Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mom! It's great in here!

Mom! It's great in here!
Originally uploaded by V'ron
Stella's driving me crazy. She's emotional, she's short tempered, everything annoys her, she doesn't know what to do with herself half the time, she's driving her little brother crazy (and bless him, he takes it in stride). In short, she's premenstrual. And it's not just her. When I'm dealing with that Girl Scout troop she's a part of, there's days I come home and just mumble to myself something about how I wish they'd all get their freakin' periods already. I really don't know how their full-time schoolteacher puts up with it all day during the school year.

What's making it worse for the poor girl is that her little brother Sammy is at the height of 6 year old boy precociousness and cuteness, so everybody just loves him. He's a good guy and he's funny and he's still all bright eyes about the world, and he's Little Mr. Sunshine, but it seems like Stella's worldview is Danny Price and the Loose Change song.

That's why, despite it raining for three days up north on my vacation, it was all worth it for a wonderful moment. (Never mind there were plenty of good moments --playing in the swimming hole we found, setting up our own Diet Coke and Mentos demo and other playing in the North Woods activities. But it wasn't the complete idyllic vacation -- almost all of it was rained out. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I'm supposed to appreciate the elegance of nature and rain and all that live each moment in the zen crap, but this was my freakin' vacation. I've had enough of rain this past month in Milwaukee.

But after a long day road tripping sightseeing, it was finally hot and sunny out, and it was our last night there when STella asked, "Can we go to the reservoir and see the sunset?" I wanted to (because who can resist the cliche photography?) and nobody else did. So we looked around and said, "Hey everybody, we'll be back." Amazingly enough, Sammy wasn't interested.

I'd already showered, changed out of a swimsuit and had fresh, dry clothes on, but Stella still had her suit on. We jumped on our bikes and rode down.

And it was gorgeous. All chimney red and fire engine orange, as Tom Waits would say, except this was a sunset, and not a fire. It was that moment that looked like somebody had spilled orange and blue paint on the normally rust colored water (and this was glow in the dark paint) and Stella just ran right in. She started splashing about and literally washing herself off with that sunset. I stood there in my dry, clean clothes and conditioned hair and watched her longingly, wishing I could join her.

She must have seen that, even with her glasses off, because she even said, "You want to come in, don't you?"

"Well, yeah, but I'm all in dry clothes and such...." She cut me off. "Were you going to wear THOSE PANTS and THAT SHIRT tomorrow?"

"Well, uh, no....."

"Then what's stopping you from running in?" she asked, sounding like me when I ask her questions like, "What's stopping you from making your own breakfast?"

I popped off my glasses, put down the camera, and joined her. And we saw how cool the sunset looked against the water at water level (it's a great perspective that you have to be there to appreciate-- freakin' Monet couldn't have captured it) and we just laughed together and swam and had little races and there was not one bit of frustration or cynicism or any of that pre-teen boredom crap. There she was -- I found my funny, happy, creative, adventuresome little girl again, and I'm confident that when she learns how to tread water in this swirling cesspool of hormones that nature deals us girls, I'll see a lot more of her once again.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Oh, Brother

sweatin' out the pipes
Originally uploaded by V'ron
I'm a little behind on my blogging, but I'm getting caught up seeing good music. You'd think this was going to be a Summerfest blog entry, but you'd be wrong. I'm writing about a free show, the kind I love taking my kids to in the summer.

River Rhythms is one of my favorite places to see bands for free. The backdrop of the river itself is nice, but it also happens to be in a part of town where the sunset's reflection on the buildings happens to cast a magical glow, and that somehow literally and figuratively reflects on the bands that play there. Case in point: Brother, three chaps from Austrailia who for whatever reason have flown under my radar all these years, cast an equally magical glow on the people who risked coming out on what could have very easily turned into one of those thunderstorms we've been getting a lot of lately.

Brother's schtick is this: they're Aussies working the Celtic (would somebody please tell the RR emcee that this is NOT a basetball team, and thus pronounced the genre "Kell-tick", not "Sell-tick") genre. That's probably why they fell under my radar -- there's plenty of good Celtic rock in Milwaukee, I don't need to go out of town, and it's not my favorite genre. I can listen to it for an hour, and then I have to leave and beg somebody to play me something in a time signature other than 3/4 or 6/8. But this is why I liked Brother. They have Celtic influences, but they're also Aussies, hence the digeriedoos (yes, plural, and yes, sometimes they play both at once), and they're rockers, hence the electric guitar, and they're also ethnic folkies (hence the squeeze box), and hence, they held my attention for both of the 90 minute sets they played.
What I liked about them most, was not just that they varied their musical style and instrumentation. They also variety their themes. One minute they're singing aussie protest songs. The next, they're singing (wonderfully sincerely) about the joys of hanging out in your backyard with your family -- and they' turned Pere Marquette park into a backyard by tossing out beach balls to play with. Lead singer Angus clearly loves what he's doing, and his enthusiasm comes out when he tells his stories, introduces their songs, and then the whole band chimes in with a passion that had me rethinking the whole Celtic thing. The kids were even up and hanging out near the stage just to be a part of the energy. And that's why I liked most about them. They had a really positive, sincere energy that wasn't at all preachy (like some of these groups can get), even when they're singing preachy protest songs! Now that they're on my radar, I won't miss them again.

A couple of days later I warned the kids, "OK, Blue Oyster Cult will be at summerfest, but they're on a Monday night, and they don't go on until 9pm, so if we want to catch them this year, we're going to be tired. "

Right, like they were going to say "Well, let's be sensible and blow it off."

We went to swimming class, and then hopped on a shuttle bus, got searched, and made our way to the M&I Classic rock stage, tucked in behind the Marcus Amp, and found some wobbly benches after the obligatory sky ride. And BOC, our family favorite, was wonderful as usual. Yeah, they did the huge hits, (Reaper, Burning for You, and Sammy's favorite song EVER, Godzilla). And they slipped in plenty of deep cuts (no E.T.I, or This Ain't the Summer of Love, and as this wasn't a biker rally for once, no Golden Age of Leather), but they did give us Before teh Kiss, a Redcap.

Something that, amazingly enough, we encountered for the first time: "Mom, what's that smell?"

"Nothing," I said, kind of relieved she didn't already know what it was. She went to the port-o-let, though and came back reporting, "Mom, that smell's in the port-o-let. Really strong. It really stank in there."

"Uh, reeks, sweetheart," I said, accepting that she might as well know. "The term is 'reeks'." She wanted to know why nobody was getting arrested since it's illegal.

"Because there are plenty of drunk people around getting in violent fights and the cops have their hands full with that. The thing about potheads is that they don't get violent. They're too stoned. They'll cuss at you if they're pissed but that's about it. Drunks get violent, because they're drunk and they can't feel the bottle being broken over their head."

I had no idea how accurate I was being. This night turned out to be the night that a cop trying to break up a fight near a stage where a rap group (that earlier we'd declared mediocre) was playing. Well, of course. We're all playing air drums to "Cities Aflame with Rock and Roll" along with all the other old farts on the south end of the park, and slowing mixing with the thousands of old farts starting to shuffle out of the Marcus bellowing how great Clapton was. Oh, well, at least I didn't have to explain what that song "Cocaine" was all about.