Greensleeves

Submitted by Ben on Fri, 02/27/2009 - 13:10

When I was first teaching myself to play the autoharp, I got to feeling pretty cocky about my ability to play by ear. I brought it along to a church youth conference I was chaparoning and asked a teenage boy to pick a tune so I could demonstrate. I was expecting him to choose a rock song, I guess, but hearing a rock song butchered on the autoharp was not his priority: much better to make himself look smart and take me down a notch! He asked for "Greensleeves," and I was stumped... it took me about 5 years to work out this arrangement, and I don't ask teenagers for requests anymore.

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Blue Boat Home (Hyfrydol)

Submitted by Ben on Fri, 02/27/2009 - 13:06

lyrics by Peter Mayer
tune ("Hyfrydol") by Rowland Prichard.

Peter Mayer's tune differs from the traditional hymn in that the last three notes are drawn out to three beats apiece; traditionally they get only one. Additionally, in the last verse during the words "sky my sailor song" he holds the Em chord while singing G for the entire line.

I play this in C or D because it's easier for me to sing. Your harp may sing it better in G. Here is a video of me performing it in D.

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In Sickness and in Health

Submitted by Ben on Tue, 02/17/2009 - 11:59

Jessie and I are both sick with a cold right now.  The last time this happened was over six months ago, just at the time we moved to Emporia.  In the intervening six months I didn't get sick even once, even though Jessie brought home a variety of ailments from the University, especially in January... but back to last August.  It was a cold of truly marvelous speed and severity and contagiousness, and it hit us at a pivotal time in our lives, and the story has not yet been properly told.  So here it is, based on the notes I took at the time.

Energy Audit, February 2009

Submitted by Ben on Tue, 02/10/2009 - 09:17

Last Thursday we got a home energy audit from a service called IAQ Solutions, part of Blue Dot Kansas.  It would have been good to get the audit last fall, but the waiting list was quite long.  The fees were also quite reasonable: the cost of the audit itself is paid by a grant, so we just have to pay for the auditor's transportation from Topeka, which will be about $125, but we haven't got the bill yet.  In any case, the recommendations he made should pay for themselves in a year or two.

100% post-consumer recycled wedding invitations

Submitted by Ben on Fri, 01/16/2009 - 16:41

What my sister calls the "marital industrial complex" has been rightly criticized for its environmental impact.  When you're planning a wedding, there are simply too many things to think about without worrying about ecology as well.  I'm sure my college friends would be shocked to find that Jessie and I will be using disposable dishes, for example.

Wholesome Monster Cookies

Submitted by Ben on Sun, 01/11/2009 - 17:23

People keep asking for this recipe, so I'm going to post it here...

I used to really love "monster cookies" -- that is, oatmeal-M&M-peanut butter cookies -- but then peanuts stopped agreeing with me, and I learned that most chocolate is made by child slaves, and I was living around a bunch of health-food enthusiasts, so I needed a wholesome substitute.  I started from this basic oatmeal cookie recipe, which I found online somewhere:

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Top ten reasons to use a reel mower

Submitted by Ben on Thu, 01/08/2009 - 21:23

My landlady in Fairfield had an old rusty reel mower in the garage, and I tried using it once before giving up -- it just wouldn't cut worth a darn, so I assumed it was dull, and I asked around to see if anyone would sharpen it, but no one would.  But then just before I left Fairfield, a friend told me that he used a reel mower, and he was the first person I'd ever met who did, so I asked him how he sharpened it.  He said, "You don't need to sharpen it.  You just adjust it right, and it sharpens itself."  Well, that got me intrigued, so I tinkered with t