Hello all: Well, the summer is flying by fast – we hope you have been enjoying it! We had such a great time with you at our CD releases in Denver and Fort Collins. Thank you for your outpouring of support. Sometimes the idea of writing in a public journal is perplexing to me. I am not sure of what people are really interested in knowing about. They say (whoever “they” is) that people want to know about the details of what is going on in an artist’s life. But sometimes I am not sure of just what exactly it is that you will find interesting. I usually just talk about the music stuff, but over the summer a few very cool non-music things have happened, so here goes. I have had the great privilege of starting to study this year with a new vocal coach, Cindy Hammel-Knipe. We started working together in October after meeting at our first Morrison Town Hall show. I have learned so much already about improving my technique in singing. But this past weekend, I learned something perhaps even more important: how to play Blackjack. Cindy took a group of us on an outing to the Central City Opera to see Lucia di Lammermoor. My advice is not to go to a “tragic” opera if you are in the mood to be uplifted. However, if you are in the mood for amazing talent and a stellar production, go to Central City Opera to see anything! The lead role of Lucia was played by a Russian soprano named Lyubov Petrova, who was simply stunning. Cindy said that on some of her parts she was singing high G, which is basically like “tape-all-the-windows-and-hide-all-your-crystal,” cause shit is about to break around here. But, I mean, in a breathtaking way. I mean this with the highest of compliments – she was amazing. There was also a male apprentice who sang in the pre-opera “previews” who had a voice that is called a “Countertenor.” Basically, he sounded like either a woman or a 10-year old boy. Cindy leaned over to me and said, “he’s singing in a higher range than you do.” My mouth was on the floor. I don’t know how these people do it. But it is totally worth at least one trip up there – and plus, afterwards, you get to gamble. So: Blackjack. We are close to the end of the night, and Cindy settles down at the Blackjack table, and the cards start flying. And I discover: my voice coach is a card shark! Did you know there is all this wild stuff that goes on in the game of Blackjack? I thought it was just getting a higher hand than the dealer does, without going over 21, but no. There is so much more. For one thing, it is really a team sport, and if the whole table plays together well, everybody wins. There are even positions on the Blackjack table – first base, second base, and third base. The player at third base is pivotal, because if he makes a bad move, the whole table loses. Talk about pressure! Suppose you’re sitting there in the “third base” position, and you have no idea there is even such a thing as “positions” in Blackjack, and you have no idea what you’re doing, and you make some bad moves? Well, the table – or the dealer – can ask you to leave! They might suggest that you sit at another table, which is a polite way of saying: “you suck, please associate with others like yourself.” Or, they might do what this group did to the poor guy sitting at third base unwittingly, and say: “Please listen to what we tell you to do, or you will shoot the game for the whole lot of us.” There was also a guy at the table next to us who Cindy swore was counting cards. (I say “us” loosely, because all I can really take credit for is poking my head over Cindy’s shoulder trying to keep up watching cards going 80 miles an hour.) Cindy said this guy was one of the best players she had seen in a while. When I say “counting cards,” I mean, counting cards from of a stack of about 4 decks used out of 6 decks shuffled. Okay, if that means nothing to you, just take my word for it – it’s mindblowing. All of a sudden, I noticed, there are these white chips ($1) being bet in addition to the red chips ($5 minimum bet). And every time the white chips won, they would go to the dealer. As a tip. I had no idea you tipped the dealers on those table games! Shows you what a neophyte I am! Whenever the player giving the tip would win, the dealer would also win – cause the dealer would get the tip laid out for him or her. With that incentive, the dealer pitches in and helps the rest of the table to do well, because they are all playing together, in a way. It was so excellently cool. So then you might ask: this whole day in Central City, and a night at the casino, did you win anything? And, well, yes I did. I won $36.75 at the only game that I know anything about: 25-cent slot machines. What an amazing night it was. I have no idea why I am telling you all this . . . but I also really wanted to tell you about our new horses. Okay, that will have to wait for the next journal entry. Lots of love! Cara