Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Alfred Hitchcock Mocks Me

Do you remember seeing The Birds in the 60s?  I do - vividly.  It is about the only movie I've ever watched that really gave me nightmares.  I would lie awake in my childhood bedroom convinced that there was a huge bird on the top of my dresser staring down at me and waiting for me to go to sleep so it could swoop down and peck my eyes out!  More than once I ran crying to my parents' bedside seeking relief from the nasty ravens.

Fast-forward to 2012.  I am a rational adult who actually enjoys birds of all sorts.  I photograph them at the feeders, I blog about them, I regale my friends with stories of the varied varieties we get in our yard.  My childhood fear of eye-pecking harpies is gone, right?  Of course it is...

Enter... the beast from hell:

In this photo, that is our house - our OLD house.  Visible now from the NEW house.  So there we were, Hubs and I, eating our brunch on our new porch on Sunday, when I glanced over at the old house... What's that on the roof, I asked?  Is that a squirrel?  No, it's too big - maybe it's a raccoon...  I'll get the binoculars... O M G  that's a BIRD!!!  What's it doing?  It's EATING something!!!  O M G a huge predatory bird is eating fresh carrion on our roof!!!  Can you say EEEEWWWWWWWW !!!!

Just imagine - if we hadn't bought a house within sight of our house, we wouldn't know what goes on there.  We could have been there - IN the house - with a vulture eating dead stuff on our roof - and we never would have known!  Ok, so now what's going on HERE when we are here and can't see it???  Oh my, the mind boggles...  


As I sit here gazing at the cute birds on my kitchen curtains.....  

More Stuff...

Hello Readers!  Welcome back!  I have updates and photos to share after several days away.  The first news is that the new front door was installed last week on May 16.  That was an all day project for 1 guy - Tony - the same guy who installed the new patio door at the old house last year.  We are glad we got him again because he was very good the first time, and likewise this time.  Neither Hubs nor I expected that job to  be as long and involved as it was.  It's certainly not a DIY job.  Tony spent a lot of time just taking the old door out - along with all the jam/trim stuff.  Here is the old door:

Once he got the new one installed, we were both surprised by how dark it was. This was something we purchased out of a catalog supplied by Columbus Handyman.  In the picture, the door looked somewhat lighter.  It was called "mahogany", so I knew it would be dark"ish", but this has more of a red tint to it than showed in the picture.  We were also surprised by how low the window was.  We were hoping it would be high enough that a person of average height could not walk up and look in.  However, Hubs can look through the window, and he is only 5'9".  We solved that problem by investing in some window film.  JoAnn's Fabrics had just the right stuff - it has sort of a mozaic pattern and is frosted.  With his great patience, Hubs installed the film on both sides of the window.  Now we have privacy without losing the light, and it actually looks right for the Craftsman style door.   It is hard to see in the photo, but there is actually a narrow shelf under the window on both sides.  It's called a "dental" because it looks like it has teeth.

Tony initially installed the door with the full length screen in the storm door, but we felt that had many "issues" and so we opted to put the glass in.  The pretty door can be seen better through the glass, and since the storm door can also be locked, it adds more security.  We can leave the interior door open when we want more light, and the glass is better for that also.  In spite of the fact that the door is different than what we expected it to be, it really is a beautiful door, and we are learning to love it. It is very solid and should last for many many years.

The next happening was getting a twin bed for the guest (red) room.  We got a frame that matches the queen frame in the master, and got a mattress set from Bedrooms First.  Hubby picked out the sheets and comforter and so here is the finished product:

We were going to put a white bedskirt on it, but then decided it looked fine by just putting a black fitted sheet on the box-springs.  We are mix/matching zebra striped and black sheets, and then the comforter is reversible black/gray.  It is very sharp in the red/white room.  Hubs looked long and hard for a desk, but the size he needs isn't really standard, so he decided to make a desk to fit the space and his needs.  That is in progress in the garage/workshop.  Here is a preview with much yet to be done:

I have been working on sewing projects.  First I made new curtains for the kitchen window:

The window is not centered between the cabinets, so I made the curtains wide enough to span the entire 49" space and put them on a tension rod.  The pattern is birds and butterflies and has very pastel blues, greens, pinks and yellows.  It looks very nice against the blue walls and white tile.

Next I made curtains for my sewing room.  My initial vision was a double rod with curtains on the inner rod and a valance on the outer rod that would hide the ring/clamps.  However, while working in there with no window dressing at all, it became very clear that I really needed mini-blinds at the side west-facing window. It was just too sunny and bright to rely only on curtains to keep out the direct sunlight (and heat).  So, I went against my vow to not have mini-blinds and had Hubs install them anyway.  That meant there wasn't room for both curtains and a valance on the rod I'd already bought, so I gave up the valance idea and just did the curtains.  Then I made a valance for the front window over the wider plantation blinds.  As it turns out, this all worked out quite well given the amount of fabric I bought!  I didn't have enough for a valance on the big window anyway!

My Baby-doctor makes house calls

It is always recommended that a piano be tuned after it is moved.  Today was the big day.  My piano technician has tuned my baby twice when it was in foster care.  The first time he tuned it, he also did a thorough diagnostic on it and reported that there was a lot of restoration that "could" be done.  I opted at the time for minimal repair and tuning - to keep the baby working.

When Mark arrived today, I reported that my middle-C-sharp black key wasn't playing consistently, so he worked on that first.  I was totally fascinated to watch his process.  After sliding off the music stand, he removed the key cover and then took the front plate off that usually stands in front of the keys.  Once all that was off, he slid the entire bank of keys out and balanced it on his lap while he worked on it.

He then pulled all the hammers up so he could work on what was under them:

As it turns out, there is a little brass plate for each key, and the one for the middle-C-sharp was cracked.  That was causing the hammer to wobble from side to side, and thus sometimes it wouldn't strike the string squarely - hence, no sound sometimes.  

After discussing the options, we decided to "rob Peter to pay Paul" and swapped out this little part from the key at the far right end of the keyboard because he didn't have a replacement with him.  In the photo above, you will see that the assembly has been taken out across the bottom where there is a blue square.  (Sorry - I don't know all the technical part names, but you probably don't either, so I'm hoping it doesn't matter to you!)  That missing assembly is for the last key at the right.  Technician Mark then replaced this with the cracked part from the center.  The part that is actually cracked is just the tiny brass part that has the 2 screws in it at the far right in the photo above.  The wooden parts are all fine, as of now.

After he got that one replaced, he wiggled them all... and found that in fact, more than 30 of them are "loose" to some extent, meaning that their little parts have either already cracked or are on the verge.  I'm lucky that the piano works as well as it does considering this factor.  He said he's got maybe 5 of these parts at his shop, and he isn't sure he can get them anymore.  He is going to do some research and let me know if the parts are still available.  If so, he recommends that I have them all replaced at once because it is only a matter of time before the wobbly ones break totally, and the rest are destined for the same fate eventually.  It is simply a matter of aging and wear/tear.  

This is a situation much like having an old car.  There comes a point at which it is cheaper to buy a new one than to keep replacing old parts - especially if those parts are becoming obsolete.  However, when there is sentimental value attached to the piano, it's just not the same to buy a new one.  My hope is that if the parts are no longer available, there are old Chickerings out there which can be parts-robbed.  As I explained to Mark, I am not a concert pianist, and I am not a "hard" player.  As long as I can "gently" play my tunes, I will be happy.  

So, Mark and I chose not to do any tuning today.  Once he finds out about these parts, we will decide how to proceed.  The piano sounds just fine to a non-tuner's ear, and even he said it doesn't sound bad.  My middle-C-sharp is working again, so for now I'm satisfied.  

Excuse me now, I'm going to go play....  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

1st Night In the House

This weekend a huge milestone was reached.  We were finally able to spend the night in the new house!  On Saturday, Hubby put mini-blinds up in the Master bedroom and that enabled us to be able to spend the night.  So we slept in the new queen bed for the first time!  It is very comfy and neither of us had any complaints.  Then on Sunday, we got up and had our first "Sunday Brunch" in the new kitchen/porch.   While we have not officially moved our clothes over, we now have enough stuff there that we can spend the night there in comfort.

Today we went back to Bedrooms First and ordered a mattress set for the twin bed in the red room.  While we were there, we also happened to find a dresser that we liked for the master, and it was on sale for a great price, so we grabbed that, along with 2 pictures that we will hang in the living room by the piano.  We also saw a wing-back chair we liked, but we passed on that for now.

And so, as Hubs likes to say, the puzzle pieces are fitting together, slowly.  I hope to get time to post some pics in the next few days.  Stay tuned... and don't forget to feed the fish!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Baby Comes Home

May 12 was a day I've been waiting for since 1981 when I moved out of my parents' house to live on my own. Since then, I've never had room in my various apartments or houses to have a piano, and I had to wait until I visited my parents to get to play a real piano.  At some point in the late 80s or early 90s, I bought an electric keyboard, which certainly served a purpose, but it still wasn't a "real" piano.  My Baby Grand has been living in the home of a very generous foster family since August 2010.  It had a prominent place in their living room.   They took very good care of it for me, and their son took lessons on it and played it regularly.  This foster care situation really worked out well for everyone involved, and I much preferred having the baby in a loving home where it was played and appreciated rather than having it in storage all this time.

We had the piano moved by Integrity Movers - moving pianos is one of their specialties.  They are the company that moved the piano down here from Milan 2 years ago, and they did a great job that time, so I hired them again.  They really seem to know what they're doing.  I have no problem giving them a great recommendation and here is a commercial for them.

Before they moved the piano from Milan, I had no idea how baby grands were moved.  It turns out that the legs and pedals come off and the piano gets moved on its long side.  So, here are some photos of the process of moving it in and unpacking it:

1.  It was resting on a carpeted board and then that was on a 4-wheeled cart.  The whole package was lowered down on a lift, and then wheeled up the driveway and into the house.  

2.  The legs and pedals had each been wrapped individually in their own blankets.  The head guy informed me that the 2 front legs were on backwards when they disassembled it.  I told him that their guys had moved it before, and he seemed surprised by that.  

3.  Once they have the piano where it is going to go, they start unwrapping it.  They take it off the 4-wheeled cart, but leave it on the carpeted board until they get the first 2 legs on.  The legs have no bolts in them.  They have grooves on the end that fit into opposing grooves in the underside of the body, and then they are held in place by a rotating wedge hammered into place by a wooden mallet.  

4.  Once they have the right front leg and the back leg on, they stand it up, and 2 guys hold it while the 3rd guy crawls underneath to put the 3rd leg on.  There has to be a lot of trust with this one!!!

5.  After the 3rd leg is secured, the shrink-wrap is removed, and then the pedal assembly is attached.  We also had them set it far enough away from the walls that we could walk around it (for cleaning and hanging pictures, etc...), and they set it on glass coasters as well.   So here is the final resting place for the Baby in its rightful home:

I must admit, I got very choked up when I sat down at it for the first time.  Knowing how important this piano was to the members of my family for almost 100 years, I feel very honored to be the keeper of it now. 

At some point in going through the papers in my parents house, I came across the paper work for the original purchase in 1913, and I hope to find that, frame it, and put it up by the piano.  

I'm a little rusty... ok, a lot rusty, but I am going to practice every day and try to make up for lost time!!!

Thanks for reading!  Stay tuned for more house-adventures in the weeks ahead!!!  

Catching Up On All The Changes

Wow - was it really May 2 that I posted last?  I apologize to my faithful readers for getting behind in my updates.  Quite a lot has happened since May 2, and that is one reason I haven't posted - I've been very busy. It seems like every day brings new adventures.  Where to begin....

I think I mentioned that once the new carpet was installed, the closet doors no longer worked.  John brought his 2 best "Problem Solvers" out to work on this issue.  They were able to adjust/raise 2 of the sets so they don't need to be trimmed (hall closet and red room).  However, the yellow room and master needed to be removed and trimmed - about 1/2".  Also, when the carpet guys took the doors off and put them back on in the yellow room, they got sort of scuffed up and the paint actually pealed off in places.

Painter Jim took the yellow room doors back to the shop to trim and paint them, and they discovered that this set of doors was not paintable wood after all, but vinyl coated -no-paint- wood.  John swears that the packaging said they were paintable wood (he was there when they were purchased) and that the wrong doors were in the package.  So, then they had to go out and find paintable wood doors.  So, those should be coming back in the next few days.

Hubs has been very busy on two projects.  1 - he took the 24" linen closet door and made it into a work-bench for the garage.  2 - he has made a frame for the window in his room to help block out the light that seeps in around the edges of the blinds. (Sorry, I don't have a good photo of this 2nd project.)

I found a sewing table for my sewing/craft room.  It was the "Josephine Desk" at World Market.  We brought that home and put it together yesterday - it's perfect, just what I wanted!  I had planned to cover that chair, but the more I look at it, the more I like it, especially with the white desk and black Eiffel Tower lamp (from Target).

We got a Queen mattress set for the master bed frame - that was delivered earlier this week.  We got the standard foundation for it, but that made the whole set too high for my short little legs, so we exchanged the standard foundation for a "low-profile" foundation which is only 5" and brings the whole thing down to a manageable height.  I told Hubby it was either a new foundation or a step-stool, and he didn't want to hear me cry when I slipped off the stool and sprained my ankle (threatening to cry always works with him!)  Ultimately, he just wants me to be happy - Good Answer, spoken by a man who's been married for almost 30 years!  Today we got the quilted cover at Kohl's.  It is a queen size, but seems a little small - we'll see.
The 4 posts should be delivered on Tuesday, along with a twin bed frame in the same style for the guest room (red).  Then the canopy top doesn't come until mid-June sometime.  After we get that, I will be making curtains for it.

The living room furniture was delivered by Value City.  We originally ordered a 92" sofa, a 72" love seat and a coordinated side chair.  The day before delivery, the store called to say that the 72" love seat that came in was damaged, and they were sending it back to exchange it for another.  They would be bringing the new 72" in the next delivery with the master bed-posts which were on back-order.  Once we got the 92" and the chair in the room, and started thinking about tables... and the piano... we decided that we didn't really have room for the 72" after all - so we cancelled it.  Now that we have the piano, we're glad we did, because the room just isn't big enough for all that furniture.

We've tried arranging the room with the couch on the long wall at the left; however, this arrangement with the couch under the window leaves more room for tables on the ends and in the middle, and will also be better for sound from the piano.  Stay tuned - it may get moved again.  We are also seriously considering buying a second chair which could be moved back and forth between the living room and the dining room.

I also bought material yesterday for the kitchen curtains - have not had time to start working on those.  That will be the next project I tackle.

Stay tuned... and don't forget to feed the fish!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New Stuff

In addition to new carpet, we've acquired a few other new things in the last few days.

I had seen these slipper chairs at Office Max a month or more ago, and I was glad to see they still had them.  Don't worry - I'm not keeping the black flowers.  I'm going to cover this chair, probably with a floral chinz.  If it works out well, I may get a second one too.

And - the table and chairs for the porch.  This was the first thing we ordered - from Ashley Furniture:

I know the chair seats look pink in the photo - they're not.  They're a golden beige color.  We are thinking we'll leave this on the porch as long as the weather is nice enough to eat out there.  If we decide we need to eat inside, we can move the set to the dining room!


Tuesday, May 1 was CARPET DAY at the new house!  This day has been long-anticipated, as you know.  There has only been one time in my life when I've ever had the chance to pick out carpet.  When I was 16, and we moved to our house in Milan, my mother let me pick out the carpet for my bedroom.  I loved it - it was a Victorian floral print which I never tired of.  It is one of the only things I actually miss about my parents' homestead.

However, I digress... Hubs and I got to pick out our carpet for the new house - this was probably the biggest decision we had to make.  After all, paint is easy to change.  Wall-to-wall, whole-house carpet isn't!

Hubs was at the house while the guys worked, and he documented the progress on film for your viewing pleasure.  Allow me to present... The Carpet Installation...

First... the original flooring from 40 years ago was revealed in the dining room.  Scary, scary stuff!!!

I feel sorry for any previous owners who actually had to scrape that off the other areas!  Luckily for us, it is only in the dining room and was easy to cover!!!  Here is the living room - nakey:

Next came the pad:

And... drum roll please... the good stuff:

It is a multi-colored frieze - has strands of beige and tan and darker tan....  

Above you can see the living room from the dining room, including the new 2.5" blinds that Hubs put up on Sunday!!!

As with paint colors, the carpet color changes from room to room, depending on sunlight, and from day to night depending on the lights.  It is dreamy-soft, amazingly cushy!!  And, after 1 day, it hasn't even fallen off yet!!!

We now have a slight issue.  The carpet is so thick, that now none of the closet doors work right. They are all going to have to be shaved.  I think the bedroom doors are ok tho.  

Tomorrow we meet with John.  I'm sure he'll propose a solution for the closets.