kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Also this weekend I got stung by a paper wasp, which was actually somewhat amusing. Well, not at the time.

The back yard had become a jungle, which deters the dog from doing her business in out-of-the-way spots, so it was due for a mow. I got out the lawn mower and cranked it up, and grabbed the push handle to get going.

And then it was like a slow-motion mental dialog. My brain was like, "Okay, sensors report something odd with the left hand, a sort of prickle. No wait, that's starting to actually hurt. Yes, yes, that definitely hurts. And it's getting worse. What the hell? OW CHECK THE HAND CHECK THE HAND!"

So I let go and open my hand to take a look, and there's the wasp just sitting there in the middle of my palm. I may or may not have screamed like a little girl. It must have been on the handle when I grabbed on, of course, but there was no sign of the beginnings of a nest or anything. Just one of those things. I did the ice thing to numb it, and some vinegar to try to neutralize the venom, and it didn't hurt for long--but now it itches! Stupid wasps. I appreciate their role in the ecosystem, truly I do. But I still kill 'em dead when they build a nest too close for comfort!

Oh, and I never showed off last weekend's project (not that it took all that long): my Wall of Strings!


I had two racks on two sections of wall, and after last weekend's Great Furniture Rearrangement I decided I'd like to combine those into a single wall (until the collection expands, anyway) with a staggered pair of racks. I think it came out pretty well, though the blonde acoustic is by far the biggest of the bunch and sorta crowds the others. So if and when I do get the new electric I've been eyeing, I think I will find a new home for that acoustic.

Which reminds me, I don't think I mentioned the Great Furniture Rearrangement, either! We consider moving furniture around to be one of our main hobbies--it's fun to try new setups! Since we'd decided to get rid of our grand piano, that got me to thinking about what concurrent changes we could make. So I suggested bringing my desk and whatnot back into the great room--I'd been sharing the girls' school/craft room over by the kitchen, and somehow their toys and stuff always made it onto my desk and under my chair, and I was a bit tired of it. Plus mine is the PC that connects to my musical gear if and when I ever get back into writing and recording tunes, so it makes sense that it should be in the great room (which is really our music room, or at least that's my notion). Heather was not a fan of the idea--at least, not until I told her we could move the huge filing cabinet full of LEGO into the schoolroom, and that could be the LEGO room instead of always having LEGO all over the coffee table and floor in the great room. That got her on board pretty quickly. :) So I did the moves, and so far I like it.

Speaking of things happening quickly, since the idea of the move made it important to clear out the piano asap, Heather posted it on Facebook for her musical friends. And almost immediately, our neighbors down the street expressed interest. It's the lady who's been giving Hermione piano lessons for the past few years now, and apparently she's always wanted to have a grand piano, so her daughter went to her father like, "Can we do this for Mom?!" We didn't think to offer it to them because we didn't figure they had room in their house, and because she was familiar with our piano's issues, having started Hermione's lessons using it (nothing major, mind you, just a couple missing hammers and strings, and a few keys that don't work perfectly). But they did have the room and she didn't care about anything but getting the piano. We were quite pleased to see it go to someone we know and like, and the idea of only having to move it halfway down the street was appealing too, so they enlisted some helpers and came to get it that very evening. Kinda sad to see it go, but it was really just taking up space that can be better used--and let's face it, I was probably never going to give it the time and money it needed.

So now the music room is home to the digital piano, my guitars, the girls' violins, my PC/DAW and mixing board and whatnot, Heather's flute and French horn, and random bits of percussion. I think next we need the electronic drum set. Then I want that electric guitar I've been drooling over, and maybe then I can add mandolin, banjo, and dobro. Ooh, and some nice congas and bongos. Let's do this!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Hey look, bullet points!

• Still convalescing. Christmas Day I felt worse, ended up taking a couple-hour nap with Amy. Luckily we were just planning to stay home all day, open presents, etc., so it worked out anyway. Since then it's been on-and-off, headache, runny nose, gook in the throat, endless throat-clearing and coughing, gravelly voice.. blech. I think I'm past being contagious and into the clearing-out phase, but I still only feel about 80%.

• It is too damn hot here. It cooled off for Christmas, down into the 60Fs, which was nice. But really just for that one day--since then it's been mid-70Fs and low 80Fs, and a bit muggy. Feels more like April. This coming weekend projected highs are 85F both days. NO THANKS. If the pool was warm enough, the girls would be in there every day. The extended forecast shows a nice dip in a week or two, can't come soon enough. I'd settle for some seasonal average temperatures, even!

• Christmas was pretty decent. There were no really big presents this year, nothing that was really a dream-come-true for any of us. The girls asked for some particular toys, which we were happy to provide. Heather and I stayed pretty low-key with our gifts to each other. I got her some books (sheet music, gardening, and the new novel by one of her favorite authors), a little vacuum chamber for her homeschool science lessons, and (very exciting!) a laminating machine since I read that those come in very handy for homeschoolers. She got me a couple geeky t-shirts, some Doctor Who-related stuff, and a LEGO set. Oh, and this weekend she let me go out and get myself a new toy.

• Specifically, this: Canon's new 24mm pancake lens. I've had the 40mm pancake lens since it was released, and really like it--it's a great lens to throw on when I want to travel light; even my big dSLR with that lens mounted feels small and light. But 40mm is a little long as a walkaround lens on an APS-C camera, so when I heard about the 24mm coming out I was interested. When reviews and MTF charts indicated it's even sharper than the 40mm (and, at some apertures, even Canon's 24mm f/1.4L) I was VERY interested. And then when I saw that it can focus as close as 6 inches, giving it a better than 1:4 ratio for macro, I was sold. So now my conundrum is just whether to sell the 40mm, since the 24mm is superior optically and, I think, better for my purposes.

• Speaking of selling stuff, I'm going to try to sell off our antique piano. Long-time readers (are there any left?) might remember when I got it, way back in 2008. I worked on it for a while, got it into a more presentable and playable condition, and then (as is my wont) have neglected it ever since. Since we picked up a nice digital piano, it's really just a huge waste of space. So while I suspect the market for antique fixer-upper baby grand pianos is not a large one, I'm gonna post it and see if I get any bites. It would free up some room, and maybe I can even turn a profit on it. Though frankly I'd give the thing away to whomever is willing to haul it off!

• Day after Christmas I felt a bit better, so we headed over to my Mom's for a visit, as was our plan. We had lunch with her, and my sister and her husband tagged along. I hadn't seen my sister for some time--she looked good, but reminded me so much of our grandmother, both in her appearance and speech. It was a little uncanny, actually. Anyway, she seems to be doing well.

• Back to work today--wow, almost quitting time already! And then I'm off for the next 3 days, burning my last 2 vacation days plus the New Year's holiday. I debated taking Friday off to give myself a 6-day weekend, but with the weather looking too hot to enjoy, I figured I might as well save the day and use it for nicer weather and/or when we have something fun on the agenda. Hoping for lots of travel this year!

Okay, enough for now, gonna shut down and head home shortly. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, and something festive on deck to welcome 2015. May it treat us all kindly.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
Still fighting the cold I had a few weeks ago, or maybe this is round 2 or a new contender, I dunno. It's just my throat, though--I can't seem to get it clear, so I keep harumphing and coughing and now I can consciously feel the back of my throat, feels a bit raw and annoying. Heather has been struggling with a runny nose this week too. Luckily the girls are okay, but a few of the cats have been particularly sneezy as well. Can people catch cat colds and vice-versa? Hopefully we're coming out if it, though, especially since the weather is warming up nicely.

A bit of good news/bad news today. Good news is I finally found out details on my annual bonus. As a manager I get one every year around this time, so I knew it was coming, but I never seem to find out exactly how much it will be until it's almost upon us. Last year's was a pleasant surprise since it turned out to be more than I expected, and this year was again a pleasant surprise, so that's all happy. The bad news is that it's pretty much all spoken for: we need to catch up on a credit card that's been carrying a balance, plus we need to pay our federal income tax for the year. That would have still left a few thousand bucks, but today we noticed that the digital piano we bought last week didn't have the no-interest finance deal we thought it did, so we need to go ahead and pay that off as well, which won't leave much to play with. Oh well, the piano was a good purchase so I'm not too upset about that, but it changes the timeline a bit. The wife was surprised to see that and feels like it might kibosh the lens purchase I have in mind, but I naturally do not see it that way. So we pay off the piano and get a no-interest finance deal on the lens instead, it all comes out in the wash, right? :)

Speaking of the piano, did I finish that story? I mentioned that the music store that was to deliver the piano arranged it for Saturday and then moved it up to Thursday, and they made good on that. It's a very nice instrument! Looks good, sounds good, plays well. Hermione tried it and quickly proclaimed that she was never going to play the other piano again. Ha! It does need work, that's part of the reason we got the digital, so I can tear into the grand and get it playing (and sounding) better.

What else is going on.. oh yeah, part of the bonus is also going towards paying for our new home security system, which got installed Monday. It's pretty cool, I must say. But I'm a little scared to arm the thing! I just hate the idea that the dog could trip the motion sensor and cause a false alarm. I did arm it last night, after disabling that zone. I guess I'll give it a few days and see how sensitive the motion sensor seems to be, and either disable the thing or go with it. It's supposed to reject animals under 85 lbs., which is pretty big! Yesterday I set up the cameras where I think they'll live, so it's fun to peek in on the kids (and cats) now and then.

Okay, lunchtime! Hope everyone is having a good day so far.
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
This upcoming Saturday has really bounced around, and it hasn't even happened yet!

I got an e-mail a couple weeks ago from a lady for whom I did a family shoot a couple years ago. It's her, her husband, and their two young sons. She was planning a birthday party for one of the boys, and asked if I could attend and shoot from 11am-1pm. Birthday parties are really sorta meh in my book--I dunno, it's just not something that I think generally leads to awesome photos, especially when the venue is indoors--so I quoted her my full hourly rate for the 2 hours, figuring she might opt for a regular session instead. And indeed, she wrote back saying they weren't wanting to spend that much, but could I just come for an hour? And really I didn't want to, but I also don't want to run off repeat business, so I was debating it.

Meanwhile, I've been arranging to get a security system installed at home. The company I work for offers a decent one, and it's pretty cheap for employees on a monthly basis but does involve some upfront installation fees, so we'd been tossing the idea around and never pulled the trigger. But lately there have been a number of break-ins and attempted break-ins in our area, plus the system offers some nifty bells and whistles, so we figured we'd go ahead and use my upcoming yearly bonus to pay for the installation and equipment. And when they got back to me to schedule an appointment, they offered Saturday afternoon, conflicting with the party anyway.

Meanwhile, we also went ahead and ordered a digital piano, as I mentioned last time. (If anyone cares, we decided on Kawai's CN-34, which seems to be a pretty good combination of features and quality for the price, and gets good reviews. We ordered it directly from Kawai's website so we could use a zero-interest financing deal, but for fulfillment they apparently get in touch with a local dealer that has that model in stock, who then arranges delivery. So I got that call yesterday, and they offered to deliver.. wait for it.. Saturday afternoon as well!

So from nothing to do Saturday, suddenly we had a birthday party photo shoot, a home security system installation, and a piano delivery. I wrote to the birthday party lady to say I can't do the party, but I offered her a discounted regular family session instead, which is what I'd prefer to do anyway. Meanwhile I wrote back about the security installation to see if a weekday was possible, and got it moved to Monday. And then, totally unexpectedly, the piano people called back today and said they could make it tomorrow (which is awesome)!

So after all that, we're back to no plans at all for Saturday. Which is just how I like it! The weather looks perfect, so I foresee some outdoorsy activities. Maybe I can finally get the kayak back on the water!
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
I feel like I should post something because I suck about posting and want to stay in the habit. So.. yeah. :)

• Weekend was okay. Another rainy, chilly, gloomy, dismal Saturday, so we didn't do much. We went out in the morning for a bit--now I can't even remember where, how sad is that?--and to have lunch, but then we stayed home all afternoon. Hallie was sickly anyway, a little bit of a fever and she just wanted to sleep and relax all day. Sunday looked like much nicer weather and we had no plans, so we decided to head to LEGOLand since it had been a while. Luckily Hallie was feeling all better! It was a fun time, lines were generally short and the weather was indeed nice, if a touch too warm. We stopped at our usual place on the way home for milkshakes, because it was hot and they're damn good milkshakes. :)

• At LEGOLand Amy drove the little LEGO cars for the first time--it's supposed to be for kids 3-5 years old and she's a few weeks shy of 3, but she still did pretty good! She had some trouble coordinating her steering with holding the accelerator down, I think--she could focus on one or the other but not both. Still, afterwards she said she felt perfectly confident to drive the van. :)

• Speaking of LEGO, I totally want to see the LEGO Movie, which seems to be getting really good reviews. When FoxNews calls out a childrens' movie for brainwashing kids with commie anti-capitalist ideals, I'm on board as a general rule. I dunno when we'll go, though--maybe I can take Hallie to the theater some evening this week, since she's the only one who's usually interested in going to the theater anyway. Hermione takes after Heather, who would rather watch a film at home and in chunks. I'm glad at least Hallie appreciates the theater-going experience! Amy might too, but she's still a little too young and doesn't have the patience yet.

• I finally finished the girls' bathroom! Well, almost. I am notorious about starting projects and not finishing them. In this case we did a remodel of their bathroom last year, but I hadn't gotten around to attaching the backsplash to the vanity top. So I finally did that, just need to caulk it and attach one more piece of trim along the side. Easy!

• Speaking of projects, I really need to get back to work on our piano, which has been a work in progress for what, 5 years or so now? But I haven't wanted to tear it apart to work on the action because Hermione uses it for lessons and practice. But Friday night we went to Costco, and they were having a special display of Yamaha digital pianos, which got us thinking about getting one. Our piano is awesome as an antique artifact, but it really doesn't play very well, it needs new strings badly, and it's out of tune. So it's really not a good instrument for Hermione to be learning on, not least because she'll get to think an in-tune instrument sounds wrong, you know? So if we got a digital piano for her to learn on, I could work on the acoustic piano without depriving her of a means to practice. Bad thing is, good ones are pricey--the one I think we settled on is Kawai's CN-34, which goes for $2400 or so and seems like a good mix of features before leaping to the $3500+ models. (If anyone has any suggestions or recommendations, I'm definitely interested to hear them!)

• Um.. I think that's about it for now. Oughta get some more work done before I call it a day, especially since I'm on the road tomorrow!
kv0925: (Default)
So when last we left the piano, some six months ago (Update 6 here), I'd gotten pretty much everything stripped of paint and more or less down to the bare wood. All that's really left in that respect are the legs, which are carved pretty finely and hence scare me with all their nooks and crannies. Otherwise I really haven't touched the thing (aside from playing it, anyway!) since June. Until he past few weeks anyway, when I decided I should finally make some more progress!

Wanna see? )
kv0925: (Default)
Just a quickie today:

Finished up the top side of the fallboard yesterday and moved on to the underside. As I suspected, the aesthetic criminals who painted the piano did so right over the fallboard decal. I was hoping that the decal was under varnish, or at least that the lettering was on the underside of the decal, but no such luck. I think I did as well as I could at salvaging it, but I still lost some of the lettering and the rest is pretty scuffy. Still, I think I might try to touch it up with paint before I take it all the way off and replace it. I just prefer the idea of having the original decal on there.

Aside from that, just more stripping.. that'll probably be it for a while, with maybe some refinishing too of the parts that are removed and stripped. I also need to polish up the pedals real good and get some polyurethane or something to seal them from tarnishing again. I want to get the lid off and see about getting it stripped and refinished too, and polish up the strings (and replace the few missing strings) while it's all open. So much to do and so little time!
kv0925: (Default)

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