January 01, 2014

2013 Recap

One of the benefits of being a cranky holiday curmudgeon with a social network insufficient to drag me out on New Year's Eve is that I have the internets to myself this New Year's Day. And although 7:00 am is far from early, it should be noted that's I've already made myself breakfast (the "almost never in the larder, but left over from xmas" bacon and blueberry pancakes) and done the dishes. So I'm up and at 'em.

Once upon a time I would scroll back through this blog to recap the past year. Alas, social media has cannibalized a lot of the minutia and epherma of the blogosphere - so I'll resort to Facebook to remind myself what the past year wrought.

Recurring Events

Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (for the 20th time, I think. Or 21st. I forget). Camp Camp (third year). Both commitment I'm planing to keep for 2014. As a single person who has done a lot of traveling over the years, without a ton of money, these are perfect times to get off the grid, step out of the ordinary, and immerse myself in loving and entertaining communities. Although "working vacations" (I spend most of the "fest" time at Falcon Ridge in the merch trailer, and teach 10 yoga classes at camp) are probably something I ought to take a long hard look at.

On the yoga front, still teaching yoga, 3x a week plus occasional subs and intro classes. Still assisting with the teacher training program at the studio (since mid-way through the 2010 training; this will be my 4th full year). The studio did Om Street: Yoga on Lasalle Road again, and I (again) ran the sound system. (again with the "working vacation" theme)

On the ballooning front, I actually dragged myself out to the Frozen Buns Rally (coming up again soon), the CLAS annual dinner / banquet (on a very snowy night in Southington), and the CLAS Safety Seminar. All three are on the calendar for 2014. I have (thankfully) stayed out of management with the CT Lighter Than Air Society (although they keep trying to drag me in)

New and Notable Events

We had a pretty awesome snowstorm last February that took several days to escape from. Power and cable stayed intact, so a few days of hunkering down and nesting. I went to Boston to see a Red Sox game for the first time in decades, with the Camp Camp crew. Got down to Pennsylvania for the Trees Family Reunion for the first time in years - Falcon Ridge Folk Fest has historically conflicted about 80% of the time, but with the new fest dates, I hope to be more of a regular.

I had two natural visitors this year - a mother robin nested under my back porch, laying four eggs and fledging her chicks. And a pretty cool spider spun an orb web at my front porch over several weeks this summer. Those, along with my perennial suet cake feeder friends, provided good feedback that I'm carving out nourishing and nurturing space in my life.

And I made two runs at cleaning up my life, food wise this year - a 21 day Detox Cleanse and a 7 day juice fast (with 6 am kundalini yoga, what the hell was I thinking?) - and although both were interesting and useful, neither seemed to be the key to unlock whatever physical, psychological, and emotional impediments I bear that keep me eating poorly.

Music, Playing

My beloved Guinea Pigs kept busy this year. We started the year at MCC on Main (for the first of two gigs), opened for 41 Prospect at the Hartford Road Cafe in Manchester, played Hartford Hodge Podge, Blue Back Square, numerous farmer's markets (Wethersfield, Higganum, Billings Forge, and Bozrah, where we played without AC power), the Audubon Nature Center, and the Glastonbury Apple Harvest Festival. We snuck in an open mike appearance at Lasalle Market in December to close out the year.

In addition, I made my Camp Camp musical debut playing bass for the Scat Orrs (don't ask, it's kinda gross), the infamous camp lesbian folk rock ensemble. I also backed up one of the solo artists on bass. Lot of fun! And although I barely have memory of this, apparently I played bass for several Grateful Dead songs at a UU service in Manchester.

Although it does not really count as playing per se, I ran the sound for kirtan at West Hartford Yoga (twice) and for Little Ugly at Blue Back Square.

And broadening the category to all performance art, I did a piece at the December edition of The Mouth - the theme was "I Fought the Law" and my piece was titled Burger Prank Foiled

Music, Listening

As usual, a diverse musical year. Dervish and Deborah Voight were two "tag along with friends because I'm the one who can drive at night" shows that were nevertheless delightful. The many artists of Falcon Ridge (of course). I snuck down to the CT Folk Fest this year (which has become a mini Falcon Ridge reunion) and saw several notables, among them Honor Finnegan and Poor Old Shine.

Also, Dar Williams at the Iron Horse (twice!) as well as Meg Hutchinson. The Iron Horse has become a nice place to meet up with friends from that part of the world (holla, Amy and Patty!). Little Ugly (total age-inappropriate music crush) many times, most notably a WNPR livecast from downtown Hartford. Kate Callahan twice (once at West Hartford Yoga, once at the nascent Hartfolk Fest). String Theorie (loved 'em!). Hugh Blumenfeld's new group, The Faithful Sky at Roaring Brook Nature Center.  FRFF Emerging Artists from years ago Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin. And Girlfriend Project, one of my friend Julie's many musical projects.

Home Improvement

So yeah, I was a busy beaver. My friend Nykki moved into a new condo, and watching her spiff up the new place motivated me to redo my upstairs bathroom. What started out as a "slap a coat of paint on the walls" became two steps shy of a total tear-down. I replaced all the lighting fixtures, all the electrical switches, the thermostat, the towel racks and sink fixtures, the faucet and drain, and, to ice the cake, the shower curtain, towels, and rug.

In addition, I replaced an old (and never used) ceiling fan / light fixture in my kitchen with pendant lamps (dimmable LED technology), replaced my kitchen sink fixture with undercabinet light bars (which force me to clean the sink area far more often), two outdoor light flxtures (front porch and back deck) with downward facing fixtures (to reduce light pollution).

I also fabricated some spiffy shade screens for my front porch (to both block afternoon sunlight and give me some privacy from the building next door)

In the sense that ART = HOME IMPROVEMENT, I picked up some nice pieces - a series of Guinea Pigs doing yoga poses (keywords META YOGA CUTE), a beautiful photo of a blue heron in flight, an original hand-drawn bird print. My home's walls have become a nice reflection of my soul....

Toys and Consumerism

The biggies this year were sound and audio gack. I picked up a 14 channel audio mixer, 16 channel snake, and a pile of audio gear (mics, stands, monitors, power cables) - building myself up a nice little sound system. Right now it (mostly) augments the studio's sound system for kirtans, but I aspire to do more.

I also picked up a cheap ukulele (I blame Camp Camp, and my friends Eden and Kaia) and a cheap Epiphone electric guitar (I blame fellow Guinea Pig and guitar hoarder Dan)

In the non-musical territory - a tripod sunscreen / shade for Falcon ridge (intended to provide rain and sun shade for my tent, not all that effective), a small windo A/C unit for the basement office (the summer got pretty insufferable around August) 

I finally gave up and purchased a flat-screen HDTV (totally a late-acquirer, the cost came down to the point it was cheaper than my CRT television was when I bought it in the early 90's) - and with that came the decision to "cut the cord" (with HDTV, the low cost analog cable I was buying seemed kind of stupid) - I bought a cheap antenna which I hooked up on the outside of a second floor window, and that, along with a Roku box and subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu Plus, and the free apps on my iPad, are all the television I really need).

And lastly, I retired my old canister vacuum cleaner (a Kenmore unit I'd been lugging around since the mid 80's, one of my first adult purchases with my Sears credit card), replacing it with a much lighter Dirt Devil unit. I also started to use the vacuum cleaner to clean kitchen and bathroom floors (heretofore I've been sweeping them, how dumb / luddite-ish am I?). And bought the first dustbuster I've owned in 20+ years. (I had taken to using a hand broom to brush the dog hair off the bed each morning, and came to the realization that this might be one contributor to the dog hair covered rug up there). So now I vacuum my bed most mornings. TMI, I know.


I'd note all the new babies in my life, except THERE ARE TOO DAMN MANY OF THEM. But special welcome to Nate and Freya, who parents are particularly beloved. I will say that, although there are many young children in my world, without exception their parents are amazing, healthy, sane, and full of love and life, and the world will be a better place for each of these new life journeys.

I was fortunate to have no significant deaths in my life this past year, although friends did lose parents and loved ones. RIP especially to Lola the pug; her mama moved to Califormia this past year and although we did not spend a lot of time together, she was always a bit of a guardian angel to me.

This year I decided to stop playing with the studio's kirtan group - I was finding the events to be a huge sink of energy for me; I'd end up with a 2-3 day "hangover" from each kirtan, and be filled with resentment at those who I saw as taking from me, but not sustaining me. The group has survived (with a new bass player and guitarist, apparently it takes two people to fill my seat, although both are far better musicians, and their involvement has affirmed my decision) and I've taken on a new role a sound engineer which lets me be part of it (OK, I'm still there for hours of set-up and tear-down) without draining my energy. I'm very happy with that decision. 

This year I also seem to have made a decision to stop traveling for work. It was less than conscious - it was in fact very awkward. I took a trip out to Portland, OR - and never finished the trip report, never billed the customer. I've just grown tired of that aspect of my work - I'm busy enough with the things I can do remotely, it disrupts my financial, teaching life, and travel has become such an unpleasant chore. Getting older? World changing? Life changing? Not really sure.

Finally, my yoga practice has transitioned this year into something different. I've been (over the years) a "Type A" yogi - hitting the mat 5+ times a week for a vigorous power practice. Whether it's age, the physical cost of being overweight and eating poorly, wear-and-tear from the practice, or some combination, I know I am good for maybe 2 power practices a week with a very select set of teachers. Add an angsty relationship with the community itself (and my own difficulties balancing my expectations and roles as teacher, student, friend, community member) and lack of resonance with some of the available less vigorous classes, and I'm just not spending a lot of time on the mat there.

Friends and Relationships

It's been a tough year on that front - a lot of holidays and weekends spent by myself, digging in to a cave of loneliness and self-pity. Yet there have been some highlights.

My friend Cheryl, the dark spirit of my teacher training class who terrified me (and was therefore someone I was curious about) has become such a good friend. Although we are on such different wavelengths (she runs somewhere between 4x and 10x as fast as I in just about everything - jobs, passions, living arrangements, relationships - so it's hard to keep up with her) she is nevertheless the one person who I can count on for a "how you doing?" text or an out of the blue invite for pancakes or pho. 

My friend Amy, who has transitioned from being on the periphery of my life (we've been Dar List / Dar Camp and Falcon Ridge acquaintances for many years, although truthfully she was mostly memorable for her hat and her camera for a lot of years) to being a good friend through Camp Camp and Falcon Ridge. She's helped to bridge the lonely weekends with Facebook chat and the occasional folk music foray (yeah, Iron Horse!) - and I can only admire her stamina when it comes to getting out to see live music!

And my "Little Buddy", Kaia (which she has noted, makes me "The Skipper") . I've no kids, but if I did, and could pick, she'd be atop the list - smart, talented, beautiful, real. It's been such a pleasure (and honor) to watch her life journey unfolding and she's one of those "I knew her back before she was famous" people.

Finally, my friend and teacher Barbara, who puts up with all my bullshit and flailing around (and 2013 was a big year for both) and neverthless continues to hold a place for me in the yoga teaching ranks, honors me with the opportunity to assist teacher training, makes sure I have at least one healthy meal per month, and drags my sorry ass up and down the hills of Colchester periodically, occasionally in a downpour. 

And although my single status and lack of a life partner seems to be a recurring source of struggle for me, well, there are signs of life. Faint maybe, but they are there.

In Summary

So...much as I whine and kvetch about how sucky / empty / lonely my life is - don't let that fool you. I had a pretty full and awesome year. If 2014 brings more of the same, who am I to complain?

I'm going to publish this now (while the day is young) and then go back and hyperlink the hell out of it. Because that's how I roll.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Jude, you are more full of life than most people I know. Here's hoping all your dreams come true in '14!