Cider Press Hill

Saturday tunes

Saturday, 4:52 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

Was editing and updating my playlists and thought I’d share a couple of my favorites.


Richie Havens at Woodstock way back in 1969. This song was apparently improvised after he’d run through his repertoire, kept being called back for encores, and was desperate for material. It launched his career. Thank goodness.


Havens sings the same song, 40 years later, with greater subtlety, nuance, and depth. I could watch this all day long and still be endlessly fascinated by what he does with that guitar.


Dreams indeed

Wednesday, 7:04 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

I’m sure nearly everyone connected to the outside world has heard of this by today, if not seen the video. That whole Susan Boyle and Britain’s Got Talent thing. It’s a British television program similar to our American Idol and even has dear Simon sitting in judgement there, too. Anyway. this has been on the news here at least a couple of times today and I finally settled in to watch Susan Boyle’s performance to see what all the fuss was about.

Well. Here is the video. It’s priceless. It’s really special, I think. I’m not one to usually go all mushy over these sorts of things, but this one kind of chokes me up. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that she sings one of my all time favorite songs from Les Miserables and sends it sailing out of the auditorium on iridescent beams. No, that didn’t hurt at all.

Do yourself a favor and watch this video. It’ll make your day if you haven’t seen it before. If you have, well, you’ve also probably watched it about 30 times today, too. There is something so appealing about this woman. And apparently she is the real deal who pulled that song from the very depths of her heart. I hope to hear more of her voice if it’s as consistently fabulous as her debut suggests. She gave me chills.


There should be a law...

Thursday, 4:18 am

By Kate




clear night

...against Christmas music 24/7 beginning the day after Thanksgiving. My two favorite light rock radio stations have gone around the bend with this and I’m hearing the same songs over and over and over and over. I love Christmas music. But not for a solid month. By the time Christmas arrives, I’m going to be so sick of Christmas that I’m afraid I’ll be ready to take the tree down before I even get it up. Of course, I could just exclusively listen to NPR for the next month, but I WANT my tunes. Sigh…

I’m so totally sick of the Jackson Five. Don’t want to hear Jose Feliciano again. Ever. Garth Brooks just shouldn’t do Christmas carols. And I HATE the one about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer. That instantly puts me in Scrooge mode and it seems to be a perennial favorite, played a dozen times a day. Bleh.

(The sun isn’t up yet, either, fwiw.)


Making discoveries

Sunday, 10:25 pm

By Kate





So here I am back at home keeping the home fires burning. It was a good day for it. The snow that we weren’t supposed to have is still in my driveway and the wind is rearranging it as artistically as it’s able. I gave up on the whole thing and pretended there was nothing going on outside my windows. I did not want to do snow today.

The day after the lad leaves is always a little unsettled. Takes me a day to get my routine back and shake off the blues.

We had a really good trip down to school yesterday. Lots of talking and laughter and more talking. So much talking, in fact, that we missed the New York State Thruway entirely and didn’t realize it until about 45 minutes after we had passed it. By then we were in PA, which was the big clue.

We stopped at a Pennsylvania Visitor Center and I inquired where we were. Somewhere in the Poconos. Kind of like the last outpost on earth, I think. Mountains all around, no cell phone signals, and a whole lot of nature. As luck would have it, we were parked right on a road that was almost a clear shot into Easton—less than two hours away. That was a surprise, because it would get us there nearly an hour ahead of schedule. I think we inadvertently found a short cut, though I don’t know if I could do it again.

So, we finally pulled into the dorm parking lot and the lad’s roommate came rushing out to help us unload the car. It was the first time I had seen their room this year. It’s a huge L-shaped room. Huge. Their other roommate is spending the semester in Germany, so just the two lads have the room to themselves. They’re going to move the other lad’s bunk and desk out and spread out a bit. They had all sorts of ideas. The other lad kind of sighed in the midst and said, “It’s so good to be home.”

Before I left, the lad wanted me to see his fraternity house. It’s a big old stone house on campus—on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s probably one of the best kept and most kindly treated fraternity houses in the world. They are obligated to take care of it and they do. There is obviously a lot of money invested in that house on a regular basis. It’s absolutely beautiful with ornate woodwork and wainscot, hardwood (some parquet) floors and massive fireplace overmantels. They all gleam. It’s a nice place to hang one’s hat and lounge, that’s for sure.

Then it was time to leave and the lad walked me out to my car. Hugs, kisses, more hugs, more kisses. I did NOT cry. Actually, I’m not sure whether his feelings were a little hurt by that or not. He looked at me quizzically, as if expecting me to burst out at any second. But I didn’t. He was so happy to be there and the way his frat brothers leaped around him and gave him hugs and slaps on the back, as if they hadn’t seen him in months, just made me feel good. They were all, clearly, simply thrilled to be back with each other. It made me grin like a fool. And I did most of the way home.

I miss not having him clattering around the house, but as his roommate said, “It’s so good to be home.” He is. And is as happy as a clam.

On my drive home, I listened to lots of radio. Mostly public radio stations. Saturday night is a good night for public radio. One of the stations, somewhere in Connecticut, offered an hour of American Routes. This week’s featured artists were Tom Waits and Dave Brubeck. I was able to hear the entire Tom Waits segment before the radio signal began to fade.

Tom Waits is an artist whose work I have never really been acquainted with. He’s apparently a rather eccentric individual. Unquestionably an amazing musician and poet/lyricist, though his voice is one of those love it or hate it types. You listen and think, “The man has no voice” yet I couldn’t get enough. I think the same way about Dylan, though. The show closed out with his “Tom Traubert’s Blues (Waltzing Matilda)” song. I’d never heard him sing it before, though I recognized it as one Rod Stewart performed. It’s apparently not one of his best songs, but it’s one of his best known. He closes out his concerts with it more often than not, I think. Songs don’t move me too often, but this one made my eyes go all misty. I still don’t know exactly why. And I’ve listened to it again today a few times (gotta love the web!)...still chokes me up.

So, here’s a YouTube video from a few years back. Once you get over the shock of his’s a beautiful song. And yeah, compared with the rendition that Rod Stewart sang...well, there’s no comparison. Rod Stewart’s rendition was weak tea.

I’ve been having a good time going through all the Tom Waits videos on YouTube. I really like this one (Train Song), too. There’s a good selection. He’s amazing. How’d I go this long without discovering him!


Happy New Year

Monday, 4:58 pm

By Kate




partly cloudy

I should be getting myself into the kitchen, any minute now, to fix a dish to take across the street tonight for New Year’s Eve celebrating. Isn’t that convenient? I don’t have to drive anywhere. I can walk to the party and I can walk home. Not more than 100 feet, either way.

I’m making stuffed potato skins. Yum.

Before I go, however, I thought I’d share this article (via Talking Points Memo) from the Washington Post about a dumb dinosaur industry that is working tirelessly to assure its own extinction. You just couldn’t come up with a more horrible business plan than aggressively suing your customers, while offering no alternatives that remotely address 21st century technology and convenience. Yes, we’re talking about the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). They are now suing individuals who ripped legally purchased CDs to store and play on their very own computers. Sharing those songs is not the issue. Just having copies of songs from your legally purchased CDs on your computer (and probably other portable devices) is, they claim, illegal. Good luck with that. Like we’re all going to drag around with a CD player and our entire CD libraries so we can listen to our tunes whenever and wherever. The thing I want to know, that the article doesn’t get around to addressing, is how the RIAA found out that the guy they’re suing had copies of his CDs on his computer. I’d really like to know to know the answer to that.

Tomorrow, I shall be back to the regularly scheduled programming with some odds and ends.

Hope you all have a safe and enjoyable New Year’s Eve.



Wednesday, 3:40 pm

By Kate





I like widgets, both in real life and in virtual. It came to my attention, a couple of days ago, that Yahoo! has a FREE widget engine (for Windows and Macs) that places any number of their thousands of available widgets on your desktop. They’re kept all neat and tidy in a widget bar that docks to the top, right, bottom, or left side of your screen. You can also select the auto-hide feature to keep it out of sight until you need something on it. You have the option of leaving your widgets open and placed wherever you want them on the desktop or conveniently hidden, available to you when you click the icon in the widget bar.

Naturally, I had to try it. For some time now, I’ve been using Object Desktop which also includes a bazillion widgets with all kinds of customization features. I still use many components of the program, but , I learned, the widgets eat memory like nobody’s business. Still, I used it because I couldn’t find a better alternative.

Wellll. Having played with Yahoo’s widgets for the past couple of days, I am in love. I think they’re even better than Object Desktop’s widgets. Yahoo! widgets use a small amount of memory and I think the quality of the widgets is just sublime.

Currently placed on my widget bar are: a calendar, a task and event list (tied into my Yahoo calendar), a memory gauge meter (since I do have to keep an eye on it), a sitemeter widget that even talks to me if I choose, a wicked cool analog clock (a German train station clock whose second hand even pauses at the 12 while the minute hand moves up a minute, just like the real deal), a time tracker that tells me how long I’ve been on the computer (it can also be used to track jobs and fees, with the ability to save files for each job), a sweet little volume control that I can put wherever I want it or tuck it out of sight, a radio widget with about 73 stations on it, a k-Mozart (105.1 fm) radio widget (expressly for the classical music station out of Los Angeles. Their playlists are just superb), a compact and pretty countdown timer widget (extremely handy for someone who has an elastic sense of time), a weather widget, a gorgeous moon widget that shows the moon phase in real time (just because it’s pretty and fun), a Yahoo! notepad widget on which I can take notes on the fly and tuck them into folders right on the widget (also tied into my Yahoo account), an rss newsreader widget that works like a charm with the added bonus of being available with one click and I can put it away with another.

Oh, and the neatest little widget tied into I found the widget before I had a clue what Chore Buster was all about. That led me to sign up for Chore Buster. For the less than organized person, it’s a blast. Takes some time to input all your daily chores, but once they’re entered, Chore Buster sets up a daily/weekly schedule (which can include all the members of your family so every one knows what they’re supposed to do and when)...which makes it much likelier that stuff will actually get done on a regular rotation. It’s kind of a Flylady concept captured in software. I haven’t completely input all my various chores yet, but, for example, this is a screen capture of my Chore Buster widget (along with all the other related widget real estate on my screen) for today:

larger drop down image

So far, I’ve experienced no widget glitches or conflicts with anything else. It’s pretty slick, easy to set up, and very kind to my computer’s memory. I am impressed.


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