Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Oriental's Ol' Front Porch Music Festival!

I've thought for a year that the one thing Oriental lacked was an annual music festival. Well .. it lacks it no more!
Last Saturday from noon 'til 4:00 was our first annual Ol' Front Porch Music Festival! And it was a good 'un! The event was named for an old country/junk/homespun-everything store that was "nerve central" in the village for many years. The building is now gone, but here's a little model of its old front porch:
Several times each week impromptu groups of musical villagers would gather on the porch and make music together -- usually country blue grass, I suppose. That style was the dominant theme of Saturday's festival.
The couple who ran the store had two daughters, Mary Clyde and Sally. Here they are!
They gathered folks around the old central hotel porch and spoke about their memories of their parents' store and the music made there.
Here's a photo from the old store. "Rent a Bike/Piano Lessons." I love it! That's my kind of store!
Okay ... on Saturday, various groups were asked to perform on the porches along Broad Street and Hodges Street in Oriental. Hundreds of folks showed up to enjoy the music, performed in half-hour gigs. We strolled along the sidewalks, drifting from one bubble of lovely music into the next one. It was a leisurely, pleasant event, and very social.
Harbor Sounds is a favorite local group. They sand on the new town hall porch.

This house had a fun group with a good-sized crowd.

Another porch down the street hosted the local ukelele band -- so fun!
Nautical Wheelers, a gift shop located in this lovely old building, had another band on their porch with spectators aplenty.
The local dentist had a duo on her porch doing great harmonies to some classic oldies.
A fiddle and a string bass ~

My friend Leigh welcomed a couple of groups to her porch.
This interesting and gifted fellow is playing an ancient Chinese instrument called an erhu. It has only two strings.
At the very end of Hodges Street, we found the last group (and a very good one) on the porch of Marsha's Cottage, a local boutique.
It was fun to watch this guy. I think he's playing a lap steel guitar.
Temperatures were HOT, and the humidity was through the roof. These listeners gathered in the shade of a magnolia tree.
A few clowns wandered around, scaring small children.
Great hotdogs and other edibles were sold for a nice, cheap price. Local restaurants put on specials that drew hungry, thirsty, weary visitors inside to their A/C.
Some porches sat empty, but I hope they'll be booming with music next year ~

Old Dr. Ragan's home is being redone and is looking fabulous. It's hard to see those doors, but they're so pretty.
This building, now empty, reminds me of the Alamo.
After walking the entire length of the music tour, Adam and I were hot and thirsty, so we stopped in the Bean. Oh My Word ... they were SLAMMED with people! I felt so sorry for the two girls working that afternoon. Usually they have a leisurely time, scooping the occasional ice cream.
Next year, hopefully the Bean will plan for the crowds. Adam got ice cream, and I had a mango smoothie.
This puppy's face says, "I've had enough of this walking!"
The first music festival was a smashing success, and I'm wondering how mammoth this will be in five years. Oriental has lots of great musicians already; this was a resource waiting to be tapped. Hopefully next year we'll have cooler weather. They plan to end the afternoon with a "big name group" down by the waterfront. Sounds like a plan!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Homeschool Friday

 On Friday we went to the beach. This is one of the advantages of homeschooling flexibility and part of why Julia loves being homeschooled. I've noted that homeschooling isn't for everyone. Then again, I can think of hardly any child who wouldn't love going to the beach on a school day.
The skies were phenomenal.
 And it was a school day, not a vacation day. She did science before we left the house, did two sections of Algebra in the car on the way, read her history assignment on the way home, and I read ten pages of Beowulf aloud in the car too. And she added a chapter from Ivanhoe that evening. A good school day!
But enough of school. This is about the beach!
 I always tell myself I will not pick up any more shells, and I never listen.
 A little watercolor, a little sand.
 It was a bit windy for painting, but I would try.
 This trip was Adam's idea. Last time he really (really) enjoyed sitting in the surf. After three hours of sitting there, being gently pounded by the ocean, his bad leg feels like its run a marathon -- a good workout.
They sat together. Every once in a while Julia would come tromping up to me and show me the treasures they'd dug from the sand beneath, once a solid piece of oil. Adam is a man who cannot ever stop learning, even if he wanted to. All of life is a private education for him, and if he's with a kid, he can't help sharing it. This is one of the reasons homeschooling works well for us.
 Probably hundreds of conversations over the years between us have begun with the words, "I just watched this documentary, and ..." from him.
I photographed broken shells on this day.
 I love their texture.
 I love how they look with the water's glisten still on them. They don't look this way after you bring them home.
 So delicate! I pick it up as if it were crystal, but it's survived pummeling from the ocean. What harm can I do it?

 I saw this and thought, "piano!"
 This shell is the universe. A gray swirl of galaxies. A vast blob of nebula. A sprinkling of stars.
 I finally decided these look like ice cream cones.
 This shell is such an orange! And if it were whole, I'm sure it would be identical to millions of others in the ocean. But its jagged brokenness, while marring its perfection, also makes it unique. Isn't that true of humans as well?
 A tiny black shell is imbedded in its end.
 Walking on sand is challenging for Adam, and he takes his cane.
Of the few humans on the beach, some were die-hard beach fans, some were skipping high school classes in thoroughly impractical bikinis, and some were fishermen.
 Julia and I were anti-fishermen. Once she felt something light glance across her shoulders -- a fishing line! (grrr -- they should be careful!) In her aggravation, she yanked hard on the line to give the fellow unsubstantiated hope. Ha! He stood up, looked alert, reeled in his line, was bemused and confused at the empty hook.
On my stroll far down the beach, I found a 5-gallon bucket with a tight lid snapped on and lots of holes drilled in the side. Upon close inspection I realized there were fish inside. Fish, dying, flapping, trapped on the beach. Where did it come from? Who would leave them to die? Why? I'm not a weird tree-hugger, but for goodness' sakes -- why catch them only to leave them to die? So I pried open the lid and tried to release the fish into the surf. They struggled. One fish I had to scoop up in a handful of sand and fling into the waves. In the end they all swam away. It was quite satisfying.
Only a certain amount of learning can be done with one's nose in a book. Books are quite valuable. But at some point we must put down the book and step out into the world to test the things we've read. I think homeschooling is rather good for this, although it can be done by any student. I love giving Julia the chance to dig in the sands of the world and find treasure.

Photos for My Mother (and Daddy)

My mother asked me to post these pictures here that my brother Mark took. They were all celebrating my daddy's 86th birthday. Happy Birthday, Daddy!!
Here's my daddy surrounded by children from Mark's and Marshall's families.
I love this photo of my daddy with my brothers: Mark, Max, and Marshall. Aren't they a handsome bunch? They all four live in West Virginia. Random strangers will occasionally approach one of my brothers and recognize him as a Robinson. It's fun to be part of a close family. We love each other very much. My brothers are precious to me.
Mother made TWO birthday cakes to feed that crowd! Both were "Mrs. Alberta Cakes" -- a rich chocolate cake (from scratch, of course) with seafoam icing and bitter chocolate drizzle on top, named for a friend we knew many years ago in Mississippi.
Mark took this picture of the moon that night (I think). It's lovely.
There you are, Mother!