We've all heard of Renaissance men and Renaissance women, but the Petersons of Lilburn -- all six of them -- are a Renaissance family.
Music lovers are familiar with Debra Peterson for her talent on the harp and flute. She performs all over the Atlanta area as an entertainer and at the bedside of Compassionate Care Hospice patients as a certified music practitioner, with her background as a licensed practical nurse enhancing her healing touch.
Her husband, Bob, chief technical officer for a computer security company, displays his musical side on the concertina and penny whistle.
Their son Jay, who served in the Marines, started his theatrical career at the Ren Fest as a pirate, a mud pit player and a sword merchant. He is now a nationally certified fight coordinator staging and supervising fight scenes in movies and onstage plays. Yes, he actually gets paid to do that.
Christian, who threw knives and pulled a rickshaw around, now serves as a nuclear technician in the Navy.
Merry, the youngest, just graduated from Georgia State last week with a degree in religious studies. Her resume includes poet, folk dancer, actress, leather worker, behind-the-scenes DragonCon technician, welder. Well, actually Merry said, "My goal in life is to be able to do everything." Part of her "everything" involves performing with the musical group Shenanigans.
So much for Debra's Renaissance family. Now a little more about Debra. In true Renaissance spirit, her many talents include more than the harp. Her latest venture is demonstrating hand spinning at the Peachtree Handspinners Guild booth at the Ren Fest.
For someone so skillful with a harp, hand spinning shouldn't be too much of a surprise. But it wasn't something she actually sought out to do.
She has a cousin who used to sell mobile homes. On a trip to northernmost Quebec he acquired three antique spinning wheels which he used to stage the living rooms to give them a more homey effect. After a while he passed them on to other family members and one of them ended up in Debra's hands.
She said it sat for a year before she attempted to do anything with it.
"It was like learning how to drive a stick shift after driving an automatic," she said, but before long, she produced a tea cozy and was demonstrating the craft at the Ren Fest. Her latest creation is a scarf made of wool from the sheep at the Ren Fest petting zoo.
Next weekend at the Ren Fest, Debra will be spinning on Saturday and Monday and for the rest of the festival Merry will singing, dancing, acting, and you know, doing a little bit of everything.
Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.