Thursday, February 27, 2014


Dragon's Loyalty Award presented by M. J. Joachim

This is a great thing that has been bestowed upon me. By accident, or as collateral serendipity, or something like that. Lemme explain. Last year, I took part in a blogging challenge at the spur of the moment, rather like I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) last year, and actually "won" both, by finishing. The other challenge, for those not in the know, is the A-to-Z Challenge, where, during the month of April, you write a short post every day starting with the letter "A" and finishing up with "Z". It works out because every Sunday during the month, it is "dark" (a musician's and actor's term) wherein you don't post or write on that letter. If you finish the challenge, you get a  nifty badge that you display on your blog, which I did, much like the one I got for NaNoWriMo in 2013. You also get some street cred for finishing the damned things, because you gut out the writing blocks and all the inherent other stuff, like. . . uh, life. 

Two years ago, I wrote exactly 1637 words for NaNoWriMo and quit in total misery, because I was in the throes of undiagnosed Parkinsonism and that shit ain't fun. I've been able to take everything else thrown my way, but that was truly debilitating, both mentally and physically. Now, that I'm under treatment (some people wish I weren't as I am busy making their lives a merry Hell for past indiscretions, but I was too sick) I feel 20 or 30 years younger. I believe in the quality of persistence over time and it applies to all things, so maybe this is a good award for me. Dragons live forever. 

So, too, do challenges, and friendships. This is my second year on the A to Z Challenge and I am proud to be a member of #teamDamyanti. I did have a bit of confusion over this award, which is nothing new with me. I've done such jack-a-nape things like follow my own self on my own blog, when I was trying to answer a reader's comment and argued with myself under the pseudonym of Andi-Roo over suicide, when I performed a hurried cut-and-paste job, that was really just a cut-and-paste-paste. That floated around in the cyber sphere for several hours before I caught it and fixed it. Andi's response? "Ha ha ha! Girl! You crack me up!" Of course, there's always the time I thought I was doing good for the homeless in my area, in a post, that had a horribly juxtaposed picture: 

Admittedly, some of the stuff the ex-cons at FSJ, my old homeless shelter, used to concoct between pinochle games looked worse than this, -- scrunched-up cheetos, ramen soup noodles and anything else dumped into a single-serving size potato chip bag, add water and eat with a spoon and called "goulash -- this was NOT on purpose!

I'm legally blind and have a very weak right eye, and my left eye has dark cast that makes it hard to see and read. Sometimes I have to read things 8 or 12 times, or come back and give it a go another day. I've been legally blind for 10 years, so am used to this, but it makes for some interesting interpretations and I tend to "skim" a  lot of text. So, today, I just realized that M.J. Joachim had awarded the Dragon's Loyalty Award to the entire Team of Co-hosts and their Minions, of which I am one. Color me. . . confused?

No, I'm not. Well, okay, kinda sorta. I mean, I just show up and try to do what I'm told. It is an honor and I have to tell 7 things about myself, then award this to 15 bloggers and visit them and pass on the love. Consider it done, M.J., and thank you so much for this award!

I started playing the violin at age 11, but realized my mistake and switched to viola at age 15. I did not pick up another violin until the age of 45, when some idiot in Tampa hired me to play the violin on a gig, while I was living in Charlotte, North Carolina and had a free week. I guess all the other violinists between Charlotte and Tampa died or left town that week. I had to rent one for the gig and I rented the worst thing I could find in the hopes that I would never be hired to play another violin again. It didn't work. More idiots hired me to play the violin. I still hate the violin. The only thing worse than the violin, is playing Mozart on the violin; that right there, is Hell in a barrel. Give me Beethoven, or better yet, Shostakovich, or something with lots and lots of 16th notes, except for the slow parts; I love slow parts and can e-mote like a mo-fo and have a gorgeous sound. Or rather, I should say, Wolf has a gorgeous sound.

I own a viola that was "born" 10 years after Beethoven's death in 1827. My Florenus is of the Bolognese school of fiddle-making and was built in 1837. His name is "Wolf" and he was named by the luthier who appraised him and insured him. I've owned him since I was 19, and he's lasted longer than any of my marriages. He's a much better partner, too. At 177 years old, he's considered a young adult in the fiddle world. 

Wolf's hand-carved scroll; a trademark is the crudeness of the work; the House of Florenus is known for it. It certainly doesn't hurt the sound. His 2-piece back is "matched" up; 2 "tiger stripes" run down either side of his seam.


 My viola bow was "engineered" and built by an aeronautics engineer out of Germany. Many modern bows are now built by former engineers and their sons. In the old days, bow-makers, like Tourte, Vuillame and Withers observed birds and watched the shapes of their wings as they flew. The wood is pernambuco.

The 2nd Liston-Ali fight, which secured Ali's place in the history books. Ali's trainer, the late Angelo Dundee took time out to talk to this boxing fan when he was working a young fighter in Tampa, circa 1999. This sport is rich in history, heart, love and tragedy. It is Shakespeare on a 20-foot canvas rectangle.
I am a HUGE boxing fan. Boxing is the quintessential art of physical and mental abilities melded together. Boxing history and lore is some of the most fascinating in the world, and the very best boxers possess the minds of chess-masters and the quickness of cats. The fighters have the hearts of lions and are some of the kindest people I have ever met. Boxers do not fight out of anger, but they practice an old and gladitorial sport that has lost relevancy in the modern age. Much of the arm movement and pronation is echoed in the musical world, as is the pace of a Championship Match. I've met many of my musical colleagues at boxing matches.

My only other secret is this: my psychiatrist, who is also an internist calls me his "Google" for all things "Parkinsonism" (I explained the DaTScan process to him). When I started to exhibit overt symptoms, without knowing what I had, I started to learn, from what I could glean on the internet, my own primary care physician and from support groups on Facebook and Twitter (I only had Medicaid, which did not pay for any Neurology testing or medication, at the time). My greatest source of information is YumaBev who has had Parkinson's Disease for many years, and is a dear, wonderful friend, and such an inspiration! I have Parkinsoism, or essential tremor, or "Parkie Lite" as I am calling it, for I exhibit every one of the symptoms, yet my substantia nigra produce Levadopa, thus I am on a much different drug regimen. But, as is my wont, I faced it head-on and went back over my own family's history and believe my mother suffered from it, as well, which would speak in favor of e.t., as that is a "familial tremor" and therefore, inherited. We are now facing the idea that this may also be altered by certain protein combinations, or by gene therapy. 

That's pretty much all I have to say about me; I still get to play my fabulous Wolf without it sounding like a machine gun, although my performing days are behind me.

If you have NOT participated in the A-to-Z Challenge before, I urge you to try it! It's so much fun and you'll get to meet bloggers from all over the world. If you want to plan your challenge around a theme, please, please please, contact any one of us at #teamDamyanti, or sign up here:

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