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Archive for July, 2009

Best viral video I missed on vacation

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Now this is how you throw a party at a wedding:

Falcon Ridge 2009

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Wednesday afternoon we made the quick drive to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, I drove Jill’s car while Jill drove with Robin. We actually got there while they were letting the first wave of cars in – our earliest arrival ever! We got Robin a ticket then headed in. A couple people were already in the Shantytowne area, and we were about twenty feet up the hill from where we were last year. We got our tents set up, helped some other folks with theirs, then set up the big canopies as they arrived. The Jewells needed to do the cooking since it was the last day their steaks were good, so it was a steak and martini (and salad) night. Most everyone had arrived by dark, and we caught up into the night.

Thursday morning Jill, Robin, Meg and I went for a run while Stuart and his brother Cliff made bagels and lox for breakfast. In the afternoon I checked out some music at the nearby George Fox Pavilion before starting my beef and lemon stir fry. Last year we had a competition with another campsite about a lemon tree, and that night we were hosting a peace potluck full of lemon filled dishes. The Jewells had wisely brought prebaked poundcakes, but the dish I planned took a couple hours of prep and cooking. The dinner was a success and nice to meet new folks. Later in the evening we checked out Folk Arts Quartet, mixing folk and classical music before catching a bit of Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams at the way too crowded Dance Stage. We had thought about seeing Kathy Mattea later, but a light rain was falling and we passed.

Friday Stuart made his Jonnycakes (with a new recipe) and scrapple, very fine. In the afternoon we checked out a number of artists in the Emerging Artist Showcase, where they’ve got 10 minutes to wow the crowd. I’d tried to listen to songs from every artist who made them available to download, and had already picked two of my favorites to vote for, A.J. Roach and Liz Longley. I decided I also liked K.C. Clifford and voted for the three of them to come back next year. Next I saw the Living Planet workshop, notable for having Girlyman and Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams. As Jill and I were making fajitas for dinner, a storm was approaching and as soon as we finished eating we battened down the hatches and braced ourselves. It wasn’t bad, but it lasted over two hours, enough to stop the main stage performances (we did plenty of singing ourselves in the meantime). As it was ending, we got the word (via text messaging) that Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul was going to play her set in the Volunteer Tent, so some of us headed down and caught the last few songs, pretty amazing. Since we were already out (and our feet were muddy), Stuart and I made the trip up the hill to see Anthony Da Costa and Abbie Gardner play at the Budgiedome. They were fantastic, but I didn’t make it into bed until well after 2AM.

Abbie & Anthony

Saturday I managed to wake up enough to do a main stage tarp run, but was tired enough to fall back asleep until Jill woke me at 9:30 to let me know everyone was waiting for breakfast. So I took a shot of gin and we made scrambled eggs, sausage and toast for the crowd. I caught a bit of Susan Werner in the early afternoon since she was playing with Natalia Zukerman, then saw Anthony Da Costa perform at Acoustic Live in the vendor area. The roads dried enough so I could get Robin’s car out, then she took off (she wanted a day to herself before going back to work). Later we caught a bit of Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus Of Dreams again before going over to The Songs of Paul Simon workshop. Susan Werner had a nice take on “Hazy Shade Of Winter” (though I still prefer The Bangles’ version) and David Glaser brought on the Cajun flavor for “That Was Your Mother”. Even some of the artists there whom I’m not a fan of managed to do pretty good jobs. We grilled sausages and hot dogs for dinner (great with some Opa Opa watermelon ale), then went to the main stage for Girlyman‘s set, a great mix of old and new tunes. I thought about heading back up the hill for some more late night song swaps, but it started raining again and I opted to sit under the nice dry (for the most part) canopies until bedtime.

Sunday morning Lorna and Dave made eggs, then we broke down camp and packed up. By the time we got all the vehicles and stuff through the mud and over to the parking areas, we’d missed the start of the days music. We did catch We’re About 9 at Acoustic Live, as well as Ellis Paul and Lucy Wainwright Roche at the Off the Beaten Track workshop. We were going to stay for two more workshops, but the next one wasn’t that great, plus it started raining. It was a light one, but we were ready to go. We had a new strategy this year, we just drove the ninety minutes back to Jill’s mom’s house. It was a good decision for a couple reasons: first it was raining harder as soon as we got on the highway, and second it was incredible to be able to shower when we got there. We also aired out some of our stuff, then repacked before it started raining again. Sue made porkchops with gravy and mashed potatoes at Jill’s request and it was pretty tasty. I headed to bed a little after 9PM as I was wiped out and wanted to get an early start.

I woke up a little after 3AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. That was fine, as we didn’t hit the road until 4AM, right when I wanted to leave. It was the best trip home every, 7.5 hours start to finish with two stops. No traffic backups anywhere, including Delaware, bane of 95 travelers. We were home before noon, got to unpack, air stuff out and get Illa from the kennel. I grilled a chicken patty for Jill and a burger for me for lunch, and made shrimp scampi for dinner. It was an early bedtime even though I barely finished half of what I wanted to do, but at least it’s only a four day week.

Shantytowners (click on the picture for more photos from Andrea)

Never enough time

Monday, July 27th, 2009

We got home at 11:30AM today, and now it’s time for bed, so no time for my regular detailed post. Suffice it to say we had a good time and we’re home safe, more tomorrow.

Car fail, food win, Daily Show fail

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

We had decided not to follow the trail of thunderstorms up the east coast by leaving Friday night, slept a bit and got underway around 5AM. Everything was fine at first, then as we closed in on the I-270 split on the Beltway, my cruise control turned itself off. That had never happened before, and it wouldn’t go back on. I thought that was odd, but the car is 15 years old and things happen. The car still seemed fine, so I resigned myself to a day without cruise control and we kept on going. But 30 minutes later, as we were on 95 between Washington and Baltimore, the lights went off. The radio was still working, but I wasn’t willing to take any chances, so I turned it off and turned the car around. I took 29 back to the Beltway – the car seemed willing to keep going, so I got back on the Beltway. By this time it was totally light, so no lights didn’t hurt us, and we got home ok. Some kind of electrical problem (I suspect the alternator), but no time to deal with it.

So we pulled all the stuff out of my car and put it in Jill’s, picked up a couple items we’d forgotten, and were on our way again a little before 8. Aside from the lack of air conditioning, the first part of the trip went fine, we stopped for lunch (Roy Rogers chicken for me, Blimpie roast beef sandwich for her) and made it through Jersey without issues. When I was mapping the trip using Google Maps, the trip straight through New York City was fastest, and maybe if we’d left at our original starting time that would have been true, but it was a slow 90 minute slog over the bridge and through the city. After that we were doing pretty well on 95 for a while, then hit another backup in Connecticut. After listening to the radio we determined it was a bad one, and got off the highway and got over to 15, which paralleled 95 for a while, then met up with 91, which was what we wanted to do.

The rest of the trip was pretty easy, and we got to Jill’s mom’s place around 5PM. After we had talked to everyone and relaxed for a bit, we started to think about dinner. Everyone wanted something different, so we took orders and headed off to Northampton with Jill’s sisters. First Jill’s sister Melissa got some chicken fingers for her son Tiernan and ribs for her aunt Vickie at Teapot (a Chinese place), then Jill’s sister Robin went to Fitzwilly’s to get a salad. Jill and I went to Thai Garden where I ordered the Duck Kapow and she ordered the green curry chicken, plus we got some spring rolls for Melissa. I noticed a package store across the street and decided to check it out – good decision as they had growlers of Opa Opa beer, including the watermelon ale they’d been out of when we ate there before. Finally we stopped at Bueno Y Sano for tacos and fajitas for Jill’s mom Sue and her husband Dave, plus quesadillas for Melissa. We headed back home and consumed mass quantities, then chatted late into the night before going our separate ways.

Sunday we started off right, going running with Robin and Melissa around the reservoir at Mount Holyoke College. Then Sue made a big breakfast spread, with Eggs Benedict, pancakes, sausage and fruit. We all went to a tag sale in Holyoke one of Sue’s friends was running after lunch, then I read on the porch while the sisters ran off to check out the place Melissa might be living in the fall (she’s moving to the states with her family). In the afternoon, Jill and I left early with Sue and Dave for Amherst, Dave and I hit the record shops while Jill and Sue tried the yarn shops and bookstores. Gram, Melissa and Robin joined us at 4 to eat dinner at Judie’s. I started with the seafood bisque while Jill had the curried spinach and chickpea soup, then I had the lamb shank while Jill had the steak with risotto. I also tried some of the house popovers, and for dessert had a bit of the red velvet cake and the chocolate torte. Everything was delicious and our waitress was superb. We were pretty stuffed after that and just talked after we got back. The porch was a nice place to hang out, and we managed to convince Robin to come with us to Falcon Ridge (she already had taken the week off).

Monday morning we got up early for pictures (Melissa and Tiernan were headed home that day), then had some cereal and hit the road. We go to Bridgeport right on time to catch the hourly train into New York City. We arrived a little before 1PM, and took two subway trips over to the Meatpacking District. At the suggestion of our friends Hannah and Dave, we had lunch at The Spotted Pig. Most meals were pork based, we started with some roasted almonds for Jill and a deviled egg (with lemon) for me, then a Cuban sandwich for Jill and a prosciutto and romano tart for me. All was excellent, washed down with some good beers. We wandered around shopping, then went uptown to where the Daily Show taped. Now the instructions we’d got originally was to show up between 3:30-4:30, and I’d went online and found advice to show up at 3 just in case. But Friday before we’d left I got an email saying they’d be taping an hour later and to show up between 4:30-5:30 (guest was Brian Williams who had his own show to tape), and I wanted to show up by 4. We did get there by 4, but the line was already wrapped around the block. I didn’t have the greatest feeling about that, so we got in line and waited. After 90 minutes, someone came out and told everyone beyond about 6 people behind us they weren’t getting in, and that the last 20 of us were on standby. It took another hour for them to let people in, and the people right in front of us got in, but we didn’t.

We were pretty disappointed about being there and spending all that time and not getting in, but they said that we could email them and get on a VIP list for another time, and then we’d be first in (Jill’s still bitter, but I might be able to wrangle another NYC trip if I agree to go to a Rachel Ray taping). We decided just to head back, got some food at Grand Central Station, and caught the next train out. We ran into some construction traffic, got back around 11PM. We hadn’t been hungry before then, I heated up my sandwich and Jill had some leftover curried chicken.

Tuesday Jill, Robin and I went out shopping, first to Atkins for fruit and produce and Trader Joe’s for other various food stuffs. We stopped in Northampton, did a little more shopping at Acme Surplus (cheap camping supplies), then met Sue for lunch at the Northampton Brewery. Jill and I got beer on a stick, then she had the jambalya and I had the poblano meatloaf sandwich, both pretty tasty. Then Jill and Robin hit some yarn shops while I perused the clearance section at Turn It Up Records. We went over to paternal grandparents, put our groceries in their fridge, and took them in their Buick to see Jill and Robin’s dad and his wife. We had burgers and hot dogs and salads that Jill’s grandmother had made for us when we thought we’d be there for lunch on Saturday afternoon. We talked in their gazebo outside for a while until it got dark, then headed back. By the time we finally made it back to Sue’s, it was after 11PM and we went to bed after checking email.

Today Gram made us eggs and toast for breakfast, Jill did laundry and I started this blog. Then I stopped at the Holyoke library for their free Wi-Fi in order to check email on my computer and download some stuff. Next we’ll go out to Stop & Shop for the rest of the groceries. We’ll be off for Hillsdale soon with Robin, hopefully the all day rain yesterday will be the worst of the rest of the week.

If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad

Friday, July 17th, 2009

We can’t have a Falcon Ridge week without a taste of eddie from ohio, so tonight we braved the threat of rain (sounds familiar), grabbed Stuart and got some food as we headed over to Royal Lake Park to see Robbie Schaefer. It was raining when we got there, but cleared up in a couple minutes, and we popped out our chairs and enjoyed some Baja Fresh. Robbie was great, nice mixture of brand new songs, new CD songs, kids songs, and efo songs. Now on to pack and soon to hit the road…

Unholy mashup

Monday, July 13th, 2009

But really, what else could you call a mashup of “Ghostbusters” and Nine Inch Nails’ “The Hand That Feeds”?
Make with the clicky! (Click on the download or play icon immediately below “Popular” and “Top Rated”)

Summertime, living pretty easy

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Friday was kinda light – frozen pizza and salad, then reading. Saturday Jill worked, and I spent six solid hours at the computer downloading and editing music to assemble mp3s for Falcon Ridge (current count: 142). By the time we decided to go to see Luke Brindley with Todd Wright at Acoustic On The Green it was too late to get a picnic together, so we ordered carryout from Saladworks.

It was ready when we got there, and we were soon in Leesburg. The show was already underway, but we saw the majority of it, and it was good. I wasn’t feeling great afterwards (not the food, headache) and read the paper upstairs and fell asleep.

I was more active today, but did read a lot. After I took Illa for a walk, we went out and enjoyed Jill’s hammock. The perfect summer reading was J. K. Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard (we decided not to rewatch Order Of The Phoenix) before the new movie, so this is my prep) with some mashed pears and vodka. Now I’m going to try a new oven baked chicken recipe for dinner, then maybe we’ll watch Get Smart.

Wilco will love you baby

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Last night was a great night for a concert. Low humidity and a cool temperature in July is always something to be thankful for, especially when you’re spending an evening at Wolf Trap. It was our evening for the Encore Circle Lounge, so we headed in and sat down. As we’ve done in the past, they have enough appetizers you can make a meal, so we did – Jill liked the Roasted Corn Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Avocado and Cilantro, while I really enjoyed the Basil Chile Lime Marinated Watermelon salad with feta cheese and arugula (for the first I can remember everything served was vegetarian.

First up was Conor Oberst with his Mystic Valley Band. He’s had some popularity with his group Bright Eyes, but I’ve never really felt the pull of their music. I bought his new CD and listened to it in preparation for the show. They were decent at first, until it came time for someone else in the band to sing lead. This didn’t sit well, as Oberst felt the need to be in the spotlight and walked around on his knees while playing. We didn’t stick around for the end of their set, headed back to the lounge.

I’ve liked Wilco since they began, though at first I preferred Son Volt, the other band to form from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo (“Drown” is just a great song). But after they both released their second albums I switched my allegiance to Wilco because Being There was an instant classic. Wilco (and the other groups) were initially in the alt-country genre, but added more effects and improvisation over the years (think Sonic Youth). I saw them twice in the ’90s, last in 2003 after Yankee Hotel Foxtrot came out. I didn’t like that album as much, and what I’ve heard from the other two since then hadn’t made me curious to buy one, but their recent self titled release was being hailed as a return to form. Their performance of the title track on the Colbert Report was fun, so when tix were announced for a Wolf Trap show, I pounced.

The show sold out soon after it was announced, so I knew it would be packed. Also, everyone stood for the whole show, a rarity there. But they started off strong with “Wilco” and kept going. The recent songs weren’t as abrasive to me live, although I’m not a huge fan of what guitarist and noisemaker Nels Cline brings to the band. The mix of newer and older songs was pretty good, and it’s hard for any band to play a bad show when the crowd receives them as loudly as the packed house did last night. We left early (as usual on the weeknight shows), but from what I did see, Wilco put on an excellent show for an adoring crowd.

Wilco

In a related note, the Jayhawks (singer Gary Louris plays with Wilco mainman Jeff Tweedy in Golden Smog) have released a new collection with both single and double disc versions, though if you’re a completist like me you need to pick up the deluxe one from Best Buy which comes with a bonus EP of unreleased songs (and there are another 5 unreleased mp3s at amazon.com).

Jill’s 30th Birthday, continued

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Friday we had off, and we spent the early part of the day relaxing. A little after 4, we were ready, but I told Jill it wasn’t time to leave yet. Then there was a knock at the door, and I don’t know what startled her more – that our friends Hannah and Dave were there, or that a limo was pulled up outside. We got inside, and spent a little more than an hour getting to DC, then cruising around the monuments (since we were early).

Jill in limo

We pulled up to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel right on time, and were inside at CityZen and seated in minutes. We had cocktails (sangria for Jill, a Tipperary for me. A couple of nice amuse-bouches followed, a fried mushroom hush puppy (not bad for someone who’s not a mushroom fan) and a spicy custard shot. We went with the regular three course meal, a good idea as we were bursting by the end. To start, Jill had the Asparagus Thermidor, with chunks of lobster, and I had the softshell crab tempura. Jill and I had had softshell crab sandwiches at Dad’s once and she’d sworn off them for all time, but she had to taste some of mine and agree it was pretty good. Like gin, I think she might have some when it’s done by the best.

For the main course, I had a lamb rib eye and she had the shoat loin, both incredible. For dessert I had the “candy bar”, house made with nougat, peanuts and chocolate while she picked four slices of artisanal cheese from their trolley (one of the smoothest blue cheeses I’ve had). They had a couple birthday treats as well: a card signed by the staff, and a plate of sweets, both of which were pleasant surprises. Afterwards the limo was waiting, and we headed home.

Saturday we headed over to Dad’s soon after lunch. Sharon was already there, and we hung out for a bit, then she took a nap. When my mom got there, we took a walk (with Illa) on North Beach’s boardwalk, then came back and got dinner ready. Sharon and Dad had bought crab stuffed salmon and croissants, and Dad made a salad. Jill had sautéed green beans and bacon, and Mom brought an elaborate fruit salad (in a hollowed out watermelon).

We had dinner on the deck, and stayed out until it got dark. There were no fireworks in town, but we could see them going off around the bay, then headed indoors (bugs were coming out in force) to watch the remaining ones on the TV. Mom and Sharon headed off after that, then we set up our bed, stayed up a little longer reading, then went to bed.

This morning Dad made pancakes with berries and turkey bacon. We ate outside, then packed up and hit the road. We spent some time in the afternoon cleaning (and having a small fight), then Jill went off to a meeting and I started some auctions. Next I’m going to train on the Wii, then make chicken fajitas for dinner. We might watch a movie or just read later.

Jill’s 30th Birthday

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Yes, her birthday was Wednesday, but not much point celebrating then since she still had to be up before dawn the next day. Instead we’re celebrating it today, when both of us could sleep in. At this very moment, we should be in a limo headed to DC with friends for a memorable evening at CityZen. I’ll post a full report with my weekend wrap up on Sunday.

Her other gifts were a jewelry box and a evening out with our dear friend Tori as well as a bit of food.