Thursday, August 28, 2014

101 Years Ago {A Violin's Story}

101 years ago, a violin was made, skillfully formed by some talented craftsman who (I assume and hope) took great pride in his work.
I know the age of this instrument because, if you could peek through these f-holes...
 ...you would see a label inside that reads "Eduard Reichert, Dresden, fecit anno 1913."

28 years ago, my parents bought it for me, procuring it from Weaver's Violin Shop in Chevy Chase, MD, and paying $720 for it.  They bought it, a full-size violin, in December of 1986 to replace the 3/4 size Knilling Violin they had purchased for $175 in January of that same year.  In that case, that violin was purchased from a local family for me to use as my first violin when I began lessons.  I guess I grew enough from January to December to necessitate a new instrument.  ;-)
After taking violin lessons for several years in the 80s, I discontinued them as my school and extracurricular schedule got more and more crowded.  Something had to give; and although I often wished it didn't have to be that way, violin got pushed out of my life...

...until my college years when I briefly resumed lessons.  But once again, a full schedule demanded that I prioritize my obligations; and the violin got the ax.  (Fortunately, not literally.)  ;-)  However, while in college, 17 years ago, to be exact, I had the violin refurbished, so to speak.  With a new bridge, new pegs, new strings, new horsehair on the bow, and a few other repairs, the bill came to $245.92.
The violin traveled with me to California when I moved there as a newlywed; and if memory serves me correctly, I played it once for a church service.  When our life's journey took us to Israel, the violin was stored away, then eventually moved to Virginia where it sat virtually untouched in a corner of our library...

...for such a time as this.  And you can just bet that one look at my firstborn holding my violin made me overwhelmingly grateful that we had kept it all those years!
 Three days ago, we picked up the violin from Glen, a local luthier whom I've written about before.  When I dropped it off with him, I really wasn't sure what he would say about the instrument: after all those years of neglect, would it even be worth anything anymore?  And how expensive would it be to fix it up into good playing condition?
When Glen looked at it, he was immediately positive, affirming that he would be able to fix it with no trouble.  He rehaired the bow, put on new pegs, put a bridge on it, set the sound post back up, cleaned it, and treated it for mites--everything necessary to get it ready for its newest player to use it.
And the grand total for all his work?

$70.

The man is a jewel, I tell ya!  And the lessons I had previously learned from him flowed through my mind and washed over my soul again.  I want to be like Glen when I grow up.

It's funny what a violin can teach a person, even after 101 years; and the best lessons have nothing to do with Bach minuets and Vivaldi concertos.

They have to do with LIFE.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

They Say It's National Dog Day

I'm not exactly sure who gets to decide such things, but I know it must really be true that we're celebrating National Dog Day today because I heard it on K-LOVE.  And then I saw about a million and a half pictures of dogs on Facebook, so any remaining doubt in my mind was swept away.

Well, who am I to miss the boat on such an important holiday?  I simply couldn't.

Jed was wiggly enough that it was hard to get a non-blurry picture of him this evening; but even still, I'm glad to show off my favorite dog.  :)
Happy National Dog Day, Jeddy boy!

Let 'Em Paint!

Confession: I am not a very good painter.

Correction: I am not a very experienced painter.  I'm guessing that if I did it long enough, I could achieve some measure of skill at it; but the fact remains that I have never painted a room of my house...neither have I painted a wall of my house...neither, to the best of my knowledge, have I painted a square inch of my house.  No wonder I'm not a very good painter!  ;-)

True story: to prove how poor my painting skills are, I'll tell you about the time some friends of ours in California were moving into a different house, and we offered to help them get the house ready.  Which meant painting.  The man of the house, named Jeff but not my Jeff, took one look at the painting I was doing, then promptly decided I would be much more helpful if I would kindly drive to Home Depot and buy more paint.  So I did.  End of story.  ;-)

Resolution: to help my kids grow up painting, so that someday when they move out on their own, they'll have some experience--and hopefully, skill--in that area.  Perhaps then, they'll be able to do some painting in their own homes (and maybe come home to mine and paint it for me!)  ;-).  What's more, perhaps they'll be able to be a blessing to their friends who are moving into new homes by actually helping them with the painting--not just with the buying of said paint.  ;-)

Action plan: letting the boys paint our compost box.  You can't do much to mess up that, so it seemed a pretty safe place for them to start honing their skills.  ;-)

The compost box before: a sad, lonely, dirty brown.  Well, OK, maybe I'm personifying it too much when I attach the adjectives "sad" and "lonely" to it, but "dirty brown" certainly applies.  ;-)
 Each of the boys got a side to paint: Tobin had the east.
 He showed off his ambidextrous painting skills.  (Lefties are SO talented.)  ;-)
 David had the south.

 Shav had the west.
 That cute little pudgy tummy of his reminds me that, despite his 5 years of life, a little bit of babyness still clings to him.  I love that.  ;-)
 And Josiah had the north.
It was hot today, necessitating a few breaks for the younger boys; but in general, they all stuck at it, happy to be slathering paint on something.  At the end, they ran out of paint, so the project isn't *quite* finished; but despite that, I'd say that Project Let My Children Paint! was a success.

Mission: accomplished!  :)

When a Daughter Reaches up to Her Daddy...

...if he's any kind of loving, attentive father at all...
 ...it won't be too long before he reaches down...
 ...and takes her into his arms.
 If Jeff, imperfect (though wonderful!) father though he may be, does this...
 ...how much more does our Daddy in heaven do this for us...
...his beloved kids?

I was thinking about this tonight while washing some dishes, and then a song came on the radio that I had never heard before--or if I had heard it, it hadn't stood out to me.  The song was this.  How appropriate.  :)
Every day, every week, every month, every year has its challenges; but some days seem to have bigger ones than other days do!  During this week of extra big challenges for me, one thing that's keeping me afloat is this image of God reaching down to pick me up and carry me.

Because I am his cherished little girl.

Monday, August 25, 2014

SVCC Tour: Day Four

The first post in this series is here.  The second is here.  The third is here.  The fourth is here.  The fifth is here.  The sixth is here.  The seventh is here.  

With only a couple of weeks left before the beginning of a new year of making glorious music with the Shenandoah Valley Children's Choir, it is high time I finish up this account of our tour this past June!  :)

This fourth and final day of our tour was set aside solely for fun: a trip to Busch Gardens.  With all the rehearsals and concerts out of the way, everyone was ready to relax and enjoy all that the amusement park had to offer!

When we got there, the chaperons were instructed to leave the bus first and then place ourselves into one of three groups: those who didn't particularly care for the rides and who would rather spend their time watching shows, those who loved the rides and would go on anything, and those in the middle.  I would have been glad to go with any of the groups, if needed; but my first choice was the in-the-middle group, and as it turned out, there were plenty of chaperons in each group so I got to stay with the middlers.  :)  As a bonus, when the choristers got off the bus and chose which of the three groups to join, Josiah came to the middle one; and I was extra grateful that I got to spend the day with him.  :)

Although I had been to Busch Gardens when I was much younger, it had probably been 20+ years since I had been there, and I didn't remember much at all about the park.  Fortunately, we were with some others who were much more familiar with it, and they led us around to various entertaining things, including a flight-over-Europe simulation and a humorous show that involved Irish dancing.

And of course, there were the rides...  ;-)
 I barely took any pictures all day long.  Sometimes even the most enthusiastic shutterbugs have to put the camera away and just enjoy being in the moment.  :)  But even without a picture to prove it, I'll mention that the most exciting(?) moment of the day came when a roller coaster I was on got stuck.  We had ridden most of the ride, and it was quite an intense one; but as we approached the platform to get off, the roller coaster stopped, and we couldn't go any further.  We weren't in any danger, but I'm sure I wasn't the only one who started to get a claustrophobic feeling as the thick bars surrounding our faces and bodies seemed to press more heavily against us the longer we waited!  The employees who were running the ride couldn't get it to work, so we had to wait for technicians from a different part of the park to come and get it working again.  All's well that ends well, and fortunately even that roller coast ride ended well.  But I sure was glad to get off it.  ;-)

At the end of the day, we ate dinner together before heading back to the bus; and of course, everyone had stories to tell of all they had seen and done that day.

 As we walked back through the park to get to the bus, we seemed to lose people left and right, as this little group shot off into this or that souvenir store to get a last-minute gift, or a few people needed to stop at the bathroom, or whatever.  It was a relief to finally get everyone all together again!  :)
 Knowing that this was the end of the tour--and for some people, this was the last time they would be part of this circle of joined hands as they sang "Siyahamba"--made this moment especially meaningful.
 No wonder so many of the parents had to snap a picture while the choir was singing.  :)

 When the tour started, I really only knew a handful of choristers; but by the end, I at least knew everyone's name--and in most cases, something significant about them.  What's more, the conversations I had with the other chaperons were so very enjoyable and enlightening.  On the long drive home from Busch Gardens, for example, I got to sit with Mrs. Wampler and enjoyed the chance to "sit at her feet" and learn from her as she shared from her life.  I also discovered that I'm actually distantly related to her, because her husband is some sort of cousin to my dad!  :)
At the end of the tour, I had to look back at the Davene who began the tour and laugh a little.  I can't believe I was ever unsure if I wanted to go!  I can't believe I was nervous!  I can't believe I was so clueless about how much fun it would be!!  :)

So much fun, in fact, that I (true confession time) actually had a little bit of a hard time re-adjusting to normal life after tour was over!  Of course, it was so good to see Jeff again that Monday night when we pulled into the parking lot and unloaded for the last time from the bus; and when we got home, David, the author of the note below, was ecstatic to see us again (the other three children were all asleep when we got home, so they missed the official welcome home).
But as grateful as I was for the familiar comforts of home and family, I was also missing the thrill and excitement of going, and doing, and seeing new places, and meeting new people, and hearing gorgeous music, and being part of such a special group.

I know the SVCC will go on tours in the future, and I hope to tag along for many of them!  But no matter what thrilling places we might go and no matter how long the trips might be, there will always be a cherished spot in my heart for this: the SVCC tour when my firstborn turned 12.

Our first SVCC tour together...

...but hopefully not our last!!  :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sometimes the Heart is So Full...

...that whenever the thoughts try to come out the door of the heart, they get stuck; and all they can do is stay there, trapped in a bottleneck.

Sometimes so many special events have happened that it's impossible to decide which one to record on a blog first, and the indecision leads to procrastination which results in paralysis.

Sometimes all that can be done is to post a cute picture, call it a night...
...and hope for more "talkative" typing fingers another day.