Yep, and still, oh, 10k behind... but before I was nearly 13k, so I'm slowly but surely catching up. We're sitting pretty at 20404. We're nearly at the half way point... We've got this in the bag... I hope :)
And, I fully admit, most of this post is a cheat, and my full thanks is to the Axis of Awesome inspiring an amazing ukulele jam with the old man. Yay for 4 chord songs!
The car ride home was filled with the chatter of three very excited people. They spoke about where they'd be off to in the morning. "So, what do we have left to do tonight before we get on our way tomorrow?" asked Sukie.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I need to pack yet. Thank goodness, I really don't have too much stuff to take." said the old man. "I figure my shaving kit and my clothes can really fit in one bag. I can wear my coat, and I'll carry the ukulele." he said, as he shrugged his shoulders. "I guess I've never really been one to travel with a ton of junk I really don't need. I'm a light traveler, nearly to a fault sometimes I guess." Sukie and Mike laughed, and Mike pointed to Sukie. "That girl there, she'd pack an entire school bus for an overnight trip. When we went to Pennsylvania to see Punxitony Phil, you know, that Groundhog?" The old man nodded. "Yeah, she brought a carry on, and a checked bag." Mike was laughing so hard, he could barely get the next sentance out, "For a one day trip!"
"What? I didn't know if it was going to snow, or rain." she said sheepishly, as she navigated the road. "I'm more like a boy scout, I guess. Always prepared."
"Well, I guess that's not a bad thing, but this time, I'm not lugging all your stuff too! See Jim, I carry a lot of crap, but its all the camera junk. I have my carry on, and usually a spare hat. Last time- I think she thought I was her Sherpa!"
"Fine, fine" she laughed. "Fine, okay, I got it! No Mike the Sherpa, geesh!" After a few more minutes of talking and joking, they pulled up in front of the old man's house. "
"Home sweet home, last stop, everyone out!" said the old man, as he stepped from the car. They made their way inside, setting the packages down on the table.
"Man, I'm famished, guys, want to order in some food while we get ourselves put together?" Sukie asked. Mike rubbed his stomach, and the old man nodded his head. "Great! Pizza okay?" she asked to the men, who both smiled and nodded.
"We'll make it a right party!" said Mike, who placed another ukulele case on the table. "I'm no Jake Shimabukuru, but, I bet it'll be a load of fun." Sukie called the local pizzeria from her cellphone, as the old man unloaded his bags, and carefully folded the clothes into separate piles. He excused himself to go upstairs and collect his suitcase from the closet in the bedroom.
He carefully pulled the suitcase from the bottom of the closet, not wanting to disturb anything too greatly. After he had extracted it, he unzipped the case, and made sure it was empty. Carefully, he took the picture of Martha from the dresser and gently touched the glass before he placed it into the inside zippered pocket of the suitcase. Once it was secure, he zipped up the compartment so that it would not shift around. Next, he tossed the duffel bag he took around town the day before up onto the bed, then dug through it, removing his shaving kit. He tossed it into the case then zipped up the suitcase and lugged it downstairs. Mike met him halfway up the stairs, taking the suitcase from him. "I really don't mind lugging this around for you- Sukie on the other hand, heh, well, I guess I really don't mind taking hers either."
They headed down the stairs, and Mike placed the suitcase up on the kitchen table. The old man unzipped it, and began placing the piles of the newly acquired clothing into the suitcase before restocking his shaving kit with his toiletries. In no time at all, the case was full, packed securely with not an inch to spare. "See, kids, this is how you pack! Its a full ten days of clothes in a carry on case." The old man pridefully raised his chin and puffed up his chest. "Sometimes, I even impress myself." Sukie laughed as Mike whistled his appreciation.
"Wow, even I can't pack that fast. It's like a land speed packing record!" said Mike, thoroughly amazed at the old mans handiwork. The two men were discussing suitcase packing techniques, (The right shoes are one of the most important things to thing of, followed only by your clothes folding technique." stressed the old man.) as the doorbell rang. "I've got it!" exclaimed Sukie, as she grabbed her pocketbook and jogged off to the door. She returned with an extremely fragrant box filled with an Everything Pizza, and a bag with a bottle of Cola. Mike cleared the suitcase and bags off the table, and the old man spread plates, cups, and napkins around the table. "I hope you guys don't mind paper plates, I figure it'll be less mess in the end."
The three each took a slice of pizza and sat back in their chairs, quietly relaxing for the next few minutes, savoring the pizza. After a few minutes of relaxing, the old man asked, "So, what's our itinerary this week?"
"Well, We're going to start down the eastern seaboard. Tomorrow, we're going to drive south to New York City, and we're going to spend a couple of days there, and I figure we can cross a couple of things off your list there. Then, from there, we're gonna road trip it down to Florida. We have a boat charter in about three and a half weeks, so that should be interesting. After that, it's a little of us playing it by ear. The goal is to be back in New York for New Years."
The old man beamed, his smile was going from ear to ear. "I'm so excited, I feel like a kid again!"
Mike raised his glass, "To being kids again!"
The old man raised his glass and toasted, "May we never grow old!"
Sukie raised her glass and said "Cheers!" The three clinked their soda glasses, and drank deeply, celebrating the start of their adventure.
They finished their pizza and started cleaning up the table. After everything was picked up, the old man set up a pot of coffee before he grabbed the ukulele cases from the table inside, and brought them in, handing Mike his case.
"Well, Mike, I only know about four chords, I'm really still a very new beginner." said the old man as he took his ornate ukulele out of its case.
"Truth be told, Jim, you only need about four chords to play any number of songs. Here, let me show you." Might showed the old man four chords, C, A minor, G seven, and F, making sure the old man had them down before continuing. "Ok, along with me, play the chords in that order, just four strokes down each." They practiced together as Sukie watched. "Oh, I wish I could join in, this looks so much fun!"
Mike laughed as he pointed to his coat. "Sukie, man, this is your lucky day. Go take the keys from my coat, and go in the trunk of the car, and open my suitcase. You'll see this tiny little case, it looks like a blanket- be gentle with it and take it on in."
"Blanket?" asked the old man incredulously as Sukie made her way to the car.
"Well, that's it's name, and its what its wrapped in. It follows a theme, you know, Michael Jackson's kid, his baby-- Blanket?" The old man laughed and shook his head.
"Yeah, I saw that on the news. Poor Michael though, don't get me wrong, he was out of his gourd, but I've always been a fan." Mike nodded his understanding as they heard Sukie close the front door.
"You found it?" he called out to her.
"Yep. Man, this thing is tiny! You sure it's playable?" She asked as she handed the tiny swaddled bundle to him.
"Oh yeah! This is my constant travel companion. Fits in my backpack, sounds like a dream." He handed his ukulele to Sukie, then pulled out a eency weency tiny little ukulele from the blanket bundle. "Guys, Meet Blanket, my sopranino ukulele!" The old man shook his head again. "Wow, that thing is tiny. How's it sound?" he asked as he watched Mike carefully tune the tiny instrument.
"Like a dream!" Mike replied, before playing a simple tune. "Okay kids," Mike started, while using one finger as an orchestral conductor would use a baton. "Lets practice our chords, and you'll get a kick out of this!" Together, they practiced their four chords for a few minutes until they all had the hang of it. "Alright then," said Mike, as he pulled a small notepad and pen from his pocket and wrote down the chords in order. "Just play these chords in this order, I'll sing." They had a round of playing the chords and after a beat, Mike started to sing:
"My life is brilliant, my love is pure. I saw an angel, of this I'm sure."
Sukie laughed, and said, "Oh, that's James Blunt's Beautiful." Mike laughed and nodded. "Ok lets keep going. Suke's if you want, fill in the names but you don't have to. I'm sure Jim knows at least a few of them."
"Forever Young, I want to be forever young,"
"Oh oh, I know it! Rod Stewart!" said the old man.
"I won't hesitate no more, no more, it cannot wait, I'm yours."
"That's I'm Yours!" laughed Sukie. Mike nodded
"This is the way you left me,I'm not pretending. No hope, no love, no glory. No Happy ending."
"Ooh!" said Sukie, mid strum. "Happy ending!"
"Cause you are amazing. We did amazing, things."
"Amazing! I heard this on the television" said Jim, shaking his head.
"If I could, then I would,I'll go wherever you will go."
"Can you feel, the love tonight?"
"Elton?" asked the old man, which was responded to with a vigorously nodding Mike."
"And she will, be loved. Yeah she will, be loved."
Sukie looked up in thought for a minute before blurting out "Maroon 5!"
"Pictures of you, pictures of me,up upon your wall for the world to see."
Sukie nodded her head along with the song, and said "Last goodnight!"
"Cause I cant live, with or without you."
"Bono!" exclaimed the old man. Mike and Sukie cocked their heads to the side and looked at him. "What? I happen to like U2. I have a couple of cassettes around somewhere. One of the kids left over here." Mike shook his head, in disbelief as he laughed, before continuing along with the song.
"And if I fall, at your feet. You'll let your tears;" "Crowded house I think," said Sukie, as Mike loudly interjected, "Am I not pretty enough, is my heart too broken." which set them all into a fit of the giggles.
"Ok guys, new rhythm. Just two down strokes for each chord. It gets better." said Mike, as he demonstrated. With the others following along, he started again.
"Double time! When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother mary, comes to me."
"Sometimes I feel like I dont have a partner."
"Red Hot Chili Peppers!"
"That's the way it's gonna be, little darlin'. We'll be ridin' on the horses, yeah yeah."
"No woman, no cry,"
"Yeah, mama, it surely is a dream,"
"Sex and Candy!" Sukie looked at the old man who just blurted out the song title. He just shrugged, as the song continued.
"I come from the land down under."
"Men at work!"
"Take on me,(When I come around)"
"Green Day, and um, um," started Sukie
"Take Me On,(When I come around)"
"A Ha!" announced the old man victoriously.
"I'll be gone, in a day or, two." Mike hit a high note here that was spot on in pitch, and got some impressed nodding of Sukie and Jim's heads.
"Save tonight, Gonna take a lot to drag me away from you. Fight the break of dawn. Come tomorrow. There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do. Tomorrow I'll be gone."
"Eagle Eye Cherry," Started Sukie as she paused for a second. The old man, again surprising them, laughed and said, "Africa by Toto." Mike smiled broadly at the old man's knowledge of music.
"I know she's playing with me, but thats okay 'cause I've got no self-esteem."
"That's the Offspring," said Sukie, and the old man shrugged.
"With a thousand eyes and a good disguise, hit 'em right between the eyes, hit 'em right between the eyes."
"That's them again!" exclaimed Sukie.
"Cause I'm not here for your entertainment, you don't really wanna mess with me tonight."
The old man's eyes lit up, and he called out, "Pink!"
"Cant read my, cant read my, no he can't read my, poker face."
"Gaga!" called out the old man.
"Come on Barbie lets go party."
"Aqua!" he called out again. Mike and Sukie stopped, and just looked at him for a second. "What?" the old man said laughing. "I happen to have grand kids, and we've been known to dance around the house every now and then, Kinda hard to do the Charleston to them though, really." All three dissolved in piles of laughter before continuing in the song.
"Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me."
"The Fray, I think." said Sukie, which was met by more vigorous head nodding from Mike.
"She wants to touch me woo hoo, she wants to love me woo hoo, she'll never leave me woo hoo hoo ooh."
"That's Don't Trust Me!"
"Control yourself, take only what you need from it."
"I think that's a MGMT song,"
"Take your canvas bags, take your canvas bags. Take your canvas bags, to the supermarket. Take your canvas bags."
"That's Tim Minchin!"
"Nothings right I'm torn, I'm all out of faith, this is how I feel, I'm cold and I am shamed, lying naked on the floor. Illusion never changed, into something real,"
"Oh, that's Torn! Its by that Australian girl."
"I'm wide awake and I can see I'm more than a bird,I'm more than a plane, I'm a bird-plane, I'm a bird-plane, A crack a lackin' bird-plane."
"Doesn't that sound familiar,doesn't that sound too close to home, doesn't that make you shiver, the way things could have gone. And doesn't that seem peculiar, cause everyone wants a little more. There's something I do remember to never go this far, thats all it takes to be a star." Mike ended the song with an arpeggio. Sukie and the old man applauded heartily as Mike took a small bow.
"See, I told you guys, four chords, and that's only scratching the surface!" They sat around and played for a while longer, enjoying their coffee and each others company. Eventually, they took notice of the time, and packed up their ukuleles, so they could get going. They all knew that they had a long drive ahead of them, and would need to go to bed relatively early. Mike and Sukie helped the old man with the dishes, and straightening up the table before they started heading out to the door. The old man yawned and stretched broadly, before heading up to the shower and to bed. Just like the night before, he set his alarm, and he was sound asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.