Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Intention: NaNoWriMo

The time is now: November 1, 2013. Let the writing begin. 

Though I'm not planning on scribbling a marathon of 50,000 words, I have a clear story in mind to tell. The first line is: "I know an alcoholic when I see one". 

My intention is to finish this piece by November 30.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

NaNoWriMo Update

Quick update on the NaNoWriMo project - 350 words finished. That doesn't sound like much, however between the new full-time job and other projects, it's a minor victory. I'm commuting almost two hours a day now!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Intentions: Is failure an option?

In blogging class at the Nackey Loeb School of Communication, Stacy and Tom suggested that I split topics into two posts : one expressing the intention, and a follow-up reporting on how (or if) it worked out. Part of me is loathe to do this. Why? Because I've "failed" enough. My intentions are meant for action and success.

Last week I made an appointment for a free keyboard lesson. Additional lessons beyond the initial one would cost $25 per half hour, which is financially above my income bracket. I looked forward to at least experiencing what a piano lesson is like. Though playing music by ear comes naturally to me, taking formal lessons is something I have thought about since I was a teenager. And thought. Pondered. Considered. Pondered some more.

In the end, events and busyness of the day conspired to take me in a different direction, and I did not appear for the lesson at the appointed hour. Instead I started learning how to make a slipcase with which to house my zines from recycled materials.

I am still unschooled in the ways of the keyboard. But listening for the music of the spheres.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sunapee Coffeehouse Revisited

Sunapee Coffeehouse
October 18, 2013

The luminous moon reflecting over a calm lake was just an omen of the magic to come.

Unlike the Bill Staines concert where I took the last seat in the hall, the crowd at Sunapee Coffeehouse was sparse when I arrived. Ian was chatting with a handful of people seated in the front row. Four guitars graced the “stage”, two of which were double-necked instruments. Ian’s dog snoozed behind him like a hungover back-up musician. A few more listeners trickled in, and Ian opened the evening with a generous welcome and gratitude for those of us who had made the journey to hear his music.

Immediately I was transported to a different realm. After trying to watch his finger technique, I simply closed my eyes and immersed myself in the music. Ian played extended tracks on solo guitar and then with African thumb piano (kalimba). Most of the compositions were new and unrecorded.

I had to keep pinching myself. I’m in this room with less than two dozen people experiencing mesmerizing music that would lure the muses themselves if they simply heard a few notes drifting through the night air.

Here’s a video of the last song Ian performed. I walked out into the full-moon night, feeling blessed and grateful to have been given such a gift of presence.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Experiment: Become a Weekend Capitalist

It's invasion weekend! Oh - I meant Warner Fall Foliage Festival. I'm on month four of unemployment so we desperately need an infusion of cash to help our budget. NanSea and Judy have been knitting, baking, and making all sorts of creative goodies to sell to the hoards of festival-goers that sashay past our house. We've lived here for over two decades and this will be our first real yard sale ever. Preparations are reaching a feverish pitch. Can we pull this off?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Update: Adventures in Capitalism

Mother nature wasn't cooperating with our adventure in capitalism on Saturday. Low clouds hung above Warner, stagnant as Congress. The tables were set & the wares were ready: glass holders in hand-shaped wire, knitted shawls, hand warmers and neck cowls, fennel raisin bread, pumpkin butter, handmade jewelry. Despite drizzling, overcast skies we sat like stalwart Yankees chatting with foliage festival pilgrims as they tramped past our front yard. We offered folks who stopped by cups of hot mulled cider, and everyone seemed grateful for a respite from the chill.

Sunshine peeked in & out of the clouds on Sunday and the clouds lightened slightly. Traffic past our house increased exponentially from Saturday. Ironically, people bought more of our goods on Saturday than they did on Sunday! We made significantly less cash than I anticipated. I am not deterred. Plans are already afoot for next year's crafty projects!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fred's Bread

My mother's birth name was Clara Ellen Baker. I decided it is time to live up to that surname.

I've managed to survive these past 53 years with one basic cooking skill: I can burn water. This week I set out a recipe book and a plastic container on the kitchen table, some flour, yeast, and water. I mixed them per instructions and let the dough rise overnight. In the morning I cranked up the oven, added fennel seed and golden raisins, shaped the mixture, placed it in the oven for 35 minutes, and prayed.

The bread turned out perfect, and delicious.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Intention: Broadcast on College Radio Day

This week's intention seems like a simple, attainable no-brainer. I'm already a DJ at WSCS Colby-Sawyer College, what's the problem?

Rumors and morale. The station manager hints that the college may be relinquishing their FCC license in the near future. These rumors have disheartened me because working a handful of hours a week at WSCS is the only job-generated income that I have at the moment.

There's Record Store Day, Cassette Store Day, and now college radio gets its day to shine. College Radio Day is for celebrating non-commercial music and the freedom of the airwaves. Many well-known musicians and actors began their careers as announcers in college radio. Numerous bands would have been unknown if it weren't for student DJs spinning their records (most notably REM).

I'm on a crusade to save the radio station. Instead of wallowing in depression, I dragged myself into the WSCS studio and broadcast live for four and a half hours. There's no way of knowing who, if anyone, was listening. Regardless, it was cathartic, even though halfway through my show a fire alarm screeched into my ears and emptied Colgate Hall for over thirty minutes before the "all clear" signal sounded.

Thankfully my intention didn't go up in smoke or down in flames. There are other intentions on the horizon involving harmonicas and bread. Stay tuned.

Here's a link to two hours of my broadcast today:
And here's a video documentary from College Radio Day 2012:

Friday, September 27, 2013

From Values to Action

I often end my broadcasts of Radio Thrift Shop with this thought:

Take good care of yourself.
Take good care of your community.
Take good care of those you love. 

How often do I follow through on my own admonition? This is an intention not simply for the week, month, or year. This is an intention for life. 

Taking good care of my mind, body, and soul.
Finding ways to support my community - not just endeavours in the region where I live, but the various communities of writers, zinemakers, colleagues and radio folk that my life intersects with.
Take good care of my family, friends, connections I value.

I often fall short of my idealized goals. Sometimes taking good care means taking the road less travelled or saying difficult things from a loving heart. Making boundaries. Speaking your truth. Mustering energy. Embracing change. Supporting dysfunction is not taking good care of self, community or others. I need to summon the courage to heed my words like a mantra. Every day. 

Robert Bly once said that we make the road by walking it.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Intention: Attend the Sunapee Coffee House

I love live music. I hardly ever go to performances. I'm either too exhausted or too socially avoidant. I've been thinking about checking out the Sunapee Coffee House at the Sunapee Methodist Church for years, and have not - until Friday evening. 

Bill Staines was this week's performer. I've listened to Bill Staines music off and on since I was in my early 20s. Bill is a down-to-earth folk singer / songwriter who has recorded a couple dozen LPs and travelled millions of miles (literally) touring the world and playing his songs. 

The suggested admission was $15, and after a flurry of emails I negotiated a reduced admission of $8 based upon my level of income (or lack thereof). Mustering up the courage to fly solo (two friends I invited couldn't make it) I arrived at 7:05 Friday evening and literally took the last seat in the house, snug between an open window (fresh air!) and the merchandise table.

Bill sat up front with a sweetly tuned and battered-looking guitar. He told stories and did some of the yodelling he is famous for. He played a handful of his "hits" like Roseville Fair, Wild Wild Heart, and All God's Critters Got a Place in the Choir.  Some of his lyrics are so simple yet so poignant that I broke into tears while listening:

there is a road and that road is all your own
but we are here, you need not walk alone
to face, not fear each coming new unknown
is the way to lift your wings
child of mine, you are the sweetest song
and the greatest gift I will ever know

This is what I am doing via this blog - facing my fears and walking through them.

If you'd like to hear a Bill Staines song, here is So Sang the River from his Old Wood and Winter Wine LP. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Intention: Attend Toastmasters

I generally don't make quick decisions. Early in the millenium, there was a Toastmasters group at my workplace. I thought about attending, and made a million excuses why I was too busy to check out their meetings. I successfully avoided Toastmasters until Thursday, September 12, 2013. Not bad as procrastination goes.

You see - I already knew it all. I taught facilitators how to facilitate groups. I spoke up every week at leadership team meeting. I was confident and competent with public speaking. Who needed Toastmasters? The very name itself conjured an image of my inebriated uncle raising a half-full glass of some suspiciously clear liquid while blustering and slurring his words at my cousin Frankie's wedding.

Despite my false bravado, even when broadcasting live on the radio I often feel a knot in my stomach when the need arises to speak spontaneously. After changing jobs, I've fallen out of practice with public speaking and giving presentations. This week I set my intention to attend the Kearsarge Toastmasters group & loved every minute of it. I can't wait for the next meeting! You can learn more about Toastmasters here:

This blog is a catalyst for setting goals and intentions and following through with them. You're invited to join me in posting your intentions for the week! Let's support one another in creating the lives we want.