Sunday, May 15, 2011

willow gardens and wet ponies

I am sorry to report no gardens got planted, and no pasture got expanded. I went to all the trouble of braving the wilds of Bennington for ten new t-posts, 4 1.5 cubic feet bags of organic garden soil, and 6 2x4s cut in half: but the cordless drill is staying on the charger today. That rain is too much, and too often. When I pulled into the farm's driveway I didn't see a single animal with a hoof. But when I honked the Dakota's horn I saw Jasper and Sal poke their heads out of the sheep shed. If it's too wet for Scottish Sheep and an Amish pony: it's too wet to plant taters. Isn't that how the saying goes?

So the dogs and I are waving our white flag from inside the farmhouse, roasting a chicken over carrots and potatoes, and watching Braveheart. My coworkers are learning to call chilly, rainy, days "Braveheart weather" because they have gotten used to my habit of watching that movie every time I am home during a downpour in the daylight. Fog, rain, wind, and muted gray daylight to me say it is 1993 all over again and you are watching Braveheart. Till this day, even if it is just on in the background, I have probably watched it 600 times. I can't help it. All I can hope is that to some sort of man out there, a woman who watches war epics based on the weather is a sexy quirk. If not, heeeeellllllooooo cats.

Tomorrow I'll post a video of myself playing Down in the Willow Gardens on the Banjer. This is our groups last Double C song, we are now moving into Sawmill tuning and for our first group recital we'll play Cluck Old Hen. So that's your next song to practice. How is it going for you banjo folk? Are you still practicing? Is it something you are excited about or loathe having to dedicate time to everyday? Are your friends and family impressed or annoyed?

Tonight's a night I want to strum a guitar, eat carrots and potatoes, and maybe take a few moments to slide into some zazen. Being quiet at the end of a rainy day is a good thing, especially when tomorrow will throw you into a whirlwind of a work week. I have five days of work and then my folks and my sister are coming up to visit for the weekend. I'm excited for them to meet Jasper and the lambs and see how the farm has grown in just one year.


Blogger Ozy said...

....I almost hate to say it because I agree with you so much on so many things but...
I hate Braveheart.
It's one of the most historically inaccurate movies (that were supposed to be historical) that I have ever seen and that just totally ruins a movie for me.

I prefer to watch operas when it's sucky out (amusingly, despite being all the way in Michigan you could have just described our exact weather).

May 15, 2011 at 6:42 PM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

600 times? I don't think I have ever seen that one Jenna but I guess I should give it a try. So glad you had some lay back time to rest and just enjoy some quiet time. I know it will be exciting to have your folks there next weekend.

May 15, 2011 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Ozy, to each their own!

Okay, so 600 is an exaggeration. But a lot.

May 15, 2011 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

You're not watching for the history . . . . . are you? I love it too. My 600 times is Pride and Prejudice.

May 15, 2011 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

heck no. I'm watching it for the watching it. Also, nostalgia of my own rainy days in Junior High School.

May 15, 2011 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Lilly said...

I'm not a very frequent commenter, but just wanted to say that I do enjoy your blog very much and thinking of Braveheart and a delicious dinner is heartwarming on a rainy day (which we're also having in NC).

May 15, 2011 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger DarcC said...

That is exactly how the saying goes :) I ignored my own farm chores to go watch my old Morgan gelding initiate yet another youngster in the wonders of horse shows. He's 23 and still going strong!

May 15, 2011 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Hmmm. I seem to have missed the banjo post that said what song we were learning. And I've looked for it. Must've been lumped in with some other stuff. Cluck Old Hen, here I come!

May 15, 2011 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

May 15, 2011 at 8:22 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

"heeeeellllllooooo cats" totally made me laugh out loud. Sorry.

Banjo! I am still in love. My friends and family have been excited and supportive and really laying on an inappropriate amount of praise. I'm guessing they haven't heard other beginner banjo players who actually take to it a little faster than I am. ;)

May 15, 2011 at 10:22 PM  
OpenID canttalkdyeing said...

Ha, Ann, I watch Pride and Prejudice over and over too. And not the series, the recent movie. It's prettier, dammit, even if it is less like the book.

May 15, 2011 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Mama said...

Okay, time to film the murder ballad... I'm still enjoying playing. I took off the resonator and the arm rest and now it fits against me a lot better. Watched some frailing videos. Hopefully I'll have a version of the song that won't be too scary. I've enjoyed playing it though--the waltz is lovely.

May 15, 2011 at 11:06 PM  
Blogger Rosa said...

Hmm. . .
No rainy day movies over here, but I DO reread all the Little House books every winter when temps drop to -30C and the snow is two feet deep. I think it's The Long Winter that makes it feel like the best time to read it. Of course in the depths of winter curling up with ANY stack of good books is pure bliss!

May 15, 2011 at 11:52 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

For some reason, rainy weather always makes me want a cup of tea, so we had a proper English tea this afternoon instead of dinner. The movie I've watched over and over and over is Amelie, and I may have watched Desk Set and Auntie Mame as many times as well. Actually, I have a collection of stuff that I've watched over and over. Braveheart isn't in that one (although I do have the sound track- I liked the music better than the film), but Pride and Prejudice is. I watch that one and Emma over and over and over...

And I hope it doesn't come to cats for you Jenna. You may have to wait awhile- I didn't get married for the first and only time until I was forty-one, but I promise that it's better the longer it takes. It will probably help to keep yourself so busy making yourself happy that once you hit critical mass where a man in your life would just monkey it up, that's when one will finally show up and do just that. I wouldn't trade my husband for anything, but I will say enjoy your freedom while you've got it!

May 16, 2011 at 12:39 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

Love, love LOVE is a beautiful (&bloody too) movie and I love the accents and especially the music. We watch it all the time too, regardless of the weather :)

May 16, 2011 at 12:44 AM  
Blogger doglady said...

There are a couple of things positive about the weather in the northeast beyond being good for watching movies or playing a banjo. The precipitation isn't solid and we aren't flooding like those poor people along the Mississippi. We've had enough snow for a while even though it can easily be dealt with but I don't know how you deal with knowing your home is going to be destroyed for a supposed greater good. I feel so badly for all those people whose homes are under water.

May 16, 2011 at 6:52 AM  
Blogger Dani said...

Still lovin' my banjo!

May 16, 2011 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger teh said...

I'll admit, I am not loving the banjo. Willow Gardens has been giving me fits. Daily practice barely brings any improvement, so it's becoming a source of aggravation rather than enjoyment. Doesn't help that my family is annoyed by my playing, even though I practice as quietly as possible in the back room. In hindsight, I shouldn't have attempted a new hobby, especially one for which I have no aptitude, at a time when I have multiple sources of stress going on. The banjo may have to be put aside until some things settle down and I'm in a better frame of mind to deal with frustration.

May 16, 2011 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger Future Farmer said...


Hope the weather improves soon.
I've been reading your blog lately, and it's truly motivating for me, with my struggling agricultural aspirations.

May 16, 2011 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Jasmine said...

My 600 times is Pride and Prejudice too! The 6 hr BBC version!

May 16, 2011 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

teh - I just have to say that I thought you were doing really well! Your other videos were good and you seemed to be picking it up just fine.

I understand though when you start something on top of too many other things, especially if nobody is being supportive. :(

If you do end up taking a break, maybe you'll feel better about it when you pick it up later.

May 16, 2011 at 5:12 PM  
Blogger Katherine said...

This post made me smile! I have my own versions of movies for different types of weather.

Looking forward to seeing your posts on garden planting sometime when the rain lets up here in New England. Your photos are always so fun to look through.


May 16, 2011 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger Geode said...

I admit--haven't practiced Willow Gardens as much as I practiced the other songs. I have it memorized, but I think my timing's a little off. Needa more practice.

I was practicing banjo on the balcony of my apartment the other day and a kid riding by on his bike stopped to watch and then clapped. I think it speaks well of the character of the neighborhood kids that they would applaud a banjo player!

May 16, 2011 at 6:37 PM  
OpenID lifeofalittlewoman said...

I've got good news for you: The Last of the Mohicans is my go-to rainy day entertainment, and I've got a guy and a border collie. No cats in sight. One point for "sexy quirk.":)

May 16, 2011 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

teh: I'm dedicating my video to you. I thought you sounded beautiful.

May 16, 2011 at 9:22 PM  
Blogger Donna said...

I've watched Braveheart every time it comes on the TV. Last of the Mohicans, Pride and Prejudice, American Patriot, DaVinci Code and National Treasure. I'll watch any of those any time. Drives my husband crazy! But he's the same way with Lonsome Dove. ;)

May 16, 2011 at 11:44 PM  
Blogger teh said...

Jenna & Amber: Thanks for the nice words. :) Just walking away for a day made a difference. Ignored the banjo and played in the woodshop for a bit, then finished a crocheted hat for my son while watching cheesy movies last night. I came back to Willow Gardens this morning, and it's finally starting to sound okay! So I think I'll keep working at it and stick around for Cluck Old Hen.

May 17, 2011 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Tina and her boys said...

I'm way behind all of you on the banjo because I just got mine two weeks ago but I have to say: I'm utterly and completely lost! I don't mean to sound whiny, but I am just not getting this! I have no, and I mean NO, musical experience, was never in band, can't read music, have never held a musical instrument before. So, I'm THE musical dummy, just so we are clear.

I bought the clawhammer book you suggested and apparently I'm too stupid to understand it.

Can someone tell me how I'm supposed to know what to practice/study and in which order? I see the little notes in the book that tell me which selection on the CD pertains to that song, but how do I know what order to practice things in? Nothing in the book ever says go listen to CD track #4 and practice it until you can do it at speed.

Sorry for clogging up this posts' responses with this, but couldn't figure out how to contact you directly.

If someone could give me a bit of direction, I'd REALLY appreciate it.

May 17, 2011 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Geode said...

Hey, Tina, don't lose heart!

I have absolutely no musical experience besides learning the banjo either. I bought my banjo a few years ago and got started on Patrick Costello's How and Tao of Oldtime Banjo. Although I do really like Wayne Erbsen's book, I learned how to do the frailing strum and some basics in the How and Tao. Patrick Costello has some really great videos on Youtube if you like seeing visuals.

I'm pretty sure the Complete Ignoramus book lets you choose which song to study and when just based on your personal preference. As long as you know how to do the clawhammer strum and you practice a whole bunch you should be able to tackle almost any of the songs.

Good luck! You'll do awesome!

May 17, 2011 at 5:32 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Mama said...

Tina and teh, I agree with Geode about Patrick Costello. I bought "The How and Tao of Old Time Banjo" and just reading it makes me feel less hard on myself. Then I found a frailing lesson from him on YouTube--it made me so happy watching it! He's a great guy and truly loves teaching. Made me feel a lot better about my efforts. I tend heavily toward perfectionism and you have no idea how painful it is for me to post my videos. However, I learn a lot from everyone else's videos and I'm inspired by their perseverance. As the French say, "Bon courage" which is the equivalent of good luck but I like the whole idea of wishing someone courage in whatever they undertake.

May 17, 2011 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Mama said...

oops, speaking of videos, here is my link:

May 17, 2011 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Tina and her boys said...

Geode and KitchenMama -

Thank you! I will look him up tomorrow and see if I catch on to his style easier.

Thanks again!

May 17, 2011 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Ok the cats comment made me laugh too! I don't think it will come to cats. You are a beautiful bright and smart woman and I can tell that from just reading your books and blog...can't imagine what a guy would think actually meeting you in person. Love will find you when its ready to be found.

I stumbled upon love in a dog park. My dog ran up to what would become my husband. I trust my dog's instincts over my own and I am sure that would apply to any other animal. Just say'n.

As for rainy days, I had a pretty dark and dreary one myself here in Boise, ID. I decided to sit and watch my days old chicks cluck and then nestled in a chair with my dogs and read a good book.

I do enjoy Braveheart myself but I would say my go to movie is The Man from Snowy River (can I please be swept away by that guy? Although I don't think my husband would appreciate that) or The Black Stallion. I love my horses.

May 17, 2011 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

teh - I'm so glad to hear you're sticking around! :D

Tina - I can't say anything better than the others already did, but I'm glad you're feeling a little more positive.

After my first couple of days of "playing", I was really wondering if I had made a bad decision. My only musical experience was playing the flute and honestly, it is so unrelated, it actually made things harder. Because I can read music, it made looking at a banjo tab really confusing for me at first.

While I am still not fast, and I can't yet add in the little extra flairs, I am very proud of my progress. My left hand is moving more naturally (and with a little memory at times!)and the fret board is staring to feel less daunting with every song I try to learn.

It gets better. I hope that other style helps you and you get some banjo love going again. :)

May 18, 2011 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Geode said...

Here's my link after much delay:

My cat started licking her butt in the background halfway through, but I didn't want to record it again...

May 27, 2011 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

Geode - HAHAHAHAHA!!! Cat butt! :D

I guess I might as well add mine here then too. I actually put it up on YouTube on the 1th, but wasn't sure where to post it.

Amber's Willow Gardens

May 29, 2011 at 12:28 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

On the 1th? Yeah, it's late... That was an attempt at "the 16th". ;)

May 29, 2011 at 12:29 AM  
Blogger Tina and her boys said...

Geode and Amber,

I think you both sound great!

May 31, 2011 at 7:39 PM  

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