Saturday, August 30, 2008

Elbow Swamp Rag

East Vassalboro was THE place to be on Saturday night, at the newly resurrected 5th Saturday contradance. I remember going to "the Swamp" as it was known, back in the mid 1990's but there hasn't been a dance there for years. Some very dedicated community members and dancers decided it was worth the investment of money and time, and organized the dance to which they invited Richard to call, and me to play tunes... along with Paul Baines and SK Green. There were (by semi-official count) 54 people in attendance with a range of dancers from very inexperienced to regular-every-weekend folk. Richard chose great dancers that kept everyone moving and engaged while we played our hearts out while we sweated in the heat on stage. The evening was a HUGE success and we want to thank everyone who participated. It was great fun to play tunes with Paul and SK... lots of talent AND great energy which is a winning combination in my estimation.
Elbow Swamp Rag comes from the Reckless Reel.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Flying Clouds

Seems like all the clouds have flown somewhere besides here, the weather has been absolutely perfect for late summer. We are taking advantage of it as much as possible... Richard is shingling the front roof (you may remember the back roof was done last summer) and I started bringing firewood inside. Tomorrow is forecasted to be fair again, though there may be some clouds, and we will be that much further ahead with fall chores.
I also started cleaning out my perennial bed which had a good start to the season and then got quite neglected while I was away so much. There are so many weeds and grasses growing out there, but I know that with a little bit of attention it will be beautiful through the fall months and also that much easier to manage come spring... worth the time and attention.
Flying Clouds comes from the Portland Collection.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Simonton Corners

As some may know, Richard and I took a class for new contradance callers almost two years ago, and have had some opportunities to call community dances, an occasional portion of a regular dance, and some some segments of benefits - all good experience in building a reputation, gaining confidence, and compiling a repertoire. I've been sort of on the slow track, in part because many times the community dances we do need music as well as a caller and I often end up playing tunes. Not a problem because I like playing the fiddle quite a lot, but I was feeling like I was lagging behind my other "classmates" from the class. This evening I got to program and call the entire evening at the Simonton Corners dance in Rockport, and it went really well. I felt good, I was prepared, and I had an awesome band to work with (Fiona Schubeck, John Cote, and Eric McDonald). My confidence got a big boost, and the dancers seemed to have a lot of fun which is a good way to get my name out there. I'll continue to be Richard's trusty side-kick whenever we get gigs together, but I feel happy knowing that I can hold my own!
In other news, I got to hang out a bit with the grandkids today, getting my much needed "Avery and Paige" fix... Avery is "Mr. Personality" with a story to be told about everything. We got to have lunch and then make butterscotch pudding, which he had never tried before but loved. Miss Paige is beautiful and sweet and cuddly and happy to just watch whatever is going on. It was a lovely day.

Dance All Night

We had so much fun last night at the regular 4th Friday dance in North Whitefield. The band was Calliope, and the caller was supposed to be Lisa Sieverts but she was ill... so John Alden, visiting from Cape Cod, agreed to fill in and what a treat we all had. Usually I'm ready to leave at intermission, seeking the comfort of sleep but I was truly ready to dance all night and forego the sleeping altogether. This morning? Back on the road to go see Avery and Paige!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Composing a Dance

While in Chesterfield, Jackson showed me a few dances that he learned in school and while we were discussing them, he asked if it was possible to write a dance himself, to which I replied, "Of course!" So, we started talking about some figures, and how they could go together, and how the dance could tell a story. What we came up with was a really cool contra dance that we named "Summer Storm" and it goes like this:

Summer Storm, Duple Improper or Proper, Circles of four from the top
By: Jackson Green & Pam Green

A1 Circle left once around
Circle right once around
A2 Partner allemande left
Long lines forward and back (3 steps with whoop and clap each way)
B1 Partner allemande right
Longlines forward and back again with whoop and clap twice as before
B2 1’s two hand turn
1’s arch, 2’s duck under to next neighbor

The idea is to start out pretty calm (the circles right and left), then crescendo into small whirlwinds that turn into thunderstorms, one after the other... then settling into a rainbow (the arch). We had a lot of fun coming up with this, and I'm looking forward to trying it out at a family dance sometime soon.

Home Again!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Virginia Beach

We are having a lovely day, relaxing in Virginia Beach. We went out to the Beach last night for a moonlit stroll in the sand and waves before a delicious dinner at Catch 31, and are taking it easy today at home with Joline and the family. The pool is perfect, refreshing and calming at the same time under overcast skies that are keeping the temperatures moderate. It's nice to have some time to hang out and have conversations in between everyone doing their thing - work stuff, newsletter stuff, dance stuff. A good visit!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Virginia Diner and NOAA

We've had a great day, taking a beautiful 3.5 mile walk through the Nature Trails and roads around Burray Road at the Highlands, going to the Virginia Diner for lunch, and then stopping at the NOAA weather station in Wakefield where we got an impromptu guided tour. This evening we went to Jackson and Jake's football practice and are watching a movie on the big screen television. Lots of fun!

Manassas Battlefield Park

We spent Sunday at the Manassas Battlefield Park where we saw Civil War artifacts, listened to a park guide, and walked some of the battlefield areas. We had visited this park a couple of years ago but didn't spend much time due to the lateness of our arrival and the weather. Today was sunny and hot, possibly like the day of the first battle in July of 1861. The soil, red and finely grained, easily produces dust as we walk along the paths and it is easy to imagine the landscape filled with the dust as thousands of soldiers and their horses kicked up the soil as they moved about. Add the screams of terror and death, the stench of torn and broken bodies, and the atmosphere of confusion and dread to the heat and dust - these were the conditions of that day so many years ago. There were hot, dry days this summer on Marshall Island when we were marching down the airfield, kicking up dust from the gravel, that I was reminded of battle conditions, and Sam and Ryan who have been overseas enduring conditions much, much worse. We are fortunate to live in peace and comfort because of the fortitude of those who have battled and continue to battle for us. Thank You!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Off We Go

Off we go! With barely time to get my camping laundry washed, dried, and folded - oh yeah, I still have to do that part - we are off on our next summer adventure TOGETHER this time! A very short week of travel will see us visiting family in Virginia, which will be oh so much fun... and we'll get to spend lots of time making up for being apart for the past couple of months :)To everyone else that I haven't seen in nearly two weeks, I'll see you soon!

Friday, August 15, 2008


I completed my terms of service with the Maine Conservation Corps! I learned a lot of cool things like clearing trails, moving rocks, building rock staircases, putting in rock water bars, living outdoors for extended periods of time, Leave No Trace work ethics, and lots more. I also learned how much I appreciate being home with Richard and having amenities, as well as realizing how much I could do without and still be quite happy and content.
After a little road trip to visit some family, and spend some good quality time with Richard, I'll get ready to head back to the University for fall semester classes! It's been a quick summer season by being away so much, so I'm looking forward to enjoying the fall as much as possible!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

New Pencils

I'm off for Seboomook Dam for a ten day work session - with new watercolor pencils in hand prepared to sketch a new set of scenes as I continue to journal through my summer. I have not done much while at home this break, there's been so much going on! As much as I miss home while I'm away, I love being immersed in nature and having time to capture moments on paper with colors. So with binoculars, magnifying glass, paper and pencils packed in with my tent, sleeping bag, clothes and boots I head out again this morning. This session will involve doing rock work, a new experience for me! I have also packed plenty of bug spray. While I don't know for sure what the status is up north, our woods are full of mosquitos and horse flies right now! Check back for a new post in a week and a half.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Every Little Bit...

I can't believe I'm doing this, but I'm responding to a political issue of sorts - not to directly support one presidential candidate or another, but to raise some questions on how we as Americans consider our position. First, I have to say that being away from radio and television for most of the summer has left me out of the news loop, so I'm responding to a piece of a conversation about whether Obama or McCain should become our next president based on their energy policy. In particular, to a comment that Obama should not become president if he thinks passing out tire pressure gauges is a way to start solving the energy crisis as opposed to McCain's desire to drill for oil in Alaska or off-shore Florida.
While large-scale, long-term solutions are necessary, I'm not sure I believe we should necessarily go drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive areas. If we are going to drill for oil, why not drill in the middle of cities or areas that are already highly concentrated in pollution and debris? This would make workers more readily available, putting thousands of unemployed people to work making good money rather than transporting and housing people many miles from their homes. It would be a way to revitalize a lot of cities, and oil rigs don't look that much different from the Eiffel Tower - architecturally appealing structures could actually enhance city skylines while providing jobs and boosting local economies. This would leave our wild areas still untouched for many more years to come.
Maximizing fuel efficiency by checking tire pressure is certainly a much smaller scale step in developing a strong energy policy, but one that can be employed by every single vehicle owner in the United States. Not only will it improve mpg, it shifts the mind-set from "What will the government do to fix this problem?" to "What else can I do to make a small difference that, with the efforts of others, will affect long term change?" Personally, I like the idea of people like you and me taking steps toward energy independence on foreign oil. I would love for there to be more alternatives available to the working middle class and the lower classes that were affordable and accessible. I would love for the upper class to take more advantage in securing alternative energies rather than buying bigger vehicles simply because they can afford to own them and operate them.
Maintaining optimal air pressure in tires is only one baby step, but add to that driving the speed limit, combining trips, carpooling, reducing consumption of disposable durables like electronics and plastic crap, buying locally produced goods, supporting community events that help families and neighbors have fun close to home, and many more things, these all add up to big changes for each of our households. Add each of these household's changes into groups and you have community changes and pretty soon the solutions show up regionally and nationally. Yeah, I think tire pressure gauges ARE the way to engage America, much more personally than having some nameless group of corporate sponsors blasting and drilling in areas in which we don't have to witness the devastation to our landscapes.
I admit that I am not up on all the political issues of the day, and I don't really know who I'll vote for. Tire pressure gauges without a more well-planned solution are no more good than defacing the environment behind the public's back... I hope there's a better solution that addresses both ends of the spectrum... large scale energy solutions that are considerate of the environment as well as small scale solutions that engage every American to make a more thoughtful choice today than they did yesterday in how they consume energy.
What do you think?