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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summertime...And The Living Is Easy

Summertime in the South brings heat and humidity that can wilt even the heartiest souls. But summertime also brings a bounty from the garden, such as fresh green beans, cantaloup and peaches. This week the YesterUkes had to sing for their supper (actually, it was lunch) but after the program they were treated to fresh fruits and vegetables served along side fried chicken--a staple at Southern covered dish dinners. These Baptists know how to cook!

Fifteen ukulele players were the entertainment for the monthly meeting of the Happy Hearts Club at Hampton Heights Baptist Church. We sang old favorites from decades past. After the meeting, so many people told us those songs brought back good memories. Several said they hadn't heard those songs in years.

We always ask the audience to sing along with us. One lady told us when a song was announced, she could remember the song but knew she couldn't sing along because she didn't remember the words. Then she exclaimed, "But every time you started, I knew every word and could sing right along with you!" Those songs from our younger days are sometimes buried deep in our brains, but they are there.

While packing up at the end, the director was having the usual "where are you from" conversation with a church member. She discovered that many years ago this silver-haired lady had lived in the same small town where she grew up. In the South, it's customary to find out "who your people are". So as they continued to talk, they discovered that this church member and the director's father had been next door neighbors when they were children! Small world. The director was happy to hear a little about her dad and grandmother when they were young.

Play a ukulele and you never know what surprises await you!

Friday, June 12, 2009

I Feel Fine

When Edna found out she had to have knee surgery, she began the usual round of pre-op preparations--with one big difference! Most people do not include a ukulele band in their pre-op planning. Post-surgery rehab was part of the treatment. When she went to make arrangements for a three-week stay at a nearby facility, she immediately had them schedule the YesterUkes to perform while she would be there for physical therapy.

But she approached her rehab like she does everything else. Full speed ahead! And Edna was discharged a little early, the day before the Yesterukes came to play. But she came back the next morning, dressed in the official blue shirt, ukulele in hand, to help entertain residents she had said goodbye to the day before.

Many residents, with more limitations than our Edna, wheeled into the dining room for the morning program. Others pushed walkers in, looking for a seat. Many family members were there visiting. Staff members also joined the group. The dining room is just across the hall from the therapy room. so people continued to wander in, when they heard music as they left their therapy session. The YesterUkes were in fine form for this excellent audience. It's always easier to play well when listeners respond to the songs. There was even a wheelchair dance during one song. We played jazz standards, some rockin' songs from the 50s, and ended with a gospel favorite.

An email we received after the program said,
"Hey, I sure am glad I came to hear the YesterUkes today. No wonder you are being asked to go all over the place to entertain. It amazed me to watch some of the sad old faces come alive and sing along."
We try hard to present a fun program that everyone can participate in. We think we achieved that today. In great part because we were all delighted to have Edna back with us!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

By The Beautiful Sea

So what if we were 265 miles from the coast?  This "ship" sailed anyway.  The residents, all dressed in resort attire, were welcomed by the captain as they boarded and took a lunch time cruise.  A lavish meal (including shrimp cocktail, salmon, crab rangoon, teriyaki steak, oysters and mango sorbet) was enjoyed by residents of Foothills Presbyterian Community as the cruise got underway.  

The YesterUkes were the featured entertainers for the floor show during the meal.   We added some Hawaiian tunes to our regular repertoire, singing Pearly Shells, The Hukilau Song, and Tiny Bubbles.  There were even bubbles floating through the air for the famous Don Ho song.

As the show ended, people gathered on the dance floor for a hula.  The "ship" docked and the cruise director offered everyone a choice of a day trip into town or bingo on the Lido deck.   We hope this "ship" sails next year.  We'd love to cruise with them again.