Bits and pieces

The Ridgewood Boys played at the first Pickin’ in the Park afternoon at Natural Tunnel State Park. It’s where we did our very first public performance two years ago; the folks there have been very good to us, and so we try to be there whenever we can. We’re in the process of constructing some well-thought-out 45 minute sets, so we tried out a four-song portion of one on the audience: “This Weary Heart You Stole Away,” “Don’t Cheat in Our Hometown,” “Wishful Drinking,” and “Silver Tongue and Gold-Plated Lies.” (You can find three of those on the Ridgewood Boys website.)

When the afternoon was over we had a couple of people come and tell us how much they enjoyed our segment. And the leader of the afternoon’s featured group, the Appalachian Dream Spinners, was very complimentary about our playing. I think we did a much better job than ever before of grabbing and holding the audience’s attention. That’s a relief, because the goal for the summer is to be able to do the same thing, but at a festival during a 45-minute set.

Our friend Ron Short has arranged for us to play at yet another festival this fall, the Wise County Famous Fall Fling on October 1. He is also on the bill, and he wants us there so we can do a few songs together. In particular, we’re working on three Dock Boggs songs, trying to create some awareness of Dock in his own home town.


The garden is producing abundantly. We’ve been eating lettuce and spinach for a month now. We picked a huge mountain of chard a week back—which cooked down into a small pile of greens, barely enough to go around but still very tasty. We’ve just harvested the first snap peas, which turn out to be delicious when steamed (pods and all) and then tossed with some butter and salt. The pole beans and bush beans are beginning to blossom. Parsley and cilantro are prolific; sometimes it goes in a dish fresh, but mostly Chris has been picking it and dehydrating it. The bell peppers look okay, but the serrano peppers look kind of sickly—no idea why. And there are loads of tomatoes on our two plants.


Because we cancelled the exhibit at the Richmond homeschool convention, we can now attend my brother’s wedding in Winston-Salem. It’s a three-hour drive from here, and the wedding is in the evening, so we plan to leave a little early and eat supper at Keaton’s Original BBQ in Cleveland, NC, which Jane and Michael Stern list among their top five favorite eateries. And after the wedding my folks will be coming for a weekend visit; it’ll be the first time for them to see their newest grandchild Benjamin.


After seeing a number of recommendations on the internet, I’ve started reading Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation. It looks like it will be a pretty good book. I had hoping that it might be a great book, because the topic deserves one, but so far it’s falling short of greatness. There is lots of good information that was new to me, but I repeatedly find myself thinking that Schlosser could have gone a lot deeper with only a little more work.

What mainly keeps the book from greatness, though, is that Schlosser sacrifices comprehensiveness for storytelling. For example, the story of the origin and development of fast food in Southern California is told from the point of view of the Carl’s Jr. hamburger chain. Now, it’s true that Carl’s Jr. was a pioneer, and is still a major player, but most of what is interesting about the Carl’s Jr. story has more to do with business and family issues than it does with the industrialization of food. And because Schlosser has chosen Carl’s Jr. as his protagonist, he ends up leaving out lots of important information because including it would mess up the flow of his story.

Still, Schlosser has done some important groundwork, and his book was enough of a sensation that we can hope that somebody out there is writing a more thoughtful, more comprehensive book on the subject.

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