1. Please note the Red Line pulling in and out of the Addison stop on the left of the screen. A perfect touch to a perfect evening with a perfect musician in a perfect town…

     
     

  2. my billy

    My very first music Love and Obsession was one William Martin Joel, most of the world knows him as Billy Joel.  In my parents very bitching record collection (which kills me that we no longer have all of it today but… ‘so it goes’…) when I was a kid, Glass Houses was in heavy rotation.  I would often play it.  I loved that is started with the sound of shattering glass!  And that the front of the album cover was Billy holding a huge rock, standing in front of a glass house and the back of the cover was him behind the broken glass.  As a young girl of what… I don’t even know how old… the album came out when I was four… but as a young sweet Iowegain, I thought it was pretty dang boss to have a record look and sound like that.  Glass Houses is filled with radio hits but the non-radio hits (surprise, surprise) are what I really dug.  And my infatuation with Piano Players began.

    Billy Joel’s ‘Storm Front’ tour in 1989 was my First Concert Ever.  My mom took me and we rocked out together.  I think my best friend Tegwin came along, too.  We drove to Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa - the site of most of the concerts I went to in high school - I was thirteen years old.  I had never been to a huge concert before and every second was incredible.  Billy entered the stage sitting as his piano as it rose up through the floor!  MY MIND WAS BLOWN!!!!  I remember one dude next to me couldn’t get over that I knew all the lyrics to every song Billy sang that night.  “Whoa!  You know every word!!??!!!" He exclaimed in amazement.

    Hell yeah, I know every word.

    STILL DO!!!!!

    In 1993 I saw him during the ‘River of Dreams’ Tour, although I was not happy that he had married Christie Brinkley instead of me.  But, I rose above and went to the show anyway.  I saw him again in 1994 when he toured with Sir Elton John.  Two piano men.  Both brilliant but Billy is always the Most Brilliant to me.  Always.  I know that somewhere I have the concert t-shirts and ticket stubs to prove this but I do know where.

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    In the fall of 1998, I was working at FAO Schwarz on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  It was my first job here in the city.  One day, Liberty DeVito walked in.  I about fainted!  No one else knew why this was so very cool to me.  Liberty was Billy’s long time drummer.  I came home to the garden apartment I was sharing with my four other roommates at the time and I told my pal (who is as die-hard of a Billy fan as me) Craig that, “I SAW LIBERTY DE VITO TODAY!!!” 

    It was one of the biggest brushes with fame I had at that point in my little life.  Of course, I was not allowed to talk to him but I knew who he was and kept my eye on him the whole time he was on the first floor of the toy store.

    Craig said to me, “Well… you’re going to see him again tonight because you are coming to the Billy Joel concert with me!

    I had no idea Billy was even in town.  I didn’t know Craig was even going to begin with.  I didn’t know that one of the people who was supposed to go with him could not so Craig decided to surprise me with the extra ticket.  I didn’t know what to say. 

    We thoroughly enjoyed the show that night in 1998.

    In March of 2014, I was attempting to do the pre-sale for Phish tickets for their three night July 2014 stint in Chicago but our internet was being a real butt.  Thankfully, I am married to a man who can handle such trials.  He said he would manage our internet connection and try to get on the pre-sale for me.  I handed him my credit card and paced wildly around the office and living room.  For some reason, I get nervous for pre-sale stuff.  I mean, the clock is running on the page, they have to run your credit card information and you hope it all goes through before the tickets are unavailable… it is kinda stressful, man.  Tim said, “Okay, I’ll get tickets for Saturday and Sunday nights.

    And Friday night," I added.  "I am going all three nights, friend. Two tickets for each night.  FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY.”

    "Yup.  Saturday and Sunday."

    "Tim.  Friday. Saturday. Sunday."

    "You might have to sell the Friday night tickets if you buy them today."

    "YOU might have to sell the Friday night tickets if I buy them today!?!  WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT??"

    "I don’t think you’re going to want Friday night tickets. Just. Believe me."

    "I’m sorry, Tim, but I don’t think you remember who you are talking to and who you are married to.  I am going to Phish all three nights they are in Chicago."

    "UM…. can you just believe me?"

    Now, my friends, Tim and I rarely argue.  We just do not normally operate that way.  But, a bit of an argument was a’brewin this particular brisk March morning.  I remember I walked into the kitchen to cool off.

    "I guess this just has to be a matter of trust, huh, Tim?" I try to say as calmly as I can.  But then! *** EUREKA!*** As soon as that phrase came out of my mouth, my little brain knew.

    "Tim, if I guess why I wouldn’t use Friday night Phish tickets, will you tell me?" 

    He said he would really like to surprise me because I (usually) like surprises but if it would make me feel better to know -

    I didn’t even let him finish that sentence.  I said, “If I am not going to all three nights of Phish, then I need to know why.  Now.”

    "Okay…" he finally acquiesces. 

    I very calmly, in a low, quiet voice say, “Did you get me tickets to Billy Joel? …. amigoingtobillyjoel?” I tear up.

    Yes, Sweetheart.  I wanted to surprise you for your birthday with tickets for the Billy Joel concert but now… you won’t be surprised on your birthday.  Happy Birthday?”

    Now - these tickets, for the Friday 18 July 2014 Billy Joel at Wrigely Field concert sold out immediately months prior.  I had completely put that option out of my brain.  But my sweet husband figured that if anything could trump Phish, it would be Billy. 

    Good call, Ryder. 

    Also - he could not go with me.  I knew exactly whom to ask!

    So - on 9 May 2014, Billy Joel’s birthday, I asked my dear college pal and fellow die-hard Billy Joel fan if he would be my date to see Billy at Wrigley on July 18th. 

    Yes.

    So, it was a date.

    Now, I planned my trip to see my nieces in Texas right before all of this because I can get kinda sad after seeing them, but I knew if I was coming back to an Epic Weekend of my Phavorite Music Artists, it would be okay.  I have to admit that after seeing the various set lists and pictures from the Phish summer tour that started on July 1st, I was getting a little concerned about missing on on Friday night in Chicago.  But Friday afternoon, while doing some chores around the house I heard something.  My bedroom windows were open because there was a great breeze that day.  I was playing Glass Houses on my record player but in between songs, I heard something. 

    It was BILLY JOEL DOING HIS SOUND CHECK!!!

    He was singing Innocent Man. 

    I was in goosebumps.  In tears. In my bedroom window.  My Phish hang-ups were out the window… in the window?  I could hear Billy through my window.  I was sitting in my window.  You get it.

    I had my ticket in hand, for months it had been waiting patiently for me in the envelope with my birthday card.  Tonight was FINALLY here. I walked over to Wrigley Field and waited for Craig to arrive.

    Thousands of us had gathered at the ol’ stadium to see The Piano Man.  Please note all of the white people.  So many white people.

    I mean, I can say that because I am a white person.  But I know to clap on the 2 and 4… can’t say as much for the other people we were next to.  But these two whities were down to enjoy our man!

    During Craig’s entire bus ride over to Wrigley, he and I were texting Billy Joel lyrics to each other.  Deep cuts.  Anything the one threw out, the other could finish the lyric.  It was such fun for our little Billy Nerd Hearts.

    Neither of us knew there would be an opening act (this is where I know I’ve been to too many Phish shows.  No one opens for them. It is all them.  All night. ) and neither of us knew who Gavin Degraw was.  Neither of us really cared. 

    Billy hit the stage at 9:00pm.  It was nice and dark outside.  The breeze was perfect.  The lights went down, came up and Billy was downstage and went right into “A Matter of Trust”.  Oh, the irony.  I had to text Tim to let him know that Billy opened with that song.  Tim said, “Ha! It was foretold!”

    The show was brilliant.  Billy sounded incredible.  He played piano and guitar.  He hit the high notes in Innocent Man - he couldn’t do that when I saw him in ‘98 but he could in 2014.  Mazel, Billy!  Here is his set list from the night.  Personal favorites of mine were: Vienna, Zanzibar, Miami 2017, Don’s Ask Me Why and the interlude in River of Dreams - but come on, the whole show was brilliant! 

    We were up in section 508, the very last row which was great so we could stand and lean against the chain link back of the stadium.  Craig and I were the only ones standing for the whole show.  A few of my personal pet peeves did happen - no one standing or dancing and people chatting the entire show.  And not commenting on the music but having full-on, loud, stupid conversations.  Dummies!  Everyone should stand and have a good time and pay attention to the brilliance of Billy!!!

    I mean, there were just a few other people there to enjoy the show…

    That is home plate of Wrigley, right there.  It was difficult to capture just how many thousands of people were there.  In the stadium, in the roof tops seats and out on Clark street and Sheffield to see and listen to The Entertainer.

    Another highlight was his roadie, Chainsaw, busting out in to AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’  - that finally got everybody up.  They rocked Chicago with that rippin’ version of it.  Chainsaw did a killer job singing it.

    During the last song of the encore, I stood still to take it all in.  Only, I was still moving.  All of us were moving.  And I don’t mean dancing moving - yes, I should tell you all the white people finally started dancing along during the rocking five song encore - but I mean, the kinda dumb dude standing on the other side of me was all, “hey - why are we closer to each than we were earlier?” and I looked up at the roof and said, “Because the stadium is rocking.”

    And it was.

    And we were.

    The entire stadium was swaying.  I thought, “Wrigley is going to collapse.  I might die.  What a way to go.  And during ‘Only the Good Die Young’ - perfect out. Byeeee!!!!’

     

  3. treasures

    Many tales to tell and happiness to share with you fine folks but do you ever feel like you need to hang onto certain stories or photos or memories and keep them a little longer for yourself before sharing them with others?  I hope I am not the only one who feels this way.  I also hope it is not seen as a necessarily selfish feeling just one of savoring longer before sharing.  That’s all.  While in Texas with my treasure of a sister and two nieces, we did go on a few adventures.  As you can see from a few entries ago, we went to one of our favorite stops, The Living Desert Cactus Ranch.  While all of my glass pieces and rocks are home here in Chicago, they have yet to find their actual homes within my apartment.  I’ve had laundry, dishes, weed pulling, concerts, sleeping and dog walking to do upon returning to town but homes for m’stones will come.  If I remember, I’ll post their new homes.  That is, if y’all wanna see.

    Katie made sure that I was able to get into Austin, specifically to my favorite store in Austin, on South Congress.  I love this place so much it is silly that I can never remember it’s dang name.  I took a picture of the sign to help cement it in my brain.

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    Tesoros is a dream come true for this Lady of Worldly Tastes - in terms of home decor and fashion.  I could spend hours in this store.  This store is a lot of fun.  I think.  It is not so much my sister’s sensibility but being the gracious girl that she is, she makes sure I get to linger here as long as possible.  AND - for the record, Katie did make a few purchases here for herself the day we went!  She will purchase presents for me here (thanks, Sis!) but rarely does she find something that suits her but she did!  Yay!  I, on the other hand, found way too much.  I didn’t get everything I wanted but I did go a little overboard…

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    I bought this round trivet made of pine needles.  Shoot - now I don’t remember which country it is from but it was not made in the USA.  Sorry.  I also bought this little 8”x10” Zapotec weaving.  It is a thick wool and kind of border-line in terms of my taste but I just really loved it.  The little pops of the ‘Fish Story blue’/cerulean blue  (our wedding color) is what made it jump into my hands and my suitcase home. 

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    I’ve had my eye on these soft hand stitched vintage blankets from India for a few years now.  I’ve been pricing them everywhere, too, and Tesoros is very reasonable.  There were so many wonderful patterns to choose from but this pattern really grabbed me.  It is a deep navy blue, with a burnt orange and golden yellow.  I loved it.  Katie helped me flip it over to see the other side and we both instantly fell in love with the other side even more than the first side!

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    It is a beautiful bright yellow with pink and orange and little flecks of green here and there.  These pictures don’t really do it justice but every inch is so different, I don’t know if close up pictures will fully capture it, either.  Needless to say, I am glad Katie enjoyed it as much as I did and the fact that we were there with the girls (it was their first trip to Tesoros!) makes this blanket all the more special.  It looked nice on the guest bed in my sister’s house but I brought it home with me!  Now to find it a home home in my home…

    I bought a few other little things but they are potential gifts so I will not post them.  Katie and I walked out of Tesoros with our new treasures. It was all I could do to NOT walk out with one of these gorgeous round metal pieces.  I just got a shot of them instead.

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    Now, y’all should really do yourselves a favor and go shopping with two adorable one-year-old girls either in a double stroller or while wearing them in a Baby Bjorn because you will be The Talk of the Shop - whatever shop you walk into or by.  Liv and Elin were stopping all kinds of traffic!  They were smiling and waving at everyone.  They were even singing their little songs.  It was adorable. 

    While Katie was talking to a small crowd that gathered around her and the girls in their stroller, I got a shot of this mural on the side of the store.

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    We popped into a few other stores.  That we all liked.

    Although, I saw this in one of the stores and opted to just take a picture of this because… I was too scared to do anything else. 

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    I mean, I know “One Person’s Trash is Another Person’s Treasure” but who in the hell would treasure this?  I have no idea what the actual doll looked like.  I have no idea why this doll was made?  I am a little too young to know the whole Archie Bunker relationship to his grandson.  I cannot believe what is written on the side of the box “A little girl will love playing mommy to a baby boy for a change…

    What in tha….? 

    Why in tha…?

    And again, what in tha hell?

    I did not and do not know what to think of it.  I did not ask the girls if they will love playing mommy to a baby boy for a change.  I did not want to bother them with a silly question on our fun shopping day.

    The girls were rock-stars, in the heat, the sun, the crowds, they were wonderful!  We headed back to the house after a few hours.  All four of us girls were hungry!  And we had new treasures to enjoy (and one ‘treasure’ to forget about)!  Uff da.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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    Speaking of treasures, this is one moment and memory I will always treasure.  This was on one of our hang-out-at-the-house-days (hence my Phish Chicago flag t-shirt and glasses) but Katie was making dinner and the girls wanted to help but with onions being chopped and sauce simmering, it is just not an ideal situation for two almost one-year-old-girls so I took them to the living room to play on the couch.

    These girls do not get to play on the couch very often.  So it is a Very Big Treat to play on the couch.

    Because they are One-Year-Olds, they love tearing paper.  They also love to carry the little bits of paper around with them all the time.  Katie will ask them, “Oh, do you have your treasure?" when they come crawling in the room, with torn paper in tow.  Paper is just the Ultimate!  It is so much fun for them, I mean, why were toys even invented when there are Restoration Hardware catalogs to rip?  Well, Elin just needed to be held and I didn’t want Liv to feel left out or fall off of the couch, so I grabbed the catalog they had been ripping up earlier and started to tear the paper really fast and assertively.  For some reason, the sound of the paper ripping and the frequency of the shreds delighted Elin to no end.  She got the giggles.  So hard!  So hard, that Liv started to laugh at Elin laughing.  Liv’s giggles fueled the fire for Elin to laugh even harder!  Now, these sweet girls can be pretty giggly, which is so sweet but nothing in the world makes them laugh harder than each other. 

    It. Is. The. Most. Precious. Sight. And. Sound. In. The. History. Of. All. Time. And. All. Things. Ever.

    Katie came out from the kitchen wondering what all three of us were laughing so uncontrollably.  I could not answer her, I was giggling so hard at these goofy girls.  Katie took this shot of us giggling at our ripped up treasures.  What silly sweeties! 

    These girls are the bestest treasures!

     
  4. After weeks of fun travels, good family times, first birthdays, flying, driving, dancing, zooming, then my Ultimate Rebecca Hanson RockIn’ Jam Out Dreamaganza Weekend I am tapped.

    Spent.

    Conked.

    Zonked.

    While I look forward to catching y’all up soon, today I recharge by doing nothing and sleeping on and/or near my sweet tiny hund, whom I’ve not seen enough of lately.

    Because, sometimes, a girl just needs a good rest on her puppy pillow…

     
  5. Katie, Elin, Liv and I visited one of our very favorite Texas spots: Living Desert Cactus. It is filled with amazing cacti, succulents, glass pieces, stones, rocks and art pieces. Both Elin and Liv are very keen to point out all of the different colors of cactus flowers and objects for Katie and I to notice. We are all very careful not to bump into anything as we walk through the greenhouse where all the prickly cacti live. One could walk through twenty times in a row and see something different each time. It’s a fascinating place.

    Outside there are hundreds of pieces of glass and rock that you can sort through. Darrel, the owner, provides thick gloves and plastic baskets for all to pick their favorite glass pieces and rocks. It’s a real treasure hunt!

    The girls were very patient as their Tante rummaged through the shiny pieces and picked new finds to bring back to Chicago. I can’t travel on the plane with a cactus or a succulent - also, when it comes to those my green thumb is black - but, I can maintain some glass pieces and pretty stone slabs like nobody’s business! Can’t wait to find new homes in my home for all these little rock and glass guys!

    Takk for a rockin’ good time, Katie, Elin and Liv!!!

     
  6. Sometimes, when you are Almost A One-Year-Old Girl, you want to be in the pool but not in in the pool, so you sit on your Tante while she sits in the pool and kisses your sweet face.

    But then, sometimes, when you are another Almost A One-Year-Old Girl, you want to be right in the pool. I mean, In In the pool so your Tante swims with you to make sure you don’t put your whole sweet face in the water!

    Either way, either girl: Tante is happy to be there with you!

     
  7. While I’m in Texas and Tim works this weekend, the hund is enjoying a few days at Playful Pets. Larry posted this picture earlier today - looks like Trond has made a new friend: Max. We will happily add Max to the ever growing list of friends that our pal has made as of late. I’m so thankful for Playful Pets, for Larry and for the technology that allows us all to see and keep up with each other.

    Play on, Trond!

    Play on, y’all!

     
  8. I woke up at 3:00am yesterday to shower and get ready for the cab to pick me up at 4:00am so I could get to Midway in time to check in for my 6:00am flight to Houston. The cab driver didn’t make a comment on how huge or heavy my suitcase was, he simply said, “Hmmmm, orange?” in a bit of a tone. I said, “I always know where it is and that it’s mine.” It was still pitch black out. Off to Midway we went.

    All went well.

    I had an hour layover in Houston Hobby before flying onto Austin. While waiting for my boarding group at the gate, I spotted my big orange suitcase out amidst the others in the cart, being transferred from one plane to the other. I knew where it was and I knew it was mine. Can you spot it there on the left?

    As I descended on the escalator to baggage claim at the Austin airport, I could spot my big bright orange suitcase riding on the carousel. I knew where it was and I knew it was mine.

    My suitcase and I zoomed outside to be picked up by my lovely sister and perfect nieces. They are not bright orange but I still knew where they were and that they are mine! :) Happy Texas, y’all!

     
  9. This time of year is also very special to us because on 2 July 2010, this tiny clunky puppy Lab picked us to be his family. He changed our lives for the better. Trond, himself, has changed a lot in four years. But apparently I have not changed my t-shirt (yes, it’s the tie-dyed one I’ve had since seventh grade!) at all…

    It’s been a wonderful four years of being a family, Captain Trond Kildahl Ryder! We think you chose very well… hope you do, too, sweet hund.

     
  10. Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July Weekend! I also hope my cousin, Jenn, and my sister, Katie, don’t disown me for making this Patriotic Table scape… But I was gone all last week and couldn’t not have my usual fresh flowers out so I stuck some flags on the table. Please forgive me, Jenn Jenn and Sissy! But I know my Mamba is happy to see this.

    While in Iowa these past few days, I had my hands busy and full! I didn’t get a chance to take too many pictures - we were on the go, in the water, eating good food, swapping at mosquitos, handling the hund or playing with the kiddos - needless to say: we were having fun! But I caught a few snippets here and there.

    While I am happily worn out and glad to be home, I am extremely grateful for the freedom we celebrate and in awe of the beauty of this nation. Nothing like a road trip amongst the corn and bean fields in the sunshine to make this girl (+ her hund) be filled with thanks.