Hey Y’all

Lovely Pen Pals – you shall hear from me soon. I am returning from La La Land, also known as a computer crash and having been under the weather.

So – a question for all y’all out there. (I’m warming up for my trip back South with that kinda lingo. Sure wish the lightning bugs were already out at home. Oops – I digress). How do y’all keep up with all the social stuff – emails, Facebook, blogging etc.? I have so many lovely folks following my blog but I’m not able to keep up with all of it myself. Please know I think of you all and I’m sending a southern blessing – may you have abundant fireflies and (vegan) moonpies. ūüôā

Here’s the song I am playing for my lesson on Wednesday – nowhere near as good as my teacher in the video!!!

Shout out to Terratonz

Through all kinds of harmonic convergence (and persistence on my part!!), I recently received my Terratonz awesome musical wonder. Some call it a handpan, or a terrapan. I like to think of it as a¬†resonant glorious metal sculpture of wok-like musical amazement, but that is a rather lengthy title. ūüôā

I cannot say often enough how incredible are: Daniel Waples, the musician whom you will see momentarily in a video who connected me with this instrument, and CR PanMan, of Terratonz, who built the Waples 8.

CR just spent AN HOUR AND A HALF on Skype with me, explaining cool things about the instrument and giving me pointers. Daniel made sure I had demoes of 2 instruments before I could place my order and he kept me posted on the progress of the instrument being shipped to me. CR continued the process of building my terrapan while down to the use of one hand because his other hand was BROKEN and in a cast!!! This kind of attention, while I think is not sustainable when dealing with mass quantities, is unheard of. I adore Daniel and CR and know they are awesomely good people.

Here’s a video of Daniel being his brilliant self. And if you want a terrapan, and you know you do!!!, connect with Terratonz via pathtopan@terratonz.com or http://www.terratonz.com

Peace, love and happy music (2 videos below)

An addendum that is near and dear to my heart: Watch this whole video. You’ll be so glad you did. I applaud everyone who thinks outside the box. If Jake Shimabukuro¬†didn’t follow his vision, we’d all still be playing “Tiny Bubbles”.

An Ode to the HandPan

More info and pix coming soon as to what all this means. But here is my (drumroll please):


An instrument like none before

Appear, it shall, upon my door

Its frogs are lubed, ’twas sneezed upon

Don’t ask, the story is quite long

A handpan with a sound Divine

From Terratonz, will soon be mine

With boundless humor, energy

Kind Daniel demoed all for me

A daylong smile across my face

My life’s been touched with special grace

Brought into a new family

May music mine spread love and glee

Wintergrass, 2014!!!

Wintergrass, the mega super, awesome, amazingly spectacular indoor bluegrass festival in Bellevue, Washington was…SO good! Not too much hardcore traditional bluegrass this year but that’s ok. What was there, was stellar. Below are some fun pictures of the event. I recorded a few of the musicians but you just have to see them in person. An iPhone video does not do justice.

The first picture is from the window where a permanent “coat check” sign appeared. I guess the clerks got tired of telling people that the *real* coat check, for this event, was downstairs. Love their humor. The second picture is what happens when you hear too much bluegrass over 3 days. (We “did” 11 straight hours of music on the 2nd day).

Post-Midnight Bunnies and Banjoes

Yesterday, I hugged a friend’s therapy dog because it was supposedly hypoallergenic. Welll – not so much, unfortunately. At 2am, still waiting for the reaction to die down and for Auntie Histamine to kick into gear, I found myself watching tutorials on my iPhone – on how to make origami Easter bunnies that have a basket area large enough to hold a hard boiled egg. Yep, that’s how I spend my time, folks. I am clearly an asset to this planet ūüôā But truly, origami is an amazing art form. Check out Origami Spirit

On another note Рpun intended РI had my first clawhammer banjo lesson today with my new teacher, Curt Alsobrook. He is awesome! I have about 6 months of group and private classes under my belt? fingers? in the past, but got derailed with the chronic pain years, so here we go again.

And I just have to sing it again, “Oh I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee – because I really do!!!”

Check out Curt’s “wicked good” playing here:


Who took my F#?

The mother of all hammer dulcimers

The mother of all hammer dulcimers

Above we see the mother – make that the ueber grandmother –¬†of all hammer dulcimers, to which I aspire someday. This is a big ol’ honkin piece of fabulous equipment that virtually needs its own forklift.¬†For now, I am on the training-wheels model. Look at all those pretty, shiny (I’m supposed to tune a gazillion strings every time?) work of art.

Unlike the various¬†notes on¬†a flute, one string on an HD¬†does not feel differently nor is it hammered differently than another string. To make it even more challenging, there are 3 areas, on the baby model,¬†in which strings may be struck. Their location is confusing though because the pitch of a note does not correspond to its placement on the soundboard. In other words, there’s an¬†F# on a lower location on the far left set of strings that is higher in pitch than the D, that is lower in¬†pitch,¬†that is located on a higher location on the middle set of strings. Confused yet? I was. I emailed my teacher tonight because I could not find my F#. Vanna – I’d like to buy an F#!¬†But it was hiding in plain sight all along. Who knew?

The age old joke amongst those of us who play these beasties is:

Let’s Get Hammered!!




Grotto Music Finale

I just completed my 5th and final night, playing flute outdoors for 3 hours, at the Grotto. Compared to the 19 degree temps from a few weeks ago, tonight’s 34 degrees were downright balmy – sort of. ūüôā

I loved the whole experience, especially¬†hobnobbing with so many folks and educating them on the ways of the alto flute. Several children got to “help” me play by mashing keys but I found out that “gently!!” is a relative term.

For posterity’s sake, I want to record the fun highlights from tonight. A grown man (with special needs) played with his yoyo inches from my face. A young girl picked her nose inches from my face (a few weeks ago, a child sneezed all over my open song book). The top prize tonight¬†goes to the young boy who grabbed the flute I was not playing at the time¬†and just slobbered all over the mouth piece. The poor mom and grandma were mortified. I just smiled and realized I would need to use my special Slobber Be Gone spray at home. (Not quite sure what that would be? A shot of whiskey for me, a shot of whiskey for my flute. Silent night, all is sterile and bright!)

House concert – 12/21/13 – in Lake Oswego

Hello All!

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holidays to refresh your spirit with some excellent music in the cozy setting of a house concert. Featuring Carl Thor on Hammered Dulcimer and Jennifer Pratt-Walter on Celtic Harp. Seating is limited so be sure to make a reservation as soon as possible. When you make a reservation, you will receive directions to the location in Lake Oswego and information about the potluck social before the concert.

Wishing you a musical holiday!

House flyer 12.21

Good Day

Yesterday, I got a bit of sunburn on my face. In Oregon!!! In October!!! The weather here has been glorious. Sure wish it could always be like that. I can live just fine without rain.

I also played music at one of the Children’s Hospitals and had great interactions with the staff. One¬†PT knew that I was playing an alto flute. A nurse asked if I was a professional player. The facilities man said my playing was very soothing. I have to chuckle at the undeserved last 2 comments because I was “jamming” – essentially playing glorified scales while watching the happenings around me.

One thing I am proud of is that I can play through anything – patients doing PT exercises right in front of me, facilities people moving equipment up close, children screaming and crying down the hallway (ok, that’s a bit tough but I figure I can help them the most with soothing music) and loud noises such as alarms or espresso machines (from the hospital lobby snack bar).

BUT – I finally met my match!! A very cute, bald from chemo, sweet little boy was completely mesmerized with my flute. He walked up and stuck his finger in the end of the flute while I was playing. He then proceeded to mash keys and pry the flute out of my hand and attempt to play it. There is something about these kids that I just hand over my $2,000 flute and think nothing of it. I finally blew air through the mouthpiece and let him mash keys. And throughout this whole time, neither of us said a word. I’m not even sure he spoke English – or spoke at all. But it was as if we had had a meaningful, heartfelt conversation.

Ahhh – I always receive so much more than what I give at the hospital.

Alto flute with curved head piece.

Alto flute with curved head piece.


Alto flute with, what I believe to be, saxophone keys

Alto flute with, what I believe to be, saxophone keys


Today, I played music¬†at the children’s hospital where I am on the floor – unit, technically speaking –¬†with the sick kids. I love when I am tuning up and some bystanders say they like the sound. Easy audience! I hadn’t even played anything yet; so sweet. The ad-lib numbers on the alto flute and therapy harp went well. Had some boo boos and one really bad song on¬†the concert flute¬†along the way.¬† Oh well. The most interesting thing¬†was struggling to get notes out of my alto flute because I was sliding off of it from sweating. Wheeeee.

Some of the kids I play for are literally fighting for their lives because of cancer. I couldn’t believe, while driving home and listening to the radio, that a blurb came on about “how to survive a bad haircut”. Survive? Seriously??

Once home, I opened a letter from our sponsored child in Guatemala.

Ahhh. Fabulous day.

(If I could get paid to crochet and play therapeutic music, that would be the ultimate!!)

Reverie Therapy Harp. LOVE it!!!

Reverie Therapy Harp. LOVE it!!!

Hardware galore - and a wooden imposter!

Hardware galore – and a wooden imposter!