Thursday, July 30, 2009

She Finally Got There

She being me. There being Thacher Island.

Six a.m. is not a good time for me! Off went the alarm clock and I knew I could not ignore it. I had a bit of readying to do before heading down to T-Wharf to catch my 8 a.m. Thacher Island launch. Things like grabbing those tools, that might be useful, that I thought of at 2 a.m.! Oh, and a shower, breakfast, and pack a lunch, and the bug spray...just in case. I was ready to board at 7:45, once the reservationist remembered my name (on her list and we had talked 3 times the day before...I think I see a trend). The launch got fueled up and loaded up. 15 workers and crew trying to sit amidst weed wackers, tool kits, building siding, some screening and dowels, a few sweet corn plants, extra gasoline, a dog (yes) named Lucy, and a stack of life jackets! It was sunny, humid, and promising to be a scorcher. My kind of day.

Then we rounded Gap Head and the skies were hazy and grey. There was a chop on the water and fog in the distance. I put on my sweatshirt. The spray from the ocean, as we headed out the nearly mile offshore, was chilly. So much for tanning if I finished my work early.

We were met at the boat ramp (actually hauled up it to secure the boat) by the Keepers and the Intern Keepers. Keeper Sylvia, who had wrangled the spot for me on the boat and plays the organ the most, invited me to join everyone for coffee and donuts at the guest house. While she and the others unloaded the rest of the gear, I hauled mine to the Principal Keeper's House. (the white building) I was anxious to see what was wrong (and right) with the organ. By the time the entourage of workers reached the house, I had opened the organ and fixed the stuck key. Nothing more than a bit of debris giving it a grab while depressed! I had also found that, indeed, the knee swell linkage was broken. The end of the seesaw of the linkage had snapped off. This piece of the linkage is much too thin and delicate a piece of wood to endure the forces against it. Especially now that it is well over a hundred years old!

Coffee time gave me thinking time and afterward Sylvia and I headed for the organ to remove and fix the linkage. This required unscrewing the entire 'guts' to the organ and sliding them back in the case about an inch and a bit more in order to remove the one pivot screw holding the wooden linkage arm. That done, I set about the gluing and reinforcing job while Sylvia worked on fixing a lamp near the organ. I also traced a pattern of the wooden part and took a couple photos. I'll be making the part out of steel or brass in case the repair fails in the future. I can almost guarantee that it will due to the wood being so thin. We put the organ back together, examining it well to see what the winter cold had done. The island is unmanned from October through June and the buildings are unheated.

All in all, the condition was not too bad. Seems mostly altered by the excessive humidity rather than the extreme cold. The repaired soundboard has expanded at the former cracks and is bulging a bit. I am glad that beyond the epoxy repairs, I had made 'band-aids' from pneumatic cloth to cover the exterior of the cracks. The cloth is now trapped down in the cracks as the humid wood forced the splits even further closed. The edge of the soundboard, at the bulge, is still sealed and a permanent repair will be made in September when, hopefully, I can get out there again! A small strip of wood on the back side of the music rack has swelled, warped and partially come unglued and needs to be reglued and clamped come September. And again on that upcoming trip, the back of the organ needs to either be run through the tablesaw or be hand-planed at the top edge. It swelled so much we had to use a mallet on the inside to bang it open for removal and now it won't fit back in no matter how hard we try to wedge and bang it in to place. At least that's not necessary for the organ to function.

Around noon time we all gathered at the boat house to relax over lunch. At 1 p.m. the worker volunteers what back to sawing, painting, mowing, repairing, and I boarded the boat with a load of tourists for the trip back to T-Wharf. While on the island the skies had cleared. The trip back was nice and toasty! Now I have started writing an article for the Reed Organ Society Quarterly about Thacher Island's Smith-American reed organ.Old photograph of Thacher taken at about the same time as the Smith-American organ was built. (And for those of you picky sorts, the photo is labeled wrong in my computer. It is vintage 1890 not 1690 as some of you may have noticed.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It Will Have to Wait

I intended to post tonight about my Thacher Island trip. Then some other, good stuff happened this afternoon. Well, by the time tonight rolled around I thought, I'm a tad worn out and it's best to wait on conveying all the news. So...hang in there, I'll be back!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sailing, Sailing...

over to Thacher Isle! Yep, nearly unbelievable but it's happening. A message, a call back, another phone contact, and I'm on the 8 a.m. boat to Thacher Island tomorrow, tools in tow. Yikes that's early. Not a bit of rest for the weary. Oh well, even though it is unpaid work, it should be a pleasant, relaxed morning. Once I actually drag myself out of bed that is.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Well, What a Lousy Afternoon

Today I was needed to drive my mother to see a new doctor. She didn't want to try to find the place. So why did she think that I would want to venture forth? Anyway, her appointment was for 2:30 in Salem. She told me it was at the Northshore Medical Center and that she had the directions from the secretary at the doctor's office. Okie-dokie. I googled a map and headed over to mom's place. Noting to my mother that the area would be a confusion of medical offices, I asked her for the exact address. She didn't have it. She said that she had been told just to head for Salem Hospital.

"What's the doctor's name?" I asked.

She didn't know. I saw trouble ahead.

"How are you going to know where to go? Where I should park? This will be a big area, mom!"

"I'll just ask someone, " she said.

Oh boy. Heading out of town, to a doctor whose name you don't know, at an unknown location.

In the car, I had a thought. She had called the office when trying to set up the appointment. Just get the cell phone out and call the office for more specifics. Nope, she didn't bring the phone number.

It was an uneventful drive to the Salem Hospital complex, but where to park? I aimed for an area near what appeared to be more office-y rather than hospital. We walked to the entrance and found mostly closed office doors. No names, nothing. We finally found an open door and my mom went in to see where she should be.

Just imagine the dialog. No doctor name. The lady referred her to the surgical reception area. A relatively short walk. Mom went in and talked to the receptionist and they told her that she needed to be in a building at the other end of the complex. They had called over and found which doctor was expecting her. Yay!

We walked and found the building. The doctor's names were listed next to the elevator doors.

"Did you find out the name from the last person you talked to?"

"Oh. No."

So we went in to the first office we came to and she went through the dialog again. We were sent to the third floor and finally connected with the correct office. Thankfully she was called right in and spent no more than ten minutes talking to the doctor, who told her that he didn't think she would need any tests other than some blood work. Off to find the lab in the hospital.

Got to the lab to find two large signs saying that you had to sign in with the receptionist before entering. Sheesh, where was the receptionist? In the opposite direction from the entrance, of course! Signed in with the receptionist and sat and waited. Mom was called to a little cubicle to answer questions. I could hear from where I was seated. She couldn't remember her mother's maiden name, so I went and sat with her to help with the answers. Then the woman asked for her PCP's name. A glitch. There are two doctors with the same name.

"Is his middle initial H or M?" she asked.

Now, who knows that information! We certainly didn't. I couldn't believe that this may prevent having a blood test!

Mom was finally cleared to head to the lab with her paperwork. She had to sign in there and we waited some more. By that time it was shift change. Sigh.

When we left the hospital area it was 4 p.m. We had left the house to start on this odd trip at 1:10 p.m.!

And to top it all off, she could have made the appointment at a closer location! One that she knew how to get to!

I started a new book during my waiting room stays. It's called, At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream.

I'm not happy. Of course it's been a while anyway.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Week Flies

I had commented earlier that I seem to be missing out on summer. Okay, missing out on most days. If I'm not working, I'm doing for either 'A' or my mom or some intrusive nuisance. So I'll have a look at what has happened so far this week and what is upcoming.

Sunday was work at Tuck's. It was extremely busy and I was glad to get home and put my feet up. But wait, Mom wanted some garden landscape timbers moved before I ate my dinner. I was so tired I honestly can't remember Sunday evening after that.

Monday began with a visit from a local police sergeant. He called first and set up a convenient time. He was ON TIME with his visit. He left us some paperwork to fill out about an unfortunate incident that I had reported last week. Then it was more work in the shop and off to Tuck's to work for the afternoon and evening. The young man that I was working with was absolutely useless. Not his usual mode and I was getting very annoyed with him. A customer actually came back in to the shop and told him that he had been treating people rudely. I stayed out of that! It was busy again until just before closing at 10 p.m.

Tuesday I finished up a set of keys, went to the bank, the grocery store, and to ship the keys back to Georgia. I was home by 11 a.m. and sat with Mom while we filled out our police paperwork. A furniture re-upholsterer came to Mom's to give her an estimate on repairing my dad's leather chair. I had to be there for that. More keys arrived so my afternoon was spent working on them. I may have watched some TV on Tuesday night, but honestly I can't remember! Drove 'A' to work and picked her up.

On Wednesday I had a morning tuning job. The tuning went fine. Had a few minor adjustments to make for a couple sticking keys. The customer showed me some furniture alarms. What? Cute high pitched alarms that are about the size of a cigarette pack. You place them on furniture such as a sofa or chair. Why? They are a very sensitive motion detector that sounds when a cat (or dog) tries to get on the furniture. They even sound if a cat tries to knead on any part of the furniture! Scares the daylights out of them and sends them running! Called the sergeant to let him know he could pick up the paperwork. He was off that day. Hmmm, novel idea, a day off. More shuttling 'A' to and from work and much more work on keys. Watched "America's Got Talent" in the evening. Well, sort of. I was reading blogs and a book during the show.

So, today is Thursday. My friendly Sergeant called this morning and asked when it would be convenient to stop by and pick up the paperwork. He came by the workshop and asked a lot of questions about the key work I was doing. Nice guy. 'A's work called asking if she could be in early to cover someone's shift so instead of 3 pm she had to be there by 11 am. At least she'll be out in time for supper. Worked on keys all morning and early afternoon. Mid afternoon Mom wanted company on her trip to the upholstery place. She had to confirm that she wanted the work done and that the color of the leather was a close enough match. An hour or so later, I was back home in the workshop. I'll be picking up 'A' shortly and then having a decent dinner. Tonight I hope to relax a bit although I'm hoping to get started on a letter to the Chief of Police complimenting the sergeant.

Tomorrow morning I'll be finishing a set of keys and maybe getting them shipped. Also I'm hoping to get to town to the Old Sloop Fair and see what kinds of stuff they have at the silent auction. In the afternoon I've got to drive my mom to a Dr.'s appointment in Salem. She doesn't want to find the place by herself. 'A' has the day off!

'A' has Saturday off, as well! I know she's hoping to be able to do SOMETHING. All depends on how much work I've still got pending. Maybe Skip's for lunch.

And so it goes....

The current 'keeper' out on the island called me on Wednesday. One key on the organ is sticking and she thinks she may have broken something in the swell linkage. The Dr. who donated it told her I had been trying to get out there to check on it. She said that they had both decided, if I was available, that room would be made for me on the boat on Wed. 29th. Since it worked in to my schedule, I agreed. She said that she would contact the woman in charge of the scheduling and get back to me.
So I got a phone call from the scheduler. She acted like I'd never been in touch with her about this! (Only three times!) She said she would try for the 29th but wouldn't know until the Tuesday, the day before. She'd call me on that Tuesday and let me know, she said. What are the odds?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Murphy Took A Day Off

It was supposed to rain in the afternoon. Then they changed it to morning rain with slow clearing. Saturday I awoke to brightening skies and not a drop of rain! That was great as it was a church fair day and my first craft sale of the season. Turnout was not spectacular, probably because the weather forecasters had assured the public that Sunday would be a far nicer day. However, my sales were super. I was astonished! Of course I always hope for better, but shouldn't be too greedy. I'm pretty sure I did the most in sales of everyone there! Lots of necklaces sold and three pair of earrings and a couple pins. No notecards, which is a first. Usually I sell lots of packs of notecards. You just can't seem to tell what the day's sales will be like. I made more than the table fee within the first 10 minutes. Here's a picture of my table when I set it up the evening prior to the fair.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How To Make The Sun Shine

So what is a piano technician to do when the sun is needed to bleach a set of ivory keytops and it's been cloudy and rainy for weeks?

I received a set of keys from another technician that needed a lot of ivory repair. More than I usually take on. This meant that several stains would have to be removed and the replacement ivories bleached to match the existing ivory. No sun was in sight to aid in the peroxide bleaching process.

I decided to splurge and invest in stronger peroxide (actually it was rather inexpensive) and two, four foot black lights (pricey). The UV from the lights, suspended a few inches above the keys, works like strong sunshine.

Here's the set up.And just because I invested the time and money to set this up, the sun has been out every day since!

Thanks, Murphy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Do I Ask For It?

Do I have a hand-scrawled sign on my back that says "Kick Me"?

First delightful story (tongue firmly implanted in cheek)
As most of you know, I rebuilt a Victorian period reed organ for a local doctor, who then donated it to the museum out on the island. I offered to check on the organ at the beginning of each season, particularly after it's first winter unheated, and make sure that all was well with it. Well, the weather hasn't been very cooperative for making the open boat trip, but now that the sun has decided to shine once again, I called to reserve a spot on the boat. I explained to the volunteer in charge of that scheduling my purpose in desiring a trip out. She assured me that the organ looked fine. I explained that I wished to check it's functioning after being left out there all winter. That there may be some problems to be fixed (no charge). Her reply was that only one light keeper played it and she was out there this month. She hadn't complained so everything must be fine, or more likely she hadn't had time to bother with it. The scheduler suggested I try to go out in September.

I'm done trying. I tried to get a boat ride out this past Spring. I talked to her about it during the annual meeting. Still put off. So...they can call me if they need anything, they can have an expensive reed organ that looks pretty but ceases to typical of public collections. I don't think that I'll be sending my donation next year. I'm a member and can't enjoy any of the benefits that are available.

Second delightful story (may choke on my tongue)
Note: I've deleted the second story and pending it's outcome, I may republish it. It involves an inappropriate, public, outburst directed towards me by a local, uniformed official. It's totally unrelated to story number one.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A Temporary Upturn

in the weather! And just in time for the Fourth of July celebrations in town. 'A' had been spending several evenings talking on the phone to her friend 'A' who lives back in Florida. This 'A' promised some pictures of our annual Independence Day (or night, more precisely) bonfire. First, the three of us decided to do some bookstore shopping on Thursday afternoon. Mom bought, 'A' bought, and silly me forgot to bring my list of promising nothing for me. We decided to stop for dinner at Ellen's Harborside and afterward to go take a look at the bonfire construction. It had rained hard on Thursday afternoon, but by the time evening rolled around, skies were clearing. Here's our volunteer department hard at work piling shipping pallets for the fire. Many years ago, the bonfire was constructed from railroad ties, but now the ecology types frown upon burning oil and creosote soaked timbers, especially on the beach!
'A' had to work on Friday and I drove by Back Beach, camera along, to check out the progress after dropping her off at work. The pile was set to go for Saturday and as you can tell the weather was much improved!
Everything was set for a good Fourth. 'A' was scheduled to work early so she would be able to attend all the festivities. This rarely happens. My mom had some friends come to visit for lunch. At Ellen's, of course. Defying all odds I actually managed a parking spot on T-Wharf on the busiest day of the tourist season! We couldn't believe it. I pulled down the wharf with the intent of dropping everyone off in front of the restaurant and just as I was slowing down, it happened. A car backed out of a slot right in front of me! Yippeeeeee! (Truly, unless you've tried to park here on a summer day you have no idea how astounding this is.) Lunch and then socializing finished around five o'clock when my mom's company left for home. Mom, 'A', and I loaded the car with folding beach chairs and jackets (even though it was in the mid 70's you just never can tell). The plan was to drop my mom off to get us a good parade spot, forget about trying to park, drive home, leave the car, and 'A' and I would walk back to town. Reverse it after the parade. As we neared the bottom of the hill, I suggested that I just try the wharf...haha. And there it empty parking space! AGAIN!

Rockport's parade is always fun. Several bands (even the Legion band did the route twice. Start and finish. Silly.), the (semi) synchronized lawn chair brigade, a steel drum band, two bagpipe bands, floats (including Tuck's), dancer's performing a Michael Jackson routine, our church's summer camp participants, fire trucks galore from near and far, and many more things I've temporarily forgotten! It all progresses to Back Beach and the bandstand for a concertand then the bonfire.

A fantastic Fourth of July!
A summer Friday and Saturday to enjoy, and still more great days on Sunday and Monday when I had to work. Now, of course, it's back to rainy and cool. Summer isn't supposed to be like this!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Mainly Moseley

Well, we're finally in to July and guess what? It's still raining. I think we had a total of 5 days in June that could be considered sunny. My body is rusting. And it was chilly enough that we had to turn the heat on, today. IN JULY! Some things truly just aren't fair.

Still, they say that we are to have nice weather for the Fourth of July and also for the week that follows.

'A' and I walked down to the old gate keeper's house at the Moseley Estates. Yep, we did it in the pouring rain. I just have to get out and do stuff regardless of getting wet. I think this place has possibilities. Don't you? I'm serious. I'd love to get in and get busy fixing this place up.


I've finally read a book deserving of note in the sidebar. Dewey doesn't have the potential of outstanding literature like some of the others that I've placed there, but it is a wonderful tale of the life of a library cat in a rural Iowa community. You just fall in love with this guy.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Saturday's Tuning

I tried to take a vacation last week. Mostly I was unsuccessful. A week earlier, on a Saturday morning, I received a call from a potential tuning customer. Mrs. Smith was sounding rather concerned. It seems that a party, evidently planned for some other location, had been moved to her home. There was to be someone playing her piano and it hadn't been tuned in two years. She needed the piano tuned during my vacation week. I really didn't want to interrupt my week so I suggested that I tune the piano on the Saturday morning before her Sunday party. She agreed to the time and I asked her a few more questions. She was positive it had only been a couple years since Mr. Nolongerinbusiness had tuned it.

At 9:45 on Saturday, I headed out to find Mrs. Smith's house. It's located on a rather busy road and I thought it would be challenging to find the house number while driving. I managed to find it without any problems and arrived promptly at 10 a.m. I had to park on the opposite side of the street on a blind curve and make a dash across, carrying my heavy tuning kit and a small 'slick and stick' kit. Safely at her doorstep I rang the bell. Mrs. Smith appeared from around the outside corner of the house and said she hoped that I didn't mind dogs. I don't. Hers were friendly. Three BIG ones that greeted me and then left the room. She escorted me to the small parlor and a gorgeous, but teeny, Victorian grand that had belonged to her great grandmother. It was keyboard to the corner of the room and a tight squeeze for my kit and me.

I played through a few octaves and cringed. This piano sounded horrendous. I looked at Mrs. Smith as she remarked, "Bad isn't it."

"Very. I have a question. Will any other instruments be played with the piano at the party?"


"Assuming that all the keys and such work, I'll only concentrate on tuning the piano to itself for tomorrow's party. Will that be all right with you?"

"Yes, exactly. Just so it sounds good to a bunch of drunk people."

Giggle. I can do that. Mrs. Smith wrote a check for payment (with a tip!) in advance of me even starting. She had errands to run and would be leaving me (and the cleaning ladies) at the house.
I'm glad those party-ers would be doing some drinking! The piano had many rusty strings, moderately loose tuning pins, and a pedal lyre that was begging for support (the support rods were missing). The cleaning ladies were busying themselves in and around the room, talking on their cell phones and moving furniture around on the hardwood floors. All the windows were open and, did I mention, the road just past the house was being repaved? Large macadam trucks ground gears hauling their loads up the slight incline in the road not more than 15 feet from my tuning position. Not to mention ordinary Saturday traffic!

An hour and fifteen later, I declared to myself that I had done all I could for the piano. It sounded better and with an inebriated crowd celebrating in song while traffic motored by, the tuning should be fine!