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Posts Tagged ‘kerrycan’

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William Sidney Mount painting “Just in Tune,” 1849. See more paintings at FidlleHangout.

I’ve been meaning to share blogger KerryCan’s 2013 post at “Love Those Hands at Home” about the origins of her musical tastes. Her story about the farmhand with the drinking problem and the inspired fiddle playing really struck me, and I wondered if other people could pinpoint the musical influences in their own lives. I certainly thought about mine.

I commented at KerryCan’s blog that my earliest influences included traditional nursery songs, my father’s loud classical records, one brother’s folk tastes and his later blues show on college radio (http://mydadsrecords.tumblr.com/), the movie “My Geisha” about an opera singer, Broadway, jazz, and Edith Piaf. Eclectic. Like my blog. I used to sing loudly with younger kids on the school bus and on family trips. I got involved in Fire Island’s teenage musicals, for which the brilliant Lynn Lavner wrote the songs I still like to sing.

Here’s what KerryCan reported about her early influences. “Weirdly, the music that I am drawn to has little to do with anything I was exposed to early, except for one faint memory. The music I love best is folk music and the memory is of a man playing the fiddle in our living room at the farm.

“The man was Vic Parrotte (or Parrott); he was an occasional hired hand on the farm when I was very young. As I recall, he would work for a while then take his pay and go on a ‘toot,’ as my grandfather called it; he’d go off and get drunk. Then he wouldn’t show up for chores for a few days and my grandmother would urge my grandfather never to let him come back.

“Then Vic would come back and my grandfather would hire him and the whole cycle would begin again.

“But Vic could play the fiddle. I wasn’t allowed to stay downstairs and watch him play much — this wasn’t really considered appropriate music for a good girl to hear. But I would lie in bed, upstairs above the parlor, and listen to that incredible sound coming out of his instrument. As I recall, he put the end of the fiddle on his knee, instead of under his chin, and, boy, could he play!

“And, it turns out, we weren’t the only people who knew about Vic’s fiddle. Vic was always a sort of tragic-comic character at our house, a rambler who couldn’t hold his drink and played wild music. But years later I mentioned his name to an expert in Adirondack roots music who responded, first with stunned silence and then said, ‘Vic Parrotte was your hired hand?! He played the fiddle for you?!’ Vic was famous in some circles — imagine my surprise!”

Anyone want to weigh in on their earliest music memories? Will McM.?

 

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Did you ever see a finer dishtowel? The blogger KerryCan wove it for me after I won a drawing at “Love Those Hands at Home,” her site. I cherish it.

This is how it came about. Back in October, KerryCan asked readers, many of whom are experienced artisans, whether they were more process-oriented or product-oriented. She had recently decided that what she herself loved most about her creative endeavors — which include quilting, weaving, chocolate making, and collecting vintage linens for her Etsy shop — was the process. I said the same about my past jobs working on magazines.

She put all commenters into a drawing for a handwoven dishtowel that she would make to the winner’s color specifications.

Now, KerryCan is a person who regularly makes thoughtful comments on other people’s blogs, so she attracts an impressive number of thoughtful commenters herself. I encourage you to read their responses to the process/product challenge, here.

Another fun KerryCan post asks readers if they are get-it-done Focusers or Flitterers, as she claims to be. She seems wistful that Flitterers like herself, who like to have numerous projects going at once, don’t get to check much off their lists. But I think people should embrace their own style.

I myself am probably more of a Time Waster than a Focuser or Flitterer — except on days when I schedule myself up. But then, some of the people whose creative output I admire most have been notorious Time Wasters, so maybe something of value is going on beneath the surface.

I hope you will check out “Love Those Hands at Home” — maybe even answer the latest challenge. You will be in the company of people who really think about things.

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One of the reasons I’m a fan of KerryCan’s blog “Love Those Hands at Home” is that it’s so intelligent — not only the posts themselves but the comments she attracts.

Maybe she attracts thinking people partly because she is so faithful about going to her followers’ blogs, thinking about their posts, and making an interesting comment. I, for one, find that her regular commenting can keep me going on a bad day.

Recently KerryCan offered a giveaway to readers of her blog who would answer her question about how much the process of creation (as opposed to the product) meant to them, and I was the lucky stiff who won a handwoven custom dishtowel. Wow. I adore the craftsmanship and am almost afraid (but not quite) to use this for dishes. Everything in KerryCan’s home must be artistic if this is an example of a humble dishtowel.

I hope you will check out her blog and also her Etsy shop, where she offers antique linens, amazing chocolates, and more.

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I just went back to bathe in the golden glow of blogger KerryCan’s early summer memories here. I’ve been planning to take her up on the idea of sharing a childhood summer photo and letting train of thought take over.

KerryCan says she and her cousins had “absolutely nothing to worry about except breaking a plastic flip flop or getting sticky drips of Popsicle running down an arm,” which doesn’t quite fit my childhood. But I was always looking forward and believing something nice was coming.

I began dreaming of Fire Island in January or so — creating a paper pocket on our front door with Ocean Beach postcards tucked in and badgering grown-ups with “When are we going?”

And goodness knows, I dearly loved the ocean, swimming every day in my early teens unless there was a red warning flag. On choppy mornings, I might be the only one out there in front of the lifeguards.

Here I am at about age 10 with the older of my two brothers, probably competing for who could run fastest.

I didn’t learn until I was practically a grandmother that some kinds of competition with him might be ill-advised — like the time I tried to bend back my thumb the way his joints allow him to and ended up with a trigger finger and a hand operation! Ha, ha. Laughing now.

On this Atlantic beach, we used to dig for the tiny armadillo-like mole crabs that we called “jumpies.” Where are they now?

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KerryCan is a frequent commenter on Suzanne’s Mom’s Blog and, as I keep learning, a woman of varied talents. She has been a college English professor, she blogs regularly, and she pursues numerous traditional crafts in a deep way

But what you need to know now is that she make chocolates and sells them at Etsy in time for Valentine’s Day.

Here’s what KerryCan says on her blog about a day in the life of a chocolatier, “I don’t make candy to make a living. I make candy because I like to make candy, just as I like to quilt and I like to weave. But, unlike quilting and weaving, candy piles up fast and that can cause its own dilemmas. I sell candy so I can justify making more, to experiment and try new things, without having to eat it all myself. …

“Almost every candy I make is a multi-stage process so, when I’m making a lot of candies, my days will be organized around the steps. Some days will be focused on making the ‘innards,’ as I think of them, and other days will focus on enrobing, or dipping, the candy innards in chocolate. When I make the innards, I work in small batches, and usually produce 50 to 200 candies at a time. …

“Making any of the innards depends on paying careful attention to temperature, so using a candy thermometer is essential. And, since I’ve never met a candy thermometer that I felt I could really, really trust, I also use the old tried-and-true cold-water test. …

“Once the candy is cooked and has cooled, I have to cut it. … The next step is the critical one that makes me a chocolatier—tempering chocolate. … Anyone who wants to make really good candy learns to temper chocolate. … Tempering chocolate means melting quality, real chocolate and then cooling it in a controlled way to bring about a transformation of the chocolate. …

“I spend a lot of time tempering chocolate by hand. I may temper 3 pounds at a time. I melt the chocolate to specific temperatures, depending on whether it’s dark, milk, or white chocolate, and then bring those temperatures down again. It takes about 30 minutes of constant stirring to temper chocolate, and it can’t be rushed.” More here.

I think you could learn to make chocolate yourself just from KerryCan’s one post. She concludes, “I weigh out the candies, then I put them in little candy paper cups. I arrange them in the glossy white box and make sure they look pretty. I label the box. I seal the box with my little ‘KerryCan’ sticker. I move on to the next box. The boxes pile up in a most satisfying way.”

The chocolates and other candies may be found at Etsy, here.

Photo: KerryCan

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