“And now for something completely different!”  What show did that come from?  Was it Monty Python?  Please let me know–I use the phrase all the time…

Anyway, here is something completely different, unrelated to my research paper or my health. Yay! 🙂

Instead, let’s look at two of my favorite things: music and cats!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I haven’t played my Renaissance lute in years because of bad arthritis in my hands and fingers.  But I have a lute student now, Halle Snyder (Mistress Halla of Mugmort in the SCA), which necessitates me playing again.  And being forced to do it has really motivated me to do it for pleasure again, not just necessity.  What a boon!

In fact, I’m enjoying it so much that, even though I have to limit the amount of time I practice because of the arthritis, I’m working up a couple of John Dowland lutesongs to play and sing at an SCA event in late January called “A Regular Event in Cleftlands.”  The Baroness Constanza has established a Court of Love and Death during the event.  Here is how it is described:

Baroness Constanza’s Court of Love and Death
Attention all Singers, Storytellers, Actors, Musicians and others who live by their wit and nimbleness in The Knowne World. The Baroness Constanza has agreed to serve as Patron for a Court to determine who will triumph on the day of “Regular Event in Cleftlands (January 28th, Barony of Cleftlands) – Love or Death. The finest performers are invited to defend Love, Death or both, to a Gallery of esteemed ladies chosen by the Baroness. These good ladies will determine at the Court’s end which of these is triumphant over us.
Rules are as follows:
Each entrant will prepare two pieces of no more than five minutes duration TOTAL in defense of love or death.
Each entrant may choose to defend love or death in both pieces, or “go bipartisan” and perform one piece in defense of each.
All entrants will receive a token for their participation.
The Ladies of the Gallery may, at their discretion, provide recognition of an individual performer (perhaps based on eloquence, delivery, nice garb, etc…..)

Now, Baroness Constanza is my personal hero(ine).  I first met her on October 1st at Red Dragon, when she was nursing a wound to her wrist that she had suffered in battle.  She was applying ice and hoping to go back for another round, for honor’s sake, and she did so! Here she is at Red Dragon (photos courtesy Teri McCarthy and Raven Haraldson):

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And in battle that day, on the left:

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You can see my posts about Red Dragon here and also here.  It was a wonderful event, and my introduction to the Society for Creative Anachronism!

A Regular Event at Cleftlands has its own blog here on WordPress.  Check it out here.

Since I have been playing my lute again, and since I’m taking a protracted break from working on my paper (I’m very bad! LOL), I took some photos of my lute, as well as my new purple harp that I’ve also been playing a lot lately.  The camera flashes caught the attention of the cats, so here are some pictures of them today, too:

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My seven-course Renaissance lute custom-built for me by Hirotaka Watanabe in 2000.
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This is the music I play from.  It is a facsimile of a music book printed in 1603, the first book of lutesongs by John Dowland.

Now for some cat pictures, since I’m having technical difficulties with my harp photo, so it will have to come last:

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Ophelia
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Kiwi wants to go out in the snow, but it’s only 13 F, and I’m not letting him out!
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Sissy
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Black Bean elected to stay asleep, since it’s too cold to go out!

And finally, the picture of my new harp!

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My new purple lap harp, a “Flatsicle” by Rees Harps. The name comes from its 3 sets of sharping levers, on the notes C, F and B-flat. It has 26 strings. I got it through Sylvia Woods Harp Center, which has great products and customer service.
And there you have it!  Now it’s back to work on the paper! 🙂