Violin heritage

Yesterday was a multi-task day of juggling the errant website, laundry, working on today’s sermon, and trying to make headway on the article. Laundry was successful. By evening I was too tired to continue trying to think let alone write cohesively. So I went to bed instead of posting, and it felt great.

Today was the beginning of getting ready for Christmas music season. We had a two hour practice starting at 3. It went way over two hours. I got home about 6:30. In the past month I’ve played the violin three or four times for very short periods. Not really playing any specific music, but working on bowing, intonation, and finding those sweet spots that makes the violin resonate.

Last week I pulled out my three violins to determine which one I should loan to our granddaughter, Faith.

Yes, three.
How is it that someone who’s only an amateur player, one who didn’t even start learning how to play the violin until age 37, has three violins?

First, this old beauty, the first violin I learned to play.
She was my mom’s violin from the time she was about 12. Her aunt handed it down to her (Anita) when she wanted to join the school orchestra. Her Aunt Maude had played it since she was in high school at the beginning of the 20th century. I do not know its history before then but the tag inside has the date of 1813 or 1818 – there’s a bit of rubbed out area on the inside of the final number.
(Faith is the 4th generation violin player spanning about 120 years.)

Around 2000, as the band I play in, Crooked Finger, was preforming more often, even getting paid, Ed felt I needed a better violin. Mom’s violin is nice enough, though slightly high voiced, but it doesn’t project well in a big space. At that time we knew the owner of a music store specializing in bluegrass / folk music instruments. After playing all the violins in our price range (definitely amateur prices!)
I settled on this one, which I named China. (very unoriginal!)
It was made in China in 1996 and I’m the first owner. It has a pleasant, and carrying voice. It’s a bit bigger, with wider fingerboard than the Amati shaped violin of Maude. It’s been a very good violin for me and I played it exclusively for about 4 years.

The marks on China’s finish makes me sad for I took very good care of it. But I loaned it to a young friend who was rapidly moving up in the ranks of the Salem Youth Philharmonic and needed a decent violin. She played China for over a year until she gained First Chair in the SYP and was loaned a quality violin from a patron.

Last but not least: Nellie.
A seminarian at Mt Angel Abbey stopped by the Abbey’s library circulation desk one morning when I was working there in 2005: would I be interested in buying his violin? He’d played all during high school and in the Chicago youth symphony. He loved it but hadn’t played it in over a year. He was at the place where he felt that he was leaving that part of his life behind, besides, he needed the money. He was asking a very fair price, and offered to loan it to me for a week so I could test it and get my violin teacher’s opinion. Having recently retired from a career in the Oregon Symphony she understood what a good violin sounds like. With her approval Nellie soon became my primary instrument. She’s the one that waits next to the wall in the beautiful upright violin box Ed made, easy for me to pick up and play at a moment’s notice.

A happy experience took place a few years after I’d bought Nellie: Crooked Finger was playing at the St Patrick’s dinner gig in Milwaukie (OR). We’d finished a piece when a person approached said “Hi, it’s great to see you playing my old violin!” I was surprised and delighted to see him. He was thrilled to know it was being played. We chatted a bit and I offered to sell it back to him if he missed playing the violin but he was content with his decision to sell it to me.

Each were played in turn as I tried to decide which to send with DD to take to Faith last week when they went to spend Thanksgiving with them. They each have merit, and while none of the violins are expensive violins they do have worth: sentimental, tonal and monetary.

Nellie was fitted with fine tuners for each string – a real bonus! But the pegs of both Maude and China hold very well, remarkably the strings often need no tuning adjustments between sessions – Maude especially so.

In the end I sent China to Faith. She’s already been loaned to one young player and has a few dings to show for it. I also have the feeling that Faith will like the looks of it. I’m endeared to China since Ed bought her for me, a fact that gives it more meaning to Faith who loves her grandpa.

Grateful for
– three violins that each hold special meaning
– ability to play them
– my granddaughter’s desire to play the violin

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11.11

After a sleepless night it was hard powering through the morning but as the afternoon rolled around the sunshine and fallen leaves beckoned us outside.  Instead of a nap, leaves were raked and hauled to the garden. The roofs were swept off fallen leaves, pulled tomato plants added to the compost pile their cages stored for the winter.

The outdoor activity swept away the last remnants of the headache that’d been plaguing me for several days, and reenergized me enough to make an apple pie. Ed’s all time favorite dessert.

While the pie baked the silk scarf was frogged and 28 stitches were cast on instead of the 48. I keep envisioning a narrow scarf to wrap around the neck and tuck into a jacket without much bulk.
Right before being frogged.
The moebius also saw the addition of a few more rows.

Today was Remembrance Day aka Armistis Day. Did you observe 2 minutes of silence to commemorate the “war to end all wars”? If only that were true – an end to all wars and violence. This afternoon this beautiful poem was in my feed:

Silence; a Sonnet for Remembrance Day by Malcolm Guite
November pierces with its bleak remembrance
Of all the bitterness and waste of war.
Our silence tries but fails to make a semblance
Of that lost peace they thought worth fighting for.
Our silence seethes instead with wraiths and whispers,
And all the restless rumour of new wars,
The shells are falling all around our vespers,
No moment is unscarred, there is no pause,
In every instant bloodied innocence
Falls to the weary earth ,and whilst we stand
Quiescence ends again in acquiescence,
And Abel’s blood still cries in every land
One silence only might redeem that blood
Only the silence of a dying God.

For the backstory and to hear Malcolm read it please visit his blog.

Grateful for:
– a good morning service and the good silence we all shared together
– sunshine and leaves
– apple pie
– thoughtful poetry

September Spinning

September was a good month for wrapping up a couple of long-term spinning projects.

Today’s spinning show and tell is the 50/50 Yak/Silk started over 3 years ago this project was all spun on an early Kuchulu
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and the first little Antler spindle Ed made.
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This was an on-the-go project which traveled to several hospitals waiting through friends’ surgeries; to appointments; going through the car wash; during meetings… This month I decided to concentrate on finishing the spin, after all, it is only 2 ounces / 56 grams.

The four balls of singles were chain-plyed with the Victoria wheel Wednesday  morning resulting in 175 yards of shining, lush yarn that will be destined for a scarf.  525 yards of singles from 56 grams.
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September has been a gentle, though busy month. A month of sunshine and warmth without the sapping heat of summer. This afternoon a pigeon flew twice to our back kitchen door, flapping his wings looking in at us. While the small birds, and occasionally a blue jay, quite often brave coming onto the back porch we’d never seen a big pigeon come this close. There was an explosion of whirling wings when I went to throw them some bird food: Doves, sparrows, chickadees, finches, pigeons and more flew to the surrounding trees. One pigeon sat on the utility wire alertly watching. After broadcasting the seeds I went to the garden to snack on cherry tomatoes. While standing in the garden the air became filled with the chatter, chirps, clicks, coos and song of a multitude of birds. I was engulfed in a riotous cacophony of bird sound as though I was deep in the jungle. The clouds trembled with the weight of moisture while there was a sense of stillness in the backyard, other than the noise of birds. Birds fluttered back to the ash tree next to our back porch, then a breeze ruffled the tree and they shot up into the sky. Then complete silence for about 30 seconds before a few birds started up again and the air was once more filled with their chatter and song. All this time the solitary sentry pigeon stayed firmly gripping the wire while sweet tomatoes filled my stomach.
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The riot that’s Spring

After a rainy, cold first half of April the weather turned the corner around the 17th with sunshine and steadily climbing, climbing temperatures. Yesterday and today was in the 80s. Warm Hot for this time of the year. This morning, watching the birds flitting between the trees and the seed Ed throws out for them, their chattering filling the air, I looked around at all the white blossoms and blooming flowers and marveled at the explosion of growth. The scent from a fragrant flowering tree/shrub reaching over our back neighbor’s fence wafted across the yard, mingling with pear and the first lilacs of the season.
Our apple tree blossoms.


Last night we ate the first asparagus from our garden, two nights ago we ate some of the remaining kale that had wintered over, as well as the small buds and flowers of the broccoli planted last fall.
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Ed & I have been spending an hour or two almost every day since last Friday turning the soil in the garden. We till with hand forks in order to keep the earthworms thriving. Sometimes when I’m on my knees removing weeds and roots after turning a fork full o dirt the saying runs through my mind, “Work smart, not hard.” There is truth to that saying but what some people deem as smart might be physically labor saving but is it such a bad thing to engage our bodies in work rather than use gas powered machines and sprays?

Our garden has long been free of pesticides and herbicides, then four years ago we decided to stop churning the ground with a power driven machine. The results in having abundant bird and wildlife in our yard and trees is deeply gratifying.

Friday I dead-headed the flowering dandelions, covered them with boiling water and let them steep for 20 minute, added sugar (next time I’ll use honey), and half a lime then let it cool before draining off the tea and serving it with ice. Dandelion tea is supposed to be good for a person – a Spring tonic. It was slightly bitter but not bad.
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This evening I planted strawberry plants in the front flower bed, refilled the hanging basket with new flowers, and put two tomato plants near the sugar peas which were plantedMonday — we are very late getting them in the ground this year! It feels great to finally be planting for food. Rain is predicted Friday through early next week.

Tomorrow we’ll go to the Grandparent Day at Violet’s school then bring her home after lunch at school. Perhaps we’ll plant potatoes before customers arrive from Boise to pick up the Great Wheel they’d commissioned Ed to build for them.

A Busy Saturday

I try to not schedule anything out of the ordinary on Saturdays for I need the day to finish preparing for Sunday service and rest.

Today was an anomaly.

Sure, a basic house cleaning is normal. I did get in a couple hours of studying this afternoon and a couple more this evening but I’m not nearly as settled with the lesson and sermon as I like. I have confidence that it will all work out, after all, I have the best Teacher/Guide possible!

Today was fun!

Baked a couple pies this morning then a spinning / knitting friend drove down from Portland to deliver chunks of crabapple trunk and limbs that her neighbor had cut down this week. Afterwards we went to Silverton to hang out awhile at Apples to Oranges, the fabulous yarn store, where we met up with another fiber friend, and bought goodies. I resisted fiber, bought a set of needed dpns and caved on some stitch markers. Afterward we trooped up the street to a restaurant to have lunch and chat.

Suddenly it was almost 2pm, time to scurry back home before leaving again, at 4, with pie, for a birthday barbecue with family and friends.  We got there early so I could help set up. While waiting for everyone to arrive I was able to get several more rows knitted on the hand warmers that will be a Christmas gift. The fun part? Knitting them in front of her and she has no idea. 🙂

This first go-round on Wednesday turned out too big.
That one, above, was frogged. Size US5 / 3.75mm  needles were exchanged for US3 / 3.25mm. The first mitt is now to the point of starting the gusset. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll take a picture to post here.

What have I gotten myself in to?

On a whim this past May I attended a Toastmaster’s open-house event. Years ago we had a friend who encouraged us to join as he thought it was the best experience for helping people not only with talking but in listening. A friend’s name was on the list of the current Toastmaster, knowing someone there made it easier to take that deep breath and walk in the door where I was immediately and warmly greeted.

I loved the vibe, the people, the enthusiasm and the positive feedback people gave to those who gave speeches. After the second week I became a member.

Every week I dream of quitting, to drop this weekly obligation of being in town before 7:30 on Friday mornings. It doesn’t take long after the meeting begins to remember why I continue.

Someone put my name in one of the googledoc slots as a speaker tomorrow. I’d noticed it over two weeks ago. I’ve had plenty of time to prepare. In fact, I was scheduled to speak in August but cancelled the night before due to not feeling confident and prepared. I’ve given two other speeches, the introductory “Ice Breaker” and one I called “The Original Intentional Spinner”.  But the topic that’s been bumping around in my thoughts for a number of months is personal, and controversial. I do not feel prepared
with a passionate, informed, well reasoned speech.

This is short. I need to get a good night’s sleep, wake up early in the morning to finalize the last bits into place.

Michelle asked to see a picture of my neighbor’s wolfhound, Shayna.
Here’s a picture that I posted a year ago, she was not quite 3 years old:I’ll try to get a better, updated picture of her next time we walk.