Whistle and Go Fishing in the Heavens

My sister and I landed in sunny Southern California on Memorial Day weekend 1981 (I was 16, Kelly was 13) to live with our father and his family in an idyllic town in nestled in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Our father was a musician and introduced me to the music of Emmylou Harris, Townes Van Zandt, Bill Monroe… and John Prine.

John Prine was revered by my father and his musician friends. “Fish and Whistle” and “Hello in There” were two songs that made their set list on a regular basis.

John Prine’s Bruised Orange was a constant on our turntable. I don’t know this for a fact, but I think I may have been the only 16-year-old in Riverside county blasting Court & Spark, Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town, and of course, Bruised Orange when I was home by myself.

I have a hunch I won’t be the only one blasting these songs today.

And bet I won’t be the only in my family thinking about our father.

RIP John Prine

The Sound of Her Voice

I was really surprised at how much I loved the documentary about Linda Ronstadt The Sound of My Voice. I guess I never realized how much of a maverick she was.

In the mid-eighties I waited tables at a small Mexican restaurant in the southern California mountains, and Canciones de Mi Padre and Trio were on heavy rotation. Hard to beleive both those albums came out in 1987. People would always jump a little when she belted out the first two notes of La Charreada. It was fun to watch so we always made sure to have it at full volume. Her voice was crystal clear and powerful!

Links

Watch it on CNN or Amazon Prime
Canciones de Mi Padre, Linda Ronstadt
Listen to La Charreada
Trio, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt

Sing Like Nobody’s Listening

Last night I attended my first Austin Ukulele Society meeting and it was so much fun. It was Valentines Day so everyone learned “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. I can’t remember the last time I felt so completely lost in what was going on and enjoying every moment, without a hint of self-consciousness.

My lack of skill and the fact that my ukulele was not properly tuned (or at all) were of no bother to the two kind souls who sat on either side of me. The man on my left suggested I could always just strum in on the first beat if the fingering was too hard for me. I felt like a 3 year-old who’d been handed a toy steering wheel so I felt I was driving too. Whatever, I felt part of, and I guess that was the point. He must be a kindergarten teacher. 

So there I was, singing “Can’t Help Falling in Love” like nobody was listening with 139 strangers. It was amazing.

Also, the woman on my right with the blue ukulele and a rose tucked behind her ear sang like an angel.

Austin Ukulele Society

Cocaine & Rhinestones

My friend Patti Lou turned me on to this podcast a year ago. Holy guacamole this podcast is pure gold. I sure do hope there is a second season on the horizon. Host Tyler Mahan Coe’s stories about the truth behind some of country music’s tallest tales makes each episode a wild ride.

When looking ahead at the episodes I wondered, “Why are there three entire episodes about “The Harper Valley PTA”? I can tell you now that it’s not the story you thought you’d hear. Not even close.

I come by my affinity for 1970’s country when my family ran called the Golden Spike Inn, a kinda sorta truck stop in Byers, Colorado in the mid seventies. I’d spend the weekend pumping stolen quarters from the cash register into the jukebox to hear Charlie Pride, Dolly Parton, and The Kendalls until it was time to head back to our real life. Stop what you’re doing now and listen to this gem.

Heaven’s Just a Sin Away

I should mention these stories are often violent and of an adult nature so probably not appropriate for a family road trip, unless your family is like my family. In that case, roll down the windows and enjoy.

Oh, be sure to listen to these in order. After the first episode, you’ll see Ernest Tubb in another light, and also be back for more.

Cocaine & Rhinestones

Friday Favorites: Breakfast With a View & Dolly Parton with a Mohawk

Snowcapped Mt. Hood from panoramic viewpoint in Hood River, Oregon. Photo by Stacey Van Landingham.

View of snowcapped Mt. Hood from Hood River, Oregon.

It’s Fall Y’all

While our anniversary trip to Oregon was unseasonably bright and sunshiny, we returned home to a cold and wet central Texas. Go figure.

Once again, I teared up and felt a tug at my heart when leaving the Pacific Northwest… I guess your heart can have more than one home. And perhaps it’s because during this trip I couldn’t help but think about my father and how he drew his final breaths near the Gorge, mostly alone. While in Portland I was able to visit with an old family friend who was always a friend to our father, even when it was difficult for others to do so. So grateful for Ron being in our lives, and being there for our father near the end. Sadly, Ron was in the hospital when we were there so we didn’t have the time to explore the coast and visit as I’d hoped. I had a lot I wanted to hear about, and to thank him.

It seems appropriate that I put pen to paper and write him a letter.

Chicken vegetable soup with cilantro jalapeño pesto. Photo by Stacey Van Landingham.

Chicken vegetable soup with cilantro jalapeño pesto.

Soup’s On!

One of the best things about coming home to soup weather is, you guessed it, soup. I wasted no time making my favorite blustery day chicken vegetable soup. Recipe coming soon. .. don’t miss it! Sign up below to receive this recipe, shop updates, and more.

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Vacation Knitting

I’m getting close to finishing my Find Your Fade Shawl… home stretch! I really love the color blends and am really digging the WS (that’s the wrong side for non-knitters) of this knit better than the right side WS (that’s the right side for the same folks I mentioned earlier in this sentence). The blend appears softer on this side.

Any knitter can tell you, half the fun of going on vacation is planning the projects for the trip and hunting for local yarn stores and yarns. I picked up some locally dyed yarns in Hood River and Portland by Knitted Wit and LavenderSheep in colorways that resemble the gray rocks, bright lichen, and the pumpkin warm glow of fall foliage of the Columbia River Gorge in October. This domestic targhee in Moss by LavenderSheep will be a pair of Appleseed Mitts found in this MDK Field Guide.

View form behind of the Timberline Lodge on a drizzly afternoon. Photo by Stacey Van Landingham

Timberline Lodge

Timberline Lodge

I have wanted to stay at this lodge F O R E V E R. It lived up to my expectations andante more. You may not know this about me, but I am madly in love with the design of WPA and CCC parks projects. The grounds and interior everything was made by artists and artisans.  Being the homebody that I am, reading and knitting by the huge fireplace in the main lobby was pure bliss, but it the breakfast with a view the following morning was what I was most excited about.

Could not have asked for a more perfect way to spend our anniversary.

Lost River Sessions

His rainy week has me thinking of previous press trips to Kentucky, it always seemed to rain in those foggy hills near Bowling Green. One of the best things about western Kentucky, aside from Mammoth Cave National Park, barn quilts, and a Cracker Barrel every exit, was tuning in to WKU radio, the local public radio station from Western Kentucky University, and discovering Lost River Sessions. This series on WKU PBS features mostly local Americana and Bluegrass artists. If you’re a fan of this music as I am, treat yourself and check it out. Here’s one of my favorites with Lilly Mae, who is  like Dolly Parton with a mohawk. Enjoy! I just recently started streaming WKU at home. You should too.

Dreaming of Cracker Barrel’s hash brown casserole now!