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.
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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.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve been cranking out the hats. This one is my Dad’s (as you can see) and he’s toasting it with a lot of love and gratitude. That feels really good!


OK, OK, you ask, what’s a nice Jewish girl doing in the Sinterklaas parade, carrying Sinterklaas in the old Dutch tradition (that’s me just under the horse’s nose), from his arrival by boat at the Rhinecliff Dock? So the answers is: participating in a wildly fun, thoroughly creative extravaganza that only started yesterday and promises a very full and festive day on Saturday December 6. Don’t miss it.


The parade needs lots of volunteers on Saturday December 6 in order to animate the puppets. It should be a blast of a day. Come join. We’ll have fun together! Email me for details or contact Jeanne Flemming: 845-758-5519, coordinator@sinterklaasrhinebeck.com. Check out the site for details: sinterklaasrhinebeck.com.

Birthday hat delivered. Looks good, right?

Yum. T-day was great thanks to Joyce and Mike and friends. Lots of excellent food. This household brought several items: three kinds of cranberry sauce, mashed chipolte sweet potatoes, and roasted beets and sweet potatoes.

The chipolte mashed sweet potato dish was a hit. It was really easy to make.

Bake the sweet potatoes:


Skin them or scoop them out:


puree the chipoltes in adobo sauce:


mash all together, add some salt and pepper:


The cranberry sauces . . . well, read the labels!


And the roasted root veggies (beets & sweet potatoes, plus garlic). This dish always make me think of my daughter Sasha. She is the champion beet and sweet potato roaster. This incarnation included some cloves of garlic.

Pre-roasting: toss the veggies in some olive oil and roast at 450 until done. I left the beets in a little longer than the rest:

Ready for the trip to Thanksgiving dinner:


Leftovers were combined with vegetable stock and pureed. Delicious:


Much to be thankful for. Good food, yes. But friends and family, music, time to relax, warmth and love. These are things to be grateful for.


While Laura loves her new hat, it exhibited a common problem I have when I knit hats, I tend to start the decrease too soon and end up with a hat that isn’t quite deep enough. So I’ve opened this one back up and will add about an inch and a half to its height before I decrease again. Then it will have plenty of roll up at the brim and be pulled down for extra warmth on those really cold days. Thanks for being patient Laura . . it’ll be done soon.

Each square of Beats Peat turns into 3 square feet of material once it is wet and expanded. It seemed to need a certain amount of time to absorb the water that I added. I did three blocks, each separately and each time it took some effort to get it to come apart and expand.

I mixed batches of Beats Pete and 20 shovels of soil and 20 of compost on a tarp. That was enough to fill one 4×4 frame.


After three frames worth, I decided the fourth could wait. Maybe I’ll get to it next weekend or in the spring. Either way I have at 12 square feet of garden area ready to go.


I may still try to get some garlic in this week. Here’s to gardening. And a bountiful return! Or bountiful fun. That I think I can count on.

This week I’ve been knitting again. Hats are the thing for the moment. I got more wool from Morehouse Farm. I bought it online since they don’t have a store anymore. It was difficult to pick colors and what I got wasn’t exactly what I’d expected. ut it is all beautiful and useful.

I started with a baby hat for a friend’s daughter’s new born. Then an adult duplicate became a birthday present. And now a warm winter hat for my dad. He has never worn a knit hat but with his hearing aids and neck brace it seems like a cap won’t do the job any longer.

This is Laura’s hat, perched on top of a basket of Morehouse Farm Merino 3 ply. I keep a collection this wool in various colors. It is like keeping around a box of paint. Perfect for making caps at the drop of a hat!

I’ve been installing a garden in our back yard. We built a sukkah this season. It came out really well and we had a great party in and around it. See the PKO blog for more on that. Anyway, I thought it would make a great center piece around which to build a veggie garden.

I did a little research and some asking around and settled on trying the “square foot garden” approach. This really consists of raised beds filled with a very nourishing mixture of soil, compost and in my case something called Beats Peat — a substitute for peat that is made from coconut trees that they recommended at the Phantom Gardener. It is very renewable and doesn’t disturb the eco-system the way mining for peat does.

I got all the materials together which I couldn’t have done with out a very generous loan of a pick-up truck. Saturday morning I built the frames, put them in place. I put a mixture of water and vinegar on the grass inside the frames, then a layer of cardboard. The photo shows a 4×4 frame made of 1×6 cedar. It is laying on a piece of cardboard that was destined for a dumpster. It turned out to be the perfect size (4×8) to fit under two side-by-side frames.

This is the sukkah with 2 – 4×4 frames on either side and a 2×8 frame across the back. I envision this cool and protected area under the sukkah that will serve as a place to work from, or lounge in or take a meal under all through the growing season.

Today I’ll fill them with the growing mix. And let them sit until the spring. Actually, I will try to plant garlic and maybe some winter greens. Check back for more.

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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