October 16

Dear Diary,
It’s been raining and Daddy’s coughing. He’s got a touch of the black lung disease from breathing in coal dust. Mama says the mine closing was a “blessing in disguise,” because Daddy isn’t as sick as Grandpapa was before he died. Mama’s family didn’t come from a coal town and she never understood why Daddy had to take up mining just because his own daddy did it. They argued about it some before we moved to Green Lake. I wasn’t supposed to hear, but I did. Anyway, Daddy’s getting a pension from the union and now he’s becoming a luthier (that’s a guitar maker) like Geoff. They work together in the shop. Daddy mostly does the inlay, that’s where you cut up little pieces of mother of pearl or abalone shell—just the pretty, shiny bits—and lay them into the wood to make designs. Sometimes it’s just an outline around the edge of the guitar, and sometimes it’s leaves and flowers and all kinds of things up and down the neck. Mama says she always knew she had a couple artists in the family, and now there’s proof. Those guitars are so beautiful they make my heart ache.

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