Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bluegrass, NZ Wine & the Ozarks

So its my second attempt to post on the Missouri trip, the first having been frustratingly torpedoed by computer malfunctions...anyways here goes:


Its about 12 hours to Missouri (including breaks, a distance of over 600 miles. We passed through Indiana on the way - lots of flat country surrounded by corn...unfortunately 10 mins of scenery viewing and you're pretty much done. A good book helped with some of the travel boredom!

Missouri is quite different. We crossed the Mississippi into St Louis, complete with its large archway representing the gateway to the west. Missouri is much more like NZ with rolling hill country and lots of green.

Its kind of weird crossing state lines - the signs and speed limits change - the Hinterman family tradition is to sound the horn maniacally whenever a state line is crossed. It reminded me of Bo and Luke Duke fleeing Hazard county across the state line and thus avoiding the clutches of Boss Hogg, the sheriff (Roscoe P Coltrane) and Deputy Enos ("you got your ears on you dipstick").


Dixon Missouri is home to Kristen's maternal grandfather's family - the Martins. We were there for a family reunion and it was great to be able to have Rhys meet his family. A number of the great aunts still live in Dixon and the surrounding area - we stayed with Aunt Mary Sue and Uncle George, who were the epitome of hospitality. The highlight of the trip came when we visited the old family homestead. The family settled in this area some years ago - the homestead itself was built in 1948 - but it was the second home built on the farm. We learned a lot about the family history including the story of Kristen's great-great grandmother, Lily Ponder who was of Cherokee blood and married at age 14! It was a different world I guess.

It should come as no surprise that Rhys was somewhat popular with family and he didn't play up to the attention once ;) The family reunion lunch was a huge feast - significant offerings included fried chicken, mashed potatoes, spicy mexican dishes, baked beans, green bean casserole and a chocolate cheesecake that was excellent. Coffee was not drinkable. If you ever feel the need for a coffee detox, the USA is the perfect place. If it weren't for Chris and his stovetop espresso pot, I think I would dry up completely...


"My mother died last night,
And my daddy in the morning.
It was such a shame,
When that day it came a dawning.
And then my dog got paralysed,
It was a big surprise.
I guess I should have realised,
That life is just too short.

Oh life is just too short
I don't know why I get up out of bed
Oh life is just too short
You take a breath and then you find you're dead

I went to see my girlfriend:
She was with another.
She'd kept it in the family,
Her new man was my brother.
In tears I walked out to the gate,
Then fell and broke my leg.
They say they have to amputate,
And now my leg's too short.

Oh life is just too short
I don't know why I get up out of bed
Oh life is just too short
You take a breath and then you find you're dead

So, this is not an actual bluegrass song, but you get the idea. Actually, when they're not singing about death and tragedy or God, they're singing about adultery. It led me to speculate on whether Bluegrass is really the softporn of American music. Its not hiphop or metal but its not exactly a posterchild for purity either!

The musicianship was at times out of this world. The standard makeup of each group was banjo, guitar, mandolin, double bass and fiddle - thats violin for you classical purists - I learned that a violin is actually a fiddle who has gone to University... the music is punctuated by instrumental breaks so the better soloists got a great opportunity to show off their sometimes extraordinary skill. We spent a day there at the Bluegrass festival and it was just the right amount of time...


I visited a local winery while I was there and discovered that white wine in particular was excessively sweet. But even more interesting was the discovery that one of the winemakers there was a New Zealander! We chatted for a while - very surreal - apparently I was the 3rd kiwi he'd seen there in 4 years. I bought a bottle of red made from a grapevine that was grown from wild grapes found in the area by early settlers. A real local wine!

The trip back was uneventful although strangely it didn't seem as long as the trip down. These past few days have been spent at the family home here in Lansing lazing around. Liking it.


Steve Goble said...

That song moved me in ways beyond words. Can I use it to enter NZ Idol?

BJ said...

You can! But you should hear my vocal on it...


BJ said...

I added verse 2 to complete this salute to bluegrass...

Uncle Jakey said...

I think maybe your

bluegrass = musical softporn

theory may hold some water. I mean, bluegrass...ay, ay?!?

Uncle Jakey

PS: nice to hear you're all well and enjoying your time (excepting the lack of acceptable caffeine of course)

Steve Deur said...

I got your voicemail late and by the time I called you were on the plane! AHHHHHHHH!

Missed you, but love ya heaps. Hope you had a refreshing trip!

Anonymous said...

That is pretty interesting to me about Lily Ponder. I have been doing research and there was a Lily Ponder that I think is my great great grandmother as well. My papa had told me about her and all he know was she was from the Arkansas area and she was Cherokee Indian and married young. I typed her name in a search and found this. Pretty cool.