The First Lesson

The piano lessons have started.

I found my teacher from Google search and turns out we are a good match. She has a gleeming, black grand piano that takes up her entire living room; with weighted, effortless keys, the sound is literally music to the ears.

I am a cautious, approaching “mid-life crisis“, student – yikes! And after years of teaching myself to read music, playing by ear and generally using the piano as a stress outlet, there’s a load of habits I need to lose in order to be able to play confidently and beautifully.

I am committed.

This is my first lesson, first week of practice. It is so basic that it almost seems irrelevant – until I practice with intention.

That is when I can pick out how weak my left hand really is and how quickly my right hand wants to take off on its own volition.

It is a struggle but I suspect beyond learning to play well, I will also learn something deeper about myself to adjust. ❤️

Hello Piano

IMG_20190522_185341
Recently I inherited a piano from a good friend of a good friend.  It sits snuggly in the corner of my living room.

Yesterday I had the piano tuned for the first time in 20 years.

The gentleman arrives, proud to be tuning piano’s for 52 years – 52 YEARS!  He is slightly stooped and tells me how thankful he is that at 72 he is still able to get out and do the thing he loves – tune piano’s.

He follows me into the living room and I point to the piano.  He puts down the case he has brought along. It looks similar to a traveling farm animal vet case.  It is a gently worn, hard, black leather covered case.

He sets out on his business of tuning my piano.

He plays a little ditty and promptly clicks his tongue and makes a disapproving noise.

He takes the top cover off and promptly clicks his tongue and makes a disapproving noise.

“Lots of dust,” he briskly comments.

I grab the vacuum, plug it in, turn it on and hand it to him.

He puts his hand over the end of the vacuum to check the suction and promptly clicks his tongue and makes a disapproving noise.

“You may also need a cloth,” he stoically states.

I grab a cloth and help him wipe down the inside of the piano and then I slither off like an unworthy child to my kitchen.  I sit silently and peer around the corner to watch him work.

He progresses with the tuning.

“This is a good little piano and it will be alright with some care,” he announces after an hour and a half of tuning.

Before he leaves he gives me a few additional tips and suggestions.

1. Play my piano
2. Have my piano tuned regularly
3. Buy a humidifier for the winter time and if I am really serious like he is, install one on my furnace!
4. Buy a new vacuum

 

501 Queen Street Westbound

501 Queen Street Westbound

20130609-151433.jpg

The streetcar was swaying back and forth.

It’s close to midnight and most of the seats are filled.

The only empty seats are at the back of the second car.

He finds a seat, facing south. He is sitting across from her. He can’t believe his luck. This will be a second encounter with this creature, this femme fatale.

Her nails are painted black and decorated with little sparkling gems. Her hair is jet black with peek-a-boo red highlights. Legs crossed. She is absorbed in her music blaring from her ear buds. She is madly texting on her phone. Her face expressionless, eyes outlined in black, lips coloured deep red. Her stockings are fishnet, ending just below the hemline of her tight short mini-skirt. There are 2 inches of bare thigh, exposed and he notices.

She is a mystery, that is precisely her allure.

She doesn’t notice him sit down across from her. The man-boy, holding a take-out bag and jug of milk, wearing nondescript grey jogging pants with a dark blue jacket. His mouth is gapping.

He stares intently at this woman. She isn’t noticing him.

He reaches across the streetcar aisle and taps her on the knee. She looks up from her phone, her music still blaring.

He sweetly tilts his head, smiles and manages a mock-surprised, “Wow, we meet again, how are you doing?”

She is polite and responds with “It’s good to see you, I am doing well,” and brings her eyes back down to her phone, dismissing him.

He isn’t sure what to do. He wants more. He wants a conversation. He wants to let her know how much he’s been thinking about her since the last time they met.

“I’ve tried calling you a few times but I never got an answer from your calls.”

Pause. She pretends not to hear him.

“I hope you are doing alright. I’ve thought about you an awful lot.”

Pause. This time there was a slight kick of her foot in acknowledgement. This gives him wings to fly.

“You look really hot tonight.”

Pause. There is no response. Not even a kick of the foot. He sits in silence. Watching her. He can’t take his eyes off her.

She ignores his presence and continues texting and turns up her music.

He fumbles with the pocket of his jacket and after a few moments produces a notebook. It’s a small, softcover notebook with an elastic band to keep the pages in place. He reaches back in his pocket to retrieve his pen. He keeps his eyes on her the entire time. He organizes himself, with one hand on his book, the other holding his pen. He opens up his notebook and for the first time, he looks down.

The page before him is blank.

He panics. What has he done. He has nothing to write. All he wants to do is talk to the woman, the creature who is tantalizing him from across the aisle of the streetcar.

He realizes his error in judgement, closes his book, caps his pen and puts them back in his coat pocket.

He sits a few moments longer contemplating his next move.

He stands up. His body swaying with the streetcar. The weight of his milk jug sending him twisting from side to side, back and forth. It’s hard for him to stand but he holds the hand rail above his head to steady himself.

He isn’t sure what to do. Maybe he should get off the streetcar at the next stop.

Instead he sits back down.

If she’s noticed any of this, she isn’t letting on. She keeps on texting with those long black, gem encrusted finger nails. And those stockings, riding down her thigh. He can’t keep his eyes off of her. His mouth is gaping slightly. If only he could get closer to her, perhaps touch her with his finger tips.

Then as if his prayers were answered, the couple sitting between him and his prize stood up to leave.

If his baggage was hindering him with his standing earlier while the streetcar lumbered along, it didn’t hinder him from gathering his belongings and snatching up the newly vacated, prime seating.

Within seconds he was beside her. His prayers answered. Her nightmare just beginning.

My Ukulele

My Ukulele

“And so it is, just like you said it would be..”

Yesterday I added an addition to my family of one.

We’ve ruled out dogs, cats and boyfriends as logical living partners and I have settled on a musical instrument with which to coexist in my tiny condo. You could say that since it has no heartbeat that it should not be considered a companion but after watching numerous Youtube videos late last night I have concluded that a musical instrument can come pretty close as a comforting companion as any living thing. Ok, we could debate this but can I have just this ONE!?

Last night I brought home a Ukulele.

For the last few weeks I have been hearing stories of this instrument and its fun and addictive features. The only Ukulele I ever recall was the one on my aunt and uncle’s farm and when we’d strum it, it hurt my ears. To be truthful the sound coming from it’s heart irritated me; high pitched, off-key and all around frustrating.

I trusted my friend at work and walked into the first major serious music store I could find to buy myself a Ukulele.

Normally when going for a purchase where I have little to no knowledge on the product, I do some research online.

Not so for the Ukulele.

You could tell from the outside of the store that this place was serious. Stock metal security bars ran along the front of the store covering the glass windows. The windows might as well not have been glass since the glass was also covered in black plastic wrap, loudly advertising the store name.

I parked the car and sat for a few moments gathering my courage to face serious musicians and to ask for a what I felt was a ridiculous instrument, a Ukulele.

Why couldn’t I be going into the store with an unlimited budget looking for a Fender electric guitar?

No I was going into the store with a budget looking for a $40, cheesy, cherry red Ukulele!

I literally stumbled into the store.

Thankfully the one employee was busy with a serious customer, putting together a serious musical instrument order. The serious customer was ordering a fancy drum set and the value $5,000 for $4,500 popped out of the sales guy’s mouth.

In the very recent past, before my scary departure from a real job and a real wage, one where I could eat, drink, dance and sing whenever I pleased, normally I would have turned around and left the store. Silly right? However talking to strangers, especially strangers who knew more than me on a particular topic honestly frightened me – I liked to be at least prepared. In my new adventure where I don’t have a real job and a real wage I find myself in many new and uncomfortable situations where in the past I would have rather just avoided and have started to accept it is ok to be ridiculous and quite frankly an air-head :).

So I poked around the store quietly looking for their Ukulele’s. After a few turns of the cramped store the sales guy popped up his head and asked, “Is there anything I can help you find?”

“Ummm,” as I nervously chuckled, “I am not sure you have what I am looking for, but do you have any,” and I blurted out in a high pitched voice, “Ukulele’s?!”

And to my surprise, yes he did!

That is when he started asking the questions, the one’s that make me nervous. Technical questions, questions I haven’t a clue how to answer.

I stood there, numb, chasing away the “I am sooo dumb, what am I doing in here without at least researching so I could look somewhat intelligent”.

“Well to be honest, I don’t really know all the terms you are using and I have never played a Ukulele, a friend has successfully convinced me with her stories that they are fun and easy to play.”.

Feeling ridiculous I stood there in front of the serious customer and the serious sales guy.

Perhaps sensing my apprehension the friendly sales guy gave me a big smile, immediately melting my anxiety. He stood up, broke away from his customer and took me to the humidity controlled acoustic guitar room just off the main sales floor. The room was dead quiet that it almost hurt my ears.

“Well let me show you what I have but first tell me your intentions on how well and how much you’d like to play the Ukulele.”

I explain to him about the Ukulele jam session’s that I’ve heard so much about and tell him that as amateur as I am my vision is to learn to play the instrument as well as my 30-something year-old hands will allow and I give him my budget.

He hands me a Ukulele from the rack and explains how to properly strum. He suggests that if I want to be somewhat serious that perhaps I should consider a somewhat serious Ukulele.

That strikes the cherry red Ukulele off my list 😦

Like a well seasoned sales person, he excuses himself and leaves me with the room to myself to strum away on Ukulele’s and to pick my instrument.

Which is exactly what I did.

I left the store that afternoon armed with a Ukulele, a carry bag, a little tuner and advice on how to be successful on my new musical adventure.

So now there are a few housekeeping items in regards to my new toy:

1. Name my Ukulele.

2. Work on learning the 3 major chords so I can play most any song. The good news is there are many Youtube videos and I spent up until the wee morning hours watching TheUkuleleTeacher. I am as much impressed with his videos and his skill at the Ukulele, Guitar and Base Guitar as I am with his appearance makeover from November last year until his latest video August 17th. I secretly want to know if the evolution of his looks from an 80’s rocker to a 21st century Mr. Suave had anything to do with comments from his gushing female followers?!?!

3. Attend a Corktown Ukulele jam and have my Ukulele formally named and baptised with me bopped on the head with a stuffed Ukulele (that is probably someone’s favourite stuffed sleeping companion!!).

So if you have any suggestions on a name for my new Ukulele, please share, if anything it will be a chance to blurt out amusing names that we’d never name a pet or person :).

“A Room with a View”

First I am going to mention that this post is a selfish post. It might not make sense because it’s me writing to me but perhaps it will invoke some self-reflecting and take you back to a different time, place and make you smile about how perhaps self-involved you may or may not have been when you were young and “knew” everything.

I recently watched the movie “A Room with a View”. I didn’t know before I watched that it was based on a book from 1908 but it is. I am not even sure why I choose to watch this particular movie except that Helena Bonham Carter had a main role and she has played some interesting characters.

Halfway through the movie I was highly tempted to turn it off but my personality dictates that I must see how it ends no matter how painful. It turns out I was glad that I kept it as background noise. I have to say the movie really made me yearn (what a weird word that describes perfectly what I felt) for a piano, a mostly empty house and an old man tapping his cane in disapproval.

As soon as I heard the following lines I was transported back in time. If you haven’t seen the movie, this excerpt below is an impassioned speech from a man to a girl he loves and who he feels is about to marry a man who does not deserve her:

“But he’s the sort who can’t know anyone intimately, least of all a woman. He doesn’t know what a woman is. He wants you for a possession, something to look at like a painting or an ivory box. Something to own and to display. He doesn’t want you to be real, or to think or to live. He doesn’t love you, but I love you. I want you to have your own thoughts and ideas and feelings, even when I hold you in my arms. It’s our last chance… It’s our last chance…”

And it goes on.

The reason this particular part of the movie sent me back in time is this line is quoted in a song by Dream Theater.

Dream Theater is a curious American band that pulls from events, time, places that are interesting. Most of their songs are a collection of references.

I was introduced to the band sometime in the late 1990’s. I won’t pretend to remember exactly when but it was after I bought my first computer (for way too much money). ICQ had the “random” friend generator; I am not sure how this is relevant to this post but it somehow is; besides the fact that I think that the random friend generator was an interesting feature from a different time.

Back to the movie, the quote and Dream Theater. The album Awake was released in 1994 and the very last song on the CD was titled Space-Dye Vest and like mentioned earlier is a collection of quotes sown together to make a song. This was one of my favourite songs from the band and I can’t tell you why because I am not sure really. I think it was the quote from the Conan O’Brien show near the end of the song:

“That, so they say that, in ya know like, Houston or something, you’d say it’s a hundred and eighty degrees, but it’s a dry heat. In Houston they say that? Oh, maybe not. I’m all mixed up. Dry until they hit the swimming pool.”

I just found the song so disjointed and appealing.

Anyhow, I decided I must hear the song and that sent me digging through my CD’s. It turns out I have lost the CD along the way and I am stuck with having to remember the song in my head.

Sifting through my CD’s however has made for an entertaining night. I didn’t remember having so much music compiled and this evening’s task has been moving my music collection from CD’s to my hard drive.

What I love about music is it can transport me back in time; I can experience the emotion, the hopes, the dreams and the feelings of a time without getting involved. I can remember the good times, have a smile on my face and well its great looking back at that “13-year old self” and knowing how it all turns out. 🙂 Well up to now anyhow.

I get to listen to old bands that I couldn’t get enough of; here are a few of my favourites:

1. Ben Folds Five
2. Tonic
3. Fools Garden
4. Better Than Ezra
5. Collective Soul
6. Bush
7. Dream Theater
8. Edwin
9. Remy Zero
10. Catherine Wheel

As honorable mentions I have to add Ace of Base, Def Leppard, Deep Purple and Honeymoon Suite. 🙂

I find it relaxing listening to these bands, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling even with a bleeding, painful middle finger. Sometimes life just happens and there is nothing we can do to stop it. There is sometimes just no explaining all the decisions that led to today and why today is just the best day there could ever be and tomorrow holds so much promise.

What are your favourite bands that can take you back to a different time and place?

When Nobody’s Looking…

Since the big night out at Nashville North and my admission of listening to, setting my radio dial and trying out my underwhelming ability of line dancing to country music, I figured why not post a top ten list of ordinary things that I do that I find embarrassing to admit. The REAL embarrassing things I’ll leave till a later date when I am sufficiently acclimatized to dealing with the ridicule 🙂

Here goes my list:

1. ABC’s new tv series GCB. My favourite character is played by Kristin Chenoweth – Carlene. I am not sure you can watch this show and not laugh!! It is a saucy drama about…well…bitchy women masquerading as saints, how could that not be funny?

2. Plenty of Fish. It’s like a dirty activity that nobody wants to admit to doing, but seriously it’s all in how you use it.

3. Singing at the top of my lungs in the car and getting caught by the old man in the car next to me at the light, he gives me a dirty look of shame….is that Britney Spears or N’Sync that she’s listening to?!

4. Listening to and knowing all the lyrics to Def Leppard’s album “Hysteria”. Particularly “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” Come on, it’s a GREAT song!

5. Going all goo-goo-eyed when Ryan Gosling’s look-alike decides to return something to the store. But besides the guilt of not always being able to pull it together, that’s right ladies the twin is in the hood and he wants to know if Shoppers Drug Mart sells Paint Tape! Do I look like an encyclopedia for random household goods and hardware? Ok maybe I do with my nerdy glasses but give me a break ask me for a date and I’ll try not to spill my dinner all over myself! haha. And gentleman, be honest if your Silver Screen dream look-a-like popped into your workplace and started asking random questions, would you be a man and keep it all together?! 🙂

6. Eating a bag of Lays Ketchup chips in one sitting then throwing the bag in the garbage and pretending it didn’t happen. There is nothing quite like a Lays chip (except for Indiana Popcorn obviously)

7. Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks. It is not my favourite coffee shop, I agree it is much too commercial and pretentious and I secretly scoff at the regulars that I see at my local shop. Hypocritical? Absolutely, there is only one reason I know they are regulars…

8. But seriously Starbucks is attached to Chapters and Chapters is such a great place to browse for hours on end when a) you don’t feel like going home. b) want to read a book for free and are a germ a-phoebe and have a difficult time using Library books (seriously, what were the five people prior to you doing with their hands before/while/after reading this dog eared, well read book!)

9. Sneaking as many extra packets of raw sugar to help my friend grow her raw sugar packet collection. Why do I do this? I have no idea but I don’t want her to run out because subconsciously I am pretty sure our friendship hinges on the number of packets that she has available at any given time. Of course I am kidding, but seriously it has become my life mission to make sure she is constantly stocked up.

10. Moving that stack of clothes that needs hanging up from my bed to my drying rack, night after night promising “I’ll hang it up tomorrow when I am less busy.” Really? Less busy? I promise to hang everything up tomorrow 😛

And there you have it my top ten list of things I do that at some point have been met with embarrassment when caught.

What are yours? 😉