Saturday, December 29, 2007

Down the Back Lane

A little review of some highlights of 2008. What fun to look back over the year and remember all the fun we've had!
January~ Callers Workshops, painting the living room & bedroom, multiple trips to the airport with Bryan, ocular mgraine, and Richard's tip to Florida

February~ "Thirty Secrets", Give Kids a Smile, electric blanket, frozen pipes, sound system

March~ DECDF, efforts toward being more green, fiddlehedz played at the Cohen Center and for the Oyster Supper, Avery's monkey birthday, changing the clock

April~ Fiddle Workshop with Greg Boardman, fiddlehedz played for Kingfield contradance, San Francisco trip, owl lecture with Avery at LL Bean, jam group played at Cohen Center and for Turner contradance, raking the yard

May~ greenhouse seedlings planted, Relay For Life Fiddler's Marathon, garlic is up, preparing the garden for planting

June~ fiddlehedz play at Cohen Center, contradance at Ladd Center, swimming at the dam, contradance at Ladd Center, Maine Fiddle Camp weekend, kittens join our household, new computer, planting the garden

July~ New Fiddle from Somerset Violins, lessons with Elaine, Beat Greens play in Manchester NH, fiddlehedz concert in Mt Vernon, calling at Wescustogo, my Jubilee officially begins, Boreal Tordu in concert, fiddlehedz 4th of July concert in Winthrop, Beat Greens contradance in Washington ME,

August~ last day at Club-E, short gig at Wayne Fair due to lightening, week-long Maine Fiddle Camp, double header with Richard and fiddlehedz at Vienna contradance and me at Wescustogo calling with Maggie, Avery tries out the little fiddle, garden harvest coming in, sister spa afternoon, saris and square roundabouts, Indian wedding in New Jersey with American wedding in Massachusetts, bat in the house

September~ words to live by FORM & FUNCTION, PERSONAL EXCELLENCE, JOY IN LIVING, RESPONSIBILITY, family gathering, Bryan visits from California, shingling the roof, riding the train to see Wicked with my sisters, making ice cream at Tubby's, working at Apple Shed Bakery, washing windows at the lake, clearing the slash in the back yard, technical difficulty with camera, Richard takes wetlands class at UMO, wash fabric in anticipation of quilting, Beat Greens contradance in Farmington,

October~ acceptance letter received from UMF, apple Harvest, Avery's carrot costume, trick-or-treat in Hampden

November~ Physical Therapy, walk-about, lightning rounds, Strong contradance, Thanksgiving

December~ fiddlehedz holiday gig at Norlands, Beat Greens in Farmington, fiddlehedz contadance at Fairfield Center, snow-snow-snow, snowshoe trek around the property, quilts-quilts-quilts

Down the Back Lane is a tune from our binder of collected sheet music. I think we may have gotten it at Ashokan from Sarah Blair.

White Petticoat


This sort of looks like a lacey white petticoat... if you squint your eyes a little bit! Actually, the photo was taken from our greenhouse looking out into the south yard. The angle of the windows catches the snow and allows it to build up, making interesting patterns on the glass.
Snow is piling up here, and it's snowing again today. We have a fairly long road that we must keep clear, in addition to our driveway which is big enough for lots of jammers to park on Tuesday nights. Our plow guy is not as prompt or conscientious as last year, and Richard has managed to shovel everything out twice now before the plow guy gets here. Yesterday we went out and shoveled together. It didn't take very long, and it was good exercise. My method has four segments... 1) using the shovel as a push-scoop clear a path down the middle of the road or bisecting the driveway 2) again using the shovel as a push-scoop, work from the center of one area and push the snow toward the outside margin (in the driveway for example, push from the center toward the side) 3) shovel the show at the outer margin up and over the bank and 4) look at the beautiful snow on the trees, listen to chickadees, experience the cool air on my cheeks. I interject segment 4 whenever possible. Breaking the job up like this makes it easier to feel accomplishment and working together of course makes everything more joyful! Looks like we'll be going out to shovel again today if the plow guy doesn't come.
I'm making a pot of chili today with home-baked kidney beans. Usually we just use a can of beans, but here we have a bag of beans handy so we're doing it the old-fashioned way. We also have tomatoes we canned from our garden. Cornbread (made with real white southern cornmeal from Richard's mom) will round out the meal.
It's been nice having this week off from the bakery... time to update our fiddlehedz.org web site, work on the DEFFA newsletter, make soups and cook beans, and generally hang out together with no schedule other than dancing and playing music. Last night was the North Whitefield dance with Calliope playing music and Chrissy Fowler calling. We had a lot of fun participating from the floor and seeing lots of friends.
White Petticoat comes from the Portland Collection Volume Two. It's a really cool jig, but is still a hard tune for me to play. Not a problem, there are so many others from which to choose!


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beneficial Tradition (continued even more)

Avery's Garden Quilt


SK's Garden Quilt

I think one reason my family has so many beneficial traditions is because we are, as a group, very creative and very do-it-yourself minded. We don't mind hard work, we're able to figure things out on our own, we're determined and goal oriented. Individually we each have our own particular interests and talents which we seem to carry with us over the years, even as we try out something new. Hope you've liked seeing these quilts!

Beneficial Tradition (continued)

Bennett's Scrappy Rail Fence

Toby's Scrappy Stars


More quilt photos... blogger didn't like me uploading too many at a time so I'm splitting them up into several posts.

Beneficial traditions, to me, are those things that are passed from generation to generation, having some usefulness in the process as well as the final result. Doing things together, having stories & memories attached to the doing, and having an end result are all pieces the activity. Some of my families food-centered beneficial traditions are: Date Balls & Needhams, Date Filled Sugar Cookies, Porcupine Meatballs, Grammie Randall's Pork Pie. My family has a history of spinning wool, knitting mittens, making quilts. New traditions evolve over the years as we try out new crafts and activities, always sharing them with other members of the family.

Beneficial Tradition

Geese in the Cabin, made for Bryan & Erin

9-Patch Variation for Jen & Jason


As promised, here are some photos of this year's Christmas projects. This holiday season was filled with gifts from our hearts and hands. Quilts are a time honored tradition and take on many shapes, colors and forms. My personal motto is "Form and Function" whether it's a quilt or any other activity. Quilts fit perfectly into this mind set. I've made some wall hangings and decorative pieces over time, but have much more fun creating something that will be lovingly used.


Beneficial Tradition is not a tune, but a triplet dance written by Al Olson.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Snow on Valafield



This morning found me on my way north to spend the day with Avery while his mom & dad went to work. We played with the new train set, made puzzles, read stories and played Candy Land... and then decided we'd like to go outside and get some fresh air. A said he'd like to shovel, so we each got a shovel and started moving snow! I got the idea to shovel a circular path for him to walk on, which was pretty fun. I continued to make more loopy paths and soon Max (the dog) joined in the fun by running through the pathways! I think all the outside activity tired Avery out though because after lunch and a couple more stories, he asked if we might lie down for a nap! Great idea! We later finished up the day with Tinker Toys airplane projects, more stories and drawing, and some play time with the trains again. It was a wonderful day!
Snow on Valafield comes from the Portland Collection.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Breaking Up Christmas

We broke up the day into a few activities. First order of business in our household is to check out the stockings to see what goodies were left for us... while coffee is being made of course! Once we all have a hot cup of java, we open gifts under the tree, spend some time hanging out and talking and then I get busy in the kitchen preparing breakfast. Traditionally we have Eggs Benedict with Holiday (Hollandaise) Sauce, we continued the tradition today.

We gathered the remaining gifts and went off to our respective next stops... SK to her mom's... Richard, Toby and I to Jen & Jason's. The traveling today was great... warm and clear so no trouble driving up the interstate.
Once at Jen's, we got to see Avery's new train set... Santa's elves made an amazing train table for the train to be set up on... looks just like the ones in the bookstores! We had quite a bit of fun playing with that. Then it was time to open MORE GIFTS... these were from Bryan and Erin. They did a good job keeping to a theme with A's presents... bananas and MONKEYS... wind up monkey, puppet monkey, bathtime monkey, and banana bath products! Next, you guessed it, time for a BATH to try out the fun products. Avery smelled like banana taffy candy by the time he was done! We had a little lunch, colored with markers and used John Deere stickers and then it was time for us to head home. Toby went back home too.
The rest of our afternoon and evening involve settling down at our computers, relaxing and reflecting on all the fun we've had this month as we've used our creative talents and energies to celebrate this season of giving and sharing. Hope you all had a joyous and relatively stress free holiday!

Avery with his new collection of MONKEYS!

Breaking Up Christmas is from the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Christmas Day Ida Moarnin'

Merry Christmas to all...
photos and holiday greetings to be posted later today... until then, may you all have a wonderful holly-day!
Christmas Day Ida Moarnin' comees from the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Snowshoer's Reel

Lots o' snow out there! It looks like a good old fashioned winter for us here in Maine thanks to multiple storms this month. I'm taking a short break from the holiday preparations to get outside and enjoy the bright sunshine, crisp (but not cold) air and get some play time in by walking around on snowshoes through the woods! Then it'll be kitchen time for this elf!
Snowshoer's Reel comes from the New England Fiddler's Repertoire.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Make a Little Boat


Well, maybe not a boat, but we're spending today making some great stuff! And who knows, maybe we really ARE making a boat, hahaha... Only a few more days 'til you find out...
Make a Little Boat is in the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tis the Gift to Be Simple


Not many posts lately... I've been quite busy getting ready for the Christmas holiday... Earlier this year we made a choice to live a bit simpler, spend less, and DO more rather than purchase more... It's been six months of getting back to basics, and the holiday season is no different... We're making just about everything, and having a really good time in the process... It feels so good to put our efforts into some really nice gifts... So, very few blog updates because of course, we can't TALK about or SHOW what we've been up to!
We're promoting to those around us also spend less this year... Fuel oil and gasoline prices are high, which in turn creates higher prices on everything else... And, let's face it, we don't really NEED anything other than to have our family and friends around us... For anyone wondering how to gift their loved ones without running up the old credit card with unnecessary purchases or gas station charges? Bake something special, it could be a favorite treat or something as easy and tasty as Chex party mix... A gift certificate for services like shoveling (if you're anywhere near us here in Maine) or childcare for an afternoon or evening... Write a poem, frame a photo, sew something or make a useful crafty item... There are lots of possibilities and honestly, it IS THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS...
Tis the Gift to Be Simple can be found in the New England Fiddler's Repertoire...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Off To California


A bit premature perhaps, but I'm thrilled to be looking forward to a trip to California in January... Last time Richard and I were on our way home from CA, we were offered the opportunity to change flights and be rewarded with Southwest Airline vouchers, which we have not yet cashed in. We've had some January gigs that have fallen through, leaving some time open before I start classes at UM Farmington, and somehow it's all working out that I can fly out to see Bryan, and meet his new girl and her family... Can you way WHAHOOOOO?
Off To California is a tune from the Fakebook.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Magpie


Wow, it's been a while since I've posted anything here... so much to tell and so little time :) Thanksgiving was well celebrated as the family gathered at Deb and Arnie's new home... Betty, our pie maker, was out of town unexpectedly, but had done all the prep work before she left so all I needed to do was fill the shells and bake... Here is a lovely squash pie! Thanks to all who contributed their baking efforts, and especially for gathering young and old.
Work at the bakery continues to be good and though the paycheck is not huge, the benefits of being close to home, using less gasoline, working with wonderful women, and learning more about the finer techniques of baking and business have great value.
The Christmas holiday approaches and that creates busyness right now... I am picking and choosing those activities that are joyful and letting go of some of the other things that are just plain silly work to me right now.
Magpie is a tune from the Portland Collection volume two, and can also be found in the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Brilliancy Medley

The DownEast Country Dance Festival held a benefit dance in Bowdoinham to raise money for the festival to be held in the spring. There were three different bands, and a variety of callers, making for lots of energy and fun. The turnout was great!
Organizers planned a medley, and invited Richard and me to call along with four other callers... a huge success and great experience. We appreciate the support and encouragement we are getting in the dance & calling community!
Brilliancy Medley can be found in the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Jersey Lightning

We've been doing "Lightning Rounds" lately as part of our fiddle practice... starting with a tune and playing it a couple times through, then calling out the next tune and going right into it. We continue on as long as we can think of tunes, and remember how they get started. It's a lot of fun, increases thinking capacity, and it's amazing how many tunes we really do know without reading music or having the book open in front of us "just in case". Richard and I do this at home from time to time and we did it at a practice last night. The tricky thing for the guitar or bass player is to know the chord progressions, and to have the chord announced along with the name of the tune when calling the changes.
Jersey Lightning comes from Portland Collection volume two.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chaos in Room 6

This is not the name of a tune, but the name of a contra dance. I liked the name because it reflects my mood today. I feel like I'm in Room 6 and it's full of CHAOS, maybe the bad kind of CHAOS like the antagonists on GET SMART, and maybe I'm Agent 99... you know, the girl who's with the program and trying to hold it together, for herself anyway, while things are going crazy around her. It's just been one of those couple-of-days :) I've been fiddling my way through it though, and the music makes sense to me... thanks Kathie for a great waltz session this afternoon, and thanks Paul for staying with me this evening when other stuff was falling apart. So, all CHAOS aside, it's nice to have something great like fiddling to fall back on, and it's great to have friends to play with.
Chaos in Room 6 is a quadruple (that's right, quadruple) progression dance that I have not yet called, but think it would be a hoot with the right crowd... people moving all over the place!

All the leaves are brown...

... and the sky is gray...
Remember that Mama's & Papa's song? I think of it this time of year even though I'm NOT in California :) Almost all our leaves are down, thanks to some heavy rains and winds recently. We have most of the front and one side yard raked, and most of the other chores outside are finished... we're ready for winter when it gets here!
Kathy and I played waltzes this afternoon, enjoying that we both had the time to hang out during the day and just go through some books of tunes. We found quite a few that we both like, as well as some that we weren't sure of yet. Now to get Richard's input! The three of us have been having a good time playing and practicing together... I love that we're so close and we can get an hour of practice in without it involving a lot of traveling for anyone. That's about it for this Monday!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Birthday!

If you see Richard today, wish him a Happy Birthday! This has been a great year... Richard is developing a fine calling style, has learned to play the double bass, performs at contradances in two different bands (fiddlehedz and Beat Greens), continues on his quest to become a Soil Scientist by taking a course at Orono, and all the while manages to be a fine husband, grampah, dad, son, brother, friend and many other things.
My wish for the coming year? More adventure with family, music, contradance, and life!
Look for Richard calling at Bowdoinham next weekend, in Belfast in November, and performing as caller & musician in Farmington, Fairfield and Wayne over the next few months!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Chronosynclastic Infidibula

Hmmm, any idea what that means? It's a tune from the Reckless Reel...

Also, Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad :)

Also also, Welcome Home Jen!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hairy Dogleaf


When I was leaving my fiddle lesson this afternoon, I noticed that one of the two horses in the pasture had a blanket covering him. I guess this was still on my mind, and decided to research the subject a bit. Apparently, horse blankets come in a variety of weights depending on when it'll be used and needed by the horse, mostly it isn't recommended as a common practice. Horses, like dogs and probably other animals, have different types of hair... an under/inner coat of hair that keeps the creature warm and an outer coat that repels water and the elements. Unless there isn't enough hair, or the hair has been cut, most horses don't need a blanket.
I remember when Max (Jen's dog), got his usual summer haircut (he's a lab/chow with long hair) and the vet reprimanded Jen for cutting Max's hair saying something like he wouldn't have as much protection from the elements. Guess it holds true for horses too!
Lucky for us humans that we don't have to be as concerned with the length of our hair, though I have to think that even if we NEVER cut our hair in our entire life, we'd probably still like to wear a hat in the winter :)
Hairy Dogleaf can be found in the Portland Collection ,volume two.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Gracie

I got this tune, "Gracie" from a friend and it's a great tune. I love how it sounds, and I love how my fingers feel as I'm playing it. Some tunes are like that, they play like I'm slicing butter that is just the right temperature and consistency... not too soft, and not so hard they crumble when you go to work it. Anyway, Gracie is like that. The thing is, it was given to me without chords. It did have a key signature of one flat... and it had a few notes that were to be played #... and it had the feel of another reel, Julia Delaney... which is also has a key signature of one flat. Julia Delaney is in the key of Dm, so I had this idea that we could use the same chords when playing Gracie... it worked! The thing is, there are things in life that aren't totally obvious and we have to find the similarities, things we recognize, and then make some assumptions in the way we decide we're going to go forward. I love forward progress, and I love being able to make some basic assumptions based on past experience and knowledge and, as my uncle says, "Drop the blade and go".
Gracie was written by a friend of a friend.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Rolling Off a Log



I spent part of this afternoon working on a new pie crust recipe... one that would be flaky and tasty, roll out nicely, and brown up perfectly. I'm pretty happy with this one. I made this apple pie, which I'm hoping tastes good (a little different filling than I usually make). And I also made the cinnamon (dark) and orange (lighter) rolls like my mom used to make when we were little kids. She'd make them out of the leftover pie dough. At the Apple Shed, they make these out of fresh pie dough, and they sell better than hotcakes! That's where I got the idea that I wanted to try them... you may remember that Avery and I tried making some last weekend, and though they were tasty they weren't anything like the ones at the bakery. Actually these that I made today aren't as big, but they are as tasty I think. Now to work on the size! My goal is to get them right for this coming weekend~ Jen and Avery are spending the night on Friday so we can get an early start on shopping on Saturday and I want to be able to have these cinnamon rolls as a special breakfast treat for Avery!
Rolling Off A Log comes from the New England Fiddler's Repertoire.

Porcupine Reel


This porcupine has been hanging around our yard for a while now, usually in the compost pile. With the garden being done for the season, I thought I'd throw some apple peels and old carrots into the garden, planning to till them in with leaves (soon). Not much scrap left after ol' Mr Sharp Whiskers got done munching away! This photo was taken a week or so ago. Since then we've been raking leaves, putting some into the garden to till in and compost over the winter. The following is from an article about building your own compost mixture.
Almost any organic material is suitable for a compost pile. The pile needs a proper ratio of carbon-rich materials, or "browns," and nitrogen-rich materials, or "greens." Among the brown materials are dried leaves, straw, and wood chips. Nitrogen materials are fresh or green, such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps.
Mixing certain types of materials or changing the proportions can make a difference in the rate of decomposition. Achieving the best mix is more an art gained through experience than an exact science. The ideal ratio approaches 25 parts browns to 1 part greens.
We definitely have plenty of "browns" with the leaves in the yard. More kitchen scraps will help with the "green" component. Keeping things mixed in is important too, helping in the decomposition process. With some planning, hard work, and maybe a bit of luck, we'll have some nicely enriched soil for next year's garden!
Porcupine Reel is a tune collected over the years.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mary (Merry) Walker

I've been thinking about doing a walk-about, just taking a nice long walk around the neighborhood. Years ago I went trekking, and I've been on day hikes, so taking a nice long walk seemed reasonable. This afternoon was perfect... cool temperatures and bright sunshine, and a bit of a breeze. I walked for about 2 hours (maybe a little less) and covered about 6.5 miles or so... managing to go from our house over to the stretch of road between my sisters and my folks. I had a nice, fairly short visit with everyone before Kathie gave me a ride home (gets dark early here now). It felt good to just be out walking, and it's amazing the things you see when you're not whizzing by in a vehicle! And in spite of my hesitancy in going out for long walks because I don't want to take the time, it certainly took less time to do this walk than it would have taken to drive to a State Park and back. My suggestion? Just Do It :)
Mary Walker can be found in the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Baker's Favorite

Avery and I made some of these classic cinnamon roll treats this afternoon, and ours looked very much like this picture I found. The ones we make at the Apple Shed are actually much bigger, but I need to work on my recipe at home to get them just right. Still, it was a good first attempt today and Avery had a good time mixing up the cinnamon and sugar 'til it was just right, and then sprinkling it over the dough. We served them up nice and hot with some Edy's vanilla bean ice cream on the side, mmmm... just the thing on a cold rainy November afternoon. Baker's Favorite comes from the Reckless Reel, and I'm guessing it refers to Elke Baker rather than someone in the kitchen covered with sugar and flour!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Give Me Your Hand

So, I've been having some discomfort in my hands and forearms for a few weeks now. I saw my physician last week, and she prescribed an anti-inflammatory and a visit to a physical therapist that I went to see today. Though I'm still not sure exactly what's going on, I have some direction in working to manage the situation using stretching exercises to re-build muscle tone in my forearms and to strengthen my hands. It's been difficult to think that my activities might be limited, and has given me new motivation for LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST while the livin' is good! A little wake up call :)
Give Me Your Hand comes from the Waltz Book, volume two.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Simplicity Contra

We started out this morning with a trip to our local community recreation center to meet with the new director of activities. We'd proposed doing a contradance, either as a one-shot-deal or as a regularly scheduled event and apparently there's interest in that happening... whahooo! This is just what we were hoping would happen.
Early this year we took a caller's workshop, and have been seeking (and accepting) opportunities to call dances. We've organized and presented some community contradances, have called at some regular series dances in the area, and continue to try out dances here at home. We'd decided that this year we would use any chance we could get to gain experience and confidence, regardless of the financial impact, and that we would hopefully have some sort of regular thing to do next year. Not a bad plan. We've had varying levels of success, mostly very positive, and we've learned a lot... enough so that we put together some proposals in the hopes that we'd generate some fairly regular gigs.
So, this community center could be the start of a dream come true. The director is interested in having a weekly learning session which would essentially be an easy family style dance, and a monthly community dance. The weekly dance would be attended by sign up and would be more of a regular beginner session and possibly a specialty workshop. The monthly community dance would be offered at "Family Friendly" and affordable hours & rates, encouraging participation at all ages and levels of experience. The weekly sessions would hopefully build confidence and interest to make the monthly dance something everyone would look forward to.
We also have had interest from some adult education programs in the area, and our idea here is to offer a four-week session where we'd focus on some history & basic figures the first weeks, ending in a final contradance at the fourth session. Seems like there's interest here too, at least on the organizer level... we'll see how many people are interested in signing up. It's possible that this would also be an avenue for developing area-wide interest in contra style folk dancing, which would include some New England squares, circles, longways sets, triplets and even some of the old-time "chestnuts" called in the old-style way which is to call and play at the same time. It's pretty exciting to be bringing this kind of community activity back into the limelight, and we're appreciative of all the lessons, coaching and experience we've had this year. I'd also like to mention that we've had great support from our fellow musicians as we endeavor to put these programs together, it's great to have made such good friends. The key to all of these dances is to keep things interesting and also fairly simple and easy, so that everyone has a good time and gets to enjoy dancing. Keep your fingers crossed for us as we continue to do what we love, close to home!
In other news today, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! We enjoyed visiting, sharing a gift of homemade applesauce, and having lunch together (thanks mom for delicious corn chowder and homemade bread).
Simplicity Contra is actually a contradance written by Dan Pearl.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Orange Cape...

... in the shape of a carrot! That's what Avery dressed up as this Halloween, check out their blog for photos. It was fun to share in the festivities this afternoon and evening... reading a book about pumpkins (compliments of a woman I work with), dressing up to go trick-or-treating (Avery suggested "Gram, go home and get yow costume and come right back, okay?"), walking to houses in the neighborhood and hearing Avery's well rehearsed "Trick or Treat" and then his "Thank You". When some folks were talking about other neighbors who'd just had a baby the day before, Avery chimed in "We're getting one too!" which amazes me because he's just so conversational and understands so much.
Real life adventure before we headed out, another bat at the Richard household. Yes, that's right, a Halloween Bat made a brief appearance before being ushered out into the night.
Once we got back home from collecting treats, Avery had just as much fun handing out candy and pretzels "to the children". He cracks me up!
When I got home I found out that we hadn't had any children come to our house, which is not surprising considering where we live and that we don't really know many children close by. Glad I ventured out and got a little taste of the magic of the holiday!
Orange Cape can be found in Here's to Every Country Dancer.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gravel Walk

The fall flowers are compliments of Jen, Jason and Avery... the pumpkin has a couple of cousins inside the house. We opted for pie pumpkins instead of jack-o-lantern style pumpkins this year. Not having any little children living at home, we didn't feel the need to carve but still like having the illusion of decorating for fall. Nice thing about setting pie pumpkins around is that they can be cut up, cooked, and saved for pies for Thanksgiving, which is exactly what will happen to ours. These pie pumpkins are a deeper orange too, and I like that. The white flowers are definitely a nice contrast, especially against the crushed rock.

The leaves are really just about gone from the trees, having been blown away and rained upon last weekend. Temperatures finally dipped down into the 20's, frost covered the windshields of the vehicles and the lawn, and it's feeling (and looking) like fall. Time to start thinking about hunkering down and settling in for the winter! I mean, only think about it, no need to take drastic action yet! We had a nice fire in the woodstove this morning, kept it burning for a few hours until the sun started heating up the house.

Gravel Walk comes from the Portland Collection (first, also known as the un-numbered volume).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Woodchopper's Reel

Avery has decided he wants to be a carrot for Halloween this year. Jen put on her thinking cap and got her creative juices flowing and created this adorable costume for him to wear. It's hard to know just how much A understands, and how much of what he talks about is compiled of stories he's repeating but he seems ready to don his carrot attire, get his bag and go door-to-door to query "Trick or Treat?" Uncle Bryan has been waiting for this photo, and I think everyone else will enjoy it too!


It's that time again, when all the season's firewood gets stacked and stored in preparation for the cold weather ahead of us. We filled the porch, and also got a couple of stacks of firewood in the room off the kitchen as well as filled the living room storage area. It's nice not to have needed much of it yet, but it does seem pretty strange to be at the end of October and the temperatures still so mild.


Avery has decided he wants to be a carrot for Halloween this year. Jen put on her thinking cap and got her creative juices flowing and created this adorable costume for him to wear. It's hard to know just how much A understands, and how much of what he talks about is compiled of stories he's repeating but he seems ready to don his carrot attire, get his bag and go door-to-door to query "Trick or Treat?"


Saturday we went to Bar Harbor to call for their regular contradance. It's the first time we've done this together and we had a good time. The band was great, the crowd had a great time, and we felt like we'd done a nice job selecting dances that were appropriate for the evening. We were fortunate to have been invited to spend the night, made new friends, and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast with them before heading back home. We're hoping to reciprocate in the near future, our hosts are interested in going out to the Skye Theater in Carthage... quite a distance from Bar Harbor, so we offered that they might like to have dinner with us at our house, go to a concert and then they'd stay here in Wayne before heading back the next day. We like the idea of trading off like this, it makes for the opportunity of conversation and friendship as well as saving everyone involved the additional cost of a hotel. We wonder if it might be possible to trade hosting with others, even from out of state. Anyone out there have experience with this idea?


Woodchopper's Reel is a standard fiddle tune that can be found in the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Harvest Home Hornpipe

Seasonal fare that is hearty and healthy! This dessert is easy to make, and filled with good stuff like apples, walnuts and dates. The base is a crumb mixture of walnuts and dates, pressed down and refrigerated. Apples are thinly sliced and cooked on the stovetop with honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and ground cloves with apple juice. Once apples are cooked, they are placed on top of the crust. The remaining juice gets cooked down into a syrup and then drizzled over the top of the whole thing. Mmmmm. I used Cortlands for this dish.
Harvest Home Hornpipe comes from Twin Fiddling... it's essentially the same tune as Harvest Home which can be found in the Fakebook.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Spy

L-R: Red Delicious, Cortland, MacIntosh, Northern Spy, our own variety, Empire

Apples, Apples, Apples!

It's nearing the end of harvest season at the orchard and business is slowing down a little. Still lots of folks stopping in to pick, or to get baked goods but not nearly the rush that was seen early this month.

Sunday morning we went and picked a couple bags of apples. We sampled the different varieties, next test will be to bake them into some tasty treats and see which varieties lend themselves that way. The varieties we got were MacIntosh, Cortland, Empire, Red Delicious, Northern Spy, and an unnamed variety from our own back yard that looks like a yellow delicious.
I read an interesting article about eating foods that are in season rather than eating from the non-seasonal-always-there-on-the-shelf items available at the grocery store. The article suggests that seasonal foods such as spring greens, summer produce, fall root vegetables and meat for the winter are healthier and more natural for our bodies. One of this season's offerings are apples of course, so there's no need to feel bad about eating them, in any shape or form!

Spy is a tune from the Reckless Reel.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fantastic Reel

Fantastic News at Our House! I received my acceptance letter from UMF today! I just about cried with joy and excitement when I opened the envelope and read the news... so it's official... I'll be attending classes full time starting in January... not that far away.
We went out to dinner to celebrate, and had a nice meal at the Chuck Wagon in Livermore Falls. Katie came to visit, so she went along with us... we tried out a new cocktail, which we never did really find out the name, but it has Malibu, pineapple juice and cranberry juice... yummy and fruity but not overly sweet.
Fantastic Reel comes from the Portland Collection Volume Two.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fiddle Hill Jig

Photo of Ralph Page
On Thursday afternoons I drive out to Canaan to study fiddle with Elaine Malkin. It's about an hours drive each way, and the lesson is about an hour (sometimes more) so it's a pretty good investment of time as well as money, but I look forward to it every week. Some weeks I get a lot of practice in, sometimes I barely feel like I should go present myself 'cause I'm SURE it shows when I haven't put the time in at home... but I am committed to improvement, and especially to learn the old style of New England fiddling that is so important to contradance. I'm learning so much, not just about playing the music, but about the dance too.

Contradance has many aspects that work together to create an evening of fun. The musicians work together to learn tunes that are well phrased, so the dancers can hear/feel when the next moves should be executed. Well phrased music also makes it easier for the caller to be on time. The caller chooses dances that are appropriate for the crowd (beginners, mixed level, experienced). The dancers work together to carry out the callers instructions, letting the music guide them as they dance. The caller and the musicians work together to choose tunes that help tell the story of the dance (light & bouncy, or dark and driving, or smooth and flowing for example). There's usually a sound person who is mixing the musicians and the caller... and making adjustments as the hall fills with more dancers or the temperature changes, or as different instruments are brought into the mix. And there are organizers who oversee the evening, collect the money, greet newcomers and in general keep order midst the chaos. These are all the basics.

History has it that many years ago, musicians were also the callers... each musician in a band would have a few dances they liked to call, and they'd take turns. Much different than todays dances where the musicians keep their seats and the caller has charge of the evening. I'm on a journey to learn the craft of calling while playing. I take every opportunity to play at a dance and I also call when possible. When I first started calling, I thought it would be pretty cool to be able to call a dance while I was playing, this was before I really knew it had been a regular thing. I've been practicing this a bit with actual dances (in the privacy of my own home), and regularly am able to call out tune changes or key signatures while playing music with people (in real life situations)... it's like rubbing your head while you're chewing gum. Combine this with the fact that you have to make the dance calls BEFORE the moves get made, so your timing is ahead of the action... yeah, it's complicated. But it can be done, it's been done before. So, I'm learning.

My fiddle teacher is one of those amazing people who are able to play and call at the same time, and she is mentoring me in this area. She's suggested some dances, is teaching me some tunes that go along with the dances, and I'm planning to be proficient enough to present them over the next six months. It's ambitious but also fun, and I love the challenge.

Many of those old time dances had specific tunes that went along with them... some are Chorus Jig, Haste to the Wedding, Rory O'More, Petronella, Galopede, Tempest and Hull's Victory to name a few. Another is Fiddle Hill Jig, this is one of the tune & dance combos I'm working on.

Fiddle Hill Jig comes from the Fiddler's Throne, and was written by Ralph Page. I invite you to check out the link and learn more.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Zombies of Sugar Hill


I think I understand the dismay and disappointment of the folks who come to the bakery for a particular treat they have in mind... (I've seen it on their faces when they ask for a cinnamon roll or an apple turnover)... only to be answered with "I'm sorry, but those have sold out". It's a good answer, because it's true... sometimes these things sell out really fast, they're popular because they're so delicious, and people stop in to get them early when they're fresh out of the oven... but it still isn't what they want to hear.
I worked today, and I actually made pumpkin whoopie pies. I knew when I was placing the batter on the sheets that I wanted one, and I knew it even more when they came out of the oven... and even more so when they were filled, wrapped and placed in the case. But, it was a busy morning, and when I got ready to leave I just didn't take one. Later in the afternoon, when Richard and I were out doing chores (taking stuff to the transfer station, in exchange for other really cool stuff at the Stop & Shop Free Store), I asked R "Hey, do you have any money?" Richard said, "Hm, I think I might have a dollar, go ahead and look", which I did and he was right... one dollar. I had some change. He asked "What is it you want?" which was a good question because our transfer station is way out of any shopping district... I replied "I really want a pumpkin whoopie pie, and the Apple Shed Bakery is right on our way home".
Richard is a good sport, and gave up his dollar to the community pot. We chose a Senshu apple before going into the store, and found the display cases had many fine goods for sale but NO PUMPKIN WHOOPIE PIE! Drat #P{OI#ESD and curses on all, I was thinking, but only uttered "Crap!" which drew attention from my employer and co-worker. One look at the zombie stare on my face, and we all knew that I had reached the level of understanding that would from this point forward make me much more sympathetic to my customers who were seeking that "something special" that was not available. We settled for a cinnamon bun and two Senshu apples (which were delicious but not even in the same ballpark as a pumpkin whoopie pie) which came to $1.84 (just about all the cash we had between the two of us)
So, what am I doing right now? Well, I've found a nice recipe on-line for pumpkin whoopie pies because even though I know that I can have one tomorrow if I want to drive over to the bakery, I really want one TONIGHT, hahaha...
Well, I'm back from my baking adventure! I mixed up a batch of Pumpkin Whoopie Pies from a recipe I got on the internet... actually I found several recipes, but chose this one because it had more spices (including cinnamon, ginger and ground cloves). They are darker than PWP I've seen before, but after tasting them, the verdict is Mmmmmmmmm Good! The spices add a lot to the overall flavor, and the cream, well the cream really finishes off nice.
Zombies of Sugar Hill is actually not a tune, but a contradance that we have in our vast repertoire of contradance cards.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Happy Birthday to You...

... Happy Birthday dear Toby!
Where oh where has the time gone? Sometimes it seems like just yesterday that these adults were just little and now they're all grown up! So many good times over all the years, and they continue to be good whenever we get together.
Jen, Jason and Avery stopped by with apples picked fresh from the orchard. I cooked some into a delicious apple crisp (double on the crisp for extra tasty goodness) and the rest I cooked down into applesauce (also delicious). We might go pick more apples next weekend if the weather is good... I'll make more applesauce to freeze.
We went to North Yarmouth and played with the group at the family dance, then had yummy potluck before dancing to the tunes of Sweetbriar, and to the calling of Lisa Sieverts. Great to be in the midst of the dance community, we've been busy most weekends and haven't gotten out to dance as much as we'd like. Still, we have been having fun calling and playing as much as possible.
More windows got washed here at home, nice to have a clear view of the foliage around the yard. The roof on the main part of the house is finished, that's a big job out of the way. The chimneys are clean, firewood is getting moved and stacked onto the porch, gardens are cleaned up, and we're on our way toward being ready for "hunkering down season". Til then we'll continue to work outside and to enjoy this beautiful fall weather.
If anyone out there sees Toby, wish him a big, hearty Happy Birthday. Others sharing birthdays this month are Tonya, Nancy, Ryan, Betty, and Tyler... if I forgot anyone else it's not intentional, just a little lapse in my memory and the fact that my day-timer isn't handy!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

College Groves

I got a letter in the mail today, not THE letter (which would be the acceptance letter), but still a pretty encouraging letter from the Univeristy of Maine Farmington. Last month I applied for admission as a full time student, planning to start classes in January 2008. The letter I received today indicates that my application has been received and is being reviewed, and that I've submitted everything they need to make a decision. I've chosen Environmental Science as my major, but also want to concentrate on K-8 Education.
It's exciting to have a career direction, and it's very nice to have the support and encouragement of family. The next few years will have some challenges for all of us, but I'm energized by the possibilities this course of study opens up for me, and for all of us. Whether it is a university, community college, certificate program or community class for enrichment, it's good for all of us to continue learning. Expanding our knowledge and experience helps us stay interesting and interested in our daily travels.
College Groves comes from the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Friday, October 05, 2007

After the Fall

Jen's getting things ready for the new baby, due to arrive in March. Her plan is to move A into a new room with a twin bed, and continuing to use the nursery as a nursery, and to move her and J into what has been the spare room... this involves moving some things around, painting walls and refinishing floors. We cleared space in the spare room Thursday night and were ready to get to work pretty early on Friday. While Jen prepped the window trim and walls, I sanded the floor in what will be the new master bedroom. Once the floor was sanded we laid out newspaper and started painting... Jen worked on the ceiling and I primed the walls. After that dried, we started in on the khaki colored wall paint (which looks beautiful). I was rolling, and Jen was cutting in with a brush. As I was making my way across the room with a roller in one hand and the paint tray in the other, and I stepped on something. Not wanting to trip or fall, I quickly picked up my foot and stepped a bit further away and again stepped on something, but this time I didn't have any balance to reset my foot and I went down. Still, I hadn't spilled one drop of paint... until I landed on my butt and my wrist, and then the impact caused the paint in the tray to plop up and out, all over me and the newspapers. Arghhhhh. I felt awful. But, Jen was calm cool and collected and helped get things cleaned up and we continued on until it was time to pick up Avery.
Whenever I'm doing a painting project, I envision tripping or falling off a ladder or something where paint goes flying. I've seen remnants of such escapades (even in my own home) where someone had an accident with lavender paint, now dried on the tan carpet! But as many times as I've had the thought enter my mind, I've had just as many silent talks with myself to "be careful so that doesn't REALLY happen!". Where was that little voice when I needed it, haha?
After the Fall comes from the Curvy Road to Corinth.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Big George

I started a creative project this evening... two paintings of Curious George driving Kubota tractors! Not an easy task to start, but quite fun once I got them started.
Avery will be moving into a new bedroom soon, as his current room is prepared for a new brother or sister. A's current passion is Kubota tractors, and of course he still loves Curious George... so I decided I could combine the two. One painting is George driving a Kubota through a big garden with a corn field in the background and vegetables in the foreground. The other painting has George driving in a farmyard with lots of animals milling around near the barn. I'm hoping to finish them up tomorrow so they can dry before framing them. I'm planning to deliver them on Thursday when I head up there to spend overnight, so I can help with the painting of the rooms. It'll be fun to have a sleepover, it'll be the first time I've gone up and done that... I'm pretty sure we won't be having any pillow fights though!
For those who are just dying to see these paintings, I'll try taking pictures using my cell phone and then uploading them tomorrow.
Big George is a tune from the Reckless Reel.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Star Quadrille

My interests are many, and varied. Music and family top the list but I also enjoy gardening, cooking, home projects, and quilting! One of my goals when I got done work at Club-E was to make some quilts. I have a lot of fabric that I've collected over the years... I love colors and patterns, so when I go into a fabric store for something, I quite often leave with an arm load of cotton. I've managed to set up my sewing machine (a Janome Memory Craft 3000 that I got years ago) and prepared all my fabrics (washed, dried, sorted by color family), and today I did some log cabin potholders. I had a lot of fun putting colors together and creating something beautiful and useful (have you ever heard me use the term "form and function"?) Let's just say that I had a lot of fun, on a recreational non-professional level.
Now, there are some pretty amazing quilters running around at what I would call a professional level, and one of them is my mom. She does some of the nicest stitching I've ever seen, and her designs are wonderful. This weekend she had the opportunity to spend time at a retreat in Rangeley with other quilters... all gathered and focused on, you guessed it, quilting! I'm looking forward to hearing her account of her weekend.
Some of the women I work with at the Apple Shed are also quilters. It's funny how when you set your mind to thinking about something, and when you decide to do it, and you arrange your life to allow it to happen, there are cosmic forces at work helping you along. The inspiration and conversations with my mom, and the ladies at work, all work together to help me focus on doing some sewing of my own!
Star Quadrille comes from Century Reel.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Three Sisters

No photos... we are having technical difficulty with our camera... again. Richard has been doing some research to determine what we should get. The criteria? Good resolution for general use, ease of operation, pocket size/easy to carry, and potential great resolution for special projects. Any ideas out there?
Saturday was a fine work day, fair weather and mild temperatures continue. One of my sisters, Deb, and her husband are in the final stages of completing their new home~ they've been doing as much of the construction themselves as possible. So, a bunch of us set aside Saturday as a "work day" to do whatever we could to hasten their progress. It was fun to work side by side with a host of other people! We washed windows (inside and out), placed outlet and switch plates, wrapped weather barrier, sorted through piles of construction debris, raked and cleaned up the yard, cleaned kitchen cabinets, put trim and soffit vents in place, and the really big job was to get the fireplace insert framed and ready to finish. A lot got accomplished with each individual doing whatever they could. Food and stories were shared throughout the day, giving their new home a good start on the "Remember when we..." tales that will be recounted over the coming years.
Also, Happy Birthday to Kathie!
Three Sisters is a tune from the Reckless Reel. It's fun when all five of us sisters get together, and we always look forward to those times because the distance makes it an occasional event. I am fortunate that there are three of us now living within 8 minutes of one another, making it an easy task to get a little girl/sister/best friend time in whenever we can!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Through the Gates

... is not where I was able to go this afternoon! When I got home from the Apple Shed, I found a tree across our dirt road. This particular tree was rotten, and so I suppose it just fell down, maybe heavy from the recent rains and maybe a little off it's own balance from the wind. At any rate, there it was, laying neatly across the road preventing anyone from coming or going by vehicle. I moved some smaller pieces but was unable to budge the most significant part of the tree so I walked in to the house, knowing that I would have to allow a few extra minutes when I went out later. Apparently our neighbor was home and heard the crash, and she went out to try and move the tree but also wasn't able to do so. She called her husband to come home and get it out of the road, which he did... so when I went out later it was gone.
Having to walk in to the house (only 1/10 of a mile) was no hardship, but it did offer the thought of parking out there and walking in more often... it's a really nice dirt road we live on, especially this time of year because there are all these leaves skittering about!
We have talked about trimming back the brush and limbs along our little road, to clear space under the power lines. We'll wait until the leaves all fall, leaving us with limbs and branches but hopefully not too much for leafy brush to take care of.
It was really nice when I got home to be able to drive "through the gates" all the way into the house, especially when it's really dark outside.
Through the Gates comes from the Portland Collection Volume Two.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Green Fields of America

We started building a meadow last year by taking the grassy sod from the new garden spot and moving it to the other side of the house. The grass has taken hold and is lush and green. The surrounding area however is still full of slash from where the big pines had been taken down. I've been raking and cleaning, one section at a time, and we've been burning the brush when we can get a burn permit. It might seem like an impossible job, to pick up thousands of pieces of broken limbs and branches from what used to be the forest floor, but like anything else, one step at a time and soon progress is visible.
Years ago while traveling in Nepal, I saw people (women mostly) on the side of the road chipping away at huge rocks, breaking it into piles of gravel. Yeah, this is true. And in Thailand the beaches and roads would be swept and raked daily to keep them clean and beautiful. Here in America we tend to think we need big machines and to spend lots of money to clear land and work in our yards, but sometimes it's pretty nice to just pick a spot and start working at it with my own hands... almost a meditative kind of work... sunshine pressing down on my back, breeze gently blowing my hair across my cheek, sounds of summer passing away as autumn moves in. Better to me than the smell of diesel, the sound of machines, and an almost immediate change in the landscape.
Someday we'll have a nice green field out on that side of our house, and I'll be happy to know that we've put our own labor into it's creation. It's nice to have a little more time at home to be working on projects like this. My part time jobs don't pay much money, but the extra hours at home are a good reward to me and I like that I can spend my time and energy here.
Green Fields of America can be found in the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Two Sisters

I'm lucky to have four sisters, and especially lucky that we all have such fun together. Our interests are varied, our lifestyles differ, we are often busy with work and family... but we all appreciate our "sister time" when we can get it.
Music is one of the things Kathie and I share, and we have for many years now. It was Kathie that actually got me started on the guitar so many years ago and since then I've added many other musical instruments of interest, with my current focus on fiddling. Kath has been a pretty faithful attendee of our Tuesday jam session, which she affectionatly refers to as the PAMJam, haha... she has also played out with the jam group over the past year or so. One of the gigs we do is to play for the Norlands live-in program's barn dance. We've been doing it for more than a year now. We had scheduled to play there tonight, but everyone from the jam group was otherwise busy so Kathie and I decided we'd be able to do it together. Richard is in Bar Harbor calling for the College of the Atlantic contradance, or he'd have been with us too. Anyway, this was a bit of a stretch because it was just the two of us, but we did it and we had a blast! The caller was really happy with us, the dancers were having such a good time, and after it was all over, we were happy to hear the caller comment that we must really like playing together... how nice to know it shows!
We're planning to play for a couple more contradances over the next couple of months... October 6 in Norridgewock and December 15 in Fairfield... Richard will join us for those dances. There are a lot of good things about playing with Kathie, she's nearby so practice is pretty easy to schedule even if it's only 1/2 hour or so; she has a great sense of rhythm; she's been to Maine Fiddle Camp with me so she gets the whole idea of playing contra tunes FOR the dancers and that the dancers are the most important reason for playing; she's flexible and also has great ideas about putting tune medleys together... plus she's fun to hang out with and play music with in general!
She's even got me knitting again! The only thing I really like knitting is scarves, so she found me a pattern that is pretty easy and is letting me knit the yarn she spun.
Two Sisters is a nice waltz written by Steve Muise.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Inimitable

Some of the synonyms for inimitable are unique, matchless, incomparable and one and only... good descriptions for little A. I love this photograph! Now when he sees the camera, he says "cheese" and if you're lucky he starts giggling as he does it so you actually get a good shot, like this one here! We're thrilled about A's having a new sister or brother in the spring, and I just know he'll be a great "big brother"... I love being a grammah so much!
In other news, dad had a successful surgical repair of his left shoulder yesterday and is resting comfortably at home. Another inimitable soul :) as is his "best girl"... nice visit with both of them this afternoon.
Our little kittens, Jefferson & Liberty, are not so little anymore. Their coat has darkened up considerably and they have some weight and size to them these days. They had their spay surgery this week and are no worse for the wear. It was quite a job rounding them up to go though... they were running all through the house and refusing to come to us no matter what we tried to bribe them with. The vet had told Richard that they'd start becoming resistant to going into the pet carrier just about the time they were ready for their surgery, and the vet was right! It's good to know we won't be littered with a litter of kittens. Enough to have three cats in the house without the burden of trying to find homes for more.
That's about it from this corner of the woods. Enjoying the sunshine and beginning of fall colors.
Inimitable is a reel from the New England Fiddler's Repertoire. It's also a tune I'm working on with Elaine, some interesting bowing!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Red Apple Rag

Isn't this a cool device? Until this week I'd never used one, but am now highly skilled because I work at the Apple Shed at Kent's Hill Orchard! My brief hiatus from the working world has been interrupted. The nice things about working at the Apple Shed are 1) it is only a 5 minute drive 2) I work with some really nice women 3) I get a free pastry every day that I work 4) all the coffee I want 5) it's a hands-on-home-made style business 6) it's part time so I can continue to focus on fiddling, writing and quilting. I love wheeling the apples around and catching the threads of skin!The Apple Shed is located at Kents Hill Orchard in Readfield. They sell apples (of course), sandwiches, pastry, pies, cider, jams, handcrafted gift items and more. And you can pick your own apples in the orchard... Macs and Cortlands are available right now.
Red Apple Rag comes from the Fiddler's Fakebook.







Sunday, September 16, 2007

Clayhole Waltz

I'm not sure if the soil was actually clay, but judging on how solid the holes were I might guess at least a little bit. What am I talking about, you ask?
David dug a couple holes into a slope and made a smoker! He says he saw a picture and decided to try it out~ great idea and great job putting it all together. We tasted a result of his project, smoked & barbecued pork... mmmmm. We brought along some potato salad and Kathie made a Caesar salad to complete the meal, fun to share food and conversation.
A couple of music practices earlier in the day rounded out our activities for some beautiful early fall weather.
Clayhole Waltz comes from the third volume of the Waltz Books.

Wizard's Walk


Saturday found this contradancing fiddler, two sisters, friend on the train to Boston to see the musical "Wicked" at the Boston Opera House. What a fabulous time we had together. The Downeaster is a fun way to travel, all our attention was focused on talking, laughing, and having Bloody Mary's for breakfast! I wonder if the great Oz ever started his day with this much festivilicious excitement :) We walked around Quincy Market, ate at Cheers, then walked down to the Opera house. What can I say, the show was more than amazing. Three hours and it was as though it had just started, that's how smooth and entertaining it was for all of us. Definitely gives pause to preconceived ideas about being wicked, or any other labels we give ourselves and others... there's always more to the story and with knowledge comes understanding. Insight into the wizard's walk, how the witches characters developed, and many other "Aha" moments that lead up to the original storyline... how DID those monkeys start flying anyway (yeah, you could know the answer to that too)... Anyway, if you have the opportunity to see the show, I highly recommend it. These tickets were a birthday gift from Deb, she outdid herself in the gift department this year, going way over the top, but THANKS nonetheless! After the show, we walked back to North Station, in time to have a couple beers at a nearby pub. Late night after a long day, but something the four of us will remember forever.
Wizard's Walk is a tune from the Portland Collection.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lannigan's Ball

It's just about the end of the garden season, and my mom had a big basket of tomatoes to share. Along with what we got from our own garden I was able to juice and cook down over 20 pints of tomato sauce! In the past, I've frozen in bags but today I decided I'd can. I dug out my assortment of Ball, Atlas and Mason jars and my All-American canner and spent about 7 hours processing! It feels really good though to see all those jars lined up... we'll be happy to have it when we want to make spaghetti sauce or chili or anything else that requires a tomato sauce base.

As I was finishing up in the kitchen, I heard some funny noises from out in the yard. Investigation revealed a bunch of turkeys, young and old. They'd been out in the garden scavenging whatever is left, which isn't much! I've brought in the basil, potting them and putting them in the greenhouse. Tomatoes are just about finished, just a few more green ones. We got a few last cucumbers and a squash, and there are some carrots. Not a highly productive garden, but lots of fun which is the best reason for doing it at all.

Lannigan's Ball comes from the New England Fiddler's Repertoire... I'm going to go play it now!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Shingling the Roof


Richard is shingling the roof of the main part of our house... we think these are the original shingles placed when the house was built in 1982! For anyone who knows me, they will understand when I say that being on a roof is NOT MY CUP OF TEA. It's a pretty big roof, and Richard worked all day yesterday and today on it, and wasn't quite where he wanted to be before closing up shop for a couple of days. He has class tomorrow all day, and Saturday is forecast to be rainy. So, I found my tool belt and hammer, and climbed up to help out. Actually I did pretty well though I didn't do any walking around up there (my elbows are scunned up from crawling around, haha). I was happy to be able to help do this really huge job.
Shingling the Roof is a tune that I've gotten to know at my fiddle lessons. Every Thursday I go to Canaan and study with Elaine Malkin and I love it. She's helping me with technique and rhythm, sharing tunes and stories, and generally providing me with a great education in contradance fiddling.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Gray Days of Autumn

The past few days have been overcast, cool and rainy... a much needed change from the heat and sunshine, no matter how pleasant that has been! The rain is soaking into the earth, replenishing wells, revitalizing the lawns and forests. The fair weather has given ample opportunity to organize and complete outside chores... the rain and cooler temperatures allow time to work on inside tasks and even to read a bit, without feeling guilty about wasting away these precious days of autumn.
We brought Bryan to the jetport in Portland this morning, he'll return to California and the life he's carving out there for himself. We enjoyed his visit, his stories, his perspective on life, and his commentaries! And we wish him well :) The drive offered slight splashes of color... red, orange, gold... hints of what is to come in the next few weeks. The wet gray weather today will give way to some vibrant hues over the landscapes, all we need to do is look with a soft eye as we travel about, keeping attention to driving to be sure, but to be aware of the beauty of the fall foliage season.
Tonight we'll spend time with friends playing tunes and telling stories at our weekly jam session. Having Tuesday evenings to look forward to gives my week balance and focus. Another couple of weeks and the fiddlehedz & friendz will return to the Norlands to play a barn dance as part of the live-in weekend program.
Gray Days of Autumn comes from the Curvy Road to Corinth.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Boil Them Cabbage Down

We hosted a corned beef & cabbage dinner today for our many branches of family. Betty and Dick brought the corned beef, we did the vegetables, biscuits and dessert (bread pudding). Lots of other additions to the table including cookies, pickles, cake and more!
Food is always a nice way to get people together, but it's the conversations and laughter that come from these events that keep me wanting to do them. Hearing stories, comparing pet peeves and how we deal with them, getting the latest gossip, watching the children play... good for all of us to be part of.
This entire weekend is special for me, I have all three of my adult children under our roof, along with my grandson. Having a few days of living together, putting meals on, cleaning up the dishes... dropping all pretenses of what we want to be or aspire to do... remembering things from thirty years ago and laughing, or quietly contemplating... not many families have opportunity to do this. As our lives take different turns, I wonder how often this will happen in the future... and realize how precious these days are. So, we put away our chores for the most part, and appreciate each other and all that we have together, knowing that this weekend in September '07 will someday be reflected upon as one of those times we were all together.
Part of today's magic was building Avery's idea of family, including his great-grandparents Bibeau, great-grandparents Davis, uncles Toby and Bryan, aunts & uncles, cousin Hunter, SK, Dick & Betty... along with us of course. Jen and Katie helped A with the little fiddle, with Katie accompanying on the piano... a lovely serenade.
Boil Them Cabbage Down is an old-time tune that gets played a lot by beginning fiddlers, some day Avery will be playing the tune, I'm sure.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sweet Journeys

I check my email each morning. There are sometimes e-messages from friends and family, often a post from a forum on dance calling and related issues, and ALWAYS a motivational message. These words have been a wonderful start to my day for over a year now... not that I have a great day EVERY day, but it helps. Each idea is presented to me as a woman, as an individual, but there are some that seem appropriate to use as a couple, and this is one of them, so I thought I'd share it with my readers.
The idea is to have a Happiness Box, a container that contains a few tangible momentos from happy times... things like a picture of a loved one, a picture drawn by a child, a seashell from a great day at the beach... and whenever I have a "down" day or a moment of feeling discouraged I could open the box, and have reminders of the good things in my life.
Well, I was thinking, how cool it would be for a couple to create a Happiness Box for themselves. Every couple in a committed long term relationship, regardless of how long they've been together, of the dynamics of their relationship, have a history together, and that history includes happy times. A scrapbook is one way to capture those moments with photographs, but I like the idea of collecting and saving other things too. Imagine a box that you've chosen together where you keep your treasures... a special rock from a hike, a seashell from the beach, a photo of the two of you at a family event, the stub of a concert ticket... and whenever you're feeling like you aren't getting along that well, you can go into the box and take a look at all the stuff you've done together and remember how much fun you really do have together.
I know for myself that I can get pretty caught up in the activities of living, and I forget about having bouts of childlike, playful fun with my life-partner. Finding ways to evoke smiles and laughter is important... and maybe the reminder of past joy is a good start to creating new moments of happiness... new sweet journeys together.
Sweet Journeys comes from the Waltz Book, first volume.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Way Back Home

As many know, I've made a lifestyle change recently by leaving a full-time, fast-paced, sometimes high pressure job in, what has always been to me, a high quality health care private dental care practice. I've had the opportunity over the years to work with some amazing people, to have conversations with wonderful clients, learn a lot about customer service and delivering quality care, and developing my character and ideals along the way. There are a few words in my vocabulary that define me, or at least I would like those words to reflect my living... those words are FORM AND FUNCTION, PERSONAL EXCELLENCE, RESPONSIBILITY, and JOY IN LIVING, regardless of what I'm doing, or who I am doing things with.
FORM AND FUNCTION: If it doesn't work either mechanically, technically, or as a procedure I like to either FIX it so it does work well, or move on to something that does work well. If it doesn't look good while I'm using it, or the process looks cludgy, I work to improve how things appear. If things work well, and appear to be working well, and the entire operation is smooth, I am happy.
PERSONAL EXCELLENCE: I believe there is a difference between excellence and perfection... and there is also a difference between excellence and good enough. I strive for excellence which means doing my personal best with the resources available to accomplish the intended goal. There are many ways to get from here to there, and there are many definitions of where "there" may be. That being said, once the goal is defined, I take it as a personal challenge to get the job done efficiently as possible, keeping in mind FORM & FUNCTION.
ACCOUNTABILITY/ RESPONSIBILITY: We are not any of us responsible for everything, and none of us is free from being responsible for something... and levels of resonsibilitiy change as situations evolve. We are accountable for our actions and decisions. It's harder to be totally accountable for our reactions, but we can take responsibility for being as kind and generous as possible. Sometimes we, each of us, are not as kind or generous as we would like and in those instances I think it's good to acknowledge our own shortcomings, and to also allow for them in others... as long as it doesn't become a habit! Remember to maintain your composure, FORM & FUNCTION even as it applies to relationships.
JOY IN LIVING: "If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right!" Wise words from a wise man years ago. If there is no joy in the living, there will quite likely not be FORM & FUNCTION in your activities or relationships. It will be more difficult to be responsible for being kind and generous if we allow a pattern of being grumpy or choosing to be around grumpy people. It is hard to work toward PERSONAL EXCELLENCE if you spend all your time apologizing for being grumpy, or trying to make an unhappy person be more pleasant.
These principles are, to me, essential in living a life of purpose. It has been easy to get off track by working full time outside of the home, by keeping up a sometimes hectic schedule of music and dance, in maintaining a home. Many, many years ago my life was a lot simpler... busier maybe but in many ways less complicated. I've been re-kindling an interest in getting back to those ways of being, and ways of living, that are more simple, more connected, more hands-on, and more likely to sustain me and my family in ways that buying things cannot do. I've been baking bread, building shelves in the greenhouse, clearing brush by hand, viewing the world with a softer eye, picking tomatoes, cooking soups, washing windows, taking music lessons, stretching my body out in the sunshine, walking around the property, listening to the birds, playing music, dancing outside in the breeze, picking flowers, making quilts, writing stories, and stopping to visit with people if they call or stop by. I feel like I'm on my way back home, to my roots, to the things I grew up with. This new life is still just that, new. Structuring my time and balancing time and money is a challenge. But, I feel like I'm on a good path, like being on my way back home!
Way Back Home can be found in the Curvy Road to Corinth.