Joyce Hinnefeld


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What I Did on My Summer Vacation (So Far)

Recognize the clean lines of the building in the photograph above? That's Shaker architecture for you--in this case, a side view of the North Family Meeting House at the White Water Shaker Village in Hamilton County, Ohio, outside Cincinnati, built in 1827. (Thanks to my husband Jim Hauser for taking this and other great photos of the North Family site, which we visited last month.)

The Meeting House is being slowly, patiently, and loving restored by a group of volunteers--theFriends of White Water Shaker Village. One of those volunteers, Rich Spence, took time out of his work day to show Jim, my brother Stu, and me around the site on a Friday morning in June. I was so struck by the patience and commitment of these people, and by their incredible attention to detail. Despite my negative portrayal of some of the fictional restorers of the Pleasant Hill site in Kentucky in Stranger Here Below, I'm actually a big admirer of historic preservation types like Rich. I don't think I'd have the stamina to work so tirelessly at getting every beam, every floor board, every window frame exactly right--and also at raising the money to make it all possible.

We visited the White Water site after a great visit at Berea College (during June's Alumni Weekend), some time with my dad in southern Indiana, a very fun book signing at The Green Bean in Bloomington, Indiana, and a relaxing visit with Stu and his wife Susan, who got us hooked on "Modern Family," in Cincinnati.

So that's how the summer began. I can't believe we've already passed July 4th. Where is it going? In my case, it seems like a lot of it's going toward baking endless loaves of zucchini bread (thanks to Jim and Anna's bottomless appetite for the stuff, and the bottomless supply of zucchini from Red Earth Farm, our community-supported agriculture growers). I'm not exactly a post-your-recipe-on-the-blog kind of gal, but this one from Marian Morash's The Victory Garden Cookbook, which Morash calls "Lynn's Spicy Zucchini Bread," really is good:

3 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
3 eggs
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 c. lightly packed coarsely grated zucchini
(Optional: 1 c. raisins, 3/4 c. nuts; I don't use either.)

Sift the dry ingredients together. Beat the eggs with the sugar, oil, and vanilla. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients. Stir in the zucchini, adding raisins and nuts if you like. Divide between 2 greased 9 X 5-inch loaf pans and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 50-60 minutes.

Besides squeezing in work on a new novel during whatever windows of time I can find, here's another thing I did this summer: a week of "Mountain Music Camp" with Tom Druckmiller, Betty Druckmiller, and Norm Williams. Anna learned some fiddle tunes from Betty, we got to enjoy Tom's banjo and guitar playing, and Norm managed to teach me to strum along on several tunes on the dulcimer (I especially liked "Pretty Betty Martin"). Jean Ritchie I'm not, but I am now officially on the lookout for a good dulcimer. Probably I'll shop in Berea, where there are beautiful dulcimers for sale on the main square. But if anyone has other suggestions, let me know.

I took the other photo above, on my phone, so I apologize for the quality. Shown are four accomplished musicians and lovers of all things Appalachian, especially the music--from left to right: Nathan Druckmiller (Tom and Betty's talented son, who joined us to play some tunes on the mandolin one day), Tom Druckmiller, Betty Druckmiller, and Norm Williams. You can hear them at many festivals, including the Augusta Workshops in Elkins, West Virginia, and also at the Old Time Jams that Tom and Betty host at Godfrey Daniels here in Bethlehem, PA, on the first Tuesday of every month (tonight, and then starting again in September).

Come fall, when I'm hoping things will slow down a bit around here, and when I also hope to have a dulcimer of my own, I plan to be there at Godfrey's on some Tuesday nights. (But don't worry, Tom and Betty: I'll sit at the farthest possible edge of the group--and I'll mostly listen!)

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