Archive for the ‘Baby Boomers’ Category

Our Piano

July 13, 2010

We recently sold our Yamaha C-7, 7’4″ concert grand piano. It had been in our family for over 17 years, giving us countless hours of enjoyment, filling the house with its beautiful sound.

When we first purchased the piano in 1993, we lived in a good-sized house in Augusta, Georgia. We had a room just for our piano. Our two sons, Aaron and Ben, and I were taking lessons from a retired Julliard-grad concert pianist who had hand-picked this piano for us to practice on and to hopefully blossom into accomplished pianists.

We learned sonatas, etudes, waltzes, sonatinas, and many other pieces on that piano. We all performed at Music Teachers National Association auditions and the boys advanced to competitions at the Georgia State level. I loved listening to Ben’s Chopin Etude in F Major filling the house, and Aaron’s Sonata by Soler.

David had taken years of lessons growing up and would sit at the piano and play, too. Sometimes we’d gather around the piano and sing while he played.

I’ve had a piano in my life as far back as I can remember. Growing up, my family owned an old 6 1/2-foot black baby grand that stood all polished and regal in one corner of our formal living room. Except it had a broken sound board – we must have inherited it with the big old house my parents bought to accomodate all eight kids? I don’t know. But we would bang on that piano, and it must have sounded bad, because my mother would invariably yell from wherever she was in the house, “Get off the piano!”

So I had played a little growing up – I could bang out ‘chopsticks’ and a few simple tunes by ear.

I decided to enroll in lessons with our sons when I hit forty. Of course, I soon learned that (like just about everything else) playing piano well requires consistent practice, dedication, and discipline. I got several pieces under my fingers – Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, the Bach Prelude that accompanies Ave Maria, a Chopin Waltz in A Minor (well, sort of – could never play it up to tempo or get contol of one section of it, no matter how much I practiced).

The boys got some fine pieces under their fingers, which won them awards at the state level.

That was then, in Augusta. The boys grew up, of course. Aaron left for college, and Ben abandoned piano for guitar. I stopped taking lessons. As a 40-ish beginner my fingers lacked facility. (That was my main excuse for quitting, I suppose, other than it proved harder work and less fun to learn to play piano than I had bargained for.)

In 2000 we bought a house in Idaho – 2200 miles from Augusta – and had to manage the move ourselves. I flew to Idaho from Augusta with Ben and Megan while David loaded a 28-foot U-Haul truck and drove it across country – twice! Of course, I just couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the piano behind. On his second trip David had to hire piano movers to load the 800+ -lb piano onto the truck in Georgia, then drive it across, and hire another crew to get the piano off the truck in Idaho.

We decorated our formal living room in Idaho around the grand piano. And the piano looked magnificent and regal in our formal living room. Its rich sound filled the house. Except, none of us, uh, played much. When I did play, it could sound pretty bad, because I was so out of practice, and thoughts filled my head of others in the house wanting to yell at me, “Get off the piano!” – because it was so loud. Maybe that’s an excuse. I found lots of excuses not to play that magnificent piano that had been such an integral part of our family for so long.

The piano is gone now and I’m missing it. We sold it to a professional jazz pianist in Provo, Utah, who is ecstatic to have it and plays the piano as it was meant to be played – probably five hours a day. It’s a long story about how we happened to sell it. I know it was the right thing to do. Except for right now. I’m missing it and all the beautiful piano pieces that filled our house over the years, pieces that flowed out of that piano from underneath my sons’, my husband’s, and even my fingers.

I played the piano for over an hour on the day it was leaving us. And I photographed it from across the room:

It’s pretty hard to capture the whole piano in a close-up:

I took some photos after the movers arrived, as it is quite an ordeal to move a 7′ 4″ grand piano.

Here you see Greg, one of the movers, playing it in our house for the last time,

while his partner examines how the legs are tethered.

They’ve got it wrapped now, have dismembered one leg, and are taking it down.

They strap it to the dolly,

and maneuver it into our front entry

where it nearly gets stuck.

Ten minutes later they’ve gotten it through our front door

and out onto the sidewalk, where they have to turn it around.

There it goes onto the truck.

Farewell O’ Fairest Grand Piano!

You didn’t think I could really just sell that piano and live without one now, did you? (which are the exact words I said to David when we sold it.) For nearly two weeks we had two pianos. You see, after we sold the grand piano, but well before the movers came to get it, I found a slightly used upright studio piano for sale on Craig’s list.

Albeit, it doesn’t even begin to compare in sound to the 7 ‘ 4″ grand. But we have downsized the piano. You know, in case we decide to retire and move into a condo.

Yeah, like I’m going to give up this house.

Yesterday Was A Day

March 4, 2009

I had a day yesterday. Of course I had a day yesterday since, obviously because I’m making a blog entry today, I was still alive yesterday, but what I mean is, it really was a day.

I haven’t gotten to the subject of my health issues on my blog yet. (What self-preserving reader wants to hear it, anyway?) But to sum it up, I have back pain (lower back and neck) with corresponding sciatica (which is a real pain in the butt, my right buttock to be precise), tendonitis in my left elbow, slight tingling in both legs, and joint pain (knees and hips mainly). I am currently getting physical therapy for my back. I wake up most every day with all these symptoms at various levels of severity, none of them severe, but all of them together rather … eh … tiresome, distracting, annoying, and at times, unnerving.

But not yesterday. Yesterday I awoke with no pain whatsoever in my back, buttocks, joints, no tingling in my legs. I remained free from the usual symptoms (which I’ve had about a year and a half) as the day progressed. It would have been fabulous and marvelously encouraging except for the resounding MIGRANE in my head, accompanied by its annoying little sidekick, nausea. Both ailments stubbornly persisted all day in spite of my ingesting huge amounts of ibuprofen. What the heck? I guess all my body pain was now in my head?

Which begs the question, “Are my symptoms psychosomatic?” Do I, on some unconscious level, dig pain and illness because of all the attention I garner in my passionate malingering to friends and loved ones and my earnest efforts to heal?

My symptoms draw my focus like a pestiferous ant draws sunbeams through a hand-held magnifying glass. Which, one could argue, that kind of focus is a vast improvement over, say, a scatterbrained and ditsy focus.

Directing my mind and efforts on assuaging my symptoms might be a good thing. It keeps me more alert and in the present, as in, “Shit, that knife stab in my right buttock hurts like holy hell right now!”… (Rub, rub). My butt aside, all of this direct focusing over time might make my brain more Alzheimer’s resistant.

Okay, so this is a crock and it doesn’t matter anyway because today I’m back to my old symptom-fruitful self. Yep, my body must have sucked the pain back out of my head ’cause there it is yelling out of my lower back and butt again. And the leg-tinglies are baaack too (“Hello!”). Oh joy.

However, not to worry! I’m focused on it. Later today I’ll be off to my 1-1/2 hour – session of physical therapy to strengthen my back. Yeah! I’ll just try not to let my head know what I’m doing, in case all my frenetic exercising and individualized hands-on conditioning from the therapists raises the hair on those ravenous attention-craving crevasses of my mind.

And, Oh! My stomach is growling now … poor, neglected, hungry stomach!