Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Purple flowers

Summer's end is near.  A very different summer than previous ones as COVID-19 continues.  Mask wearing, social distancing, cancelled events, stay indoors, and reduced occupancy at restaurants and places than can open.  There are things we can't do or can't go to but there are things we CAN do - like play music instruments at home, garden, go for a hike,  call or email a friend, attend a virtual class, clean house, pet a pet, watch birds, and many other things.  Duluth has had evening temperatures in the low 40s and warnings for frost are being announced in the region.  All my day trips that I would be organizing are cancelled (there is no MN State Fair, no performing theater open, Bayfield Apple Fest or Cranberry Fest in Stone Lake - no.  I had also wanted to go to a rendezvous and PowWow up near the Canadian border- no).  I'm coming up with a local trip or two though where we will caravan to the site.  Local farms.  Farmers are people much more connected to the earth and carer for plants intensely.  Fresh fruit / veggies tastes so good.  We have farmers markets but I'm ready to go TO the farm.  I have my first farm visit for Sept 13 with a limit of 7 people to attend.  More info at 

My husband and I have been taken photos.  Sometimes with just our cell phones and sometime with an actual camera or the go-pro where we did some underwater photos and fish eye photos.  He took a closeup up the purple flowers - Nightshade- in our yard.  It's a weed with beautiful purple flowers with a yellow protruding center before becoming red berries.  I looked up the species name. 

Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

The second word- means bittersweet.   We knew of course the dulc was sweet.  

Stay safe.  Be well.  Do what you can.  



Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Please use this email -

Please use the to contact me.  I do have dulcimers to rent for those who would like to give it a try and I do private lessons in my home (mountain or hammered dulcimer).  A beginner mountain dulcimer class may be being set up for some time in March.  Contact me if you are interested. 
As a reminder my other website is  That site lists the day trips from Duluth that I offer and local art and gift fairs that I put together.  Several upcoming dates for the 1st half of 2020. 
Will this year include music playing for you?

Through Valentine's Day 2020 I am offering a special:
Buy 2 books (Mel Bay books in stock only) and get a 3rd book free  (Mel Bay books in stock only).  Dulcimer books are conveniently set up with numbers - tablature - to make music playing simpler.

Buy 2 CDs get 1 free.  Through Valentine's Day 2020.


Friday, October 25, 2019

How Cute

I played last week at a variety show to raise money for a local food shelf.  For many in the audience it was the first time they had seen or heard a hammered dulcimer.  I look forward to more places to go to in Duluth and beyond to share playing mountain and hammered dulcimers.  The show's first performer was a 3-year old boy singing the national anthem.  My goodness - he did such a good job with that pretty long song.  Some of his words were a bit stretched for what he was actually saying but how cute it was!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

I'm back in Minnesota as spring slowly arrives.  We still have plenty of snow meaning plenty of wetness to come.  I traveled to my husband's home area in New Zealand a few weeks ago and brought along my smaller size dulcimer.  It has bat sound holes - probably the only one with bat shaped sound holes.  I played at several places while being over in the ChristChurch area.  My husband's cousin works at a rest home/care/hospital and I played there and in the rural town area where his dad lives.  The dulcimer fit in my suitcase and made it safely.

Last night I taught part 1 of a beginner dulcimer class through the Community Ed.  Good to see more people wanting to learn.  Several people had dulcimers already that they purchased somewhere along the way and this was their opportunity to learn how to play it.

I have a local art and gift fair this Saturday.  I am still organizing fairs.  I'll bring along a dulcimer to play a bit.   If you're in the area and want to shop local head to the Peace Church between 10AM-3PM.  The fair is Treasures of the Earth and all the things are made from natural materials or recycled materials.  Wood-turned bowls, stone jewelry, painted stones, feather pens, soap and much more.  It's the 11th year for the fair.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Opportunities to share music

I have rarely played at open mics but last night I did a short set at the Amazing Grace coffee house in Duluth.  I was on for the 2nd to last spot of the night - after most people had left.  It is a bit scary to do open mic.  I am not a singer or guitar player - the rest of the evening's open mic folks were.  Anyways, I like to share music so there I went.  The lighting was a bit of challenge and yes my hammers shook a bit more - but they didn't drop.  I love Celtic music, old-time and good ole' folk tunes.  Maybe I'll write songs some day.   The moderator did invite me back to play at brunches there and that sounded like fun to do background music. 

This month I've also played at a senior assisted living place.  I was there about 6 months ago during a snow storm - even the schools were closed but I came and played music.  I bring along the limberjack, shakers, and wooden spoons for people to join in on the last few tunes.  One person asked about what the strings on the hammered dulcimer were originally in it's early days.  I don't know.  Do you? 

Another place I played this month was volunteering at a Memory Cafe.  It's where people with dementia and their caregivers gather monthly for a bit of fun.  I played a bunch of tunes on the hammered dulcimer.  I wish I would have prepared some 'quiz' questions about songs or completing lines in popular tunes.  Maybe next time.  I also was able to share my other projects I've done in the community: producing local history videos, the Look at Lakeside newsletter, and the day trips to arts, music, history and nature places.  It was a nice group of people.  Sadly, it was 9/11 so we did spend some time in silence.

I'll be playing at a rosemaling festival this Saturday.  I tried to learn some Scandinavian tunes but didn't get as far as I hoped.   I look forward to roaming around the fest after I'm done.  I love folk craft. 
I have 3 local art and gift fairs that I'm organizing this fall.  There really haven't been many folk craft people but there is a good assortment of people attending the fairs. The fairs are about filled but there are a few more spots.  I always do some shopping at the fairs and like to chat with the returning and new artisans. 

Time to head for bed.  I do a nightly suduko as a day's end activity.  Nights are cooling off but the open window still works out well for fresh air.  Maybe we will get to camp one more time this fall. It's hard to find 2 days in a row let alone one day/night free to go.

I'm contemplating getting a harmonium.  Still thinking about it. 

Good night.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Hot Summer

Duluth - normally cool with Lake Superior - has had some pretty hot days.  We've also had humidity and some rain (plus thunder and lightning).  We'll see how long the heat wave lasts.  Whether it's hot or cold it's a good time to bring out a dulcimer.  I've played the hammered dulcimer more than the mountain dulcimer recently but love to play both.  This summer I want to add more Scandinavian music tunes.  Duluth is not very diverse as far as people go and there are mostly Scandinavians in the area which brings out lefse and lutefisk.  I had never heard of either of those food items back in Illinois.  I have tried the lefse but I've passed on the lutefisk.  The Italian half of me still heads toward pasta and pizza.  Back to music,  Celtic music is wonderful on dulcimers as wells as good ol' time music.  I'll let you know what tunes I've added this summer.  I'll be playing at a Rosemaling fair in September so have a deadline goal to finally add some new tunes. 
Hope you are having a fun summer  - and including music this season.  I'm ready for cooler weather and to head out camping a few times.  I've already announced the 3 fall fairs I'm organizing so people are signing up for December events  - a time when Duluth is not as green and when the ice cream trunk doesn't head down our street playing it's jingle Camptown Races.

Friday, April 27, 2018

May Day - May Specials

Hello Dulcimer players,
It's about a week away from what would have been Dulcimer Day.  Every spring for 16 years I was in full mode to put on the festival.  This year as I mentioned already the festival is not happening.  Maybe I would find a grant for support or find another way, such as a dulcimer retreat, but in the format the costs were higher than what came in.

What have I been doing instead - I did go to Nepal for about a month and taught English plus did cultural touring, attending folk music performances, and met a variety of local people and people from around the world. I enjoyed so many experiences.  It was my first time to Asia.  I went on my own and volunteered with VSN- volunteer society Nepal.  I am on one of their videos - search for Wendy volunteer Nepal society.    I only heard about 15 minutes of American English the whole time I was away.  Space was limited but I wish I could have brought a dulcimer along.  I did bring back a sarangi - violin.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to play it but it looks cool with all the woodcarving on its back side.  I also visited my Dad in Phoenix for a week.  It was 100 degrees one day. We didn't go again to the big Music Instrument Museum there as we went years before right after it opened but we did a bunch of other fun things from taking a painting class, hiking, seeing wild horses, going to a bird riparian habitat area, walking through an arboretum, biking, and taking some Qi Gong classes.

Spring has finally arrived in Duluth and we had a few delightful warm days.  I know the Twin Cities area and parts of Wisconsin folks had quite a late snow storm.  We still have snow in our yard but not much. I did happen to slip on ice on a hike last weekend and have a badly bruised thumb and palm/heel of my hand.  It's been blue/purple and now it's more green/yellow and still hurts and it's on my left hand (I'm a lefty). 
I had a guest over today who plays many instruments with his main current one being button accordions.  We played old-time tunes, waltzes and Swedish tunes.  There are always more tunes to learn.  Duluth - right in Lakeside near where I live - is a midsommer festival held at a local church.  Folk music goes hand and hand with so many cultures.  In Nepal I heard many drums and listened to a harmonium player.  On May 6 I'll be going with guests through my newer project (3rd year though) and we are going May 6 to the Festival of Nations down in St. Paul.  I went to it years ago.  We will hear a lot of music combined with folk traditional dances from many countries.  I enjoy providing positive experiences for people through cultural activities.  The Up North Excursion day trips are another way I'm seeking to provide opportunities.  I have 5 spring day trips and will have 4 or so in the fall.   Even if you're not from Duluth and are from northern WI or the Iron Range you can attend these.  Check out the list. 

I plan to add more dulcimer activity this summer and would love to play a couple times a month at a local coffee shop or as background music for events.  I know I'll spend time with my dulcimers - both mountain and hammered dulcimer.  They have been a part of my life for over 40 years. 
Enjoy playing your dulcimer.  If you are interested in lessons, send me an email. 
Again - I thank all the Dulcimer Day in Duluth participants over the years.  We changed locations 3 times and had our very filled day together with workshops, performances by some of the best players in the nation (world?), food, open mike and local shopping. 
My store is still in my living room with most of it tucked away more. 
I'll have a sale starting soon on books and CDs.  I have plenty! 

Enjoy the wonders of spring - new buds, first birds, first flowers, wet earth, warmth, sunshine, light rain, butterfly watching - and somewhere in there - music.