Friday, January 26, 2007

Two Halves of One Plant

A month or two ago, Mom and I each got an Amaryllis bulb. While they appeared to be separate bulbs, and were even sold in separate boxes with separate pots, we're beginning to suspect that they are, in fact, only one plant.

After planting, mine almost immediately sent a stalk shooting straight up into the air. It reached probably 20 inches in height, then opened up at the top into four equally spaced flowers radiating out from the top of the pole. One or two leaves remained at the bottom, barely poking their tips out from the bulb, not daring to go any farther.

Mom's Amaryllis just sat around for a couple weeks, then started working on the leaves. She now has several leaves almost two feet tall, and suspects it will basically just turn into an Amaryllis bush, sans flowers. Amaryllis disappointicus, we call it. She got the leaves and I got the flowers.

However, now that my plant is done flowering, the leaves are starting to grow. So maybe they just take turns, and Mom's leaves will die off in a bit, making way for some flowers. This page claims I can get mine to flower again, though I don't know if that would sabotage the poor little leaves trying to get their turn in the sun. We shall see.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Swinging Nordic* Trip

I just got plane tickets for my next trip! Miriam and I are going to Sweden and Finland this summer, June 21 - July 8. The idea started with me wanting to go to the Herräng swing dance camp, and evolved into a plan roughly as follows:
  • Arrive in Stockholm around Midsummer festival time. Weekend there.
  • Ferry to Helsinki, a couple days there.
  • Day trip out to Tallinn, Estonia.
  • Go up to Ikaalinen (near Tampere) for some of the International Accordion Festival.
  • Back to Sweden for Herräng Week 1 (of 4).
  • Back to U.S. with maybe a couple days in New York.
I'm open to any other suggestions and tips anyone has for us as well.

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* While not complicated enough to merit something like the British Isles Venn Diagram, I did learn something recently about the categorization of countries. "Scandinavian" actually only refers to Norway, Sweden and Denmark. It's "Nordic" if you also want to include Finland and Iceland.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Camp Harmony

Happy New Year! 2007 has gotten off to a much better start than 2006 did, so far. Instead of being sick at home, I was getting hugs from dozens of my closest friends with everyone singing the Camp Harmony New Years song (whatever the heck it's called). That's the way things are supposed to work. It was a bit of a culture shock going straight back to work today, after 5 days singing and dancing out in the woods, but I'm adjusting. I posted a few pictures here, mostly from New Year's Eve.

I did a lot more singing than usual this year, mostly thanks to Tom and Madge. Tom led some Barbershop workshops, which I was really interesting to try out just so I could try a baritone part (I usually have to muddle by as a bass in shape note). It was cool to sing in something that's actually in my correct range, though baritone really is kind of the alto of the male voice world, meaning it's much less fun as a part. Oh well. I really enjoyed it, regardless, and we even performed our one song (Home on the Range) at the concert on the second-to-last night. Madge had "Balkan and other exotic songs" each day right after the barbershop, and several people were in both workshops, which led to a lot of funny associations and singings of Home on the Range with a flatted second and things like that. Next year we might have to put together some sort of "Balkanshop" piece, just for fun.

On the instrumental side of musical things, I did most of my playing for the Irish and Scottish dances. The Scottish was particularly challenging because Jim was explaining to me how (American) Scottish dance musicians arrange their sets: Instead of playing two tunes four times each, you pick four tunes and play them 12342341, or three tunes 1231231. That makes it really tricky to keep track of where you are and what's coming up next, and you really have to get all the musicians on the same page ahead of time. I mostly had to lead those, since Jim and I had practiced the sets ahead of time. The other folks mostly got a warning and just jumped in when they heard tunes they knew. Luckily there were only a couple sets of those. The Irish ones were easier because all we had to do was find a few tunes most of us knew and play them as fast as reasonably possible.

Dancing-wise, we had a bit of an anomaly on the swing night. The English Country Dance counter-dance, which always happens the same night as swing, actually had more dancers than the swing dance (once Lacey, Quena and I switched over). Pity, since the swing dance is usually so fun. But it was a small camp in general this year, so numbers everywhere were off. The contra dancing was fun, too, and Quena did a lot of the calling for it. (Yay for Quena calling! Boo for less Quena dancing!)

Other fun stuff:
- Fiddle lessons with Lacey. (And she didn't even break anything on my fiddle, so I think it's her fiddle that's cursed, and not her.)
- Being on Cass's lunch crew in the kitchen again. (And donating an extra hour of kitchen duty to make strudels while singing TMBG songs.)
- Bob Reid's Kids Concert and Tween Sing-along Extravaganza (Quena's description, because of all the very grown up kids who still love to go sing with Bob.)
- Absolutely perfect camp weather. (Really, it only rained once, briefly, and while we were asleep. Amazing.)
- Quena and me turning 10. (We met at camp 10 years ago this year. Yay!)