Thursday, February 26, 2009

Concluding Remarks

So many things happen over the course of a few weeks. I write about them and then never catch you all up on what happens in the end. Maybe it doesn't matter. If you don't care to know how some things panned out, quit reading now.


The BIG check is in the mail. I got an email telling me that the person was sorry for the delay, but it was on it's way. Maybe by weekend it'll arrive.

Evidently, sternness works. A______G______ called from the DTA. I've been approved. I can pick up my card at their office.

I called the midwest tech who called looking for info on the ivory key guy. Thought it might be a quick call. I just wanted to give him a couple phone numbers. 45 minutes later, I know the guy's life history! And...he's sending a pile of info on his piano business.

The weather is temporarily improving. It should be near 50°F tomorrow. I saw two chipmunks this week so Spring can't be far away. However, Sunday it's getting cold again and we are supposed to be having sleet and/or snow.

I never found a larger box for those keys that were shipped so poorly. I got creative in my packing and sent them back in the original box. Fingers crossed.

The book, Testimony, by Anita Shreve was a big disappointment. I didn't finish it. I've been reading through books by LuAnne Rice. Too soppy sweet, but they are easy reads until something better.

I walked along the front of our property today. Thought I'd check things out after our neighbor's brother managed to plow over four rocks from our front wall and not bother to put them back in place (Angrily, I had to do it. And he knew he'd done it as he looked out his truck window at the damage.) Anyway, still fighting dog battles. One in particular and I shoveled five huge piles of you-know-what out of our yard and flung them to the appropriate yard. There will be much more to come on that front once the weather warms and our windows are open.

So, there you have it. That's all for now, folks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Should Have Just

rolled over and gone back to sleep.

It's been that kind of day.

Oh, it all started out swell enough with a good mug of coffee, breakfast, 8 piano related 'digests' in email, finish off another set of keys to ship on our way out of town...

Fantastic, the mail-lady arrived just before we were leaving. Should be a BIG check for some key work by now. What? Not yet? But, hurray, there's an envelope from the DTA! Before I backed out of the driveway, I opened it. Totally unbelievable. Well, the sad thing is, it IS believable. They have denied my application because...I didn't provided the needed information or documentation.


I talked to 'my' worker last Thursday. She called to say that they needed my Sept. 08 and Jan 09 business records. (Even though they weren't requested in the initial list of required documentation) I told her that I would mail them that same afternoon. I stopped everything I was working on and first recorded all my business stuff for Jan. in my account book, then went to the library and photocopied both month's records on legal sized paper and walked directly to the post office AND MAILED THEM. ATTENTION A_______ G_______. This was an ordinary business envelope. It would have been received the following day. At the latest two days.

I called today and got HER machine. I left a very stern message. Now I wait.

So anyway, back to the day...Shipped off the package and headed up to Haverhill, to Ted's Leathers, to buy a suede split for gasket (reed organs and player pianos). It's a 45 minute drive and we were relieved to see the hours posted for being open Wed. through Fri., 12 - 4. Except, Ted's has changed. I think 'old man Ted' is no longer around. A young man opened the doors to the leather storage area (behind the retail clothing space) and it was near empty. Nothing I could use. From racks upon racks and floors covered with bins, it is reduced to four tables of dregs. How utterly disappointing. I loved being able to touch and inspect the leather before buying.

We drove around Haverhill a bit and then decided to head to Amesbury and have lunch at Friendly's. As I opened the single, glass door to enter, a woman barged her way past me, leaving. Honestly. She actually pushed me out of her way as I tried to walk in through the door that I had opened. Ooooh, I could just...We were seated, and told that Amanda would be our waitress. Amanda didn't have all her oars in the water. Our meals were borderline warm and it took forever to get them. Amanda kept forgetting us...and water, butter, my fries. While we were there, we planned the rest of our dismal day. Since we were so far north, we decided a trip to the Home Depot and Walmart in Seabrook, NH would be in order. Mom would buy birdseed, 'A' would buy a new portable CD player. Well, mom managed the birdseed, but there was not one CD player in the entire Walmart.

Time to head home and a really cool sighting along the way. Yes, I even had my camera with me. No, I didn't take a picture. Because...what would I do with a picture of a windmill? As we headed across the Rte. 1 bridge in Newburyport, my mom exclaimed, "Look!" Well, I was paying attention to staying in my lane on the bridge, so it was pretty hard to figure out where she wanted me to look. Then I saw it looming over the city of Newburyport. A brand spanking new windmill out in the industrial park! It's enormous! Yay, for Newburyport! (I will take a picture next time, now that I know it's there and can plan ahead.)

Got home to a box of keys at the door and no message from AG at the DTA.

At least there's work.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras. We used to celebrate in Dunedin. It was a blast to make a total fool of oneself at the Mardi Gras parade. The parade consisted of folks dressed up in costume, most of them riding on floats that advertised local businesses. A mini Nawlins with none of the blatant exhibitionism. The big deal was screaming and begging for tacky, worthless, gaudy, beaded necklaces which had no other appeal than a feeling of exuberance at having amassed an enormous collection. My mom and dad, 'A' and I, and sometimes 'the other''S', a friend of my mom, would be there at the top of my parent's street. Front row for the parade. (In later years 'A' took off to the parade with a friend) We had a system. We'd all plead with the paraders for necklaces. Whenever my dad got any, he would give them to one of us. It quickly appeared that he had none while the folks (us) next to him had plenty. This seemed to cause the young ladies on the floats to feel sorry for him. They'd toss more his way. He'd hand them over to us girls and be back at the begging routine in no time. We'd end the evening with hundreds of beaded necklaces, all tangled together, around our necks! Except my dad, of course!

I wish I were there tonight.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'd Be Getting Nervous

Heck, I would have been nervous months ago.

Today was my big day off and out. This morning I went to church, which is always a wonderful respite. Then I went home and had a relaxing lunch. Just as the rain began to fall, around 1:30, I headed for the second meeting of the Music Book Group. Today's book discussion centered around Piano Lessons, by Noah Adams. This month the group was smaller than last month, some of the same folks and a few new ones. Pleasant and I'm actually going to miss attending when I go back to work at my seasonal candy selling job.

When I got back home there was a message on my machine from a tech. Mr. G. left a very long and convoluted message. The gist of it being that he was trying to get in touch with a man in Maine who does ivory keyboard work. He had been trying to reach him and getting no response. He wondered if I knew him or anything about him. SIX MONTHS AGO he had sent him two keyboards for ivory work and hasn't heard a thing!


I have yet to return the phone call. I wanted to have some helpful info before I called back. What harm will a few more hours be when it's been over six months? So this evening I did some research. The guy in Maine seems to be alive. He gave a presentation to his local Rotary Club this past December and there is no mention of his death in the Rotary newsletter. He does occasionally visit Florida (he attended a 'makeup' Rotary meeting there). Maybe he's there right now. He lists his profession as 'Antiques' yet neither his address nor a business name show up in the directory of antique businesses in his town. His name is not in the online obituaries. I noted the Rotary Club's president's name and phone number and I'll give this info to the Mr. G. technician when I call him.

Yep, I'd be real nervous by six months.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I Could Have Lived Without Today

Or maybe the calendar is mixed up. Maybe it was really this week with the full moon and Friday the 13th?

I woke up this morning to a few inches of snow covering everything in sight outside. Problem wasn't just the snow, it was the inch of crunchy ice underneath the snow. Oh yeah, I remember hearing it pouring rain outside late last night. Didn't realize we were to get more than just a flurry afterward. So I skipped my morning shower and went to the kitchen to get my coffee started. While it was brewing I went outside and shoveled the steps, my drive, and tried to scrape off the truck just a bit. That done, I relaxed over coffee and breakfast for an hour, then bundled up again and shoveled my mom's walk, drive, and cleared her car. I still have the back walk to do. Maybe. Maybe I'll just hope it melts. Yeah right, it only got to 30°F today.

So after the pleasantly cold and vigorous interlude surrounding breakfast, I finished up the fourth set of keys for this week and packed them up to ship this morning. Pete, my hippie shipper, greeted me at the door where he works and seemed thrilled to see me. He had made a CD recording for 'A'. A 1967 recording of Vanilla Fudge. OoooooohK. While I was there I got another leather peace symbol for my truck. Yep, a true hippie.

When I got home there was another box at the door. More keys! I carried the box downstairs to unpack them. Why, why, why, and why again? The keys were layered in the box alternating fronts to backs, sort of loosely packed. They had shifted and it was impossible to untangle the mess in an orderly fashion. I resorted to tipping the box upside down on the bench. The box is too small for reshipment. I don't have a suitable replacement on hand. I'm more than irritated and then I found that the keys had been numbered on the underside. What a mess to sort out having to keep flipping them over to get them in order. In the midst, the phone rang. I knew by the caller id that it was the tech responsible for these keys. He'd already phoned me three times before he even sent them! And this is a repeat customer - asking all the same questions again. So.....I answered the phone pretending I don't have caller id. He was calling to see if the keys had arrived. Aw gee, that's why they give you a tracking number! Mr. Tech! You know they arrived. You already checked. Stop bugging me. I'm already irritated enough with you. Although I was ready to let off some steam at him, I simply replied, "Yes, they are here. I'm just this minute unpacking them." "Thanks," he said and hung up. I'll just bet he calls tomorrow to see how things are going. Last time he did just that! My tongue hurts from biting it.

Onward with my exciting and rewarding day.

My mom decided that we should have steak and dumplings for dinner. She hates to cut up the meat and will treat me to sharing the meal if I'll cut the meat. 'A' had to be to work for 3 p.m. and I had grocery shopping and another errand to do after, so I got the beef ready and asked that my mom see to getting it started cooking while I was gone.

When I had finished my grocery shopping, 'A' found me and told me that one of her vacation weeks had not been approved. Seems one of her chosen weeks coincides with Fiesta in Gloucester. Not a time when they like giving vacation time. After she talked with her boss a bit, it may get approved. We'll have to wait and see.

Before I went home, I went box hunting. Tuck's, Rite-Aid, and Cracker Jacks. No one had anything that would work. I headed home to get to work on the keys.

I arrived home shortly past 3:30 p.m. Dinner was simmering on the stove. Smelling real good! I put away my groceries and went down the stairs to my workshop and found a rather large puddle of water on the floor mats. Oh crap. Where on earth was that water coming from? Just what I needed. I searched for the source, anticipating a call to our favorite plumber. More money out of anorexic pockets. Strangely, the water seemed to have dripped from the wiring to the stove/oven outlet. Huh? Back upstairs to look around. The floor was puddled with water all around the side and back of the stove.


"Oh, the meat had just started to boil over when I left it for a minute, " she said. "I caught it just as it started over the side of the pot."

Ummmmm, I think not. The drip pan had overflowed down in to the inner stove top. That had overflowed in to the wall of the oven and was then leaking out two lower corners to the floor. The floor has a slight backward slope which guided the water to the wall and the floor outlet. From there it traveled down the exterior of the wire and dripped (or, by the amount, poured) from overhead, downstairs in my workshop, which now smells wonderfully of dinner. I swept a pile of sawdust over the puddle to soak it up.

Well, dinner was delicious.

Not much work got done on the keys and no box to ship them back.

'A' hasn't heard any more about her vacation.

But, YAY, no plumber!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'm Repetitive

Carry boxes, open boxes, lay out keys in order, clean key wood, remove tops, slice off fronts, plane key wood, glue new tops.


Notch tops, trim fronts, sand sides, hand file, polish capstans, buff once, buff twice, wrap 13 naturals each grouping, box, pack carefully, include receipt, tape box, fill out shipping form, stack upstairs ready to ship.

Times 4 this week so far.

I love work!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Gee, two posts today!

As I dragged myself out of bed this morning to yet another cold and blustery day, I couldn't help but think how much I miss going barefoot - every day. Which brought to mind a little poem that my dad used to say. And while now it seemed at arbitrary moments, I'm sure at those times it was appropriate.

So as I stood in front of my dresser this morning, I looked down at my soon to be socked feet and thought, "Barefoot girl with shoes on..." But what was the rest? I don't think he ever recited the rest. Well, the wonders of the Internet and Google later, I bring you...

The Dying Fisherman's Song

'Twas midnight on the ocean,
Not a streetcar was in sight,
The sun was shining brightly
For it had rained all that night.

'Twas a summer's day in winter
The rain was snowing fast,
As a barefoot girl with shoes on,
Stood sitting on the grass.

'Twas evening and the rising sun
Was setting in the west;
And all the fishes in the trees
Were cuddled in their nests.

The rain was pouring down,
The sun was shining bright,
And everything that you could see
Was hidden out of sight.

The organ peeled potatoes,
Lard was rendered by the choir;
When the sexton rang the dishrag
Someone set the church on fire.

"Holy smokes!" the teacher shouted,
As he madly tore his hair.
Now his head resembles heaven,
For there is no parting there.
-- Author Unknown

Balancing Act

Constantly. Between three generations of women under (sort of) one roof. Life in general. Most recently I've been reminded of having to try to balance my life as I worked on my income tax forms. I'm caught, once again, in the middle. Not little enough to benefit from various credits and tax status thingies, yet not nearly enough to live comfortably. My self employment income, remarkably, was at about the same level as last year. Not bad considering the economy. Not good since the cost of living rose so drastically. But, better than I had anticipated for the year's total. Thus the problem. Add to that my very part-time, seasonal employment and taxes soared. Yep, put me in a whole new tax bracket. Something to remember next time around, balance it out with much higher deductions from my paycheck than this past year. May have to go for 20% to the state and federal, plus paying my quarterly estimated tax for the business. All this will equal trying to live on less when there's next to nothing to cut back on. Entrapped. Gradual growth doesn't compensate for higher taxes and greater living expenses. I keep hitting the 'just over the line' income brackets rather than the top end of any particular bracket.

Oh well, so again this year, I'm paying out while 'A' is getting a MASSIVE refund. I still haven't started on my mom's paperwork. So far I've convinced them that I deserve a dinner out, on the two of them, for acting as their personal accountant. And, in a gem of a moment 'A' offered to buy me a new living room sofa! Don't think I'll call her on that, but the offer was super nice.

Business seems to have gotten a boost. Two more tunings booked for next week. Booked that far ahead because of FIVE sets of keys this week (an unexpected set arrived today). And still working on the reed organ with a couple weeks left on that, I think.

The Statue of Liberty gracing this post is a painting by Andreas Prustel.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


What a fantastic week! Monday began with removing the 'guts' of the reed organ that got flooded at the doctor's office. It went smoothly. Even to the UPS delivery guy's timing and getting doors opened while balancing the top unit of the organ on a two-wheeled truck. Since the loading up part went so smoothly, the unloading just had to be a challenge. Sheer ice on our garden path to the bulkhead door and the cellar. Unbelievable that it went without a slip. I've spent part of this week disassembling and readying for repairs. Monday ended with shipping out a set of keys.

Tuesday was a tuning day and trying to make a 45" Steinway upright sound better. Not just the tuning, which was no big deal, but the fact that the soundboard is shot. Really and truly had it - no crown, necessary for good sound quality and sustain. Huge cracks and the 'dealer' had screwed it all back together rather poorly. I'm afraid the owner is having some difficulty understanding that there is not much more that can be done aside from completely rebuilding the thing. Honestly, even with it's pedigree, I'd be hard-pressed to say it would be worth the cost. Some things just get too butchered.

I've been working on getting the baseboards (skirting to you UKers) finished in our upstairs hallway. In between other things, I've got it about half finished. I still have some staining to do and then some wee bits of detail work. It felt good to be doing hand sawing and hammering. Well, that is until the aches and pains of arthritis set in that evening! And in between working on the woodwork, I've been doing the ivory jewelry. I think the inventory on necklaces is up to somewhere near 36 finished and maybe another 6 ready to paint. I've made 3 pins and have 1 more blank, and my fave...a pair of earrings with purple pansies. I just created another 11 earring (pairs) ready to paint.

The best thing is that the phone has been ringing. Oh, for that to last! Tomorrow morning I'll be looking over a Vose & Sons upright and giving the owner my advice on repairs. Today brought two calls for key recovering. One, a repeat customer from California, and the other a longtime customer who is sending three sets of keys. Yep, three sets at once! Seems a school's music department was vandalized.

I finally heard from the DTA. I hadn't had chance to call and then an envelope came in the mail...Monday, I think. They are processing my application and required additional paperwork like income verification, birth certificate, current bills. The list was about 20 items long. They have to have the documentation by the 16th or my application will be null and void. I went to the post office and mailed it all on Wednesday. It should be no more than two day delivery time.

I started on our income tax forms. Mine progressed quite quickly and I have only one more form to fill out. Then it's on to simpler ones for 'A' and my mom.

And......I finished reading Piano Lessons by Noah Adams. Or should I say rereading after a many year lapse. It's the featured book for the next Music Book Group on February 22nd. Then I read a fiction book that my mom recommended called Summer's Child by LuAnne Rice. Mildly interesting. Enough to read some more of hers...until they become more than predictable. Now I'm reading the new Anita Shreve novel, Testimony. The deb jury is still out.

Busy week and it feels soooooo fine.
Scary that it's all happening between a full moon and Friday the 13th!


So this is a stall. I will be back. I promise. I'll write something later tonight. Might be MUCH later. All depends.

See ya.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Back to Normal?

Cold and more cold. I was up at 6:30 this morning to finish shoveling the snow left over from yesterday's storm that went in to the night. The snow had really drifted in and, once again, the town decided not to plow the back right of way that one last time. After shoveling last night around 8 p.m. there wasn't a lot to move about this morning. I'm running out of room for it all and the piles at the edges of the driveways are getting too high for me to throw more shovel fulls. Anyway, I got it all cleared in time to grab a quick cup of coffee, eat breakfast, and then get 'A' to the oral surgeon for suture removal. Thankfully that went without too much consternation.

As reward we went to Target afterward.

We got back home just minutes after another set of keys had been delivered. Yay, more work! I grabbed a quick lunch and then got to work. In between things I painted a few more necklaces. Okay, actually one necklace, one brooch, and a pair of pansies on ivory earrings. Yes, I'm trying adding some other ivory jewelry to the inventory.

At three, 'A' was off to her first day back at work. I stopped by the library to pick up some tax forms before heading back home. It really bugs me that the government (federal and state) expect you to file and pay in a timely manner - or else, yet they can't seem to get the forms to us. I got both my fed and state forms but I'm missing my health insurance confirmation documents from the state. 'A' got her state forms but not her federal. My mom got none. I don't get why this happened.

Tomorrow brings a tuning job and late today I booked another for the start of next week. I'll be delivering the organ repair estimate tomorrow, too.

I got a letter from the DTA (Dept. of Transitional Assistance) last week saying that they will call me within 5 days. It's been 8 and nothing. The letter also says that if I don't hear from them to call them. Long distance, of course. I think I'll save that for Friday.

Friday night I may take myself out to 'A Night at the Museum' at the Rockport Art Association. I might as well get some use of my membership (although this event is open to the general public). It'll be a see and be seen mission! After all, I'm not only a contributing member of the RAA, I'm their 'official piano technician'. The event features art owned by the association.

So, things seemed to have gained a bit of momentum. I like this.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Six Days

My alarm clock woke me at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. As I walked past my second story windows, I couldn't help but notice that more snow was gently swirling to the white-coated ground below. I tried not to worry about the driving conditions that I might face when it was time to take 'A' to the oral surgeon. Her appointment was for 9:45. In good conditions it's a 15 minute drive. I told her we'd be leaving at 9 a.m. I was anticipating her usual stall tactics, her apprehension, nerves, poor driving conditions, you name it. I was a bit on edge about this all happening successfully. We did manage to leave the house on time. Driving was slightly unnerving. Nugent Stretch was particularly horrendous. It was unlike Rockport to leave the main roads so poorly tended. Well, tight budget, poor economy. What ever excuse. We arrived safely and 'A's surgery to extract her two lower wisdom teeth went well. We were out of the oral surgeon's office within an hour and back on the slick roads. I stopped at our local pharmacy to drop off the three prescriptions for 'A'. they didn't have one of them but called it in to their Gloucester store. Great, I'd have to head back to Gloucester in the lousy weather. I dropped a very groggy and unhappy 'A' off at our house, leaving her to my mom's care, while I headed back to the local pharmacy and then to Gloucester. What relief when I got back home thinking I was off the roads for the rest of the storm. Until 'A' needed to take one of the liquid meds and the store had fail to include the dosage spoon. Back out again. This time the roads were like ice. The plow had scraped nearly down to the pavement, nearly, and there was no salt or sand. I had one of those 'oh please just keep moving' moments as I headed back up the Main Street hill and slid around the corner of our street!

More shoveling.

Remarkably 'A' seemed rather perky on Thursday and she even went with me to pick up suitably soft foods from IGA. It couldn't be this easy could it?

Nope. Thursday night started the 'meds are making me sick'. No doubt between Percocet, Penicillin, and some anti-swelling pills, and very, very, little to eat. No rest until 12:30 at night.

Friday was not much better, with 'A' spending most of the day acting miserably. Meanwhile, I had three sets of keys to finish up ready to ship on Monday AND a call from our local doctor with the rebuilt by me, reed organ. The office waiting room roof had leaked all over the organ. Yes, I made an office call and found the organ thoroughly soaked. Groups of keys moved, invisibly interconnected, like wave swells. Felts were dripping wet. Stop knobs were frozen in place. The case was marred with the ghosts of water droplets and runs. I dried what I could and lubricated some steel parts against rusting. Leaving the case opened up, I told the doctor to leave a fan running and circulating air around and through the organ. I feared it was irreparably damaged and said I'd be back on Monday to check 'the patient'.

Work, work, work and wait on a miserable and irritable 'A'. Saturday was a blur. With the exception of an email from THAT ex! Stupid. Copied and dropped it off at the police station and forwarded a copy to J at WHOA. Wish I had as much free time as THAT guy to bother attempting to annoy someone who has better things to do than even think of me!

Sunday a day of rest? Not this week. In the morning I was working in the shop, finishing up keys. And since 'A' was feeling up to it, I took her for a ride around and to buy a jigsaw puzzle at Tuck's. It was getting to the point that I had to smile and enjoy the few and far between pleasant moments available with her.

The boxes were loaded in the truck and I headed out to ship them on Monday morning. Then I stopped at the bank and followed that with a trip to check on my organ 'patient'. The organ had made a remarkable recovery! It will still need most of the felts and leathers replaced, but the bellows are fine. The keys have unwarped nicely and neatly and they all function of their own! The stop knobs move freely! I told the docotr that I'd write up a work order and have it to him in a couple days.

If only things with 'A' were going so easily! She had a rough day and chose to share it with me. Tonight, though she made great leaps to eating Spaghetti-O's and a bit of deli ham. Of course, she's not taking any meds any more and she's not as nauseous. She quit taking the antibiotic with a tentative okay from the oral surgeon's office. Oh yeah, Mr. Snowmanaround the house had a rough day, too. He lost his head today over the 40°F weather.

And now full circle. I hear I'll be waking up to swirling snow in the morning.