May Day in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Yep, real people still do this. And i adore the fact that their border morris team is called "Hicks With Sticks." Really. (And the little girls who dance before the maypole is wrapped? "The Morris Minors," of course...)
We went to play, and had a blast jamming near the entrance to the farm market, between the morris and clogging sets in the morning and the afternoon parade and maypole festivities. It's madly chaotic every year, and somehow still works.
"What tunes are we playing for this?"
"No idea. But 'Sellenger's Round' is probably in there somewhere."
This adorable little creature is a Singer 185J - which is, basically, a Singer 99 in new clothes. It's a 3/4-size machine, although not anything you'd call "lightweight." The "J" in the model number on this one just indicates that this machine was manufactured at Singer's factory in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, in Québec. Possibly the cutest detail? Even the bobbin winder tire and belt are green. Alas, the belt is shot, and i'm doubtful i'll be able to find another green one to replace it with...
I'm tempted to adopt it, of course, but i do have a 3/4-size machine already - a little Pfaff 30 i bought in a mad sewing machine binge at the favorite flea market (came home with four machines that day... luckily, that doesn't happen often, and none of them were in cabinets). So once i've replaced the missing bits and made sure everything is clean and working properly, i'm determined that it should go to the shop.
I had to make something to bring to Easter breakfast at meeting, and time was getting short for baking. I scratched my head a bit, and thought okay, they'll have the eggs, sausage, and ham covered, so if baking's out, that leaves fruity things... and i'd just impulse bought a giant box of medjool dates on the last trip to buy provisions. Now, when i was a kid, we used to snack on dates stuffed with peanut butter or cream cheese, but i'm not the biggest peanut butter fan, and cream cheese seemed a little dull. Thought about what was on hand and what might jazz it up a bit, scanned a couple recipes to see if similar things had worked, and ended up with a filling that involved cream cheese, a bit of orange peel, the juice from a tangerine, a little ginger, and a goodly dollop of a cinnamon creamed honey (it would be just as easy to use plain honey and add the cinnamon separately...).
They've been pretty popular. Made a few more for myself and the spouse this morning, since i had a little bit of the filling left over. The picture is lousy, but it'll have to do for now, because, well, i've already eaten them.
We just replaced the catalytic combustor in the old woodstove, so things should again be humming along to keep the house warm, which means that the hearth will once again be covered in kitties.
In watching the cats try to form a sort of living hearth rug, i developed a new theory: the warmth and comfort level provided by a stove ought to be measured in CCs. That's right, "Contiguous Cats" - for the number of felines that are drawn in to make a pile in front of the stove. I think i could probably set up as a testing lab for this certification scheme... here we've got a (fairly modest) three CCs, namely Winston, Fitzgerald, and Lulubelle J. Fuzzbutt.
This year's holiday decorations brought to you by the Hillsboro Community Association, which gathered way too much greenery for the Christmas home tour, and then invited us to help make it go away so they wouldn't have to haul it to the landfill.
Also by Bostitch. Yeah, i totally stapled them onto the base. With an air-powered stapler, because nothing says Christmas like complete overkill. There's at least one sprig of holly that needs some remedial attention, but there's a cold rain coming down at present, and i'm going to need a proper ladder to get to it instead of the little step stool i got away with for hanging it...
And i've still got enough greenery left to do - i don't know - fourteen more like this. Guess the folks at HCA weren't the only ones who overestimated.
I can't give my family prints every Christmas - they've only got so much wall space. This year's hunt for something i can make for everybody led to a craft store clearance bin of Pébéo glass and ceramic paints, marked down to 79 cents a pop, instead of $4.99 - that, along with a whole bunch of thrifted mugs and glassware (mugs run about 59 cents at Goodwill...), plus time, equals gifts i can afford and that - i hope - everybody can use:
I've got three or four more mugs to do, and of course baking these to heat set them. The dotty designs, adapted from painted ceramics i spotted online, weren't my first choice, but the consistency of the paints combined with my haphazard collection of brushed and limited skill with same, meant that a lot of my initial ideas didn't pan out. At least the dots have some charm, and are repeatable...
More or less on a whim, Nick and i decided to have a little Christmas concert this year, but since the whole thing was a bit seat-of-the-pants (and at such a busy time), we had just a handful of folks out at the meetinghouse last night. Still, everybody had a good time, and we raised a few bucks for Hungry for Music (and at least one attendee left with a flyer, muttering about the electric bass her son never actually played...), so i'm putting it generally in the success column, even though i have lots of cookies and cider left over.
We ended up playing what was - for us - a fairly modest collection of instruments: soprano, alto, and tenor recorders, galoubet and tambourin, Nick's curious mbira that's set up like a hammered dulcimer, and bagpipes. The bagpipes are small bellows-blown ones in the French style, actually quite demure for bagpipes.