Travels with MaryE

Most things I love best are about good light and good timing. That's where the adventures start. Don't be in no hurry here. Here you'll find a little bit about bluegrass music, fox hunting, life on the road, time on the mountain, and a whole lot about other things, too.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Red Knuckles, Grey Fox

Well, we all have our favorites and I just have to come out with it: there's nothing I enjoy hearing more than Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers, start to finish. So you can imagine what a great time I had in July while enjoying the many sights and sounds of the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in upstate New York. Saturday night is the big night at most festivals, I suppose, and folks at Grey Fox this year had a few tough choices to make, but as much as I like some of the folks appearing on the main stage I knew that the dance tent was where I had to be for the spectacular, two-hour-long star-studded performance by Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers. They did a little new stuff, but mostly stuff I've been enjoying for at least the last 20 years. While most of my favorite musicians (and myself!) have seemed to age a lot these last few years, Red and the boys stay forever young. Perhaps it's all those chocolate doughnuts from Waldo's Discount Doughnuts. Watch out, Dunkin' Doughnuts - you just wait till the outfit from Wyoming Montana starts advertising in the northeast. They got chocolate and chocolate, you know, lots of things like that, chocolate. Speaking of which it was great to note that Waldo is still dealing with his metal block and it seems that his posture remains similar to that of the treble clef to add a touch of pizazz to the already zingy show.
While Red and the boys did a great show on the main stage earlier in the evening, I think they were holding back. Cousin Elmo made an appearance, this time sporting a beret (what was with that?) and Colonel Mel Sharpie's cigar was alot smaller than it used to be oh so many years ago. There was an appearance by a very strange white-coated rabbit, too, though I don't believe anyoneever said "Harvey," at least not in my earshot. We all felt like baked sweet potatoes this year at Grey Fox, boy was it hot! but a lot of folks still found the will to dance (and enjoy it), not the least of which was the ever-smiling Dancin' Dave and his beautiful bride. The new location seems like an excellent one and, understanding that the first time at any site will cook up a few problems, things went very well indeed, I think. Plenty of jamming, dancing, great food, good vendors, fantastic activities for kids and families...if you didn't have a good time, well, you probably don't have a good time anywhere.

A real treat for me was getting to hang out with my good friend Mary and talk shop with Darwin and a few other photographers; getting to camp next to Chris and Mark and Sarah and the gang from Nashville, visiting with the Kuykendalls and so many other friends from down through the Grey Fox years.

While Slade has gone on to play his own quirky brand of music elsewhere, a guy named Swade stepped in and was nearly as weird as Slade (bass players are always the weirdest guys in the band, right?) I already said, you just can't beat Red! But you're gonna have to get out and hear them in person because words just can't express....don't worry; they seem to do a gig every 10 years or so. But these guys on the right always manage to pull better gigs than Red. I think it's because Wendell's usually getting most of the "fringe" benefits.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Four Months in a Nutshell

Above: some of the winners at the recent New England Morgan Horse Show held in Massachusetts. It was a hot day but these horses and riders gave their all. Morgans are a wonderful, powerful, gentle breed (maybe I'll get to have one some day).

Well, I wasn't in a nutshell, exactly, but it has been almost four months since I last blogged. While it would be nice to offer a big excuse there isn't one really. Actually I've logged a few thousand miles since the big visit to the wild parts of Ireland but I just haven't sat myself down long enough to write. Maybe it's the photographer in me, but it seems like the pictures might do the talking better than I ever can, so over the next few days I'll try to catch my TWO fans up on what I've been a-doin'. Enjoy. I see this deer and a couple of others nearly every evening before dark.

At the moment I'm luxuriating in the cool environs of the Catskill Mountains with daytime temperatures in the low 70s or high 60s and nighttime temperatures in the low 50s/high 40s (for those of you who haven't been here, they're in New York state)(no, most of NY is NOT covered with tarmac - we actually have lots of trees and wild places and even a few farms are managing to survive though that gets more difficult by the day). Since I'm on the subject of the Catskills, I'll share a few photos I've made recently. Would you believe I was so chilly the other night I actually built a fire in the fireplace? Yep. Won't be doing it too often, though - I'm told the price of firewood around here has doubled to tripled since last season!

This is where I spend some of my time, some of my favorite time. Solace for the soul! Physical work. The pleasure of listening to the birds and bees (bee balm highly recommended. The discomfort of being stung twice by one who miraculously found its way into my shirt this morning as I did some much-needed pruning of all the pines that surround this place. Ouch!
Lucky me, I even got to see the snake that seems to like to hang about and make me a little, shall we say, jumpy....usually he's hanging out by the back door, but today he decided to go afield and hang out by all the big limbs I was gathering together to drag to the woods. He was right by the shuffleboard court and when I saw him I did anything but shuffle. He's really just a harmless little garter snake but that don't matter to me. I'm scared.
This house was once an inn and reputedly slept 28-30 people, though how many slept in the broom closet I don't know. The best part about it is definitely the front porch - I think it's about 60-70 feet long and about 10 feet wide; porches on both sides as well and a patio in the back. One of my favorite places in the world!

Below, a view from the front porch; this house was built in 1903 and this was once a carriage road leading right up to the front steps. This double row of stately sugar maples is a sight to see early in October. There are twinges of color already on the sugar maples in this area, not far from the Appalachian trail.
No proper Catskill house should be without its very own gazebo. Besides adding charm and character to the place it's a wonderful place to hang out with your guitar and maybe even a friend.
This barn would make a fine house, I think - and I've been thinking it would be a great place for a bluegrass festival - have the stage up there on the 2nd floor balcony and the crowd below. Whaddya think?

There used to be a lot more rooms in this house. In an effort to make it more open several walls on the first floor were removed. There are actually 3 fireplaces in this one spot - the third is on the back of the triangular area - and it has a nice cozy woodstove that takes the chill off on frosty fall mornings.
This is a new addition to the back of the house (there was a saggy, rotting sort of woodshed that we tore down a couple of years ago - this room always seems to be bright and cheery even on those rainy days that we've had quite a few of recently.
Now it's time for some sleep so I can think about some other things to write about - like getting to hear Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers at Grey Fox - then getting hit by a tractor-trailer piled full of logs on the way out of the festival. Life is good!

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