Saturday, May 31, 2008

Catching Up

I decided that I'd better get to writing a post before dickiebo disowned me...or worse. There are just times that I haven't felt very inspired to write anything. It's not that I haven't anything to say or to write about, it's that I can't seem to motivate myself to get started on it. Overdoing other things, I guess.


A week ago was the first Old Firehouse Craft Fair for this year. At 8:30 am, I hauled myself and my gear downtown. Actually, my mom did the hauling of my gear and me. She was there to give me a hand setting up. Then she left for most of the day, returning only to give me a break around lunch time and helping me pack up at the end. The fair lasted from 10 am until 4 pm. Being as it was very poorly advertised (read 'next to nil'), attendance was slimmer than I had hoped. As you know, Mary and Beth came down and they made my first sales of the day! Later in the afternoon I sold some more packages of notecards and a couple more easel minis. So, not as profitable as I had hoped and I will be modifying my items for sale. The next fair will be on July 5 and I'll be there. I'm adding two or three new products to my inventory. One of which is still in 'development' but I'll whisper the idea to you as long as you promise to spread the word! Added to the product line will be wearable oil paintings. I am in the process of creating necklaces featuring original oil paintings on ivory (authentic elephant ivory reclaimed from old piano keys). There may be another new product or two, but all will still focus on oil paintings of regional scenes.


Other stuff...My participation in 'Pay It Forward' is nearly done. One person that I nominated did not respond to my address request but it is understandable why. The 'gift' is still here, waiting, just in case.


Key work is still coming in on a somewhat regular basis. Friday I shipped out two finished sets.
One went to God, the other to Jesus. They both had addresses with a view.


My mom said that I'd better hope they liked my work!

So as to be able to remember to notify them when their keys would arrive, I wrote the information on the back of a business card from the shipping company. It read:

God Weds
Jesus Mon

The company name on the flip side is ESP.

Left the shipper's hoping I didn't lose the card someplace along the sidewalk. Might scare the person who would find it!


Oh rats! Yes, indeed. And I've named him Junior. Mom called to me a few evenings ago to look out her back window. Lo and behold, there was an enormous rat darting in and out from under the fence in to my mom's garden. He was eating the birdseed that had fallen to the ground from the feeder. We don't like this one bit, folks. We like chipmunks. We like squirrels. But mice and fat rats....NO!

Sooooooooo, today we headed for the hardware store to see what there was to see in the 'rid yourself of rodents' department. There's not much. First item was the monstrous spring-loaded trap. Not an option. Might catch Chippy or Son of Squirt instead. Then there were the sticky traps and we ruled them out for the same reason. We could have purchased a humane trap, but then what does one do with a live rat? Can't really release it many places for it to thrive. We thought and thought and then very reluctantly opted for poison. Now, no lectures about what these poisons do. I know what they do. I don't like what they do. But THIS IS A RAT. We had located Junior's home nestled down and between the roots of an old tree stump. Today, while Junior slept, we inserted a poison briquette in his home. We covered it and the opening well with plastic weighted down with granite. We wanted to make sure that no cats (or squirrels or chipmunks) could get to the poison. Hopefully, tonight will be Junior's last supper.


And finally...upon the suggestion of a few colleagues, I've written a story for publication. Watch for updates.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Today is THE day. I'll be heading to the craft fair in town in just a few minutes.Think $$$$$$$

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Huh? Yes, it is continuing. Dickiebo was treated to a surprise gift and the nice thought is to 're-pay' by sending a gift on to three other bloggers. Well, my dear blog twin chose me as one of the recipients and now I'm announcing my choices. So, although I may guess at actual street addresses based on the limited information these people have provided, in the past, on their blogs, I really could use updated information.

So Annette, Linda, and have each been chosen to receive a gift. It is going to take me a couple days to actually 'collect' the gifts that I'll send, but they will truly represent Rockport. If you wish to increase the odds that I have your correct snail mail address by 100%, please email the information to me at You will receive your gift via snail mail shortly after I get your address.

Enjoy and 'Pay It Forward' if you so desire.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Diamonds in the Rough

Even the booking of today's tuning was a little different. The phone call came a couple weeks ago from a pleasant sounding woman who said she was making the call for her backdoor neighbor. Mr. J needed his piano tuned. She was calling to check on the price and to schedule a convenient date. I asked her how long it had been since Mr. J's piano had been serviced. She paused and then said she would put him on the phone. Odd, I thought she was making the call because he was at work or something and unable to personally speak with me. Mr. J gave me the information needed. He owns a Steinway grand. It had been tuned about a year ago, but since then one bass string had broken. I told him my tuning fee and he scheduled the tuning for today.

This morning I slept in a bit and once I did get going with breakfast and shower was dreading the tuning job. Having a string break on it's own is not a good sign, nor was I relishing dealing with ordering a replacement and the subsequent repeat visits to install and tune it. I'm in a 'give me simple' mood. Nevertheless, with tuning gear in hand, I headed out for the 10:30 appointment.

Mr. J's place was about a fifteen minute drive and easy to find. But what a place. As I approached and parked in the gravel drive, it was difficult to convince myself to stay. His house looked like a small, old barn. Added on and patched however the mood swayed carpentry. It was two stories tall. With a deep breath I gathered my tool kit and headed for the aged front door. Rough sawn and slightly beaten, it did boast one small window, a kitty door, and an enormous door knocker. As I rapped with the knocker, I stole a cautious glance through the window. It didn't look good. My quick view didn't show ordinary living quarters. To the right, and in a little, was a large utilitarian sink. To the left, haphazard storage. I stepped back from the pane as I heard footsteps approaching from inside.

Mr. J seemed to be in his late sixties or early seventies. I found it very hard to tell exactly. He was disheveled but clean and somewhat reserved. I extended my hand as I introduced myself and my purpose for being there. He commented that he had forgotten my name but did remember our appointment. Since all I could see was the old sink and lots of piles of 'barn-ish' storage, I asked where he was hiding the piano. Mr. J said it was upstairs. At that point I noticed the worn staircase to my right that had been hidden from outside view and hauled myself and tools upward. Mr. J followed. Halfway up I saw a kitty bowl filled with water on a small landing.

Upon arriving on the second floor I was greeted by an expansive view of Ipswich Bay hampered only by the white streaks of thermal glass panes gone bad. I made a quick assessment of my surroundings. The second floor was one large room. I was standing in the 'living room' section. I looked further and saw the old Steinway at the far end. As I approached the piano, still looking around, I spotted Mr. J's bed on the left. A double sized mattress on the floor. Mr. J's house seemed as disheveled as Mr. J.! The lid to the piano was open so I set my tool case down by the bench and had a look inside the Steinway. It wasn't a pretty view. What should have been bright and shiny was layered in gobs of rust. Everything steel was host to the orange-y brown parasite, including moderately sized patches of the cast iron plate.

I was thrilled with this discovery. Nothing better than piles of rust to justify my exit. I pointed out the problems inherent with trying to tune a piano with such decay to Mr. J. He was unfazed. I told him that ethically and professionally, I felt it best that a tuning not be attempted. I told him that there would be no service charge. Still he wanted me to try. I knew I had dreaded this appointment for some reason! Not many sounds worse to a piano tuner than strings breaking or the plate cracking. I got everything ready to start and then closed the lid. Better for breaking tensioned steel to hit the interior of the piano than me. Luckily, things weren't too far off, tuning-wise, and I gingerly began making some fine adjustments where needed. And only where needed.

About fifteen nerve-racking minutes into the tuning, I heard Mr. J holler, "MoMo get over here!" I turned to see Mr. J grabbing on to a cat's tail trying to 'haul'er in'. A split second later there was even more commotion. MoMo let go of a field mouse and it scurried across the floor and under a couch. Then the fun began! MoMo was frantic. She couldn't find her new playmate. Mr. J was frantic because he couldn't either! They both searched and searched and scolded each other. Finally MoMo headed out to find another friend while Mr. J continued his search. After ten minutes, or so, even he gave up. I told him that between a rusty piano and a loose mouse in the house, he was fortunate that I was still there! He said he usually just catches the mice in his hand and carries them outside to free them.

Wonderful. But where was that mouse?

Remarkably, after temporarily forgetting about the newest, tiniest house guest, and after an hour of tentative tuning waiting for the snap. The snap never happened. The piano was tuned with not one string breaking. I advised Mr. J that paying to replace the one broken string was probably not an economically sound choice. It's absence was not perceptible being one of a pair. It's partner was still there for that note. I sat down at the key board and played a short passage of ragtime. Afterwards, Mr. J sat down and performed a stunning piece of 30's jazz. He was totally amazing.

I wonder what was.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Where In the World?

and other goings-on.

I took a few days off. Sort of.

This week being one of Amanda's vacation weeks gave us the opportunity to make the trip to 'the other' Cape, Cape Cod. It was an on again, off again kind of thing. The plans had been made long in advance - weather pending. I HATE driving in poor weather conditions. Particularly on the highway. By the end of last week they predicted that Sunday, Mother's Day, would be the one real diamond amongst coal. Monday and Tuesday were looking to be a nor'easter. We called and canceled our overnight stay at my cousin's house since the forecast looked so poor for a return drive on Monday. Canceled - weather pending. By Saturday the non-omniscient weather predictors had changed the outlook. No rain until late in the day on Monday. Back to the original plan! So we headed south to my cousin's and then she drove us all out to the cemetery to my dad's and aunt's graves. The day was beautifully sunny. A tad windy and the wind was cool. On the way back over the Bourne bridge, I tried to shoot some pics out the van window.
Looking north through the railing at the Cape Cod Canal.Looking south at a barge being towed through.And the bridge from a distance.
The drive back home on Monday was fine. Cloudy and very gusty winds, but no rain. By today the sun was out once more. Seems the big storm skirted south of us.

Today was special in two very different ways.
The first was a surprise in the mail.
About one month ago I had received a set of keys in the mail. The technician said he would be sending the prepayment check in a couple days. Nothing arrived and after a week or so I left him a message inquiring about payment. He left a message for me that he would forward his customer's check as soon as he received it, he had called to remind her. Well, I waited a couple more weeks and still, nothing. I left him another message last week and he never returned the call. I was beginning to wonder what to do about it, when today........the check arrived! No wonder it took so long to get to me..................................
He'd sent it to my street address, but he'd sent it to MS instead of MA. Mississippi rather than Massachusetts! It took being hand sorted to discover the mismatched state and zip code and then some detective work to decide which was correct. Thankfully there is no Rockport in MS. I got to work on his keys this morning while waiting for our afternoon treat.

This afternoon we got to meet the new owners of the Minoan! We had emailed back and forth a bit, and then as you know, I had posted some photos for them here on the blog. P and G arrived at the boat last Thursday evening (from England) and have been working hard to get her back in shape. They took today off to take the train to Rockport and visit. We had an enjoyable afternoon with them. First lunch at Ellen's (of course), then some postcard buying(by G) and a drive down Bearskin Neck and around town. We drove by Front Beach so they could see where the Minoan had been driven ashore in a northeaster in the fall of 1977. Then we all came back to the house for the photo album 'show and tell'. We hope they enjoyed their visit with us and that they will come back soon. P said he hoped to be able to come back before their return to England so they could explore the area some more. We think that would be great! We took them back to the train in the early evening and they headed back to the boat with all our best wishes for safe and fun sailing.

Wednesday is another partial day off. Some key work in the morning and then we'll be heading for an afternoon at the Moseley Estates (Maudsley State Park) and dinner at Skip's.

Thursday is a very full day of piano repairs and tuning, Friday and Sunday at Tuck's. I haven't a clue what may happen on Saturday but the weather sounds lousy!

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Where's deb?Don't worry, I've just gone adventuring for a couple days. I'll be back blogging, maybe Monday night, to let you know what I've been up to.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Just Plain Tired

A few days back I hinted that there would be biggish news. Well, tonight I'm ready to let all of you hear it. I didn't want to say anything earlier in case I severely blew it and messed up. So...since that didn't happen, leaving me only feeling a bit old and inept, I guess I can tell.

While I still maintain my primary occupation as a piano technician and have a secondary occupation/avocation with the miniature oil paintings (that I hope will pay), I now have a third, albeit very part time, job. I'm working retail sales at Tuck's, here in Rockport. Just one or two days per week. Today was my first training day of four. I should call it re-training as I worked there nearly thirty years ago, even managing one of their stores. A lot has changed in thirty years! They even have electric cash registers now (yes, really and truly, we had the old-fashioned manual type when I was there years ago). Anyway, after six hours of training my brain is scrambled.

So why did this happen? The big R word that our government doesn't acknowledge. I believe the closest Bush has come is to say that our economy is in a slight temporary slowdown.


If you are finding it hard to pay your mortgage, put food on the table and gas in your car, are you very worried about getting your piano tuned or fixed? I think not. Add to that MY soaring heating bills, gasoline expenses, and property taxes (and let's not forget the quarterly tax payments that Uncle Sam expects) and I was scraping the bottom of my bank account. What's a poor piano tech to do but look for a way to keep piano tech-ing while supplementing that income. I finally got up the nerve to venture back in to the retail world fueled by tourism. The owner of Tuck's called early last week to offer the job and schedule my first day.

Then (and I mean mere minutes afterwards) my phone started ringing. Five calls for tunings and service. One I had to turn down as I couldn't fit it in at the time the client needed it. That afternoon a tech came by to drop off a set of keys. Two more sets arrived the same day. One in the mail and another by FedEx.

I'm swamped. I'm working 14 hour days to keep up. Yes, I am trying to pace it by taking a tad of time off to eat. I picked Amanda up from work at 5 and we had dinner at Ellen's Harborside tonight (I was too tired to think of cooking). Tomorrow morning I'll get up extra early to finish some key work and then we go to Skip's for lunch. We had intended to go on Friday, but now I'm scheduled for Tuck's that day.

I hope this evens out a little! Off to bed.......................