Showing posts from September, 2008

End of the Concert Season

Stringfolks ended our 2008 concert season with, as our leader would say, "a righteous gig". And we got our name in lights!

On Thursday and Friday mornings, we played a short set of cowboy tunes and a shorter set of old dance tunes for a series of fifth grade classes. The cowboy tunes were interwoven with the story of Frederick Remington (who was born in Canton) and how he observed the end of the wild west. We also gave a short example of how old tunes are recycled by folk musicians to suit their times, as we sang first An Old Man's Lament, then morphed into Git Along Little Dogies.

It was a challenge playing a fiddle part on my flute! I assume that the notes that were chosen in the fastest tune were well suited to be played quickly on a fiddle, but they were an awkward combination on the flute, especially for a person whose left hand is not exactly nimble anymore.

On Friday night, we played a concert that combined history and music. Unfortunately, the concert organizers bad…

Knitting Blog: Gifts for a Baby

One of my coworkers is also my friend. We came to work for the agency within a month of each other, 7 years ago. There is a generation of difference in our ages, but we have never lacked for common ground.

When I found out that my friend was going to have a baby, I decided immediately to knit a sweater for "Baby Who". My friend decided not to seek out the baby's sex before birth, so I had to plan a project that could be worn by either sex. No way would I go with yellow or green, though. I needed to find a pattern and yarn that were as refreshing as my friend and her husband.

The pattern I chose was first designed for a baby more than 70 years ago - the Tomten Modular Jacket. Elizabeth Zimmerman designed the pattern, and published it in her breakthrough book Knitting Without Tears. She republished the pattern in the Spring/Summer 1988 issue of Vogue Knitting. Both the book and the magazine are part of my knitting library. Zimmerman was a revolutionary designer, who told kni…

Fall blows in

Fall in these northern parts really starts mid- to late-August. Sometimes I am so busy, though, that I miss the signals. And sometimes I close my eyes to the changes, hoping to stretch out the glories of summer just a little bit longer.

I plead guilty to both this year. Much of my blindness to the change came from my wish for another weekend or two of sailing. But then my boss, who lives on the river, remarked that water levels had gone down. I relayed the news to Robert, and we realized that we had to get down to the boat. We remembered last year, when Robert had to winch the boat out of the muck at the end of the season.

We got down too late in the day Saturday to go out on the water. There was little or no wind, the clouds were dark gray, and the water levels were on their way down. As we sat in the cockpit, we talked about our schedules, and realized this was it. It was time to take down the sails. We aired them, then lowered them down and stuffed them into their bags before the rai…

Positive Spirit

Still obsessed by the presidential campaign, I was jolted awake by this video that was posted on The Daily Dish:

There is a positive spirit in this video that lifts my spirits. As Sullivan says, "Whatever happens, the McCain campaign could never pull this off. Patience, steel... triumph."

As a denizen of a blue state, there isn't much I can do except give money, though I will do some GOTV in our town. Campaign workers in the swing states are the people who are doing the heroic work, and who will make the difference.

I am off to do some exercises and laundry, then we are headed to Minuet. We hear that water levels have dropped on the river, and we need to find out whether we are stuck in the muck. Yet another cloudy, rainy weekend in store, but Minuet's cabin is dry and cozy.

It's time to breathe some fresh air.

Unexpected consequences from big opportunities

I have no crystal ball, and I don't know how this presidential campaign will turn out. I am willing to make one prediction, though: the citizens of Alaska will find their state budget and their personal pocketbooks are affected by this campaign.

We denizens of the lower 48 had no idea of the extent to which we subsidize Alaska. For every dollar of federal income tax Alaskans pay, they receive back $1.84 in federal spending.

We also pay through higher energy costs. Alaskans not only pay no state income tax, they receive an annual payment from the state funded by petroleum taxes on the oil they sell us. Michael Kinsley says, "The trick is that Alaska's government spends money on its own citizens and taxes the rest of us to pay for it."

Alaskans pay property taxes, but have no sales tax. The result: a state and local tax burden of 3.3%, one of the lowest in the nation. It probably helps when a mayor of a very small Alaskan city can get federal earmarks of $1,000 per year p…

Swimming in blogs

It has been a while since I have been inspired to write. I have been so busy reading. The official start of the election season has taken over all of my free time (and some stolen hours) as I check back continually on what is happening.

I'm hooked on:

The Huffington Post. Though sometimes I get sucked into the celebrity gossip that is rife there, and I'm never proud of myself afterwards.

Politico. This site is relatively new to me. It's a bit stuffy and it works really hard to be even handed. There are some decent blogs on both sides of the election that I check from time to time, but I'm not addicted to any of them yet. I admit, I have a hard time resisting a link.

DailyKos. Liveblogging through the Republican convention was a hoot, and I am hooked on the daily pundit roundup. The optimism that pervades the site is good for my spirits. The optimism here is not based on good feelings, hopes and wishes - it is based on the solid organizing work that progressives have been …