows of passing cars. I will admit to being one of those crazy people that must have music playing 90% of the time; I can do without TV or internet, but music? I cannot live without it!

Music could actually replace language for me in a way. It inspires me and keeps me going throughout my day. It constantly reminds me of who I am, where I’ve been, and the things I’ve done. I can identify periods and events in my life with the songs I hear. It keeps me motivated to accomplish the tasks at hand – especially if the right type of music comes on; it makes the job seem effortless…almost!

My radio or iPod keeps me sane! When life gets a little too hectic, I can separate and focus better when I pop in those ear buds! Soon, I’m humming and tapping along without a care in the world and being super productive once more. (I also love to sing, so chances are, you can sneak up on me and hear me just jamming! If I know the words, I’m probably singing along…unfortunately, this also applies to those songs that make horrendous ear worms. Dammit!)

Motor City Musical Magic! Being a native Detroit girl, I loves me my Detroit sound!!! It is in my blood! We moved from Detroit to northern Michigan right after the riots in ’68. Even though I was only five, I knew what I liked!Small-town Gaylord just didn’t play the same kind of music that Detroit did. But I soon figured out how to work that little AM transistor radio just right to pick up the Detroit radio stations after bed time, thanks to that magical thing called “skip!” I can remember staying up half the night listening to CKLW across the river from Detroit in Windsor, and KEENER (WKNR) Radio, thinking I’d died and gone to Heaven because they played the greatest music EVER!!!

And visiting Gram in the north suburbs…I could listen to it all day!!! AWESOME! It didn’t have to be Motown hit, but that always helped!! Berry Gordy certainly knew motownhow to pick ‘em! In my book, the Temps and the Tops could do no wrong! Definitely my favorites! I could sing every word, any of the harmony parts and follow along with every move those boys made! I was their only female member and they didn’t even know it!

Recently, KSPS-TV (our Spokane PBS Station) had the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today and Forever special on (from 1983 – celebrating Motown’s silver anniversary). All the greatest from my childhood were there…Even Michael Jackson, when he still had a real nose attached showed up to reunite with his brothers for the first time in years! (Then he wrecked the moment by lip-syncing to Billie Jean! Seriously??  I expect that kind of crap from Brittany Spears but no the King of Pop!)

Of course, my favorite part of the show…The Temps and Tops with that incredible “showdown” medley their biggest hits respectively. Nothing shy of amazing!

SIDE NOTE: I have only recently forgiven Mr. Gordy for moving Motown Records from Detroit to LA in 1972, a event I considered to be complete and total musical blasphemy. But I figure, the guy’s in his 80s…It’s time I ease up on him a little and let it go!!

What fits my mood today & how loud can I crank it without being arrested? I feel fortunate that nearly any kind of “tunage” makes me happy. I usually go for something “has a good beat and is easy to dance to” (apologies to Dick Clark!). If it rocks, it plays! It doesn’t really matter what genre since I like so many styles. Rap, Oldies, Rock, 80’s/New Wave, Country. I kind of like it all. Really. I can usually find something redeeming in each form of music out there…OK….Maybe not Death Metal! Not my thing at all!

I will show my true musical colors, at last! I have never understood the big Stones or Beatlesdebate between the Beatles or the Rolling Stones. After 50 years of that nonsense, I say, “why can’t we have both??” I guess if I had to choose, I would find myself more on the side of the Beatles, but I like the Stones, too!

I can get satisfaction out of both Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Please, Please Me; from Beast of Burden and A Little Help from My Friends. I’ll take a double dose of the Stones albums Some Girls and Exile on Main Street in addition to the Beatles’ Revolver, the White Album and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band! It’s all good to me!

So, with this manifesto on my personal preferences in musicality completed, I think I’ll crank up something on my Sirius Radio app and finish out the day. Maybe some New Wave. Maybe a little Broadway musical or Jazz. Too bad they don’t have a Beatles Radio station! (Incidentally, the first album I actually bought was the Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night –the Original Movie Sound Track – with my birthday money back in 1968.  I was five. I still have that album!)

Hard Day's Night cover

 

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Ditching the Cable Monster: Why We Haven’t Looked Back!

Halloween scream - Fun pic!!How many people do you know would be completely lost without their tether to the cable box or DVR?  I mean, totally distraught if they were to disconnect their cable TV and quit cold-turkey without so much as Netflix or Hulu to get them through their days?  Utterly out-of-their-minds, full-goose-bozo hysterical!? It’s like digital heroin!

Case in point, I have one friend who pays for all the digital cable tiers, movie channels, sports packages as well as the highest-level of internet access possible, and home phone service. Pardon the crudeness, but he is literally Comcast’s B**ch! His bill is like a house payment, man!  That’s seriously out-of-control crazy!

My husband Chad and I were talking about this “addiction” one evening as we surfed through our 400+ digital channels and still couldn’t find anything we wanted to watch.  Hmmm…This was happening more often as time progressed.  So, we started tracking how many times we found nothing to satisfy our TV cravings; thus, begrudgingly opting to watch something from our own stash of movie or TV series DVDs, all the while complaining that there was nothing good on!

Programming on the majority of stations offered by Comcast (or Dish, or Direct TV, for that matter), in our humble opinions, had become so poor overall that even with that many alternatives we got Bupkiss!!  Nada!  Zilch!  No Joy in TV Land!!!  We were paying $203 per month for this? (Yes, I said $203 per month!)  Thank God it included high-speed internet or I would have really felt ripped off!

We had to ask ourselves, at what point does cable cease to be necessary and turn into a giant, vortex of squandered cash flow?  We got our answer in a most unexpected way.  Camping! (OK…We have a motor home, so maybe it should be called “glamping!”  We don’t do that whole sleeping on the ground thing anymore!)

So, over the past summer, Chad & I did quite a bit of travelling in the rig.  In mimagesCA97DX4Sost cases, we got the basic network channels: ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS – all with at least one other HD channel that accompanied it with alternative programming (i.e. Me-TV, Create, Justice Network, etc.)

Depending on the area of the country we visited, more channels became available, like ION, FOX TV, and C&W (each with two or more digital channels), etc.  Of course, there were the plethora of local religious fare and home-shopping channels, too – which we could luckily program the remote to skip over.

Cue that enlightened moment of TRUTH!!  Guess what?  Those 400+ channels and the DVR were suddenly passé; besides, we found out via our tracking chart that we only watched maybe 12 channels with any real frequency.  Was it really time to cut the cord?  Could we really do this?

imagesCA7P27MXIn August 2014, after yet another discussion of the high cost of cable and the limited number of channels worth watching, the answer was finally “YES! Yes, we can!” Both of us ran to the car and headed for Camping World where we had seen a fairly inexpensive but decent HDTV over-the-air antenna from Winegard…I think it cost us $45 (you can get them cheaper now).

When we got home, we hooked it up to the main TV, did a channel sweep and found 27 channels, of whichonly 8 we skipped over.   That was it! Still had our NBC Affiliate, KHQ channel 6 for the NBC Nightly News fix and all major networks with additional channels included.

Who knew there would be TV shows on the main network channels we would actually like? These channels had been lost in the shuffle of the 400+.  We immediately disconnected all the cable boxes, packed them up with the remotes and the DVR and stood in line for over an hour to tell Comcast we were breaking up with them…sort of.  High-Speed Internet is still intact, so we are completely off the grid!

I must admit, it has been quite liberating!  I watched my first episode of Nova in probably 5 years!!  It was amazing!  I actually felt smarter!  I have always loathed reality TV and am convinced that good programming has been left for dead in the wake of things like “Say Yes to Keeping Up with the Real Honey-Boo-Boo Apprentices of New Jersey!” OY!

Don’t you think its high-time we take back the possession of our collective brain cells and demand quality programs from our networks again!  When you’re being paid a year’s worth of my salary per episode to write, then by God, come up with something compelling and worth watching!  (Don’t get me started on that! That’s another blog post altogether!!)

Our decision wasn’t because we couldn’t afford it any longer; rather, we refused to waste the money.  Transitioning was actually pretty painless, since there are quite a few HD channels out there…And honey, they’re free!!

By the way, we did not pull the plug on the utility monster known as Comcast only to pick up Dish or Netflix.  We have our high-speed internet and the HD antenna; that’s it.  We don’t stream TV.  We watch what is on-air, when it airs.  If we miss it, we miss it.  It’s called having a life again!  We have not looked back with any regret whatsoever!

Just so you know…the Comcast bill has gone from $203 to $71.

Money well spentnot-spent, if you ask me!

 

Mistress of my own Domain!!!

Another first in my life!…I now have a registered domain for my new blog.  There’s a whole ONE post on there now, not including this little introductory one.

photoIf you are even remotely interested in reading my ramblings, then all you need to do is click on or enter www.flamingokidd.com into your browser (save it to favorites if you are so inclined!); and my blog magically appears before your (hopefully) eager eyes!

Can’t promise it’ll be riviting each and every time, but I will promise to make it as entertaining as possible! From random observations, to camping outings or just stuff on my mind. Whatever works!! Ha!

Thanks for even reading this!

I Clutter; Therefore, I Am!

I am by no mClutter surrendereans a neat freak, nor am I a complete slob.  I do, however, have stacks of various old magazines and catalogs scattered throughout my house, much to my husband’s dismay.  My closets are jammed with clothes that are a few sizes too big or too small, and everything in between, because a woman’s weight fluctuates from month to month – we’re weird like that.  I also have an entire cupboard stuffed with old, stained, plastic, food-storage containers, some without the lids, in spite of the fact that my husband just bought me a set of brand new Rubbermaid ones.  So, why do I have an overstock of unnecessary things?  Because I might need them someday, that’s why!  Such is the cry of the Red-headed, Two-legged, North American Clutter-Bug.

So, what constitutes clutter?  It’s when there’s a week’s worth of mail–mostly unopened–lying on the counter, along with the church bulletin you got three Sundays ago.  It’s the dining-room table piled so high with various, unrelated items that you’re forced to eat dinner on a TV tray, in the living room.  That, my friend, is clutter and it has a will of its own.  If I were going to sum up the classic definition of clutter, I would say it’s no place for anything and nothing in its place.  What if there’s a huge pile of stuff, neatly stacked somewhere in your house?  Then it’s not clutter, right?

Face it, clutter happens. Tracing back to my childhood, I realize that I have always been a clutter-bug. It was only four years ago that I was finally able to part with a big, giant Barbie head, known in the toy industry as “Barbie’s Beauty Center.” I got it from Santa when I was six and kept it all these years, knowing it would be valuable some day. Favorite childhood books are packed away in our basement and I can’t bear to part with them. My husband, Chad, has finally stopped asking about them; he doesn’t understand that I’m now a grandma and I’ll want to share stories like Where the Wild Things Are and Ramona the Pest with my granddaughter, Callie and the one on the way. I still need these books. I love these books. They must remain with me for a while longer.

I am not completely in denial about my problem. (Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?) I will, begrudgingly, concede that clothing draped over a chair or left folded in the laundry basket for up to two weeks after laundry day is, in fact, a category of the clutter in itself and one that has taken over my life. However, leaving clothes out has at least one advantage: In case of fire or a sudden invitation to a party, my clothes are ready to boogie, so long as I can climb over them to get out.

Looking back through my family history, I come from a lojunk-drawerng line of clutter-bugs. My mother has forever been queen of the house-cleaning technique called “Hide it in a drawer and they’ll never know it’s there.” She still has several junk drawers in her house that serve as a catch-all for whatever she hasn’t yet thrown out. This trait, God bless her, she generously passed down to me.

My mother is not responsible for her odd behavior; my grandmother was prone to it, too. When Gramby passed away in 1991, we found a linen closet filled with approximately 160 brand new rolls of toilet paper. Evidently, she was terrified of being caught without it. The strangest thing we found was a collection of large boxes, overflowing with old, faded, plastic flowers—like those you’d find in cemeteries during winter. No one knows why.

“Clutter-bug-itis” is something from which even my father suffers. My dad has an abundance of old hunting gear and gun magazines that he hasn’t touched since 1978. I think he must have learned this from his mother who could have been a case study on hoarding in her own right. When Gram died in 1999, we discovered hundreds of plastic, grocery sacks in several overstuffed Hefty Bags. Perhaps it was because Gram was a Depression Era survivor; and, obviously, expecting another one soon because she had stocked-piled 80 sticks of butter, 9 pounds of sugar and 11 pounds of white, all-purpose flour in her freezer. Although this makes me feel a little better about my clutter habit, I have finally realized that being a clutter-bug is actually due to some bizarre, inherited genetic disorder. It must be!

I look at my vast amounts of clutter as the residue of my life. My house has become a gigantic memorabilia collection of my existence. Places I’ve visited, people I’ve met, things I’ve accomplished–all are represented, in one way or another, in my clutter. For example, I worked in radio for nearly 15 years as a morning-show disc jockey. I have scrapbooks filled with autographed head-shots, backstage passes, CD’s and t-shirts, as well as boxes of snapshots that picture me with various celebrities with whom I’ve worked over the years. That mouse pad signed by Randy Owen, the lead singer from the group, Alabama has never been used for its original purpose, but I keep it just because it’s cool. (Now don’t panic…You won’t see me on an episode of “Hoarders” anytime soon, it’s not quite that bad.)

My autographed Soupy Sales t-shirt is precious to me because it reminds me of the night I was one of his opening acts at Genitti’s Hole-In-The-Wall dinner-theatre, in the Detroit suburbs. This means absolutely nothing to someone outside the metro Detroit area, but Soupy was a Detroit icon, and he asked me and a few others from our little acting troupe to sing for him–What? I’m not going?? Enough said. How can anyone possibly get rid of stuff like that? You see, one person’s clutter is another person’s precious memories.

Even our cupboards and pantry are victims of my clutter issue. In the past few weeks, I have pulled out canned or boxed food stuffs that are well past the expiration date. We bought them but never got around to using them. Long stale spices, out of date canned fruit, cake mixes and frosting from 2006…Mmmm….that ought to be good, right? As I said, I come from a loooong line of this type of “I may need this – just in case” thinking. Someone may drop by. There might be a last minute pot-luck supper somewhere soon. You get the idea.

Clutter will, at times, cause a rift between Chad and me; even though he is bitten by the same bug when it comes to mementos from his years in the Air Force or out-dated DOS-based computer games on floppy disk, old documents from 1987, etc. In fact, he is infamous for his grocery bags and small boxes of things we need to sort through, file, throw out, shred, etc. He will get that “the house is closing in on me” feeling and need to purge…sometimes that need will come upon him around the time we’re ready to go to bed, or when we’re trying to get out the door for work. Timing is everything, don’t you think?

As a result, we have, together, vowed to grab hold of our collective clutter, no longer allowing it to run our lives. I promise to make the effort to throw out things that I haven’t used in three years: miscellaneous papers, phone numbers, business cards, and “tchotchkes” accumulated over time. Chad has made the same vow. (For the record, we started in the basement in January and the various Spokane area Thrift Stores are better for it, because, frankly, I don’t have the time nor the patience for a yard sale!!)

organizeI really am taking these baby steps toward purging my clutter very seriously, analyzing the causes of my attachment to such trivial things and memories. What is it that causes them to have such a strong hold over me that I cannot bear to part with them? My efforts to understand my “clutter fetish” have caused me to spend enormous amounts of time (and money) at places like the local library and Barnes & Noble. Those self-help books are abundantly available out there for people like me. In fact, I now have several of them…neatly stacked…on my desk… in the office. They’ve been there since 2002.

 

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