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Almost a year since my last entry.  Emerging once again.  I do a lot more looking on Facebook, these days.  Every now and then, I go, hey, why not poke into LJ again.

England, thus far.

Reporting from Lincolnshire, England.  A quick blow by blow of the show so far.  The convention wound down yesterday and we began our trek north east to stay with TIm and Annie Walker for a day or two.  We arrived in England last Wednesday morning and were greeted at the airport by Lissa and off we went to her place.  We spent a relaxed kind of day settling in there and the following day we hopped the train into London.  Getting off the train at Wterloo station, we met Mary Bertke for a day od sight seeing.  We got to Madam Tousaude's and the London Eye.  Both of which are run by the Merlin enteratainment group,which happens to own the Sealife aquarium where I am employed.  Madam Tousaud's was interesting.  It was a lot of glitz and glitter and rather kistchy entertainment for the first bit.  I sort of expected that, being that I work for this company.  When you got out of the fun and excitement, you turn a corner and come face to face with a few bits of real history that were to say the least fascinating as well as a little disturbing.  You come face to face with wax molds of the heads of Marie Antoinette and Louise XVI.  Also the guillotine blade that severed the neck of Marie Antoinette.  Beyond that was a bit of the history of Madam Toussaud herself.  It seemed all very macabre.  I have passes to both places so we got on free of charge.  On the London Eye, we had a bit of fun looking down the River Thames and seeing all the famous landmarks that have been there forever.  The parliment buildings, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Charring Cross Station etc.  We also poked our heads nto the National Gallery and looked at some history preserved in art.  We sampled the local cuisine, fish and chips, bangers and mash, and then some rather nice Indian food for dinner.  Toodled around Trafalgar Square for a bit before getting on the train back to Grave's End where we helped fold programs for the upcoming convention.
The convention itself was a blast.  All in all, it was relatively small, but what a great time.  Before heading for the hotel, we made a stop and looked around the East Anglian Railway Museum, just outside of Colchester.  It is interesting to see how very different the railway equipment is in Britain.  In NA, there is a lot more distance and more rugged terrain to deal with so trains are much, MUCH larger.  They have a refurbished frieght shed, (or 'goods shed') as they call them over here.  The carrying capacity of freight cars is considerably less than what we see here.  This was one of the smaller railway museums in the country, but the work they are doing there is not to be sneezed at.  They are doing some wonderful restoration work there.
We arrived at the hotel intome for 'Cream Tea'.  This consisted of six different varieties of tea, and an "Amuse Bouche", which contained an assormtent of local crustaceans in an egg mayonaise.  Followed by scones, cakes, tarts, eclairs, and rounded out with a small trifle.  My "bouche" was quite "amused".
Then we got to the convention itself which was wonderful.  Annie and Lissa really outdid themselves in making this a wonderful time for everyone.  I our travels, we have met some of the people out of the UK and it was great to see them on their own turf.  We got to see some folks we haven't seen in a very long time.  Tim and Annie Walker, Phil and Lissa Alcock, and the ever delightful Talis Kimberly.  We also made some new friends as well.  My Tape Brother, Steve Macdonald was also attending.  We caught up on a whole lot of stuff there.  Our first concert on Saturday night was a hit.  We certainly had fun performing for them.  The following day, we did a finger picking workshop and then did our closing concert just before the UK Guest of honour, Clare Goodal, closed out the con with her wonderful stories and brought in an entire army of musicians and dancers in period Renaissance garb for a tour de force preformance.  The weekend rounded out with reluctant good-byes and then we caught a lift with Chris Malme who brought us all the way up to Loncolnshire where we are now.  More England to see before we return home on the 17th.  We will be heading up to York to see the BIG railway museum in the next day or two.

I have sinned...

It has been nine months since my last entry, and those of you who have seen the fun on face book know that a lot of stuff has been going down since then.  In my last entry, I had mentioned a nasty bout of sciatica.  It was a herniated disc for which I had surgery in September and I have been pretty good ever since.  I can walk, sit, stand up straight and I am eager to get back on my bicycle next spring.  This injuryleft me somewhat inert for far too long and I am sadly out of shape.  We did a lot of moving around in that time. Three major moves in five months.  With my back being in the shape it was I was useless.  We can't begin to tell you how grateful we are to our many friends who came out and helped us pack up and get out of what was turning into an horrific situation.  I won't go into detail here.  If I see and we both have ample time, I can tell you all about it.  We're back in the cities now and things are getting back to normal; or at least that which is normal for us.  Things are definitely looking up these days, though.  We've been scrambling to climb out of a rather nasty hole, but we're getting there.  As awful as the 2014 was, we remain optimistic for the coming year and years to come.  In the best news ever, we're looking forward to our expedition to England next month.  Overseas guests at the UK Filk convention.   https://con27ilkin.wordpress.com/  It's coming up fast.

Minicon

We had kind of a bitter-sweet weekend at Minicon.  I have been dealing with sciatic nerve issues that have been most... uncomfortable.  Sleeping is difficult, as any time I move it causes painful twinges.  Getting up in the morning is one, big, bucket of suck. Once I am up and have exercised a little, gotten the muscles warmed up and I'm on my feet for a while, it eases off some.  If my mind is on other things I forget about it completely.  There is always a bit of stiffness, but the pain is not as intense.  The last couple of mornings have not been as bad and I think I am on the mend.  I'll take that.

Back from Windycon

What a wonderful convention they run down there.  Becca had class on Thursday Night, so I rode down to Chicago with chasophonic and bonz_lizard.  We got to Becca's aunt's place and played for her over the better part of the evening.  A couple more friends of theirs came and played with us and a good time was had by all present.  Meanwhile, Becca had gotten through her class and was put on the Megabus and was enroute to Chicago upon our arrival.  The following morning, I got up and walked down to the Metra rail station to meet Becca as she was scheduled to arrive the following morning.  She was to disembark the Megabus and catch the train to her aunt's place and meet us at The Lucky Platter for breakfast.  We spent pretty much the rest of the morning playing and chatting with Becca's aunt and her new boyfriend,  (Delightful fellow, by the way,).  Friday afternoon we packed up and made our exodus over to the convention hotel.  We did the usual things, getting settled into our accommodations, getting registered, going through opening ceremonies, yada yada yada.  Then, the obligatory greetings with friends I have not seen in far too long.  Due to a medical emergency on the part of a member of Toy boat, some things got shuffled around and the round robin I was to do with Brenda was altered so Brenda had a full hour concert all to herself on Sunday morning, and I was given a full hour in the same slot for Saturday.  It was very well attended considering the short notice, and I apologize to all who found out too late that this was going on and missed me on Saturday and met with some disappointment when I was not playing on Sunday.  Brenda gave a fine performance and certainly did not disappoint.  The most memorable part of it, though was making the acquaintance of one deborah_c from the UK.  She was one of the members of the choral group who did the neatest vocal arrangement for Chocolate is a Vegetable and brought it into their repretoir.  I was tickled to hear about it and equally tickled to meet a representative of said group.  And what a talented person she is, too.  A virtuoso violinist, all-around great performer and an absolutely charming person to boot.
I also have to give cudos the the Fan GoH's for hosting some really fun parties on Friday and Saturday night.  I played some of the open filk on Saturday and got to reconnect with my old friend and filk collegue, Michael Longcore.  He's always good for for a most enjoyable chinwag.

Thank you, billroper and the rest of the cast and crew who made Windycon the marvelous time it was for us.  See you next year.

Very late

...or very early, depending on which side of the day you are on.  I haven't slept much and I'm trying to decide where I am at that point.

A New Deveolpment

Renaissance Festival tied up a couple of weeks ago, and since then I have been getting together with one of my colleagues out there once a week.  My goodness, we have been having fun!  I have been learning parts to new songs, and I am even working up and playing guitar solos on some stuff.  I have never been much of a lead player, but I believe I am turning a corner there.  I have been sitting down and listening to a lot of blues licks and learning how this is done.  We are putting together a solid repatoir and we should be stepping out soon.  Be on the look out for "Minstrels of Mischief", coming to a coffee house near you.

Sept 11th


I have been seeing a lot of posts about what happened in New York on this day in 2001. There is a wide variety of feelings on the matter from near irrational hatred to "let's leave it alone." As I was not living in the US when this happened, I have a different memory of the events from the out pouring of grief, shock, sympathy and hostility. All justifiable feelings, but I would like to share something else. All religious and political analysis aside, here's what happened on, what was then, my side of the border.

As soon as the US was aware that this was a terrorist attack, they closed down all airports in the country. The border was shut down and no one could enter or leave the US. Many US bound flights were re-routed to Canadian airports and many travelers were stranded on "foreign" soil. They couldn't go home and they had no idea when they would be able to leave. There was not enough hotel space to put up all the unexpected transient visitors on such short notice. People all over the country opened their homes to travelers who had to alter plans on a moment's notice and had no idea how to handle the situation. Their ordeals were made much easier by the locals who at least gave them a place to stay and a base of operations for as long as it took for them to make arrangements to get home. One of my favorite tales was from a couple in Nova Scotia, I believe it was, when they put up some people from Arizona. When they left, they invited their new friends to come to Arizona and stay with them for a little while. A few weeks later, they received a letter in the mail expressing heartfelt thanks AND a pair of plane tickets to Arizona with an invitation for an extended visit.

Even the most horrific events can have some good come of them. Diplomatic ties may remain fragile in some parts of the world, but we can also see where things like this bring out the best in people. There have always been close economic and diplomatic ties between Canada and the US, even though we do have our differences. I myself have many friends on both sides of the border, all of whom I treasure. Acts like the one we saw all those years ago have had far reaching effects we still feel to this day. I'd rather not see remembrance of these people doing the unthinkable and killing themselves and taking thousands with them. Let us acknowledge that and see where we can find some common ground and co-exist. As far as we know, this is the only world we have, folks. We ALL have to make the best of it. Let us all take care of each other.

Time to resurface

Every now and again, I come to realize I haven't posted or checked in with LJ in a long time.  I do most of my social media stuff on facebook, these days.  I know some of my LJ friends are not there, and I don't blame them when it comes right down to it.  I have lots to do without getting to mired in it all.  but, hello out there to those of you who haven't heard from me in a long tme.  I m here and in reasonable health.