Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September flies by -- a month of "home-comings"!

Well, I swan!

It's been a month since I last posted. . . dear reader, please don't get the idea that this month which is fast drawing to its end was uneventful for yours truly. Far from it!

For one, on Labor Day due to certain unforseen dreadful factors which coincided in mid-day, I couldn't go sell ice cream in White House as planned. And indeed, later in the month, that work ended. To which all I shall say is, "Good riddance!" (Please don't request explanation; it's a long, bitter, even shameful story.)

However, there was sweet consolation. I phoned Pastor Jay to vent about the unforseen dreadful factors, and he reminded me that they were having a cook-out at the church parsonage. So I went to that -- and had a great time! The weather was "chamber-of-commerce" ultra-pleasant, the grilled food was de-e-e-elicious (and the un-grilled, too!), and the fellowship with Eastwood brothers & sisters cherished.

The middle of the month, 14th to 18th, was spent in Boise, Idaho, My father suffering chronic after-effects of a stroke at the first of the month prompted this long overdue visit to the city of my raising. Before and during this trip I kept my focus on the silver lining in this dark cloud of a family-member health crisis: it had been way too many years since I'd seen most of the other members of my family of origin, so this was much-appreciated family reunion. In addition to visiting Dad in St. Luke's Hospital, I saw Mom, who lives in a high-rise retirement facility right across the street from the hospital, and my siblings. Our cousin John Graham, superintendant of schools in Twin Falls, had a meeting in Boise that Friday and my sister Debbie and I did lunch with him. It had been almost 17 years since my previous visit to Boise, and eery, that visit was for Dad's retirement party from the electric company!

Dad will be okay; indeed, the hospital released him the day I flew back to Nashville. Truly, other than the concern for Dad's health (which did like a roller coaster until settling down for the better Fri. and Sat.), the visit to the City of Trees was utterly delightful!

But my life now & my immediate family are in Tennessee. Therefore, I took that return flight -- not without a tinge of reluctance, I must admit. May it NOT be another sixteen plus years before my next visit!

But this final week of September here in Music City gave me great reason to be glad I'd returned: TWO important Homecomings!

The first was this Sunday past, as Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) observed eighty years of service and witness in East Nashville. Homecomings, like evangelistic revivals, are a rarity among us Disciples of Christ; I wish they weren't. And I got the impression that this ECC(DC) Homecoming was almost a last-minute idea. Nevertheless, it was a great celebration of our 80th!

We began by scrapping the usual Sunday school classes and everybody assembling instead in the sanctuary. The history of the congregation, favorite hymn requests and older members' memories got featured. The worship service didn't high-light the Homecoming much, but the delicious potluck dinner afterward certainly made up for this! And once everybody had their plates and seats we got treated to a slide show-illustrated history of the congregation that Bob Frech emceed. Following this we watched a video of interviews by Cindy Francis Lovelace with Pastor Jay and a few of the members, about their relationship with Eastwood.

The other Homecoming was last evening, Tuesday the 28th, as "the show that made Country Music famous" returned to the "new" Grand Ole Opry House after almost five months of wandering around Nashville, performing in various borrowed venues, including two former Opry homes (War Memorial and Ryman auditoriums). The moving-back-in happening as a Tuesday Night Opry held double significant. The first Opry show after floodwater invaded the Grand Ole Opry House in May was a Tuesday Night Opry. Plus this was just in time: each October is "birthday" celebration month for both WSM-AM 650 and its most famous show! So they're "back home again" just in time for the annual birthday bash!

This historic show ran over three hours instead of the usual two (not counting intermission). Plus, there were plenty more Country Music performers than usual, both from the cast and guests. Jeannie Seely was one of the first to come out and sing on the restored stage after opening events. I felt this was as it should be (ignoring that generally Ms. Seely's early in the line-up on any Opry show), since she had only a few days earlier moved back into her own flood-invaded home.

Later, Martina McBride sang one of her hits. At its end I was engaged in conversation with a neighbor (we were both sitting out on the second-floor walkway listening to the show) and when I re-focused my attention on the singing I at first concluded that Martina was now singing an old classic hit by another female singer, "Once a Day". Then I realized that the voice I was hearing was that of the other female singer -- Connie Smith! Only the next day did I discover that "Once a Day" actually got sung as a Connie-Martina duet. So call this an extended "Opry Moment" for yours truly!

Brad Paisley, who had sung "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" -- first in duet with Little Jimmy Dickens, then with the whole cast as choir -- to open the show, later sang "Anything Like Me". Diamond Rio sang my favorite of their hits, "One More Day". As for the guest artists, alas! not all of them should have been on that stage for that show (in my opinion). Most especially the guy from "Down Under" who looks and sounds much more like a Seventies Rock Music star; his last name says it all: Urban - the antonym of Country. Also, Blake Shelton sang a song with questionable lyrics (words which used to NEVER get heard on legitimate radio). Nevertheless, young Blake got invited to become the newest member of the cast. This invitation came to him, onstage during the broadcast, via a Twitter message, of all things. . . .

Oh, well, this historic show may have included elements I could have done without, but all in all, it was exhilarating to listen to the star-studded, musical Homecoming of the Opry. What a fine ending to the month of September!

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