Sunday, April 30, 2006


The azaleas have blossomed in full force. This lovely bush is right outside our front door, its beautiful flowers greeting all who enter... including the bees. Really. Whoever planted this right beside the main entrance was NOT thinking about how things would work out. Though the bees have not ventured INTO the house, it is a little un-nerving to have them buzzing and menacing just inches from you as you reach for the door handle and JUMP inside the house. I'm not thinking this will stay here forever. Maybe it can get transplanted around the corner a little bit, not too far, still inviting, yet not a potential hazard to anyone who comes to call. Ahh, that's the thing about true beauty, it comes with a bit of a price, eh?
Beauty can be found in the Waltz Book volume 3 for those of you who are interested!

They Stole My Wife Last Night...

... and Hid Her Mason Jars Under the Apple Tree.

Well, the second part isn't really part of the tune title but maybe you guessed that!

Richard and I have been hard at work today clearing brush from where the tall pines were cut. The space that remains has a lot of potential, and our list of possibilities is endless! For now, we will clear a truck path to the back of the house where the new shed will be built. And we'll also put in some raised beds for this year. We aren't exactly sure where we want the vegetable garden to be, we've talked about a couple of locations. This newly cleared area seems to get a good amount of sunshine throughout the day until mid afternoon, will be close enough to be convenient, and 'feels' right to me. There are a lot of stumps and rocks! By putting in raised beds, we'll be able to garden soon, and put our big burst of energy into building the shed... letting the 'temporary' garden spot either evolve into something permanent over the summer or be moved for next year depending on how things grow in that part of the yard.

When cleaning out around our apple tree, Richard found a pile of old bricks, and these Mason jars. It is unclear to us why they would have been deposited in the ground near the tree. We can only come up with some stories of what may have happened. Was this an old homestead before the current house was built? Did the original occupants of this house find salvaged bricks and jars and set them out by the apple tree and then forget about them? And who put the apple tree where it is anyway... it was totally surrounded by giant, towering pines. We may never find the answers to these questions, but it was a fun surprise to find the jars. You just never know what you'll uncover when you're working to clear land in Maine.

They Stole My Wife Last Night is a strathspey from our collection of tunes, who knows where it came from!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Iron Man

The fiddlehedz got to spend another evening out playing and jamming, and hanging out with other like minded folk. It's been a busy week for going out, but I will say we've done a good job of car pooling. Tonight we didn't car pool but we did meet at our friend Eric's for dinner and music before going to the Whitefield dance... Eric lives only a short distance from the dance hall, so it didn't add miles to our trip.
Eric and his wife Elizabeth have converted a barn into a beautiful (and I mean absolutely beautiful) home for themselves and their children. Nestled right into the woods, this space is full of character and charm, photographs and art. The children are as gracious as their parents, making all of us (fourteen at the dinner table ) feel welcome and comfortable. We felt very lucky to be part of such a great group.
Eric is an ironmonger by trade. His home reflects his craft. We didn't get to see his shop, but I'm hoping next time we go out there we'll get a tour of his work space.
After dinner and music, we had a great evening at the dance. Music was by The Usual Suspects, and the crowd was enthusiastic. If any of you have not tried contradancing before, it's one of the best, most wholesome, most community oriented activities I've ever seen... cross generational, chem/alcohol free, lots of activity and conversation, and smiles like you just don't see so much these days. Try it, you'll like it :)
Iron Man can be found in the Fiddle Music of PEI as well as in the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Woman I Never Forgot

Well, I did forget, and somehow it came to me this evening that Earth Day was April 22. We haven't had our television on, and haven't read much news in the past few weeks. We listen to the radio when we're riding in the car, but not all the time. Somehow, Earth Day slipped by us without notice. Where was everyone else? Did no one remember? I'm not blaming anyone for not including us in their celebrations, I just wonder how something so important~ taking time to celebrate our planet and to do something nice for Mother Earth~ quietly passed.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Best of Both Worlds

That's what we have here, the best of both worlds. We have a moderately expensive lifestyle that includes a mortgage, two vehicles, a lot of stuff, and busy schedules. We also have a great piece of property in the woods, a hippie house (upscale to be sure, but still, designed with energy savings in mind), and a wealth of knowledge, ideas, and resources to 'live off the land' to whatever level we choose. Oh, did I use the word 'choose'?
That's right. We get to choose. I just finished reading Bryan's blog about the state of our great country and the choices we as individuals are making that impact the world today and the future of generations to come. It has me thinking that I personally need, and want, to take some ownership and responsibility and decide which side of the fence I want to be associated with.
Now, I'm not getting rid of our vehicles, or our great home, or our lifestyle. I am committing to making some considerate choices about how I use my time and resources, and how those choices can influence family and friends with whom I spend my time. Lots of ideas and it's easy for me to start thinking radical thoughts. A more conscientious approach, I think, is to think big picture, but start one step at a time. What can I do today?
Right this minute, I'm using the computer to blog, and also to do some creative writing. I'm also using the oven to make some yummy granola. Not bad activities. But as I look around, I see that it is 6:10 in the afternoon and it is still bright daylight~ and I have a lamp on in the living room, the overhead in the kitchen, and three recessed lightbulbs behind the sideboard. Ummm, I'll start with signing off for a while, turning off the lights, and picking up the fiddle to play some tunes while the granola finishes, at which time I'll put some lasagna in to heat for dinner.
Not much, but it's a start. With some careful and considerate changes here and there, I think it's possible to have the best of both worlds. And maybe, just maybe, change my idea of what those worlds look like, and what 'best' means in each of them!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Knock on the Door

Today brought visitors and music to our door in the woods. My best friend Robin came for coffee and conversation with her grandaughter Sneaker, and stayed long enough to play guitar and piano along with Richard and me for awhile. Though we've been emailing, and have had a few short visits over the past year, we have not gotten together for a good ole' girl chat FOREVER. Nor had Robin ever met Richard! As I suspected, they hit it off wonderfully... and we're all looking forward to playing more music.
The guys from Furniture Superstore knocked on the door in the afternoon, ready to deliver a bed for the guest room, and a reclining love seat for our room. We're happy to announce now that we have comfortable overnight accomodations for anyone who spends the night! The love seat will be a fun, cozy place to curl up and watch a movie, or just catch the news.
Later in the afternoon, we had a couple knocks on the door from our friends Jim and Jim who had come to jam a little, and have dinner with us, and then car pool to Fiddle-icious.
We love having friends and family drop by, and it is nice to be settled in enough to welcome everyone to come in and stay awhile. If you're in the neighborhood, stop in and knock on the door! We'd love to see you :)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

High Yellow

Beautiful spring daffodils are springing their happy yellow bonnets forth this weekend. What a happy sight, especially on a cool, cloudy day.

The Riddle

How do you make a meadow where there once was forest? This thought has caught my attention in the past when I've found a stonewall in the middle of the woods. I wonder about the focus and fortitude of generations past who would envision a homestead of their own, find an unclaimed spot, and then devote their lives to removing trees and rocks, till the soil, plant the seeds and create some of the beautiful farms we see in our countryside today.
Richard and I aren't envisioning beef or dairy cattle, nor are we planning organic farmland large enough to finance all our operations here. We are however, working toward getting a garden put in this spring and that's what prompted us initially to consider taking down some of the giant pines around our house... to create space without impinging on the already established lawn and perennial beds. Preservation of the house and roof also came into conversation, and though we started talking about taking one pine down for the garden, it soon became clear that we wanted to take down the other large pines surrounding the north side of the house.
We managed to contract with a really thoughtful and considerate young man to cut the trees... he will have as many trees milled into boards as possible, and then take the rest for pulp. This made the transaction affordable for us, and feasible for him. He'll return to walk the property with us, and give us his ideas for managing the acres behind the house.

What we have now is open space for a nice sized garden, an area to work into a truck trail around the back of the house, and a place for a meadow and eventually a barn. Very nice! The remaining trees in this area will be trimmed, cleared, and encouraged to grow to their potential, and we'll be able to manage them much better... this should make for healthy trees!
We'll post more photos as this project evolves. I know we won't be working with the same crude and slow implements as pioneers years ago, but we will be working as thoughtfully as possible, using some good old back and elbow grease!
The Riddle is a tune we heard recently at the Thursday jam in Pownal. It can be found in Along the River. It is really fun to play!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Duffy the Dancer

After a really good night's sleep, we took a much needed break from moving, packing, painting, etc and drove to Natick, MA for the annual NEFFA dance festival. Great music, great dancing, lots of familiar faces! We had good travel weather, yummy Phillipine food for lunch, and managed to get home at a reasonable hour which means we'll have lots of energy tomorrow! For tonight though, I think we'll turn in early and get another good night's sleep to shake off the exhaustion that has built up over the last few weeks. It was so much fun today to just dance, sometimes sit and listen to bands, hear jam sessions going on, seeing smiling faces young and old. Yep, ye old contradance is the place to be.
Duffy the Dancer is in the Fiddler's Throne.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Haste to the Wedding

That's what it seems like now, in retrospect. A year ago Richard and I put together a wedding in less than a day, and made our commitment to one another a legal and binding decision. What may have seemed hasty at the time to many was a solid choice of lifestyle and values for us.
This past year has flown by... we've shared some amazingly wonderful moments, and have made it through some tough times together. I really feel like I'm sharing my life with my best friend. Richard is the one that I can talk to, the one who tells me 'how it is', my biggest fan and my strongest support person. We are blessed with wonderful family and friends, a strong value system (thanks moms and dads), an appreciation for relationships and the environment, and a long list of common interests. Can't ask for much more than that!
Haste to the Wedding can be found in quite a few books including the New England Fiddlers Repertoire, Jerry Holland's Collection of Fiddle Tunes, and the Fiddler's Fakebook.
Happy Anniversary Richard, it's been a wonderful year!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Between Sets

As previously posted, we're just about settled here. You'd think I'd be ecstatic, but really, today I'm just exhausted! It's been a busy, productive, and wonderful few weeks and we're so happy here. But it's taken a little bit of a toll on me, and I'm sure on Richard too. I find myself this evening feeling a little cross, a little emotional, and a little bit like a working machine. Whoa! Time to slow down! I know I have mentioned that it's important to smell the roses, now it's time for me to take my own advice!
We have a beautiful home, a peaceful location, and each other... and instead of just enjoying where we are, I've allowed myself to get caught up in all the stuff that "has to get done"... and who, you might ask, is making this 'to do' list? Well, it's me of course, just me. Time to get off this merry go round and see the sights, sit back with my favorite guy, and 'be'.
The chores and the project list will always be there, but these special moments will be gone before we know it, replaced by others that may be just as nice, but certainly not the same as right now.
We're still a bit "in between" and I think that's part of my self-inflicted stress. And I'm sure it will be better once we sell the house in Augusta, but during that "in between" time, I still need to stop every now and then just to have fun, and let go of all this other stuff... rest and relax, laugh and LIVE.
Between Sets comes from the Lighthouse Collection.

Monday, April 17, 2006

April Waltz

Here we are, finally unpacked (for the most part), ready to settle into daily and weekly routines together. Still a few areas to sort through, but essentially everything is in its proper place and the house seems comfortable and functional for us.
We went shopping today for furniture... for anyone who has been here and seen all the pieces we already have you could wonder "What on earth do they need for furniture!?". Well, we wanted a bed for the guest room (all who visit will be thankful we aren't making them sleep on the floor~ Toby is actually the only one who has had to suffer through that!). And we also wanted seating in our bedroom for television/ movie viewing. We haven't even turned on the television other than to check the rabbit ear reception (we get channels 10, 13, and 23 quite nicely). We are looking forward to watching a movie, or seeing what PBS has to offer (NOVA, Red Green, and Keeping Up Appearances are personal favorites). What we found was a reclining love seat that we both found VERY comfortable. Both pieces will be delivered and set up early next week.
A bit of re-arranging of furniture, some re-allocation of kitchen cabinet space, and a general shuffling of boxes as things get opened, sorted, and moved and here we are... home at last. It's still a little hard to believe that less than three weeks ago we were waiting to sign papers... less than two months ago we didn't even plan to look for a house... less than a year ago we weren't even married. Proof that a lot can happen in a short amount of time (relatively speaking), when you're focused in your path but still open to other possibilities.
April is bringing some rain showers, and some sunshine this year, we're happy for both. We'll be taking down some trees (hopefully this week) to make room for our garden. Next weekend I'll be digging some rhubarb to transplant here, and may get some raspberries to put in... an outdoor weekend in store, weather permitting. It will be a welcome break from being inside. It's all fun though. Someone told me years ago "If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right", and I have to say, I must be doing something right these days, because as tired as I am at the end of the day, I'm having the time of my life here in the woods :)
The Waltz Book (un-numbered volume) is where you'll find April Waltz .

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Elchies

Avery's first Easter! This little man showed up with his mom and dad this morning for brunch before going to visit his other grandparents. What a sweet little boy! Little A was dressed in a baby trenchcoat (got a photo but it was pretty blurry), and the sweater vest & shirt you see here. He's signing all the time, loves to give big wet kisses, is walking much more steady, has mastered going up stairs (a little trickier coming down), and is happy interacting with everyone.

I was a good grammah and did NOT get any candy. I did however make some chewy oatmeal cookies (no nuts, no raisins) that had just a tiny little bit of pastel icing. Uncle Toby, and Avery's great-grandparents joined us as well. It was a great day.

You may be wondering what is meant by Easter Elchies, I know I was curious. Easter Elchies is a place in Scotland where Scotch Whiskey is made. There are a few different thoughts as to the translation, but the one I like the best is el che which in Gaelic means 'residence on the hill'. Fiddle Ridge is a little hill, so I thought it would be fairly appropriate to use this tune title for today's post.

Easter Elchies can be found in Jerry Holland's Collection of Fiddle Tunes.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Remember yesterdays post with all the boxes in the middle of the living room? Same room, different day. We managed to get all the boxes either emptied and the contents put in their proper new location... or at least put the still full boxes into the room where the stuff'll be stored. This is what we've come up with. We have an eclectic blend of styles, colors and textures of furnture... and an equally interesting mix of odds & ends. What we're finding is that all the things we've collected from our previous lives actually go together quite nicely, especially in this house we now call home.
Next project? Cutting the big pine to make room for the garden. Many other ideas and projects in the wings, it'll be a continuum of events around here. Richard was mentioning how different his life was a little over a year ago... and mine was too. It's amazing how many changes take place, and how wonderfully things have turned out.

Happy Birthday to You...

Happy Birthday to Jen! What an amazing young woman, it's hard to express how proud I am to be her mom, and how happy I am that we are close and share our lives.
She has so many roles in her busy life... mom, wife, daughter, sister, granddaughter, friend, co-worker, boss, designer, carpenter, homemaker... and she handles it all with tact and grace. She always has a willing hand, an attentive ear, and a strong shoulder for everyone. So, for everyone out there who knows her, three cheers for Jen... hoorah, hoorah, hoorah and Happy Birthday~

Friday, April 14, 2006

Black Eyed Suzie

A little fun during all the moving. I took some photos of the living room this afternoon with all the boxes stacked up (see next post)... and somehow I saw a face in the midst of all the chaos. Do you see it too?

Two Friends Quadrille

Here's our little Ranger with the U-Haul trailer. Yes, that's right, we rented the trailer again today, and made two trips from Murray Street to Pine Needle Alley. We managed to clean out the barn, sell our extra washer & dryer, haul the John Deere attachments, and get the trailer returned. Phewww... long day! It's really good to get all that done though. Now we're ready to sell the Murray Street house and spend our time here in Wayne working on our new house and property. Where are we putting all this stuff we're moving?

Good question! Up until today, we've taken care of every load before bringing a new batch of stuff. Today however, we were focused on getting things MOVED, and just kept piling it into the living room. Whadya think? Holy pile of crap! Actually, we haven't found anything we want to get rid of, even though we both admit we have an awful lot of 'stuff'. I'm pretty happy keeping everything, organizing storage and work spaces, and then figure out if we want it, use it, need it, or do we want to sell it, give it, or share it. Not a bad mindset. Better than getting rid of things and regretting it later (which we have both done over the years). By this time tomorrow night, this space will be cleaned out, boxes will be empty and torn down, and things will be put away.
Richard really is my best friend... the one person I could do this WITH. There are some differences of opinion, some differences in work styles, but bottom line, we are doing this together, and it is a blast! I don't know that I've ever been in a relationship with someone I really feel so close to... someone I can be goofy with, dream with, work with, be quiet with, talk with, and just share so much.
Two Friends Quadrille is a tune I found in Twin Fiddling.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Flower of the Morning

Beautiful purple signs of spring! These little flowers came up in front of the greenhouse... the first blossoms of the season. The perennial beds are showing promising signs of color to come as the many different shades and shapes of green poke up through the earth. Changes occur daily out here in the woods. The little pond is finally ice free... the trees shelter it from the sunshine, and it sets down a little lower than the surrounding ground, keeping it just a little cooler than the rest of the property. The lawn is looking a little greener, the birds are singing more, and the days are getting longer! The chore list grows faster than we make time to keep up with, one of the most important daily chore is to STOP and look at things like these little flowers before they go by without notice. Having the camera handy helps quite a bit, encouraging me to slow down and look for something interesting. Purple is one of my favorite colors, especially the deep purple of these little blossoms.
Flower of the Morning can be found in The Phillips Collection of Traditional American Fiddle Tunes.

Last Night's Fun...

... involved playing music (did you already guess?) You may remember from previous posts that Kathie would quite often come after work to play music on Tuesdays when we were living in Augusta. We occasionally drove out to reciprocate, but it was pretty convenient for her to stop there. Well, now we're MUCH closer, only a few minutes away in fact so it's just as convenient for Kath & Dave to host as it is for us :) We had a GREAT time as usual, lots of fun tunes, good conversation and a tasty dinner.
What did we play? Many of our old favorites, including Granny Will Your Dog Bite, Caribou Reel, Morrison's Jig, as well as a couple of sets we put together quite a while ago. Two of the sets we played last night were Old French/ Morpeth Rant/ Eighth of January/ Soldier's Joy/ Gigue de Terrebone/ Pays de Haut and Flop Eared Mule/ ...../ Kitchen Girl/ June Apple/ Sandy Boys. More tunes thrown in than that, but you get the idea.
Conversation wandered here and there, including discussion of trails we hiked in Acadia last year over Patriot's Day weekend at our annual camping & hiking extravaganza. We're planning to go this coming weekend, weather permitting. The Howatt's have purchased a lovely and comfortable new sofa which we all tried out... VERY nice!
Tasty dinner consisted of 'White Pizza' compliments of our favorite chef, David. Mmmm. Whole wheat crust, lots of yummy cheese, garlic, and shrimp. A nice salad on the side, and a refreshing Corona to wash it all down.
I just love being such great friends with my sisters, and I have a different bond with each of them. Kathie and I have shared our love of music for many years, in many ways. It's especially fun to have our husbands involved too, we're quite a little musical group!
Last Night's Fun can be found in the Fiddler's Throne.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Jen takes her first "leave" from motherhood this week, an emotionally difficult separation from little A. I believe there are always benefits and opportunities in every situation, and this one will be no different. A will get to depend on 'daddy' for all his needs, Daddy will develop a special strong bond with little A, mom gets a break from the household responsibilities, and both mom & dad get to realize how much they miss each other :)
Jen has done such a great job this past year, blending motherhood and a career with marriage and home-ownership. Pretty full plate, but she manages to do it all with style and grace, keeps her priorities in focus, and is never too busy to help others along the way. Good job Jen!
Have a great trip...

Saturday, April 08, 2006


These are good times. As I reflect on how blessed I am, and what a great life I've lived (mistakes and all), I have to marvel at how things work out over the course of time. If anyone had asked me at the age of 20 how I thought my life would play out, it would be much different than today... and in some ways very similar.
All that I have experienced over the years has prepared me for today. It's the same for Richard, and for each and every one of us. Every day we're faced with choices that will enrich our lives, or teach us a hard lesson (which also serves as enrichment in a way). The choices we make affect our children and those we're closest to, and also make a global impact as that one choice trickles up to the world. Boggles my mind when I think about it too much :)
It's easy to think back and wish away some of the poor choices I've made, but without those bad decisions I wouldn't be where I am today. And as I get older, and build my database of observations, my choices become more focused... keeping me on track and getting me where I want to be. How happy I am that where I WANT to be is right where I AM.
Peculiar comes from the Lighthouse Collection.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Start Doing, Then Thinking

I sometimes get bogged down in thinking about the things I want to accomplish. "What is the best way to do this?" or "Should I do this first or that?" You know, those sorts of thoughts. The times when I find myself highly productive and feeling my best is when I'm DOING things. Action and results motivate me like nothing else. Now, I'm not suggesting that continual activity is good without some thought and planning, but I am reminding myself that only so much planning is necessary. For me, knowing my 'big picture', identifying a few long term and short term goals, and being firmly settled into my values is really enough to let me know whether an activity is worthwhile. And any worthwhile activity is worth DOING, now.
We've been very busy moving and settling into the new house. The past couple of days I haven't felt very productive, in fact when I got home Thursday afternoon, I napped for a couple of hours, which is not like me. I'm not going to let myself feel bad about it though, I think I needed the rest physically, and probably mentally. This morning I am full of positive energy! I don't have a list of stuff I want to do, but I just feel like it'll be a day full of accomplishment... and for me that isn't work, it's pure joy! As I get things done throughout the day, one thing that really helps is to have my little notebook handy to write down thoughts and ideas, note the things I want to get done next, and keep me 'on track' so I don't get distracted too far off course. Speaking of doing, it's time for me to get ready for work... have a great day!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Turkey in the Straw

We have several stone walls on our property, really nice ones that are in good shape. They're hard to get to though, because of underbrush and overgrowth. There's a great stone wall bordering the road coming in to the driveway that I want to get cleaned up... partly because it would look really nice, and also in part because the power line runs along that area. Quite a little job to clean it all out. My uncle had a similar situation (minus the power line). He thought of a way to let nature help him out, with only a little intervention on his part. We've decided to follow suit and see how it works here. The trick? Cracked corn and wild turkey. My uncle spread some cracked corn along his stone wall and the wild turkeys came along and in their search for the corn, managed to scratch at the dirt and brush to the point where they totally cleaned out along both sides of the stone wall. Looks great! We'll report on our results as we see, and hear, them.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Gippy Get Your Hair Cut

Richard has been growing his hair for the past year, not even a trim... it's the longest it's ever been!

Today was the big day.

Gone is the ponytail, gone the curling brown locks, gone the hair through which to comb my fingers.

What remains is my handsome husband, looking much the same as the day I married him.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


Friday afternoon brought beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures, and I was able to take full advantage of the weather by getting outside and raking the yard! Now, I know there are many of you who wouldn't think of raking as FUN, but you have to understand that "my grandmother was a raker". This sounds sort of like a political or religious statement, and I suppose in a way it really is. Rakers aren't actually a political party, or a religious sect, but if you know anyone who's a raker, you know that they have a way about them that could get them elected simply by their virtue and code of ethics!
My grandmother kept a tidy house, and an equally tidy yard. Her garden rows were straight, her fence was always painted, and her yard was spotless. I never really thought much about her raking abilities, I just accepted that it was part of who she was... no more or less a part of her than the fact that she wore glasses, or that her eyebrows were well formed.
As an adult, I was raking the yard in my raking kind of way, and my dad commented that I raked like my grandmother! How proud was I to have him compare me with her! I have two styles of raking, depending on the terrain and the vegetation. The aggressive raking de-thatches the lawn, rids flower beds of old leaves, and if the ground could speak, it would say something like 'Yahowza, that feels GOOD!'. The less aggressive raking style is reserved for soft or wet areas in the spring, or mossy vegetation, and really just gently brushes the bigger debris from the ground.
There's just something wonderful about the combination of sunshine & blue skies, warm temperatures and gentle breezes, and a rake in your hands. The payoff for all the hard labor is sitting back with a beer and surveying my little kingdom, knowing that soon the grass will be growing and the flowers will be blooming. And every spring, as I am raking the yard, I smile as I hear a little voice on my shoulder saying "Your grandmother was a raker too, you know".