A day off for the first time in a few weeks. The frenetic pace of Advent/Christmas in a new parish, trying to get up to speed on all sorts of things, has slackened somewhat. My wife had an agenda list of things to do today, most of which got accomplished.
She thought I might enjoy a trip to an acoustic music place. The intent was helpful and I brought along my hammered dulcimer for an assessment and some advice. The instrument has pestered me with a cracked soundboard almost since I had it built more than three decades ago. It can go noticeably out of tune from the beginning of Mass to the end. The surprising question dropped on me today: had I ever thought of having the soundboard rebuilt? The instrument has no value otherwise. That’s not a surprise–I would never buy a piano with such an injury. In 1988, the builder threw up his hands and said there was nothing he could do with the instrument I had commissioned for $800. Maybe I should have insisted he rebuild the dulcimer; if only I had known.
I was pensive and sad on the long drive back to our neighborhood. I’m not particularly in the instrument-as-investment mindset. My wife reminded me that many people appreciate the dulcimer as part of the ensemble of play in our last few parishes. I don’t detect a blemish on the sound production otherwise. A few years ago when a friend offered to sell me her dulcimer, I conducted blind testing with parishioners to compare. My flawed instrument won hands down.
Around sunset, my wife and I went our separate ways for some gift card-cashing. I went to a shoe store and found two staff people there extremely helpful. Happy with my advice and purchase, I texted my wife in a better mood. The clear dark blue skies might have helped also.
Alas, her shopping experience was less edifying. I know she finds the snootiness of tech people annoying. (Though not as much as I find it when I hear about it.) The ride home was more silent. (She was also upset about the diagnosis of my instrument.)
Me, I appreciate honesty. Even when the news is unwelcome. I also like to get good advice when I ask for it. Less helpful are suggestions for substitution that simply won’t fit the bill. Or the advice to just live with it.