Thursday, April 30, 2009

april wrap-up

Holy guacamole! Only one other post in April? *Sigh.

I wish I could tell you it was because I had some big life-altering news, but nope, nothing out of the ordinary. Well, maybe a little bit - I joined a bowling league. Yeah, you read that right, I'm bowling, dude!

Might as well grab a snack, I'm going to recap the whole month in this post.

April 3: Dad and I ran up to Peru, Indiana - "The Circus Capital of the World" for cousin Lynne's surprise 50th birthday party.

Dad and Lynne

Part of the surprise was on us - I had the wrong time and venue.


Luckily the VFW, Elks Club and Legion are all with in a blocks so we were in the right lodge in no time.


I've gotten to know Lynne much better in the last few years. Even though we are pretty close in age, I was always shy around her. I thought she was so much cooler, funnier and self-confident than I was. I discovered last year that she also loves Johnny Cash. For Christmas I gave her my autographed photograph of Johnny. I figured it helped make up for all of the gifts of underwear and crocheted tissue box covers she got as a child from her godmother, Aunt Eleanor. For her birthday I gave her a postcard that was sent to Grandma Nora in 1909. Lynne is a postal carrier, and I guessed (rightly so) that she'd appreciate it.

Lynne and cousin David. Dave and I are just four days apart in age.

It was a fun evening - I need to spend more time with the cousins.

April 4: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition wrap party. There is not much I'll get my Red Key shift covered for, but this was one of them. My friend Anne-Marie Dezelen puts on a hell of a party and she was in charge of this one (here's a reminder of the birthday party she threw for her husband).

I had fun rubbing elbows with the beautiful people. Anne-Marie did a fabulous job. You can see more photos here.

April 5-8: My house used to be a stop on the underground railroad of touring musicians. Hundreds of singer-songwriters have slept on my sofa. Seth Horan holds the record for the longest residency. I was thrilled that he stopped in Indianapolis for his three day tour gap between Saint Louis and Chicago. We had not seen each other in five years! In that time CATH closed, I started working at Second Helpings and writing. Seth had even bigger life changes - he's now married and is moving to California.

I had a blast having him around. We fell into our old friendship in a matter of minutes. And I forget how fun it is to have someone to do something with. As comfortable as I am doing stuff by myself, I enjoyed eating out and seeing music with him along. We heard everything from a guy with a playing a solo set on a Farfisa organ to Todd Rungren.

April 8: Dad's 73rd birthday. Dad's birthday fell on his Wednesday volunteer day, so we all sang Happy Birthday to him.

Dad told the group that Wednesday is his favorite day of the week.
Mine too.

April 11: Easter. I went to J.R.'s parish. My brother always "buys" the front pew at a church fundraiser and I sure do enjoying knowing where to find them in the church. Mass was at 9:30, which makes it a challenge to be all fresh and pretty after an ending at 3:00 AM smoky waitressing shift. I left my house at 9:00, which should have put me at the church with five minutes to spare. But I zigged instead of zagging and walked in at 9:33.

The doors to the church sanctuary were closed and there was an usher giving us latecomers the stink-eye. When the everyone stood up for the Gospel reading a family of four and I decided to make a break for it. The usher/security guard hesitated and chose to chase the family - they were moving slower, weighed down by the baby. I was able to slide in to the pew with J.R.'s friends and family.

June Bug and her little brother brought up the offerings. Those kids make my heart swell.

June Bug and Anna

We had a lovely brunch afterward. My friends were playing in the lobby -- thereby confirming my family's suspicion that I know every musician in town.

Circle Trio


There were plenty of games and things to keep the kids occupied.

April 12: Dyngus Day, or Easter Monday is also called Wet Monday in honor of the water based pranks that are traditionally pulled off on that day. I'm so happy we didn't know about that when we were kids. It was raining that day, so we got a good dose of the wet part anyway.

Bethie and me.

My dear South Bend-born brother-in-law Ron Trojanowski introduced our family to the holiday.
We've enjoyed the polka music and kielbasa at the Chatterbox Jazz Club the last several Dyngus Days.

Ron and Beth

And proving that I cannot be left to my own devices, even for a minute I joined the Chatterbox bowling team (The Chatterbowlers) while I was there.

Thursdays: The Golden Gloves boxing matches are held at the Tyndall Armory.

This was the fifth year that I've had season tickets, and I tagged along with my friend Novella Nedeff for a few years before that. I have a hard time articulating why I enjoy the matches so much, but I think this photo helps sum it up. I get to sit behind two retired fireman, watch kids from the Christamore House box, eat popcorn and soak in all of the diversity our town has to offer.

April 16: CAR (Community Awareness Reception) turned in to a van for Second Helpings. J.R.'s friend Greg Eddy handed me the keys to a one-ton van at the reception!

A conversation in the cow barn at the Martin Luther King party led to a tour and the donation of a van for Second Helpings. I'm continually amazed by the generosity of my friends and the community. You can read more about it here.

April 16 and 17: Christamore House Guild Book and Author reception and luncheon. I went straight from the Second Helpings reception to the Christamore House Guild Book and Author reception. It was hard to know how to dress that morning. Sometimes fashion magazines will have pictorials of clothing suggestions that will go from "board room to ball room." The photos are of unnaturally beautiful woman wearing a designer suit that they whip the jacket off in the back of a chauffeured Town Car to revel a shiny beaded camisole. They add diamond earrings and even higher heels and step out of the car on to a red carpet.

They never write about how to dress for a nonprofit job and fancy-smancy party with real-live authors. And changing clothes in a S-10 pickup truck with manual transmission. I wore a top over my little black dress and boots. I whipped off the top added heals and raced to the party. I was so late the shuttle bus was bring people back to their cars. The grounds and house of the party hosts were amazing. The house was so big I had to send my sister in law a text to find her. And I never did run across a bar (apparently there were four).

I missed hearing the authors speak, which is my favorite part. But I did get me chat with Mary McGarry Morris. Her latest book, "The Last Secret" main character is named Nora. I can't wait to dig in to it.

The luncheon the next day is always lovely. It is fun to be a lady who lunches.

April 16-22: Ann was in Indianapolis. My youngest sister Annie was in town for a week. I didn't get to spend nearly enough time with her. We did get to have lunch with Mrs. Herr on Saturday.

Ann, Mrs. Herr, Beth, Nora

April 18: June Bug's First Holy Communion. It was a beautiful day. I can't believe how grown up and beautiful she is.

It was an amazing day. The whole family was together to celebrate this wonderful sacrament.

Beth, June Bug, Anna, JD, J.R., Ann, Ron, Mom, Nora, Dad

June Bug and Aunt Nora

Extreme Food Drive: The food kept pouring in all month. Last count 35,000 pounds!

April 28: Slumber party with Miss Katy. Her twin brother, Evan was having a heart procedure (everything went well, but he still needs a little more fine tuning), so Katy spent the night with me.

We had a grand time. I picked her up at her sitter's, my mom came over and we spent a few hours lovin' on her and then she went to sleep in the pack 'n play next to my bed. She slept for ten hours. I slept in ten minute increments - waking up to make sure she was still breathing. She's a beautiful sweet child. I look forward to watching them grow up.

And that folks, was the month of April.
If you want to read what I did music and event-wise. Click here and here.

Friday, April 03, 2009

extreme makeover: home edition

This week has been a total blast for me. I was a great way to shake off the winter doldrums.

Being out on the Home Makeover site every day was a real treat. The weather was not perfect (I was knee deep in mud at times) but it was great to be in the fresh air and around a real-live project that you could see progressing quickly. So much of what I do each day does not have an end or is not very sexy -- completing our insurance audit is not nearly as fun as watching a house be built in seven days.

After my Monday volunteering gig and having a media pass I knew my way around and explored every nook and cranny of the neighborhood. The neighborhood in general is in pretty bad shape. Lots of abandoned and unsafe houses.

The area went from a thriving blue-collar neighborhood in the 1960s, to one of the poorest parts of town after the loss of the railroad industry and the addition of two interstates (I-70 and I-65) running smack through the middle of the neighborhood. The highways geography divided the neighborhood. Desegregation of schools in the 1970s meant that kids were being bused outside of the neighborhood, diluting even more the sense of community.

That said, there are still a few neighborhood folks who really believed in the community. The Home Makeover recipient is one of them. Bernard McFarland is a single father of three teen-age boys. He grew up in the neighborhood and returned there after a four-year stint in the Navy. He and his sons were living in a house that needed some structural work and all three boys were sleeping on mattresses in one room.

Bernard started a mentoring group for children in the neighborhood. I had the privilege of attending a fundraiser for the family and hearing first-hand the impact he had on these kids.

One teenager said the most important thing he learned was, "how to dress." Can you imagine not having that parental over site? I swear my mom could tell from three counties away if I was wearing a slip. Other kids shared that they didn't know they could even think about getting an education beyond high school. Bernard was running the program out of a trailer next to his house. He now has a 900 square foot library in that spot.

I was blown away by all of the work Estridge Homes did in the neighborhood. They really went above and beyond for the community. Even the production crew that travels with the show said it was more than they'd ever seen done. One of my favorite coffeehouse customers and uncle to Ben and Kirsten was in charge of the peripheral work. I spent an evening following him around to see the projects.

By the time it was all over, Estridge (with the help of several vendors and donors) accomplished this:
Planted 1,200 trees.
Free internet access to 450 homes.
Donated 100 computers to neighborhood students.
Cleaned 30 streets of trash as well as yards, alleys and vacant lots.
Landscaped 22 homes.
Redressed 16 alleys.
Put new roofs on 2 homes
Demolished 2 abandoned homes. Put new siding on a church.
Worked with the city and local funders to create a community center from an empty school.

Brother J.R. This view is from the back of the house and library.

It is no wonder I stayed at the site until after dark every night. I was soaking up as much of the community spirit as I could. And I decided that I feel fairly at comfortable in a hard hat and boots.

And watching this guy (assistant director of the show) work didn't hurt matters any.

For more photos:
Home Makeover site Wednesday, April 1
Fundraiser at Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse, Wednesday, April 1
Home Makeover site Thursday, April 2
Home Makeover site Friday, April 3