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The other day it became suddenly, unmistakably, and annoyingly evident that a key was sticking on my accordion. This is so because when the key sticks it plays any time the bellows are moving. I wasn’t sure what the fix would be and was delighted when fellow PKOer, Mirko, offered to repair it. He said we’d have to pull the rod that the keys are held in place by and that all the keys would pop out. That sounded horrifying and also like an adventure into accordion land and I was game. I’ve always heard about people who work on their own accordions. I’d like to be one of those people. Now I am (sort of).

the offending key: #30 (b flat)

This morning Mirko came over armed with tiny screw drivers and a needle nosed pliers and a blanket to work on. I had prepped for the operation by sticking tape on each key and numbering them so we’d able to keep track of what went where once the keys came out.

1 – 41, marked and ready for removal

On one side of the keyboard there’s a little cap held in place by two screws. The expectation was to remove it and access the rod that holds the keys. What we found was not one rod but two. In my accordion there is one rod for the white keys and one for the black keys (really red keys but we called them the back keys). Once this was apparent it was amazing to me that Mirko could immediately figure out which rod held which set of keys. He could see where they pivoted from.

the black (red) key rod starting to come out.

As the rod was worked out Mirko removed the first black/red key. It is a complicated little item complete with a curved wire that acts to make the key spring. Given the age of the accordion it wasn’t surprising to find that the keys and felts were dirty. I worked on clean up crew. It didn’t take Mirko long to figure out that he could pull the rod almost all the way out and still leave most of the keys in place. He did this until he got to the stuck key which he completely removed.

first key out:

Mirko examined the bad key and figured out that the wood part of it was rubbing against something metal. He shaved the wood down a bit, fit it back it and . . . presto. . . it worked again.

Mirko working on the key:

With the keys back in, the rods was carefully rethreaded through the keyboard. THe cap put back on. The switch plate replaced (did I mention that had to be reomvied?) and then the grill screwed back in place. All done. Ready for playing.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Mirko.

Yesterday was the Sinterklaas celebration in Rhinebeck, the town next to mine. The event is based on the Dutch Christmas tradition. You can read all about at the Sinterklaas site. It was a tradition in Rhinebeck that had stopped some 20 years ago and its orginator, Jeanne Flemming (of the famed NYC Halloween Parade) has brought it back to life. It felt like a celebration of community, light and love with which to fill these darkest days of the year. It was clear that the event was masterfully designed to be home grown and community-oriented. The partnership with Master Puppet Designers Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles of Superior Concept Monsters and Jeanne and a host of other community members gave birth to a truly spectacular pageant.

All day kids came to a big room in one of the churches where they created their own crowns and sceptors to carry in the parade later in the day. They also got to go to the Wish Lady and tell her their wish which she would write on slip of paper so they could attach it to their spector. The crowns were amazing creations laden with sparkles and beads and buttons and ribbons and all kinds of stuff that the kids could choose from an enormous collection of materials that were donated by local folk. Adults filled a giant dove scultpture with slips of paper carrying their wishes.

There was an array of events and activities all day long. I saw the Vanaver Caravan amd the Arm of Sea Theater group present a dance and music performance celebrating the season of light in the Church of the Messiah. The show was opened by the Black Sea Hotel, a sweet sounding quartet singing Balkan a’cappella. There was a play in the Town Hall. And on the streets: musicians — a Balkan band, a brass band on stilts, an a’cappella group sing old New England hyms, Morris dancers, and the all-famous and inspiring grumpuses. I can’t even describe the gumpuses. I’m hoping to share some photos, though. And more much . . . a magic show, storytelling and on and on.

I saw lots of friends and neighbors. Jill and I were “ask me” people. Jill did a much better job of this than I did. And then Gabe and Jess arrived from Albany. After taking a little sustenance at Bread Alone we watched the Grumpuses dance to the Balkan band Max’s New Hat in the municipal parking lot. After that we headed up to the Starr Library (accompanied part of the way by the band: Max’s New Hat).

The library was the site of the assembling of the parade that would descend the hill into town under the watchful and expectant eyes of the crowd that had been gathering all day. Sophia and Alex guided us gently into various puppets — big puppets that towered up above on poles or on carts with wheels and smaller ones that were worn like hats, but giant oversized hats. Some puppets are one-person arrangements while other took a cast of ten to animate. Jess, Gabe and I chose to be in the section of the parade for the season. We carried the figure of Spring. She was a beauty and I think we did her well in bringing her to life. It took a little bit to get situated with each of us in the right place and to practice her moves some. But then we guided her into action and along the parade route swooping left and then right and an occasional full turn! It was a blast. There’s more but it’s late and sleep calls.

Welcome to my blog: Cadence

In music, rhythmic cadences give phrases a distinctive ending, which can, for example, indicate to the listener whether the piece is to be continued or concluded. In an accordion class last summer I was taught that if you learn the cadences which you hear in Klezmer music you'll always have a place to catch up with the band, even if you don't know the piece. —Elena

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