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Sunday, February 29, 2004

Krauss, Carolina, Cats

Watching the Oscars... just saw two songs with Alison Krauss singing - one with a superfulous Sting and the next with a superfluous Elvis Costello. Her voice is so strong that those two were completely outgunned - I think they knew it. It's good to see her gettting recognition on that scale - two songs in a row on the Oscars. She's been a fan of mine and my wife's for years; and we've seen her in local auditoriums two or three times - always amazing. I much prefer her older stuff, since she's now turning into more of a pop/ballad singer, and leaving her bluegrass roots behind. But you can't deny her voice, no matter what the material.

Moving to Raleigh:
In early 97, my wife and I were living in Albany, NY. She was sick of her job and I was working from home and bored. We decided we'd move to Raleigh, NC, because the bio-tech and prorgamming fields were booming there. So, one late-March day, we drove the 11 hours from Albany to Raleigh for a weekend, to see what we could find. We listened to an Alison Krauss CD that I had bought her for her birthday (i think, maybe christmas) on the way down, and we both were stunned by Krauss's voice - crystal-clear, unstrained and effortless - amazing. The CD was "Every Time I Say Goodbye" - when she was still doing mostly bluegrass, and before she started doing so many adult-contemporary ballads. The bluegrass and, of course, her southern accent felt more and more at home the further south we went.

I-85 from Petersburg, VA to the NC border runs between straight solid walls of long-leaf pines - for two hours, it's beautiful. And when you get out of the pines, in late-March, North Carolina is full of flowers - dogwoods, Bradford pears and redbuds are all blooming, planted pansies are everywhere, the grass is green and there's no snow at all. Coming from the frozen gray slush of upstate NY into that was like landing in Oz. So, we rented an apartment that weekend and moved down the next month.

Today, we drove up to Richmond, VA, to visit a cattery. This place raises "Siberian" cats. My wife would love a cat, but I have super-sensitive (though not super-severe) pet allergies and this breed is touted as being better, for whatever reason, for people with cat allergies. So, we went up I-85 to check out these cats, to see if I could stand to be around them.

And the results....

...there's really something to the claims. I can normally feel my allergies start within just a couple minutes of being in a place where a cat lives or has been, and I never touch a cat - that will usually give me a rash. But we read the claims about these cats and thought we'd give it a try. And even though the claims said I had a good chance of showing no symptoms at all, and I was fully armed with all the anti-histamines I could find, walking into a house full of cats required a leap of faith.

But, we were there for about an hour, in a room where five adult cats played. I had two or three of them on my lap and I even did the unthinkable - on purpose, I rubbed my eyes after petting the cats (I couldn't get myself to put my face in their fur, though). And, it took about an hour before I noticed any symptoms at all - my eyes finally started itching. If these were typical housecats, I would've been gasping for breath, itching and sneezing after an hour. But, alas, I did feel something, so that means they're not totally non-allergeneic (for me anyway). I think we're going to do another trial with me on Zyrtec for a week prior. And if that works, maybe we'll get a cat.

Anyway, on the way home, we got to drive back down I-85, which made me think of that Alison Krauss CD and that first drive down to Raleigh from NY. And then, there she is on the Oscars, blowing Sting and Costello out of the water.

The second drive down from NY was a nightmare. I was driving this big-ass U-Haul truck, alone, with all our stuff, my wife following in her car. The truck wouldn't do more than 45 uphill, nor more than 60 on level ground; it was the biggest thing I'd ever driven - without even counting the flat bed trailer with my precious Hyundai Excel perched on the back. And the AM radio sucked. Outside of DC, I got stuck on a cul-de-sac , trying to find a place to eat; we went down the wrong road and ended up in a housing development and I couldn't get the truck with the trailer turned around to get back onto the main road. After a few minutes of beep-beep-beep-beep backing up, I managed to get it so I couldn't even go forward any more. All the men in the neighborhood came out to help me unhitch the trailer with the car on it, get the truck aimed out of the cul-de-sac and put the trailer back on. Embarassing, frustrating nightmare.

Oh, and I had a huge Bojangles sweet tea at 10:00am today. I'm still buzzing 13 hours later. :)

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