Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happiest of New Years

To all of you.

And here snow and more snow and now it's blowing a moderate gale. I shoveled this morning. I shovel this afternoon while 'A' got herself ready for work. At 2:30 the three of us headed out to take her. Our road was miserable, of course. We got to Main Street and although conditions were not spectacular, they were acceptable enough to make the trip to Stop & Shop. Since the storm would be over (at least the snow part of it) by early evening, picking 'A' up from work at 8 p.m. would be an okay trip.

Back to the trip out...we made it exactly one half block on Main Street and we came to a stop behind a line of vehicles. There were blue flashing lights ahead and some kind of large semi-stationary object in the middle of the road. Oh yeah, the 'horn' had gone off a short while back. Rockport has a horn system for emergencies (ambulance, volunteer fire, school closings, accidents, etc.). I had heard the ambulance horn (3 blasts) and the traffic emergency (1, 4 or 4,1 I can't remember right now). So with only a few options, those being sit there waiting for whatever to get cleared up, turn around and go the long way with many hills and curves, or turn on to Dodd's Lane and go home, we opted for home. 'A' called work and told them sorry, but we can't get there, there seemed to be a major accident.

Before it went dark, I went out and shoveled again. Tomorrow I'll have to re-shovel the back walk and cellar bulkhead and the deck. Then we'll head to our friend's house, the friend vacationing in the Barbados (how unfair this is becoming) and shovel his place out. I'll probably have to do some clean-up shoveling of our two drives because the darn wind has changed direction and everything is drifting back in - only the opposite way.

Now, tonight is Rockport's New Year's Eve celebration. Lots of music and whatnot at over a dozen locations in town, including one venue that is in a tent in the town parking lot. HAH. It's blowing a gale outside and temperatures are dropping. Quickly. Should be around 9°F by midnight with a windchill of -7°F or below. Needless to say. Well, it's needless but here goes.

I won't be there.

This is the first time I haven't attended in 7 New Years. Oh well, it's really not much fun when you have to freeze alone amid hundreds of people, ya know. So I'll cozy up with my latest reading, maybe until midnight if I can stay awake. I listen to the wind howl from the warmth of my bed.

May you all have a wonderful, peaceful, and prosperous 2009.

(picture is of our garden shed - hibernating!)

How Stupid Can They Be?

No surprise it's snowing. No surprise 'A' is supposed to be at work at 3 p.m., during the height of the storm, of course. By that time winds should be gusting to around 55 mph blowing the accumulated 5 - 6 inches of snow.

And I suppose it should be no surprise that the DPW, in their vast amount of wisdom, sent a sand/salt truck down our street spewing it's mixture on top of 2 inches of snow. No more than 5 minutes later followed by the plow, which neatly removed all that sand/salt to the edge of the road.

So much for watching the budget. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Short Odd Ends

Butterfly puzzle

As I've been cruising around reading various blogs over the past few weeks, I decided to make note of some of the more interesting word verification words. As advance fun, I suggest we come up with creative definitions for some of these 'words'. They are: Mushwore, Arbish, Papteded, Artigi, Anonise, Fractat, Whersup, Blevano, Plaucin, Euphish, Mallata, and Hecte.

May I start with: Mushwore - a fungal disease, Artigi - a really super South Pacific island, Anonise - speaking anonymously, Whersup - similar to whassup? but location specific, Plaucin - little known French Impressionist.

Interestingly, Mallata and Hecte didn't set off the spell check.

'A' and I headed for Bed, Bath, and Beyond today to exchange a blanket for my mom. We had mistakenly bought her a down blanket when she had wanted a down alternative blanket. Don't know what the alternative is but it says it's in there. Anyway, we had a Rock & Roll journey. The round trip included old favorites such as Louie, Louie and Wild Thing. Then Chuck Berry performing Sweet Little Sixteen, Roll Over Beethoven, Reelin' and Rockin', Mabelline, Johnny B. Goode, and School Day (?), among a lot of others.

Picked up my last check at Tuck's. A measly 3.5 hours. Used my Christmas bonus...$25 of 'Tuck's Bucks' and bought another 1000 piece puzzle, some envelopes and a card. The puzzle is of a floral filled cat tapestry. It will be the last puzzle before I start on income taxes for us all. I need the table!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Latest Reading

A few nights ago, I finished reading The Shack. I'm almost at a loss for words on this one. Really not my type of story, yet obviously it held my interest. I did finish it. The tale starts out quite everyday-ish and then quickly progresses in to a very personal spiritual journey. Yet this is fiction. The main character, Mack, meets up with Papa (God as a black woman), his/her son Jesus (Mack relates to him the easiest), and Sarayu (holy ghost/spirit) who then work to enlighten Mack while showing him that his grief and guilt can be overcome. That weekend spent at the shack with the Trinity comprises the bulk of the story. It has some cute commentary as Mack tries to relate to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The ending is predictable with a slight twist.

Not a favorite as casual reading. Do I recommend it? I don't know. I guess the best thing you can do is check out the website if you're curious (click on the picture of the book in the sidebar). Decide for yourself.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Just Wondering

How come there are three partially used rolls of toilet paper in our bathroom? And not one of them is on the holder! Count 'em. One on the edge of the tub (the largest-papa bear), one balancing on the holder (mama bear), one on the back of the toilet (baby bear).

Yeah, I'm tired. I think I'll go read. I finished The Shack, now I'm reading Water for Elephants. Reports someday. Night night.

Trudging to the New Year

It just has to be a better one, doesn't it?

We got through today. It didn't look promising to begin with, but time moves on. I've got a set of keys just about finished. Wait a minute.

Make that finished.

I worked on them this morning, took 'A' to work for 12:30. Came home and had a quick bite for lunch and then headed out to my 1:30 tuning. Stopped in Gloucester to put gas in the truck. Thank goodness prices are lower. Unfortunately, I was cash poor and had to spend a ten from my Christmas money. At least it bought me what a twenty would have not so long ago.

Arrived at Mrs. Artsylady's house after surviving the attempts on my life by three drivers who each decided to ignore that I was on the road. Mrs. Artsylady lives in a modest home filled with original paintings and sculptures and boasts a spectacular ocean view. The beast was waiting for me. The piano, not Mrs. Artsylady! The beast is a three year old Steinway Model K. There is absolutely no good way to approach it other than several times over! Nothing stays where you try to put it, at least not on the first try. There are some areas requiring massive compromises, distracting overtones, and to add to the misery a mute rail to get out of the way. But Mrs. Artsylady is nice and quiet and stays out of the way, so I can curse at the beast under my breath and get the job done. Takes some extra time, that beast.

I got back home slightly after three and that's when I finished up the key work. Once that was done, I heated up some leftovers for dinner for mom and myself. Cleaned up and headed out the door to pick up 'A' at work.

Another day gone. And a Friday. It always seems like Friday. Tomorrow I'll call and tell the other tech that his keys are finished. Hopefully he'll arrange to pick them up on Monday. More money in the bank! Yippee, the IRS will be wanting it's cut come the new year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Now That All Is Said and Done

I might just skip over Christmas next year. Well, I guess I mean no big to-do. Why, you may wonder? Well, it seems to have fallen upon my shoulders to make sure everything about the day (and the eve) happen as the other two in the house think it should. This year shopping was a nightmare with limited lists and mom's jumping the gun on everyone else leaving not much left, list-wise, to buy. New lists were created and my daughter, 'A', and I finished shopping in plenty of time... for mom to decide that she wasn't thrilled with her purchases and wasn't there anything else we wanted. And then.........

She got ill.

It started with a backache that physical therapy didn't help (she claims). There was no convincing her that when you exercise muscles that you don't normally use, they are going to ache. Oh well. She scheduled her self for some cortisone injections.

Then her brother died and that spiraled everything down hill. I do empathize. Really, I do. But I have a low tolerance for the constant loud sighs and juvenile behavior that accompanies her 'illness'. She says she needs someone to take care of her. Her doc put her on some medication that evidently caused dizziness. Now she's trying another type and is not much better. I did get her up to the pain management clinic in Newburyport for her shots on Thursday. She was fine that day. Anyway, over the past nearly two weeks she had me leave work early to take her to the doctor (they said she was fine) and then take the day off this past Monday because she felt dizzy and pretty much stayed in bed for the day. She says she's trying. I'm sure Tuck's wasn't happy about being a clerk short on the Monday, three days before Christmas, after a three day weekend storm. My bank account isn't happy, either.

Christmas Eve rolled around and the gifts went under the tree.It's my job to arrange them and then play Santa in the morning. This year two of our normal guests went away for three weeks to cruise the Barbados (yes, oh please, I want that!) They stopped by last week, before they left, and regifted some Jelly Bellies. We are in charge of taking care of their house. The mail and such. Yesterday I had to shovel out the three day's worth of snowfall at their house. Oh MY back! My mom called her friend (our other usual Christmas dinner guest) and canceled with her. Still, I did have a special Christmas dinner to execute for just the three of us. Last year I had promised 'A' that I would make Cito's Special this year and she has patiently waited. It's an all day ordeal that I did get finished yesterday amid the errands, banking, getting 'A' to work and back, shoveling, and working on piano keys. Today I finished the topping while 'A' peeled carrots and potatoes. Thank goodness that 'A' found it within herself to pitch in and help out. She hates cooking from scratch!

Now all is done and cleaned up but the leftovers. Mom is resting on the sofa (last I checked) reading a book. 'A' and I worked on a new jigsaw puzzle for a little while. Mom's canceled guest stopped by with some home-baked cookies. We have an entire pecan pie to eat, too! Tomorrow the world goes back to normal (or semi, considering the mall madness that will probably be occurring without us). 'A' will be back at work and I've got a tuning job. I'm hoping mom will feel a little better tomorrow. I keep hoping. Spring is usually the only cure and that's way too far away.

(afterword - I don't mean to complain 'bout mom so much. She's never had to manage on her own...ever. Seems like all I've done for my adult life is manage on my own. I'm tired.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Letter...

lifted directly from Letter to the editor of the GDT.

Dear government Santa: Where's my bailout?

Dear United States government,
Where's my bailout money?
Normally this time of year I would write a letter to Santa for things that I want under my Christmas tree, but, for things such as this, Santa actually holds more accountability than you do. Let's see, I think about $20 million will do. I figure you wouldn't miss that amount of money out of the more than $1 trillion that you will give away.

Since I have to tell Santa how I was good this year in order to get presents, I thought I would do the same to you. I haven't given out any shady mortgages to people who can't afford them and have bad credit history and have forged paperwork like the big mortgage lending companies did. I haven't run a bad business model such as The Big Three auto makers have, where the unions have outrageous benefits packages where the auto makers are forced to pay benefits and pensions to generations of retired workers.

I also figure that I will spend the money much more wisely than the hundreds of billions that will eventually be unaccounted for when that money is eventually used for corporate bonuses and kickback scandals. I figure an honest, hardworking taxpayer such as myself, who followed all the banking rules when I bought my house that I could afford, deserves a reward from my government instead of those who broke the law and lived beyond their means.

I also think that money you give me will be more wisely spent on the local economy, thus expanding the economy of the North Shore and Cape Ann. I'll tell you what, I'll actually give you the receipts of what I bought with my bailout money-this will automatically give me more accountability than The Big Three auto makers, Freddie Mac or AIG.

This American government has taught me well. If you break the law, squander money and follow bad business models, the American taxpayers will just give you their money. It's that easy. So if you could take just another few more million dollars of their hard-earned money and just give it to me this Christmas, I promise they won't notice.

One last thing, can you lower my mortgage rate as well-just like you are doing for all the others who paid a lower rate than me when they were paying a subprime rate? Now their rate is higher than mine and your(sic) bailing them out by lowering their rates and putting off their foreclosures?

As they say, I'll be waiting for the check in the mail under my tree. Merry Christmas to you, United States government!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

First Day of Winter

Okay, I've had enough winter weather. We had the big snowfall of Friday. It managed to drag itself into Saturday. It never really stopped snowing although it did lighten up. We had a one hour break this morning and then it was at it again. This time, after dumping 5 inches, it changed to rain and then sleet. I got absolutely drenched through shoveling the snow and slush before it all froze in place. Temperatures have dropped from the mid 30s to the teens. The wind is howling from the west this time. All the slush and snow left on the ground has frozen solid. The town hasn't done much of a job with plowing. The worst job I've seen in the seven winters I've been back (at least in our neighborhood). No salt or even sand on our street yet. My body aches all over from three days of snow removal...and oh yeah, I walked to work and back home today.

How many more days until Spring? Somewhere around 90? sigh

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Adventure

that I could have lived without....

There was no getting around the fact the we were to get 8 to 12 inches of snow today. Not one of my better days! Before I left for my morning tuning, 'A' had a call from her job asking if she could come in earlier than scheduled. 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. ( instead of 3 - 8). I liked this a lot more than the anticipated 8 p.m. drive in the snow covered world to pick her up. The snow was due to begin at 2 p.m. and continue through the night. The heaviest to be about 3 - 9 p.m. in our area.

On cue the snow started at 2 p.m. (well, a few minutes before) and got a bit heavier by three. I decided that I wanted to make my first snow sojourn in mom's new car in the daylight. Just a few minutes before 4 p.m. I bundled up and headed out to clear off her car. She has 4 wheel drive on demand. Much better than my little truck, even with it's extra 300 pounds over the rear axle. Mom rode along to keep me company (and shriek inappropriately just to try my patience). We made slow but steady progress to Stop & Shop using 'the long way 'round' to the traffic light rather than venture down the steep incline of Barn Lane. The roads were hardly plowed leaving a few packed inches of hard, icy stuff on top of the pavement and even with the 'on demand', corners and hills (and corners and hills together) required evenly tempered driving. We were parked in the partially plowed lot by 4:20, a mere 15 minutes longer than usual for the drive!

Mom and I went in to let 'A' know we had arrived and to pick up a couple items. A half hour wait sitting on the bench inside the store and then it was time to pack it up, steady the nerves, and head home.

The wind was howling. The car windshield had iced up. I ran around scraping and then got the defroster running to clear the rest of the window. We were off at a whopping 20 mph! The state plow trucks were lined up in their usual positions at 'the light' in Gloucester. We cleared them and took the turn on to Eastern Avenue. So far so good! As we approached the slight hill and curve nearing the 'other' supermarket, we caught up with a small pick up truck. I kept a good distance behind him as he fishtailed his way up the slight incline. Oh, how I hoped he wasn't going too far. How on earth would he ever make it up Great Hill? I was figuring even we would have to have a little running start and that's not easy due to the curve at the bottom.

He inched and swerved along at 10 mph. I kept about 4 car length's behind him. As we entered an area of road called Nugent Stretch, Mr. Pick Up lost his bearings and ran off the road. It was impossible to determine the actual edge and he got caught in a large rutted area just off the pavement. It all looked the same snowy whiteness! (note: When driving in these conditions, I try to aim for as close to mid road as possible. When there is oncoming traffic I stay just far enough in my lane to miss them but not get myself too far to the edge) I let our car slow without making any abrupt movements and by the time I caught up with him, he was back on snow covered pavement. His near disaster must have rattled him. We were now creeping along at 5 mph! I returned to my hanging back position. There was a line of several cars behind me. The car immediately to my rear got fed up and passed me and Mr. Pick Up. In the snow filled haze ahead we could see the glow of oncoming headlights. I can only imagine what that driver must have been wondering, seeing lights coming head-on! Thankfully, there was just enough time and distance for Mr. Inahurry to get back in his lane. Mr Pick Up inched along. I thought certainly he would try to gradually gain a little speed for the upcoming Great Hill. When it became evident he wasn't going to run for it, I held way back to give myself running room before catching up with him. Up ahead I could see him start the long hill. Just before my turn at Great Hill, I inched my speed up to 15 mph. Our car was going along nicely. No swerving, no spinning tires, just a gently controlled climb. Mr Pick Up's taillights appeared a car length in front of us. He was still struggling along at minimal speed. Way too slow for the hill left ahead of him. He tried giving the truck more gas and only succeeded in massively fishtailing the rear of his truck. He appeared to over-steer and promptly found himself off the edge of the road once again. We were gaining on him and I had to ease off the gas pedal. I didn't want to have to stop. We'd never get going again! Fortunately, by the time we neared Mr. Pick Up he had skidded to a safe stop, mostly off the road. There was a line of traffic coming down the hill from the opposite direction. I held my breath that the lead truck in that line had his vehicle well in control and continued up through the narrow lane left behind Mr. Pick Up. As I crested Great Hill I knew there was only one bad spot left. The curve on the descent. As I shifted in to a lower gear, I checked my rearview mirror. I'd picked up another tailgater. Why are people so stupid?

We negotiated the decline and I gave Mr. Tailgater plenty of notice with my directional that I was going to be slowing down to make a left turn. If there were oncoming traffic, I'd have to stop. I hoped he was paying attention. We came upon our street and there were no oncoming headlights showing so I eased myself towards the center of the road so that if Mr. Tailgater couldn't stop or slow down, he could get by me rather than rear end me! Our road hadn't been plowed but the drifting snow had made it's own lane down the center of the street. No problems with that.

Pulling in to our driveway never felt so good.

The wind continues to howl like a high-speed train past our house, the snow continues to fly. The shoveling shall wait until morning.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Holidays

A Christmas gift for all of you.

A do it yourself baking project!

Tea Scones

Sift together 1.25 cups flour, 1.25 teaspoons baking powder, and a pinch of salt.

Combine .25 lb of margarine and 2 Tablespoons sugar, rub in to flour mixture.
Mix together 1 egg and .50 cups of milk. Add to flour mixture.
Dough should be light and not sticky (lightly floured). Shape in to scone and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 375°F for 10 - 15 minutes.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


It shaping up to be a nasty week, yet in the midst of it all work has picked up. I can't enjoy it though. Because of the rest. On Monday at work, I got at call from my mom. She wasn't feeling well and wanted me to take her to the doctor. She had canceled her appointment with the back specialist - another problem she/we are dealing with - sort of. Anyway, I got out of work, juggled picking 'A' up from her work during the doctor visit, got mom home, went back to work. All in all I missed 2.5 hours! Doctor couldn't find anything wrong. She has rescheduled her back doctor for Thursday and I'll have to drive her there. That'll do in an entire morning!

As I said, work has picked up. I had a set of keys arrive on Saturday from New Orleans. I worked extra long hours and they will get shipped back tomorrow. I had two jobs today. One was a minor adjustment and some troubleshooting. No charge as this is a good customer. The other was one of 'my' church pianos. I do those as tithe. A new customer tuning tomorrow. That's in the morning. A meeting at Friendly's in the mid-afternoon to pick up a set of keys for a big job. Another tuning booked for Friday morning when we are to have a big snowstorm. I guess we're due. We got nothing of the mess of ice storm that the rest of northern New England had last week. At least the tuning is nearby. I could walk to it if the driving were to be too treacherous.

I've forgotten to mention Saturday's holiday fair. I didn't make much money, but at least I didn't lose any on the table rental. Five necklaces and one package of notecards sold. I'd do it there again. People are starting to remember I've been doing them and that helps the word-of-mouth business. Several people said that either I should be an exhibiting member of the art association or have a gallery in town. I'll admit to enjoying the ego boost! Guess that was worth the small profit.

But the worst of the week. Today my uncle died. Yes, he was 92. I'm pretty sure he was ready. The rest of us not so much. He'll be buried at the Bourne National Cemetery. He'll join my aunt. My dad is there, as well. I guess we won't be at the funeral. We should be. Mom's back pain and her illness are the major reasons we won't be there.

I hope tomorrow is a better day.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Dear Santa,

This Christmas I want work. I'll take it as an early gift and please continue it in to next year. I have worked extra diligently this year. I've kept busy with the piano business and I started a part time art business. I even took on a two day per week retail job. The piano business had it's normal earnings months and it had some exceptional months over the past year. The 'art' and retail jobs were just to supplement my income because so much more money was being used up for everyday expenses. Particularly food and fuel. Those two items ate up nearly everything that normally I could have saved. In June, my mom took us on a three day vacation to the mountains. The only extra money I spent was for eating out while we were there. This year has been tight. Just as there seemed to be a slight improvement with gasoline prices dropping, business also fell off. I checked my books from last December to discover a 79% decrease in business December, this year. I have four days of work left at Tuck's and one small crafts fair.

Please bring work, Santa.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Today was a catch up on stuff day. I was supposed to work at Tuck's but snow (yes, that nasty white stuff) was falling this morning and I got a phone call telling me I wouldn't be needed. Things were sssssssllllllooooooowwwwwwww. So I actually took care of all (well almost all) the paperwork that's been hanging around. I found a long ago put away item that a co-worker would like to have (I'll take it in to work Sunday). I went to the bank and the library after taking 'A' to work. At the library, I picked up three books out of the 'Buck-a-Book' selection. All three are books that I had considered paying full price for over the past half year but had talked myself out of the purchases. At $1.00 each, I'll splurge. Oh, the books are: The Shack by William P. Young, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. I don't know which I'll begin with yet. All three are New York Times best sellers.

While I was in town I decided to take myself for a walk on Bearskin Neck. I was one of maybe six people out there! It was getting late and it was rather nippy. What I didn't like seeing were so many for sale and for rent signs. One window had a 'Closing After 28 Years' sign.

I had parked on T-Wharf and at the time I'd noticed a few odd looking trailers parked on High Street, next to 'my' church. I drove home up Broadway and discovered 'Hatteras Hotel' was filming at our old police station. I went home and grabbed my camera and headed back to the town parking lot (just for you picture loving readers).So here they are setting up at the old police station. Adjoining is our central fire station. An interesting point is that our new police station is being utilized in the movie to depict a large metropolitan station and our old to depict a station that would be in keeping with a town our size. Uh huh.

And it quit snowing by noontime. Slightly warmer temps have just about erased all evidence!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

So Snow...

didn't stop the shoppers. It was pretty busy at work.

Looked out my livingroom door this morning to this...looked out from behind the counter at Tuck's Candy Factory at this...our town tree still looked pretty, even if it was snowing.
First snow of the season. I hate snow. Yes, it looks pretty in it's own way. I would be okay with it as long as it could be 80°F while it does it. And no landing on streets or walks. Or vehicles. I had to scrape icy stuff off the windows of my truck before I could leave for home this evening. Cold, blustery and dark on T-Wharf. No gloves (stupid omission this morning).

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Christmas Grump

Don't know what it is about this time of year. Maybe it started years ago with the "be good, Santa's watching" ploy of most parents, maybe it's been amplified by living in the cold of a northern winter when sun and warmth are desired. Maybe it's not having a dad around. Whatever it is, 'A' is an absolutely grumpy and snitty person by the time November rolls around. Seems like it's been every year though I'm sure when she was much younger things were different. There's no getting around it. Confrontation is useless, humor not appreciated. Ignoring solves nothing. Nothing solves anything. It sort of makes it contagious. I used to love the holidays and could hohoho spirit even 'A' merrily along.

Not so much anymore and it makes me grumpier than I'd like. Not that I like being grumpy at all, but being cynical does sometimes cross over. Anyway.............

Today was supposed to be a fun day off. Whatever was I thinking????? 'Tis the season.

The three girls were to travel around checking out a few holiday fairs. 'A' took her sweet time rousing herself this morning. Stalled breakfast. Moped around a bit and then declared she wasn't going.

Fine. As mom and I headed towards the door I heard 'A' comment, "I'll get ready now."
Tough luck, we're ready to go, you are too late, see ya.

Mean, you think? Well, we've been this route for many a year. Doesn't set well with this mom. Will she ever learn? Doubtful.

So mom and I looked at two holiday fairs. The first was too small, out of the way, and not well advertised. The second was too far away and humongous-ly too large! No, I'm really not exaggerating. An entire elementary school crammed full. The cafeteria, two gyms, five classrooms, the library, and eight hallways. Overkill. (yeah, more holiday grump)

When we got home around noon, 'A' cruised downstairs to get some lunch. Still sullen. I reminded her that we needed a trip to the library and asked what time she thought she could be ready. See that cynicism creeping in don't you? Since she thought that 4 p.m. would be a good time, I used MY time wisely tuning my piano (desperately needed) and repairing a drawer glide that had broken in my mom's kitchen. I made a business call to New Orleans and there will be another set of keys arriving the end of the week. 'A' made her appearance at the designated time and I seized the opportunity of her actually DOING SOMETHING by making the library trip a bit more interesting. Sneaky.

This afternoon was the tree lighting ceremony in town. First, at 3:45, Santa arrives on a lobster boat at T-Wharf. He walks, encompassed in a slowly moving mass of children and parents, to Dock Square where there is some fanfare and then the tree is lit for the first time at 4 p.m.. Carols are then sung. So.......since 'A' wanted to buy a newspaper, I suggested that we simply walk, from the library to Tuck's Main Street store, to purchase it. Yay, fresh air and holiday spirit rubbed off just a little. Town was packed like a summer's day. Tuck's was packed like two summer's days! Not a newspaper to be had. Well, drat. Guess that means we'll have to walk to the Rockport Market via Dock Square (wink).Through throngs of people we could see our town's tree all lit up. Traffic had been blocked for the ceremony and we could waltz down the middle of Main Street.Tuck's Candy Factory was swarming with shoppers and as we walked by the window looking in at the crowd, I was very glad that I wasn't working! We walked up Broadway behind a young family. A little girl about 5 years old was skipping along swaying a blinking, butterfly adorned wand in her hand. I teased 'A' that she should have one (she loves butterflies). 'A' actually giggled. Our moods were lighter. Rockport Market had a pile of newspapers still on the shelf and we bought ours and headed home. Once back home the lightness faded and Ms. Grump returned. Oh, to survive the holidays!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Sorting and Stuff

I was trying to sort through the mass of papers and whatnot that have accumulated near my computer. Photos, articles, diagrams, email addresses, notes about things to check out someday when I have time and never seem to. Check out or have time. I think this is about the fourth time this particular batch of stuff has been sorted, then stacked without getting semi-permanently filed or stored. At least I threw away a pile of stuff. It would help if I had a real office rather than a corner!

I did take the time to scan and enlarge a postcard that I have been hanging on to for years. It's a picture of Rockport harbor and it looked to have the Minoan in the foreground. That's the reason I've been hanging on to it. I think I even moved it with me from Florida. Anyway, today I discovered that it isn't the Minoan.

I also found two photos of my dad and me installing my living room window. It's the last BIG project that we worked on together.I miss having a project 'buddy'.

I did find the photos I took of the last lot of ivory necklaces for the year. One really nice one is missing. A co-worker at Tuck's bought it the other day, before the photo session!

I went to that tuning today armed with my new #1 tuning tip. I expected it would feel sooo much better on the small pins than my #2 had. Not really, maybe a little, I don't know. I think the pins have become rather rounded off at the top. At least the majority of them. This piano is a 4 foot or less Murdoch grand built in London. Early 20th century, I'm guessing. It needs more help than it will ever receive. Before I even started I had to tighten the lyre bolts. Screech, squeak, squeak, screech as I prepped for tuning. Started tuning without the sound effects but then they started once again. Hmmmmmm, checked the leg bolts. ALL of them were VERY loose! Yikes! Tightened those in a hurry. Tuned, did some minor adjusting to the old Herrburger Brooks action (no reps.) and called it as good as it gets. Came back home and worked on keys.

Saturday should be mostly a fun day. We're going to cruise around checking out some holiday fairs. You never know what I may want to participate in next year.

Sunday, of course, I'll be manning (or womanning) Tuck's Candy Factory by myself AND it's supposed to snow. (I'll take my camera to town with me) Gee, do you think it will be a busy day? Monday and Tuesday (snow again maybe) I'm at the Main St. store.

Then there's still all the sorting that needs to be done. It never ends.

And while I'm thinking of it...

To Do List for Winter 2009...
-finish chapel organ to sell when economy gets better
-finish my player piano
-finish the flooring for my mom (just a small closet left to Pergo)
-create back stock of necklaces for next year's sales
-build a display backdrop
I'm sure there's more but that's a start.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Some Today, Some Tomorrow?

So yay, almost all of my Christmas shopping is complete. One small gift for mom to go. I even got most of the packages wrapped, leaving the bows for later.

Christmas cards are ready to stamp and mail.

Two boxes arrived today. Late in the day, but here, nevertheless. One box had the tuning tip needed for Friday's tuning job. The other box is the set of keys that were expected.

Still no fall clean-up guy and since the key job hadn't arrived I decided to get some of the raking done myself. Less to pay the guy if he ever shows up. I hate raking leaves. I had already made a huge pile of them a week or so ago and covered the entire pile with a big blue tarp to keep them from redistributing themselves during windy days. 20 large, lawn and leaf bags later and the pile is gone. I ache tonight. All over. Head to foot. Did I mention that I hate raking leaves? Well, I hate bagging them even more. Tomorrow morning I'll work on the keys and when they reach the 'have to wait for glue to dry' stage, I'll go back to............

raking leaves.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Yesterdays, Today, Tomorrow Days

So Saturday totally threw off my day calculating. I'm off a day because I worked at Tuck's an extra day, Saturday. I spent from 10 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon wrapping candy canes and ribbon candy in long cellophane sleeves and little satin sticks in cellophane bags. I estimated about 400 candy canes, 30 lbs of ribbon candy and 30 lbs of satin sticks! Believe it or not, it was fun. I got to watch all the crowds come through the factory to watch the candy cane making and ribbon candy making demonstrations and I didn't have to wait on one person!

Sunday I worked by myself at the retail side of the candy factory. It was a calm day. Just enough business that it wasn't too boring and quiet enough that there was time to rest.

Monday I worked at the 'Main' store, retail again.

I really felt the extra day in my shoulders and feet (and brain). Another three day stint next week. Sunday solo at the factory, Monday and Tuesday main store. 'Tis the season.

I finished a dozen more necklaces and redesigned some displays and signage. I'm now a member, albeit a contributing member, of the Rockport Art Association and I needed to include that information in some of the handouts and on my 'Meet the Artist' placard.

A set of keys was due to arrive early this week. Monday came and went. I thought for sure that they would arrive today. I got home after dark (Christmas shopping) and found a large box at my door. It was HEAVY and I could barely maneuver it in through the door. What on earth kind of keys were these, I wondered? I looked at the label to find that the box belonged to the "other number 5". I gave them a call to come retrieve the box, which they did using a wheeled luggage carrier. No keys. Maybe tomorrow.

The fall clean-up guys were supposed to come on Monday. Tuesday if Monday's weather was bad. Hah. Maybe tomorrow?

Christmas shopping should be done. Except.......two little things for mom that I just can't seem to find. And now a return trip to Target because I bought the wrong DVD for 'A'. She wanted WS (widescreen) and I mistakenly bought FS (full screen). I had a brain glitch. I knew she wanted WS. Just what I need in the morning, hauling back to the mall.

On Thanksgiving Eve I had a phone call for a tuning job. A repeat customer with a teeny, old, grand piano they brought from England with them. Brain glitch again. I scheduled the tuning for this Friday, KNOWING that I had never ordered the #1 star tip for my tuning lever that I really DO need to make the tuning job easier and the tuning more stable. (This piano has smaller sized tuning pins than the 'norm'). No problem I thought, I'll place an order by phone, on Friday.

Big problem. Supplier was closed the extra day because of the Thanksgiving holiday. So I called first thing Monday morning and I'm having to pay out extra for 2 day shipping just to be sure I have that #1 tuning tip by Thursday. (I'm building in a buffer day for the order actually getting filled and shipped).

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. Or not.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rain and Shine

A double post.

The first.

A Questionable Decision............

'A' has lost so much weight that she really needed a new winter jacket. She tried on her jacket, new last year, to discover that I could fit in it with her! It looked a bit silly (even without me in it with her) and she decided that no matter what the weather brought she would not be wearing it. Of course with the temps hovering around 30°F, wearing a lightweight jacket instead wasn't a good thing. She didn't have many days off work that coincided with my time off, so I promised that we would go to the mall on Tuesday morning before she had to be at work.

Rain, wind, and localized flooding had been predicted, but the weather reported to expect the worst of it in the afternoon. I thought we would be fine with a thirty minute one way, trip to the mall. I should have known better as we left the island. No sooner had we crossed the 'big' bridge than I spotted flashing blue lights ahead. A car had spun out of control and was resting against the right side guard rail, facing the wrong direction. We had to edge out in the passing lane to get around the scene.

Still I drove on. Idiot, but driving wasn't bad at that point. We were taking it easy. Staying very close to or just a hair below the speed limit. Most drivers were doing the same, yet there were the occasional fools that came flying by. I would think hydroplaning at 65 mph+. No mind, I was being cautious. About twenty minutes down the road and our world got very dark. I was hoping that it was a momentary downpour. The rain was blowing horizontally driven by the predicted 35 mph gusts of wind. Traffic slowed to 40 mph. I told 'A' that if things didn't improve shortly I'd be using the next exit to turn around and go back home.

The Grapevine Road exit came and went. The rain had subsided a little and I could deal with the gusty winds. On we drove to the Northshore Mall. I parked as close as possible to the Sears door and 'A' and I made a drenching dash for the door. Once inside, we checked out the winter jackets. The Land's End jackets were on sale for 30% off and we each bought one. After Sears we headed for the Liberty Tree Mall down the street. 'A' had seen a shirt she liked on a previous visit to Kohls and she had decided to go back and try it on.

The dash from our parking space to Kohls was a repeat of the previous soaking. Once inside 'A' checked out the handbag department (her's is on it's last legs) and then gathered an armful of jerseys to try on.

Just as there was a thunderous boom from overhead. Then another. Then quiet.

A couple minutes passed and the raucous started again. Sounded like giants tossing 55 gallon drums around on the roof. No one else seemed to notice. Spooky. I told 'A' to hurry up with her choices. I wanted out of there. I couldn't tell what the weather was like outside, but it must have gotten far worse and possibly loosened or damaged some of the heating/cooling/ventilation system on the roof. I was dreading the half hour drive back home.

After another soaking getting back to my truck and a quick phone call home to tell my mom we were on our way, we headed out of the parking lot wondering what would lie between Danvers and Rockport. The first item came a short 5 minutes into our trip. A large tree limb was across our lane of two lane Conant Street. We were halfway up a hill, behind a 'lead' car, when that car swerved into the oncoming lane to avoid the limb. I had to stop because of oncoming traffic. While I was waiting for a break in traffic, the guy driving the first car pulled in to a driveway and headed back to move the limb. A couple miles further and we were driving a slalom course around trash cans and recycle bins scooting and rolling back and forth across the road. That morning had been trash pick up in Danvers.

What a relief I thought it would be once we could get on the highway and drive a steady, but cautious, 55 mph! That is until I found it necessary to keep and eye to the edge of the road and overhanging trees. Fortunately a Mass Highway Department truck had stopped with it's lights flashing to warn motorists of the overhead danger at one spot. But what about the rest of those trees?

Once we arrived home safely from our shopping adventure, I turned on the weather report. They had changed their story! The worst had been in the morning hours and it would taper off in the afternoon. Nearby Marblehead had recorded winds of 65 mph and there were numerous trees uprooted. A home in Salisbury, to our north, had lost a portion of it's roof. Not just the shingles, the rafters and all! On Plum Island, again north, an older home teetered on the brink of a sand dune, it's foundation undermined by the relentless high surf. Today it was declared a total loss and demolished. Winds had been sustained around 70 mph in the area.

No wonder things had been loose on the roof of the mall!
The second part.

Today the Brain Was In Gear..........

On today's bright and sunny morning, I headed to ESP (formerly Mailboxes) to get some signage for the next craft fair display laminated. As I got to the end of our street I noticed that a neighbor was having some tree work done. After having a bit of time to think about it by the time I drove back home, I realized that the 'tree work' was actually the 'harvesting' of Rockport's Christmas tree for Dock Square. I got to the house, ran in with my signs, grabbed my camera, and headed out at a brisk pace back to the end of the street. It's amazing how they extricated this huge tree from behind a garage and then transported it down Main Street and Broadway to be erected in Dock Square. Ace (Smith) Hardware supplied the flat bed truck equipped with a crane. Of course a police escort was needed and one of our fave cops, RL, drove the cruiser. After I dropped 'A' off at work this afternoon, I drove through town to have a look at the tree. I think it is the nicest we have had for many years for our Christmas tree. Thank you, DG down the street, for donating such a stunning tree to be a focal point in our annual Christmas celebrations!

Once it is decorated, I'll share some more photos.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Faired

I enjoyed the Rockport PTO Holiday Fair.During a slow moment - 50 vendors in the gymnasium
At last, something that has been well advertised and is well attended! I loved having the set-up the evening before. When I got up at 7 a.m. this morning knowing that it was around 22°F outside and the wind was blowing and I had a sinus headache because of the relatively low humidity (even with a humidifier running) in the house, I was verrrry glad I had done my basic set-up the night before. About half the people waited to set up this morning. As I was sitting warm and snuggled sipping my morning coffee and watching the news, I thought of them up there at the school bright and early and freezing cold. I left the house at 8 a.m. Plenty early enough for the 9:30 opening time. I had more than enough time to put out my paintings and necklaces. It was nice not to have to rush with it. My mom came around 9:30 and stayed for a couple hours. I sent her home to get her lunch and to get my camera. (Dickiebo always wants pictures) I took the pictures during a lunchtime lull. Have I mentioned that I'm just a tad worn out? Well, I sold 10 small necklaces and one large one. No mini paintings or 5 X 7s this time. So, tired or not, I came home and got back to work painting necklaces! Another sale on Dec. 13th and they take time to dry!

Tomorrow I have to open AND close the candy factory store AND work the day by myself!
Shouldn't be too busy, it's still freezing cold and blowing a gale. Tomorrow we are supposed to lose the wind but keep the cold.

Off now to make my dinner - chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli. Yummmmmmmm.

Ed. note: An enormous thank you to 'E down the street' for telling me about this wonderful fair!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Four Feet Is Short

Four feet is short for an adult. Four feet is short for a piano. And four feet is definitely short for display area at a craft fair.

Tomorrow is the Rockport PTO Holiday Fair. I'll be there. All four foot's worth that I have been allowed. I haven't managed a refund of half my table fee yet. I mean, after all, I'm only getting half the size so I should only be paying half the fee. Actually, that is the deal. I just haven't been able to get the fee person to see the logic of keeping my check for the entire amount and giving me half back out of the pile of cash she had with her during tonight's set-up time. Sigh. Some things are too simple and logical to ever make sense to some. So I guess the plan (her plan) is to give me my original check back and then I am to pay the half fee. Okieeeee, dokieeeeee.

I'll be finishing my set-up early in the morning. My scrunched display. 24 painted necklaces, 3 ivory and ebony necklaces, 20 easel minis and some for later filling (I'm trying to be optimistic) and only two of the 5 X 7 framed paintings. I'll have all the paintings with me, just not able to put many out. The Fair runs from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.

See you there.

I'm already tired and I haven't started!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Another Gone Forever

What a waste. The old Haskin's Block has been torn down to make room for the new performance center. Rockport Chamber Music Festival, which is now named just Rockport Music, I believe. The only folks that seem to be totally pleased with this 'progress' are those directly benefiting - Rockport Music. The neighbors have been unhappy about the newest proposed, enlarged version from the onset. I had opportunity to speak with some residents of Portsmouth, NH who were aghast with the idea of little Rockport having a large performance venue. They said that bigger Portsmouth had tried the same thing a few years back and had seen it's failure. More use specific buildings left vacate.

So we have been told that this is progress. That it will be wonderful for Rockport. Established local businesses will thrive because of it. Rockport will become a year-round destination.

It wasn't too long ago that we heard the same promises about another major change for the town.
That didn't happen, why should this?

Anyway, progress.Better known as: it's too late now.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Having All My Santas In a Row

Hand-poured chocolate Santas at Tuck's Candy Factory

While busy working as a piano technician and keeping up with my two days working at Tuck's Candy Factory, I have also made time to keep up with painting necklaces. As you know, I had tried to reserve a table at the PTO (school) Holiday Fair only to be put on a waiting list. Just in case that fell through, I reserved a table at the Rockport United Methodist Church Holiday Bazaar. So, I made sure that I had enough inventory and good displays anticipating (hoping for) a good turnout and good sales at the church fair.

The time has rapidly approached for the PTO Fair (this upcoming Saturday) and I resolved myself to saying that I would call the woman in charge today and inquire about my status. I was particularly peeved when reading the newspaper this past week and had discovered that another vendor had purchased a table at the PTO Fair well after I had requested one and been denied. I stewed about it for a couple hours and decided that I would make the call today, remain pleasant, and accept that living in a small town meant having the correct last name to be included in some things. Preferential treatment goes with name and with degree of native-ness. My ancestors aren't from Rockport. I wasn't even born here. There's no changing that and thus I shall never 'be one' with Rockport.

At 8:40 p.m. last night my phone rang. I went to check the caller i.d. Who on earth would be calling me that late on a Sunday evening?

The women in charge of the PTO Holiday Fair!

I grabbed the phone. She was calling to ask if I would be interested in renting half a table. She was trying to get as many people included as possible. She had heard wonderful things about my work. (Well, she DID say that. Of course she probably is saying that to everyone. I'm choosing to believe that she actually has heard it about my stuff! [grin])

So I'll be at the PTO Fair! A scrunched version of my total display that I'll have to sort out at set-up time on Friday evening. This week I'll be working on a rush order of key bushings and painting more ivories. Just in case the necklaces sell well I'll need more for the church fair.

I'm tired already. I need a chocolate army's worth of help!
The big guys - Tuck's hand-poured chocolate Santas

Friday, November 14, 2008

Art Update

Just letting y'all know that there is a new painting. You can see it as it cycles through the Cellar Studio grouping in the sidebar or go to my flickr page. "Motif in Autumn"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thoughts on the Approaching Days

Handmade candy canes at Tuck's Candy Factory

Yeah. The holidays. Used to be my favorite time of year. When we lived in Florida, I would take the entire week from Thanksgiving Thursday until the next to decorate our house. Inside and out. The weather was usually fair enough that decorating outside was a pleasure. I'd light up everything I could. The house was trimmed including windows and doors. The shrubbery was lit and the front walk illuminated. Even the two Canary Island palms in our front yard had spirals of lights up their trunks and three layers of palm fronds delicately sported multi-colored mini-lights. One year I made two huge flamingos that wore wreath necklaces and held a 'Happy Holidays' banner between them. Inside was our 7 foot Christmas tree, a handmade creche, antique decorations, and sparkly table pieces.

Here it's different. It's too cold to do much outside. We usually decorate the two window boxes with greens and berries. The door gets a wreath. We have our big tree in my mom's living room and a small feather tree in mine. There are some special decorations that get displayed but most of mine stay stored in an old steamer trunk. My mom insists that the cold and snow makes it seem more like Christmas. I find the anticipation of a long, white winter depressing.

Something else has been annoying about THE holiday for a couple years now. We have always written lists for 'Santa'. No one gets everything on their list, but it gives the others ideas for gifts. For the past couple years my mom has dominated the lists. No consultation. She chooses items to buy and give, generally leaving 'the dregs' for the rest of us to pick through to find something. I think that's why she starts her shopping sooooo early. This year I suggested that we limit our purchasing. There's not much any of us 'girls' need. Maybe just a few items apiece. Everyone has had a difficult time writing meaningful lists. 'A' is always last to write hers, so I did a little thinking and came up with a couple items. I made the mistake of mentioning them to my mom. The other evening I found out she had bought both gifts. It's a good thing she asked me what I was planning on buying 'A'! When I told her what my major gift would be she informed me that she had already bought it. She hadn't planned on telling me! Well, that would have been quite a surprise Christmas morning. 'A' went shopping with her the other day and came home complaining about the same situation.

Next year there will be two different lists. One from each for mom/grandma and we'll exchange different lists between 'A' and me.

I've also been running an unofficial experiment. Mom is frequently at us about leaving stuff around. If I forget my coffee mug in her den after breakfast she is sure to remark on my negligence. Well, two days ago one of mom's jackets appeared hanging over the back of my kitchen chair. She walks past it each time she heads for the cellar...laundry, trash, recycling, or to talk to me while I'm working. I'm determined not to move it. We'll see how long it stays there......out of place!

Today, I went down to Cracker Jacks (boasts being Rockport's little department store - somewhat an exaggeration - but it is quite amazing what you can find there) to buy a gift box. I saw some really nice Christmas cards so I bought them, too. I'd already finished writing out all my cards for this year. Finished that two nights ago. I already had enough cards for next year, but I liked these I saw today. So, now I'm all set for the next two years! I've done some shopping, more to go. I know what we need to buy for my mom and yes, 'A' is now the problem. I'll have to start nagging her for a list for me since mom, well, you know.

Plans for the other holiday, Thanksgiving, are all made. No cooking for me! After last year's dining out disaster, we are trying for dining out success. This year we are going to a buffet at the Village Green. At least we'll be able to pick and choose our meals rather than the' eat what's on your plate whether you like it or not because it cost a small fortune' approach.

I think this Christmas dinner will be a quiet one. I've promised to make 'Cito's Special" for dinner since last Christmas and 'A' has patiently waited. Looks like she'll get it for Christmas dinner this year. I'll teach her how to make it at the same time! 'Cito's Special' is named after the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. Actually, it was his wife that made it for my mom and dad when my mom was recuperating from back surgery. It's a chicken, mushroom and poppyseed casserole. It takes all afternoon to make it.

Hopefully after a little work in the morning, 'A' and I will go do some Christmas shopping before she has to go to work. That is, IF she goes to work. She's got a sore throat.

What next?

Monday, November 10, 2008

SOY, PRO, EOD, and now HH

Since we moved back to Rockport in the summer of 2002, we have occasionally seen the signs around town. The first was during near blizzard conditions. Why are there signs that say SOY all around town we wondered? Ohhhhhhh, we finally got it. They were filming the movie "Stuck On You"!

Not a big hit but we went to see it and we have the movie posters. Two of them.

Then, of course, came PRO, "The Proposal". Might be a good one as it has some big name stars. "The Love Letter", that was filmed before we moved back had some big stars, too. Again, not a box office biggie. Nor was "Home for the Holidays" (I think that was the name). Nor "The Good Son" with Elijah Wood.

The last one was "Edge of Darkness", EOD, starring Mel Gibson. Now that might do well and I think we'll actually pay to see that on the big screen.

Our most recent is being filmed in town over the next few weeks. It's called "Hatteras Hotel" and stars Wade Williams. Evidently Mr. Williams is best know for his role on the TV show "Prison Break". I haven't seen it. They'll be filming tomorrow at the (new) police station and in town at the old station. T-Wharf will be featured and a lot of the movie is being shot at the Emerson Inn.

Maybe I'll be in the movie! Yesterday afternoon a guy was taking some major photos with some major high-end equipment down in Dock Square. He was shooting the front of the candy factory and some of the window display that we have there. Sooooo.....if you see the lady behind the counter wearing the black zippered sweatshirt with the tartan plaid turtleneck jersey's ME!!!.

Or maybe it was just some rich, touristy type taking photographs.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Cemetery Days

On Friday we headed down to Cape Cod. We wanted to go to the cemetery in Bourne, to my aunt and my dad's graves, and to visit with my 92 year old uncle. We always stay at my cousin's house in Mattapoisett (remember the mascot squirrel that had 'fried' itself on the power lines above their driveway?).

We left Rockport at about 9:15 in the morning, stopping to fill up the car's gas tank and to buy flowers for the graves before leaving the island. We had a relatively easy drive down with little traffic and made it to the Bourne Bridge in less than two hours. The Bourne Bridge is one of the nightmares of the drive, for me. It bugs me to actually be the driver on high bridges when there is no breakdown lane. Sort of a claustrophobic kind of thing, I guess. Anyway, it was a dull, misty day with some fog creeping in now and then. Not a breeze and in the low 60's F. As we turned in to the main drive of the National Cemetery we were greeted with a reminder that this is Veteran's Day weekend. Veteran's Day (or Remembrance Day in Canada) is on Tuesday but the National Cemetery is having a special program on Sunday. Even though all the flags were limp with moisture and no wind, the drive in was still impressive. You really need to click on the photo below to get the full impact of all the flags.We went first up to my aunt's grave and clipped the grass all around her stone and put a bouquet of flowers in one of the metal stake-able vases that the cemetery provides. Then we drove back to my dad's grave and did the same. When we finished we parked near the entrance and took the picture of the flag lined boulevard.

Then we headed back towards the bridge and on to Rte. 6 to eat at a Friendly's. We got to my cousin's in the mid afternoon and visited for awhile (one of my other cousins stopped by, as well) and then we went to visit my uncle. After our visit with him, we drove out to Acushnet to find the cemetery where my great grandparents are buried. By the time we got there it was dark. We drove around in the cemetery but could find the markers.

Off we headed just around the corner in Acushnet to a little restaurant that has been in business since 1937. All sorts of good food and scrumptious desserts. Then back to the cousin's for the night.

This morning we got up early for breakfast and packed up our overnight stuff. By 9 a.m. we were on the road again. This time to the Rural Cemetery in New Bedford where my maternal grandparents and another uncle are buried. First though we did a drive-by of the house where my aunt and uncle used to live and a stop at the Sunrise Bakery to buy meat pies to bring home. At the Rural Cemetery we staked flowers at the graves. From there we got back on the highway and headed home. 'A' had to be at work this afternoon.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Crafty News

Well, I finally got a phone call from the woman in charge of table rentals for the holiday fair at the school. Since I requested information back on September whatever, she has moved my name to first on the waiting list. So....

who knows.

I am, however, participating in the Rockport United Methodist Church's Craft Bazaar, on Saturday, December 13th from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.I got out my stuff today and I also built a display surface for more necklaces. The photograph shows a trial set-up. Not precisely how it will be, but a general "it'll work this way". The actual display table will be bigger and there will be a couple things I'll be adding. Since it is for the holiday shopping season, I want to sparkle it up a little. I'm going to sprinkle shiny, silver 'confetti' snowflakes around on the cloth and maybe, just maybe, find some reasonably priced, battery-powered, mini, white Christmas lights to intertwine in the display.

As of writing this, everything is packed away again and I'm doing some packing for a trip to the other Cape tomorrow. See ya when I get back!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Fisk Organs

So many have been checking for the concert schedule that I'll copy the Open House info at the end of this post. Anything else about Fisk and about concerts on their organs, worldwide, can be found by visiting their website. A link is provided in the sidebar of this blog.

Location: C. B. Fisk, Inc. Workshop
Gloucester, MA

Date & Time: November 08, 2008
2-6 pm

Opus Number: 134

C.B. Fisk, Inc. cordially invites you to our shop in Gloucester to view
Opus 134, A three-manual, 48-voice organ
for Covenant Presbyterian Church, Nashville, Tennessee

Rte. 128 to Rte. 133, East 1 mile
Right on Magnolia Avenue, 1 mile
Right on Kondelin Rd., 1/2 mile

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Tuesday Tunings

I had two tunings scheduled for this afternoon. The first was to tune the Yamaha G1 (grand) on stage in the auditorium at the high school. There are several performances coming up, the first on Wednesday night. I thought that the Yamaha would be it's usual breeze. It always really needs tuning after it's summer neglect, but generally it's not a disaster.

Until today.


First, since it was to be a focal instrument in part of Wednesday night's concert, I decided to give it a little spiff-up. It was thick with dust on the pedal lyre and the legs. The main body of the piano remains covered with a fitted quilt when the piano is not in use, so that was okay. As I was dusting off the back leg, I was dismayed to also notice an abundance of mildew growing on the beams and the belly rail (these are structural supports under the piano). Evidence of that much moisture is not a good thing. I opened the lid to it's highest to have a look inside. I expected to see rust forming. Fortunately there was none.

Unfortunately, there was a large, previously migratory stain on the soundboard traveling down the length of the treble bridge and pooling at the tail end of the piano. Ooooh, how on earth had liquid accumulated in there? I pointed it out to the woman in charge. She shared my dismay and remarked that the roof had been leaking, a portion of the stage had flooded during the summer, and no one had been around to notice. That didn't explain the inside stain, but certainly the exterior mildew.

Well, still no rust, so I felt they had been quite lucky. I sat down to begin tuning. What a mess! The entire midrange had become incredibly too sharp and I had to lower pitch on the majority of the piano. Only the high treble and low bass were near correct pitch. So, extra work, extra time and at a low pay rate. I had gotten this piano to be a nice stable instrument requiring only ordinary maintenance tuning even through seasonal humidity and temperature changes. A summer semi-flooded stage had been too much for it!

It has just been announced that Barack Obama has earned more than enough electoral votes for the presidency!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!


Okay, back to piano number two for today. The piano is an old upright that I've tuned once before. I thought it was to be just a straightforward tuning. When I arrived the owner pointed out a 'broken' sharp (black key). Well, it wasn't actually broken as one would define a break. It was a wood (under) sharp that had a plastic 'cap' adhered to it. The plastic had bowed and delaminated from the sides of the sharp and it was catching the adjacent keys. I removed the key and glued (instant type) and held it clamped tight with a sanding stick that I had in my tool kit. I counted to 30 and let the stick loosen from the side of the sharp. It held! With the key back in place in the piano, I got ready to tune...just as the customer said he would be working outside.

Splitting firewood with a gasoline powered hydraulic log splitter.

Don't worry, I can tune over all that noise! (truly, it wasn't a problem). The problem was that I had to use my elongated tuning tip because the lid of the piano overhung the tuning pin area too much. The first time I tuned this piano I had tried to remove the lid. Looked simple. Five screws and it should have come off. Should have. I tried again today. I removed the screws and tried to budge the lid. Nope. Won't lift, won't slide left. Won't slide right, backwards or forward. I hate tuning with that long tip, but it's done.

Election Day

We arrived at the polls at 10:10 a.m. and had a line to wait in. This is unusual for Rockport. We only had to wait about 5 minutes, check in, get a ballot, vote, check out and insert the ballot in Rockport's nifty, old, oak ballot box. As you insert your ballot, a poll worker cranks a well worn, brass handle to grab your ballot and deposit it in the box with a pronounced "ding". On the front of the box is the counter. I was number 570. I don't know exactly the voting population of Rockport. Residentially we have about 7,000 people. Not all are voters, of course. We have three voting precincts. Someone in line made a comment that the count number was rather high for that time of the day. The poll worker commented, "That's high for late afternoon, normally!"

Outside our precinct is the town parking lot. There were several volunteers with Obama signs.
None for McCain.

I had a tuning at the high school at 1 p.m. The elementary school is part of the school complex and is also the voting place for the 3rd precinct. As I drove by the entrance, I waved to more Obama supporters.
None were there for McCain.

Something positive to be said for Rockport.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Rolling Rocks On

An update.

After breakfast this morning I took a bit of time gazing out the front window at my mom's front garden. Smack in the middle was a large piece of granite. Now, this garden is a mixture of rock garden plantings and perennials, but that rock looked wrong. I called my mother to have a look.

"Is that piece of granite supposed to be there?"

It didn't look right to her either, so I bundled myself up against the cold and went to check it out.

Someone had pushed another boulder off the wall. This time in the opposite direction and it landed on top of some plantings. I rolled and shoved and twisted it back in to place on the wall.

This is getting ridiculous.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Rolling Stones

Do you all remember when I wrote about the mud hole that had been created in front of our house by trucks turning their large wheels and tearing up the grass on the road side of our stone wall? I think that I mentioned that I had gone out and raked everything smooth and then placed a few large hunks of granite along the front so that my leveling work wouldn't be undone.

I think, about the same time, I may have mentioned that the streetlight at the corner of our lot had finally given up and gone out. We had called the power company and had been surprised when the truck showed up the next night. We had also been surprised the next morning when we found that the power company had removed the entire lamp and left just the arm with a couple wires hanging out up there on the pole.

This week marked week six of no streetlight so I called the power company once again. The representative that I spoke with said that the records showed that the lamp had been reinstalled. The job had been 'signed off'! Not so, I said, so she filed a new work order. We were tired of being 'kept in the dark' literally. Especially with Halloween just a couple days away. So I took the time to rig a spotlight for the front area where my mom parks her car...her brand new car...with Halloween approaching...with some neighborhood kids who, quite frankly, are more than unhappy with us. Thursday night we tried out the spotlight. We temporarily plugged the extension inside the house rather than fumbling in the dark to find the outside receptacle. We headed for the front window to take a look.

Lo and behold the streetlight was fixed!

National Grid must have come while we were out for the afternoon!


Friday morning came around and I noticed that a very large piece of granite was dislocated from the wall on the same side of the driveway as the utility pole. I went over to take a look thinking that the utility truck may have caught the corner of the wall dislodging the boulder. I wasn't really convinced once I had a good look. Seems more damage would have had to have been done if a truck had accidentally caught that boulder. Oh well, it was too large for me to move back into place.

Friday night's trick-or-treaters crammed our little dead end lane. Being a dead end seems to encourage 'drop offs'. Carloads of kids are let loose on our street rather than trick-or-treating in their own neighborhoods. We had our front light and walk lights turned on and my mom handed out piles of candy. They started around five p.m. and things were quiet by eight.

Saturday morning I decided to catch up on some winterizing chores like draining all the garden hoses and putting them away, taking down the temporarily rigged spotlight, and putting garden ornaments in the shed. I took a moment to take a walk around the property to see that all was undamaged and unmarred from the previous night. As I walked around the front, something just didn't seem right. It looked like someone had parked in front and left indentations in the slowly healing former mud hole. Then it dawned on me. What I was seeing were the imprints left from the granite that I had edged with a couple months ago. Someone had moved eight large pieces of granite during the night. They had been rolled through the grass and left nearer the wall.

Adding to my irritation was the enormous pile of dog mess in front of one of the boulders.

Off I went to get the shovel from out of the shed. I scooped up that pile and deposited it in the middle of the road. What else was I to do with it? If anyone would like to claim it they are welcome to dispose of it. It's not mine and it doesn't belong on my property nor in my garbage can. I rolled the boulders back to their indentations.

Now I'm determined to catch whoever is rolling my stones.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Here it is. My 'Diamonds in the Rough' post has finally been published in the November issue of the Piano Technician's Journal.Of course the cover has absolutely nothing to do with my one page story inside. I had done a slight rewrite, the editor changed some stuff. All in all not a too bad result. Missing a bit of heart, though, in the final draft.
A couple other errors..........but yippeeeeeeeeee!

Now one more to go. My contribution to the Tools, Tips, & Techniques section.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wicked Witch of Rockport

A happily haunted Halloween to you!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Horrorscope

Wow. I don't really believe in these things but, wow.

(Oh yeah, the title word play is intentional)

So, back to wow.

Gemini (May 21 - June 20)
Your talents and abilities should be used to the fullest on things that could have a good effect upon your material circumstances. You have what it takes to derive returns from more than one source.

Certainly the stars don't expect me to take on yet another 'job'! Number four? I think not.


I've added another painting to the Cellar Studio. It's an 8 X 10 oils of the Bluenose II, an adaptation from a newspaper photo. It won't be making the craft fair rounds. Don't know what will happen with it. Just felt like painting.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Chill In the Air

It's autumn and it's getting cold here in New England. I don't like the cold. While 'A' and I were out for a brisk walk the other day, I made this comment.

"Maybe this winter we ought to find ways to enjoy the cold and snow."

Quite straight-faced she replied, "I don't think that will happen."

Okay, so maybe it wasn't such a stellar idea after all.

I haven't much news. Once again I am swamped with work. I realize that I am very fortunate to be able to say that during these economic times. I'm also debating calling about another local craft fair. I think I will. It's not too expensive and I do need to get out there with the stuff again.

Last weekend brought not only the USS Hall to Rockport, there were many festivities for the second annual Harvest Festival. Rockport shops dressed up and held a scarecrow contest. Interpersed throughout this post are some of the creations.Some were quite clever
Here's 'A' checking out one.Some were more ghoulish than others.Some were geared towards either our seacoast location or maybe our sailor visitors.And one was in keeping with our artsy side.Which is your fave? Bikini gal, hippie, farmer, fancy lady, scared-dead, sailor, or artiste?

(note: I haven't a clue what all this will look like when published. I'm trying a different layout mode for the pics, and well, who knows what will happen!)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Some of the Nicest People

Hope restored. There are thoughtful people! Okay, I know that there are plenty of them but sometimes it doesn't hurt to have a personal reminder.

During all the activities of last weekend, my mother lost a necklace that my father had given her 35 years ago. She was very upset about it. It was three, small, gold charms on a delicate gold chain. An anchor, a cross, and a heart. Faith, hope, and charity. She had come down to town to Tuck's when I was working to tell me of the loss. While there she spoke with an officer off the USS John L. Hall telling him that she may have lost it while touring the ship - just in case. Well, he took off his hat, pulled out some notepaper, and using the top of his hat as a writing surface, took her name, phone number and a description of her necklace.

The Hall left our area and headed out for training on it's way back to Mayport, Florida. It arrived in Mayport yesterday and will be there for a few months of repair work.

Today my mother's phone rang. It was the captain from the USS Hall. He was calling to let her know that he had had the crew looking for her necklace during their four day trip south, but they had not found it. How considerate of him to do this! His call meant so much to her. We're going to get the mailing address for the Hall and send a thank you note (along with a couple boxes of taffy!)
We love the officers and crew of the USS John L. Hall.