Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Our Phoenix, who was laying a tiny egg just about every day, went broody this past week. We had to banish her from the coop and after a couple days ended up dipping her in a cold water bath to get her back to normal. When taking her from the nesting box to banish her to the dog run, I found a bluish-green egg that one of our Americaunas had laid that day...her first. The Phoenix hasn't laid an egg since. Not surprising since they aren't known to be the best layers.

Yesterday, we had a Black Australorp and an Americauna wandering around on the back patio. I chased them off four times then took Haley to have lunch with a friend. An hour later Newt called to let me know both chickens had laid an egg on the grill though one rolled off and broke. Newt saw the other come out and caught it before it fell.

We have been chasing chickens off the patio all day today since the grill is not the safest place to lay an egg. Newt placed the Black Australorp in the coop this morning after finding it wandering on the porch and closed it in. About a half hour later there was an egg. The Americauna is still trying to get onto the patio but has still not laid. I am sure more chickens will be laying very soon. They are such funny creatures.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

All Ireland Champion 2012!!!!!!!

Four times is a charm for Haley at the All Ireland Competition.   She qualified and competed in Ireland for the 1st time when she had just turned 7 years old and each year has gotten a little bigger which meant a bigger fiddle and learned to play better.

This year she placed 2nd in the under 12 solo fiddle competition after being recalled (having to perform another tune because of a tie for 1st). She played beautifully and we are so proud of her. The judges said the standard was astoundingly high in the final two competitors (Haley and the boy who ended up with 1st).

Haley and Dylan along with their friends, Jayne and Bram, took 1st in the AngloCelt Fleadh Busking Competition in the under 15 age group which was a prize in euro. They had taken 1st last year as well so were really happy with that prize!

Our trip began a little yucky. Just a few hours before we were to board the plane to Dublin, Haley mentioned she had a slightly sore throat so I packed some Advil and had her take some Emergen-C just in case.

We arrived in Dublin and after getting through Immigration and Customs and obtaining our luggage then waiting for the bus into City Centre, we got to the hotel around 11am.  They didn't have a room available yet but did store our luggage. We had all gotten quite a bit of sleep on the plane between "meals"... I think Haley slept almost the entire ride. We decided to walk around a bit, do a little window shopping, and get some lunch at a restaurant we enjoyed the year before. We got back to the hotel around 2pm exhausted and sat in the lobby. The lady at the desk soon called me over and gave us a room. After a two hour nap, Haley was feeling worse with a headache so we got showers then went for dinner and stopped at the only open store, a grocery store hoping to find some cold medicine (uh, not...I think all they had was some cough drops). We went back to the hotel early to go back to bed. Throughout the night, Haley had a really high fever and woke numerous times for a drink, more Advil, or a cool cloth. She started coughing and wheezing with a tight chest (a cold is never just a cold with Haley...she doesn't get sick often but when she does she wheezes and usually gets a secondary infection). I started to get really afraid because we didn't have her nebulizer with us.

She finally fell fast asleep around 5am and I let the kids sleep until noon because I wanted her to rest. I knew there was a pharmacy at the end of the road the hotel was on so when Haley and Dylan were up, I locked them in the hotel room and ran to the pharmacy to see what they might have there. In Ireland, well at least where we were, all the medications are behind the pharmacist's counter so you have to tell them your symptoms especially if you have no idea what kinds of medications they might have. The pharmacist gave me an expectorant for Haley after telling me how important her breathing is and that I should take her to their equivalent of Urgent Care if she gets worse (duh!). This particular medication was not available in the US but it happened to work really, really well along with a steamy shower and a cup of tea and though she still coughed and her nose ran like crazy, she stopped wheezing for the most part except for a tight chest after our walking. In the meantime, I contacted my husband at home through Facebook messages trying to get information on what we had to do to make sure any medical care she might need would be covered just in case.

By about 2pm Haley was fever-free without medication (her last dose had been back at 5am). We decided to walk a couple blocks to Dublinia, a small viking museum in Dublin. We toured the museum which only took about an hour, went for dinner, then went back to the hotel to go to bed early. Not exactly what we had planned for our trip (which was late night music sessions) but I figured the more rest she got, the less likely she'd get worse.

We slept in a bit on Wednesday then packed everything up and started out of the hotel in the cloudy weather. We had gotten only half a block away when it started pouring so we ducked into a cafe and ate a delicious breakfast figuring the rain might stop before we had to walk to the bus station. It didn't so we walked out of the cafe and hailed a cab. I intended to take the cab only to the bus station but the cabby offered to take us to the airport for only a euro more than the cab ride and bus would have cost so we took him up on the offer. He dropped us at the airport, we picked up our rental care, and headed out in the rain and wind to Cavan.

We checked into our B&B then headed into town to check things out and eat dinner. The kids met up with their friends Jayne and Bram who had signed up for the busking competition so they busked during the competition time then we just walked around a short while checking out music stores and seeing old friends. We later found out they had taken 1st for the day in the competition so would be in the finals on Sunday. We headed back to the B&B early. The Wednesday night of the Fleadh falls on the time when kids in Ireland get their testing scores that determine who will go on to University so there are always massive amounts of "high school age" kids in the streets that night and it gets a little hairy.

Thursday we drove into town and walked to visit Mary and Paddy (the people we stayed with our 1st year in Cavan). We had a really nice visit. They are sweet people. We then went into town, let the kids busk, played around with instruments in the music stores, had dinner, then found a pub for a session. There are probably over 20 pubs in Cavan (which is not a very big's possible to park in one spot and walk everywhere else) so it was just a matter of walking into some of them and seeing who was playing. The one we stopped and decided to stay in had an accordion player who knew a lot of tunes and played well plus a couple flute players at first. Dylan liked that there were no other guitar players and Haley thought it was probable he'd know a lot of the tunes she likes to play so they sat. It wasn't long before a huge crowd formed around the session and a number of other people joined in who were all good players. It was a great session. Haley started getting tired around 9:30pm so she started her last tune set. Everyone played along with for the first two tunes. Then she went into The Contradiction which has some shifting on the fiddle. Everyone except Dylan stopped to listen to her and when she finished the crowd roared. As she was packing up her case, a woman approached us and asked me to bring the kids to the Court House the next morning because she wanted them on her radio show broadcasting live from 11-12pm on RTE radio. She said she had a full line-up of bands and groups playing but would fit them in.

So, the next morning we headed in for them to play on the radio. We listened to a number of the other performers and they did their tune set. Afterward we walked into town and looked in more music shops then they set up and busked for awhile before dinner. In Cavan, there were people busking everywhere. Every store front or space had people in various types of groups or soloists busking. Some were "professional" buskers who we would later see in Dublin or who went around to festival after festival but most were just kids playing music with old friends or new friends or by themselves. The people at the festival were very picky about who they'd stop to watch and if you played "good" music huge crowds would form around you. Haley and Dylan always had a huge crowd. They could play for less than an hour and come away with a case full of coins. Haley spent some of her busking money on a new, slightly smaller bow and Dylan spent quite a bit of his on a travel case for his guitar.

Friday night was an early night for us. I think we went back around 6pm, not even bothering to find a pub sessions since it was really crowded on the streets and competitions were the next day. Saturday morning, we sat and listened to the under 15 competitors then Haley warmed up with her teacher, Brian, before her competition. She went 10th out of 14 kids. Then the room steward announced that they needed to do the recall to decide 1st and 2nd and called Haley's name. It was great knowing she'd placed and we felt like she'd already won so playing another tune would just be fun for her. She played her recall reel even better than her original reel. The other boy played an entirely different style of fiddling...not the strong downbeat, highly ornamented Sligo style Haley plays. But those judges on that day liked his style better.

That evening the kids joined up with Jayne and Bram again to busk on a little stage they found unoccupied in town. The crowd formed and the videographer from Comhaltas recorded them for a long while then recorded Haley playing by herself. He'd recorded her back when she was 7yo at a Comhaltas Convention back in NJ and knew she'd placed earlier in the day so was thrilled to find her on the street.

Sunday was the busking competition finals.  It was held on the Gig Rig, a huge stage in a parking lot in town and broadcast live on web stream. The kids had worked on their 6 minute "set" most of the morning and were really happy with what they'd come up with. It rained off and on during the competition but we stayed around and watched it all. There was a man from Australia who played 7-8 different "instruments" at the same time...a really good "one-man band." He ended up placing 2nd in the over 18 age group. After the competition, we went to get some dinner then they busked a bit with a large group of friends then all bought ice-cream with their earnings. We walked around for a long while trying to find a pub session the kids could get into but the pubs were all too full and the streets were full of drunken people so you could hardly walk. We decided to head in for the night.

Monday, we headed to Co. Meath and took tours of Newgrange and Knowth. Haley and I had seen these ancient passage tombs a couple years ago and wanted Dylan to see them. I could see them every year and never stop being amazed at the marvels they are or stop being fascinated by the questions they bring up about ancient life in Ireland. We drove from there back to our hotel at Dublin airport, checked in, turned in our rental car, and ate a late dinner.

Tuesday we spent our last day in Dublin. We shopped and ate. We found brown bread ice cream. Yum! The kids were asked to play a tune by the people in the ice cream shop. We were going to try to find a session but Haley was still not feeling the greatest and getting tired easily so we went back to the hotel early and caught up on our emails using the free wifi. Then yesterday we flew home!

Here are a few pics!


Pub session

Playing for RTE radio broadcast

Just a cute pic of Haley...waiting for the bus to Knowth

On top of Knowth passage tomb...Ireland countryside

Passage tomb at Knowth

Dylan on the plane

Photo out our plane window

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

We have eggs!!

 Our little Phoenix chicken, Cleo has been laying eggs since last Thursday. It took us a few days to figure out who the mystery layer was but yesterday Daddy caught her kicking around in a nesting box and making a lot of noise. A few minutes later she'd laid an egg and continued to make a lot of noise. She was so proud of herself! She has laid about an egg a day...5 little eggs total. They are light tan in color and a lot smaller than a regular large egg but she is a little chicken. You can see in the photo below three of Cleo's eggs vs. a store-bought extra large egg.

Our other chickens should all start laying in the next couple weeks. Soon we will never have to purchase store-bought eggs again. All of our chickens got their wings clipped yesterday. I spent the morning herding them back into the fenced backyard area because they had found the delicious ripe grapes in the yard just on the other side of the fence and were flying over for the snack three or four at a time. I am concerned about them being on the other side of the fence because our neighbors all have dogs. So, Daddy and the boys trimmed everyone's wings and today they all stayed in the fenced area so I guess it worked.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Dublin Ohio Celtic Festival 2012

This past weekend Haley was invited to play with The John Whelan Band at the Dublin Celtic Festival in Dublin, Ohio. We drove out to Dublin on Thursday with John and a couple fiddlers for the band, Lisa and Kathleen. It was a 9-10 hour drive but went pretty quickly. We were put up in the Crown Plaza Hotel. That evening we walked to a local restaurant for dinner with most of the band, all who had arrived. We got back to the hotel rather late so Haley and I went to bed. 

The following morning we had a breakfast buffet...delicious then I took Haley swimming in the hotel pool. After she'd showered we met with the rest of the band for a rehearsal that ended up being 4 hours long since most of the band members had never played together. They spent the time deciding on orchestration of the tune sets and rehearsing. I was amazed at the number of musicians playing together, making suggestions and harmonizing so musically and with so much respect for each other's opinions. Haley had so much fun. She wasn't playing the entire set with the band but she rehearsed with them most of the time (she missed about 40 min while I took her for the lunch buffet when she got hungry). She learned most of the melodies of tunes she'd never heard before during the rehearsal and also had fun figuring out how to harmonize and play around with that part of music making.

Four hour rehearsal #1.

Haley and John rehearsing their duet.
 We rode over to the festival around 4:30pm on Friday evening. We checked in and got our backstage passes then went to the room where they had a buffet for the performers. We were finishing up our meal when a festival representative came in asking if they'd like to play on the local evening news during the weatherman's spot. John and the fiddlers headed over and played a couple tunes while the weatherman did his report then he interviewed them.

Getting ready to play on the news.

After the news broadcast we walked over to the stage and they did a sound check then performed.  Haley went on stage about halfway through the show and played a duet with John then he had her play a solo tune set with the pianist, Cormac, accompanying her. She got a standing ovation after each, the duet and the solo. She then stayed on stage and played the rest of the set with the band.

Here are a couple videos of Haley's part in the performance. I only got her hornpipe recorded in her solo because people kept walking in front of me...not a bad thing since John told them all Haley was headed to Ireland to represent the US and if anyone would like to help, please do. So people were going up to the stage to donate. It was so amazing and they were so generous that I couldn't help but get emotional.

After their performance, the band T with the Maggies was coming onstage. Haley got a chance to play Mairead's beautiful hardanger fiddle which had a really interesting, different sound. She then got her picture with the band members.

Mairead and her hardanger fiddle.

Haley with the lovely ladies of  T with the Maggies.
She then got a chance to meet and talk with Eileen Ivers and her husband (and adorable little boy).

Haley with Eileen Ivers.

We rode back to the hospitality building on a golf cart...Haley thinks her brothers will be really jealous of that so we took a picture.

We didn't stay out very late Friday night but she did go to the hotel bar and played some late night tunes with John then we went to bed. Saturday morning we slept in...I kept the shades drawn tight so our room was really dark...until 8:40am. I knew we'd have very little sleep the next 48 hours so that was on purpose. We had breakfast with our friend Charlene, a fiddler we met at Swannanoa who was also performing at the festival, and her husband. After breakfast, Haley and I went over to the festival to listen to Charlene play and take a look at the vendor's wares. It was really hot. We walked back to the hospitality building for lunch then took the van back to the hotel just in time, well actually about 15 min late, for the day's rehearsal.

They did another 4 hour rehearsal which Haley attended the entire time. She loved it! Afterward we had dinner in the hotel bar because we were tired of buffet food. We then went up to get a shower and Haley dressed for the evening.

We headed over to the festival around 8pm and hung out in the hospitality room. Haley played Twister with John then ping pong with John, Cormac, and Oisin. When it got closer to time we headed over to the stage for Saturday night's performance which was to begin at 10:15pm.

 It took a really long time for the sound check. The stage was smaller than the night before and there were 12 musicians including Haley. They did a great performance but were asked to stop about 15 min. early. I wasn't quite sure why when it happened but a few minutes after they got off the stage, there was a really loud alarm throughout the festival and an announcement to find shelter due to "imminent severe weather." Thunder and lightening were close but it wasn't really raining. The severe weather missed the festival but it was almost time to close and they had cleared the park. We headed straight back the hotel and got in bed about 12:30am.

I got up at 3am to call and try to change my accidentally booked PM flight to an AM flight. We had to be home before 1pm for Haley's Ireland fundraiser. I had to call less than 3 hours prior to a flight to get on it cheaply. The 6am flights were already full but we already had a taxi coming at 4am from the festival to pick us up in case we got on one and had no way to get in touch with someone to get a later taxi (paid for by the festival) so I got Haley up and we went to the airport.

We got to the airport and just before 5am got to our turn in line. The attendant was very nice and waited the 5 min. he needed to wait before putting us on an 8am flight that would get us home in time. Haley slept a bit at the airport and our flight went smoothly. We got home just in time to head to the fundraising ceili. (I'll talk about that in another post on another day...I need to go get something done today. We leave for Ireland on Sunday.)