In This Place

Layne Redmond

Have you ever found yourself at a place, or an event, where you were uncomfortable and felt like you didn’t quite  belong, but yet you KNEW you were supposed to be there?

Today at the Asheville Percussion Festival, a memorial Celebration of Life for Layne Redmond closed out the three-day event. I never met Layne. I only know her through her book, When the Drummers Were Women, which I added to my library and  read through long before I finally began to learn to drum, plus a handful of YouTube videos. The room was full of those who had been her friends, her students, people with some sort of personal connection to her. I had none.

But when the prior workshop ended and I thought about leaving, I didn’t. I moved my seat and my drums away from the front of the room, but I stayed in the room. When everyone sang, I sang. When everyone joined the processional, drums playing, out to the waterfall, I thought again about leaving, but instead I pulled out my deyereh, bought just the previous day, and joined in. I played through the ceremony, while Layne’s ashes were passed in their bowl from person to person, scattered to the four corners of the Serenity Garden, and eventually given to the waterfall. I said my own blessing and goodbye to her spirit as the bowl came to me, though I never knew her in this world. I did not leave until everything ended and everyone began to go their way back out into the world.

Maybe the only reason I was compelled to stay was to bless and charge my new drum? Maybe it was simply to acknowledge Layne’s influence, however small and remote, on me? Whatever. There was some powerful energy moving at OM Sanctuary in Asheville this weekend, crescendoing to a climax this afternoon, and I was a teeny weeny little mote of a part of it, for whatever reason.


List Me, Baby!

(C4ward March Blogathon Day 4)

Five Goals to Achieve Sometime Before I Die

  1. Create jewelry items that tribal dancers buy, love, and wear while performing.
  2. Perform a solo at a major bellydance event like TribalCon.
  3. Travel to New Zealand, and maybe Australia too. DH & I don’t really care that much for travel, but we could make an exception for this.
  4. Become an ATS® Sister Studio and/or Gypsy Caravan Collective Soul Certified dancer
  5. See the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Just because.

Five Goals to Accomplish in the Next Five Years to Move Towards Achieving The Above Goals

  1. Keep learning new jewelry skills and honing the ones I already have.
  2. Have professional photographs made of my work for advertising and festival entry purposes.
  3. Research New Zealand  & Australia to determine where to go and what to do while there.
  4. Attend and perform at as many bellydance events as possible, either solo or with a troupe.
  5. Take at least two of the Collective Soul certification levels and/or retake ATS® General Skills and Teacher Training I.

Five Goals to Accomplish in the Next 12 MONTHS… as if it were the last year of my life!

  1. Take as many ATS® classes as possible.
  2. Get the Gypsy Caravan DVDs and start working with them.
  3. Perform at least one solo at Oasis, Open Mic Night, or Northside Tribe’s own show.
  4. Draw up a will!!!! (gotta be practical somewhere)
  5. Make sure my husband and son (at least) know how much I love them.

What I Noticed when Making the Above Three Lists

  1. None of the items had anything to do with my profession as a college professor. Basically, I’ve achieved every feasible goal there and I’m just maintaining status quo.
  2. Setting goals for my little nanobusiness of making jewelry is HARD because I don’t want to turn it into a career per se. I don’t want to get so serious about it that it takes the fun out of creating stuff.
  3. Tangible goals for my bellydancing hobby is easy enough because I’m such a newbie at it; the problem is that my age is working against me there.
  4. Some practical things really should not be put off.
  5. There’s a lot of DO-ing on the list, but in truth, I wouldn’t have to do any of these things except #5 (and #4 for practical reasons) on the 12-month list, and I’d be happy.

Sharing My Favorite Creative Work

(C4ward March Blogathon Day 3 post, a day late because Monday is my insanely long day with no breathing room)

What should I show as my favorite creative work? In what area did I DO my favorite creative work?

Was it this pair of chainmaille earrings?

Sterling & Niobium Chainmaille Earrings

Sterling & Niobium Chainmaille Earrings

Or these earrings made from one of my favorite pairs of lampworked beads?

Lampworked glass bead earrings

Lampworked glass bead earrings

Was it this paper I did for my first art class on German artist Käthe Kollwitz?

Käthe Kollwitz image

Käthe Kollwitz Self-Portrait

Or perhaps the debut performance of the dance troupe to which I belong at TribalCon last month?

I can’t decide!!


C4ward March Blogathon Day 1

On a whim I decided to participate in this challenge — blog every day for two weeks, with prompts given, about my creative journey. I’m doing it here, on my personal site, rather than on Copper Dancer Designs or Thursday Nights at Windy Hill, because I choose not to limit myself to one aspect of my polymath life for this project.

Today’s prompt:

Tell us the big “why” behind the creative work you do.  Here are a few questions to consider as you write:

  • Why do you exist?
  • What is your purpose here on this earth?
  • How would you express the “why” behind your creative work in a few short sentences?
  • What do you want to be remembered for?
  • Can you think of three or more key words that embody the reason why you create art?
  • If you were to write a short, memorable, and inspirational t-shirt message about the purpose or mission for your creative work, what would it say?

Well, I suppose I do my creative work because I can’t NOT do it. I’ve always created, even if it was just somewhere inside my head. My hands, especially, always have to be doing something, whether it’s creating program code, jewelry, socks, words, pound cakes, or drum beats. Creating stuff brings me inner peace and seems to bring others little bits of beauty and enjoyment — not a bad thing at all!

Why do I exist and what is my purpose here on earth? I don’t know that yet, and honestly, I don’t think it really matters to me on a day to day basis. Especially as I get older, I try not to spend too much time getting all existential about my existence. I’m here, I’m learning and growing and doing the best I can, trying to share what I learn and provide an example that perhaps others can find helpful. As I get older, I’m learning to be more in the moment and less about the unknowable. How people remember me after I’m gone is the same as what people think of me today — none of my business and out of my control. So I don’t spend energy being concerned about it. I’d rather create and just put it out there.

“Create for yourself; share it with the world.”


So, What D&D Character Am I? (meme)

I Am A: Neutral Good Human Wizard (6th Level)

Ability Scores:

Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard’s strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)


WordCamp Atlanta 2012

I’ve decided that most professional conferences are, as far as I am concerned, not really worth it for me. I’m far more interested in improving my technical knowledge than listening to a bunch of educators blather about what is the most appropriate pedagogical approach to computing, or in listening to a different bunch of academics blather about some esoteric aspect of computing with no practical application to anyone’s life or work.

So I love WordCamp because I can hang out with fellow geeks and learn WordPress and web design stuff I can actually USE on an everyday basis to make my teaching, my business, and my volunteer work better. Both WordCamp Atlanta events that I’ve been at have been held at SCAD Atlanta, which is really a great facility, and have been well organized and run by an all-volunteer staff. Most of the sessions I attended this year were in the designer or developer tracks because I was interested in more technical information, but there are always many good presentations for beginners and non-technical users as well.

Plus no one blinks when they see you sitting there knitting while you wait for the next session to start!

If you’d like to see a little of what I learned, Marna Friedman has collected most of the presentations from the event on the Northwest Atlanta WordPress Meetup site. We heard also that plans are in the works for the second WordCamp Savannah to be held this May, so you have an opportunity there to experience this for yourself.

Thanksgiving Break Lessons

…was far too short, and far too full of people for my taste. A family Thanksgiving dinner and a family milestone birthday party within four days were gatherings that were just too big, too noisy, too crowded and chaotic for my peace of mind, and that was with one whole branch of the family missing entirely.

After all these years, I should learn to not let my one sister get on my nerves, period end of story. I should learn not to speak my mind to my older nieces because they have not developed an ability to filter what they hear and say. I should learn to arrive late to crowded gatherings, and leave early, to lessen the risk that my tolerance of crowds will run out prematurely. I should learn that there is just no pleasing some people. I should learn that thinking of myself is not selfish, it’s sanity-saving.

Knit Project #1 DONE

Yesterday I bound off my first knitting project, and late in the night I finished weaving in the ends. It’s done!! I have cast-on, knittedknittedknittedknitted endlessly it seemed, bound off, and woven in ends. I do still have to wash it, which I plan to do a bit vigorously to felt it a bit, and I will have a nice broad cowl-type scarf that can be worn with a handmade scarf pin. So for all these years I said I couldn’t knit, now I can.

All it took was figuring out that I needed to work on circular needles instead of straight ones, and Continental-style instead of English-style. Perhaps it’s because I have crocheted off and on for many years, but Continental just makes so much more sense, at least for knit stitch.

Project #2 is already cast on as of five minutes ago — a much narrower scarf, in a pattern that will have me mastering the purl stitch both in stockinette and ribbing. Plus I couldn’t choose a simple pattern, no — I decided to do one that involves short rows to get ruffles, which means I’ll have to get the hang of the wrap and turn (which in truth doesn’t seem that difficult from the instructions, so I am not sure why people are kvetching about it online).

Not only that, I have project #3 and #4 already in mind — the Moebius Scarf a la Cat Bordhi and the simple shawl pattern I got at Lovin’ Knits a couple of weeks ago, both of which I already have yarn for so that all I need is the needles for the moebius.

Once I get four or so scarves/shawls done, perhaps I feel ready to go on to my next goal — SOCKS, first with commercial yarn and then my ultimate goal, HANDSPUN HANDKNIT SOCKS. Yum.

The November Crud Attacketh

Every year, at some point in November, I get the creeping crud. No matter how hard I try to fight it off, I fail. It snuck into my system and reared its ugly head yesterday. I hoped it would just quietly vanish, but alas, no such luck. By 5 p.m. Andrea sent me home from the bead show. Well, by 5 p.m. I was ready to go home, put on my comfy cotton jammies, and crawl in bed with a cup of hot tea.

And, as has become our tradition, as I was lying there in my jammies sniffling and feeling crummy, Gary looked at me and asked, “Will you marry me?” And, as I always do, I say “yes.”

Grief is a funny thing

I really didn’t cry at all when Dad died last month. But I have been in tears off and on all day today thinking about the three Good Mews cats that were euthanized in the past two and a half weeks. As I read the tributes to Theo on Facebook today, and contributed my own comments, the tears just welled up and overflowed.

So of course the analytical side of me has to try to figure out why. It’s not like I had adopted Pops or Marley or Theo myself. They aren’t the only Good Mews cats I’ve known and loved to cross over the Rainbow Bridge — there’s Sargent, and Wonder, and Harry, and Samantha and Louise, and Gideon, and Relish…I could go on and on. I didn’t have the bond with them that I had with Iris, and that I have with Sarah and Mr. Boots and Donovan.

Maybe it’s that these three were special even among special cats. Maybe it’s that I shed my tears for Dad as I watched him battle his pulmonary fibrosis and heart problems for the past seven years.

Maybe it’s that I feel I CAN let myself grieve openly for these babies because, though I loved them, they didn’t mean nearly as much to me as Dad. It’s safe to shed tears for them.