Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Joy

My 4 boys travel well. The hardest part of this 6 hour road trip was the strategic packing of stuff like guitars, amps, fiddle, winter wear, Christmas presents, cooking and dog. We did it. We live to tell the tale.

The old farmhouse in rural central New Brunswick is charmed, I'm sure. Florence and Warren McPhee raised 9 children there. Victoria is the youngest. Her sisters Susan and Sheila popped around, JR and Kenny made the trip too - so the house was half full. It was non-stop action; food, fun and music.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Expect Great Things

I've changed my tune.  I've warmed to the season and I'm ready to celebrate.  We leave today for chilly New Brunswick where we'll spend Christmas with various bits of our family.  We'll be with my Dad this evening and with Victoria's Mom for Christmas.  

It will be challenging and hilarious.  There is much to do so this will be quick.  Sorry, I haven't posted the rest of the "12 Jigs of Christmas".  You get the idea.  Life here is one big jam session.  Chris doesn't know it but we've bought him a ultra-cool electric ukulele complete with cutaway and pick-up.  I'll catch some video and paste it up...as time permits.

Let me leave you with a couple of pics.  The skating pics were taken at our friends' house on Sunday afternoon.  The last one is of my boys.  Chris-13, Ben-6, Sam-8, Jon-11.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!  Expect Great Things!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Infection

The Christmas "infection" has not set in. I've been to a dozen Christmas concerts, dinners and parties. I've sampled shortbreads, fudge and all manner of sugar cookies.  Despite playing through those Christmas ditties with the boys...I confess to being a fraud.  I am not officially in the mood for Christmas.  

I don't mean to sound all scroog-ie.  I do enjoy celebrating the birth of Christ, the music and fun of it all.  Honest.

I'll be on vacation later today. Three delightful weeks at home with the RunningWife may coax me out of the Christmas coma.  Actually, we'll be traveling home to New Brunswick to be with Victoria's mom, who I believe is 86 now.  She's still at home on the farm.  A few bits of her family will be gathering and I am looking forward to visiting with them.  The kids are excited too!  Even Ella will go with us. Here's a pic of V with Florence. She stayed with us last Christmas. 

I've been playing with my new work camera; Canon Rebel XSI/450D.  It's on steroids at 12.2 mega pixels.  For my application, I'll be using the standard kit lens 18-55 mm zoom 1:3.5 - 5.6 Image Stabilizing lens most of the time.  I've also got a 75-300 mm 1:4-5.6 zoom which is what I used for these non-flash pics. First, here is our family friend Zech (L) and Jonny (R). They were swirling flags around during a Christmas Concert at the church.

Here's another pic. That's Jonathan at the top of the shot.

Crazy cool camera.  I'm looking forward to getting outside with it.

Running is okay.  I'll be glad to focus a bit more in January when the buzz of Christmas has wrapped up.  Yeah, I'm supposed to be in week 3 but I've taken a few shortcuts and snoozes and missed a bunch of runs.  The weather has been wacky too.  I'm all about grace.  

See you next time!

Monday, December 8, 2008

12 Jigs of Christmas #3

Chris and Jon are home from school today due to some nasty weather. It poured buckets yesterday and then froze pretty hard overnight. Too much ice for the school busses to safely make the rounds. It's just as well. The boys are pretty beat after the weekend.

And, due to the nastiness outside, I opted to forego my scheduled 8K. I may get it in later today depending on roads. I've learned not to sweat the weather. No sense in that.

Allow me to serve up the 3rd installment in the 12 Jigs of Christmas. I've had this one in the can for a few days. The airy jazz-infused "Autumn Leaves" into "Let it Snow" medley. Again, the hats are a mere statement of fashion...nothing more!

Hope you like.

Friday, December 5, 2008

12 Jigs of Christmas #2

Week 1 of marathon training is in the bank and I feel great. At this point I'm looking to keep it fluid and steady. I always find that 'speed' has a way of coming along on its own so I tend not to focus on it. It'll come. I'm wearing my old faithful Timex Ironman watch and running the chrono but not keeping track of time.

To the business of the "12 Jigs of Christmas". I've embedded Number 2 in the series. This plays out in our home right after breakfast. The kids push the envelope today and end up 10 minutes late for school! They didn't want to wrap it. Aren't we a charming and fun bunch.

And, here's a bit of insight for you. In larger group sessions like kitchen parties when a dozen or so musicians are involved and underway, someone will often holler out a tune they want to hear. The group will slide right into it as if the set list was laid out weeks in advance. It is amazing to watch them transition from one melody to another - smooth as silk. This kind of thing often brings Victoria to yelping and stomping. I love her just the same.

I managed to upload the whole clip to Facebook, but YouTube balked at the length of the original clip so I've hacked it in half. I need to hone my editing skills. So, that's why there is Part A and Part B. Anyhow, what you don't see before Part A begins is Chris peeling off his hoodie and Ella (dog) immediately plopping down on it. We're all roasting beside woodstove in the den. And the the hats? Purely a fashion statement.

Get a coffee, this will carry on for about 14 minutes. I told Chris (guitar) and Jon (fiddle) that we need to save enough material to cover all 12 vid's. Their combined response: "Dad, we know a thousand songs". Ah, the confidence of youth.

Again, welcome and enjoy. The other boys, Sam and Ben will join us soon for something special. Come again. Take care.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

12 Jigs of Christmas

I'm off and running. Marathon training is nicely underway. Everything feels good so far and I'll soon have more to say about that.

You may know that my home is full of music. It is non-stop music from morning to night - whether it's Sammy hammering the piano, Chris and Jon dawdling on any number of instruments or the CD player rattling the kitchen walls, there is always something playing in the background or foreground. I love it.

Chris and Jon played a set of Christmas tunes last weekend at the Waldorf School Christmas Fair. To prepare for the 1 hour set, the guys selected a few favourites and put them together as medleys. I love that they work out their own arrangements - really make the tunes their own. Yes friend, music is not necessarily a bunch of black dots on a page. It's an interpretive dance of sorts.

What' cool is that Chris & Jonny asked me to upload and share a few of these handmade medleys with you. So, I am pleased to offer "The 12 Jigs of Christmas". That's right, there will be 11 more of these gems leading up to Christmas Day.

This is like having you in for coffee. We're set up in the den around the woodstove. Ben and Sam are noodling around with toys, the dog is barking at the guinea pig, there's stuff everywhere. This is real life. Welcome to it.

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