Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!

Best wishes to all for a very happy and healthy New Year!

It's been a very lazy day here...i volunteered at my town's First Night celebration, got home past midnight, went to bed at 3, got up after noon...and when i finally decided to get to my stack of cards, letters, and charitable contributions, i've been held prisoner by one or the other of my sweet snuggly boy kitties.

First Night is a really nice tradition of family-friendly, alcohol-free, arts, music, and culture celebrated on New Year's Eve. My town is quite small...Main Street is about 5 blocks long...and we arrange to use bank lobbies, church social halls, the old courthouse, the Library, etc. as venues. This year we had 14 different venues, with at least two acts alternating in most of them, beginning at 7 p.m. and ending right before midnight, so everyone could gather at the steps of the Old Courthouse and light candles (the "Grand Illumination") and sing songs as the bells toll midnight.

This year i was a "site captain" which meant i made sure my site was set up correctly and then trained the first pair of volunteers who arrived to sell admissions buttons, answer questions, ask people not to bring their hot chocolate into the hall, and so on. (I was also on the volunteer committee, so had to show up at 4 p.m. to help with set up. I worked more than half a day and then had a grueling 1 3/4 hour drive home 'cause everyone in the federal government must have left at the same home just in time to change into very warm clothes, put out some dry kibble for the kitties, give them each a hug, and dash off to First Night.)

I was really lucky this year because i had very good volunteers with previous experience, so i could go and enjoy music, leaving them my cell phone number in case they needed help. The first two acts i heard were in "my" site, the Old Courthouse. The first was World Jam Club...really great music from one guitarist and two percussionists, one with a fantastic drum kit of bongos, congas, etc., and the other playing a beat box while wearing rattly things on his ankles! (Yay, i finally figured out how to embed links correcly again!) The next act was Mark Jaster,a mime who also plays the musical saw. He was funny and sweet, getting kids and some adults up from the audience to help with parts of his show. I haven't laughed so hard in a long such a quiet performance *g*.

Next i wandered over to the Odd Fellows Hall to hear James Scott,
the Loud Poetry Guy who read his own poetry and that of others with great feeling and humor. It's no surprise that the late great Shel Silverstein is one of his favorite poets. The room made itself part of the performance because it was very very cold...a furnace of some kind squatted in the room but refused to turn on, so a tiny little electric space heater had to do the job.

I had the next two shifts as a regular volunteer at the Baptist Fellowship Hall, where two solo Blues artists alternated...Buddy Parker and
Catfish Hodge, a longtime favorite of the area. The church fellowship hall where the musicians were playing was nice and warm but the table outside its doors was very very cold. It was a chilly and extremely windy night (before i left for First Night, i saw that a big limb broke from one of my maples in the front and my garden bench got blown over, breaking a leg and losing two seat slats) and the wind kept up all evening. In fact, it was so windy that we weren't able to do the Grand Illumination...the candles either wouldn't light at all or couldn't stay lit.

Attendance seemed to be down, probably because of the cold win...on milder nights, there are swarms of people walking around in the middle of Main Street. But wishes for a happy and healthy New Year to everyone!

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