This Christmas season has been stressful, disappointing, exhausting, and marked by a conspicuous lack of financial means, all of which has left me feeling less than inspired to write much lately.  I’m still around, just completely broke (again. . .for the fifth consecutive month!), incredibly busy and stressed out.  Trying like crazy to feel like my usual happy-go-lucky self, with varying degrees of success.

The weather here in Portland is warming, and it’s been raining steadily for the last couple of days, so much of the snow is melting and disappearing.  We now have flood warnings in effect for parts of town and the state.  I took the chains off my car, one of which had broken and was hanging on by a mere thread inside the wheel.  I didn’t even realize it was still attached (I thought it fell off on the freeway the other day, and I haven’t driven since then) until I went out today to take off the remaining right one and saw the left one barely poking out from underneath the car.   I ruined my yellow rain jacket in the process, by getting grease all over both arms.  Niiiiice.   Well, it’s true that I wanted a new rain jacket anyway.

I found out yesterday that my grandma died on Christmas Day, at the age of 96.  For the record, I should mention that my brother and I didn’t know her very well.  I feel more disconnected and strange about it than anything else.  My family isn’t particularly close, on either side, either geographically or emotionally, and that’s what makes me saddest of all.  We hadn’t seen her for ten years, and it had been at least that long before that.  I’d been intending to reach out to her again lately, actually, and a couple of months ago, I got her address from my dad so that I could write to her and send some pictures.  He told me that I’d better do it soon, because she was ‘starting to lose it’, and that she’d been taking a turn for the worse these last few months.  I really regret that I didn’t write like I intended to, and that the time got away from me.  I wish that I’d had the chance to reconnect with her in some way.

I thought she’d be particularly happy to know that I play the cello now, because my grandpa (who died when I was about nine, but who I hadn’t seen since I was six) used to play the cello also.  I didn’t even know that until one day when I was about twenty-six or something, and I happened to mention to my dad, “I think it would be really great to learn how to play the cello.”

He gave me a strange, thunderstruck look and said, “I wish you would have said something earlier.”  He told me about my grandpa, and how he had an orchestra-quality instrument that was at my grandma’s house, but that she had recently GIVEN AWAY.  My dad continued.  “In fact, he put himself through college on a cello scholarship, I believe, and he played semi-professionally back in the 1920’s and 30’s.  After he died, his cello was in her attic, untouched and unused, for decades.  She kept it this whole time, hoping that maybe one of you guys would show some interest in it, but you never said anything, so she gave it to a student at her church.  She would have gladly given you his cello for nothing.”   My jaw literally dropped.

I didn’t get a cello and start playing until about four and a half years ago, when I saw an ad for one online, and offered to trade one of my electric guitars for it.  The person accepted, and I’ve been a happy cellist ever since.  Mine turned out to be an excellent quality instrument, an Ernst Heinrich Roth from the early 1960’s.  It needed quite a few repairs and modifications, since it had had a difficult life in a public school district.  I got done the repairs done as I was able to, and now it’s a perfectly good semi-professional level instrument.   I loveitloveitloveitloveitloveit.  It has a full, warm sound that newer instruments just can’t replicate.

And yes, sometimes when I’m playing, I wonder what they would think.  My grandpa, who knew the instrument so well, and my grandma, who kept it faithfully in the hopes that one of her children or grandchildren would play one day, to keep a connection with them and give them a gift they would very likely treasure for their entire lives.

Here are some pictures for you, grandma.  Wish you could have seen them, and also heard what was happening in my life when they were being taken.

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