Probably my longest creative endeavor involves making music. I began lessons on the accordion when I was 7 years old and played for 5 years. I then switched to playing the clarinet adding later the flute, the saxophone and the oboe (though I currently have only a flute and a clarinet.) I have taken a couple of years of voice lessons and am a fairly qualified tenor. The only instrument I have not been able to really be any good at has been the ukulele, which is ironic, because so many consider it to be such an easy instrument.
Music has taken me to orchestra and band camp and offered me a way to make friends in the many places where I have lived as an adult. Though I truly love a Sousa march, my favorite form of music is small ensemble, either vocal or instrumental. There is something in the intimate focus of a small group of musicians working together, each relying on the skill, talent and preparation of the others, that to me is very satisfying. While in Cleveland I helped to form both a Woodwind Quintet and a male quartet within the church, called the Belvoir Ovals.
I was tricked into quilting by my Mom. When my brother and I were boys she taught us both to sew because she thought that sewing was a skill as important as hammering or sawing, and my Dad agreed.
About 15 years ago, when my Mom was a new-ish quilter, she asked me to help her make a strip quilt. Because she was behind on a deadline and since it was only sewing straight lines, I agreed to help her. I was in the fabric store the next day, Mom on hand, buying the fabric to make my very own first, strip quilt.
I’ve made about 28 quilts now and have even been commissioned to make a couple of stoles for clergy friends, both UU and not. Having said that I will not boast that I am an amazing quilter. I think I’m a pretty adequate quilter. I haven’t ever entered any of my quilts in a show, and I mainly make them as gifts for people. And though I have auctioned off 3 of them at church auctions, they will probably never be museum quality pieces.
In theory, quilting is a relaxing pastime that I sometimes use to take my mind off of work. I do enjoy it a great deal, but there is plenty of room for improvement here.
This is the first photo that I took. It's from about 1975.
It’s not you, the picture is terribly out of focus. This was my first dog, Chipper, and no that’s not a giant spider in front of her bed, it's her leash. Note that you can already see a music stand in the picture to the right.
Dig that period wallpaper!
As you can see from this picture of our dog Toulouse, I have improved at least a little bit since I was 8.
My own first camera was a hand-me-down Canon AE-1 that I used for almost 20 years. With that camera I discovered my own photographic point of view and learned to develop black and white film and photographs. I found that I really loved time in the dark room.
With the continuing improvement of camera phones though, I hardly ever bring out my digital SLR anymore. Though making pictures is still a great joy for me.
Improv is the thing that I have the least experience in but I find it almost as entrancing as making music in small groups. I love the interplay between two or three players, I love how the story evolves.
Of course, there is always some element of improvisation during a live service, and I’m grateful that I’m really good at shifting gears and directions on Sunday mornings as the challenges present themselves.
In services, though, I do feel a good amount of preparation and forethought allow you to make adjustments as you need to. A strong worship team makes this possible.