Friends after the festival

I left the dulcimer festival Sunday afternoon and drove three hours to Charlottesville to visit my friend Marty. She kindly bought my first dulcimer when I was ready to buy my current one. She’s also got a grad student husband, like me, and they have a very cute and sturdy 8-9 month old daughter. She was very helpful, listening to me talk through some of the intense emotional reactions I had to the festival. She’s one of those people I can tell anything, without worrying that she’ll be shocked, or that she’ll offer superficial advice. As we were getting ready for bed that night, I got teary thinking about how much I miss having a friend like that around. Not to mention we had really good grilled cheddar, bacon, tomato, and onion sandwiches for lunch the next day.

That afternoon I drove another hour to Richmond to visit a number of people. We used to live there. I used to volunteer with our youth group, and two of the girls are still good friends of mine; they’re high school seniors now. One of them, Elizabeth, kindly allowed me to share her room while I was there (thanks to her hospitable family, too, and to her mom for her most excellent stuffed shells). I was a tad insecure about visiting them, wondering if they would be too busy or too cool or something, but I think we had a good time.

I didn’t get to actually visit my former dulcimer teacher Tim in Williamsburg, nor our former pastor’s assistant Kevin, but they both took time out of their busy schedules for phone conversations. It was nice to catch up with them. Tim was also helpful in this festival metabolizing process, regarding such things as integrating one’s sense of inadequacy with some other people’s compliments, not needing to have the dulcimer community’s approval as my main goal, and dealing with issues in tuning and teaching.

I did get to visit a mountain dulcimer player I’d met online at EverythingDulcimer.com — one of those women who is genuinely encouraging and enthusiastic. She served a lovely tea with homemade chicken salad (with cranberries!), apples, crackers, and cake, then, while her lovely kids played outside, we played mountain dulcimers together. (I’d brought one that Elizabeth’s mom had.)

By the way, a mountain dulcimer — also called fretted or Appalachian — is the kind that looks like a stretched-out guitar with three or four strings, usually held on the lap, with the left hand forming notes or chords while the right hand strums or picks. The kind of dulcimer I play is the hammered dulcimer — a trapezoidal wooden box covered with horizontal strings that I strike with small wooden hammers. EverythingDulcimer.com is a site devoted to fans and players of both kinds.

Wednesday morning I drove five hours to Quakertown, PA, to visit Cliff Cole and his daughter Emily. Cliff is a fellow dulcimer player and teacher; we met last year at the Cranberry festival. Then I met Emily at the Malcolm Dalglish concert this February. I beat Cliff to his house, but when he got there, we drove off to Emmaus to pick up Emily at her mom’s, take her to her voice lesson (which I got to sit in on), then went to the diner for dinner (mmm… they make good chicken orzo soup… but my coconut custard pie is better than theirs), then take her home again. Spent the evening sipping tea with Cliff and his wife Pamela. By then I had a nasty sore throat, so tea with honey and lemon was very nice.

Thursday I had to come home.

On the other hand, I got to see my husband again.

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