Tuesday, October 13 2020

raking leaves, feeling busy, and drum lessons

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, readers. Thanks for stopping by this morning. Hope your week is going well so far. By the end of this post, if all goes according to plan, I'll pass up a half million words written on this website. I think I should put a banner on the front page that says over a half million words served, kind of like what McDonald's does.

It's a numeric milestone, sure. But today just feels like a regular day. The sun is slowly coming out. Our garbage cans wait patiently on the curb of a street littered with bright orange leaves. It's the time of the year where all the old oak trees explode with color, and only the most diligent of our neighbors bother with raking it up.

Last weekend, we noticed a woman standing in the street in front of our house raking leaves. Marissa leaned out the door to introduce herself, but really she just wanted to figure out what she was up to. The woman hurriedly plucked out her earbuds and stopped what she was doing. She and Marissa chatted for a few minutes before she came back inside.

"So what was that about?" I asked.

"She says she lives on the street, and she likes to rake the leaves for exercise," said Marissa. "I think she was kind of embarrassed, but I told her it was fine."

"Yeah, I don't see the problem with that," I replied. "And it's not like she's standing in the middle of our front yard."

"I've actually heard of some people that do that," said Marissa. "They go around the neighborhood and rake the leaves out of the street to keep them away from the run-off. I think it's supposed to be better for the lakes or something."

It's a regular morning right in the middle of a regular week. Today I'm sporting a nasty burn on my finger. I made rice pilaf last night, and after baking it in my Dutch oven, I absent-mindedly grabbed the hot lid without a towel. Standing over the stove, I threw a silent temper tantrum, shewing Marissa and Rodney out of the kitchen. It's probably only the thirtieth time I've burned my hand that way, but each time it feels like the first. No blister yet - just a tough little greyish pad on my finger.

Sip. How was your day yesterday? Our Monday was full and demanding. After making a killing this past weekend at her virtual art show, Marissa has a lot of paintings to send out this week. Marissa and Rodney cleaned the living room. We had to catch up on laundry. We had to put in a order for new groceries and stow away some meat in the fridge to marinate over night. We had to plan projects for the week. Days like yesterday make me wonder how we're going to fare after quarantine when, on top of everything,we're also expected to go places.

"Do you even remember what that felt like?" asked Marissa. "When we'd have get in the car and drive to things that we didn't want to do?"

"See, that makes me worried," I said. "I remember doing it, but I don't remember what it felt like."

I got so caught up with everything around the house that I almost forgot about Rodney's music class. Marissa reminded me just before dinner.

"Are we going to play piano?" asked Rodney, fidgeting with his fingers.

"I had a different idea for today," I said. "We're going to try drums."

After dinner, Rodney followed me up to our room where I grabbed two pairs of drumsticks, stopping for a minute to scan our bookshelf.

"I think this guy will work," I muttered, sliding my old physics text book off the shelf.

Rodney and I sat facing each other on our ottoman with the book between us. I handed him a pair of drumsticks. Rodney instinctively knew what to do, and for the first few minutes of practice, I let him wildy beat the top of the text book.

"We're just gonna get the wiggles out for a few minutes," I said, nearly shouting over the noise. I joined him with my own drum roll at the other end of the book.

"OK OK OK..." I said grabbing at his sticks. "Now we're going to try to do this the right way. Let's start by holding the stick."

I showed Rodney how to properly hold a drumstick - choked up about a third of the way up, pinching tightly between the thumb and the finger with the other fingers loosely curled around.

"And there's another thing about playing the drums," I said. "It's all in the wrist. Watch this."

I grabbed Rodney's arm tightly and held it over the book. "Now play."

Rodney struggled to swing the stick. I felt him shift his weight against mine, trying to bring my arm down to the book.

"Use your wrist," I reminded him, taking his hand and flapping the stick. He continued the motion, rapping the stick against the book.

"There you go, dude," I commended. "Now just do a march. Go left, right, left, right."

"Rodney marched from left to right, keeping cadence for a few seconds before his energy got the best of him. He speeded up the tempo, and before long he was back to wildly swinging his arms.

"Let's do something fun," I said. "We're going to do a flam. That's when one stick hits the drum just a little before the other."

I demonstrated, and Rodney copied. We covered some other basics, then left the rest of the lesson for a final jam session, which turned into a drum battle, which turned into an ill advised double sword fight.

I forgot about how much I enjoyed playing drums. I used to stand in front of a mirror with a practice pad and rehearse for hours, perfecting rolls, rimshots, and other goofy tricks. It's fun being able to make those kinds of sounds, and I'm glad that I still know how to do some of that.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you have a wonderful Tuesday.