Mister Rogers and Me

As a kid, I loved Mister Rogers. Not just loved. Adored. He was one of the most loving, affirming and positive forces that has ever been on television. 

It’s easy to be tempted to emulate someone like him, but Mr. Rogers would not want anyone to strive to be like other people.

Mr. Rogers would want me to always search and discover what is unique and magical about me, and then be that. So many people have inspired me and continue to inspire me.

Today, I celebrate him.

“You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.” —Fred Rogers

The state of Pennsylvania placed a roadside historical marker in honor of Fred Rogers, designated on June 25, 2016. It is located in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, if you’re ever in that neck of the woods.

Motorized. Wheelchair.

Motorized Wheelchair

I’m missing the band this evening, and I’ve been meandering down memory lane today in my imagination, and I remembered this - it happened a few years ago:

Sue and I were taking Cheryl, our lead singer, home from a music practice one evening. Coming up on an intersection, I had a red light. A little bit before the intersection, my light turned green, so I took my foot off the brake. 

Then, to my right, I hear two words.

Motorized wheelchair.

My brain didn't even register it as English. Before I could reply "what the h*ll are you talking about???" I hear it again, a little louder.

Motorized Wheelchair!

This time, my brain almost finished forming a vague yet inarticulate thought along the lines of: "why are you saying such a silly thing?" when Sue grabbed my leg and said...



I stopped.

Just in time for a lady in a...motorized wheelchair...to zoom across my path, running her red light, yet flying along the crosswalk...

Two things now must I say in my defense:
1-there was a car immediately to my left. Now, I didn't actually turn my head to the left to look, but I saw it in my peripheral vision. Even if I were looking straight towards the wheelchair as it was crossing, I could not have seen it, because the other car was in that line of sight...

2-of all the phrases that someone might say to me to get me to stop and avoid hitting a wheelchair-bound person, "motorized wheelchair," said in a calm, matter-of-fact tone of voice, is not one of them. It is not a phrase that I have ever heard before to associate it with not hitting something. I have now added that to my repertoire of warnings to listen for when driving with a passenger in my car.

If you ever want me to avoid collided with anything, or anyone, now all you have to say is...


I will listen.

Empathy and Faceplants

A few minutes ago, I looked down at my fingers, and I saw the scars on my left middle and ring fingers from a pretty jarring (and more than a little embarrassing) fall I took on the front entrance to Butler High School back in December.

And my mind drifted to this question:  are human beings instinctively empathetic, or is empathy learned?

From what I remember when I fell in front of Butler High School - 

  1. A lot of high school kids saw a middle-aged woman take an enormous face plant onto the pavement.
  2. Of all those kids, the majority of them actively turned in my direction, did not laugh, and genuinely showed concern for my well-being, with a few of them coming over to me to make sure I was OK.
  3. A few of them passively continued doing what they were doing - which could also have been a form of empathy - they could have seen I was embarrassed, afforded me the social equivalent of privacy.
  4. Of all the kids who witnessed the incident, I don’t remember seeing anyone laugh.

This makes me think empathy is a base instinct BEFORE it becomes an evolving, more sophisticated learned behavior.

Go Off the Block

When I was a kid, I used to love playing outside with my friends. 

My mom had surprisingly few rules, but a big one was:




I don’t normally use all caps, but this warrants it.

Because it was that crucial to her, and for multiple valid reasons…


There’s a meandering, curling creek that runs pell-mell through Metro Louisville - it’s called Beargrass Creek.

We lived fairly close to it.

In the broad definition of “fairly close.”

Which means we were a good 4-5 blocks away from where Beargrass passes through a neighborhood that was adjacent to ours…




One day as I was playing with my friends, they told me wondrous stories of crawdads that lived in Beargrass Creek.


My friends had little buckets.

They intended to catch some crawdads.

At Beargrass Creek.

Which was a good deal past “off the block.”

I had a little bucket in our garage…


I paid for it dearly, but we had glorious adventures at the creek that day.

Finding crawdads.

Playing around the creek.

Playing in the creek.

Perhaps redefining the word “block.”


Sometimes you have to venture off the block.

Sometimes you need to venture off the block.

And almost every time the chance comes up, I WANT to venture off the block.

5 Seconds from last summer

This happened last summer:

Sue has a yellow jacket nest in the door frame of her garage.
How do I know this? Well, let me tell you the story.
This is how it goes:
*Angie walks to garage side door to unlock and help get band gear ready for practice tonight. Sue follows. And the dialog unfolds.*
Me: Man, there are a lot of flies here near the garbage cans...wait! Close the door!
Sue: What? *Sue tries to walk past Angie to open the door, Angie blocks her way.*
Me: Just trust me!! Those aren't flies! *Angie, fumbling to get large garage door open*
Sue: they're just flies! *makes you're-such-a-wuss face at Angie*
Me: Do NOT open that side door! *frantically opens garage door and leaves a dust-cloud in the shape of Angie as she runs away.*
Sue: What? *walks around to side door*
Sue: Wait...ouch, ouch! Ouch! OUCH!!
Me: I tried to tell you.

The End.

Memories from Music Gigs, Part One

Our band, Most Wanted, has played gigs all over the Kentucky and Indiana area, and we have a great deal of fun playing music together. Every gig is always unique and eventful, and the vast majority of them are a blast. We have met so many friends over the years just through playing tunes that everyone wants to hear. Two of those friends are Damon and Tracy.

Damon and Tracy have an annual summer party, and it is quite the shindig. They bring us in to play, and it is one of the most delightful gigs that our band performs. 

Since those gigs are so special to the band, I wanted to share a memory from one of said parties, so here’s the story:

For many years (the exact number I will not divulge here), I would search the night sky for falling stars. Sometimes it felt like I would stare for hours. Most likely it was minutes, or maybe an hour at the most, depending on where I was. I had countless opportunities to watch for shooting stars, at different times in life, and in many different settings, like at the beach, various states, countries, and continents, in a city, or out in the country. But I always expected to see one, and I had always been profoundly disappointed that I never did.

Until the summer of 2012.

I saw my very first falling star at Damon and Tracy’s 2012 party. It lasted only a moment, a fraction of a second, but it was so special, that I will never forget it.

There’s my memory du jour.

Minimum Wage in Kentucky

Last year I posted these thoughts about minimum wage in Kentucky. As a musician who makes her living as a business owner and an independent artist/contractor, I don't often deal in per hour metrics personally, but most of us have worked an hourly job at some point in our lives, and it's good to really think about this issue, especially with the new governor. 

In Kentucky, a person goes out, gets a job that pays minimum wage – $7.25/hour, and works at a company that chooses to classify them as part-time so the company does not have to provide benefits. For demonstration purposes, let’s choose a generous weekly number of hours like 40, what most of us have come to view as a standard full time work week. Here’s the thing: Kentucky is a state that does not require employers to adhere to a quantified definition of full-time employment, so this person gets paid a gross check of $290. That’s gross, by several definitions, but the really gross thing is that’s not what the net check will be; after the common deductions are taken out, that check will be significantly diminished.

$7.25 an hour, for 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, comes to…


That’s gross.

Not net.

After 15% federal taxes are deducted, the amount becomes $12,818.00. (15% on 15,080 is $2,262.)

After 5.8% Kentucky taxes are deducted (from the original 15,080 amount), the new annual wage total becomes $11,943.36.(5.8% on 15,080 is $874.64.)

There are other deductions, but it’s been so long since I’ve had a regular corporate paycheck I can’t remember them all – let’s take an annual “Angie’s rough guess” deduction of $500.36 more, for a total net annual paycheck of:

$11,443.00. (That 36 cents was bugging me…)

Let’s say you can rent an apartment for $500 a month. The annual cost would be $6,000.

Let’s say you can live off of $100 a month for groceries. The annual cost would be $1,200.

Let’s say your electric utility bill runs an average of $100 a month. The annual cost would be $1,200.

Let’s say you already have a car, and you don’t drive much so you fill up twice a month at about $80 a month. The annual cost would be $960. (If you don’t have a car and you live in Jefferson County, you could purchase a monthly TARC pass for $50 per month – but I’ve deprived this poor person of many things already, so let’s give him/her a car…)

Let’s say your water bill runs about $50 every two months – annual cost: $300

Since this person makes so little, he/she is eligible for Medicaid, so there’s no cost for health care.

At least not this year, while the current laws are in place.

Right there – that leaves you with $1,783 for the whole year ($148.58 a month) for everything else – non grocery essentials, maintenance on the car, clothes, internet, cell phone, hair cuts, entertainment.

And the main numbers above are for the most frugal of human beings.

How many of us average $100 a month on our LGE bill?

How many of us pay $100 a month for groceries?

How many of us have a $500 a month mortgage or rent payment?

How many of us in Kentucky want our legislative representatives to raise the minimum wage?

A better question: how can we NOT push our legislative representatives to raise the minimum wage?

What legislative representative with any kind of human decency would NOT be in favor of raising the minimum wage?

Here’s the government website link that specifies Kentucky’s lack of a definition of full time employment – it’s FAQ #4:


What in the world is Pakiyaya?

I originally penned this last year on my Facebook page. It has since wandered over to the old WordPress blog, and finally has settled here on the website blog - here it is:

In 2004 I reached quite the professional milestone in my life: after almost 20 years of making money on the side as a musician, I left corporate America at the end of November of 2004 and officially began making a living solely at music.

Six years after that, in October of 2010, I made it more official by starting my own business and calling it Pakiyaya Productions. The name always elicits curiosity, so I thought I’d share the story…here it is.

The story of Pakiyaya:

A few years ago, my best friend, Lisa, and her daughter, Grace, were in town. Grace was four years old at the time and she was very cute, as only four year olds can be. We met up at Wild Eggs to catch up, and after our brunch, as we were walking out to our cars, I commented on Grace’s stuffed animal. I said, “What a cute bear you have! What’s his name?”

And without hesitation, she replied, “Pakiyaya.”

I chuckled right away, partly because it was adorable, but mostly because of her on-the-spot creativity of such a smile-inducing word. I asked her: “what language is that?”

And without missing a beat, the kid says, “Nuku!” Which again made me laugh.

The entire exchange was delightful, and the more I said the word out loud, the more I came to the conclusion that it was just a happy ol’ word, and Lisa and I had a short conversation during which I asked her if I could use it as a name for the business that I wanted to start. She of course said yes, because she’s my friend and she loves me.

So upon returning home, I immediately went to the Internet to do a search on the word, making sure no one else had a company named “Pakiyaya.”

I was reasonably certain I wouldn’t find anything.

I was wrong.

The Google search actually came upon an anthropology dissertation about a tribe in eastern Mexico. The dissertation goes into great detail about the tribe’s oral language, and the reason the word pakiyaya was a Google hit was because it was an actual word, and in their language, this word means…

Wait for it…


Yes! So naturally I took it as a sign, and now the Pakiyaya story is finally told.

The End

A Christmas Tale, by Angie

One of my early experiences playing in public was when my 8th grade choir teacher found out that I played piano.

Background info on music conductors who have the burdensome task of directing and playing at the same time: most of them do not like to do this, and for good reason. It is, after all, physically impossible to play piano, which uses both hands, and conduct a musical ensemble of any kind, which for good conductors, also uses both hands. So you end up doing a mediocre job of both tasks, making you feel kinda split down the middle...

However, I'm one of the anomalies and exceptions.  Since I'm ADHD, the more things I can be doing at once, the happier I am, so I ADORE playing and conducting at the same time...

No, not really. But over the years I've gotten quite used to it, and so it's one of the many bazillion tasks I do professionally.

Coming back from that little side trip now:
My 8th grade choir teacher found out I played piano. So naturally I became her golden goose, and she very quickly put me to work playing for our choir's rehearsals.

Almost daily.

That freed her up to focus on conducting. It also kept me from singing, or what I like to call, doing what I actually signed up to do in class...but it was a wonderful opportunity to actually play in the real world and not just for the piano recitals that I had grown up playing, or for the church, which is really only a halfway house to the real world...

In the grand scheme of things, Miss Y. had a significant influence in my musical development, and ultimately a positive one. She did, however, have her quirks. She always smelled like cigarette smoke and Aquanet, and I'm fairly certain she was addicted to nasal spray. She had a temper, but I don't remember her ever directing it at me.

Miss Y. secured a public performance for our choir at one of the local malls, The Mall in St. Matthews. Yes, we in Louisville have a mall that has such an inflated sense of self-importance, it never accepted an actual name.

When we arrived and walked inside to set up, you couldn't help but appreciate how splendidly its halls were decked. Bright red and green was everywhere, and gargantuan Christmas trees along the walls and in the little plaza areas. We set up in one of these areas, not far from the giant chess board, for those of you familiar with The Mall.

This chess set, by the way, for those of you unfamiliar, is a gloriously decorative but fully functional game board with wooden pieces, displayed in the middle of one of the mall's many walkways. It is about one third the size of the Harry Potter chess board from the first movie, if you've seen that. If you haven't seen the movie, it's maybe 12' x 12'.

So the magic mall elves provided risers for our choir, and we all started to file up onto the risers. I was in line with the rest of the singers, and Miss Y. pulled me aside and asked me to play.

The piano.

For our mini concert.

I admit to being somewhat scatterbrained at times, but my memory is actually fairly good, and at no time did I remember her ever asking me to play the concert instead of sing. In my world, this was quite last minute, and totally news to me. She probably saw that on my face, and I'm pretty sure all I could manage in response was "what??"

To which she replied: "there's ten bucks in it for you."

As it turned out, in many respects, I was a typical kid. Wave ten bucks on a carrot stick in front of me, and you can get 8th grade me to do almost anything musical. Point me to the piano, Miss Y.

We had fun, performed a great choir concert, got to eat lunch out (this was pre-food court), and got out of most of a school day. I should have been perfectly happy and content, yet...

My teacher had promised me ten dollars.

I went up to my teacher after the concert and asked for my ten dollars, even held out my hand like Oliver.

And my teacher...

Chuckled slightly and turned away. I realized then that she was never, in fact, going to pay me the ten dollars promised.

I was that bicycle-riding newspaper boy in the John Cusack movie, Better Off Dead, yelling (sometimes rasping), "give me my two dollars!"

Except it was ten for me, Miss Y., TEN!!! *insert maniacal raging scream inside head*

I can joke about it now, but that was the first time I truly felt betrayed and cheated. More importantly, it was the first time an authority figure caused those feelings. After that, I just got used it...


It was a really early lesson that reminds me to always get a Contract.

The End