Friday, July 27, 2007

Chiropractor's Rag

That's the name of one of the dances we did at the North Whitefield fourth Friday contradance tonight. The caller was Sue Rosen, and the band was Glen Loper, John Pranio & Bruce Rosen. Great energy, lots of fun, and many friendly faces including a woman I met a couple weeks ago... She is visiting here from North (or South?) Carolina for a few weeks, and is getting in as many contradances as possible. It was fun to see her again! There was also another new face, this was a young man who got picked up hitchhiking and invited to come to the dance, such a great community of people...
Earlier this afternoon we met at our friend and guitar player Paul's house for band practice. This is how dedicated he is... he cut the end of his thumb with his table saw... nasty gouge out of the tissue... but still he wants to play! We are scheduled to play a community dance tomorrow in Washington ME... we aren't sure Paul will be up to it once his thumb starts to swell and be painful (which is what WE think will happen) but he feels pretty sure he'll still be coming out to play with us... What a guy :)
Chiropractor's Rag may have been written by Sue Rosen, but we haven't confirmed that yet. It was a really fun dance on a hot, sweaty night... lots of walking moves with very little body contact :)

Hunting the Buffalo

Well, not buffalo exactly... well okay, not even close to buffalo! I have begun my serious search for a new fiddle. For those who know us, you may be thinking "What? ANOTHER fiddle???" Well, yeah... I still use my beginner fiddle from time to time, and most often this past year I've been playing a fiddle we got from a guy on Deer Isle. But, Richard's got a really nice fiddle, and when I play it for very long, I have a hard time going back to the others. I've been considering my life lately, and one area I want to improve is my fiddling. I just love playing the fiddle, but want to have better technique, style and sound. The equation looks something like this:
"Nice Fiddle + Lessons in Technique & Rhythm + Time & Energy Invested in Practicing = Great Contradance Fiddler"
So, I started taking lessons and studying with a GREAT contradance fiddler... and I've been trying out some fiddles and learning what makes a great fiddle... and I've only got one more week of work. IT'S REALLY HAPPENING. All things are working together, the vision is becoming a reality, and in very short time I will be focusing a lot of time and energy into practicing and playing a great fiddle, applying principles and techniques learned from a great fiddler. I think there may indeed be a buffalo right around the corner!
Hunting the Buffalo comes from the Portland Collection.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Behind the Bush in the Garden

That's where you would have seen me this morning! I spent some time in the vegetable garden, pulling out weeds that were way out of control. There's plenty more work to do out there, but this morning's efforts yielded a fine sense of accomplishment that will yield produce in the near future.
We decided to host a "Family Pot-Luck" this afternoon, and invited as many family members as we could on short notice... it was great fun! We had an assortment of food, lots of visiting and catching up, fun watching Avery and the kittens, and generally enjoying the fact that we're able to get together. We finished up with strawberry shortcake (using as many biscuits as were left after they were "discovered" at mealtime, haha...
Last night we danced in Belfast to Wild Asparagus on their Maine summer tour. It was fun to use our new listening skills to their caller and their music... hmmm, can we possibly ever sound like that? You never know, but it's good to have inspiration to work toward...
Behind the Bush in the Garden is in the Portland Collection.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

My Own Home

It's nice to be home after an overnight away... We had a lot of fun playing at the Manchester NH dance, but it's also nice to be home. First order of business on this sunny Saturday afternoon was to mow the lawn and to clean out garbage/debris from the side of the shed. A coordinated effort on both our parts allowed us to accomplish both tasks in a short amount of time. Now to shower and nap, and then head out to either the Fairfield Center dance (where Richard and I will be calling next month) or to Belfast to dance to Wild Asparagus on their summer-in-Maine-tour (last night they were in North Whitefield)...
We are incredibly fortunate to be dancers, musicians, callers, and organizers in many different settings... all aspects giving us an interestingly cohesive perspective... sometimes I'm just so amazed at this wonderful life I'm living...
Oh, for those who are in on my fiddle quest, I played my "first choice from Nate" fiddle all night last night, at the encouragement of my band mates as well as by "sensing" the ease with which I could play the instrument... Overwhelmingly positive experience...
My Own Home is a lovely waltz comes from the Waltz Book, first volume.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Out on the Road

Richard and I are headed out on the road with our Beat Green band mates this afternoon, headed for Manchester NH to play at the third Friday series at the Mill City Contra. Our friend Chris Weiler invited us to play after hearing us at the Norlands earlier this year.
In other news, I have begun a new journey toward self development! I will be focusing my energies in some specific areas over the next 6-12 months in an effort to become proficient in a few things as well as explore some other activities of interest. I've been a dental assistant for 20 years now, and had a wonderful career... but it's time to shift gears.
One of the main areas I want to develop and grow is in my fiddling. I have started studying with a great contradance fiddler, Elaine Malkin, with the goal of having a solid style and rhythm for playing at contradances. I've also begun my quest for a new fiddle, one of my own choosing, one that speaks to me and also conveys my message to those who listen. Part of the process of the fiddle-search is also to learn more about the fiddle itself... the craftsmen, the wood, the design... all of which creates an instrument with a unique sound and personality.
There are some other things I want to do over the next few months~ take some classes, make some quilts, work in the garden, write, learn about photography, walk or run every day (I've started running again and manage to get out a couple times a week, usually on the days I'm not working). I've worked a good part of my life, and enjoyed the different aspects of that, and I'm a little nervous about being unemployed... but only a little bit :) The challenge for me is to use this next year wisely, be open to learning, channel my energies in positive directions, and to develop a focus for living that can offer financial sustainability over the next half-century of life ahead of me. Pretty exciting, huh?
I got to see little A yesterday after my meeting at the fiddle shop. What a joyous feeling to be watching him play with his friends, have him turn around and see me, and break into this big, glorious smile and walk over to me to give me a hug.
Have I mentioned lately that I love being a Gram?
Out on the Road is a tune from the Portland Collection, Volume Two.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bells of Tipperary

fiddlehedz & friendz played an outdoor concert on the green at the Mt Vernon Community Center this evening. Doing the sound outdoors is still a bit of a challenge, but Richard's efforts paid off as we entertained an appreciative audience. We did some different things for this concert, one of which was a guitar jam doing Ragtime Annie which was awesome. Richard used a different technique with the bass, bowing on the waltzes and airs. At the end of the concert as we were packing things up, the organizers brought us a can of tip money! Though we don't play for money necessarily, especially in these community settings, we do really appreciate this show of support. We had a lot of fun, had a good jam session, met some people, and were happy to see some family and familiar faces in the audience! Thanks to all who came out :)
Bells of Tipperary comes from the N.E. Fiddler's Repertoire.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Call it a Night

We got to call at the Wescustogo dance in North Yarmouth tonight... We have had opportunity to call at the community dances we've helped put on, but tonight was the first time we've had the chance at a "regular" contradance... We worked together with two other novice callers, and were able to put together a program that flowed nicely, allowed for inexperienced/ beginner dancers and also offered some challenges and fun for the well seasoned contra-crowd... Great music by the Don Roy Trio made it even more fun for us... Well phrased A & B parts of the tunes helps a lot to know where you are in the dance, and this band was able to accommodate all of us... Richard also provided the sound for the evening, so he had that on his mind too... And my 50th birthday was celebrated by family and the dance community so I had some distractions as well... All in all though, it was a huge success... We continue to learn more by experience, and we are gaining confidence at the same time...
Call it a Night canj be found in the Waltz Book, Volume Three.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bottom of the Punch Bowl

My friend Paul made this beautiful piece on his new CNC wood milling machine... Paul also makes other woodworking projects including the stools we use when playing music (which also make great milking & spinning stools)... No punch goes in here though!
Bottom of the Punchbowl comes from the Portland Collection.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

For My Mother Dear

Here's my first photo, taken July 4th, 1957... Today is my birthday and I am proud to say I am 50 years young! I look back over the half century I've lived so far and am so thankful for the experiences and opportunities that have been available... I'm thankful for my mom and dad first because without them there wouldn't be any "me"... And my sisters who have always been, and continue to be, my best friends... And my children who have been the light of my life... For Avery who brings new joy to this family... To Richard, my husband, for being everything I've ever wanted in a partner and enriching my life in ways I never imagined... To my friends over all the years, to casual friends with whom I've lost touch, with new friends...
It's been a joyous, sometimes difficult, always interesting adventure so far and I'm looking forward to a most amazing second half a century!
For My Mother Dear is a tune from the Waltz Book, Volume Two.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Jefferson & Liberty

A nice photo of the kittens at one of their more quite moments.... When they aren't sleeping in baskets and looking cute, they're knocking over glasses of water, drinking my gin & tonic, leaping across the room and wreaking other havoc! Seriously, we are totally enjoying having these little kittens around the house, even when we are mopping up water and re-hanging screening....

Joy of My Life

Hmmmm... At dinner last night with mom and dad, we (Richard, Toby and I) were discussing cremation and funeral services (yeah, I know, kind of morbid)... Then I saw this Cadaver thing on Amy's blog and thought I'd see what Id be worth... Wait, wait, no... I didn't mean to cash me in NOW, hahaha :) It does get me thinking about how I can be healthier though! Go ahead, take the test yourself!

Joy of My Life is a tune we've collected over the years...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Old French

Last night, we went to Portland to hear Boreal Tordu with our friend and band-mate Sandy... what a fabulous evening! These guys are far from old, but a lot of their music is indeed from years gone by... Lively tunes and instrumentals, and a highly engaging and entertaining presentation all worked together in a lovely, intimate venue at the newly re-opened Cultural Exchange on Longfellow Square in Portland. Boreal Tordu's fiddler, Steve Muise, was named Maine's Music Teacher of the Year, congratulations to Steve!

Car-pooling to events like this gives the opportunity for conversation and knowing more about each other... we met a friend of Sandy's for dinner at the Bangkok Thai restaurant where we had delicious food... And we finished the evening off by stopping in at the Falmouth contradance which happens every first Saturday... Nat Hewitt is almost always the fiddler (playing many a French tune) accompanied by a variety of fine musicians!

Old French can be found in the Fiddler's Fakebook as well as the New England Fiddler's Repertoire.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Chorus Jig

We certainly sounded like a chorus of instruments yesterday... The Beat Greens met in Farmington for practice, for the entire afternoon into the evening!
The perennial garden is a chorus of color, changing from week to week from pinks and purples to whites and golds and more...
This morning I'm off to Hampden to sing with my favorite chorus-mate :)
Chorus Jig is actually a reel, and is played to a dance with the same name. It's commonly referred to as a "chestnut" which means it is a old-time-staple at contradances. Not often played or danced these days, we know it's making a come-back at the Manchester NH contradance! There are quite a few chestnut dances that have tunes that work especially well togther such as Haste to the Wedding, which we call quite often. As we develop a following of contradancers here in our community, we hope to bring back lots of chestnuts, in an effort to bridge the dancers of today with the music, dance and callers of years gone by.
Chorus Jig can be found in the New England Fiddler's Repertoire (and the Fakebook too, though we prefer the version in NEFR).

Friday, July 06, 2007

Summer on Marshall Pond

It's high summer here in Maine... We've had some beautiful, hot, sunny days that were perfect for a visit to the beach... Not very much rain, which is showing up in a few places like our little pond which is now a little muck hole! We have only been here for a year and a half, and the little pond has been full for the entire time... Now it is dried up, and black with the kind of goo that comes from wet, mushy, composty leaves and forest stuff... The pups who come to visit us like to try sneaking down to the pond to get wet, but now come trudging back to the yard with nothing but black mud on their feet! Anyway, it is evidence of a dry summer season here in North Wayne... I wonder how it is on Marshall Pond? That tune comes from a binder of music we've collected over the years.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Camp Meeting on the 4th of July

This evening, as part of the 4th of July festivities in Winthrop, we presented a contradance... this continues as part of our Summer Beginner's Series. A rousing success, we had probalby30+ people in attendance, either as dancers or as listeners. We are new to calling, and new also to using the sound system... but somehow it's all working out. As musicians, we are not brand new, but we are still certainly developing our sound and arrangements... As a whole, it was amazing, watching folks who are new to contradancing or even those who may have done some of it before... and our experienced friends who came in support who still looked like they were having fun!
Two more opportunities to learn this style of community social dancing... Aug 4 in Wayne at the Ladd Center, and Aug 11 in Vienna at the Post Office... please come out and try it if you haven't already. All dances are taught, no partner is necessary, and no experience is required... It's a great exercise regimen for couple of hours, and a really great way to interact with members of your community...
We continue to learn more about putting on these programs, and gain confidence & experience in the process.
Camp Meeting on the 4th of July can be found in the Portland Collection, Volume Two.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Reel du Grandpere

I arrived home this evening tired and g-r-u-m-p-y from a long day at work. What to do? I can't quit my day job, even though there are hundreds of other things I'd like to be doing. Actually I usually like my job, but lately it's been a little too much pressure, too much stress, too many things to do.
I had a hard time settling in this evening. Finally, I decided to look at my Grandpa's diaries.... by reading all the entries for July 2. Want to know what I found out?
In 1965, my grandparents took my Uncle Tom and his family to Bailey Island for lunch and lobster.... Lobster & clam feeds were a big part of my memories of childhood, but I mostly remember them taking place at our house.
1966, my grandpa helped my Uncle Tom on his new house all day
1964 found the price of 4”x3/8” machine bolts at $.10 a piece
1968 my grandfather had a yearling cow moose for company most of the day
In 1969, the Poli's came to visit... that would be my Aunt Joan and Uncle Babe... I think they came from New York or New Jersey?
In 1960 my dad hit his leg with an axe and broke it (his leg, not the axe)
1959 found me, my mom and dad visiting my grandparents (this was right before my sister Deb was born, little did I know how much I'd have to share my parents after that!)
So, these are some of the highlights of my grandfather's journal entries. He recorded the temperature and barometer readings, as well as the general weather conditions of each day. It amazes me that he had the commitment to do this, especially when I sometimes go for days (or even a week?) without posting a blog entry! My grandfather was a pretty cool guy... If this is interesting information to any of you out there, let me know... I'll post another "day in the life" of my grandpa...
Reel du Grandpere comes from the Portland Collection, Volume Two.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sugar Beet Rag

This is a logo we came up with for the new band... We were going to call ourselves Foxfire, but it seems there's another contradance band with the same name... Oh well...
So we came up with another name, Beat Greens... We like it a lot!
Sugar Beet Rag can be found in the Reckless Reel