Monday, July 30, 2007

New Friends in Maine

In addition to meeting up with family and old friends in Maine, I made some new friends, too! I went to Rockland last Tuesday night to see Petula Darling, and I finally met her rabbits Morris and Midge. Morris came to see who was in his house, but Midge was very ... retiring. I could only get a good look at her by taking a flash photo under a piece of furniture and then looking at the result. I'm afraid she looks a bit like a Wallace and Gromit were-rabbit from that point of view:

Although he is a famous interwebs personality, Morris was kind enough to grant me an interview

After the visit, Morris and Midge had a wash up. The camera added a few pounds to Morris' physique; he's really quite svelte.I also met Petula Darling's husband Davis. Have you blog readers noticed how she mentions him but never describes him? Now I know why -- he's really handsome and intelligent! She's making sure she keeps him to herself. :> I thoroughly enjoyed blabbing away with Petula and Davis until I had to tear myself away and go home. Just before I left Davis showed me a hawk skull. Under an antique microscope. He really knows how to impress me! I love bones and old science equipment.

For my next visit I hope to get my act together and bring a petticoat-worthy dress, and we can go out on the town.

The next day I went up to my Dad's and finally met his new cat Scout. She's a young whipper-snapper and full of energy. She also agreed to an interview.

So there you have it. I met two rabbits, a cat, and Petula's husband on my trip to Maine. That's pretty good!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

All Your Space Travel Needs

Driving back from the airport yesterday (on a detour for Dick's Deluxe burger), Michael and I spotted the Space Travel Supply Company in Greenwood. How cool is that! Way cool. I can't wait to go. They do sell actual space supplies as well as cherry-scented smoke-ring laser guns. Read more here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Stress Free = Long Life

Well, I'm back from Maine, and it took bloody forever. I was supposed to catch a 4:14pm flight out of Portland (Maine), get to Detroit with 40 minutes between flights, and be home by 9:25pm. I actually got home 14 hours later than that. Thunderstorms in NY mucked up at east coast air traffic. We finally flew to Detroit 2.5 half hours late, and my flight was long gone. I had to stay in a hotel overnight and fly out the next morning.

But you know what? I just relaxed and enjoyed it! The flight to Detroit was through towering fluffy clouds with afternoon light making them peachy and gold. Far off thunder heads looked like massive glaciers and icebergs. It was like being in a Maxfield Parrish sky. I had no trouble getting a hotel in Detroit, and I got to luxuriate in a king sized bed all my own. Kind of like being on vacation from life: not on vacation, not at home, just in limbo.

Anyway, I'm home now, and pictures and videos will appear soon. Meanwhile, take a look at Poodwaddle Clocks where you can Calculate Your Real Age based on factors like health, risk behaviors, and stress. I'm happy to be reminded that remaining stress-free when factors are out of your control gives you a better chance at a longer life. According to the website, even though I am 39 with a base/average life-expectancy of 75, I'm really 10.7 years old and have a life-expectancy of 103.3. I feel 10.7! I'm just glad to not actually be 10.7 anymore.

I wonder if Michael knows I'm so immature and he's stuck with me for so long?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hello from Maine

I'm here in Camden, Maine having a lovely vacation with my family! It's warm and humid as a freshly used washcloth. Kind of nice for walking in the rain, 'cause it's warm rain, unlike Seattle cold rains!

I've been shopping at L.L.Bean and Freeport, I toured an arboretum and had an evening cookout on a private cove, and celebrated my brother's 41st birthday with family. And lest ye think Maine is bereft of culture, I also went out to a bar to listen to live blues last night. Today is hiking in the day and a visit to Petula Darling in the evening.

Tomorrow: to Skowhegan and Harpswell!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fiddle Tunes

I don't know if I'm ever going to get around to writing about Fiddle Tunes! Now I will try. I've been working since I got back, scrambling to clean and put away all my camping gear, digitize all my workshop audio recordings, and download/upload all of my photos. Friday night I take a red-eye out to Maine for a week. So I'm feeling time-crunched and guilty about not blogging. whine whine whine.

Please go to my Flickr account (link from photo below) to see lots of photos of mostly goofing off and not much work. When I was workin' hard I wasn't taking photos!
I also made a mini movie from a few 30 second clips.

So what exactly did I do at Fiddle Tunes? What's it all about? Well, basically it's band camp! I came to learn about banjo. I've been taking lessons for a year from Candy Goldman.

Sunday afternoon I arrived, set up camp with a group of friends, and went to a few orientation meetings where I could hear the faculty play and decide who I wanted to learn from. Then, during the week each day was a non-stop whirlwind of trying to balance work and fun and maybe get some sleep:

  • 8:30 am crawl out of bed, shower, eat, get coffee
  • 9:30 - 11 first workshop. 12 different ones going on at once in many buildings all over Fort Worden, so I better pick the right one! Miss the other 11. Wish I could have been there, too. The one workshop I do attend has been moved. Run around trying to find it by listening for banjos. Pass many other rooms spouting Cajun, south Appalachian, tango ... Workshops can be all about learning a tune or just listening to the musician play. Sometimes a mix. I was a Randy Wilson workshop devotee, and also attended a few others on jamming and banjo mechanics.
  • 11-12:30 second workshop of the morning. 12 different workshops going on at once again. The one I want has been moved. Try to find it.
  • 12:30-2 stagger back to campsite for lunch. Maybe try to practice something I learned in the morning, buy supplies at the camp music store, wash dishes, clean up the tent, or run into town for groceries.
  • 2-3:30 Band Lab! Learn to play a tune with a whole group of folks. 18 Band Labs to choose from, studying with all the faculty bands. I can only choose one. Miss the other 17. Wish I could have been there, too. I did the Beginning Band Lab, formerly known as the Baby Band Lab. My first day the Baby Band Lab goes too fast for me. I feel stupid. Mostly this is because most of the instruments are fiddles, so they get all the attention. Jeanie Murphy comes and rescues the banjos.
  • 3:30-4:30 tutorials. Meet with one of the camp instrument tutors in a group. Lots to choose from, but I go in with Jeanie Murphy and the beginning banjo players. The tutorial always starts late and goes late. Jeanie always brings snacks! Yay!
  • 4:30-5:30 extra workshops for dancing, percussion, etc. I never got to one! I was always desperately trying to digest everything from the previous 4 classes, sometimes getting together with other folks to practice.
  • 5:30-7 stagger back to the campsite for dinner. Laurie and I cooked dinner Friday night, the other nights I just helped with clean-up. Finally take a moment to put my tent in order and maybe wash some ever present dirty dishes. Get prettied up for the evening! A different outfit for every night!
  • 7-9:30 concert by the faculty. Always stunning.
  • 9:30-?? jamming and dances. Many jams and several dances going on at once in addition to mini-parties at every campsite. Try to choose one thing. Flit around to several.
  • 1-2 am, crawl back to campsite and try to sleep in a campsite blazing with strings of lights and ringing with jams. Don't actually sleep much.
  • 8:30 am do it again. Maybe I really got 5 hours of sleep.
There were also some extra special concerts and some performances by camp tutors and students. I played two tunes with the Beginning Band Lab. We called ourselves The Barely Strung Band, and we played Ocean Waves and Short Life of Trouble. I also stepped in for Randy Wilson's band lab, and helped to play Boatin' Up Sandy (see picture in post below). For both performances I got very nervous and played badly, but I guess you couldn't tell! So I hear, anyway.

On Wednesday night our campsite held a funny hat cocktail party, which was a blast. Many, many, many photos of this on Flickr.

Well, Cheers! Here's to next year!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Exhausted Joy

Wow. I just went to my first Fiddle Tunes as a full time participant, and I am completely exhausted and exhilarated. It was amazing! I can't wait for next year. Today I'm resting, unpacking, washing, relaxing, organizing photos, and digitizing workshop recordings. My camp mates already have campsites for next year, and I'm already adding things to my list of things to bring.

I'll write about this more later, but highlights were:

  • Randy Wilson and his bluesy banjo style, especially his Deluxe fruitcake banjo.
  • Camping and partying with a fabulous group of people.
  • Making new friends, especially banjo friends.
  • Meeting musical masters who are genuine and friendly people.
  • Beginning to get a handle on how jamming works.
  • Dancing for hours every night (not one bad dance!)
  • Concerts every night filled with earth-shattering musicianship.