adventures in dysthymia

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Once upon a time, when I wrote poetry (or songs or stories or whatever) it was on sheets of notebook paper or, frequently, the backs of discarded letters or such. There were many crossings out and arrows pointing here and there and writing up and down the margins.

It took me a while to transition to the computer and word processing. Indeed, I went figuratively kicking and screaming (I'm much to polite to do it in reality). I still thought like a typist when I sat down at a keyboard, too.

That all did change eventually, as I figured out how to do the things I wanted to do in word processing programs. Now I do almost all my writing in Word Pad -- I find it easier to do the rough stuff in a program without all the bells and whistles. Not that Word ever whistled at me.

But I think I could quite easily go back to paper if need be. My methods have actually changed very little. I just found how to make computer do for me what paper did!

* * *

Once again on the solstice, I must point out that there is no 'official' first day of summer and I do not mark this as the season's start. As far as I'm concerned, the solstice is the middle of summer.

* * *

For my birthday, a couple months ago now, I indulged myself with an inexpensive Rover plectrum banjo. One-hundred and fifty dollars, new, complete with a 'composite' rim. That means plastic with, I assume, a bit of metal reinforcement. It looks like ABS to me, which is okay and perhaps better than cheap plywood, sound-wise.

For anyone who doesn't know what a plectrum banjo is, that's a four stringer with a scale about the same as the typical five string banjo. Tenors, also four string, are shorter and Irish Tenors shorter still. Their pedigree is mostly in jazz but they were not uncommon with the artists and groups of the late 50s/early 60s folk revival.

They also had a popularity with British 'skiffle' groups from around the same time. Lonnie Donegan played one.

Anyway, I rather like it. It seems suited to me (or vice versa). I keep it in 'Chicago tuning,' i.e. like the four high strings on a guitar, and either do my patented thumb-thing or play 'two-finger.' Not enough strings to play four-finger like I do on guitar!

It's fun and probably more suited to me than a five string banjo, since I have zero interest in playing banjo tunes or tunes in general. But it's just the ticket to accompany my singing of 'Rock Island Line.'

* * *

Wow, still incredibly, horribly hot and dry here. This is the worst summer yet since I moved to Peanut Road, though my first year here, five summers ago, came close in terms of dry weather. Not as hot, though.

The summer rains have popped up a little over the last couple weeks but not enough to do much in the way of drought relief. I water morning and evening and hope that the water table doesn't drop so low my well goes dry. There is rain promised as this week progresses, however, real rain. Let's hope, pray, do rain dances or whatever it takes!

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