Saturday, 29 May 2021

First Australian Mountain Dulcimer Retreat at Tasma House Daylesford

In 2020 two of the music events that Adrian Kosky and I had planned were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year we decided to plan one informal event which we hope will become an annual event at Tasma House Daylesford

As I hope we have all learned, nothing is certain except the need to be prepared for change and flexibility. So Adrian and I will be offering everything we planned to offer last year, minus the formalities of a workshop schedule, hiring instructors, or formal concerts. This year's event will be an organic, "kindred gathering," for dulcimer-hearts down under. (Thank you, Robert Force, for the inspiration!) The most formal thing about this year's planned mountain dulcimer event is a lovely poster designed by our friend, artist/musician Meghan Maike in Melbourne

Tasma House Daylesford is ready for the hosting of this event. As I have said over and over again, since arriving in Australia in 2009, Tasma House is ideal for residential-style leisure learning. Adrian Kosky and I have enjoyed hosting many retreats here at our guest house and look forward to this year's mountain dulcimer retreat as a first.

Mountain dulcimer enthusiasts can expect to share, music, meals, laughter, learning and leisure time, while in residence at the first Australian Mountain Dulcimer Retreat, 10th, 11th, & 12th of September, 2021.

More information regarding the event and the tickets can be found at

More information about the location can be found at

Friday, 16 April 2021

Making Personal Progress with Procreate During the COVID-19 Pandemic

It has been more than 15 months since I've had the privilege of travel between America and Australia. Since early 2020, my husband and I have been waiting (semi-patiently) for the return of our back-and-forth travel routine and for a healthier world. We are thankful to have Tasma House and Gardens as our place to be "locked down."

During the past year of the pandemic-slow-down, I've been enjoying my new art studio. I've been making art as often as I like without the stress of any deadline or need for perfection. My art studio was made out of an old shipping container. It's fully-fitted-out with a kitchen, bathroom, and washing machine! I have thoroughly appreciated having the luxury of an independent creative space during the COVID-19 lockdowns in Australia.

It's hard to maintain a relaxed environment in which to make progress, when daily life brings anxiety and sadness. I know my personal problems are minimal compared to some people's situations, but as someone recently reminded me, my problems are still my problems.

I acknowledge that my COVID-19 pandemic-induced anxiety is real and my sadness comes and goes, as these feelings are mixed-up with daily moments of thankfulness/happiness/amusement. Isolation PTSD is what I've been calling this emotional rollercoaster that can cause a real panic attack if I don't remember to look around me and appreciate good things in the world. When I find something good to focus on during anxiousness, then I have found a beautiful distraction.

I also acknowledge that I love beautiful distractions! 

Beauty is inspiring. 

I was in my early 30's when I realised that I am inspired by beauty. When the realisation hit me, I was surprised to know that by "beauty" I didn't mean fashion or glamour. I meant the beauty of everyday life and the world around me. I'm very easily distracted by everyday things...especially beauty.

Sometimes I'm angered by distractions, because I don't need or want a distraction; but, at other times, I'm grateful for a beautiful distraction that instantly takes my anxiety and/or sadness away.

Learning something new or working to improve a skill in a relaxed environment helps me with the problems of anxiety and sadness. Creating blogs and learning to use them -- having places to categorise and write about my thoughts, memories, ideas, and hopes -- has been quite therapeutic for me for nearly two decades. My blogging skills are self-taught (with support from my brother, the Memphis Guru), and self-motivated, all the while being interrupted and distracted by things that I end up blogging about. It's a curious cycle of activity that I am happy to share.

Currently, I'm independently learning via Youtube tutorials played on a smart tv in my art studio which is located in a beautiful garden (with a pond) that is constantly visited by Australia's beautiful wild birds. I'm always distracted, in a delightful way, as these birds come and go and practically knock on my door to get my attention. 

With or without distractions, I am very appreciative of the online learning opportunities that are available via Youtube. As I watch Lisa Bardot's wonderful tutorials on how to use my iPad and Apple Pencil with a software application called Procreate, I can pause her video, learn at my own pace, rewatch the bits that I missed or didn't understand, and easily follow the information. In a regular classroom setting, I have had trouble in the past, as teachers went too fast for me or because it seemed the teacher couldn't be interrupted without disrupting other students' flow of learning.

I know that a lot of people have been forced (by the COVID-19 pandemic) to use online education or services/businesses. Hopefully, the future will bring a balance of meaningful in-person, real-life, business and/or social activities and practical, stay-at-home-when-necessary activities, and the privilege of personal-choice as to when we enjoy either situation. 

Here's a little glimpse of yesterday's beautiful distraction.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

The Holy Moly - My American Home - Clarksdale, Mississippi

Last year my husband and I did a bit of redecorating in our home to allow us to host gatherings and events for leisure learning the way we like it. We added more comfortable seating in the theatre and a better table arrangement in our dining room. Our first use of the new arrangement will be in April during the Delta Blues Dulcimer Revival and the Juke Joint Festival. Here are a few pictures of the set-up in our home (which is an old Masonic Temple).

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Planning to Make More Music at Tasma House

Today I'm enjoying thinking of past events at Tasma House and Gardens, as I will be returning to Daylesford next week.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Juke Joint Jam Academy - April 9th, 10th, 11th, 2015

April 9th-11th, 2015

February 10, 2015, UPDATE! Click here for the schedule of workshops and instructors.

A three-day event celebrating acoustic blues jamming, leisure, learning, and fun in the heart of the downtown historic blues precinct of Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Holy Moly

Work on The Holy Moly is almost complete.  There are three occupied apartments and one unoccupied apartment on the ground floor. An ice cream parlour/coffee shop/old fashion soda fountain will be opening soon -- during summer 2014.

The second floor of The Holy Moly is being restored as a gathering space for intimate concerts that include poetry/story telling with film presentation.  It is exciting to think that things I have enjoyed in the past can be resumed here in this part of the world, as I settle-in to the Mississippi Delta.

In my personal experience, I have learned that a comfort zone must be created before learning can occur.  That's what is happening right now at The Holy Moly.  A comfort zone is being created -- air-conditioning and heating is being installed throughout the entire second floor, along with a few other necessities that make life more pleasant anywhere.