Mandolin chain

We’ve had this mandolin for years. It’s got a crack in the body right where the bridge sits.  Dad never wanted to get rid of it, like many things around the house. “It’s still good,” he’d say, “just needs some love.”

I’m no luthier but I do love the sound of a mando. Tried to fixed it a few times. I put a dowel in the body, the exact size to hold the weight of the bridge. Didn’t work, surprise.

Rather than “throw good money after bad,” I decided it might make a sweet decoration – at least it’d get appreciated – and hung it next to the front door of the house. Dad couldn’t handle an instrument being treated that way so he took it down and ferreted it away with all the other instruments we have hanging around the house in various states of disrepair.

Well, yesterday I fixed it…to the wall of the “Shack”… to watch the weather take it back from whence it came. Part an ode to all the music we used to play in that shack, part a way to deal with some of the piles of stuff we were left in the house, part a rebel yell.

I can just hear him say, “that’s a good mando!”



Mt Philo Photo Medley

Mt. Philo is Vermont’s first state park, established in 1924. Towering at just shy of a thousand feet (968 ft), it’s a few miles from home. Sure, it’s not a monster, but it’s a great place for a few Jackjump runs with a local crew.

Photos, Travel

Summer Orphans – 2014

Everyone needs a home. Everyone needs some love. These babies don’t classify easily, so together they will be – orphans of the 2014 road trip around the Easy East of America.

Photos, Writing

Jack Jumping

I’ve been telling folks about this Vermont past-time for years now and thought a blog post about it might clear up any lingering misunderstandings. There’s no snow around just yet, but it’s never too early to build a new one for the new season.

A Jack Jumper is one downhill ski with a seat on top of it, usually made out of second hand materials. Supposedly originating from New England, Jack Jumping is the fine art of balancing one’s self on said instrument and riding pell-mell down mountain sides, hills, or other vertical inclines. The tendency to be laughing like a maniac while doing this activity is also quite high – be warned.

In a word, it’s awesome and surprisingly easy…

If you’re looking for further coverage, please see Leith Tonino’s semi-historical account in Vermont Magazine (January/February 2011) – “The Smiles are Huge – Jack Jumping: A Personal History of an Old-Time Vermont Tradition” – or some basic coverage from the 2011 Mount Snow Jack Jump World Championship in the Charlotte News from me.

Mount Snow’s Jack Jump World Championship happens every year around March. If you’re interested, it’s a great wee community event.  There’s also one in Europe somewhere, but they call it Skibock…

Wikipedia article:

Now you know a bit more about Vermont culture and what to do with all those old downhill skis you have…

Happy JJin’!

2014 Jack Jump World Championship video from Sean Hirten