Judy Fjell Newsletter <$today>
February 24, 2018 

     Greetings, everyone, from Helena, Montana! It has been SO cold here lately (How cold HAS it been, Judy? - several nights of below zero and lots of days barely above zero!) I remembered the other night that when it gets below 10 degrees, the snow squeaks! I am thankful that I put some serious studded tires on my Honda Fit as there is lots of snow and ice on the ground, streets, gutters and sidewalks. Katie and I have both bought Microspikes for our shoes so that we don't slip around on our walks in the hills. Yaktrax weren't sufficient anymore. The dogs just love running in the snow but sometimes they return home with their feet and chests covered in major ice balls. What a year! 

     But in all truth, the challenge of a severe Montana winter is nothing compared to the many challenges of the world and nation we are living in. I know that all of you know what I mean and I trust that we are all doing what we can to preserve and protect democracy and respond to the difficulties of our world and planet. The numbers who turned out for our Women's March and Rise Together for Democracy rally in Helena were heartening, but we all know that the work never ends. 

     I am thankful for folks like Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell of MSNBC for keeping me informed. I hope that they and Rob Mueller and Andrew Weissman stay in good health. I will confess that visions of certain unnamed persons in orange jumpsuits regularly dance around in my head. The 2018 elections and the mid-term elections look promising. Thanks to all of you for your ongoing work and for keeping a sense of humor. 

     Music continues to be one of the saving graces of my life. I have been working on a new set of ukulele books for beyond beginning players and hope to have the first one done by April. I am teaching ukulele, guitar, and even a bit of beginning piano(!) four afternoons a week with the students ranging in age from 4 to 64. It's always fun to use my skills to teach them how to read and play musically. Spending time with children keeps my life in the realm of beauty and FUN! Thank goodness. 

     I have also started an inter-generational Open Your Heart UUnity Band at our Big Sky UU in Helena. We lead singing before services once a month. It's fun to work with adults and kids on songs that I collected for the Open Your Heart Songbook, and I've written and collected some new pieces, too. 

     I continue to lead the Helena Women's Chorus in intermittent rehearsals and performances. The women of the Bozeman Women's Chorus joined us on January 20 at the Capitol here in Helena for the Rise Together for Democracy rally. We sang several songs from our feminist and civil rights repertoire. We also led everyone (three stories of people in the rotunda) in singing "Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu" as the Helena Folk Dancers performed. 

     I am glad to report that WoMaMu and SummerSing registrations are showing healthy numbers. We all seem to value our time with each other even more deeply these days. None of us is taking family or community or democracy or the planet for granted. WoMaMu will be at the Bishop's Ranch March 23-26 (see www.womamu.org) and SummerSing is June 17-23 in Montana at Boulder Hot Springs (see www.judyfjell.com). Rather than overwhelm you with info in this letter, I'll urge you to write to Lynne Pethtel, WoMaMu registrar, or to me, if you have SummerSing questions.  

     And coming up right away is a very exciting adventure! On March 9, Nancy Schimmel (Malvina Reynolds' daughter and longtime friend) flies to Helena. From here we will begin a ten day conversation, collaboration, and musical tour of the Pacific Northwest. Much like Malvina, we'll perform in coffeehouses and Unitarian churches. We'll sing her songs and a good portion of our own compositions, too. When I review the past 30 years, I realize that Nancy and I have co-written, performed, and recorded quite a number of songs. To find out more about the tour, visit the www.judyfjell.com home page and calendar. 

Here are the dates and some links. 
HELENA - BIG SKY UU WORSHIP Sun Mar 11, 11:30 AM www.bigskyuu.org
HELENA - CONCERT - FREE CERAMICS Tue Mar 13, 7:30 PM www.freeceramics.com 
MISSOULA - CONCERT UU FELLOWSHIP Thur Mar 15, 7:30 PM www.uuf-missoula.org
OLYMPIA - TRADITIONS CAFE CONCERT Fri Mar 16, 7:30 PM www.traditionsfairtrade.com
VASHON ISLAND - UNITARIAN CONCERT Sat Mar 17, 7:30 PM www.viuf.org
PORTLAND - ARTICHOKE MUSIC CONCERT Sun Mar 18, 7:00 PM www.artichokemusic.org
CORVALLIS - UU FELLOWSHIP CONCERT Mon Mar 19, 7:30 PM www.corvallisfolklore.org

     And, because I don't seem to be able to stop myself from leading a productive life despite being "retirement" age, I'm also working on a new CD for the Malvina tour. As usual on recording projects, some things fall together easily and others teach me patience and perseverance. Fingers are crossed that we'll have the MalvinaSpirit CD finished by March 11. It will include two songs recorded by Malvina herself and at least fifteen Schimmel-Fjell collaborations. 

     Adieu for now . . I will be in touch. By the way, one of my latest activities is learning once again how to play "Solace," that beautiful Scott Joplin piece for piano. It is well-named and does indeed offer solace. Keep singing. Keep playing music. Solace happens. 

Love, Judy