The Ballad of Rosie and Me

Once upon a time, a girl desired a lute.

She couldn’t remember what exactly had placed this longing within her heart or when. She assumed her minstrel characters were at least in part to blame, since their own skill on the lute was nothing short of legendary on multiple plains of reality. High goodness knew she would have given much to be one of them when she grew up. (Whenever that happened. Keep in mind, this girl was already in her twenties.)

For years, the girl told herself she would reward herself with the purchase of a lute just as soon as she published her younger minstrel’s book. She had even begun setting some money aside into a lute fund for that sunshiny day down the road. But then, one day, and almost of the blue, it sank home: Life is short. Seize the day. There was no good reason at all that she shouldn’t buy her lute now. So that is precisely what the girl did.

And that girl… *solemn nods* …was me.

Me and my Lute, black and white triptych

And this is my lovely new 8-courser, Rosie, here all the way from the Amazon (…dot com). I about lost my mind with excitement when she arrived. The smell of her still thrills me every time I take her out to play – and that soft, full-body reverberation when the clasps on her case snap open. Tuning her is a delicate, time-consuming exercise; she loves to go flat every time I turn my back, silly girl. Ah, but then the music we make together.

Me and my Lute 08

Because most of the songs I want to play upon her are my minstrels’ compositions – and therefore, not to be found in any lute songbooks around here – I’m having to teach myself to play them by ear. And I thought trying to play piano by ear was rough going! But if I weren’t the tenacious sort, most of you reading this right now wouldn’t even know I exist, so I keep at it, more or less patiently struggling to get it right. For the first while, I made a point of practicing every day.

Then the high G string broke.

Along with my heart.

Rosie was in her case at the time. I was minding my business across the room when I heard the twang. With trepidation, I checked to see what may have caused the sound, and alas! Agony! Woe!

A blue day for me and my baby.
A blue day for me and my baby.

To my surprise (I guess this whole “getting it” thing, with him, is more than a one-time fluke?), it was Gant-o’-the-Lute who proved the greatest comfort in my throes of grief, assuring me that a snapped string was no great tragedy. “A broken string is not a broken lute,” said he, his gentle (and technically imaginary) touch upon my back a balm to my distress and disillusionment. “Take heart. It happens to the best of us. Which I would know, being the best of us.”

Thanks, minstrel mentor.
Thanks, minstrel mentor.

Of secondary comfort was the fact that I could still play most of my self-taught songs on the remaining strings. And on the side of silver linings, I got to come out of this episode feeling like a boss when I restrung the high G myself (once my Amazon order of replacements strings arrived).

So all’s well that ends well. At last I know the joy of joining in sweet union with the instrument of my heart – much like a young Jackillen Gant in “The Sky-Child”. And for those of you eager for a chance to hear what Rosie and I sound like together, I’ve recorded a video of us performing a Gant-o’-the-Lute original – “On Adventure” (as featured in “The Song Caster”). Click the pic below to view the vid on my “Ballad of Allyn-a-Dale” Facebook page. I hope you enjoy my minstrel debut. ^_^

On Adventure Vid

Easy as German

In preparation for my eventual move to Germany (yes, that’s happening), I’m making an effort to learn the local language – resource of choice thus far,

It’s been a fun challenge. Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache*, but es ist noch kein Meister von Himmel gefallen**, and all that.

*An expression I’m told means “German is hard”.

** Literally, I think it means something about how we don’t fall from heaven already having mastered everything; figuratively, “Practice makes perfect.”

“Eine Zeitung” = a newspaper
“Eine Zeitung” = a newspaper

I’ve noticed something, though. When I first started my Duolingo lessons, I didn’t have much trouble getting everything right. “Hooray!” cheered Early Me. “Das ist einfach!” [“This is easy!”] But as the weeks went on, with me diligently plugging along every day, making langsam [slow] but steady progress, I seemed to be making bothersome little mistakes more often, and having trouble remembering all the words I learned.

“Doggone it!” Later Me gnashes her teeth. “Whatever happened to the saying about the Himmel Meister? C’mon, Danielle – make perfect!”

But it makes sense, really. The more you know, the more there is to forget. And the further along you get in a learning venture, the higher your expectations for yourself, meaning it takes less and less to make you feel like you’re dropping the ball.

Or is that just me?

“Du bist normal” = You are normal. “Sie sind schlecht” = They are bad.
“Du bist normal” = You are normal. “Sie sind schlecht” = They are bad.

It’s certainly not just me and German. It applies to writing, too.

In my early authorial years – age 5 through 18 or so – writing was a breeze. The words flowed easily almost without fail. The characters’ dialogue practically wrote itself. The plots just happened, no weeks or months of brain-racking preparation required. And revision? Who needed that? These books came out practically ready to sell themselves!

Haaaaaa-hahahahahahaaaaaaaa… *sniffs* *wipes eyes* Ouch, my sides …

“Wir sind schön und wichtig!” [“We are beautiful and important!”] he informs you. “Also, Ich habe Hunger. Hey, Danielle, I know we’ve had one, but what about second Frühstück?”
“Wir sind schön und wichtig!” [“We are beautiful and important!”] he informs you. “Also, Ich habe Hunger. Hey, Danielle, I know we’ve had one, but what about second Frühstück?”
Writing used to be easy because, unbeknownst to me, I was writing glorious, golden garbage. Another third of my life later, I now have a better idea of all the ways I can craft a story wrong. And that makes writing much, much harder.

Nevertheless, there is something else learning German and continuing to learn how to write have in common: I’m in it for the long haul!

#Schreibe [#amwriting]