Sunday, November 25, 2012

A North Carolina Thanksgiving and Newt's 17th Birthday!

On Monday, as we were all sitting around doing nothing together, I brought up being sad about the holidays this year and we started talking about the wonderful Thanksgiving/Family Reunion Ritch's family has in North Carolina every year.

We figured out that wrestling wasn't due to start until this coming Monday and orchestra/violin lessons had been cancelled on Friday, leaving us a free weekend. So, we decided to drive down to Rocky Point, NC for Thanksgiving. We woke early, drove the eight hours down on Thanksgiving Day, and arrived at Grandmom's house not long after the family had finished dinner...there were plenty of leftovers.

Ritch's father has 12 brothers and sisters and 10 of the 12 were there this weekend...most live in that area with their children and grandchildren and the others had come just for the weekend. We hadn't been to visit in five years which was way too long but we got busy and just never seemed to have enough free days in a row to make it. It was wonderful to see everyone again and meet some we'd never met before!

Friday morning we took a drive to Wrightsville Beach. The weather was just perfect and we walked on the beach, gathered seashells, and watched the surfers and fishermen. We had hotdogs at the Trolley Stop then drove back to Grandmom's house. The boys spent the day playing airsoft with their cousins and just hanging out. In the fields, they searched for sharks' teeth. Millions of years ago, that area was covered with ocean and we've always found sharks' teeth along the road or in the freshly plowed fields. The boys each found a little handful of teeth for Haley.

By late afternoon, relatives started arriving and the men began setting up their cookers for a fish fry. They cooked piles and piles of steamed oysters and shrimp, fried fish fillets, and grilled king mackerel steaks. There were also hush puppies and covered dishes and desserts brought by the ladies. I have never seen a family cook out with so much food! There must have been about 50 people there and they all ate their fill with plenty left over.

Haley and Dylan provided some entertainment for their relatives. They wouldn't let us chip in to help buy the food but we could do that much.

Aunt Betty also brought a birthday cake for Newt! It was his 17th birthday. What a great way to spend his birthday! It is hard to believe my baby boy will have his driver's license next week.

Sunday morning Ritch woke early to help Uncle Shep start the pig for a pig pickin'. He tried to wake the boys but after three tries, gave up. Once the rest of us woke, we headed into Wilmington to watch the Krispy Kreme donuts be made and have some fresh off the conveyor donuts for breakfast. We brought some back for Uncle Shep and cousin Hugh which Haley enjoyed delivering with her new hat.

Here's the pig getting a final coating of Grandmom's famous barbeque sauce...which I nicknames "liquid gold" because it is so delicious! The boys spent the afternoon hanging out with cousins, playing football in the yard and shooting airsoft guns. Clay brought a model cannon and shot it into the field for the kids to watch.

There were over 80 people at the pig picking. As we all stood around the tables of food and said the blessing, I thought the amazing part was we were related to all but a handful...a few neighbors and friends who were also invited. Grandmom passed away about five years ago but her home is still the gathering place for all those people. They all get along and everyone mingles talking to everyone else. The kids and the adults all talk and play and get along...truly enjoying each others' company.

                             Newt was worn out after a weekend of eating and playing hard.

After most of the relatives left, the kids still hanging out decided to play Ninja and Charades.

Ritch and I were worried about the drive home today but we made it home in ten hours even after stopping at the grocery store so my husband could pick up some Southern delicacies he cannot get this side of the Mason Dixon line and stopping for a sit down lunch at Cracker really only a little less than 9 hours to get home. I am so glad we went!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend Report...

This weekend we had a lot of Irish music fun! Saturday, Haley and I headed into Philly for a fiddle workshop with Winnie Horan, the fiddler for the group Solas, and a concert by three Solas band members. Haley enjoyed the workshop. She learned two new tunes and Winnie played 5-6 other tunes for Haley to record and learn later. Winnie did a great job making the experience personal for all the participants.

Between workshop and concert, we went into Chestnut Hill for a slice of pizza with Haley's friend, Alex and his parents.  The concert was very enjoyable. I like the combination of fiddle, accordion, and guitar and Mick McAuley, the accordion player, has a great voice.

Sunday, Haley, Daddy, and I drove down to the lovely Cow Palace at the Maryland State Fair Grounds for the Maryland Irish Festival. The festival has a small competition and we go down to support those trying to make it into something bigger and Haley's teacher, Brian, who judges the event. It is a fun day with a workshop by Brian and another about competition preparation. Haley gets to spend time hanging out with her friends who also make the trip.

Haley and Alex deeply engrossed in something on his iPhone.

Haley and her fiddle teacher, Brian Conway.

Last week Haley asked Brian what she should play for the competition and he suggested Spellan's Inspiration, a tune that isn't originally Irish so she wouldn't get to play at the Fleadh but one of her favorites, and her new tune last week, an Ed Reavy tune, Fisherman's Island, which she heard and loved immediately. She spent last week practicing a lot because she had to add variations to both tunes for the competition. She did a great job learning and playing both and took 1st at the competition. Here's a couple videos of Haley playing the tunes.... thanks to Alanna's dad, Dennis, who recorded and posted them to youtube for us! Sorry, I guess you'll have to click the links because I can't get them on as videos, maybe because they are unlisted?