Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Marlboro Ale

One more part of the Memorial Day Weekend was the Marlboro Ale. This is a gathering of about 16-18 Morris & Sword Dance teams from around the U.S. and Canada who stay at Marlboro College and dance all over the county through the weekend, culminating in a festival of all the teams at Newfane, VT late Sunday afternoon. It's a great event - these are top-notch teams, men and women, with a wide variety of styles of music and dancing, some quite funny, featuring the "fool" in the Morris Dance tradition, some with handkerchiefs, some with swords, almost all with leg bells.  Katie, Savanna, Brendon, Jim, Mary, Ellen and myself - we were all there. The weather cooperated - no rain.

Opening procession with musicians leading all the teams

A men's team

A brilliant women's team with a very funny "fool" at left

'kerchiefs galore!

A sword team with the traditional star formed by swords

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Weekend

This was a full weekend! Let's see, at 10a.m., Sat., there was a Dummerston Choir rehearsal for the Installation service of our new pastor, Shawn Bracebridge. Mary W-G led the rehearsal, because Ellen and I will be at Ben Feinland's high school graduation that afternoon (June 11th), but I helped organize this rehearsal, which included about four people from other churches, and attended it to provide support. Ellen stayed home and cooked. 

Then I came home and did some vacuuming and cleaning for company: Jim and Mary arrived from Maine in the mid-afternoon. We talked and caught up with each other's lives and of course had a nice supper, including three variants on rhubarb pie! (Rhubarb custard, rhubarb raspberry apple and rhubarb strawberry). After supper we played Scrabble. Jim pronounced the game historic - he drew a total of 4 consonants the entire game and that included two "dumps." Needless to say, he didn't win (Mary did). 

   Sunday morning we were up early and went to church for an 8:30a.m. choir rehearsal. It was a United Service for four churches, held at the Guilford Church. Quite a service with a big choir and two lively black gospel anthems with guest jazz pianist, 19-year-old Franz Robert, who was our organist in Dummerston for a couple of years a few years ago. A brilliant improv pianist.

After church we took Jim and Mary to Walkers, our local garden/farm/nursery store. Spectacular Memorial Day Weekend displays of plants, trees and shrubs. 

                          Walker Farm display

                          A Walker Farm blossom

Speaking of spectacular, our own rhodedendron is quite something right now too, and a clump of rhubarb has "gone to seed" and is putting out a blossom that is spectacular in its own way. 

               Our rhododendron bush 


Memorial Day weekend included a visit to Betsey's and Shirley's graves. The pot of pansies on Betsey's grave were very happy in the light rain. Shirley's little garden was between the narcissus in late blooming mode, and iris just about to burst forth.

                 Betsey's grave on Memorial Day

                             The two together

Friday, May 26, 2017

Spelling Bee answers

Here are the words we came up with. If you found some others that are in the dictionary, feel free to count them in your score.

CYMAUN+ L  calumny (3 points); allay, annul, alumna, annual, annually, calla, calmly, canal, cannula, clammy, cully, lacuna, lauan, llama, lunacy, laylum, macula, mammal, manly, manual, manually, unlay, unmanly

For Memorial Day weekend: I have a choir rehearsal at 10a.m. Saturday morning, for a special choir for the Installation service of our new pastor in Dummerston, Shawn Bracebridge. Jim and Mary arrive Sat. afternoon from Maine. Katie and Savanna and Brendon will come up on Sunday. We'll all go to the Marlboro Ale in Newfane on Sunday afternoon - that is an annual gathering of a score or more of Morris Dance teams from around the U.S., and Canada. Wonderful event that we are so lucky to have in our area. Then everyone is staying over  Sunday night. That will strain our sleeping facilities but should be fun.

Earlier today, I went for a checkup and cleaning at the dentist and had a cavity under an existing filling, so they took care of it on the spot. 

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Singing season behind us

Well, we successfully navigated two weeks of intense singing. I posted last week about River Singers. This past five days it was the Brattleboro Concert Choir, with rehearsals Wed, Thurs and Fri, and concerts Sat and Sun. Our program was Ola Gjeilo, Sunrise Mass, John Taverner, Atma Mass (two movements), Will Todd,  Call of Wisdom and Paul Dedell,  Sanctuary. The Gjeilo and Dedell were with string ensemble, the Todd with piano, and the Taverner with a bass viol drone. All contemporary. Each quite beautiful in its own way. You can listen to the Sunrise Mass on YouTube if you want to.  Sanctuary was a world premiere (Paul is our director's husband). I think we came to really love Sanctuary, which was Paul's setting of a text from Henry David Thoreau. Sadly, no recording was made of our concerts - I think our director dislikes recordings. And I never thought to take a photo - too busy! I used a tall stool on the floor - I stayed off the risers! It worked well. We had good audiences and while our performances were not perfect, I think we performed well and we got good ovations. John and Cynthia came Sat., and Katie Tolles on Sunday, so we had family there both concerts, which was nice. We are quite fortunate to have these opportunities.

Now things are a little quieter. Last evening Ellen and I enjoyed doing the Spelling Bee puzzle from the Sunday Times, which we have come to love. We not only do the Times puzzle, we make up our own. Here is one I made up which is quite good, I think (Ellen agrees):
   CYMAUN+ L  

How many words of five letters or more can you make from these letters? Every word must contain the letter "L." You get 1 point for each word, and if you use all seven letters in one word, you get 3 points for that word.  In addition to 1 three-pointer, we came up with 23 words.  How well can you do? Here is the scoring:

  9 points = good; 15 points  = excellent; 21 points = genius 

I'll post answers in a few days.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

River Singers weekend

This past weekend was pretty packed with singing. We had a River Singers concert in Grafton, VT in the "White Church" which began with a full run-through at 3:00p.m., followed by pot-luck supper at 5:30 and a concert at 7:00. It was a good concert - a very full house, live hall acoustically, spirit-filled singing. Both our guest conductor from Berea, KY, Dr. Kathy Bullock, and our regular leader, Mary Cay Brass, were in top form. There was a lot of energy and an enthusiastic response from the audience. It was a lot of time on my feet for me, still dealing with some knee discomfort, but I survived and it was fun. Then I did it all again on Sunday! Mary Cay's Greenfield Harmony group needed basses for their concert - 2-3 were sick and they don't have as many as River SIngers does to begin with. So three of us RS basses went down to Hadley, MA for the same schedule - 3-9pm. The venue was the Wesley Methodist Church, a new building and quite striking. We still got to church Sunday morning, In Guilford, and sang in the choir there. We also fit it a Mother's Day brunch at the Grange before going down to Massachusetts!

The Grafton "White Church"

River Singers rehearsing with Mary Cay leading and Andy Davis at piano
Dr. Kathy Bullock
Greenfield Harmony rehearsing in the Wesley Methodist Church

Monday, May 15, 2017

"Complicated Grief" workshop

Earlier this afternoon I dropped Ellen off at a workshop on "Complicated Grief," held at the Brattleboro Retreat. It is a sequel to the Bereavement Volunteer training she has had over the past 6-7 weeks. I went to the Coop and to the pool. But now I'm back, taking in the final bit. A panel of "grief experts" is talking about working with bereaved individuals - not a live panel, but a video of a panel. I presume there will be some follow-up discussion.

                                Watching the video


I'm feeling sort of pleased with myself at the moment because we have been having problems with the cell phone for months, and they got so bad in recent days that it was almost unusable. But today I fixed them - and I did it without calling anyone! 

For months we have been getting a message on the screen saying our storage was maxed out. And sure enough - I 'd go to "usage" in "Settings" and learn that we had 0 bytes available out of 6+ gigabytes! The problem was that I couldn't figure out what was taking up all that storage space. No photos, no songs, etc. I wiped out a year's worth of old emails - didn't make a dent. The list of apps added up to scarcely a gigabyte. I couldn't use the camera - no space. It was a mystery. But then it got worse. Mail started crashing. Safari started crashing. Blogger would crash. Even Notes! The phone was becoming almost totally neurotic. 

So today I took extreme measures. I made a paper copy of all my phone contacts and voicemail numbers, just to make sure I wouldn't lose all that data, and I went into Settings and clicked on "Reset iPhone." That wiped out everything. Then I hooked the phone up to the computer and restored it from my last backup which was last December. That did the trick. I now have almost 5 GB of storage space. I lost recent text messages, etc., but everything works! Yay! 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Antioch university award

Late this afternoon we were at Antioch University in Keene, NH for an award ceremony. Mary Cay Brass, our River Singers director, received an award. Several Antioch students from Africa have been in River Singers, and have felt very supported. After she received the award, we sang in the lobby. A lovely occasion!

                            Our audience in the lobby

                             Gathering to sing

              Mary Cay speaking after the award

But that was just part of the day. Earlier, I struggled with a cell phone gone crazy. Mail crashed, as did Blogger and Facebook. Then before Antioch, 4 of us went to Westwood Nursing Home and sang hymns for Bill Maravell, a. 90-year-old member of the Dummerston Church. Our singing touched at least two others there as well. After Antioch we came back to a concert with Le Bruit Court dans la Ville, a Quebec-based traditional music group, in West Brattleboro.  Great concert!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Singing time

We're in that time of intense singing. Last night, it was River Singers with guest Kathy Bullock, the charismatic gospel choir director from Berea College. Tonight it is Concert Choir rehearsing in the Guilford Church. 
River Singers rehearsing in the Westminster-West Church, with Kathy Bullock

Concert Choir rehearsing in the Guilford Church


Monday, we had lunch at a retirement community in Amherst called Applewood. Ellen has a high school friend, Barbara Bing, who lives there with her husband, and in addition to that, our friend, Joan Lindeman, whose husband, Tom, passed away in February, also lives there, and has wanted us to come visit her for some time. So Barbara arranged for us all to have lunch together in the dining room and see the apartments there. They would love for us to move there, but when I looked into it, it was pretty clearly a bit beyond our means, not so much because of the entrance fee, which is pretty large, but the monthly rental fee, which for even a pretty small apartment is over $3000 a month. But it was very interesting to visit, and it is indeed a lovely spot. Just across from Applewood is the "Orchard Arboretum" owned and maintained by the Town of Amherst, and at this time of year, it is spectacular.

Applewood entrance

Steve Bing, Joan Lindeman, Ellen, Barbara Bing

Walking in the Orchard Arboretum
A remarkable, rose-like, double-blossomed, crab apple tree
More orchard
At lunch in the dining room of Applewood

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Nancy Shay

Yesterday we attended a memorial service for Rob's sister, Nancy, who passed away in February. Nancy was 13 years older than Rob. I got to know her in the early years of Rob and Betsey's marriage, and enjoyed visiting her in Southbury, CT several times with Shirley. But Ellen never met her. The service was at the UCC church in Southbury, where Nancy was quite active, including being a member of the bell choir, which played during the service. Afterward, there was a reception at the church, followed by supper in Waterbury. Rob saw a lot of cousins he had not seen for decades. It was wonderful to see him and Katie - we got caught up a bit on their lives. Katie will be working this summer in NYC!

         A portrait of Nancy Shay

      Gathering outside the church

             At Signature Restaurant in Waterbury

Friday, May 5, 2017

Supper at the GW Inn in Washington

We've  come to Southbury CT to attend a memorial service for Rob's sister, Nancy. Ellen and I drove down on Friday and are staying at the Wyndham Motel in Southbury, as are Rob and Katie. The service will be on Saturday. Friday evening, Ellen, Rob, Katie and I met Rob's brother Neal and his wife Sue for drinks at the GW Inn and then were joined by his nephew Michael (Nancy's son),  and his girlfriend, Amy for supper. It was a nice restaurant, good food, generous portions (more than I could eat), with lots of GW artifacts on the wall.

               Ellen, Katie, Rob, Sue and Neal


At supper at the GW Tavern

Arriving at Wheaton College

This is an older post I'm just now getting up:

We've come to Norton, MA to Wheaton to hear Peter Green in an a Capella concert. Peter and his twin brother, Sam, were born about 22 years ago, and they were very premature-under two pounds! I held Peter in my palm in the neonatal intensive care unit. He and Sam are now fine young men. Ellen and  Nancy Tierra and I just had supper in the dining hall. Dad Tom, and Sam, will join us at the concert (Sam had to work till 4:30).

           Chase Dining Hall

                  Ellen and Nancy

I was last on this campus in about 1966 when I was invited to speak on the topic The New Morality. Heady stuff!

Grandparents Day

We are at Hilltown Charter School where Tamar is a student. Today is a day when grandparents can visit and see what the students are doing. The classes are assigned colors; Tamar is a "Purple." The Purples have been studying Ancient Greece. Tamar and a couple of others made a Trojan Horse model:

            Tamar's Trojan Horse

In her classroom, each student explained a topic studied. Tamar's was Greek Theater. The class had studied Sophocles' Oedipus Rex. Tamar and a classmate had acted a scene from the play, starring Creon (Tamar) and Oedipus. It was filmed by Miriam. We could watch and listen with headphones. Behind on the wall was a display of facts about Greek Theater. 

Tamar explains her project to Ellen and Doris, her grandmothers. 

Answering questions about theater

             Watching the play

Some other projects:

Archimedes screw he invented to lift water

                A trireme

              Greek olives

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Music, music, music!

We are in an intense period of singing. We have two concert weekends coming up in a row, the 13th and the 20th. We had a sectional for basses and altos last Monday (so we both went); River Singers last night, concert choir tonight. Tomorrow night we could have a Hallowell sing, but we have opted out. Saturday there is a two-hour rehearsal in the morning, but we 'll be in  Connecticut for a memorial service for my son-in-law's sister, Nancy Shea. But next week we will have rehearsals Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,  a sing Friday and a concert Saturday; then the next week, rehearsals Wednesday and Thursday, and concerts Sarurday and Sunday! Plus church choirs on Sundays. That's a lot of singing! I hope my 84-year-old vocal cords hold up! And I'm not going to fall off any risers! In fact I think I will refuse to get up on a riser. We'll see. 

Today I was discharged from physical therapy. I had a series of tests for balance, and I scored "perfect," which I think means I got the highest score for my age, not that I have perfect balance. But I could stand on one foot and repeatedly throw a ball at a trampoline and catch the rebound. I could not have done that when I first started PT.