Category Archives: Music

One More Time, Once

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

It has been a busy week. Monday, I hauled some equipment to Plainview for an online auction, made two trips, the first hauling our old rear blade, a fertilizer auger, and some smaller stuff. And a second with the forage chopper, and other stuff that I think, if they market it as ‘vintage,’ it could do well. The auctioneer wasn’t even sure they had ever sold any before, but he finally agreed to put it on a pallet and see what happens. (Details after the auction in April).
Tuesday I had one more clinic appointment: I have now been dismissed by the shoulder doctor, the knee doctor, the toe doctor, and the foot doctor. It’s a pretty good feeling.

I also had a meeting in the Cities on Tuesday.
Plus the week was busy at the college working on a set.

I have the song, ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’ by the Cannonball Adderley Quintet in my iTunes, and in the opening, Cannonball says, “You know, sometimes we are not prepared for adversity. When it happens, sometimes, we’re caught short; We don’t know exactly how to handle it when it comes up. Sometimes we don’t know just what to do when adversity takes over. And I have advice for all of us. I got it from my pianist, Joe Zawinul, who wrote this tune, and it sounds like what you’re supposed to say when you have that kinda problem. It’s called, “Mercy Mercy Mercy”.

I think that’s true. We talk a lot about how we don’t know how to deal with conflict and how it is hard to learn that a little conflict can be OK — when you know how to handle it. I started to learn that 40 years ago at one of the theaters, and the founders would get into some pretty big arguments behind the closed- but not soundproof door- And then they would come back out, and we are all shuffling our feet and looking at the floor. ‘Conflict is OK’, they would say, ‘You gotta learn to work things out’.
I also have the Buddy Rich Big Band doing a version of ‘Mercy Mercy Mercy’. They are both good.

I have three versions of the song ‘Jessica’; The original, plus two bluegrass versions. I have two versions of ‘Layla’ (the original and the unplugged), ‘As Time Goes’ by Maynard Ferguson and Tony Bennett, ‘El Paso’ by the Grateful Dead and Marty Robbins. Again, so different and both so good. ‘Eli’s Coming’ by Three Dog Night and Maynard Ferguson, ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’ theme, the original and a version by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. ‘Limehouse Blues’ by Jerry Reed & Chet Atkins and also by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain; they are strikingly different versions. ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come’ by Three Dog Night and Randy Newman. Two versions of ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’ by Benny Goodman, and James Horner & Orchestra. ‘Tangled Up In Blue’ by Joan Osborne and Bob Dylan (The Joan one is really good. Nothing against the Dylan version either!), a couple versions of  ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin and Rodrigo y Gabriela.
A song called ‘There’ll Be Some Changes Made’ from the movie, ‘All That Jazz’, which I thought was original to the movie, until I heard Gene Krupa doing it on the 40’s station. And then, as I googled it for this blog, realized I have Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins doing a version that is SO different I didn’t even make the connection it was the same song. Prior to this revelation, I didn’t realize there were other versions of that song.

Chickens and ducks are still fine, but the coyotes are back. Kelly chased one away Wednesday morning. We’re keeping our eyes open. Bailey needs back up; she won’t engage when alone. She’s a lover, not a fighter.

I spread two bales of straw out for the chickens. They enjoy scratching in that, and it covers up some of the mud.




I played the bass clarinet in the concert band the four years I was in college at Concordia-Moorhead. One day during my sophomore year, visiting high schoolers considering attending Concordia observed a band rehearsal. I had an odd sensation of being observed, and noticed that one of the visitors was staring at me with what I could only interpret as intense loathing.

The following fall, the staring girl showed up at Concordia as a declared music major who played the bass clarinet. To her dismay, she was offered a spot in the band as a contrabass clarinet player. I was the better player, so I got the bass clarinet position. I spent the next year sitting next to her in band, and she continued to treat me with loathing, since I, a non-music major, had the chair in band she wanted. Nothing I did was was right, and she sure let me know that. She mercifully transferred to Arizona State University the next year.

I have been careful in the ensuing years to treat my fellow musicians well because there is nothing worse than sitting next to someone in a musical ensemble who is mad at you. There is often a lot of emotion in musical ensembles. I have been challenged lately, though, by the antics of a newer member of our church choir. She is a lovely person in her 50’s who is probably someone with ADHD who has never been treated for it. She was sitting next to me until recently. She sways when she sings, which absolutely drives me nuts. She doesn’t read music very well. She sways out of time. I was able to cheerfully tell her that I was going to tie her to her chair if she didn’t stop moving. She was gracious enough to accept this with some humor. She stopped swaying, but moved away to the end of the row. That makes me a little sad, but at least I am less annoyed, and she isn’t afraid I will assault her.

When have you had to work with someone who loathed you? What musical ensembles have you performed with? What do other people do that drive you crazy?

Odd Couples

Husband drives to Bismarck for work every Tuesday night, and returns home Wednesday night. He is usually pretty tired on both drives, and cranks up music on the radio to keep himself awake.

The other night he listened to the Sinatra station, and heard what he thought was one of the oddest duets he ever heard. It featured Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin singing What Now, My Love.

I have to agree with husband that this is quite weird. I can’t imagine what possessed the Queen of Soul to sing that with Ol’ Blue Eyes. Their styles are so different and not really compatible. Sort of like Ozzy Osbourne singing gospel music with Amy Grant.

What music keeps you awake when you drive? What are your favorite duets? What are some duets you wouldn’t want to hear?

December Music

We have sung some hymns in church set to Welsh melodies lately, and Husband says he gets the shivers whenever he hears them. He attributes this to having some Welsh ancestors, and thinks the melodies tap at some deep primordial aspect of his collective makeup.

I tend to be more opinionated rather than shivery over church music. I like Advent music in church. One isn’t supposed to have Christmas music in church until Christmas. Advent music tends to be quiet and contemplative, which is fine with me. I find my teeth on edge when our church music gets too boisterous or when we sing hymns that have a lot of lyrics in the first person. How Great Thou Art is an example. Our Worship and Music director really dislikes Blessed Assurance, but was gracious enough to sing it the other day at the funeral of a 103 year old parishioner. Our recently retired choir director couldn’t stand Amazing Grace and refused to perform it or sing along when the congregation sang it. We have one song coming up on our December choir schedule that sounds like it should be in an old time western movie. The left hand piano accompaniment rhythm sounds like a horse ambling slowly on the trail. The congregation has loved it when we have sung it other years. I try to think of funny lyrics to it while we practice it, which reduces my irritation.

I really do like to sing in our church choir, and we have some fun performances coming up this month. Husband will play a duet on his cello on Christmas Eve with a flute player. We will do A Festval of Lessons and Carols like they do at King’s College on December 18. We won’t sing How Great Thou Art.

What gives you the shivers? What December music do you like? What December music do you loathe?

Random Thoughts

Today’s Farm report comes from Ben.

It’s December. Not too much farm stuff this week, and I have some random thoughts.

I saw SEVEN ducks fly over to their breakfast! Everybody but the poufy and the two big black ones. Rosie and Guildy, the regular mallards, and the two that I always assumed were too fat to fly. (Is it OK to call a duck fat?) But they all flew from the pond to the corn. Yay ducks!

It was down in the single digits the other night and I had to turn on the wellhouse heater again. I sure don’t remember having to do that in November or early December before.

I got the rear blade mounted on the tractor and got to use it after the 3” of snow we got on Tuesday. As usual with the first snow and the not solidly frozen ground, I ripped up some sod. Oops. Well, the chickens like the dirt. Gonna be rough mowing next summer, but that’s next summers problem.

We did get the driveway markers in and snow fence up last Saturday. That Saturday after Thanksgiving has traditionally been a nice weather day and we’ve done snow fence for several years on that day. It was a little windy, but it wasn’t too cold, and as long as we worked with the wind, the fence stayed up by itself and it went OK. It helps that the posts are still there one year to the next. Last year my shoulder had just started to hurt, leading to the surgery in February, so I wasn’t much help with the snowfence last year. We put up 400’ in about 1.5 hours this year. Next year I’m hoping to install some permanent wood posts for the ends of the sections. It’s on my list of next summer’s jobs.

Every night I give the dogs some ‘Milkbone’ dog treats. Allie has to get one first. Humphrey will not take a treat first; he’ll only take one after Allie gets hers. I don’t think it’s altruism, I’m not sure if he’s that suspicious? He won’t take pills or eat anything without sniffing it first. And Bailey. She’ll leave the treats sit all night. And when I open the garage door the next morning, she grabs a treat and heads off to bury it in the snow. She’s so weird. They’re all so weird.  

I’ve started baking Amish Friendship bread again. Just did my second batch of 6. I should be able to get one more batch in before the knee, then I’ll stall it for a bit. I’ve got a list of things that needed to be done before my knee replacement. (8 days and counting! I’m excited and scared and cautiously optimistic!) There were some big things like getting fieldwork done, and machinery put away, getting the snow fence up, and putting the rear blade

on the tractor were the last two items. But then I started adding minor things, just so I could enjoy crossing them off. I’ve added things like ‘Put up Christmas tree’ and ‘Show Kelly the well house heater’ and ‘move the piano’. We’re making progress on the list!

Music this week: I’ve been listening to the Modern Big Band channel. And on the car radio I heard Nina Simmone singing ‘Sinnerman’.



Today’s post comes from Ben

Today it’s snowing. I’ve learned from meteorology class this happens because the air is cold from the cloud all the way to the ground. I think I kinda figured that.

Glad my soybeans got harvested last week. They started late Friday afternoon and finished on Saturday. They ran better than they have in the past ending up with about 52 bushels / acre. I heard one guy complaining about his crop and the drought and how they were only running about 45 bushels / acre and not 80. Must be nice. I’m happy with 45 so to get 52 is very satisfying!

Could have been the fungicide applied this year, could have been the good growing weather. If it wasn’t for all the trees shading out the edge rows, and if it wasn’t for all the deer eating off the tops, maybe I could get 80 bushel beans too. It is what it is. Price is good and we got $12.81 / bushel. It made a real good check. And it will almost cover all my expenses this year for fertilizer and chemicals. Once corn is harvested, (and that looks to be a good crop too, and price is good on them yet at around $6/ bushel), I’ll be able to pay off the seed bill and make some loan payments and have some left over. I spent a night this week figuring out next year’s crops and I’ve already ordered some fertilizer before a price increase. Urea (nitrogen) fertilizer price is down a little this year, other things are up even more than they were for this year. Man that hurts. And I need to order 500 gallons of diesel fuel one of these days. That’s over $5/ gallon.


Oh well!

The ducks, Rosie and Guildy, and the poofy and the two black ones, and the other mallard looking ones are all good. R&G still spend most of the day inside. That’s a good place to be today. Kelly had to rescue another upside down chicken.

I’m busy at the college building a set for our fall show, “One Snowy Night” by Charles Way. Based on a Norwegian Folk tale, I’m building an ice block and a fire ball that they drag across the stage.

I heard a song on the radio by the band Traffic. The song was ‘Am I What I Was or Am I What I Am’. That’s a fun question so we’ll let them set the tone. Last week we had The Turtles, this week it’s Traffic.


Happy Together

Husband and I both work for separate Human Service Centers right now. His agency is in Bismarck. Mine is in our town. The magic of technology means that he only needs to go to Bismarck one day a week, and all the other days he can work out of my office building. The State calls it “Hoteling” when you set up like a squatter at another State agency building. He works in an office I occasionally use for testing, just across the hall. We spent part of yesterday scoring Rorschach Inkblot Tests together. How romatic, right?

This isn’t the first time we worked in the same building. We worked together in the same department at my current agency for 15 years before he retired the first time. I suppose it is fortunate we get along. We have spent a lot of time together over the decades. At least neither of us had to supervise the other at any time.

The people at my work tell me they think it is so “cute” when they see us at work together. I don’t quite know what they mean by that. We aren’t lovey-dovey or anything like that. I suppose it is sort of unusual to have a married couple at the same agency. I can only imagine the drama had we been at odds or openly hostile with each other.

How do you think it would have turned out if you had to work with your partner or spouse? Any stories about couples working together at the same place? Were you a Turtles fan in the 60’s?

Where in the World is VS?

A friend of mine recently re-located here and just moved into her new townhouse; she invited me to come down for a few days to visit.  Although I have been to this state, I’ve never been to this city before, despite having sent a few groups here over the years.  I’m looking forward to a few relaxing days of sightseeing and entertainment.

    • The city is named after a Continental Army general during the American Revolutionary War.
    • The person who first called the U.S. flag “Old Glory” lived here.
    • The largest songwriter’s festival in the world is held here.
    • There is a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon in this city.
    • President Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase “good to the last drop” here.
    • This was the first city in the nation to be granted an FM-broadcasting license.
    • The first seeing-eye dog training school in the U.S. was founded here.

Where am I?  And if you know, what should I see while I’m here?

They Call The Wind. . . .Annoying

We just can’t get a break with the weather. Our home garden got planted late due to freezing temperatures in May, and then we had a hail storm in June that took out the tomatoes and peppers and shredded the beans and peas.

Our church vegetable garden is planted in six, waist-high raised beds. We planted bush squash, peas, beans, and savoy cabbages there. We planted the squash and cabbages in raised mounds just to give them ample depth for roots. That garden didn’t get the hail we did at our house several blocks away. Last Sunday the bush squash and cabbages at church were looking spectacular. Then, on Tuesday, the wind hit.

I never realized how shallow squash roots are. The wind gusted up to 50 mph, and almost entirely uprooted the squash. Husband frantically placed cedar shakes around the squash and cabbage mounds to block the wind, and piled more dirt over the exposed roots. Many of the squash stems were bent and the leaves broken off and wilted. By yesterday they looked a little better, but, again, this sets back possible harvest.

Our home garden wasn’t affected by the wind since the plants are at ground level, not in waist-high raised beds. I think we will have ample cabbages and squash to take to the food pantry if the church garden doesn’t produce.

Let’s have some weather inspired songs and poems today.

Nap Time

Our grandson is 4, and is at that stage where, if he takes an afternoon nap, he can’t go to sleep for the night until after 10:00, and if he doesn’t nap, he is a real pill until bedtime.

When Son and his family visited over Memorial Day weekend, we put on a vinyl recording of Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester narrated by Meryl Streep, with music by The Chieftains, for grandson to listen to one afternoon. Son listened to the same recording when he was a small boy, usually at bedtime. I was tickled to find Son and Grandson sound asleep on the sofa shortly after starting the recording. They didn’t even get to the part where the Tailor sets free the mice that Simpkin, the naughty cat, had imprisoned under the tea cups, before they dozed off. I have always liked Simpkin. Grandson was so tired after traveling to us that the nap didn’t interfere with his usual bedtime.

What helps you sleep? Who is your favorite Beatix Potter character? What do you remember about naps as a child?