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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Rivertown Crossings Experiment

So today was the day I expanded into the "big time." Who knows if that is what it really was, but it sort of felt like it. This is a really nice mall in the Grand Rapids area, and most of the vendors (although not all) were selling franchised commercial products. Although a couple of people I know came to buy books, the market was primarily not only people who did not know me, but who came to the mall to buy from big stores like Body and Bath Works, Victoria's Secret, or Dick's. I name those three because we saw a LOT of their bags going by. Most people didn't even give the vendors a second look, but the ones who did usually bought something.

The booth was expensive, but I found an author to share the space with each day, so that cut the cost in half. Today I shared with Janet Vormittag who writes short stories about cats, and has two mysteries about rescue dogs.

I shared this story on Facebook, but I want to put it here as well. The neatest thing was that a little girl had been looking at The Secret Cellar, but she only had $5. Her mother was thinking about giving her the other $4, but they went away and said they'd come back. The girl came back alone and was trying to decide which book to get (her mother was just across the way) and another lady who had just purchased North Country Cache asked me if I knew the girl. I said "no", and the lady seemed concerned that she was alone. I said, "her mother is just over there." Well, the lady whips out cash and said, "I'd like to buy her the whole set."

Wowzer. One very happy little girl, who payed it forward by using some of her $5 to buy a copy of Devotions for Hikers for her teacher!

Rivertown Crossings vendor event

The financial success of vendors was all over the map, and didn't seem to be related to their location. I think my location is excellent. Even though I'm not in the main transverse hallway, I'm right across from the Dicks' Sporting Goods entrance, and a lot of people came in and out that way. I have no comparable event to judge this against, but I paid for the space and made money today, so tomorrow is all gravy. The only thing that is tough is the long hours. Including set-up, I was there for 14 hours today. Tomorrow isn't quite so long.

My big treat was hot soft pretzel nuggets and a Diet Coke. I love hot pretzels and haven't had one in years. Yum.

Rivertown Crossings vendor event

One more day! I held up well for that many people hours. Now I just have to do it again tomorrow.

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Friday, December 14, 2018

Manistee High School Band

 I am in Grand Rapids, settled in for the night. This way I don't have to leave home at 6 o'clock tomorrow morning.

Last night, even though I was not too interested in going out again, I went to hear the Manistee High School Christmas concert, because the director is a friend of mine, Andrea Mack. We actually met through trail stuff, and I didn't know she was a music person at all. Then she took the position here, much closer to me than we were before. But we still haven't managed to go hiking together!


And the concert was very good. High quality music for high school level. The jazz band was the first to play. I forgot to bring the program with me, so I won't/can't give you the rundown of the pieces they played. One was "Santa Baby," and one was "Kings of Swing," which was a swing version of "We Three Kings."

Manistee High School jazz band

Next up was the Eighth Grade Band.

Manistee High School eighth grade band

Finally the full concert band played several pieces. One I really liked was a new work called "Letchworth Fanfare." I'm kind of a sucker for fanfares, and I really want to know if it was inspired by the gorge in New York. Again, there was a nice variety of selections. I really appreciate it when every piece doesn't sound like all the others.

Manistee High School high school band

I sure wish I'd brought the program with me so I could tell you the other numbers. Andrea says the band has been invited to play at some festival, which of course I've forgotten the name of. But the point is, they are good. It's not just me that thought so.

In other news: I can't say I took the day off, but I switched gears. I did some cleaning and laundry and let the writing simmer a bit. It was desperately in need of some slow cooking. I think I've solved the logistical problem I had with a scene, and I'm actually writing a little bit right now.

See WSCC Wind Symphony
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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Two Hundreds on Opossum Highway

Today a friend and I both finished our 2018 100 Mile Challenges on the North Country Trail. The friend is Deb Cox who came on our chapter hike in July

hikers doing 100 Mile Challenge on the North Country Trail

We did 5.5 miles, and I'm here to tell you they were a bit of a challenge. The snow is not deep enough for showshoes or skis, but it is just deep enough to throw your feet off with every step, and make you slide, and give you mighty sore calves in 5.5 miles.

North Country Trail

We passed through Dead Horse Marsh, starkly appealing in any season.

Dead Horse Marsh on the North Country Trail

The most interesting thing to me was that on almost the entire length of trail we walked there were opossum tracks. Usually only one animal at a time, although sometimes there were tracks going both directions. Some were large and some were small. A LOT of opossums have been using the trail! If you look closely, you can see the tail drag marks in this picture.

opossum tracks

We finished in good spirits, despite the challenge, and now I just need to send in my paper to get the patch!

hikers doing 100 Mile Challenge on the North Country Trail

We saw quite a few other tracks, which I will share another day.

I also went to another concert, and I'll also save that till later.

No writing happened, but I did not expect it to, with both of these activities.

Hike 100 Challenge miles: 101 of 100!

North Country Trail, Tyndall Road to Riverside Dr., Mason County, Michigan

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

WSCC Wind Symphony

In addition to hearing some great music, I also learned something new. I was trying to figure out what the difference was between a wind symphony and a band. Seemed to me to have all the same instruments. Check. The difference is in the style and difficulty of music played. This is the "new" name for what I would have called concert band.

And it was a concert I really enjoyed. There was great variety in the music played, most of it quite difficult and played well.

They began with a saxophone ensemble playing "On a Hymnsong of Philip Bliss," and "Feliz Navidad."

WSCC wind symphony

The symphony is under the aegis of West Shore Community College, but the concert was at Shelby High School, about 35 miles away.

Next up was the percussion ensemble, and they did some really interesting pieces. First was "Dance Macabre," one of my favorites. The picture is just one of the four marimbas/xylophones they used.

WSCC percussion ensemble

Then they did a really complicated piece called "Just Like That" on concert toms and wood blocks. I liked it!

WSCC percussion ensemble

They finished with "Trinidad Tidings," a medley of Christmas songs.

After that a select group of the larger symphony played "Pas Redouble," a really fast-paced piece. Please note the size of the ensemble.

WSCC wind symphony

Then the entire symphony came on stage-- over 100 musicians! I took this picture while they were setting up, just to show the size of the group. It absolutely fills the stage, and this is a pretty large stage.

WSCC wind symphony

They played Shostakovich's "Folk Dances," a really difficult piece called "Where Never Lark or Eagle Flew," and then concluded with two movements of "The Divine Comedy."

I have to say, I'm becoming quite pleased with the quality of artistic opportunities our area is providing.

Since the group was large, I tried to get some better close-ups. Most aren't in focus, but this one is OK.

WSCC wind symphony

In other news: I struggled mightily with writing today, whined on Facebook, got some encouragement, and managed to get two half-chapters done. That's better than nothing.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Fugue for Chimes and Cymbal

I told you I was going to do music this season. And the walk on Sunday provided a different kind of concert. I've showed you the chimes (see link below). Here are the cymbals.

This hi-hat was bouncing up and down to the rhythm of the river. The up...

disc of ice on a stick in the river

...and the down. A movie would have been great, but since my computer crash this summer I haven't gotten all the software re-deployed to process them. Sigh.

disc of ice on a stick in the river

Can you hear the tinkling icy music of the river?

I'm blogging early because tonight is writers' group, and since I didn't sleep well again last night, I may want to crash as soon as I get home.

In other news: I wrote 1 1/2 chapters, mailed some books, got an estimate for repairing the next car problem, and I have writers' group coming right up.

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