The banjo moves up on my life list

I hate the term bucket list. You might as well say, “I’m going to die any day now. What to do?” I’d rather say, “Life is a mystery. What would I like to do?” Bucket list sounds so final. Life list sounds open and celebratory.

 

For the longest time, going up in a hot air balloon was a feature on my list. I lived for a while in Napa, where hot air ballooning is a major activity. But no one I know would go up with me. I know too many people who are afraid of heights. And I was afraid of going alone. So I still haven’t done it. I would hear that sound of the air whoshing up into the balloons as they drifted over my house near the Napa River. Taking my coffee out on the deck, I’d stand in my pajamas and wave longingly at the tourists in the balloons as they drifted by.

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I signed up for a watercolor painting class and the first thing I painted was a hot air balloon.

balloon painting

I’ve read Around the World in 80 Days more than once. Of course, there isn’t a hot air balloon in the book, but thanks to the film version, I can’t think of the story without a hot air balloon.

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I still have hot air balloon dreams. Maybe over Paris! Paris was also a long-time life list item. And in 2014 I finally got there! Was it everything I dreamed it would be? Mais oui! Certainement! I’ll brush up my bad high school French and go back anytime. Given my name and French heritage, you’d think I’d have speaking French in the bag, but alas, languages don’t necessarily pass down in families once they assimilate to the United States. So I was really An American in Paris:

 

For a few years now, I’ve said I want to learn to play the banjo. I see banjos at the Alameda Point Antiques Fair (the flea market) now and again, but they always look pretty beat up, and I never have the courage to haggle with the dealers since I know absolutely nothing about banjos.

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I don’t know why I love them, but I do. Recently, we went to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. What a beautiful place! I worked for years in museums, and I was quite impressed with the displays, collections, volunteers, everything! They even have a conservation lab, which was my first foray into museum work.

 

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Some of my favorite displays at the museum were the Americana, Bluegrass, and Banjo sections. Banjos! In a museum! I felt vindicated in my banjo love.

Since, I have come to find out there is an American Banjo Museum and American Banjo Hall of Fame. Woo hoo! Now I have a reason to go to Oklahoma City. Some of the illustrious inductees include Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs, Roy Clark, and Steve Martin. There are women in the hall of fame too: Debbie Schreyer, Helen Baker, Georgette Twain (love that name) among others.

 

Last night, in one of my weird, mixed up dreams, I bought a banjo. The main theme of the dream was that I was trying to board a ferry into San Francisco. It was an ordeal. I had to go through a labyrinthian mall to buy a ticket. And while wandering lost through the mall, I saw the world’s most beautiful banjo. I had to have it. I bought it. And in nonsensical dream style, instead of putting the banjo in a case for me, the salesclerk carefully and elaborately wrapped it in brown paper and string, like the gorgeous and mysterious Christmas present.

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The dream banjo didn’t look like this; not quite so fancy. More Danish Modern meets banjo. This is Gibson’s Earl Scruggs Golden Deluxe.

The banjo often doesn’t get a lot of respect. Mark Twain (any relation to Georgette?) said something about a true gentleman is one who knows how to play the banjo and doesn’t. But I don’t care. I’ve had a crush on Steve Martin since the 1970s. Then, when I was in high school, the banjo was part of his comedy schtick. Now he’s a respected, Grammy winning musician with his band, The Steep Canyon Rangers. And he’s still funny.

 

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Can I learn to play this late in life? The question is more, will I follow my dream. There’s even a Dummies book for me.

banjo for dummies

 

I challenge myself to follow this one. I made it to Paris. Maybe soon you’ll see me in the sky, in a hot air balloon, picking on a banjo and having a great old time.

 

 

Take Me Out to the Ballgame! (with an interlude at the Musical Instrument Museum)

 

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People seem surprised to find out I like going to baseball games. I wouldn’t say I am necessarily a baseball fan. I don’t really watch games on television or follow scores or statistics. But I love to go to the ballpark to see a game. There is something special about it that’s hard to describe.

 

 

Plus I love a good costume, and now I have a whole collection of Giants attire. Because I do root for the San Francisco Giants (and sometimes the Atlanta Braves, if they aren’t playing the Giants).

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game day ready
I got game! Well, I got a baseball cap, anyway.

 

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If this bag was vegan and less expensive, I’d buy it.

 

And I get an excuse to sing the Journey song Don’t Stop Believin’ at the top of my lungs without people thinking I am crazy.

 

For the third time since Bob and I have been together, we made it to the San Francisco Giants spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona this year. It was a short trip–we flew to Phoenix Monday morning, went to an afternoon game, out to dinner, Tuesday morning at the Musical Instrument Museum, an afternoon game, and home Tuesday night. But what it lacked in time it made up for in fun and sun.

 

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training games

 

Our day 1 game was at Camelback Ranch, ballpark for the Chicago White Sox. Who actually wear black socks. I felt cheated. (Which leads to the question, are you a fan of high socks with the uniform? I am.)

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Giants Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey show their socks style.

 

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At the Giants v White Sox. Giants win!

 

It’s really hot in March in Arizona. Really hot. Siri said so.

 

93 degrees

 

 

 

Belt
The closest I managed to get to a well-known player was when Brandon Belt was at bat.

 

Vegans and teetotalers can have a hard time at the ballpark. In the heat, while most everyone else was drinking beer, I really wanted a shaved ice. This is what I ended up with. I realize it is not a color known in nature. It was supposed to be cherry. I think it was sugar and red dye number whatever. But it was cold and I ate it anyway.

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After the game, we checked into the Hilton Scottsdale Resort & Villas, a splurge but oh so nice! Thank you Bob for the indulgence!

The first thing I saw in the lobby when we checked in was the ice-cold fruit-infused water. This is one of my new obsessions. I drank about 4 glasses of the concoction while we checked in. Baseball is thirsty work.

 

Our villa suite was amazing. There was even a washer/dryer and a dishwasher! We didn’t stay long enough to enjoy all of the amenities, but it was quite relaxing and comfortable, to say the least.

 

Next day, we hit the Musical Instrument Museum before settling in for the Giants v Padres at the Scottsdale Stadium. As I might have said, when a museum nerd (me) and a music nerd (Bob) travel together, this is where they go.

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I was thinking it would be a small, homey, do-it-yourself place. One of those old-guy-with-a-collection opens his garage kind of things. Was I wrong! This is a beautiful, world-class museum and collection. It is well worth a day or two of wandering and wondering. Athough I was a bit alarmed and amused at the no weapons sign. I’ve never been to a museum that specified this. I didn’t think they needed to.

 

Just a few highlights:

Danish design
One more example of the superior lines of Danish design.

 

The Johnny Cash tribute.

 

One day, I will be that lady banjo player.

 

The 60s. Suit worn by Roger Daltry of The Who. Jimi Hendrix on the monitor.

 

glass orchestra

 

 

Just another visitor trying out the piano in the lobby.

 

 

Apollonia
The Apollonia, in the Mechanical Music Gallery, a 2-ton dance organ.

 

 

I have a whole novel centered around the Apollonia worked up in my head, and it would make a great movie, too. I’ll fill you in in a future blogpost.

Don’t forget to exit through the gift shop!

exit through the gift shop

 

Back to baseball! On to the Scottsdale Stadium, where our seats were a little more in the shade but a lot more behind really tall people. It Genevieve’s Law: the tallest adults at the ballpark (movie, concert, whatever), will have tickets for the seats directly in front of the shortest adult at the ballpark (movie, concert, whatever).

 

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My view.

 

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New souvenir cup to add to my collection.

 

The Giants win again! Then a short trip into old town Scottsdale before heading to the airport.

 

 

I bought a beautiful ring at one of the nicer stores there on a previous visit. But I am clumsy and sometimes forgetful, so I managed to lose the ring. I was hoping to find the same store; they have less-touristy merchandise and less, shall we say, ostentatious designs. Bob was on the case, and lo and behold, the first store he suggested turned out to be the right one! If you are in Scottsdale, check out Scottsdale Jewels on N. Brown Avenue. Don’t be alarmed by the taxidermied bear (okay, be alarmed, but it’s still a nice jewelry store and they aren’t pushy like in the other stores).

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I wish someone had thought of the Don’t Touch idea before killing and stuffing the bear.

A quick flight home, and back to life as usual. Which is a good life all in all.

Baseball season 2017 opening day is Sunday, April 2. I’m not sure when I will get to a game, but I hope to see you there! Go Giants! Peace and hugs from this Giants Girl.

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Giants girl

 

 

P.S. Another obsession: I saw this dress in the Southwest Airline inflight magazine. I want it. I must have it. I can’t afford it, but maybe I can put my sewing skills to the test and make my own knock-off. Fashion detectives, if you can lead me to any information about this dress, I will  be forever indebted.

the dress