February 27th, 2013 by Jan

I must still be on mountain time. Usually this 5 a.m. wake up time doesn’t serve me, but this morning I was drawn outside by the giant moon shinning. The big dipper above our house invited my practice and I have to say, the 108 and guanqifa have never let me down.

And now for the story.
About 100 years ago, when Ken and I lived in Colorado, Ken started making guitars with a friend of his. They had a cool workshop and together with books, hands and heart they figured out bracing, gluing and inlay rosettes.

I made the label for one guitar Ken started. This was back in the day of lettraset rub on letters. I found some cool paper and dyed it with tea for that old antique look. I even decked it out with a swirly border.

Made by Ken Parker
1982 —

I left the finish date off because he hadn’t finished this one by the time we left Colorado. Packed and stashed in our new home in Oregon, Ken got into boat building. The guitar hung unfinished in his shop there for 10 years. When we moved to Bowen Island 17 years ago, the pieces of that guitar were packed up and they hung in Ken’s office with several others in various stages of completion as he renewed his interest and continued working on and building other guitars.

Ken found a real niche as a fixer of broken guitars. He’s able to take a guitar from smashed or broken and re-build it into a beautiful musical instrument that can play sweet music — as well as bluegrass.

The phone rings at the house at least once a week with someone asking Ken for help with their guitar. Usually he works on the neck and adjusts it for better action, sometimes he fills in a crack in the body of the guitar, or adjusts the bracing and he always puts on new strings and polishes them up real pretty, giving new life to what would normally sit in a closet with a “I should get that fixed someday” note on it.

Always before returning any guitar to their owner, he plays them for a while.

Ken plays guitar really well. He fixes, creates and builds amazing things out of wood very well too.

Jim says, his co-pilot is a carpenter and I know he is speaking of Ken.

Last night, Ken had a nice fire going in the wood stove and he called out to me. “I’m burning the guitar!”

I came out to watch.

The guitar he started way back in 1982 and never finished went into the fire. First he fed the neck into the stove and then the body with the label truly yellowed, now from time and not from tea.

We watched and let go.

“I have enough – I don’t need this one.” He said.

I really love this man.

4 thoughts on “burnbabyburn

  1. Laura B

    Jan, I have an old friend who had to move into much smaller housing. This was a few years ago, and she told me she really had a hard time getting rid of some of her stuff. She told me that a big change came for her when she stopped asking herself “what do I want to get rid of?” and started asking herself “what do I want to take with me?” She thought of this next stage of her life as a journey that she was beginning, and tried to identify what she wanted to take with her on that journey.

    I try to remember this on my journeys.

  2. Ken

    Laura-I’ve finally figured it out. When it’s time for things to go, and there there is no set time span, then they should go. No regrets, no tears, no second thoughts. If there are, then the time isn’t right. For this guitar, it WAS time and while Jan says she would worship the sun (if she were religious), I worship fire. I love wood stoves, camp fires, anything that burns and warms. So to burn the guitar was the right thing at the right time.

  3. Jim

    I’m sure Vulcan will be pleased with the offering…

    Respect all the gods and Buddhas, but rely on none of them. But never piss off Vulcan…


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