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Stepping back a bit
A note, probably more because I need to say it than that anybody needs to hear it.

I'm burned out. Really on quite a broad level, but particularly on the SCA. There's a lot feeding into that -- certainly a lot of miscellaneous annoying politics over the past couple of years, plus a general feeling of having gotten stale.

It's been building for a while, but this year has driven it home: my life has been *so* insane (between selling the house, planning weddings, settling Jane's estate, starting Querki and all) that I really need my recreational time to be fun, and I haven't been having enough fun in the SCA lately.

So I need to step back and refocus a bit. This isn't an "I'm quitting!" flounce -- I expect to stay active in some guilds, and maybe even take up some new ones. It *does* mean that I'm largely taking the summer off from events, though: I've gotten into too much of a mindset of feeling that I *have* to go to local events (combined with some dumb ego about the proportion of local events I've been to over the past 30 years), and that's a lousy reason to attend.

Hence the timing of this note: I'm probably going to skip Known World Dance, and I don't want anybody taking that as a Statement or some sort of criticism of the event. I had really planned on attending, but have realized that I just can't deal with the effort right now.

By and large, I'm just taking a pass on most/all events for a few months, to clear my head. I already didn't go to Cohasset Wars, am definitely skipping Pennsic, and GNE is 50/50 at this point. It's going to be a quiet SCA summer for me. I expect I'll ramp my activity level back up down the road, but need to do it for the right reasons, which means finding my Fun again...

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I understand.

By the way, playing by ear is a completely legitimate form of musicianship, and one I wish I were better at! I'd still be happy to sit and noodle with you just for fun, any time you like.

Thanks. I really should get my little portable dulcimer tuned and start bringing it places again.

My main dulcimer is an enormous 14/15, triple-strung -- it keeps its tune well and is loud enough for an entire hall, but it is *bloody* heavy (it's a yard across, and the walls are 3/4-inch-thick hardwood), so I tend not to transport it unless I'm serious. (I sometimes refer to it as "my piano soundboard".)

But I've also got a cute little 9/10 that I picked up at Pennsic about 25 years ago, single-strung and hand-painted, weighing only a few pounds. Too quiet for anything serious, but nice for noodling...

3/4...inch...hardwood? Yikes.

I second the comment that playing by ear is a fine skill to have. I hope you and your dulcimer get more opportunities to play together.

3/4...inch...hardwood? Yikes.

Yeah, it's kind of a monster, but a damned useful one.

The thing is, my father gave me this *beautiful* dulcimer for my wedding to Caitlin, way back when. Light and delicate, fabulous tone, beautiful inlay -- the thing's a work of art.

It is also tuned chromatically. It took me a year or two to figure out that that was why I couldn't play dance music worth a damn. If the good lord had meant us to have more than one B-flat, he would have designed it into the dulcimer in the first place.

So eventually I basically said to Dad, "Look -- this dulcimer is beautiful, but kind of useless to me. You, OTOH, have two dulcimers: your good one (with the lovely shiny-black soundboard), and the old munitions-grade one you never use. I will happily trade you the beautiful-but-useless for the old one." Dad accepted the trade, and I've been using the munitions-grade one ever since. (And he, being a far better musician than I, could experiment with the chromatic one.)

Like I said, in most ways it is a marvelously practical SCA dulcimer -- big, remarkably loud, holds tune quite well (the advantage of 70-some-odd strings and a rock-solid case that laughs at temperature changes) and has a nice wide range. But it weighs a ton and a half, and completely fills the trunk of a typical sedan. (Fortunately, it is solid enough that you can put a suitcase on *top* of it.)

I hope you and your dulcimer get more opportunities to play together.

Thanks. Now that I'm fully moved, I really should pull it out (for the first time in ages) and check its tune. It's right here in the closet in my office. But I should wait until I'm sure the neighbors are awake first. And I really need to repair the padding on my good hammers, simply as a mercy to those in the neighborhood...

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