20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers

The Cello and Me

Ah, retirement had come, so I could pursue something that was on my bucket list: Learn to play the cello. I can’t exactly say what attracted me to the cello. I am a pianist, and I love music, but it would have been more in character for me to want to learn the oboe, the flute, or pursue another type of percussion instrument. But no, the cello rose to the top of the list.

I found myself a teacher. She was the director of a music school, the maestro of a chamber music group, and came well-recommended. In addition, she was located close to my home. What could be better?

I called and made arrangements for my first lesson. I was able to rent a cello and I was ready. With anticipation I went to that lesson…and the next, the next, and the next. First of all, I hadn’t quite planned on such a large instrument. It overwhelmed me. Getting it in and out of its case and placing the bow inside that case perfectly was a challenge in itself.

Well, now to the lessons. First I had to learn how to place my fingers on the bow so as to draw it correctly across the strings. Oh my. This took more practice than I had counted on. I soldiered on.

The time came to learn where to place the fingers of my left hand. All of a sudden I thought of the two cellists I knew…and famous cellists. How in the world did they know exactly where to put their fingers, much less create the vibrato that is heard so commonly on the cello? I was becoming extremely perplexed…but not frustrated. And then, seeing that I was having trouble, my teacher said she was going to put bits of tape down to help me learn where to put my fingers.

Hmmm….Is this what she did with her child students? I would do whatever it took. Or would I? I had figured that since I could play piano and read music, learning cello might not be too difficult. WRONG!

I gave it a good try, and thought that I wouldn’t continue because 1) I wouldn’t be playing in an orchestra, 2) I wasn’t about to buy myself a cello, and 3) I wasn’t making much progress.

Now you might say I was a quitter. Believe me, I gave that a lot of thought before I threw in the towel. Had I been younger, I’m pretty sure I would have stayed with it. I realized that it wasn’t practical for me, and just because I liked cello music didn’t necessarily mean I would be able to recreate it.

I don’t feel bad about my not continuing my short-lived cello experience. I was, after all, a pianist and a piano teacher, and received a great deal of satisfaction from that. I have a 108 year-old baby grand piano, and it is my prized possession. Did I really need (or want) to be a mediocre cellist? I decided to focus on piano instead and enjoy it. I am glad I tried something I had always wanted to do. How else would I have found out whether it was right for me?


Today my words have gone to hide again,
but I insist on writing every day.
I’ll stay, however, in the discipline

of trying all the time so I can say
in poetry what means a lot to me.
I won’t give up on this, no, I will stay.

The Door (In Answer to Challenge of the Same Name)

As if a monster came and slammed the door
and interrupt the calm I’d known before,
it slid right in to do its nasty chore.

Before my consciousness went dark I heard
the door click. In my brain now nothing stirred.
I fought against the thief who stole each word

but lost the battle. Gone awareness, gone
to nether places where there was no dawn.
The monster flexed its muscle, showed its brawn.

Then three days later I could see the light.
The monster lost its power and strength and might.
A little daytime now replaced the night.

I speak of seizure as a monster thing
because it wraps around me, tightened string
that holds me in its grip like some tough sling.


Since winter is now turning into spring I am reminded that we are opening our doors to welcome the new warm season. So I propose a challenge with the title “Doors.” Write a piece about a real, imagined, or metaphoric door.

A Father’s Advice

“Read poems others wrote,” my father said,
“and let their words come close, wash over you.
You’ll find that they’ll become your daily bread.”

And so I looked at Frost’s and Wordsworth’s spread,
ingredients upon which I could chew.
“Read poems others wrote,” my father said.

Advice he gave me, like a thoroughbred
approaching finish line, helped me know who
would be poetic friends, become my bread.

Then cancer moved in, stayed beside his bed.
He told me still, though daily he withdrew,
“Read poems others wrote.” My father said,

“Immerse yourself in Shakespeare, Sandburg. Sled
through all the masterpieces, see the view.
You’ll find that they’ll become your daily bread.

Through cancer I still give the go-ahead.
Please, honey, write your words each day, pursue
the others’ poems.”
 Breathing hard, he said,
“You’ll find that they’ll become your daily bread.”

First Lines

Working on first lines of a narrative. Will you tell me your favorite? And….I’m open to suggestions.

1. Catherine woke, but just a just a little, not recognizing her surroundings.

2. The walls are the wrong color, Catherine thought through the fog that was her mind.

3. Who is he? Catherine thought. Why is he here?

4, A jackhammer pounded through Catherine’s head.

5. “Are you hungry, Mrs. Shaw?” The voice seemed to come from a canyon miles away.

6. “Good morning, Mrs. Shaw. I’m Dr. Wellington, and I’d like to ask you a few questions.”


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