Tuesday, August 29, 2006

When Sick Is It Tea You Want?

I know that Avery doesn't want tea... he wants either water or milk, whether he is healthy or under the weather. And it's under the weather today for the little guy. After a few days of not feeling well, Jen brought him to the pediatrician. After a couple of nebulizer treatments to increase his blood oxygen levels, they made the decision to admit him to the hospital for further care and testing. He's doing pretty good, not slowed down much at all, and though not really happy with the whole deal he's fairly cooperative (for an almost eighteen month old). Jen is pretty tired, she's not slept much for a few nights now... and Jason's ready for some good solid sleepful nights too. Wish them all well. Avery should be able to go home tomorrow!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Land of Lincoln

A couple of photos taken this afternoon... home after a successful surgical procedure! The splinter actually ended up being a shard of glass (shown next to a penny for scale) which we were able to bring home (apparently not considered a biohazard or it would have required disposal at the hospital). Right up until the time I was being wheeled into the OR, my surgeon was still doubtful he'd be able to find it.
Anesthesia was so weird, and so easy... one moment I remember saying, "This is so WEIRD" and the next moment I was awake being discharged... hours later.
Not too big of a bandage, no real interference playing the fiddle (yeah, I know I look a little sleepy), and not much inconvenience typing though the thumb is numb still. Should be back up to full speed shortly! That's good because we've found some new tunes to play, and have ideas for more...
Thanks to everyone for their well-wishes.
Land of Lincoln comes from the second volume of the Portland Collection.

Sleep Soond Ida Moarnin'

Ahhh, general anesthesia in just a few hours... not a big deal, I know from working in the oral surgeon's office that it's not being totally 'out'... it's more of a conscious sedation where I'll be cooperative yet very relaxed and possibly not remember much of the procedure. But I'm almost fifty, and I've never had it before, so even though I know it's nothing, it looms ahead of me as something new to experience.
I think what I'm most concerned with though isn't the anesthesia, it's how I'm going to play the fiddle and how soon I can get back to it. Last year when Richard had surgery on his finger, I remember this was his concern too and I kept encouraging him to give adequate healing time, not to worry about it. That was good advice, probably the best I could give at the time. He was not patient about the healing time however, he was out of the splint and bandages as soon as he could manage and he was playing the fiddle way sooner than I would have imagined or thought prudent. Today I understand more what he was going through... that's all that's on my mind too. There are plenty of chores that still need to be done this fall, and I'll be glad to get to them, but foremost is fiddling.
The good thing that is happening these days is that we are gaining perspective on what we are all about with our music. We're looking at all the different fiddle practices and jams that we've taken part in over the past year and making decisions on what the next year will look like for us. We want to spend more time at home, and focus more on playing community events... we loved doing the barn dance at the Norlands, we have really enjoyed the Farmers Market and we had a great time a few months ago at the Silent Auction/Wine Tasting in Freeport. We'll still do the Yarmouth Family Contradance every second Saturday at Wescustago Hall, and we may continue to go to Belfast for the Community Dance on the first Friday of each month... but we also want to develop fiddlehedz & company with a solid repertoire of contradance tunes as well as some other styles of music... maybe even a few vocal sets.
Ah, so many tunes, so many ideas... how fun to have a life partner who has the same goals and visions for the future.
Sleep Soond Ida Moarnin' comes from the Fiddler's Fakebook and is a tune I just love to play... I like it as part of a set including Skye Boat Song, Spootiskerry, Tom Morrison's Reel, Far From Home, Sleep Soond Ida Moarnin'. Any other ideas of tunes that could go in this set?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

You're Only as Good as Your Last Gig

Tonight was the last pizza jam at the Emporium in Readfield... this has been a regular event all summer on the 2nd and 4th Sunday evenings. For whatever reason (and we have many) we had not yet attended one of these jams, even though it is only 10 minutes from our house! I am so happy to have been in attendance this time. The Emporium will still be open for dinner from 5:00-9:00 Wednesday through Sunday, they make the absolute best pizza as far as I'm concerned... barbecued pulled pork, chicken pesto to name a couple of my favorites. The atmosphere is fun and casual, and the owners spend time getting to know their regulars. The jam session tonight was well attended, and the non-jammers were just as plentiful... the place was packed! A lot of our fiddling friends were there so it was not just good music and good food, it was fun company with a lot of conversation and laughs in between tunes. This wasn't our last gig ever, but it was the last Emporium gig for the season, and probably my last gig for a few days until my thumb heals up... the now famous splinter is scheduled for removal tomorrow morning. I've been careful not to use that part of my thumb to pick things up, but every once in a while I forget, and am SUDDENLY AND PAINFULLY reminded that yes, I still need to get it removed. We'll host our regular Tuesday jam this week, and see how well I can fiddle!
You're Only as Good as Your Last Gig comes from Jerry Holland's Collection of Fiddle Tunes.

Out On the Ocean

Richard's family gathered today to cast the ashes of Beverly and Carlton into the ocean off the coast of Harpswell. We joined the family later in Brunswick to look at photographs, catch up with one another and enjoy a great meal of lobster, corn on the cob, potato salad, grilled items and dessert. I'd already met some of Richard's family, and had a great time meeting the others present today. They're a fun bunch of people to be around, I had a wonderful time!
There are many ways to prepare for death, and to celebrate life... the most common theme I've seen over the years is for the family and friends to gather together in the sharing of stories and memories. Getting together and celebrating the lives of those now gone is great... even better is to appreciate our family and friends today and to make each moment a little celebration if possible. My mother-in-law is a great example of that... she makes time to bake for people, visit them, and do whatever she can to do something nice... she's an inspiration to me and I'm sure anyone who knows her!
I think that whenever Richard's family goes out on the ocean, they'll feel some of the energy of Beverly and Carlton... what a nice way to stay connected with their memories and the stories of how their lives touched those who are here today.
Out On the Ocean is a jig you can find in the Portland Collection.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Salt River 2

Back from a great day in Bangor on the waterfront... the festival was awesome and the weather could not have been better. Richard and I left late this morning, stopped in to visit Jen, Jason and Avery and to see their renovation project, and then headed into the city.
We saw all the bands we wanted, plus a couple of other groups... had delicious food, relaxed in the Beer Garden, contradanced, and watched people. The biggest adventure? Keeping up with Avery... he's so interested in EVERYTHING that's going on around him... and he loves to climb, and to run! He's so much fun though... he really enjoyed the music, so much that he just had to dance sometimes :) Chores and projects around the house can really overshadow life at times... I'm thankful today that we managed (not easily) to allow ourselves a day to play... we had a really good time.

Salt River

The American Folk Festival on the Bangor Waterfront is going on this weekend, and it's absolutely FREE to those attending... no admission, no parking fees... just lots of great music and performances, food from around the world, demonstrations and exhibits!

This festival started in Bangor as the National Folk Festival which takes place for three consecutive years in a host city before going on to another venue (this year it is in Richmond, VA) . The city of Bangor worked hard to achieve host status, and has continued to work hard to put this amazing festival on. The photo shown here gives a good overview, but doesn't come close to sharing how wonderful it is to experience five stages of top quality performers, with street performances continually showing up along the thoroughfares.
The festival started Friday night and will go until Sunday afternoon. Richard and I went up today, stopping in to see Jen, Jason and Avery (they attended last night) on our way. The weather was cooperative, and there were quite a few familiar faces in the crowd... this type of event draws people from all over the state, and beyond.

Avery amazes me every time I see him these days. He's so engaged and interested in EVERYTHING that goes on around him... and he loves to climb and run... it is an adventure being with him!
Richard and I had a great time listening to the bands, walking the festival, contradancing, eating the food, having a beverage in the Beer Garden, and most of all spending a beautiful late summer day together just enjoying each other's company... it's not always easy to manage to create that!
For those who didn't know, the Penobscot River is tidal. Salt River can be found in the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bertil Ferneborg Vals

The east and south borders of the lawn are dense with ferns, creating a beautiful transition from trimmed lawn to woodland forest. This is one place where we've allowed nature to make the beauty happen without our (my) interference. Living a bit off the beaten track, we have a great opportunity to live less fussy than when living in a neighborhood where there are expectations (spoken or unspoken) of how the yard should look. I'm happy to say that this summer, living here at Fiddle Ridge I've been blending my own personal expectations of a nice looking yard with the practicality of time crunches that occur because we're playing music, dancing, or engaged in any other fun activity. It's working! There are moments when I wish I had the energy to do more, to have it all "perfect", but overall I'd say I am really happy with our space here. The ferns are a nice reminder than we humans do NOT have the final say on professional style landscaping!
Bertil Ferneborg Vals can be found in the Waltz Book Volume Two (the teal book).

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Porcupine Reel

Monday evening I headed out to the garden to pick tomatoes. As soon as I opened the door from the kitchen to the back porch, I encountered this PORCUPINE sitting happily on the ledge! I muttered a "Whoah, what is THAT" sort of exclamation, carefully backed up, and closed the door. The creature continued to sit contentedly, not at all disturbed by my sudden outburst. I called for Richard, and he went out to chase the porcupine away with a sneaker... with me continuing to call out helpful encouraging words like "Don't turn your back on him!" and "Don't get too close" and "He's turning around, stay in front of him". I'm sure Richard appreciated my attempts at being helpful and informative as the small beast slowly worked his way back toward the woods.. casually, without a care in the world, almost seeming to be insulted that we wouldn't want him hanging around! We've seen deer, turkey, lots of birds, and now the porcupine. Fun to live in the wild!
Porcupine Reel is a tune I picked up somewhere as sheet music. I can't attribute it to anyone in particular. If anyone has information about this tune, email me and let me know.

Monday, August 21, 2006

It Ain't the Heat, It's the Humidity

Today we got a dehumidifier for our house. Because we are on a slab, essentially our first floor living space is the basement. The back side is bermed up, and it has stayed nice and cool this summer in spite of the heat. However, we've had a lot of moisture and condensation and the result of that is some mold and mildew. We've bleached walls, aired out instrument cases, and brought books upstairs where it is drier but now we're noticing an unacceptable (and unhealthy) musty smell.
We went to Dave's Appliance in Winthrop after a bit of research, and ended up getting this model. It should have enough capacity to take care of the moisture in season... once we get into fall weather we should be in good shape without running the dehumidifier. We aren't sure if it makes a difference where we put it, so we're trying some different locations. Right now it is in the kitchen and it's pretty loud so I don't think it'll stay there! Lots of other possibilities though.
It Ain't the Heat, It's the Humidity is a tune from the Portland Collection.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Great Northern Bands

Okay, there are a great many REALLY great northern bands and we can help you name a few. But tonight, WE were the great northern band as we played our first gig as fiddlehedz & company. The Norlands was the setting for this small, community based lawn contradance. Richard and I have been working toward this for a year and a half now, so it was especially rewarding for it to really HAPPEN. We've played with bigger groups for family dances, with the Fiddle-icious orchestra, a barn auction and the farmers market, all under the name or umbrella of other groups.
We are so fortunate to have had good friends to play with us today... thanks to our awesome guitar player Paul, to our fearless fiddling friends Jim and Ellen... and to Jim's wife Muffy and my daughter Jen for showing their support by being present. Jen brought Avery along too, I think it may have been his first contradance! We had a fabulous evening!
Yeah, so Avery is showing more interest in the wonders of nature than in the music, but please be assured that he WAS seen with his little hand up in the air dancing for a short time!

Tight Line Fishing

I have a way of being, and I have a way that I want to be. I like to be organized mentally as well as physically, knowing that I can locate things (like a particular CD) or that I am ready to take part in any situation.
I somtimes find my life getting out of control, that I feel like I'm hanging on for dear life so I don't fly off the ride, that I forget very basic things that I need to do... that's when I know it's time for me to re-examine my priorities and activities in all areas of my life to regain personal control, balance and harmony. I want to have accountability and integrity, to take responsibility for my actions and reactions. Part of that means to sometimes say "No, thank you"... either to the fun stuff so I can keep up with chores, OR to the chores so I can do the fun stuff. Balance and organization, keeping priorities in focus... those things are key for me.
I read recently that when life gets chaotic mentally, it often shows up in other areas... like a messy closet or a disorganized shelf of CD's. Cleaning just one small area up, putting things back in order, feeling a small sense of control and satisfaction is the first step in cleaning things up mentally. I think it's true. So, today I re-organized the CD's by putting them back in their cases (I still have eight empty cases and no extra CD's) and re-filing them by category and alphabetically by artist. This is how I like them to be... easy to go and get a particular CD because it is in its place. This is now I like my life to be... easy to live fast and hard sometimes because I've put my time in doing the chores and maintenance to keep things in order.
What I do not like is shuffling things back and forth, not taking the time to put things away, not taking the time to clear up conversations, not taking the time to appreciate all that I am. And in not doing those things, I am not prepared to fully engage with the people and activities around me.
So the CD's are in order. Now for my life!
Tight Line Fishing comes from the Phillips Collection of Traditional American Fiddle Tunes.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Bummer's Reel

The big bummer of the day (though no huge surprise) is that the infamous splinter continues not to rear it's ugly head. Our visit with the orthopedic surgeon ended up being a surgical consultation. Apparently (and we had heard this from a couple of other sources) there's a nerve that runs up through the thumb, making any surgical procedure very tricky. Even with a couple of nice dental film x-rays clearly showing the location of the splinter, it was recommended that I have day surgery with general anesthesia in the hospital, arghhhhh. For anyone following this blog over the past year and a half, it will be a similar procedure as Richard had to correct his Dupuytren's condition. This will all take place on Aug 28th which was the soonest appointment available. So, until then I continue to fiddle, work, and generally function a bit awkwardly. The good thing is it's my left hand, and I am right handed. The other good thing is that though the thumb is tender, it isn't really painful as long as I'm careful, and there's no infection. Still, quite a bummer, don't you think? I'm getting tired of the saga though, so until the 28th I'm going to find other things to post about, things that are uplifting and interesting!
Bummer's Reel comes from the Phillips Collection of Traditional American Fiddle Tunes.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Merry Sisters

This tune from the Fiddler's Fakebook makes me think of me and my sisters, we are very merry indeed when we get together!
This evening found us gathered at Deb's house for dinner, a little pot luck affair with each of us bringing something to contribute. We had chowder, quiche, tossed salad, bean salad, mozzarella salad, greek pasta salad... and cake. Oh yeah, a few vodka tonics and gin tonics with orange or lime zest to quench our thirst... very festive for the middle of the week!
What do we do, you may ask? Well, we talk about our day, our week, our lives. We discuss who we like, what things are going well for us, and our current aspirations. We laugh, we joke around. We reminisce about our childhood and how silly we were. And then we act really silly just to prove we still are.
Mostly what we do is maintain our connection... we get to be, for a few hours, the most normal people we know. We are familiar to one another, and safe. We sometimes talk of things that we are unhappy about, things we do not understand, things that disturb us in some way. Sometimes we talk about ourselves, in a way that we don't usually share with others.
But, mostly we are very merry indeed, and that is the very best part about being one of the famous Davis sisters.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

To Market to Market...

Okay, that's actually a nursery rhyme instead of a fiddle tune, just checking to see if you're all paying attention out there :) This afternoon we are going to Lewiston to play music at the farmers market at Kennedy park. We did this about a month ago and had a really fun time, so we're happy to be going back. The regular Tuesday night jam will happen this evening... a full day of playing tunes!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

(In)-convenience Reel

How tricky would you think it is to type with one hand bagged up like this? This is an old tried & true remedy for getting stubborn splinters ejected from your body... to sweat them out. If this works, there will be hearty rounds of applause to my mother-in-law for remembering this prescribed treatment from her years of working in the infirmary! Stay tuned for an update tomorrow!
In other news today, Avery has learned to wink..well, he actually responds to requests by blinking... and then clapping his hands together and cheering "yay"... this he learned from his Grammie Richard this afternoon.
Avery, Jen and I had a fabulous day of shopping in the Old Port and in Freeport... A has the swipe move of the credit bcard down perfectly!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sweets for Breakfast (Friday)

Food at Maine Fiddle Camp is thoughtfully prepared by Second Breakfast. They served delicious, wholesome and hunger satisfying meals throughout the week.
Campers would line up outside the dining hall just before serving time, affording a wonderful opportunity to catch up with fellow campers who were in other classes.
Breakfast typically included yoghurt, granola, oatmeal, cold cereal, sausage, eggs, and either pancakes or muffins. For lunch we'd have sandwich fixings and salads. Dinners were varied and hearty... fish, chicken, home made tempe, home baked beans with ham, mussels... all served with freshly cooked vegetables in season.
Coffee was always available, as was fresh fruit if you needed an in between snack. Meals were a great time for sitting family style and taking part in group conversations. One thing we realized at the end of the week is that no one really had much idea of what was going on 'outside' camp. No radios, televisions, or other communication en masse though a few folks did keep in touch via cell phone. It's actually kind of nice to be 'away' while on vacation, and it certainly was nice not to have the distraction of political turmoil... easier to maintain a focus on music and just 'being'.

In the Pines (Thursday)

Whether we were under the big central tent listening to presentations...
in our nests at class...

or maybe in a specialty workshop learning something fun like yodeling or shape note singing, the tone for this week was sharing.
Young and old, experienced and novice, native Mainer or traveler from away it doesn't matter when it comes to music. Sharing a tune is like sharing a story with someone. You may or may not speak the same language or dialect, but once you open yourself to hear what the other has to say it doesn't take long to begin to speak and share together. First you pick up a note, then maybe a phrase... with enough listening, and enough sharing you soon find you're playing along, and that in the playing you've made a friend and established a connection with someone.
Thursday night there was a disco, quite unexpected for me because it doesn't fit the traditional feel of camp... but there we were in the dark with flashing head lamps and colored glow sticks dancing with all ages of campers to the sound of a cello and drum jam for about 20 minutes just before curfew. Amazingly fun for everyone, young and old.

Green Meadow Reel (Wednesday)

Campers have choices at Maine Fiddle Camp. Adults and children have the opportunity to bunk in one of many small cabins, usually 6-8 per building I think. There is also a lovely meadow where many choose to park their RV, camper, or to put up their tent. There is a paved pad for those who want to use that as well as lots of level grassy areas. There were probably about 200 people at this August session of camp. Previous years (and even earlier this summer) I've always camped out under the pines by the lake. This was the first time either of us had stayed in the back meadow... we really enjoyed the peace and solitude... and still being close enough to hear music as we went to sleep and when we woke up in the morning.

Guy Reel #1 (Tuesday)

Richard and I spent this week as cormorants. At Maine Fiddle Camp, students are grouped according to instrument, level & ability, and age. We were at level 5 which was a bit of a stretch for us... we are comfortable playing familiar tunes at dance speed but still have a lot to learn as far as technique. For me, a big challenge is learning by ear rather than by printed sheet music. As cormorants, we were assigned a home 'nest' which means a tent under which we would meet for all classes... instructors would come to us. We'd start each morning with our home instructor. For us, this meant Guy (pronounced Geee) Bouchard would begin each day teaching us a tune and some technique for playing French Canadian fiddle music. Guy would return in the afternoon to review tunes and answer questions, essentially being our resource person. A bit of a challenge at times, because though Guy speaks great English there would be a phrase or a word now and then that would elude translation. Fortunately there were a few in our group who spoke French, and Guy's partner Laura spoke fluent English. I felt very 'close to the source' learning these tunes, working with bowing techniques, and also attempting to incorporate some foot tapping while playing... that sounds pretty easy, but it's a little trickier than you might think while you're trying to remember the tune, the bowing, a cut or roll now and then while all at the same time keeping the tempo AND tapping both your feet in rhythm!

Blue Monday

Monday started out being a little blue but we turned it around to be the start of a fabulous week... once we took charge! Richard and I set up camp on Sunday at Maine Fiddle Camp, knowing that we'd be driving almost two hours Monday morning to get to the surgeon's in Farmington to have my splinter removed. The surgeon's office was emphatic about not rescheduling the appointment to next week, saying it was waiting too long. So, we left camp in time to make the 9:45 am appointment only to find that the General Surgeon on staff refused to even attempt to take a look much less try to get the thing out of my thumb. Can you say "DISAPPOINTED", "FRUSTRATED", or maybe even "ANGRY"? Yeah, not fun. Spending that amount of time in the car for no reason sucked. Spending money on fuel and wasting our resources sucked. Having my clearly explained situation (splinter in thumb, deep in the tissue, two unsuccessful attempts by doctors, don't want to miss camp) unheeded sucked. Missing breakfast and coffee sucked (because we didn't get up early enough). Missing the first two classes of fiddle instruction sucked.
Richard was very supportive, and quite patient while I calmed down from ranting about things that suck (thanks sweetie). The women at the surgeon's office were apologetic and offered suggestions like dropping in at another office to see if they could help me, maybe go to the ER (which R also suggested) or scheduling another appointment. But at that point all I wanted to do was get back to camp and resume my vacation and play some tunes! So, that's what we did. Thumb still sore, still unable to grasp onto anything, and being generally inconvenient... so who cares? I'd had a couple weeks to learn how to adapt to not using that part of my body, and a few more days didn't really matter. Time to get back to Camp NEOFA, settle into the routine of classes, meals, concerts, jams and practicing tunes!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Jefferson and Liberty

I find it interesting that there are so many towns in Maine that are incorporated into the names of fiddle tunes. What it tells me is that contradancing and fiddle music were a big part of the formative years of our state. Richard and I will be traveling through some of these towns later today on our way to Camp NEOFA where we'll set up our tent for Maine Fiddle Camp week. I love living in the tent, and this coming week looks especially nice for camping. There will be great food, great music and instruction, great company with familiar faces, and opportunity to meet new musicians from around the state and even from 'away'. For me, it's the perfect way to spend a summer vacation!
Jefferson and Liberty can be found in the New England Fiddler's Repertoire.

Cutting at the Point

An update on the splinter situation... still there but not for long. Monday morning I see a surgeon to remove whatever is lodged deep in the pad of my thumb. From the change in density, we're guessing it's fibrous, probably a piece of root since I got it digging in the flower garden. Richard was able to use an adaptor on his scanner to capture the x-ray image in a way we could post... cool technology and cool husband!
Cutting At the Point comes from the Phillips Collection of Traditional American Fiddle Tunes.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Blackthorn Stick

I got a splinter over a week ago, and have been unable to remove it. Go ahead, name a remedy or trick to get the darned things out, and I'll bet I've tried it... peroxide, soapy water, poking with a needle, epsom salts, table salts, tar ointment, poking it with a needle, bacitracin ointment, water, poking with a needle... oh, did I mention poking with a needle? My poor thumb is so sore! Yesterday I went to see my physician who, after poking and prodding with her fingers, determined where the offensive-piece-of-something-sharp might be, shot me with novocaine (no matter how much they tell you the stuff is buffered to decrease the sting, don't believe them) and incised the pad of my thumb and dug around a bit... to no avail. What's next? Probably a visit to the orthopedic surgeon if it doesn't come out on its own.
I took an x-ray at work today, and it is clearly visible and in a perpendicular-to-the-bone position which explains why it hurts SO much to press anything on that area. It also shows that it is imbedded deep in the tissue, which explains why after 8 days of poking it and looking for something to haul out there's nothing visible.
The rule of the day is "Wear Your Garden Gloves" whenever you're working outside, no matter how much or how little you're doing, or how long you plan to be outside. I recently got a dozen pair of Galeton nitri-flex gloves, enough to carry me through a couple of days of outside work. They are machine washable and should last a long time.
Blackthorn Stick comes from the New England Fiddler's Repertoire.

Lighthouse Sisters

It's Sister's Night Out this evening and it's way overdue! My sisters are and have always been my lifeline to reality. When my priorities are askew, when my ego is out of control, when I get so busy I can barely find time for myself... that's when I know it's time for a sit-down heart-to-heart with the girls who know me best. It's not about seeing each other daily, or even every week. It's not about sharing every detail of our lives. It's not even knowing our current most important goal in the world. It's about trusting that we have so much in common, that our roots are so ingrained, that we are so solidly, totally US that to know one of us is in many ways to know all of us. So, maybe the most important time to regroup with the sisters is when I don't know myself... you know, those times when you lose sight of who you are and what you're all about... I think we all have a day like that now and then. I like to think I'm more grounded after SNO. We'll talk, we'll laugh, we'll gossip, we'll dream... we'll be little girls and we'll be women.
Lighthouse Sisters comes, appropriately, from the Lighthouse Collection.