Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Super New Book

I got new reading material for a Christmas present. I've put a book cover picture in the sidebar. The book is titled, Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town, Dogtown. It's extremely well researched and written by Elyssa East.

I finished reading it tonight. Yep, that good. A real can't put it down book that wraps the history of Dogtown around the 1984 murder of Anne Natti in it's woods. While I admit to being fascinated with the unusual, and Dogtown certainly qualifies, I think most anyone with the slightest inclination towards history and the unique atmosphere of an island community will be as enthralled with this book as I am.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas

Any of you know how to read Finnish?We found this card in the Lanesville house. It is addressed to the long deceased V. E. Haapa Natti (subsequently Storns). A fitting card to post here. We've been feeding the large clan (flock) of Bubbas and Squirt has reappeared to steal what he feels he's due. He hasn't been very pushy about it as there are an abundance of acorns this year. Today, he was having fits just trying to get one peanut as the bluejays kept landing around him and dive-bombing him. Poor little Squirt was frozen in place and ducking!

Even more wildlife have been coming around. Some not so welcome...

On Sunday there was a lot of shoveling to do. Near the end of the day I shoveled the back garden walk near the birdfeeder and deck. As I scooped up a shovelful at the base of deck steps, I nearly sliced up a small, dark grey mouse under all the snow. He scurried out of the way and burrowed neatly under a nearby drift of snow. Eeeeeew. That makes me real enthusiastic about snow removal back there for the rest of the winter.

On a more interesting note, today after Squirt and the Bubbas were finished with their feasting on peanuts, a hawk landed on out deck railing. Wish I had had the camera handy.

I wish you all the best of the holiday season and I'm so thankful to have you all visiting here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It May Look Pretty, But...

it's no fun to shovel or drive in. Here are the requisite photos of what I woke up to this morning.The initial shoveling was backbreaking. With drifting the snow depths were from 0 to 18 inches or more.As noted by the snow plastered against our sliding doors that go out to the deck, it's blowing a gale outside. I spent about an hour and fifteen minutes with my first shovel out. I'll be back at it again shortly. My face is so red it looks like I spent an afternoon in the sun. Only in my dreams. 'A' has to be at work at 2 p.m. I was sort of hoping she'd call in sick since she has a sore throat. No such luck.


I'm dreaming of a sun-drenched Christmas,
Where temps are eighty and above.
Turquoise waters and orange blossoms,
And palm trees swaying are what I love.

Sigh again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Can't Say I've Been Bored

Just so you all get to see what I've been keeping busy job board in my workshop is pictured above. It's from the beginning of November up until the present. The two left hand columns show key work. Each job is a three to four day turnaround time. Some of the individual jobs are multi-part, therefore requiring up to one weeks shop time. Divide all that in to less than 60 days! The upper right hand column is devoted to tunings, estimates, and small in-home repairs. The lower right hand corner lists upcoming repairs, minor and major and some known January jobs. Although getting all the key work out on schedule can be, and has been for the past couple weeks, stressful, I really like seeing so much work coming in.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


'Tis the season. Last December my work was down by 75% from the previous year. The piano business was really taking a hit from the down economy. This December, well, I think folks have finally gotten fed up with doing without. I'm presently swamped with work. So much so that I have postponed two new customers to having more involved work done after the new year. I tuned a somewhat decrepit, yet tunable, Welte - Mignon studio 'mirror' piano on Friday morning. It needs three hammer flanges (doubling as damper flanges) repinned. Things are playable and he agreed to schedule the repair for after the holidays. Friday afternoon I went to take a look at a Starck console. Just needs tuning (pretty routine). It does need new key tops. I'm scheduled to go back on the 30th to pick up the keys.

So what's the deal? I've got 12 hours days worth of key jobs in the workshop for the next week - at least! A rush job of key bushing, ivory repair, and backcheck releathering for a regular customer. Key tops and bushing for a new customer. Two sets at once of key tops for another newbie.

So far.

In shipment, due to arrive next week, three more key top jobs and one key bushing job. Next week I also have a tuning and repair on Tuesday morning.

I am sooooo tired. It'll all get done. On time. Somehow.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

At Least It Didn't Snow

But it was sure a yucky day.

We had our first snow of the season early last Sunday morning. That didn't amount to more than a dusting, but it was annoying to have to scrape the windshield. For the past couple of days the meteorologists have been predicting a doozey. "Watch out, we're going to get a major snow storm," was all I heard on the weather. It started with heavy rain in southern California (thanks Scribbs) and spread itself halfway across the country with snow in New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, then Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and the upper midwest. Today was our turn.

But not here.

It's very rainy and very, very windy. Very grey and gloomy. Squirt and Squeaky had their breakfast in the lee of our big oak tree.


Drive a few miles to the west or north and they had snow. Up to 10 inches in some places, but NOT HERE! Of course, we have huge puddles and the wind was blasting so violently that a cement weighted sign in Stop & Shop's parking lot blew over doing some significant paint damage to the hood of a shiny, black Mustang parked in front of it. It was a small enough sign, on a metal post, with a circular mass of cement about a foot thick and 2 feet in diameter. The metal post did the damage. Yes, I braved the wild and wet storm to go in to the store to tell the manager.

So, now we're all home, nice and cozy. Thankfully, I've got key work in to keep me busy with more arriving tomorrow and Friday. Dinner is cooking, the Christmas decorations are all out. I'm heading for the living room to stare at the tree.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Free For All

Last week, on a weird fluke, 'A' decided she wanted to pick up the daily newspaper. Upon turning to the Rockport page a headline caught my attention. Over a week later, I don't remember the exact wording of that headline, but it indicated an interesting article to be read below it. The article was about the planned upgrade and 'restoration' of the Rockport Community House AND it clearly stated that the building would be open on the following Saturday for residents to TAKE anything available that they could use. WOW!! A free sale!

The Saturday rolled around and I really didn't feel like rolling out of bed early. The words FREE STUFF kept rolling around my brain, so I did roll out. I thought it would be best to beat the scheduled opening time of 9 a.m. by about a half hour. Folks in this town are known to line up well ahead of time for bargains. I was first to arrive so I waited in my truck and watched the door. When one other 'shopper' arrived, I headed for the door. There were two rooms set up with an assortment of items. Tables, folding chairs, glassware, desks, file cabinets, an electric keyboard, stove, refrigerator, and assorted miscellany. Some neat stuff that I really didn't need.

What I ended up with was a large, and very heavy, folding screen covered with old and cracking Naugahyde, a very nice, newish, tall folding chair, an iron candlestick, a roll of white plastic tablecovering, and a Mission-style oak plant stand that needs refinishing.The picture is rather blurry, but it beats the other one I have which is way too dark! (No, I'm not taking another.)

Then I went on with my morning.

After dropping 'A' off at work at 11 a.m. I thought, oh well, might as well stop by and see what's left. The two ladies in charge of the give-away were getting ready to leave as I entered the main room. They hung around while I loaded up two metal shelving units and a collapsible, rolling clothes rack.

So...I haven't a clue what I will do with the folding screen. Right now it's a bit of a divider in the workshop. The tall chair is down there as well. It will be good for the craft shows next year. The candlestick is awaiting a good spot. It may wait for years! The roll of plastic table covering is sure to be handy, even as a dropcloth. The plant stand has been taken apart (it needed a reglue anyway) and will be refinished this winter. The shelves are in use in the workshop as is the rolling clothing rack which has been equipped with window screening which all the ivory jewelry is hanging on, covered in clear plastic, for the winter. For craft shows it will be the new stand for the ivory process photographs that I have as a backdrop.

Free stuff is great.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Than I Should Have When I Should Have Done Something Else

I was all set to head to church this morning when my mother asked if I would help her get the Christmas window boxes in place on the shed and at my porch. She had spent a few hours for the last couple days getting the greens and berries all arranged. Well, darn. I might as well stay home and get work finished up because I just knew the next question. "It's a beautiful day. Are you going to rake more leaves?"


So after the window box carting, I finished up two sets of key tops. (Tomorrow at least one more set is due to arrive, maybe two. And I've got a tuning in the morning.) Then I set out to rake more oak leaves. That was at about 11 a.m. I came in for a fifteen minute lunch break at 1 p.m., then it was back to raking and bagging.

42 large lawn and leaf bags! And there are still more leaves - I ran out of bags. That makes the seasonal total, to date, 83 bags. That's a heck of a lot of oak leaves.

Now every joint hurts. One Aleve and a good night's sleep and it starts all over again tomorrow.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Funny How One Thing Leads to Another

After last Wednesday's tuning job, I made a dash to finish my Christmas shopping. My driving route took me past New England Biolabs and I remembered that I hadn't written my follow-up post.Mary called to tell me that she had picked up this magazine and noticed a familiar company featured. It seems that the founder of NE Biolabs is quite the guy! The title of the article in Northshore Life is Don Comb: Generosity is in his Genes. Indeed! I quote from the article by Heidi Paek: "Those who know Comb describe him as a remarkably generous and productive person. Though he is a great-grandfather, he seems ageless, working daily in search of answers to pressing scientific questions. Motivated primarily by his desire to advance the greater good, Comb has been a life long advocate of science and the environment, and an influential supporter of the arts." The article continues for three pages sprinkled with explanations of tidbits such as gene research, enzyme development, Filariasis (a parasitic organism) and DNA, environmental stewardship, environmentally sustainable construction, Ocean Genome Legacy Foundation, art as a universal form of expression, and bio-diversity of the world. What I gleened is that primarily NE Biolabs is involved in advancing the 'pre'curing of disease by discovery of the genetic cause and treatment at a genetic level. Pretty cool guy.

But, before that article there was another that held nearly equal fascination for me. The Danvers Insane Hospital: What Evil Lurks, by M. Renee Buckley.Having grown up on the north shore and having made the trip back and forth on Route 1, through Danvers, hundreds of times during my life, I've always been fascinated with the enormous Gothic presence of, what we referred to as, the Danvers State Mental Hospital. It sits high on a barren hill above acres of fields. Ominous. The main building, called Kirkbride, is a 70,000 square foot brick structure surrounded by many large 'out' buildings. The article was a superficial swipe at the more mysterious and possibly haunted aspects of the hospital which was closed in 1992. The hospital was built in 1878 and was designed to house 600 patients. At it's worst, 2000 poor souls were crammed in to the facility. By the 1980's only about 200 patients remained.

During the late 1940's, my great grandmother was commited to Danvers State Hospital.Nancy had spent a short time living with her daughter and family prior to her commitment. In those days the family lived in an apartment behind the office of GP, Dr. Peris. By today's standards it seems an odd arrangement. The only telephone, located in the doctor's office, was shared with my grandparents (and my mother). During the hours that the doctor's office was closed, my grandmother would answer any emergency calls and then call the doctor at his home. Also, the doctor's office had no facilities for sterilization. Dr. Peris would let himself in to my grandparent's apartment to boil his instruments in a pan on their kitchen stove. Nancy went to live with her daughter's family, in her latter years, as she began suffering from dementia. My mother remembers that in Nancy's short stay with them her condition worsened to the point that she would frequently wander unclothed. Considering the living (and sharing) arrangements, this posed an insurmountable problem. Long before the days of skilled nursing care or nursing homes, Danvers State was the only option. Nancy lived the last few months of her life there.

Today, the Kirkbride building is designated as an historic building and has become the central part of a high-end apartment complex, Avalon Danvers, built upon the same footprint as the Danvers State Hospital atop Hathorne Hill.

So, what started out as the coincidental discovery of an article that tied in to my blog post then led, for me, to a much more personal search in to the past.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fair Saturday

...started off bright and early. I was up and out to the school complex just after 7:30 in the morning. Once at the school, I uncovered everything that we had set up on Friday evening and neaten, then put out the little Christmas tree for displaying the some of the easel miniatures as ornaments. I had time before opening to take a picture of my table.Not exactly a prime location in the gymnasium. I was located in the center aisle. At least it was a corner table so I got more traffic than the middle ones.

Around 9:30 a few people started milling in to shop. I kept reminding myself that last year had started off slowly - don't worry. The first hour past and I had had no sales. I was getting a bit nervous. Then a lady came by and was so excited to see the ivory necklaces. She told me that someone had given her one as a gift last year and she loves it. She bought two to give as gifts. Then I sold a couple packages of notecards. A twenty-something guy came and bought an easel miniature, then more necklaces sold. I lost track of how much jewelry sold. Mostly necklaces and a few pairs of earrings, no pins. I sold HALF A DOZEN miniatures!!!!!!!

Now add to that those four custom ordered necklaces - which, on Friday, became a sale of six rather than four AND today we had company and they asked to see the jewelry and I sold two more necklaces - it's been a good three days!

Oh yeah, dickiebo, I saw you peeking around the corner. (It was you in the elf costume wasn't it? You can tell me. I can keep the secret.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion

Yeah well...the biggie fair is coming up this Saturday so I thought I'd let y'all know. I've got everything sorted, repacked, and ready to go. Set up time is on Friday evening. The Rockport PTO Holiday Fair begins at 9:30 Saturday morning and ends at 2 p.m.Here's a picture of some of the latest additions to the jewelry. The photo shows just the painted ivory - before the findings are added. Top six verticals are necklaces, four of which are for the custom order and will be delivered on Friday. There are six pairs of Christmas earrings, two additional Christmas necklaces and three horizontal Christmas pins. This may or may not be the last fair of the year. The only other consideration would be a church fair coming up on Dec. 12th - a little seasonally late for most shoppers.


Looking forward - I've got an update on NE Biolabs and some other local stuff (thank you Mary). I'll be posting all about that soon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

To Finish With the Last Two Posts and Then Some

Well, it has turned out to be a busy week - again. This is good for the pocketbook, one would think. Well, at least there is the hope that some of the money due will materialize. Nothing in the mail today, however (except the electric bill). Two more key jobs did arrive today and with the one that arrived yesterday, I'm busy. I also have to return a call about an estimate and possible tuning for a new customer.

So, the last key job to arrive is an enormous mess. I'm taking pictures as it progresses and will share them here in the future. It's a piano that was saturated with water. The tech sent the entire keyframe (keys and the structure that holds them). Everything is rusty, broken, unglued, moldy, younameit. FUN!! The other jobs are routine.

As promised, this week I sent off the parts to that piano tech who called last week. He should have them by Saturday and I sent a bill in a separate envelope. He called today. To tell me not to rush on sending the stuff as he thinks he may not need it after all. HAH. Guess he should have thought things through before he requested the parts. A half hour on the phone, more than two hours finding, dissembling, packing, reshelving the leftovers, and shipping. Now he's mad that he owes me money for it all. He ended the second phone call rather abruptly.

Tonight I emailed a tech that owes me for key bushing. At the time of the job he assured me that he had sent payment separately from the box of keys. I wonder what his excuse will be?

Amid it all, I'm almost ready for the PTO Holiday Fair. Just two Christmas necklaces to string and one last set of earrings to finish. Then it's get all packed up ready to go next weekend.


On a totally different subject - I finished reading The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. There was a lot of hype about it seven years ago when it was first published. I didn't really care for it. It seemed, to me, quite simplistic in writing style and in plot. Oh well. It did have one paragraph that caught my fancy. The main character was trying to decide if there would be a medical condition that she would be embarassed to admit suffering from. This is an exerpt from the resulting paragraph: "She felt terribly sorry for people who suffered from constipation, and she knew that there were many who did. There were probably enough of them to form a political party - with a chance of government perhaps - but what would such a party do if it was in power? Nothing, she imagined. It would try to pass legislation, but would fail."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

One of the Downsides

of being self-employed is having to do follow-up calls for overdue payments.

Today, I made one of those calls. I tuned at this private church school nearly two months ago. September 15th. I submitted my bill, as instructed, to the secretary. I waited almost six weeks, then sent a second billing. Nada. So, today I asked the secretary about the missing payment. She replied, "Oh, our bookkeeper was out with THE flu. I'll check on it for you."

Wow, THE flu MUST be horrendous! Eight weeks worth of misery! Humph, I'm not convinced.

This prompted me to check my dry erase board in the workshop where I keep track of my workload for each month. Shop work and tunings and such. I added up the payments still pending on completed work and was duly depressed to find the total of $540.

Certainly there should be some checks arriving in the mail - soon!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Seven Varieties

If all weeks could just be like this past one!
Monday was retail, of course. It was just busy (or not slow) enough that it didn't get too boring. I knew it was giving me the opportunity to prepare for the upcoming week.
Tuesday it started with the first set of keys arriving. These were in for new bushings and needed to be finished up and shipped back out on Thursday. Everything went along quite well. Also on Tuesday, I got a special order for four ivory necklaces, so I did some ivory sorting and laminating at night.
Wednesday rolled around with keybushing in the morning and afternoon and evening! I worked it in around shaping and painting ivory and a late day tuning. The call for Wednesday's tuning went like, "We just got a piano for free. It's a white upright. I don't think it's been tuned since it was originally bought in the 80's."

Oh boy.

It turned out to be a 1986 Samick. The tuning record in the piano listed a free warranty tuning in 1986 and a second tuning in 1989! It was nearly a half step flat. I raised the pitch by 'tuning' the first note to the pitch of the next highest note, working my way up the scale. Then I went back and tuned. I'll be doing a follow-up fine tuning this week. At Wednesday's tuning I got to meet two ENORMOUS dogs. One was 11 months old and very pleased to have company. I was smothered in doggie kisses by the time I was finished. I also tuned with a picture of the second President Bush and wife watching from a picture above the gun case adjacent to the piano. The picture looked like it was taken on the customer's front lawn.

While I was at the tuning a box arrived at my house. Keys for new tops. A new customer. I stripped off the old tops and fronts, trimmed the key wood as needed and glued on new Wednesday night.

Thursday morning I finished up the keybushing job and got them packed and shipped. After lunch I did some more ivory painting while waiting to get ready to head for another tuning job. That tuning was a Kawai upright that I had tuned last year. It has extremely tight tuning pins and is really a bear to tune. It's nearly impossible to get a feel for the pin turning. I took several breaks during the tuning to play with the customer's cat. I'd dangle a long strip of felt over the edge of the bench for it to attack. Then I tied the end of that strip to the wire end of a tuning mute while I was using it. Every time I moved the mute along during tuning the cat went crazy. I went home and painted more ivory. I also had two phone calls for jobs in town and an email. Friday morning was free so I got both calls booked for then. The email was from the key top customer. She needed to find a couple replacement key coverings for a 1970's vintage Story & Clark piano. These are weird wraparound plastic coverings no longer available. I had a few and sold them to her - to be shipped with her key top job.

The first job of Friday morning was to solve 'knocking' keys (customer's description) on an old spinet. I knew a lot of the things it wouldn't be as I had worked on the piano and tuned it two years ago. Mrs. J. had thoughtfully put a smidgeon of tape on all the keys that were knocking. It took me far too long, amid a good deal of conversation, to notice that the fallboard (wood part that closes over the keys) had slipped slightly forward and all the sharps (black keys) were knocking on it when they came back up from being played. Whew! Easy stuff and I could go home before heading for my next in-town job. But wait...Mrs. J. decided that she would like the piano tuned...since I was there. Okay, at least there would be some pay for the trip! Once finished I headed for the second job, an estimate, arriving just in time. When this guy had called he had been hard to pin down as to what he wanted. Yes, he needed a tuning, but there were a couple missing bass strings, and well...he didn't know what else may be needed. Less than a mile from my home so I offered to take a free look. Turns out to be a Helpinstil (I think that's a close spelling) piano. One of approximately 100 still around (or maybe total made, I don't know). Built in the 1970's it's a hybrid of acoustic piano (spinet) and electronic keyboard. It folds up for traveling. I went over the immediate needs - 2 new bass strings (he had the old ones but, due to the location of the break, they couldn't be spliced and reused) and tuning. At some point there would need to be additional work like hammer filing, key bushing, regulation. I priced out the bass strings and tuning and he seemed unlikely to bother. I left a business card and headed home to work on that key top job. A tech called needing some player piano parts and I promised to find time to get them together and shipped.

Saturday morning I buffed the keys and got them packed and shipped. 'A' came downstairs to help me with collecting together the player piano parts and packing them up to be shipped next week. Then I painted more ivory jewelry. Around 2 in the afternoon, we decided to tackle some leaf raking. Then I made English pancakes for all of us for dinner.

Today, Sunday, I had a special piano job. Many years ago( in 1972 to be precise), friends of our family purchased my childhood piano. It's a 1961 Baldwin Acrosonic. They had just had it tuned a few weeks ago and ever since their tuner had left, the fallboard wouldn't work right. They had asked if I could take a look at it sometime when we visited. Today was the day. It was a gorgeous day today with temps in the high 60's. Hard to believe having a jacket free day on November 8th! Anyway, my mom and I made the drive while 'A' was at work. Once I'd gotten the piano opened up and a few screws removed I could see what had happened. I just find it hard to believe that this guy did what he did! There are four screws that hold a complicated array of metal linkage attaching the fallboard to the inside sides of the piano - two screws on each end. The top two screws on each end were fine. With the bottom two he had missed the holes and instead forced the screws in to new spots, creating two new holes in the wood. Why? Why would someone FORCEFULLY make new holes. Didn't he realize that he had missed the old holes? Four holes, four screws. Seems like it should have been simple enough! I lined up the screw holes with the holes in the linkage and screwed it all back together in the correct way. Guess what? It works now. Geeze. No charge, they are friends. They insisted on taking us out to lunch, though.

So, another week begins. So far I've got two keytop jobs that will be arriving and that fine tuning at the large dogs/piles of guns/Republican household. But first it's retail again.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

More of the Odd

I admit it. I get overly fascinated with odd stuff. So, last week I was browsing the 'Buck-a-Book' shelf at the library and managed to find three that sounded worth their prices. One of the books was The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant (see the sidebar). It's fiction, or should I say faction? A novel based loosely upon the real life story of a very early settlement in the center of Cape Ann. Extremely well composed and makes you feel like it IS true history. I imagine it's close. I've referred to Dogtown in the past on this blog. One of these days I'll get around to some serious exploring out there. If you'd like more information (it's really nifty) check out this site . Be sure follow the links on the site for lots of interesting stuff.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Well, It Just So Happens...

that we went back to New England Biolabs today.Here's the glass building with the large plant occupied atrium.We were surprised that we noticed so many more things on this second trip. Some of which were so large that we had a hard time explaining just HOW we had missed them. This is such a cool place that I told 'A' that we were going again some Saturday and walk around.It's still a bit spooky with the odd car parked here and there, three pumpkins on front steps, a lone man sitting on a front porch.And more creatures, large and larger!Like how did we ever miss that guy last time?The original estate must have been quite beautiful.

Friday, October 30, 2009


One thing 'A' wanted to do during her vacation week was to go to Marini Farms and do the corn maze. It's 8 acres large and while it sounds as if it would be a little wasn't. Yes, there were parts of the process that were 'educate the children', but even that proved challenging in a maze aspect. The idea is to collect, on your score sheet, various farming related words and picture rubbings as you go through the maze. We weren't very interested in that other than the problem of finding them all (we didn't). It took us about 90 minutes to find our way through the maze. We collected about three quarters of the puzzle (words and pictures). We have decided that next year we'll do it again with more emphasis on game play, not just finding our way through.

After completing the maze, and on our way home (sort of), we took a trip to New England Bio Labs. Strange you think? You bet. New England Bio Labs does research/development/something else having to do with DNA, RNA, genomes and piles of stuff that I haven't a clue what on earth they are talking about. Anyway, I had been told that the grounds and buildings were really cool to take a look we did...and they are. The property was evidently a large agricultural estate with buildings of brick and stucco. Those buildings have been preserved in their original form on the exterior, with interiors now devoted to offices and labs. In the midst is a large, all glass, multi storied contemporary building housing more research space. It has a three story, corner atrium filled with enormous tropical plants. On the property surrounding the facility are many metal sculptures.A horse grazing.A large bird befitting a scary movie.

Just in time for Halloween...a research lab and spooky creatures amid old, brick and vine covered buildings.

I will not be driving up there after dark.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I received one of those emails, from a friend, today. You know the type...list your whatever. This was a 'list your first' list. So here goes. Those readers that are bloggers can follow suit on your own blog.

In honor of the upcoming weekend...
First Halloween costume: A clown. My Dad made the costume. Yep, he liked to sew. He always did any reupholstering of furniture, too. Anyway, I was one and a half years old when I first wore the costume. When 'A' was two I made the same costume for her.

First car: Well, y'all know about that one. A Pontiac Firebird. An embarrassing moment happened when a friend and I went to Hampton Beach, NH in that car. I was on summer break from college and Kim and I decided it would be a good beach day. We parked right at the beach and as I was ready to shut my door I thought... I don't want to carry my purse around with me...and tossed it back in the car. Just as I slammed the door, I realized that I had locked it and my keys were in my purse. I tried to stop Kim from slamming the passenger door shut, but only managed to yell "don't shut it" just as she let go. It didn't completely shut...but wouldn't open either. No big deal, I thought, we'll just walk to the local beach police station and get a coathanger. Got there to discover that two of my former junior high school teachers were summertime cops. I had to listen to an awful lot of chiding about stupidity on the escorted walk back to my car. I've never locked myself out of a car since.

First kiss: You are supposed to remember that, right? I don't. It was probably A. D. the first guy I went to a school dance with in junior high. A simple kiss goodnight. Never dated him.

First house or apartment as an adult: When I got married in 1977, we rented the first floor of a house in Folly Cove (Gloucester). We rented for one year and then bought the Lanesville house (search this blog for 'Lanesville' or 'Greenough' for stories about our house, ghosts, and more). It was less than a half mile from our rental.

First crush: Definitely Tom. Never dated him. Still hope? (giggle)

First pet: When I was born, my parents had a black cat named Lucky. Lucky wasn't so, as he got lost when we moved to Groveland from Haverhill. As an adult, my first pet was my grey and white cat, Tiffany. My favorite pet was Tucker. An all black cat who stayed by my side through some of the worst times.

First vacation destination: Don't remember what place came first. We often traveled to the White Mts. or to Lake Winnepesauki (misspelled, I'm sure). Big trip to Niagara Falls, Quebec, Montreal. Several to Florida. Actually one of the trips to Florida would have been my first when I was three or four years old. We stayed at the Pan American Hotel on North Miami Beach. I loved the pool...and grapefruit juice with my oatmeal at the hotel restaurant.

First teacher: Kindergarten, Mrs. Hickox. I distinctly remember that she contracted chicken pox twice!

First boyfriend/girlfriend: Paul B. We dated for a couple years during high school.

First paying job: Picking strawberries at Ingalsby Farm. I was fourteen and rode my bike about 6 miles each way. Started at 7 in the morning and finished at noon. I lasted at that until I stuck my hand in to grab a nice, red berry and found a very large mound of fur. Yes, as in a dead...something...big. A total nasty job of crawling along the rows on wet straw while spiders and other bug thingies crawled on you.

So, let's go to your blog and read about your firsts!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our Neighbors and Then Some

Remember the neighbors that had their driveway redone? Well, it's not doing very well. A lot of it has washed out and there are weeds growing up in the middle of it. But that's not really why I'm writing this. The neighbors always have a rather large vegetable garden. This year they planted pumpkins, but evidently they planted them too early as they had dozens of pumpkins by the beginning of September. They lined the driveway with them, had one at the mailbox, several up the front steps and a lot on the deck railing. Well, there are still a few sitting around. Those that haven't rotted...or been eaten. Chip evidently enjoys his vegetables, rotting or not.It was a day filled with wildlife. The Bubbas had a feeding frenzy this morning, hopping around, chasing each other off, even looking in the window for more peanuts (no beak knocks yet). In the afternoon, after a final lunch at Ellen's Harborside (they closed for the season today), 'A' and I decided to do some beach walking. First we tried Cape Hedge Beach. We walked about half the length before turning back. The tide was about at half tide and that made walking too difficult with all the popples. We drove to Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach is totally covered in popples but we were more interested in the pond directly across the dirt road from the beach.There we talked to one of the swans who was, for a few moments, quite cooperative about picture taking. After a bit I think he got annoyed and decided to be aggressive about us leaving. Fortunately, he moved rather slowly so he wasn't very much of a threat. Our next stop was Land's End where we climbed around the rock ledge at the ocean's edge. That sort of tired us out so we headed for home...the long-ish way along Eden Road...a mistake. My goodness, the road is worse than I've seen it - ever! Potholes large enough to swallow my little truck! It was like bumper cars in slow motion trying to miss the worst of them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Got This in the Mail

These folks send out the best invitations. They host a superior open house, as well! You can wander the entire workshop, sample a variety of tasty foods and drink, and enjoy a free concert on the latest organ. The entire organ is assembled, then taken apart and transported to it's new home, in this case Opus 136 (3 manual, 39 stop) will live at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

I guess I'll be taking myself.
Check out the link to C. B. Fisk in the sidebar.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


or could the plural be jalopi. I like the sound of that. During the rain of Sunday I decided to sort through my box of photos. On occasion it needs a that I can find what I'm looking for in a reasonable length of time. First I came across this photo.It is labeled on the back, "Al's Jalopy". A shame it doesn't show the entire car. I haven't a clue as to what maker, either. I am sure that my dad spent many hours keeping it running!

I got to thinking about the first car that I owned. I got my driver's license in 1971, when I was 16. My parents owned an enormous boat of an automobile, a Pontiac Bonneville, olive green with a fake leather top in black. I learned to drive in that car. As soon as I got home from passing my driver's test, my mom asked me to take her shopping at the Northshore Shopping Center (now a mall), Jordan Marsh, Filene's, and more. My mom didn't drive back then and wouldn't get her license until her new chauffeur (me) went off to college. I also became official driver for all my friends as I was the oldest and for a time the only driver. My parents thought nothing of loaning me the car to drive to concerts an hour away in Boston. Great concerts like The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, and others.

Owning my own car came a few years later. I spent my first year at college, in Boston, living in a private dormitory. Massachusetts College of Art had no dorms of their own. My second year I decided to live at home and commute. My dad was concerned that I have a very reliable, sturdy, survive most anything, rugged auto for that commute each day to Boston. As a result, this became my first car.A brand new Pontiac Firebird (V8). I can't remember whether it was a 1974 or 1975. I know that the next year's model had a wraparound rear window. My dad installed an 8 track tape player for me. I could commute to Boston listening to Pink Floyd, or Bach's Goldberg Variations...(Yes, Bach on 8 track. I used the school's audio lab to convert my 33 rpm records to 8 track)

Then came the oil crisis. Prices jumped to over 75 cents/gallon. The bright red Firebird got traded in for a first year Volkswagon Rabbit. What a change, what a mistake!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Yep, surf's up. And there were a couple surfers yesterday. Today we didn't see any. Well, with the exception of these birds!We are in the middle of a nor'easter. Wind gusts exceeding 40 mph, temp around 45°F, loads of driven downpours, and even a bit of sleet. Tides are a tad overly high!Font sizeToday is also the second, and last, day of Rockport's Harvest Festival. Not so good. No ship this year. Some of the crew from the USS Constitution came up from Boston. They brought a cannon and installed it at the end of T-Wharf. Shot it off every hour between 11 and 4 yesterday. Some of the crews from a few subs stationed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard were supposed to be here. Evidently a lot of them were no-show. Not nice. Yesterday's weather was brisk and windy but no rain, so outside activities were fine. Not so today.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Breakfasts for Bubbas

As most of you are aware, we feed a large family of blue jays. To tell the truth, we started this three year habit by feeding Chip (the chipmunk) and his son, Stubby. They liked sunflower seeds. We then graduated to feeding Squirt, Squeaky, and Scooter, three squirrels that loved to hang around our deck. They got to eat walnuts at first, then we switched to more economical peanuts. Unfortunately the squirrels got too pushy and started climbing the screen door looking for more treats. We tried using a little water gun to shoo them off, but they liked getting soaked! Now Bubba, Babs, and all their little Bubbas hang out in the pussy willow tree every morning. When I open the drapes at the sliding door, Bubba lands on the fence and waits. I throw out four peanuts at a time and we watch as the blue jays flock to our deck to grab them. They have developed a few, cute habits worthy of comment. Most of Bubba's family now will weigh the peanuts before making a choice of which nut to fly off with. They hop around the deck picking up one nut after another, sometimes doing a second check of one they already lifted in their beak, until they find the largest and heaviest. One guy tries to take more than one nut at a time. He nearly swallows the first and then tries to wedge a second one in his already open beak. Only occasionally does he manage it. This is not an easy task! We throw out about 20 peanuts (still in the shell) each morning. With the last handful I generally tell them, "That's it. The restaurant is closed!" The Bubbas still return after closing and hop right up to the window of the sliding door and peer in, waiting for me to get up and head for the peanut bowl. My mom says she's just waiting until they start knocking on the glass with their beaks.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Apathy Pushed Aside

Well, the Monday workday rolled around. Instead of my usual early arrival for the purpose of getting everything ready ahead of time for opening, I decided to give it only ten minutes. Of course, I still left the house at the same time. Needed to find a free parking space and also walk up to the main store to get the key, something usually not needed on non-holidays (the candy maker unlocks the door bright and early on normal weekdays). When I arrived at the factory store, why was I not surprised to find everything in dire need of attention? Everything! So, I washed the outside windows first and then headed indoors. It was time to open but so much needed to be done. I decided to open a few minutes late (ten) and fill the taffy 'boat' first. The taffy boat is actually a large rowboat, sectioned off in to fourteen bins. The bins are full (or should be) of the various flavors of taffy. They were all half empty or less. This meant lots of back-breaking filling. The 25 pound boxes of taffy are stored below the boat, five of those had no more than a handful left in them so I had to head for the taffy room shelves to get more full boxes.

As I was filling the taffy boat I heard a knock on the window. It was the taffy puller, showing up for work. Wonderful, that meant an even busier day as while he is 'on display' working in the window, crowds gather. Inside and out. In good humor I mouthed "GO AWAY!" then opened the door to let him in.

The rest of the filling had to wait until after the store was open and there was a lot of it to do. Not just candy, but boxes and bags. Then there was cleaning all the interior glass and retrieving dead gummy bears from the window display (where they didn't belong). I noticed that the owner had left a terse note for the Sunday crew (two work on Sunday) that they were to stop shooting elastic bands around the shop (he'd evidently found many), that they were there to WORK. I decided to write my own note - to the owner. I first wrote a list of everything that I had to do that morning (he probably noticed some of it while he was there to open the registers), including filling over twenty other candies, some that were completely empty, besides the taffy. Then I added a note that I had spoken to the manager and had her approval to close the store that evening without doing any filling - nothing. It was intentional and never something that I would normally do. Truthfully, even though I was there as the only clerk, on a holiday, with the taffy pulling and wrapping attracting crowds of people, who then filled the shop constantly from 11 a.m. until a slight slow down at 5 p.m., I could have found moments to fill stock (I actually did some as needed to avoid empty trays). I had a constant line for 6 hours! I am so glad that's done! I'm not claiming to be super clerk or anything. It's just that when there is that moment to grab, you can't just stand and stare. You have to work. Today I'll be turning in my time card and picking up a paycheck. I'm curious as to what the owner's reaction will be.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Another Week - Gone

And what did I accomplish?

Monday, of course, is my 'lost' day. I work retail from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. During that time several things occurred. The first was irritating. I arrived at work to find that most of the filling of stock that should have been done on Sunday evening hadn't been done. Luckily, I had arrived quite early giving me time to get the majority filled up before customers arrived. Still, I had plenty to keep me busy for over an hour. The last of it being worked in between sales. I don't think it's asking too much to get most of the candy filled and the shop neatened up before closing in the evening. Really, should I have to be picking up trash from the floor when the evening guy was supposed to sweep? This led to the second thing that happened. I wrote a short, polite note to Sunday's crew and taped it to the back counter. Then I proceeded with the day's selling. About noontime I decided against the note and threw it away. I'm only there one day and don't want to be the only complainer. Felt good to write it, though. Yeah, still bugs me and tomorrow is quickly approaching. Monday was also the day that my latest order from the piano parts supplier arrived. I had called in the order last week and, once again, explained about the defective parts. I made a point to emphasize that ALL defective parts were in boxes labeled: Operator JR Shift 2. I told them that I had 13 defective 'D's and 13 defective 'E's (I decided to skip the part about the overly scratched ones - one battle at a time) I was assured that it would be taken care of.

Which brings me to Tuesday, when I unpacked and inspected the shipment. ALL the key top boxes were labeled Operator JR Shift 2! What a screw up. Thankfully they all seem okay. Oh, and they sent me 14 'D's and 12 'E's. sigh. My patience is wearing thin. Tuesday afternoon 'A' and I made a trip to the mall so that she could buy new shoes for work. She ended up with new boots, two pairs of pants, a shirt, and the shoes. I bought nothing.

Wednesday morning I was up bright and early to head for the Cabot Street Theater in Beverly to take a look at a player piano that had quit functioning. When they had called they couldn't remember the make of the piano so I had no idea what I would be getting in to. I hate leaving the house early, especially on a windswept rainy day. Rte. 128 was flooded in parts and I thought that I would need the extra time that I had allotted for the trip. I arrived 25 minutes early so I sat in the truck in front of the theater and waited. Once the doors were unlocked, I fed the meter and went to take a look. A Wurlitzer. Too much electrical stuff for me! I recommended another tech. The skies had cleared for my trip home. Wednesday afternoon my mom wanted me to drive her to L.L. Bean. Oh yuck. I hate that drive. Especially the drive back during rush hour. She bought a new winter coat, a sweater, and a jersey. I bought nothing.

I declared that Thursday would be MY DAY. In the morning I finished off the reed organ article and selected the photos that would accompany the article. At noon, 'A' and I headed for the Moseley Estates (Maudslay State Park). I wanted to take a look for the Kettle Hole. Supposedly a kettle hole forms when trapped glacial ice melts. We live in a terminal moraine area, where the last glacial age left enormous hunks of rock (granite) deposited at it's southern most reach. It also left broken off pieces of ice that got buried under a layer of earth. When those giant pieces of ice eventually melted, the earth collapsed forming large hollows named kettle holes. Well, we found it was sure disappointing! So we hiked around some more through the woods and saw two deer cross the path just ahead of us. As it got later in the day, Newburyport's cross country running team had a meet at the park and it got bothersome trying to avoid them on the trails. We left for home stopping at the new Marshall's on the way back.

Funny thing (or maybe not), I don't even remember Friday. I'm sure something happened! Oh yeah, I submitted the reed organ article (sans photos). The editor emailed asking that I send the photos to him after the first of November, when he'll be back home in CA. (photos need to be sent hard copy) So, fingers crossed that it's a go for publication at some point!

Saturday morning was devoted to errands. The bank, buying a newspaper, and a trip to the library. I finished reading "Await Your Reply". A very strange novel of intricately woven characters, lives, and identity theft. Anyway, I bought three 'dollar books', "The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency", "The Piano Teacher" (I've already read it), and "Singers and the Song". Just as I was paying for the books, another librarian told me that a book that I had requested was in - the new Nicholas Spark's novel, "The Last Song". And I've still got the next Music Book Group book sitting here to read - " The Inextinguishable Symphony"! After lunch 'A' and I went to Halibut Point State Park, here in Rockport. It was cold and windy, but we had a good hike around the quarry and down to the shore. The pictures interspersed in this post are from Halibut Point.

Yay, I remember more about Friday! I spent Friday morning tuning 3 pianos at the high school. Now I get paid...first the tuning last month at the church school in Beverly (the job with the near parking fine), then a local church, then the high school.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

I Must Be Nuts

After the rainy Saturday, Sunday looked promising - no rain forecast. Both 'A' and I managed to get ready to be out the door at the same time this morning, with no hassles. I dropped her at work and then I went to church. After church, M asked if I had big plans for my afternoon. I couldn't think of a thing that I'd planned on doing. By the time I had reached home it had dawned on me. Today was the Music Book Group at the library. I ate a quick lunch ( I confess that it was just a large bowl of ice cream) and took myself to the group. The book being discussed was "The Soloist". The discussion was rather shallow and I don't think it addressed the book very well. However, it was a couple hours after the group that boredom got the best of me. I don't know what possessed me, but...I decided that we should all go to Skip's for final meals of the season. Skip's was closing today and will not reopen until mid April. Now, we'd just been there on Thursday and it is an hour drive one way. "A' got out of work at 5:30 and we headed directly for Merrimac and our last (again) cheeseburger specials of the season. On the ride up we kidded that we didn't even know if they would still be open when we got there. Then what? What a relief to see the sign all lit up!We were hungry. We got up to the window to order and found out that they were all out of hamburgers! We quickly modified our menu to chicken fingers. We did get 3 of the last 5 orders of suzy-q potatoes (curly fries). By the time we had finished eating - in the car, of course, they were cleaning the grill and closing up. My mom decided she'd get out and do trash duty. All the containers had been removed! It was a pleasant ride home smelling the remnants.

Next Spring will be the start of Skip's 63rd year in business. I can't remember a time I didn't go there!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

What to Do on a Rainy Day

Nothing like a rainy Saturday to be uninspired. I even spent an extra half hour in bed this morning trying to convince myself that I really did need to get up! 'A' and I went to the local store to pick up the morning paper. I got home and found that there really wasn't much in it worth reading. I picked up a little bit around the house, fed Bubba and family, played around on the computer catching up with bloggers and piano stuff. Lunch came and went and still it was raining. My mom had some shopping to do so she drove 'A' to work. I went to the library and got out a new book. It's another fiction novel titled, "Await Your Reply". In reading the cover flap I've no idea why I decided to get this book. It had sounded good when the guy on the Today Show recommended it. I'll give it a try. BTW, I hate to admit it but...Dan Brown's latest was very good. I just hate admitting to being so trendy.

When I got home from the library, I didn't feel like starting in on the new book. What to do?

Then an idea came to me. This would be a great time to get (back) to work on that article for the Reed Organ Quarterly. Gee, it's only been 6 weeks or more since I started it! Well folks, today I finished the rough draft (long hand) AND the first draft with edits. THEN I actually sat and proofed for typos and made a couple more edits. My mom read it over and had a couple good suggestions. This is the part I really enjoy about writing. Literally working it over, making it better, improving content, deleting the superfluous. There's more work to do, including photo selections, but it's taking shape.

On this rainy Saturday I actually accomplished something!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Poor Timing

Sometimes no matter how carefully planned things seem to be...

Nearly two weeks ago I received an email from a client. He would be sending 3 sets of keys for recovering! I emailed back with some info and also asked whether he wanted bright white or slightly off-white tops. I didn't hear back. Shipping time would be only one day. He had emailed on a Wednesday, so I guess-timated that I'd be seeing 3 boxes on my doorstep by the following Monday. At the latest. Nothing. A week goes by - nothing. I sort of gave up watching for them.

Mondays are the only day that I'm definitely not here. Remember that retail job? My mom stopped by the store yesterday to tell me that the 3 boxes had arrived. I got home at 6 p.m. and got to work. Unpacking, labeling, removing the old ivory, and sending another email. What color?!

This morning I checked my email. Still no response. I phoned him, got his machine, and left a message to CALL ME WITH A COLOR CHOICE. Yep, I was getting a teeny bit perturbed. I went back to work on the keys and got all the machining done in preparation for the new tops. Still no call or email. 'A' and I decided to head out for the afternoon. She had to buy a new DVD/VHS recorder/player. As a treat, I bought a new Beatles CD. We arrived back home around 4 p.m. to the caller ID flashing. He called! I headed down to the workshop to glue on all three sets of off-white key tops/fronts.

Why is it that when you are in a rush there are always additional roadblocks? I had been having some quality problems with the key top supplier. I thought they had been resolved - until tonight when I discovered another two batches of defective keys (Ds and Es only). Last time the problem was with white tops; this time with off-white. Thankfully, I had enough sets on hand to complete this lot of keys. I'll add here that each key is unique in shape and size. Key tops are oversized and trimmed to fit each key. However, they come in basic shapes of A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and A-A, C-C (each end of the keyboard). Only rarely could an F be substituted for a C, or a D for a G. There are no spare (extras) per set so once even one is damaged an entire set must be raided for a replacement. Can you see the problem in this photo? The light shows the sunken line near to and parallel with the top front edge of some keys. (yes, the keys are not lined up perfectly in the photo, that's not the point) That 'valley' is not supposed to be there and looks really horrendous when lined up with perfectly smooth, level keys. So add to that problem an additional 7 key tops that were too deeply scratched to buff out and I have a new lot of 33 damaged or defective key tops.

I'm calling the supplier tomorrow.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Could be scattered, lack of patience, sort of ill, problem solving, or it figures. Any of those could be a title for this post. Yeah, I'm still sick, although not terribly so. I started with a couple days of dry, burn-y throat. That progressed to some slight head cold feeling - just for a day. Now it's sneezy feeling and a dry, tickle cough. None of the symptoms overwhelming, just enough to be generally fatiguing and annoying. I haven't felt like tackling a big project. The rest of the household doesn't seem to understand this. Mostly I've tried to avoid the evening question, "So what's on your list to do tomorrow?"

I have done some things. I've signed up for the school's holiday fair so that means getting my stock back in shape. I'm just finishing up with five new necklaces and eight pairs of earrings. I spent (mostly wasted) several hours trying to print my own two-sided business cards. Avery supposedly has made this easy. Avery has succeeded in making me feel like an idiot. The first three batches printed poorly spaced on the cards. Not usable. I tried, unsuccessfully, to use the 'alignment' tool that Avery provides in the print set up. Didn't work well. I ended up printing 60, one-sided cards with no border so that the slight misalignment isn't evident.

I'm back to work on restoring my player piano. It's driving me nuts. It's very temperamental. I'm in the process of testing one 'deck' at a time, isolating problems and attempting to correct them. It seems that I can fix these problems without too much difficulty...until I put it all together again and they reappear. I just don't get it. It's definitely punishing me for some unknown reason!Here's a picture of the little set up that I have for testing the player mechanism. The box contains a vacuum motor. It has a dimmer switch in line so that I can regulate the vacuum applied to the player action.This is a photo of one of the decks being tested. I'll scream at it some more tomorrow.

This morning I had a church tuning job. Thankfully, it wasn't too far from home as when I arrived to "the door will be unlocked", I discovered it wasn't.


Just to prove to myself (and Avery) that I'm not a complete idiot, I had brought a contact phone number. Made the call and waited 10+ minutes for the key toting person to arrive. I love church tunings. No interruptions and usually some fine visuals. I must remember to bring my camera along next time. I did wonder about the pipe organ and checked it's name. A Stevens & Jewett if memory serves me correctly at the moment. Made in Boston.

Finished off Saturday with some errand running. Sunday is forecast to be rainy and cool so that should make me feel worse!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Me, Myself, and I

So here I sit...alone...trying to complete a list of seven things that I truly prefer to do alone. Beyond the obvious. Being an only child complicates this. Most of my life I have desired and sought out companionship. On the other hand after so much time alone, I feel quite comfortable with it. Prefer it? No. Apathetically accepting? Probably. I'm pretty much tired of trying or hoping for anything different. So, I could write a gigantic list of things that I would love to share with someone else, things that I now do alone, but that isn't the task, is it?

Here goes.

  1. Painting (as in art). My little studio is set up in my dad's side of the workshop, far from the stairs. I desire only music while painting.
  2. Playing the piano. I can't play with an audience - usually. And don't try to sing along, it'll screw me up. When I lived in FL, I would practice sometimes a couple hours each day. If I caught a glimpse of the mailman heading up our walk I'd make a mistake - just because I knew he could hear me playing. Once, though, I did manage to sit and play ragtime on a piano that was being auctioned at a local church as potential bidders filed in and out of the building for over an hour.
  3. Shopping (as in clothes). 'A' will barely spare me the time amid shopping for herself. Mom is always commenting when she shouldn't. My first husband used to follow a couple steps behind all the time - extremely annoying. Although I rarely have opportunity, let me shop by myself.
  4. Reading. Sharing newspaper stories with another is pleasant, but don't interrupt a good book. I can sit and read while watching the TV. Actually, that's sort of my norm. Not much of interest on the tube anyway. Even when there is a good show, I'll read during the ads. Having another person around while reading a good book is, well, irrelevant to me.
  5. Writing. I can collaborate and have. When it's me and the words, I need peace and quiet. You can hang out and comment and offer constructive criticism when asked - later. I appreciate the comments. I also like a proofreader.
  6. Floating. Yep, you read it correctly. I don't get to float anymore, but I can easily recall the sensation. During summers in Florida, I would force myself to take 1 hour lunch breaks. I would drive to the pool at the park where my parents wintered. Not a soul around, the pool to myself, I'd take 45 minutes and just float on a inflatable raft. Lovely.
  7. Crying. I'm a private crier. Yeah, there have been times in my life when I've shed tears more publicly. I'm not comfortable with that. I cry alone.

There you have it.

Bunches of Stuff

I wish that I had the time to write entries when I really felt the desire! The past few days I have contemplated a few topics, but life has not given me the time to put the ideas to keyboard. Then I end up writing short blurbs about all of the things - one fell swoop. I don't particularly care for writing that way.

Here goes.

The best laid plans and such...A set of keys arrived from CA just as we were heading out the door to drive north for the afternoon. Oh well, I thought, I've plenty of time. I'll get them prepped and glued in the evening upon our return (didn't happen, too tired). No worries. I'll get that part done first thing in the morning, machine them in the afternoon, ship them on Saturday. It'll still be within the 3 - 4 day turnaround time. Company arrived at noon Friday, called first, they have a summer home in ME and were leaving on Saturday for their winter home in IL. Ate out, visited, ate out again, no keys worked on. Saturday was very busy and I managed to ship the keys out at 1 p.m., just before the 2 p.m. closing at the shippers. Then while my mom was out to lunch with friends, I got working on mowing the lawn and weed-wacking. I also replaced a bulb in one of my mom's walk lights, only to find out that the reason it doesn't light is NOT the bulb. Cooked myself a nice hot meal of roast chicken with onions, whole green beans, and a baked potato. Struggled with an aching body to pick 'A' up from work. An Aleve meant a good night's sleep free from the day's aches!

Sunday, a day of rest...hah. It's nice having Sunday free from 'outside' (meaning retail) work. After a quick clothing sort (summer away, winter on hangers) first thing was church. My mom drove 'A' to work. I got home and had a delicious lunch of tuna, lettuce, and Marini Farms tomato. The tomatoes they grow are so yummy I could just slice one up in a bowl, salt it, and be satisfied. With only an hour left before retrieving 'A' from work, I just poked about a bit re-nailing a bit of siding on the house and shed. My mom reminded me of my promise to recaulk a couple windows and I got that done after the retrieval. (oh yeah, Friday the electrical engineer visitor and I fixed my mom's doorbell). None of these things being on THE LIST so I don't get to cross anything off. Then it was off to the library. 'A' didn't find anything of interest and I picked up one book. Which brings up the 'Recent Reads'.

The monthly music book group is meeting again. September's book was "Beethoven's Hair". I had only four days to read it (not knowing if I would have THAT Sunday off, I hadn't bothered to sign the book out until late). While it was a fascinating subject of the journey and subsequent analysis of a lock of Beethoven's hair that was snipped from his head soon after his death, the writing style was overly textbook-ish for my taste. On the other hand, the October book is "The Soloist". Read that one in two days. A probable total of 4 hours. Some of you may have seen the movie about the life of a homeless man on the streets of LA, made even more poignant by his past musical success, schooling at Julliard, and the comfort that playing an instrument gave him.
That finished, I started in on "House of Sand and Fog". An Oprah Book Club book. It is nothing I could truly recommend. Interesting. Way too depressing. I broke down and bought Dan Brown's new novel, "The Lost Symbol". I know, I know. I have succumbed to all the hype. I haven't read either "The DaVinci Code" or "Angels and Demons", so why this new book? Well, evidently it's heavily in to Freemasonry. This intrigues me. My grandfather was a Mason and I have some of his stuff. I tune for a Masonic Temple and the Temple Room is breathtaking, even in a modestly outward appearing building. So, for those reasons alone I have bought the book. One copy out of 5 million in this publishing! I am five chapters in to the book and have been interrupted by another that I picked up today. "Losing Mum and Pup", by Christopher Buckley is a memoir of life with and without his parents (William F. Buckley, Jr. and Patricia Taylor Buckley). An only child who is orphaned at the age of 55 when both of his parents die within one year. I read the first two chapters while waiting for 'A' at the library and since it's a loaner from the library, I'll continue with it and restart Dan Brown's later.

At last I'm almost caught up! Here that is, on the blog, never with real life. I've been spending some time thinking about a post I read elsewhere. About being alone and listing activities that you enjoy doing alone. The goal is to come up with seven things. I've only thought of four. I can think of far more things that I do alone that I wish were shared. (sigh) I'll keep thinking and post later.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Timely Things

I had to set the alarm this morning. I had a tuning in Beverly at 9:30 ish, a new customer, a Catholic elementary school. I knew pretty much the location and had no problems getting to the area. Finding a parking space was somewhat challenging, however. I had my instructions. I would find a metered, city parking lot with 2 hour meters across the corner from the school or on-street metered parking would get me up to 12 hours. Not knowing the condition of the piano and therefore not knowing exactly how long I would be there, I was hoping for on-street. As I drove down the street bordering the school, all the parking spaces were occupied. I came upon an intersection with a one way street and saw a vacant space on the corner. I loved it! Easy parking! I made sure I was within the lines and only a couple inches from the curb. I hauled out my tuning gear and headed for the meter with the load of change that I had brought. Quarters only. 2 hours for each quarter so I cranked in two of them. No worries with four hours to get in the school, find the room, tune the piano, and drop off the bill to the secretary.

It was 9:15 when those quarters registered in the meter. It was 10:45 when I returned to my truck, job finished, to find a bright orange parking ticket on my windshield.

Huh?????? There was still nearly three hours left on the meter. I was not a happy tuner. I racked my brain for the location of the Beverly police station and thought that I remembered seeing it when I had gone to tune at a different location a few months back. I headed that way, found the station and couldn't find parking. I did, however, find a parking spot at City Hall, and decided to start with them. I was very pleased to find that the first office inside the doors of City Hall was the parking clerk's office.

Now, before I finish this saga, take a look at this and tell me which meter I used when I parked for my job (A, B, C, or D). Notice it says 'Deb' on one of those parked cars!Well, I put my 2 quarters in meter D (bottom dot) and I was wrong. Yes, I knew that usually the meter is at the front of the vehicle. But, not always. I had even looked at the set up of the other cars and meters before making my choice! There was no other space behind me, yet there was that meter. Must be mine.


So, back to the parking clerk... I told her, "I parked at a twelve hour meter, put in two quarters, and went to tune a piano. I came back about one and a half hours later and had nearly 3 hours left on the meter and found this ticket on my windshield!" I explained the odd meter arrangement and that there was NO parking space behind me.

Her explanation was that they had painted the parking space lines incorrectly. There SHOULD HAVE been a space behind me.

Yeah, well, now what?

She voided my ticket.

You better believe I'm hanging on to two copies of that voided ticket so when the paperwork gets lost I'm not in trouble! (And take another look. If the meters were IN FRONT of parked cars, why wasn't there one for that top car in my drawing?)

I headed home. 37 miles round trip, a tuning fee, 3 quarters used in meters, and I wasn't going to add a ten dollar ticket to the day. The sun was shining and it was a pleasant trip on the highway. Once I got on to local roads there was a surprise waiting for me. You're thinking a police car speed trap, right?

Nope. (and I don't speed)

For the last 3 miles of my trip home I got to be the fourth car in a line-up following the trucks painting the center line in the road. 3 miles at an average speed of 5 mph. I wasn't going to let that get to me and cranked up a Beatles tape that 'A' had left in the truck. Cruisin' at 5 mph with "Ticket to Ride", "Kansas City", and "Revolution" blaring! (the paint vapors helped)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oh Deer

This week has been very busy. The holiday weekend, at least Sunday and Monday for me at Tuck's, was extraordinarily exhausting. Evidently, record sales. Then Tuesday it was right to work with a pinblock to CA. This required some creative piano action removal due to tight quarters, but all went well. Tuesday afternoon was what should have been a routine tuning. However, I was given some incorrect information and ended up with a monster tuning and quick repair. My Wednesday morning tuning rescheduled to Friday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon I was back at that pinblock treatment job to reinstall the action and tune. Out to dinner with my mom at Ellen's Harborside on Wednesday night. Then my back started to ache just over my left hip. I took some over-the-counter pain stuff and slept well Wednesday night. When I got up today, my back felt almost better. I could still tell that it wasn't quite right, yet it was hardly noticeable. I did business paperwork all morning as well as scheduling an out of town school tuning job for Tuesday morning. By noon-ish my back was a bit worse but still okay enough to keep going. We decided to take a ride up to Skip's for an early dinner. On the way we stopped at a shoe store for my mom, and on the way back made a quick stop at a chain department store for 'A' to pick up a couple things. It was dusk by the time we got to 'deer crossing' territory in Essex and were pleased to see this sight. A family of deer with the youngsters jumping and playing together.Now it's off to bed, some reading, and the heating pad. Got to get the back better for tomorrow's tuning, church and book club on Sunday (yay, no more Sunday's at retail!), Tuck's and clerking by myself on Monday, and another tuning Tuesday morning!

It only hurts when I walk...or stand.