Banjo – It’s Good for What Ails Ya

Back before I ever learned to knit, I spent my first winter in Alaska in a small, Park Service cabin in Denali Park.

Quinn-dog loved to sing along every time I played banjo... at least, I think he loved it.

If you’re living alone in the middle of the frozen tundra, a banjo is a great thing to have.

"As soon as a child is born, he or she should be issued a dog and a banjo." ~ Charlie Brown

It’s cheerful, helps pass the time, and being alone, you don’t have to feel bad practicing your frailing technique over & over on the same three chords.

My nephew, Chad's first old time banjo lesson, 1996.

Once I learned to knit, I spent less time with my banjo. After all, there’s only so much fidgeting with your fingers a girl can fit into a day…

But last June, I went to Miles of Music Camp on Lake Winnepesaukee, and fell in love with my banjo all over again.

After 16 years, I’m still just a beginner, but I love me some old time banjo!

What about you? Do you play the banjo? (Or would you rather not admit that in public? 😀 )

17 Days of Green – A Visit to the Emerald Isle

For our 5th anniversary in 2006, Andy & I toured Ireland, where we both have family roots.

Atop the green Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland.

We flew into Shannon Airport & started our tour on the rugged west coast of Ireland.

Andy is fearless as he peeks over the precipitous edge of the Cliffs.

If you’re a fan of traditional Irish music, a visit to the little village of Doolin is a must.

Soaking up the September sun on the limestone karst outside Doolin, County Clare, Ireland.

From Doolin, we headed north to explore “The Burren,” a fascinating geological region, rich in ancient archeological & historical sights.

Poulnabrone portal dolmen in Co. Clare is one of the best known neolithic monuments in Ireland.

No matter where you go in Ireland, you’re bound to see sheep. Lots and lots of sheep:

Sheep are a common sight in the Irish countryside, as they outnumber people by nearly 2 million.

Next, we visited Sligo Town, on our way to Donegal, ancestral home of the Mulligans.

Verdant Ben Bulben rules above Yeats country, County Sligo, Ireland.

County Donegal is the least touristed part of Ireland, with fantastic natural scenery.

Fishing boats on the blue Atlantic between the green pastures of Kilcar, County Donegal, Ireland.

Luckily, we had gorgeous weather for our hike up the Slieve League cliffs, which are a breathtaking 1,972′ high. The little footpath would be treacherous in heavy wind or rain.

The Cliffs of Slieve League in County Donegal are nearly 3 times the height of the Cliffs of Moher.

Next, we circled north and east to arrive at the Giant’s Causeway, a World Heritage Site.

Andy amid the 40,000 basalt columns of the Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

The repeating hexagonal columns boggle the mind. It’s one of the coolest places, ever.

The columns of the Causeway formed from the even cooling of an ancient volcanic eruption.

I took so many photos here… these are just a few!

I'm a sucker for intense natural patterns.

We hiked all around and lingered near the water until sunset, when the park closed.

Led Zeppelin fans will recognize the Giant's Causeway from the cover of "Houses of the Holy."

No trip to Ireland would be complete without a visit to the capitol city, Dublin.

Fancy wrought-iron lamps line the streets of Dublin, Ireland.

There’s lots to see in Dublin – live music, the Book of Kells, the shops on Grafton Street:

So many choices!

And we sampled our share of chocolate-y rich Guinness, too.

Guinness stout is ubiquitous in Dublin, although Beamish and Murphy's rule the south of Ireland.

It was just a 2-week trip, but so grand! A wonderful visit to the Cahill Mulligan homeland.

Outside Mulligan's Pub in Dublin, established 1782.

Whew! That’s it! Seventeen straight days of posting… something entirely new for me.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my 17 Days of Green, and had a very happy St. Paddy’s Day!


If you missed them, you can read my previous 16 green posts here:

Day 1: From My House To Yours
Day 2: My Big Green Day Job
Day 3: Local Food is Green Food
Day 4: Up, Up Green Hornets
Day 5: My 2nd Embroidered Felt Hat
Day 6: The Green & Grey of the NPS
Day 7: Andy’s 1st Handknit Hat
Day 8: Moss & Lichen
Day 9: Frozen Fenway
Day 10: Long Wind Tomato Farm
Day 11: Northern Lights
Day 12: Embroidered Hat Design Collage
Day 13: My Hat Studio
Day 14: Grow Your Own
Day 15: Pesto Fest
Day 16: Quinn & Cinder

With special thanks to FireMom who started this crazy green meme in the first place!

17 Days of Green – Northern Lights

One of the best things about living in Alaska?

Aurora (photo by Paul Moss)

Getting to experience the Northern Lights. In person. Right above me.

Northern lights over Malmesjaur lake in Moskosel, Sweden. (photo by Jerry MagnuM Porsbjer)

They didn’t happen every night, but when they did, the intense green pulsing and flashing, directly overhead, always set my heart on edge.

The Aurora Borealis above Bear Lake, Alaska. (USAF photo by Senior Airman Joshua Strang)

The Aurora are other-worldly. The first time I saw them, it occurred to me: “If they invited me to go with them, I would.”

Red and green Aurora in Fairbanks, Alaska. (photo by Mila Zinkova)

The Northern Lights are mostly an intense, flashing green. But occasionally, you might catch glimpses of red, or very rarely, blue.

Northern Lights with very rare blue light flashes. (photo by Jerry MagnuM Porsbjer )

It’s no wonder that northern Native people had many myths and legends about them.

One Inuit myth tells how the Northern Lights were imprisoned in rocks along the Labrador coast until a mighty warrior struck the stones with his spear, freeing most of the lights to dance in the sky above.

The rest remained in the stones known as Labradorite.

When I met my birthfather 3 years ago, his lovely wife gave me this gorgeous stone, to help connect me to my Labrador Metis heritage, which I’d never known before.

My Labradorite pendant steals the show and connects me to my original heritage.

Wearing my Labradorite stone pendant, I am connected both to my genetic heritage, and to my previous life in Alaska.

I am blessed.