Monthly Archives: June 2011

Khufu’s Piano

We left our heroes (Jim & Kate) scratching their heads and wondering how to transport the piano (approximately the same weight as an Abrams tank) into the musically-lacking domicile.  Jim had discovered that within the innards of the beast was a rather hefty piece of cast iron, to which the strings had been fastened, hence the great weight.  It would be nice to be able to have Scotty beam it up, but no such luck.  The creature lurked  in the garage, lashed to the faithful utility trailer, awaiting a solution.  So, time to refer to the wisdom of the ancients.

Many scholars theorize that the huge blocks of stone (approximately 2.5 million of them) used in the Great Pyramid of Khufu were moved into place by making use of a ramp (and *lots* of pullers and pushers).  As the structure increased in height, the ramp was extended.  Hmmm, I like the sound of that – now, where can I get 30,000 willing volunteers?  Well, failing that, could I construct my own ramp?  And would Kate the Gullible be willing to help push it up the ramp? I would hope that it would not be like the story of Sisyphus, who was condemned to push a large stone up a mountain only to have it roll back down again, then having to do it over and over again.

It was going to take two ramps, actually.  I needed one to get Pianous Maximus from the trailer up to the deck, then another to make it into the house.  So, I backed the  utility trailer into position and left it attached to the car so it wouldn’t roll away in the middle of the operation.  I got a sheet of heavy plywood and a couple of 2 x 8’s, 8 feet long and fastened the whole thing together with decking screws.  Voila! Ramp #1!  Kate had found a good deal on a ‘come-along’ for me and I managed to rig it up for the Big Pull, but no luck – it was not to be.  The tool kept binding up and I had to abandon that idea.  Dang!  Where are those Egyptians when you need them?  So, with much grunting and groaning (all the noises were made by ME), we got the devilish contraption scooted up the 8-foot ramp and onto the deck.  After that things went pretty smoothly – I built a smaller ramp and fastened it in place in the doorway and we wrestled it into the house without destroying the floor or tearing the door from its hinges.  Whew!  We were both whipped after getting that done!

I’m glad my ramp designs worked out – I was reminded of a story that was told in engineering circles about a great ruler in ages past named Abibarshim, who had to deal with a team of designers who just couldn’t get things done.  If you want to read a really good story (humorously done, and with a good message for people who design things), go to

http://tinyurl.com/Abibarshim

Mission accomplished, no major injuries, and we have a piano tuner scheduled to come visit us in a couple of weeks.  Then, come on over, we’ll have a sing!

DisNDat

It’s been a long, strange springtime – LOTS of rain, followed by torrential downpours, interspersed with the occasional spring shower.  And, it’s been kinda WET!  But, finally, SUMMER is here, according to the calendar.  Lately we’ve been getting tornado warnings and watches rolling over us – so far no major damage, just some fallen branches.  There was one tornado that touched down at Churchill Downs, which is maybe a mile from Kate’s work.  It did some damage at the racetrack, but fortunately it didn’t come near Jewish Hospital.  Kate was there during the storm and she said it was quite upsetting to their normal routine – they kept announcing the warnings over the P.A. system there and then the nurses had to move all the patients out of their rooms and into the hallways.  She was exhausted next morning as you might imagine, but came home all in one piece, thankfully!

We made another purchase yesterday, nothing major price-wise, but something Kate has been wanting, and I wanted her to have it.  She found a good deal on a Baldwin spinet piano on Craigslist for $300 and we went to Memphis, Indiana, to go see it.  I hooked up the utility trailer to the Escape and we made a run up there yesterday evening.  It was a young couple who were selling it – they had bought it  hoping that the kids would show some interest, but that never happened.

Well, we got there and Kate started checking it out for functionality, and it was *not* looking good.  We had the lid up on the top of it so we could observe the workings and it was obvious that some of the keys were ‘clumping together’ rather than striking the strings singly.  The first thought was that maybe something had fallen into the innards (child in the house), so out came the flashlight.  Sure enough, there was something down in there that was interfering with a group of the keys, and after much fishing with a magnet, Josh (seller) was able to get it out and the keys started working properly.  But then Kate discovered that one of the pedals (the dampener) was not working well at all.  So Josh (miracle worker) did some more troubleshooting and found that the actuator for the pedal had come loose from its pusher plate and he was able to get that going as well.  So, the deal was struck and we started trying to wrestle the *heavy* piano out onto the porch so it could go down the steps and onto the trailer.  As it happened, Josh manhandled the leading end of the piano and the two ladies moved the back end of it and I just kinda stayed out of the way, wringing my hands.  So, we got it lashed onto the trailer and brought it home, but right now it’s in the garage waiting on some more manpower to attempt to get it into the house.  We’ll have to see who we can line up.

Next week we’re off on another jaunt, going back to Canada.  Time to go check on those grandkids (Emma and Luke) to see how much they’ve grown.  We have lots of extra hugs to share with the kids, and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone else once again.  It’s time for the annual Canada Day celebration at Dick & Judy’s place, and there will be a huge ‘gathering of the clan’, lots of family and friends there.  They always have a great celebration, with fireworks, a bonfire, perhaps a little alcohol consumption, and maybe just a little bit of eating  🙂  Dick and Judy are fabulous hosts – they never seem to tire and remain cheerful and helpful through it all!  These are in-laws to treasure!

I’m taking my Celestron 8″ telescope with me – Bret and I hope to have some fun together viewing the celestial sights.  We’ll have to cross our fingers that we’ll have some good viewing conditions and that we don’t get carried off by voracious mosquitoes while we’re at it.

Bret and I will also get to put our heads together on an automation project he’s involved with for his job.  I have some ideas on how to do it with a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), so we’ll see how that all comes together.  This is the kind of thing I was involved with during my electronics career, so it’s quite interesting to me.

That’s about it for now.  The garden is doing reasonably well in spite of some losses to our rabbit friend (I now have a .22 rifle for varmint control), lots of blossoms on the squash, harvest is near!  We got new gravel spread on our driveway to replace some of what was lost during the spring deluges.  We finally got around to putting up a hummingbird feeder – we see the little darlings visiting our flowers, so the feeder should get lots of traffic.  Need a pickup?  I listed ours for sale, I decided that I could get by with just the utility trailer.

That’s the update – life is good, we’re very happy, dealing with our aches and pains, taking care of each other.  Come see us when you can, ok?  🙂

Charlotte Tripping

We’ve been wanting to make it down to Charlotte, NC, to visit with Kate’s daughter Erin and check out her new *important* job assignment, as General Manager of the HOPS Restaurant there.  So, we finally got it scheduled, and got to go with Bruce and Joyce, which made it FUNNER!  🙂  We all crowded into our recently-purchased 2008 Ford Focus so we’d maybe save on gas and also share gasoline expenses with them.

We made our rendezvous with B & J at their home in Elizabethtown (E-town) Kentucky, about an hour south of us, then hit the highway.  Everything went pretty smoothly on the drive – the only ‘complaint’ about the car was its lack of cruise control, but we plan to fix that deficiency soon. 

We angled southwest and went through the outskirts of Knoxville, TN, then continued on to Asheville, NC (home of the Biltmore Estate – we’ll visit there on another trip), then on into Charlotte, NC.  According to Google Maps, it was to be an 8-hour trip, but we managed to find some shortcuts and were then able to make the drive in only 10.5 hours!  I guess it was the extra stop for potato chips for me that did us in.  We got into Charlotte around 10:30 PM and found our hotel (Comfort Inn) without too much wandering around.  Our Tom-Tom navigator system isn’t *perfect*, but it only cost us $66 on Ebay, so we don’t quibble too much over minor problems.  The hotel was nice, very comfortable, no problems there. 

Erin came over to see us on her way home from HOPS, which was near our hotel.  We had a good visit, and Erin joined us for a game of SEQUENCE (fun board game), then after she left we were able to stay up another 15 minutes or so until we collapsed into bed.  Ahhh, travel…… it wears you out!

Next morning we went over to Erin’s house to check out her living quarters (see pictures).  She’s in a quiet neighborhood with big trees and her house looks very comfortable – she and Joe (arriving mid-June from Denver with all the furniture) should do fine there.  Right now she only has some cats there for company, but I think she’s coping pretty well with her isolation.  Erin had to work later that day but had time to show us around Matthews, the suburb where she works.  We wandered around the downtown area a bit, did some sight-seeing, then ate lunch at the Beantown restaurant.  Good food, good company!

  We had a very good visit with Erin, got to see her workplace (see pictures), then hugged her goodbye the next morning as we started our trek northward to do some ‘touristy’ stuff on our way home.

I had requested a visit to Chimney Rock Park, near Asheville, NC, which was the filming location for “Last of the Mohicans” in 1992.  There was some *impressive* scenery in the movie, so I suggested (whined about) seeing the park on our way back.  So, everyone gave in and agreed (just kidding – they really wanted to see it).  It’s located about 30 miles from Asheville in a beautiful mountain range (Blue Ridge mountains, I think).  We located it, no problems, and paid our fee at the entrance ($12 per person, not *too* bad) and found our way to the parking area.  We had the choice of hiking up (and up and up) to the Chimney Rock itself (total of 475 stair steps plus the trail itself) or going over to the Hickory Nut Waterfall, a *moderate* hike.  Usually, you can take the elevator up to Chimney Rock but right now it’s undergoing renovation, so we chose to go to Hickory Nut Waterfall.  It was a moderate hike (read NOT REAL EASY), but we got there with no major stumbles or fall-downs, took a lot of pictures (some are included below), then hiked back to the car.  I had remembered a trip I took years ago to Carlsbad Cavern and how the path into the cavern went DOWN and DOWN and DOWN and my calves were knotted up for days, made it very painful to walk.  Well, this was kinda the same thing, just not quite as many steps, but I KNEW my legs would remind me of the hike for the next few days.  Bottom line, It was well worth it and I’m glad we did it – I recommend it to everyone, see it if you can.

After we left the park we drove 30 miles or so through more beautiful mountains, very winding road, to Black Mountain, NC.  Kate had read about a place there called “Red Rocker Inn” and we planned to stay there if we could.  We got to see some of the town while we were looking for the Inn, and really liked it – nice little village, interesting downtown.

We found the Red Rocker Inn (bed and breakfast establishment) without difficulty, got a couple of rooms for the night.  Accomodations were not cheap, but it’s well into the tourist ‘high season’, so we just ‘bit the bullet’ and got registered.  Bruce and Joyce were in the Dogwood room and we were in the Azalea room.  Just like staying at Grandma’s house; cozy rooms upstairs, nice folks as our hosts (Doug and Genny).  As you’ll see in the photos, the front porch is lined with Red Rockers, and we took advantage of them with our cups of coffee and some of the delicious cookies they provided (macaroons and snickerdoodles were great!). 

We got in some shopping time downtown (Kate and Joyce shopped, Bruce and I guarded the car), then had some great pizza at one of the local eateries.  We dined on the patio – the weather was FANTASTIC – nice and cool.  I was joking with Kate, said we should stop in at the realty office, start shopping for a  house.  Then I ducked!

Next morning we enjoyed a wonderful breakfast at the Inn, then started packing up the car for the remaining leg of our trip back to home and reality.  Only one minor hiccup during the packing – one of us, not saying who (psssssst it was JOYCE), locked the only car key in the trunk.  Hmmm, what to do.  Fortunately, they had AAA, so they made a quick call, the guy showed up in about 20 minutes, and presto! the car got unlocked.  No hard feelings, these things do happen from time to time.  I think I may check into that AAA thing, sounds kinda handy.

So, we made it home safely with lots of good memories, little Millie dog (we’re changing her name from KD), was ecstatic to see us as usual, wagging her tail all over.  We’ll have to go down that way again, maybe go see the Biltmore and do some more exploring.  More good memories in the offing, I’m sure!  Wanna go?  🙂