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IMG_0415Just winding down after a lovely sunny day. I did spend more time inside than planned but it was for good reason — helping Isaiah create some promotional materials so that he can get work now that he is to be a Brooklyn resident. He’s got a wesite in the works and that has been a lot of fun and good learning for me. Got outside to do some weeding in the flower beds. Even got a little sun. Shopped for groceries for my dad. Played my accordion a lot. Learning two new songs — both with lyrics. Helped Bernard move the last things from his office to the house. He is a retired person now. Pretty cool for him. And finally dinner — corn from Montgomery place, grilled patty pans and string beans from the garden, potatoes, onion and squash from the CSA. And some fresh perch steamed with just picked herbs. Yum. Maybe I’ll play a little more accordion before calling it a day — a sweet day.

PKOatMansionParty The PKO was honored to play at an elegant bash on Friendship Street two weeks ago. Hoping to see more photos. For now here’s a peak through the window. Bernard, Mirko and I joined by a new freind Jenna on stand-up bass.

We played one set of Klezmer tunes. Guests gathered to listen and some even danced. It was a thrill.

Beautiful Saturday in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Great day for the annual yard sale in Tivoli. Did I need anything? No. Did I get some cool stuff? Yes. But the best part of the day was the pie contest sponsored by the Tivoli Bakery. Five judges reviewed a table laden with sumptuous looking pies. And who won 3rd place? Yup, Ms Sasha Pearl with her blueberry and basil pie in a ginger, macadamia nut graham cracker crust. Delicious. Here are the photos!

The Pie.

The Pie.

Contestants and fans await the judges decison.

Contestants and fans await the judges decison.

Sasha awarded 3rd prize by Mikey the Baker

Sasha awarded 3rd prize by Mikey the Baker

Kate, 4th prize winner describes her pie to the crowd.

Kate, 4th prize winner describes her pie to the crowd.

first beet from my garden

first beet from my garden

Today I picked this beautiful beet from my garden. Yes it is small but it is also perfect and it grew in my backyard garden. Pretty cool from my perspective. There are more out there working on their size but this was the biggest so far. I could use some advice about their circumstances. Not sure I have thinned the bed enough. I love beets and would love to be growing lots of them.

I also picked the fist green bean! The bushes that looked empty yesterday are full this morning. Will be thinking of a dinner that involves their presence for tomorrow night.

Now I have to go warm up on the accordion ’cause we have practice in a few…

So here I am at WordPress. The bummer is that the header doesn’t look as cool as the one I had at blogger so my first task is to find a theme that is a little different and that might allow me to customize my header. Here goes….

moving to wordpress

moving to wordpress

Welcome me to WordPress. Since one of my goals this summer is to become proficient in creating WordPress blogs and websites I am starting here — moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress. Hope you like the change. Keep an eye out since I’l be experimenting with the way it looks and how much functionality I can add.

This was a meal worth noting. Red snapper stuffed with fresh herbs and lemon, brushed with olive oil and grilled with ginger, garlic scapes and scallion. Served with brown rice, slices of avocado and lemon wedges. Tamari, lemon, ginger sauce on the side. And a fresh from the garden green salad. Chard from the garden lightly sauteed with a few garlic scapes are hidden in the covered bowl. Shared it with my honey. Lovely dinner.Yum!

So many things to do and not enough time.

I have been in the garden a lot this past month or so and things really are growing. Really. I can’t believe it. We’ve even had an entire green salad from the backyard. I’m about to pick peas. And tonight’s pesto uses homegrown basil.



Photos: Greens for a salad. I got cabbage seedlings from Derek and it is looking like they have taken to the change in address rather well.


Photos: the flower garden along the path to the house. The peonies.

accordion back straps in production


The accordion back strap business continues. accordionbackstrap.com I have several wholesale accounts and I’ve been selling individual straps on ebay including two to Europe. It kind of amazes me. And delights me. Who knows where it will lead. I’ve already been meeting interesting folks from all over — via the web, mostly — as I research places and connections for selling and announcing.

I just answered a question for Let’s Polka’s blog. Not sure they’ll post it but here is what I said:

What inspired me to start making accordion back straps? The obsessive behavior of collecting accordions. Well, not just collecting them. “Collecting” sounds like buying them and displaying them like Hummels or Depression Glass, or sticking them in the closet with one’s collections of other things.

Not me. I play them all. The little mint condition Giulietti I lucked out on in an ebay purchase. It was the first “real” accordion after the beat up student model I started on. The (for me) massive Marco d’Oro which was a great buy from Liberty Bellows ( http://www.libertybellows.com/) and still has my favorite sound (plus bigger keys and more reeds!). But all along I was searching for another Giulietti:— the M52 model. And I found one (after an embarrassingly massive number of hours logged on ebay) — very smooth and a pleasure to play. And then one last look . . . a sweet Florentino — an in between size with that cool mute on-mute off feature. OK. So now I’m banned from looking at accordions on ebay, or any where else for that matter. But what to do about playing them all in comfort and in anatomical good health?

When I started, my wise and experienced accordion teacher recommended a back strap. I got one. One for one accordion worked OK. But with four accordions it was a pain to be switching the strap from one to another. I couldn’t find the same style strap again, only leather ones with buckles or hooks or other connection contraptions that didn’t look nearly as easy to operate as a nylon strap and a quick-release buckle, like on a back pack, that allows me to snug it up or loosen it with total ease while I’m wearing it. So I made a few — some for me and some for my friends that seemed to have the same collectors obsession as I.

And then I thought — maybe I could sell a few on ebay. And I did. You can still find one for sale there. And on my website.Or through Liberty Bellows, or Accordion Heaven or the Button Box . I just sold one to someone in France. So I’ve gone international! And while I can’t be at the Main Squeeze Accordion Festival in NYC on July 11th, my best rep (my daughter) will be there selling them in person.

I enjoy the process of making them, sewing them, packing them up and sending them off, hoping someday to collect some stories about where they’ve been. The process is a nice contrast to my “other” work which I also love — graphic design. And maybe with enough sales I’ll be able to support my accordion buying habit!

playing music

Been doing lots of that. The PKO is taking a little early summer break. But all spring we (Bernard, Mirko, and I as the regulars) played every Sunday with some configuration of musicians. We’ve continued with klezmer tunes and have added a few jazz standards which means some opportunities to sing. If any one is interested or knows anyone who might be interested in joining us give a yell. We’d be happy to have more players to join our amateur Klezmer band the Pamelech Klezmer Orchester.

I just got Debra Peters DVD The ABCs of Accordion Basics: Blues, Chords & Chops. She teaches the blues. I can now “officially” play the blues scale in the key of “C.”

I’ve been practicing the Klezmer cadence variations which I got from Josh Horowitz. when I had a lesson with him. Don’t know how much of that has sunk into my thickening brain matter. So much to learn! Practice, practice, practice. It is all good!

In May I celebrated my birthday and had the best MUSICAL party ever. Instruments came out after dinner and we played and played and it was a blast.

Sasha has taken up the ukulele and continues to write great songs. Yesterday she taught me her newest and we played it together along with Bernard on the guitar. You can’t see him because he was also taking the pictures!

more later
Lots else happening but this will have to be the update for now.

Well, I’ve been off the blog path for some time now but returning with a new product to share. I’ve been making back straps for accordions — they are very comfortable, infinitely adjustable, easy to put on and off and really, really good for your back. And they are for sale! $20.plus $3.00 shipping. Would love feedback. Any thoughts on the pricing and where/how I should market them? Thanks.

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.

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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