Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Amy Grant

Who doesn't love the Christmas season?  Everyone seems happier, there are parties and presents, and music -- the lovely, lovely Christmas carols -- fills the air with love and joy.  I smile and start humming just thinking about them. And, it turns out, I thought about them a lot more than usual this year.  

Last fall my sister gave me an armload of Christmas CD's.  She's totally into technology and, apparently, CD's are relics from a bygone era and I'm just hopelessly behind -- I have an entire closet shelf of cassettes and a chest-of-drawers full of VHS tapes too, so maybe she's justified in thinking that.  

I decided to listen to the CD's in my car and popped the first one in.  It was "A Christmas Album" by Amy Grant.  Perfect title, if you ask me.  I don't drive very often and when I do it's usually not far so it took me a while to hear all the songs.  About half the carols were contemporary which meant I couldn't sing along, but Amy's gorgeous voice is easy to listen to so I didn't mind too much.  
I just realized that this album is from 1983.  We had CD's back then?

In the blink of an eye, it was March and the Christmas CD was still playing. None of the songs seemed "new" to me any more and so to entertain myself, I would try to harmonize.  It was probably best that I was alone in the car. 

The great thing about Christmas music is that it's uplifting.  There aren't any negative lyrics and the tunes are happy and catchy.  Around May, it did occur to me that I was still listening to Christmas carols, but by then I knew every single word to every single song and I liked them all.  Plus it was the only CD in the car -- or at least that was my story when anybody asked.  

And then it was July. Christmas in July is a legitimate thing, right?  By August though, I started turning the music off whenever anybody was going to ride with me.  I didn't want them to think I was weird. 

When September came, I officially decided to listen to only this particular Amy Grant CD for the entire year.  It was about then that track nine started stuttering and skipping.  Instead of ejecting the disc and cleaning it, I just fast forward whenever it gets to that part of the album.  Problem solved! 

My favorite carol is entitled, "Love has Come."  The music is beautiful and the lyrics are haunting.  I often listen to it several times in a row … Or, sometimes, for the entire car ride, no matter how long it may be...  The song always puts me in a good mood.  

While the car was running this morning, I rolled down my window to talk to a neighbor.  "Oh, no!" she said.  "Not Christmas music already!"

Now you and I both know that it's not already, it's still, but after I heard that I realized I'm almost home free.  November starts at the end of this week and then every store in America will be playing Christmas carols non-stop.  

As soon as that happens, I won't be weird, I'll just be quirky.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sweet, Sweet, Music

My mom died in 1999, so why am I thinking about her funeral today? 

Yesterday my friend Ed e-mailed me a joke about a bagpiper. Of course I laughed, because bagpipes are funny. Why?  I don't know; they just are.  That got me thinking about my own bagpipe story, which got me thinking about Mom.
Picture provided by my littlest sister

Before she died, Mom expressed a wish for a bagpiper to play at her funeral. Who EVEN KNOWS a bagpiper? Seriously.  Not me, that's for sure.  I thought she was joking but apparently after I left home the family started attending Highland games and my mother developed a love of the instrument.  So that was that.

Nobody wants to deny their dearly departed mother her dying wish and, miraculously, my sister found someone from a nearby town and hired him. But he got lost on the way.  That really sounds like a set up for a joke but that's what happened.  The funeral went on … no bagpiper.  What are you gonna do, right?

Just as the minister was wrapping up, out of the clear blue sky came the loudest, most horrible squawk I'd ever heard in my life!  It startled me so much that I jumped sky high.  Then I burst out laughing. Because of the noise nobody - except Jerry - heard me.  My shoulders were shaking but Jerry was patting my back, so it looked like I was crying uncontrollably.  The "uncontrollable" part is accurate.  It just wasn't tears. 

At the burial site, the bagpiper stood on a nearby hill and played "Amazing Grace" as they lowered the casket into the earth.  It was haunting.  There wasn't a dry eye among us. 

I still miss my mom and don't think that I would have needed this experience to think of her.  Every time I see a bagpipe though, I re-live her funeral. And, to this very day,  - fifteen years later - I vividly remember that first note. It still sounds like someone choking a very big, very angry bird.

That is why I decided to learn to play the ukulele.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Big Savings!

A new Home Goods store has opened in our area and there is a stampede to get in the door.  Bargain hunters are flocking there like hummingbirds to nectar.  Here's an actual example of the savings:

  As Ben Franklin said, "A penny saved is a penny earned."


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Magical Reappearing Artwork

When we stumbled upon this house, it was a train wreck - the dwelling place of a pack of children raised by wolves.  If the evidence left behind is any indication though, they must have had epic parties.  The walls dripped with candle wax, red paint was spattered everywhere and the carpet, well the carpet was too repulsive to even describe.

Our realtor stepped in, shook her head, laughed to herself and turned to leave.  "No, no!"  I exclaimed.  "This is IT!"  She thought I was joking.

The price was right, the damage mostly cosmetic, and Jerry is a genius with drywall mud.  He is also a man who loves a project.  Perfect.  Soon our house was all spiffed up and the offensive carpet had gone to its final resting place. All was well.  


The basement family room must have been the site of one heck of a birthday bash because well-wishers -- or kindergartners -- had drawn their felicitations directly on the wall.  They used various media:  crayons, pencils, pens, chalk and, worst of all, Sharpie markers.  Turns out Sharpies really are permanent.

First, Jerry applied two coats of Kilz, a primer that we've had success with in the past.  Then, he painted two coats of color on top.  Just to be safe, he added a third.  Now all was well.


A couple of months later, I sat down to play my piano and the (bad) sketch of a guy holding a birthday present had materialized on my wall.  I slid a picture in front of it.  Moving a piano, even a small studio like mine, is not on my list of fun things to do.  It weights roughly the same as the entire student body of a AAA high school added all together.  I try to avoid moving heavy objects whenever possible.

When Jerry discovered the artwork, the piano was moved and two more coats of primer followed by two more layers of paint were applied.  All was well.

Image after four layers of primer and five coats of paint


Last week, five full summers later, the birthday guest with present in hand appeared, yet again, above my piano.  This time Jerry had had enough.  He ripped out the entire wall and replaced it with brand new drywall.  Just to be safe, he painted the wall a darker color.

Now if that sucker reappears, we'll be able to charge admission.  Everyone will want to see it.

All is truly well.