Thursday, March 29, 2007

RPD, Humor and the State, Mr. Tech P

Took this picture this morning as I was walking my paper route. I walk just a bit past this on my first route. My second route is in a different area. So, for the police's our $3 million+ police station. Haven't counted recently, but we have about 17 full time police and the chief. They have hired 4 part time interim officers that will start work this summer sometime.

I called the Massachusetts Department of Revenue today. It was really bugging me so I decided to just get it over with. I always try to approach such things with a little good humor. Long distance phone call, of course. Andrew answered. Andrew says, "How can I help you?"

Here goes.....

"I have a few questions about a 'notice to assess' that I received in the mail yesterday."

"Okay, what are the questions?"

"My first question is, do you have a sense of humor?"

"Sure, why?"

"Because when I got this notice I thought you folks really must be joking!"

(He laughed)

I explained that it would cost more to sent copies of all the documents that they wanted than I would get as my refund. He understood. He offered that I could send the original receipts and they would return them.

Hmmmm, he's suggesting I send the only records I have through the mail and trust first that they get there, then that they don't get lost, thrown out, or otherwise never to be returned to me. One word---No.

"Andrew, may I send a letter stating although I received this notice, that the costs to satisfy the request for further information outweigh the refund, therefore I will not be sending the information?" "Will they accept that with no further problems or penalties?"

Andrew replies, "That's fine, or you can just do nothing and you will not get the refund."

"Thanks, Andrew, enjoy the rest of your day."

Solved. I'm still not happy but that's a load of work and money saved. I still think it's wrong to deny the refund for no reason other than I was randomly selected and refuse to pay more to get less. Leave it to the government.......................

Mr. Tech P (note: He's also a Gloucester city councilor)

And the headline reads:
Court tells councilor: Pay piano owner $28K

The summary....
-July 2002 customer contracts to have baby grand restored
-Pays deposit of $2450
-August 2002 customer asks for work to be put on hold due to house failing to sell
-August 2005 customer pays another $2000 and says resume work
-Completion and delivery set for November 2005
-Doesn't happen, lots of excuses
-Tech P evicted
-Court action taken by customer
-Tech P denies receiving court documents
-Tech P fails to appear in court
and now you have the rest of the story.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wednesday Extremes Equal Exhaustion

Yes, I know that I really should be in the shop working on keys. After all, it's only 3:30 p.m. What hasn't been said is that I have been awake since 2:30 a.m. and with the exception of maybe a half hour for food, I've been working non-stop since 6 a.m.

Yesterday I shipped two boxes of finished keys. Two boxes of keys arrived to be worked on. afternoon job resulted in bringing home a set to be rebushed. Three sets anxiously awaiting me in the shop. And still the melodeon work, of course.

There was a message from the piano movers on my machine. I got the message around 7:30 p.m. They said that they would be arriving between 9:30 a.m. and noon today. I also had a message from a customer needing to schedule a piano tuning. Called her and scheduled it for next week. So, I'm thinking....get up at 6, fold papers, haul ramp and plywood up from cellar and get ready for the piano delivery. Deliver newspapers and be back before 9:30. Work on keys, etc. while waiting for movers. I think all the anticipation of the tight scheduling is why I awoke so #!*&&!# early in the morning.

Everything went very smoothly. The piano arrived at about 11 a.m. "Fragile Freight" is a great moving company. Since they had some mud in their shoes, they even removed them as they were wheeling in the piano! This was very much appreciated by my mom! Super, super nice guys. They had already delivered a large (and very heavy) grand piano up 20 stairs before arriving at our house. They were heading for Maine from here.

So, albeit a really lousy photograph, here are the three guys off-loading the piano.

And here's the piano! The lid is off so that I can finish refinishing it. The bottom panel and the fallboard also will get a new finish on them. I've still to finish the top player action. Need to put the pedals in.

Anyway, there's one more pic I put in as an afterthought and then the rest of my day.

A bit out of order, but I thought I should show a picture of the ramp. The blocks to either side and partially under the ramp served no purpose. I just got tired and didn't bother to move them as they weren't in the way. They were a part of the original layout, before the new decking and gate.

I spent a good part of the afternoon "undoing" and putting away the ramp and the plywood "walkway". Then I got all the unfinished player parts out of the piano and down to the shop. Then it was back to work on keys.

So, not a bad day, huh?


Went out to get the mail. (Insert every nasty word you can think of) an "assessment" letter from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. This means tax audit. (Reinsert those words here, too).

I will preface this with...I have honestly filled out all my tax forms! I don't earn a lot of money folks. Just enough to get by...just. The MA Dept. of Revenue owes me a refund of $56.00. They sent me this letter demanding that if I want them to consider sending me the money (they mistakenly say $57.00) I must provide them with copies of ALL my receipts, Federal tax forms, and names, addresses, phone numbers and the amounts paid by every one of my customers.

I haven't counted but I'm sure that I have in the neighborhood of a thousand receipts! What a pile of crap! All for $56.00! They've got to be out of their #!!&&# minds. BTW, do the math. 371.00 X .15 I get 55.65. MA taxes require that you round to the nearest dollar. Sooooooo tax people, that means $56.00 NOT $57.00!

In case you haven't noticed, I'm extremely furious about this. I know how it works...pick on the poor working, tired, can't afford to hire it done individual. Then they won't bother about it and the state gets to keep the money. I'm calling them tomorrow...or maybe in a few days...I have 30 days to respond...I might say something nasty if I call too soon.

Tomorrow I've got to get up early again to take my truck for an oil/filter change, etc. Then it's more work.

I am totally exhausted.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Okay, so it's mostly just a picture post. However, check here for a lot of news soon. For now I'll just say that today was busy, busy, busy. Tomorrow will be even busier.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Karma and Quandary

This all goes back several months. For those of you that have been reading here for awhile, you will remember my posts about a problem that I was having with a local piano tech. Briefly recapped. My first problem was that he and his associate had complaints about some keytop work. They insisted that I had done the job - I hadn't. The matter was never resolved and although they continued subcontracting their key bushing work to me, I never did another key top job for them.

Shortly thereafter, I believe, Mr. Tech S began gossiping to me about the dire straits that Mr. Tech P was finding himself in. Now this kind of bad-mouthing had been coming from Mr. Tech S and his associate ever since I moved here. Not the specific situation, but all other types of "warnings". Quite honestly, I didn't like being a recipient of the gossip and "warnings", nor did I like being quizzed about Mr Tech P's business. I believe it is particularly unprofessional to engage in such talk and have never sided one way or the other between the two (the S camp and the P camp).

Now it did come to pass and to public knowledge through the local newspaper, that Mr. Tech P had some financial obligations that he had not been meeting and had been evicted from his business location. This was the most recent rumor that Mr. Tech S had been anxious to tell me.


I still didn't and don't like the way that Mr. Tech S conducts himself.

Forward a few months...........

An article appears in the Gloucester Daily Times about S's associate, Mr. Tech S2. Seems he and his live-in girlfriend had been out drinking at a local establishment. Girlfriend goes home. Mr Tech S2 moves on to another location with some friends. He returns home later to find his girlfriend in bed with their renter.

Reads like a soap opera doesn't it?

So, just to make matters worse, Mr. Tech S2 allegedly assaults his girlfriend, assaults the renter, and then allegedly goes and gets his handgun and shoots the wall. The police arrive and arrest Mr. Tech S2 and search the premises to find a couple other guns.

I have no idea what has happened since other than the message on the business phone has changed names just slightly. Mr. Tech S seems to be running things by himself now.

Karma just reaches out and bites some folks.

That brings me to the quandary.............

About 4 years ago the two Mr. Tech S's contracted me to rebuild the Duo-Art (pneumatic player) mechanism for a grand piano that they were readying to sell. I did the work and under the duress of working in their shop, got everything put back in the piano and working well. I have subsequently adopted the policy of not collaborating on these things with anyone (other than you, FP). Today, Mr. Tech S called asking for my assistance. Seems that 4 years later he has decided that the piano action needs some work and he has tried to extricate the same from the piano without removing the player parts necessary to do so. Please allow me to emphasize - NECESSARY. And may I add, even to someone not trained in the profession looking at should be obvious that the player stuff is in the way!

Anyway, he tells me he has managed to break some of the ivory on the keys while forcing things. Geez, if it doesn't want to move, you'd think to find out why before doing damage! So now he wants me to come to the shop, remove the player stuff that needs to be removed so that he can do the work he wants to, then I'll have to go back another day to reinstall it. He has offered to make some monetary compensation for my time.

And what my mind has wandered to as a result.....
  1. I'd have to squeeze the time in to an already busy schedule.
  2. I don't like working in his shop.
  3. I have no idea if the player mechanism is still functioning well as the piano could have had any number of "hands on" contacts over the past 4 years, and thus....
  4. I could be blamed for it's present (possible) non function, even though I left the piano functioning properly 4 years ago.
  5. I could be blamed for any mishap that could occur to the mechanism while stored out of the piano while Mr. Tech S does his thing even though said mechanism would be in his care.
  6. I'm not comfortable in a working relationship with this tech.
  7. Where is S2? What if he is there? How worrisome would that be?
On the other hand.............
  1. Maybe I should be more generous.
  2. Am I being too picky?
  3. Are my worries foolish?
At this point, I really do think that I will be swamped with work this week and won't have much opportunity to help him. As an alternative, I am working up a labeled photo with easy instructions (only 4 steps) as to how to remove the player stuff that needs to be removed. Should I feel guilty about avoiding a situation that makes me feel uncomfortable? Realistically I have no professional, ethical, or warranty obligation.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Plural Post (two part)

It Pays to Watch Where You Walk

Saturday's mean early papers so we were up at 5:30 and walking the routes by 6:15. On my way back down Main Street a caught a glimpse of something shiny just on the edge of the sidewalk. I paused to pick up a dime. Yippee, I thought, usually it's only pennies. This week it's been a quarter and a dime! I continued on. As I got just opposite the entrance road to the "dump", I noticed a small bank envelope on the sidewalk. This I thought I'd better check out. Nothing inside however. Oh well, it would have been fun to go to the police station to report finding hundreds. Walked a bit more and noticed some small brush (branches) that had fallen off a truck on it's way to the dump were infringing on the road. If a little wind picked up they would be a hazard to drivers. Okay, good deed time. I reach over and moved two branches off the road and on to the opposite side of the sidewalk. Took two steps and found a companion for my newly acquired dime..............

Tell Me, How Are You Still In Business?

Amanda and I decided to go to the unfinished furniture store to take another look at the corner media cabinet that we had seen last weekend. It's about an hour drive each way to Salisbury, MA. We hauled ourselves up the stairs and back to the corner where the cabinet was located. This time we came armed with precise room measurements including the locations of the furniture already in the room. I brought a tape measure, too. The cabinet will fit. The salesman came to "help". This cabinet is not inexpensive so we wanted to think about it a bit. Amanda was also interested in getting a small desk with a bookcase hutch. I told the salesman the measurements that are the maximum size for the desk. He went looking around the showroom and measuring. We followed him around.
The conversation went as follows:

A - "I like that one."
D - "It won't fit. It can be no longer than 40 inches."
S - " How about this one. It's 42 inches but we can cut the ends of the top off."
D - " I think that would look rather strange. We'd have a nice ogee on the front edge with a little overhang and the sides would be flush and straight cut."
S - "I have something different in a catalog. Let's look downstairs at that."

S (pointing to pic in catalog) - "How about this one. It's 42 inches but we could cut the ends off."
D (realizing it is the same desk as the one we saw originally) - "No, I don't want to have to cut the top."
D - " We'd like to go take another look at the media cabinet while you help some other customers. By the way, do you deliver and what would be the wait time?"
S - " It would be $80 for delivery to Rockport. All our deliveries are after 3:30 pm. We could deliver it this week."
D - "Why after 3:30?"
S - "Our delivery guys are in school."

Uh, oh they use high school guys. This should be good. Large piece, small house, up stairs with hairpin turn. I don't like it.

Amanda and I headed back upstairs to take a final look. We decided that first of all we didn't like that it was made of knotty pine. It's a soft wood, damages and dents easily, and is a pain to get the knots to seal and not bleed through. The single drawer at the bottom had no glides and was merely
a box riding on/in a box - wood on wood. The knobs on the doors were slightly uneven although the doors themselves were even (poor measuring job). I looked at a couple other pieces to find the doors hung poorly with one door at least 3/8 inch lower than the other on two other pieces of furniture, one wardrobe had a large crack in a panel. We decided we could do a lot better if we looked at some other stores.

So................downstairs to salesman.

A - "I've decided to think about it some more."
D - "I'm not really happy to see the uneven knobs on this piece and noticed that there were poorly hung doors on others."
S - "Really? I'd have to go look. It's probably because the floor is uneven and that has racked the doors."
D - "And left the knobs aligned with the doors misaligning?"
S - "Oh yes, that can happen."

We left. What crap. We're going to "Crate and Barrel" next weekend, all being well. We checked online and saw a cabinet that Amanda liked and should work.

Note: I have redone, republished, re-everythinged, to try to get the font size correct for the second part of this post. It just won't do it! The Html reads correctly. The post previews correctly, but every time I publish it, it is screwed up. Apologies.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Mom just came over and gave this picture to me. She's been sorting out her desk. This is a photo of Tucker our wonderful yet pain in the you-know-what cat. We got him in March of 1991 and he died June 2006. Anyway, here he is caught in one of his favorite activities - hanging on to the newspaper payment money!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My Week-at-a-Glance (and more)

It sounded like a good title until I started writing. Seems as some days are a bit of a blur. Maybe things will occur to me as I write.

SUNDAY......I slept in a bit and then watch NHPTV (New Hampshire Public Television). Jayne was part of a panel discussion. I taped the show. I skipped church so that I could catch up on business paperwork. In the afternoon, mom, Amanda and I drove to Salisbury, MA to buy an entertainment center for Amanda's bedroom. We had seen one there a couple weeks ago. Got there and debated and decided we really didn't care for it. Stopped at Tendercrop Farm in Newburyport on the way home. Mom wanted to pick up a couple things. Didn't have them! What a wasted afternoon LOL.

MONDAY.....Papers as usual. Then in the afternoon Bruce and Randy showed up to shovel the snow off the deck in preparation for the redo. A notice was left at the house that a box was waiting to be picked up at the post office. No one answered the door in the morning when they tried to deliver. Dad doesn't answer it any more. Mom was on errands. And papers as usual! Monday night the NHPTV show was on again so I made another tape of it for the police station. 24 was on TV at night.

TUESDAY.....First thing, had to give mom a ride home from the car service place. She left the mini van for windshield wiper repair. They wouldn't "park". Yeah, that's what they call it. Stopped at the post office to pick up the box of keys. Papers as usual (found a quarter). Then work, work, work. Tuning job at 3:30. Onni, Bruce, and Randy worked on the deck all day. It was looking great. However, the ramp that I built for the piano arriving would have to be moved as my mom redesigned where the "gate" opening would be causing more work for me, of course!

WEDNESDAY.....7 a.m. Onni, Bruce, and Randy return. And they finished all the deck today! It looks FANTASTIC! Papers as usual. Then I hauled all the trash up from the cellar to load up and head for the dump (transfer station). Before I left the power went out...evidently to 35,000 homes/businesses. Fortunately ours was back on within 5 minutes. Work and more work. Another set of keys arrived and I'm still working on the melodeon, too. And there have been another 3 emails for key work and one phone call. Then Danny from FL called and left a message. He's looking for some player piano parts. I haven't had chance to even look around for them yet. Big TV night. Special night for "Survivor" (yeah, I know...just mindless entertainment) and "Criminal Minds" (a favorite).

THURSDAY.....ahhh, today! Papers as usual, except, I'm really irritated about a particular customer who is refusing (sort of) to pay me. They owe for over a month's worth and simply will not answer the door (I've seen them head indoors when they see me coming). So, I got fed up, called the paper and canceled them for non-payment. pffft. Stopped by the police station to give Officer L the video on Internet Safety. He thanked me and told me that he had recently referred someone to WHOA. Yippeeeeeee! I'm so glad he thought of us. This is so helpful for the "victim", enabling them to have someone equipped to handle the situation for them. Came back home, hauled the "ramp" up from the cellar and reworked how it would fit. Then hauled it back down. It seems to get heavier each time! Work, work, on keys. Two sets all glued and waiting to be trimmed tomorrow. Arnold came to visit my folks. More on that in a bit.

in anticipation of Friday.....WORK
and Saturday.....WORK

A big MAYBE for Sunday.....a round trip to North Conway, NH. Arnold has decided to sell his "other" house. It is loaded with all sorts of furnishings, etc. He offered his Chickering grand piano to me, but well, thanks but no. There is some other stuff that my mom wants to buy from him and maybe I'll pick out a few small things. This will mean taking my dad on a 6 hour drive and managing to get him up the stairs at Arnold's house. We usual spend a night or two there but can't any longer because of my dad needing his "big" O2 machine. The portable ones aren't as good and only last a couple hours each. Dad's begun having more frequent pain from the lung cancer so we'll just see....

Maybe my piano will arrive *next* week. It's supposed to be a gorgeous week with sun and warm weather.


The Blogger Tutorial ;-)
WordPad *can* be used to write the blog. Type whatever in WordPad...on the keyboard simultaneously press the Ctrl key and the letter "a" key. This highlights all the text. Then simultaneously press the Ctrl key and the letter "c" key. This copies the text to an "unseen place" where it waits until you replace it with something else in the future. Open Blogger as if you were going to start typing a new post. Type your title. Locate the cursor like you are going to type the body of the post. Instead of typing, simultaneously press the Ctrl key and the letter "v" key. Magic! Your WordPad text should now be on your blog. You can use for moving text around all over the place.

This translates as Ctrl + A -> Ctrl + C -> Ctrl + V
You can work this with text from most any document, web page, email, to another.
More about selective copying....highlight the portion of the text you want to copy (rather than the whole thing) then Ctrl + C -> Ctrl + V to the new location.

This is only one way to copy/paste text.

HTML tags on the comment page in Blogger....
Actually typing the exact thing here may make it happen rather than illustrate the process. So...every time I use ( here, it means <> the comment field if you type....
(i) this text will be in italics(/i)
(b)this text will be bold print(/b)
(a)I think this is a link, not sure(/a)

Remember to replace the ( and ) with <> when actually doing this.

The really strange thing about this is that a couple years ago I knew none of this. Just a couple days ago I learned some of it. I *do* scare myself sometimes.

And the big disclaimer....try this stuff when it isn't something critical! I don't want to make anyone angry if they "lose" something (other than their minds).

It's late so there will be no proof-reading tonight. Apologies for any errors.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Blogging and Me

Well, I've been doing a lot of thinking (a dangerous thing sometimes)! I've had several posts in mind and I was going to do a multi-topic thingy. Then, before I actually got around to posting, something happened. I had been reading some other bloggers and it came to to write it all as a single topic...blogging. Why do I blog? How do I chose what to write? And more importantly, I suppose, how do I decide what not to write? How does blogging fit in to my time? So here goes.

A couple years ago, I think, I began reading an online friend's blog. Even though we emailed each other, it was intriguing reading about her life, thoughts, travels, ambitions, and *her* world. One of the best parts was that I could read back years (she had been blogging for some time). Sometimes I checked out the blogs of people that had left comments on her blog. Eventually, Jayne and I met in person. And eventually, I became a volunteer with her organization (WHOA). Mostly, though, it's friendship that is important.

I liked the idea of blogging and I liked the kinds of stuff that Jayne blogged. I spent about 6 months wanting to blog yet being very cautious about actually doing it.

Why not?

My ex, when unable to stalk me in person, took to harassing me online. With some creative research and the help of the police and Jayne's support and help, his harassment had pretty much been eliminated. Ultimately it took a Restraining Order (which took multiple court appearances - not easy getting a timely return of service response when dealing with overseas mailings), a Criminal Harassment charge filed against him, an arrest warrant issued for his failure to appear at arraignment, and several warrants for RO violations (he continued to email even after the RO). Anyway, I was concerned that blogging might give him another way to contact me. Mostly I was concerned that he would use the "contact-ability" of people making comments on my blog and begin harassment through that means.

So...although it *could* be possible to find me through this blog, it is unlikely that he would be searching in the appropriate manner to do it. I made the plunge. Initially, readers were by invitation only. I gave the address to about a dozen people that I know IRL. Everything has been okay and I expanded the reader base.

Oh yeah, just FYI, I hear less and less from the ex. He does not contact me directly any longer, per se. There was a call on my parent's answering machine asking for me. I traced the call to a "spoofed" number. Sounded like him. The recording was turned over to the police. Just the other day I received an email at an address that is not available to "spammers" (therefore I know it was not just random junk). It was from a UK company that *someone* had submitted my address to - guess who.....maybe. These things don't worry me in the least. I'm amazed that someone would waste so much of their time in such a negative way.

So, since it's pretty obvious by reading what I write about, here's what I *try* not to write.

First off, I don't mention anyone's full name unless it's already out there in conjunction with the topic. I *do* respect people's privacy so I use only first names or initials, etc. I try very hard not to gripe a lot. Sometimes I will spout off. I've found that I really don't like the posts when I read them later. In reality though, I do have those days when I need the chance to scream to whoever may be reading. There have been times when I have written a lengthy post, published it, then within a couple minutes gone back and deleted it. Odds are nobody read it. I also try to avoid making comments on local politics...I am running a business and in this small of a town I could lose a lot of customers! I may, in the future, make a few political statements. After all, I *am* entitled to my opinion. And....Spring town meeting is nearing! I guess there are many things I won't write about or mention. I'd rather err on the side of good, caution, and respect of others. Some of my opinions do not need to be recorded, in print, forever.

The pictures....there is no rhyme nor reason to them. Sometimes I find a neat pic that I'd like to share, so I write a post on it. Other times, they are to illustrate what I want to write about.

I like trying out some new ideas and seeing what happens. Blogger is easy to work with for pics and hyperlinks, fonts, color, etc. I've learned a lot. These five sentences have been written in WordPad and then cut/pasted to this post. Just to see how it works (for you, as promised, dickiebo). Then I decided to change the color after-the-fact :-D

Originally I thought I would post to my blog once a week, maybe twice. I aimed for Thursday and Sunday. Well, that didn't work too well. Now I post whenever I feel like it and HAVE THE TIME. I never knew how much work that I would have on any given day. I juggle a lot. There's the piano business, newspapers, helping my mom and dad, working on the house, volunteering with WHOA and WHOA-KTD, occasionally out to lunch or dinner, driving Amanda to and from work, and all the other ordinary day to day chores. Gee, I'm tired just writing it! I guess I'd better finish up.

I *do* enjoy the interaction blogging enables. I habitually read 4 other blogs. I check in on another 3 -4. Sometimes I check out what a commenter on someone else's blog is blogging. I've learned, laughed, cried, empathized, and cheered (oh yes, I comment some, too).

So, my blogging about blogging and bloggers is as complete as it will get. It's getting on to bed time after a long day. Next time more of the typical.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Online Safety broadcast

A truly informative panel discussion, in which my friend and WHOA "boss" Jayne Hitchcock participated, is New Hampshire Public Television's broadcast "Internet Safety". You can view the broadcast online by going here, or if you are in the New England area and get NHPTV the show will be re-airing Monday 19th at 7:30 p.m.. And while on the subject, check out these sites: WHOA, WHOA-KTD, and the Net Crimes book website. Super job, Jayne!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Slipping, Sliding, Mushy, Slushy...

Well, I could have done without this mess! Here's what we were left with from the storm. It's yucky, heavy snow. Not easy shoveling. My afternoon customer called to cancel (postpone to April 14). Too much heavy stuff to try to move so that I can carry in all my stuff. So this afternoon will be spent doing housework and shopwork. I'm taking my mom out to lunch first. So here's the garden shed - day two!

And here's the view out my door. The roof of my truck is in the foreground. The mess beyond is an over-the-ankle-deep enormous puddle of water and slush.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Today is, well, nasty! Was it only yesterday that the temp was near 60F? SIGH Guess it could be worse. Could be the start of winter instead of the end. Be careful Mary!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Just Ducky and a Puzzle

First the poor ducky. What would possess someone to keep a duck, all by itself, in a dog crate, in their front yard? This duck lives alone on Main Street. I don't get it. Why?

And now the puzzle. Can't you solve it? What is this? Located at the top of Summit Avenue on Poole's Hill. This is now on town property. There was a large house located nearby at the turn of the century. Gee, now I have to say around 1900 (rather than the last turn)! The property was given to the town (I don't know when). It became the Leander Haskins Hospital. When the hospital closed, the buildings were demolished. The largest "mound" of granite rocks is about 7 feet tall. I have asked many longtime and life long residents. I have asked at the historic society. Some folks didn't even know these existed. Any ideas?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Keeper of the Family - Part I

This is just a brief selection of some happenings and thoughts that have developed over the past 30 years and will continue to expand for many more years. As you notice by the title of this entry, I expect to make additions to the subject periodically. Expect - yes, happen - we'll see. And IF (you notice big if) I were ever to write a book (there have been a few topics that some feel I *should* write about) The Keeper of the Family would be its title.

So thirty or so years ago I took an interest in the family photos. You know the type, old sepias and such. With that interest came the curiosity about family history. My maternal grandparents came from England when they were in their teens. They became naturalized US citizens in 1942 and 1943. I have their Certificates of Naturalization. My paternal grandmother was from England, my paternal grandfather being "odd man out" born in Vermont, USA. We have close family connections and friends residing in all reaches of the UK.

No one else was interested in "preserving" the family history. No one wanted the photos, paperwork, letters, "memorabilia". It was all joyfully handed to me. Some may have been relieved that they then bore no responsibility for it.

I do see it as a responsibility. This responsibility grew to encompass far more than I could have imagined 30 years ago.

In some manner I have become chained to it. Do understand, I truly adore having these things to look at and ponder. I have family furniture from my dad's side so now *my* style is dictated by the heirlooms! Some things just don't mix with Victorian marble-topped tables and carved rockers. I will NOT part with them. My hall is decorated with the framed sepias. There are paintings and prints, jewelry and "treasures". I hope these things will forever be held by a family member. Some days I have my doubts.

Being the keeper has developed in to more than the caretaker of "things". I have become literally the caretaker of my little family. My daughter still lives at home. She has struggled most of her 24+ years to grow and mature. It's hard for her as everything takes so much repetition to become rote. I hope she will soon have the courage to get a driver's license. She would expand her capabilities so much more. My mom tries to lean more and more on me for the simple and mundane chores, not to mention companionship. I say tries because she is quite capable of doing for herself and my dad and really doesn't need all the help she claims. She has to have her own life with her own friends. My dad is dying of cancer. He is at home and doing well....considering. He has always been the caretaker. Now he is glad that I am near to help.

So here's a small sampling of family "things". You can click on either image to enlarge them for reading. You see the cross hanging at the front of the "South Baptist Church" in New Bedford, MA? It is a gold-leafed wooden cross that my maternal grandparents had made for the church in memory of their son, Hugh, who was killed in a training flight crash in April 1942. The photo was taken March 1943. The cross has not been hanging in the church for many years. I inquired about it. Now it hangs in my stairway. What's a person to do? It's part of my family history! I do have a new mystery to research. Behind the church photo and the funeral cards is the fringe end of a "scarf". I assume this "scarf" was across the casket of one of the family members from these funeral cards. I don't know funeral/burial protocol so really I'm just guessing. Anyway, stamped directly on the back of the scarf
Obviously the manufacturer? I'm going to do some checking.
So all this begs the question, what does one DO with it all?

AND, the prompt for all this retrospect? My mother asked me about writing an obituary for my dad.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

South Tower - a lighthouse

I really liked this card that came in the mail for my membership renewal to the Thacher Island Association. The drawing is a copy of the original from tower construction plans of 1859. The restoration and upkeep of Thacher Island is accomplished with NO Rockport tax dollars. Thacher Island is to be the future home of the Bridgeport reed organ that I recently restored.

Click on either image for a larger view or to read the text.

Friday, March 09, 2007

My Two Cents Worth

Well, first off, the title. I found a whopping two pennies today. My former dad-in-law once said that he was working towards an hourly salary that would exceed the value of the time spent picking up "found" change. I figured it out. It took me 2 seconds to pick up one of the pennies. Your actual time may vary. So, at my rate, I would earn 30 cents/minute. This translates to $18 per hour. Why did I pick them up?


Amanda has been sick this week. Her patience is soooooo low. It makes her a whining pain in the rear. (I'm trying to be nice in my description)


As you may recall, I had caught up on a lot of work and decided to work on some house stuff. Every time that happens and I just get started on "non-work" stuff, comes in. Four sets of keys this week! I'm still working on the melodeon in between, and then some great to look forward to news........


FP called on Wednesday and asked, "Are you ready for that player piano?" YIPPEEEEEE! Our "jointly owned" 1910, 64/88 note, upright Baldwin player piano was loaded up for the trip north on Wednesday afternoon. It will make some transit stops before it arrives. I'm soooo excited. Thank you FP for letting me take care of it once again (and finish the work I started on it). Now while this is great news, it too created yet more work. Remember the new deck I wrote about and about creating "roll in" access for pianos and reed organs?


Thursday I took some measurements and headed for our local Ace Hardware and Smith Lumber. 3 - 2X4X8's, 2 - 1X6X8's, 1 - 4X8 19/32 exterior sheathing cut to 2 - 2X8's, and one box of 2" drywall screws (I had some 2.5s), for building the removable "bridge" from the right of way to the deck. I finished building it this morning. I've gone outside and prepared the fence section along the right of way for removal. Tomorrow, I'll buy 4 galvanized angle brackets. They will be installed on the fence posts and the rails will be drilled so that the section can be held in place by the insertion of four "pins". The entire section will be made removable. Then I'll be removing the larger section of decorative fence that is part of the deck. Later, when the new deck is built, there will be a gate in the deck section. Sometime in the next few days I'll haul the "bridge" up from the workshop and do a test fit, just in case any modifications are needed. So, when needed I'll have access by bridge, at all other times it will look exactly as it does now, fence intact, no bridge, a section of deck-fence that will swing like a gate.

Did I mention how excited I am? Thanks a million times over FP.

PS With this post I'm going use and try to remember to use in the future the "labels" feature offered with Blogspot.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

So Foolish

We all have our moments, don't we? A soundly based decision just at a really stupid time. You see, I needed to get more crushed rock delivered for my parking spot/drive. I've known this for about a year and just kept putting it off. Well, a few days ago, we had a bit of rain and above freezing weather. Here and there the drive became muddy and I got fed up with it. I decided as long as the keywork was caught up and it didn't snow outside I was going to order more stone on Monday. Once I decide on something like that, especially when it's something that has been put off for so long, gets done.

Yesterday I went to Wolf Hill and ordered 1.5 yards of mixed crushed rock. I told them to deliver it this afternoon.

They did.

This is the foolish's about 6 degrees F with wind gusts to 35 mph. The wind chill is -15F. And what am I doing? I'm out shoveling and spreading crushed rock. I did it in four shifts of about 15 minutes each. It's mostly done with just a little evening to do on a warmer day! Also, I'm sure that when the ground thaws there will be a bit of settling that I will have to deal with, so I left a pile of extra where it isn't in the way of pulling in my truck. There is also a rather large "boulder" of crushed rock all frozen together!

Yes, stupid me, I knew it was going to be this cold today. Should of waited but, ya know?!

UPDATE: A correction. I just watched the weather. Evidently we are having wind gusts over 35 mph. Plum Island (coast just north of here) recorded gusts at 55 mph. Brrrrrrrr.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Workshop Reorg...

So here are some photos of one half of my workshop. The other half is still a mess of sorting stuff out. Also, I must mention that the washer/dryer, oil tank, and furnace reside in the other half. Not to mention storage for a lot of Mom's stuff, and the Christmas decorations. In total, there is about 1400 square feet. The reorganization, in part, was prompted by the fact that my Dad can no longer get down to the shop - too many stairs. He kept saying that I should just go ahead and take over "his side". So, slowly I am doing that but it involves going through all his stuff and organizing that to suit my needs.

This first photo shows the area where I do all my keytop work. On the bench, at the moment, are a set of keys (naturals only) that are waiting for their final hand filing and then buffing. They are from a tech in South Carolina. They'll be finished and shipped back tomorrow. Under this bench is storage for first all kinds of used ivory and plastic keytops, as well as a spare Oslund key machine, and boxes full of spare, used player piano parts.

This second photo shows the bench set up that is immediately opposite the "keytop bench". Here are located the machines that I use for keytops. At the far left (barely visible) is a hand operated "machine" that precisely trims off the old keyfront. Moving to the right from there is the 2-inch belt sander for trimming, then there are 2 Oslund key notching machines. One runs "forward" and the other runs in "reverse" for cutting the "notches" (area surrounding the sharps, or black keys). Further right is a Dremel 4" table saw for trimming the overhanging key fronts, and then the buffing wheel set up. Just behind the Dremel, covered with a cloth, is my new Proxxon mini table saw. At present it is set up for a specialty job in key covering and not used often. BTW, I *do* LOVE the Proxxon saw! Oh, I almost forgot to the center top, on the other side of the "divider" there is a white shower curtain hanging from the ceiling. In that area is my Wagner rotary planer set up. I use this for resurfacing the keytop before gluing on new ones. It is very messy, spewing sawdust and wood bits all over, so it is isolated as much as possible from everything else. The shower curtain allows me to prevent the mess from flinging too far. There's also a drill press near there. Underneath is storage for used piano parts and spare motors.
This picture shows an area that has been recently converted to benchtop work space. Originally the entire wall was shelf storage. A small area of shelving is still in use on the right. Presently, I'm working on the keyboard from a small melodeon on this bench. Under the bench I've stored complete units from player pianos. There is another workbench just to the left and not visible in the photo. I still haven't cleared it of a lot of stuff I'm sorting through! Above that bench I have a whiteboard (dry erase) mounted on the wall where I keep track of all the work that comes in and goes out of the shop each month. Also there are some shallow shelves for small tooling and bottled stuff.
And finally, this is a pic of a long (double) workbench where I do most of my pneumatic work. Presently this is the "guts" of the melodeon. To the left of this bench is the storage shelving and file cabinets, to the right is a tall dresser where I keep most of my leathers and my pneumatic and bellows cloths. On the shelf under the bench, I store all my neoprene tubing and hoses. In the background is some of the rest of the shop that still needs my attention. That area L's over to the right.
Throughout the workshop hand tools are hung from wall-mounted pegboards and thousands of small parts are housed in mini drawered storage units and bins. All my hand held power tools are stored in cabinets or on shelves in the other part of the shop and there, also, are the full sized table saws, grinders, a scroll saw, and two more workbenches, bins of nails, screws, electrical supplies, and almost everything else imaginable!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What? It's Only Lunchtime?

I feel like it should be at least 9 pm. Can't even manage a nap, today. Gee, that makes me sound old, doesn't it? Of course I was up at 5:30 am to deliver the Saturday papers. And I went to bed at 11 last night, dead tired, only to wake up at 2:30. Then I couldn't get back to sleep. So got the papers delivered by 8 and came home to put coffee on and bread in the toaster. The phone rang. It was the customer (Bridgeport reed organ) that was supposed to call last night to confirm that he would be coming to pay and take the organ today. He says, "Nine o'clock okay?" Then I scrambled to get breakfast eaten and be ready for his arrival (with his four helpers).

It is always fun, albeit a tad nerveracking, to watch as a bunch of guys manhandle a 300 lb reed organ out of the house and down 4 steps. I have to keep my mouth shut and not make too many suggestions on the best method. Never mind that I have moved hundreds of reed organs and pianos (sometimes alone, often with one other person). There is just too much "guy attitude" to tolerate advice from a 120 lb woman. So, it took five of them to do what two should have been able to do.

Some good news about this reed organ, though. They fully intend on transporting it by boat to Thacher Island come June. Yippppppeeeeeeee!!!!!!!! I will be taking photos of the entire trip, from loading to it's home in the Keeper's House. All going well, I'm hoping for a feature in the local newspaper. Great PR! (and thank you for the idea, Mary)

Once the Bridgeport organ was gone, I had to load up for the dump (transfer station). I had the weeks garbage plus. I've been reorganizing the workshop and there was a lot of old lumber, plexiglas, and bags of assorted debris that needed to get hauled away. It was a big load in my little truck but I managed to clear out half the pile. I'll tackle the rest a bit at a time over the next few weeks. The partially filled paint cans will have to wait for a disposal day. More on the workshop reorg another time.

After the dump I headed for the bank. Phew, my account is now a little happier! I saw our contractor's son while at the bank and asked if his dad had mentioned giving us an estimate on rebuilding our deck. He said he thought it would be Monday. I got home and went "next door" to my parent's to tell them. The doorbell rang. I went to answer it and lo and behold it was the contractor and his other son! Onni Korpi & Sons are fantastic! Anyway, it was just coincidence that I had seen the other son at the bank only minutes before. Onni and Bruce took a look at the job and made a few recommendations. Onni will be calling my mom with an estimate. I've added a little extra to the job by asking that they create a "gate" at one point in the "fence" surrounding the deck. By doing this, pianos and reed organs may be brought in from the right-of-way next to the house, across a removable ramp that I will build, directly on to the deck and in to the house. It will avoid having to haul everything up the garden path and then up the four steps to the deck. If the player piano I'm looking forward to arrives first, I plan on using the same approach. I'll just take that section of "fence" down! Yay! I'll have a "roll in" move.

Well, I'm now off to get a bite to eat. Then take Amanda to Target for a CD she wants. I'll have to stop at Staples for some banner paper (I use it to wrap up keys, in small groups, so the new keytops don't get scratched in shipping) and I want to find some wall mount organizers (for papers) that I can use for keeping my sandpaper neat and organized.

Maybe more later..................................