Posted in Commentary, Desert Life

Scenes from a Wednesday

I made the trek north from the courthouse Wednesday, having been released early from jury duty after a morning of reading in between breaks and lunch. I was on a mission to buy three-foot 1/8″ cherry boards Woodcraft carries, and there’s only one store in town; naturally, its on the opposite side of town from me. Beth and I are in the middle of making a custom guitar for my guitar teacher. My small part of the process is doing the custom fret marker inlays in the ebony fretboard. I’ve done it once already, and it looks good (though this version I didn’t finish sanding, for reasons to be explained immediately), but they’re not thick enough to be seen from the side after sanding, so I’m going to take another run at it with thicker wood more deeply inlaid. Because everything’s better when it’s laid with thicker wood. 😉


We originally considered mahogany, and I did a mock-up with it, but mahogany has big, deep pores (sadly, I can relate) and collects ebony dust when you sand, making it just look dirty. Cherry looks airbrushed like a Cosmo model when it comes to pores, and was ultimately the best choice.

Buying wood always makes me feel a little wistful, and a little closer to Antiguo, and when the wood is cherry, that feeling is amplified. I am not anywhere near the woodworker he was (I don’t consider myself a woodworker at all, truth be told), but he did a lot of cabinets in cherry. Many times he’d hit me up on chat at lunchtime telling me he just got back from the lumberyard, but had to unload his truck right away, because he bought cherry, and cherry sunburns. It was just one of many tidbits of wood lore he shared with me. Every time I remember it, I hope he knows, and knows that I appreciate everything he gave me.

I walked into the shop with purpose, because I always go to the same section when I’m there. I don’t buy many tools or anything else there, because they’re all too big for the scale I work at; I buy my tools from MicroMark, where I can get a carpenter’s square that has markings down to the 1/32″. The cashier responded to my greeting without excessive friendliness, and I wondered if it was because I was showing such abominable independence in this manly domain; he was plenty friendly to the woman in the skirt who was asking him how to fix the broken chair she brought in.

I wandered back to the thin milled boards, and was disappointed to find a single option in the size I needed. So I grabbed it, and another that was 1/4″ thick, resigning myself to the possibility of endless sanding it down an unnecessary 1/8″, and went back to the counter. The man there was no happier to see me this time; the feeling was now mutual. This is pretty unusual there, actually; usually the guys who work there are helpful and want to know what you’re working on. I’d set my sample fretboard (which I’d brought to compare color) on the counter while I dug out my wallet; he didn’t ask. I asked him if he had any more 1/8″ cherry hiding in back. “No, all we have is what’s back there.”

Single most popular wood in the world, and you have one piece? At WOODcraft??? This shop is nearly uncontaminated by wood!

I got back into my car, which after 10 minutes in September afternoon sun (in Tucson) had an internal temperature of 150 degrees, set the wood on the passenger seat, and noticed it was in full sun and would be for the half-hour home, so I tucked it under a blanket I’d thrown in there for the concert I was going to that night. Because cherry sunburns.

That evening I headed across town again, this time to the far southwest side. (I live on the far northeast side of town.) I was headed for a concert at the casino amphitheatre, the second in as many weeks, and was treated to an equal number of stunning desert sunsets that made me forget the long drive as I beheld it. That night, I was there for Crosby, Stills & Nash. I had it in my head that I’d seen them 2 years ago, but realized when I got home it’d been in 2008, and I wondered, as I do 200 times a year, where the time went.

I hadn’t intended to go at all. I’d paid over $100 for my 4th-row ticket 4 years ago, once all the fees were added in, figuring it was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and when I heard they were coming back, I wasn’t spending that money again. I’m retired, and on a fixed income, after all. But Scott came home and said that lawn seats were going (nominally) for $27, and I couldn’t pass that up. In the past, I’ve eschewed the lawn seats, but when I went to the Duran Duran show a couple weeks ago and ran into some friends there, I stayed back on the lawn with them instead of going to my seat, and it was perfect. People give each other more room on the lawn. I danced for 2 hours straight on the grass in my bare feet. I’ll do that more often at that venue.

Four years on, those years are showing in a way they weren’t the last time I heard them there. Stephen Stills, who was ill the last time I saw him, looked much stronger, but he sang little last night, and when he did, it was rough. But time hasn’t had any noticeable effect on his hands, and he was as masterful on the guitar as ever. The harmonies aren’t as tight or strong between Crosby and Nash, but as someone whose hearing is going (at 40!), I can forgive them that. Crosby’s 71; Stills is 67; Nash is 70.  They’re elderly men, and they’re still kicking ass, even if it’s not quite at the same level as it was 50 years ago.  I can forgive them anything; CSN is American musical royalty. I’ll bend a knee and count myself lucky I get to hear them live still. The stagelights caught Crosby’s wild, long, white hair like a halo. It seemed entirely appropriate. It was a perfect night, with the oppressive heat finally letting go of us once the sun set, and a playful breeze blowing across skin and carrying the pot smoke away from the guy sitting two feet from me. (It marked the first time I ever saw a joint in person.) He wasn’t the only one partaking, either, a huge surprise at a CSN concert where both Crosby and Nash made jokes about acid flashbacks.

I am still waiting for Name That Tune to come back on the air so I can win big money (although I still maintain that no one can name any tune in a single note; a single chord, yes). They would start new songs with long intros, and I would start clapping because I liked that song, only to be followed a minute later by the roar of the rest of audience who only know the songs when someone’s singing.


But the (surprising) highlight for this music geek was when Crosby began to introduce a song (that he and Nash did on their last studio album) that was written by his son (who plays keyboards in the band) and the guitar riff started, and I whooped and hollered my approval, because I love that song, only to hear my own voice echo, lonely, through the full venue, joined by maybe three others, if that many.

Evidently, none of these so-called “fans” had that album, or knew that song. And that happens a lot; people come for nostalgia, unaware that their “favorite” bands have continued making music all these years since their “fans” stopped buying LPs and tapes. When Duran Duran played, people lost their minds to all the old hits, and didn’t know what to do with themselves when the stuff off the new albums was played. They put their hands in their pockets and headed to the bathroom or the beer line.

But I knew every word. Kristie Cunningham: Music Superfan.



I've been doing some form of creative writing since 9th grade, and have been a blogger since 2003. Like most bloggers, I've quit blogging multiple times. But the words always come back, asking to be written down, and they pester me if I don't. So here we are. Thanks for reading.

2 thoughts on “Scenes from a Wednesday

  1. Nobody compares to the vocal harmonies of CSN. Never got to see them, myself, but have a boatload of albums (yes – vinyl!) from back in the day. (sorry if this is a duplicate comment – didn’t appear to go through last time.)

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