Thursday, April 30, 2009

Time for some chuckles...

Felt a good dash of humor was in order for today (well, every day!). Sort of a mini "Best Of" from friends' emails the past couple of weeks that made me laugh. Enjoy!

"BUT OFFICER, I......"

A police officer pulls over a speeding car. The officer says, ' I clocked you at 80 miles per hour, sir.'

The driver says, 'Gee, officer, I had it on cruise control at 60; perhaps your radar gun needs calibrating. '

Not looking up from her knitting the wife says: 'Now don't be silly, dear--you know that this car doesn't have cruise control.'

As the officer writes out the ticket, the driver looks over at his wife and growls, 'Can't you please keep your mouth shut for once?'

The wife smiles demurely and says, 'You should be thankful your radar detector went off when it did.'

As the officer makes out the second ticket for the illegal radar detector unit, the man glowers at his wife and says through clenched teeth, 'Woman, can't you keep your mouth shut?'

The officer frowns and says, 'And I notice that you're not wearing your seat belt, sir. That's an automatic $75 fine.'

The driver says, 'Yeah, well, you see, officer, I had it on, but I took it off when you pulled me over so that I could get my license out of my back pocket.'

The wife says, 'Now, dear, you know very well that you didn't have your seat belt on. You never wear your seat belt when you're driving.'

And as the police officer is writing out the third ticket, the driver turns to his wife and barks, 'WHY DON'T YOU PLEASE SHUT UP??'

The officer looks over at the woman and asks, 'Does your husband always talk to you this way, Ma'am?'

'Only when he's been drinking.'


"Play dead" pup...

Mommy's little helper...



A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.

Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in the hotel lobby, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston , a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called "Home" following a heart attack.

The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted.

The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife

Subject: I've Arrived

Date: January 16 , 2008

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in.

I've seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then!!!! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P. S. Sure is hot down here!!!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Letting go...

One of the most important states of being in creating a peaceful, harmonious life is practicing 'detachment'. True detachment. It doesn't mean being a hermit and cutting yourself off from means not letting people, objects, feelings become so 'attached' to you, mentally, that they meld with your sense of identity...that any idea of 'losing' that 'attachment' will somehow 'take away' from who you are...

Easier said than done, I know. Masters know the simple beauty and truth in it because they practice it. I think we've all heard/read the 'love' verse that says if you love something set it free...that's the idea, anyway. And so I come to those questions from time to time with certain flutes. I am often asked, "Have you ever sold any flutes you wish you'd kept?" The honest answer is 'yes', but knowing it's a necessary 'step' since the beauty and medicine of this sacred instrument needs to be shared and spread around, not hoarded. OK, and bills need to be paid, who's kidding whom!

I had been corresponding with a prospective 'parent' over particular flutes and keys, getting a feel for what they were looking for...and as is oft the case, it gets into matters of Spirit and the Heart. There's a lot of 'gut feeling' involved, messages from beyond...a lot gets 'spoken' without ever being written. It's a neat thing, really...quite vibrant. I say 'parent' as I view my flutes as my 'kids', so I refer to them as being adopted, not sold. They're much more than pieces of wood that play sweet music.

When I had completed the (low E-flat) Praying Eagle flute below, I knew it was a keeper. Oh, it was offered to a select few people that ultimately passed on is one of the most amazing playing flutes, too, with an upper register that can be cleanly played with the lightest of breaths...for experienced flute players with superior breath control, this instrument will play just about anything any way. How could I offer it for adoption now?

Well, I did. It's Iowa-bound as I type, along with a couple of other siblings. Deep down I know there will be other really great flutes that will be created, and I'll cross that dilemma-bridge all over again. Actually, I already am with my first two Verdi-tuned flutes, the low E and branch flute from an earlier blog post. I am not releasing those at this time, and may not...they will let me know if and when there is such a time to move on. The Praying Eagle did.

(click on pics to enlarge)

I'm applying for membership in the prestigious Southern Highlands Craft Guild, and should I make it to Stage 2 I will need to deliver 2 flutes for their close scrutiny...the Eagle was to be one of them, so I had to tell myself to get my rear in gear and crank out a couple of real beauties should I need them for a summer drop-off. I could recreate the eagle, but the natural piece of Ironwood it's sitting on is most unique and helps 'make' the look complete...I'd have to search really hard to find something that would work as well.

One of the other siblings traveling with it is a flute that I've had since last spring or summer. It's a true North Carolina flute made from figured Cherry from Asheville and a block and end cap of Ambrosia Maple from Rowan County north of Charlotte. It was a nice playing low E...pretty to look at, pretty sounding, but no one went for it. Because this new 'parent' was looking originally for low D/E flutes, I pulled those flutes and put them through their paces. I thought the others were flat, but what it was was that this next flute was actually a tad sharp.

Long story short, I had an "aHA!" moment and shifted the flute into a Verdi-tuned F a few weeks ago. It's yet another story of something 'magical' that defies quantifiable description as that flute exploded in personality and playability with it's new 'voice'. It's bouncy and bright and delightfully responsive. All I can do is smile since I can't explain it.

The Ambrosia Maple was gifted to me by a fellow flute-maker was this hefty rectangular chunk that I decided to cross-cut into pieces for blocks and caps, and it came out with these wonderfully wild designs. Part of the joy of woodworking!

The third of the Three Amigos is one of my specialty flutes, a high F# with an extended slow-air chamber. The body is Black Limba (Africa), a wood known as a great 'tonal' wood and used in many acoustic instruments for its resonance properties. The flat-bottomed design ("Half-Pipe") allows for a lot more variation in finger hole diameter and placement than a round-bore high F#. A beginner player would have a bit longer adjustment period to get used to the odd finger hole pattern, but even with my big paws I can toodle along quickly with it, as tight as they are.

In the above pic, the mouthpiece would be to the left and the 'foot' end to the right. This is for those who play left-over-right, which is the vast majority of flute-making, a hole is placed 'x' distance from the sound hole, or at least the dot for the hole. If you were to draw a line perpendicular to the barrel at a particular dot, that represents the line on which the hole can be dropped and still play the same note. I have developed the above pattern after a lot of trial and error and playing time, and it's a pretty ergonometric design, very comfortable and natural. If I were to put all the holes in one line, they would be way too close together to play...fingers wouldn't fit tightly enough to prevent air leaks at the holes.

Now to the drawing board for today. Lots of ideas on paper that I need to translate into wood, once I decide on the particulars. The weather continues to be user-friendly, for which I am thankful!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mo' Wildflowers...

From early spring to flat-out summer-like temperatures, that's what happened last week. Thankful for all the fill-in work of late, but, honestly, glad for a little break. The wildflowers are bustin' out everywhere and I couldn't help but post more pics. Same ol' 'click to enlarge', too.

The trillium are just now starting to spread out, both the Grandiflora large-flowered one as well as the white variety of Wake Robin. With their distinctively broad leaves, myriad shafts of sunlight, and neat rocks, it's a peaceful playground in which to just sit and soak it all in...

I also like trying different camera angles...easy to get into the rut of shooting something the same way everytime, but with the trillium they offer unique tri-forms in their designs...

This Star Chickweed bloom is about as big as my pinkie fingernail, this one just beginning to open...

...and this one fully so....

The Canada Violet is one of the larger violet blooms right now...the vast majority of early spring flowers are white, but as you'll see there are exceptions...

(Close-up of Canada Violet)

In start contrast to the predominant 'whites' is this lavendar Dwarf Larkspur that was just coming out and not yet fully open....

No blooms yet on this new Solomon's Seal...

Fiddlehead ferns that are fast shooting up look like creatures arising from some botanical lagoon, don't they?

The Large-flowered Bellwort has this limpy quality to it that, if you didn't know better, would think it was low on turgor pressure and in need of water fast! Alas, that's how this droopy yellow beauty grows...

The Smooth Yellow Violets have been out a while, now making way for more Canada (white) and Wood (purple) violets to take over...

Blue Cohosh may not be the most prolific flower or plant, but it is touted as having strong medicinal properties related to female 'cycles' as well as relieving cramps and pains from childbirthing. It has many other common names like blue ginseng, yellow ginseng, squaw root, etc. Though similar in name, it isn't related to Black Cohosh, which is also purported to have the same type of herbal qualities...


Mailing off some special 'kids' today...glad not to be going into my old shift for a third week, that's for sure! Need to milk this warm, quiet weather while I have the energy!

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Fried Fridays: It's All In The Family"

There are many euphemisms out there for families…there’s one in the Christian community that says “The family that prays together stays together”….and there is the old saying that ”blood is thicker than water” when referring to people sticking with relatives and blood/kin through thick and thin. We believe it to be so. We honor it. We follow it.

Our society prides itself on the ‘family unit’ and heterosexual relationships. Given the omnipresent “on the go” nature of our society, many work hard to do things as a family, even something as simple as having dinner together. Not everyone succeeds at accomplishing the goal of ‘quality family time’, but at least many are trying….


Ah, the Big Apple. One of those cities that never sleeps. One of those cities that you wonder howthehell do you eek out a living with the exorbitant cost of living, that kind of place. In this case, it was a couple that was going to become a ‘unit’, though at this report they were not yet married. No biggee…they obviously liked being together a lot, enough to have already had kids.

Kids that are able to walk and talk and do their own homework is one thing. Kids that are either still in diapers or only recently nearing kindergarten is another. Still, some work hard to keep the flock in the same fold, and they should be commended.

Or not.

It is a natural development that when the economy is so dreadfully lousy that some look for easy ways out. Lotteries. Gambling. Working multiple jobs.

Or turning to thievery.

And so a NYC man and an accomplice did just that, turned to the ol’ breaking-and-entering underworld to get the goods and money they need to support their families. Their intent does not justify their actions, of course, nor will it ever do so. Still, they have their families on their mind, front and center.

That’s why they went along for the ride.

Yep, it seems this unnamed fellow and his cohort would drive around in the blue family minivan and scope out places to rob…well, more like his girlfriend would do the driving while they scoped everything out. Not to leave anyone out, the 5-month old toddler and 4 year-old tyke went along for the ride, strapped in their car seats.

Well, uh….at least they had car seats. Suffice it to say the family unit hit a major snag trying to be together. Observant neighbors put two and two together and let the police know so they could set up their 'nab'.

You know what they say….

“The Family that steals together wheels together."

Sad but true... and totally 'fried'...

Enjoy the summer-like weather this weekend!!!