Chris with new vihuela, March 27, 2004

Well, at least Chris had the decency to warn me that he’d be coming home with a new love.

I knew he was stopping on his way home from North Carolina to visit the luthier in New Jersey whom he’d hired to build either a new 10-course lute or a 7-course vihuela. Presumably the purpose of the visit was to help Chris decide between the lute and vihuela and to give Cezar a feel for how large an instrument would be appropriate.

But love, of course, works in mysterious ways. All it took was some conversation, lunch, and a personal check, and Chris walked out of there with a not-entirely-new 6-course vihuela, Cezar’s own personal baby. Not only is Chris a player, he can be quite charming when he needs to be.

So now I’m doubly widowed, competing with Chris’s now-old lute and his new-to-him, stunningly gorgeous vihuela. Vihuelas, if you don’t follow early music, are Spanish Renaissance double-strung guitars. They are, as you can see, small and ornately decorated. The 5 sets of double strings provide volume; the 6th single bass string provides fullness. Unlike lutes, vihuelas are flat-backed, which makes them perfect for self-accompanying singers: now Chris has real incentive to learn Spanish so he can perform a whole new repertoire of Spanish Renaissance songs.

Reggie as research assistant, March 26, 2004

As for me, I’m still working on dissertation revisions and trying to catch some sun where and when I can. Yesterday it reached 70 degrees here in Keene–a spring heat wave–so with the help of a couple extension cords, I did diss revisions with the dog on the back porch. (It’s becoming more & more apparent that I need to get a new laptop battery!) As I worked, those Bohemian waxwings I’d first seen over a month ago flitted from tree to tree in various neighbors’ yards: after having sought them far and wide, now they’ve come in droves to my own backyard.

And so, it looks like each of us, Chris and I, will be hosting our own personal menage a trois: Chris with lute and vihuela, me with Reggie and “Bill.” With the diss defense just over a week away and several chapters (still!) to revise between now and then, perhaps it’s best that Chris has a new love to occupy him. His lute might feel jealous at first, having been (temporarily) cast aside for a vihuela, but I’ll share those secrets I’ve learned on how to be a patient widow. Now that spring is in the air and that title of “Doctor” is within tantalizing reach, I’m finding there’s plenty of love and patience to go around…as long as the extension cord reaches.