This past weekend was compiled of a lot of "firsts" for me.
I love that.
*Note: All the pictures below were taken with my phone, so they stink. Especially since I was a little excitable taking most of them and in turn they came out fuzzier than the dust bunnies on my hardwood floors.
1. I went to a violin shop and played their violins.
I've been teaching my friend, Amy, violin for the past three years.
When asked how long she has played I answered, "Like, a little over a year". Then she looked at me with a "Jess, we aren't that old that you should be forgetting simple details" look and said, "Yeah, I just checked last night, it's been three years". Whoa. Three? ...Years? Because of this, she decided she wanted a violin that was better than the simple student violin she started with in the beginning.
Here's why I love Amy. She didn't say, "Oh, let's look online and order something that way", she wasn't like "Is there somewhere right around the corner that we can go to?" No, she researched and found this place: http://menzelviolins.com/ an hour and a half away in North Jersey that she wanted to go to.
Then she invited me to come.
This was such an exciting trip for me because when I made the switch four thousand years ago to my better violin I didn't go to a violin shop. A friend of my family knew a man who made violins. He had me test out the first couple of violins he made and I ended up buying his #2 violin, which I still absolutely love.
The experience of selecting a violin from a violin shop seems overwhelming, but if given the correct shop with the correct staff it can be a little less overwhelming. Yet, still overwhelming because eventually you have to choose only one.
Unless of course you are independently wealthy and can afford to buy more than one. In that case, buy me one too!
The wall of violins instantly had our jaws on the floor. Since I wasn't the one buying a violin I looked upon it more like artwork. Amy, on the other hand, looked at it and probably thought we would be there for the next two days trying out violins.
Doesn't she look awesome?
Surprisingly, the process was rather quick and we were in an out in just a little over an hour. (But, of course, I thought she had been taking lessons for only one year, so maybe we were actually there only 10 minutes, or two hours, who knows?)
After a delicious variety of beautiful violins, I must admit she went with the fiddle that I would have chosen myself. It is a dreamy piece of craftsmanship not only in sound but also in the history behind it. (In other words, this violin wasn't made last week in a factory).
2. I went to a Jose Tejas.
I've heard about this place from tons of people, but namely, Hubby. It has been raved as one of the best Mexican-Tex/Mex-Cajun-etc food places there is. Hubby once went with a few friends from work for happy hour and waited and waited and waited to be seated because:
1. They won't seat you if your whole party isn't there.
2. They don't do call ahead seating.
3. There is always a wait.
They all knew this and found it to be worth waiting for.
When Amy's step-dad, Kevin, (who was our fearless chauffeur for the day) said we were going there, I was just a tad excited inside.
He took this picture of me to send to Hubby to tease him while he was at work.
Aside from how incredible I knew the food would be, the colorful decor and atmosphere showed me right away that this place was alright. I ordered the chicken burros and could only eat half because I had eaten so many chips and salsa. Foolish girl, I know.
It was fabulous. So tasty that even though I had pronounced that I was full, I had to have a little bite here and there before throwing it into my to-go container. I brought the leftovers home for hubby, yet somehow....I may or may not have kept them from him....they became my lunch the next day.
3. I changed the strings on my cello.
After playing the piano for four years I told my parents I wanted to play the violin. After playing the violin for about six years, I decided I wanted to try the cello as well.
I saved up, bought the cheapest cello I could find, taught myself a few songs, and then didn't touch it again.
Until my friend's daughter wanted to try her hand at cello. Then I started learning the basics again as I taught her. Experience with violin definitely made the concept of cello easy to understand, it was just maneuvering the beast that took practice. A lot of practice. Practice I didn't have the will power for.
So, when my student decided she wanted to try something else, I wasn't too sad. The cello has sat in my music room and stared at me over the years. I've looked right back at it and ignored it's judgmental eyes, deep down wishing I had 39 hours in a day so that I could do things like play the cello, learn the harp, learn to crochet, cook more, write more, okay, that list could be endless.
Recently my little cellist told me she wanted to try cello again. The difference is when she first started learning she was a tiny little third grader. Now she's entering her last year of middle school and has sprouted so that she is shoulder to shoulder with me.
And I'm crying.
It'll be a sad and happy day when she reaches 25 and we're finally the same age.
Because of the growth spurt, she no longer can use the half-size cello that a friend of mine had given me. This meant I needed to dust of my cello and get it up and running. Much to my surprise, I was one string short, my bow had literally fallen apart, and the cello seemed much more worse for wear than I remembered.
Here is what I learned in this experience:
1. Cello strings are a lot bigger than violin strings. I know this is a 'duh', but not only are they thicker strings, but they come in a much larger package which makes them see like a much bigger deal than they actually are.
2. Putting a string on a cello requires a lot more effort than on a violin. One string on a violin will take me under a minute flat. That's even with tuning it. I don't want you to have to mentally picture what I looked like trying to get each individual string on the cello and then in tune.
I'll just say, it wasn't pretty.
3. Cheap cello strings are as expensive as good violin strings. Which means good cello strings are, far, far, too expensive for this point in my cello playing.
I say this is not fair.
4. After buying the strings, I decided my bow wasn't in such a horrible condition that I needed to replace it or have it fixed, at least for right now.
4. I rode in the back of Hubby's car.
In addition to building our beautiful garden, we've been trying to clean up our backyard in order to make it a place that we actually want to spend time at. On our way home from church on Sunday, Hubby decided he wanted to get a window planter box to plant our herbs in and hang on the fence. We've also been wanting some Adirondack chairs but just haven't felt the push to spend $100+ per chair for the real thing. While we were at Lowe's we saw the plastic version of our chair...for $18. Hubby decided that then and there was the time to make this purchase.
I noted, as he was paying for them, that we did not have my large Hummie today, but his little Honda Civic. I also noted that it would be funny if they didn't fit in the car.
He said they would.
When we reached the car, his first attempt was to try the passenger door on the driver's side. After several different maneuvers, he concluded that it would not work. He then tried the back passenger's side. He slide the front passenger's chair up a little, and again made several attempts to squeeze the plastic chairs into the car.
I made a comment about trying the trunk, we popped it open and realized how ridiculous that thought was. Then I suggested putting the chairs in my seat. After adjusting and lifting and turning and twisting, the chairs were finally in my seat and I was booted to the back of the car.
I decided that the back of the car has a surprising amount of space and that on our next road trip I would like to sit back there. Hubby then told me what kind of music he would play if I chose to do that. I don't think I've ever loved my front passenger seat more.