Mehndi Application

Mehndi application with Sree Padmini
Mehndi application with Sree Padmini

Sree Padmini showed up at Portal Irish Music Week as the companion to her husband Sree Hasha. She was reserved at check-in and seemed very timid. Little did she know that she would have as much or more fun than her husband. Sree Hasha plays mandolin and takes lessons from Marla Fibish so it was natural for him to come to PIMW for a week of intensive lessons. He brought his new wife along hoping she would have fun, too. Sree Padmini wondered what she would do while her husband played music. She thought she’d be lonely in a desert with nothing to see. At the first night’s orientation meeting we told her about the bird walks and the afternoon hikes. I might have seen a twinkle in her eye.

The second morning Sree Padmini showed up for our bird walk with a camera nearly as long as she is tall. We took her to Dave Jasper’s backyard feeding station. She silently sat and clicked. Once in a while she’d ask the name of a bird. We saw 24 species of birds in 45 minutes.It was a jaw dropping morning even for our experienced Portal visitors.

Both Srees are recent immigrants to the United States from India. Their marriage was arranged by their parents. Sree Hasha had not found a love match on his own and his parents offered to help out. After a few lonely years in the U.S. Sree Hasha agreed. So his parents (back in India) started the search. They found a nice young woman from a similar background and negotiations began between the two families. Sree Padmini asked for a nice man that liked music, nature, and animals. I do not know what Sree Hasha asked for in his wife. He does like all the things Sree Padmini wanted her future husband to like. As an added bonus, Sree Padmini wanted to come to the United States because she loves wildlife but especially hummingbirds. There are no hummingbirds in India. It’s hard to remember that hummingbirds are only found in the Americas. They’ve been married a year and it seems like Portal might have played a special role in their new relationship. It was a place of joint discovery and mutual joy. I loved seeing them alone and together fulfilling their dreams.

I found all this out when Sree Padmini asked me to show her the owl during my afternoon break. I showed her the great horned owl perching over downtown Portal and then we sort of fell into a whole afternoon of birding by ourselves. I felt liberated to leave PIMW behind and do something spontaneous. I took her to a couple more yards where she clicked at the birds. That’s what she calls taking pictures. Clicking. She’d say, “I want to get a click here.” Soon all of her previous reserve fell away and I was under her spell. We sat under the trees and she told me how she wound up at PIMW while she applied henna to my hands. Henna temporarily dies the skin and its use is part of traditional Indian culture. I used to dye my hair red with henna in my thirties. As we sat there I felt the warm and calm feeling you get when someone is tending to you with care and love. It was wonderful.

Another chance to make a friend from across the world brought to me by Portal Irish Music Week. Who would of thought?

Mendhi closeup
Mendhi closeup. The paste dries and falls away leaving the temporary tattoo. the dyed part starts orange and turns brown over night.
My friend Barb came to visit from Helena.
My friend Barb came to visit from Helena.
DAy 1 Mendhi
Day 1 Mendhi. This turned brown over night.
Sree Padmini and the owl
Sree Padmini and the owl
Wedding day
Wedding day
The two Srees on their wedding day
The two Srees on their wedding day
Sree Hasha and Sree Padmini on their wedding day
Sree Hasha and Sree Padmini on their wedding day
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Portal Irish Music Week 2018 in the Bag

Concert Day
Concert Day

Our largest and most successful ever Portal Irish Music Week is done and gone. Fifty students and staff converged on tiny Portal, Arizona for five days of music and walks and birds and we had a great time. Every year I feel more and more blessed to be a part of this event. Pete and Will and I had a dream of starting a camp where inclusivity and love were the main themes. Somehow we’ve succeeded. Our staff and students come together and they make a space better than any of us could imagine. Mitch and Lonnie and their Portal Cafe staff are a big part of it, too.

This year we had a man come and learn despite his brain cancer and looming experimental surgery. Tim is living every day like we all should. Fully present and pursuing his dreams. His experimental treatment begins today. Let’s send out some positive vibes for Tim and his family and friends.

I am so lucky.

Merch Table
Merch Table
Birders of Irish Music
Birders of Irish Music
Henna tatoos, too
Henna tatoos, too
The view from the top
The view from the top
Coatimundi
Coatimundi
Congestion managed.
Congestion managed. These people make it all worth the work.
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Portal Irish Music Week 2016 in the Record Books

Fiddlers at the Portal Peak Lodge. Photo by David G. Barnes
Fiddlers at the Portal Peak Lodge. Photo by David G. Barnes
Portal was again congested with musicians.
Portal was again congested with musicians.

I am once again overwhelmed with the success of our camp. Democrats and Republicans come together every year and organize this thing. Our participants come in all political stripes and I want to say we can all get along. The people still have the power to do good things. Ignore the BS and relate to everyone as an individual.

I am so grateful for this camp and its continued success. Mitch and Loni, owners of the Portal Peak Lodge and Cafe, and their fantastic staff worked diligently and perkily to provide us with meals and a welcoming space to learn. The teachers at the camp continue to nurture and prod their students to be the best they can be. Marla Fibish, Brian Conway, Matt Heaton, Colin Lindsay, Pete Strickler, Isaac Alderson, and Brian Lanni were accessible and involved. They continue to push my dream of music for all, especially those picking it up later in life. And Burt was the friendly morning bird guide and afternoon hike attendant. We aim to provide a well rounded experience and Burt’s walks are a big part of the picture.

Thanks also to the people of Portal that help the show go on. Kathleen Talbot at the Library where we host public singing sessions. The Portal Rescue classroom that allows us to offer more classes. Barbara Roth’s whole house for instructors. Numerous friends that feed and print and errand run for us. We appreciate you all.

Now I’m pooped.

Here I am breaking my number one rule the first night of Portal Irish Music Week. Don't touch the wildlife.
Here I am breaking my number one rule the first night of Portal Irish Music Week. Don’t touch the wildlife.
Flute Class
Flute Class
2016 T-shirts.
2016 T-shirts.
Schedule
Schedule
Colin giving a private lesson.
Colin giving a private lesson.
Matt Heaton snapping photos during the staff concert.
Matt Heaton snapping photos during the staff concert.
Fiddle class with Colin Lindsay.
Fiddle class with Colin Lindsay.
Will has been to 5 out of 6 PIMW. Here he is sporting the first year's t-short ala Superman.
Will has been to 5 out of 6 PIMW. Here he is sporting the first year’s t-shirt ala Superman.

 

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Portal Irish Music Week 2015

Me and my new Irish tenor banjo.
Me and my new Irish tenor banjo.

It’s all over, including the crying. Record numbers of attendees were successfully housed, fed, and instructed. Hikes were had. Wild animals and rare artifacts were seen. Tunes were learned. Frustrations with the difficulties of learning as an adult were shared and ameliorated. The community enjoyed a stunning concert and showed their appreciation by taking home artist CDs and leaving generous tips.

I feel lucky to have had this idea and some how found the people to help execute in world class fashion. Thanks to Pete Strickler and Will Harmon, my co-founders, for the shared vision and easy working relationship. Thanks to Brian Conway, Marla Fibish, Matt Heaton, Shannon Heaton, and Colin Lindsay for their upbeat and rigorous teaching and commitment to our school. Thanks to the community of Portal for chairs, library and fire house meeting space, and concert attendance. The Portal Peak Lodge and Cafe crew did outstanding work feeding and housing us AGAIN. The staff are efficient and cheery and a well oiled machine.

Next year’s dates are set. There will be a next year. October 6 through 10, 2015. If you want more pictures check out the Portal Irish Music Week page and group on Facebook. Both are public and you do not have to be a member to see the photos. Here’s the LINK.

Matt Heaton and Marla Fibish
Matt Heaton and Marla Fibish
Spreading the good word on Cave Creek Canyon.
Spreading the good word on Cave Creek Canyon.
We took a hike to see newly discovered pictographs.
We took a hike to see newly discovered pictographs.
Pictograph
Pictograph
Cave Creek Canyon at sunset
Cave Creek Canyon at sunset
Erin, co-student in fiddle class.
Erin, co-student in fiddle class.
Paul, co-student in fiddle class.
Paul, co-student in fiddle class.
Colin Lindsay, fiddle class teacher.
Colin Lindsay, fiddle class teacher.
Chiricahua leopard frog pond.
Chiricahua leopard frog pond.
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