Monday, January 26, 2015

Music & Snow

If you live in the northeast you are probably doing what I am doing, preparing for this snowstorm. I am supplied with extra feed and enough hay, but there are things I need to do still to ensure the comfort of the animals and myself. So later in the day there will be extra bedding, extra calories, and plenty of water in easy reach of the stock. I also need to make sure tarps are covering wood piles, the roof rake is ready to rock and roll, the shovel is by the front door, and a few days worth of firewood is stacked inside the farmhouse. This morning I need to head to the post office to check on a package and do some errands in town, but besides that I have scheduled the day afterwards for just design and writing projects. Since I live a preparedness lifestyle (well, strive towards living one) there is no need to run to the grocery store or fret about losing power. I expect to lose power and have plenty of oil lamps, lamp oil, candles, and my blackout bag ready to go. The animals (pet and livestock) are in great shape and so for the next few days my full time job will be keeping the house warm, the roofs clear, the animals comfortable, and music flowing.

I have office-type work to do as well. Nothing glamorous, just a thousand words here and there and some design projects. Meals will be simple and easy. There's a chicken thawing in the fridge for a roasted meal later on and some hard cider too. But while I am designing away or working on a new book proposal,  I'll be listening to records. I just set up a vintage RCA Hi-Fi player I bought for thirty bucks back in college. I didn't realize it still worked! Its been set up on its side by some suitcases for years since a little GE player is usually used instead in the living room. But that one needs a new needle and so it was back to MP3's and pandora on the radio. Not anymore. The band has returned!

I love vinyl. I love the record players. I love that these machines exist and fill my home with this presence that can not be reproduced by modern music. A record player IS. It is so intentional, so beautiful. It requires attention to flip and place the needle. It includes these cases of artwork and posters and poetry. So much of that aspect of music as been lost to the tiny CD jewel case and the iTunes download. Buying a record meant holding a creation in your hands and then being present enough to make the listening to music the event you cared about, and not the background to something deemed more important. Music deserves better than to be be dinner party hired help. It's a living thing that demands your passion, your hands, your heart, and your mind. It's sexy and fun and wonderful and I forgot so much of that while that other needle was broken and I was ignoring the RCA in the corner.

Back to that living room renovation. If you follow me on Facebook you may already know that the dining room was flooded by a burst pipe last weekend. It was a 40-degree day and a radiator pipe near the outside wall of the house defrosted and burst. I never thought about the dangers of those pipes going, and in hindsight those should have been turned off and drained when I stopped using the furnace heat. Well, lesson learned, the hard way. So my "redone" room means just raw plywood floors. But I like it, a lot more than the carpet actually.

Four and a half years of pet hair, farm life, high traffic and boots meant that carpet was going in the trash. It was a heck of a job getting down to the plywood but I was relieved getting the wet, smelly, carpet out and into the dump. And while taking it out I discovered things I had set aside for years, including an old RCA record player that was resting on its side by some suitcases in the corner. I dusted it off, put an Iron and Wine record on it, and plugged it in. Beautiful music came pouring out, drunk and lovely. I spent the rest of that weekend singing along with records from college that meant the world to me then and still do now. When I found Give Up by the Postal Service I remembered what those first heavy bass hums that start the song do to me. It felt like a time machine, a clean slate, and discovered treasure. Now, if I can find my Arcade Fire and Frightened Rabbit Vinyl I'll be dancing through this storm.

So, what are you listening to? What instruments are you playing? Does music just not do it for you compared to literature or spoken word? Are you ready for the storm?!


Blogger Kaitlin Torp said...

I just got Black Prairie and Carolina Chocolate Drops vinyl in the mail a few weeks ago. I think record players were made to help Northerners survive winters.

Watching the snow starting now. I'm in the 2-3ft zone, work was cancelled today (and will be again tomorrow), and I've got a pile of books about natural disasters (I have a strong inner goth, I guess) with my name on them.

January 26, 2015 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Jackie said...

Your record player looks similar to one I had in high school and wished I still had. Mine had speakers with hinges that attached to the sides of the record player and could be left on or removed. Recently I won one but it is red plastic and is not the same.

January 26, 2015 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Su Ba said...

Not to belittle anyone, but I can't get all that excited by the press' overuse of the words "historic", "of the century", "mother of all", etc. So this winter storm is packing a load of snow. So what. I spent most of my life in New Jersey and I recall for those 40 years feeding livestock in plenty of 2 foot snows. They didn't happen every month nor every winter, but they existed and weren't a big deal. We just got on with life. We were sometimes snowed in for a few days until the county got the plows on the back roads, but quite frankly, we sort of liked the peace and break from the hectic life. We were poor back then but I made sure to stock enough oatmeal, sugar, potatoes, water, and firewood to get us through any crisis. We did fine enough. Sure we sometimes had problems, like your recent frozen & busted pipe, but it wasn't the end of the world. It was just something lots of us had to learn about and deal with.

So put more wood in the stove, make a pot f coffee, and start up the music. Life can be great even during a beautiful snowstorm!

January 26, 2015 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Dana "Aurora" Johnson said...

I would love to get a record player again some day. I had a fascination with them growing up (and kept breaking the needle on the one my folks had, lol). I think it's awesome that vinyl is still in production. I would love to hear my favorite band, Stepdad, on a vinyl record. If you like nature and electronic pop with deep, meaningful lyrics and an upbeat sound, you'll love them. Here's a taste, a few personal favorites (though I recommend just listening to the music and visiting videos later):

January 26, 2015 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger Justine said...

We love vinyl in this house too! Sadly both of my record players died... kaput but someday I hope to have another to listen to all my classic beatles elvis doors and countless other albums... long live vinyl!

January 26, 2015 at 6:06 PM  
Blogger A.N King said...

Driving home from work I saw no more than a spray of snow falling from the heather grey sky. It was fine and soft, like powdered sugar but the wind rolling of the mountains was cold and promised to cut later. I play no instruments yet but your words in One Woman Farm have caused me to give my husband's old violin longing and significant gazes from across the room. I am hoping the instruction books you found for the fiddle can also be found for the violin, these two, stringed creatures being so similar.

As the cold rolls in, I listen to S.J Tucker. "Cold Sunshine" is one of my favorite of her tunes and is off her album "Sirens". I think you would really enjoy her magic and I would suggest listening to "Cheshire Kitten", "Wonders", "Come to the Labyrinth" and "Valkyrie Daughter" and "Ask me Anything."

January 26, 2015 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger sassypants said...

I love a snow day(s). We have a lot of tea between shoveling. I have a pot of soup simmering. And yes, good music and books makes a snow day great.

January 26, 2015 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger EZ said...

I moved west specifically not to have to deal with snowmageddon...

January 27, 2015 at 12:04 AM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

Interesting that yu should ask about music vs books. The only time I listen to music is in the car, and very occasionally when I'm in my studio. But for the most part, I like it quiet. LOVE to read, would not want to be without books. Paper, hold and touch and feel books. Print.

January 27, 2015 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Ginny said...

Where do you get your lamp oil, if I may ask? I'm searching for a reasonable source as we have a couple of oil lamps that I'd like to start using more here and there, and to make sure we've got good light should the power go out for a time.

January 27, 2015 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

We too are hooked on our record player. Lately, we've been listening to a two-disc set of Ella Fitzgerald singing the Cole Porter songbook over and over. It's perfect for dancing in the kitchen while cooking dinner!

January 31, 2015 at 9:24 PM  

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