Hello Ruby

Last night, lying in bed

Car rental expires in a few days
Used?  New?
Lease?
Will I be driving fifteen years from now?
Honda?  Toyota?
Red?
Doesn’t matter

***

This morning, lying in bed

RED!
Has to be red
Red is my favourite colour
Go home
… Ruby …

***

I’ve named every car I’ve owned.  At 7:00 am today, I did it again, and I didn’t even own anything.  “Her name is Ruby.  And she’s a Honda.”

Since 1988, Jody and I had bought Hondas.  When we moved to London in 1990, we fell into the arms of Westgate Honda.  Our mechanic Roy was a marvel. In 2012, we bought a second car – Scarlet, who happens to be a Toyota Corolla.  The Toyota dealership has treated me fine but lying under the covers this morning I knew it was time to go home.

I met with a Westgate salesman today – Tim.  He told me that Roy was still chugging along in the back, in his 38th year of service.  But he wasn’t in today.  No worries, Roy.  We’ll have a reunion soon.

My choices were a new Honda Civic LX or a 2017 Civic EX, both fire-engine red.  My mind roamed and rambled about 47,000 kilometres, new car depreciation, the relative drains on my pocketbook and cool EX features, but my main message to Tim was … red!  I’m such a discriminating consumer.

Part of me knew even before I laid eyes on the 2017 model: she was mine.  I was hers.  We walked out the door for a test drive and I was stopped by the Civic shape.  I simply wasn’t used to it.  Ten seconds later, as I took in her beauty, the words came easily … “Hello, Ruby.”  I do believe my new friend smiled in return.

Now inside the black interior, with Tim showing me this and that.

Now flowing down the street with a passenger view, hearing about more features.

And now behind the wheel, pulling out into Riverside Drive traffic.  So smooth.  So comfy.  So in sync with me.  Half a kilometre later, the words spilled out: “You have a sale.”

I take possession Wednesday or Thursday as a friendship emerges.  “Ruby, we’re going places together.”

Tomorrow, in the spirit of new love, I’ll drive into London, park at Westgate, and mosey up to Ruby in the parking lot.  It seems like a profoundly rational thing to do.

Ahh … beginnings

 

This Old Guitar

I made a promise to you folks two days ago that I would play my guitar yesterday … and I did.  It had been so many years and I didn’t even know if I could remember how to tune it.

I smiled as I pulled out the guitar case from its shelf and undid the clasps.  Am I really beginning again?  Apparently so.  There sat my friend with its strap laid tenderly over the strings.

In my hands now, the instrument felt right.  “Welcome home,” it seemed to say.  I resurrected memories of group guitar lessons in Ottawa in 1971 or so.  And there I was last night, tuning.

Use the pitch pipe to get the right sound for the low E string.  Place your left index finger in front of the fifth fret on the next string – the A.  Play the two strings, one after the other.  The two notes should sound identical.  If they’re slightly off, you should feel a vibration in tone.  If they’re right on, no vibration.  Wow, it’s actually coming back!

Continue the process on the next strings.  Strum them all with your flat pick.  Be extremely happy when the sound is wonderful.  Yes!  Except for the fact that I couldn’t put much pressure on the strings with my fingertips, and that adds up to a buzzing.

Okay, so some of my chords were a buzz.  The cool thing is that my fingers remembered where to go … C, F, G, D, Am, Bm, Dm and Em.  Four major chords and four minor ones – I can play a lot of songs with just those beauties!

I used to bemoan that I didn’t know how to fingerpick, and that I couldn’t move my left fingers out of the chord shape to hit individual notes.  Would I like to do these things?  Sure.  A guitar teacher could help me.  But sitting here right now, it doesn’t feel important.  All right.  Then what is important?

1.  I want to sing beautiful songs, ones that tell a story about life

2.  I want other people to hear me sing them

3.  I want other people to be touched by the stories, and to sense how they apply to their lives

I can do this.  First, I need to create some calluses on my fingertips, so I can play for longer than five minutes.  I have to learn some songs – know the chords, memorize the words.  And I have to convince someone to listen to me.  I can do this.

I started singing and playing last night … “Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound”.  I loved my voice and I loved hearing the guitar filling in the tones.  Was it performance ready?  Not at all.  But, to use a martial arts term, I had put myself on the mat.  The guitar was on my lap.  The words came out of my mouth.  The chords moved with the words.  Happiness.

I thought of John Denver, one of my favourite songwriters.  He loved playing too:

This old guitar taught me to sing a love song
It showed me how to laugh and how to cry
It introduced me to some friends of mine
And brightened up some days
It helped me make it through some lonely nights
Oh, what a friend to have on a cold and lonely night

New friends are coming my way.