Tonight, Ted and I went out-of-state for an outdoor summer concert in Alton, IL.  The Beach Boys performed at the Liberty Bank Amphitheater on the east bank of the mighty Mississippi.  We made three major river crossings on our eastward route to arrive at the concert–twice across the Missouri because it flows north and then turns toward the south again, and once across the Mississippi.  After having beautiful summer evenings for all of our free concerts, we had drizzle on and off during this entire concert–the only one we paid for!

This is what the weather radar looked like when we arrived (left) and when the concert ended (right).  The red arrow indicates Alton, IL.  It was a damp evening.


I was hoping the concert would be postponed, but the amphitheater website said all concerts are rain or shine with absolutely no refunds or exchanges.  So there!  It rained more heavily in the afternoon, but decreased to intermittent drizzle during the evening.  Adding to the discomfort, the temperature was in the mid-60s all day and evening, although the normal high at this time of year is 89 degrees.  We put on jeans and long-sleeved shirts with our waterproof hiking shoes, gathered umbrellas and waterproof jackets and pants, then headed for Alton.

You’d never know it’s July in St. Louis by the way this crowd is dressed.


In spite of the weather, it’s summer (at least on the calendar) and the Beach Boys exemplify summer music, so here we are.

We’re in the right place–the big screen says “The Beach Boys.”

We were early enough to pick the best available lawn seats–where the hill was steep enough to see the band over the future umbrellas that would be in front of us.

That’s the Mississippi River in the background.  It flows west to east past Alton.

The big screen onstage showed 1960s video clips during the performance.  A vintage car (not a woodie) was parked on the right side of the stage.

As we looked around, Ted said the umbrellas reminded him of the Balloon Fiesta we attended in Albuquerque last October.  Compare and decide.


This Beach Boys tour is called “Now and Then” and features the 1960s Beach Boys’ music as well as their more current songs.  Mike Love is the only remaining member of the original Beach Boys performing with the group.  He should have quit a long time ago, because his voice is long gone and his range is minimal.  I’m not exaggerating when I say Ted would have done a better job singing the lyrics than Mike Love did–no insult intended toward Ted.  Mike’s son, Christian, is one of the vocalists, and he sounded good when they let him sing lead on one song.  They should have let him sing lead for the entire concert.

The band started playing together in 1961.  When Ted and I heard they’re still going strong after more than 50 years, we looked at each other and said, “They’re still working?”

Presentiinnngggg The Beach Boys!  Does it feel weird to still be a “boy” after 57 years?

That’s Mike Love in the center (vest) and Christian Love on the right (white jacket).

A few brave people were dressed in colorful beachwear (not swimsuits tonight), but most were bundled up.  There were at least a half dozen beach balls bobbing around all evening.


The weather was crummy, but the concert was good, and the beat is still that familiar Beach Boys’ summer sound.  Prior to and following tonight’s performance, a mix tape of 60s songs was playing.  As we left the amphitheater, the song we heard was “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”  The concert was good and so was the hot shower when we got home.

Tonight, Ted and I went to the free concert at Chesterfield Amphitheater to hear Dogs of Society, an Elton John tribute band.  (“So goodbye, yellow brick road / Where the dogs of society howl. . .”)  They.  Were.  Great.

This is from the band’s website, and that’s exactly what I said to Ted after the concert and before I even looked at the website.

As we headed for the concert, the weather radar looked like this.  The rain went just northeast of Chesterfield.  Whew!

Tonight was our first visit to this venue.  It was really nice.  We sat in the center front section on the fixed chairs, although we had our lawn chairs with us, just in case the limited number of fixed chairs was filled.

As we’ve seen at the other summer concerts, security was tight.  (Or at least present.)

Unfortunately, the warm-up act was “special guest” Ricky Kiel.  These guys need a lot more warming up themselves before they can be “special.”  I don’t think anyone (except their attending family members, if any) paid attention to them during the 30 minutes they played.

If the start of the dancing indicates the quality of the band (see my “Music at the Meadows” and “Music on Main” posts), Dogs of Society wins.  This guy was ready to dance 30 minutes before the concert began.

. . . And then Dogs of Society came onstage.  They played nonstop Elton John music for 2.5 hours!


When Jeff was still living at home, I remember having a discussion with him about how many notes it takes to recognize a song.  (Think Name That Tune.)  I said I can name some songs after one note, but Jeff insisted that was impossible.  To give him the benefit of the doubt, he was younger then, so maybe he didn’t know as many songs or hadn’t heard them often enough to recognize them that quickly.  I can recognize quite a few songs by the opening chord, and I’m not the only one who can do that.  Dogs of Society played the single opening note of “Bennie and the Jets” and then just waited for the applause to die down, because the entire crowd knew which song was coming next.

“Sir Elton” claimed he only wears this jacket when he plays Elton John’s music.

This couple wore their E.J.-style eyewear.

People started dancing during the first song, but when “Crocodile Rock” and “Saturday Night’s Alright” came up, there were so many dancers, there wasn’t room to do anything except bounce in place.  Before starting “Pinball Wizard,” the band members sent four silver beach balls into the crowd to mingle with the other beach balls already going around.  One is in the upper center of the photo.


What a concert!  Ted and I wanted to hear Elton John in Las Vegas last fall, but he wasn’t in town on the same days we were.  This concert was definitely the next best thing–and it was free, not $400+ per ticket for the cheap seats in Vegas.  Seriously, I think Dogs of Society could play Las Vegas.  Another great evening of summer music and the best so far!

Tonight’s free summer concert was at The Meadows, an outdoor shopping mall in Lake St. Louis.  Ted and I invited our friends, Mike and Liz, to join us and the four of us had a good time together.

The  venue was the center circle of the mall, which features a clock tower and several sculptures of cattails.

Because of the plantings around the circle, it was hard to get a good crowd shot.  The food trucks were behind the cattail sculpture in the left center and that entire street (about a block long), plus part of the street on the right were filled with people in lawn chairs.


Music was provided by Vote 4 Pedro, described on their Facebook page as “a St. Louis wedding band.”  Here’s what V4P has to say about themselves.  Don’t you think they ought to stick with one way to spell the name of their group?


Here’s the band.  None of the musicians is named Pedro.


They were good!  The only down time between songs was the girl singer saying “Thank you, Lake St. Louis,” before she moved into the next song, apparently without taking a breath.  Evidence of their good beat was that people started dancing on the first song, unlike Music on Main when it took an hour and half of the two-hour concert to get people dancing.

This guy started dancing when the first note was played, and he never missed a song for the entire two hours.  This is pretty much his only dance move, unless you count doing the same thing with his other foot.  He had energy, though, and smiled all the while he danced.

Raise your hand if you see a resemblance between Fletch (Chevy Chase) and Dancer Guy (above).

This little girl lip synced every song and really had some good dance moves.

We sat beside a family of 15 who brought dinner for everyone in their group.

The “dance floor” went about one-third of the way around the circle–wherever there wasn’t a lawn chair–because so many people were dancing.


It was another good night of summer music.  Next concert:  Saturday night.  Tune in for the update.

Ted and I think we might be living in a haunted house.  The plastic mat inside the front door has been moved twice recently and neither of us moved it.  The first time was a surprise, but having it happen twice is just weird.

This is how we noticed the plastic mat today–nicely centered in front of the door.

This is where we’ve had the mat for nearly 20 years–to the left of the door.  The teeth on the underside of the mat keep it from sliding across the carpet, so it stays nicely in place.

When we moved the mat from the center to the left, “holes” from its center placement were evident in the carpet.  None showed from moving the mat to the center.

The mat looks nice from indoors when it’s centered on the door, but it’s more useful to the left of the door when people enter the house.


Questions:  How/who moved our door mat twice?  Is our house haunted?  If so, do we have an anal-retentive ghost who is fixated on centered doormats?  Inquiring minds want to know.

As an Elvis fan, I find it hard (impossible?) to resist current movies about Elvis.  Now that you know that, you also know it was a given that Ted and I would see The King.


Even as an Elvis fan, I’d have to say it’s a (long) reach to use Elvis’ life as a metaphor for the changes in the United States over the past 82 years (Elvis Presley:  1935-1977).  Still, there were a number of good points made in the movie.  Some that I’m still thinking about are:

Point 1:  The United States is the only country that includes the pursuit of happiness as an unalienable right (cf the Declaration of Independence).

Point 2:  Elvis epitomized The American Dream as it used to be:  a poor boy who made good.  It’s almost impossible to believe in that American Dream now, with an obscenely large amount of wealth distributed among an obscenely small number of people.

Point 3:  The U.S. is an empire.  We cannot call ourselves anything but an empire when we count the number of countries in which we control property for our military bases.  Nor can we defend policing other countries and/or waging wars in other countries in the name of spreading democracy unless we identify our country as an empire.

Point 4:  Any country in which political office can be bought is not a democracy.  Today’s super PACs assure that political offices are paid for by special interests to assure that our non-democracy is governed to favor those special interest groups.

My review of the movie:  It was fun to see all the clips about Elvis from his birth to his death.  The cameo comments about Elvis and about the United States from a variety of people were interesting and thought-provoking.  Most surprising of all, I have to revise my stereotypical opinion of rappers.  Chuck D of Public Enemy played a large role in the movie, commenting on the state of America.  He made me want to sit down and talk with him about his opinions.

After all that serious content and a stunning performance of Unchained Melody by Elvis, recorded live just two months before he died, Ted and I needed to lighten up.  So we went to see another movie.


Yes, the plot was as thin as the blurb above indicates, but it was a musical and that’s what we’d expected.

Important points made in the movie:  none.

ABBA music in the movie:  great.

Happiness factor at the end of the movie:  high.

To cap off an enjoyable day, Ted and I went out to dinner.  Aaahhh, life in retirement is good.

My aunt Ruth forwarded one of those internet emails filled with religious cartoons.  I don’t usually read that kind of email, but I caved on this one and the cartoons were pretty funny.  These were my favorites.

Tonight’s summer outdoor concert was in historic downtown St. Charles and featured Serapis, a St. Charles garage band.  They really started in a garage more than 30 years ago and bill themselves as a “classic American band.”  Wikipedia told me the cult of Serapis was introduced during the third century B.C. on the orders of Pharaoh Ptolemy I as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm.  I doubt if the band is a cult trying to unify the people.  I think in this case it means “old guys with guitars, drums, and a keyboard.”

The music included rock, blues, reggae, and cover hits and was really nice.  Because St. Charles has noise ordinances, they could only play the music loud, not at ear-splitting levels.   Personally, I liked it better than the tremor-inducing volume of Superjam last week.  The weather was beautiful for outdoor music, and the music was good, with lots of variety among the band’s different musical genres.  It was another wonderful summer evening with Ted.

This.  Is.  Serapis.  Look behind the guitarist on the right to check out the drummer’s beard.  It was more than halfway to his waist.

Two blocks of the street were closed to traffic and the entire space was filled with people–a good crowd.

At a street concert, this is what front-row seating looks like–footrest included.

Security was pretty casual.  The horse on the right probably had to rest his feet and his back after the concert.

The restroom sign pointed to the next block.  Ted thought that might mean “use the river” which borders the next block.

During the band’s break, it was time for the groupies to chat with the band members.  This is a St. Charles band–they probably all went to school together, and the band probably plays at every class reunion.

It took an hour and a half of the two-hour concert for the band (or the beer) to loosen up the crowd enough to start dancing.

When that wooden suitcase-type thing was open, it was a small picnic table with four attached seats.  Cool!

After the concert, Ted and I went out for dinner and had another summertime favorite for dessert:  Fritz’s ice cream.  Ted splurged on a banana split.

Thom and Katie are preparing to start their own business.  Thom’s last day at REI was July 3.  Katie continues to work at REI while Thom writes their business curriculum and makes other preparations to begin their new venture.  Thom’s Facebook posts tell the ending of his REI story and the beginning of his and Katie’s Ascend Leadership story.

Good luck, Thom and Katie!  Dad and I are very proud of what you’ve done and what you’re preparing to accomplish.

Dylan’s golden birthday fell on Friday the 13th this year, but I don’t think his 13th birthday was an unlucky day for him.  He chose Chinese food for his dinner and chocolate ice cream cake for his birthday cake/dessert.  He also received some very nice birthday gifts.

Dylan wasn’t the only one to receive a gift.  Dean was shopping and found a new pig for pig-loving Teddy.  The pig is soft (it even feels sort of “pig-like”) and, fortunately for a pre-teen boy, it’s squeezable with a small hole under its tail for the air to whoosh out.  This little feature was a source of delight for quite awhile for Teddy.


But back to Dylan . . . .  At a flea market, Dean found a perfect storage box for Dylan.  It was in bad shape, but Dean refinished it and then stocked it with goodies before giving it to Dylan.


Here’s Dylan with all of his gifts on display.  He wanted a compass and binoculars, so Ted and I gave him both.  He plans to use them on family hikes, but I bet he’ll also find other things that are interesting to spy on with binoculars.


After all the gifts were opened, it was time for ice cream cake, the birthday song, and blowing out the candles.  I hope Dylan gets his wish, whatever it was.  Happy 13th birthday to our sixth grandchild.

Ted and I decided to make this summer the year we attend outdoor concerts.  We’re off to a slow start because of my colonoscopy complications (including two flare-ups/setbacks after I came home from the hospital), but we finally attended our first summer concert this evening and have three more planned for July.  Tonight’s band was a local group from St. Charles:  Superjam.

Here’s the band in a promo photo.


This is the band’s mission statement (from their website).  Very lofty, very Rock with a capital R (see the first line), and complete with a spelling error in the second line.

Here’s Superjam at work, performing from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Streets of St. Charles complex.

The block-long street was filled with people walking around and sitting in lawn chairs.

To serve the crowd, restaurants in the complex served food and drinks from under tents set up along the sidewalks.


It was a beautiful summer evening, the music was loud and rocking, and the crowd was mellow.  (Don’t read anything into that–this is St. Charles, MO.)  Ted and I had a good time and went out for dinner afterwards.  Next outdoor concert:  “Music on Main” in downtown St. Charles July 18.

This was in the news today:


The U.S. State Department refused to answer a New York Times reporter’s questions, but an official statement from the Department of Health and Human Services said the resolution “placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition for their children.”

As Elvis said when a fan picked a piece of lint off his jacket and then wrapped it to save as a souvenir, “It never ceases to amaze me!”  For a variety of reasons, some mothers choose to use baby formula rather than breastfeeding, but how is it possible for anyone to be against breast-feeding babies??!!

There are 1,000 homes in our subdivision.  Ted and I estimate that one in ten households shoots fireworks on the Fourth of July, producing the sound of 100 fireworks shows, although distance and volume vary.  Ted and I went up to the lake (higher ground than our house) to watch the fireworks in the subdivision for about 45 minutes.  The ka-booms began around 8:30 and are sure to continue through midnight.  There was a lot of money set afire, but the show was nice and there weren’t any parking problems.  Happy Independence Day!


The finale.  It’s bright enough to light the lake and the entire neighborhood.

Jeff, Kathy, and Kari and their families joined us for several days over the past weekend.  It was hot outside, with heat warnings in effect, so we spent Thursday and Saturday in the pool.  On Friday, we went to City Museum.  We had a chance to use our new party lights when we sat on the patio every evening.  There was food and fun for everyone and lots of quality family time.  It’s the best of times for Ted and me when our kids and grandkids come home to visit.

We had plenty of pool time.  The water temperature was 88 degrees.

Sky fastened himself into a swimming ring with lots of noodles.  (I think the lump over Sky’s head is Dylan’s head.)

Afterward, there were lots of swimsuits and towels to dry.

Indoor games were good for cooling off in the air conditioning.  This time it’s “Exploding Kittens.”

Switching to “Settlers of Catan” was a change of pace and players.

There was afternoon time to relax and visit with each other . . .

. . . and evening time to relax and visit with each other.

Kathy and Annette gave us BevBoys so that when Ted and I relax in the pool, we can float our canned beverages in the water beside our mats.

These two guys bought shirts in Hawai’i.

Here’s the whole gang, waiting the final two minutes for dinner to be ready.

City Museum in St. Louis is a very popular attraction.  Jeff said when people find out he’s going to St. Louis, they ask if he’s going to City Museum.  To make that happen, Ted and I decided we should take the family to the museum while the kids were visiting last weekend.  While we were there, Jeff and La met some people they knew from Longmont.  (Maybe that’s why they wondered if Jeff and La were going to City Museum.)  It is definitely known far and wide–lots of out-of-state license plates in the parking lots.

Jeff described City Museum as “eclectic.”  I think another word that might apply is “odd.”  It’s not like any other museum I’ve ever visited.  Ted and I have not been to City Museum for over ten years, and it’s changed a lot.  The museum is located in a renovated shoe factory and began with displays of architectural city artifacts.  This might be where the “City” part of the name originated.  Over the years, many tunnels, stairways, caves, slides, etc. have been added, so there’s a lot of activity going on inside and outside the museum.  It is a very active museum.  (Also a very loud museum.)  Some of the throughways are very small–designed for little children; others have age/height requirements for older attendees.

Here’s City Museum from the outside.  The rooftop attractions require an additional admission ticket, but things on the level of the airplane are included with the rest of the museum.  The school bus on the roof has become the iconic symbol of City Museum.

This photo illustrates the jumble of the inside of the museum.  The kids on the right are in line for the slide that goes down to the exit.  If you take the slide, you must exit, so you’re limited to one trip down.  Use the stairs if you’re not ready to leave the building.


What the kids and grandkids did

Here are Jeff and Zaque going through a tunnel.

This is an entrance to a cave.  Paths–including staircases and tunnels–go every which way, including up and down.  I don’t do caves, so I didn’t get very far inside.  I talked with one lady who said she didn’t think she was going to find her way out.  It’s good that I left, if that’s what it was like!

Members of our group went outside to this level and climbed and crawled their way around.  Their report:  it was hot!  (Upper 90s.)

There were areas with all kinds of twists and turns.  You never knew where someone was going to appear because you couldn’t see the direction the paths were going to take.  Some kids found a way to get from the bottom to the top in this area.

Here’s Zaque, who found a way up to a new level from where he left us.


What Ted and I did

With all the optional directions to take everywhere we went, it was hard to stay in a group.  After leaving the cave, Ted and I decided to check out the museum stuff that didn’t require crawling on our bellies.

Here’s an old elevator door–one of the architectural artifacts in the museum.

How about a surprising twist from under a sewer cover?


There’s an huge box of pencils on display–some new, some used.  Why?

Pillars throughout the building are covered in a variety of substances.  This one is decorated with shells.

For a change of pace, this tower is covered with gears.  All the round spindles on the stairway spin.  Some have messages on them; others have designs.  That’s the slide to the exit in the upper left.

The kids were having fun in the sit-and-spin area.  Why is there a net on the ceiling?

Some kind of mythical creature wraps around the staircase and the edge of a snack bar loft.

The mosaic birds on the floor continue up the wall.  Note that the bird on the wall has a pair of goggles in its beak.

We found an art gallery with unusual art.  I like the copper sit-and-spin in the back.

This man is trapped in glass.

There were two windows filled with slides encased in glass.


What we all did

We all had fun–even the boys who look serious.  It was time for a snack.

Jeanette was the first office staff member I hired when the Adult Education and Literacy program grew too big for me to manage by myself.  She was a treasure as an employee and became a treasure as a friend.  Although I’m blonde and she’s Hispanic, we often showed up in the office wearing the same colors on the same day–kind of surprising, given the difference in our coloring.  Jeanette and I think along the same tracks.  We could easily find each other’s files, because we filed in the same kinds of categories.  People in the office used to tease us about sharing a brain.  Jeanette retired from SCC last week, and I went to her retirement party.

Once again, Jeanette and I showed up in the same colors.

There were decorations, food, and a slide show.  Since Jeanette and I worked together for 11 years, I showed up in quite a few of the slides.  (I’m in white-and-purple in the middle; Jeanette is wearing the long purple dress.  We wore the same color again!)  That’s Jeanette and her husband watching the slide show.

The roses on the tables were pretty.  This is Jeanette’s husband, niece, and sister.

Naturally, there were gifts.  Mandy (she has my old position) presented Jeanette with a gift from the office staff–a music box that plays “Remember.”

I gave Jeanette a cut glass “window” to hang in her window.


I knew everyone at the retirement party–DESE staff from Jeff City, Jeanette’s family, and AEL teachers and staff–so it was a wonderful opportunity for me to catch up with lots of people I don’t see regularly since I retired.  Not surprisingly, I set up three future lunch dates with friends at the party.  We’re still having fun together.