Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My piano

Recently a friend, Cole Hallman, asked if he could come out with a mutual friend, Cecil Eastman, and record Cecil playing my grand piano.  They came, and they did.  Cecil did my old piano proud.   Here is a link to the result of their work.  Cecil playing Moonlight Sonata

Today Cole asked me for more information about the piano, which so far as I know was built in 1913.  I can't tell him a whole lot about its history until it came into my life about 50 years ago.  In recounting to him what I knew of the piano, I realized it was a rather nice story to go with Cecil's beautiful rendition of Moonlight Sonata. Here is the story of me and my Behning.

I bought the piano in about 1963, from an older farm couple who lived near us.   At that time, I resided on a farm near McNabb, Illinois.  I taught piano lessons.  Most of my students took lessons on an old Ivers & Pond upright that was my mother-in-law's.  When they "graduated" to more difficult music, they were allowed to play the Behning grand.

The man who tuned it for me was quite old.  He had played in theatres when the movies were silent, and he played appropriate music while the film rolled.  When he was done tuning, he always entertained me with tunes from the past for about an hour.  His name was Mr. Schaefer, and he lived in Streator, Illinois.

In or around 1980, I was watching a show about Liberace, and it was mentioned that he had learned to play on a Behning.  I wrote to him, asking if he would be interested in buying my piano.  Somewhere in my files is the letter I received from his brother George stating that they were not interested in buying it, but I could get a tax write-off by giving it to their piano museum.  So that's how they do it!  I guess if we had been in a high enough tax bracket, our tax savings would have allowed me to buy a new piano, but I passed.  I'm very glad I did.

The piano has moved with me 11 times.  It stayed in storage a couple of times.  But for the most part, it has been with me as a faithful companion since I bought it.  We had to tear out several stairs to get it into one upstairs apartment, since there was a closet that jutted into the stairwell.  The movers got halfway up the 20 steps and had to take it back down.  A carpenter removed the stairs and risers from about four steps, and the movers dipped the piano into the hole that was left, walking on the small boards that had held the risers and steps.  When all was done, one of the movers said to me, "When you move again, don't call us!"  Three years later, when I moved yet again, he burst into the apartment and said, while shaking a finger at me, "I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU NOT TO CALL US!"  We all had a good laugh about it.  This time, I had the carpenter on hand, so it went a bit slicker.

I thought it was over 100 years old many years ago, but one piano tuner pointed out to me that it was built (if I remember correctly) in 1913.  I'm sure he found that from some stamp or serial number somewhere in the piano, but I would have to search to find it.   If he was right, it will be 100 years old next year. 

The Behning company was in business until the latter half of the 20th century, so it might still be possible to track down more information on this particular piano.  Sounds like a good project for a long winter day.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

A scary night

Clay, who works here taking care of the chickens and helping in the garden, is one of a couple dozen kids in the neighborhood who put on a Halloween walk through the woods.  They call it "The Walk of Nightmares."  He gets so excited about this event, and needs quite a few evenings off when they start the planning.  I say "kids," but they are in their late teens and some are well into their 20's.  Finally, after much urging by Clay, last year I attended the event. 

I spent the whole walk alternating screams with laughter.  It was great.  It didn't take much convincing to get me to go again this year.  Last year, I had to wait about 15 minutes, as they take people through in groups of six to eight.  This year, when I got there and signed up, I was told it would be 40 minutes!  It is obviously getting a good reputation.  I talked to people who were milling around the big bonfire, and many of them had never been there before.  One guy I talked to came Friday night, and he was back for another round on Saturday night.  His daughter, a cute little blonde who appeared to be nine or ten, said, "I LOVE to get scared!" 

I found out there is an advantage of doing things alone.  When I asked the gatekeeper how long it would be until my name came up, she asked what group I was with.  I said none, was there alone.  She said, "Hang out here.  I'll get you with the next group."  So my 40 minute wait was only about 20 minutes.  Okay!

Clay assured me there was something new this year.  Of course, I was screaming and laughing well before I got to the last leg of the journey.  The ghosts and ghouls seemed to know who was the most scared, and of course they would zero in on us.  In some areas, as you ran away from one hideous creature, another came at you from the other direction.  There was no place to hide!

And then, as we went around the last curve, a guy dressed all in black fired up a chain saw and was in pursuit!  That got to everyone, including the guy beside me!!  We all ran out of the woods, with the sound of the chain saw getting closer and closer.  I can only hope there was no chain on the saw, but I wasn't sticking around to check it out!

I had a wonderful time.  Just like the little girl who was there for her second time in as many nights, sometimes I LOVE to get scared!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Think about it . . .

What's on my mind?  I am worried about the election.  The economy isn't doing too badly.  President Obama has gotten us out of one war and is getting us out of another.  Housing starts are up.  The stock market has nearly doubled in the past four years.  But in spite of all that, half the population wants a change to the unknown.  We know where President Obama stands.  Romney won't say how he will make the budget numbers work.  He has waffled all over the map on foreign relations and abortion (but Ryan hasn't!).  I am particularly appalled by what is happening to a woman's right to choose. 

The Republicans say we need less government - that is, on Wall Street, with governing agencies such as the EPA, and let's not worry about climate change - it isn't real.  No economist of any repute can make Romney's budget numbers work, but it sure SOUNDS good.  Far too many people seem to be clinging to a dream that they are going to have more money if Romney is in the White House.  And what are they ignoring?

So much for less government when it comes to our bedrooms.  The government should not be making the decision for women regarding their own bodies.  Keep in mind that 15 people running for the senate believe that a woman should be forced to carry a fetus that is the result of rape.  15!!!!!!  Paul Ryan, Mr. Romney's running mate, joins that group as well.  And in 31 states, the rapist has the right to participate in that child's upbringing.  It could happen and in fact it has happened.  Roe v. Wade could be overturned. The personhood amendment to the constitution could become a reality.  We would have women being forced to have babies who don't want them.  On the other hand, it would be the end of in vitro fertilization because the unused zygotes would be destroyed - or as the far right would have you believe, they would be murdered. So women who want children would not be able to have them, and those who don't would become incubators for an unwanted child, because our politicians believe they know what is best.

Like I said, I am upset.  I'm okay with the government running the EPA.  I'm not okay with them running our bodies.  We have minds of our own.  Think about these things when you go to the voting booth.  Your and your daughter's futures are at stake. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I did it!

One of my printers prints on both sides of the paper - I mean, REALLY prints on both sides.  I can start a run of 25 or 30 of my trifolds for market or the dairy herd association and go away.  It prints one side, then runs the paper back through to do the other.  I just love it!

I got an error message and it was dead in the water.   I thought, "I'll just buy another."  It wasn't very expensive, as I remember, bought it on sale at Staples.  Well, it was nearly $200!  So I looked up the error code I was getting and found it was the print head.  After some searching, I found a genuine Canon print head for only $40.  That is a lot less than $200.

When the print head arrived, I just let it sit there, since a couple of friends were coming over to do a video  (my antique piano has great tone) and one of them is good with computers.  I figured he would be willing to help me with it.  Things didn't go as planned with the recording, and I got impatient.  Gotta love Google.  I found some instructions, but they just didn't make sense to me.  I would look up a phrase that I didn't understand, and dig a little deeper.  Finally I started looking up images.  I am much better at looking at how things are to be done, rather than reading a bunch of words.

VOILA!  Finally found a picture of a printer that looked exactly like mine, with close-up of print head, and once I was there, it took about two minutes to change out the head.

Such a sense of accomplishment.  Oh, and it is printing correctly.  :)  :)  :)

Monday, October 8, 2012


It reached 25.1ยบ last night.  All of my green beans are mush.  My restaurant account was counting on some.  I picked a small box of mushy pole beans to cook for myself for lunch.  With butter, salt and pepper, they will be fine.  But they are not restaurant quality.

Clay is out there picking armloads of greens.  I'm soaking heirloom lettuces in the sink and will bag in cello bags.  Brad, the restaurant manager, will take as many bags as I can bring him.  I have a few carrots and beets for him as well, but it is slim pickin's this week.  :(

I'll have some pictures later today of these end of season harvests.  Got several bushels of hot and sweet peppers the other night, and they are beautiful!  Definitely picture-worthy.

Well, back to the kitchen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The new house

I went through the new house on the river today, and I am a bit depressed.  It needs SOOOOOOOOOOOO much work!!  There isn't a surface that doesn't need dealing with, and the plumbing and electrical updates are going to be quite pricey.

I know I can get through this, but it is going to be a lot of work.  I am dreaming of coming home from market, sitting on the deck, looking at the river with a martini in my hand, listening to the birds sing, maybe reading a bit, taking a nap.

That day will come . . .