Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I am in the serious mood to do projects. I have this insane pull every time I know someone is going to visit me. I just always feel like my place is never "finished" or refined.

I look at the neighbors' places and we fall into one of two categories: those that look like staged homes ready to hit the market and those that look like we might have 8-10 cats hiding. I'm somewhat in the middle but leaning toward the latter.

I will say that for many their homes look tidied because they're parents have all their childhood things. But I took any childhood belongings with me years ago when my mom sold her house. Then when she passed away I inherited a lot. I will say that Wendi and I donated over 17 truckloads of things to charity. We also gave most of the crystal to family. And her clothes? Well she was 4' 9 1/2" and wore a size 4 1/2 shoe. All donated (except my favorite Shooting Star shirt!).

That still left us with albums, boxes of pictures, sets of china, and jewelry. To be honest my favorite keepsakes are my Great-Grandmother's bread board and a wooden spoon that my mom cooked with all the time. Every time I look at it I can think of her stirring potato soup, making sun tea, or fixing us Kool-aid. It's a happy spoon.

So with only 1,000 square feet it's hard to decide what to work on next. I decided mine is to re-paint my bedroom. Right now it's this vanilla that the whole house is in (except for my lemony tower room I painted this Spring), and it looks like a mish-mesh. Just random pictures hung and no real intention or style. I like my grey ombre rug and my grey cello chair but that's about it.

I didn't even bother with a before pic as there was nothing interesting about the room. I cleared out several books to donate, grouped pictures the way I wanted them, and added some crisp white curtains. I still have yet to replace my bed frame but you can see what a cool vibe the grey gives the room. I feel like it is very grown up-y. Most of all I feel like this space is now very intentional.In the very near future I will need to hang pictures and the like but for now I am just feeling out the space.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Man de la Larbert

I have had many head slap moments in my life... too many to mention here but for some reason one in particular appeared quite vividly today. It's odd really, as I haven't thought about this in some time but apparently the Universe would like to humble me and so I must write.

Glasgow Scotland, September 2012
I spent a lovely couple of weeks exploring Scotland with my sister. We went all over, from Iona, Culloden, the Orkneys, and Edinburgh. I won't mention my embarrassing driving experiences nor how I said I was Canadian to get less of a sourpuss face from the island natives. But I will mention the time I went to see Bannockburn.

If you know your Scottish history you'll know of the very important battle that occurred 700 years ago for Scottish independence. So after my sister took off for the States I headed up to Stirling and then over to the bus for Bannockburn. Little did I know that this battlefield was not *gasp* preserved as a memorial site but instead is a pasture with a plaque. So I sat there looking for some obvious monument markers when a lovely lady sat next to me.

She jabbered on cheerily and even with my 5 years of Scots Gaelic lessons I could not discern the Broad Scots she was speaking in. Here are snippets that I understood: icebox, American, dance, soldier, and icebox again. Apparently an icebox was the star of the story and I feel a bit remiss that I didn't get more of the story. I had lost all sense of direction by this point and then she said something about how she wished she were going to Glasgow because we'd have a grand old time. Wait-- GLASGOW??!

DUCK. Now I have to backtrack a third of the way back up the Country and I still haven't seen Bannockburn. Now I'm irritated at myself and-fantastic! I'm lost. I just want to get to my hotel and eat a nice meal. Okay so the train station is nowhere in sight so I'm feeling defeated. Just then I see an attractive guy. I approach him and he offers to walk me to the station. Awesome. 

We walk along exchanging stories. He works in the financial sector and is originally from Larbert just south of Stirling. He walked out of his way to deliver me, even though his train station was along the way. He waited for my train and in that pinnacle moment I shook his hand and thanked him. What a dumbass move on my part, if I may say so. I should have offered to buy him dinner, a drink, tuck him into my hotel bed- SOMETHING. I never even got his name. And so I shook his nameless hand. Forehead slap. 

So why am I thinking of him now??  That I cannot tell you but I can say that missed opportunities are just that: missed opportunities. Even if you don't think of something for years when it creeps up on you, there must be some reason for it. So I'm putting this out into the Universe out that if this gentleman from Larbert comes across this, THANK YOU. I was having a crappy day and you made it a lovely memory. I even checked out your town and the old Parish there per your suggestion. And if we shall ever meet again, dinner is on me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why Hello, Cello!

None of us is immune from loss and I am certainly no stranger. The only thing I know to do is allow the feelings as they come and throw myself into something productive. This has resulted in prioritizing time with loved ones over acquaintances, more volunteer work, and artistic expressions.

After my mom passed, many of the hobbies fell to the wayside and Michelle, my close friends, and family became priorities. They were always priorities but now even more so. I also took to knitting for people, something I picked up when my mom was sick so I could knit her a cashmere cowl that was both soft and warm.

Now that Michelley has passed there is a lot of silence. I don't want to run away from it and throw myself into meaningless endeavors. What I do want is to live a life with meaning and intention. For some reason the worrying about what the future will bring has fallen to the wayside. It has been replaced with an awareness of what feels right, what doesn't; what is important, what's not; and finally what to fight for, and what to let go of.

A few years ago I picked up the cello. As one of my million bucket list items I rented a cello, found a teacher, and went every other week to lessons. Surprisingly it felt right. That doesn't mean it sounded right but pish posh. Michelle surprisingly liked my playing, even when it sounded like a distressed cat. But I kept at it and a year later decided to buy a cello. I continued to take lessons until I moved to DC.

Once I moved here there was a new world to get used to. Honestly, my cello became more of a decorative piece in my bedroom than anything else, I'm sad to say. When Michelle first passed the silence was deafening. I felt her presence those first few days and felt like she wanted me to play the cello. So I start tuning and SNAP! a string breaks. Standard Jilly Modus Operandi (SJMO).

The next day I cart off to the violin shop and get a new string. Just being in the shop rekindled that love I have for cello, well hearing other people play cello. I went home and started with one of my Scottish airs. Nope, too soon. So I broke out my old Suzuki books and started to play. What had once taken me months to get through I finished that book in 6 days. Book two was no different and so I bought a book of easy cello Christmas songs. Sight reading, felt natural, only a few things to really tweak.

Every time I sat down to practice it felt better and better. And then this week I decided I had to practice the dreaded vibrato. Ugh. First off, no beginning cellist or stand up bass player likes vibrato. Our strings are heavy and something about moving your elbow up and down while simultaneously stabilizing I have worked on this so much, my normally patient teacher wanting to pull his hair out. I could not get it. I would peruse youtube videos, pester my teacher for more training tips, do bizarre air exercises, drink a glass or two of wine to relax. Nothing, nada, zip. Until this week. I picked it up to try and then immediately I got it. "Fluke," I think as I try the other fingers. It sounded okay... on all of them. I still thought it was a fluke but then it kept happening again and again.

I am now convinced that I have a little intervention from my Sheltie angel. She probably met Pablo Casals and decided that I needed to improve drastically if she was going to have to listen to me from Heaven. But I am enjoying myself again and more so I am finding purpose. I want to be a good enough player that I can join a quartet and play Christmas music at rest homes. Little by little I play my cello, clear my head, and find purpose and meaning again. Thank you, little Sheltie Angel!