Stormy Weather, Sunshine Inside

It is going to be a rainy weekend for the Maryland Folk Musicians Retreat. This is not necessarily a bad thing because almost all of our scheduled workshops are indoors. The only downside is that the pool won’t be opening on Saturday as we scheduled.

Another problem with rainy weather is that it tends to aggravate my arthritis and trigger migraine headaches, So if I look like my head hurts, don’t ask me if my head hurts.

On the bright side, I will be adding a couple more workshops to the schedule to keep myself occupied – and my mind off of my aching bones. I am planning to do a workshop on how to teach – with emphasis on talking to the camera. I think that will be a lot of fun – and I have some other cool ideas percolating.

We will be arriving at Camp Pecometh tomorrow. Being in a moving car can give me seizures, so we arrive extra early so I can recuperate and be at my best to start welcoming guests as they arrive for the Maryland Folk Musicians Retreat.

This is going to be a wonderful weekend of music and fellowship. We will all come together to celebrate the common language of music and work together so that all of us can express ideas and emotions through our instruments.

If I get a headache, that is okay. I am making music with my friends, at a shindig I organized with my best friend.

See you soon!

God bless,


A while back a dear friend gave me an extraordinary fountain pen. I rediscovered it recently and have started using it.

I was diagnosed with epilepsy back in the 1980’s. Recently I have been experiencing issues in cars and when I am working on the computer. For some reasons I do not seem to have these problems writings things out by hand. It would appear that I have a better chance of getting things done if I start moving away from the computer, and start writing longhand.

Before anybody asks, The Daily Frail will remain a video workshop series.

It would not be the first time that the old-fashioned way fit me better than anything modern.

Right now the plan is to stock up on some decent journals and start writing. I would like to eventually get a smart journal. That would make it easier getting the written page into the computer. The trouble with smart journals right now is that they all seem to require an Apple or Android phone – something I can’t afford right now.

For the moment I will just start with ink and paper and see where that takes me. I am sure there are roadblocks I have not thought of yet, but a lot of my heroes wrote their best work scratching pens and pencils across paper.

I will keep you all posted on my results.

God bless,

Dragon Cabbage!

James Laurie has been posting weekly updates of his progress with the banjo.

This week James travels to the Llangollen Red Dragon Music Festival. It’s great that James is sharing this early banjo adventure with us – and I hope this inspires you to practice and also to keep some kind of journal of your own.

I still have the spiral-bound music notebook Dear Old Dad and I used ages ago when we were just starting out. Most of you know that I do not hang on to possessions, but I have kept this notebook for almost forty years.

James, you are doing great. I am proud of you!

God bless,


My little laptop is an inexpensive refurbished unit. The screen is entirely too small and the keyboard is cramped, but the damned thing works better than any computer I have had before it.

I don’t like Windows or Apple. I would rather use Linux on our office computers, but as much as I love open-source computing, I still need to use Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud.

Dear Old Dad flat-out refuses to go near a Linux computer the same way I won’t go near a wasp’s nest.

So I’m stuck with my little Windows laptop. It’s underpowered – but it’s what I have to work with. It has been running great, but I think it got turned off in the middle of an update because it started giving me trouble over a week ago. After trying everything reasonable to fix it I decided to just bomb the hard drive and reinstall everything fresh.

This must happen a lot because there is an option in the Windows 10 settings called, “A Fresh Start”.

I started getting Office downloaded and installed yesterday, and I just finished downloading the last bits of Adobe Creative Cloud and my other essential everyday programs.

My favorite program that I use every day?

Cold Turkey Writer Pro. It is worth every penny. A Godsend.

Hopefully I will be able to film, edit and upload a new episode of The Daily Frail tomorrow. I am still talking things kind of slow so that I am strong for the Maryland Folk Musicians Retreat, and I still have some medical tests coming up.

After the Retreat I am hoping to bring back Sing the Banjo and revive a couple more of our old projects.

Right now I am going to turn off my computer, go outside and check my garden. For the first time in ages I have planted vegetables and flowers in three garden spots around our yard. My pumpkin vines already have big leaves, and I have several Moon and Stars watermelon vines. Black Krim heirloom tomatoes are growing happily among herbs and flowers. catbird and toads are doing a bang-up job patrolling the rows for pests. The moss rose is covered with buds and new growth – which is amazing if you know the story behind this Victorian rose.

I’m going to go check on my watermelon and pumpkin vines. Maybe I’ll take my fiddle and play a song with the crickets.

Goodnight and God bless,

Frailing Banjo – Week 8

James Laurie is a student of frailing banjo and he has been posting videos of his progress.

Creating a document of your progress can have huge sentimental value years down the road. It can also serve as a teaching aid when you start helping your students through techniques and concepts that gave you a hard time when you were starting out.

I still have the spiral music notebook Dear Old Dad and I used to write out songs when we were starting out on the banjo.

James, you are doing great. Keep up the good work. I’m proud of you!

This Week

I am exhausted from yesterday and I have several medical tests this week, so The Daily Frail is on Hiatus this week.

I will be back next week, good Lord willing.

What I would like all of you to do this week is send two videos to

Beginning students, please send me a clip of yourself playing the basic frailing strum and another file of yourself playing Boil ’em Cabbage Down.

Intermediate to advanced students, please send me a clip of yourself playing Foggy Mountain Fakedown and another demonstrating how you use a bottleneck. Extra credit for any blues stuff and full chord hammers.

Don’t be bashful. Don’t hold off sending files because of mistakes – I WANT to see your mistakes to see what and how you are practicing!

It’s going to be a long week for me, so please send in those video clips!

See you next week!

God bless,

Harmony and Happiness

Dear old Dad and I had to run a lot of errands today.

I am all sunburned skin and aching muscles because my simple garden plan got shot down. Instead of filling containers with peat moss I had to take a shovel and carve a little plot of garden out of the ground. It was hundred times more work and at the same time a million times more satisfying. I already have cornfield pumpkin, muskmelons, beets and Pennsylvania Dutch ground cherries planted happily in the soil – but I am paying dearly for the effort.

So when I woke up this morning the first thought in my head was, “Ouch!”

It went like that for a bit I eventually got myself up and running. Since I can’t drive I had to go to the grocery store with Dear Old Dad. On the way home we stopped at the florist. Dear Old Dad ordered a corsage for mom. My parents celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary recently. They are renewing their vows tomorrow at Christ Fellowship Church.

After dad got his order in I bought a nice begonia for mom. The florist asked me what kind of pick I wanted.

When I told her I did not understand she asked me, “Is this for Mother’s Day? A birthday?”

“No. Just buying my mom a flower.”

“Do you want a card?”

“No. Just the flower.”

Both of the ladies n the shop seemed surprised.

After we dropped off our groceries we ran to Wal-Mart. I had an appointment with the optometrist to get my eyes checked out and to get new glasses.

We got there early so that I could pick up some more clothes. I am slowly replacing my black shirts for more cheerful attire.

As soon as we walked in the door were was this huge display of wooden rocking chairs. A woman had claimed one of the chairs for her own and was happily rocking. Since the store layout had me walking right up to her I gave her a big smile and said, “You look so comfortable!”

She laughed. Then Dear old Dad came in right behind me. “You stay there as long as you want. If anybody says anything, send them to me!” She laughed again and kept on rocking.

As I was wondering the men’s department I heard one of the women working in the department carrying on in disbelief. I approached her, explained that my BAHA hearing aid picks up just about everything and asked her what was wrong. She said that an adult male customer had flipped out on her because he did not know how to buy himself underwear.

“He didn’t know what size he wore. He didn’t know the difference between briefs and boxers! A grown man can’t buy himself a pair of drawers!”

I told her that I did not know what I could do in that situation except to pray for her. So that is what we did. Stood together in the men’s underwear isle praying for a moment. Before I continued shopping I said, “People forget or ignore how hard you all work.” She lit up like a Christmas tree.

So I got my clothes, and I must have done a good job because the lady at the checkout complimented me on my choice of colors.

I headed into the optometry department. Dear Old Dad helped me pick out a pair of frames. I went in for the first part of the tests and it turns out the technician is a guitar player. We talked about music off and on through the whole eye exam process.

When we got home mom said that we had just missed the pastor, who said that the church was “having a lot of fun” getting ready for mom and dad’s renewal of vows.

It turns out the begonia I got mom matches the dress she is wearing tomorrow. Mom said she wants to cut the blooms for the altar tomorrow.

Now I have to make sure my camera is ready for tomorrow. I want to get at least one good picture.

My life is far from perfect. The days I am not in pain are usually marked with some other kind of kick in the teeth – but I am not alone in my pain. We are all walking wounded to some degree. A broken heart can slow you down like a broken body.

I have found that if I can find some common ground – a shared interest or an appreciation for another person’s hard work – then I can create harmony. From harmony, a smile. Happiness.

I do not know how my parents have achieved fifty years of harmony and happiness. All I can say is that I love them both, and I am proud to be part of their happily ever-aftering.