Saturday, July 30, 2011

guitar love

Every once in a while, it feels good to fail. To be fully and completely "uncool." That's how I feel about learning to play guitar. It is always something I wanted to do but never really jumped on.

A few weeks ago my husband and I went to a large music store. He has played acoustic guitar forever and was looking into electric guitars. For some reason we stumbled into the acoustic guitar section- a separate wood paneled room. Inside we spoke in hushed tones and admired the honeyed hues of solid spruce tops and warm toned rosewood necks. It actually kinda smelled like a forest; pine and must.
My husband pulled a guitar off the wall and showed me how to play a G chord. I sat on a low wooden bench strumming my fingers and listening to the strings hum. We exchanged a few sentences about how maybe now was time for me to learn guitar. I have heard different guitar players (friends) talk about the process of picking a guitar and they describe it almost like falling in love: how the guitar really picks you and some connection that is made. My husband had handed me a couple of different guitars to play and I wasn't really sure what I was looking for but about 3 guitars in, it all changed for me. Literally, the second I dragged my fingers across the strings of a spruce topped Fender, my eyes welled up with tears. The hit of emotion shocked me. The tone of this guitar was somehow different. It seemed so full and round and sunny. I honestly did not really know what to think about stumbling into love with a guitar, but I knew I needed to pay attention.

The guitar came home with me. My husband saw the love all over me and graciously assented to making the days purchase about me and this new discovery. Once home, we sat down and he taught me a few more chords.

Here's the interesting thing: I am just awful at it. Sincerely, my fingers are clunky switching between chords and I, who always prided myself on musicality, cannot keep a beat with the strum to save my life. I love it. I love the solitude of it when I spend 15 minutes in the morning before work stumbling through Coldplays "Fix You" and I love it when my husband gets out his guitar, teaches me a chord progression, and we jam away. By jam, of course I mean he sounds great and I skip every second chord just to make to every third. But still, it is so much fun. It feels good to love a thing for love and not as a measure of my talent or skill. (Also, I mentioned to someone at work that I had learned to play "Fix You" and they said that was the first song their daughter learned to play on the guitar. Is that like a thing? Like, the first song everyone learns on the guitar is "Fix You"?)

I realized that for all I know about myself, I still can be surprised by the way in which something can capture me.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

oversized chalkboard

I love home decor that plays with scale and size. When my husband and I were house hunting, one of the features of our town home that I fell in love with are the large walls and vaulted ceilings. The actual footprint of the rooms are not enormous, but the high ceilings provide, as Anne would say, "scope for imagination".

I have seen oversized bulletin boards and chalkboards in magazines and always admired them. They are that perfect marriage of functionality and style. When we moved into our home I promised myself that I would not be overwhelmed with the pressure to furnish and decorate all the rooms at once. I wanted to be able to live in the rooms a bit, see how the light moved through them.

Recently, I felt ready to tackle dining room. There is a doorway from the dining room into the kitchen. It is a narrow space and I knew that whatever would go on that wall would need to be non-obtrusive. My husband helped me pick up a 4ft by 8ft piece of plywood from Lowe's. It laid on my dining room table for a week as we took turns first putting down two coats of wall paint and then later 4 coats of chalkboard paint. I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out!

We talked about building a border or frame around it by using crown molding or trim pieces. In the end, I opted against it because I did not want it to extend in the walking space at all. I put two widths of painters tape around the edge of the plywood and after the paint dried, it left a very sharp edge.

To help keep the minimalist look, my husband attached it to the wall with screws through the dark chalkboard painted corners. He then went back over and dabbed chalkboard paint directly on the screws so they really blend in. I am grateful he has the patience to get the details right. I get too excited at the end of projects and just want to finish them, then later regret not taking the time to polish things up properly.

This week I had dear friends over for dinner and it was fun to write out the menu in large font on the board. I anticipate also using it for favorite quotes, grocery lists, and messages to my love.