I spent a good part of today undoing the effects of the Christmas frenzy. That is, the house should be clear now of stray bits of tinsel and those annoying wire ties that come bound to every present these days. The kids have been doing video games all day; another cloudy dreary day, the 13th in a row, not much incentive to go out. I myself ventured as far as the mailbox. A flock of about ten evening grosbeaks taunted me with their cheery calls from the top of an aspen, but as soon as I pointed the camera at them they disappeared. Why don't they come to my feeder?
The Hermit went to Duluth to buy some dress shirts for upcoming job interviews. He informed me that on the cross road about a mile from our house, he saw three spruce grouse. Spruce grouse would not be unheard of around here, but definitely uncommon. I saw a spruce grouse once, when we were cross country skiing near the Gunflint Trail on the Minnesota/Canada border. It was sitting in a spruce tree (what else?) at about eye level, and didn't mind that I stopped and stared at it for about five minutes while the rest of the group caught up with me. I'll say that again: While the rest of the group caught up with me. Did you get that? ;) By the way, I was four months' pregnant with my first offspring at the time! Spruce grouse are very tame birds. I'll have to go out tomorrow and see if I can see them. Dang it, The Hermit is winning in the bird sighting category so far this winter. Something must change.
Last night's gig was probably the most fun so far, although for some reason I always had the sensation that the pick was rotating and about to fly out of my right hand during the mandolin duets, and my guitar sounded perpetually out of tune and my capo wasn't always tight enough. Besides that...as if anyone noticed, we had some groups there that really seemed to get into the music, and really appreciated the Irish flute/mandolin duets we added to the set list. It's a strange gig; mostly a dinner crowd, not really a stand-alone bar, so you want to do your stuff but not encroach on someone's dinner too much. But I noticed that, as each party left, and they had to walk right by us to get out the door, they attempted to make eye contact and smile as if to say thanks. Some even left thanks in the tip jar, which was nice.
That said, I have one complaint. A big complaint. The past two times we have played there, beers were on the house. That's kind of standard; If you don't pay someone to entertain your dinner customers, the least you can do is give them free beer. But last night, during our break, I stood at the bar for about ten minutes before this snarky looking blonde gal bartender finally looked at me and said, "umm, did you want something?" I ordered a Summit Pale Ale on tap, what I've had there before. As she gave it to me she asked "Did you want to start a tab?" A tab? Did my music suck that much? At the end of the night, we had a couple more, and ended up being charged for every one. I felt like The Blues Brothers at Bob's Country Bunker: "Your pay for the night is one hundred dollars, and you guys drank four hundred dollars worth of beer..." I don't know. I like playing there, but before we play there again I think we need to work out some sort of agreement. Will play, for beer.