Monday, March 21, 2011

Pictures of an Old Fashioned Polka Dance

They came from Hadley and Chicopee. They came from Connecticut. They even came from Albany. Yup, Albany, NY.  People I don't see very much anymore mixed with locals I see more often.  They crammed into the local Polish Club until there was standing room only.  And they loved the bologna and fried onion sandwiches.  But mostly they danced.
My husband, John, and Terry, who recently brought Asian cooking to the Polish Club's Saturday lunches, came together yet again to organize the first Hard Times Polka Dance where $2 was the price of admission or bought you a bologna & fried onion sandwich.

 ♫Za dwa dolary, hey, za two bucks! ♫

And people came in no small part due to the help of several radio celebrities who let the world know about the dance.

Helen (WMUA on Sundays) came with a group of her friends.


And Billie (WMUA on Saturdays) came out of seclusion to join us.

Chef Don, John's brother, volunteered to cook for our event.

Do you think we'll have enough bologna?

Nancy & Rich manned the gate. 
Terry & Sue handled the 50/50 raffle

Mark VI never sounded better.  That's Eddie N. (without the Hawiian shirt) playing 2nd trumpet for awhile.

Steve is the leader of the band.                                              Tommy on keyboard.

John, who only a few weeks ago made the best fried rice, played the drums.

And here's my Eddie.  Did they make him audition before they brought him up on stage?

OK.  I guess he made the grade.  Here he is adding a second accordion to the mix.

 At some point even Tommy's son, John, joined in for a couple of numbers.

Speaking of party is complete without Mitch who joined the band for a couple of songs.

It was great to see Patty & Ernie and friends.

Then the line dancing started....

Debbie, one of our friends from New York, brought a bit of history with her... Eddie, Billie, and Mitch back around 1974.  Would you believe?!!!  They weren't exactly The Beatles but they were cute.

Thanks Steve.

We may have to do this again.  What are you doing NEXT March?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Water, Water Everywhere!!

There is a small sinkhole in front of my house.  It's just another indication of how much water we've gotten in the last week.  I keep reminding myself about how important water is in maintaining life as news reports keep popping up about the devastation from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Grateful that I'm not living in Japan at the moment, or even on Meridian St. in Greenfield, I  continue to work on drying out my own basement as water continued to leak in as late as yesterday morning.  We have a high water table so we get water occasionally along with many of our neighbors.

I visited Mom yesterday and brought her a new wet vac.  Fortunately her basement isn't really finished though her washer & dryer are down there. The sump pump was going off every 30 seconds and she still had pools of water here and there.  I vacuumed what I could but when I left it was still leaking in slowly.

So Hubby thinks all we need to do is sink a sump pump somewhere outside to solve our leak problems.  I prefer to bring in the professional home waterproofing people and get their opinion first.  I'm sure we need to have some cracks in the foundation patched as well.

The smell of a wet rug is not nice.  But blow dryers work pretty well.  I wish I had about 10 of them to speed up the process.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Geoffrey Houghton's "Steamfolk"

Annie “Londonderry” Cohen Kopchovsky was the first woman to ride a bicycle around the world during 1894. Little known is her later attempt to ride the length of the globe from South America to Victoria Island, Canada. Here in 1898, Annie makes her way across the east edge of the Atacama Desert on her Romalea guttata inspired custom tricycle. King Vulture Percival offers little and eats many, while primate Balthazar frequently displays ill temperaments due to the relentless sweltering days. Annie tries to convince herself "I can do anything that any man can do."

I started creating steampunk jewelry quite by accident. It was fun and creative in a different way from my traditional jewelry. I liked that I was able to expose those beautiful vintage pocket watch plates and gears and show off the skill and artistry of the past. Back then I had no idea of the enormity of the steampunk movement. Artists dedicated to this genre create whole worlds with their painted or three dimensional art where surreal characters have fantastic adventures.

Geoffrey Houghton has created a world where his "Steamfolk" live. But unlike the dark worlds of warrior machines, his is bright and colorful and are depictions of people who existed in real life.

Edward Law, 1st Earl of Ellenborough, often found time away from his political career to enjoy egg sporting. In 1827 Ellenborough partook on a Great Auk egg hunting trip in St Kilda, Scotland with his chivalrous greyhound Ponto. Back home, Ellenborough's yokemate, Jane was eager to cook the Auk eggs into a Beothuks pudding delicacy that was received with great delight at their various gala events. Jane forced an unstable relationship as Lord and Lady Ellenborough were divorced by Act of Parliament in 1830. Ellenborough died at his seat, Southam House, near Cheltenham, in December 1871, aged 81.

Geoff can occasionally be seen at art shows in the area, which is where I first met him and his characters. He is originally from Monson, MA. Having started as a watercolor artist, he discovered that illustrative style painting allowed him to express himself in more bold and colorful ways. His "whimsical characters portray a different time, technology, and outlandish fashion".

In 1876, the young aeronaut Elizabeth Ihling made two balloon ascensions at the celebration for the Centennial Fair of the Centre County Agricultural Society. Little known is her 1887 return for a repeat performance. With the help of her feathered friends, Lizzie braves a morning April chill while surveying the land around the fairgrounds prior to her departure.

Geoff Houghton's work will also be on display locally at Wall Talk Art & Design on Pleasant St. in Northampton, MA.  You can find out more about what inspires him and where more of his paintings are currently being shown on his website.

Prints can be purchased from his shop on Etsy.

If Jules Verne were writing today his work would be considered steampunk. Steampunk envisions a world of futuristic innovations created from the machines and technology of the Victorian Era when steam power was still being used. Steampunk art repurposes the old in new ways. The prose creates an alternate history through speculative fiction or fantasy. Cherie Priest, an author of steampunk fiction, refers to it as "retro futuristic."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Blue Period

Having recently bought some glass cabochons in a variety of sizes that I thought I would use for later steampunk works, I, of course, sat down to see how they would look in various watch plates I had in stock. One thing led to another and, sure enough, I created a few more designs.

Most of the glass is blue, a color that is probably my best seller. So a few new blue items wouldn't hurt. As I was putting things away I came across a box of blue apatite that just begged to be used as well.

The first of my blue period pieces was just posted this morning. More will follow.

Once again I have avoided the non-creative things on my "to do" list in favor of jewelry therapy.