Friday, December 12, 2014

Some common questions

I'd like to answer some of what I think are the most popular and common questions I've been asked.................

What was the most memorable thing about being out there? the people

What do I wish I could forget? Getting up in the night, sometimes multiple times to poop

What did I learn? I guess this could be a simple answer but it's not. It is never ending. I learned about myself, things came to light there that I was never aware of. On the teaching drum website there is a list of things trainees learned under Guardian Chronicles. There are many hard skills like tarp building, fire making, primitive cooking, bathing, taking care of wounds, and one of my favorites, butchering.

Would I do it again? Yes. The school continuously has programs available, however, I am not planning on taking another one anytime soon.

What's it been like being back? Life has sped up since I've been back. All of a sudden things like deadlines have become a reality. Although we did have some deadlines/ultimatums in the woods. My days are no longer consumed by fire making, eating, and other basic needs. In this way it was simple for me to decide what to do next. Now that I'm home, I have more options and getting basic needs met is easy! Hey, instead of having to dig a hole in the bog to store the deer and fat there's a fridge!?
One thing I've discovered since I've been back is how much I enjoy nut cracking. Seem strange? Actually, it's quite therapeutic. :)

What did we eat? cabbage, avacodo, nuts (black walnut, hazelnut, almond, all with the shell), fat from either bear, racoon, bison, beaver, and occasionally deer, fish, eggs, broccoli, kale, leeks, kohlrabi, carrot, red beet, bell pepper, squash, occasionally bananas and apples, whole deer. Everything came raw. We could choose to cook it by the fire of course. We collected fuzzy leaf, raspberry leaf, and basswood leaves to eat. One time we got a snake and squirrel. Many of the vegetables I didn't recognize and therefore didn't know what they were. Naming things in general just wasn't so important out there. Oh and once we got a watermelon!!

How many of us were there? 5

If anyone has more questions you can post them here. It is nice for everyone to see. There is also a lot of information about the Guardian Intensive program I did on

Journal entry

Sept. 12, Day three, Friday

We left the cabin last night with the gear we wanted to take on pack frames. We slept at Mashkodens and at least had a roof above our heads. It is quite cold this morning. Everyone is wearing almost all their clothes. We now come up with names spontaneously for each other. It is part of letting go of our egos and titles. We call each other something we see within. The guys have started doing this, us girls not yet.

Abel, our guide, talked about not talking about the past. We are living for the now. We were told we would eat this morning and he'd be here around dawn, but we've been up at least a mealtime and no visit yet. Some people are eating crab apples we found yesterday.

I feel the school is not very well organized. People come and go and do as they please.

We have fire! Thanks to the boys.

We are also coming up with new ways to describe time and how long things take. It is not today but this sun, next sun, etc.

We will learn how to use our tarps today as shelter with no ropes, only with what we can find (tree branches/logs).

Why I did the Guardian Intensive

It has been two weeks since I left Teaching Drum. People are very curious what it was like for me and why I did it in the first place. Maybe I can shed some light on the subject, however, painting a picture that does the experience justice and what I got out of it is difficult. You would have had to be there. I think, 'you'd have to see it to believe it' also applies.
Below is part of my application to get in to the program. I don't have or remember the prompts but maybe you don't need them.

1.      I go by Tess. I would say I am in the seeking stage of my life, trying new experiences that I am attracted to, this being one of them.

After graduating high school in Missouri, I came here to Wisconsin to go to the New World School of Violin Making. I came here with strong support and guidance from my mother. I have been playing violin since I was eight and even helped out at a fiddle shop back home. So when senior year of high school arrived and graduation. It was seen as the next step. The Guardian Intensive is something I have come to want to do entirely on my own. This is important to me.

Especially when I was younger, I didn’t feel a strong pull toward many things. This was elevated or highlighted my last year of high school when I had to decide what my next step was or which college I wanted to attend. I had a difficult time deciding. I went to college visits, etc. but what I kept seeing was what I didn’t want to do or where I didn’t want to attend college. I inherently saw myself with grand plans and being very successful, but I didn’t know how to get there or what direction to go. I just knew I didn’t want to go to the local community college near my home town. So instead I went with the great adventure of coming to Wisconsin. And a great adventure it has been! And not only for the reason I came here, but the great experiences I’ve had and the people I have met. And the growing experience it has been for me. This feels like home to me now. In the beginning it was tough! I would say it took me about six months or more to become comfortable in my new surroundings. I dealt with homesickness for months without knowing what I felt had a name, just feeling sad and down and very unsure of the decision I made. But now I have come full circle.

I believe some of the best things are some of the hardest things to describe. I was given the teaching drum business card a couple years ago and visited the website soon after. The words on the website resonated with me. It is hard to describe exactly what or why. I think it probably has something to do with how and where I grew up.

I wish to become more in tune with myself and the world around me. I want adventure, but I also want purpose. I would like to have a clear mind and possibly see my path more clearly.

2.      I would like to live a more meaningful and possibly satisfying life. However, my life feels pretty satisfying now, but there is always the possibility to grow. I would like to think this experience would make me a better person and that I might gain awareness and a clearer vision of where I want to go or do next.

3.      I did grow up on a farm. I have never done anything like this before. I have never gone camping more than a couple days.

4.      My mental health is probably slightly better than my physical health at this point because I do not exercise regularly. I would say they are both generally good however.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

To be an empty bowl

The nice thing about blogging is you can do it whenever you feel like it. Lately, it has been pretty far between posts for me.
I have officially graduated from the New World School of Violin Making, for those of you who do not know. It feels like a magnificent accomplishment! And now I am on my next adventure. . . .

Tomorrow, I leave for the Teaching Drum school where I will be living about two and a half months in the woods with a small group of people. It is quite exciting! Somewhat surprisingly, I feel pretty calm right now about the whole thing. Many of you know I will have no contact with the world other than the group of people I will be having this experience with. The diet, getting water, just about everything will be different from what I am used to. I am yet again opening my mind up to endless possibilities.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Vegas, Moosejaw, and fiddle update

What a spectacular weekend I have just had. A lot has happened since the last time I wrote, maybe more in the life than luthier department but nonetheless.... Two weekends ago I flew to Las Vegas for my eldest sister's wedding. That was an experience, let me tell ya. I finally found the right words to describe the situation there. Money flows like water. I arrive at the airport and guess what, slot machines, etc. The gambling begins! I personally don't understand it. My sister gave me 10 bucks to gamble at the penny or slot machines and I lost it within three minutes. I just didn't get it. I mean there's really no strategy to it, it seems to  be pure chance which I guess is what gambling mostly is. Anyway, the wedding was small but lovely. I cried, which was quite unexpected. The food there was great. It was just a nice, quick, Vegas experience.

Now this weekend I just got back from my first Moosejaw! And what fun! I was able to go for free thanks to the owners of Maplelag, the ski resort where it was held. It was hosted by the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers out of Minneapolis, and I just had a fantastic time. What a warm, loving, and relaxed atmosphere, yet there was always something going on as you can imagine with 200+ people around. I also cross country skied for the first time. It's about time since I've been up north now for three years. So all weekend was old-time music and clogging and workshops on both. Maplelag is just outside Detroit Lakes, MN.

Now I am in White Bear Lake, MN just outside the twin cities. My spring break has officially started. I am staying at a hotel with my man and am doing basically whatever I want. There's an old-time jam tonight, and I want to check out the Institute of Art, other than that just hanging out.

A little bit about what's going on at school and my repair job.....
I just finished gouging out my plates for my viola. I first flattened each half, joined them (glued them together), then flatted them again, drew the outline of the plates, sawed them out, and then began gouging only the outside of the plates. Gouging the insides comes later. Unfortunately, I acquired some gouge wounds from this and got pretty irritated with myself for doing so. Now I am establishing my edge thicknesses, which means I am creating about a seven mm flat along the entire edge of each plate.
I have also glued the top back on the old fiddle I posted pictures of in the previous post after putting in about five cleats. Cleats are kinda fun. So I am finishing prepping the neck block and will began carving a scroll for it shortly. Then I get to set the new neck and scroll on to this old fiddle, sounds like fun! I am pretty interested to see what I'm going to do about varnishing the scroll, seeing as the fiddle's varnish has some pretty good wear. It has some pretty good bumps, bruises, and nicks. I might get my first taste in antiquing. It will be interesting to see how well I can make the scroll look like it belongs.

To all those wondering, I have finished three violins and am now working on a viola. I will be posting pictures of my violins shortly.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Repair in the Air

I've been inspired to write a new post. You may wonder why, since I haven't written anything for months. But to sum up what has happened between then and now, here it is. I happily arrived back in Wisconsin after spending my summer in Nashville to start my third year of school. I have finished three fiddles, one of which I get to keep. I've been getting myself more familiar with guitars and lowered the action on my boyfriend's guitar and am working on doing the same for mine. I have started building a viola, which if I remember correctly is approximately 16 1/4 long. Today I just finished gluing the ribs. I started repairing an old fiddle for a friend. I bought it at an antique store for something like 15bucks. It isn't in playing condition. I will end up putting more work than it is probably worth in a shop's perspective, but it gives me something to practice on and it will be my friend's first violin. I will be putting a new neck and scroll on it since it has some pretty severe cracks that someone tried repairing. And last but not least. Last Friday I played my very first show premiering myself. It was about a two hour show with an intermission in there. I played fiddle tunes and did some singing. Had a great time! And my partner, Chris, backed me up on guitar and sang a few himself. I was on cloud nine that night. I don't think I've ever felt quite like I did.

On this old fiddle I am working on, like I said earlier, I will be carving a new scroll and neck for it. I recently bought new accessories for it including a fingerboard. So far I have taken the neck off the body and the top off.. Someone had already put a sizable patch where the soundpost is. I cleaned and glued a couple open cracks on the top and reglued some splinters that came off when the top came off. Next I will cleat the cracks. Below is what the instrument looked like when I got it.

open seam

A piece of wood was put in. You can see it on the outside here under the G peg.

On top of the pegbox walls some sort of pins were put in.