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In these mid-winter days

February 10, 2014 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

Well,  even for a winter lover like me…  I can honestly say – there certainly seems to be many beautiful snowy mornings to wake up to this winter!   I still love the grey, heavy, snow filled sky… hovering overhead… and the bare branches – etched against the dim morning sky…

snowy mornings

 

And although it definitely dampens my beloved cycling  hours – & completely nixes my road bike big time… and daunts Mt biking a bit –  I still love Winter!  The colors, the sounds & how the crisp air smells like evergreens and holds my frosty breath in white puffs…   There’s nothing more beautiful than the subtly of all the tones of gray… and how the whites – seem tinged with shades of blue and purple…  and how intensely vibrant the winter birds are in their plumage…  I love to watch the birds… hungrily flock around the feeder each day.

So… of course… cycling – being out of the question – I must find ways to get outside… & discovered the quad comes into play quite nicely – & brings the deep woods filled with beauty right up close – and I enjoy the long, beautiful rides on the trails out back…

quad in woodsdog sled

Now… How cool is THIS?  A woman with a dog sled!?  In NJ?  I’ve gotta say –  I love New Jersey!  We’ve got ocean beaches,  lakes,  rivers, bays,  mountains,  flat lands,  pine lands,  forests,  x-country & downhill skiing,  camping,  kayaking, waterfalls,  hiking and tons of trails for horses…  And all of this – a short distance away from everything!

A snowy hike is always good… and I do LOVE being outside!   I long ago discovered – with the right gear – lots of light layers and good socks & boots – (and a hot mug of coffee)…  I’m good to go!

snowy hike xcountry ski

 

But I guess I’m a bit brave about Winter… humm…  spoiled actually…  as I know, when I get back from my outside fun… that waiting for me – is my fiddle & a bow – a sweet mandolin  a bodhran – and sometimes – even an uilleann piper!

mando bodhran fiddle

GADS!  and dare I forget… always waiting – is the ever present, ever purring… always lounging by the fire… the total portrait of  a perfect “HOUSE cat”… warm, fat, well fed – and ready to curl up in any lap that’s available!  my boy – BINX!

fire companion

And of course… the winter wouldn’t be complete… without lots of good cooking…  Had lots of mid-winter gatherings with lots of good food, music, friends & family…  and my Mom can whip up the BEST Yorkshire pudding in the world!  Mmm!

mom cooking

Sooo….  good food, wine, lively tunes, friends & family, a warm blazing fires… and many charming companions – of all sorts have made the Winter…so good…  and I love it.

So… I will fiddle away within the remaining weeks of Winter… and learn to be quite content in it.

playin' fiddle

And even now – as I write this… a Winter storm is blanketing us – yet again – in another blanket of quiet white…     I enjoy the calm, quieting  ”shhhhh”  - that Winter seems to whisper…  as He slows the hectic pace of the world down, yet again,   and makes everything and everyone – once again – becomes still…

Enjoy folks… look for the beauty in the day, & do the best you can do.  Nothing we can do about the weather… but make the best of it!  Stay warm & be safe!  xoxo Jennifer

JM

 

 

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In the darkening skies of Christmas Eve…

December 24, 2013 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

In the quietness of Christmas eve…  as the day dims to a close…  and the Winter Solstice… is still hanging thick, dark… and enveloping us in the cold, winter air… in these moments… I can’t help but reflect on the year’s events…

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The awful storm Sandy, and what she left us in – and out of…  ahh, but then – the Spring  came anyway…  and with it, the wonderful, beautiful gardens that sprang… once again from the earth… leading us boldly into the beautiful, languid days of summer.  Days filled with the rich fragrance of bountiful flowers, warm earth,  mossy trails,  and of course,  the plentiful veggies – that were gifted from Earth’s garden…  (and my somewhat artfully disheveled –  ”Garden of Weedin’ as I like to call it…)

Weedin

Then Oohhh… there comes the breezy… star lit nights, and all the wonderful days… in the long weekends of camping – under the blue, velvet nights…  when the fires crackled… and the sparks from the flames – traveled up towards the sky… until the sparks – blended with the twinkling stars…  and became one…  oh,  it was beautiful.fire

Almost as beautiful – as the morning of the Summer Solstice… when the sun rose on my little camp… beaming through the trees, on a beautiful, summer dawn.

Then, the cool fingers of Fall crept in and encircled us…  and yet… the camp fires continued to burn brightly in the cooling, Autumn nights…    I can say,   all in all… it’s been a very good,  joyful,  (albeit complex at times – of course) plentiful year.

Things changed,  and things improved – in so many areas of life this year…  and though I tend to buck change…  I have grown weary of doing so…  and have decided to just embrace change…  for it is  -always- there… and things are always changing…

I remind myself – that there has been, through everything this year, the blessings of good health, strength, fitness,  and happiness…   And so now I find myself – drifting gently down….   like a downy feather,  moving, sweeping gently in the wind…  coming to rest… on… the Eve… of  Christmas…  and it makes me feel, strangely…  rarely,  still.

tree

Tomorrow…  for us Christians… is the holy ‘Night of nights’… the night that…  if I choose to feel it  - I can  move…  much closer to God,  than I do at all other times – during the year…    Idk…  maybe it’s just me,  but I think this is one of those nights when…  maybe God… is a little bit more gentle…. more thoughtful, more open – to patiently listening to the silent, murmured prayers I offer up… and maybe – more than any other night in the long year –  he perhaps… understands me better…

I guess what I’m saying is…  I know I’m not the most reverent person  - and probably make God raise a questioning eyebrow a bit more than most do – now and again…  And I think… he probably BROKE the  ”Jennifer”  mold… deliberately - after I came along…   always shaking His head in dismay… or holding His head in His hands, listening to me with dread…   But I think that maybe – on Christmas… it’s a little bit better, and maybe I have a better chance at saying to Him…  what I need to,  what I want to.      And that is…    Thank you.

Well… anyway my dear friends…  I’m just wishing you, a Merry Christmas…  May God grant you… peace, joy and health…  and music… Ohhh… lots and lots – of wonderful music!   Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year to come!

P.S.   Here’s my puppy… “Sligo”… a Border Collie…  and although he wasn’t thrilled about wearing this Santa hat…   he did it for me…  because I asked him to,   and he loves me!   :)

sligo baby

 

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Kirby’s Mill Apple Festival!

October 4, 2013 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

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Hi Friends!!!

If you haven’t noted it yet on your calendar… NEXT Saturday, October 12th, is the 35th Annual – Kirby’s Mill Apple Festival!!!   It’s a free event for the public, and a day filled with Apple EVERYTHING!  Great vendors, good food, and ahemmmm…  If I must say so myself… great music!!

Here’s the link for directions, and more info if you need it: http://www.medfordhistory.org/apf/apf.html

barn

We’ll be at our regular spot, in the main barn – at the center of Kirby’s Mill festivities…  Directly across from the actual Mill & pond.   We’re playing from 11 am – to 3 pm and will have all our cd’s and merchandise for sale as well!

Merchandise

Here’s the crew from years past, selling our t-shirts, cd’s, AWESOME tote bags and cami’s!  So… come on by – and say hi!

mill

Best part is…  It’s a FREE afternoon of awesome family fun, and all sorts of interesting things to see & do!   And the weather’s suppose to be beautiful!  Hope to see you there!

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My music… my life… so far…

August 12, 2013 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

My life… has been brimming to overflowing – with music…  whether it’s playing, listening, teaching, thinking about – even talking about – music.   I’ve spent my entire life, surrounded by people who are filled with music…  and I honestly don’t remember a single day – from the earliest years of my awareness…  when there wasn’t – music.

My beloved grandfather played totally by ear, and he could thump out a bass part,  play piano and guitar – and he sang… ohhh, I can still hear his voice in my head… Here he is as a young man, with his car & guitar…

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My grandmother, knowing my Grandad’s  great love for music,   surprised him with a beautiful – Les Paul guitar shortly after they were married.  He played it as long as I can remember… and he gave it to me, shortly before he died.     Sadly,  it was lost in our house fire.

I have so many wonderful memories of my Grandad…   Here’s a pic of us,  taken from an old clip… singing one of his favorite old songs   “You Made me Love You”    made popular by Al Jolson in 1946…

I love the way he’s looking at me and laughing in this pic…  We would harmonize together and do the old time   “do-doo-do-doooo”  back up’s…       It’s goofy,  I know,  but…  I truly loved it.

PopPop Jennif 2

My grandparents had a baby grand piano… and when I was tall enough to reach the keys… I loved to touch the keys…  and when my Grandad or my Aunt Karen, would pass through the room,  they’d always play a tune or a song,  and sing…   They’d send notes drifting into the air…  and I’d come running – to be there… to watch… and listen…

Now that I think of it… the only one who didn’t  actually PLAY music… was our Nanny.   But she was talented in her own way…  She was a wild hearted, artist… working not with notes or an instrument…  but molding things with her hands from clay;  making things in her kiln; and her oil paints of so many colors & shades, an easel, a canvas and a whole bunch of pictures that would give her ideas and inspiration, all thumb-tacked   up on the wall… wow…  I can still smell the linseed oil in her studio… ohhh… those are sights and smells – I will never forget.

When my Aunt Karen taught me to play chords on the Baratone Uke,  I would play & sing old Pete Seeger folk songs… & she let me take it with me when we moved to Colorado –  and that’s where I discovered –  & fell in love – with the mountain dulcimer.

While hiking  one weekend, my parents & I came upon an old general store, and a bunch of old guys…  all musicians… sitting around a big wood stove – playing music.  Someone had a mountain dulcimer across his lap.   I was enchanted…  He let me try it!!!    I loved it.    That following Christmas, my father – actually MADE me one.    He finished the dulcimer, then, recorded himself playing  ”Silent Night” on the old, reel to reel tape player.    When I woke up Christmas morning… I heard the music…  and ran out to see…  and the dulcimer was there under the tree…   and the air was filled with the smell of Christmas pine…. & dulcimer music…   It was awesome.     I was 9 that Christmas…      I’m 39 (and holding) –  and I still get a thrill in my heart… when I play dulcimer…

 

Here – below – is my newest addition to our instrument family –  A Concert Grand model – which is absolutely heaven to play.  Custom made by Dwain Wilder.  http://www.bearmeadow.com

dulcimer JM

I remember I wanted to play so badly… I learned to use the old noter (ew)  and I had a Jean Richie song book,  and I’d play them, figuring it out… practicing every day.   No one I knew, played dulcimer, or even KNEW what one was…  I had no one to ask… or talk to… but I just figured out what the sounds were – that would make the songs I wanted to play – work.

And every night, for many years…  I remember saying my prayers…  and I’d always end them with…

“…and please let me learn to play the dulcimer better – when I grow up.   Amen”

I didn’t ask for much…  but I did ask God  -  for that.

JenniferCello  kid

Soon,  my school got an awesome music program,  and I wanted to play the Cello…  They gave me one to use for free, and thus began  my musical  journey into the classical area of music…  I was 10 years old.

Years… no, decades later…  somewhere along the line…  I left the classical world.  I was there for a long, long time, but felt that it just became too restrictive,  and TOTALLY not expressive enough – for what I wanted from music…   For music – I THINK – should be what your feelings actually SOUND like.  I jumped over to the fiddle… smaller, and easier to fit into the car!

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So the fiddle fits, and it’s my wild passion…  But I still think classical education – is a very good, important thing for kids to have in one’s life…    Proof being – my babies all play music, and all have (or are still) in the joyful journey – of the classical & musical world…

Here’s Em & I… playing music in the woods this past summer while we were camping;  my Abbie, is first chair cellist in her local orchestra,  and my boy – Phili… lol… he’s a crazy, rockin’ – upright bass player!

pic stitch

My Mom – Somehow I skipped from Grandparents to my kids…  but Mom… she wasn’t exempt from the family music that more than coursed through our veins… and we’ve spent years now, going to music festivals up and down the East coast together;  and playing & learning tunes.  Her cook book holder has abandoned the kitchen… and she uses it for holding up her music books…   Mom’s Queen of invention!!!     When Mom’s not actually -playing music… she’s  humming!  So even while doing a chore… like cleaning the kitchen, or working in her garden… there’s still the hint of music, drifting in the air!  We just took a camping trip this past weekend, and here we are playing music by the water…

Mom & I dulcimers 12.22.06 PM

Music branches to more than just family…  I’ve somehow become surrounded by amazing friends who are brimming with music too.  I’m not even gonna GO into my fiddle students and how many awesome, talented people I have come through my door every week – for lessons!)

Tom, Phil Mitch & John mix

I of course, can’t forget the boys in the band either, and our great gig each week at the Green!

I’ve been blessed beyond measure – with all the music, and all these wonderful friends who bring music and joy into my life…  and I KNOW…. though my best friend – Marni – who’s been my horse back / trail riding partner for more than 20 years…  would surely protest, saying she doesn’t play ANY music – except for the radio…  I say… hoof beats… ARE – a musical instrument!!!

girlsThe Boys

 

AND…….. Last… but not least… is Phil.    Somewhere along the long journey of this musical exploration… Philip has not only COME to the world of playing musical instruments, but he’s developed into quite an accomplished musician.  My Mom gave him a bodhran for Christmas, and thus began his intense infatuation with music….    He’s become not only accomplished with the uilleann pipes,  but plays a lovely whistle,  bodhran & bones… and flute.

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His endless thirst for tunes and his ability to combine various melodies into interesting sets – is always inspiring and exciting…  and I think the only thing he’s met with…  ’not so much eagerness’…   is when he tries to sing…  and that’s…   all I’ll say about that…    but I will say,  he’s very good humored about the ribbing he gets for his efforts!   :)

But I guess… I’ll wrap this up with a great quote from Ludwig van Beethoven…  ”Music is the mediator – between the spiritual and the sensual life…”    no wonder music can make you come alive!  Way to go Ludwig!!!

I’m curious to see, where this fasinating, musical journey… will take me next…   stay tuned and we shall see…

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Mulberry time, from the viewful, tower window…

June 11, 2013 - Author: Jennifer Mylod

Well… the view from my beloved studio window is probably one of the most expressive views I know… for today… the ripening mulberries are heavy and thick… rosing the branches with their varying shades of ruby colored brilliance.  (there’s a song in this somewhere)…  but for now, I’m just enjoying the view.

The honeysuckle scented breeze – is gently rocking the ladened branches, and they’ll droop from the unexpected alightment of a hungry, rogue bird…  be it a Robin,  a Wren, a Cedar Wax Wing or what-not… the Flickers and their unmistakable call… frequent the tree as well… their voice, ringing into my room through the screened window.    But the leaves & branches look stunning when the sun  brightens the various shades of green in a brilliant sunburst,  and the ripening berries almost seem to glisten – although I know this is way too high for them to catch the morning dew.   And even when the sun – skirts behind a cloud… the dark hues come even more richly out…  for not even the shadows – can dim an angle of this brilliance…

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My dear kitty… lounges languidly… doing his double duty in both keeping me company up here,  and enjoying the activity from his lofty perch… watching the birds flit about – as they come and go – his sharp eyes not missing anything…  but his soft, round belly keeps him from wanting to actually pursue any of this activity… haha…  for he is the definition – of a VERY content,  rather – um… fat house cat… who has nothing more to do, but anticipate his dinner, play with toys,  and be his charming, saucy self, and purr, curling up on a lap…and allowing himself to be pet, cuddled & held… oh yes… and chase down an occasional cricket that has the misfortune to alight itself – in the sunroom…

But… alas… I am too easily distracted by these things that fascinate me… and so – I traverse back to this diatribe I began – about my window on the world – as I know it…

In other seasons, my window  is equally as expressive and enjoyable…  when the golden, ambers, oranges and rich shades of Autumn lay in jeweled tones – just beyond my touch,  a full three flights up – this window is…  in the top most part, of the castle…  where,  in Winter…  the branches gently cradle the snow…  looking like someone’s dusted the world in powdered sugar…  and oh how I love when it’s glistening like diamonds… and a frost covered world… is shimmering in ice… which heartily reinforces the comfort & warmth of my woodstove… and the heat it most cheerfully emanates.

window

So it’s here in this tower… I play my fiddle; and it’s here I write my songs; and it’s here -I think my endless thoughts… that roll, tumble and weave into poems and songs and verse… and it is here – where my melodies are borne…  while peering at the world, through this glass…

winter window

For this is a window – of many, changing views, moods, and feelings…  for oft’ times… on a deep, winter day when the trees are cold, dark and brittle…  I can see the cross… from the spire of a distant church…  IF the air is clear.    I can see it – held above the bare, etched branches that look like black lace – against the sky.

This – is what I hold… this is what I see…  this is what I perceive – in my eyes…  up here from my castle tower… where it’s very quiet…  save for the lilting tune of the fiddle, guitar or dulcimer, or a noisy Flicker bird…  and so this is the place – where I hold onto my solitude…

I imagine… in my wildest dreamings… that this possibly – perhaps – is maybe a small glimpse – of how an Angel – would view this very small part of this world…   I am grateful for this glimpse…  and believe it’s another beautiful gift…    To be given a glimpse such as this… and to not only see, but become aware of this gift of beauty… especially in a world such as it is…

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