Saturday, October 30, 2010

Follow the North Star is Back!

This outstanding program at Conner Prairie puts you in the shoes of a runaway slave on the Underground Railroad. It is an emotional challenge but memorable and immensely educational, and I walked away with a new understanding of the slavery experience.

This year's program runs 6:30-8:30 p.m., the first three weekends in November, with groups starting every 15 minutes. (The program lasts 90 minutes.) Tickets are $20 for non-members or $17 for members. Reservations are required; call (317) 776-6006.

Although the program is outstanding, it's not for everyone. Take a look at the museum's disclaimer: "Follow the North Star is not for everyone. This program takes place outdoors in all weather conditions, and participants walk approximately one mile on rough terrain. The emotional effect of the program is intense, as participants are treated as slaves, being told to keep their eyes down and not to speak unless spoken to." Participants must be at least 12.

Photo courtesy Conner Prairie.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Closing: Frasier's Gourmet Foods

I stopped by Frasier's Gourmet Foods this weekend, in search of little chocolate cups for our annual Halloween party. The shelves seemed more bare than usual, and there were "30 percent off" signs on the cookware. It seemed ominous.

"Um, Joyce, why is everything 30 percent off?" I asked.

"Because we're retiring at Christmas," she replied.

[Insert one of those drawn-out movie screams of "Nooooooooooooooooo!" Next, in an intrigued voice, "Wait, so the Le Creuset stuff is 30 percent off? Excuse me while I shop."]

So, that's that. I'm losing the gourmet food store just minutes from my house, and we're losing one of the best adult education venues in the city. I'm taking a desserts class at Frasier's this evening, so maybe I'll get more details. Fingers crossed that someone will buy the store and keep things going.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blues Harmonica Class at the JCC

Tonight, I'm attending the second of six blues harmonica classes taught by local musician Allen Stratyner. Regular readers know that I've been trying to schedule this class for about a year, ever since I wrote about it for Indianapolis Monthly. I'm thrilled to finally make the schedule work.

Our first class, held last Tuesday, consisted mostly of housekeeping: introductions, care instructions for our new harmonicas, and a short history of blues harmonica. Finally, at the end of the class, we got to "break in" our harmonicas and learned how to hold them properly (which was actually the most difficult part). Then we learned to mimic the sounds of a train, which we were supposed to practice as homework.

The class is held at the JCC and offered in conjunction with the IUPUI Community Learning Network. Our class has about 10 students, which is perfect -- small enough for individual attention but large enough to feel comfortable in the group.

During the class, we're going to learn how to play scales and individual notes, how to perform simple songs, and how to develop our individual harmonica styles. Perhaps, if I feel confident enough by the end of the class series, I'll post an audio file of my harmonica skills!