Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Message for P

Cousin PB, I tried to send an email to you about the easel miniatures and changing (hindsight) what I said on the phone. The email bounced back to me. Has your address changed? Please send an email to me so that I can have the correct address (if I don't talk to you before you read this!)


The rest of you out there in blogland can anticipate a future post with some sort of big news.

Mary, don't you let on. LOL

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I've Committed Myself

Hah! Not what you think. Although the thought can be tempting...sleep, eat, no worries, can be as whacky as you feel like and no one wonders!

Truth is.............

I've sent in my table rental fee for the first craft fair of the season. It will take place on May 24th at the 'Old Firehouse Trust' building in Dock Square (Rockport). I'm almost ready for it with 15 framed 5X7's (see sidebar show), 2 dozen easel miniatures, and 10 packages of assorted art print notecards. I've built display racks and shelving. I have a table easel that displays "About the Artist" and a price list. I have packaging materials and of course, will have cash on hand to make change. I've created divided carrying boxes that will strap to a luggage cart. The only thing left is to find a suitable table covering.

It's a little early in the season, but it is Memorial Day weekend. If the weather cooperates there should be a lot of people in town.

Gosh I hope this goes well. Think good thoughts for me that day. Don't worry - I'll remind you!

Gosh, Darn, I've Been Tagged

And it's dickiebo who is to blame. Now if it were almost anyone else...but how can I say no to my blog twin? So the deal is: List seven little or little known facts about me. Then tag others by listing their blogs on this post and then leaving a 'you've been tagged' comment on their blogs requiring them to check back here to see what's up. Well, I'll go so far as answer, but since we seem to read similar blogs, I don't know who I'll tag. We'll see. Oh yeah, this HAS been around not too long ago making the odds of 'retagging' rather high.

  1. I've never dyed my hair. Not once, never. Probably never will. Unless it's to do something weird like make it blue or purple. Ya never know.
  2. I spent many years eating a bowl of popcorn every night. About two years ago I quit. Cold turkey. No more popcorn.
  3. I get vertigo when up too high. Only when I'm standing, looking up. Never when I'm sitting or looking down.
  4. I really and truly wish life were a whole lot simpler.
  5. My number one wish destination for a vacation is Australia.
  6. I miss Florida (but you should know that already).
  7. I love working...I just wish I could do it because I like it, not because I need the money.
There. Done. And I'm not specifically tagging anyone but I'd enjoy reading your list in the comments!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hello, Hello, Is Anyone There?

A lot of things have combined to create this post. The first is a feeling that I'm living in some weird, warped isolation from the business world. I've had three calls for key work in the past week. One set arrived. No payment and missing instructions. I called and left a message about the instructions three days ago. Nothing. Supposedly the check is on it's way. I'll just wait for that as I'll be able to figure the job based on the amount of payment. Did some keys over three weeks ago and the guy forgot to enclose the check. I called to remind him that return shipping would be free with prepayment. Yep, he says, check will be sent right away. I've sent the keys back, finished, with a bill. Nothing. I sent a second bill and added in the shipping costs. Nothing.

So, today's picture was chosen while I was looking through some old photographs over the weekend. I'm calling it the first cell phone. I've included (copied) the 'letter' that my dad wrote to his father that was written on the back of the photograph. My dad is the guy with the polka dot tie, third from the right. Pop - This photo is of the first Emergency Radio Equipment of it's type ever built. The units in this photo were used to establish telephone communication between President Eisenhower and the Nations telephone facilities. The part I'm happy about, Pop, is that after I engineered it - it functioned satisfactorily on the first trial. Al

All that so that Eisenhower could go on his usual fishing trips at a location with no phone lines! Talk about government's wasteful spending.

So put THAT phone in your pocket and go!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Star Gazing in Alaska

What a beautiful summer day in Sitka! Clear blue skies. Town was packed with the movie, of course. It's nice going down in the morning when the local kids are still in school. We can be paparazzi without much competition! Dock Square continues it transformation, today a 'new' old building was being created. Amanda and I were stood talking to a friend, when one of the crew came along and asked if we were extras. I replied that we could be, if needed. Guess we weren't needed. Filming was taking place on the North Basin side of Bearskin Neck and it was off limits. Amanda and I sat across the basin at the very end of T-Wharf and had front row seats to the filming.The above picture is the scene they were filming. In this scene Ryan Reynolds is grabbing Sandra Bullock's luggage from the back of the pick-up truck and dropping it at her feet. He walks off, leaving her to haul her own heavy bags. Actually, other than a few of the crew readying some boats, we were the only ones out on T-Wharf. Here's Ryan having a post shooting discussion with Betty White (light green jacket) and Mary Steenburgen (white jacket). Then we heard the director say that they were wrapping up for lunch, so Amanda and I headed for 'the Neck'. We had perfect timing! Just as we approached, Ryan Reynolds dashed by, only an arms length away, to a waiting SUV. Amanda couldn't believe we got so close. We stood on the corner waiting with a couple other people as Betty White walked out. She loves animals and the lady next to me had a dog on a leash. Well, Betty just had to stop and pet the dog and chat! After Betty left our little group, Amanda nudged me and said, "There's Mary." I had the camera ready for a shot of Mary Steenburgen as she walked by. No conversation, though.

And then, back home to reality and work for both of us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sitkaport, Alaskachusetts

We are having identity problems. Yes, folks, Hollywood is in town once again. This time filming the movie, The Proposal, due out in September 2009. So, does Rockport filming guarantee a flop movie? Time will tell. Other movies I remember being filmed here have been: The Good Son, A Rockport Christmas, The Love Letter, and Stuck On You. Big stars in some like McCauley Culken, Tom Selleck, Ellen DeGeneres, Greg Kinnear, Matt Damon, Elijah Wood and more. None have been particularly great movies. The Good Son was most likely the best of them.

The Proposal's cast includes Sandra Bullock, Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson and Ryan Reynolds. Rockport has once again been transformed into someplace else (we're rarely Rockport). This time we are summer in Sitka, Alaska. Town is really spiffed up! Amanda and I spent about two hours watching and roaming on Monday. We are thinking of heading down again today. Yesterday we took pictures of some of the sets and the transformations in town. I also got several photos of Ryan Reynolds. Honestly, I don't have a much of a clue about him other than he's a nice looking 30 something who was in the remake of The Amityville Horror. Filming is taking place over about a week and a half, finishing up the end of this week.

The Tax Man

To (dis)honor the day, I offer:

The IRS motto..........................

"We've got what it takes to take what you've got."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Image

In the photograph he is smiling. His wife stands next to him. She's an average woman. The type that makes you feel as if you have seen her before or conversed with her at some unspectacular event. Somewhere. Hard to believe that they have been married for over six years. She is his fourth wife. Where do you know her from? Well, it really doesn't matter, does it? She has no part in your life. But the man. Another photograph captures him laughing, obviously sharing a light-hearted moment at a social function. Strange to see him laughing. Is he truly that happy deep down inside? How could he be? It wasn't so long ago. Maybe he had shared his unhappiness with his third wife. Strange that she owned the house he and his second wife had wanted to buy so many years ago. Odd coincidence. Does he even think of those days any more? You know, the ones spent with his family. Seeing the photographs makes you wonder.

His second marriage wasn't perfect, but it was his longest at fifteen years. His first had ended in four years, mimicked it seems by his third. Number two had appeared destined to last. He had a close family. They seemed to share the same goals, aspirations. They worked hard together. They laughed together. Then after more than a decade, they started to grow apart. But they didn't quit. They still enjoyed each other and the family that they had created. Things would get better, they thought, and when he earnestly began new hobbies, his wife encouraged him. He felt good that there were new goals, new opportunities to be happy together. She, too, felt optimistic once again. It had been a tough battle but they had stayed together and worked through it. There was so much to look forward to together.

Until one evening when he told her he had filed for divorce. He gave her nothing to grasp for a reason. He said, simply, that he wasn't happy. He had never been. Not once, he said. She later heard rumors that he had met another woman, but by the time she'd heard that, she had no longer cared. He would be moving out in two weeks. They should tell their daughter. And they did, but he didn't leave, and they played a charade of acceptance of the inevitable divorce until ten months later he was gone. His ex-wife had primary custody of their daughter. He had liberal visitation and he picked his daughter up every other weekend. Then, after a few months, she didn't want to go with him one Saturday and he walked away. He never tried again. He sent gifts at Christmas and on her birthday. He paid the required child support until she graduated high school. Then it was over. He didn't see her. He didn't write. There were no cards, no gifts. A month after his mother died, he sent his daughter a letter and the obituary.

Could a man discard his own child so easily? Surely he must have regretted his decisions.
How does he laugh so readily? If the camera could look inside this man how different the pictures might be.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tune Time

My, my, my. I just never know what will happen. After last week's (and weekend's) massive pile-up of key work, I started getting tuning calls. I do only a moderate amount of tuning work. Not because I'm not looking for it, but mostly due to being the 'new' tech in a territory with a 'legendary' tech. So I'm lucky if I do one or two tunings per week. Thursday was booked with a morning tuning and another in the afternoon. Both repeat customers and the jobs went smoothly and easily. So much so that I didn't hesitate to delve in to spring yard clean-up when I got home at 3:30. Yes, I knew that I had another big tuning day coming up...well, an afternoon anyway. Friday afternoon was devoted to getting two pianos in shape and tuned at the Rockport High School. It was a short notice, high visibility/impact job. On Wednesday morning I got a call from the Rockport Chamber Music Festival. They were coordinating a full orchestral performance with Gordon College for local elementary school students. Or some such thing...anyway...Rockport High was the only school that would/could provide two pianos on stage.

Now, one of the pianos lives on stage and is a nice Yamaha G1 grand that stays fairly well maintained and tuned. The other was to be moved on to the stage. It would be a Yamaha P22 upright that I hadn't tuned in two years. Yikes. That's why I set aside the entire afternoon. I was more than a tad nervous about the P22, and very nervous about getting it to sound decent with the grand. I rolled the grand in to position on the stage and a group from the school lifted the P22 from the auditorium floor to the stage, then I rolled it to it's position next to the grand. The better piano, the grand, would be the first to be tuned. It would be the standard to match with the upright.

Just before I started, one of the music teachers came in and asked if I had time to tune one of the practice room pianos when I finished in the auditorium. Sure, why not?

The grand was flat. Tis the remnants of the dry heat of the auditorium in winter! When I had tuned it last September it was a slight bit above standard pitch and I had left it there (summer humidity the culprit). My next tuning, just before Christmas, and the piano had settled in at pitch. Today, I would have loved to let it 'float' very slightly flat of standard but in tune to itself, knowing that upcoming warmer and more humid weather would inch it sharp, but with a multi-instrument performance that wasn't an option. I made a quick tuning pass and then played hard and heavy. I went back through and caught a few notes that had drifted.

On to the P22! I got everything set including the tuning lever in place on my starting note, then I walked to the grand and simultaneously played the same note and wedged the key down to keep the note sounding. A quick couple strides back to tune the note on the P22 to match. From that point I tuned the midrange of the P22, then went through the wedge routine with the grand to make sure both pianos sounded as one in the midrange. Then finished the P22. Since it, also, had been a tad flat, I went through each key and 'beat them' with a firm blow. Touched up a couple upon checking for drift and did a random check between the two pianos. Everything sounded good, but I'll be returning very early (for me) on Monday morning for a quick check through. The musicians will be setting up around 8 a.m. and I think the performance begins at 9 a.m.

With aching arm and back and legs, I packed up my tuning gear and headed for the office to let them know I'd be in the music department tuning an additional piano.

This piano was very flat and I yanked the daylights out of it to get it up to pitch and then cruised through a tuning. I discovered a very weird 'fix' that the previous school technician (or someone) had made and undid it. I did a proper fix. By the time I finished, my body was starting to scream. It's not used to 5 pianos in two days! (Not to mention the yard work).

Thank goodness for a weekend in which I'm expecting only one set of keys...for key tops and key bushings. I like those 'double' jobs!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

History Lessons

Where were you when?I was keeping an eye on the paperwork.Mom was checking payments!

Monday, April 07, 2008

End Week Week End

Wow, did I get dumped on over the last few days! Two sets of keys came in on Tuesday. One for tops and bushings, the other just tops. Got to work on them right off and it was a good thing because on Wednesday the phone rang...another tech sending keys and he needed them in a rush. I didn't think it would be a problem. Thursday rolls around and USPS delivers a box to the door. Hmmm, must be that rush job. Oh no, another set! I took the box to the workshop and opened it up. Keys from a tech in North Carolina that has never sent any work here before. No check, no note, no instructions. Return address on the box is the only clue. I got started on them figuring Friday's mail would probably bring the check and the instructions as to color choice. Not a thing in Friday's mail, but UPS delivered the keys for the rush job. I finally had to look up the North Carolina guy's email. Sent him one (an email, that is) and gave him 24 hours to respond. Nothing. Finally made the long distance phone call and got him squared away...idiot.

Friday, I shipped out two sets and still had three to go! Then the phone rang. I set up an appointment to give an estimate on a repair of an Indian harmonium. The customer would bring it here on Sunday, just before lunch. By Friday night I was starting to wonder how I would get everything done on time. Especially since I had promised Amanda and my mother a day of furniture shopping and other errands on Saturday!

Then the phone rang again. This time it was Amanda's work wanting her to fill in for someone on Saturday. Since she needs the cash, she decided to give up the Saturday outing and go to work. I still gave up my afternoon, Saturday, to drive my mom on some of the errands she wanted to do.

Saturday morning I worked like crazy and made good progress on the keys and after dropping Amanda off at work, my mom and I headed north. Our first errand was to drive to Merrimac to see if Skip's had posted a sign with their opening date. And they had one up! Yay, Skip's is opening for the season on April 23rd. I've subsequently told Amanda to ask for her birthday (24th) off from work and we'll all go up for lunch.

After the Skip's drive-by, we headed east and then south towards Newburyport. We stopped at one furniture store just to check on a nightstand for Amanda. They had one that we think she'll like, but are waiting to take her to see it before my mom buys it as a birthday gift. After the furniture store, we headed for Tendercrop Farm. My mom was looking for some dried flowers. She didn't find anything she wanted, but look what I found! Tendercrop Farm has a llama. And...Tendercrop Farm has Bunky the buffalo. Bunky has been there for a number of years, but this is the first time that I've seen a llama at the farm. The llama spent a good amount of time chowing down on some carrots that a little boy was feeding to it. Bunky was looking hungry and jealous.
Sunday was work, work, work. Shame on me. The lady came with the Indian harmonium and after some fiddling with it, it worked just fine. She has left it to have the keyboard repaired. The keys are poorly made and have swelled and are rubbing on each other. Most of the key tops have fallen off and also need to be trimmed for clearance. After she left, I finished two more sets of keys and nearly the third.

This morning set three was finished and boxed and I was off to the shippers. Now I'm just fighting the nit-picky harmonium keys. A nice change, but they are annoying to work on.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


These will be that last of the photos that I post specifically about the Minoan. Sure, there are piles more but mostly I can't get them out of the photo album. The album of the photos that we took is one of those advertising gimmicks that were called 'magnetic' which really meant 'will stick so well you'll never get it out' unless...you don't need to take it out, therefore it falls out of it's own accord. The photos that were taken by LIFE magazine are too large to fit in my scanner without risking damage to them. I have managed a portion of one of them and that is this one of my dad. Do you think he looks enormously pleased? Even smeared with cement. This next photo is when the Minoan was being rolled over in our backyard. This is a good illustration of the strength of the hull as she is balanced at two points. All 5 tons. All the wood that is seen in this picture is only part of the mold and will be ripped apart. The Minoan has a ferro-cement deck that is made as an integral part of the hull. Amid the boat building years, my family decided to move from Groveland to the neighboring town of West Newbury so the Minoan was loaded on to a flatbed boat hauler and 'paraded' to Wallace Boat Yard in Merrimacport. And I mean paraded. You see we were quite well known by that time and people lined the streets watching the boat hauled by. After more years of fitting-out, she was launched in 1977. Several years of day-sailing later and it was time to cruise south to Florida for the winter. The first couple days out were rough weather with 50 knot winds. As soon as it settled down enough, Minoan motored through the Cape Cod Canal (above). Mom and dad spent the winter aboard in Stuart, Florida. We joined them for Christmas 1981. I hate this photo of myself! Be kind, I was over 5 months pregnant. I'm sharing the picture because it is one of the few that show 'down below'. And finally, a nice day in May, heading back home at the Cape Cod Canal. My dad is buried only a few miles from where this photo was taken.

For many years we were the neighborhood 'entertainment'. When we moved from Groveland, many of those neighbors said how boring life would be with us not being there. The best question..."So what's next, Al, a cement dirigible?"