Idaho Nights, a musical campout in Weiser

Idaho nights

Idaho Nights

It’s hot and I’m writing in the shade of a tree next to the Stickerville office cabin that emits Internet connection.

I’ve been such a delinquent blogger that I’m taking time here to post. The point of my blog is to write about interesting things from my life in order to inspire you to chase your dreams, have a life worth living. Sometimes I’m so busy living that I don’t blog regularly.

From where I sit, I hear several jams, bluegrass, fiddle tunes, and swing. After I post, I’ll go back to jamming, joking, carousing with old friends and new. Maybe even go swimming in the reservoir.

I’ve gone off on a tangent. This is about songwriting.

Back at home, in 2011, Mark Dodge, the bass player in my band, Swingnuts Jazz, wanted to record us in his studio. He jokingly said, Continue reading

Nancy Thorwardson is a Special Nut.

Nancy Thorwardson — a Musical Influence

Of the Weiser Tribe

Thorwardson and Schwab serve salad.

Thorwardson and Schwab serve salad.

Nancy Thorwardson belongs to my tribe of musical friends who gather once a year to play at a weeklong campout in Weiser, Idaho. We live all around the world, mostly U.S and Canada, and musicians come from as far as Australia. Nancy made her home in Colorado, although she lived in western Washington some years ago.

Nancy discovered she had breast cancer November 9, 2016. She passed away April 11, 2017. Gone! Just like that.

It’s hard to believe that I won’t see her in June at Weiser in her colorful clothing and snazzy glasses, cozy up to her warm welcoming spirit, nor hear her singing her clever songs.

Her Influence on Me

Nancy was a creative musical force. Her head was in the clouds, yet her feet solidly on the ground (or in the stirrups—she loved horses and cowpokes). I have a lot to thank Nancy for:  Continue reading

Jamming in Idaho

Songwriting: Waxing Lyrical About a Musical Art

Waxing Lyrical About Songwriting

Since 2011, I have been songwriting for my band, Swingnuts Jazz. Fans have asked for lyrics and background information about my songs. So I’m posting this Lyric Series.

How I Started Writing Songs

When Swingnuts bassist Mark Dodge wanted to record the band, he complained how expensive it was to use copyrighted songs and joked, “Why don’t you write something, Peggy?”

Motor Boat Melodies

Motor Boat Melodies

Little did Mark know that Continue reading

Camano History Tour Shares My History

Way Back When on Camano

I love history. I love delving into the way people used to live and how things came about. That’s why I’m excited that the Camano Historic Sites Tour is here, Friday through Sunday, March 24-26.

Trippin’ in My Way Back Machine

Looking through the sites on the tour, I see that I have a personal history with many of the tour’s historic sites.

In the 1980s

I worked at Camano Inn when it was a nursing home. Now it’s a fine restaurant. Still haunted, they say.

Cama Beach Resort

Cama Beach Resort

Couple years later, I cleaned cabins at Cama Beach Resort, also haunted, they say. (Now it’s a state park.) The store they had there for the campers had so many photos and memorabilia from the resort’s early days that it looked more like a museum than a store. The owner was my boss, Mrs. Muriel Risk, an elderly woman who told me stories about the old days.  Mrs. Risk’s father, LeRoy Stradley, hired unemployed men to build the resort’s cabins, bungalows, boathouse, and great hall during the Depression. The family ran the resort for decades. During WWII, Mrs. Risk scanned the waters through binoculars for Japanese submarines. She said that in her time, she’d been a lawyer, doctor and pilot. She was quite a character and I’m glad I got to know her.

In the 1990s

My friend, Carol Hall, lived at the Mabana Schoolhouse. I helped her pack glass art for shipping. One day, she fell in love and moved to Portland. I helped pack her up to move.

South Camano Grange held quite a few memorable gatherings. I sang what may have been the first song I ever wrote at a birthday party there. It was about my massage therapist (Oh-oh, I’m aching to see you again . . .) I wrote it for a friend, Joyce Lukaczer, who was then a masseuse.

Yes, I go way back with Camano.

The Community that Plays Together

Camano City Schoolhouse

Camano City Schoolhouse

Lately, I’ve been hanging out at one of the tour sites, Camano Schoolhouse. The schoolhouse is a historic building that has attracted people dedicated to restoring it and making it a gathering place for events and education. They refinished the wooden floor, discovered original slate blackboards under faded wallpaper, and found the old school bell hiding in a nearby church closet.

On Saturday, March 25, 2 p.m., a community group will put on a play about the first teacher there and early telephones on Camano. I’ve helped behind the scenes. It’s delightful to watch it unfold as new friends and neighbors take on roles, both figuratively and literally.

Get Out and About Before You’re History

The beauty of history is to see what people did long before we were here and how it set the scene for all who followed. I can’t wait to visit my old haunts and swing by a few I’ve never seen to learn what people did before I got here.

I love vintage swing!

I love vintage swing!

There’s a breakfast, historic lunch (Reservations required, 360-387-0783), a play, a dance, and a light dinner. Sites are also open for drop in visits at anytime during the tour. Find the detailed schedule online or in brochures around town. Download the brochure here. There’s  history tour FaceBook page, too, with video.

While I’m not out enjoying the tour, I’ll play vintage music at Camano Schoolhouse. I’m not scheduled, but if you catch me, come sing along.

Mural Mind Games at Stanwood Pavilion

A Mural with a Secret Past

Stanwood Pavilion blends illusion and reality with a mural that has a secret history that few people know.

Faux Interior

Mural at the Pavilion

Mural at the Pavilion

Cafe patio overlooks mural.

Cafe patio overlooks mural.

Step inside the pavilion’s atrium and walk on cobblestones along Stanwood’s bustling riverfront shops and dock. Real businesses merge into the illusion: Continue reading

Clean the House—and the Senate

Step One: Forward Movement in the Women’s March

Women’s March, Jan. 20-21, 2017

Feeling Helpless? March

Someone asked, “Why did you join the Women’s March? What did you accomplish?”

Why? I felt helpless and alone in a world gone crazy. I wanted to move forward to a saner world. So I marched in Anacortes, Bellingham, and Mt. Vernon, Washington. I wasn’t alone. I connected with like-minded people. We started making connections as we talked about the marches on social media and made plans, made signs, and made hats. My friend, Karen, marched in Seattle, but we got ready together before heading different directions.

Friday night, I joined hundreds of people who marched the Anacortes sidewalks by candle and lantern light.We walked on the sidewalks and filled many blocks. I was number 355, somewhere in the front half. (That’s my sun paper lantern on the left.) Skagit Valley Herald wrote about the candlelight vigil here.

Candle March in Anacortes

Candlelight March in Anacortes. We walked up a few more blocks. That’s the front of the group across the street doubling back. I was in the front half of the march. More than half of us are behind me.

That was just the beginning. Saturday morning, I joined a huge crowd in Bellingham. Continue reading

Resolution Detour

Resolution Detour – Paving the Road to Hell with Good Intentions

Resolution Detour

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

It’s mid-January, when most people are saying to hell with their New Year’s Resolutions. I’m just getting started . . . on last year’s resolution.

For 2016, I vowed to write a song per month. How hard could that be? After all Jonathan Coulton wrote a song a week and was featured in the New York Times and NPR.

I’m easily distracted, so I settled on monthly. Somehow, I thought if I made a bold public announcement, I’d do it. Discipline was my word for 2016 and I had a plan. Continue reading

Beginning with Last Year’s Magic

Beginning with Last Year’s Magic

Last Minute Tree

I know it’s a new year, but I’m not done with Christmas magic yet. Here I am, writing by the glow of the Christmas tree, the first I’ve had in 15+ years. With kids grown and busy elsewhere, I haven’t cared to decorate just for me.

My impulse to buy a tree came when I was writing about the magic of my earliest remembered Christmas. As a young child, I loved to sit in the living room and bask in the magic glow of the Christmas tree. I wanted to feel that magic again, if only through the eyes of my young grandchildren.

So I bought the last Christmas tree in town. I couldn’t believe Continue reading

Shine Light Into Darkness

Shine Light into Darkness

Light from the sun hits me in the eye like a laser as it barely clears the southern horizon during these short days of December. It’s harsh, but I am cheered by it even though the world’s news seems dark.

We celebrate during dark winter days because we know light will return as Earth courses around the Sun. We survive dark days with acts of light: kindness, respect, and giving. As we orbit through time, another darkness periodically falls upon humankind bringing fear, hate, lies, and violence. Into this dark, we must shine light.

Fear is changing our world, Continue reading