TREVOR "The Games Man"

   TREVOR's Blog  
    JUNE 2009  

 New entries are at the bottom for better chronological reading.
Photos © Nancy F. Little 2009 unless otherwise noted.
  Professional appearances are listed in large bold.  

 Monday, June 1, 2009

   "Entertainer of the Month!"   

   Well! I was just named "Entertainer of the Month" on the Countyfairgrounds, USA website! This is just so exciting! And pretty cool, too, don't you think? Nuff said.

"Old Photos"  
   My tag sale Memorial Day weekend (see last month's blog entries) turned up two old photos. The upper one is from either 1982 or 1983 when I was Director of Camp Blairhaven in S. Duxbury MA. That's my back there. And the lower one was taken summer of 1992 when I was artist-in-residence at the Multi-Cultural Day Camp at Jackson St School in Northampton MA. (I'm not in that one.)

 Thursday, June 4, 2009

   "Back to Work at Last!"   

   Finally, after a dead spot of 38 days without a gig, I finally got to go back to work today with three shows.
   Thanks to my old friend and client since 1991 Jeanne Chenier, I started out with two shows for the Plains School Pre-School Picnic in South Hadley today: one for the morning class picnic at 10:30, and the second for the afternoon class picnic at 12:30. And I even got paid right on time today, too! Wow, but life is good!
   There were about 75-100 people at each show, spread out on the lawn near this little piece of shade I set up in. The kids were terrific and the parents were appreciative. Afterwards, a mighty lot of parents took my flyer, too, so hopefully something more will come of that.
And then, this evening, I was at the River Valley Market Ice Cream Social in Northampton MA. It was another of our very successful parking lot parties. There was a big pavilion with tables and chairs underneath, live music, a yo-yo show, hula hoops, bubbles, me, and, of course, ice cream!
   Bart's Homemade Ice Cream was there serving up their locally favorite frozen dessert ("one scoop or two?) plus the co-op's own very popular home made fudge sauce, fresh strawberries, and all the other fixings.
   Live music was handily provided by three members of the local band Swing Caravan, playing lots of bouncy up-beat, highly-contagious, can't-hold-still Django Reinhardt style gypsy music. They were simply terrific!
   During their break, our local high school yo-yo expert did a terrific non-stop show of tricks that drew frequent applause and several oooo's of wonder.
   A pile of hula hoops got a LOT of use by people of all ages. The children, of course, used them the most, but the teens and adults got involved, too. Several people were actually quite good, including the girl in the blue denim skirt in the center of the top left photo.
   There was also a bubble station with some very fancy artistically made bubble wands. They had fancy handles, and the business ends were shaped like butterflies, fairies, and the like. Not just the children, but lots of adults took a few minutes to blow bubbles throughout the evening.
    And then there I was on stilts to entertain the crowds and amuse the children. I got there a little early in order to be sure to get a parking spot near in. As soon as I had my stilts on and walked over, the first thing I noticed was a woman from a local non-profit social action group having trouble stringing her banner up over their information table. So the first thing I did was help with the tall stuff!
    After that, there were two separate crowds of kids that seemed to follow me around in shifts: one all girls (left) and the other mostly boys (below). For the next two hours, I mostly stood still, pulling various items out of my bag of tricks to amuse the kids.  What FUN!
   "Lilacs Revisited"   
   One more thing today: faithful readers may recall an entry last week at the end of May titled "Lilacs & Guitar" in which I mentioned parenthetically that a photo would magically appear the next day of the results of all the work I did to put our new lilac bush in the ground where we actually want it. Well, it's been most of a week, but I finally got that picture up. (Thanks Nancy! You're awesome!) The photo is there at that entry, too, but to save you the trouble of clicking around to see it, here it is in all it's glory.

   Now all I have to do is paint the wall so it doesn't look so hodge podge. (Which it is.)

 Friday, Jun 5, 2009

   "Tulip Trees"    

   Through the wonders of our new local plant sharing network, ChlorophyllPV, I was delighted to receive 5 baby tulip tree shoots today. These things are so little that I think they're still called "seedlings". They're sure not big enough to be called "saplings", I can tell you that!
   Tulip trees are definitely on my Top Ten Favorite Trees list. [There's a topic for a new web page!] They are one of the very few trees whose leaves don't have a central point or lobe. They flower gorgeously, and leave behind a rather unique seed pod structure. And their leaves turn yellow in the fall.
  Our  backyard used to be surrounded by trees, and I want that back. So I planted these five seedlings evenly spaced along the top of the hill on the road side. There used to be a row of hemlock trees there when I moved in over 20 years ago. And 10-20 years from now, these five tulip trees will effectively block the view of our backyard from the road. YAY!

 Saturday, June 6, 2009

   "Don's 54th Birthday. (He's old.)"    

   For my best buddy Don's birthday today, I brought his wife a present from my wife. I thought it was kinda funny in a weird sort of way. I mean, we also did manual labor and deliveries that required a truck. And I also dug up a few bushes from their borders. What's not to like about that?  
   When I learned that my lovely wife was going to be away this weekend, I made arrangements to go up to Vermont and visit Don on his birthday. We hung out together all day from when I got there early afternoon until I left around 9:00pm.
   On the way, I stopped at a tag sale near their house and bought some great cd's for his birthday. I just picked out 6 or 7 cd's that I thought were excellent. My idea was to let him pick out the ones he liked. But when I got to his house, he liked them all! In fact, he liked them so much that he pretty much made me drive him to the tag sale immediately so he could buy some more! He picked out at least another dozen! (It was a good tag sale!) 
   I learned today that I LOVE dark purple lupine. Barbara has them growing in the wild garden in front of her house. They are just soooo gorgeous. And since it's on a steep hill, they really stand out and you can tell how tall they really are!
   While I was outside poking around the garden, she got me to dig up some little baby bushes she didn't want out of her borders. (I don't know what they're called, but it will magically just suddenly appear here one day as soon as I find out.) The bushes I dug up were just little babies of the big bush she has right next to their front door. I'm going to plant these little babies in between the tulip trees I planted yesterday. Give it a few years or so and it's going to look pretty good; And give it a decade or so and it's going to look awesome!     

 Monday, June 8, 2009

   "Another Standard Guild Meeting"   
   Our usual monthly meeting of the Hats Off Performers Guild today was a little special because --- for a little while, at least --- we were all there! There's 7 of us, and we all have very unusual schedules. In fact, trying to find a date we're all available every month got to be so much of a hassle, we decided just to meet the first Monday of the month and whoever could make it could make it. 
   Let me tell you a little about each of these seven great guys from today's "check-ins": Chris Yerlig aka "Hoopoe" is a world traveller who's been to Morrocco and Spain in the past month and will be performing for a month in Virginia Beach this summer followed by 3 weeks in England! Rob Rivest has ten(10) --- count them: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 --- ten shows this week! Tim Van Egmond just returned from a tour of central East Coast states and is going to be rafting the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon with his 16-year-old grandson! Rob Peck of Zestworks is looking into how to add "auctioneer" to his resume and specifically wants to help out in this capacity with non-profit group fundraisers! John Porcino is working on a local residency and then will be gearing up to meet his daughter in Australia! And Henry Lappen aka Henry the Juggler had his son help him dye his hair red and --- even more amazingly --- is talking with his sweetie about getting married!
   What a terrific (and zany) group!
 Tuesday, June 9, 2009
   Tonight, I made a funny little page for my website that I've been thinking about since before I had a website. It relates a true story that one of Hilary Price's Rhymes With Orange cartoons exemplifies perfectly... and I told her all about it. The new page is on the More Fun Stuff menu (in the red links on the left of every page). Here's a direct link: it's called "Art Imitates Life".

 Wednesday, June 10, 2009
   "Reading Incentive Party
     a Cool Waterfall"

   The Chestnut Hill Community School's "Reading Incentive Party" in Belchertown MA was held in the school library this afternoon. There were about 60-70 4th-6th graders who had read a mighty lot of books celebrating with a little party. There were several puzzle sheets that the kids were all working on while they ate pizza and pretzels when I got there. Finished sheets were inserted into a big box for the prize drawing at the end of the event. 
   I was there early (as usual), so I got to goof around with a few of the kids who finished early while we waited for the others to be done eating. I brought one of my favorite "small group toys" [pictured right] to entertain the kids close up. They really liked it.
   Then we all went outside onto the long narrow stretch of grass behind the school library for half an hour of "The On-the-Go High-Octane Special"! We played Fishy Fishy, Lemonade, Triangle Tag, Elbow Tag, a very quick version of Everybody's It, and then our time was up. Actually, we were having so much FUN we ran over by about 15 minutes. Joanne Wellman, the librarian there, had to break in and tell me that time was up! Ooops.
   The kids all piled back into the library and sat down at the tables again for the awards and prize drawing. Joanne was giving out all the awards and prizes up front, while I went around the room giving out stickers to all the kids. There were lots of winners of various things, and then everybody got to pick a free book (it figures!) off the prize table. I was delighted by how many wonderful titles the kids had to pick from. I was also pleased to note that I'd read quite of few of them, too.
   Afterwards, driving west on Rte 9 out of Belchertown, I stopped at the Holland Glen pull-off on the north side of the road at the sharp curve in the road where it crosses Hop Brook. (You can actually pull right into this little tree sheltered parking area in the woods, so your car is completely off the road.)
   Then I put on backpack, water carrier, and sneakers and hiked the 25 minutes or so on the white blazed Metacomet-Monadnock trail to the big 20' tall Hop Brook waterfall! On the way in, there's at least a dozen smaller falls, too, ranging in size from 2 or 3 feet up to several 5-10 foot drops.
   The trail is quite steep in places and right on the edge of steep drop offs in others, so it's not a very good trip for young children (or when it's wet!), but the main waterfall at the end and all the smaller drops before it make this hike well worth it to those of us who like that sort of thing.
   The photo above is from Waterfalls of Massachusetts by Joseph Bushee Jr, a terrific guide to 55 waterfalls in the Bay State. He also has two great waterfall websites, both of which have links to them (along with a couple others) at the top of my waterfalls page A Cascade of Waterfalls!
   Since it's now very late Spring --- a low time for waterflow --- there wasn't nearly as much volume of water today as in this photo, but it was still really cool because the bulk of the water was flowing slantwise from right to left in a narrow channel across the rock face in the upper half of the photo before plunging over the main course on the far left here. That wider thinner fall just to the right of it in the photo was barely there today... just a bunch of wispy trickles like the ones at the far right. 
   I sat on a rock beside the main falls and had my dinner in the woods to the sounds of running water and lots of birds twittering. It was a delightful hour in the forest after a delightful gig today.

 Friday, June 12, 2009

   "Forsythia, Forsythia, Forsythia"  
   From 11:30-2:30 today, I dug up forsythia at a really nice lady's house in Holyoke. Then I drove north to the Forbes Library in Northampton where --- and I think this is totally appropriate, by the way --- I bought a pair of tickets to tomorrow's Forbes Library's annual garden tour completely covered with dirt from head to toe! And then, from 3:30- 5:30 I planted forsythia along the back of our backyard.
   We now have an entire hedge of forsythia that goes most of the way across. I'm very thrilled! [And unlike the one in the photo on the right, forsythia are not in bloom here right now. So the ones I got aren't yellow... they're green.)
    I LOVE CHLOROPHYLLPV! We gotten and given away so many plants and bushes through this Freecycle-style Yahoo group (including these forsythia). It's strictly for giving away and getting free plants, bushes, and trees. And not only have we exchanged some great flora through this very useful group, but we've also made some new friends, too. Yay!

 Saturday, June 13, 2009
   "Northampton Garden Tour"  

   Starting this morning around 11:00 and until 3:00 pm, my lovely wife and I went on the Friends of the Forbes Library's 16th Annual Northampton Garden Tour. It was wonderful!



 Sunday, June 14, 2009

   "East Hampton CT"  

   It's always wonderful when a past client books me again. It just feels so good inside to have the opportunity to entertain again for all these kind and cheerful people. How frequently they book me varies widely: A very select group of clients book me multiple times every year; several more than that book me once every year --- usually for the same event; even more book me every few years; some every several years or even once per decade (yes, I've been performing that long!); and every once in a while someone comes out of the woodwork who booked me once 15 or 20 years ago and wants to book me again! And every single time this happens, no matter how long it's been, I'm just absolutely thrilled that they like my work enough to want more!
   Last year, Kelly Bedard booked me  for her son's 6th birthday. This year, she booked me for 3 hours at the Memorial Elementary School's "Fun Day" in East Hampton CT. What a BLAST!
When I got there, a few folks were busy with set up.  Steve and crew from Funtastic Inflatables  were setting up a bounce house (that's the one; above left), inflatable obstacle course (above right), and a rock climbing wall... all of which were very popular throughout the event. Inside, others were setting up food tables, matchcar race tracks, and other younger children activity areas. I set up my table outside and by the time I'd gotten my stilts on, the first families were arriving.
   For the first hour, I greeted all the new arrivals and mingled with the crowds interacting with pretty much everyone, all the while letting everyone know that I was doing a show at 1:00. When that hour rolled around, quite a crowd gathered at the south end of the school's front lawn. After a mighty lot of laughter during the 35-minute show, some of the kids moved on to other things, but a group of about 20 or 30 children were very eager to play games with me. So for the rest of the second hour I taught them some active running games that have become playground classics already in my home region; games like Fishy Fish, Lemonade, and Everybody's It. Next, I pulled out my Big Red Ribbon suitcase and set up the Ribbon Dancer Factory at one end of my table, and for the final hour of the event I churned out dozens and dozens of free ribbon dancers for all the children who wanted one. What an absolutely FUN event! Pretty much everybody there had a terrific time, and virtually everyone went home happy.
   Thanks Kelly!
   On the way home, I did a far-too-brief stop in Windsor CT to see my dear darling daughter Myrrh (pictured w/ me above) at her cute little new house for a short visit as well as to drop off a long-overdue birthday present. I was really delighted to see her. She seems very happily adapting to her new marriage and new home. While I was there, she joyfully showed me her new raised bed vegetable gardens and other work they've done around the yard. (We've both been working on our yards these days.) I also got to meet some of her friends that had been there for a special party that had just ended shortly before I arrived. That was FUN, too!
 Monday, June 15, 2009

   "And Speaking of Repeat Clients..."     

    And speaking of repeat clients: Kara Upperton has booked me several times since the early 90's. I've done birthday parties for two of her children, I've performed her country club, and as of today I've entertained at the Bay Path College Pre-School picnic two years in a row!
    (Unfortunately, this may be the last time for that particular event because the college is closing the pre-school. They were going to shut it down last year, but someone managed to get it back in the budget for one more year. But anyways....)  
   Unlike last year, when the event was held in the Pre-School playyard, this time we were in the BPC Blake Student Commons dining room where I've performed there three times before. It has a very tall ceiling and a thick indoor-outdoor carpeted floor, both of which are excellent for stiltwalking.
   But first, a little tale of rain and arrival and departure. About 20 minutes before I was going to leave for this event, I got a call from someone at the pre-school saying they were moving the event indoors because it might rain. So I looked outside and sure enough, it looks a LOT like rain. I say to myself, "I'd better pack my equipment into my truck now before it starts." As I'm putting the stuff into my vehicle, it starts to lightly sprinkle. Phew! Just in time. Then it rains heavily nearly all the way there, but breaks up just one town away. So I get there, and as I'm taking the last piece of my gear out of my truck, it starts to lightly sprinkle. Whew! Just in time again! And then it rains heavily the whole time I'm performing but stops just before it's time to go... except it starts to lightly sprinkle as a stow the last of my stuff in my truck. PHEW! Just in time again again!! And then it rains heavily most of the way home, except (you guessed it!) it stops just before I get there long enough for me to unload everything and then starts to lightly sprinkle as I'm bringing the last piece into the house. WHEW! Just in time again again again!!! Unbelievable.
   So, anyways, we're in the Blake Student Commons where they have a popcorn machine churning out the white puffy stuff for everyone and a huge buffet with all sorts of good food for dinner, as well as about 100 round tables that fit 8 people each (It's a big room.) There's not many people there yet, but Kara tells me they're expecting over 200. And by my count, more than that showed up. It seemed like about 250 people were there.
    Quite a crowd of children gathered as I was setting up for the show --- I love interacting with the crowd beforehand --- so there were already at least 40 kids sitting in front of me when showtime finally rolled around. My opening call brought most of the rest of the kids and a large group of adults to the front.
   So I did The Outdoor Special indoors (because I could!), and everyone had a good time!
   After a show, I usually go around and give out stickers to all the children and my flyer to any adult who wants one. There were so many people there that it took nearly 45-minutes to get all the way around the room!
   And then it was time to leave. I was set up near the entrance so as I was packing up my equipment, families were passing right by me on their way out the door. Lots of parents were saying very nice things to me, too. One lady said, "You were great! My older daughter just turned 17, so I've been watching you perform for years, and it's been simply wonderful!"
   Thank you ma'am. I'm going to miss performing for this event.

 Wednesday, June 17, 2009

   "Virginia Lee Burton & Sweet Alice"  
    My lovely wife has been wanting to see the Virginia Lee Burton exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst MA since she first heard about it. So that smart wife of mine checked out the free pass to the ECMofPBA from the Forbes Library in Northampton and we got to go for free! It was wonderful. Not only did she write and illustrate 7 books that are all still in print today, but she illustrated a whole bunch of books by other authors, and was the founder and guiding star of the Folly Cove Designers group that made block printed textiles that were quite popular... and won awards, too! I loved this exhibit.
   Afterwards, we went across the street to Atkins Market so Nancy could get a little perk-me-up snack. 
   Then we drove from there about a half mile west on Bay Rd. to the Sweet Alice Conservation Area where we walked a new trail we've never done before.
   The beginning of the trail was so overgrown that if there weren't a sign marking it (pictured right), you wouldn't even know the trail was there.
   After crossing the field, there's another trailhead sign at the edge of the woods. The trail meanders alongside a stream, crossing it on wooden bridges here and there. It was both quiet and secluded... two things we go to the woods for.
   On the way out, when we came out of the woods, we skirted the edge of the field over to a small road track we'd seen from the parking area and walked the rest of the way back that way so we wouldn't have to walk through waist-high grass again. 
  So, despite the overgrown field at the beginning of the trail, and the copious poison ivy most of the way along it, we both really liked this trail and plan on doing it again sometime.
Friday, June 19, 2009

   "Another Quote I Just Love"  

   If you click the red "Quotes" link on the left side of the page here, you'll find just shy of 2 dozen different lists of testimonials from clients and event participants about my work. But what lots of people don't know is that if you click the "More Fun Stuff" button, there's an item in that menu called Quotes I Love that brings the quotes lists up to an even 2 dozen. It's a list of some of my all-time favorite quotes starting with my all-time favorite quote: "I can't say rhombus."
   The reason I'm telling you this is because today there's a new quote at the bottom of that 24th list from a movie I watched tonight: "The Rock" starring Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage. I've seen this film several times, and each time I tell myself that I want to remember that line because it could just be so appropriate sometimes.
   Nicholas Cage --- as Dr Stanley Goodspeed --- has just announced to his girlfriend that because of all the bad stuff in the world he basically would never want to bring any babies into the world. She has an announcement to make as well: she's pregnant. A few lines later she (understandably) asks if he meant what he said. 
   Dr. G: "I meant it at the time."
   Girlfriend: "At the time?? You said it 7-1/2 seconds ago!
   Dr. G: Well, gosh... [pause] Kind of a lot has happened since then!"  

 Saturday, June 20, 2009

   "2 Birthdays"   

   Today, I did two birthday parties. 
   First, Caterina Krusas's 5th birthday party in Worcester MA.  I did her 4th birthday last year, so it was GREAT to be back. Last year, we got rained in partway through the party. This year, it felt like it was going to rain, but it didn't. Instead, it was just so hot and muggy that most of the kids were having trouble even laughing. So this year, I guess we got "stifled" in. Inside, it was nice and cool, and the rest of the party went without a hitch. Even Caterina's older brother and his friends were having a good time! 
   Then I drove to Buckland MA for Griffin Kearney's 6th birthday party. This was one of those lots-of-adults-but-only-a-few-children kid's birthday parties. There were over 30 adults there and less than 10 kids! But do you know what? Everyone was having a good time: the kids, the adults... even the half dozen dogs that were there.
   This was also one of those not-everybody's-here-yet parties, so I ended up waiting about half an hour after I got there before starting the show. This doesn't really bother me, as long as I don't have another gig afterwards. It just means I get to entertain longer and they get more than they paid for so everybody's happy. 
   While we were waiting for the rest of the kids to arrive, those that were there had a total blast with Silly String. There were what seemed like a couple dozen cans of Silly String on hand, and in that half hour nearly all of them got used! What FUN!

 Sunday, June 21, 2009

   "Sesame on the Mount Woodstock"  

   We went to church today, primarily because it was Children's Sunday at the 1st Congregational Church of Hadley where my cousin-in-law is the preacher. Children's Sunday there is always a delight, but this particular Children's Sunday was most unusual.
   They usually do church a bit different on Children's Sunday. There's always a religious skit by the children that's full of modern references and pop culture. This year's skit was based on the Sermon on the Mount but with a Sesame Street theme running throughout the entire service and the adults dressed in casual "Woodstock" style because the religious theme was Peace!
   I doubt if I will ever attend another church service in my entire life where the organist is wearing a long dangling cloth headband and plays "Rubber Ducky" for the introit; where most of the choir and many in the congregation are wearing tie dye t-shirts and other hippy clothes; where The Count is in the pulpit periodically announcing how many of certain religious things are happening; where pictures of Jesus, a dove, a peace sign, and a pair of tanks are displayed while the church choir sings"One of These Things is Not Like the Others"; and where two grumpy old farts in the balcony disparagingly comment on the service rather loudly all the way through! 

 Tuesday, June 23, 2009
   "Lots of Good Stuff All in One Day!"  
   All sorts of good things came together today:
   1) Today is my lovely wife's last day home before a 5-day trip to the West Coast, so after she accomplished a bunch of stuff on her to-do list, I was delighted that we were able to spent the rest of the morning together. I love my wife! (She's THE BEST!) And I love spending time with her!
   2) When I checked my email just before lunch, there was a Freecycle message saying I could have the beat-up old accordion I asked for and I could come pick it up anytime today. So not too long after that, I was on a driveway in Northampton tiptoeing barefoot back to my truck through a carpet of purple mulberries on the blacktop carrying what sure seemed like a beat-up old accordion: one of the black keys was broken off and taped down on top of some white keys ("so it wouldn't get lost"); one of the white keys was sticking way up in the air where it didn't belong; there's duct tape plugging leaks in several places on the bellows; little tiny snips of duct tape are holding the front grillwork together; a snap attachment that helps hold it closed on the bottom when not in use is missing; the straps are all beat to hell, broken in numerous places and lashed back together with (get this!:) duct tape and beading wire, and are obviously about to break in other places too, one strap is actually attached to the instrument at one end with string(?!); plus the guy said that several keys didn't work. A total beater.
   But you know what? When I got home and tried it out, it wasn't really all that bad. All the buttons and keys worked just fine (even the white one sticking up in the air!); there were no grievous air leaks (I guess the duct tape works!); everything was holding together just fine; and it sounded pretty good, too!
   My lovely wife shot this brief (1:11) video of me trying it out. It's called:
TREVOR Mangling a Song on His New Mangled Old Accordion

   So after she took this little video, I looked around to see what I could use for straps. I tried a few other things first, but when I found an old pair of webbing suspenders with clips on the end that are just perfect for attaching to the appropriate hardware on the instrument body, I knew it was the right thing! I tightened the suspenders up a little bit, clipped 'em on, and sure enough: they work great! Almost as if they were made for that purpose. And, now that it has new straps, this buttonbox is really looking not bad at all. Not bad at all for free!
   3) Mid-afternoon, I got a call from a teacher in Tucson Arizona who was interested in having me fly out there and do a full-day staff training at his school! He found my website and called me to find out more.
   Now, I've done a little bit of work far and wide... but only a little bit. I don't ever even look for work beyond two hours driving distance from home, so it was a surprise to get a call from so far away. However, I'm pleased that my new website is working. And I'd be delighted to go train some teachers in Tucson as well! Hope he calls back!
   4) I hadn't gotten back to what I was doing before that call for more than two minute when the phone rang again. This time with a call from Oregon! It was my old Northampton Food Coop friend Doug Black calling from his West Coast home saying he's coming back to our little bit of paradise on earth at the end of August for a family visit of some sort and wanted to make sure I put it in my datebook so we can hang out together while he's here. I don't get to see Doug often, but I'm glad he's stayed in touch and stops by when he comes east a couple/three times each decade. Cool! 
   5)  And shortly after that, I got a call from a little closer to home: it was a man from the town recreation department in Simsbury CT --- which is just west of Hartford and only about an hour from here. The good news is that he booked me to come do one of my special two-hour Cooperative Play Staff Development Trainings with his summer camp staff. The even better news is that it's this Friday! I can really use the work... and he was delighted that I was available on such short notice, too!
   6) My lovely wife told me that my sweet cousin Emilypin is sending me a check for part of the money she still owes me from quite a few years ago when she rented a room in our house! It couldn't come at a better time!
   7) My lovely wife also told me that she took some pictures of my new raspberry patch and the new forsythia hedge I'm working on in our back yard.(Read all about the forsythia hedge at the June 12 entry just above.)
   You can't see the back row of raspberries very well in the photo below because it's down over the top of the hill a little bit, but it's still there. These babies are really starting to take! Yum. Red raspberries twice a year!
   8) Nancy also told me that she got a picture of one of the pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks that's suddenly started coming to our bird feeders. You can't really tell how gorgeous this bird is from her photo, so this is someone else's picture of the male of the species (at right):
   9) Asparagus picked this morning along with an entree of seitan, orange pepper, and select herbs and spices (+ other ingredients I don't know) cooked up in a big iron skillet, eaten on corn tostada shells along with brown rice, cut up yellow pepper, avocado, and tomatoes, plus fresh cucumber sticks on the side for dinner. YUMMMMM! My lovely with makes delicious and nutritious meals every time! 
   10) Said lovely wife has to get up with the sun tomorrow to catch the earlybird flight to Seattle, so we got to go out and sit on the porch together with the traditional pre-bedtime cups of tea  during the daylight this evening! It was great to actually be able to see each other (and the mosquitos!) as we talked for half an hour or so about our day and what's been on our minds.
   11) I got an email from a Freecycler who wants to come pick up the "7 Pieces of Old Window Glass" that have been leaning up against our kitchen porch since my huge Memorial Day Weekend tag sale a month ago. I posted it back then, but none of the people who said they wanted it actually came and picked it up.  : (  So I re-posted it yesterday and now someone who makes stained glass windows wants it. : ) Maybe this stuff will actually disappear this time!
   12) Oh yes, and I put in about an hour of practice time on my new beat-up old accordion in three 20-minute sessions throughout the day today! I'm getting better already! YAY!
 Wednesday, June 24, 2009

   "Early is for the Birds"  

   Got up at 5:55 this morning and drove my lovely wife to the airport, came home, went back to bed, and didn't wake up until after 1:00pm! I am not a morning person.  
 Friday, June 26, 2009
   "Camp Stuff-Ta-Do"  
   Tom Tyburski from the Simsbury CT Park & Rec Dept called me earlier this week (See 6/23/9 #5 above) and booked me to come in today and lead one of my 2-hour Cooperative Play Staff Development Trainings with his summer camp staff. On the workshop evaluation sheet at the end, where they were supposed to write the name of the group, one of the councillors wrote "Camp Stuff-Ta-Do". It made me laugh out loud so you get it as the title of this entry.
   So I had a little over 2 dozen 18-25-year-olds in a field at the Simsbury Farms Apple Barn in West Simsbury. As usual, I started with some ice breakers and name games, then did some circle games followed by games you can play while waiting in line. And then, just as we were about to get to the active running games, it started raining. And not just a little.
   So we had to go inside where there were six(6!) posts all over the middle of the room. NOT good for running games. But we dealt with it. The group was surprisingly careful: nobody even came close to a post collision and, in fact, nobody even bumped into someone a little too hard during any of the more active games. I'm impressed!
   Comments from their evaluation sheets include:
"A fast-paced informative workshop that would be beneficial for all ages."
"A great interactive learning tool for anyone dealing with children."
"Interactive, educational, and a whole lot of fun!"
"Brings an insight that is unparalleled."
"Most fun I ever had learning."
   Afterwards, Tom asked me if had other list of games to present because he would be happy to have me back every year to work with his staff, but would want different material each time because they often have a phenomenal 85-95% returning staff rate! (That says a whole lot about their camp!) And the answer to his question is that Yes, indeed, I have plenty of material and could easily present a completely different list every year for quite a while. In fact, the games list I used today was labeled "#5", so we know there's at least 4 others!  

   But one thing I forgot to tell this group: I wonder if any of them are aware that Simsbury is the home of "The Biggest Standing Tree in Connecticut". And it's right out in plain --- sight but because the trunk well below road level, it just seems like a bunch of branches from the road! I suspect a LOT of people who pass by it every day have no idea that it's there. I visit every time I'm in Simsbury.
   This thing is gargantuanly, humongously HUGE! It's called the Pinchot Sycamore. The trunk is over 26 feet in circumference. It's over 95 feet tall. And it's average canopy diameter is 140 feet! They estimate it to be between 200-300 years old. There's an enormous sister tree on the other side of the parking lot that would simply blow away big tree lovers everywhere if it weren't right next to big brother Pinchot!
   It's located in Pinchot Sycamore Park at the north end of Route 185 by the large metal bridge one block east of Rtes 202/10 at the top of Nob Rd. Just east of the bridge, there's a traffic light;  now I know the entrance doesn't look like much, but turn north there into the small, barely marked parking area and you will instantly see the tree in all it's glory on your left and it's sister straight ahead. 
   Oh, and one more thing: thanks to the Simsbury Women's Club, the Pinchot Sycamore is illuminated at night! Isn't that just the coolest?

 Saturday, June 27, 2009
   "QuitLinks Carnival Day III"  

   For the third year in a row, I entertained at the Reach Community Health Foundation's annual QuitLinks Carnival Day at Western Gateway Heritage State Park in North Adams MA. They are very low key about it, but the stated purpose of this small town fair is to help people quit smoking. By "very low key" I mean that they had some information available about it. There was no actual programing that encouraged people to quit, no speeches, no presentations, no preachy anything. So mostly, it was just a really FUN little family fair.
   RCHF does a pretty good job of advertising this delightful event, too. Not only did they have PSA's, posters, and other promotional stuff, but they also got every single elementary school in the northern Berkshires to send home an announcement flyer about it that strongly emphasizes all the FUN stuff that was going to happen: the freebies, the activity booths, the live entertainment, and that it was FREE! Consequently, lots and lots of families showed up and had FUN at the fair.
   Thanks to Jennifer Civello at RCHF for booking me yet another time. It was great to be back again!
 Sunday, June 28, 2009

   "Ballston Spa NY"  

   Today, I drove a little over 2 hours and performed in the state of my birth: New York. Even though the MA/NY state line is only an hour from my home and Albany is only about an hour and a half away (the same distance as Boston where I perform regularly), I rarely work in the Empire State and have done less than a dozen appearances there in my entire career. Note to self: This is something that should be addressed... and soon!
   Thanks to a referal from my friend and fellow Hats Off Performers Guild member, Henry Lappen a.k.a. Henry the Juggler, I did two shows this afternoon at the Ballston Spa FUN Day at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds in Ballston Spa NY, a small town just south of Saratoga Springs. And what a FUN day it was!
   This was a small town fair held on only a very small portion of a huge fairgrounds. In the map at right, this event only used the circled portion. The long white pavilion on the right with the arrow pointing to it is where they had a little stage and bleachers set up for performances.
   As I walked in the gates, who should I see up ahead of me in his spiralling costume, but Henry announcing to the crowds at large that his show would begin in only 5 minutes! So we chatted for a few minutes before it was time for him to start.
   In his newest show, Henry doesn't talk at all, but communicates to the audience and his volunteers by means of arrows and other street signs. It's both very clever as well as hilarious!
   I was on right after him, so I only got to watch the beginning of his show before I had to go put my stilts on and prepare for my Ballston Spa debut. 
   There was a full house for my 4:00 show; lots of laughs; good response from the audience; and pretty good acoustics, too, for an open-air pavilion. 
  My second performance was originally scheduled for 6:30 but it said "6:00" in the program so I decided it would be best if I did it the way it was listed. I wouldn't want people to show up expecting a show and not have one there for them!
   In between shows, instead of taking a break, I kept my stilts on and did an hour+ of "walk-around" for free just because I love my job! My love is their gain. While I was walking around, several adults spontaneously told me that they really enjoyed my show.
   While is was doing the walk-around, I visited all the booths and activity tables. I especially wanted to go to the Reptile Adventure booth because I'd seen lots of people with this cool "I touched a SNAKE today!" sticker, and I wanted one. I love cool stickers!
   The second show wasn't nearly as crowded as the first --- it was dinner time after all --- but there were still quite a few people in the stands and, of course, everyone had a lot of FUN, too! ("This guy is good!")
   Afterwards, when I went to thank our host --- Meg Stevens from the Ballston Spa mayor's office --- she, too, told me that everyone had enjoyed my presence and that she would be calling me again for next year. That was really good to hear. Yay!

   "She's Back!"  
   And then after a slower and therefore longer drive back and only about 20 minutes at home, I climbed back into my vehicle shortly after 10pm and drove 45 minutes south to Bradley Airport to pick up my lovely wife who was returning from her 5-day trip to Seattle.
   It was really good to see her again and be able to actually talk together in person all the way home and (because she was still on West Coast time) well into the night before she finally was too tired to stay awake.
   Welcome back, my Love. 

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