A Small Shop Visitor

To be totally honest the little visitor was hanging out in the basement. My shop is upstairs but the table saw lives in the basement so I guess it counts as part of the shop.

Our home is a 100 year old farm house with what is called a Michigan basement; a simple basement with stone and mortar walls that leak like a sieve.

I had just ripped a set of dulcimer sides to height and noticed this little critter next to me on the floor.

Little snake that was hanging out by my table saw

I ran upstairs for the camera and took this picture. The little critter did not like that and with each click of the camera it lunged at me.

Fortunately for me this snake was only about 7 inches long!

As an afterthought I wished I had put my six-inch ruler in the photograph but now I can brag and tell fish stories about the  snake I found in the basement.

After catching him and letting him go in a nearby field I did some research and I think it was an Eastern Milk Snake.

Time to get back to work!

Embracing The Creative Life

When I was a teenager an older friend gave me a very helpful piece of advice.

He said, “You are a creative person and you may find that you don’t fit in mainstream culture. This can make you feel like there is something wrong with you, but really,  it’s just that you are creative.  You won’t necessarily be happy with the things that make other people  happy. It may not be easy but you”ll find your way.”

This was some of the best advice I have ever received.

A common thread among the creative people I know is passion; a passion that drives them to prioritize that which they are passionate about.

passion

Passion and creativity are not limited to music, crafts, art, etc.. The objects and objectives of passion are endless.

To follow passion one will make trade-offs.

Embracing the creative life

The creative, passionate person will not feel alive unless they are expressing creativity and passion.

With all this comes a need for balance.

And there will be surprises.

Embracing the surprises life brings

And I think I already said something about trade-offs.

It’s all part of the adventure.


“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundred of ways to kneel and kiss the ground”

-Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi



I May Not Have Received Your Email

Late last night I learned that some of the email sent to me via my contact page has been treated as spam for at least 2 weeks! Oh what fun!

If you have tried to contact me but have not heard back this is the reason why. My apologies. Please try again.

Several weeks ago my IP said they were changing my account to a different server. I think this indirectly caused the problem; a spam filter considered everything forwarded by that server to be spam.

I have, to the best of my abilities, tried to convince the spam filter that:

  • I am not concerned about the size of various body parts and said parts tend to function within expected parameters
  • I don’t want to make a fortune by helping that prince in Nigeria
  • I already have a reliable, legal source for prescription medication
  • The friendly young woman who wrote to me should choose to say hello to her mother with that new webcam
  • etc.

But most importantly, I have tried to convince the spam filter that people trying to contact me via my web page are people I would like to hear from!

Here is the team of hard working, trained professionals I have enrolled to help make sure this is all carried out as well as possible.

operators

This team of communication technicians is ably led by Matilda (in the lovely polka-dot dress). These six miracle workers have over 100 years of combined experience routing communications through the appropriate channel. Getting messages from point A to point B gives their lives meaning.

Gertrude (the one only partialy shown in the photograph on the left) prefers not be be totaly seen in photographs. This is because she is in charge of security. Gertrude spends countless hours searching the web for hackers, spammers, etc. Sometimes her dedication to keeping communications squeaky clean takes her from the virtual world into the “real” world. If your are abusing the internet and Gertrude shows up at your door you should be afraid, very afraid.

The Learning Curve

golden-spiralSome people talk about progress as being “one step forward, two steps back.” I find the learning experience is more often two steps forward, one step back, some thought, two steps forward, one step back, rinse and repeat.

My learning curve seems to be more of a spiral. I think this is a good thing, though it causes occasional frustration.

I have never found happiness in remaining static.

If I am passionate about something then I am compelled to go more deeply into the activity.

I think this is a good thing, though it causes occasional frustration.

There is a common belief that some people have a gift for music, art, or some other human activity. I have found that most people I know who excel at anything were driven by passion. Passion caused them to dedicate a majority of their time and resources towards what their heart desired.

I think this is a good thing, though it causes occasional frustration.

There are also usually trade-offs involved. One makes choices and experiences a gain and a loss.

I have a friend who is a very good guitar player. One of her guitar students asked her how she got to be such a good guitarist. Her answer was “While you were out learning job skills I was playing guitar all the time.”

I truly enjoy playing music and making instruments. More improtantly,  I feel like I am doing what I should be doing when I do these things. l feel this way about other areas of my life as well.

I think this is a good thing, though it causes occasional frustration.

Please Vote!

Nelson Mandela Voting
Nelson Mandela Voting

I would like to encourage you to vote regardless of your opinion about who or what will be best for the United States and the influence the United States has over the rest of the world.

I know many people who are discouraged from voting because they feel their vote won’t count or because of the possibility of corruption and/or error in the tallying of votes.

Your vote may change the world.

Voting has brought about remarkable change.

You might make the difference. Please vote.

CD Pre-Release Fun!

I leave tomorrow for St. Louis. I’ll be doing a house concert with my dear old friend Robert Fishbone. Robert’s talents are many and sometimes not easy to define. He is a musician, story teller, performance artist, keynote performer and speaker and entrepreneur but in essence his talents are something more than the sum of those parts

Robert is also the friend who helped me figure out that it was really time to leave the job I had as the showroom manager at Elderly Instruments and get back to being a musician and luthier. I thank him profusely on the good days!

And this past weekend my friend Robin Zahir came for a visit. Robin is a photographer and designer with the eyes and heart of a poet. He is also one of the finest people I know and is deeply in my heart. He took lots of pictures and will soon be designing the covers for the two CDs. You’ll be seeing his beautiful photographs here and there on these pages in the near future.

So with finished masters in hand I decided to make some pre-release copies of the CDs to bring with me to the gig in St. Louis. Burning high quality CDs at home is no problem. And hey, you can go to any office supply store and get labels and inserts and a program to make your CDs look fairly professional in the comfort of your own familiar dwelling.

thinkingThat is, in theory, what I have been attempting to do tonight.

It took me about four hours to design some fairly nice covers and labels using a few of Robin’s photographs.

And after the printer trashed a few dozen or so inserts, and after my wonderful wife took apart and reassembled 25 or so CD cases we noticed that right there on the front cover I proudly displayed that this album contained Hammered Duclimer Instrumentals!

Yes, that’s right, Duclimer!

And it’s late and I have a long drive tomorrow and I was going to do the setup on two dulcimers before I left but instead I will be going to the office supply store for more labels and printing inserts and assembling CDs.

But enough whining. Here’s an old picture of a woman in a spectacular chicken costume.

lady in a chicken costume

Life is good.

Quotes – Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor_Roosvelt

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

“What one has to do usually can be done.”

“What is to give light must endure the burning.”

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

“A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.”

A Winter Cold

snowflake

I love Winter.

Well, I should say that I love Winter weather when it gets seriously cold and snows.

When I first moved to Michigan I was disappointed to learn that the Lansing area does not get much snow compared to some other parts of the State. What the area lacks in snow is made up for by an often dreary gray sky. This particular Winter has also unfortunately confirmed that we are experiencing global warming.

But today was a beautiful snowy day. The temperature in the ‘teens and there was even a little blue in the sky.manincoil

The weather brought inspiration. I felt very alive.

And suddenly I started sniffling and feeling achy.

I was all set to have a productive day in the shop but reality had other plans. So it goes.

Another few hours in this vintage healing contraption and I should be good as new!