Randy Schmidt and I have known each other for about 22 years....I met him online when he had a Carpenters listserv and we had just purchased our first computer. Of course I went searching for Carpenters stuff! Randy was such a die-hard fan which was amazing to me because he wasn't even around when Karen and Richard were at the height of their fame. At one point he asked me if I had all of my old clippings and fan club newsletters from back in the 70s and I did, and he asked me to photocopy them for him, which I did. Little did I know that he was writing a book!
Shortly after that we moved to NH and I was finishing my Masters Degree and the kids were getting active with stuff so I just lost track of Randy. Years later I found him on Facebook and discovered that he'd written a book about Karen Carpenter, entitled "Little Girl Blue: the Life of Karen Carpenter." Of course I got it right away and was really thrilled at how well written and packed with info it was! Since then Randy and I have stayed in touch and I went down to NYC to meet him when he was doing a bookstore appearance there...I think that was about four years ago. Randy lives in TX, and that was the one and only time we'd met.
Several weeks ago he contacted me with a project for us to work on together. He'd found my audiobook narrator profile online and thought I would be perfect to narrate his children's book about Judy Garland, entitled "Becoming Judy Garland." I was delighted! The book is now available for purchase on Randy's website and each book comes with a CD with the audiobook. So, of course, when I realized that it was possible, I made plans to visit Randy while I was in TX.
The challenge was this: Randy is a school teacher in a town north of Dallas, and he only had from 10:30am-11:30 free. So I vowed I would get there by 10:30. Even after my pain-filled night with the ankle problems, I dragged myself out of bed early, showered and hit the road by five. I drove until just about when the sun came up, and then I couldn't drive any more because my eyes were closing. I pulled off at an exit with one gas station and a boarded up restaurant. I parked next to the restaurant, shut off the van, put my seat back and konked out. I woke up some time later to discover that the VAN WOULDN"T START!!!! I'd left the lights on, and even though they shut off automatically I guess they don't do that unless you remove the keys from the ignition, which I had not done. So I dragged myself into the gas station and asked the two young people working there if one of them could give me a jump. A young woman who looked very unhappy came out, pulled her truck up, connected her jumper cables and got the van going. I reached into my wallet and the smallest bill I had was a twenty, so I handed it to her because she'd done me such a huge favor. At that point this unhappy looking woman broke into a big smile and said, "Oh thank you, you don't know how much I really need that!" That proved once again to me that God works in mysterious ways.
I texted Randy that I wouldn't get there until after noon and he said to come on anyway, so I did and I visited with the two classed that he had during the hour I was there. I did some songs with them and we had a really fun time! It was GREAT to see Randy and I appreciate him taking the time for me as he had his chorus concert and show that afternoon for the school and then again that night for the community. Randy, I hope FA LA LA LAND went super well and thank you for a really super time with you and your kids! And I would LOVE to come back and do a full assembly for the school!
After I left Randy I trekked East to Nacogdoches. This is a town that used to be mythical to me but I have now visited three times! My friend, the world-renowned author Joe R. Lansdale (Hap & Leonard, Bubbo Ho Tep) lives there and I am collaborating with him on a musical version of his novella "Christmas with the Dead." I'd been there in July for a play reading, which took place in a book store/arts center, and I'd met the proprietor, a musician and author named Tim Bryant. When I realized that it would be possible, I asked him if he'd like to host a concert to benefit the arts space when I was on my tour. So that's how I came to be in Nacogdoches on The House on Christmas Street 2017 Charity Tour! It turned out that we had a small crowd, and I was actually nervous. Joe and his wife Karen came, along with his son Keith and his fiancee Danni, and then three other folks who I hadn't previously known, plus Tim. Like I said, it was a small crowd, and suddenly I got very nervous. First of all, I consider Joe Lansdale to be one of the COOLEST guys I've ever met. I mean, he is JOE COOL in the flesh. Now here I was, about to sing my un-ironic and totally uncool Christmas concert and I just suddenly froze up. However, almost as soon as I started singing everything was okay. Joe was smiling, Karen was smiling, everybody started smiling and singing along. And then, after I sang the second song, my original, "Santa Whatcha Got," Keith reminded me that it was one of the songs on the "Christmas with the Dead" movie soundtrack, which was how I got to meet all these folks in the first place. From that point on the whole concert was a blast. I don't know how much was donated to the arts space, but I saw some folks put money in the donation jar so at least it was a little, and Joe wrote to me after to tell me what a good time everybody had, and that's what it's all about. Joe and Karen hosted me at their home that night and I got a much-needed GREAT night's sleep, and I got to see their insane dog, Nicky, who is just a big old loveable goofball. I've met some terrific pets on this trip, including Kelsey, a Cava-doodle at my friend Max's house last night. It makes me miss my doggie even more!!! I hope she doesn't sense all these other dogs and cats on me and think I've been unfaithful to her!
So that takes care of Thursday....now on to Friday in the next post!