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Cooking Up a Fancy New Year 2023

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This year we rang in the New Year with delicious food and an intimate two person party.

Nine hour Burgundy Mushrooms are absolutely delicious!  But they do really take nine hours.  Six hours of simmering with a lid on and three more with the lid off.  The new Mauviel christmas pot (my best present by far) was perfect for the job.

We also roasted a chicken and veggies in the new pink pot using one of Romey’s recipes.  Likewise delicious.

This was “first dinner.”  The coup de grace was still to come.

Mr Skaggs paid a visit while the cooking proceeded and we had a couple of Seelbach cocktails (take care of the time warp!).  We’re pretty sure that’s why we accidentally fell asleep before midnight.  LOL.

This was a fancy pants Seelbach iteration with veuve clicquot champagne and blanton’s bourbon.  Absolutely fantastic.

 

 

And then it was time to cook up blinis for the caviar. We went to the “gold plated groceries” store for the fixins.  Crème fraîche for the win.  So delicious.

Incidentally, these were fried to perfection in another new pan.

This special meal called for a vintage bottle of pink veuve clicqot.

We attempted to watch Fight Club (which I had never seen) , but we fell asleep just before the end (and just before midnight).  We blame the Seelbachs.

The leftover champagne and blinis made a great first breakfast of 2023.

Happy New Year to all.

Winter Solstice 2022: Warm Friends on a Cold Night

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It all started at 3pm for me (with the perfunctory “lighting of the barrel”).  Just making sure there was a heat source for people who arrived before the big bonfire lighting.

The sky was gorgeous.

And soon there were solstice attendees and tiki torches.

We lit the fire shortly after 5pm when it finally got dark enough.  There were LOTS of people here for the lighting.  It was a good one.

 

The fire had a huge core (that is still burning late the next day).

Meanwhile up at the barn there was terrible Christmas music, lots of food, and a great sense of camaraderie.

The homemade eggnog (recipe here) made things a little blurry.  Delicious.

The space between the barn and the bonfire is always magical.  This year, the lasers were particularly remarkable.

And the highlight of the evening for me.  Music with Clark and Gina.  Yes please.  This is how we turn the sun.

We wrapped things up around midnight with the last of the hearty attendees, leaving a large pack of 20 somethings to deal with the skunk!

Moonshine loved it.

And he says, now that everything is cleaned up, lets do it again!

Thanks to all who came.  Magical.

Music in Madison with Ritt and Wilder

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We had so much fun playing for the Hinge release in Virginia and in North Carolina that we did it again!

First things first, though, the violin must be transformed into tip top shape.  Thank goodness Josh Henry, my esteemed bow guy, also doubles as a violin guy.

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And then we were ready for some action!

Sound check in the street.

Load in and a fabulous bar.  Real drinks and intimate music.  Yes please.

The opener.

Ritt and Wilder pre-fiddle.

It was pretty fun watching, but way more fun playing!

We rocked the house.

And the best part other than performing?  Visiting the Wilder Dietz School of Music!  Walking for hours in Madison (one of the prettiest university towns in the US).  Spending quality time with the extended family of Ritt and Vic.

Monarch Crysalys

My seatmate on the way home was a dog.

Lets do it all again!

Get Hinge here.

 

Porchfest in Bridgeport

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Lets play music in Connecticut.  The Greyhounds welcome you to the house.

But first a dip in the pool.

And then it’s off to the porch.

George, gig one of three…

Sound check

And then another dip in another pool, between gigs.

Gig the next.

All we’re missing is the drummer.  George, gig three…

 

 

Summer Solstice 2022

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We’ll start in the middle, with a video of the lighting of the summer solstice bonfire of 2022.  The weather was absolutely perfect and the crowd friendly and warm.  Every year the size of the fire seems to come as a surprise.

This year the weather was so cool that a dip in the river was not in the cards.

Rewinding a day, Aubrey provided another great iteration of the smoked salmon Messerhead feast helping to set the FOOD stage.  Speaking of FOOD, Chef Michael was down from Chicago with Astro.  That means we were spoiled rotten on the food front for days on end.

Salmon feast table

Any solstice that starts with caviar is destined for greatness.

Before.

Prepping for late night tacos

It seems that Chef Michael can’t cook for less than 700.  But that’s OK.  We just need to make the solstice party seven times bigger.  Pork shoulder in the firepit by the shrine.

We had a mid-day break to tour Eli’s fantastic art show at the Barns of Rose Hill.  The show continues through July 2nd.

Then it was time for the pre-game Negroni.

And we were officially underway.  Esther and Cora presided over the opening.

The sufferin bastard made an appearance

After an outstanding potluck feast, replete with fresh flowers, it was time for one quick song (thanks guitar week fellers) and FIRE.

By far the cutest thing at this solstice iteration was the jumping of the gun by Brantley the marshmallow boy.  The fire was still a bit young.  But that did not deter Brantley.


The fire burned for two days.  In fact, it is still smoking as I write this.

Thank goodness for Alec, David, and Gina.  We had a few hours of music by the bonfire.

Rumor has it that absinthe hour stretched from 3am-6am.

The next day happened fast.

Morning after breakfast

The chef outdid himself three times.

Party cleanup was a breeze with Aubrey in charge.  The weather cooperated the entire weekend.

What is left of this fire?

 

Are there coals down there?

 

Fresh veggies from the Berryville farmer’s market (thanks to Chilly Hollow Farm)

While the

veggies roast, we hang by the fire.

Donkey Hodie says “sup homey?”

Astro has the best home

 

The garden

 

Roast veggies

 

OMG more food

Even moonshine is in a food coma.

What do you do with recd currants?

You make a fresh tart.  Then mezcal straight from Mexico City?!  Yup.

Morning never arrived for some of the mezcal participants.

And then a visit from Iulie.

Fin.

 

“Post-pandemic” Solstice Fire 2021

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The weather was iffy with heavy rain to come.  But the night started out beautifully enough as the tiki torches were lit.  And we were off on the experimental solstice fire on xmas edition.

 

The afternoon was balmy at 65 degrees

Who ordered this crazy weather?  This has to be the warmest winter solstice on record.

The scene

 

Tikis wink on

The highlight of this year’s fire was a set of busted up instruments that Josh brought out.  We used a 3/4 size bass (well, what used to be one anyway) to light the fire.

 

 

The logs this year were immense as the ash tree that once held the treehouse came down over the summer.  One or two of the giant logs still remain.

 

The lighting.

Turn the sun!

 

Meanwhile back in the barn, the super dangerous Boilo was out and the keg was tapped.  The food was plentiful and included both shrimp and carrot cake.

All’s well in the party barn

 

 

 

 

We started into a wobbly rendition of “let it snow” and the torrential rain pushed us first under the tarp and then up into the barn.  Where we proceeded to play even more xmas music in sing-along mode and drink way too much boilo.

Things get a little hazy after that.  But the sun has turned, so we got our main job accomplished.

 

 

Two days later, the fire is still smoking.   Thanks to all who came.

Nancy Griffith memorial

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During the 28th annual Oopstock, we spontaneously performed this version of Nanci Griffith’s song “Love at the Five and Dime” as a memorial.  Nanci died the day before we performed this song.

Thanks for the music, Nanci.

 

 

Post Covid Summer Solstice 2021

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Well, some things happened.  My life situation was utterly rebooted.  There was a pandemic.  Two solstice parties went by in miniature.  There was no blogging.  That kind of thing.

 

But we remember how to get back on the horse!  Yes we do.  So get up there and ride.

Solstice Fire Summer 2021

One of the secret traditions of the summer solstice has always been the Lisa Messerhead inspired salmon feast (implemented by Aubrey).  Of course that happened.

The salmon spread

Yum

But that was soon a memory, and the party began into the green and cicadas.


Soon the tables were full of great food, the keg was tapped, people played in the Shenandoah, and the party found itself in full swing.

Just like old times.  Except everyone in attendance was vaccinated against Covid-19.  The few friends who were not vaccinated were not allowed to come (though we still love them).  At this point in the global pandemic if you’re in the United States and you’re not vaccinated you are a pox on the public.  Don’t be an asshole. We’ll hold off on the usual herd of kids until they are no longer vectors, etc.

Anyway, the food was super delicious. And there was lots of it.

Home made by Ale and Eli

 

People gonna eat up

 

The imposter dog!

 

Yes, we’re having fun

Just before the lighting, Jackie, Eli, and Ale read some poetry focused on black identity in honor of Juneteenth.

Jackie reads a poem or two

And then it was time!  The bonfire was lit!

2021 Summer Solstice Fire

 

Mr prepared guy serves as a fire mirror

 

 

Romey attends her first actual size solstice

 

The people

Of course there was music.  It went on all night and even when the rain started in slow around 11:30.  But then a DELUGE.

The progeny carried one of the tents over the music pod as we shifted inside.  The last embers of the party extinguished around 4:30.

Thanks to all who came.

Remember the before times, but carry on!

Winter Solstice Solo 2019

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The solstice tradition continues in force. Thanks to all who came for the love, laughter, music, and joy.

Tiki lighting

Tiki lighting

 

Deck the bridge

 

Sophie prefers parties indoors, thanks..

Sophie prefers indoor parties, thanks.

 

The barn in party mode

 

Before

 

More before

 

Sundown on the solstice

The lighting was as spectacular as ever.

 

Turn sun turn!

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile in the barn…Sophie takes a party nap.

 

Do not party like Sophie.

 

Boilo

 

Solstice potluck disco center

 

Burn hot

Alec and the fiddle player

 

The solution to cold butts

 

2am coals

I know, lets do it again. See you at the summer solstice!

Summer Solstice 2019: Bodacious Bonfire

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First a story of the lighting through the photography of Amy Barley.

Prepare to Burn

Burn

Light it Up

Fire Maiden

And that is how you turn the sun.

Things looked pretty much like this before we started

Then there were several undocumented hours in the river with the special beer float courtesy of Aubrey. We’re still not sure where he is.

The most popular guest of all was baby Cora. (Yes, that is the three McGraw brothers in kilts.)

Panorama by jackie

Idyllic

A video of the lighting.

 

This shot by my brother walt (at his first solstice) is one of my favorites.

From the bridge

Spectacular

When the fire burned down enough to get within 100 feet, we started the music.

Burning pile

Joel Winstead created some great sketches in real time.

Music by firelight

The fire

Gary and Gina

The the thunderstorm moved in around 11pm and we shifted the music to the barn. We played until 4am. What a joy.

Gary and Gina in the barn

Allen behind his hat

There are a few more pictures on the evite page. Thanks to all who came to the 2019 summer solstice fire!

Thanks for coming to the summer solstice!

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