Janet's Jargon

Fun lifestyles, charitable acts, great fiction, author support, Patrick and Grace Mysteries, Keith clan trilogy,

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The New is Good--but the Old Ain't Bad Either


Wow! It has been a long time since I've been here. I keep telling myself that a blogger must blog, but then I get all wound up in other things, and that's the end of that.

So, please let me bring you up to date. After Ivan died, my dear friend Billie Williams asked me what was stopping me from moving out to the house she and her husband Tom were buying? I couldn't come up with a good reason, so I decided to pack things up and head for Wisconsin. You can read all about the move and see pictures of my adorable new/old house here.

It's a good thing we reached a mutually agreeable date when they would come to Grand Forks to get me and all my worldly belongings. For those of you who have lost a mate, you will understand when I say that all of his belongings would still be sitting there, waiting for somebody (namely me) to sort through them and try to figure out where to put what. This pile for the Good Will. This one for each of the kids. This one for things I want to keep. This one for such-and-such a friend. This one for the trash... And Ivan was a collector! When he found something he liked, he wouldn't buy ONE of them, he would buy a dozen. Like he had 48 belts hanging in the closet! And after he lost his leg back in 1995, he almost never walked, and with him sitting solidly in his wheelchair most of the time every day, those pants weren't going anywhere!

Anyway, with everything in tow in the rented U-Haul trailer to head for Wisconsin, the only regret I had was that the piano was too high to fit in the trailer. That about broke my heart. My mother got it from her dad (the guy we called Grandpa Snitzelbaum, but that's another story!) when she was just 4 years old, and it was already fairly old then. Mother was born in 1911.

When we moved from St. Peter MN to Spring Lake MN, the piano went down in the basement. That was before the stairway was enclosed, so it went down. After many more years, my mother decided that I should have the piano. I was thrilled. I started taking piano lessons when I was 5 years old, and I minored in music when I was in Bible college.

Then came the next problem. By that time the stairway at the folks was enclosed, and there was no way it would go back up there. My dad wasn't an engineer, but he could have been. He had a very methodical mind. They had a little room off to the side of the house (it was attached) where they put wood down there for the furnace. The roof stood probably 2 feet off the ground, at the most. My dad tore the roof off and got the tractor and with the hoist on the front of it, they lifted the piano up and loaded it in the back of Bernard Anderson's logging truck. And Bernard brought it to me in Grand Forks.

I decided after that trip, I should call a piano tuner and have it gone over. The tuner came, and after checking it with his tuning forks, he said it was in perfect pitch so there was no need to tune it. I had it checked several times over the next nearly 30 years that we had it. It was moved within Grand Forks 3 times. Each time the report was the same. Once in awhile, when it got real humid, it would get what the kids called "a frog in its throat," but by opening the front on it, it would dry out in just a few hours and it was as good as new.

So, when I had to leave my piano in Grand Forks, it about broke my heart. It was an upright grand Cable. I felt like my cable had been snapped. I knew it was just a "thing," but it was a piece of my past I wasn't ready to leave behind. But I figured I'd get by...

Along with my move, my knees kind of decided to go on vacation. I think it was probably a combination of lifting, stretching, packing, hauling, and the cold damp trailer after the furnace died, along with Ivan. I keep reminding them that the rest of me feels like I'm only 30 years old, so why on earth won't they listen and co-operate with the rest of my body? But they won't.

But, little by little, I have been going out walking in the beautiful Wisconsin spring weather. A short walk to start with, then a bit farther. One day I walked all the way "downtown." I know to many people, that wouldn't be a big deal, because it was probably a total of about 4 blocks, since I walked in the other direction first. Now the "downtown district" in Amberg is pretty much restricted to one block. It contains a vacant building, a cafe, a bar, the Party store (that houses just about everything, at a bit of a higher price), and the post office. When I got to the corner of downtown, I was going to go into the restaurant and get a cup of coffee, but I realized that I hadn't taken any money along. So I just turned around and came home, stopping at Billie's for the cup of coffee. The company was probably better anyway!

Today I wandered out in the opposite direction. I headed towards the museum that is run by the Historical Society. Billie had told me that there was a bench out in front of it, so if I wanted to sit down and rest before I headed back, that was OK. Well, it was downhill all the way TO the museum, and I knew it would be uphill all the way back. When I spotted two old fellows out in front of the museum, I decided I might as well go make their acquaintance. One of the fellows invited me to sit on the fancier chair, which was propping the door open.

And then I heard it! From inside, somebody was playing the piano! I thought I was in heaven. It was wonderful, even though the woman came out after she heard us talking said that she couldn't play with her left hand, and she doesn't really play the piano, but she loves to play AT it. I asked her if she would mind if I went in and borrowed it. She said to feel free. She came inside with me. She was a delightful woman. One of the men outside was her husband, and it was their turn to volunteer to keep the museum open. It seems that it is open on Fri. and Sat. during the summer.

Well, when I got inside, there was a big old upright piano! It has a couple of keys that stick, but I just played around them. It was like going home! I knew that both God and Ivan were smiling down at me as I played How Great Thou Art. The woman at the museum said softly, "Oh, I love that song." So I played it again.

Then we sat there and talked awhile. Pretty soon Billie came walking in. She said she just wanted to make sure I was all right. She also said she saw Bicycle Bill heading that way, and she was afraid I'd been cornered by him. Oh, but that's another story for another day too. He's apparently a near genius, but a bit strange. Hmmm, isn't that always the case? Seems he is fluent in about 7 languages. I wonder if Spanish is one of them. Guess I'll just have to wait to find that out.

Anyway, the one thing I really missed has been replaced. I know where I'll take my walk every Friday or Saturday afternoon! Next time I'm taking some of my music along.

"You can have a song in your heart in the night..." Come on, sing along!
Oh, and by the way, the woman at the piano isn't me, but one of these days I'll get a picture of me down there.

11 Comments:

  • At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice blog, Janet. Your writing is like sitting in the kitchen and having a cup of coffee together.
    Boyd

     
  • At 10:39 PM, Blogger unwriter said…

    A most enjoyable trip through your adventures since the move.

    Ron

     
  • At 9:25 AM, Blogger Brenda said…

    Janet, even your blog reads like a good novel! I'm happy you are in your new town and home. It sounds as if things have worked out well.
    Brenda

     
  • At 11:28 AM, Blogger Carolyn Howard-Johnson said…

    Brenda said this reads like a good novel. As it happens, the prologue in my novel, This Is the Place, is about a piano and how it can play (ha! ) such a prominent part in lives! And you and I, Janet, have talked pianos many times. Glad you finally got around to blogging about it.

    Love,
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Award-winning author of This Is the Place, Harkening and Tracings, a chapbook of poetry.
    www.carolynhoward-johnson.com

     
  • At 11:37 AM, Blogger JanetElaineSmith said…

    Yes, Carolyn, we have similar piano stories. I knew you had parted ways with yours, and I was determined that I never would. But life...
    Anyway, while it is not MY piano story, there is A piano story in my book Dakota Printer too. It is about Libby Custer's piano and her affection for the instrument. It was based on a bit from her own book. I'm not sure now without going back to look it up, but I think the title of her book is Boots in the Saddle.
    Janet

     
  • At 10:06 AM, Blogger Elizabeth Delisi said…

    Janet, I know how you feel about your piano. I had to give mine up when we moved to New Hampshire and (involuntarily) downsized. But I was able to give it to my daughter, so at least I know it stayed in the family and is being well loved. Glad you found a place to play!

    Liz

     
  • At 5:41 PM, Blogger Robin Bayne said…

    So glad you're posting here again. (((HUGS)))

     
  • At 2:10 AM, Blogger Joyce Anthony said…

    Janet, stop over at my blog for a nice surprise :-)

     
  • At 8:50 AM, Blogger unwriter said…

    Congratulations on your win! If you haven't seen it yet, stop by Joyce's blog.

     
  • At 9:59 AM, Blogger Marvin D. Wilson said…

    Glad to see you blogging and posting these charming life stories. You have such a folsky way of drawing a reader into your world. Cool.

    And the award is well deserved - congrats!

     
  • At 1:32 PM, Blogger Pee Wee said…

    Oh, I loved this true tale. You are without a doubt a story teller. I also had a piano when I was around 10. I practiced at first but then stopped so that was the end of my piano. I was sad about losing it but it taught me to do what I promised to do. And I'd promised Daddy to practice or else. LOL

    Anyway, Sweetie, your blog is looking good.

    pee wee

     

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