Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Cat Drop Off Day

It's been a get-things-done kind of week. Stoli and I came to Austin today. He will stay safely at his Auntie Pat's for twelve whole weeks. We arrived and within minutes it looked like he owned the place.

As an ex-on-the-road musician, I stayed on-the-road for a couple of months at a time before finding rest in a friend's home here and there. This upcoming stretch may be the longest on-the-road stretch I have ever done... it is certainly the FARTHEST I've ever road-tripped.

I have a few simple goals:
1. Don't stress out. Like ever. There is absolutely no reason to.
2. Take notes every day... details. I forget stuff later. Take notes.

Well, honestly, I think that's it. If I can manage to maintain my zen and take notes... everything else will be easy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

For the Money

"Would you rather sell 100 book or give away 1000 copies to people who would read them?"

Why do we assume it's ok to ask artists to work for free??? If they really love art, they will just do it, for free, right? Wouldn't they rather their art be available in the world even if they don't get to eat?

Do doctors work for free because they love saving lives? Do teachers work for free because they love kids? Do lawyers work for free because they want to see justice done? Do police officers work for free because they love to make people feel safe? Do accountants work for free because they love numbers????

Ideally, we would all love our jobs. But whether we love our job, or rather our contribution to society, we should all get paid what the contribution is worth. Art is a contribution that can't even be quantified. It is found everywhere and makes nearly all facets of our lives better. From the architectural art of a building to the layout of the magazine in the doctor's office to the music you hardly notice in the grocery store. Art is everywhere and it matters. Artists should be paid whether they create art with love or with tortured hatred.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Vacation Day

Today was vacation day. We went to Port Aransas for absolutely no reason at all... or well, we have been working so hard toward the Alaska trip... and a few other stressful events have given us more than substantial reason. We visited The Brewery for a beer and burger. We took a leisurely walk on the beach. We stopped for gelato and coffee, and then went home. It was lovely. We needed that.

Now, to finish what I can of the outdoor kitchen and the final details for Alaska! The countdown is ON!

Sunday, May 13, 2018


Today, I built the counters in the outdoor kitchen. Everything went very well. Anne assisted as needed. There were no injuries... and now, I can't wait to finish it!!

Next: tile, trim, plumbing and finish the electrical... Keeping it simple and clean.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

oh well

Today was the aftermath to a depressive episode. It was physically difficult to move. I tried... I'm writing this days later. It is much like recovering from a migraine bodyache. Today was pretty much useless.

Friday, May 11, 2018


I have never once censored her writing or her blog posts in any way whatsoever. She asks me to read it. Sometimes we take pics of things to add to her post, but I never object to anything she writes. I suppose that means she is thorough and thoughtful... it might also lead people to believe that I agree with what she writes, but I do not always. Frequently, I think her attitude toward certain things is a little rough, but that's her. Hopefully, in our dual writing project, two perspectives will work for the benefit of our project.

Today, we woke up as usual. We went to the cabin where she usually goes to her computer while I make breakfast. Sometimes she reads unpleasant things, usually things are fine. Today, she sees to have read something unpleasant. Her demeanor is not angry, but troubled, but she says nothing directly as we eat and then go on to work outside.

I ask her repeatedly if there is anything I can do for her.

She finishes a mowing task and then gets her computer and gruffly sits down to make our home-ward reservations. This is odd as she usually doesn't do computer things like this alone. I tell her, "If I have done something, I hope you'll tell me."

She goes into a rampage about the blog I posted to our Eggcellence blog. How clearly she does nothing and I do everything. Someone even commented on Facebook, "Let me know if I can help." This is evidence that I have told the world what a lazy partner she is.

When she used the facebook comment as evidence, this made me angry. This particular person has lived in Alaska and has commented every single time we post about Alaska that he'd be happy to share his knowledge. I stormed away and as I did so, she yelled out something awful about her father.

The thing is, last week was HARD. I was left depressed and helpless on my own property. This is Anne's home too and I want her to have a say, a space, input, including and especially in HER outdoor kitchen, and this seemed like a great project to bring in her dad who could feel good about contributing. It turned out to be a very trying week. I battle depression as the tension grew... FINALLY, I got to go to town and get things done FOR US! The only reason I didn't mention her dad on the main blog, or what her contribution for the week was, was because I didn't have a single photo, I didn't have a single finished product, and I couldn't very well say anything negative. She did the hard work. I did a list of piddly little travel things. Exactly how was I supposed to say what she had been doing and be true to who I am???

This is written a few days later. This spun me into the final push over the depression edge. I need to do things to feel value in myself. That blog post is absolutely about depression written while I was still depressed. Getting things done helped, but it wasn't a cure.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Electircal finished

Haha...  no, it's not. He went home today. As soon as the car left the gate, I began fixing my beloved outlet on the porch. One hour later, I had the outlet exactly where I wanted, new wire run, etc. All done.

I have gone through the container and noted what wires he has where. Unfortunately, several wires end in the middle of a piece of conduit... They appear at one box, but not the other!

I went into town yesterday to do a whole list of errands while Anne tried to assist her dad. Both jobs were very important. We are running out of time to do all the little travel things that need to be done.

Today, in the quiet of the peaceful empty home, I wrote the Thursday blog.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

More evidence

I am more and more convinced that my theory is correct. We are down to the wire. The plan is to take him home tomorrow. Anne has repeatedly stated that it is important to at least get the kitchen done because I will be building and no further adjustments can be made after that. He has gotten no further. He flits box to box acting very busy.

A new piece of evidence has surfaced. I told him to leave the outlet alone that he moved. He wanted to add some sort of hardwiring above it. I said no, the one outlet is all I need, and I left it at that. Anne says he has commented that Abby doesn't seem to understand how low that outlet is... Anne finally told him, it wasn't low before you changed it. He seems to not remember the way it was and/or why he moved it.

Still Anne says he's not incapable, he's just like this.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

The End

This could be the end of sanity as we know it. Anne and I are now placing bets on which one of us is going to lose her mind first.

Kidding aside, here is what I am beginning to see, believe, realize... it's a theory, but a strong one. He's in his 80's. He was an electrician early in his life. He has rewired his own home, his own organs (the musical kind), etc. He has a capable background. I think he is forgetting his overall plan, possibly confusing himself, redoing things... I'm honestly not sure he can finish this job.

The job itself is one straight line: electrical entry point with on/off switch, 3 feet up (near the ceiling) one outlet, 5 feet over one outlet, at this point there is a three feet down outlet and a continue near the ceiling ten feet to another outlet, continue another five feet to another outlet, drop 3 feet to a final outlet. THAT is IT. It's been a week. Wires are sticking out of every box. He goes from box to box to box like a hummingbird fussing over or changing or banging something.... and the next day, the same thing. His plan includes placing some switches beside some outlets (Anne and I don't care if those are there or not... actually prefer not, but it won't hurt anything.)

He doesn't want to leave until he finishes the job. We leave for Alaska in two weeks and two days. We need time to prep and this outdoor kitchen is just a side project. We are starting to feel pressure, but I have absolutely no idea how to assist in making his plan, which is ALL in his own mind, come to completion. He has spent from 9AM to 4PM working on this project every single day.

Our time is running out, causing stress... his lack of progress is causing stress... and his choices to do exactly what we specifically objected is causing stress... And if I'm right, his ability to complete this project is an indication of greater concerns, causing stress.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Electrical Saga

Well, that change that was made that I did not approve of... that change I called hideous... It got worse. I glanced over and saw ANOTHER electrical box has been added about 6 inches above the hideous one. So now there are two electrical boxes in full view for absolutely NO REASON. I need a single outlet up in the eve for my porch lights. The end. WTF.

We just got home from the hardware store. I picked up a few plumbing things and he ran through a list of little electrical things... Then, he asked the shop lady if she had fluorescent lights. We had all discussed that we did not want to do fluorescents... for several reasons. Number one reason: There is no water shielding roof for installation. Other reasons include: I HATE THEM, they buzz and give me a headache... The bulbs are long and difficult to dispose of when they die. But forget the reasons. WE TALKED about this and the home owners said NO. And he is insisting on it anyway.

So, I guess even if he had asked about my precious outlet and I had said "no," there is a good chance he would have done it anyway.

If he doesn't finish the job soon, I fear my gratitude is going to be overpowered by the frustration. I have to make sure I keep the parts I need to redo my precious porch outlet. As soon as they drive out the gate, I am changing that back. Anne can keep her kitchen the way he creates it, but my porch was wired exactly how I wanted it and it will return to my way! I just can't believe it's worse.... I paid money to have someone set it where it was. No discussion, he just changed it. Who does that?

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Outdoor kitchen sink

I made some progress on the planning of the outdoor kitchen. I'm using 3 inch PVC pipe as legs, leftover deck material for the sink counter, used plywood and tile for the prep and stove side. All things have been measured, counted, collected and prepared for cutting tomorrow.

The electrical art project is still progressing. We live in such a small town that no hardware stores are open on Sunday. Progress continues and the hardware store-forgotten-stuff list grows.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Help is...

People give their time and materials to my projects all the time. I always try to utilize their skills and time and effort as efficiently as possible. I also volunteer my skills and it is incredibly frustrating to show up to help and find that the person is too proud to use my skills or too disorganized to know what to do with me. I don't mind volunteering... but don't waste my time. In this way, I try to do unto others. I also believe that if a person has different skills than I do, it's usually best if I get out of the way and only assist when they actually need me to. I have a plan drawn up, the skilled person gets this in advance, and we talk about any safety or other considerations or suggestions they have for making things better. I often take bits of advice and/or volley back ideas as to why I designed a thing the way I did. This usually clears up any potential problems.

Today, I am being challenged just a tiny bit. It is absolutely imperative that I focus on my gratitude toward the work being done. When it is finished, however it is finished, it will be nothing less than a specific workman's ART project. I go for simplicity and efficiency. This individual goes for artist points... That's just how I'm going to accept this. Art.

We are reading a book in which two characters are writing during war time. The soon-to-be-soldier confesses to being scared. The girl-at-home fills pages of "I didn't say...." and "I didn't say..." and "furthermore, I didn't say..."

We... *I* need to always find the balance between standing up for myself and saying what actually needs to be said. I could say, "I had that outlet placed there by a professional who I PAID just a year ago. I dreamed of that specific outlet since the time I moved here and it has been PERFECT - hidden up in the eve so that I can plug in my porch lights. WHY did you lower it 2 feet so that now everyone can see it and also where it has to have a SCRAP of wood behind it to further point out its hideous presence?!?!  IT WAS FINE like it was." I could say, "You changed something outside of the kitchen, which was the location of the job, without asking? You know what I need better than I do, I guess. And... you're wrong." I could say, "Put it BACK!" But I'm not going to. I will probably move it back when he leaves because it is exactly that maddening and seriously hideous, but I won't say anything.

I will focus on the other work he is doing and be grateful when we flip the final switch that it all turns on and ta-da! And I am genuinely, truly grateful for the expertise and help in an area I don't feel like pursuing. I'm just also a wee bit frustrated at this moment.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018


This year, Anne turns fifty. We will be in Alaska on the road for her actual birthday. I wanted to do something special just for her.

I knew we would be in Austin for one day together... this day was yesterday. Last week, I planned her first ukulele lesson. I purchased a uke and all the trimmings and had them shipped to Austin. I took my own Great-grandfather's uke to Austin when I went to pick up Stoli.

The wonderful woman who bought my singing telegram business years ago also does ukulele classes and lessons. I met with her and arranged the time... all set.

I'm horrible with surprises. I want to tell the recipient what an awesome thing is coming up, but I managed to control myself. I told her we needed to pick up some photos for me to scan - I do that all the time. I asked if she would mind coming with me to help carry the albums and boxes of photos. She didn't suspect a thing until Mardi answered the door playing a birthday song with her ukulele.

It was the perfect gift. She's been talking about learning since she moved out here and I've been trying to find a convenient time to meet up with Mardi. A surprise like this was overdue... and I think she really really liked it. Prepare for some song-writing genius in the near future!!

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Competition Part 2

Yesterday, I wrote about my hatred for competition as a daily function. Today, I'd like to say how amazing competitions are at promoting and sustaining the specifics of certain art genres.

People, myself included, have mixed feelings about music competitions. These competitions create anxiety problems for children that last the rest of their lives. These competitions rank art and say whether an artist is a good or bad artist. This is the bad side. There is a good side.

For specific genres of art, competitions promote the specifics of that genre. They perpetuate standards that participants know, respect, and enter in order to grow within the rules of the genre. I am a traditional Irish musician. I do not do everything by the book nor do I believe anyone should unless that's the way they want to express their art. I DO, however, believe that people who participate under an umbrella of a genre should know and respect the roots of the genre. From that base, have fun, innovate your own sound, go your own way!

This past Sunday, we went to the Fiddlers Frolic competition for Texas style fiddling. The playing amongst the higher ranking players is phenomenal. At the end of the day, I'm never sure who will win because I do not know the particulars in the genre of Texas style fiddling. I do know who plays clean, in tune, and with some level of showmanship. But the best person in my qualifications is not necessarily the one playing directly to the standards of the genre. I think this distinction is important when preserving what it truly means to say Texas-style. Players' style with change with time and influence of everything they hear. To be able to come back to the true style, return to the roots, is important if you want to play respectfully as you make choices for your own style.

I love watching this competition. These people are amazing. I would love to witness an Irish music competition, especially Sean-nos song, the roots of the music I feel so deeply in my heart. Who knows if I'll ever make that happen... some day.

Monday, April 30, 2018


I loath competition in real life. In real life, there is room for everyone. There is room for every creation of art. There is room for everyone to succeed or at least contribute. There is room for everyone to grow. When people compete in the day to day world of art, we see people who are angry, bitter, burned out, and feel the world is out to get them. It's the same in a non-art work environment. If your office mates think they must always one-up you, the work environment becomes rather tense.

But doesn't everyone want to rise to the top? Isn't showing off how you are the best and have the best ideas... isn't that what will get you hired or get the raise or whatever elevation you seek? I say, no. Cooperation, the listing of others, the noticing of others' gifts is what will help you rise and get the best results for everyone, the company or the audience of art lovers.

When I share a stage with someone, I see how they contribute, how we all contribute to the better of the whole situation. I may not LOVE their art/music/act/voice, but someone does and supporting them and their art, contributes positively to my art. Every artist does what they do to express something. Expression touches people who identify with that expression. Laughter, tears, and thoughts are the result of these expressions. THIS is the most important thing about art. Any art that reaches people in some way is worth existing... and therefor, ALL ART is worth existing. There is infinite space for all art, even if one person says it's "bad."

I wrote a "bad" review on my book blog for the book Beer Money by an Australian writer Matthew Freeman. BUT, I did not say simply this is a horrible book because that would be untrue. I said SPECIFICALLY what was wrong with the flow of the book from my perspective and why the characters seem to be lies. In this way, I feel I contribute, not rip apart, the art. I positively hate criticism with no information on the actual problem or how to repair the issue. This book deserves to exist. Before I wrote what I wrote, I looked up the book and looked at several websites where readers had written that they had laughed out loud. THAT is all the qualification that this art needs to warrant its existence... and furthermore that the artist should create more if it is in him to do so.

On all three of my active blogs, I do not expect anyone to read or respond to them. I write for myself. The author found my review. I'm not sure how much digging it took to find a blog post that has been seen less than 20 times or if my search settings are just that darned good, but I'm glad he found it, and HONORED that he wrote a comment. The fact that I had this much to say about art and the infinite space the world has for art is a testament that he should indeed write whatever and to whomever he wants. Words have power, good power if you let them. His comment could have put me in the dumps. I don't want to say anything is "not good," that's just not a normal part of my repertoire.  That blog is more a "notes to self" on writing than a "reviews" page. I read to learn from other authors. I get ideas and grow from everything I read. This book is no exception.

I hope we all, as artists, learn and grow in order to make our expressions reach the hearts, minds, and souls of even more art lovers. Yes, Matthew Freeman, laughter is a very good thing and makes every line of your book worth its existence in our vast wide world of art.