Friday, August 28, 2009

Day Off...Sort Of

Days off make me nervous. Now, I DO like time off, but I like to choose it, not have it choose me. Today, there was no paying work in the shop. The no pay part of that is what makes me nervous. Especially when my hours will be shortly shortening for retail. Well, being the type of person that needs to keep busy and not particularly feeling like tackling the list, I cleaned shop. Some of you have seen my shop in person, some have seen photos before, but for those of you who haven't, I took a couple post cleaning photos.This is the key work side of the shop with buffing wheels, bench, and hiding behind the white drawers, all the key machines. You can see the 'blue-topped' drill press down at the end. that is set up as a key wood resurfacing machine. The two double layered tables on the left are old, wheeled typewriter tables with a second shelf on top. They each fit a set of keys and are used for rolling sets from machine to machine as they are worked on.This is the player and reed organ side. You can also see the key machines on the left side. The bench about mid-photo is where I'm working on my player piano. The dark flooring seen in both photos in the key work area is made of interlocking one inch thick rubber matting. Great for standing for long periods and makes an enormous difference for my feet! This main work portion occupies approximately 1/3rd of the total space available. The rest of the cellar space is used for painting (Cellar Studio), ordinary construction and destruction aspects of a home workshop, storage, laundry, and furnace (and oh yeah, 'A's treadmill).

I really love cleaning the workshop.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The "Nevertobebored" List

Yep, my project list. I was feeling overwhelmed between trying to get stuff done around here while trying to remember what needs to be done. So, the first priority - a list.

  1. Install Pergo flooring in mom's bedroom
  2. Make and install repair flashing at eave on roof
  3. Glaze and paint the shed window
  4. Prime and paint 'A's room
  5. Repair the fence at the front of the garden
  6. Finish staining the house (need to buy more stain)
  7. Install a new toilet fill mechanism (we're tired of waiting over two minutes between flushes!)
  8. Properly vent the clothes dryer
  9. Stain the interior of my front door
  10. Nail in some loose siding
  11. Retrim exterior of mom's front window (at some point a replacement window needs to be bought and installed)
  12. Prime and paint the cellar windows
  13. Paint mom's ceilings where skylights were removed
  14. Reseal bulkhead door

So...I've completed the first item, and now I'm just overwhelmed with the enormity of what's left to do!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'm Just Not Myself

I answered the phone in my best business voice.

"Deb XXXXXXX Piano Service"

" Hello, this is XXX XXXXX. Deb usually tunes my piano and I'd like to schedule an appointment."

(Caller ID says the call originates in CA! Huh.)

So, do I tell her she's talking to Deb? Nah, thought I'd have some fun.

"Alright, where are you located?" asks non-deb.

"At 85 HHHHHH Avenue, in Gloucester."

(Now I realize who is calling. She maintains two homes - each coast - a no show for her last appointment.)

She continues, "I'd like to have Deb come the second week of September."

"Let me check her schedule, " says non-deb. "How would September the 9th at 11 a.m. be?"

"That's fine."

Non-deb answers, "I've written that in her schedule book - September 9th at 11. She'll see you then."

"Thank you," says XXX XXXXX.

"Bye," says non-deb.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Things Aren't What They Should Be

A twist on a favorite song - "Things Ain't What They Used to Be"

That's true, too. (Or as Dorothy Donegan said, "Sure ain't.")

So, my darling, fellow clerk on Sundays has decided that she doesn't want to work the job anymore. Now, it doesn't seem to matter that thousands of people would love to have ANY job and can't find one. Nor does it matter that she gave her word that she would work through the Labor Day holiday. "Seems, according to them, that I signed a contract or something," she said to me. "I tried to quit, but they said I can't." I tried to nicely remind her that, contract or not, she had given her word, people were counting on her. That trust is one of the more important things. Yeah, life's real tough with just 6 days left to finish out her obligation (she works two days/week). She has come up with a solution, though. A solution bound to alienate many people. I'm first in line, another clerk second, and I'm sure many customers will walk away with bad vibes. She comes to work. Ten minutes late each time. Sunday, she stretched her 30 minute dinner break in to 45 minutes, throwing off everyone else having their break afterward. She blatantly text messaged in front of me (and customers). And she did almost NOTHING. Yep, a BIG fat nothing. Oh, she waited on some customers, but never lifted a finger to fill any candy or clean. Nope nothing. Just a sullen body getting paid the same as the rest of us that are forced to pick up the slack. No worries, she thinks. Next summer she plans to tour Europe with her boyfriend. Uh huh. I've only got three more shifts with her and I've got some plans of my own (sly grin). Did I mention she's 16? Lots of growing up for that girl.


Seems there are a lot of folks that you just can't trust. It's hard to know if you can even hold polite conversation. When a ten minute chat is later conveyed as 'spent the evening with', when a son changes to a 'friend'. When visiting a local college this week changes to setting up a visit sometime. A business client has sort of creeped me out. Spookier yet is that he stayed around the immediate area and I hadn't a clue. Don't know much about him. He has an in-state out of area cell number, out of state license plates, lots of 'professions' and stories. The more I hear, well, creepy.


A few weeks back I made a terrible mistake.

"Mom, if you want to, we should check to see if the Pergo that you have in the rest of the house is still available. We could continue it in to your bedroom."

Wasn't long before I was hauling 7 extremely heavy boxes of flooring from the back of her vehicle up the stairs to stack in her parlor - waiting for installation - by me.

Last Saturday, on a beautifully hot and humid day, with no air conditioning, I cut up and hauled out wall-to-wall carpeting and padding. I removed all the tack strips and all the baseboards. Tomorrow, all achy from work irritated arthritis, I'll begin installing her flooring. Oh yeah, another scorcher tomorrow!

But that's not what I really want to tell you. We had one extra box of the Pergo from when I floored her den and hallway nearly two years ago (wow, where did that time go?). It was stored down in the cellar on top of my weight bench (no comments on that please). On top of the box of flooring was stored a rolled up all-weather mat for the inside of Mom's front doorway. She uses it in the winter, usually, but didn't this past winter. When I moved the mat I noticed a puddle on the box of flooring. I confirmed that there was no plumbing overhead. I went to check the mat, which I had stood on end, out of the way. The concrete floor was very wet beneath the mat.


I got my mom to take the mat outside and hang it over the deck railing to dry. Lots of water dripped out of it making a narrow river of moisture along one decking board. The narrow river looked a little dirty and I had just spent 5 hours scrubbing and cleaning the deck last weekend so my mom took the hose to it to wash it down well. By the end of the day the deck had dried. The mat was still oozing so it had been moved to a better spot, off deck, to dry. The next morning the little river was back! By day's end it had dried up... only to return the next morning.Here's a picture I took before it dried up today. And although it's just a short bit in the picture, each morning the entire wet stripe is about 8 feet long. I have figured out why the mat was wet. Can you? But what's up with the deck? Can't wait until morning to check it out again.

Monday, August 17, 2009


late, tired, achy, irritated, hungry, and brain-dead to write anything right now. It's been a weird start to the week.

Well, of course it has.

I'll tell you all about it later.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

You Tell Me...

Is it because it's August, or the passing of a full moon, or what? Recent observations:

Poop shoveling has resumed since our neighbors have returned home from their vacation (they took the dog with them). I'm not actually keeping count, but this week alone I've relocated over a half dozen piles from in front of our wall back to their original owner (so to speak).

This morning while at our garden shed, I noticed that some young'uns had thrown their trash over the wall on to our lawn. Same type of trash that they left just outside the wall a few weeks ago - Capri Sun sippy thing, ice cream wrapper, and something that was around some sort of 'Barbie' treat, and a plastic straw. Just wait until I seem them...if mom and dad won't teach them, I will.

Oh yeah, and those neighbors with the poopy dog? The dog barks. Continually. If they're not home that dog is barking. They aren't home much. And when they are home?

I heard a loud car pull up at the neighbor's around 9 a.m. a few days ago. It was the boyfriend of the oldest daughter and the father of her almost one year old. He sat in the car. Eldest daughter came out on the porch. Conversation ensued between porch and car. Then she turned around and MOONED him. Glad I had finished my breakfast.

I've had a bad day. 'A' has acted like a spoiled two year old. Mom is barely speaking to me cause I decided that I'd had enough and wasn't doing the 'take them both on an outing' thing. I went and spent lunchtime with the Greenoughs instead. Nice and quiet. No one pestering me.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I Like This

Since I would like to be cremated, could I have it as an urn?Photo courtesy of the Pianotech List

Out Traipsing

Yesterday, my daughter, 'A', and I decided to go for a long walk. For those of you familiar with the area (or will take the time to Google) , we headed out our street and straight across Main street on to High Street. Just past the purple house (eww), I stopped to take a picture of a pretty garden.Yeah, it looked good against the backdrop of the ewwwy purple house. Once we got to 'our' church, we cut through Harvey Park. 'A' thought we'd head up Broadway, but I had other ideas. We trudged uphill, dodging tourists on Main Street and when we reached Union Lane I told 'A' I had a cemetery I wanted to take a look at. Union Cemetery is a pretty spot sitting on the east side of Mill Pond. Mostly old, very old, graves. A neighbor was out weeding her garden and looked at us suspiciously. After I took some photos and read some headstones, we headed to Five Corners and hung a right on to Railroad Avenue. 'A' needed a stop at the IGA. After that we headed up Poole's Lane to Upper Main Street and back to our lane. It's been a while since we've done such a long (and brisk for the most part) walk. We were tired when we got home!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Okay, So We ARE a Bit Weird

Today, the noontime news had a delightful video. Seems the summer heat had gotten to one big, brown bear. He was cooling off in a backyard pool. Looked like he was having a splashing good time! My mom says, "I'd hope he'd come back each day." Yep, she meant it, though she'd probably change her mind if it were in her pool that he would eventually and probably leave something not so pleasant behind.

We had a town official (sort of) stop by our house a couple weeks ago to get some information about a recent incident that we witnessed. My mom asked me, "What are you going to do if Bubba shows up for his peanut while XXXXX is sitting here?" Thankfully, that didn't happen and I didn't have to explain how I feed Bubba and his wife, Babs, and the triplets, Baby Bubbas peanuts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Bubba is usually waiting on the fence each morning when I open the drapes.He swoops down for the peanut that I throw out the sliding door, no longer waiting for the door to close or for me to back away.

Last week we had a special guest. Junior the baby crow used our garden for a rehab stint. We haven't decided whether Junior was so young that he just hadn't learned to fly, or if he was injured in one of his short wings. Junior was very adept at hopping and would spend each day between the garden and our deck. He'd hop up and down the deck stairs! Feeding time meant a special treat for Junior - slivered almonds. Junior loved them and nothing would stop him from his almonds. Not even two humans sitting in lounge chairs getting some fresh air and sunshine.Here's Junior collecting some stray almond bits from under the lounge where my mother was relaxing. After nearly a week, Junior hopped out of our garden. My mom saw him across the street in the neighbor's yard. We hope that Junior finally learned to fly. Flap your wings Junior!

Squirt still comes to visit, but is rarely fed. Poor thing searches like crazy for peanuts on the deck. Round and round he goes, nose to the decking. He'll get on a chair back and peer in the window at us wondering, I'm sure, why we have abandoned him. He was just too pushy and aggressive and would climb the screening trying to get to us. Bad Squirt.


Other news. A couple of blogger friends that have been absent for quite a while stopped by this week. I'm very relieved to 'see' both of them as I was worried. Please keep in touch - both of you! Two more paintings have been added to the Cellar Studio. I'm not particularly satisfied with the photo of the painting Tidal Marsh and at some point I'll do a retake. I've started a new book as noted in the sidebar. I was surprised to be watching the Today Show a couple weeks ago and see Kurt Andersen, author and brother of piano tech friend David, being interviewed about his new book, Reset. I'm half way finished and quite impressed. The sub-title describes it well. "How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew America". As is the norm with Kurt, the book is extremely well researched and written. Check out his website by clicking on the book cover in my sidebar. Then there is my writing! I've gotten about halfway through the first draft of my article for the Reed Organ Society Quarterly. Work got in the way. A good thing, but I should get back to writing it. I do have evenings free, after all!

All for now. I'm off to finish Reset.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


It was one year ago. I commented to my supervisor that the tourists seemed edgy and rude. "It's August," she said. "It's always that way in August."

Well, here we are in August again. And, you know what? They still are. Last Sunday around noon-ish the store was packed with people. I was the lone clerk until 1:30. A lady was browsing the taffy boat. She had about 5 kids with her. She set her VERY LARGE, ice laden drink on the edge of the taffy boat platform and one of the kids promptly rewarded her by knocking it off to the floor.

Where it spilled it's entire contents, of course.

I grabbed a roll of paper towels, left my area behind the counter, and approached the woman saying, "Here you go," offering forth the roll of towels. What did she do? Why she turned her back and left the store. The kids sloshed around amid the large puddle complete with ice cubes for a few seconds while watching the taffy being pulled, then walked out.

Thank you very much August tourist!

I was afraid that someone would lose footing on the slick, wet floor. The ice cubes were slithering in one direction towards the boxed taffy display; a river of liquid was heading for the front wall of windows. The customers were lined up for service as I headed for the large mop in the taffy room. It did no good. There was too much! I slathered a huge wad of paper towels around the worst of the spill, tossed them, and headed for the phone to call the other store for some help. A man at the counter shoved a bag of taffy toward me demanding to be waited on immediately. I held up a finger (no, not THAT one), turned my back and finished my quick phone call. Within a few minutes, help arrived to wait on the masses while I mopped and soaked up the mess.

August (maybe it's because it's the only month without a holiday?)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Do you normally wear a wrist watch? When is the last time you went without? I've worn a watch most every day since I started college 36 years ago (groan). Last night the battery died (I presume) in my watch. So, no watch today. It drove me nuts. That simple turn of the wrist to check the time, how many times each day? I've got to get myself to the mall. Maybe Saturday. 'A' will L-O-V-E me for a mall trip on her day off! It's going to be a long 3+ days.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Bunch of Them

Really, really wacky people!

First phone call was from a guy who was a merchant marine, previously lived in London (asked if he were detecting a Brit accent in my voice), sort of works on pianos (occasionally), is running for an elected office in an adjacent city, is trying to 'fix up' a piano at a senior apartment complex and it's an ex-player, wants to know if 'guts' can be found for it. No piano name, oh and he's in a local play, and another (un-named here) piano tuner gave him my name and number...and my mom's number (which he tried as well after first leaving a message on my machine). "If it's meant to be it will fall in place." He was referring to the player mechanism. Told him he needed to be armed with a lot more info before he even starts thinking of it.

Next phone call, from XXXXX XXX, calling from London, will be in Gloucester in a fortnight, wants to hire a high end keyboard. Did I do that? No. Gave him a company name in Danvers with a name that bears a similarity to a local tech. He asks about the phone book listing for the local tech. Would they have a keyboard? No, you need the one in Danvers. Thanks for help. Ta.

Phone call number three. Do you work on repairing pianos? Yes. Has a reed organ and saw my advert on a local bulletin board for the Moline organ. Has it sold? No. Oh, would you like to have mine? No. Was evicted and has a Chickering grand and a reed organ in storage, have I tuned for any of the local churches? (I list a few) Oh, would you like my reed organ? No. How much to restore and how long? I tell her. What if you just do the bellows and nothing else? I don't do that because there are many other parts that need restoring in an instrument that is over one hundred years old. Understood. Grandfather worked for Chickering. Uh huh. She would give me the organ. No thanks. Oh, sorry, my other line is ringing and I'll have to answer it. Best to you.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Do You Know What This Is?

Yeah, well, not much to tell. Weird day, weird customers...very weird customers. And the full moon has passed.
So, can you tell what this is?

Extra Time

Well, I really didn't intend on making this blog entry so soon. It seems I'm an hour off! Yep, woke up, looked at the clock (obviously not too well), and got up, showered and dressed, read email, checked the clock again...and noticed that it's an hour earlier than I thought!

So here I am.

It was a great trip out to Thacher, yesterday. The 'gang' seemed more personable, which is super for me being sort of the odd person out all the time. I knew all the 'regular' shipmates and the rest of the passengers were college aged and from National Wildlife. They were going out as volunteer labor to replace the screening around the cistern (huge) and to start demolition of some old railway timbers. It was a beautiful, hot and humid day with a haze in the distance. As we rounded the 'gap' there was a slight chop on the water. Being in the bow, I got a good splashing and, in good humor, sarcastically thanked the captain. Captain and crew had a good laugh. It may have been hot and humid but that Atlantic water is still quite chilly!

We arrived at about 9:30, and I quickly hauled myself and my stuff up to the Principal Keeper's House. My tote bag was heavier than I like and by the time I got to the top of the hill my arms were aching. Maybe I shouldn't have helped haul those gasoline cans from the back of a pick up to the dock before we left! I started right in on the repairs to the organ. I had made a list the night before and I knew I had a lot to accomplish in just three hours. I was particularly concerned about the fitting of the wooden linkage. Everything went along quite well (almost) and the new wooden linkage that I had made from a bit of oak fit perfectly and works! The only problem that I ran in to was that the clamps that I brought for repairing the bulge at the edge of the soundboard were about 1/4 inch too small. What to do? Fortunately, I had some age appropriate screws in my repair kit, so I drilled and glued and used the screws as the clamping device. I was finished and packed up by 11:30 so I took a walk out to the Whistle House to see the work that was being done. The Whistle House had been completely refurbished about 20 years ago, but the No-Name storm of 199? severely damaged the easterly side.
After my little excursion, I headed to the Boat House for lunch and a cold drink. It has become the luncheon gathering spot for the regular Thacher group. Between tourists and a couple of the Wildlife people, the 12:30 boat was filled and I was voluntarily bumped to the next boat at 1:30. Does this mean I get a free ticket, an upgrade, vouchers of some sort? Nope, my boat was the trash removal cruise!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A Re-Visit

Tomorrow I'll be rising early again. Off to Thacher Island to finish up the job. Keeper Sylvia called on Saturday morning, before she headed off island for the year, to let me know that a couple more keys were sticking (drat) and that the linkage repair didn't seem to be working (double drat). I decided to do a return trip as soon as I could to get everything finished up, thus eliminating the need for a late season trip. So I'm packed up again (with two linkage creations!) and there is actually room on a 9 a.m. boat. I'll be traveling out with some National Wildlife people.