waiting for banjo man

Banjo Man is arriving at 11 tonight, so because the Big City is one  hundred miles from the lake, a trip of this magnitude is never to be wasted by driving directly to the airport.

But first I stopped at the Peach Man to find out if the Alberta’s had arrived (they hadn’t).  Then on to Coeur d’Alene to Kohl’s and Ulta and then to Best Buy, hoping to find a cord that would make my GPS work.

I’d counted on the GPS working in order to find the violin shop I’d located via the internet.  Violin Works was in the Big City (aka Spokane) and I know nothing about anything in Spokane.

The car charger didn’t work–I still don’t know why–so I had to find the shop the old-fashioned way, by studying the directions I’d scribbled from mapquest.  Stressful.

But worth it.  I’d chosen this shop because it was small and owner-operated.  The luthier would most likely be patient with someone who needed to try out several bows before purchasing one.  I wanted to talk about strings.  And rosin.  And cases.  I wanted to be in a quiet little store so I could take my time and listen and not feel rushed into buying something that didn’t feel or sound right.

Anything associated with violins is a purchase that cannot be rushed.  Sound is everything, and it takes time to decide what strings, bow, etc. makes the best sound.

I love this about violins.

Anyway, the shop was perfect and its owner an experienced and kind man who immediately suggested another brand of steel strings and set out to install them, along with adjusting the sound post and pondering the bridge set up.

But first he disappeared for a moment and then returned to casually hand me a violin and a bow.  “Try that,” he said, and went over to his work bench to ponder my fiddle and replace the strings.

The violin he handed me had a huge sound, big and round and vibrant.  I looked to see what it was, and the luthier told me the name of the maker and said how old it was.  He told me he let customers play it to give them something to do while he fixed their violins.

Later I would find out that it cost as much as a new, loaded Subaru Outback.

Oh, my.

With new strings and an adjusted sound post, my own violin sounded wonderful.  It was time for a new bow.

A case of bows was brought out and set on the counter.  Each one was tried and tried again and set aside or replaced in the box.  I narrowed it down to two and bought the least expensive one, because there was no difference.  It turned out they were both made in the same workshop.

Then another box was brought out, “just for fun”, he said.  These bows cost more than some of Banjo Man’s used cars.  One I loved, and thought it was shorter (which was lovely) and sure enough, when we measured it was 3/8″ shorter than the others.  The sound and balance were remarkable.

Sadly, I didn’t buy it.  Wisely, I didn’t buy it.  Banjo Man would have had a breakdown.  Which would not have been a pretty sight, believe me.   Such a revelation would surely have spoiled my romantic reunion plans for the weekend.

I bought a new case, which I needed and didn’t want to order on-line, because supporting small music shops is IMPORTANT.   That was exciting, too.  We discussed rosin; the luthier made me a gift of some French rosin that is sure to be excellent.  He showed me his collection of vintage rosin holders.  Very cool.

Then it was time to head to the airport and find the hotel.  This time I had no directions written down, so I went to a McDonalds and looked it up on my computer.  Hurray for free WiFi.

I still got lost.

After having breakfast-for-dinner at Denny’s, conveniently located across the parking lot from the hotel, and having practiced (quietly) my violin, I am now waiting for Banjo Man.

I am going to make him go kayaking with me tomorrow.  And then we are going to drink wine on the dock and watch the sunset.  Banjo Man needs a little vacation.

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