Guido came to me as twelve week old puppy when he flew from Buffalo, New York to Seattle. He was a bit of a mess. But after a good cleaning and a warm embrace, he became the best companion one could ask for. I'd entered 'smart', 'kind' and 'large breed' in the AKC breed selector tool, and it suggested just two breeds: Standard Poodle and Spinone. I'd never heard of a Spinone, but after a bit of research and a couple of youtube videos, I was convinced. We traveled throughout Scotland interviewing people and conducting focus groups on the Scottish Independence Referendum. His charm and unique good looks jump-started many an informal conversation and led to precious insights and friendships. Now we're back in the U.S., he clearly misses all the pub stops (with sausage and roast beef tidbits from the landlords) and social life (endless walks and music festivals) available to canines in that part of the world. He's also not excessively pleased that we've recently adopted a girl puppy Spinone named Tobi Moray. He'll get over it!
I owned a banjo for a few years before I started graduate school, but never really got going until I started lessons with an amazing young English banjo player named Dan Walsh. He tutored me patiently and with great encouragement through half of Ken Perlman's Clawhammer Style Banjo guide before I relocated back to the U.S. It constantly amazes me how brilliant musicians must needs make a living by teaching lesser mortals, but I am eternally grateful that's the case.
Back in Alaska, I've had the fortune of studying with Robin Dale Ford, banjo and electric base player extraordinaire. I am fortunate enough to own two amazing instruments crafted by James Bowen of Griffin Banjos, they make me sound good.
Coming Into the Country & The Ship, John McPhee
In the Garden of Beasts, Erik Larson
Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts, Julian Rubenstein
The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition, Caroline Alexander
Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog, Ted Karasote
How to Read Water, Tristan Gooley
The Mabinogian (Welsh Sagas)
The Geography of Water, Mary Emerick
The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivy
Blindness, Jose Saramago
The Elephanta Suite, Paul Theroux
I found a class at a local art centre near Windsor, where I lived. The teacher was lovely and attending the weekly class provided a creative outlet and an opportunity to meet people outside of academia. I can solder, polish, set stones and etch just enough to make unique gifts for friends and family.
I find that 'plein aire' sketching and painting, rough as I am at it, requires a bit of stillness that leads to a different way of seeing. I carry heavy weight index cards, a permanent ink drawing pen and a mini water color set with me most of the time. Sometimes, I use them.
I'm not a great photographer, but I use my camera to catch glimpses of places and things and people that intrigue me. I (when time permits) make an effort to extract the best of them from their digital files and find creative ways to present the images.