Of Drums and Worms

I suspect that anyone with a front-row seat to my life—I was going to say especially in the last 15 years, but what the heck, let’s go for broke…from the get-go—would say I was a rather unusual person, and that would be putting it nicely.

Recently, my beloved’s brother loaned me part of his drum kit so that I could begin lessons. This new—it’s too new to be called a hobby—activity grew out of doing an article for UpStART Annapolis magazine about local photographer Dick Bond, then meeting the photographer for that story, Larry Melton, also a musician, who, when I asked who’s a good drum teacher, suggested Greg Phillips.

I don’t know how long I’ve been interested in drums, maybe my whole life, because after all, my older brother intended to play, but he ended up taking tuba in school. (Sometimes, I think we inherit the proclivities our of soul’s companions, though I’d be hardpressed to play tuba!) I have always enjoyed the drumming of Ginger Baker and many of the ’50s and ’60s jazz drummers, along with Carlinhos Brown, but my only experience drumming has been with a djembe, not a standard kit.

It turned out Greg was taking students and I went to Edgewater for the first lesson, but because of logistics and, of course, the absolute need to practice, I had to get my own set. I appreciate the loan, but did not realize how much room the kit would require. Plus, I didn’t want it on the main floor of the house as my beloved works out of the house and tolerant as he is, that may have interfered with his work. It would need to go in the basement.

Worm Factory Worm-Bin Composter

A stackable worm-bin composter: It holds more castings, but is not any easier than a homemade bin to harvest from.

First we thought we’d set the kit up in front of the chest freezer, which is opposite the washer/dryer. But I needed to make room and one of the things I needed to clear out, so I thought, was a multi-tray worm bin that my beloved bought me early in our relationship as a Christmas present. Maybe you are thinking, What kind of man buys his girlfriend a worm-bin composter?! Geesh! One unusual enough to be with me. That’s who!

My first bin, which I tried to make myself in 2005, failed because I did not have air circulation. I lived in a townhouse at the time and also had an outdoor composter, so the failure was not a huge loss. The next one, which succeeded, came by way of EcoStewards Alliance and was great for when I lived in an apartment. (When you’re living among thousands of people in a place where everyone wants everything super-manicured, good luck convincing the management that they need to create on-site composting.) That Rubbermaid tub had good air circulation and was the perfect size for one person. But when I moved to Annapolis and brought it with me, we soon found it was not enough for two people.

We generally use the worm-bin composter more through the winter and less in the summer, when there’s a ton of stuff outdoors to be composted, including certain weeds, comfrey leaves, and bulky things not appropriate for the indoor red wrigglers.

It had been a while since I “harvested” the worm castings, that is, the worm poo, which makes great plant food. I did about four trays, which amounted to a five-gallon bucket, a large bowl and a large enameled pot. And then, I started feeling really bad. These worms have been with me since late 2008. What was I going to do?

Worm castings, a.k.a., worm poo are like black gold.

Worm castings, a.k.a. worm poo, are like black gold.

I figured I’d just gather all of the castings, worms included, and place them around the outdoor plants that most need the fertilizer. And that would be that. The worms might get eaten and, if they made it to fall, would not survive below-50-degree temps.

A couple of days passed. We set the drum kit up in the living room and measured out how much space it took up. We did not have enough space near the chest freezer and we did not want to be banging into the drums with our laundry.

So, we focused on using a room where I store wool for hooking rugs. I reconfigured that, with the wool bins against the wall—and maybe providing more of a sound barrier—and set up the drum kit there. In a tight space.

Next up: Head phones and a metronome!

Next up: Head phones and a metronome!

I’ve kept four of the worm-bin trays, including two that should have some worms in them, harvested others from the castings I’d gathered and set up the four to restart the composting.

My beloved says all along, he suspected I would not be able to let go of the worms. And he’s right. I’m about five years ahead of schedule for when I had planned to start drumming, so I guess I can certainly let go of the “You’re getting too old to be messing with red wrigglers” self-talk.

I just hope the vibrations from the drums don’t stress out the worms.

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4 thoughts on “Of Drums and Worms

  1. The art of compromise….:-) This reminds me of my own drum lessons, way back when I still lived in the DC area. Both my daughter and I had a djembe drum and the drum teacher came to our house. The whole neighborhood would hear our joint practice sessions. After a while, a neighbor from Panama would comment on our improvements. I miss my old djembe and haven’t found anyone in this area who teaches it….

    • Hi, Annette! That is another form I am interested in and someone will be teaching this fall at the local community college. I don’t know who in your area teaches/plays, but there are folks in Charlottesville who may know. I think ANY form of drumming is fun. I don’t know if it’s mimicking some kind of rhythm in the body, but that’s often how it feels! Glad to have stirred the memories!

  2. In fact, I read recently that drumming is connected to the heart chakra and CAN open the heart, so this sounds spot-on! (We could all stand to open our hearts a little further, don’t you think?)

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