Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Keeper of the Family - Part 2

This is not a happy post. Friday night my Aunt E. died. She truly was the keeper of the family. She was the family mother and a second mom to me. I miss her so much.

My Aunt E. knew everything about the family. Not just her side, but ours as well. She could be counted on to know all the names and places.

My farthest back memory is of my aunt sitting me atop her kitchen counter to cut my hair. I'm sure that I was just a toddler at that time. Then, when I was school aged, I used to visit for 2 weeks every summer. I always brought my friend Sue with me. Aunt E and Uncle N would take us to the beach and to Lincoln Park, an amusement park. We'd go visit the zoo.

Our families were close. We'd make the four hour round trip frequently for cookouts, family gatherings, and holidays.

Later, when we moved to Florida, my aunt and uncle would come down for the season. At first they stayed at my parent's house for a couple weeks, then a month. Then they rented a small apartment for a couple seasons. It was just a few blocks from where I lived so they would stop in nearly daily while out for a walk. Then they came for longer and rented a "double wide" for many seasons.

Amanda and I were always thought of lovingly. She treated us as if I was her daughter and Amanda her granddaughter. I could always count on her. Always. we have all been north for over four years. We haven't visited as often. It's harder to get back and forth between our homes because of traffic and then of course, illness. My cousin drove my aunt and uncle up just before the holidays. That's when we got my parent's house decorated so quickly!

This past Friday my cousin called with the bad news. My aunt had a massive stroke. At first they though she might pull through it. Then on Friday night we got the news that she would die. That she only had a day, at most. Saturday morning we got another call. My Aunt E had died during the night.

We haven't heard the final arrangements. We do know that at some point there will be a service in her memory at the South Baptist Church, where she was a lifelong member. If you look back to the first "Keeper of the Family" post (March), you'll see an old picture of the inside of the church. I don't know how any of us here will get down to the service. My dad can't travel and needs someone here with him all the time. My mom won't drive it alone (nor will I). I just don't know.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A's Day

I feel verrryyy old. Today was Amanda's 25th birthday. I won't write all the standard "has it been that........" comments. I took a couple pictures but she would hate me for blogging them! You'll have to take my word for it that they came out nice. Soooo, here's just a nice "summer is coming" picture that I took many summers ago. Gee, many, many summers ago. Amanda was 10!

What does one buy for a 25 year old? She has more money banked than I think I ever have had (at one time). She buys pretty much anything she *wants*. She didn't write a birthday list. Her grandma and grandpa bought her some cool glassware...clear tumblers with turquoise fish on them. Perfect for the girl that longs to live in Florida once again. They also gave her a $50 certificate towards some furniture she needs. I got her a new fan for her room. She griped and fussed about the one she used last summer....too low to the floor so it just blew air against the side of the bed, and a control knob that kept falling off and getting lost. So now she has a nice pedestal model that swings back and forth 180 degrees (or not if you chose). Fans are a lot more expensive than I thought they'd be. At least good ones are! As a little extra I took her out to dinner. She got cards from Aunt M and Paul, Aunt E and Uncle N, me, grandma and grandpa, and of course one from "the other". Per norm now (since she turned 18) nothing from her dad. I guess at this point that is not even worth the comment that I would like to make. So I won't.

My daughter's a quarter of a century old...........YIKES!!


Tomorrow I have a tuning job in Magnolia. Should be a fun place with a great view to watch while I listen. When the lady gave me the directions they were...."the first drive on the left after Hammond Castle. Go all the way to the end." Weird thing is that while I've been anticipating the fantastic ocean views, I can't remember the make piano! I think it's a Yamaha grand, but then the guy that booked a tuning today, for next week, said he has a Yamaha grand. Oh well. Maybe they both do. In the meantime, check out Mr. Hammond, his "castle", and his life and inventions HERE.


BTW, the surprise is finished and ready to send. I've got to wait a bit, though. The date that I wanted it to arrive isn't going to work out as she will be out of town. I'm now planning on the surprise arriving the latter of the first week in May. Then you'll see the surprise (sort of) here.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Nummmba Foewha

See, I remembered to take the camera! Yay, Skip's is open! This is their 60th year. I've been eating there, well, forever. My folks first started going once a week in about 1952. The first place was just across the street from it's present location on Rte. 110, just east of the center of Merrimac, MA. It started as an eat-in-your-car place. About 20 years ago they added an eat-in area. We still eat in our car as some traditions are just part of the overall experience. I honestly didn't think we would get there today. My dad just started taking a time release pain med and today he was very weak, and unstable from it. He could barely get one foot in front of the other. He *did* want to go, took about a half an hour to actually get him out of the house and in to the mini van. He had to get down 5 steps and that meant sitting down part way for a rest. Our retired police chief was out in his yard and came over to lend a hand and chat while dad rested. Once he was in the car, he enjoyed the trip immensely.

As long as I missed the bumps in the road, or at least warned him ahead of time.

Getting him back in the house was even more difficult. He did get in after several rest stops but my mom was real upset and called the Hospice nurse to come. My mom is going to try giving him a slightly lower dose (20mg instead of 30) of his pain med and see if it still is effective for the 12 hour pain management yet maybe not so debilitating for his mobility.

I don't think he'll be going out again.

I think that this is on my back this week. Remember how I said that Tech S was trying to get me over to his shop about the player grand? This is the one that I sent the labeled photos to and the description on what to do. Then he called with the rather nasty comments? While I took my mom out to dinner on Wednesday evening, Tech S showed up knocking at my parent's door! My dad struggled to answer it. This made me VERY angry. Well....This week his son got in to the act and called me. This is the son who was arrested for alleged assault on his girlfriend, the renter, and firing the gun in the house. I called and left a message reiterating that I couldn't be of any further assistance and not to be bothering my folks looking for me.

Then.........the !!##!!%! non-tech key customer started up again. He had sent the keys back to me because he thought there were problems. He had marked each problem spot with a bit of blue painter's tape. I cleaned up a couple that did have a bit of residual glue, and a couple that had gotten chipped in shipping were fixed. I shipped the keys back to him and emailed him the shipping tracking number. He got the keys yesterday. Within five minutes he had left a message on my machine that he was disappointed in the key tops. That they were too rounded (or his words, rolled) on the edges and the front. So I'm irritated about this too! I emailed him this morning that that is the style of the top he chose. I can't change that.

So there.

I haven't heard back yet............Why am I sure that I will?


And finally. Are you wondering about the title of this post? When dining at Skip's, you first place your order at the "order" window. When your number is called you pick it up at the "pick up" window. Dave (the owner and boss when I worked there) has a heavy New England accent. Thus, when he was calling out the those days it was 1 - was nummba one, nummba two, nummba three, and then nummba foewha.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

40 Days, 40 Nights

The weather has been so lousy, I'm feeling like this will be the view from my window when I wake up in the morning. April showers for sure. On the fun side of it, yesterday I took my mom for a ride through town to look at the ocean (high tide). Actually a super high tide. Big nor'easter at the same time as an astronomical high tide with the new moon. The police had closed off T-wharf, Bearskin Neck, and Back Beach so we headed for Granite Pier. So had everyone else! Almost a traffic jam out there! I parked the truck facing the water and we watched the waves crashing along the coast and the pier (granite, thus the name). After the truck had received it's share of salt water being dumped on the hood, we headed for home. Today, Amanda and I tried the same thing. The tide was up even more today and there were big swells in the harbor. Amazingly, today we could drive out on T-Wharf even though water was periodically sloshing over the edges and flowing under some parked cars. We also drove out to the end of the Neck and had the spray coming over the truck. Today the road was closed at Front Beach as well as Back Beach. Amanda had to get home for lunch and then work so we didn't drive out to Granite Pier. I didn't take any photos of the ocean. When it's gray and dismal and there is no good light to give the surf dimension, well, frankly, it never looks as tumultuous as it appears in person.


Today was my mom's 75th birthday. Amanda was working through dinner time so I cooked dinner for my folks and then my mom opened presents after Amanda got home tonight. I guess I was remiss....I forgot to take birthday pictures.


Guess what? I may have mentioned this before. I can't remember and I'm not going to stop and look back at previous posts. So....if I've mentioned this before, I apologize for duplication. So...Guess what? I missed out on a tuning job last week. When I returned the call that was on my machine, the customer had already booked someone else. No problem. Well, on Saturday the customer called back. Seems the tuner he booked for 6 p.m. Friday didn't show up. Several calls were made (messages left) to find out why but were never returned. So the gig was mine if I wanted it. I go tomorrow! Oh, and the tech that was the "no-show"? Tech S.

But wait. It gets better.

Yesterday I had a message on *my* machine from Tech S.

Paraphrased...insert a good deal of demeaning attitude when "hearing" these words as you read them.

This is S at phone #, please tell Deb that if she can manage to find a moment in her busy schedule to call me.

That was it. Pffftt. Don't give me attitude if you want me to call. Okay, yes, I'm a nice person. But I certainly didn't rush to call him back. To be blunt, I'm really tired of hearing his crap. (sorry, but I couldn't think of another way to phrase it. really, I tried to think of some other word. not for very long, though!) I called him back today. I got his machine! I said, "This is Deb. I'm just returning your call."

That's it. That was at lunchtime and I haven't heard back..................yet.


Two sets of keys shipped back today. The third is finished and a message left to arrange the "Friendly's" exchange! Two phone calls with three sets of keys on the way. I did get to work on the melodeon a little today. More work on that tomorrow and start on the piano action work from Saturday's repair job.


Oh boy! Skip's opens for the season tomorrow! (We will go for lunch on Saturday, Amanda's next day off work. I'll take my camera.) And Ellen's opens for the season on May 1st!


And before I forget....I've come up with a nifty surprise for a friend. I'll post about it here, with pictures, when I can. It won't be until sometime near the beginning of May, though.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lonnnngggg Day

Phew and Yay!

As it is a Saturday, the papers had to be delivered early. So up and working at 5:30 a.m. again. Remarkably, we got done with them a half hour earlier than usual. Don't know why.

Regretfully, I woke up with a sinus headache. I hate getting these. They make my eye water and my nose drip on the affected side. And to top it off, I had the BIG repair job scheduled for this afternoon. This is the job that has been rescheduled numerous times due to weather. I just couldn't call saying I wasn't up to it. I went at 1:30. I loaded absolutely everything I thought I might need for the job. Nuts, bolts, washers, one very large electric drill, two smaller ones, and my battery powered drill with three charged batteries, several drill bits encompassing the final size and a few for reaming and pilot holes, a variety of clamps including two pipe clamps, two "QuickGrip" bar clamps, two large C clamps, a hack saw, a 1/2" socket(ratchet), glue, a large screwdriver (didn't need), a mallet, and my regular toolkit. I discovered I had brought far more than I needed. The job went very easily and faster than I had anticipated. I've removed the piano action and brought it back to the shop for some work. I'll return on May 5th, put it all back together and tune.

BTW, for toting all the heavy tools, I used a suitcase on wheels. It would have worked great but for one exception......the parking area and the walk to the house were crushed rock! Wheels wouldn't wheel......had to carry it anyway. (I did leave the "spare" drills in the truck)

I've still got the headache.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

TMTC (Part 2)

Well, I'm going to try to keep this short. Y' just never know though! I read Netcrime's blog and some recent posts have been about an online harassment case. What got me thinking was how the parents of the high schooler who is the defendant are selectively blind to the actions of their "darling child". I won't go into all the details. You can read about it here. (I hope the link works) If my child had done what this young man admits to doing, my child would be begging for the punishment of the courts rather than being subjected to the punishment at home. I don't get it. Why do some people think that they are so special and deserve "more better" than anyone else? Yeah, I know, here I go again with "some people". Anyway, it reminded me of an incident over 25 years ago.

It was my second year as a full time high school photography teacher. We had 10 35mm cameras that the students could take turns borrowing. One young man managed to leave the camera in a stranger's car. He'd been hitching a ride somewhere. It was never returned. Now we were down to 9 cameras. This made it more difficult for all the students to share those remaining cameras and get their coursework done. The department head and I discussed the options and decided that the student should not be allowed the use of the 35mm cameras, but instead finish the work using a cheaper "Instamatic". The coursework could be done just as effectively with the cheaper camera. The semester progressed as the students worked independently on 10 assignments. Reminders were issued periodically to those that were falling behind...including the young man who lost the camera. Grade time came and the young man turned in only 2 out of 10 assignments. The grades on those two photos combined with his test scores gave him a total grade of 21 (out of a possible 100).

Guess what?

His parents filed a greivance against me! Seems he had to have a passing grade in all his subjects to stay on the basketball team. I was called to the principal's office for a private meeting. Of course I was required to bring the grade book. Thankfully, the principal was a reasonable man. Especially when presented with the grades, the lack of effort, and the can I justify changing a grade of 21 to a passing grade of 65? No one failed my class as long as they DID THE WORK. Two assignments out of ten isn't any effort. That was the last I heard of it and the basketball team was missing one student.


And now TMSSTS (Part 2)

The GD Times had another big write-up outlining all of Mr. Tech P's financial problems from 2004 until the present. Seems there have been 10 lawsuits (one of which is pending) totaling approximately $80,000 in settlements against him. Three or four of those were piano related.


And finally. Remember when I commented, last Fall, that I was getting key work from the customer rather than their technician? Well, as of today I am initiating a new policy. NO MORE.

Just got a box of keys (not all the set) from one of those customers. It's actuially the one from FL that I was suspicious knew RC. He seems to think that there was a bit of "touch up" work needed. He marked all the spots with a bit of blue painter's tape. Honestly, folks, I've taken a magnifying glass to these keys and can't for the life of me see the problem. So...I did replace a couple key fronts that look like they were chipped in shipping. I double checked the squareness and filed edges. All seems fine. They be shipped back to him next time I head for the shipper. I'm not making a special trip. His delusions will cost me $25 in shipping fees. Oh well, reputation and all...ONLY FOR THE TRADE FROM NOW ON!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The More Things Change (Part 1)

The more some stay the same....Gee does this scene look familiar? One of the three sets is the last of the previous three. I shipped two out yesterday and met a tech at the local "Friendly's" and picked up a set. Then today another came in the mail.

This is a close-up of the set that came from New Jersey today. Looks like they got *very* hot! The old plastic tops were very warped. Check out the detail photo below. I think I know who the piano belonged to...Must have been Salvador Dali. (bad joke)

I've kept this keytop....just for fun. It has to be one of the worst I've seen.

Part 2 of "The More Things Change" tomorrow.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

How I Spent My Easter Weekend

And I just *thought* I'd have some free time!

The set on the bench (keytops and bushings) arrived on Thursday. Darn UPS delivered the other two sets at 7 p.m. on Friday! One set just keytops, the other in foreground keytops and backcheck leather. Click on the photo to enlarge it and you will see that the brown leather, over the green felt, sticking up on wires at the back of the keys in the front is worn out and will be replaced.

So, today I've been working from 5:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. I'm taking the rest of the evening off.

Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, I *will* go to church. I'm also cooking Easter dinner., work, work.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Mixed Nuts

I like cashews and almonds, thank really....a mix of topics tonight!

Came across this old (nearly as old as me) newspaper clipping while cleaning out the file cabinet in the workshop. I have not included the entire article because it uses full names. Take a look and read about it below.

The gentleman in the photo on the left is my dad. In the right hand photo is my mom and ME! I was seven months old in the pic. Have you heard of electronic baby monitors? You know, like Fischer-Price makes? Well, step back to the year 1955. My dad built his own. The microphone is mounted on the head of my crib (just above my mom's wrist in the pic), the amplifier and speakers were located in the bookcase downstairs (next to my dad). Pretty cool, huh? Of course it was a one of a kind...never patented as the company my dad worked for would have taken ownership of the patent, paying him $1 for the idea. That was company policy...anything, even unrelated to the company, that was developed, invented, etc. would belong to the company. I still think it's really neat.


It's been a busy week with "outside" jobs. Tunings, repairs, and evaluations. I shipped out two sets of keys on Monday. Only one set has come in this week, but another two sets should be arriving anytime. Tomorrow, I've got to spend the afternoon shopping. The birthdays are coming up quickly. I'll have to do my dad's shopping for my mom's present. I've spent some time the past couple of days working up a media contact list for Jayne. Her publisher is wanting to get more copies of her book out to the media. I'm having a time finding one specific postal code. Once that is found then the list will be done. I'll email it to her tomorrow.


Got reminiscing with Mom. First about the quality of the crumpets we have been buying. They're not as good as what my grandmother used to buy at Worthington's Bakery in New Bedford. Worthington's is long gone taking with it marvelous meat pies, Maid-of-Honors, chocolate filled cupcakes, and of course, crumpets. That got us thinking about the bakery where we each worked part time. Esbensen's Danish Bakery....gone, too. But the memories continue of Kransekager, Mozart cakes, Mazariner, Almond tarts, Wienerbrod, Princess cake, some delish treats that I have forgotten the name almond macaroon on the bottom, a conical top of mocha buttercream dipped in dark chocolate...yummmmm. Lots of wonderful fresh breads, especially the oatmeal bread. Then there was the lunch that was always provided. Usually something like a Danish meatball sandwich with sweet and sour cucumber, or boiled cabbage and sausage rolls. I may just have to make a Mazariner soon. I have recipes for a few of the things. Mazariner are either a pie or tarts made from almond paste, eggs, and sugar with icing on the top. Although Kransekager (Danish wedding cake) is a big project, I do make a cookie version like we sold in the bakery. It is a horseshoe shaped almond paste cookie with one end dipped in dark chocolate. I can't remember the name of those.

I'm starting to gain weight just thinking about it.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Those Tax People

Yesterday, I shipped out two sets of completed keys and went to a customer's house to return keys that I had rebushed. That left today a bit open to catch up on a few things that needed doing. I've got 3 more sets of keys on the way here and also some birthday shopping that will have to get done within the next two weeks (Mom's and Amanda's) so I knew I had to cram a lot of small stuff into today. First, I got some supplies ready for my tuning/repair job tomorrow, then I did some more damaged veneer removal on the melodeon job. That stuff is really glued down well and is taking quite a bit of careful dampening and then scraping. I've almost got it all off now. Maybe another couple hours of scraping! I called the piano parts supplier and ordered more keytops and straightened up the shop a bit.

And then, this afternoon I wrote my letter to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue! Here it is........

April 3, 2007

Massachusetts Department of Revenue
Refund Review Unit
200 Arlington Street Room 4300
Chelsea MA 02150

This letter is in response to the Notice of Intent to Assess that I received at approximately 12:00 p.m. on March 28, 2007. Copies of the Notice and the Response Form are attached to this letter.

At 2:13 p.m. Thursday, March 29, 2007, I telephoned the Department of Revenue's Audit Division and spoke with Andrew. I explained to Andrew, that although I have all the records of which copies are requested, the cost involved in making those copies and sending them to the Refund Review Unit would exceed the refund amount that I am due.

Andrew explained that there would be no penalty in not providing the copies requested and that sending this explanatory letter would be appropriate.

Therefore, I will not be furnishing the copies due to the costs of photocopying and mailing exceeding the refund amount that I am due.


So there it is. My be nice and polite letter in response. That's the one I'm sending. It's NOT the one I would like to have written to send. They would not look kindly upon me for what I would have liked to have written. Use your imagination.