Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, and...

...but first, Merry Christmas, courtesy of the good folks in nearby Gloucester (a seafarin' town) who assembled a tree from lobstah traps and floats, plus strategically placed ornaments and lights.

Even the lobstahs get a holiday!

As for the "and" bit:  herewith, an unsolicited testimonial for Richard's Delicious Seasoning, which came to us as a present from JohnO. He's currently Somewhere In Florida, but shipped the tasty stuff before leaving home.

The seasoning is delicious, noticeable but not overwhelming, with a peppery (but pleasant) aftertaste. And is salt- and MSG-free, if that's of interest to you. John advised that it is suitable for "fish or flesh," neither of which he eats. So far, I can only report that it's remarkably tasty when sprinkled on meat. Other uses will no doubt come to mind. Get some; you'll like it.

All presents acquired. All I need to do now is wrap 'em. Which is what I'm off to do.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Favorite Son candidate!

I try to avoid politics here -- and in real life, too -- but there sometimes are exceptions, and today is one of them.

For three years, I have maintained that I would support a lump of month-old road kill if it ran against the current president who, I firmly believe, will take his place among such horrific past "leaders" as Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore, Warren G. Harding*, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter.

While offering my vote to an unidentifiable, decomposing hunk of meat, however, I was actually hoping a candidate would appear who exceeded my pitifully low expectations. One's support for the worst doesn't mean that's what is really wanted. Sadly, that is what we have gotten.

Now, at last, I believe I have found an alternative, already campaigning to win the New Hampshire primary election. That would be Vermin Supreme.

Has kind of a nice ring, doesn't it? President Supreme. Rolls right off the ol' tongue....

Here's Vermin Supreme during a recent "candidate's forum" event in New Hampshire:

Vermin Supreme (l.), and some hack political gink (r.)**

I know what you're thinking: this Supreme dude is a gag, right? Some lunatic joker with more time than sense stirring things up for a cheap laugh.

That, as Maxwell Smart used to say, is what they want you to believe.

In truth, Vermin Supreme is no political novice. He ran in 2008, scoring 41 votes in New Hampshire and, according the the Federal Election Commission, some 43 write-in votes in the general election. He is the Voice of Opposition to incumbents, having run as a Republican in '08, and as a Democrat in '12.

If one judges by his website, he is not concentrating on the major issues. That seems a Good Thing to me, as the entrenched politicians in Washington have messed up virtually every large problem they laid their grubby hands on.

Supreme likes to tell voters  that he is alone among presidential candidates as an organ donor, having offered up one of his kidneys when his mother was ill. We each have two kidneys and need only one, he reminds us; he is in fact a serious champion of organ donation. Compare him to the grasping greedheads he's running against and the contest is already over. Who (especially among politicians) could believably muster up any kind of claim to surpass a man who gave so selflessly?

He is also a champion of dental hygiene and more brutally honest than anyone in American politics, past or present. He says he is perfectly willing to lie as president, for the simple reason that he can. And, in a case of sheer inspiration, he is the only candidate who supports fully funding time-travel research in order to go back and kill Hitler before he was born.

Actually, his website had my full attention the moment I saw a little drawing of a horse -- captioned "Screw World Peace, I Want a Pony" -- on the main page.

Finally, there's the "favorite son" bit: Vermin Supreme makes his home right here in my very own town, not two miles from where I am currently typing. It would do this burg no end of good to bring in the additional tourism generated by locating the "Eastern White House" right here on Cape Ann!

I find it slightly odd that, though Mr Supreme has been mentioned in the local newspaper, I have yet to see a single "Supreme in '12" bumper sticker, yard sign or lapel button anywhere in town.

If, in time, you see someone so equipped, that'll be me. As soon as Mr Supreme makes 'em available, that is. I can even forgive his involvement in the "Occupy Boston" debacle. Other Massachusetts politicos were far more offensive during that mess....

For quite a while, too much attention to politics has made me want to throw up. Thanks to Vermin Supreme, I've been able to smile a bit lately when contemplating the horde of goons, felons and self-anointed royalty infesting D.C. That, in and of itself, is something....

*   Whose real and enduring claim to fame is the coining of the words "normalcy" and "bloviate."

** Photo stolen from the web, via some other blogger who stole it from a legit photographer without giving a credit line.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


One of the Christmas traditions here in Sandy Bay is an "open house" at Tuck's Candy Factory....

Yes, that's World Famous Motif #1©  in the background....
On weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Tuck's invites the public to come into the factory and see how their candies (a wide array of chocolates, hard candies and salt-water taffy, in a bewildering range of flavors) are made. It's all done the old-fashioned labor-intensive way; that's no surprise, as Tuck's has been around since 1929.

The hard candies begin with a large quantity of sugar, cut slightly with water and cream of tartar, heated to 300 degrees in a copper kettle, at which point it has become a syrupy mass. The liquid is poured onto a special table, where it begins to cool...

Somehow, I was reminded of my days working with fiberglass....

From there, the sweet globs are hung from a hook, where they are twisted and pulled to remove air bubbles. Flavoring (peppermint, etc.) is also added at this stage....

The mixture turns white (sort of) as air is forced out

Then the stretched, tugged and flavored sugar paste, still cooling, is taken to yet another table, where it is further pummeled and either rolled into long, thin tubes (for hand-formed candy canes) or stretched flat and cut into discrete strips to be fed into a vintage hand-cranked machine...

Some engineer spent hours -- maybe days! -- designing this candy machine....

It emerges from the fiendish device as ribbon candy, to the delight of the audience....

Will there be free samples???
Other types of candies are produced by machines of similar vintage. The taffy-wrapping device (older than Tuck's!) is worth a separate post and, in time, will get one. But the small-mint cutter is neat, too...

Oddly enough, Tuck's doesn't sell these mini-mints nowadays

I'm not that much of a candy-eater, but enjoyed watching the show and very much enjoyed munching on samples. All that hand-work pays off: I've never tasted better candy! And yes, I put my name in the box for a chance to win the Christmas six-foot chocolate-filled candy cane!

P.S. I'll do the same when Tuck's has a drawing for its giant chocolate rabbit come Easter....

PARENTHETICAL TOO-GOOD-TO-LEAVE-OUT THOUGHT: The local newspaper never disappoints. This little gem comes from Friday's police blotter: "A woman called to report a barking dog on White Way at 12:46 a.m. Wednesday and was referred to the dog officer. According to police, the caller said she had spoken to the dog, but that it had refused to comply with her request that it stop barking."

All I can say is: "Woof...."

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Fa la la la la...

...and so on.

Despite my own Grinchishness, which has traditionally kept all thoughts of the upcoming Non-secular Winter Holiday -- that would be Christmas -- out of my head 'til roughly December 20th, D. and I went down to Sandy Bay's chilly downtown last evening to see annual rituals performed.

First, of course, was the arrival of Ol' Saint Nick, who naturally makes his way into town on a fishing boat, accompanied by the Harbormaster and Coast Guard....

The sleigh and reindeer are probably belowdecks....

After the vessel moored, Santa found getting up on the wharf -- the same wharf on which World-Famous Motif #1© is located -- somewhat problematic, but there's no doubt he just didn't have his land legs yet....

The local reporter for the next town's newspaper claimed Santa would "walk up the ladder...."

After that, he transferred to the Forest Fire Department's truck, a restored classic, for a trip through town....

Not a sleigh, and the reindeer are likely forbidden by law from wandering around downtown.
After cheering on Santa, the throng -- far larger than a crowd, almost a multitude -- were enthusiastic as one of the Selectmen (actually, it was the Chairpersoness of the Selectpeople) lit the town Christmas tree.

Then they went home....

Sandy Bay is thoroughly modern...we have electricity!
Cold, even chilly, but festive!

Ho, ho, ho....

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Museum Expands... fact, it has doubled in size!

A couple of days ago, D. and I were out doing errands and decided to stop at a local thrift store to check out the merchandise.

I don't recall us actually buying anything there before now, as they never have bookcases, their selection of books doesn't match either the Transfer Station's "Book Barn" or the library sales, and the rest of what they carry tends to be standard thrift-store fare, which is stuff I don't want/need.

But on this trip, one item called out to me. Its calls were amplified by a $5.00 pricetag. I didn't haggle; I bought.

I wonder if everyone recognizes this....
This is my second Smith-Corona typewriter. I started with my parents' ancient Underwood, graduated to the S-C, and ended up with a Remington-Rand electric before joining the Computer Age back in 1987.

A little cleaning and a replacement ribbon (I hope someone still makes typewriter ribbons) and it will be just fine. Everything works as-is.

Now that I have this, all I need to survive the Apocalypse would be a Linotype machine and a printing press....

Don't think I'm kidding -- I would love to have both!

Along with a 4 X 5 Speed Graphic "press" camera (with bulb flash) and a fedora, naturally.

PARENTHETICAL JUST-IN-CASE-YOU'VE-FORGOTTEN THOUGHT: The other half of my Typewriter Museum was introduced here....

Friday, November 04, 2011

Why I Feel Old, reason #271,658.

One of the little things I've taken on to bring in a little loot -- and to keep myself in at least a small corner of a world I enjoy -- is service work on a small pipe organ in a local church.

I've worked on a number of pipe organs over the last 45 or so years, some large, some small, in churches, homes and auditoriums. Most were built between roughly 1920 and 1930. Like any aging machinery, they can be touchy beasts, but are usually repairable with applications of leather, felt and glue. Plus, at times, short lengths of wire and/or pieces of wood. Simple skills are required, really, not much beyond trained-monkey status, even when you get to tuning and fine adjustments to the way the pipes sound.

This one seems likely to be more cantankerous than most.

This is what it looked like in mid-1920, when first installed.
To tell the truth, it looks about the same today. In fact, if all the parts behind the pipe facade (more pipes, plus the various mechanical devices that operate them) were as-installed, I'd find coping with its foibles rather pleasant.

Unfortunately, someone decided to "improve" it about 20 years ago, and added some medium-tech solid-state hardware to operate some of its controls. Therein lies my frustration.

PARENTHETICAL NOT-AS-MUCH-OF-A-GEEZER-AS-YOU-THINK THOUGHT: I really do appreciate a lot of modern stuff. I can use a computer (I guess that's obvious) and enjoy switching on a TV and not having to wait for the vacuum tubes to warm up. Listening to CDs without winding a record player seems kinda cool, too. And I'm very aware of -- and comfortable with -- the fact that movies talk now....

But said solid-state hardware wasn't working. The organist doesn't even remember when it did work, but wants it to. So I went in* and looked at the maze of circuit boards and tangles of added wire. Since no smoke came out when the power was turned on, I assumed that the wiring really was as poorly done as it appears to be.

Even with this dim spark of knowledge, it too me several hours of tracing and tightening connections and touching-up solder joints before it actually worked. I'm not celebrating yet; a few weeks ago (without any connection-tightening), the system came to life on its own...for about five minutes. Then it went dead again. But it has now worked for roughly an hour.

Most of it has, anyway. I'll go back tomorrow to chase down a related problem. I am, however, feeling more confident after having gotten the major part of the system going.

I mention this not to display my ignorance of transistorized things, but to draw a contrast between original and improved. When I started working on these things, all the 1920s (and older) technology was maintained, not thrown away in favor of new stuff. When a system failed, it was a matter mostly of looking at it to make a diagnosis (leather wore out, wire contacts sometimes bent or broke, felt-covered valves would wear to the point where they wouldn't work and gaskets would eventually leak air), then making the necessary repairs. No circuit-testing devices or user's manuals were required. In contrast, most of the people who work on these things today will automatically throw out old controls and replace them with solid-state electronics because that makes things better (in their view).

All well and good, but when the new systems fail, they fail completely.  The old stuff? Failures tended to be isolated, and the organist could play around them.

Had this particular organ (a moderately priced instrument built in Boston by a relatively unknown builder**) retained all its original parts, the repairs would not have taken many hours spread over several days. They would have been completed in a day. And the repairs would likely last 50 years or more. As it is, I'm reluctant to even call the organist and advise her of the current repairs, as I'm not 100% certain they'll be working on Sunday.

I love doing most of this stuff, and have done a lot of free work over the years. I'm charging for this, but not as much as a professional pipe-organ tech would. Figured on a per-hour rate, I'd make just as much lying on the couch at home reading, I think.

At least I'm nearing the end of the solid-state mess. If repairs are completed tomorrow, I can go on to address some of the other problems behind that facade. That's the fun part, if you ask me, the wood-and-leather-and-felt stuff. I know how to do that.

This work will go on for some time. The list of things needing attention is long. Once I get through the really annoying problems and get the organ in fine playing shape, I'm seriously tempted to go into D.'s workshop and craft replicas of the original parts the "improver" threw away. They'll be made of wood, leather and felt. And they will likely outlast me.

I'm not going into a Good Old Days Were Better rap here, but I do wish a few more products of the past were being preserved. They had character missing from our injection-molded, computer-controlled age and could be repaired by normal humans using basic tools. For what it's worth, in the case of pipe organs, they tended to sound better, too.

End of story. I can hear the sound of readers' eyes glazing over....

Getting "in" means removing a couple of wooden panels on the case (to the left of the keyboards) and crawling into a cramped space, taking along a work light and whatever tools might be needed. It's neither clean nor comfortable -- a lot of old-time organ mechanics I knew were built more like Billy Barty than Kobe Bryant -- but over the years I've gotten used to tight quarters when doing organ work. Good thing I'm not claustrophobic!

** If anyone cares (and I don't know why they should), this instrument was built by the Kimball & Frazee company. People who know about organs will perk up their ears when one says "Boston organ builder," since they will assume that the organ came from the E.M. Skinner company, which built some of the world's most magnificent organs. Say "Kimball & Frazee," and the response is sure to be "who?"

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Distracted again... members of Sandy Bay's cat population.

Suspicious? Me?
The town has lots of felines slinking around, though most seem to prefer being indoors. Can't say as I blame them, as the weather is turning cool. It's a good time for them to be indoors looking out....

Some even have their own spaces for loafing, playing, sleeping and generally ignoring whatever they want to ignore. That's obviously tiring work....

Every cat needs a picture window.

PARENTHETICAL EQUAL-TIME-BECAUSE-I'M-AN-EQUAL-TIME-KINDA-GUY NOTE: Naturally, there are plenty of dogs here as well. Most are friendly, a few are standoffish, and fewer still are downright annoying. I've seldom felt much interest in photographing them, preferring cats as subjects -- and companions. There are exceptions!

The latest in canine fall fashions.

No, I have not forgotten to post a few more New Hampshuh pictures. Any day now....

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oh, what a tangled web...

...and so on. I'm not that hot for quotations. Unless I'm quoting myself, which is fine.

Not really so tangled, I guess....
It would appear that we have some fairly hefty spiders in the neighborhood, no?

Saw the web earlier today when we took a walk to the waterfront to see what conditions were like, fog-wise. It was foggy, all right. Humid, too. And rain began to fall just as we were getting home. Summed up, a nice Fall day.

Things were quiet on the water....

I have to say I've been waiting for the Ocean Reporter to sink ever since I arrived in Sandy Bay. It's such a disreputable-looking tub. But even if the owner cobbled it together out of materials discarded at area boatyards, scraps from the Transfer Station and pieces that have fallen off cars, trucks and other boats, I'm told it is a sturdy beast capable of enduring lots of abuse and bad weather without taking a drop of water through its plates.

I'm still planning to post a few more New Hampshuh photos, but was distracted by shooting in the fog today. I love fog, and some day I'll even make a picture that shows it off to best advantage. Didn't today, though.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall Colors.

The color change from summer green to fall yellow, orange, red, etc. seems to be a Rather Big Deal in this part of the world, and a slight mystery to me, who spent the majority of my life in places where foliage went directly from green to brown to bare-branch with little or no transition.

This meant that a trip to New Hampshuh was necessary, so D., her mother and daughter and I piled into the car for a northward run. It was a delightful two days.

Of course one of the first lessons a photographer learns is that neat things don't always become neat pictures. Vivid flora abounded, but wasn't necessarily arranged so that it made for good images. I managed, but it took time and a lot of shooting....

Naturally, there was much more to see than a bunch of trees and plants changing hues. We also went up the Mount Washington Auto Road, billed as the "oldest man-made attraction in America," which is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. A nit-picker -- that would be me -- might point out that it could not have been known as an "auto road" for most of its first half-century, as there were no automobiles in 1861. But never mind that.

We ascended to the summit. Not, alas, with me behind the wheel. Now that I think of it, that might have been a Good Thing, as I have the impression that D. has never seen herself riding with me at 165 mph on the track at Daytona; nor has she likely longed to be in the passenger's seat cruising along at 185 mph on a German Autobahn. The more sedate guided van tour was chosen, and if she was picking up my thoughts as I checked out the road during the trip ("accelerate hard now...heavy on the brakes...downshift...start turning...clip the apex of the corner here...accelerate...") she didn't exactly refuse when I insisted I will drive next time we're visiting Mount Washington.

The climb is amazingly rapid, going from ground level through forest -- yes, more Fall Colors -- and ending up at the summit, well above the tree line. Though the weather was fine while we were there, it can be dramatically different -- often worse -- on top than what's encountered at the base. Apparently, the weather station at the peak recorded a wind speed of 231 mph on a blustery day back in the 1930s....

It's a beautiful place, with plenty to see both on the road and at the peak, but somehow photos don't really get the point across.

There are three ways to climb the mountain: road, hiking trails, and the cog railway. You can see road and railway in the above photo....

Speaking of railroads, we stayed in North Conway, which is also the home of the North Conway Scenic Railroad. Conditions permitting, I would have opted for an extra day or two just to check out the trips offered and take a leisurely look at the wonderful collection of classic locomotives, railcars and general memorabilia gathered there.

This too was a natural for taking photos, and I did, coming away with many, many photos; I have too many to choose from! So instead of showing them (yet, anyway), here's a peek inside the beautifully restored station:

I haven't sorted all the trip photos yet (there were more than 180 from our two days, plus those D. took), and frankly I'm a bit under the weather (and therefore not overly energetic) today. I think I've got a bit of a cold. Or it might just be my normal allergic reaction to yuppie tourists, who filled the sidewalks of North Conway and its curio, trinket and bauble shops.

Even if it hadn't been as great a trip as it was, the excursion definitely got my travel-juices flowing again. Just think: a little more driving and we might have added Berlin or Lebanon to our agenda!

PARENTHETICAL MULTI-COLORED THOUGHT: yes: we're getting Fall Colors here as well, but D. thinks they are nowhere near as vivid as they were in New Hampshuh. Based on limited experience, I can only agree.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wings of Freedom

I was sitting in my office Sunday morning when I thought I heard a four-engine aircraft flying overhead. We occasionally see and hear planes from Logan Airport here, but this was a propeller plane, not a jet. I asked D. whether any local fields housed such craft, and she directed me to check into Beverly Airport. Their website listed the "Wings of Freedom" traveling air show, and Sunday was the last full day.

Among the planes listed for display and tours was a Boeing B-17. This has special significance to D.'s mother, whose brother, Sergeant Hugh Jennings, was killed in 1942 when the B-17 he was riding in crashed on a training flight in Idaho. She wanted to see this one, and so did D. So did I. It was a beautiful day to be outdoors; making the choice between working and heading over to Beverly was easy.

There was a large crowd on hand to see the B-17 "Flying Fortress" and B-24 "Liberator" heavy bombers, P-51 Mustang and Vought F-4U Corsair fighters and T-6 and Stearman (biplane) pilot trainers. Flights were offered (at budget-busting rates) as well as the inexpensive tours inside the B-17 and B-24. We opted to join the long line for the B-17 walk-through.

"Walk-through" is something of a misnomer. Space is at a premium inside these warbirds; most of their bulk is filled with hardware. It was impossible to spend any time inside without thinking of what the crews of these planes experienced under combat conditions. Taking a moment to steady oneself and look around was not an option for those brave men.

Time and the mass of people worked against getting good photography, particularly of the planes' exteriors. Those shots I liked ended up being of details, with people cropped out.

One of the B-17's four Wright "Cyclone" engines

The bombardier and nose gunner's bay

Bombardier's position from outside, with nose gun turret below

The last photo struck me as having a bit of WWII-vintage LIFE magazine feel when converted to black & white.

I know where the B-17 and B-24 are kept when not being sent off to air shows. Their "home" field will be having an event in October, and D. and I are considering heading over for that. There are several other noteworthy aircraft in the collection there, as well as some significant cars.

Just can't get enough of these. I've been fortunate to have seen B-17s and B-24s in flight -- the number of survivors in flying condition is pitifully small, so such opportunities are rare -- and am always ready for more. I'm ready to take many more photos, too.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Can you tell which of these lamps cost me $19.95 last week at Home Depot and which was free yesterday at the Transfer Station (dump, to you)?

Designer lamps...oooh, shiny!

I didn't think so.

Actually, I can tell the difference: the Home Depot lamp has a clear power cord, while the freebie's cord is black. Also, I had to assemble the Home Depot lamp.

Neat, huh?

In real life -- as opposed to artificially posing for the camera -- they stand in opposite corners of the Nerve Center. I suppose I don't need both, but I like having them and, when we find a comfy chair for D. to use for reading or just being in the room with me, we'll each have a light to use.

I have no idea where we'll get the chair. Might be at a furniture store, or it might be at one of the resale shops around here.

Or it might be at the Transfer Station.

I love this place!

PARENTHETICAL FRESH-TRICKS-NOT-LEARNABLE-BY-ELDERLY-POOCHES THOUGHT: I had a lamp exactly like this one in the last place Where I Used to Live. Thought it was cool then, and still think so. I'm attracted to design-y stuff, even when it's cheap. Especially when it's cheap. Got it at Home Depot, too. For $19.95. It's probably in some stranger's low-rent pad now....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Changing the subject...

...from what I originally intended to write. I planned to put up a post about our attendance at this week's Town Meeting here, as the governing system seems to have been devised by the settlers who came off the Mayflower. I thought it'd be quaint.

I blame Horatio Alger for this. Some of the stories in his boys' books mentioned town selectmen, most often as a dour, Puritanical and steady bunch. Our selectmen -- there are three women on the board, but they are also selectmen -- don't quite fit the bill, Alger-wise.

But the Town Meeting, held twice a year, is at least a place where the citizens come together to vote on the town's major issues, and that is a welcome change from the elect-'em-and-forget-'em mentality of many cities which, at least where I lived, led to corruption, atrocious debt, and a lot of just plain nonsense. Here, about two percent of the population showed up, and the discussions and voting made for a lively (and long) evening.

Still, I deleted two attempts to write in detail, because there was a fair amount of lunacy involved at times, and at more than one point the whole thing started to smell of politics. Politics -- even small-time politics -- interests me, but also angers me, so I decided not to go there by subjecting you to a full (boring) description.

Let's just say that, whether through an outbreak of common sense or just plain luck, a couple of issues I cared about as a local voter were handled properly.


Didn't they appear on "America's Got Talent" a couple of seasons ago?

I herewith present The Garden Report:

We had decidedly mixed results with our efforts to grow foodstuffs this year. We planted tomatoes -- a can't-fail crop -- along with broccoli, carrots, cantaloupes, cucumbers and pumpkins.

First, the total failures, broccoli and cantaloupes. The broccoli grew nicely, but didn't, well, broccolize. Nice plants, but nothing remotely edible. We got cantaloupes, but they were tiny and grew so slowly that we knew they'd never mature, and the bugs got at 'em.

Carrots were no great success either. They grew, but not much, and when we finally yanked them out we managed, by very careful slicing, to get enough for D. and me to enjoy  them in one dinner salad. One. Out of the whole season. Pfui.

Cucumbers did better. We got several, and one or two more might be edible before the season sputters to a close. Tomatoes also grew, but we tried two varieties (li'l bitty ones and huge-O Atomic Tomatoes) and, thanks to the bees spreading pollen around haphazardly (we think), ended up with a lot of mutant fruits. Some never ripened.

Our First Tomato -- each of us got one yummy bite....

Let it be said that the cucumbers and tomatoes were delicious, as good as I've ever eaten. We used both in a number of salads through the summer, and made tomato sandwiches with the monstro 'matoes. My disgust with store-bought fruits and veggies will no doubt increase to exceptional levels through the winter.

Roll on next Spring, when we'll try it again, taking certain steps -- starting the growing season sooner, separating tomato varieties, possibly choosing different crops, and so on -- to improve the product.

And the pumpkin? The jury is still out. We have one, not as large as expected, but turning a nice pumpkin-y color. We have hopes it will be ready for Hallowe'en, but that's more than a month away and no one is certain it'll actually make it.

Much more interesting (and non-controversial) than the Board of Selectmen and the Town Meeting!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Breaking News -- World Headquarters Now Open!

Yes, with the hanging of some art on the walls, my plush office suite is now complete! Well, except for another bookcase or two, a chair for D., a floor lamp, and other trivial items....

But the Big Stuff is in place: Walls, flooring -- nice heavy-duty tile* -- and all the other must-have items.

Take a look:

The Control Center

The panther on the wall is one of the animals D. created for a local church's float in the Sandy Bay Fourth of July parade. Another, an okapi, is on the wall of her workshop. They were too cool to dispose of when the float was dismantled.

Otherwise, it's the usual stuff: A desk (built from a dining table someone discarded at the dump) holds computer and printer. There are bookcases on the left wall, and another will go against the right wall. The chair is pushed to the side so's you can see the floor tile (installed mainly by D., like everything else from floor joists to wall studs, drywall and ceiling tiles). Looks quite nice with the Castle Path walls, no?

The side wall

Here, you can see bookcases, a utility cabinet, my keyboard (a gift from JohnO) and the "art" we hung on the walls, namely six of my favorite prints from the "shoes-on-a-wire" photo series I made back in 2006-08. Makes the room feel more comfortable.

The other two walls are still bare, but we have some potential decoration for them as well. I have a very neat photo D. took, plus a painting done years ago by a family friend. One or two other photos and a piece of sheet music from the 1920s may get framed and hung as well. So -- since it's my office -- might my autographed photo of Russ Meyer.

I love my office. Not just because it's a relaxing place to work, but -- this is much more important -- because D. put so much work into it. Can't really adequately express my appreciation for that!

* Ironically, the stuff that looked best was down in the low-price stacks at Lowe's (or was it Home Depot?). The fancier the tile, the less it fit in to the Grand Scheme....

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Schooner or later*

Today was the Parade of Ships at Gloucester, part of the big Schooner Festival. D. and I went, arriving early so as not to miss the flotilla in action.


Sadly, the weather was not lovely: Overcast skies and and a high-humidity opacity to the air made photography problematic. I shot 99 photos -- D. took something like 120 -- and very few pleased me.

But the ships were great.

That's the old Tarr & Wonson Paint Factory (a local landmark) on the opposite shore left
The best of my pictures responded to the black & white treatment. I like this one, as it doesn't really look so much like 2011.

But the organizers put a bit of a damper on the picture-taking fun by not banning powerboats while the schooners were sailing around the bay. I deleted a lot of images simply because, for me, seeing those modern fiberglass lumps amid the sailing craft just felt wrong.

Yes, I did have little mental flashes of zipping through the ships with a WWII PT boat, all three big Packard V12 engines at full cry, but that's just me. Can't afford a PT boat anyway. And torpedoes are too expensive to fire off just for laughs....

A very enjoyable Sunday morning. I got to see -- and photograph -- some neat ships, came back with a handful of good photos, and D. came back with some better shots, one of which can only be called capital-A Art.

* Those who also read D.'s blog will notice she used the same title. I howled in outrageous outrage when I saw it, whining that I was going to use that title. It's a case of great minds thinking alike, as both of us left the event thinking of using it. Hmpf....

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Just My Type

D. and I hit a couple of yard sales around here this morning. There was nothing specific on the "look-for" list (although I was, as always, hot for books and bookcases, which weren't on sale today), but it was a lovely morning and a bit of wandering seemed like a great idea.

One of the sales was, well, interesting. It was an everything-must-go "estate sale," which meant we could wander through a house filled to the gunwales with knick-knacks and objects of all kinds, plus three or four well-fed kittycats lurking to see what all the fuss was about.

And I bought something:

Initially, I mistook it for a label-maker

It's a Simplex Typewriter, Model 1, vintage 1892 (so one info source says), nestled in its original box. It would be difficult to imagine a simpler device: the operator inks a little pad below the "keys," turns the type-wheel to the desired letter and pushes the lever next to the wheel. The wheel moves automatically, and there's a latch that allows it to return at the end of each line.

By modern standards -- even then-current standards -- it's pretty basic. A standard sheet of paper won't fit, and the stop-and-add-ink routine would get tiring in a hurry.

I look at it as a kind of primitive Blackberry on which people of that day could tap out their "text messages."

Later versions, it is said, added lower-case letters. In any event, the Simplex Typewriter was gone by the early 1920s or thereabouts. They were produced in huge quantities, and apparently many survive.

So why did I buy it? It's neat and I like it, that's why. Also, the seller initially named a price that was roughly the sum I would have offered, and reduced it quickly when I hesitated. Without haggling, I thought it a good deal.

And I like toys.

Besides, one cannot be a writer without owning a typewriter. I will from now on mention the little Simplex to anyone who questions my bona fides as a writer....

Friday, September 02, 2011


Have I ever mentioned how much I love books?

Didn't think so....

One of the saddest aspects of my forced move from Where I Used to Live was the loss of my library. I managed to grab a few tomes during the hectic and unhappy evacuation but, as I later found out when the great friend who stored them for me shipped them to Sandy Bay, a number of prized books were still lost.

On the bright side, I have begun to replace them. I bought a few while in Texas, mostly minor works high in amusement value. That helped, and I almost needed a small bookcase when I settled in here.

Things are looking up. I'm discovering that this area is a treasure trove for fine books, and the sources are most unlikely: one is the Transfer Station (dump, to you), which has a small building in which are displayed books people would otherwise throw away. I've found some excellent books there; for space reasons, I've even left some behind that I would otherwise have glommed because they weren't either books I wanted to replace or books I really wanted to read.. I've taken a few idle-reading novels that might end up back there, however.

Likewise, the local supermarket has a table set up by the Animal Aid Society where one can grab whatever's there and leave a small donation. Good source, but inconsistent.

The other major suppliers have been a thrift store, a church's annual sale (not just books there, but all kinds of goodies) and the library's book sale.

Between them, I've scored pretty well, replacing lost books either directly (in one instance, a superb two-volume biography of Theodore Roosevelt, Volume One got lost and was replaced at the church sale) or with others covering the same subject matter.

It's what you might call "a start...."

Oh, I have a long way to go, and will soon be consulting my online sources for some books I want/need. A few will soak up the spondulix -- I'm not ready to shell out 500 scoots for a two-volume work I'm desperate to own -- but some appear to be far less expensive than I feared.

Next: records (I lost all those, too). A start has already been made, thanks to the transfer station (D. found a copy of the original disc of Songs by Tom Lehrer there!), and there's a record store in the next town that is crammed to the rafters with good/odd/downright weird records. We've grabbed a couple there, and will soon head back for more.

This all may take a long time, but I'm no longer so antsy about Instant Gratification. Besides, in my new and somewhat busier lifestyle, I'm not able to devote countless hours to reading as I used to, and already have a backlog of interesting stuff to peruse.

PARENTHETICAL IT'S-DEEPLY-WEIRD-OUT-HERE NOTE: I present, without comment, an unedited copy of a news item that appeared yesterday in the local paper under the headline "Police find no injuries, damage in Bridge Street mishap: MANCHESTER -- A resident who backed his car into a bush on his Bridge Street property called Manchester Police to report the accident Wednesday at 6:50 a.m. According to the police log, however, officers found no injuries, and the vehicle wasn't damaged."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nature's fury, unleashed...

...aided, of course, by a long, long lens on the camera, which "compresses" the image and makes the waves look even bigger than they were....

A beach scene not far from Sandy Bay

All the best TV reporters know how to set up shots like this, as everyone who has been watching the news during the past few days will know.

As a matter of record, there was little damage around here, even though we did get some fairly brisk winds. One of our tomato plants took it on whatever passes for the chin on a tomato plant, a few local dead tree branches broke off, and there's lots of leafy debris around. The ground is pretty well saturated, too.

Tomorrow, it is said, will be sunny.

I'm secretly glad that Irene thing didn't cause more destruction, and am more than amused -- admittedly, in some cases, somewhat disgusted -- by official responses to the storm's threat, but remain a bit sad that my very first East Coast Hurricane turned out to be something of a dud.

We won't need to buy any more drinking water for a day or two, that's for sure....

Ah, well, back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow. Must push to find more work, the organist who plays the pipe organ I've been messing with apparently has a short list of things she wants fixed, and this would of course be a nice week for the check owed me for my last writing job to appear.

But tomorrow will be sunny. I like that.

Surveying the carnage...

...caused by Whatevertheheckitis Irene.

There are twigs down everywhere, and some street flooding as deep as an eighth-inch. What with the wind and rain, I'm told it's kinda like experiencing a Nor'easter, but without the bad storm parts.

Ghouls that we are, D. and I went into town this morning to see what was still standing. Couldn't find the Swath of Destruction, alas, but both of us aimed our cameras at the same spot....

Still vigilant, Mango surveys storm damage today at Bearskin Neck

The TV people say the worst is yet to come for this area -- maybe, unless it doesn't happen -- but we keep on keepin' on. If Mango can take it, so can we!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Waiting for...

...Hurricane Irene?

Tropical Storm Irene?

Heavy Drizzle Irene?

According to everyone, if by "everyone" you mean  meteorological experts like the current president and the anchors and reporters on the TV networks' news teams, this could be -- apparently must be -- a four-alarm disaster of a "historic" storm, hell-bent on bringing Doom to the East Coast. We here in Sandy Bay are within a hundred or so miles (or two hundred or so miles, depending on who's talking) of the Dreaded Storm Track.


Problem is, Irene is doing what hurricanes do, changing course and weakening as it crosses either land or cold water. The projected wind speeds and rainfall totals for our area have been gradually cut back over the last couple of days.

Even so, the TV is filled with Tracking Irene!!! and Hurricane Watch!!! stories. They can't loosen their grip on the Death & Destruction story any more than can Mayor Mike "the sky is falling!" Bloomberg. Part of that is CYA, of course, presented just in case the floodwaters are tinted red with blood and entire cities are leveled, but a lot more has to do with reporters' love for the dramatic ("if it bleeds, it leads") and Bloomberg's knee-jerk nanny-ism.

We are Prepared! We've put extensions on the rain gutter drains, bought an extra two gallons of drinking water at the market and are breathlessly awaiting every Breaking News flash on TV.

Well, not the latter....

It's pretty clear that people in this area are taking the whole thing pretty calmly. Not that nothing is being done; oh, no. It's just that the preparations to welcome the remains of the Hurricane from Hell are rather low-key here. Just the way I like it.

Mango, exemplifying the pre-hurricane panic this morning down on Bearskin Neck

Just between us, I'll admit I was hoping for a little more Weather Action from this Irene thing. I've been through earthquakes, of course, and got a few chuckles out of the way Easterners were freaked out by last week's li'l shaker. But I've never seen a hurricane, and would like to have peeped out at least the edge of an active one.

That said, when there's a choice between me being bored and people being hurt, I'll take boredom every time.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New toy!

Yes, I have one.

Before I write about it, let me say things have been busy here: work (completed; now awaiting a token of appreciation -- that would be a check -- from the client), payment received for the last article I wrote and first round of pipe-organ work, some running around and general Good Times.

To celebrate, I invested some of the spondulix that have flowed in -- well, dribbled in -- on a new camera.

PARENTHETICAL YA-GOTTA-TAKE-A-CHANCE-WHEN-YA-CAN THOUGHT: It's actually a "refurbished" unit direct from the manufacturer. The same thing worked out fine with my last computer purchase some years ago, which happens to be the computer I still use, and saved me a whole buncha loot. You hope they fixed what was wrong with it the first time, but if they did you get a piece of good equipment for substantially less than the "new" price. I could not have afforded this one any other way

It's far from The Ultimate, mainly because my bank account isn't up to Ultimate-type stuff. But it's an upscale example of its type. A Canon (which I prefer), with an optical viewfinder, plenty of sensible adjustments hidden among the gimmicks (I'm still getting used to which is which, which will take a while), 12.1 megapixel resolution and a 20X zoom lens. Like every other Canon lens I've ever had, this one is tack-sharp.

The camera also has "image stabilization" and can shoot at elevated ASA/ISO settings, which means it's usable in low light without a tripod. If a 'pod is handy, that's better, naturally.

Here's a photo I snapped last night....

Annisquam River, Gloucester, MA

Yes, it's "grainy" -- shooting at ISO 800 will do that -- but I happen to like the effect.

This has me kinda fired up about taking photos again. It's much the same way I felt when D. sent me a camera to replace the trusty digi (also a Canon) that died at about Age Six.

When I get some good ones, I'll be posting 'em.

Other stuff, too.

But right now, I have a hurricane to track. That evil "Irene" is said to be headed our way and, depending on whom you happen to believe, will bring Vast Devastation, A Major Catastrophe, or maybe some high wind gusts and an inch or two of rain.

No matter what, might be an opportunity to grab some interesting photos!

Or not.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Busy times around here...

...but it hasn't all been work.

PARENTHETICAL A-LOT-OF-IT-ACTUALLY-HAS-BEEN-WORK THOUGHT: D. has had lots of piano clients sending in jobs lately, some of which I've been able to help a bit with. That has eaten up a lot of time. So has chasing down an errant check for an article recently completed, and starting in on yet another piece for the same client. Another addition has been doing some pipe-organ service for a local church. It's been a while since I've done much of that, but a hasty repair -- which saw D. and me toiling down there at 11:00 one recent Saturday night to get the poor old thing ready for a Sunday service -- was followed by a request for some more ambitious renovation which was completed last week. More seems sure to come. Won't make me rich (so far, nothing has, doggone it), but it's work I enjoy and D. likes to help with it, which she does very skillfully.

What was I going to write about before I so rudely interrupted myself? Oh, yeah: it hasn't all been work, and yesterday saw us heading off -- with D's mother and daughter -- to the semi-wilds of New Hampshire for a day at an amusement park.

Canobie Lake Park has been in operation since 1902. Of course its operators have taken note of all the major competitors, so now it's a kind of junior-grade Disneyland, with dashes of Knott's Berry Farm, Universal's whatever-they-call-it, Six Flags and all the rest. But Canobie Lake comes off rather nicely by comparison, not because it has any rides that deviate from standard fare (they don't), or because much of the original has survived (the carousel is old, and a couple of repurposed buildings date back to the 1930s or 40s), but because it all somehow seems more human and, well, friendly.

The rides we went on were fun, but equally enjoyable for me was just looking which, as usual, meant snapping a few photos:

One of several roller coasters at Canobie Lake
This one's called "Da Vinci's Dream," and I'm hoping ol' Leo had a fairly strong stomach if he dreamed of riding this....

One of my favorite styles of architecture: no need for a sign to tell you what's sold here!
Ditto for this structure. Didn't seem to be doing much business, though....
Somehow, it seemed as if the people who designed the park had a good time imagining what was to go in and what it was to look like. A vast majority of the customers seemed to be enjoying the place, too. The water-park sections (and a ride called "the Boston Tea Party," which anywhere else would have been the usual kind of log-in-a-flume ride but was given a local historical theme here) were quite popular, since almost everyone loves a good soaking on a hot day.

Me? I'm ready to go back again, ready to ride more rides and take more pictures. For my taste, Canobie Lake is right up there with Castle Park (in Riverside County, California) as an amusement park I consider worth going to. Part of that was the company, of course, but these two places lack the soulless and calculated feel of the major parks. It's like choosing a particularly well-stocked, competitively priced and clean mom-and-pop store over Wal-Mart.

But enough of this "amusement" stuff. Work calls....

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Bad, bad me... I just haven't been in the mood to write much here.

It's not as though nothing's happening. I've kept relatively busy helping D. with her work, doing this and that around the house, painting my Deluxe Office -- I'll be moving the computer, my books, and assorted stuff down there soon -- and, on occasion, heading out for small adventures.

Today, D. took me to a state park near Newburyport. It's a former estate covering considerable acreage along the Merrimack River. We covered a fair distance on its trails and paths, and had a good time. The weather was glorious, if a wee bit too windy. D. has been there countless times, and there's no doubt we'll be heading back there again soon. It's that kind of place.

Sadly, the photo-muse wasn't biting today, or my camera wasn't working well, or both. The pictures really didn't turn out as intended. I'll do better -- or at least spend more time getting the photos right -- next time.

This photo I'll share. Apparently someone took their dog to the park regularly, which it enjoyed. It has since headed off for Doggie Heaven, and its owners created a little memorial for it, which neither the park rangers nor other visitors have bothered....

"Valentino" had good taste in places to play. When I manage to get some good images, or at least fiddle the ones I have so they look more like I want them to, I'll put 'em up.

All else is the usual Good Stuff. Busy times....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why I love this place -- Reason # 12,387

I received a package in the mail today, one of several coming from a close personal and professional friend back Where I Used to Live. He stored some of my books, recordings and other items rendered homeless at the time of the Great Exodus last year. Now, they are ready to be reunited with me. After all, I can store the books in my new Deluxe Office, now nearing completion....

Which only peripherally has to do with today's "why I love it here" moment.

After doing some inside work this morning, I decided to enjoy the sunny -- if slightly humid -- outdoors for a few minutes. I had walked down to the end of the block and partway down Main Street when the mail carrier drove up and stopped. She said "I have a package for you, and you have to sign for's the card, sign here and here, and I'll drop it off up at the house when I get there."

Imagine that. I've been here a shade less than two months, and the mail carrier knows me, knows my name, knows where I live.... Anyone who has lived the majority of their life in big, anonymous and relatively soulless places where one is lucky to learn a few names in their immediate vicinity -- and Los Angeles is sure as hell one of those -- will understand why I find this wonderful.

They DO???

Oh, I've been learning names, too. Among them are Tim, Tom (the town's former police chief, by the way), Mary and Elizabeth and John, Arnold, Pete, Bill and Andi, Bruce, Bruce, and Dora and Eli. The latter two are dogs....

Now, all I have to do is learn the mail carrier's name.

This small-town living takes some work, Jim.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Dilemma....

Three things happened today.

This morning, D. transplanted the veggies to our planter "boxes." Then, I mowed the lawn.

This afternoon, we drove up to Merrimac to the car show at Skip's. It was great. Weather was fine, and the selection of cars was just what I'd hoped: local rides, not all in "show" condition, but most well worth looking at. Also, good burgers, fries, and ice cream.

For me, a big change from the usual car-show fare. Didn't have to wear a blue blazer with a "judge" badge on the lapel, wasn't recognized, didn't have to pontificate on the relative merits of, say, Ferrari 250s versus Ferrari 275s, or why the Duesenberg SJ was superior to the J. In short, I got to play spectator, and I really enjoyed it. There were one or two cars I would have loved to drag back to Sandy Bay, too.

D. had a good time as well, took some neat photos, and decided she wants a '56 Ford Thunderbird. Could happen, you know, right around the time I can afford one or more of the cars I'd like to have.... At least a vintage T-Bird is something I could service myself.

Oh, yeah. The dilemma: Should I post a photo I took this morning, or one of the shots from the car show? I'll just do the Larry the Cable Guy* routine, and "Git 'er done!" by posting one of each.

The cucumbers and pumpkins get their first visitor!

I want this! Also, the Studebaker behind it. The T-Bird behind that is D.'s favorite.

I have as much use for a tractor as I do for a jet-ski or one of those three-wheeled "motorcycles." But I think classic tractors look very cool.... Might have been a real drag to drive home, though!

* Yes, we've been watching America With Larry the Cable Guy on The History Channel every week, and I'm addicted. The guy is funny, earthy, unaffected, totally devoid of self-consciousness and seems to be having a great time popping into odd places and doing odd things. In fact his stint with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders was the funniest thing I've seen on TV in ages. Best of all, the people he visits seems to be having a great time, too. I recommend the show unreservedly.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Man of the Soil -- Still!

Yes, D. and I went down to the dump this morning and loaded up on nice, rich, odoriferous dirt...four loads in the bed of her Toyota pickup.

Transported home, it filled the two vegetable boxes quite nicely. All that remains -- and I will watch, but not let my brown thumb gets too near growing stuff, lest the inevitable happens and we are condemned to subsist on store-bought tomatoes all year -- is to stick them little plant-things in their new, vitamin-enriched home and get ready to gobble some home-grown food!

Have to say the process of dirt-scooping at the Transfer Station and unscooping at home was a bit rough on my arms. I could blame the extra weight of the wet soil, but D. did more than her share of shoveling, and I haven't heard her complain. More likely I'm just woefully out of shape after a sedentary few years.

But, hey, I'm a writer...I'm supposed to know how to shovel dirt and, well, manure....

Buffy the Buffalo's friend...Lucy* the Llama!
Tomorrow afternoon is the car show in Merrimac. I'm in the mood for a nice drive through the countryside, and not at all opposed to the idea of scarfing another burger at Skip's. It will also be fun to see what cars the locals bring out to show off. At worst, it will be much more fun than watching the pompous wealthy deigning to show their mega-dollar cars to the proles as I have so often had to do in the past. Pictures? Could happen....

It's another foggy night here in Sandy Bay. Hasn't rained all day, and the likelihood of more rain in the immediate future seems to have lessened. That means more walks, more yard work, and perhaps in time a chance to wear shorts again and put the sweatshirts away for the season.

* D. thinks the llama's name is Lucy, anyway. I don't know -- only Buffy had a sign. The cow remains unidentified....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Man of the Soil!

That would be me.

D. decided she wants to grow vegetables this year, started a bunch of 'em (from seeds) in li'l bitty pot-like things, and has kept them under a gro-lite (except on the rare days when we've had sunshine). They are getting to the point where they need to be in the ground so as to crank out tomatoes, beans, zucchinis and other healthful edible Food Items.

So last weekend I built two planting frames, which are nothing more than shallow boxes without bottoms or tops. Boards for same came out of the scrap pile (D. is frugal where it counts) and nails came from a box of dusty, rusty fasteners (her dad was frugal, too). After assembly, I plunked the frames in the yard.

Today, I dug up the turf underneath so we can fill the boxes with soil from the Transfer Station (dump, to you) and plant the seedlings. She wants to go there tomorrow to shovel up a bunch of nice, rich dirt, which also happens to be free, just like my new office desk.

Buffy the Buffalo. Not shown: unnamed llama and cow.

Okay, so the grass I was digging up to clear space for the New Dirt and Veggies was not California grass, which tends to have puny, shallow roots and rolls up pretty easily. Nope, this stuff was well entrenched, and didn't want to be taken out. Add saturated soil, lots o' tree roots and a horde of gnats, and the whole process was not what we professional writer-types call "a million laffs."

Ah, the things I'll do for a fresh, home-grown tomato! Or, more accurately, for D. who, among other things-that-make-me-happy today acquired the necessary pieces to install my office door, hang the suspended ceiling and paint the walls (a grayed-tan color called "Castle Path" has been selected for same, since the Home Depot didn't seem to have Zolatone spatter paint and metalflake Kandy Tahitian Orange seemed slightly excessive, even for me)....

Just thought I'd mention this before I limp into the other room to gobble an aspirin or five.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Not much...

...happening here in Sandy Bay. Foggy, rainy and cold outside, limiting any outdoor activities. That's been the norm for the past three days, and predictions are that it will extend through the week.

Bad news maybe for Saturday, which is apparently Motif #1 Day here. The red fish shack (in fact, a replica of the original, which perished in a storm decades ago) on a pier gets its own day, with art contests, music and other Cultural Pursuits. And why not? Images of it are everywhere....

Not that we will be here. Weather permitting, D. and I are planning to go to a car show at Skip's Burgers* in Merrimac that day. For once, an afternoon spent looking at collector cars and hot rods will be a completely non-work-related activity. I can relax!

Sign seen near Newburyport last weekend

Still lots of Good Stuff going on indoors. If I wasn't stealing time away from writing the article I have due -- I'm ahead of schedule with it, but the sooner done, the sooner the check gets here -- I might go into some of it. Do I value money more than conversing with my friends here? I'll never tell....

* Skip's is a favorite of D., her mother and daughter, and has been in business longer than I've been alive. The fries are superb, but the burgers rate about 8.0 on the 1.0 (White Castle) - to - 10.0 (In-N-Out Burger) scale. Haven't yet had better ones around here, though. And they do have cool t-shirts, one of which I have bought....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

So much for moderation!

I'm just not a "moderating" kind of guy, I guess. After Dorrie left comments telling me how to deal with the Blogger Comment Machine -- comments which I seem to have lost while supposedly "approving" them, by the way -- I decided to go back to the old system. So if anyone decides to say anything, it gets posted right away. Unless, that is, it's on an old post from 14 or more days back, which seems to be where the spammers play, anyway.

I've said that excellent things were happening, and I want to mention a few. First, the World Headquarters: it's nearing completion, with drywall now hung, electricity (real outlets, not an extension cord draped over the wall) and a cable to hook me up to the Interwebz. Add door, floor, ceiling and paint and it's done.

PARENTHETICAL I'M-STILL-NOT-PRACTICAL NOTE: I keep pushing for a porthole in one of the walls, but head of the construction crew seems decidedly cool to the idea. I guess that'll be filed with my concept of making a ceiling out of rag rugs and concocting flooring from the various mismatched chunks of lumber left over from the main construction and D.'s scrap box, all randomly laid down and covered with Varathane. Doesn't anyone have a sense of adventure?

Ditto for a desk. D. and I found an old dining table at the local Transfer Station (dump, to you) and brought it home. It's a hefty piece, solid and substantial. We've cut it down a bit, fixed the drop-leaf section in place permanently and rearranged the legs, and it'll make a neat work table/desk. Once again, D. showed her penchant for over-engineering, with the result being a piece that should be able to withstand anything short of an all-out nuclear attack. Looks good, too. And it was free.

All of this is what you might call fortuitous timing. I have one job in hand, which will bring welcome relief to the dwindling supply of spondulix. Another project from the same people, longer and better-paying, is not yet final but has a good chance of happening. If it does, I'll have two or three months of fairly intense work. And money. Guess which pleases me more? Having a set place to grind out the verbiage will be a big help.

Random The-Sun-Also-Sets-in-Sandy-Bay photo
This is not tonight's sunset, which took place behind heavy clouds and drizzle. I planned to insert the photo maybe two days ago, but Blogger was being weird and I couldn't post.

Haven't had a day in my five-plus weeks here that my appreciation for D. -- and pleasure at being with her -- hasn't grown. I'm working harder than I have for quite a while -- there's always something to do here, and much of it involves some kind of physical effort -- but that's wonderful. Those muscles needed to be used. As the wheat farmers say, "no pain, no grain."

I've also been doing some menial tasks in D.'s high-tech workshop, too, learning work that I quite enjoy and helping her a little bit. Good thing, too: her customers are sending in quite a few jobs right now..

We also have fun. Sometimes it's as simple as going for a nice longish walk. Other times, like last Saturday, we get to more interesting events. On that day, we went to a nearby town to attend a reception at a shop where pipe organs are built; the company was showing off their latest work which, while not exactly my style musically, was a beautiful example of what it was supposed  to be. The workmanship was exquisite, too. It will soon be installed in a hall at Harvard, but was set up temporarily in the shop for testing.

Not much time to be bored around here. I like that.

Big, big change in lifestyle and attitudes from just over 13 months ago, Jim. I like that, too.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Housekeeping-y stuff

Lots o' excellent things happening to Yours Truly, but not much time to sit down and write about them. I'll catch up soon, though.

However: I have recently had a lot of spam-style comments show up here, and I'm getting sick of it. Therefore, I'm going the ol' comment moderation route as of now. If you're nice enough to comment, I get to read it first, and will automatically pass it on to be posted.

Well, almost automatically. Spammers and random commenters will be banished into the obscurity they so richly deserve. I don't so much mind seeing their tripe in my email inbox, as it just takes hitting the Fuggedaboutit Button to make them go the hell away. Blogger, alas, makes the deletion process annoyingly tedious.

When they (the insidious Blogger/Google/Whoever Else Combine) get their acts together and make it possible to keep the idiots at bay without jumping through a bunch of damn cyber-hoops, I'll go back to free-range comments, which I prefer.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

D. made me do it!

Yup, she put a Theremin performance on her blog this morning, and Theremins attract me the way honey attracts....flies....

But even a good performer -- and the one who played on D.'s video is good, all right -- doesn't cut it if he or she can't swing, and that vid was strictly nowhere, even if the player was laying down a pretty good tune. At least it's good if you're the potted-palm type, musically.

Here's one that gets it. Some groovin' back up and someone who knows how to wave their hands around the Theremin's antennae can really get the ball rolling and get out of that 1950s-sci-fi-movie-soundtrack bag, Jim....

PARENTHETICAL I-CAN-BE-BEATEN NOTE:  No sooner had I started writing this than D. proved that she's completely with it on this Theremin stuff. Gonna be hard to top these three solid cats!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Another nice day... Sandy Bay. But we didn't soak up much of the spring sunshine.

D. and I spent much of the glorious, sunny afternoon indoors, getting the framing up for the Sumptuous Office Complex.

To be fair, I have to say D. did the lion's (lioness's?) share of the hard work, cutting the 2x4s, flailing away with a small sledgehammer when our measurements proved too precise and things needed to be, shall we say, "persuaded" into place. She knows how to do this stuff, and I cringe when I consider what it would look like if I had gone ahead, in full bull-in-china-shop mode, and slapped the thing together myself.

Nonetheless, a few hours' work brought forth a pretty nifty result....

The more we do, the less fits into a photo....

Down at the far left end of this sturdy and remarkably plumb structure is the doorway. The framing is essentially complete, with headers fastened to the joists above and sill plates ditto to the floor. Wiring, wall covering, ceiling, paint and floor coverings will soon follow.

It's going to be a busy place down there, what with the stonemasons, sculptors, plasterers and fresco artists all doing their respective things. I'm thinking Sistine Chapel here, Jim....

Actually, I'm also thinking it will be good simply to have the space done up enough to use. There's work to do now*, and more likely in the near future.

This is fun!

* My favorite former client is now a former and current client, dropping some rather remunerative work on me, with discussions about further projects continuing. Oddly enough, the move seems to have helped; not only am I in a better position mood-wise to write -- it's a Temperamental Artist thing, baby -- but the magazine has two editors nearby (in the same state, anyway, and it's small compared to my previous states) who seem more inclined to deal with me...should they want a face-to-face meeting, it's a fairly short trip now.  I'm digging that, as my bank account and D. will, as well....