Monday, August 27, 2007

Shuffle About

We shuffled about a bit this afternoon and evening. After a good day of labor outdoors (clearing brush and cutting firewood) we decided to go to RR2 to see a movie... I'd gotten an e-mail of shows and I especially liked "Death at a Funeral". Not having been to a movie recently, and happy about the prospect of having a date with my husband, we headed off to the movie theater... without really looking at all the details. We arrived in plenty of time, but a week too early! Yep, the e-mail listing was for the NEXT week's shows which don't start until Thursday! We were too late to see the early show but decided on another movie we wanted to see later. So we went to Starbuck's for a special coffee and sat outside, soaking in the late-afternoon-end-of-the-summer sunshine. A little driving around to see a site Richard had worked on earlier this month filled in the rest of the time until our movie "Becoming Jane" started. This was a really nice movie that we both enjoyed a lot... has anyone else seen it? All the shuffling about gave us some much needed time alone without other schedules and activities... a very nice evening indeed. Shuffle About comes from the Portland Collection, Volume Two.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

AcroBATs Reel

The recent post at reminded us to post this photo of a furry creature. I was cleaning one morning and glanced up at the ceiling, and thought this brown spot was a little large for a pine knot. Closer examination with binoculars confirmed this.

We had to use an extension ladder to reach this bat... Richard placed a yoghurt container over him and used a spatula to encourage him to let go of the wood. The bat was released down the road.

Acrobats Reel has been collected from somewhere over the years!

Wedding Waltz

We're back from a day in Massachusetts at the Cyprian Keyes Country Club & Golf Course where we celebrated Libbie and Raupya's exchange of vows, American style. Everything was elegant and beautiful... it was fun to see Raupya's family again and share our culture with them. Having back-to-back weekend weddings, each focusing on the family's traditions seems to be a wonderful way for Libbie and Raupya to begin their married life together, a blending of the old with the new.
Wedding Waltz comes from the Waltz Book, volume two.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Indian Reel

As promised, here are some photos from last week's Hindu wedding ceremony of Raupya and Libbie. Music and dancing were a huge part of the festivities, and all were invited to participate.
Yours truly, attired in a beautiful sari.
Raupya and Libbie~ a prince and his princess!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Paddy on the Turnpike

How can you save time while driving on a long trip?
Well, let me tell you!
Sunday morning, Kathie and I left for New Jersey where we would meet other members of our family for a Hindu wedding celebration of our niece Libbie and her husband Raupya. Our travel plans were clear, and MapQuest estimated about 7 1/2 hours in travel time. We got an early start, and conversation flew between the two of us, unhindered by anyone or anything else... Well, we were on I-495 and intending to get onto I-90 Mass Turnpike but something happened (yeah, I know, it was my talking) and we missed the exit... Keeping a low stress level, we decided we'd continue on and find a way back to the highway by using the Rand McNally Road Map... That worked pretty well until we realized the small road we were on didn't directly access the highway... But it looked like we could loop around and manage it further down the road... What happened next is hilarious in retrospect (in fact, it's hard to stop laughing every time we recount the story) but at the time it was quite stressful... We got to a stop sign and we wanted to turn left, which we couldn't because it was "Right Turn Only... So we turned right, into what appeared to be a square round-a-bout (really, have you ever seen anything like this?) complete with Stop signs at every turn and everything going in a counter-clockwise direction only... At one intersection it was not clear whether there were one or two lanes, it turned out to be one lane of traffic on the right hand side of the road near the sidewalk with cars parked on the left (completely opposite of what we'd expect)... When we finally got out of the square round-a-bout we were on a very, very residential one-lane street that looked like it could go on and on so we turned around~ only to realize we didn't know where we'd started... All the buildings looked alike, all the corners looked alike... We re-entered the square round-a-bout, and decided to take what looked to be the widest most obvious way through town which was a good choice 'cause it worked (eventually)... We stopped to consult our map again, and soon we were on I-90 West, back in business... The funny thing? We arrived at our destination an hour early!
So, our advice is, when you're strapped for time, get off the highway and head for Grafton MA... Go through their square round-a-bout and then get back on the highway, you should save about an hour in travel time...
**DISCLAIMER** We cannot explain this phenomenon nor can we be responsible if your results are different...
Oh yes, the wedding was beautiful~ photos to come soon!
Paddy on the Turnpike can be found in the Fiddler's Fakebook as well as the New England Fiddler's Repertoire.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Haste to the Wedding

This was one of the dances we called tonight at the Victor Grange in Fairfield Center... It was a pretty small crowd to start, gradually got a little bigger, then tapered off as the evening progressed (youngsters having to get home)... Some folks who were brand new to contradancing, others who are more familiar with squares, and a good number of regular contradancers rounded out the dance floor... We actually did some dances while calling which is a bit of a challenge, but a heck of a lot of fun, and it helps round out the lines when the crowd is smaller... Music was by Hope Hoffman and Jim Berrier, lots of nice tunes to call to... We started out without a sound system, so it's a good thing I have a loud voice that carries (thanks to years of raising children, I'm sure)...
Tomorrow morning it'll be haste to another wedding as I venture to Mahwah NJ with my sisters to attend our nieces wedding... This will be a Hindu ceremony, and we'll be attired in saris... I am looking forward to this very special experience!
Haste to the Wedding is a tune from the New England Fiddler's Repertoire... The tune goes along with the dance, as do many of the old chestnuts from days gone by... It's fun to be able to call this dance, tonight was a perfect night for it!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Thursday found this fiddler and her sisters at the spa for an afternoon of being pampered and more importantly, sharing stories and activities together... We worked out in the gym for about an hour an a half, yeah, no kidding... I did the elliptical machine for the first time in my life (I had somehow forgotten to pack my sneakers and only had sandals, which worked out okay on this particular piece of equipment) and managed 40 minutes and about 2.4 miles I think... Not too shabby... We continued on through the gym, using the weighted machines and doing some stretches...
Next stop was the sauna... Pretty nice, we got seated and comfortable, no big deal... Then we heard this loud hissing noise, and the room starts filling up with fresh steam... more and more and more... Within a minute or so we couldn't even see each other much less the door... And still the steam poured in! It felt great, but there was an element of terror, none of us had experienced anything like that before! Once the steam stopped coming into the little room and we could indeed see across to one another we relaxed more and truly enjoyed it...
After a quick pre-pool shower, it was swim time... We swam a bit, talked a bit, bobbed around a bit... Then decided we'd use the hot tub... Nice move :) Back into the pool for some specialized synchronized swimming... Let me tell you... The "starfish" float doesn't really work... We (Deb, Kath and I) joined hands and agreed to do the face down float with legs splayed out behind us, which should have looked fabulous from above (had there been a camera crew) but what really happened is that we sunk... Oh well... We did do some star circles (all left hands into the middle and swim in formation, then reverse directions) which actually did work out...
We also tried some various swim strokes... None of us are really what you could call strong swimmers, but we do all have a lot of energy and potential... We tried this swim stroke that we've seen on television where you have overhand strokes, and you only breathe on alternating rotations of the head (for the most part your head is underwater, in an effort to gain tremendous speed)... Well, we didn't drown, but we (or I anyway) did sputter a bit as I tried to maintain a continuous supply of oxygen... Such fun!
After a nice shower we went up to the third floor where we had our pedicures scheduled... O.M.G... This was wonderful! My first pedicure, EVER, and I loved it... Massage, wax treatment, buffing of the soles, trimming of the nails, sea salt scrubs... and then a nice application of polish...
After our afternoon was finished at the spa, we went downstairs for dinner and more conversation... I have to say, this was a great SISTERS EVENT...
Spadookis comes from the Portland Collection, Volume Two.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Kind Sister(s)

We had a small jam session this evening... just Richard, myself and my sister Kathie. We had such a great time though, we did something totally different than our usual picking of tunes or playing of sets that we do for contradances. We chose some songs that we liked, and sang... playing various instruments as we wanted. We did a lot of different things, a Dan Fogelberg song, John Denver, and quite a few from the Rise Up Singing book. I appreciate my sisters being part of my life in so many ways whether it's a love of music and the outdoors, the comaradarie of sharing stories and experiences, of recalling childhood days... together we laugh and cry, encourage and support... it's unconditional, even when we don't totally agree, even when we're busy, even when no one else seems to be in our corner. It's great having sisters who are kind, generous, loving, and up for adventure!
Kind Sister is a waltz from the first Waltz Book.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Draggin' the Bow

Here's a photo I found on Jen's photo album that I hadn't seen posted, so I thought I'd share it with everyone... How cute is this? Avery has been much more interested in "his" kittens when he comes to visit... But every now and then he'll want to play his fiddle, and asks me to play along too... We play and sing Row Your Boat, ABC, and probably another tune or two before he loses interest... No pressure on him to play more often or longer, we want him to consider music a fun activity that we can do together... Still, I have this vision of him coming along to Maine Fiddle Camp in a few years if he's interested... He has a good sense of rhythm, and a natural love of music that will take him far, no matter what instrument he chooses...
Draggin' the Bow comes from the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Harvest Home

Summer's bounty! These vegetables came straight from my mom & dad's garden this afternoon... can't get much fresher than that! We have started harvesting some cucumbers, zucchini and summer squash, a few peas and basil from our garden, but our seeds went in a bit late and we've not been tending it regularly so it is not expected to produce mass amounts of food. We're really thankful to have the contributions!
This FoodSaver was a gift from Jen, Jason, Avery, Toby and Bryan this year and I absolutely LOVE it. It's so much easier, faster and tidier than canning. Vacuum packaging reduces storage space, and preserves the flavor and freshness.

This is the result of my afternoon and evening. The beans got snipped, washed, blanched, dried, pre-frozen and then packed with the FoodSaver. I think we have about 7 bags of assorted sizes (because I haven't exactly figured out how big to cut the bags) The zucchini got washed, shredded and packaged... it will be used in the winter for breads, muffins, and also to add to soup stock for added texture and nutrients. The smaller squash will be prepared tomorrow for dinner, as will the tomatoes and the cucumbers (which somehow didn't make it into the picture). It is a nice sense of accomplishment to put surplus food away for the winter months ahead... and a good way to reduce our grocery bill a little bit too.

Harvest Home is a hornpipe that can be found in the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Double File

The Greens did double duty tonight! We had a scheduled community contradance in Vienna, we've been planning for it since this past spring. We also found out there was an opportunity to call the N Yarmouth dance... what to do? Well, we decided it was possible to do both! It took a bit of teamwork to make it all happen, but thanks to a great core group of friends & musicians, it all worked out!
Richard took charge of the community dance, doing the sound and calling... and the fiddlehedz' friendz did a fabulous job of providing the music... with special guest fiddler SK Green :) The evening was a huge success.
I went to N Yarmouth with a tentative program, and found out I'd be sharing the calling mic with a fellow new caller, Maggie... We quickly reviewed our dances, came up with a line-up that looked good and jumped in. Lots of learning, mid-course-adjustments, and lots of being flexible with a smile :) We had a guest caller that worked out just fine (thanks Kenna) and Richard drove all the way down in time to call a dance. What a great evening! Music was provided by some really hot fiddlers fresh from Maine Fiddle Camp... whahooo... so much fun!
Double File comes from the Fiddler's Fakebook... thanks to all who worked double time to help out tonight :)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Big John McNeil

We're home from Maine Fiddle Camp, tired and happy! What a great experience, to be immersed and surrounded by great musicians in a peaceful setting. The weather was mostly great (Wednesday was a bit wet)... Second Breakfast prepared and served wonderful, healthy foods... Camp organizers did a fabulous job of scheduling classes and other activities, even in spite of some pretty heavy odds.
First, the lake was gone when we got there, and the Camp director only found out about it a short time before we did! That's right, True's Pond was a mud flat which meant no swimming for anyone. Not to worry, arrangements were made to have a school bus arrive to shuttle youth and adults alike to a nearby lake each afternoon.
Some of the staff weren't able to arrive in time to start on Monday, so again, arrangements were made on the fly to have various other competent instructors fill in wherever needed, and no one went without instruction appropriate for their level. The entire week was filled with stories like this where people just saw a situation, and stepped in to do whatever they could with grace and a smile :)
There are six levels of fiddle lessons, and various age groups. The class I started in was a level 5, which would have been quite a lot of work for me but totally do-able. But, on Tuesday, I found out that a (high ability) level 4 group was going to learn Big John McNeil... this is a tune I've struggled with for years now, always wanting to play it but not quite getting how to bow or finger the strings to play it right... this was my big chance.
So, I joined in and learned the tune! In addition, I learned Vladimir's Steamboat, another tune I've always wanted to be able to play. We also learned the Brunswick Waltz, and worked on Red Haired Boy which is a standard for me but again, I've never known how to bow it "just right". Having heard, or played, or even tried to play these tunes gave me a little edge on learning that proved to be a nice change of pace. Most other years I've been in classes that teach a new tune, one that no one knows... which is fun but rather than learn lots of new tunes, I've more recently been wanting to learn technique... that's what happened this year. I learned bowing patterns, fingering patterns, and some rhythm things that will make a big difference in how things sound and play.
I want to mention that each class group has a bird name... my new group was named Buffleheads. Each nest has a home teacher, one person who comes for the first morning class as well as the afternoon review session. Late morning, there is a different visiting teacher. Our home nest teacher was Steve Muise, and he was great... patient and instructional, and never wavering in what he somehow knew we were capable of. He masterminded a pretty involved arrangement for the final camper concert that involved the three tunes, doing some rhythm chucking, choreographed stage moves, and a blues style ending to our act... ambitious but we pulled it off with style :)
Another fun thing is that I went to a workshop on button accordions... and learned to play one! How much fun! I was able to play Midnight on the Water, Fere Jacques, and Haste to the Wedding before the hour was over... guess what's on my wish list now!?!
Big John McNeil can be found in the New England Fiddler's Repertoire, and now it is also in my own personal repertoire.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

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

Okay, it's also the heat... but who's complaining? It's summer, it's Maine, and it's hot but it won't last long! The evenings do offer some respite from the 90 degree temperatures, and there was a lovely breeze most of the day. We are quite fortunate to have a swimming hole only a mile from our house, so it's easy to take a quick trip to cool off and swim.
The heat did affect our performance today. We were slated to present a contradance at the annual Wayne Fair at the Ladd Recreation Center. We got there in time to set up (we were drenched by the time we got the equipment set up) and we managed to gather enough folks to do a circle dance, but there wasn't anywhere for people to get out of the sun... so when they left to get some water they didn't come back. Then the thunder and lightning started, as well as some very light showers. Any one of these things on their own is an attention getter, but when they all happen within a short amount of time, we chose to call it a day and pack up our gear. Not our finest hour. The good things are that we got the sound system up in an hour and it sounded good... musicians were awesome... the dancers seemed to have a good time, and we had fun. We might try to plan things a little differently another time, but this gig has been in the works for months now, actually one of our first things we scheduled. What we've been finding out is that we prefer to be inside under cover~ it eliminates any potential damage due to rain, sun, wind, sleet, hail, or other elements.
Richard's sister and nephew were here from Virginia for the weekend and came to the dance, as did his mom and dad. We all went out to the Chickadee Restaurant in Turner for lunch, which was a nice treat. My father-in-law highly recommended the basket of fried clams... we took his advice and were not disappointed.
We stopped by my mom & dad's before coming home... they have kindly agreed to come and check on the kittens this next week, filling their food & water dishes. Mom and I talked quilts for a little bit and went out to look at the garden.
An afternoon swim after we got home and unpacked the instruments and equipment made for a more comfortable evening. This was my first official day of my new un-career. Productive? yes... Relaxing? yes... Community and family involvement? yes... Music and dance? yes... I'd say it was a good day in spite of the heat or the humidity!
It Ain't the Heat, It's the Humidity comes from the Portland Collection.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Joy of My Life

I've used this post title before, but am feeling joyous today so I thought I'd use it again! I worked my last day at Club-E today and am officially gainfully alternatively employed :) I'm not really unemployed or underemployed... by choice I am taking some time to explore the world and most importantly to study some areas of interest... in particular, the fiddle. When the time comes, I'll re-enter the work-a-day world in some fashion and be happy to do so. But, for now I am joyous with the sense of freedom and wonder that probably greet a young child at the beginning of summer vacation.
In other news, I have purchased a fiddle... a fine new fiddle from Somerset Violins. It plays sweetly and suits me (even though it still smells of varnish-type-products which I have been assured will dissipate soon).
Tomorrow (Saturday August 4th) is the Wayne Fair, being held at the Ladd Recreation Center here in town. fiddlehedez & friendz will be presenting a contradance in the afternoon starting at 1:00. It is scheduled to take place outside, and is at the end of the fair so we can run it at least until 2:00 as planned, but are free to continue it until dancers & interest run out.
Sunday we head off to Maine Fiddle Camp for a week of instruction, jamming, good food, and vacation.
Joy of My Life is a tune from our binder of collected tunes. Joy comes in many forms, and I am abundantly blessed with joy that looks like home & family, sounds like wind in the trees, and tastes like sunshine :)