Music Jam

Tonight we went to a music jam at a neighbor’s house.  I didn’t take my ukulele as I had heard that some of the players were really good, and I didn’t want to be the only porch plinker among pros.

I should have taken my uke!  I would have gotten lost in a few of the songs, but most of them I could have held my own in.

So next time (maybe next Saturday) I’ll take my uke and join in the jamming fun!

Candlelight and Music

I’m making great progress on cleaning and organizing the house.  Almost have my craft/camping/junk room in perfect order.

Today I fertilized one of my square foot gardens, then planted tomatoes and peppers (with buried eggshells to prevent blossom end rot).  The plants are big enough and our season is so long, we should have all the tomatoes and bell peppers we can use.  I need to plant some cilantro and one other type of pepper still so I can make fresh salsa.

After that I put rosemary/garlic chicken on the grill along with some yellow crookneck squash halves.  And then the thunderstorm hit.  It was ferocious.

Ron went out in the storm to take the food off the grill, while I waited inside with a towel and a dry shirt for him.  But dinner was superb… worth fighting the storm for!

Then the lightning fireworks started in earnest!  Sunny raced to the window, barking to scare the thunder away.  And then the power went out.

So…. I lit candles, got out my ukulele, started playing with fingerpicking patterns, and simply got lost in the beautiful ambiance of candlelight and music.

So nice to be able to entertain and enjoy myself even in the dark of a power outage!

At last the electricity came back on.  By then, it was welcome because the candles were making it hot inside, and the air conditioning felt heavenly!

I figure another couple of days working on the house, a day or two on the yard, then it will be time to start work on the camper.  I’m in no hurry now.  Just thoroughly enjoying having projects to do!

Restrung the Ukulele

Lately, as I’ve been working on combining melody with chords, the high g string on my concert ukulele has been irritating me more and more.  So last night I moved the strings around (C to G, E to C, G to E and left A as it is) to give my ukulele low G tuning.

The difference in sound almost takes my breath away.  The Mainland has a beautiful sound anyway, but now it has a richness and depth that just blows me away.  I would never have dreamed a little ukulele could sound so good.

I’m so glad I started with a decent one.  If I’d bought a plinky one, I probably would have abandoned it already.  As it is, I feel compelled to pick it up and play it as often as I can.

The temperatures are still scorching.  Today it got up to 99.

Not being able to use the camper has me battling with minor depression now and then.  But hopefully we can get a nice used one by spring of next year.

I’ve been so involved with the ukulele that I’ve neglected my tatting.  But my unfinished doily waits patiently for me to get back to it.


On edit:  I really am missing my Dad this Father’s Day.  🙂

Summer Doldrums

The days still stretch endlessly in the nineties…. 101 was predicted today.  Not sure we made it that high, as we had a blessed cloud cover.  Thunderstorms have been predicted, but all we get are a few growls of thunder but no rain.

But the cloud cover keeps the heat from feeling so brutal.

I dropped my new camera and broke it last night, so will be back to using the old one that I gave to Ron.  Hope he doesn’t mind.  🙂

It’s so strange contemplating a future with no camper.  I’m hoping to be able to get a used one this fall.  If not, maybe next spring.  I am committed to NOT going into debt for another one.  But the economic news makes me wonder how successful I’ll be at saving cash for one.

Camping has been my life for the past four years.  I really can’t imagine a future without being able to jump in the truck and head out camping for a week…or two… or three whenever the urge strikes.

Oh, I got the “CHUNK” down on the ukulele today.  I don’t like to hear it overused, but it sure is an effective percussive accent now and then in some songs.

98.2 Degrees Today

Our high today was predicted to be 90, but it actually got up to 98.2   I hibernated inside until the sun went behind the trees, then got the bed covers on the camper beds and cleaned it up for the trip.

Tomorrow I’ll pack the sheets, blankets, towels and start packing clothes.  I’ll wait to pack the food until Monday.  We plan to leave Tuesday or Wednesday.

This is what my Flowerpiece by Mary Konior doily is supposed to end up looking like.

I took a break for a couple of days working on my doily.  Will get back onto it this evening.  The picture on the left is from the book Visual Patterns by Mary Konior, and shows what it is supposed to end up looking like.  The pink and aqua photo is what mine actually looks like at this point.

I lightly steamed it to get the ruffles out, but some of the chains are out of whack now.  I sure hope that adding the flower border will pull them all back into shape.

My doily in progress.

And the ukulele is FUN now.  The lessons have moved onto different rhythmic strums.  It’s a challenge, but it is sheer pleasure.

I hope Ron’s patience at listening to me practice holds out.  So far he’s being a great sport about it.

The New Mainland Ukulele

My beautiful new Mainland ukulele

My ukulele arrived today, and it’s more beautiful than I expected.  I had thought the ropework was a solid color, but it actually looks like thin layers of wood sandwiched together.

The gloss finish is beautiful!  I can’t find any imperfections in it.  And Mike at Mainland Ukes set it up perfectly for me.  The intonation is perfect.

I’m thrilled.  But I have a LOT of work ahead of me to make it sing like the guy playing Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head in my previous post!  🙂

Beautiful gloss finish!

Mainland Uke head

Closeup of rope inlay

Nice low action

Not Tiny Tim and a Doily

My Mainland concert ukulele should be here tomorrow.  I can’t remember when I’ve been so excited.

I’m getting a hilarious reaction from my family…. like DON’T play the ukulele around us!  But I am excited enough about the musical possibilities that I will love disappearing into my own little world of music.

In case you associate ukuleles with Tiny Tim, take a look at these two Youtube videos.  This beautiful style is what I am most interested in learning.

Also, I’m working on tatting my first doily.  It’s Mary Konior’s Flowerpiece from Visual Patterns.  It’s a bit ruffly around the edges right now.  Hope it flattens out when I put the last round of flowers on it.

The Lanikai Arrived

Lanikai ragged sound hole

The Lanikai ukulele arrived today.  I was really disappointed in the lack of quality.  You can see in the picture to the left that the sound hole has ragged edges.  There was a big blob of glue on the side of the third fret.  The finish had a couple of spots in it.  The action is too high and the intonation is slightly off.  I imagine a good music shop could fix those problems, but I had already decided to return it and order a better quality instrument.  After seeing it in person, I am reassured that I made the right decision.

A blob of glue on the side of the third fret of the Lanikai

I contacted Mike at Mainland Uke today and he assured me that the action and intonation on his Classic Mahogany Concert model will be right before he ships it.

Buying a Ukulele

Lanikai LU 21T

For a long time  I’ve been wanting to get a portable musical instrument that I could take in the camper.  I looked at mandolins and dulcimers, but as much as I wanted something to play, they just didn’t grab me.

Then, on one of the boards I follow, someone posted a ukulele thread.  Since I have a guitar background, the idea of a ukulele really appealed to me.

I did a lot of research and discovered that the Lanikai LU series got consistently high reviews as a great beginner-intermediate level instrument.  They come in three sizes:  the soprano (standard), concert (a little bigger with a richer sound), or tenor, the largest.  I decided to buy the tenor model for the deepest, richest tone.  So I ordered it.

The Mainland Classic Mahogany Concert model. This picture is from

But then I started listening to ukuleles on Youtube and realized that there were reasonably priced ukes with a lot better sound.  The one that really struck me with its rich, resonant tone was the Mainland Classic Mahogany Concert model.  Again, I checked  reviews and ukulele boards, and it seems that this one is head and shoulders above the Lanakai.  Also, the Mainland is solid mahogany, which the Lanikai is not.  AND Mainland sets up and inspects each Mainland uke to make sure the action is right so the strings won’t buzz or sound dead and it plays comfortably.  (But the Mainland also costs more.)

Also, after thinking about it, I think the concert size will be a lot more portable and camper friendly than the tenor model.

So my Lanikai should arrive tomorrow, and I think it’s destined to be returned.  I want an instrument I can enjoy for a lot of years and I think the Mainland will do that, so I’ll order one as soon as I return the Lanikai.

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