Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shovel and Hammer Day

I'm having a little more fun with photos now that I do my blog postings in Google Chrome. The photo features a limb from our Scotch Pine tree in the front yard.

After our Internet upgrade, I learned that the photo problem was my browser.

So, I've been getting used to Google Chrome for the past couple of weeks.  Any browser that allows me to post my photos and to see them on my computer screen is just fine for me. 

I've tried the polaroid effect before in the other browser, with no success.  Yesterday, though, it worked like a charm----so, of course, bells and whistles of photography two days in a row.

Bill was out early this morning with the snowblower and later, the tractor.  We received about three-four inches of new snow overnight---not nearly as messy or difficult to deal with as those other two major dumps of the winter.

Actually, it's kinda nice because walking surfaces around here were getting pretty polished and slippery.  Plus, the doggie doodoos of the past few weeks were dotting the Lovestead landscape in a not-so-pretty way.

So, it's nice to have a brand-clean blanket this morning, and especially nice that most snow has already slid from the the roofs.  

Today is also a "hammer" day, as I have my fourth lesson with Fiddlin' Red.  I learned the hammer stroke last week, along with the pull away and the slide.  Not doing too badly with any of them.

If I could just reach the right strings a little more often in this double-note process, that would be good.

Today I have to play my latest version of "Old Joe Clark."  I think I may not have been playing ALL the notes in the song until yesterday.  

After numerous times of listening to other banjo players pluck it out on You-Tube, I just kept saying to myself and to anyone who would listen, "Mine doesn't sound like any of those."  

Bill nicely suggested that maybe when I learn a little more about rhythm it may sound better.  

Anyway, yesterday, during an umpteenth time of comparing notes with the experts on YouTube, something dawned on me.  I have not been playing all the notes that make the melody.  

Instead some of those have been strummed rather than plucked.   At least, I think that's the case.

Once that revelation hit my head, I started hitting more strings with my fingers,  and it started sounding a little more like the Joe Clark that most other folks have heard for eons. 

I also practiced two different versions----the way I've been playing it for three weeks and my newly discovered/created arrangement.  Who knows---maybe I'm good at improvisation. 

In last week's lesson, Fiddlin' Red told me I had all the right notes, but when those notes sound off about five minutes apart as the student with five thumbs tries to hit them, I'm sure it's kinda hard for the listener to make out a tune. 

If my revelation version works today, maybe I won't have to play that other arrangement ever again.  

The hammers, pull aways and slides are used in "Cripple Creek," and I must say the hodgepodge version I've been playing sounds nice, even if it doesn't resemble the real song. 

Fiddlin' Red says it takes about four lessons to determine if one should go on with the banjo, so today is a "graduation" day of sorts.  I don't know if the student or the teacher decides if further lessons are in the picture.

Just in case, though, I'm taking along some cold, hard cash, and I'm betting when Fiddlin' Red sees that, money will talk!

We'll see. 

On a final note, anyone who knows me well knows I'll be mentioning Gonzaga today.  They've got a bump-up in the rankings waiting for them on a silver platter IF they can pull off two wins this week. 

I watched the No. 1 Duke vs No. 25 Miami game last night.  "OMG" is all I've gotta say.  I told Bill this morning that I almost wondered if Duke was throwing the game for the gamblers to make some big bucks. 

That's how bad it was.   Coach Mike's face told the story too.  Pretty sad for Duke but spectacular for Miami.  

Then, I learned that Butler had lost BY ONE POINT in the last 2 seconds.  Sounds a little familiar.  

Basketball is truly a game of momentum----if you can get some momentum going, that is. 

Let's hope for plenty of momentum tonight in McArthey Gymnasium as the ZAGS take on BYU.  GO ZAGS!

Happy Thursday. 

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