Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Music to my ears

20 years ago, my precious Aunty Pat died of cancer far too young. I was in Grade 12 and and deeply sad.   They had four boys and I fancied myself as a daughter to her, someone who would talk about fabrics and sewing and clothes.  She would pass her old patterns on to me.

I don't know how it came about really, but Uncle John said I could have her piano. The piano was the first thing you saw as you came into their house.  It has ivory keys, though some of the tops have been prised off and on the middle octave the notes are written in black marker.

It must have been some years later because I had a house of my own to bring it to.  I learnt the basics of scales and some simple tunes with my grandma when I was young but never had another lesson.  Hopes of getting further along with my playing never materialised into lessons or the magical and late ability to play-by-ear so it just sat there. 

Many, many years later and I finally realised there was never going to be room 'upstairs', never going to be the money for repairs and tuning and lessons and no time like now for letting it go.

The piano went solidly and gracefully out into the sunlight and across the way to my brother's house.  There are fingers there that know the ways of notes that dance and treble across the page in sharp leaps and minor pauses.  

The piano is my favourite instrument, but  it has to be played. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One brown bottle, sitting on the wall

About a year ago, I had morning tea with some old school friends, one who was at school with me from Grade One, circa 1977.   That year, we made lovely singing choir boys with ping pong ball heads and yes, bodies made out of beer bottles colloquially referred to as 'stubbies'.   On top was red crepe paper and a white doily to make the lace surplus of the choir boy's uniform.

I showed this little fellow (only sans clothes due to my children and their inquisitive fingers) to her.  Her response was to laugh out loud,  "Oh Nikki, you HAVE to throw that out!".   So I did. 
It was hard.  I mean, vintage beer bottle you know, they don't make them like that anymore.  

I had a wonderful Grade One teacher who made our first year of school a very happy one. Sr Carmel was a Presentation nun and full of love and kindness.  Our classroom was an old house up on stilts.  The main living area housed our desks.   We did our painting and artwork on the enclosed verandah and she read to us from Gulliver's Travels in the afternoons round the side, in the sleep-out.  If you got to school before the bell you could play in the dirt under the house but since I could do that any time at home, it didn't hold any appeal for me. 

We put on the Nativity play for our families.  One of the girls in our class had a new baby brother, so she was Mary.   By the time it got to me there weren't any major roles left so I got to wear pyjamas and bring in my favourite toy for baby Jesus.  I brought in my squeaky, rubber, peg. 

Each year, I send Sr Carmel a Christmas card.  Each year, she sends me one in return.