Sunday, December 30, 2012


This year I have decided to make a New Year's Resolution.  This is not something I normally impose upon myself.  I figure that starting a new year and actually making it to the end of that year relatively intact is enough to hope for, never mind trying to set a specific goal for the year.  So, this new year shall start with a clean staircase.  Yep, I will try to keep it that way all year.  No using between the rungs as a convenient filing system.  Everything will find a place to belong without cluttering up the staircase.  It will look a lot nicer and it will force me to keep only what really needs keeping.  In the past (and I have no photo evidence - too ugly and embarrassing), coupons, keys, an odd photo or two, a saved newspaper clipping, gloves in winter, reminders for renewals, papers to hang on to to give to someone else who might be interested in what ever the subject happened to be, business cards and more......accumulated between the rungs.  NO MORE!  I have a desk upstairs (although it mostly is storage for things that have no place to be stored rather than a desk where I sit).  I have file cabinets in the workshop.  I have a filing box near my computer.  I have a mail holder thingie (with key hooks) on the workshop door that is home to my calendar and bills to be paid.  The calendar even has a storage pocket for each month where I keep stamps...and small stuff.  I have bookcases and, in the workshop, storage shelves.  And the best thing yet...I have a trash receptacle nearby!

Monday, December 24, 2012


Another one?  Really?

Tuned the last of the pre-Christmas piano tunings this morning.  The last one was supposed to be the same piano but tuned last of the day on Friday.  That is until the church decided they didn't want to roll the extra piano into the sanctuary until after Sunday's service.  The tuning got moved to today.  The permanent sanctuary piano turned out to be the last tuning on Friday.

Got that?

Merry Christmas to everyone out there still reading!

Ho, ho, ho 'tis the season.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cleaning Up for the New Year

Since I have today off (YAY) and I had the weekend off (YAY), I decided it would be a good time to sort and clean.  You know...all that stuff that just gets shoved into any available spot, just temporarily until you have time to clean.
Ahhh, 80° and humid - to be there now...
I found this postcard in a pile of stuff that I had intended to scan someday.  The scene is Palm Passage, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas USVI.  In December 1980 and January 1981 we spent a month on St. Thomas.  We often ate lunch at the outdoor cafe in Palm Passage.

The autographs on the back of the postcard
This card was never sent and was used for autographs.  Many evenings, while staying at Point Pleasant, we would walk around the cove to Coki Point and listen to a group of young locals playing steel drums.  They were the high school band.  We'd buy ice teas and find a bench under some palms and listen for a half hour or so.  I think they enjoyed the appreciative audience as most of the tourists would just walk on by.  They got a kick out of being asked for their autographs. I wonder what these 'kids' are up to these days?  Wow, they would be around 47, 48 years old!

Saturday, December 15, 2012


It only took ten years to make it happen...
The linden tree as the removal service began work early Friday morning
Friday A and I had the linden tree cut down. It was a beautiful tree in many ways.  A tremendous annoyance in every other.
Waaayyyyyyy up there with a chain saw
Back when we moved here and built our house attached to my parent's house my mom would not allow the tree to be cut down.  "It's beautiful."  "The house will look so bare at that end."  "Just trim it some."
This guy really knew his stuff
Well, all that may be so, but A and I got real tired of the bugs that, along with my mother, loved the linden tree.  Spiders, bees, winter moths and ants.  The spiders and ants particularly bothered me.  For many months my truck, which was parked beneath the tree, would be covered, inside and out, with spiders and ants.  Mostly the spiders gave me problems as they bite.  Nothing like driving down Nugent Stretch, at night, trying to squish spiders on the inside of the windshield as I drove.  They came inside the house, too.  I think the ants taught them how to do that.  The bees arrived when the tree was in bloom.  They would buzz all around, high on each branch...and then crawl around on my truck trying to lap up the sweet sap that would drip down.  Oh yeah...that sap was a real hassle, too.  For a month or two the truck would look sugar coated.  A hates the winter moths.  Don't ask me why, but at age 30 she is deathly afraid of moths.  It was hard getting home from work after dark and seeing thousands of the white-winged things crawling up the trunk of the tree...and then have to get out of the truck parked right there next to 'em.
Less and less tree
Ten years of whining and complaining to my mom combined with her forgetting that she had said not to cut it down...
Chain saw man back on solid footing
Now its gone and along with it all those pesky problems.  I'm sure we will miss the green of it and the shade of it near the house next summer.  We will love, however, the opportunity to have a better, maybe bigger, vegetable garden.
Me and the stump (Thanks, R, for the photo)
Gone except for the stump.  The tree service's stump grinding machine is in the shop for repairs so they will be back in the next week or so to erase the last reminder of the linden tree.

(I missed some of the action - the main trunk being felled and slamming to the ground.  I had to be at a tuning job.  I got home in time to see it in its fallen position, though, before being sliced up, loaded, and hauled away.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Book Review

I'm starting to write this book review after noting that Blogger has a Save feature.  I kind of knew the feature was there, just wasn't too sure about how well it would work. I won't be publishing this right away.

But I really want to write about this book.
I don't have anything good to say about it..

This is the book.
THE book
I heard about it from a fellow SBHS board member.  She found it while browsing at the library.  I reserved a copy...placed it on hold...and headed down the next evening to see what I was missing!

I wasn't missing much other than a good deal of aggravation!  The majority of the text is about Dogtown rocks and boulders.  Mostly it covers material already covered in previously published books by other authors.  And they did a better job of it. In fact, the only new information in this book seems to be an analysis of the lettering styles on the Babson Boulders.  Wow!  The author says that the various styles proves that they were carved by several people!  No kidding.  (Or...maybe one guy was just having some fun trying out new styles?  No, not that, but a little lack of research can be a dangerous thing.)

She goes on to indicate that there are numerous Native American cairns in the area woods.  Well, maybe, I say.  But after reading the next section of suppositions and fictionturnedtofact by Ms. Gage, in my opinion doubt is cast upon everything from her pen.
The stone mounds
Ms. Gage claims that the stone mounds at the Haskins Estate (Haskins Park, Poole's Hill) are Native American cairns.  Or to be specific, the cairns are under the neat covering stones.  She feels that these loose rock cairns were not in keeping with the other stonework of the estate claiming that their covering stones are not cemented out of respect to the origins.  She indicates that the pools were cemented stone, as well as the entry pillars.  But what about the 'dry' stone walls?  No cement there.  Even much of the foundation work was not cemented. The author would have done better to have researched more thoroughly before adding guesswork and misinformation to her publication.  If she had really wanted to convey the truth about the mounds, rather than making them into something she wants them to be, she would have found out that the mounds are most likely just the remnants of clearing the land for Haskins to build his estate in 1892.  The hill was originally referred to as Popple Hill because of the enormous amount of stones covering its surface. Oh and that was 1892 NOT the 1880's as claimed by Ms. Gage. the early 1960's, Frank Glynn, a noted Connecticut archaeologist examined the stone mounds of the Haskins estate and found nothing predating "American flowerpot".  Sorry Ms. Gage.

As to the rest of Ms. Gage's suppositions about the Haskins property...
The upper pool 2012
The lower pool 2012
She writes:  "In the wooded area beyond the lawn he built stone-lined landscaping pools...The pipes were part of an elaborate landscape pool system...The pipes were used to add aesthetics to the water flowage from pool to pool...The vertical pipe produced a bubbly fountain affect...The horizontal pipe added an additional quantity of water at the bottom to create a waterfall affect into the lower pool.  It was an illusion amplified by the sound of a waterfall...The pools...were not part of a formal garden...This is the complete opposite of the gently rolling open lawn..."  She continues to add that there were paths through the woods meandering around the landscape pools.  Hah. 
Period photo showing the upper pool in its manicured setting
Truly in error. Had she done a bit of research at the SBHS (which is just down the hill from Haskins Park), Ms. Gage would have found many photographs showing just the opposite of the landscaping details she goes on about.  If she had checked around, she even could have spoken to former residents of the property!  Indeed, the 'wooded' pools WERE a part of the formal landscape. The 'top' pool was a swimming pool, not just a landscape feature!  The bottom pool was a run-off pool for overflow from the pool above.  Both pools had beautiful 'island' gardens.
An aerial view c.1930.  The double set of pools shown as numbers 5 and 6 and obviously included within the lawn area.
A slightly different view from the upper pool.  House to left, cottage to right.  Stone mounds surrounded by young trees and shrubs just right of middle.

And the pipes that Ms. Gage is sure were for the elaborate landscaping pools?  Mr. Haskins had a complex  system of pipes because he was providing his own water supply for the estate.  Pumps drew well water up into the estate's own storage tank and then the resulting pressure from the elevated tank supplied the water to the houses and to the barn.  You can find the remains of these pipes all over the woods in the area because the burned leftovers of the buildings were bulldozed off to the sides taking all the piping along.

Ms. Gage also claims to have found a cistern near the cottage.  What she fails to realize is that her 'cistern' was actually a cesspool.  One of two on the property.  A shame to mix up those usages!
Photo taken during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 showing the water tower in the background.
Ms. Gage's lack of thorough research about the Haskins property leads me to wonder about all her other suppositions presented as facts and the feeling that this is a book she should have never published.  Thank goodness she only paid to have 100 copies printed!

Sorry, Ms. Gage, that's just how I see it after a year of research.


Thursday, December 06, 2012

It Feels Like Winter

At the beach a few cold winters ago.

Dickiebo sent this along to me:

This is amazing, if you have not seen it before just type in your address or any
family addresses and look through the window at the snow falling on your home
today. It's amazing!!!!
Click below to get something for Christmas you won't get anywhere else this summer.
 Yes, it works.  Amazing to see my first Florida snowfall!

Sunday, December 02, 2012


to win an autographed copy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Homer's Mom Wrote Another Book...

and I want a copy!

This book would have been on my Christmas list...but it won't be in stores until January.  So...I'm hoping to win an autographed copy that WOULD arrive before Christmas.  You'll be seeing more of Gwen Cooper's book as I try to increase my odds of winning. (Some of you may remember her other book, Homer's Odyssey, when it spent some time in my recent reads section of the sidebar.)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Player Piano Analysis...

I've been corresponding with a player piano owner who is really too far out of my service area...yet they want me to come out and find out what's up with their piano.

I offered some suggestions to the owner based on an initial description of the problem.  She said her husband is an engineer and he would take a look.

Here is the 'official' report from the engineer.

I must say that I love this report.  So typically an engineer...yet with humor.
This is not their piano.  It is my yet-to-be-finished player piano.

Summary of Researches and Findings Pursuant
to the
Player Piano

  1. The machine is robust and possesses a non-trivial inertial mass.  Moving it away from the basement wall produced a 10-yr storm in the tendons and connective tissues of my upper and lower abdomen.
  2. To the extent that the machine is massive and relatively immobile, it is equally aloof and unreliable as with regards to producing music.
  3. It does, however, when energized, utilize compressed air to cause a set of bellows to operate in a reliable rhythm.  Of principal interest here is the observation that this hive of activity causes a shaft to rotate.
  4. The location of this shaft appears to be the cause of the problem.  The shaft spins in a constant direction, but is able to slide along a left-right ordinate.  When it is in the leftmost position, it causes the music rolls to rewind, often with alarming speed.  When it is slid to the right a sufficient distance, the gear on the left end of the shaft disengages the rollers, and instead a gear on the right end of the shaft engages a different mechanism, and the music roll is turned in the forward direction.
  5. When the latter occurs, the machine produces a clever compendium of sounds as its designer no doubt intended.
  6. I was able to cajole the machine into playing entire music rolls by manually sliding a linkage to the right, which dragged the shaft to the right, and caused good things to happen.  It didn’t always stick, but after a few attempts it would get my drift.  Adjusting the speed of rotation in the early stages of the process seemed to be helpful in keeping the shaft engaged with the rightmost mechanism.  It seems to want to slide to the left and go into rewind mode more often than not, and in the time that I spent scratching my head and wondering whether or not I would inadvertently get a finger ground into chuck meat by a gear, or deftly grab hold of something electrified, I didn’t quite parse the reason for that personality flaw.  Once it gets going, however, it will play an entire roll.
  7. At the end of the roll, another bellows fires and pushes the rotating shaft back to the left so that the roll rewinds.  That part seems to work okay, but needed a bit of help at the end of the roll as well.  So, somehow the shaft and the mechanisms that move it back and forth are just not quite on top of their collective game.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

So What Is Doing?

Sometimes I think...."Waaayyyyy too much."  I can't seem to stop the doings, though.  They just keep coming!
Overhead at the tuning!
First, back to my last post.  They still haven't paid for the tuning.  I'll be sending a second notice to them as soon as I buy stamps.

Oh yeah...I've got to go to the post office for stamps, including enough for sending Christmas cards (some need airmail Europe) but that won't happen until probably Tuesday.  Monday I've got to drive my mom to and from day surgery.  A shot for pain in her back.  It's nothing serious, they just won't let you drive yourself.  It's an hour drive each way and she will be there for a few hours...

Monday is shot (hahahaha).

Okay, so back to what HAS been going on...
A 'fire road' leading along Waring Field and in to the South Woods
R and I have started our SundaythereisnohuntingonSundays walks in the woods.  They haven't been too exciting.  No great discoveries - rocks and trees.  Just different rocks and trees from previous walks.  We need a change!
'Discovered' rock art near the Tarr Trail
Nothing is happening with the Haskins Park project.  I can't get anyone in charge at the town level to even correspond with me about the project.  I'm now waiting until after the first of the year to re-approach them with the topic.  Hopefully it will still be on their list and they'll be more willing to discuss it as a new year project.

Work has been steady.  More tunings and repairs as the holidays approach and keys still continue to arrive.

Out of the blue I received a call from the SC neighbors to my cousin's property.  I think that I mentioned here, long ago, that there was a big mess over the handling of his estate and the care of my aunt.  Well, evidently things have not been satisfactorily handled at that end (no surprise) and now I feel obligated to involve myself as much as I am able.  So, many phone calls and much online research later, I am trying to locate long lost relatives.  It's not easy, folks!  And even if I find these relatives, it is guaranteed to be a bumpy road to clear everything up at the SC end of things.  I'll do my best to resolve it...but no promises!
This is BIG.  The white areas, seen below at the edge of the marsh, are houses.
We have something new on the horizon.  An extremely large wind turbine is atop Railcut Hill.  While I'm not convinced of its successful supplementation of power for the business where it is located, I do kind of like the looks of it up there! There are to be two more nearby supposedly to be tied to Gloucester's grid.
Lots and lots of supplies for the price.
Yesterday, R and I went to an indoor yard sale at a small auction house.  Mostly, it was a pile of junk.  However, I did make a great buy with a lot of art supplies for only $15!  The lot included many unused tubes of artists oils and a handful of  brand new paint brushes.  There's a large collection of ink pens and nibs that I may use someday, too.  Considering the current price at the store for these items...I got a super deal!

Work, walks, paperwork (I did get my business books up-to-date and balanced the check books), phone calls, Christmas cards written, some shopping, errands, and the Sandy Bay Historical Society meetings...I've been busy!

Friday, November 02, 2012

A Wake Up Tune

This morning I started work earlier than usual.  This customer had been postponed (rescheduled) twice.  Both times by me. I was feeling a bit bad about that so I agreed to be on the road an hour before my usual start time.
The front gate
The view from where I parked
More from my parking spot
The building where the piano lives
Not a bad looking place!

The only down side will be waiting for my check to appear in the mail.  The secretary handles all bill paying and she wasn't there yet.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hardly a Trace

Watching and waiting the morning before Sandy
 ...left of what was Sandy.  We are fortunate here on the island.  Folks farther south had a lot of damage.  On island, there were some trees down and, of course with that, power lines down.  I'm amazed that we had power throughout.  So, with the exception of nature looking a bit untidy (leaves and twigs scattered about), life here goes on as usual.
The surf at Cape Hedge Beach, Monday morning

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Umpteenth Trip to Dogtown

Colors reflected in Granny Day's Swamp

We thought it might be nice to take a morning walk to check out the Fall foliage in Dogtown.  And while Sunday morning was indeed good walking weather, the foliage was a bit lacking in color.  Dogtown has too much birch and beech.  They were yellow.  There are lots of oaks, too.  They are mostly still green and only change color to...brown.
Dogtown Road
It was hard to find anything interesting to shoot.  Harder yet to 'discover' anything.  We need some new trails to explore.  Fortunately, there are plenty of those for other Sundays.
The old sign marker (in stone) for Dogtown Square
The new system...gone digital.
We did happen upon another of the Babson cellar hole numbers.
Cellar hole 34 is behind the boulder
As soon as I got home I checked the list in the book to find that Unknown had lived at number 34.  Like I said, no new discoveries.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


I've been playing phone tag with an out of town restaurateur.  First it was someone calling on his behalf.  They left his cell number. I called it and left a message.  Later yesterday, I had a message on my machine from the person.  I called back this morning and got voice mail...again.  This time though, within 5 minutes, said restaurateur called back. He wants to sell the piano.

The short of it is that I volunteered to do a free (it's kinda local), quick check, prior to this piano being offered for sale, of a year old tuning that had been done by someone else.  I ran over to the restaurant before it opened today.  Yep, very out of tune.  Double checked tuning pin torque on some of the more offensive notes.  All fine with that.  Got back home and called the restaurateur with the promised report.

It went like this...

Me:  The piano needs tuning.  It's totally up to you whether you want to tune prior to selling it or if you want to explain that you've had it looked at and all is satisfactory for tuning after moving to a new location.  (it'll have to be tuned then anyway.)  As I said before, my tuning fee is $$$$.

Him:  Would you tune it for a small cash payment plus gift certificates for a couple dinners?

Me:  No, I'm sorry, I don't do that.  (Honestly, I'd be rich in food coupons, play tickets, etc.  but unable to pay my electrical bill or put gas in my car.)

Not going to tune.

Afterthought.....I tune at a lot of churches.  I can see the offer now....we can pay you a portion of your fee in cash and offer the balance in the promise of salvation!


Sunday, October 14, 2012


This extremely large illustration hangs against the back wall of a defunct drop forge.  It would seem to have been placed in its current location long after the forge ceased operating.
What on earth does it mean?

For more photos of the Cape Ann Tool Company, see my FB page at:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What's Next for Haskins?

That's what I'm hoping to clarify when I meet with the Town Administrator.  I emailed her this morning and I'm hoping that I can fit into her schedule within the next month.  G from SBHS wants to be at the meeting, too.

Several items will be on my agenda.

The first is to get the entry walls repaired.  Much needed on the right hand side as you approach the park, and less so (but still needs attention) on the left.
The right side curved wall has been destroyed by snow plows.

Then there is the matter of how to accept the donations of funds for new picnic tables. We have the offer.  We don't have any authority to accept or to expend those potential funds.
These are some of the old decaying picnic tables.

And...from the historic view...we want a large boulder in place, with a plaque that remembers Leander Haskins contributions of the park and other town benefits.  It would also be nice to have a second plaque,  maybe on the back of the stone, that gives a chronological history of the property.  The stone pictured below is located at a park in Newburyport and illustrates what we have in mind.

The memorial boulder and plaque in Newburyport.

I'd also like to discuss the remainder of the phase one clean-up and include in that the planting of a small, self-sustaining garden in the area of the arborvitae.  My plant ideas include day lilies, Queen Anne's lace, and rhododendron.
Maybe the home of the first of several flowering gardens?

There are many other items that will need attention as the project progresses.  But these will get Phase One nearer completion.

Now if I could just get that appointment with the Town Administrator.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

A Weighty Subject

You just never know what you may find in the oddest places. you suppose that Capt. James Babson is indeed interred in the workings of a pipe organ at a church in Lanesville?

"Dev" read on to the Rowe post....

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Another Rowe?

This is a bit off the general train of thought from the last few posts.  However, I received a comment on an older post that got me to thinking...and checking back...and failing to find the ebook documentation that I had found a half year ago.

Anyway, here is a photo of the memorial stone of Major John Rowe of Rockport.

Dev?????  Comment?  Based on everything I have read online and at the Sandy Bay Historical Society, I'm still betting that they are one and the same...that is, Major John Rowe is actually buried in NY but this is the memorial stone in Rockport.  (As I recall, Sr. was a different rank.)

Friday, October 05, 2012

Even In the Fog

Haskins Park is beautiful.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Heberle Week at Haskins Park and Beyond

Foggy and damp at Haskins Park
Wow, where to begin.
With their mother, RH seated, CH standing
These two little boys are now 82 and 83 years old.  The Heberle brothers spent 6 years of their childhood living on the grounds of the Haskins Hospital when their father ran the sanitarium, Restcroft.  This week they have traveled from Florida to Rockport and Gloucester with other family members.  They have spent the week showing off the area to their relatives (7 total of daughters, sons-in-laws, sons, cousins...) and telling them stories of life here back in the 30s and 40s.  Along with a couple trips to Haskins Park and a meeting with the Board of Selectman, they've been antiquing in Essex, toured Hammond Castle, eaten at Sailor Stan's, taken the train to Boston and visited the USS Constitution and a ship that CH served on that's currently in dry dock, and driven past former houses and old haunts. Their visit was the main reason we got to working on the Haskins Park clean-up right away.
Mom and I bought some chrysanthemums to brighten the entrance
Monday afternoon R and I met RH up at the park.  We walked around while he told stories and we showed him the temporary access to the pools that R, T, and I had cut.  RH said that he brought the family up on Sunday afternoon, but it was damp and drizzly so they didn't stay long.  He had looked for the path, but hadn't found it.  After an hour or so, we said byes and that we were looking forward to meeting the entire clan at the Board of Selectmen's meeting Tuesday evening.
The Special Recognition is read...
The BoS decided to present a Heberle Family Recognition at the meeting.  They thought it would be nice to acknowledge the contributions to the community that Dr. Heberle had made.  It was a full house!  First on the agenda, after the Pledge and such, was the Heberle Recognition.  Selectwoman Fleming read the certificate that had been prepared and presented each brother with a copy.
and presented to CH (left) and RH by Selectwoman Fleming
Then she asked if they had any comments.  RH got up in front of the crowd and told a few stories from the hospital years.  The first, I think, was how his father had saved the life of a local farmer who had been gored by a bull.  The second was a very humorous tale about RH nearly being sat upon by one of the hospital nurses while he was 'using the facilities'.  He was about 4 at the time and couldn't reach the pull chain for the light so was in a very narrow WC in the dark.  He hadn't locked the door.  Nurse W evidently was quite an enormous woman who walked in, pulled the light chain and turned not seeing that the WC was occupied, with her back to RH she hiked her skirts and dropped her drawers.  RH screamed and bolted out of the WC with his view of Nurse W imprinted in his young mind, if not on his young body!
RH telling history with flair!
Everyone at the meeting was in stitches as he related the story.

In conclusion, his brother, CH, said that he wished he still lived here.

The meeting continued with a special thank you to the volunteers that have maintained the property over the years and a thank you to those who worked on the clean-up day.  R gave special recognition to TT and TA (who were at the meeting) for all their hard work on clean-up day.

After all those praises and thank yous, the Heberle crowd left the meeting.  My mom invited everyone back to the house for coffee and dessert.  Twelve of us spent more than an hour with stories, photos, and time getting to know each other.

All together a very nice evening.