Friday, February 03, 2017

like riding a bike

Ed and I have an ongoing project of ridding ourselves of unnecessary stuff (which, in truth, means ridding myself, as Ed believes he needs to have all those scraps of metal, wood and who knows what else in the garage, for example, just in case a fixit job demands it).

The other day I told him I had a few items in the basement I could shed. The guitar, for example.

The guitar.

When I was a kid, we were not a family of music lessons. But there was one exception: when I went to summer camp at the ripe age of seven, I fell in love with the guitar there and when I returned home I asked for lessons.

My mom had a friend who had a son... You know how that goes. He came over, taught me a few chords and I took it from there. I was never great. But good enough so that I spent most of my adolescence lying propped on my bed, strumming sad songs that spoke to my inner soul (and reminded me how much I wanted my boyfriend -- who was a much better guitar player -- to come and swoop me away in a sea of love).

I associated guitar playing with unrequited love.

Still, when I eventually moved to the U.S. and then to Madison, something tugged at me. I went to a guitar store on State Street and shelled out money for a relatively inexpensive but solid folk guitar.

And then I hardly touched it. What a surprise! Being a mommy and a full time faculty person and a school volunteer and a dedicated cook and ... well, demonically committed to ten million things far more important than the guitar took away idle moments for strumming.

Still, that State Street guitar somehow made it all the way to the farmhouse basement. Obviously some part of me wanted to touch it again.

The guitar case grew moldy. The strings snapped. The bridge popped. I told Ed it's time to hand it over to Goodwill, along with the other stuff I pile into the car to offload every few months.

At the same time, I fell in love with the song from La La Land (City of Stars) and Ed has listened to me sing it (over and over not so quietly) nearly every night these last few weeks. He, who has no musical talent that either of us can spot at the moment, fixed the guitar bridge, pointed to a set of new strings on Amazon for less than $10 and today, when they came in the mail, restrung the instrument for me.

Am I near the right range?
No! Way off!
Not even close!
Getting there?

I've been around too many people who are excellent musicians (including my daughters who are incredibly gifted and rose to great heights in their days of orchestra playing) to ever take out the guitar in public, even if you would first plow me with several rounds of 10 year Tempest Bowmore Islay Scotch. Still, I think that someday Snowdrop, who shows a love of music that is so disarming, may like to hear a chord or two...

In the meantime, I spend the morning figuring out the rather difficult (for me, and especially after so many years) chords to City of Stars... Hey, it's like riding a bike, no? Always with you... Always with me...

The day is otherwise very very busy.

A sunny breakfast. But rushed. Ed has a tech meeting. I almost think he's going to miss breakfast and I take a photo of the table without him...

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...but then he's there, frozen wet hair, jacket thrown open, there to start the day with me in a blaze of sunlight.

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Snowdrop's school is closed today and her parents need help earlier than usual. I come to her home and here, too, I am welcomed by a swath of sunshine. The little one is building furiously...

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...which is lovely, though I see in this a lot of enthusiasm and energy. Perhaps after lunch, we should go outside after all, cold snap notwithstanding? I mean, we're Wisconsinites! I'm sure I wont be the only person out with a stroller today!

I dig around her drawers for one special item -- something that isn't really for the everyday and yet something that I remember especially fondly from this August. Ah, there it is -- the Peebles scarf (from the Scottish borders)! Since she sees me wearing colorful scarves all the time, she is eager to imitate. But she is energetic! The minute I turn my back, she runs off for a spirited game of hide and seek. (She is, at this stage, still easy to find, but - gulp! - less so each time we play...)

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I find her cap and boots. This season calls for such a protracted dressing regiment! But she doesn't protest. Winter is in Snowdrop's blood, or at least in her understanding of how the world functions.

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Off we go, singing as we roll along her familiar neighborhood streets. Initially I am feeling ambitious. Perhaps we could walk all the way to the distant coffee shop! But I change my mind. Going into the wind is in fact quite nippy. She's well covered, but part of her face is exposed. I know it's in the low 20sF (just below freezing), but I think a modest amount of outdoor time should suffice.

And so we go to the closer coffee shop, where I order a cappuccino and the little girl munches on a piece of lemon scone.

My coffee drink comes with an unusually large amount of milky foam and as I sip it, my upper lip is drenched in froth. I am reminded of the book she and I read -- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie: in it, the mouse has a milk mustache and I always wondered if she knew what that was. She's not much of a milk drinker in the best of times, always preferring water. Well now, I have an opportunity to explain!

She is at first shocked by my appearance, but not for long. The giggles take hold.

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I suppose I do look ridiculous...

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I let her wipe it off for me. She is one of those kids who loves to step into adult roles whenever and wherever she can.

Back at home, I check my computer.
Gaggie! -- she admonishes me. Whaat? I have a nickname? Children's instincts are so gentle and sweet!
Gaggie, I use my computer!

And she does. Productively. All the way until it's time for a nap.

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In the evening, I go from drinks to dinner with the group of software guys and their partners. The team had been working on various projects this week at Tormach (the company that has absorbed much of Ed's time over the past decade) and the dinner puts closure to these efforts.

I'm not a good company team party person. I've skipped most of the social events that Tomach places on the calendar. And yet, every once in a while some portions of us come together and it is so much fun that I wonder why I continue to be such a recluse.

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Week is done. What a week, no? What a week!