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


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.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

End of Summer

Wow, it's been a little while since a blog update! Thanks to all who check in regularly and haven't seen anything new... and continue to check in anyway. It's late summer, and there is a mile-long-list of things to do before winter, I'm sure you all have your own list started. At any rate, we are plugging away at these chores while carving out time to enjoy the season, and I think we are achieving a nice balance. It certainly does help for me to have the time to put into maintaining this great place where we live.
Today I'm cooking down tomatoes into a "Fresh Tomato Sauce", smells pretty good :) Bryan had left his juicer here, and that made the job oh so much easier, not having to remove the flesh or seeds... the juicer extracts the juice and leaves the pulp in a separate chamber. The juice goes into the pot with some sauted onions and herbs to cook down a while. I've managed to bake some yeast bread, and make some pretty tasty meals using available produce.
Yesterday, after finishing morning chores, we took advantage of the warm sunshine and used the solar shower... free hot water! Then off to Reid State Park where we walked both beaches, a nice lobster stew dinner at Richard's mom and dad's, and then a movie at RR2. The film was "Death at a Funeral", a British comedy that was all we expected and more.
Well, off to work in the gardens a bit, and then we'll host our regular Tuesday jam session this evening. It's a fine start to the end of summer!
End of Summer is a tune from the Reckless Reel.