Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Shelburne Grange

Today offers an opportunity to break away from the world of academia and focus on music! Richard, Kathie and I will head over to the Bouffy Quimby hall in Turner to play some music as part of a grangers luncheon (or that's our understanding, sometimes these functions are entirely different than what we expect). We'll play a nice collection of jigs and reels with a few slower tunes mixed in for good measure. If you want to know more about grange, check out their website. http://www.nationalgrange.org/about/mission.htm

The Grange provides opportunities for individuals and families to develop to their highest potential in order to build stronger communities and states, as well as a stronger nation through: FELLOWSHIP, SERVICE, and LEGISLATION
My parents and grandparents were members Grange and I have to admit I don't know much about what they did or why they chose to be grangers. Maybe I'll gain some insight today.

Shelburne Grange is the name of a contradance written by David Kaynor.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Snowflake Hornpipe

Here's a photo of the most beautiful dance hall in the state of Maine! A wonderful wood floor that responds to every step and balance, a stage for band and caller, great acoustics thanks to some lovely design and it's not that far from wherever you are! This is the Forster Memorial Building in Strong. We invite you to visit it on Leap Day next month as we continue to help build community there through music and dance.
In other fast breaking news, I finished writing a paper today and must say, it's a LOT OF WORK to come up with a few words to express a thought! The idea is that the more writing I do over the next few months, the better at it I'll become and the easier it will be to produce something that is really good. This is a good start.
Snowflake Hornpipe comes from the New England Fiddler's Repertoire.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lonesome Fiddle Blues

Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing. Where have all the flowers gone? Long time ago. Where have all the flowers gone? Girls have picked them every one. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?
We're wondering where the community dancers have gone? Long time since we've seen them around. We had a good turnout last summer at the dances we did around the area and folks seemed to have a genuinely good time. This winter is not as successful, for us or some other people who have been working hard to promote contradancing at the community level.
Two community dances were scheduled here in our home town. Flyers were put out, an ad was placed in the folk newsletter, a notice was published in the community newsletter and a request was made to note it in the school's weekly letter to parents as well as the community newspaper. No one showed at the first dance and only two people showed for the second dance (they stayed long enough to listen to us play a couple of sets for them). Tonight we went to Strong to help an organizer with her dance and she had one dancer show up who was not part of her family. Another organizer is going to run her dance two more months and then she's giving up. It's disappointing. I wonder what community means to people, and I have to rethink what it means to me personally.
Any ideas?
We had a number of folks say they knew about the dances, and quite a few who said they'd be there. It's possible the weather wasn't perfect, or the darkness of early evening encouraged them to stay hunkered down in their homes, or maybe they caught a cold or had a last minute change in their schedule. I get that things happen, we make those choices ourselves sometimes and end up staying home rather than going out... I do understand. Still, it's hard to believe there is NO ONE in these communities who wants to bring their children, or neighbors, or parents, or anyone out for a few hours of community interaction once a month or so, to a place that is CLOSE to their home, for $5 or less per person.
We've talked about more advertising, more bells and whistles like making the dance part of another activity so people are already out, and those things are true. But the bottom line is, in my mind, what is community and what does it take to get neighbors out to see each other? Even if you aren't a dancer, it's a pretty good deal to go out and listen in on some great music.
There, that's my soap box speech for the evening!
Seriously, if you have ideas, please send them along. The up side of our evenings out have been some great "live" practices in some wonderful locations.
If for some reason you read this and think you'd like to support your local community dances, there are still a couple more opportunities before they totally disappear from the small town venue. February 16 there is a dance scheduled in Fairfield Center at the Grange, it's on the main road just outside of Waterville so it's definitely accessible to many folks around here. The other opportunity is on Leap Day, February 29 in Strong at the Forster Memorial Building right in town. Strong is just a short drive north of Farmington and it has just about the most beautiful dance hall we've seen anywhere! Check it out before this venue also shuts down due to lack of interest. Need more information? Email us or post a comment!
Lonesome Fiddle Blues can be found in the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Midwinter Waltz

My screen saver scrolls through my photographs and this one popped up and caught my eye this morning, I thought I'd share it.The photo was taken when Richard and I lived in Augusta and walked along the Kennebec Rail Trail. The trail was convenient for us to use and gave us a nice two-mile walk away from the city streets. A lot has changed since our early days of marriage nearly three years ago, I'd say all of it for the better as we learn more about one another.
It is mid-winter here in Maine and though we are somewhat limited in our overnight excursions (we must keep the wood fires burning to keep the house warm) we are happy not to have to purchase heating oil. We also have the benefit of the sun when it shines brightly, it warms our spaces thanks to efficient design elements throughout the house.
Even as conversation begins to turn toward spring and which seed catalogs have been received, it's nice to just look out the window and take in the beauty of the season- a fresh dusting of snow on the evergreens, tracks where deer have come foraging near the porch, and the pinkish early morning light peeking through the gray branches of leafless trees.
Midwinter Waltz comes from the Waltz Book (first and un-numbered volume).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Reading Reel

Reading will be my new pasttime as I dive into my new life as a full time college student. I begin classes tomorrow and I'm so excited! I'm really fortunate to have the support of my entire family in this new venture. It's all fun & games today as I look forward to the adventure, but I'm sure once the reality sinks in and the homework piles up and the reading assignments are looming over me I'm going to be begging them to encourage me! I've actually been reading some of my textbooks to get into the routine of reading more regularly. Typically I read when I go to bed, and that lasts about 3 pages if I'm lucky, before I fall asleep. My recent trip to the San Francisco area gave me opportunity to read for hours at a time (think airport, flight time, early mornings when I was still on EST and the rest of the house is PST). Expect posts to be few and far between as I settle into the changes.
Reading Reel is a contradance written by Ted Sanella.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Close Friends

This afternoon found these fiddlers sharing their home with family and close friends as we celebrated the engagement of Erin and Bryan. Thanks to Jen for helping with all the preparations yesterday, and to all the kids and Avery for final touches in presenting everything today. We enjoyed bright sunshine, good foods, great conversation and company throughout the afternoon. The Patriot's football game this afternoon only added to the excitement as we all kept an eye & ear to the television to stay in tune with their performance... they will definitely be at the Super Bowl this year!
Close Friends is a dance that keeps everyone in close contact with their neighbors as well as their partners... kind of like our party this afternoon that engaged current and not-so-current relatives as well as friends from over the years... reminds us that relationships are about the people and experiences shared rather than the technical on-paper connections we sometimes associate with people.
Close Friends was written by Simone Verheyen.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kitchen Stomp

Most of my day was spent in the kitchen, or around the kitchen but I did manage to play a few tunes in between my chopping, boiling, mixing and cooking chores. I've been working on tunes from Larry Unger's Reckless Reel and finding a lot of tunes that I like playing. Nice way to spend a Saturday... fixing meals, tending to my family, playing music... lovely mid-January activities.
Kitchen Stomp is a great contradance that we really like.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Family Contra

What a beautiful day it is here! Weather forecast had been for a messy storm, but it's definitely over now and the sky is blue, blue, blue with lots of sunshine! We're happy for the clearing travel conditions as Bryan and Erin are flying to Maine for what has evolved into a weekend of celebrating their engagement. We'll be having a party on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 for all of you readers who haven't received a formal invitation, please COME ON OVER. This is very last minute and I'll be honest, I've not had enough time to prepare properly so it's a totally thrown together affair :) Still, it should be a pile of fun, we'll have lots of great food and time for all of you to meet Erin and welcome her into the family! Jen, Toby and Avery will be here this weekend too, I know you've all heard me say it before, but I just LOVE having everyone come home and be together!
In other family news, we are welcoming a new little one... I heard from Kathie last night that Sam and Jes are proud parents of a healthy little boy named Weston, born yesterday late afternoon.
Families in our neighborhood of Wayne and surrounding areas are encouraged to get out this evening for a Community Dance at the Ladd Recreation Center for lots of fun dancing circles, longways sets and contras. Live music with the fiddlehedz, and Richard Green calling as well as refreshments and plenty of conversation with your friends and neighbors should be a fun way to spend an affordable Friday evening close to home.
Family Contra is one of the fun dances we may do tonight, it's been a favorite at many of the community dances at which we've participated, either as callers, musicians or sometimes just as dancers! Come on out and try it tonight if you can.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Own Home Waltz

Back home after a long but fairly uneventful day of flying. On the last flight of the day, from Phoenix to Manchester NH, we had a flight attendant who kept us all laughing. As he did the pre-flight safety speech (which no one really listens to completely) he got to the part about the oxygen mask and said to watch for the butter containers to drop down, to go ahead and use it yourself first because you KNOW the person next to you wasn't paying attention anyway, and to go ahead and breath whatever oxygen was being rationed... When we got to Manchester and were taxiing to the terminal, he reminded us that we were to leave our seat belts fastened until the PILOT informed us we could release them, then once the plane stopped he said "ready, set, GET OFF THE PLANE" and honestly I don't think I heard one single person unbuckle their belt before he said that :) Lots of other little things throughout the flight but you get the idea... It's nice to be back home, now to get ready for this coming weekend!
My Own Home Waltz comes from one of the Waltz Books, I think the first volume.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Shuffling Back

This morning was spent playing tunes and hanging out while Bryan and Erin were at work. Then this afternoon B and I took the dog out to Briones State Park and hiked a couple of miles. A trip to the bookstore this evening while Erin is at her photography class and a good night's sleep before an early rise tomorrow will complete my visit here in Pleasant Hill CA. It's been a great visit!
Shuffling Back comes from the Portland Collection Volume Two.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Morrison's Jig

This afternoon we went into San Francisco planning to take the boat out to Alcatraz. Not on Sunday afternoon we found out, the last boat leaves at 2:00pm and we were later than that. Not a problem, there are so many other things to see and do in the city. There are lots of street performers, my favorite today were the Morris Dancers. We stopped long enough to get a few photos.

There are Morris troupes in Maine and New England, and though it is not surprising to find them away from home, it was certainly a pleasant treat for me. I love the music and the choreography using sticks, swords, bells and handkerchiefs. We had a nice lunch and then went up to Golden Gate Park where we were again too late for our planned activity of going up in the de Young tower to view the city. Before coming out to California, I'd decided that I didn't really care if I went out touring around, my main focus was to spend a few days with Bryan, meet Erin and her family, and relax. The trip into the city was fun today, even more so as we kept modifying the plan, the best part was spending the time with Bryan and Erin :)

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I'm working on some new post settings, bear with me and enjoy the photos!

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Saturday, January 12, 2008


Congratulations to Bryan and Erin on their engagement which took place Friday evening.


The sun broke through the morning clouds to give way to a beautiful afternoon. We drove north to Napa valley for wine tasting at several vineyards. I love doing this, it's such a fun way to try some new labels, often finding something unexpected that broadens my limited knowledge and appreciation of wine. My preference is red over white, and full bodied dry over light & sweet. We were not disappointed with the offerings, and our little group of four (Bryan, Erin, E's mom Judy, and myself) made for a lovely day. We brought along our lunch and ate out in the sunshine, a nice change from the clouds and showers most recently experienced here in California. As you can see in the photo, it's a winter landscape with minimal foliage but still warm enough that the grass is green and there are flowers in bloom.

This evening we stayed in, ate pizza and watched Sideways, a great film that takes place in the California wine country.

Merriweather comes from the Portland Collection.

Friday, January 11, 2008

High Clouds

This photograph taken from the plane does not capture the beauty and wonder of the skyscape above 10,000 feet but I like the image anyway, so I thought I'd share it!

High Clouds is a waltz from the Waltz Book, Volume 1.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Road to California

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go... Wahooo. I'm looking forward to seeing B and meeting Erin and her family, and walking around in sandals instead of snow boots, haha...
Road to California comes from the Portland Collection Volume One.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Boys of Blue Hill

Last night found us hanging out with the boys and girls of Blue Hill where we went to call a contradance... one of our best nights to date. Winter in Maine can offer some treacherous travel, but roads were clear and the drive went by quickly as we practiced some calling, listened to NPR, and ate our dinner which we brought along. Typically we're in a rush and at the last minute, as we're leaving the house, we realize we're gonna be hungry, which we almost always are, and we end up picking something up on the way. Much better prepared this time! Bananas, roast beef sandwiches and plenty of water!
Our dance program worked for most of the first half of the evening, we'd planned more dances than we had time to do before the break~ that's so much easier to deal with than scrambling for another dance out of the box of cards! The second "half" went just as well. The band was Oakum Bay String Band and they were awesome... very accomodating and helpful to this still-fairly-new-to-the-calling-scene duo. The hall is really nice, a beautiful old Greek revival building nestled right downtown. We both found it a great benefit to share the calling... it gave us time to do a little dancing ourselves, and afforded a bit of down time to take notes for one another. We remembered to record most of this dance so we'll be able to critique our performance later this morning.
Originally we planned to spend the night in Blue Hill with dance organizers, but the weather and trip had been so uneventful and we were so energized by the dance we decided to head home and fill the wood stove. What we didn't realize is that it had started lightly snowing and that it might take a while to get back. Keeping each other alert was easy though, we spent almost the entire drive talking about the dance... what was our favorite one to call, which ones did the dancers seem to love, which ones we might want to not do again, that sort of thing.
Back in Wayne we found the house still fairly warm, enough coals in the stove to get a nice fire going, and happy we were going to be in our own little house this morning!
Boys of Blue Hill is a lovely hornpipe you can find in the Fiddler's Fakebook.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

String Theory

Our string of colored lights is a festive welcome~ a happy transition into our home from wherever we might have been... It's especially lovely this time of year with the twinkling lights peeping out from under the branches of new snow! My theory is that a string of brightly colored lights can dispell many a dark & brooding thought :)
String Theory is a winding jig in the key of Gm!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Pretty Peggy

As we consider dances to put into a contradance program, we somehow have to envision how the figures work and where the dancers progress. Until now, we've been dancing with air-partners, pretending there are others among us as we do the moves to music we find on the internet. Interesting, and pretty useful.
One of the knick-knacky Christmas toys we pull out every year is a Christmas tree version of Hi-Q. Hmmm, an idea formed in our contradancing minds... What if we had a "Dance Floor" with peg people that we could move around as a dance progressed? Richard made such a board and some pegs that he wrapped with different colored tape... it worked out pretty well, but it wasn't big enough to choreograph a square dance or anything very long. Back to the drawing board! What he came up with was this design!

Now we each have a mini dance floor and a set of dancers!
Pretty Peggy is a tune from the Portland Collection, a lively jig in the key of A.