01 July 2008

Garden Bloggers Muse Day...of other muses

A little different post for this Garden Bloggers Muse Day, brought to us by the ever-talented and muse-inspired Carolyn of Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.

Let's see...who is responsible for this current unbearable lightness of being in my mind? Erato? Terpsichore? Polyhymnia? I'm not sure, though I have a theory which Muse has woken me up.

A long time ago, one of my cousins gave me an old guitar. I taught myself to play it. Not well, but adequate enough for college dorm parties, Scouting fireside singalongs, the occasional solo in church and so on. I bought myself a Yamaha guitar and passed the old one along to someone else who still has it as far as I know. I'm lefthanded, but I learned righthanded like most people. I dragged my Yamaha acoustic all over the place, through myriad moves, to many changes in my life, and always managed to find time to play it a little most days.

Then life got way, way way busy, and different. The guitar sat in my closet, ignored and unplayed. For weeks or months on end. Seven years ago, when I sold the car I had at the time to a young couple down the road, I gave the young woman my guitar, as she was learning to play and I just knew it was the right thing to do. I don't know if she still has it or not, but I'm sure if she doesn't, she's passed the old fellow along too.

A couple of months ago, I started feeling like I needed a challenge, something that would pull me out of the routine of work, work, work, work. The garden gives me tremendous pleasure, of course, but its sometimes a 'to-do' as opposed to a pleasure, and I feel guilty when I don't have an hour or two to spend in it. Guilt is not good. Guilt stifles creativity. Yoga has become a great pleasure, and something I can do for only a few moments if that's all I have for time. But it still wasn't exactly what I wanted.

Then it came to me, like a crashing crescendo. I wanted to start playing guitar again. Just for me. Just in this office, or out in the back yard. And take lessons. Call it an exercise in right-brain stimulation. Call it something that doesn't need a reason other than I want to do it.

Meet my new friend, Skittles. (I believe in naming guitars. They've got their own personalities, after all.) A Seagull S6 acoustic, made in Quebec. He sang to me in the music store on my third trip in to reconnoiter the possibility of buying a guitar after all these years. Well, to be precise, I had narrowed down the choice to two: a mid-range and decent Epiphone, and this guitar. I turned my back on them and asked the salesman to play exactly the same thing on both guitars, and not tell me which was which. He did, and I said, "The first one." And he told me I had good ears.

I took it home and played Cowboy Junkies Misguided Angel (one of the best. songs. ever.) for the first time in years. Then for good measure I learned to play Collective Soul's The World I Know that afternoon. Some of you will know exactly why that was the first song I had to learn. Followed by U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. I'll pass on trying Within Temptation's Ice Queen, much as I love it, though.

What I didn't have was good callouses. Or long fingers. The callouses are coming, and I WILL learn a few bar chords this time no matter what. I start taking lessons next week. This is a pure self-indulgent thing to do, because like I said, this is just for me and to give my brain something else to think about. You can practice a guitar for ten or fifteen minutes at a time at any time of day or night and not feel guilty.

And sitting out in the garden, surrounded by the scent of roses and the hum of bees, practicing guitar? It's good for all aspects of this gardener's soul.


  1. Jodi - this is awesome! I'm so excited about your new guitar! My dad plays and I think he is disappointed in me because I was more concerned about my fingernails than playing guitar (I'm assuming your nails are GONE by now).

    Good luck and thanks for sharing your story with us.

  2. Good for you, Jodi! I'm glad that you're taking the time to do something enjoyable just for you. I'm sure that along the way others will be able to enjoy your music too.

  3. I was excited to see the Seagull name on your guitar. When my husband decided to take lessons, a very wise salesman here pointed him in that direction. I am buy no means an expert, but the Seagulls seem to have a very rich tone that many instruments in the price range we were looking at lack. I can't imagine a more perfect spot to practice than in the garden.


  4. I enjoyed your story Jodi. I was just thinking the other day I should get Emmy out and play with her. She does get lonesome between playings. I am just a strummer and I have never been able to play bar chords. Oh well. It is the escape of playing that is so refreshing. Sort of like getting into a painting. You forget all else.

  5. I understand that tug, jodi. I felt much the same thing when I wanted to learn to play the harp. I can't play it now, sadly, but I'm glad that I did it. You go, girlfriend!

  6. Oh how I enjoy reading your blog. This is so special today as I though have been on the music committee at my church now for starting the 9th year, I hadn't sung a solo in almost 7 years. I do a lot of other things but singing I had stopped doing, but when I could not find anyone to sing this upcoming Sabbath morn' I decided to sing again. I wanted to for a long time, but being on O2 and allergies, I many times didn't feel that I could do it, w/o problems. So, as you play and relearn your guitar, think of me as I practice and start singing again.
    Blessings aplenty and more to you. Love the cats,

  7. I took guitar lessons one summer. I quit because of the calluses. I hope the guitar playing revs up your creativity. I've not been playing the piano in a while. I should get the fingers going again. Thanks for this reminder of the importance of music to the creative spirit.

  8. I love the idea of sitting strumming in the garden. I sing in mine :)

  9. It is so alright to do for ourselves once in a while. As you say, it can renew our spirit. Good for you. Have fun learning.

  10. I can't wait for that embedded podcast of the garden with the sounds of music in the garden from 'Skittles' and your talented fingers!

  11. Good for you, Jodi--playing music is one of the best ways to soothe your soul.
    My children gave me a guitar for my birthday some years ago, and I finally took a few lessons one year at the local Adult Ed. I finally developed some callouses by the time the session ended. I've forgotten all the chords now, but I'm determined, too, to take lessons this fall.
    Keep it up!

  12. I love the fact that your guitar is made in Canada! :) Great muse day post -- love that right brain stimulation. I'm sure you'll have hours of enjoyment with Skittles. (My ex had had a name for his Guild guitar but it escapes me now -- younger daughter has one too...I think it was Damn Thing. :)

  13. How nice Jodi that you've decided to take up playing the guitar again. I'm looking forward to YouTube vids of you singing and playing, just like Annie (The Transplantable Rose) does on her piano. ;-) Just kidding, but I do hope you'll get a great kick out of playing your guitar in the garden or somewhere else.

    BTW Ice Queen on an acoustic guitar? That's so not going to happen, is it? ;-)

  14. Wonderful post for GBMD, Jodi. So glad to hear that you enjoy playing guitar. I've always wanted to learn. Some day , I hope.

  15. I am impressed with your determination, and know full well that music and gardening go hand in hand. I'm looking forward to future posts about this. Who knows, I might drag out the old Yamaha and give it a go myself.

  16. Good for you, Jodi! I have one of Godin'd Norman acoustics, as well as the first Godin acoustic guitar. Playing is one of the great pleasures (once you get your calluses back). Go for it!!!!


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