Humble Contributions to the Peoples' History

The Swarthmore College Folk Dance Club held their annual ball on February 6, 2016, in Tarble-in-Clothier on the College Campus. Participants included alums from around the country, community members, staff, faculty and students. Susie Petrov and Calum Pasqua provided the music.

Swat alum and students

Swarthmore Alums & Students

A bagpiper performed for the grand march as dancers promenaded around the hall. The musicians played twenty-one dances, including Scottish set dances, contra and waltz. Tables of goodies and teas provided refreshments half way through the evening.

In case you might think that Scottish dancing might be a series of simple steps, here is a partial list of the directions for one of the reels:

1-8  1M casts to 2nd place, crosses & turns 2L RH to end in the send place pop side, 1L casts, crosses & turns 2M LH to end in the 2nd place pop side. 
9-16 1s lead down & cast up round 3s, 2s+1s dance 1/2 R &L (E2s end 2nd place opposite sides) to 1, 2x, 3.
17-24  1s+2s set & petronella turn moving anti-clockwise to next position to right, 1s+22s prat to 2,1X, 3.

Despite the intricacy of the steps, I enjoyed the dancing. Previously, I had only taken two Scottish dance lessons, but those with experience very kindly led novices, like me, through the steps.  Laughing at mistakes is part of the fun, and of course, dancers can “improvise” to cover any missteps.

Highlights from the ball in the video:







Recording family history has expanded my perceptions of time, how families lived out their days in cycles of births, marriages, and passings. Sometimes I cannot tell whether I am in their time or my own as these dimensions seem to meld together.

Video shows the passage of time for a little farm-house that belonged to my great-grandparents.  First photograph was taken a hundred years ago and the second when I returned to find the house along a back road on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

WordPress Photo Challenge: Time


Advertised as “West Philly Old-Time Square Dancing,” the organizers can be congratulated on the success of their very first dance. Folks poured into the room ready to embark on a dance experience that was new to many of the participants.  A bit of chaos to start, but everyone was in great spirits as the caller selected fun dances. The band played energetic music, folks laughing and smiling through their steps.

In the video, “heal an’ toe, heal an’ toe and slide . . . clap, swing  . . . on to the next.”  Great way to dance everyone in the room!

Next dance, February 26.
St. Mary’s Church, Hamilton Village
3916 Locust Walk





Valentine’s Day is just around the corner so perhaps that is the reason I was thinking in hearts, flowers and vibrant red.  Be my Valentine! ❤

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Vibrant


“hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”

Van Morrison


St. Malo, France

Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimism


The photo challenge for this week is to share a photograph that either shows weight or the air of weightlessness.  This memory came to mind: a time when I was walking through the plazas of Madrid.  Street theater is entertainment at its best: varied, unexpected, usually humorous and contributions are voluntary–defying the boundaries of standard entertainment venues. Street theater is democratic, as actors can decide, independent of usual restraints, to perform whatever they like. Since no tickets are required, the audience receives the benefit of a free show. Defying both gravity and convention–fascinating.

defying gravity

Head amiss

Weekly Photo Challenge: Weightless


The photo challenge for this week invites photographers to consider what a circle represents. What came to mind was this snow shovel invention, which makes use of a wheel to create a fulcrum to lift snow.


Last year the total snowfall amounted to over 58.4 inches in our area, all of which had to be removed from the drive and walkway. Because the drive is shaded, the snow freezes making a nice, slick patch of ice to negotiate.

Then I saw our neighbor across the street using a crazy-looking device for removing snow: a huge wheel attached to a shovel. I watched as our neighbor cleared his entire driveway without having to bend over to lift the snow. He gave us the information on the device, and I lost no time checking the Internet on the invention: the Snow Wovel. Time Magazine claimed it as the best invention for 2006, so it’s been around for a few years. According to their website the Snow Wovel is

recognized by Co-op America and National Green Pages™ for its positive, pollution-free environmental standards and zero carbon footprint in usage. University of Massachusetts independent study confirms the wheeled snow shovel clears snow with a fraction of the effort and safer on the back: “comparable to simply walking.”

Wheel technology continues, as I ponder when the first human conceptualized this circular device about 3,500 BC, making life easier for us all.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Circle

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