1-10-14 January 2014 – The Lovely Light

spacerThe dulci set up in old town as snow falls

The Simple Story:

The simple story is simple, as expected. Nothing has changed since the last webjournal entry last September. This is why I didn't plan to post for a while. but three months have gone by, and it is a new year.
So Happy New Year!

I continue to play the street every weekend and work on the house during the week. I'm working as hard as I can 7 days a week and there isn't room for anything else except eat and sleep, and the necessary chores to keep everything going. Pretty crazy, but I settled into the routine.

snow covering the yard and neighborhoodThe main change is that winter is here, and both working the street and working on the house are getting hard. Finally, I had to focus just on the holiday season, the biggest of the year for most performers, and play every day for over a couple weeks, Solstice to New Year's, and on through the following weekend. Now that is done, but the temperatures plummet, and I push the limits of my physical endurance. Though I can do it, and did it last winter, it takes a toll. I think of looking for inside gigs, now that the holidays are over, even getting an agent, but I know it is unlikely I can get any gigs immediately, if I can get any at all. The fact is, I seldom get gigs, so I don't expect them and don't depend on them, while I count on the street.

Though I can think of many other things I could do, in the end, I have to do something that works right now, because of the pressure of the house. It would be great to have other options, but I live with reality. Even if it seems silly sometimes. I am really playing some great music these days, and I have only so much time in this life, and I am spending it playing the street in winter with numb fingers, till I end playing with gloves on. Actually, I am surprised at how well I can play with gloves on.

As I headed down to play with temperatures predicted to drop into the low 20's, I remember telling myself that this is still Virginia, and there will be better weekends, and in a couple months, the worst will be over. So if I just grit my teeth and persevere, it will be over soon, and it will be Spring again.

And in the end, the idea is to finish the house, and I will, this whole scenario is just temporary, and I'll try not to do this again.

I don't have time to worry about it, really, it is all I can do to just keep this going. I just try to get up, auotpilot my way to that first cup of coffee, pack up and go, eat as I drive down, if I'm playing the street, or eat as I start in on the house if I'm not, and try to make it through another day. The working-class world, and I am not the only one, and many have harder jobs than mine. But I'm red-lining, and I know it, and sometimes I start to break down, so I back off a little, but I don't stop, or see any way out, except to get this done and behind me, so I can really focus on the music again, on anything beyond that job and these endless weekends on the street, heat and cold, wind, rain, and snow. Though I love the street, this is a very long time without a break, and I'm am definitely the hard core of something. Or maybe that's all that is left!

My 2014 solstice-xmass-new year's tree

I celebrated the holidays by playing the street. I talked about my thoughts and feelings about that in last year's entry at this date, so I don't need to repeat that part of the story here. This also illustrates the fact that this is a journal, not a blog, and the past chapters are as important to the story as the present ones, sometimes more, and meant to be read, if you really want to read this journal, this story. A journal isn't a log of current events, but the story of a life, of a journey, and meant to be as a whole, a book. Even as I have tried to use the new possibilities for publishing, expanding and evolving the form of a "book" using the medium of the web and html.

I played for 17 days straight over the holiday season, and was really, really happy to get ahead financially. But then, I ended up sick with a high fever last Sunday night, and out of it for the last week. It's been a long time since I've been sick like this, can't remember when. Though it is flu season, and working among the crowds, it might have happened anyway, or maybe I just red-lined a bit too far, or both. "But I'll be better, soon as I am able."

The simple truth of my situation, I can't afford to be sick, and miss work days, like many others. I realize this is the first weekend I haven't been out playing for 14 months now, the longest I've ever performed without a break, and even more, working 7 days a week, 12 and more hours a day the whole time, for 6 months, since I got the house, without a break. And getting sick is certainly not a break, but and extra strain, and I'll have to start work as soon as I am able.. as soon as I finish this post, since I can't play, I do something here that the house, whatever I can manage in the condition I am in. There is no slack, no break I can afford to take.

When I could function, late this week, I decided to do this journal entry and accomplish something, before I got back to work. Now, I sit here on a rainy Saturday finishing this post, when I despirately hoped to have been out playing, in the cold rain once again, hoping I'd be well enough, but I'm not. Though the fever is mostly gone, I can barely take a deep breath, not good for a singer. It is a real blow, as losing even one rainy weekend in January wipes out a lot of what I gained for my huge effort over the holidays. I try to be glad I had that gain, to cover the loss I am facing now, and can't help being depressed that the small gains I was so proud of are wiped out by a simple disaster. So I feel both, why not? It is natural and realistic to feel pleasure in gains and pain in loss, only wrong to deny one or the other. Such is life. I've been singing "Turn, Turn, Turn" a lot as a holiday anthem. I am also reminded of a cartoon posted once on ma's fridge, where one character is thinking: "It's terrible, just when I've saved a little money, God sends some trouble to take it away" and the other is thinking " It's so great, When there's trouble, God makes sure I saved a little money to cover it".

My 2014 solstice-xmass-new year's tree

I believe in reality, a rational, practical, pragmatic realism. I accept life as it is, "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" and the great and good things and moments of terrible beauty that come my way, and react naturally, good and bad, happy and sad, and don't hang on to it, tomorrow is another day. I just keep working, and I do the best I can with what I have to work with, and move ahead. The two masks, comedy and tragedy, hang on the wall, always reminding me. I am optimistic just because I might as well be, no sense feeling bad about things that may never happen, before they happen, I can do that when they do happen. Just as I can feel good for a moment when something good happens, things go right. Then get back to work. I am absolutely and practically realistic, to anticipate and avoid any trouble I can, no false positives, or negatives, no denial of what can happen or does happen, good or bad. I accept whatever happens and go from there.

It is also true that I am a romantic and an idealist, because that is who I am, but absolutely practical and pragmatic as well, perhaps because I am, perhaps because I have always had to be, living and chosing a life, in nature, on the road, at sea, where there is a absolute bottom line of pragmatism and practicality, though, like in sailing and walking about the wilderness, a life that is, as a whole, all about romantic ideals and dreams, just like playing music for a living, especially on the street. I chose a life that is motivated by romantic ideals, but only works through absolute prgmatism, practicality, and reality. And I've managed to survive this far, good enough.

And somehow I recall, as I make my way down to the street one time recently, head down into a bitter wind one more time, I found comfort in poetry. I often do. Not a perfectly accurate quote, (pardons, Edna!) but true to the spirit, and it fit the cadence of my steps, and thoughts, better. It kept me going for a few more days. Such simple things as these. So it goes.

frost fern-feathers on a dark window surrounding a core of lightspacer
spacer"My candle burns
at both it's ends,
it will not last
the night,
but oh, my foes,
and ah, my friends,
it makes
a lovely light"

(Edna St. Vincent Millay)

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The Story

Brian and Cleo, a dancer from NYCThis Journal is about the life of a Folksinger, which is more than just the music. It is about what happens around the music, the many scenes I play and the role I play in them. It includes the music, but is more than just the music.

I like meeting people in general, and the street, especially here, is the crossroads of the world, and the country. Interesting people are often ones who stop to talk, which is a treat, other musicians, other artists, travelers and philosophers, and other characters.

Cleo, a Dancer based in NYC, sent me this photo of us.

It is the people I meet, and the things we talk about. And, because I am what I am, a Folksinger, these mix and merge and evolve with the words I say, like the songs I sing. Though they often start out as spontaineous responses to a scene, to what someone says or my own thoughts, or events beyond the music or the moment, since my whole scene is improvisational theatre in it's glory. Spontaineous gems or the results of many repetitions of a theme, evolving conversations through scenes with many people, they eventually become lines and stories that come out again and again, while they last, like lines in a play, personal proverbs, as I do play the same scenes over and over. Yet every scene is also different, ever interaction unique and personal, a conversation with an individual person or group of people. As a Folksinger, a performer, a storyteller, and a philosopher, I pull on the proverbs, lines, and stories I can tell, the bits of truth that I have distilled from the many scenes and interactions, and share them with the people I meet, when it fits the scene, the moment, saying what I want to say. Nothing is planned, nothing is written, I never know what song I will play next or what I'll say and do when someone walks up. It is personally interesting to observe how a new story develops or a good proverbial line pops out in the course of the passing months and becomes part of the scene. That is the nature of the life of a live performer and an entertainer, and a Folksinger.fresh baked cookies on the stove with my All My World's a Stage cup

So, as I tell the story to you, there are so many of those words that surface, so I just quote myself, so that those lines stand out, a story in themselves, and they tell the story often enough. I think I've done this before, so for people who have read the back issues, you can see the continuity of some lines, and the way new ones have arisen over the months of play, the hundreds of hours I have spent singing on the street. I don't know, I'm tired and down sick at last, and it seemed like a good idea, so here we go.

"When the going get's tough, the tough bake cookies"


Brian performing on King Street at night, a black and white photo by David Snyderspacer

"The results of informal polling have shown
that people would rather have me out here playing than doing something else someplace else"

The music is usually what draws people into the scene, often before they get there, if it is a quiet time and the music carries. People often have to overcome their resistance to stop because I am playing on the street, not so acceptable to some people in the US as in Europe, where it is common tradition, while street performing is totally unknown in some cultures, in a town that attracts people from around the world.

Though it took me a while to recognize that the music was justified just for itself, that I was really not just another musician, and the music I was playing had crossed some subtle line into greatness. I can feel it, when I drop into a song that is going great, and everything is right,and there is a depth, power, intensity, and beauty that is just in the music.

I also realized that, as far as my life went, just playing music this good, putting out positive energy, good vibrations, was enough, no matter what else I did.

The dulcimer set up, a overhead view from the top of a three step ascent to a breezeway passage

The dulcimer is an amazing instrument.

It is sometimes hard to seperate my music from the dulcimer, but I do appreciate that the dulcimer can stand on it's own, and should. It is an exceptional instrument, a great sound and voice, , comparable to any other great instrument, just as an instrument.

It is also amazing just for being the first electric hammered dulcimer, the first one in the world, unique, and actually historic. I invented it, and it is the first one.

Brian performing on King Street at night, a black and white photo by David Snyder

spacer"It's like meeting Les Paul, except he's famous, and he's dead, and he was rich, or at least I hope he was, though he couldn't take it with him, but he left behind the electric guitar, and the world has never been the same. I can only humbly claim to be following in his footsteps as the inventor of the electric hammered dulcimer. And I expect to achieve at least one of his achievements in my lifetime, though it is a philosophical debate whether death is something you achieve in your lifetime."

The dulci set up in old town as snow falls, looking up at it from ground level

"When I built the electric, I bought a plank, cut it in half, and built this dulci. For twenty years, I have carried the other half of that plank around with me, planning to build a second. Every time I would unpack everything, there at the bottom would be thee plank, waiting for me. In fact, this was the second best piece, with a knothole, but I expected it to be a prototype, not the one I would play for twenty years."

"For the next chapter of my life, I want to give the electric dulci a life of it's own. I want to build more, and pass them on to other people to carry on after me, and to take the dulci places I will never go. I have limits, as an artist and a man, circumstantial and simply artistic. In the end, I play what I want play. The dulci has much more potential than I can ever manifest. Just like if I gave my guitar to someone else, they would take it places I will never go. I can play a samba, but in the end, I will never play the dulci the way someone who grew up in Rio would, or just any other artist anywhere. Paint is just paint, but every painter has to chose, or discover, what they will do with it."

photos by Barney Sperlin
Brian playing quietly, bundled up against the cold

"Because what you pass on, lives on, and the rest dies with you."

Though being the first one in the world adds to the experience, is an experience, as people like seeing something they have never seen before, and any times people stop because they recognize the essential traditional instrument, and yet they have never seen one like this. And they've never seen one played the way I do, rock, blues, folk, country, reggae, and more, traditional and modern, the beautiful diversity I can draw on as an American musician.

"The electric guitar is still a guitar, so this is still a hammered dulcimer, or qa'noon, santur, yang chin, kim, or its name in a dozen languages across the world. "

I love the fact that the dulci is one of the first instruments, has roots stretching back into prehistory and is traditional all over the world, and yet, this is also the first of it's kind, the latest incarnation and evolution in the life of this amazing instrument.

I often tell people who recognize it from their home cultures and countries that I want to go around the world and show them what I have done. It is still the traditional instrument, though often with a greater range, which means some of the traditional music can still be played on it, as it was written on it, and played, for hundreds if not thousands of years before other stringed instruments were invented. And at the same time I am a modern American musician, just playing it as my instrument of choice, playing the mostly relatively modern popular music that I'd be playing on the guitar, if I hadn't invented the electric dulci.

Unfortunately, some places would be difficult for me to go to right now. All I can say is:

The dulci set up in old town as snow falls, looking across it legtwise from one end

"Art is for the Ages, politics is only the lives of men"

But it is the music it makes, the truly great instrument it is, that is at the bottom line, and that is the simple truth. It is not just a toy or a side-show gimmick.

"It works. I am a pro, am very sensitive and exacting about my sound, and I don't need toys. I need tools that work."

"I could have had a perfectly good career as a solo singer, playing guitar and piano, or as the singer in a band, playing whatever instrument we needed. If it didn't work, I could have gone back to guitar, which is much easier to tune! But it did work."

"It is part the nature of being human to want to explore, to want to see what lies beyond the boundaries of knowledge. We climb to the pass and see an unexplored land, and we just can't turn back, when we can 'boldly go where no man has gone before!' "

"I quess maybe they'll put it in a museum someplace, when they pry my cold, dead fingers from around it!"


Brian performing on King Street at night, a black and white photo by David Snyder

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My house has many rooms, but the foundation of what I am doing, is what I see as the role of a Folksinger, a "Singer of the People" and for the People. I could have called myself a Bard, but that seems too great an honor to claim for myself, but "Folksinger" seemed unpretentious enough. The industry tried to redefine folksingers as performers of obscure traditional and ethnic music. But I believe in a definition of Folksingers as those who challenged the status quo, populists who in their time put into words and music the hopes and dreams, and angers, of the people, who sang songs of protest and of hope, of love, peace, freedom, and justice, trying to raise consciousness and remind people of the ideals that we still struggle to achieve. Sometimes they achieved timeless songs, Folksongs, songs people still want to hear. And every folksinger is still an individual artist. Some chose songs of protest, or satire, struggle to target the wrongs in the world, and tear them down. I chose songs of hope and perseverance in the long struggle, and of love, freedom, and justice, and of compassion, positive messages, positive energy. Though there is a need for protest, and things that must be fought and destroyed. I found that my nature was to build, to be on the positive side of the struggle, helping to create that which will replace what is torn down, plant the seeds, raise consciousness. I long ago realized that we had the answers, the primary problem was the consciousness that was lacking. Without trying to define "consciousness", once someone reaches a certain level of awareness, they recognize that the problems in the world, and the need to do something, yet it is a vast struggle, and only they can chose what they want to do, where to cast "the stubborn ounces of their weight". And untill enough people chose a better way, we are on course to destroy our world and ourselves.

I cannot tell them what to do, they have to chose their own road. The important point is that I don't have to, or worry about what they will do. I just focus on being that positive force, being there for them with all I am, as our paths cross for these few moments. Perhaps just by making their day better for meeting me or even just hearing my music. Or maybe they will find something in a song I play, or some words I say, or just in me being who and what I am. Maybe we'll have a relatively long conversation, for standing on the street in America, and discussing things that are deeply significant to us.

flowers blooming in front of the window, fresh snow outside it

And like any person, I had to chose what I was to do, and I chose to focus on that root cause, rather than any specific cause, and support everyone in their efforts to move forward, be a universal positive force. My role was to focus on that, for each person I met, and wherever they were in life, to be there for them, and try to help them move another step in a positive direction, wherever they are along their road, say what they need to hear, are ready to hear, not what I want to say. Be there at the right time with the right words or scene so that something positive is the result, one small step forward.

It is also true that I cannot tell myself what to do, or what to play. I am an artist first, and I am true to that part of me. I seek to play great music, make great art, and that means absolute sincerity, reaching for songs that I can put my heart and soul into, and that can't be faked, not from the inside. And life is too short to spend time singing songs I don't care about. My life is spent trying to find songs that move me, stir me to the depths of my heart and soul. Nothing else matters as much. I am who I am, and have my convictions, which in some part effects the songs that move me, but in the end,

"you can't tell your heart what to do".

So I am always trying to reach people with some positive energy, no matter how simple. And I am still what I am, an entertainer, so I make people smile, sometimes they are moved to tears, and I am only hoping that what I do will do some small part in making a better world. That is what I am doing there, to be there, for them, with what I am. And as I said, I always appreciate that the music is enough, good vibrations, and the dulcimer itself as an inspiring story, even if I end up playing on the street most of my life. I need do no more.

I'm a storyteller, telling stories, mostly from my own life and experiences. Storytelling has always had a point, in the simple terms, they are a lesson, practical or philosophical. From the simplest proverbs and epigrams, to epic poems and simple tales passed down through centuries to the modern evolution into books, plays, then movies, stories have taught the people, about themselves, and about others as people like themselves, have shown the mistakes and successes, the faults and virtues, the simple lessons in practice and attitude that help to deal with life. That is the true role of the storyteller, and a Folksinger is a storyteller.

Brian performing on King Street at night, a black and white photo by David Snyder

Kids like the dulcimer, and I love playing for them. Often they will just start to whirl and dance when they hear it, or come running up to check it out. For a moment, it is pure. It isn't about anything but the moment, playing some beautiful music for them because they like it, and nothing else matters.

"Kids are pure, they don't have a problem with telling you if they don't like something, and they know if they like something."

But I am also there to teach, when I can. This really comes out clearly when I interact with kids, if they are curious, which they usually are, and though they may be shy, they are also not afraid to be curious, and they don't understand the archaic class distinctions that often inhibit adults from stopping and checking out something as cool as the dulci, sad to say. But I am not here to force anyone to listen to my music, and the street serves the purpose well, leaving it up to the listener to chose to listen.

To the point, I am a veteran of countless school shows and classrooms, and I fall into teaching mode instantly, and into entertaining a receptive audience. Whatever else is happening, I am trying to take the opportunity to teach the kids something from the memorable experience of encountering the dulcimer and me. They can relate to my own story of how "I started taking piano lessons when I was 5, and in school I sang in the chorus, and I always loved to sing."

The story of the dulcimer, "if you look inside a piano, you'll see strings, and there's a hammer on every string, and when you hit the keys of the piano, you are actually swinging hammers inside the piano. So! Before built the first piano, people held the hammers in their hands and drummed on the strings. This was the first stringed instrument, think fishline tied around a piece of wood, and tuning it by putting a small piece of wood underneath the string and moving it, to change the length of the string, and long is low, short is high. In some countries they plucked it with their fingers. The instrument was found from Korea to Ireland and Russia to Africa for thousands of years before the invented other instruments. And even when they did, poor people didn't have violins. Stradivarious might have been a nice guy, but he wasn't giving away violins to poor people, and poor Irishmen didn't have violins, not at first, neither did poor Koreans, Russians, or Ethiopians, but they had a lot of fishline. And were pretty good a getting by with what they had."

photos by Barney Sperlin
Brian playing for a couple young kids and their dad, bundled up against the cold

At this point I demonstrate with an amazing bit of fiddle tune, if I haven't already. To teach the kids I have to entertain them as well, and not go beyond their attention span, which is actually pretty long where the dulci is concerned. I give them the chance to participate, not force them to remain passive listeners. I answer their questions, and let them try playing it so they see how it works, show them where the simple C scale is, even jam with them like I do with adults, who I also let try playing it, maintaining lower chords and rhythm to support what they are playing on the upper strings. Sometimes we pull of a simple "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", then I say "OK, let me show you how it's done" and launch into my full out version of Twinkle, which is a great folk song, or maybe if they are older, go on to "Weema-Whe", starting simple so they can see that I am playing by "drumming on strings".

Sometimes they are learning an instrument themselves, sometimes not. But I always try to finish up with the final lesson:

"So! How do you get to an astronaut? Practice! How do you get to fly a jet plane? (usually at this point they supply the answer, Practice! They get the routine, and kids are sharp enough, believe me) How do you get to be a race car driver? How do get to be a mathemetician? How do you learn to cook? How do you learn to ride a bicycle? And how did I learn to play like this?"

At which point I place a piece of cloth over the dulcimer and start playing whatever I was playing last right through it. Ending by repeating the last high note while chanting "practice, practice, practice!"

It is great fun, for me and the kids, and for the parents. It is a good thing, a great scene, and I am happy to do it. It must be a interesting scene for the parents as well, to run into this street performer who is able to not only keep their kids entertained, but is obviously experienced at teaching kids, with a solid routine, and good lessons, in a memorable experience. It is totally unexpected, but often sincerely appreciated for the work I am doing, the lessons, encouragement, inspiration, and fun, I am giving to their kids, there on the street. Pretty cool.

The dulcimer set up, a overhead view from the top of a three step ascent to a breezeway passage

"Though the street has it's draw-backs, one of the advantages of being off the stage is that I can let the kids really check it out, try it, and maybe be inspired. Music is an unbroken chain, going back thousands of years, so you have to inspire and encourage the kids."

and not just the kids, of course, but everybody

"The dulcimer is my baby, I invented it, and I love showing it to people, especially other musicians, letting them check it out, in a way I can't do on stage."

So I am there to teach, to learn, to have interesting conversations, and share my gift with people I meet, if I can, when I can. I try to answer any questions people ask, as best I can. But really, I am just there to be myself, and a Folksinger, whatever that is, though it includes all I've been talking about, playing music and talking to folks, another day, another night, while life goes on.

Just recently, I realized again something I recognized more when I spent a lot of time just hanging out in cool cafes when I wasn't playing. When I would stop in a city or town to play for some weeks, I'd choose some cool cafes to use as my routine places to reside in town. I would become a regular, part of the community, in a cafe that was a social place, and spend my time talking with people, when I wasn't reading or writing. But I was reminded that I am a character, and a good character, a good person to meet, anywhere, and that in iself was valuable to people, to meet a cool, interesting person, still entertaining, but in other ways, just as myself, the person I am, beyond my music and the dulci, or whatever I can teach, the scenes I create, the stories I can tell, and that I can listen as well, and have a good conversation with a person I just meet, in a cafe or on the street. And I had to realize

That reminded me that the street for me is a social place, and though I am performing, and the street to me is a stage, like any other, and I approach it with the same professionalism I approach any other. But it is a nice casual venue, like a good cafe. I am also just having a conversation with the people I meet, there on the street, and talking about the thoughts that the times have distilled in my mind, or just what comes up in conversation. This is something we all do all the time, it is part of our nature as human beings.

"Even a fool can teach you something, just as a fool can say something wise, if you are wise enough to recognize it, and, of course, being wise doesn't stop you from doing something dumb".

Lately, I’ve been talking about passion, finding your passion, and following it.

I have long been friends with a local guy who owns the ice-cream shop I often play in front of. I told him recently that one of the reasons we resonate is that we are both passionate about something, for me it is the music, and the dulcimer, and the rest, for him, it is ice-cream. He is a master chef who’s passion is ice-cream, mixing his own flavors, running his one small shop, still there all the time, still making the ice-cream, still serving ice-cream to folks, right along side his regular employees some days, for decades now, needing no more out of life because he’s satisfying his passion.

"If you can find something you are passionate about, it will drive you. Self-discipline and self-motivation are necessary as there's plenty of things you have to do that you won't want to, but they have limits. But when you are passionate about something, you need self-discipline to do the other things. A person can have many passions, and people can be passionate about anything, about many things, not just art. You can be passionate about a place, or a person. Passions aren't always overpowering, though when they are, they can drive people to the extreme efforts that make for great results. They can be things you can know you want as a piece of your life, like important pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, no matter how they fit into the bigger picture. Sometimes it is a sudden recognition, other time it is a process of following the threads of a passion, or passions, to a final whole, sometime over years, like an artist finding their passion is music, and then finding as a musician, what instrument they are passionate about, and the music they want to play, and how.
Sometimes, like in art, it can be the process itself that you are passionate about, the creative process, not necessarily the results. Sometimes it is the ends you are passionate about, like a webdesigner or IT tech, or a canvaser, who is passionate about the cause they are working for. Or the person who is passionate about their own business, so though they aren't passionate about accounting, they do the books every night. Or the person who has a job that they use to pay the bills and maintain a life, which gives them means to follow their passion, whatever it is, and makes the job, whatever it is, worth it."

It is an old story of mine that my life is not about happiness, but about satisfaction. I am satisfied that I have done the right thing, even though the results often haven’t made me very happy.
"Happiness is like the weather, it comes and goes, but if you are truly satisfaction lets you ignore the ups and down, because if you are truly satisfied with life, you can put up with a lot of rough spots, but if you are just unsatisfied, no amount of ice-cream will help."

Finding something you are passionate about and following that passion gives one a great deal of that satisfaction.

So that’s part of why I can accept such a hard life, the frustration of just getting by, because I am passionate about what I am doing, I know the dulcimer is a great thing, and I am satisfied I am doing something Right, and I can’t give up, chose to do something else that would give me and easier time of it, I am satisfied that I have been able to survive, to keep what I have done alive, no matter what the consequences.

"Vincent VanGough never sold a painting in his life. It was, unfortunately, quite depressing. Still, he knew what he was doing, or what he was trying to do, it wasn’t all an accident. He knew that he was doing something great."

True passion can't be faked, either to yourself or to other people. It is obvious in the way someone lights up when they start talking about something they are passionate about. And when you find something that awakes your passion, it is just as clear, and beautiful."

spacerThe big view of the dulcimer set up before the three steps ascending to the breezeway passage

Oh yes, I was working on the house. Not much of a story to tell, a lot of work, but here's a little photo-journalism of the last few months, before the holidays shut me down.

double bedroom with outside wall stripped and cementedhobbyroomhobbyroom counters cleared outrepairing roof rafters and joistslooking up through livingroom ceiling and roof at the sky and trees outsidelooking up through livingroom ceiling and roof at the sky and trees outsidebare ceiling joistsroof rafters repairedroof rafters repaired second viewroof before new planksroof after new planksroof, starting to shinglehome made sheet rock liftersheet rock lifter, sheetrock in placesheet rock lifter, sheetrock in place, second viewother half of the roof cleared after shingles done on first halfsnow on the house and tarped roofclose-up of rot in joist ends

Oh yes, and still deer sleeping in the yard, sometimes. A little sanctuary still left.

spacera buck bedded down in the back yard
spacerclose-up of the buck bedded down in the back yard

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