Sunday, June 20, 2021

I Bought A Bowl

 I bought a bowl yesterday.

It’s 4½ inches in height and 9¼ inches in diameter, so, much bigger than a soup bowl or a salad bowl. I might use it for a serving bowl sometimes, or maybe it’ll sit on the table keeping a few apples. (It’s nice to have art you can use everyday.) It’s turned from burl maple that was sourced from a local (Mitchell County, NC) forest and allowed to air dry.

Those are its specs, but they’re not the reason I bought a bowl. A closer look at its inside reveals the reason I chose this particular bowl:


It’s easy to see its imperfections. The grain has grown in an irregular manner due to some kind of stress – maybe injury from insect infestation or a fungal infection. The discolorations in the wood suggest mold – yes, mold can have some pretty interesting color. The irregularities are part and parcel of a “burl,” an unsightly, bulbous malignancy that often is attached to the tree’s roots, though sometimes is attached to its trunk.

Oddly, among artists burls are highly prized for their beauty and rarity. Burl wood can be very hard to work with; because of its twisted grain it can chip and shatter unpredictably. But the very thing that makes it difficult to work with is the thing that makes a high-quality end product: the twisted grain makes the product resistant to splitting.

The burl can probably be a metaphor for many different aspects of human life, but I don’t really want to overthink it right now.

I’ll just content myself with admiring it as something beautiful and useful that came from something initially devastating. Maybe from time to time it'll symbolize something I am experiencing in my own life. Either way I’ll bless the kind, gentle, and imaginative soul who was able to recognize potential, and then use his talent to fulfill that potential.

I bought beauty and function and life lessons, all in the shape of a bowl, yesterday.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Baby-Steppin' Back to Normal?


Just got home from a fun night out with friends - I can count on one hand the number of times I've done anything "social" like this in the past year.

It was exactly one year ago that I left Florida to "shelter" with family in North Carolina. It was a good move. Living alone as I do, to spend days and weeks at home in Florida "isolating" with Henry and going out for groceries only every other week or so, would have been dangerous from a mental health perspective. Living with my cousin Sally and her husband, and their three cats, was a lifesaver for me (and the cat situation was only mildly challenging for Henry).

Over the past year, a few friends/acquaintances and relatives have been sick with COVID, and a couple were lost. I've been vaccinated; everybody at tonight's gathering had been, as well. I'm very hopeful for the times we can safely gather -- even in large groups, like festivals! 😁 -- again!


Wash your hands.

Wear a mask. 

Practice social distancing.

Get yourself vaccinated when it's your "turn."

Be kind.

(I threw that last one in there because I wanted to. It has nothing to do with physical health, but it'll help someone feel better ... and make you feel better too.)

Be kind. Even long after COVID is a bad memory.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Big News!

I’ve moved!

Over the past 30 years, perhaps even longer than that, I’d given serious consideration to relocating from Florida to North Carolina. Call it bad luck, or bad timing, or just Fate, but each time I started making inroads toward a move, one thing or another always got in the way. When I came up to Carolina in March 2020 to shelter with family against the uncertainty of the pandemic, I had seemingly all the time in the world to find the right situation.

And find the “right situation” I did! A cute and somewhat quirky house in a quiet old neighborhood in the town of Spruce Pine – 3 bedrooms, the largest of which is now a music room, the smallest of which is now an office. A yard big enough for Henry (my 13-year-old dog) to ramble a bit, but not so big that lawn maintenance will be a huge chore (I hope!). A previous resident had planted purple crocus and daffodil, and I’m delighted to watch as they spring up! I think there’ll be tulips in April, and across the street there is a virtual wall of rhododendron that will begin showing off sometime in May.

One of the biggest bonuses of this move is that, after cutting the driving distance between us in half, I’ve seen my brother more in the past 6 months than I’d seen him in the previous 6 years.

I’ll continue performing and producing festivals in Florida with my company Celtic Heritage. Over the years I’ve gotten a lot of experience planning events from the road – “taking care of business” from various locales such as coastal Maine, northern Ohio, and even Calgary, Alberta – so nothing really changes in that department. Plus, who knows? Perhaps I’ll once again find myself producing events in North Carolina.

I’m super-excited about this new chapter of my life! 

photo taken January 8, 2021

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Tripping Mines


Late February/Early March is apparently an emotional minefield for me. Birthdays of my beloved mother and grandmother, now both departed, plus the anniversaries of Greg's entering hospice and his death all fall within a week. Although I've long since grieved the passings of mother and grandmother, and Greg's death occurred six years ago come Friday, still my mind somehow goes into a sort of -- I don't know how to characterize it, exactly -- a sort of limbo at this time of year.

I’ve been pretty listless the past few days, and today I feel like I'm slogging through quicksand. I didn't even understand why until I put my hands on something that had belonged to Greg and I consciously realized that "It's that time of year again." It's like my subconscious is working to slow me down; during most of the year I'm barely aware of the calendar, yet at this time I come into a somewhat painful awareness ... even without actually looking at a calendar.

It's pretty weird, actually, and kind of fascinating in a way. Don't worry about me! I'm just going to sort of give into it and be easy on myself for a few days.

But I mention it because it may be the one facet of my life experience that I had absolutely no inkling of, prior to its happening. I mention it today because I'm aware of it today ... but also because maybe it's happened to you or maybe it will one day happen to you. Sure, everybody walks their own path, but when you trip one of the emotional mines in your way, it can be comforting to know you're not alone.