Smilefest Reunion 2011

I made a trip up to North Carolina last month to see some friends and visit with my family. The primary purpose was to go to Smilefest. This year was my fifth or sixth going to that festival, I believe. I’ve been to it in three different locations now, and the latest one, while still not quite my favorite, is definitely great. My favorite was when it was in Union Grove on Van Hoy Farms. Least favorite was at Deerfields outside Asheville. Of course, I love that area, but that park is not conducive to festivals whatsoever. We bitched the entire time about having to hike our stuff in for miles (even though there were flatbeds to ease the walk if you could catch one). It was still ridiculous, and I’m not a fan of sleeping in a tent pitched on a nearly vertical mountainside. This year, for the second year in a row, it’s been held at Jomeokee Campground in Pinnacle, right at the foot of Pilot Mountain. It’s a beautiful site, and they’ve kept the ticket sales semi-private for people who have been before (hence the “reunion” moniker), so you end up with people who know how not to act a fool, and who are experienced festival-goers and are there to enjoy the music (okay, and also have a little fun).

As usual, we heard a lot of really awesome music and drank a lot of beer and camped and got real dirty for a few days. I live for those weekends. Good times with good friends. Met a lot of awesome new people too. Saw folks I only ever see at Smilefest (another reason why it’s like a reunion). Here are some pictures my good friend Jenny took, since I have none of my own to share because I didn’t take any. You can check out the Facebook page of her photography business (Dancing Lemur Design) here. She is really good, and you should “like” her.

Me and my flip flops on my patchwork quilt, enjoying the band, Doby.

Every year, every location, they always have these cool windows and bottles hung in the trees.

Our buddy Kelly with his friend Laura, enjoying some muscadine moonshine.

Me trying to figure out how I’m gonna get a queen-size air mattress into my 2-man tent. Travis totally did it, and it was like my own private bouncy castle. Awesomeness.

Always love the hula-hoopers and wish I still had mine. Unfortunately not everything can make the cut when you move. I would like to investigate the collapsible options, though.

We had a huge campsite set up, with about eight people camping together, complete with four or five easy-up tents. We basically created an open-air house. One tent was just the kitchen area. One was the sitting room. We dubbed it “Cabanapyland.” The Jerry tapestry provided a little shade and privacy. In this picture, I’m standing in the living room. LOL. We had not one, but two solar showers. And, because we are seasoned veterans and smartipantses, we totally camped right beside a pole with a power outlet and a water spigot. SCORE!

Here’s a nice shot of the main stage with Pilot Mountain in the background. So pretty. Great time. Can’t wait til next year!

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Where Everybody Knows Your Name…and They’re Always Glad You Came

There is a couple in our friend circle that everyone wants to be like: Sean and Kalli. They live in a communal house with a few other roommates. Kalli is an artist, and Sean is in a band. When you arrive, everyone hugs you. When you leave, everyone tells you they love you, just in case you A) didn’t know or B) die on the way home. There are big dogs to jump and kiss you when you walk in the back door, which is always unlocked in case anyone they know needs anything. Kalli’s artwork hangs in the hallway, and Sean has a music room with concert posters and carpet tiles arranged creatively on the walls.

They have turned a potentially awful back yard right beside the interstate into a weekend oasis for friends, drinks, and grilling, complete with twinkle lights, hammocks, and a water feature they made from an old trombone. Sean’s special secret recipe mojitos line the fridge in Sprite bottles, and you are to help yourself to that, as well as the honey mustard chicken he’s been grilling for two hours with his brother-in-law. Kalli will be wearing a piece of jewelry she has made, probably involving an owl and feathers, and telling an incredible story about ghosts in one of their childhood homes, or about Sean’s mom yelling at them through the door about condoms while they had sex in his room in high school.

There is much drinking and smoking, eating and talking, and laughing. Sean’s mom or brother-in-law or sister or some of Kalli’s brothers may be present. There is an iPod on the table playing the product of Sean’s band’s latest recording session of reggae. Someone with a generic name shows up, and you realize you know them, but you didn’t know Sean and Kalli knew them. Then you remember that Sean and Kalli know everyone. And maybe you keep randomly meeting people they know because it’s a sign that you both know good people.You may meet their friends from high school, because the group never really split up, even though they live in various places. Or you may meet someone who can eat a corn cob in 22 seconds, or someone who owns the local independent bookstore slash coffee shop. You will “know” them all, already.

I always say, “They’re good people” about those I really respect, admire, or connect with. But I think it’s just as much about being “real” as it is being “good.” So maybe I should say “They’re real good people.” Sean and Kalli are good people. They would be reliable emergency contacts in the event of a dead battery or your one phone call for bail. But they’re also real people. What you see is what you get. Take it or leave it. (But they love you anyway.)

We all talk about how we would someday like to have the Sean and Kalli house, where there is always something going on, everyone is always welcome, food and drink abound, love and kindness permeate, there is always music and laughter, and you are accepted — no, welcomed —  just as you are. We know they won’t be around forever — once Kalli finishes her program this fall, they may move away. And we want to continue their tradition of real hospitality on our own. I feel so fortunate to know people like this, who make you feel like you do when you listen to your favorite song.

The Dogs Have Their Day

One of my favorite things about Alabama so far is Tuskegee National Forest. I am sort of a lazy hiker, meaning I like to be outdoors and in the woods, and I enjoy admiring trees and rocks and animals and streams and the amazing feeling of relaxation this brings me. But I don’t like to work too hard for it. I am seriously appreciating the fact that I can go hike at Tuskegee and have a nice little workout but not feel like I’m going to die, because while the trails are not completely flat, they are also not that strenuous. And, as I have mentioned before, living in the river region of the state means there’s always some good water to visit at the end of the trail, and the prospect of water keeps me moving and motivated.

A couple days ago, I went with a friend and our dogs to the woods for a hike. Her dog, Delilah, and Birdy get along very well together, and we try to let them play a lot. They have similar personalities, although Lilah is still a puppy and more energetic. But Bird has her energetic moments still, even in her middle age. They seem to be a good influence on each other.

So we grabbed some subs and headed out to Macon County for a nice hike that ended at a little secret beach by a creek that she visits frequently. The beach is mainly pebbles, but there is a small sandy spot where we spread our blanket, cranked up the Bob Marley, and ate lunch. We spent a few hours out there letting the dogs run around to their hearts’ content, getting all sandy and nasty. The creek was pretty low because we haven’t had much rain lately, but it was still deep enough in places for the dogs to pretty much submerge themselves. They would alternate soaking, running, and wallowing in dirt. Then, rinse and repeat. We hung out in the creek for a while, where we could walk rock-clay flats in between clear ankle deep water, gently streaming and gurgling.

In the afternoon, it began to thunder, so we checked the weather on her phone (oh, technology!) to discover a severe thunderstorm warning for pretty much right where we were sitting. She was ambivalent about leaving just because of a little rain, but I figured based on where the storm was, we’d probably have just enough time to hike back to the car before the rain started if we left right then. So, we did that, and enjoyed a wonderful, dark, cool, thundery hike back. I love being in the woods just before it storms. We lost a little time when the girls wandered out of eye-shot and we had to wait for them to find their way back to us. But we made it back to the car with just enough time to change back into flip flops before the rain started. It stormed on us all the way back to Auburn and a good while after, but thankfully no tornadoes or even warnings.

We stopped on the way home at the dog wash place, which still didn’t remove all the sand from Birdy’s coat but helped a lot. She was very excited to receive a bag full of organic peanut butter kiss treats after her bath, which she hates. She stood as immobile in the tub as possible while I tried to manhandle her 75 pounds around in it and glared at me angrily when I sprayed her face with water. There was absolutely no way she was coming back into the house coated in creek sand. And it probably washed off some ticks and other gross things as well.

I remarked to my friend on the way home that being in the woods/hiking/relaxing by the water makes me feel the same as if I had just had a massage. Two days later, Birdy (a.k.a. OLD LADY) is just now recovering her energy and for the last 24 hours has not moved from one of two spots in the apartment like she has never been more exhausted in her life. It’s days like that which reinforce my belief that Birdy and I were just meant for each other. I spend a lot of time thinking about making my dog happy, and when we are in the woods, and she gets tired of running and exploring, she will lay down near me so that she is touching me with some part of her body just slightly, and we’ll just look at each other contentedly, silently understanding that this is a good life we have; that we are lucky to have each other. Lucky to be friends.

Halloween 2010

I’m never usually much one for Halloween, but this year I’m really not. I’m sick, and I’m stuck inside without much to do. I’m missing the annual Halloween party thrown by my best friend since forever, and I’m even missing the Auburn football game because Time Warner is a bitch and won’t let me watch it online because I don’t get cable TV. Hello, the internet is why I don’t have cable. Maybe they have figured that out. Nooooooooooo!!!

When I was little I used to get strep throat all the time, and I had it one year on Halloween and was very disappointed when I couldn’t go trick-or-treating with my friends from the neighborhood. What I remembered today as a result of being sick on Halloween again was how that year when I was five or so, my friend Kerri and her little sister stopped by my house on their way home to divvy up their candy haul with me since I couldn’t go. It’s funny how one seemingly small act of kindness will stick with a person for their entire life, huh? Makes me wonder what I’ve done that has stuck with someone without me even realizing it. When I mentioned it to Kerri tonight, she said, “Hmm, we must have been really little because I’m usually very selfish with my candy.” LOL!

I’ve never been very big on dressing up or costumes. I think it’s because they’re usually really uncomfortable, and I am hard pressed to wear anything ever that feels uncomfortable. I guess that’s why they are called costumes. They are not within your personal comfort zone manner of dress. My favorite Halloween costume I ever had was in college when I went as Cruella DeVille. Basically I just wore a black slip dress with a black feather boa and a lot of eye makeup, and I put a white streak in my hair, and I even had the long cigarette holder. It was my favorite because it wasn’t that uncomfortable, didn’t require many props, and everyone got it. In fact, that was probably the last time I actually wore a Halloween costume. I don’t get out much now that I’m old.

Speaking of costumes, my hairdresser is a closet hippie and loves all my clothes. She complimented the patchwork pants I wore to my last appointment, and we had a whole conversation about how she looks for cool hippie clothes whenever she goes to Asheville but everything there is so expensive. (The pants I was wearing that day I got on sale in Asheville for like $40. ON SALE!) Today I saw her randomly in public (wearing a hoodie and hemp pants), and she was loving on Birdy and telling her how her mama has cool clothes. It made me laugh, because it’s very possible no one has EVER said that to or about me. Particularly since I’ve lived here, in a town where hippies are an anomaly.

In Asheville, I used to get compliments on my random vintage t-shirts. Most of them were stolen from my dad and were from his college days, which made them even cooler because they were actually old. I had a vintage White Sox shirt he stole from his sister, who stole it from one of her college boyfriends, and I used to get hit on so much in college due to that shirt. One of my old college roommates was even inspired to start a vintage-look baby clothing line because of it. It was because of a vintage guitar shop shirt from a particular town that I met my college boyfriend, who had family there and had been to the place. I had a more common one that said, “I Climbed the Great Wall” with a graphic of the Great Wall of China, and it always shocked me that guys would hit on me because I was wearing a shirt they themselves owned. Conversation starter, I guess. But weird that now no one hits on me unless I’m wearing socially acceptable trendy female clothing. Which makes me just hate the people who do it because at that point they’re not even hitting on me, they’re hitting on my clothes. Which tells me they are way too superficial for my taste, and they’re gonna be WAY disappointed to learn that I’m wearing a costume essentially, once I get home and put on my hemp drawstrings.

Here, I get looks of bafflement that I’m not wearing Ann Taylor or skinny-leg jeans or whatever it is that is “in style” nowadays. I never know. Obviously, as I’m still wearing the same t-shirts and boot-leg jeans I wore in college and parading around a conservative Southern town in hippie garb like hemp pants for God’s sake at the REGULAR grocery store and not at Whole Foods. But when a guy flirts with me when I’m wearing hemp or patchworks, he’s going to have a much better chance at getting the number than when I’m in “drag.”

I’m a rebel, I tell you. Maybe I just figured out my next Halloween costume. And I don’t even have to dress up! Perfect. “Oh, look! She’s a hippie!” “Oh, no, that’s just Maegan.”

Crafty Love! Outdoor Weddings

Favorite wedding memories from my family:

My parents got married in 1975 in my mother’s parents’ living room. My mom wore a simple cotton hippie dress and daisies in her hair. My dad wore a powder blue suit and left his long hair down. The best man had car trouble on the way and left his jacket at the garage. Halfway through the small ceremony, my grandmother stopped the minister to point out he had skipped a step — the part where he was supposed to ask if anyone had any objections.

When I was about four or five in the early 1980’s, I was the flower girl in my uncle’s wedding. I remember sitting in the floor in his sister’s room while he got ready. As he leaned into the mirror to adjust his bow tie, he sang to himself, “Oh here she comes! Watch out boys, she’ll chew you up! Oh here she comes! She’s a man-eater!” Thank you, Hall and Oates for providing that very special memory that my cousins (his children) prefer I don’t recount. 🙂

When I was nine, I was a junior bridesmaid in a cousin’s wedding. There was a junior groomsman (a nephew of the bride) who was to walk me down the aisle. Unfortunately, when we watched the video afterward it was clear we were the only attending couple who felt it necessary to sprint to the altar. At this same wedding, the brother of the groom had a terrible time trying to light the candles in the church and eventually had to give up so the bride could walk down the aisle. That couple has an 18-year-old son now who has inherited the truck that his dad used to flee the premises for honeymoon-land. He is still finding grains of white rice.

This weekend I will be attending the wedding of some very good friends in Asheville. In true Asheville fashion, it will be held on a farm, and there is camping for people who would rather sleep outside than stay in a hotel. The happy couple met years ago when they belonged to the same African dance group — she was a dancer; he was a drummer. Sometimes I look around me and think I am so fortunate to know the various amazing and interesting people that I have met over the years. Congratulations to Breanna and Greg! Here’s to a long and happy future. I have to go buy a dress now! While I’m doing that, you guys can check out some outdoor wedding related items on Etsy.

Moss Covered Centerpiece
$10 by Spotted Leopard

100 Bird Seed Favors
$95 by 2 Birds in Love

Ring Bearer’s Bird’s Nest
$14 by Garden Side Studio

Firefly Lantern
$24.99 by Bragging Bags

Movies: Phish 3D

We were so worried about getting tickets to this thing. It consumed us for a week or more. “It’s not showing up! The Phish email says it’s playing here, but it’s not showing up!” Finally, the theater listed the show times on its website and we were able to purchase in advance. Had a tasty Mexican dinner with Swamp, Josh, Jess, Lizzy, Taper, and Jen before heading over — the hippie posse in tour shirts and a lot of hemp, rolling up to the ticket window on the same night as Kenny Chesney 3D. People in Wranglers beside us in line squinted up at the marquee and said, “What’s Phish 3D?” No surprise, then, that we were seven of maybe twenty people in the auditorium. If only we’d gone to Asheville, Swamp said, we could have been packed in like sardines with all our hippie brethren and drinking beers at that one theater that serves alcohol. But it was not the worst thing to have the theater practically to ourselves. We got some laughs from fellow movie-goers by shouting along to “Wilson.” The best, most comprehensive review I’ve seen is here. I highly recommend reading it. But I’ll give you a few pieces of personal feedback. I know you care so much what I think! 🙂

The acoustic set was the highlight of the whole thing. “Strange Design” was so honest and emotional, I almost cried. I loved seeing them play in daylight. I loved the set list. It was the one part of the movie where I forgot about the whole 3D thing and stopped being dizzy and just felt immersed in it, like I was sitting on the stage with them. Unfortunately, I was a little distracted by Mike’s huge blue jean bulge. He needs to invest in some looser pants. That shit just doesn’t look comfortable. That was definitely not something I needed to see in 3D.

The “Shine a Light” cover was excellent. Loved the backup singers. Loved the horn section. Even though the trombonist reminded me a little too much of Barry Gibb. Loved Trey’s faces of ecstasy and grins of sheer joy. Loved seeing his eye crinkles in 3D. “Suzy Greenberg” was entertaining but way too damn long. I wanted to smack that backup singer going “SUZY! SUZY! SUZY!” over and over and over. The first portion of the film had some great Page close-ups, where he was looking totally in the zone and deep in his groove. And it was kind of interesting to see Fish’s set up so close. I had no idea how huge his kit was. And I enjoyed playing “Where’s Waldo?” with everyone’s copy of the set lists.

Overall, I would have preferred less camera motion. Towards the end, we were all feeling sick and taking off the 3D glasses. I liked elements of it, like the balloons floating by that Swamp and I pretended to bat at each other. But as far as the show footage, it was more effective when the camera actually paused on something long enough for you to kind of savor being up close and personal. I could have done without “Maze,” which is possibly my least phavorite song. I have a little anxiety freak-out every time I hear that chorus. But everything else I was really happy to hear. And I will totally be purchasing the DVD.

Bottom line: A-. Could have been better in some ways, but I left with a great big smile on my face. And I’m totally pumped for summer tour!

Crafty Love! Festival Accessories

I’m getting pretty excited about my musical summer, which began last weekend with an Acoustic Syndicate show in High Point, NC. Next up is the Phish 3D movie this Friday. We’ve got a whole group going, and with any luck we’ll have the theater to ourselves. Or else I might be really surprised at how many closet Phans there are in the Triad and possibly meet some hot hippie boys. At the end of May, we have a weekend-long music festival, Smilefest, up in Stokes County. Looking forward to seeing Michael Franti & Spearhead, as well as more Acoustic Syndicate, Larry Keel, Barefoot Manner, David Via, and others. Also looking forward to camping amongst hundreds of my closest friends, playing some music before hitting the world’s comfiest sleeping bag, and eating camp stove grilled cheese. In July, I’m going to the two North Carolina Phish shows on summer tour (Charlotte and Raleigh). After that…who knows what else will present itself as an opportunity for more fun. Since I’m daydreaming about shows today, I’ve got some Etsy love for the hippies in my audience. (I know there’s at least one!) You need these things for your next show/festival. You need them bad.

It goes without saying that you’re gonna have to have a cool t-shirt or two. I have to say I’m probably one of the world’s pickiest people when it comes to t-shirt designs. There are just so many that are funny but don’t really work as shirts. For example, this one is hilarious, but I don’t want to wear it. I am somewhat of a tomboy hippie, because I prefer coverage as opposed to backless apron tops and whatnot. I am modest, I prefer to be comfortable above all else, and I think some things are better left to the imagination. I like the simplicity of this Grateful Dead reminiscent dancing skeleton batik, with what could be confetti or maybe glow sticks or stage lights.  And, as many people forget, it’s all about the music, man –and dancing and having fun and being amongst others who find happiness in that. $26.50 by Cracks in the Wax

Next you’re gonna need some accessories. Hemp is always good. Trippy glass is always good. I love staring at hand blown glass, and this artist is one of the best I’ve seen. (And I’ve seen a lot.) This necklace reminds me of one my friend got for trading his extra ticket when Trey came to Asheville back in our college days. I love the colors in this, and the craftsmanship is excellent. $50 by Vonbeads

For the festivals at least, this is my favorite toy/activity — hula hooping the night away to some good tunes. I have a basic stripey one that is pretty and functional, but I’m seriously coveting these LED ones that are like glow sticks on steroids and more fun to operate. I can’t quite afford one yet, sadly, so I’ll have to stick to my plain Jane hoop for now. But this is definitely the Cadillac of hoops. $190 by Midnight Star Glass

Good Lyrics: Bold As Love

The day I discovered the Axis: Bold As Love album in my mom’s record collection as a kid was a really important day in my life. I remember sitting on the cold hardwood floor of my room, examining the psychedelic album cover while it spun on my turn table. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before. To this day, Jimi moves me more than most musicians. But I can’t listen to it too often, because it makes me sad that he died so young, when he had such great talent. Incidentally, my mom saw Jimi Hendrix open for the Monkees in Charlotte, North Carolina when she was in high school. I think that’s like the most random thing ever. The Monkees?? Really? She was there to see the Monkees, but when they saw Jimi play, “It was like some alien creature had just landed on the stage. We were mesmerized. By the time the Monkees took the stage, we were all just sort of dumbly staring with our mouths open.” This is my favorite song on that album. And I would like to personally box thatdoucheJohnMayer for attempting to cover it. What. A. Travesty.

Bold As Love (Click to play)
The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Anger
he smiles towering
shiny metallic purple armor

Queen Jealousy, Envy
waits behind him
her fiery green gown sneers
at the grassy ground

Blue are the life giving waters
taken for granted
They quietly understand

Once happy turquoise armies
lay opposite ready
But wonder why the fight is on

But they’re all bold as love
Yeah, they’re all bold as love.
Yeah, they’re all bold as love.
Just ask the Axis.

My red is so confident
he flashes trophies of war
and ribbons of euphoria

Orange is young,
full of daring but very unsteady
for the first go ’round.

My yellow in this case
is not so mellow
In fact I’m trying to say
it’s frightened like me.

And all of these emotions of mine
keep holding me from
giving my life
to a rainbow like you

But I’m bold as love
I’m bold, bold as love.
Just ask the Axis.
He knows everything.

Good Lyrics: Wooden Ships

I try not to do too many song lyric posts in a row, but this one goes right with Revolution. I am on a revolution/ counter culture kick right now. Okay, who am I kidding? That’s every day. But this song is awesome sauce. Good morning, America!

Wooden Ships
by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (obviously one of my all time favorite bands)

If you smile at me, I will understand
Cause that is something everbody everywhere does
in the same language.

I can see by your coat, my friend
you’re from the other side
There’s just one thing I got to know
Can you tell me please, who won?
Say, can I have some of your purple berries
Yes, I’ve been eating them for six or seven weeks now,
haven’t got sick once.
Probably keep us both alive.

Wooden ships on the water, very free and easy
Easy, you know the way it’s supposed to be
Silver people on the shoreline, let us be
Talking about very free and easy

Horror grips us as we watch you die
All we can do is echo your anguished cries
Stare as all human feelings die
We are leaving
You don’t need us.

Go, take your sister then, by the hand
lead her away from this foreign land
Far away, where we might laugh again
We are leaving
You don’t need us.

And it’s a fair wind, blowing warm
Out of the south over my shoulder
Guess I’ll set a course and go…

Go MamaSox!

I’ve never really watched American Idol before this season. I mean, I”ve seen a couple episodes here and there. But I never got attached to any of the contestants. But holy shit — if Crystal Bowersox doesn’t win this year, I will go back to thinking America is a bunch of frikking idiots, in the words of Doctor Evil.

It is the absence of talent like hers that made me shun the show in years past. This year, hearing what she is bringing, I”m like, not only would I vote for her if I had cable and knew what was going on in real time, but if she doesn’t win and she ends up putting out an album anyway, I’m BUYING IT! This country has not heard hippie soul like hers since Janis Joplin. I”m blown away by her authenticity and raw talent. No one else on the show measures up to her. Some of the others are semi-talented. I think Siobhan Magnus is cool. But I don’t think she has mass appeal. I thought it was a load of crap that Katie beat out Lilly Scott, who was awesome as one of the most original talents anywhere. But none of them hold a candle to my dear Crystal.

The last episode involved eliminations, and Crystal looked totally pained the whole time. I couldn’t quite figure out if she was worried for herself or just as pissed as I was that Lilly got voted off. Or maybe she was still feeling rotten since she’d recently been hospitalized. In any case, Crystal, YOU ROCK!  Please stick it out for those of us who are not all about mainstream radio and who think you are the absolute bees’ knees.

Your talent is effortless and amazing and makes me cheer for you. And that is a hard thing to come by for anyone.

Go MamaSox!

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