Last updated: April 25. 2014 5:06PM - 1281 Views
By Deborah Mitchell Contributing Columnist

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First: When I moved to Sedalia, I heard about a woman who was an international champion whistler. I was puzzled. A champion whistler? Was she judged on how loudly she whistles? How extended the whistle? A Thayer native, I envisioned something like a hog calling contest. The longest, loudest, highest-pitched holler wins. This must have been how this woman won international acclaim.

And then I heard Mary Frances Herndon’s magic. I couldn’t believe my ears. I, who can barely cause sound to come through my puckered lips, finally understood how musical a whistle could be.

Of course, most of you already know this. But I am relating this experience because Mary Frances is going to perform at the second annual Spring on Broadway! Last spring, I had just returned from Afghanistan and was shocked when I was asked to become the music director at Broadway Presbyterian Church. My career began when I directed Spring on Broadway, a Sunday afternoon musical. It was a stunning success, except that, after six months away from the piano, I was too rusty to play the selection I had chosen.

Because we received so many positive comments, we decided to make Spring on Broadway an annual event; it is at 3 p.m. this Sunday at Broadway Presbyterian. I will be accompanying my friends Scott Holloway, and from Jefferson City, Becky Comley, and also Jennifer Nibbelink Carroll, whom I helped raise — well, I like to think so, anyway.

Our bluegrass/blues ensemble is playing and harmonica blues wizard Chris Robinson will make the entire audience tap their feet. And there will be more, including Mason Gaspard playing Gershwin, and me, trying to play my song. Hope to see you there.

Next: Easter weekend was fabulous. I announced on Facebook that my entire family was coming to visit — and they did. My aunt came in from Milwaukee on Thursday, and people arrived all through the weekend, until 24 people had landed at 1020 S. Barrett Ave. I had a special plan though for the Gillespie Girls — that’s what we call ourselves. We had a girls’ afternoon at the brand new spa at the Hotel Bothwell. All I can say is, “Wow!”

The spa is beautiful and it smells heavenly. Some of us had massages, some had pedicures or manicures, and some had facials. But best of all, we all had a good time and caught up on each other’s lives. We have some really good masseuses/masseurs in Sedalia, but there is something really special about being able to sit with good friends and just, as Emily says, “chill.” The only other spa I have ever been to is Spa Shiki at the Lake of the Ozarks, and I think that our spa gives Spa Shiki a run for its money. And going to Bothwell’s Spa here in town will let you keep some of your money, because prices are very reasonable.

Finally: As I told you last week, Monday was Max’s and my 30th anniversary. Max surprised me with dinner at Sycamore in Columbia. Sycamore’s chef is Sedalia’s own Mike Odette, who was nominated for a James Beard award a few years back. I didn’t know what to expect because we went some years ago to Bluestem in Kansas City, whose chefs won the award for the Midwest region. The food there was interesting, but it was expensive and unusual enough that I had to really hunt through the menu for something to eat.

Sycamore, in my humble opinion, was superior in both menu choice and expense. The menu was interesting, but not snooty or horribly expensive. The wine list was extensive but also not expensive — patrons can spend $60 on a bottle if they really want to, but good wines are available for $22 and up. We had a really special time, and I can hardly wait to go back. Next time, I am going to have “duck puppies.” Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Well, that’s enough for this week. I am looking forward to next week, when all my huge spring events will be at an end. Except for Max’s birthday, my mother’s birthday, my sister’s birthday, Mother’s Day…

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