… on fall falling (hard) and the story of the disposable shack


Late Afternoon Fallen Birch Leaf

In 2002, the Nearly Perfect Husband did something pretty perfect in a valiant attempt to once again be promoted.

To perfect.

Won’t happen.

He gave me piano lessons.

Because my dream in 2002 was to play Elton John’s Tiny Dancer on Piano.

Because of Almost Famous.

And if you don’t know why that was critical to me then, well… shame on you and go get the dang movie and watch it.

So, dream in head and heart, I headed over to my new piano teacher’s house in town to take my piano lessons.

At the time my brain didn’t know that, to play piano, my hands and feet need to operate independently of each other – hands and feet, and lefts and rights.

There should be a freakin’ warning on every advertisement for piano lessons. It should read something like: “Warning. The activity you are about to undertake requires you to sit in a confined space (wicked small bench) and operate multiple extremities, often in different directions simultaneously. Side effects range from mild anxiety to nausea. Broken bones and aneurysms have been reported, though are considered rare. 

No, I am not kidding!

That’s the reason people sign their little cherubs up for piano lessons early.

Bones are way more flex-y when we are young.

Kids practically bounce!

But I was not young and also Music as a Second Language (MSL) is hard and I do not think that a piano teacher even has to be certified in MSL to teach piano.

I decided very quickly that if I was going to learn a second language, it was going to be Italian, not piano.


So I took my first lesson, and then a second and I paid attention and learned just enough to practice and memorize the introduction to Tiny Dancer – okay, the first 22 notes (exactly) and then, for my lessons, I would sort of play a few notes that my teacher told me to play and engage her in conversation for the next 50 minutes.

Worked for me!

But then magic happened during a brilliantly, if manipulatively, ditched piano lesson, in a broken down old house (we later found out ‘condemned‘ old house) in chic and trendy Dunstable.

Where I lived.

In a different house.

The old house that I took piano lessons in was so close to the country roadside that it nearly sat on it. It was also, coincidentally, on “John’s land”.

Oh, the Nearly Perfect Husband (called John by most) didn’t own it or anything. It’s just that, when we were eighteen, John brought me to Dunstable for the first time. He took a few back roads and we passed by lots of cows, and eventually by this crooked old house.  And John pointed to where it was and made a big sweep of his arm, making a point of the area and views, and said that this was the perfect piece of land and he would buy it if he could.

But at eighteen, directionless other from a dorm room to the cafeteria to class to parities (and back again, sometimes altering the destination just to add a little color), he could not.

Fast forward eighteen years or so.

I’m taking piano classes (or what could loosely (very loosely) be described as that) in the house on the dream lot of the Nearly Perfect Husband, and he and I chuckle over it.

We live, with our three beautiful cherubs in a house I designed. It’s not as private as we would have liked, and the land isn’t as useful as we would have liked, but it is home.

Totally and completely and warmly home.

And then, during my last ‘official’ lesson, my strange piano teacher – who has to direct me around certain areas of the floor of her house so that I, literally, won’t fall through it, announces out of the blue that she is getting divorced and did I want the brand new flatscreen TV that her husband left on her porch but that she doesn’t want because TV is evil.

Not kidding.

And before I can decide if this is a trick question, she says they are selling the house and it is on the market and did I know it sits on five acres?  But they haven’t put a sign out yet and she is excited because her neighbors are all crazy.


So I look around and she laughs and says, “Oh not this house!” and she goes on to say that there is another house behind this one that I have never seen (true, I had never suspected there was a secret house behind the one I was in) and she takes me out and there, near the crest of the small hill on John’s five-acre dream piece of land, sits an unfinished New England cape-style house.


So all the way home I wrestled with myself…

I love my house.

designed my house.

The kids grew up there (okay, they were like 4, 8, and 10 at the time).

I am not telling him.

Oh geez. I have to tell him.

If I tell him he will want to move.

I don’t want to move.

So what if it’s the same town and the kids wouldn’t have to switch schools.

So what if we had looked at land elsewhere in town just a little while before and that fell through.

We decided to stay put.

The decision was made.

I’m not gonna tell him.

I’m not.

I’m not.

I’m not!

I did.

And the next day…

The next day!

We were walking around the land with realtors, and my Nearly Perfect Husband was all giddy and smiley and and oo-y and ah-y.  And in a wHierd and surreal moment, I saw him shake the hand of my odd piano teacher’s realtor and he turned to me and smiled.

And that was the start of the story of the Disposable Shack.

Which is what we lovingly call this house, on John’s dream piece of land, that we moved into in 2004.

Recently, a friend noticed that I have not shared much about my life in Chic and Trendy Dunstable, thought I have shared many pics and stories of our lives when we are in Maine.

He said that my photos here tend toward close-ups of the dogs (and their various crime scenes), and – he accused – that I am not giving a sense of where I am when I am not in Maine.


Well, as fall falls hard in Chic and Trendy Dunstable (I call it that, joking that I hope it will actually be chic and trendy at some point.  But in all honesty I love that it feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere, even though we are less than ten minutes from Nashua, New Hampshire and all that civilization has to offer (which for Gabe tops out at Chipotle and Dick’s Sporting Goods)).

Anyway, as fall falls here, I will turn my eyes and lenses on this funky little New England town. Without it’s traffic lights (not a’ one), or bank, or even a place to grab a slice of pizza. Because for all that is not here, there is so much here.

From the earth to the bovine.

My own back yard is pretty cool.

It may not have an ocean in our front yard…

But there are waves next door.


The Waves Next Door

Thanks for readin’.

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