Saturday, January 31, 2009

Eileen Ivers ~ Jan 31st

Tonight I am off to the Eileen Ivers concert! She is a fantastic fiddle player, and has been called the "Jimmy Henrix" of fiddle players. Amazing! She got her real break with Riverdance and has been touring now for several years. I have seen her perfomr about six times and never grown tired of her shows. She opened her new tour this month called Beyond The Bog Road, and I can't wait to see it! Here is a little clip from youtube on the show, the opening poem was written by her father-in-law and in fact it is him reading it. Hope you enjoy this little piece.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Anniversary Wishes

Here is a picture of me and my hub-muffin back in the spring of 1968, we were only dating about 6 months, and got married in 1971. Today is our 38th anniversary!!

How did we achive 38 years!! Well this marriage is seldom a 50-50 proposition. It is often 90-10, or 30-70, and the larger number will not always be on your side. I guess I learned to live with that. A sense of humor is a necessity, as is a willingness to say "I am sorry" and show that you mean it.

My husband and I were fortunate to be the children of parents who also stayed married a long time and that certainly works in our favor. Compromise can also be the watchword for a successful relationship (marriage or otherwise).

Having common interests sure do help! Oddly enough I have mine, he has his, and we have ours!!

Do not let this lead you to thinking it was all a bed of roses. I can assure you it was anything but! We had hard times, slammed doors, shouting matches (which happen nowadays too) and there were periods when due either to his work travel or a shared intractability, we hardly spoke to each other.

But the initial vows we made were not forgotten, and we are still committed to each other and to our marriage. (At least today!!)

Sooooooooo Happy Anniversary J&M!!! Jan 29th!!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What Is A Bodhran! Jan.25th

(These are my drums)

The bodhrán (pronounced bow-ron) is an Irish frame drum ranging from 10" to 26" in diameter, with most drums measuring 14" to 18". The sides of the drum are 3½" to 8" deep. A goatskin head is tacked to one side (although nowadays, synthetic heads are sometimes used). The other side is open ended for one hand to be placed against the inside of the drum head to control the pitch and timbre (tone). One or two crossbars, sometimes removable, may be inside the frame. Some professional modern bodhráns integrate mechanical tuning systems similar to those used on drums found in drum kits. However mine are all non-tunable so I use water when the skin gets tight and dry air if it gets floppy!

There is evidence that during the Irish rebellion o 1603 the bodhrán was used by the Irish forces as a battle drum, or that the drum provided a cadence for the pipers and warriors to keep to, as well as to announce the arrival of the army. This leads some to think that the bodhrán was derived from an old Celtic war drum.

The drum is usually played in a seated position, held vertically on the player's thigh and supported by his or her upper body and arm (usually on the left side, for a right-handed player), with the hand placed on the inside of the skin where it is able to control the tension (and therefore the pitch and timbre) by applying varying amounts of pressure and also the amount of surface area being played, with the back of the hand against the crossbar, if present. The drum is struck with the other arm (usually the right) and is played either with the bare hand or with a lathe-turned piece of wood called a "bone", "tipper", "beater". Tippers were originally fashioned from a double-ended knuckle bone, but are now commonly made from ash, holly or hickory. I play my standing most of the time so I have a small strap to hold on my shoulder.

The bodhran player does take some abuse in jokes as does the piper! Here are a few Bodhran jokes:

What's the only proper way to play a bodhrán?
With an open penknife.

What do you call a groupie who hangs around annoying session musicians?
A bodhrán player.

What is the difference between a bodhrán player and a terrorist?
Terrorists have sympathisers.
What do you call a bodhrán player with a broken wrist?
A huge improvement.

See we get NO RESPECT!! But this year our local community college actually has a bodhran class and I have signed up just for grins and a few pointers! I love playing my drums!!

This is the knot on my big drum, I drew it and colored it in, but it has run a bit in use. This is a widely recognized Celtic knot has been used in for the past two centuries a sign of special things and persons that are threefold, such as Mother, Daughter and Grandmother - Past, Present and Future -and especially the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I put three dots to represent my three daughters, the red one is for my daughter who passed away. This drum is the largest and heaviest since the frame is much heavier.

This drum I purchase on my trip to Roundstone, Ireland in 1999, the frame is birch wood, very light and it was made by extremely talented makers at Malachy Kearns, a bodhran maker for over thirty years. his wife does the designs. The design on this is a wee bit worn from playing.

My last drum I purchased on impulse, it has a really neat Celtic design and is deeper then my other drums, but I hate the feel of the skin. So I seldom play it.

Here you can see all three stacked and get some idea how deep each one it.

Here a couple of links you can go to to hear and see bodhrans players. I tried to upload to blog but it did not work!! Great to hear and see how the bodhran is played!

The Corrs - Caroline enjoying a bodhran solo

AMAZING John Joe Kelly (gosh can he play)

The Evergreen Band - Abe Doron's Bodhran Solo and duet with Gal Shahar

So I hoped you like my 101 class on Bodhrans!

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Kazoo Band ….

OK, The Kazoo Band ….How did this all begin?
During the winter of 1991/92 two “S” & “L” friends, were discussing the possibility of getting a group of people together and joining in the camaraderie of the Saint Patrick's Day celebrations, by marching in the parade. The question was "What can we all do?" “S” suggested, lets start a Kazoo Band. Being quite a Kazoo aficionado in his own right knew he could train the rest of the group. If they could get a group of at least twenty people together they would march. So the phone calls began! What did you say? You want me to do what? What are you guy's nuts? Sure sign me up!!! And practice began!!

Practice makes perfect
A common mistake in attempting to play a kazoo is to pick it up and blow through the kazoo. A trained kazooist always seems to get a kick out of the new recruit and his understandable confusion. Most people say to hum into the kazoo is correct, but others like the "do" method, saying "do" into the kazoo. Practice began once a week at local pubs, with bartenders passing out earplugs to the other patrons. But we knew we were wonderful!! We had practice once a week starting in January, our local parade is always the first Saturday in March. We all needed to learn the tunes/words to some Irish songs, so with tape player in hand “S” & “L” began.

The First Parade Day

We had 26 people show up. “L” gave each a green satin sash with BC Kazoo hand stenciled on the sash. We each received a green plastic hat, and a plastic kazoo. We were ready!! The anticipation mounted, and then step off time was upon us. We rounded the first corner not knowing what to expect of the crowd when they laid eyes upon us. We lifted our kazoos to our mouths and began to play. They loved us! People actually came up out of the crowd and asked if they could join us and march with us the following year. We were a hit, we did it!!!

Not all the group is here ... but you get some idea!

Where We Are Now
Now our group numbers in the neighborhood of one hundred and twenty kazoo players, each one a kazooist in their own right. We also have a 7 piece percussion section, consisting of base drum, snare drums, tri-toms, cymbals, and borhran. We have designed and made our own shirts, and hats and even floats! We are a self contained band!! The camaraderie of our group is infectious, each year more people request to join us and share in our celebration!!! So if you are in Bingo town near the time of the "Holy Season" St. Patrick's Day, say hello to us as we march by OR join us in the celebrations of the day!!

Our Achievements
• 1992 - Proof of Concept
• 1993 - Will it work again!
• 1994 - Added a lone drummer
• 1995 - Designed and painted our own matching sweatshirts
• 1996 - Full Percussion section added, also multi county and state participation of members. Designed a Banner and had it professionally done.
• 1997 - Designed, painted and sewed our own matching hats
• 1998 - Added a Float (which won first place for "Most Original"). Added a LOGO, designed and drawn by Johnny Hart and Jack Caprio, nationally known cartoonist for the comic strip BC and Wizard of Id. This logo now is used on our sweatshirts, and banner.
• 1999 - First Place Plaque for Group Originality
• 2000 - First Place Plaque for Best in Music
• 2001 - We had 130+ folks marching with us. We celebrated our 10 Year Anniversary Marching, we like to refer to it as a "Decade of Decadence". We were invited and marched in the Deposit Lumberjack Parade (our first paying job!)
• 2002 - First Place Plaque for Most Enthusiastic! We also marched in Deposit Lumberjack Parade
• 2003 - First Place Plaque for Best in Music Enthusiasm, also the addition of our 6 foot kazoo built by BOCES. We also marched in Deposit Lumberjack Parade
• 2004 - First Place Plaque for Best in Crowd Participation!! We also marched in Deposit Lumberjack Parade
• 2005 - First Place Plaque for Best in Enthusiam!! (yes, they spelt it wrong) This year we were also invited to march in the Syracuse St. Patrick's Day Parade March 12, 2005, we had 60 + members join us in this parade.
• 2006 - First Place for Best in Crowd Enthusiasm!! We were also invited to march in both the Utica and Syracuse St. Patrick's Day Parades, along with the Broome Bicentennial Parade. We also added a new updated banner.
• 2007 - This year we were invited to march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Also The Mayor of Binghamton came down from the reviewing stand to meet us and marched up the street with us!! Gotta love Mayor Ryan!!
• 2008 - First Place Plaque for Music Spirit in the Binghamton Parade.
• 2008 - Second Place for Best Non-High School Band in the Syracuse Parade.

Here is our Mr. and Mrs. Leprechaun

AND our Queen!! She has been our Queen for many years and we treat her with royalty!!

Here is a zoomed in shoot of our Queen, we all adore Her Royal Heiness!

Next Post is on WHAT IS A BODHRAN!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Practice Begins Tonight!!

So tonight we start our new “High Holy Season” in our town! This is our first meeting of the new year which kicks off the “season!” We celebrate the wearing of the green a little early in Bingo town. Actually we call March “St. Patrick’s Month” BUT…we must prepare!!! For the past 17 years (this year is my 18th) I have been marching in our local St. Patrick’s Day parade with my group. Our group begins practice in Jan. and practices once a week right up until parade day, which is always the first Sat. in March.

The reason we march so early in the month is we have to compete with some of the larger upstate towns to get the best pipe bands for our parade! Our parade brings in the NYPD (New York City Police Dept.), NYFD, Westchester Pipe and Drums, Scranton Black Watch, Philadelphia Drums and Pipes,just to name a few, plus our local two pipe bands.

This group are the Edward P. Memorial Pipe Band, from Binghamton, New York.

We generally have eight to ten pipe bands, plus the Philly Mummers. It is a highly celebrated event for our town, getting over “cabin fever” and hoping Spring is just around the corner.

So you ask …(I can hear you all asking …) what group do you march with?? OK are you ready! I march in the BC Celtic Kazoo Band! YES, don’t laugh, a Kazoo Band! We are a Gael Force Storm of kazooers and drummers (let us not forget our cymbal paler and Belle Babe). We have 140+ on our dues list but on parade day we usually have appox. 120 folks march. We are the biggest contingent in our parade and even on those cold parade days folks camp out to see us!!
SOOOOOOOOOO why the heck a Kazoo Band?? WHY NOT!

Our logo was created by nationally know comedy syndicated Johnny Hart who wrote the two comic strips BC and Wizard of Id. Sadly the comic world lost Johnny early last year.

Everyone can play a KAZOO!!!

We presently march with about 120 Kazooers, plus we have a full percussion section with a set of Tri-Toms, two snare drums, a base drum, a bodhran drum (that would be me), a cymbal player, and not to forget our bell babe. We march in multiple St. Patrick's day parades including Binghamton, NY, Scranton, PA, Utica, NY, Syracuse, NY and multiple small town parades.

See here is a picture ... you thought I was kidding!! (click on picture to enlarge ~ can you find me?? I am behind the car, next to the guy with the baret, in fact I am looking at him!) And yes that would be Mr. and Mrs. Lepruchun, and the babe (75 ish) riding on the back of the car is our Kazoo queen.

I did take Tin Whistle lessons, and have a chanter and took pipe lessons, and soon came to realize that I was much better suited for a Kazoo! (Actually I now play a Bodhran with our group.)

I will be posting more on our group, and my Bodhran (pronounced bow-ron) but right now I have to run to practice, we will have about 80 folks show up tonight, so I have to get there early and prepare! OH, forgot to mention, I have run this group for about eight years now, a labor of love, and it has contributed to long lasting friendships!!

Kazooers enjoying the day!!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

THE HAT!!! Jan. 21

So many of you watched the Obama inauguration yesterday. I was wondering if anyone caught Aretha Franklin's bodacious and marvelous hat!! The hat, decorated with a Swarovski crystal encrusted bow, cost $179.

Did you know even Ellen had the same hat! In an interview today she said, "That would of been so embarrassing. The next thing you know, we would have been in Us Weekly's 'Who Wore it Better?'" DeGeneres jokes. "They said this is the only one they made! I can't believe it!"

The strange thing is my daughter, son-in-law and grandson had the same hats when they were here for Christmas!! See the picture!! hmmmmmm

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Little Funny ~ Jan 18th

A very dear girfriend sent this to me,
I got such a kick out of it!!
Thought I would share!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

In Memory Of Jodi on her Birthday ~ Jan. 15th

How does a mother begin to try to explain to all who visit my blog who my daughter Jodi was, and to share with you who she grew to become. She should be here with us all enjoying the passion of life! I grieve daily for the loss of my daughter, often behind a mask of false smiles and false words "I'm doing just great." Why did she die?? What purpose is it on this planet that a parent has to bury their child? Always searching for meaning as to why this had to happen, knowing there is never going to be an answer.

You would have all liked Jodi. Her mischievous sense of humor, her love for life, her ability to touch people, her ability to conquer the obstacles in her life medical or otherwise, her strength, her independence, her compassion, her readiness to help her friends, her infectious laugh that could make you smile even when you were sad. I especially remember her human concerns and how she met individuals and made them feel significant, AND her hugs, she gave the best hugs. After she died I received a letter from a women who's husband Jodi had treated, he had since passed away, but she wrote how much one of Jodi's hugs could help him through the day. I received another letter from a friend that said, "one of Jodi's hugs could last you a week." My dearest Jodi, how I miss your laugh, your hugs, your perfume, your voice.

After Jodi died I lived at the cemetery from morning until well into the night. I would read, walk, sleep, lay on her grave, journal, and did I say howl. I howled so loud. I wrote this poem as if my living daughter was telling the story...the opening stanza I had read someplace and then I wrote the rest.

There is a sound that if you are very lucky in your life you will never hear, and luckier still if you never have a reason to make it, It’s the howling, the howling. The best actor in the world could never recreate it, For you actually have to feel it-you can not fake it, It’s the howling, the howling. I first heard it late one afternoon in July, My father told my mother Jodi had died, It was the howling, the howling. In the funeral parlor, I heard it again, Their child, lye in a casket, It’s the howling, the howling. It came again in New York, Time to say good-bye, To never see her human form again, Please god no, It’s the howling, the howling. The cemetery, blue skies turn gray, A soft rain, angels crying? Crying with our family, And I heard it again, It’s the howling, the howling. Christmas now, months later still, Las Vegas, someplace away from tradition, Trying to forget, but we can’t, I hear my mother, It’s the howling, the howling. Ten years now lost to the wind, 120 months slipped through our lives, And how many nights I can still hear it, It’s the howling, the howling. This is not a sound from your throat, It comes from the hollows of your tormented soul, May you never hear it….…..the howling, the howling.

After so many years, I do know I am healing. I do not see things in shades of gray any longer, my days are now spotted with color, not all of them but a good many of them. I do not wish to share all my "inner" grief with others, I really do not feel anyone truly knows how I personally feel. I do not want to share my grief with others also because I do not want "you" to take that piece of grief away from me, because sometimes I think that piece of grief that I still hold in my heart and soul is gone, I may begin to forget Jodi. I need that piece of grief to stay with me.

I try to understand my inner grief and give it less power to dictate my life as I have healed. I needed to own that wounded part of me. I also needed to learn to have a balance because I couldn't live in those feelings. I know Jodi would want me to be a functional person again.

Some people seem to think that grief is something that is bad, something that we need to recover from, how many people said to me, you need to get over it, let go and move on. Or they would say, I know how you feel I had a aunt die, all well meaning, but not words I chose to hear! I disagree that grief is a bad thing, It is true that grief is difficult and painful, but that does not mean that it is "bad" or that it is something that I should avoid or get through as quickly as possible. Grief is a necessary part of human life, an essential emotion. If I were to try to live without grief, my very humanity would be truncated, and my growth as moral and spiritual being would be stunted. My grief was/is essential. My grief is as much a part of love! I think if I did not grieve I would not have loved.

I feel cheated that Jodi was taken away from me so young. I was cheated out of the loss of her future, out of the dreams I wanted to see her accomplish, out of the grandchildren I will never know, the door of her future was closed and only sadness, tears, emptiness, and broken dreams remained.

Yet, I must look back and be grateful that I had Jodi in my life for 27 years. She was only granted a piece of life, I do appreciate what I am now without. I give thanks for the beautiful girl that I called my daughter, and my friend. I cherish my last time with Jodi and the memories that we made (tattoo and all). I cherish that she became my friend, besides my daughter. The beautiful, the caring, the irreplaceable Jodi, who's beauty both external and internal will never be extinguished from any of our minds.

In closing I must share this with you. Jodi loved the poem "Footprints" and when I was packing her things I came across many copies of the poem and a needlepoint that she was working. On Jodi's bed side table there was a book called "Gentle Reminders, and Daily Affirmations. I sat down on her bed and opened the book to July 22nd, the day Jodi died. This is the verse I found, "Lives of great people remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and in departing leave behind footprints on the sands of time, I want to leave footprints of love."

I think that Jodi touched all that she met in some way, and that she did truly left behind for us - "footprints of love".

Happy Birthday Jodi, and I hope you are dancing with the angels!! I will carry you in my heart forever until my last breath is silenced, then I hope to join you on what ever plane you roam on ..... love you always baby girl ...

Here are some pictures of my beautiful baby girl ...












Wednesday, January 14, 2009

COLD ~ Jan. 14th

It is soooo cold here in the Northeast that even my kitty is dressed for the cold front!! STAY WARM!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday Jan 13th ~ Don't Count Me Out Yet!

As it says in the heading ... Don't count me out yet!! It has been a very stressful two weeks, lots of OT at work and when I get home all I want is a glass of wine and my pillow! LOL So just to hold you over until I get a wee bit more time I thought I would post a few pictures I took in ireland ... you know me ... love all that is irish ... even my hubb-muffin ... OH that's right he's Polish!

This is lovely Adare,reputed to be the prettiest village in Ireland, the enchanting land of thatched and whitewashed cottages.

Onto Dingle Peninsula, where the sheep are the only road blocks and the land is some of the prettiest you will ever see!! My favorite place in the world!!

Beautiful land ...

This photo is not retouched, we came upon the old castle and the sky was amazing! You can click on Pics to zoom in as I took them with high resolution.

These pictures were taken during christmas ... look how green things still are, that is why they call Ireland the 40 shades of green!

OK This is Inch Beach, also untouched photo, exactly how it looked! Wonderful!

Another fotgotten mini-castle.

This is The Rock of Cashel, also know as Cashel of the Kings and St. Patrick's Rock. The Rock of Cashel served as the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster for several hundred years. The majority of buildings on the current site date from the 12th and 13th centuries. It is very impressive and a must see if you go to Ireland. This picture does not do it justice!

If you ever watched BallyKiss Angel on your PBS station you will remember this place, it is the town oa Avoca where they filmed the production and Fitzgeralds Pub was the main haunt!

Here is the little town

Another favorite place is the Wiclow Mts. This Glendalough, and home to a 10th century Round Tower. I was humbled by the history.

OK ONE MORE!! I KNOW I can hear you all ENOUGH ALREADY!! LOL Sometime I will do a Blog just on Dublin, these pics only give you a wee bit of what Ireland is like. I leave you at sunset on a mountain top cemetery with a full moon shinning down on us (peeking through the celtic cross.)