About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

(Winter) Solstice Singalong

 While I have re-instituted the Sunday Singalong blog this month, it occurs to me that there may need to be a slight adjustment (this, because the next 2 Sundays are Christmas and New Years) . . . it is just possible that folks will have other things planned for those days, and trying to catch a Sunday singalong would not be as effective as, say, a Winter Solstice Singalong, especially since today is 21 December. Now, I grant that I am posting this after 7pm PST (much later in most other US time zones) on the evening of the Solstice, but since it IS the longest night of the year (something my father mentioned when I asked why he and Mom chose this date to get married, back in 1940), there is plenty of time to throw your thoughts for a song to sing during, not just this date, but throughout the coming weeks (next Sunday Singalong blog planned for 8 January 2023). 

Why THIS date? Ahha, I wonder how many reading this are aware that it is (or was) "Make Music Winter Day." Yup, really. Don't believe me? Check here: MAKE MUSIC DAY . I notice that 2 of my incredibly talented grandsons (do any grandparents have untalented grandchildren? Don't answer that) are recognizing this event (maybe not as an official Make Music Day, but then again, perhaps...):

The older of the 2 brothers is the one in the red shirt, playing viola, and planning his college attendance in the not too distant future (hardly possible). In deference to the privacy of this young man and his family, I'll just say that he is an active and successful part of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra (EYSO). Pride does not even begin to describe the feelings his grandpa and I have/have had for him and his brother (a violinist, not pictured).

Another reason for posting this blog on this date (i.e., before the holidays that will occupy much of the time of many of the people in this world and beyond), I wish to let music lovers everywhere (yes, everywhere) in on a wonderful "involvement" type, online, event that is FREE (though donations are more than gratefully accepted . . .  get yours in before the calendar removes it from IRS claims for 2022). This is sponsored, hosted, and run by the volunteers of The San Francisco Folk Music Club. It is their annual New Year's Camp Harmony, which, for many, many years, has been held in person. With that not feasible, for the last 2 years, I have enjoyed the club's music events since the pandemic moved into our lives and necessitated (for some) a Zoom-world. Non-SFFMC-members are also invited (see remarks about donations, above, but the event is still available if one's funds have not survived the rigors of holiday spending). What to expect: Songs, concerts, storytelling, games, workshops, and even dances (don't ask me how that is accomplished, but I've heard some great things) in a virtual event that consists of "rooms" that offer the items just mentioned, as well as "low key" rooms for visits and discussions and even "rest." I stay online throughout the entire experience, that begins on Friday, December 30th and continues, almost non-stop, through Monday, January 2nd (one listing shows that it is through "Sunday, January 2," a typo that was created when the info repeated the January date from last year . . . Honest, it is still going to the 2nd, but that's Monday). ANYWAY, mostly folk music (of all sub-genres). It is also perfectly acceptable to just come to listen; we can come and go from "rooms" as desired. And there are actual human "guides" (not auto-response robots) to assist in transitions, locating preferred events, etc. Schedules will be available throughout the weekend. So much to do, see and hear. And this year (my 3rd to attend) will be my first time presenting a workshop for this group: "managing stage fright, even online." Currently scheduled for Saturday, 31 December, 3pm PST (75 minutes, including Q/A and discussion). No need to pre-register for events, but it is necessary to get the Zoom link by registering for the Camp.   

Well, the links for all those parts of the SFFMC organization, in general, and Camp Harmony, in particular, are included above. I'd love to "see" you there (enabling personal camera not obligatory; but definitely be sure to mute your mic when not communicating on the Zoom platform), should your schedule permit (remember, registering for the camp is FREE and can be for a little, a lot, or all . . . though cloning in order to attend 2 simultaneously occurring programs is not one of the options; sorry). 

After all that, here's the Solstice Singalong "challenge": Check out the Make Music Day map to see what various locations are sites of MMD events . . . how about a song dealing nearby or with any one of those locations? It need not be a song of a place where you have visited, lived, or even thought much about, just a song you might enjoy or have family member(s) who sang/enjoyed. I have no idea how long that map will be available to view, so sooner, rather than later, may be helpful. 

The concept of the NAMM-sponsored event is for those participating to ring in the Solstice by sounding gongs along the "Resonant Path" (yes, my grandsons, mentioned above, have participated today). When thinking of the connection between gongs (or similar types of ringing devices) as connected to the grandparent/child relationship, I'm led immediately to think of "My Grandfather's Clock" (lyrics link to Mudcat Cafe, my favorite "find the song" website; song by Henry Clay Work - check out the song history and this YouTube version by Burl Ives) and my own grandfather as well as my grandchildren (2 of whom are were mentioned above . . . see map). 

Enjoy the long night and the movement to bring back the sun in the days ahead. Happy holidays (AKA Holy Days).


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