New Chapter Uploaded!

Patreon sponsors take note, the book is back on track! A new chapter was uploaded today.

From the post on Patreon:

When I started the project, I was unable to type more than a few sentences without passing out. it was interesting from a neurological viewpoint, but it made things impossible for creative work. I am always willing to change how I work to get around a problem, so I started writing this new book by hand.

Reams of paper and worn out pencils later I found myself quitting Suboxone. The withdrawal process was torture, but at the end I was able to type again.

I was not expecting this, but I’ll take it!

My father already transcribed my handwritten work to the computer, so now I am knocking the rough edges from that as well as writing new chapters on the computer.

While work has been slower than I would like, I do think the finished product will be worth the effort. A book of true stories centering around my adventures learning music.

Delays, Celebrations and Other News

Neuropathy pain knocked me out of commission for most of this week. Things are slowly improving, and I assure my Patreon sponsors that The Daily Frail should be back in production soon.

On April 20th my parents will be celebrating their 51st wedding anniversary. They continue to amaze me with their unceasing love for each other. Here’s to many more years of happiness!

The Banjo Dojo will begin releasing episodes soon. Patreon sponsors will have first access to each video episode for a period of time before it is released to the general public. As an added bonus, Patreon sponsors will also have the first opportunity to register for the weekend-long Banjo Dojo workshop on Maryland’s Eastern Shore (more on that later!).

More information on The Banjo Dojo will be posted soon. Be sure to work through The How and the Tao of Old Time Banjo and A Book of Five Strings while you are waiting!


Patrick and his Dobro 33D

Social Security and the IRS think I am dead.

I was not going to argue this, but Dear Old Dad argued that it could complicate things down the road. So, albeit reluctantly, we are taking steps to remedy the situation . . . but I have to admit that I am enjoying my status as a zombie.

My health after the harrowing Suboxone withdrawal has been steadily improving. Lately I find myself battling my old foe peripheral neuropathy, but I have a good neurologist on the case. Last week on a scale of 1 to 10 – with pain being the worst pain I ever experienced – I was at around 23. Crying time.

Today I am between 7 and 8. So it is improving bit by bit.

There is a lot going on here musically. The Daily Frail is still happening over on Patreon. A few folks are either unnerved or just plain angered by the fact that I am breaking away from using tab. Somebody pointed out that my very popular books used tab and I replied that the books were written long ago and even Picasso was prone to painting over old works to create something new.

Tab never helped me with the guitar, and I used it so rarely with the banjo that I practically had to relearn how to use tab when I wrote my first web-based workshops. On plain paper tab was a useful way to help people visualize the left and right hand mechanics – but we are living in 2019 and the printed page is going the way of the rotary phone. We don’t need to cling to old methods that never really worked. This should be a time of innovation and discovery!

So I am getting myself mentally, physically and musically ready for something new. For the banjo I find myself thinking back to the way I used the teaching methods employed by my karate instructors. There was nothing written in the dojo. I was expected to pay attention, internalize what was presented and then put it into action.

When I was learning music I only met my teachers briefly. Some encounters lasted a few minutes but I left with enough to work on for months. Given my progress over the years it’s safe to say this approach works. My challenge now is to create the same sort of environment on the Internet.

So a new banjo method is on the way. My friend Dobro Libre will be doing similar with the guitar to take some of the workload off of me.

A lot of this new teaching method will fly in the face of a lot of the material out there now – including my old workshops. This is inevitable because change always generate conflict and controversy. The momentary angst will not bother me because I am looking at a larger timeline. Forget somebody being pissy today and look fifty years down the road or beyond.

When I met Tiny back in the 1980’s the fiddler’s picnics in Pennsylvania were filled to capacity. Every time I go back there are less musicians. We lost something at some point. The same happened to karate, going from tough training to a weird sort of day care where seven-year old kids get back belts without throwing a punch.

Keep an eye on for updates on the new lessons, the book in progress and some other cool things we have in the works. I would share more details, but that would spoil the fun.

Right now I am off to do a bit of yard work and then scare the neighbors by practicing Modern Arnis on the heavy bag. Nice to know I can still throw a punch and make an even heavier blow with my sticks. I hope Ed Parker and Remy Presas will be watching my comeback!

Stay tuned!

God bless,

The Cat Ate My Laptop!

So last night my neuropathy was going crazy and I was in agony. I passed the hours listening to music and assuring myself that the only way things could get worse was if I accidentally set myself on fire.

This was a mistake. Things always get worse.

To prove this. Pooka decided to latch on the the cable of my cheap headphones. The headphones do not work well for me, but at this time I have no way to hook my bone anchored hearing aids to the laptop.

I tried to get Pooka to let go before she chewed through the cable, but she decided to run for it. In the process she dragged my laptop off of the bed where it came crashing to the floor. The hard drive is toast. Sigh.

Without laptop cables to entertain herself with, Pooka spent the rest of the night attacking my feet. Neuropathy pain is the worst – but when a seventeen pound tortoiseshell calico sinks her teeth and claws into a neuropathic big toe . . . well that’s just hideously painful.

Not sure if I will replace the laptop. Being able to work in bed is a bit of a big deal when I am in a lot of pain, but Pooka is such a crazy cat that I am not sure what to do. Giving up on Pooka is not an option – I don’t have that many friends left!


Taking the advice of one of my doctors, I am no longer a vegetarian.

I did enjoy the meat-free lifestyle, but like a lot of people before me I ran into some health issues due to lack of protein intake. I guess we are meant to be omnivores after all.

To quote Pulp Fiction, “Mmmm-hmmm. This is a tasty burger!”

Monarch Migration 2010

Amy and I were married on October 10, 2010. A month later a friend flew us out to California to spend a week in a beach house on Monterey Bay.

It was an amazing experience – literally a once in a lifetime opportunity. We spent long nights in each others arms with the blue Pacific ocean churning just steps away from our bed Crazy in love and everything was beautiful beautiful beautiful.

We saw a lot that week, but the highlight for me was driving up to Santa Cruz to see great swarms of monarch butterflies migrating. A sight I had dreamed of seeing ever since I first read of it when I was very young. I thought the pictures were lost, but I found a handful today.

I can remember this day like it was yesterday, and the pictures do not come close to capturing the majesty of eucalyptus trees covered with monarch butterflies. The path was crowded with people, but Amy and I stood under this wonder of nature silently holding hands. I took pictures, but eventually let my camera rest and just tried to take it all in with my eyes. My heart. My mind. She was so beautiful. A lenticular cloud hung over us in the sky like a disk of snow. The smell of the forest. The rustle of soft leaves on softer wings . . . it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

All through eternity
Beauty unveils His exquisite form
in the solitude of nothingness;
He holds a mirror to His Face
and beholds His own beauty.
he is the knower and the known,
the seer and the seen;
No eye but His own
has ever looked upon this Universe.

His every quality finds an expression:
Eternity becomes the verdant field of Time and Space;
Love, the life-giving garden of this world.
Every branch and leaf and fruit
Reveals an aspect of His perfection-
They cypress give hint of His majesty,
The rose gives tidings of His beauty.

Whenever Beauty looks,
Love is also there;
Whenever beauty shows a rosy cheek
Love lights Her fire from that flame.
When beauty dwells in the dark folds of night
Love comes and finds a heart
entangled in tresses.
Beauty and Love are as body and soul.
Beauty is the mine, Love is the diamond.

They have together
since the beginning of time-
Side by side, step by step.

~Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī


Since it would have been Amy’s birthday, today was not an easy day for me. I occupied myself with setting up a the equipment for the back yard dojo I am putting together to get myself back into shape. Once the heavy bag was set up I was happy to find that I can still throw a volley of solid punches.

Over the weekend I’ll tape up the bag and start really working it with my fists and arnis sticks.

Then Dear Old Dad got a call from Somerset County Dog Control. They have been on the lookout for a dog for us since Precious died. Today a little dog had arrived that seemed a perfect fit for my mom and dad.

A few hours later they came home with Daisy. The gentle little dog quickly won us all over with the sheer joy she took in her new home.

It never ceases to amaze me how, even on days when grief leaves me all hard sharp edges like flint tools, something as simple as the unconditional love of a little dog can draw me back into the world again.

Welcome home, Daisy.