Maple Syrup with additives

This is a first. Ants, bees yes. Rodents?

nameless blameless rodent frozen to death in sap bucket

tummy view of rodent still encapulated even
 once ice is removed from sap bucket

But what a way to go.


About Painting on “Trash”

metal refrigerator drawer, red plastic piece, yoga mat packaging

I received a local arts grant to undertake my proposal to paint “Free Portraits” on cast off objects. A crucial aspect of this project is the creation of a brochure that not only explains the project but convinces the general public that they want to “commission” one by placing such an object with their photo in a donation box. I will list the locations of donation boxes in the brochure.

I will be working on the layout and design of the brochure in the next week or so, and took some preliminary photos of some potential trash painting surfaces that I have collected over the last few years.

I think they look good enough to paint on!

Pikies of Pete Smith Road (Names have been changed to protect the innocent)

Kids are experts at doing things the hard way, but the funny thing is that we call it “playing”. When my kids start setting up some sort of imaginary scenario, there is no limit to what they will make, build, and organize. They draw and then print currency, they build entire huts in the woods that are still standing, they sit for hours in “shops” waiting for customers, etc. They make combing brushes.

So, speaking of doing things the hard way, I’m back to making maple syrup. It’s a little more cost effective than an exercise class as it’s free, I don’t have to drive anywhere, and I’m absorbing all that nice vitamin D while spending all that time outside. But, it sure makes me tired! It’s very involving. I wake up in the morning and look at the time and within a minute or so. my brain goes to “the sap buckets!” and then “Must get up and see if there is ice to take off.” ” Must collect sap before it starts dripping again.”

Then there are the long hours of fire-stoking and dead wood collecting…. That’s where the “pikies”* concept comes in. This time of year, you can find me struggling along the road that passes in front of my house with a big wheel barrrow overflowing with “dead wood” from the woods all up and down the road. And I’m not dressed in my “nice” coat. At age 50, it isn’t quite so easy to spend all day breaking up the longer pieces by jumping on them while holding one end. But I still try. Or I leave them for my son to deal with, as he has gotten quite devoted to helping with the fire. With our devotion to doing things the hard way, we have not of course invested a heavy duty tray for boiling the sap like the professionals use…the tall round pots continue to serve.

As long as I don’t forget that I am “finishing” the sap on the stove, it is a wonderful aroma to smell in the house…And then we make pancakes and have about the “realest” maple syrup you can have!

*” pikies” is the name given to itinerant gypsy families in the UK.

Opera: counter culture

It’s funny these days how some things are so easy to find on the internet, or rather, you’d be stupid not to “just google it”. And yet, there are still wonderful things that cannot satisfactorily be “googled”.

Case in point:
I signed my teenage son up for a field trip to Boston to see a baroque opera. The trip was to be paid for by a party interested in getting a group of homeschooled teens to be part of the audience for the event…and when I saw that chaperones were needed, I decided my son was eager to go. He actually did not object, which is teen-age-ian for “eager to go”.

The opera was “David et Jonathas”, which when googled, will come up as “H. 490, is an opera in five acts and a prologue by the French composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier, first performed at ..” and then there is the AOT’s American premiere performed on You tube, and then a listing of the Helios Opera Company’s version (which is the one I saw)…and so on. But you will not, at least as of today, get any version of the performance I saw. And the performance I saw was spine-tinglingly beautiful.

I learned the next day from our generous benefactor, that the baroque instruments are quieter and so lend themselves to the more intimate setting of a large church like we sat in that night to soak in the performance. That is a wonderful aspect to the project, I think. The project of airing a baroque opera necessitates “down-sizing” or not aiming big, which is so wonderfully counter-culture. I was really thrilled to watch all these inspired musicians (all of them younger than me I think) devoted to this counter culture project.

The story line is biblical, but certainly obscure to someone like me raised by half-hearted episcopalians who eventually became Quakers and then finally “disavowed” Quakerism to embrace atheism. I had to look the story up. David is the same one who fought Goliath and he went on doing all good things and garnering lots of favorable attention much to King Saul’s disgust. King Saul grew afraid of him because he was so popular. David of course, being a good guy, had no evil intent, but Saul, being a bad guy, becomes obsessed with the idea that David must intend harm. Meanwhile, Sauls’ son Jonathas is David’s friend, and loves him more than anything. So the opera is about Jonathas’s torn allegiance…his love for his father vs his love for his friend. And that is also one of the great notes of the story; is this a gay love story? We don’t really find out. The Helios Opera cast Jonathas as a woman, and we found out the next day that it is originally a Soprano part anyway. There is speculation (or maybe knowledge) that young boys could have played the part at one time….David was a “haite contra” I see in the Wikipedia run down of the roles. His voice was beautiful.

The role of the “chorus”, as I call it, was beautiful in this production…they all truly sang and acted the part of joyous celebration when it was called for and then sorrowful bewailing when it was called for…I just loved watching each and every one of them as they played their supporting parts…

Well, back to my life now, but I wanted to do my part to put David et Jonathas onto the net so to speak….