I’ve a piano in my house. (I may have mentioned this previously)
Heintzman & Co. Built in 1928. For the last fifteen years it lived in my moms house, prior to that it spent its entire life in my grandmothers living room.
My nephew Eli was next in line for this piano – but at twenty two years old, he has nowhere for it to live at the moment. Pianos don’t like to be moved – and nobody likes to move pianos – mention you need help moving one and people tend to flee like rats off a sinking ship. It was decided then, that Bruce and I would move it to our house – on the premise that it will live here until I’m gone; for one thing, I’ll be damned if I’m moving it again – and for another – I literally had to throw out a desk and an old recliner to make it fit in my wee house.
We ‘think’ it weighs between six and eight hundred pounds. Doctor Google says so – that and the fact that Bruce and I, familiar with moving bloody heavy things – discovered on the first ‘I’ll lift this end while you shove the skid underneath’ – nothing happened. We both stood there dumbfounded, more than slightly alarmed as we had a two hour window to get this thing out the door, down a hundred plus feet of sidewalk with steps, around a corner, down more steps and into our stock trailer. The time limit was due to the fact that we then had to get to moms storage and load all of that stuff around the piano, before the storage closed for the night – then turn around for the nine plus hour trip back home.
I stood outside the door for a few minutes hoping for a random stranger I could maybe snag for help – it was like the whole complex knew it was piano moving day – there were no random strangers to be had.
Plan B. Tilt instead of lift and try not to let it fall over. Onto the skid. Out the door. Pull, shove, slide, huff puff and swear, repeat until we’re down to the road. Back truck in and jackknife stock trailer up to piano – block the road. One would think blocking the road would produce some random stranger type help – but no, all random strangers were content to sit in their Beemer/Lexus/Acura’s staring at their cell phones while pretending the road was not blocked with piano moving farmers who by now were completely out of ‘oomph’ and almost out of good swear words.
Turns out shoving a piano ‘down’ steps is easier than lifting a piano ‘up’ into a stock trailer. Defeat was staring us in the face – I actually considered leaving the thing where it stood – wondered how many days it would take for some irritated resident to phone strata and lodge a complaint of an abandoned piano, and how many more days the ‘who’s going to pay to move the abandoned piano’ bickering would go on at the next strata council meeting.
Finally – two young women who decided they might need to get their car out before we got the piano loaded, offered to help. Bruce managed to lift it one more time and the three of us managed to shove it into the trailer. Bruce ratchet strapped it to the divider panel and we were off to the storage unit to load before closing.
We had intended for this to be a twenty four hour round trip, allowing for icy snow covered roads and some serious pea soup fog on the way back, two short naps on the side of the road when we could actually see to pull over, one short slide away when Bruce – sound asleep – managed to move his legs and accidentally knock the gear shift into neutral, and one stop for truly awful fast food (cringe) – we made it home ten minutes past our goal.
The piano got to live in the stock trailer for another three days – while we decided where exactly it was going to fit, and exactly how much ‘help’ we might need to get it into the house. Turns out the dead of winter snow/ice situation worked in our favour – we mostly ‘skated’ the thing right into its new home.
We have wood heat and next to no humidity in the house – my moms house was a stones throw from the ocean – I opened the thing up and started stuffing towels into the innards to soak up the glut of moisture that seemed to be leaching out of the workings. I randomly plunked a few keys on occasion and waited ….. and waited….until sure enough a month or so later it was horribly out of tune. Called a piano tuner guy – turned out to be a young fellow in is twenties who had the thing apart in a heartbeat and spent a solid three hours tweaking it back to life, then sitting down to play something fabulous before making me a re-tune appointment in July.
So the piano sits. I avoid it – but I’m not sure why. I haven’t touched a piano since I was probably eight years old…..I was the typical recalcitrant child that tried everything and anything to get out of piano lessons. I have long since forgotten (or perhaps blocked out) how to read music. There are members of my family that are/were natural musicians – I am not one of them. I fall somewhere in the if I practice and practice and practice I could play piano group. On a random day I decide to fish through all of my moms sheet music. Nope. Might as well be written in Greek. On another random day I download ‘piano for beginners’ onto my kindle and give that a whirl. Ah. Now I remember – it was the tedium of scales and endless repetition of ‘Yankee Doodle’ that had me longing to be anywhere but sitting at a piano.
I let the piano sit some more. There are more important things to do than fool around trying to play the piano – aren’t there?
It takes another month of doing all of the other things I need to do – to realize what I’m up to – I am avoiding the piano because I am still in the habit of thinking that’s if it’s not important to the household, or the farm, or the job…..then it’s not important at all.
I remind myself ‘I am in charge of my life now’.
I drive into town and grab a big fat book of piano classics and find on page 42 a piece I am familiar with by ear – one that’s full of sharps, double sharps, flats, naturals and every other goofy symbol I don’t recognize – and once home park my arse at the kitchen table and set about teaching myself to read music.
Progress? Reasonable. I can play the entire piece and only slightly butcher it. Am I going to become an accomplished pianist? Hardly. But that’s not the point – the point is, I’m learning to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time – and I’m not feeling guilty about it. That’s a good place to be for me. 😊