Saturday, December 22, 2012

Almost Christmas

It is almost Christmas.  Just a few more days to go until the big holiday where everyone tries to make it to the homes of family through the snow and ice...  or in the case of Texas, through the sunny 70 degree horrifying weather.  Things have moved along since my last post.  Things are in the hands of a stranger right now.  I have made big plans if things come together.  If they do not, I have made big alternate plans.  What's life without goals, plans, ideas?  I'll tell you one thing:  If I don't have a mailing address by January 15, I'm going to go batty.  I haven't changed my address on anything since I moved just before going on tour.  I didn't bother getting a PO Box since I wouldn't be here.  Now, I don't know if I'm staying or going. I don't want to spend all that money changing my address and getting a PO Box now if I'm going to be somewhere else in 23 days.  It's a real possibility.  I think I have done a fairly good job of staying patient and understanding, but wow, waiting is exhausting!!!!

For now, I'm in the southwest part of Austin on a property of 2 acres.  There are two mini-horses, Tiffy the dog, a couple of greyhounds, a cat rescue, 3 other humans, me, my cat, plus the owner of the property who is here a lot but doesn't actually live on site.  The place keeps me busy and I'm happy like that!  Stoli, my cat, and I are happy in our 150 square foot cabin.

I am spending this Christmas and New Year's Day in the homes of a few cats.  I am pet sitting, just like the old days, only a bit more relaxed as I don't have nearly as many clients as when I was a full time professional.  I get to show up, do my necessary duties, then lounge with the cats and watch episodes of Glee or Downton Abbey.  Relaxing holiday!

Happiest of holidays to you all.  Happy happy happy 2013!!!

Friday, December 07, 2012

December

Dear Awesome People in my life,
December is here.  This is the month where I wrap up 2012 and make some choices about 2013.  I find it convenient that it coincides with the standard calendar.  This is why New Year's Eve and Day celebrations are my favorite holiday.  I enjoy looking at the past year assessing the positives and negatives.  Choosing the things to keep and deciding what things are not as important.  I enjoy looking forward to the next year with ideas and energy to make and meet new goals.
I am a lucky person.  It's really that simple.  I was born to people who are good and intelligent.  I have never gone hungry, I have never known war, I have never been truly stranded or injured.  I appear trustworthy and people routinely put their faith in me.  I make it my goal to never ever let these people down.  I have been handed keys to homes by people who only knew my name and that I called myself a pet sitter.  I have been handed credit cards to make purchases on their behalf.  I have entered into agreements that financially bind myself or the other person.  I take special care of these situations.  I have plans and back-up plans.  I have been let down and I know the excruciating pain it causes.  To be let down is more than just money.  It's trust shattered.  It's betrayal, it's the death of innocence.  I trust people because people trust me - I consider it a pay-it-forward idea.  The biggest betrayal against me seems to be on the mend.  I do happily and freely accept this and look forward to trusting her as much as I did the first day we made the agreement.  A person who makes good deserves respect and with me, they re-earn trust easily.  This experience has taught me how precious trust is.  If someone trusts me with anything, I pledge to uphold that trust.  I have always held this ideal, but now, I do so with even more intent and purpose.
This December, I am considering something completely new and very exciting.  It is taking more trust than I sometimes feel I deserve.  And then I remember everything I believe.  I remember how hard I work, how may ideas I have, and how worthy I am of trust.
And yet, I am just a tiny bit superstitious.  I can't tell you the details.  If I do, I could jinx the whole thing.  Funny, huh?  But seriously.  If I told everyone about all the details now, and then things fell through for any reason, I would be disappointed and I would have to sadly tell you all that it's not happening.  Remember in April when I was going to send out a big newsletter?  WHILE I WAS STUFFING ENVELOPES, I received the news that my plans fell through.  For now, know that I am trusting, brainstorming, planning and back-up-planning.  If it all works out, you will know everything very soon.  You will all play a big part in it.  And I will actually start writing in this blog more often!
Love,  Abby

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Birthday-Eve

This evening I am contemplating my final day as a 37 year old.  Tomorrow I am 38.
I just finished 5 really great weeks in Maryland, performing on the weekends at Maryland Renaissance Festival.  Last weekend, I performed at Texarkana Renaissance Festival.  Joachim Zwick came along and added fiddling to the weekend.  It was a first year festival, but people were happy and friendly and I think the whole thing was an overall success.
In the last couple of months, I have been making some serious progress in practicing.  I have moments where I have to force myself to stop practicing - I am making such good progress that I want to continue, but my muscles or a forming blister is screaming STOP.
I have amazing friends and family.  I am enjoying my journey as a housing thinker.  I have so many goals and ideas and plans.  I'm happy and I have enough money to buy food.  I'm healthy and I have chosen to preserve my health rather than continue to include certain people as priorities.  Life is good.
This year, 38, will be a year of growing musically with people who encourage just by committing to learn as well.  I will also be entering the building scene.  I am very hopeful that I will be able to purchase a lot or small piece of property and begin building.  I have tons of ideas.  I'm not dead-set on any one of them.  I know that the search for the lot that is affordable and buildable will help decide many other directions for the project.
I am excited about this next year.  I'm ready to make things happen!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Travel Time

It's nearly time for me to hit the road.  I leave Austin August 15, stop in Lake Charles, LA on August 16, hang out in New Orleans for the weekend, then make my way to Maryland.  I play Maryland Renaissance Festival for five weekends starting August 25.  Then I play a new festival, Texarkana Renaissance Faire.  I play a total of four weekends in October and November with my friends Istanpitta at Texas Renaissance Festival.  The last two weekends of November, I play the Louisiana Renaissance Festival.  I should be back in Austin planning new and fun adventures by the beginning of December.  Three and a half months of travel and music and seeing old friends and making new friends!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Breaking Habits

It occurred to me while driving 3 hours one day that we Americans are just like anyone else in this world.  We humans are creatures of habit.  Often Americans get labeled lazy and entitled.  As I drove and looked at the styrofoam cup in the cup holder of my car, I decided it really wasn't laziness that kept me drinking from disposable cups, it's habit.  The effort involved in carrying your own cup is really not that big.  I often remember and I feel good about saving the planet from one disposable cup that day.  It's habit and convenience that takes me to a fast food place knowing that they have it all under control.  They are there for my convenience to take care of my on-the-go needs for food.  THEY are responsible for the way they serve me.  That's the habit I would like to break.  I would like for us to think that we can each take responsibility.  And why not?  It's easy.  We all have plenty of cups and bags and containers for leftovers.  I have four random bags in my car for all kinds of shopping, one meal sized container for leftovers at a restaurant and a cup of some kind.  The cup goes back and forth into the house for washing and is really the most difficult one to remember, but it's not THAT difficult.  We are each responsible for the trash that goes into the landfill and then into the oceans...  besides all that long-distance environmental stuff, do you know what petrochemical plastics leach into your food and drinks when you use them especially in ANY sort of heated manner (coffee in a styro cup, warm leftovers placed in a styro container, water in plastic bottles left in the car, microwaved leftovers in a plastic container)????  And we wonder why cancer is on the rise.  Remembering that helps me remember to take my cup.  If it is that we Americans are lazy and entitled, I would also like to break that idea.  I hereby hold myself responsible for the waste I create.  I am doing my part to know about the products I use and the companies I support.  I am hoping many others will join in that idea.  We can't solve this overnight, but if each of us does one tiny thing just to get us started, we can make a big dent in this problem.  Break a habit!  Take a cup!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Solution?

A couple of people have asked why I don't just stop drinking sodas.  Sodas are bad for you, don't drink them and then you don't have to take the cup.  People, bear with me here.  This piece is not about soda - it's about styrofoam cups!  I don't actually drink sodas that often.  Soda or not, the cups are still placed in people's hands at an alarming rate and then into the garbage.  Who amongst us does not have a cabinet overflowing with glasses, cups and mugs at home?  Is it really so difficult to grab one of those on your way out of the house rather than using a disposable cup at any restaurant?  Stay with me here.  The video is meant to be, first, a lighthearted offering of something simple that we can all do.  The second point of this video is to attempt to get fast food restaurants to stop using styrofoam (as well as "to go" containers at finer restaurants).  The list of things wrong with this product is long and depressing.  Do some research or keep reading this blog and I will spell it all out as time goes on.  No matter what beverage I want to drink with my burger at many of these fast food types of places, they force you to take their non-biodegradable petrochemical disposable cup.  Water, coffee, tea, soda...  it doesn't matter.  If I want to eat and drink anything in a fast food place, I am forced to use their cup.  Even if *I* stop eating and/or drinking at these places, the use still exists.  People can choose to ingest HFCS all they want.  Their consumption of that garbage doesn't hurt me.  The use of these styrofoam containers DOES hurt all of us!  It needs to stop.  If you haven't seen my 3:50 minute movie breakup with Whataburger, please watch it and share it with your friends:  http://youtu.be/vsn8RLa5Chs

Friday, August 03, 2012

Outside Cup Controversy

So far only one person has made a rebuttal argument that outside cups (me bringing my own filthy cup) can cause contamination.  This person says this is why the restaurant requires each customer to use a fresh clean new cup.  This is NOT TRUE!!!  The same restaurant allows REFILLS!  Refills are into your dirty used cup.  Any restaurant that allows refills can not say that they do not allow outside cups for sanitation reasons.  And why is that only fast food restaurants make arguments like this?  Is it true that people who eat at fast food restaurants are less clean, maybe less intelligent than patrons of other restaurants?  Do fast food chains expect their customers to be dirty and stupid?  Oh wait...  yes, they do!  That's exactly how they make millions selling lower quality foods to the masses.  Please, prove me wrong here.  Of all of the fast food burgers, I will stand by my belief that Whataburger's burgers are among the better.  I order fries with the burger about 50% of the time depending on how much I've had to eat that day.  I realize that fries are nothing but starch and grease.... tasty starch and grease.  Fast food in our fast paced world could be an intelligent choice and menu choices are changing all the time in this area.  I need fast food restaurants to stop believing that their customers are dirty and stupid.  We are not.  I see that you allow refills....  let me use my own cup!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Styrofoam Cups


Please watch, comment and share with your friends!!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Moved

I moved to the Oak Hill area of Austin.  I'm staying in a wee cabin on 2 acres.  Two other people live on the property.  The owner of the property is a woman I met at a tiny house building workshop.  We plan to put some ideas together and build another cabin on her property.  I am hoping that this will give me some experience with building from the ground up as well as a space to try out some new ideas.  My cabin is about 300 square feet and I occupy one half of that.  My ceiling is reclaimed cedar boards and reclaimed cedar beams that are huge and gorgeous.  I have everything I need in this 150 square foot space.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tumbleweed Workshop

Last weekend I attended a workshop by Tumbleweed Tiny Houses about building smarter, greener, smaller.  Tumbleweed homes has made a name for itself in the extremely small homes market.  Their most famous homes are 80, 90, 120 square feet.  They are designed for people who live in the world, not at home.  A home is supposed to be a sanctuary, a safe place to sleep and eat.  Humans are supposed to live in community.  Because of their size, they are more affordable than any other type of home on the market.  I have a personal angle in this story and I hope that you will find the journey interesting and possibly challenging.  I do plan to build my own home.  I plan to begin construction within a year.  I should be able to complete the project in 6 months with help from the community of small house builders and friends.  I plan to post many thoughts, ideas, plans, and progress here on this blog.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Patrick's Day and stuff

With the first quarter of 2012 almost over, and only one 2012 post so far, there is entirely too much news for one post.  I will give it a shot anyway.

January 6.  My fabulous incredible van of awesomeness was totaled. It was a rough journey dealing with the insurance, but in the end, I got a fair settlement and I have moved on to a different phase of my traveling life.

January 25.  Registered my 2006 VW Jetta TDI.  It is a most fabulous traveling machine getting 45 MPG and capable of towing a small trailer should I choose to go in that direction.

Feb 10-11.  House concerts in Austin and in Houston with the amazing harmonizing vocals of Cayla Cardiff.  Thank you so much to Cindy & Brian and to Ros & Paul.  Two very good and successful shows!

Feb 18-19.  Sean-nos Northwest workshop in Portland, OR.  This was in.cred.i.ble.  My teachers were brilliant.  I may write an entire post on this workshop at some point.  The experience was really wonderful.  Portland was also a fantastic experience.  My whole trip was a week long, so I had time to hike in the city, visit waterfalls and learn at the workshop.

Feb 22.  My new-to-me Jetta gets rear ended.  Yup.  It wasn't bad, but did a wee bit of damage.  If I had known that they were going to take my car for TWO WEEKS, I would have just lived with the dent in the bumper.  The mechanics had my car in their possession longer than I had.

3 weekends of Sherwood Forest Faire.  A lovely growing festival with a good heart.  The weather was fantastic for 2.5 of those weekends.  That's pretty good for February!

St. Patrick's Day at one of my very favorite pubs in the whole world.  I took a Joachim Zwick, fiddler from Houston, with me to MacFarlane's in Lake Charles, Louisiana.  We played off and on all day long. If you ever have a reason to be in Lake Charles (It's a lovely city, actually), stop by this pub.  The food is outstanding -- I am NOT kidding.  This is truly one of my favorite restaurants.

And this weekend I have a house concert in Dallas and one in Austin.  And the next weekend I'll be in San Antonio for the Highland Games there.  They are even going to let me teach some Irish songs - woohoo!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New year!

Happy new year, everyone!!!
I am attending Irish classes again.  I don't have a resolution about this as much as a desire to struggle along for as long as I can manage.  I'm in an accelerated group.  It is taking hours and hours of time each week to prepare and learn and try to retain as much of each lesson that I possibly can.
I am also working very hard to incorporate some of the new bouzouki skills I learned through out the year. I'm busy working on a few new songs and even some tunes.  I am very very excited about this.
AND, my business Virtually Treasured is growing and has more and more to offer to help organize people and their treasures.  I am hoping to be busily working in the next few months.
In other news, I rang in the new year with some of my favorite musician friends at one of my favorite homes and hosts of amazing house concerts.  Thank you for another beautiful new year's party, Ros and Paul.  I'm looking forward to the house concert in February!