Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blame the Moon

It was a full one over the weekend, wasn't it?

Warning: This post is filled with totally unrelated incidents. Do not try to make sense of it.

I'll give you a short update on my trip out to Thacher Island. Weather was fantastic - HOT! A good day to be on the cool Atlantic. The reed organ is managing quite well...considering that it spends winters alone, with no heat. Either one of the repaired cracks in the soundboard has caused a minor separation at reed cells 11 and 12 of the Dulciana or those two pallets are binding on each other for some reason. There was not enough time to find out and fix it, as I was only there for two hours. I may make a run out late season or most likely wait until early season next year. The organ is amazingly tight. I pumped 'her' up until the spill opened, then depressed middle C (Dulciana stop).

And waited,
And waited,
58 seconds later and I finally could hear no sound.
I'm very pleased.
As you may have noticed, the photos do not go with the organ details. BUT, they ARE photos that I took while out there.

Shocker of shockers the other day. As y'all know, we (as in several in the immediate vicinity) have been having unruly behavior and excessively long duration-ed barking from a particular dog. For nearly two years! No polite requests or even dog officer visits have made a difference. I've shoveled more doggie-do and tossed it back to it's home from the front of our yard than I really care to remember. As I walked through my kitchen, yesterday, on my way to the cellar stairs, I witnessed the following:
Owner of said dog walking across toward our yard.
Owner of said dog having one plastic bag in hand.
Owner of said dog actually bending over and scooping up an enormous pile into the bag.
Owner of said dog tying up the bag and...
Taking it home!!!!!!!!!!
More bird pictures instead of dogs. These sparrows loved feeding on leftover seaweed on the traps by Motif #1.

I warned you.

Mom and I went to pick up all the tile for the back splash in her kitchen last week. I told her that she needed to go through the 3 boxes and check all of it for defects. The defects would be set aside to be used for cuts (the need for a partial tile). Each box has 10 'sheets' of mosaic tile. 30 sheets total and 20 were damaged! She called the tile store. They are reordering. I think the distribution truck must have driven over those boxes!

Thursday night (or should I say Friday morning?), I woke up in the middle of the night (don't get literal here, you know what I mean). I rolled over to see what time it was. The clock read 4:44. I went back to sleep only to awake a bit later. I looked at the clock once again as the sky was bright and I thought maybe it was time to get up. Nope, this time it was 5:55. Too weird. Saturday night (Sunday morning) I awoke and it was still dark outside. Glanced at the clock...1:23. Still kinda weird, but I've slept well since.
Last night was the annual meeting of the Thacher Island Association. I'm a member so I went. Paul gave an excellent presentation. The usual meeting 'official' stuff aside (he failed to mention my article in the Reed Organ Quarterly during his report on publicity, even though I had a color copy made for him), the PowerPoint presentation for past efforts and upcoming events was super. Then he finished with a short video thank you to all the volunteers. The organ was shown several times with the various keepers playing it. They have changed-up the web site so go ahead and check it out (I'm going to). What is the address, you wonder? It's in the sidebar to the right!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Walk in Town

Since the forecast had been for late afternoon and early evening rain, severe storms actually, I didn't expect that 'A' and I would be walking after she got out of work. In anticipation of the lack of evening walk, 'A' did an hour on her treadmill in the morning.

I spent most of the day working on keys. I shipped out one set, this morning, and I still have two sets in the shop. Around 5 or so, I started some dinner cooking for myself. Shortly after that the storm moved in. The wind blew, but not too badly. It poured...sporadically. There were a couple good flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder. In a half hour it was done.

When I went to pick 'A' up from work the sun was shining once again. The air had changed, though, and there was a pleasant, cool breeze. I asked 'A' if she wanted to go for an evening walk and she left it up to me. If not, she'd hit the treadmill again. With such potential for a cool, comfortable walk in town I opted for it. We left the house at about 7:15 and we were gone for just over an hour.

The storm had moved offshore and the clouds were stunning. We could see lightning flashing out past the breakwater. But the clouds...wow.I really need to get out the old 35 mm rather than trying to do nice photos with a mediocre digital. I could preview with the digital and do final shots with film. A thought for the future. Anyway, our first stop was Front Beach (formerly known as Schoolhouse Beach).Imagine going to school and having this view! Then we headed down Main Street. Being a Thursday night meant music at The Loo. A special attendee tonight...Governor Deval Patrick. We passed him on our way down the hill. A quick nod and "hello," from me. He smiled, sort of, and said hello. He was late. They were holding off the start of the performance until he got there.

We got down to Dock Square and I took this picture looking out over the North Basin.We did the loop out T-Wharf and back and decided that it was actually feeling a bit cool outside! 'A' wanted to head back toward the beaches before quitting, I said I'd about had it for walking. Especially knowing the half mile back would be all uphill. We decided to head home. And we almost made it before one of those stunning clouds decided to let loose and we still had about 5 minutes remaining of normally fast-paced walking before arriving home. We ran the open, rainy spots and walked the dry, tree-covered ones and arrived home rather dripping.

It was a great evening! Just fun.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

So Who Do I Call?

After awaking from a good night's sleep, I 'crossed to the other side' (visited Mom at her side of the house) to spend some time breakfasting with her. She asked, "Did you hear my phone ring at 10:00 last night?"

"No, didn't hear it." It was rather warm last night and I had the fan running, and I was reading and watching TV at the same time, upstairs in my side of the house, so no wonder I didn't hear her phone!

"It was 'the other'," she said. 'The other' is my mom's friend who has the same first name as my mom. We kidding-ly refer to her as 'the other'.

"She said her computer was making bad sounds and she didn't know what to do. She said she thought you would be able to help."

"At 10:00 at night?" I was a bit surprised. "Did you tell her to call her son?" He lives just 5 minutes away.

"She said that she tried calling her grandson, but got no answer. (He lives across the street from 'the other'.) So, you know, she figures that you can fix anything. I told her that you were upstairs reading or watching TV or something. I suggested she call her son and she said he was leaving to go on vacation tomorrow and she thought he might be sleeping already. So I told her if she couldn't get him to call back."

Thank goodness she didn't call back. And yes, if she had, I would have gotten dressed, headed out in my truck to her house to see what was wrong with her computer. Not that I'm particularly computer scholarly, but I'm not afraid to try a few things to help out. Even at 10 p.m.

As my mom remarked, "Well you know, your dad could do almost anything and people think you are the same."

And my reply, "So who do I call when I need help?"

She didn't have an answer. Neither do I. Not any more.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Almost Over

Today was my birthday and now, at 10 p.m. or so, it's nearly over. I have survived. Thank goodness that this year is a once in a lifetime year. A year when numbers do coincidental things. Let's see if I can do some creative algebra (I warn you it has been a very long time - for algebra).

1900 + a = the year I was born and,
a = my age today, and
1900 + 2a = 2010

How old am I?

We celebrated a day early because 'A' had Thursday off work.

For my birthday we went to Skip's for an early dinner. It was a dreary day, rainy, but not as dark as when I took this picture of the 63 year old sign at Skip's.On the way home from Skip's, I stopped to check out this gate at a cemetery in Ipswich.'A' and I decided we would have to go walking in there sometime. Then I stopped at a hobby shop that I thought might have the glue that I needed for a repair job. They didn't. When we got home the sun came out. My mom and 'A' arranged my presents below an extremely large helium balloon in the shape of a palm tree. (Thanks 'A'!). I unwrapped presents and then 'A' and I went for a walk along the beaches before cake-time.Cake was the lemon pound cake that I requested. There had been many protests about baking, and excuses like, "I don't have the recipe anymore." So I left a copy of a recipe that I found online in plain sight! It was (and still is) yummy! I've got it all to myself because my mom decided that she didn't like it and 'A' is working very hard on eating nutritiously.

Today, my actual birthday, was grim. My mom decided she just didn't feel well and acted appropriately to that. And oh, I'm sorry to be this way on your birthday, Happy Birthday. No more details written here. It was quite a letdown. I worked on keys, went to another hobby store for glue (which was an hour's driving nightmare), and worked some more. Mom perked up a little by evening, which was a relief. I never got around to preparing any dinner so it was a peanut butter sandwich for me! I didn't hear from my best friend whose birthday was just a few days ago. The first year I've been forgotten by her.

Done until next year when numbers aren't weird.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How To Take a Perfectly Good Week...

and mess it all up! It's not all bad. Just crazy.

For starters B-Days are coming up. All of us the same day. That would be me, Dickiebo, Paul McCartney, Harriet (from high school), and many more that I don't know. More on that on THE day.

So why mention it now? Well, for one thing it becomes the rant of the females in this household, as the younger and the older try to bridge a very large generation gap and actually communicate effectively with each other in an attempt to plan my birthday. Usually, by the time they are well into it, I'd just as soon have not been born. Oh well. We survive. So that's what Saturday and Sunday were like. Monday morning I seized the opportunity to escape to a friend's house for a Cosmic City meeting. Monday afternoon I finished a set of keys for a local customer and 'A' went with me to a nearby school to do a piano evaluation. Monday night a key customer called and wanted to schedule the return of the finished job for Tuesday. Okay. Then I got two more key top job calls. And a call to schedule a 'meet up' at Friendly's to pick up another key job.

Tuesday started fine. Coffee and toast and then the drive to Friendly's. On the drive it dawned on me that I had scheduled my afternoon job in conflict (or at least a close call) to when I needed to drive 'A' to work. I got back home after the 'meet' thinking I would get some work done and then call to try to arrange an earlier arrival at the customer's home. Except the phone rang. It was the music director at the school. His call coincided with me trying to work up an estimate and I hadn't quite finished. "Just give me the most expensive it could be," he said. I did some quick addition, gave him a brief explanation, and he said, "Let's do it. Can you email the bill to me immediately? I need to pay this out before the end of the school year, but you'll have all summer to do the work." Okie dokie! I quickly wrote up an 'official' invoice, scanned it, and emailed it to him. Now maybe I could get some work done.

Nope. 'A' needed a ride to the store and bank. Took us about 15 minutes. Arrived home hoping to get just a teeny bit of work done before wolfing down a sandwich and calling that customer. The phone rang again. This time it was a keyboard-ish company owner that I do key work for wanting a special deal. I wasn't so inclined. Really, I'm one of the most reasonably priced around and his jobs usually require some additional work that I routinely and without complaint work in to the same pricing. I started making that sandwich, to heck with trying to get any work done. The phone rang again. The music director, again. The payment folks wouldn't accept the emailed billing, could I take a ride over with the original?

Oh sure, why not?

That done and I got home with just enough time to eat that sandwich and call the customer. No answer. So, I waited until a departure time that would get me arriving 15 minutes earlier than the appointed time. That worked. He was home and everything went very smoothly with the key re-install, leveling (only one), and spacing (less than a half dozen required minor attention). I was out of there and home with plenty of time to spare!

After I got home from running 'A' to work, I did get some of the key work in the workshop underway. I'm glad today is nearly over!

Tomorrow, Wednesday, it's back to the historic society in the morning and piles of key work for the afternoon. Thursday, I've a new customer tuning in the morning, a Steinway M. I've got to place a parts order sometime. Then the afternoon should be a surprise, then key work, key work, key work, until...

B-Day Friday and more key work. It'll be a relief to take part of Saturday off and go out to Thacher Island. It's supposed to be near 90°. A great day to be out on the water!

Oh, and I've started a re-read of a book from 15 - 20 years ago. "Going to Extremes" by Joe McGinness. A book about Alaska, sort of a weird tour guide kind of thing, only in novel form.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Music In The Loo

It happened this evening. Opening night. After two(?) years of construction and I don't know how many years of conniving the new venue is alive. Today's paper was filled with it. Why not? The idea of a music hall is a wonderful thing. I love it. The music, that is. Even on the island. But not like what happened. The layers of half truths that resulted in our new music center are deplorable. There were too many to even list here, but a few to mention would be...we plan to renovate the existing mid-1800 building...the new (yes, no renovation, demolition instead) structure was built on the original footprint...the new building's facade will be a faithful reproduction of the original building...parking for our 330 seat hall will not be a problem, arrangements have been made (oh, and since we will be opening soon, we would like to eliminate 2 metered parking spaces so that we may have a drop-off zone). There are many other things that really irritate me about our new monstrosity built in our historic district. I can't possibly cover all that in this post.

I've decided to keep this post extremely proper noun eliminated. I want to bypass any search engines hitting upon my post when people are looking for info on The Loo and it's music programs. The nickname, The Loo, comes from a shortened version of the official name of the place. If you are in desperate need of knowing the name (or curious about the nickname's origin), click on the color photo of the front of the building (below) and read the full name over the door.

I offer some before and after photos for a 'how many changes can you find?' game.
The original building of 1863
The new building
The back of the building in 2008 as seen from Front Beach (white building with mansard style roof and a one story addition reaching out towards the granite seawall.
The back of the new building with three stories replacing the one story addition and massive two story windows backing the interior stage area.

I'm not happy about it. There were many other people not happy about it. There were lawsuits over it. Seems that once again money speaks louder. Even in a small, used-to-be-quaint-but -now-wants-to-be-uptown, seaside village.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


5...4...3...2...1...making progress!This cramped view of the "Cosmicventure" was taken after the rocket was launched (with full- color tissue paper flames!) to it's temporary suspension at the other end of my workshop. That was yesterday. Today, I applied it's name, nosecone 'windows', and it's registration number : 3498 - T. It shall remain flying over my painting and jewelry production workbench until it is needed. I sat under it, today, painting necklace ivories! It's in very cramped quarters for two reasons. The first, to assure that it is out of the main walking traffic areas of the cellar. The second, well, there were already two screw hooks overhead to hang it from! The close quarters location makes photo taking challenging. One final post-trial launch photo will be taken shortly, to be followed in just over a month with another - it's arrival at it's final destination in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church.

I love having a chance to play!

Monday, June 07, 2010

It's Not Rocket Science

Not even close. I've been working on a little, 7-foot project for the church's Vacation Bible School. Yes, I am building a rocket in my cellar! It's gotten a bit out of control size-wise.I've worked hard to keep it under 8 feet. I was hoping for 6 and managed a compromise at 7. I had to narrow the wingspan about 6 inches from my original design because I DID think to measure the bulkhead opening. Yes, I can get it out of the cellar. I still have the decorating to execute. The rocket might be named Cosmicventure. The theme/name of the week-long Bible school is Cosmic City. Anyway, the rocket will have it's name along the side with an appropriate 'registration' number. There will be some windows in the nosecone and red flames in the thrusters.

Other matters - I've just finished the start of 8 new ivory necklaces. The next craft fair is on July 17th and I'm a tad short on goods. I'll have to get them painted by the end of the week so that there will be enough dry time.

Sunday afternoon I had an exciting half hour sitting in my truck in the Stop & Shop parking lot waiting for 'A' to get out of work. I had left home early to get on the road, and then parked at the store, before a large line of thunderstorms arrived in our area. The storm arrived just as I parked and was finished about 5 minutes before 'A' left work. The lightning was flashing every few seconds and the thunder was a continuous rumble for more than a half hour.This was my view during a mild moment in the storm around 4:30. At it's worst it was raining so hard that I couldn't see out the windshield.

Today was beautiful, sunny, 73° and breezy. Tomorrow is supposed to be the same.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

An Old Cat Learns New Tricks

Yes, I know it is a misquote, but I'm a cat person rather than dog. I like dogs. I just like cats a whole lot more.

Now that you know that, on to the real content of the post.

Wednesday morning was my first official volunteer time at the historical society. Wednesday morning I learned just what I would be doing for the next few weeks (Wed. mornings only). My assignment (and I chose to accept it) is to scan LOADS of photographs that have been loaned to the society, save them in a file in the computer, print them, and then copy any label information from the original to the scanned copy. If I were doing it here, I'd say, "no problem". I do that kind of thing all the time.

On a PC.

The historical society is Mac.

I think I did quite well. I was shown the process once, worked on troubleshooting (a goof) once, loaded ink into a Lexmark printer/scanner once, and then carried on like I'd been working on that system forever.

Now I just have to remember what I did...for next week...that may be more difficult!

In 1994, I bought my first computer. That was a big deal. I (correctly) anticipated that my soon-to-be middle-school-er would be needing computer access for schoolwork. The problem was how to afford buying one. I was pretty much scraping by financially, month to month, having only started up my business a year and a half earlier. How could I do it?

The opportunity arose where I was able to buy a small grand piano for just $300 and I jumped on it. This piano would finance my computer purchase! I didn't need to do much major work on the piano. I reconditioned parts, cleaned, polished, tuned, and regulated the action. I did refinish the case. The job was mostly in labor and I then sold the piano for $3500.

My first computer, a Compaq Presario, with printer, cost around $3000. The computer desk was another few hundred.

And I was a wreck!

I got all the boxes into the house that first day. That evening I sat out in my workshop in a near panic attack. $3000+ sitting in those boxes in the house and I hadn't a clue. I was sure that the moment I tried ANYTHING with that enormous hunk of money disguised as a computer I would surely, irretrievably ruin it. Oh, what had I done?

After a restless night, daylight did arrive and the boxes were still there. Still untouched. I got 'A' off to school and went home to stare at my expensive blunder. Taking hold of my nerves, I began unpacking and trying to identify components. With all the cables, the monitor, the printer, the mouse, the CPU, keyboard, and ugly Compaq mouse pad unpacked, I breathed a sigh of relief and considered 'the unpacking' the greatest accomplishment of my day. I assembled the computer desk and that really gave me some satisfaction. THAT I knew how to do!

That evening I sat in my workshop once again feeling that panic creeping in to me.

After 'A' got home from school on day three, I decided it was time to assemble all those components. With her help, all cables and wires were connected. "Are you going to plug it in, mom?"

"No, I think that was enough for today. Tomorrow we'll try plugging it in."

Tomorrow seemed to arrive much too quickly. Maybe it was the sleepless night of nerves and dreams (maybe nightmares). $3000 sitting there just waiting for me to screw it up. I dreaded plugging it in. Seriously. With 'A' by my side, I plugged that cord from the surge protector into the wall outlet and...

Nothing happened.

Oh yeah, switch on the monitor and the CPU, idiot.

And there it was, lit up before us! We didn't have a clue what to do next. We didn't know how to make it DO anything. So now what?

We called AK, a good friend, and more importantly at that moment, a computer genius. He came to the rescue and got us set up and gave us a few pointers. A few days later, I got very brave and set up an ISP and email.

I've learned an incredible amount since those first days! Sometimes it all seems too much with email, newsgroups, mailing lists, digests, blogging, writing, digital photography, IP tracing, properties, sources, web searching, anti-virus, anti spyware, word processing, editing, preferences, printing, scanning, on and on.

And now Mac.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

They Don't Make Clothespins Like They Used To

and more.

But first the clothespins...

As part of a big key job, I have replaced all the bushings which are little pieces of (red) wool cloth that line the mortises where the keys pivot on a pin and also where they are guided by another pin, AND I am replacing the leather covering on the backchecks (at the back end of each key). The 2.5" long X 3/8" wide strips of leather need to be stretched taut over wood and felt. One end is glued and allowed to dry, then the other end is pulled tight and clamped. I use spring style clothespins as clamps. The older ones work really well. Just clip them on. However, they don't make them like they used to. The new clothespins have their spring located further towards the 'grip' end and therefore they won't open wide enough to clamp around the backchecks. Very annoying. With the new ones I have to use the opposite end of the clothespin, spreading it open to clamp evenly across the backcheck. It's an awkward way to use a clothespin. Hard to imagine that such a small design change in clothespins would create a problem.Unless they're being used unconventionally!

'A' and I decided to go for a walk the other evening. We decided to put in extra effort rather than distance. We walked up Summit Avenue. In the distance you can see Straitsmouth Island. Up and up and up.
All the way to the top where the old Haskins Hospital used to be.All that's left is a park and picnic area...and these.
Later, we went out on to the Headlands. Because of the 56+ fires burning in Quebec, we have been subject to poor air quality. Bad enough that it smelled like the island was burning and visibility was down to 3 miles. Worse on the other Cape (Cod). Anyway, because of all that, the weather guy predicted a breathtaking, red sunset. We headed to the Headlands for pictures.Not much red. Not even later. Pretty, though.