So, it’s been a busy couple of days. Yesterday I had an autoharp lesson, so I left at lunchtime. It’s a 90-minute drive to my teacher’s beautiful place in the country. For a while, I have felt “stuck” in my autoharp playing. I have reached a level of skill where many things are now easy for me, but I have been struggling with how to get “better.”
So, during my lesson we practiced specific techniques I can use to add “color” to my playing. It was very helpful. I am so grateful to my teacher, Ann, because she is a very patient lady who puts up with a very noncompliant student. I have realized lately what a truly terrible student I am. It is mostly due to the difference between being a teenager and being a middle-aged woman.
The way “normal” music lessons work is that you find a good teacher (at least I did that right!) and then he/she teaches you how to play your instrument by assigning you various pieces and techniques to work on. Unfortunately, I have not been terribly cooperative when it comes to practicing the songs that Ann has assigned, and she has now given up on that whole approach. It’s not that I have any objections to the bluegrass and folk tunes that are “standard” for autoharp players. It’s just that at my age, I know exactly the kind of songs I want to play and I figure life is too short to waste my remaining years learning songs I don’t love. I’m afraid that as a result I’ve been a terrible disappointment to Ann.
However, being the sweet lady that she is (and also a consummate musician), she has adapted to my “I’ll play what I want” approach and now focuses on helping me get better at playing the stuff I have picked out for myself, even if my choices are not what she might prefer. In my case, that means playing a lot of hymns and old European/Celtic folk songs and whatever else strikes my fancy. I am able to get away with this in part because I can figure out the chords to any song on my own. It’s been over a year since I even peeked inside any of my autoharp songbooks. I prefer arranging songs myself—and Ann is helping me increase my skill. Having this skill frees me from ever having to search through published music to find a particular song I want to play, and I love having that freedom.
Shortly after I returned from my lesson, Lina and Jasper and I drove to the home of our dear friends Jim and Joan to have dinner with them and their son Steve and his family. Steve and Angie are missionaries in Kenya who are also home on furlough, and somehow they have missed seeing Lina at all until now. Jim and Joan are retired missionaries who have been part of my life since I was in high school! So we had a wonderful time of fellowship together and we stayed later than we should have.
This morning seemed to be the best time to go on a mother-daughter outing that Lina and I had planned to do while she was here. I didn’t think we’d end up doing it at the tail end of her visit when we didn’t have time to make a day of it. We drove to the historic town of Jefferson (a one-hour drive away) and spent a pleasant few hours. Jefferson is known for its antique shops, so we worked our way through the biggest one.
I don’t enjoy looking through places like that unless I’m on a mission to find a specific item in a specific price range. Today, I was successful and came home with a couple of things that I plan to use in a project. We also browsed through the General Store, which is less enjoyable for me now that I can no longer sample their fabulous honey butters! I was at least able to get some pralines for Walter.
We ate our lunch in a bar that dates back to the mid-1800s. They had a salad that was perfect for me. And yes, sometimes I do get really tired of always having to order a salad when I eat out—but it beats sitting there hungry while everyone else chows down on food I like but can no longer have.
After lunch we paid a quick visit to our favorite hotel courtyard:
And then we had to head home. Lina has a big test to study for and I had a company dinner to prepare. My friend Robin and her husband Doug came over for supper tonight so they could visit with Lina before she leaves. It is always so much fun to spend time with them. Lina gave them a demonstration of her spinning wheel and Jasper took them on a tour of his beehive.