Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Racine

Summer Concert Season, Again

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Folks, I wanted to drop in a little bloglet, and let you know that the Racine Concert Band’s season of free summer concerts has started.

As of last night (June 30, 2019, to be exact), the RCB will have seven free concerts at the Racine Zoo. And if you live in Southeastern Wisconsin or Northern Illinois, and want to hear some fun band music, you should stop out and see us. (Did I mention it’s free?)

Now, as to why I didn’t say anything before the first concert? Well, last year, we had a rainout the night I talked about the band, and I knew inclement weather was forecast. So call me superstitious, if you will — and you probably will — but I didn’t think I should say something until at least one concert was in the “good books.”

Plus, I will admit that my health the past week wasn’t the world’s best. (Even by my admittedly low standards, unfortunately.) I was diagnosed with an acute sinus infection, asthma exacerbation/bronchitis, fluid in both ears, allergic conjunctivitis in both eyes…basically, I was a hot mess.

Fortunately, after a breathing treatment at the doctor’s office, and six prescription medications later, I’m starting to feel better. I even wrote a little fiction, for the first time in three weeks…and, of course, I’m writing this little bit right now, to keep y’all informed.

So, I did get the first concert in. I didn’t feel that great. I don’t think I played up to my standards. (I think I played maybe 3/4 or a bit more of my usual standards.) But the crowd was appreciative, no band members gave me any dirty looks (which can happen when you’re playing very badly, as it’s the only way we have to blow off steam silently), and I didn’t collapse.

Which, of course, is the very definition of a win. And while that’s not precisely the win I wanted, I am glad I was able to do it…and as I am responding to the antibiotics and prednisone well (two of the six Rxes), I expect that in coming days I’ll be able to do more and more of what I normally would.

Requiem for a Grocery Store

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Folks, the grocery store closest to my house — the Pick N Save on Rapids Drive in Racine, Wisconsin — will be closing on June 26, 2015.

This is bad news for anyone in Racine, but most particularly for those living near Horlick High School.

I’ve known the store would close since mid-April of this year. I kept meaning to write a blog to talk about what this store means to me…and time got away.

Granted, I’ve been busy writing and editing. (And gladly so.)

But I didn’t want yet another neighborhood grocery store to go belly up in Racine because of our horrible economy without trying to say something about why I liked the store — and why I want it to stay open.

First, the Rapids Plaza Pick N Save is a neighborhood store. 75% of their clientele is comprised of foot traffic.

(In case you’re wondering, this is the store — this particular store, the Rapids Plaza Pick N Save — I walked to when my car was out for 52 days last year.)

Second, the employees are friendly, knowledgeable, and remember you. They ask about your family as if they truly care. And if you need a coupon, they’ll find one for you…they don’t turn their noses up and refuse to work over there, unlike some stores I’ve been in up in Milwaukee (and elsewhere).

And third…well, I used to work at this store, years back. I cashiered, stocked shelves, was the assistant dairy and frozen foods person for a while…I worked in nearly every aspect of the store, from produce to deli to health and beauty. (Heck, even floral — and trust me, I wasn’t that great, but they were desperate.)

Fourth…well, there aren’t any grocery stores for at least three miles in any direction. So if you don’t have a car and the buses have stopped running for the day but you need milk or bread, you will be out of luck after June 26, 2015.

There is perhaps a hint of good news on the horizon, if you believe in the scuttlebutt I picked up earlier today. Apparently Wal-mart, which has wanted to expand for a while now (Caledonia vetoed a proposed site in late 2013, if memory serves), is looking into buying the entirety of Rapids Plaza.

If Wal-mart comes in, at least there would be a neighborhood store to walk to…and the employees will have a chance (a very strong chance) to be hired on.

As it stands, though, the Pick N Save on Rapids Dr. will be closing on June 26. No one can stop it. There’s no way to change it.

It’s completely nonsensical, and I really had wanted to mount some sort of grassroots campaign to get a Woodman’s into Racine as I felt they’d know exactly what to do with this store.

But if the Wal-mart does come in, and if they do a good job, perhaps all is not lost.

We who live close to Horlick High School can hope for that.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 7, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Saxes and Singers and Gnats, Oh My! (AKA the Racine Concert Band 2014 Free Summer Series Comes to an End)

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Those of you who’ve read my blog for quite some time now are aware of two things, I hope:

1) I’m a musician as well as a writer.

2) I sometimes indulge in extra long titles (as above).**

Why am I starting this blog post like this? Because the Racine Concert Band — of which I’m a member — just successfully concluded the 2014 free summer concert series at the Racine Zoo this past Sunday night.

“But Barb,” you say. “Why didn’t you get online and say something on Sunday night, or better yet, yesterday? Why wait a day?”

The reason for that mostly is because of the “gnats” part of the above title. At about the midway point of the Sunday evening concert, the gnats and biting flies and perhaps even some ticks (those are the pea-green critters, aren’t they?) came flying out to bedevil every musician they possibly could.

I, unfortunately, appear to have been the musician that announcer Don Rosen decided to discuss in his comments — he said something to the effect that “one of the saxes” (most likely me) was swatting insects, going back to playing, swatting more insects, going back to playing, and he didn’t know how any of us could do that.

Now, every one of us was swatting insects in the first three rows. (I cannot see the rows behind me, mind, but they probably were swatting them, too.) But as far as I know, I’m the only one who swatted so many insects, so hard, that I actually had the clips to keep my music from flying off at the first wind gust go flying into the nearby clarinet section instead. (Sorry, clarinets.)

I know I was bitten at least ten or fifteen times, too. And as I despise bugs with a passion, this was not easy to bear whatsoever. (I did kill at least twenty of the suckers, though.)

Anyway, the conditions for the concert were fine for the first half, awful for the second. It’s because of this that I hightailed it out of there afterward (at least, as much as any musician hobbled by a cane in one hand and a saxophone in the other can hightail), even though I believe someone I hadn’t seen in quite some time was attempting to get to the stage and perhaps say “hi.” (If that person is reading my blog for some reason, please know that I am sorry I didn’t stop to chat. I just could not deal with the bugs. At all. But do feel free to say “hi” here instead, OK?)

Look. It’s an outdoor concert. I know we’re likely to run into some problems here and there. But between the bugs, the heat and humidity, and the fact that my asthma was bad for several days due to the poor air quality on the one hand and the high heat/humidity on the other, that was possibly the most difficult concert, conditions-wise, I have ever played.

So I needed that extra day to rest, to recover, so I could come back and write a blog about the whole shebang. (Lucky you, huh?)

Now, as for a greater deconstruction of the headline — I am a saxophonist, thus “saxes.” Gnats should be self-explanatory at this point . . . and as for the “singers” part of the above headline, Ami Bouterse guested with us again this year and did a fine job with two art songs (the “classical” portion) and two show tunes. (The audience, as you might expect, liked the show tunes a whole lot better. It’s rare when the audience goes for the classical stuff instead.)

So the 2014 free concert season for the Racine Concert Band has come to an end. And you might be wondering whether or not the RCB will have a free summer 2015 concert series, too . . . but as I said last year around this time, no one knows that right now.

All I can say, as I did last year, is that I would appreciate anyone who appreciates the RCB to please contact Mayor John Dickert or your local alderman and tell him (or her) that you really, really, really want the RCB to continue as these are the people most responsible for city-backed funding for next year.

Please. You want to support the Racine Concert Band, because it helps to provide vitality to this community.

We need that. Badly.

So please, support the band. Contact the Mayor and the aldermen. And if you’re able, donate to the band, too . . . help preserve one of the very best parts of Racine and give us another free concert series to remember in 2015.


**Mind, if I had felt like an even longer headline, I would’ve tried to shove in something about Adam Maegaard’s fine French horn solo, too. (I enjoyed that piece.) But the headline was already quite lengthy as it was, so . . .

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 26, 2014 at 3:34 am