...as I should have known that when things don't go well, running away doesn't always help.
The trip to Catalina was, in many respects, a disaster. I'll explain, but warn all that this may get a little, well, convoluted....
A friend asked me to explain exactly what it was I was "fixing" last time I wrote about a journey to Catalina and, when I was through telling her, thought I should write about it. So that's what I'm doing, though under circumstances less happy than I envisioned.
My trips over to the island have been taken to help a friend fix a pipe organ that was installed in the Avalon Theatre in 1928...
This is, of course, a slightly less remunerative and interesting gig than, say, blacksmithing, building horse-drawn buggies or making incandescent light bulbs and vacuum tubes. It is, at best, a dying profession. But I began learning the tricks of the trade some 33 years ago and have some expertise, as if anyone cares.
This particular pipe organ has roughly 1200 pipes, plus some percussion instruments (xylophone, glockenspiel and the like) playable from its four keyboards and pedal keyboard. The last organ of its type was built in the 1930s, and those of us who work on them do so primarily out of love instead of financial gain.
The spaces (there are two) in which the pipes are installed are far from spacious, as this photo suggests...
The mechanisms that operate the pipes and other sounds are now 81 years old. The leather and felt used in the operating systems are wearing out, and need replacing. This involves working in cramped quarters, in spaces that haven't been thoroughly cleaned since 1928. It also, as I mentioned in a post last year, involves climbing less-than-sturdy ladders to gain access.
So what's the problem? Until now, the contract under which a friend of mine maintains the instrument has called for patching those bits of old hardware that are failing. But we have reached a point where the failures are coming faster than the repairs can cope with, meaning that we need to essentially rebuild the organ completely to make it work properly.
That involves not only the pipe actions themselves, but many other subsidiary parts....
The company that owns the Avalon has indicated some willingness to pay for a full restoration, but nothing has reached the contract stage. My friend who has been doing the servicing (most recently with my assistance) is trying to get them to sign on the dotted line. The alternative is that the organ will soon no longer be usable at all.
This last trip was frustrating. As quickly as we could repair one part of the puzzle, another would fail. The decay of old leather and other parts is outpacing our ability to repair and replace.
Therefore, my friend decided that this was our last "service" trip over there. If we are not given the funds to do the job properly, the organ will simply fail and become an unusable relic.
I couldn't argue.
That has too many parallels with my current situation to be comfortable to think about. I have worked hard, because I believe in what I do, but those I have worked for seem to think I'll always be there, and it doesn't matter if they pay me or not.
After the somewhat frustrating trip over to the island and back, I was "greeted" (if you want to call it that) with even more bad news which, thanks to the publications that have chosen to pay me at their own convenience instead of being up-front with me, I cannot answer.
This is simply getting to be too damn much. If everything is going to cause stress and disappointment, I might as well give up now and avoid the rush.
And, as frosting on the cake, my little camera decided to start turning up its digital toes on this trip. I expect it to fail totally within the next few days. I can't afford to replace it right now, and I will miss it.
Perhaps the last photo I'll be able to take with it was this shot of the sculpture in front of Avalon's snooty Tuna Club, yet another place that will never welcome me within its walls....
Damn. I need something (or someone) to hang on to, Jim.
22 hours ago