Saturday morning I was up by 5:30 because we had to check out of our timeshare before leaving for Mountain View. Even though we had done a lot of packing and laundry the night before, there was still a lot to do. I cooked leftover sausages and eggs for breakfast so we wouldn’t have to throw them away. Finally, the condo was empty and we could leave to check out–half an hour later than we had planned. I was sure I would be late to my last day of classes, but we made it just in time!
Walter and the kids went on up the road to visit Blanchard Spring Caverns, a cave system in that area. I was a little envious that they got to do so much awesome stuff without me, but of course I was doing something I really wanted too. And poor Spencer was taking the SAT here in Texas!
My first class of the day was with Karen Mueller, and among other things, we learned to play “Edelweiss,” the song from Sound of Music. I really enjoyed it. I have so much new material to practice! Then came our last class with Cathy Britell. She taught us how to play blues on the autoharp and a few other things. It was so enjoyable. However, by then I was having a hard time sitting still. The chairs we used for class were very painful for my back and knees, and the hours of extra harp playing made my right shoulder ache too. Not to mention I still had a lot of pain in my mouth, and arthritic fingers. I think Cathy thought I was fed up with the class, but that was far from true. I was fed up with my body!
By the end of the class, my brain was full to overflowing and I was glad we didn’t have a regular afternoon class. Instead, after lunch we were treated to a concert by Dale Jett and his group, Hello Stranger. Dale is part of the famous Carter family (third generation) and sings mostly Carter songs. He is left-handed and instead of getting left-handed instruments, he plays the guitar upside down and backwards, and he also plays the autoharp backwards. It is so weird to watch. There is another band member named Oscar Harris who also plays autoharp.
I enjoyed the concert except for the coughing. I had been coughing all week because of my cold/sore throat, but on Friday and Saturday it got worse. I hated to disrupt the concert with my coughing, but I didn’t want to miss it either! It was a long concert, and I began to think that maybe I should leave early so I could get to spend a little time in the Folk Center while I could still do it for free. I had three full days of unlimited access, but had very little opportunity to visit the various craftsmen and women and watch them at work.
I ended up staying till the end of the concert after all, and I’m so glad I did, because I got to cross something off my personal bucket list. You’re probably going to laugh, but I’ll tell you anyway. I’m not a huge country fan, and I’m not super familiar with much of the Carters’ legacy, but I have seen several musical events on TV in the past that ended with all the musicians coming up on stage together and singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” I’ve always thought it would be so moving to be in the audience when a bunch of people got together to sing that song.
Well, as Hello Stranger were finishing up their concert, they announced that they’d be finishing with “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” They called for audience participation. They passed out their spare instruments to anyone who could play (mostly guitars and autoharps). Then everyone played and sang the song together. People walked down the aisles to stand near the stage. I can’t explain why, but it was very touching. I sang along and got a little choked up, to be honest. It was a very uplifting way to end the autoharp workshop.
Then I did go out to the Folk Center and pick up a few gifts. By then Walter and the kids had returned from the cave and were doing some sight-seeing in Mountain View, so they came to get me and we went to check into our motel. I had heard from one of my classmates that this hotel was no great shakes, and he wasn’t kidding. It was pretty gross and sleazy. They had to send someone to vacuum our room and give it a quick wipe-down before we could get in. It was bad. And the free internet didn’t work either!
We escaped to eat supper, and then Walter drove me back up to the Folk Center for the evening concert. There had been concerts on the previous two nights also, but this was the only one I got to go to. Walter and the kids would have had to pay to get in, so instead they went downtown to the courthouse and listened to all the free music going on there.
The concert was very enjoyable, though once again I coughed and coughed and coughed. All three of the autoharp instructors performed in the second half, but I had to leave to go cough and gag in the bathroom for a while. So frustrating! But I did get to hear some fantastic music!
Afterwards the family picked me up and we all went back to the motel. It was a long, long night. I had a hard time sleeping and then I kept coughing. I don’t think any of us slept well. At least that made it easier to get up this morning and get ready for the drive home! The free breakfast was all pastries, cereal, and juices, none of which I can have, so I waited for the others to eat and then we had to stop for me to get some eggs and sausage.
It was a hot drive home in our non-air-conditioned car, but it’s not like that was a surprise! It was kind of sad to drive down out of the Ozarks. It’s such a beautiful part of the country. Jasper has now decided that his future farm will be in Arkansas!
Mercy welcomed us home to a beautifully clean house. She worked hard while we were gone. And Spencer had down a beautiful job mowing the yard and making it look beautiful. It sure is good to be home and in my comfy chair. I am also happy about having internet and being able to finally get back in touch with you all. Tomorrow: maybe some pictures!