Piano Reinvented

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A long time ago an old woman died and left me her piano. I don’t remember how old I was, maybe 12? I’m not sure. It was a really big deal that she left me the piano. I think it was the biggest thing I had ever owned and it wasn’t that I was that close to her and had spent many days playing her piano. I do remember her being very very sweet and quiet. For whatever reason she decided to will her piano to me and not to her children. Maybe they were grown and had their own pianos. I don’t know. I was taking lessons at the time and showing a real interest in playing. Every time I played that piano I thought of her and what an amazing gift it was.

It wasn’t the greatest piano. The lower “A” key never played which made for interesting arrangements to get around that missing note. But it was a cool piano. It had a lot of decorative wood and I loved it. But I could never have it because I always lived in an apartment that was too small to haul a piano into. So it lived at my parents’ house and I would play it every time I visited.

Over the years it got more and more decrepit. At one time Rapunzel drew all over the keys when she was little. It got dustier and dustier and more and more out of tune. That poor old sad piano. But my parents kept it for me hoping that someday I would rescue it. Someday I would pay for it to get tuned and find a home that it would fit into.

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That day never came. In fact, that poor sad neglected piano sat in my parent’s mobile home for so long that the floor started falling through underneath it. It started to be a problem for my parents. Then my parents started cleaning up their property so they could move out of their neighborhood that has been continually getting worse and worse. All the old stuff had to be gone through and hauled off to the dump. My piano became more and more of a burden. Finally my parents gave me an ultimatum: Come and get your piano or we take it apart and haul it off to the dump. They didn’t want to take my piano to the dump of course but nobody had the $400 to pay a piano mover to move it and I didn’t have a space big enough in my house to put it if I did finally get it moved. And I still didn’t really want to give it away. I still loved that piano. It didn’t play very well but it was so sentimental because of the old woman who had given it to me.

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So my parents took the piano apart and saved the pieces for me. The big metal harp had to go to the dump but all the decorative wood and keys were saved for me. They got stuck in the back of my parents SUV and one day they brought them to me.

Poor Payam, all the pieces got to live in his wood shop for a month while I got my head around what we were going to do with it. They took up a lot of room. They seriously cramped everyone’s style. But I couldn’t let go.

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We played with all the pieces. I talked about hanging the decorative middle panel as an art piece. We thought about making a 70’s-style starburst clock out of the keys…but it’s not like we have a lot of blank walls in our house just waiting for art. We have art coming out of our ears and no walls to put them on. So we settled on a bench. We would make a pew style bench and put it in the foyer in front of our front door. It would be amazing.

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It still has a long way to go. We plan to stain the legs so everything matches of course. I do feel a bit sad putting it out of doors in the weather but I know Payam will help me weather-proof it and it is under the eaves so it’s not like it’s going to get rained on. What is cool is that it will be used. I can foresee many photo shoots in the future with friends and family sitting on this bench.

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We still haven’t figured out what to do with all the pieces but I have a feeling they will all turn into something loved. And someday I’ll buy a house with space for another piano. Not this piano, sadly but that’s okay because this piano is going to stay in the family (as a bench!) for as long as I have a say.

Old Friends Are Good To Keep

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My friends, The Blues, are back in town from Thailand where they live now and work with the Charis Project. You probably remember them from this post and the Narnia birthday party (that was so cool!) and this post and that post…so many posts over the years! They are those kinds of friends, you know? The ones who were there for you for so many adventures, for so many sleepovers when you needed a place to stay, for that cup of chai and conversation when your heart was heavy…. Those friends. They are very special to Bug and me because they were a big part of our life when it was very tumultuous.

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But we haven’t seen them in years! Everyone has grown up so much! Bug was actually really nervous about seeing her friends again because she’s had a couple of experiences with old childhood friends changing and just not clicking at all. I was a little anxious for her too. But I shouldn’t have been!

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Everybody was exactly the same way they always were. I was so genuinely happy to see my old friends again.  It was like going back in time and feeling home and welcome. BluesAreBack-3

The first thing I saw was this little guy helping himself to pasta. Have you ever seen such a self-assured little person? What is he, like two?!  There are six kids in Carrien’s family and when you get that many kids the little ones get more and more brazen about helping themselves. But what’s wrong with that, right? I only had one kid for a really long time and because I took care of everything ever, she’s now twelve and  still asks me to untie the double knots in her shoes. I’ve sort of created a monster. I should have had five more kids. It would have been a service to her. Just kidding. But having Joon around really helps.

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Then I saw this dog. We bonded right away. Apparently he’s very shy of everyone but since he looked a lot like Whiskey, I made contact and then he followed me around like I was his new friend. That happens to me with animals a lot. It’s like they know I have anxiety and need an extra dose of oxytocin.  I look in their eyes and they look in my eyes and we both feel a little bit better.

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This kid is the most friendly of all the kids. I met him a few years back and he says he remembers me but I’m not so sure since he was only two then. It doesn’t matter because we acted like old friends who knew each other forever. He showed me all his tricks on the swing and I took pictures of his toes. No shy butterfly there.

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There was this monkey…he was so little when we last saw him. He talks now. Which is crazy because I always remember him as the quiet one. Quiet but smiley.

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And of course my friend, Carrien. I love her so much. She’s probably not going to love these pictures of her because I snatched them with very little warning, if any. No “plandids” here. These are real candids. But I love that about her. I love that she doesn’t mind me taking pictures of her and her family “in the golden light.” She knows I love that time of day and it’s like giving an artist a paintbrush to be able to snap away.

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After dinner we had s’mores out by the famous big old rectangle fire pit. I love that fire pit!

And now I know the secret to good s’mores!!! It’s finally been revealed to me!  I was never really a big fan of s’mores before because they never really worked for me. You know how it is, you have a big gooey marshmallow all soft with a chunk of hard chocolate and a crumbly graham cracker. You bite in and it all falls apart. The chocolate doesn’t melt, the cracker is in crumbs and pretty much you have a mess.

Guess what the secret is: CUT UP THE CHOCOLATE INTO LITTLE SHARDS!!!

What? What!! Seriously. This solves everything. The chocolate melts, the marshmallow oozes, the graham cracker holds it all together. How have I not known this all my life?!!  And it totally tastes delicious! Now I get what all the hullabaloo is about. I like s’mores now too! Ding Dong!

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So yeah, that was thoroughly enjoyable. We sat around and enjoyed s’more after s’more after s’more. Some wine was sipped too.

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This is what I love about Carrien and her family: I love the effortless enjoyment of simple things. Just a fire and chocolate and marshmallows and graham crackers and a little glass of wine and my heart was bursting with contentment.  Both Carrien and I have had to make do a time or two with less money than we’d like. Things get hard sometimes but she’s the one who always invited me over no matter what was in her cupboards. She always served me treats made with the simplest of ingredients and they tasted a thousand times better than anything. Isn’t that weird how that happens?

I know sometimes in the past I had neighbors come over and I worried that I wouldn’t have enough food. And then somehow when my table was filled with faces, one chicken breast would magically stretch to feed six people and there was always enough. How does that happen!? Is it a miracle? Five fishes feeding five thousand? I don’t know. I think everyone takes a little less because they know they are really there to feed their heart.  I think that is the most valuable lesson I’ve learned about food and friends. We are really there to feed our hearts. Let our tables be large…

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I miss them already. We were only there for a few hours but the fireside memories will last me for a long time. I love that Bug has memories like this stored up too. It’s so important to keep in touch with old friends. What do they say? The friends you keep for longer than five years last forever?

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Eventually I had to start thinking about the long drive home. It was late and I am not the best person to be driving late at night because I am a morning person to the core. I hate trying to stay awake when I am tired. It’s pure torture.

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We hustled the littles inside and we saw this: The next generation of chai and conversation. No “not clicking” here. We can be oceans apart but we’ll stay friends. Because old friends are the best friends. Miss you guys!