Orange Blossom Special

Mary Rowell is 50.

My friend Mary Rowell turns 50 this year. We celebrated last night in her yard/garage/barn in Craftsbury, Vermont where we all live some of the time. It poured down rain outside, and the light was terrible — too poor for video. But this didn’t hinder the audio a bit, as you will hear if you click below. You might just set her going and kick back and close your eyes, but for those of you who cannot tolerate TV without pictures I have tossed in a few stills. The music — provided by friends and neighbors (any guest, really, who brought or borrowed an instrument) — was awesome:


We tried some square dancing — about twice. We only had room in that garage for one square — that would be 4 couples (or 8 dancers, for you liberal arts types). And lot of the dances are couples’ squares (with certain parts for gents, and different parts for the ladies) but we weren’t fussy about who did what. So we had gents as ladies and ladies as gents and unless you were paying attention at the very start when the lineups announced themselves, you couldn’t have guessed who was supposed to do what, even if you were one of the dancers. As a result there was a lot of crashing around and colliding, and a lot of laughing that went with it.

Mary’s family asked her what she wanted for a birthday present and she told them, a 30-30, which (for you city people, who know different things than we do) is a deer rifle. Not that she has any plans to shoot a deer. She’s a musician in New York City now and she lives in Fort Lee, NJ when she isn’t playing chamber music here or touring the globe with the likes of Joe Jackson or Sheryl Crow or ETHEL, the rock & roll string quartet she belongs to. As a matter of fact, I do not really know why she wanted a gun, except perhaps that it was just time.

A 30-30 takes a shell that’s about as tall as a salt shaker when you stand it up on the kitchen counter, as I did before wrapping up the box I bought to bring to her party.

“I am looking for some Girly Ammo,” I had said to the man in the sporting goods shop. “My friend is turning 50 and her family has agreed that she is finally old enough for a gun.”

Girly Ammo? he asked. “Any particular color?”

I gave this some thought. “It puts a new spin on the expression ‘shell pink,’ doesn’t it?” I said.

“It don’t come in pink,” he said. “It comes in 150 grain and 170 grain. Which would she want?”

“What is the difference?” I asked.

“Well, the 170 grain has a bit more kick to it,” he offered.

“She is a strong girl,” I said. “Kick would not bother her.”

“Still,” he said. “She probably doesn’t have an actual need for extra kick.”

He knows Mary.

“Probably not,” I conceded.

“I will wrap this up for you, then,” said the man.

3 thoughts on “Orange Blossom Special

  1. Honey Throated Dave wouldn’t let me sell no Ranger CDs at Mary’s party…but you can get’m off the web-site.

    Took Mary up to the range with the new .30-30 yesterday. That woman was born to shoot. Don’t be triflin’ wiv her.

    You got that right.

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  2. Mary Rowell, bless her country-hillbilly/radio-city-music-hall/ethel/motorcycle ridin’/gun-totin’ heart. 5-OH big ones, but you’d never know it. She can kick ass most all ways around. An’ can a chick really be that tall? Of course she wanted a 30-30 for her birthday. An’ I’m diggin’ her pickin’ on an electric geetar here – I didn’t know she did that?
    Sorry I wasn’t there fer this big shin-dig, but I was out Starlinin’. An’ Kenji – well, watch out fer that boy, ‘cept too much of that kinda playin’ might mess up his classical work! Thanks fer recordin’ this fer posterity – an’ I spot a buncha folks I know in them pix.

    Danny C! *Please* welcome Starline Rhythm Boy Danny Coane, ladies and gentlemen: the “rockin’ pride of Vermont” – an erstwhile Throbulator and a banjo-pickin’ lead-singin’ member of my favorite radio band, the WDEV Radio Rangers — as are the red-shirted king of NEKingdom fiddlers (Tony Washburn), the green-shirted demon-eyed and devastatingly handsome flat-pickin’/rhythm guitar player (Mark Struhsacker) and their honey-throated, high-altitude bass player (Little Davy Rowell) in the video. Danny is speaking here of Kenji Bunch‘s secret life as a teacher, performer and composer of high reputation in “formal” music circles. Kenji also keeps his bluegrass chops hot with his own, Brooklyn-based band, Citigrass. Lucky for us, he’s a member of the Craftsbury Chamber Players and comes up for a couple of weeks every summer to celebrate his birthday and play with his friends.

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  3. This party must have been rockin’! I love the video, and Mary sounds like a total trip. Love the description of your shopping expedition.

    I loved square dancing in high school gym class. I was probably the only one who did, but it was so much fun. Next time you should hire a square dancing teacher to come to the party…or maybe I should hire one to come to my house.

    Hi Wendy! Yes, Mary *is* a pistol. As for the dancing, I don’t think a teacher would have done us any good – we had many experienced dancers on hand and two of the best callers in the county right there on the floor :o) Either more or less beer might have made a difference, but I’m not sure which.

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