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28 November 2012


Tinney S. Heath
Meet Tinney Heath. Tinney recently published a historical fiction book titled A Thing Done (a delicious read, by the way). Among the many fabulous things she is and does, she just happens to be one of my music mentors.

Way back in my college days, I was just getting involved in the living history club I still enjoy today, and wanted to make music. I really didn't know what I was in for, but after foisting myself as a beginning mandolin player into an established recorder band, Tinney and the other band members (the Jararvellir Music Guild) welcomed me and the challenge of incorporating a plucked string instrument into the voicing of a previously all woodwind ensemble.

It worked. The Bug bit me bad. As the members of the Guild ebbed and flowed with new jobs, spouses and opportunities, I managed to stick with it for three decades(!). I remain the only active member that dates to that time, jokingly calling myself the "Memory of the Guild" as I personally saw and did most of the things the Guild took part in over the years. Now, I lead the remnants of the Guild with the hopes for a dance ball performance this upcoming May. More on that later.

Soon after I joined the band, Tinney became the Guildmistress. I learned a lot under her leadership, including the fine art of herding cats. (You don't drive cats toward something; you put something they want at your desired destination.) Unfortunately, she and her equally talented husband (Timothy, also a Guild member at the time) burned out dealing with what amounted to a lack of respect. I still don't blame them for not wanting to deal with it anymore. They became active in another music club, the Winds of Wisconsin. As the years wore on, keeping in touch became almost isolated incidents.

Fast forward to last year: Facebook, that time and attention consumer, helped Tinney find me, and we resumed our friendship on a quiet basis. This autumn as part of my coursework at Edgewood College I started doing photographic portraiture and needed models. What better place to rally/bully my friends to sit in front my camera than an announcement on Facebook? Among the respondents, Tinney had just found out she was to be published and volunteered in exchange for something that can be used for her publisher's website and the dust jacket of the book. Deal.

Now a copy of Tinney's smiling face and another portrait of her among her instruments adorn her publisher's website. Happy customers and a happy photographer make a good pairing.

Among the things I learned from my friend and mentor is the idea that it's okay to push my boundaries, better the status quo and don't give up something you believe in.

Thanks, Tinney!

28 September 2012

Bringing Things Together

Edgewood Park and Pleasure Drive
A friend reminded me of some basic things that need constant, well, nagging: Practice, balance, responsibility and caring. I am notorious for being scattered, impulsive, often absent-minded, and usually procrastinating chores. However,...well, my accomplishments will have to wait for later.

There are times when a rather ephemeral idea keeps showing up in my head, and it's a good one, making me excited about it. The problem is the connections that led to that idea are fragile at best, so keeping that idea in mind isn't easy. What made it easier is a mild setback with my left knee.

As many of you know already, I've been fighting sciatica in my left leg, caused by a bulging disk in my lower spine and osteoarthritis in both knees. My recent weight loss has taken a lot of stress off of my joints, but the damage is done for my knees. Last October, my left knee "loosened" (my word, but it accurately describes the action) in the middle of a fencing bout and caused me to seek Urgent Care and physical therapy. The good news is that my knee should heal at least as good as it was last summer. The bad news is that I am more dependent on a cane for walking until the knee heals. I also have a lovely 20-30 minute twice-a-day (not counting swim work) exercise routine to rebuild the muscles around my knees and tighten up the joint. I also can't sit/stand/walk for more than a half hour before requiring a change in state. At least that gives me an excuse to refill my coffee or water while at the computer.

That was ten months ago.

The real joy is that the culprits are the cartilage pads (meniscus, menisci?) in my knees. They are best described as tattered. Beyond healing on their own. Come November, my left knee will be changed over to metal parts. The right knee, which was the bad one, should cruise on for years with a better leg to stand on the other side. With diligent physical therapy, I should be mostly restored to a pretty much normal life by early in the new year.

Meanwhile, I'm exploring more with my photography aided by new toy: the Pentax K-01. It's the less expensive mirror-less version of the K-5 I've been lusting after the last couple years. I'm having a lot of fun learning its quirks and how to manage my old (and the new two) lenses with it.

My lovely bride
Mattias and Seonag
The new tool is part of an experiment in portraiture. On the go: a 10x10 portable shelter, LOTS of blankets, even more spring clamps, a couple sheepskins, a couple stools, a bench and a handful of CFL and LED spot lights and a knowledge of stage lighting and away I went to two camping events photographing and printing portraits on site. I've yet to make back my investment, but this has proved interesting and fun!

Now that I'm taking portraiture at Edgewood College, I've already started to refine my techniques and strategies. I just need to keep developing my stable of models....

More next month. I promise!