Friday, February 18, 2011
(click on pics to enlarge)
Gotten into a pattern of a handful of days in the mountains and then pulling fill in weather shifts at my former station. Just enough to keep me out of a rhythm, which is making me a bit on the cranky side. ;-) While it has recently warmed nicely, it had heretorfore been a snowy winter fraught with travel woes for me, and now this week dealing with a cold of sorts. I jokingly say I wish I could get the flu to help me jumpstart a weight loss program, but gotta be careful what you wish for, eh?
So while I'm back in Charlotte as I write this, I did manage to get some flutes going earlier this week, and below are pics of two from unique woods. I've had this slab of Cinammon Burl for several years, and this is the first flute cut from it. I also have a G4 that is close behind it. Super lightweight and cuts/sands like butter.
Cinnamon Burl (Redwood) B4
(only oiled, no finish yet)
The Box Elder was a scrap of crotch lumber I got locally. Where a tree forks into secondary trunks, that juncture (the crotch) usually yields highly figured woods. Box Elder comes in a 'flame' variety that is chock full of the red flames you see at the foot of this flute, which I'd like to order some day. This scrap piece I picked up yielded only this flute, however.
Box Elder crotch B4
(only oiled, no finish yet)
'Twas interesting watching Jeopardy this week, as IBM's "Watson" took on a pair of 2-legged champions. And so the news bits flew about, and after the two-night special, out came allegations that Watson had a technological advantage over the remotes humans used to ring in answers, yaddah, yaddah. I could care less. As I watched station after station report on the shows, from local to national, NOT ONE mentioned what to me was the most glaring of news stories: Watson screwed up royally on "Final Jeopardy". Royally.
The question asked which U.S. city had it's main airport named for a WWII hero, and its secondary airport after a famous WWII battle. Both humans correctly guessed "Chicago" but Watson was quite unsure of it's answer, and went with "Toronto".
You've GOT to be kidding me. Here is this phenomenal sophisticated ma
chine with 10 massive computer structures feeding it a gazillion bits of data in the blink of an eye....and it doesn't even come up with a U.S. city. Ooops!
Helluva glitch, if you ask me. But no one mentioned it on the news. Go figure.
Back in early December I had just finished dinner with my parents in rural Polk County. Ive driven that country road more times than I can remember, but that night is a bit hard to forget. There on a 2-lane highway in the middle of nowhere, no houses, no lights, no road shoulders, a large Whitetail deer literally torpedoed my car. It had to have been at a full run, hitting me broadside at the passenger side front quarter panel.
No doubt the deer lost out on that one. How my side view mirror didn't get broken I'll never know, but he sure did a lot of damage down the car. Luckily no glass was broken, and everything is fine in the cabin....more importantly, it passes inspection.
You can correctly guess the car was 'totaled' by the insurance company given the Subie's 20-year old depreciation, so I now have the pleasure of driving around a 'salvage' vehicle that I can carry only liability on. Classy, eh?
Only one more thing I need to do....go get some outdoor decal materials and cut out "OH, DEER!..." and strategically place it toward the front of the front door.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Getting back into the swing of daily writing is not coming easily...the ideas are in the head, but the daily distractions and instant-excuses for procrastination pudding have been winning out more than not. Just finishing up a long run of weather shifts at my former station, on my former shift. When in my 30's, going to sleep at 6pm and getting up at 1230am for work was something I got used to, the weird shift and hours. No more is that the case. Eegads, but that just messes with the body clock, energy levels, and everything else 'living'.
My flute work is as much spiritual as it is artistic as it is musical. Just about any flute maker (and I'm sure instrument maker, period) will at some point talk about how the wood talks to you....each piece of wood has its own Spirit and voice, and no two are quite alike. They aren't always A-listers when finished, but they are unique, nonetheless.
I recently went and spoke to a group at Cooper Riis in Polk County about my Journey with The Flute. I had my two pups in tow out of necessity, and arrived early as is my custom. In walking the three of us around one large field, I picked up an old stick that had fallen beneath a tree, just a little 8" piece that was well on it's way into the rotting process. Into my pocket it went.
After situating the pups in the car and fluffing their quilts and lowering windows, I grabbed my "bucket o' flutes" and headed inside. After introductions, I was turned loose to wander down my extemporaneous mental footpath, bouncing from topic to topic as I do when I get excited...and I always do with my flutes.
Along the winding presentation road, I discussed my branch flutes and how I look for fallen branches with certain dimensions and craft them into Singing Sticks.
I pulled the old stick out of my pocket. I looked at it and turned it over, asking the attendees what they thought about it. It was dead, rotting, too small and crumbly for a flute, and something any and everyone would walk right over and never notice.
Sometimes the most profound thoughts are the simplest.
You've heard it said that we never "die" but "transform" levels of energy and existence. Oh, our bodies give up the ghost, literally and figuratively, but the Soul lives on. And it matters not what side of the religious fence you favor, it's all Source, as Wayne Dyer calls it. Our social conventions have taught us to label and judge things as "dead" or "alive", "good" or "bad", "right" or "wrong", and the like. Many blindly assume that to be Truth and never question it.
The Periodic Table of Elements came to mind, the source of many a young scientist's early hurdle to grasp. EVERYthing is made up of elements, be it in pure form or in compounds. At the base is the atom, with a nucleus of protons and neutrons. About that swirls a field of electrons, each combination of those three making an element unique, identifiable. Just a chapter in The Cliff Notes version of Life, of course. And don't forget the three basic states of solids, liquids, and gasses....from virtually nil to helter skelter aplenty, the space for electrons to 'do their thing' varies, BUT....they still "do their thing". Always and all ways.
Call it God, Creator, The Great Mystery, Yaweh...and maybe some don't call it anything at all...SOMEthing, some force, has created/orchestrated this incessant atomic energy and motion. It's part of Life's magic.
No way in hell that stick could EVER be dead. The tree is no longer taking up water and undergoing photosynthesis, so in that semantic sense it's "dead"; but that rotting stick still contains those whirring electron fields...and is very much 'alive' in that sense. The atoms continue to 'be' exactly what they've always been. The sheer joy and humbling wonderment for me is to take wood and create an alternate energy and lifeform in the form of music and aesthetic beauty.
Life never ends...like matter, it only transforms. Everything is "alive" when you stop and think about it, possessing Life's Essence, Source, whatever you want to call it...or Her...or Him. Native Americans would tell you to listen to ALL the world around you. The Grandfather Rocks possess the knowledge of the earth's history, and to sit with the rocks and truly 'listen' can help you find your Truths and answers. Water is the giver of life on many levels. When natives took something from the wild, they would offer tobacco as an offering, honoring the Spirit that abides in not only that which was taken but the community from which it came. They knew and understood fully that the Great Mystery was in all things.
A Cherokee elder held up a cigarette and asked me one time if there was anything sacred about it. I immediately thought of all the cancers and deaths that 'invention' had caused and continues to cause, and my disdain for the 'coffin nail' showed through easily. He quietly split the paper and poured the tobacco into his hand and repeated his question. In a quiet instant, what had only moments ago been a negative symbol, became a prayerful and respectful offering.
Sometimes the most simple things can be the most empowering.