Karaoke! – Yellow Ribbon Fund volunteering, take two. Experience 11.

Volunteering at a YRF trivia night was supposed to be my first new experience of the year. Then a polar vortex happened and I had to make other plans.

From the start, I’ve wanted volunteering to be an important, and monthly, part of my “new experience” plan. As things take shape, I am realizing that important and monthly are possible, but a distinct new volunteering experience each month may not be realistic, depending on the particular commitment. For example, starting in early March, I’ll be a volunteer for Girls on the Run (more on that later but I’m super excited!), which means coaching two mornings a week for 10 weeks. Which means that I’ll be volunteering throughout both March and April, and into May, but may not necessarily tackle other new volunteering experiences during that time.

I also knew from the beginning that I wanted to volunteer for The Yellow Ribbon Fund, which provides support and services to service members who are in the DC area for treatment. Among other things, they cover hotel and transportation costs for family Continue reading


Thank God for the model trains. Experiences 9 and 10.

Last weekend’s main event new experience was attending a concert with PICs Michelle and Renee. Michelle, the Canadienne, of wine, I mean ski, weekend fame. Renee is also Canadian, so together, they are, naturally, the Canadiennes, eh?

We went to see a group named Buskin & Batteau, who I cannot stop thinking of as Beauxbatons. I blame the undue influence of the Harry Potter franchise. And, while I’m on that subject, what is this nonsense about JK Rowling now claiming that Hermione and Harry should have ended up together? It’s not that I think Hermione and Ron were the best love match, but I am a staunch Ginnie and Harry supporter. If we’re limited to pairing Hermione with a known character, how about Neville? (Have you seen Neville lately? Kid turned out alright.)  Fair enough, based on couple nicknames alone, Harrmione works better than Ginnarry or Hermville, but I’m standing firm on this one. Someone has to stand up for the gingers of the world. Harry and Ginnie forever!

Right. Back to Buskin & Batteau, a folk group comprised by a couple of “folkies” named David Buskin, Robin Batteau, and percussionist Marshal Rosenberg, who performed at Continue reading

How a Grape Becomes a Viognier, or The Grape That Went Up a Mountain and Skiied Down a Viognier. Experiences 5-8.

This report is a bit delayed as I still figure out how to juggle experiencing new experiences with recounting them. A recent ski weekend with friends was itself a new experience and the anchor for three more. My partners-in-crime (PICs) for this latest adventure were Sara (of Peter and the Starcatcher fame), Michelle (the Canadienne), Judy, Randy (a.k.a. Mr. Judy), and Randy’s parents, Wayne and June. In fact, Wayne and June earned the award for superstar PICs. Their Eagle Creek Resort home is minutes from the slopes and served as home base for the weekend. They regularly open up their home to friends and family and friends of family (that’s me!). Life and scheduling conflicts have kept me from what has become a regular ski weekend over the past few years, but I finally made it.

Wayne and June were simply delightful generous gracious hosts and believe me when I say that I would love to visit them anytime! Retired teachers, they are enjoying their retirement years in a welcoming mountain home that Wayne designed, complete with a suite of four (that I remember, maybe a couple more?) ginormous walk-in “activity” closets (golf, hunting, skiing, biking). They spend their quiet retirement days doing the usual. You know, just running/teaching at the ski school in the winter and working at the golf course in the summer, running the church youth program, traveling about, and keeping seemingly everyone they meet along the way well-fed – extremely well fed (June is an all-star baker. Wayne has taken some cooking classes in recent years and is always breaking out a new recipe).

Oh and, what else do they do? You know, in their spare time? Make their own wine. Naturally. Because I learned the basics about the process while, ahem, “sampling” some of their product, my recollection is a bit fuzzy. But as I understand it, they order “juice,” as relevant to this weekend, mostly from Argentina. Then there is some kind of process by which they add some yeast and periodically transfer most of the wine into a new holding container (6 gallon plastic jugs) and get rid of the sludge and whatnot that accumulates at the bottom. They do this at least a couple of times possibly. Maybe at times they add more of something and wait some more, and in some cases they add oak chips for a while to give the oak barrel aged flavor without the oak barrels. Sneaky.

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Brava. Experiences 2-3-4.

My latest new experiences fall into the “kulture” categories of theatah and the dahnce, with an added bonus in the dining, fine and otherwise, category.

Why “kulture”? No, “pussykat” aside, it’s not a baldfaced attempt to inundate the world with k’s instead of c’s. I mean, I’m not a Kardashian. Instead, its origins are tied, in part, to a circle of friends who have dubbed me “k-rock,” who tend to gravitate more towards alumni and sporting events. That’s not to say these friends aren’t interested in or don’t take advantage of cultural opportunities, just that our schedules, finances, and interests most often align when a large group of us can gather in a place that facilitates, in no particular order, eating, drinking, revelry, and cheering on our beloved Nittany Lions (go State!). On occasion someone will strike out and try to organize a cultural outing, and I can be particularly shameless about pestering people to join me at the many art, theatre, dance, musical, and other offerings that strike my fancy. Hey, sometimes I even get takers. Along the way, “kulture with k-rock” was born.

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