Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Birthday Blast

Well, here it is, the long awaited post, and I'm having to write it quickly in the midst of other happenings.

So, twas the night before my birthday when the phone rang. It was the local doctor and head of the Thacher Island gang. I got my invitation to accompany the reed organ on it's trip out to the island. YIPPEEEEEEEE! This was going to be a fun birthday.

I arrived, as instructed, at the end of T-Wharf, around 9:30 in the morning, camera in hand and documented the loading of the Smith-American organ in to the Thacher Island boat. It takes about a half hour to power out to the island. Once there the organ would be unloaded and put in place in the parlor of the Principal Keeper's house. Some of the gang would spend until 3 in the afternoon working on the island while a few of us 'newbies' went exploring. There was a lot to see as long as the nasty seagulls allowed us passage. It was hatching season and the 'black-back' gulls were particularly aggressive. Our instructions were to carry a big stick to swing at them if they tried to attack us! And they did try. There are many trails that are kept maintained by the group of volunteers and much of the day to day maintenance is provided by the 'guest' keepers who sign up for living on the island for 3-4 week stints. Even when 'inland' on the island the gulls are still very present. The north lighthouse tower is open to visitors. We fought our way through the gulls and reached the tower. The two other guests climbed to the top. I really would have liked to but being as it is an open circular stair my vertigo wouldn't let me. I had to satisfy myself with taking photos from the lower windows and in the entry. We ate our picnic lunches outside the keeper's and guest houses and then set off for more exploring and pictures. At 3 p.m. we met back at the boathouse to set off back to Rockport.
This week I'll be going through the 50 or so photographs that I took of moving the reed organ to the island and I'll submit a couple with explanatory captions to the GDTimes. If you want to read and see more about Thacher Island, visit the web site linked in the sidebar of this blog.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


This post is being written on my verrrry slow laptop as my 'good' computer is being updated. So nothing fancy with this post. First off...an enormous HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!! to dickiebo, my blog twin. I hope you have a fantastic day. My B'day should be quite exciting but I'm going to make you wait for the details and the pictures of the unexpected adventure that I will be having on my birthday. Then, on Thursday the gang should be heading to the White Mountains for a mini-vacation. I'll be back to work on Sunday and Monday. Sometime on Monday I'm hoping my big computer will be ready to come home and it's then that I'll post about my adventures.

This old laptop barely cranks along and is riddled with little problems and quirks. I never know if it will actually start up. It never does it with grace, always demanding some sort of tweaking before Windows will run. And of course I'm quite inept at computer tweaking. I'm hoping it will hang in there for email retrieval until I'm set once again with the main machine.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

90° and Counting

I am jumping for joy. Summer has made another appearance in the form of a little heat wave. Those of us along the coast have stayed a tad cooler than the folks inland or those getting extra heat from the cement and asphalt of the cities of the northeast.

We seized the opportunity of good weather on Saturday to have a yard sale. The forecast was for mid-eighties and no rain. Somewhat too hot for a yard sale but at least clear skies. I had piles of heavy boxes to carry up from the cellar so I started the night before. I set up the folding picnic table at the edge of the drive and placed all the boxes of tools and hardware underneath. The lot was covered with a tarp and weighted down with granite for the night. In the morning the books, household items and furniture would be carried out.

I set my alarm for 5 a.m. We had advertised in the GDT that we would be 'open' at 9. When we checked the ad we discovered that there was another sale listed on our street. They were starting at 8 a.m. So.....we decided we'd have to begin earlier than we wanted. The alarm woke me. It seemed to be darker outside than it should have been. It was foggy. I dragged on some old clothes and headed downstairs to make coffee. As I was filling the coffeemaker I glanced up at the kitchen clock.

4:16 a.m.


I walked to the parlor to check the mantel clock.

Yep, 4:16.

Back upstairs to the bedroom. That clock read 5:17. How did the time get changed?

I reset the clock and then set the alarm once again. Back to bed, fully clothed, for a half hour nap.

The first 'customer' arrived at 6:30 and I sent them away. We still had more than half the stuff to unpack! Shortly after 7, we had everything in place and more people began arriving. It was about that time that the sky let loose with a downpouring of rain. Heavy rain. We scrambled to get all our stuff covered with blue plastic tarps. It rain for about fifteen minutes and people stood with arms stretched upwards, supporting the tarps high above their heads. They continued to look and buy. We got soaked. As the rain ended and blue skies finally appeared, we 'untarped' our goods. Now it was time for the mosquitoes. This really annoyed me and I finally managed to find a spot in the sun without the pesky bugs.

People bought some strange things. Yes, I realize that this means that we had strange things for sale. One man bought three large boxes of scraps of wire, mostly single strand insulated stuff. Another man bought four big wooden boxes of very large (and very dull) drill bits and bores. He said that he makes sculptures from them. I thought it might be interesting if he added some dull, burned, circular saw blades to his work. He didn't think so and passed up that box. Thankfully, we sold some of the bigger items like two beds and two rugs, and a very old iron 'witches brew' pot. Most of the hand tools were sold. Some of the tools that didn't sell have now found new homes. A table saw is going to friends, a hand held boat searchlight (12 volt) and the 'Big Daddy' riveter are going to a local guy that has an ocean salvage, mooring gear, and underwater video business. We were worn out by the end of the day but I did take the time to shoot some pictures of my irises! I have three enormous clumps of them. Right now there are somewhere around thirty blossoms and twice that many buds.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

No Doubt About It

The post below was written to the Pianotech List by a piano technician that I admire. It was written in response to a question from another tech about how to respond to his ability being questioned by a customer ( a call-back complaint after over 6 months time). The very first time I met David Andersen, I was impressed with his spirit, honesty, and desire to embrace the world whole-heartedly. And although David may disagree with this, I find him to be a very humble man. With his permission I have reprinted his post here.

"I'll tell ya what's up: doubt kills strength, confidence, power, and pleasure; habitual doubt is a toxic, dangerous mental program or habit. When you are insecure
---people can feel it
---it dulls your ability to be clear and focused
---it kills the pleasure of the task in the moment
---it focuses your attention on the self-generated internal dialogue rather than the interesting and challenging task at hand
---it allows you to make stupid decisions, like giving away time and effort for free when you need to be supporting yourself and your family, and consistently undervaluing your worth, the value you bring in people's lives.
Doubt kills the warrior spirit inside of you. It infects everything in your life.
1. Do you see yourself as an artisan, a professional, a craftsperson?
2. Do you generally do the best job you can do?
If yes, then STOP with the doubt and insecurity. You're doing a better job on this planet than a vast majority of humans that live here or have lived here. If your clients don't respect you, fire them. Or suffer. Your choice.
It's that clear and stark. It really is."
David Andersen

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Saga of Junior

or....A Rat's Tale

Junior is big and ugly. He first appeared in my mother's garden last weekend. Well, that's when she first noticed him, at least. Junior is an illegal alien. He is a Norway rat. Yep.

So, mom got the poison down into the burrow that we thought Junior had made and we waited. Early the next evening, we watched from the livingroom window. And he appeared. Drat. At the same time that my mom had poisoned the hole, I had nailed some wire mesh along the edge of the deck, along where Junior had been entering the garden. I had weighted the mesh down along the bottom with some large pieces of granite. Not to be hindered, Junior had burrowed underneath. On to plan B.

We decided that we needed to actually SEE Junior eat the poison. Once we could see him eat it, we knew it would be just a matter of time before "bye-bye, Junior". We also knew that we didn't want to just leave the poison briquette out where our other cute rodents would get to it.

A plan took shape. We went fishing for Junior. Mom tied the briquette to the end of a looooonnnnnggggg string. The string had a loop at the non-poison end that could be draped over the handrail post of the deck. That way Junior could munch a bit, leave, and my mom could haul the left over in for the night. Just before dusk, she set the bait. We waited.

Junior appeared. He completely ignored the bait! He wandered the garden, sticking his little nose in the soil looking for any last remaining bits of bird seed. Around and around he went before he finally came upon the bait and sniffed it. He turned around and moved on to more seed searching. We couldn't believe our eyes. Why wasn't he interested? We began to get very bored with Junior's behavior and decided to take turns at 'watch'. It was mom's watch when the action started. Amanda and I had left for tv viewing when we heard my mom yell that Junior had grabbed the string and hauled the briquette bait to the opening he'd dug to the garden.

Big problem...the bait was too large to fit through the hole and he abandoned it. Junior made his exit under the stairs to the deck. Sigh. This was getting very annoying. This being outwitted by a rat! Amanda took her turn at watch.

I was getting too tired to care. My mom and Amanda seemed quite excited and decided to keep a running dialog about all rat actions. I could hear the details while I watched the television.

It was nearing dark when Junior made his next move. He made a furtive dash from under the deck and grabbed the poison briquette. Then he made a quick U-turn and a dash back to under-deck safety. The string was now attached to the post and then draped across the stairs, disappearing in the void beneath the bottom step. Now what? Then Amanda called to my mom to see if she could see what was happening from her vantage point at the kitchen window. The string was taut, then slack, then taut again. There was a 'tug-a-war' going on under the deck between Junior and the post!

Now, you have to understand that this all took about two hours and it was becoming quite dark outside. My mom tried to see what had happened with the string but she could tell if it was still taut. She didn't know what to do. Should she venture out to Junior's territory and try to haul in the line? I recommended that she wait until morning. If Junior had succeeded in removing the bait from the line there was nothing that could be done. If he'd eaten it all - great!

We all relaxed for the remaining bit of evening and then said our quiet "good-nights" to Junior and headed for a good night's sleep, hoping that Junior's last supper had been successful. When morning came around, I took my cup of coffee to Mom's. She asked if she should check the line. I told her I'd keep an eye out for danger! She hauled in an empty line. Junior had gnawed it through and taken the bait. While we were pleased that success was at hand, we did feel a bit sad at having to kill Junior.

Day turned to dusk and we started randomly checking out the window to see if Junior was in the garden. Hour after hour and he never appeared. Things were looking up even as we felt sort of bad. I told my mom that she should wait a few days before putting the bird feeder back out.

Just to be sure.

Just to be sure, the next morning my mom placed a small stone near Junior's hole to the garden. It would be easy for him to move it out of his way and would be an indicator to us that he was still around. That was this morning. At dusk I walked to the window to check the garden. The stone was still in place and there was no sign of Junior. Just before dark my mom checked.

"Oh no! I saw something move over by the stones, " yelled my mom.
I went to the window to look. Sure enough, there was Junior.

On to Plan C.