Friday, July 30, 2010

Crazy Stuff at the National Music Museum

On our drive out to the west coast, we stopped in Vermillion, South Dakota to check out the National Music Museum on the University of South Dakota campus. 
This place is awesome!  Perhaps that is the music geek inside me speaking, but Jason had to drag me away after about 3 hours because I wanted to look at EVERY SINGLE crazy looking instrument, and they have more than 14,500 instruments!
This was in one of the very first display cases, and I was instantly hooked on this place as soon as I saw it!  It is a jewel encrusted Besson cornet from 1883!  
They have a complimentary headset for each person that Jason is sporting in this picture.  It has narration and sound clips of the actual instruments being played! 
Having the instrument recordings was most interesting when we got to this instrument.  It is called a Choralcelo, and it is played electromagnetically as well as like a traditional piano with hammered strings.  It has several "auxiliary attachments" through which the sound can pass to change the timbre.  
Here are the auxiliary attachments!  It looks like a Rube Goldberg machine.  The museum tour said that there were only about 100 of these made, and there aren't very many still in existence because they take up so much room!  This one was found in a barn.  I think it sounds like a merry-go-round under water. 
Another fascinating instrument was this upright piano from 1891 with a unique keyboard invented by Paul von Janko.  The keyboard arranges the keys in a much easier way for the human hand.  The museum guide said that several world class pianists gave it a try and recognized how much easier it would be, but since they had to basically relearn how to play, it didn't really catch on.  
This is called a Glass Armonica, the first mechanical glass harmonica (any instrument played by rubbing glass), designed by Benjamin Franklin.  His servant would turn a crank on the side that would rotate the bowls, and then he would use wet fingers to make sounds. 
Of course, I was most intrigued by the crazy brass instruments.  These are from the Civil War.  The bells point behind and over their shoulder so they could be played at the army while the player rides in front on horseback!  
These guys are amazing just by being able to play and ride a horse at the same time!  Looking through the pictures I took, I have tons of brass instrument pictures, instruments with two bells, extra sound resonators, and things interesting only to us trumpet geeks, so I won't bore you with those.  However, I'll leave you with one last picture that you just have to see:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Three Times a Charm

For the past three years, I have had the pleasure of watching my cousins get married at even annual intervals.  I was lucky enough to attend Tracy's wedding to Tom last night!  Today's blog posting is brought to you in honor of my lovely sister Sam who was sadly unable to attend and who is in need of immediate picture details.  Here you go! 
Tracy was a gorgeous bride as you can see!  Here she comes!  
 And the all too important shot of the dress from behind!  I think the groom is in the background there, though his outfit is not nearly as exciting. 
This is all I have of the bridesmaids, sorry!  My camera bag didn't match my dress, so again I only brought my little Sony.  I think it did pretty well for low light and no flash, but the professionals will be tons better.  When asking a girl about the color of the dresses, they were described as moss or sea green, but when asking a guy they were just green, so take your pick there. 
This was my favorite detail! 

She was by far the most excited bride I've ever seen, which really made the ceremony fun to watch.  During the vows it seemed like she was going to burst because every line was followed by a giddy wide eyed grin, and maybe she was because after she and Tom made it down the aisle to the back room, we heard a distinct rebel yell of excitement!
Uncle Buzz is becoming quite the expert of cutting a rug on the dance floor.  He even took a turn with me! 

Congrats you two and much love! 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Going Out for Dinner Coastal Style

I forgot my card reader at home!  And of course, my lovely Canon Digital Rebel uses Compact Flash cards, and my parents don't have a computer that can read those.   So, my wonderful trip photos from the drive out will have to wait, because I am definitely not buying a $25 card reader for my blogging convenience.  HOWEVER, I did take some pictures today with our little Sony Cyber-Shot that I think you will like!    
My Dad took us clamming this morning!  Actually, my Dad's neighbor took us all clamming in his fancy boat.  Apparently, my parents are making friends in their new neighborhood, and this guy was very gracious to take us out to the prime clamming spots, only reachable by boat.  We got to pass by all the suckers clamming right on the shore, which was nice, and he also showed us the proper techniques.  This is a picture of Jason's first catch, which he actually threw back because it is a cockle.  I didn't know this until today, but there lots of different types of clams that live on the Oregon coast, and cockles live just under the surface of the sand and are really easy to find.  So of course we didn't want to catch those; those are too easy!  No, my Dad wanted quahog clams, which are supposed to be more tender. 
Here is Jason and my dad enjoying the boat ride over to the clamming spot.  The guy in the back is Peter, the neighbor.  He has to steer from the aft because the rudder has some seaweed in it or something.
Here is the sweet boat!  Two other seasoned clammer friends of Pete's came with us. 
The first step to clamming is finding the spot to dig.  You look for breathing holes in the sand, and different kinds of clams have different shaped breathing holes.  This picture is of a quahog breathing hole, which is shaped like an eight.  Pretty obvious, right?  I put my foot in the picture for a size reference.  Yes, I was wearing flip flops.  Everyone else was wearing waders and boots and things, but those of you who know me know that that isn't found in my typical attire.  This flip flops and the corresponding capri pants were purchased specifically for the occasion at Target.  
The next step is digging, obviously!  You have to dig along side the breathing hole, because otherwise you will either chop off the clam's neck, or you will smash the clam with the shovel.  I think I did both at first, but I think I found one here!  
We were all successful, catching our maximum of 20 clams.  Dad looks pretty dashing in his waders or whatever he calls them. 
The other guys were more picky with their clam choices because they wanted to find big ones.  Ed caught this magnificent specimen, and dad got to hold it.  We were are all quite impressed by its massive neck as I'm sure you are also.  
Then, Jason and dad spent an hour cleaning them all.  

Monday, July 5, 2010

Our amazing green thumbs

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but look what we grew!  
I remember when it was only a wee baby tomato plant, just barely passed my ankle and freshly planted from a Lowe's plastic container, and just look at her now!  Look at the splendor she has achieved!  I'd like to say that I was a guiding part in her adolescent growth, but I cannot lie:  tomatoes LOVE Nebraska!  Jason did more than I did because he watered it and weeded around it, but we know very little about gardening and still managed to pull this off! Lots of Nebraskans have told me they have had great success with tomatoes here, and now we're some of them! 
Another garden highlight is this zucchini plant.  It has pretty much taken over the two tomato plants flanking it, but as previously seen, we're covered on the tomato front.  I remember my dad growing zucchini in the garden growing up, and it usually did so well that we could have zucchini for dinner every night.  And we did.  By the end of the summer I felt like throwing up just LOOKING at a zucchini, and those memories made me think twice about planting one here.  But being as this is our very first garden experience, and knowing that the zucchini is a great plant for stroking the gardening ego, we went for it.  I have no regrets, but then again we are still pre-zucchini harvest, so stay tuned on that one.
 Jason checks out the tomatoes already growing on one of the other plants.  I think this one is doing pretty well, but it is a mere shadow of the height and breadth established by tomato plant numero uno.  Jason is not on the phone by the way.  He just purchased a bluetooth headset to go with his new cell phone, and I don't think it has left his ear since.  So people, please call my husband so he can play with his new toy!
The other things we are growing in our garden are peppers, seen above, and a couple basil plants.  They are growing modestly well, but nothing as blog catching as the tomatoes.  The only sad thing is that on Wednesday, we are leaving for a 3 week vacation.  Will all our hard work be rotting on the ground or drowning in viney weeds?  We're crossing our fingers that we will get to partake in home grown goodness when we return.  Jason has set up this automatic drip hose so they certainly won't die of thirst. 
Another garden surprise are these lovely things.  They are several feet tall and growing all over the place.  I've never seen anything like them before!  They are in several different shades of pink.  We know the previous owner LOVED pink.  Just check out blog posting 1 if you have forgotten.  I'm definitely digging it here in the yard, and not on my walls.  
Neat looking beetles apparently like pink too!  
We also have some of these
some of these
and some of these (but probably less of these than we did before because I think I might have pulled some before they flowered, thinking they were weeds.  oops!).  We have these in purple and white. 
It took me all Sunday and part of Monday, but I finally finished these dining room curtains!  I really should have been packing or cleaning or something, but I have had the pieces cut out and neatly folded in the closet for weeks, and I decided now was the time to finish them, probably to avoid packing and cleaning.  Tada!  Unfortunately, my bags didn't pack themselves while I was making them, so I'd better go get started on that.  Check back in for blogging from the road!