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What I Learned This Week – 7/26/15

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This week I learned that I could build a hillbilly sound system.

My hillbilly sound system.

My hillbilly sound system.

When my preschooler son moved into a bigger bedroom, my husband designated the former nursery as his “man room.”

Well, then I designated the remaining bedroom as my room. Mostly craft/photo/exercise/sporting goods/genealogy storage, but also a tiny office space. Which, I figured, needed a sound system. You will notice that it features the portable CD player from my post a week ago. I also used the speakers from our old Dell desktop computer, which my husband and I both have almost discarded so many times, but they actually have really great sound.

"Dude, you're getting a Dell!"

“Dude, you’re getting a Dell!”

I rounded it out with my Sears mini boombox that is probably 30 years old. It once went to the electronics repair store to have a cassette tape removed that it ate (Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinkin’ Rich – Warrant). I don’t even think their are repair stores for cassette players anymore. People now even view computers as disposable. Everyone except me–I have resurrected my laptop with a new hard drive and a new power cord (Friday) in the 4 years I have owned it.

I placed it all on an ancient TV cart that my great-grandpa used in his TV repair business. I used an old Pepsi wooden crate to hold my extra headphones and cables.

Yes, my dear friends. This is me putting my Communications degree to good use.

And no one should be offended by me referring to it as a “hillbilly” sound system because I am hillbilly. I can prove it. Come dig through my genealogy storage bins 😉

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a Bug ON SALE for only $.99 for a limited time & GIVEAWAY going on over at Goodreads (ends August 15, 2015)
When You Least Expect It AVAILABLE NOW!

What I Learned This Week – 7/19/15

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This week I learned that the movie One Small Hitch, is a really, really good movie. I stumbled upon it in a romantic comedy search on Netflix. It is a 2013 movie starring Shane McRae and Aubrey Dollar as two childhood friends pretending to be engaged for the sake of Josh’s (McRae) dying father. Awkward situations ensue.

WEEK-One Small Hitch

I will admit that it did start a little slow, but the leads are both adorable and it only gets cuter when they move into an apartment together. One Small Hitch is like While You Were Sleeping, except no one has to be pushed onto the railroad tracks and end up in a coma. A few people get punched in the face though.

This week I also realized that I have the best CD player in the world.

Best CD player

Best CD player

Yes, some of us without an iPhone or mp3 player with a screen still rely on such devices to make collections (mix tapes), “playlists” if you will, of songs that suit our fancy on any particular day.

I have a big CD player in my kitchen, but I wanted to listen to a CD while laying in bed. So, I headed upstairs to the electronics graveyard to find a small CD player. I knew we had at least one. Actually, I found two. One was a jogproof one that I had purchased one year for my birthday. It wasn’t jogproof, and I am not a jogger. So, ya.

The other is the CD player I quickly recognized from my old job. For the 12 years I worked for Borders, I used this CD player nearly every day. You can see that I doodled on it, and marked it with stickers so that if someone stole it, I would know that it was mine.

I cannot believe that it still works! I do believe that it used to have an AC adapter, but I can’t presently find it. I used to put a CD on pause, then head off to a 3 hour meeting, leaving it spinning on my desk the whole time. Last night I popped in batteries of questionable age, and it still worked like a dream.

And so many functions! I can program what order I want to play the tracks from on a CD, which comes in handy for albums such as Pieces of You by Jewel, that contain some very good, and some not very good songs. It has repeat one or all. It has bass boost. It shows track number and time at the same time!

For being around 15 years old, it has held up remarkably well. The volume dial causes some interference in the headphones when adjusted. But I used to have headphones with a volume control in the cord, so that was never a problem.

I love that it is a little no-name brand. I love that at that time, they thought they still needed to spell out that it was “DIGITAL” technology.

Now, everything is.

Don’t get me started on my love of analog/cassette tapes.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a Bug ON SALE for only $.99 for a limited time & GIVEAWAY going on over at Goodreads (ends August 15, 2015)
When You Least Expect It AVAILABLE NOW!

PURCHASE as a Paperback or eBook on Amazon.com TODAY.

Rocky Mountain Christmas

To most, John Denver is a joke.

To me, he is the sound of Christmas.

When I was a kid, my mom had the record (large, round, vinyl black thing with grooves) Rocky Mountain Christmas by John Denver.  She played it every year at holiday time.  Christmas starts for me with the first few tinkling notes of Aspenglow.

Rocky Mountain Christmas by John Denver on CD & record, and John Denver: Christmas in Concert on CD

I would be happy if it was the only Christmas album I ever owned or played.

My mom didn’t own any other John Denver records.  My crazy friend knew that I liked this Christmas album, so then on mix tapes she would put other non-Christmas John Denver songs.  She didn’t understand.  It wasn’t so much that I liked John Denver, it was that I liked his voice with this collection of Christmas songs from this period of time.  From my childhood.

John Denver sings nice, straight-forward renditions of the classics: The Christmas Song, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the seldom-heard Silver Bells, Away in a Manger, What Child Is This, Oh Holy Night (a spectacular version), and Silent Night.  There is no Mariah Carey warbling.

The original songs on the album are some of my favorites.  I already mentioned Aspenglow.   Christmas for Cowboys paints a wonderful musical picture of a lonely holiday on the snow-covered plains.  My husband likes Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas).  A Baby Just Like You is my favorite.  John Denver wrote it for his own son Zachary. I love to belt out “MERRY CHRISTMAS LITTLE ZACHARY!” at the top of my lungs.

I know, I’m weird.

Sometimes now I change it to be my sons’ name.

Inside cover of Rocky Mountain Christmas, featuring the lyrics to A Baby Just Like You (I used to love to look at the details of this picture when I was a kid)

Several years ago my mom bought the album on CD, so it was very nice to be able to listen to it again.  The problem was, we had only one copy that we shared.  (I have no idea why I never thought about burning a second copy.  Oh ya, because that would be illegal.;)

Last year I found my own copy of Rocky Mountain Christmas on CD.  I even found a concert version of the same songs.  My mom is very happy I am no longer hogging her CD.

I still don’t understand why none of the Christmas music radio stations play anything off this album.  They play other seldom-played artists.  They always need different artists singing the same 12 traditional songs.  And it would make me so happy.

A Christmas Together: John Denver & The Muppets – Also a nice album, but just not the same for me

I kept my mom’s record of Rocky Mountain Christmas all these years, even though there was no way to play it.

Last year, my husband and I picked up a Fisher Price children’s record player from the 80’s at a garage sale and a handful of records.

So, while I totally enjoy digital clarity, the ability to listen to it in my car, and load it on my iPod, I am playing the original record for my son as I write this.  Sure, it is scratchy from 37 years of use and improper storage and probably a pretty dull needle.  But it takes me right back to being a preschooler myself in my living room in our house in Riga, Michigan.  In the terrible 70’s clothes that my mom dressed me in.


When you listen to the CD, you don’t have to see his dorky appearance.

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