Thursday, October 31, 2013

Girls' Weekend in the City!

 Haley and I had a fun "girls' weekend."

We drove up with Haley's friends, Emily and Livia, for fiddle lessons for Haley and Livia.  We then drove into the Bronx to park before finding our way on buses and subways into Manhattan. We moms were pretty impressed with our skills navigating public transportation on our own for the first time. I was fairly sure of my navigating abilities except that part of the subway we needed to use was shut down for the weekend so there were free shuttles to take us to the subway where it was open.

We were to meet Haley's friend, Sofia, and her mom around 5:30pm so we had awhile to walk around, look in shops, and stop for some hot drinks and a nice snack.

Yummy treats at the bakery.
We met up with Sofia and her mom then made our way back through public transportation to the Bronx for a sleepover party at Sofia's grandmother's apartment. We picked up pizza on the way. The girls had a blast making jewelry and doing make-up together. They started with nice make-overs then got silly as the night wore on. Here are the results of silly!

We got up fairly early in the morning and after breakfast, headed back into the city for bike riding in Central Park. I had to include this photo I took at the entrance to the park because the birds looked like part of the artwork sitting on all the hands.

We originally planned for Sofia and Emily to ride a tandem and Haley and Livia to ride another but the tandems were too tall for Haley and Livia to ride safely so we moms took turns with a girl on one of the tandems while Sofia and Emily shared the other. We rode the entire way around the park...all 9 miles! The weather was cool and sunny but there had been a marathon earlier in the morning and in some parts of the park a lot of foot traffic (and bike traffic and surrey traffic) especially at the finish line of the race which was getting cleaned up as we rode past.

We drove home in mid afternoon and picked up Dylan and Daddy to head to an Irish house party. Good food and great people! Fun! Haley and the kids played a game of Twister then the music started. We didn't stay long because we were beat from the weekend but it was a nice ending to a fun weekend!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Unexpected performance...

Today, we attended a fundraising concert given by Mick M*loney and friends for an area Catholic school. Mick does concerts in Philly every year but we've always had prior engagements and been unable to attend. The planets aligned today so we were able to go. We planned to go to a session after the afternoon concert so we happened to have Haley's fiddle with us.

Good thing we did!

We didn't know it but a couple great musicians we know were Mick's "friends." They saw Haley come in and told Mick about her so he invited her to come up and play a couple sets with them. What a great concert! Stories, songs, and music including a bit of Bach and some other styles of folk music.

Homecoming 2013

Dylan is playing football again this year. This weekend is homecoming for our local high school. I never make it to the Friday night varsity games because I take Haley to orchestra but his Daddy gets to every game....divide and conquer is the name of the game in our house. Dylan plays almost the whole game for JV but has yet to get on the field in a varsity game. He is only a sophmore and it is a large team. He is improving every game and has come a long way in the three years he has been playing football. I have watched him make some great plays this year.

Here are some pictures of my boys and their dates. I had to follow Newt to his date's home to get some pics then go back home and take Dylan to pick up his date and take them to a friend's house for photos. Thank goodness Newt is driving now and could bring them both home.

Newt and Madison

Dylan and Paige

Dylan and Paige fooling around.

Dylan and his buddy, Chris, fooling around. 
Funny, I remember a similar picture of his daddy and his friends in high school.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


 Haley and I spent the last week in Portal, AZ at an Irish music camp. Portal is a huge metropolis of a store/restaurant/hotel and a couple homes with a backdrop of beautiful mountains. Portal is right on the border of NM and about 60 miles from Mexico.

We flew with Haley's fiddle teacher, Brian, from LaGuardia in NYC to Tucson, AZ on Thursday and arrived around 9pm in Portal, which was about a 3 hour drive from Tucson. We were greeted with a warm supper of chili and cornbread then Haley and Brian joined the Irish session already in progress before we headed off to bed.

Here's a photo of the lodge and cafe above...followed by a photo of the rooms where we stayed (below). Brian stayed about half a mile away in a cabin owned by the lodge and his fiddle classes were held on his porch with a beautiful view of the mountains.

Below is the first javelina we saw on our visit. This little guy was not really interested in us. He walked right past the porch where we were standing. Every morning during the fiddle class a javelina or two walked past. Some people saw a herd of javelinas with babies but we didn't.

Every morning Haley took a 2 hour fiddle class taught by Brian. He taught mostly tunes she already knew so she spent the week learning how to teach a class of people with mixed skill levels. Brian allowed Haley to teach them a jig one morning. She was so excited to have the opportunity and spent the day before picking through tunes she knew until she decided on one that would work well for the group. She ended up teaching a tune she recently learned from Dylan Foley, I think, Cathal McConnell's jig.

After lunch, Haley and I would spend a little more than two hours practicing. She'd practice for awhile then we'd walk to the store for an icecream break before heading back to finish her practicing. Around 4pm every day we joined a group hiking in the Coronado National Forest. The hikes were about 90 min. long. One day we went to a local ranch to look for the coatimundi that live and feed near that ranch. We didn't see any of the animals but Haley did enjoy walking on this jiggly bridge and seeing the many hummingbirds that fed on the feeders there. A few fellow campers staying at this ranch did see the coatimundi in the early mornings and showed us pictures.

Our evenings were spent with Haley playing sessions. The sessions started around 7pm and went on until bedtime. Some days the room was full with a couple layers of musicians and at other times there were just a few musicians in the room.

Saturday night was the staff concert. Haley was invited to perform toward the end of the concert. She played a solo (backed by Matt), she and Brian played a duet (a couple fancy hornpipes and the Mason's Apron), and she stayed on stage for the finale with the other staff members.

One afternoon, we went with the camp director and Nigel, the three year old son of two of the instructors, to the Chiricahua Desert Museum in New Mexico (only about 2-3 miles from camp). We saw many different types of venomous snakes, turtles, insects, and fossil and Indian artifacts.

Outside the museum was an enclosed area where we could walk among some tortoises and lizards including the inquisitive little guy below who obviously is used to human contact because he followed us around the enclosure staying just far enough away that we couldn't touch him.

Another of our afternoon adventures included a trip to see naked mole rats. The biologist who keeps the mole rats (naked and not so naked types) had an amazing life story that included work for movies and zoos. He gave us a great talk on mole rats and why each of the three types is the way it is. He also allowed us to hold a naked mole rat (not the other types because they are not as chill as the naked mole rats and "their bite is like a staple gun"). I'll take his word for it.

After the naked mole rats we took a drive to Paradise...LOL. It was a small town on a one lane only long dirt road. Only 3-4 homes and lots of beautiful scenery. I liked the rock formation below. It looked like the remains of a stone castle. We also had a night visit to an observatory. There is a subdivision in that area where every house has its own personal observatory (or two). The people who build there agree to use only red outdoor lighting and keep light blocking shades on their windows so it is very dark. The moon was nearly full so we really only got to see some great views of it and a few different stars on the other side of the sky but we also got to see some really cool photos (that take 4 hours to complete!!!) of the comet heading toward our solar system.  The amateur astronomer whose home we visited is an imager which means he enjoys taking these four hour long photos of things...the quality is good enough to be in print and magazines.

Our last day of camp, nearly everyone participated in a group photo. It was a truly relaxing camp and the experiences outside of the music were as wonderful as the musical ones!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Quest Fest...

Sunday evening Haley performed with her buddy Paraic at Quest Fest 2 which was a salon-type performance with different types of musicians and some poetry readings in between. We arrived early for more rehearsal and sound check. Below you'll find Haley and Paraic going over the tunes sets they chose to play...not sure if you can read it in the picture but she wore her "Don't worry. I'm with the band" t-shirt. LOL.

Haley and Paraic rehearsing some sets.

Haley and Paraic with Chico Huff on base.
 The program consisted of our dear friend Marian (you might recognize her as the bride in the stealth wedding Haley provided music for) who did some lovely poetry readings from the works of Seamus Heaney and snuck in a little singing. She has a wonderful voice so we were glad she snuck in the singing.

Then Haley and Paraic accompanied by Sean (check him out with The Yanks...I highly recommend their CD if you like Irish music) regaled the audience with some Irish tunes.

Then Grammy award winner, Matt Cappy, performed on trumpet. He was amazing! I didn't know a trumpet could sound like that!

Last up was a local band (mostly a family) called Sovereign performing some original songs and a few Irish songs and covers. Haley played along with them improvising some rifts and harmony on fiddle.

I took a ton of pictures but most turned out fuzzy. Ugh! The lighting was not great for photo taking with my camera and I couldn't use the flash because it would have blinded the performers so the above are the best I had.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Fall Garden

 Fall is my favorite time of the year. The weather has been great....warm days and cool nights with little rain unlike our "summer of the rain." I haven't posted any pictures of our girls lately. We lost two this summer. Both died in their nesting boxes so must have been egg laying problems. We have a couple molting right now as you can tell by the near naked Americauna on the lower left hand corner of the picture to the right and the feathers all over the ground.

Their laying is slowing down with the shorter days.

This is our Phoenix chicken, Cleo. She's my favorite. She's little and makes the sweetest little sound. She is broody a lot and I often find her in a nesting box with all the eggs tucked under her little body. If I call her, she'll come out to eat a treat with the others.

Ritch decided to try another planting of some produce in the garden. He planted some more zucchini, peas, lettuces, and beans. He also tried some beets, brussel sprouts, and sweet potatoes. There are a couple tomato plants and potato plants growing on their own.

The garden looks great...way fewer weeds in the fall than in the spring! Now if the first frost will hold off until about mid-November we'll be good!

Here are our very first sweet potatoes! We're going to allow the other plants a bit more time to grow but we wanted to see what was down there.

                                                     Here are some beets and brussels.