Amanda and I have been watching “Bewitched”. Today we watched season 4, episode 12; that season’s Thanksgiving episode. Thanks to Aunt Clara’s bumbling; Samantha, Darrin, Tabitha, Aunt Clara, and Gladys Kravitz are all transported to 1600s New England where, ironically, Darrin is accused of being a witch. What follows is Samantha’s plea to the court in support of his innocence. Strip away the “thou”s and the “thy”s and you may see, as do I, that we haven’t changed very much in the 50 years since this aired.
“First, I wouldst congratulate Master Phineas. He hath shown us a way out of difficulties that all can follow.
Art thou clumsy? ‘Tis not thine own fault. Cry “witch!”
Art thou forgetful? Blame not thyself. Cry “witch!”
Whatever thy failings, take not the fault upon thyself. ‘Tis more a comfort to place it on another. And how do we decide who is the witch? ‘Tis simple. Again, Master Phineas hath shown us the way.
Doth someone speak differently from thee? A sign of witchery.
Doth he show different mannerisms? Witchery, of course.
And should we not find differences in speech and manner to support a charge of witchery, be of good cheer: there are other differences.
What of he who looketh different? What of she whose name hath a different sound? If one examineth one’s neighbours closely he will find differences enough so that no one is safe from the charge of witchery. But is that what we seek in this New World? Methinks not.
The hope of this world lieth in our acceptance of all differences and a recognition of our common humanity.”
On Monday, September 24th, 2018; the day following our first attempt at acquiring the piano; I went online and used the U-Haul web site to reserve a 15’ truck for the following Sunday, September 30th. Nothing about the process indicated there would be a problem. Good! But now I had to have help. There were 8 steps from the porch to the sidewalk. I had no idea how much the piano weighed, but I’d say I’m a little stronger than average and I could barely lift one end an inch or two by myself and hold it for more than a second or two. Two of me wouldn’t be enough. I wasn’t sure 4 of me would be! I put out a call on Facebook for help in the Ithaca area. I got a lot of good suggestions. One place wouldn’t touch pianos at all. Another doesn’t work on Sunday. I contemplated trying to hire some college students. It soon became apparent that even more than the cost of the truck, our “free” piano was not going to be free! Amanda discovered a web site called hireahelper.com. It’s like a cross between Uber and Rocket Mortgage, but for moving things. You plug in what you want done, answer a few questions like how many rooms there are, how many staircases, etc. (there was a looming, separate check box for “Piano”), and then the site produces quotes from people willing to do the job. Neat! I picked one, and shortly received a confirmation from Hire A Helper. They would charge my credit card the day before the job, but would not pay the contracted workers/company until I texted Hire A Helper that the job was done and that I was satisfied. That was Thursday afternoon.
On Friday afternoon, two things happened. First, I realized I hadn’t heard from the company I had allegedly hired through Hire A Helper. No worries—Hire A Helper had sent me their phone number and urged me to contact them directly. So I did. I got voice mail. I did not worry, because if you’re successful movers (but not so successful you can afford office staff), you’re out moving things, right? I left a message. Then U-Haul called me. I did not recognize the number and let it go to voice mail. It was their Traffic department. I received both a voice mail and a text message informing me that there was no 15’ truck to be had on Sunday and that my reservation had been moved to Monday, Oct. 1 in Cortland. Um…no. I called them back and talked to a very nice lady who assured me that there were absolutely NO 15’ or 20’ trucks to be had that weekend in the entirety of New York State. There I sat, incredulous, with their web page listing about 300 different NYS locations listening to this woman tell me there were no trucks: “You have to be kidding me! I will be in Rochester, driving to Ithaca, and willing to go 50 miles out of my way in either direction to pick up a truck anywhere between those two places. There HAS to be one somewhere!” Nope. I was assured not.
<*click*> I hung up.
I wrote hate mail to U-Haul, which netted me a $25 credit toward my next rental (they optimistically assume there will be one).
Then I took a deep breath and called up U-Haul locations in Rochester. I picked Henrietta at random (that’s a place, not a person) and called the number. And got another very nice lady in…Phoenix, Arizona. Seriously? Oh well. I gave her my phone number and she looked me up. I need to say here that U-Haul’s information tracking seems to be top-notch. With just my phone number, every single agent I spoke with knew everything about me and my history with them in SECONDS. And I could tell the agents make notes to themselves in the system. I was asked to wait while she reviewed them, and she did not put me on hold as she did so. Very polite, very professional. She then assured me there most certainly ARE trucks available—several right there in Rochester, actually. I asked her three times to confirm what she was telling me, explaining the experience I had just had with Traffic. She said they were wrong and that there was a truck. She couldn’t tell me exactly where, because one-way rentals could originate anywhere, but that someone from a Rochester location would call me with a confirmation. Oh, and did I want to pick it up on Saturday instead of Sunday, since it’s a 2-day rental anyway? Hell yes! That way if it went wrong, I’d have time to figure out another solution. We hung up and within 20 minutes, Michaela at one of the Irondequoit locations (Rochester) called me and confirmed I had a truck and a pickup time. Sweet! Rob and I did indeed pick up the truck on Saturday at Noon.
Friday evening, and I still hadn’t heard from the movers. I called their number again—voice mail box FULL. No way to leave another message. That tells me there’s no one checking the voice mail. I have to assume that they aren’t checking their e-mail or any other communication and don’t even know they’re committed to my job. I send e-mail to Hire A Helper explaining the situation and go to bed. Saturday morning Hire A Helper calls back. Bad news: they couldn’t reach the contractor either. Good news: they gave the job to another company who updated their bid and came in a little cheaper! And THEY called me within 20 minutes to confirm the job. In the you-snooze,-you-lose category, the first company called me back while I was on the phone with Hire A Helper to confirm the job. I called them back and left a message in their now-empty voice mail box telling them to check their Hire A Helper system—the job has been cancelled.
On Sunday we left Rochester around Noon. Amanda took the car home, and I made for Ithaca—a beautiful, non-interstate drive across the middle of New York State! I arrived in Ithaca and finally met the owner of the piano. I was early and told her I was going to go find some lunch. The diner around the corner from her was closed and there was no parking anywhere near the State Diner (AppleFest, I guess), and so I went to Wegmans and took some to-go food. Then the moving guys called and said they were running behind and would be about 45 minutes late. Great! I didn’t have to rush back to the house. I ate my lunch and returned, at which point the piano’s owner and her mother invited me in for tea. We chatted a bit about our families and then the movers showed up. Three guys.
OK, so I guess I’ll be helping out on this. They had a wimpy little dolly with pneumatic tires that seemed way too small to me. One of them suggested I bring the truck around—maybe we could get the ramp on the 3rd or 4th step and make the job a little easier. I think it was a ploy to get me out of the way, because by the time I pulled around the block, they had already scooted the piano down to the sidewalk! Frontways. The steps were wide, so one of them put the dolly on the back of the piano and held on as the other two pull/pushed it down the steps. How those little tires didn’t pop I still don’t know!
I pulled the ramp out of the truck. They wrapped the piano with blankets (rented) and then two of them, one on each end, lifted it six inches while the third guy slid a trolley underneath. They strapped it to the trolley and pushed it up the ramp, removed it from the trolley, and strapped it into the truck. WELL. I stopped and checked twice between Ithaca and Cortland, and it hadn’t budged a bit! I continued on to Potsdam in confidence.
Monday morning, friends and co-workers Dan and Garnet came by on their way to work to help load the piano into the house. I was able to position the truck so that the ramp came right in the side door! We scooted it down and in without too much difficulty. Garnet followed me and picked me up at the local U-Haul place. During the week I had found a home for the now “old” piano. It had been bought for my Mom, so I called her to confirm that she didn’t consider it an “heirloom.” Her only concern was that it not go to a landfill—that it go to a good home. I found one! My friend and Rotary Club president Sam lit right up when I asked her if she knew anyone who wanted it. SHE and her boyfriend did! I write this on Tuesday, October 9th. She and Mike and one of her co-workers came by to help me move the new piano up two steps into the main part of the house and the old piano down the same steps and out the door into the trailer they brought. I went with them to get it unloaded and into their home where it will make them very happy!
In talking to the owner, I believe we may be only the second family to own this piano. [UPDATE: We ARE, in fact, the second family to own this piano! It was originally won by the former owner’s grandmother in a music contest.] For us it is an “instant heirloom,” if that’s not an oxymoron. Our next steps: clean and treat the cabinet, which is in phenomenal shape; and get it tuned!
Some time last year while doing some Googling for tidbits on my family history, I became aware of The Prescott Piano Company. I thought that was neat and made a mental note that it would be neat to own one some day.
Last week, while at bowling and bored between frames, I Googled “Prescott Piano For Sale” and was pleasantly surprised to see one advertised on a web site called pianoadoption.com. For the purposes of moving a piano, the location was relatively “local”: Ithaca, NY! There were only two pictures posted, but it looked to be in good shape.
The posting was only a day old. I used the web site’s messaging feature to send a message to the owner, inquiring about the price. She got back to me the next morning: It was FREE as long as I came and got it. I asked her how long she would hold it and she said one week.
Amanda and I were going to be in Buffalo/Niagara Falls for the weekend, and so we decided to reserve a U-Haul truck in Ithaca and stop on the way home to see the piano, confirm we wanted it, rent the truck, load it up, and head home with our prize.
After confirming on their web site that they are open on Sunday, I called the Ithaca location for U-Haul and reserved a 15′ truck–the smallest they had with a built-in ramp. Saturday morning I received a call. The gentleman with whom I had made the reservation had, for some reason, put me down for a 20′ truck; and they only had the one 20′ truck due back that day (Saturday) and it had not been returned. They were not going to have one for me on Sunday. I told the fellow that all I needed was a 15′ truck, but they didn’t have one of those either. So he looked in the U-Haul system, couldn’t find anything, and transferred me to U-Haul Location Services. I was on hold for about 10 minutes when finally a nice lady picked up. But she was in Connecticut (they apparently pick up when New York’s queue gets too full). She told me there was a 15′ due back in Cortland on Sunday morning (perfect, since we didn’t need it until late afternoon), but that the U-Haul location in Cortland was an “On Call” location. I didn’t know exactly what that meant, but surmised that on a Sunday, it meant they were closed unless you had a specific appointment. She even offered to call the renter to see if they wouldn’t mind returning the truck to Ithaca instead of Cortland! (That didn’t happen.) I hung up believing I had a reservation for 3:00pm in Cortland and that someone would be there to meet us and get us into a truck.
We left Niagara Falls and took a leisurely drive across western New York state on a gorgeous day. We got to Ithaca at about 2:00 and tried to call the owner of the piano. No answer, left message. The piano was on the front porch (as we could see in the picture)–10 steps above the sidewalk! Oh no. Did I mention it’s a PIANO? Pianos are heavy!! I wasn’t sure how we were going to get it off the porch, ramp or no ramp. It was just the two of us, after all. Still, there was a lot of pedestrian traffic due to a festival that was going on. I thought perhaps we could rely on the generosity of strangers (or offer to pay them) and we’d get this done.
Having looked over the piano, we decided we did, in fact, want it. So we took off for Cortland to get the truck. (Did I mention that about half way to Ithaca our car’s exhaust system somehow disconnected from the exhaust manifold? Yeah…it was a LOUD drive home!) There was no one there. I called the direct number I had been given for the location and got voice mail (closed Sundays). I called U-Haul and finally spoke to someone in New York state who was very confused as to how I was directed to an On-Call location on a Sunday, particularly in Cortland which she knew for a fact was never open on Sunday! I took this as a sign and thanked the lady for her help and told her to cancel the reservation. Amanda and I had discussed it–we will be in Rochester next weekend and will try this whole thing again. I will confirm a full week in advance with U-Haul that they have a truck available. I will attempt to arrange to hire some strong backs to help us get the piano off the porch. And Amanda won’t have to drive a car that sounds like it might blow apart at any moment. Best of all, the owner of the piano is very nice and has agreed to hold onto it just a little longer!
PS: If you know of anyone in Ithaca with nothing better to do next Sunday afternoon, we could use some help loading a piano!
I’ve been re-re-re-watching Babylon 5. In season 4 (Episode 16, “The Exercise of Vital Powers”), Mr. Garibaldi, former security chief has a conversation on Mars with William Edgars, one of the 4 richest men on Earth/Mars/Colonies. They talk about Power. I stopped and re-watched the scene, because while written almost 20 years ago, it sounds very eerie today.
A little background: B5 takes place in the not-too-distant future of humans, around the year 2260. Telepathy is a thing. Most races have telepaths. Telepaths can do just what you think: read other people’s minds. An organization called the Psi Corps exists and all telepaths are members and, when in public, wear a badge and black gloves. The Corps was a powerful organization before the series, and while it’s not a main plot point, there are hints that a war between telepaths and “mundanes” (non-telepaths) is coming. You also need to know that President Clark had his predecessor (Santiago) killed with the aid of an alien race called The Shadows. The Shadows have been dealt with by the time this conversation is had (not much of a spoiler). Also, this show aired in the late 90’s, so the dates mentioned after that are future science fiction–who knows what they think the Russians did in 2013 or what the Jihad party is? Last, Nightwatch was a political organization of “patriots” charged by the President with ferreting out sedition. Merely mentioning that you don’t like the President’s policies counts as “sedition.”
I read/watch this and I think of The Internet as an analog for telepaths and loss of privacy. The Shadows could be the Russians of today’s headlines. You can decide for yourself who Clark seems like.
Edgars: Humans have always struggled to find the outer edge of what’s possible. And that’s our strength. But what kind of world would we have, what options for happiness would we have in a society run by telepaths where ordinary humans are considered second-class citizens and privacy is something you don’t even risk dreaming about? Would you like to live in that kind of world, Mr. Garibaldi?
Garibaldi: No. No, I wouldn’t.
E: But you know it’s coming, don’t you? There are a few Psi Cops who think they should run the show but they don’t have the power to do anything like this. Not yet, but that’s changing.
G: Come on. Even if they tried something, they’d be outnumbered 10,000-to-1.
E: You’re thinking in old terms, of force of arms. But times have changed. We’re talking a war of information. A war of secrets. A war of intimidation. Once they take off those badges, can you tell a telepath from a normal? They don’t have to be everywhere to make people believe. They might be next door.You want your secrets exposed, your most private thoughts broadcast for the world to hear?
G: No, but they can’t…
E: How many people actually belonged to the Nazi party? The Communist party? The Jihad party? A very small number. But there were plenty of other people who were happy to do the work for them and others afraid enough to let it happen.
G: In order for them to take power they’d need an army.
E: You’re still laboring under the notion that people take power. Nobody takes power! They’re given power by the rest of us, because we’re stupid or afraid or both. The Germans in 1939. The Russians in 1917 and 2013. The Iraqis in 2025. The French in 2112. They handed over power to people they thought could settle scores; get the trains running on time; restore their prestige. They did it because it was what they wanted. Afterwards, like children who have eaten too much candy after dinner they denied it was their fault: ”No, it was them.” It’s always ‘them.’
Today, President Clark has the power, and we gave it to him because we’re afraid of the aliens and afraid of ourselves. And now he’s giving it to the telepaths. Clark wants complete and total loyalty. When he was vice president, he instituted loyalty tests. But you can fool a test. You can’t fool a telepath. So he started bringing them into the process. President Santiago objected but he underestimated the opposition.
Clark wanted power. I don’t have a problem with that. No one but a fool ever walked away from real power. But he began taking unacceptable risks. He eliminated Santiago with outside help. I don’t know the full story; only that aliens were involved and they promised him all the power he could want. But he wanted an ace or two up his sleeve. He knew they were interested in the Psi Corps, and if they were interested, then he was interested.
They were his insurance policy against the aliens and his means for gaining more power. He created the Nightwatch started putting his people into important positions with telepaths alongside for security. He gave them unprecedented authority. And if you think they’ll let go of that power once he’s gone you’re gravely mistaken.
Not a lot of time spent actually at Camp yesterday.
In 1963 when Dad moved out of the dorms at Clarkson, he realized he didn’t have a comfy chair. He went downtown Potsdam and bought one–a really nice La-Z-Boy recliner. He kept it and it was in our living room until the upholstery started to rip. I took it from my parents who didn’t want it anymore. It is the most comfortable chair in which I ever have sat. I used it for some years with a fitted cover on it until it mechanically broke. It occupied the tiny foyer of our home for the better part of the last decade until I finally, about 2 months ago, took it to Fleming’s Fine Furniture in Malone to be repaired. Al, the guy in charge of the repair shop, was almost giddy when I dropped it off. I don’t think he had ever seen one that old! Several weeks later he called to say it was all done and ready for pickup. Yesterday Dad and I took his truck to Malone to pick up the recliner. I’m not going to share the amount I was charged for this service, but let’s just say I was VERY happy and very impressed! If ever I am in the market for new furniture, Fleming’s in Malone will be my first stop!
We took the chair straight to an upholsterer in Ausable Forks. He probably won’t get to it until October; but I’ve waited this long! Amanda and I will visit him in a couple of weeks to pick out fabric. From Ausable Forks it was up to Peru to pick something up for Mom and then back to Camp by way of Ausable Chasm where we stopped to watch the work being done on the hydroelectric dam.
It was late afternoon and we all got ready for dinner–our cousins took us out to dinner at Dana’s Rusty Anchor in Valcour. Always delicious! We got back to Camp around 8:00. I enjoyed a beer and a cigar on the porch and went to bed early.
An appropriate running board for a plumber’s truck!
Dana showing off his new stemware.
Work on the Chasm dam
The new choke “knob” I put on the Sea Doo yesterday #RedneckEngineering
The cousins decided today was the day to see Ausable Chasm. A good choice, given the weather forecast for the rest of the week. I gave them a personal tour. We opted for the riverwalk, as the youngest was not quite tall enough for the Adventure Trail. I had forgotten about the accompanying adult requirement for the tubes, and so designated myself as such for the kids (9 and 13) who wanted to take the tubes instead of rafting. Just as well, as I had never done it before. But I wasn’t dressed for it. Oh well! Also, I should have had a heavier breakfast. I ran out of calories about 2/3 of the way through the hike. Hooray for fat reserves! (?)
I suggested Clover Mead Café for lunch, but they aren’t open early in the week. So back to Camp for lunch it was. After lunch I took a swim/bath. (Ivory: The Soap That Floats!) Then I went into town to pick up some odds and ends at the hardware store, Red Stripe at Arnold’s Grocery, and gas. The odds and ends included plumbing for a custom toilet paper holder, zip ties to repair the flag pole that hangs our Canadian flag on the boat house at Camp, and a small collar with a set screw to jerry-rig the choke handle on one of the Sea Doos. (Or, as the guy at the hardware store called it, “Redneck Engineering.”) It worked!
I played banjo for a bit and then prepped the boat for an after-dinner ride. I took the kids and their grandpa over to Port Kent. LCT has been storing the Valcour ferry there this Summer, which is odd. We looked it over and then I took them out to Ferris Rock and told them the story of how the Valcour ran aground there in 1975. We returned to Camp. I covered the boat because of the rainy forecast. While we were out, Kelly and Dean came down to visit. (Happy Anniversary!!) I did the dinner dishes, tried new ink cartridges in my portable printer (they “fixed” it), and am heading to bed at 11:30 after publishing this post.
Breakfast…waiting for the rain to come. Watched the lake go by for awhile and eventually picked up my stuff in preparation for a scholarship luncheon my parents hosted today. As guests started to arrive, I realized rain was also about to arrive and ran down to the dock to cover the boat. While the luncheon was in progress, I called into a meeting at work. By the time that was done, most of the guests had left and we had Camp to ourselves again.
I waited for the rain to stop for a bit and put the battery back in the Sea Doo. Success! It started right up. I decided to make sure it was okay and went for a ride around the bay. 🙂
While dinner was cooking, our cousins arrived from Toronto to spend the week. We ate while they got unpacked and situated, having stopped at Clare & Carl’s on their way in. Then Family Time on the porch for the rest of the evening!
Sorry…I wasn’t much of a shutterbug today! But here’s a picture of cousins Jaqueline and Ashton exploring the beach.
I’m spending a full week at Camp this year. Let’s see how far I get with journaling it.
I left home around 9am and got to Camp at about 11:30. Kelly (sister) was there with Mom & Dad. She and Mom went to prepare beds for our cousins who are visiting later in the week. Dad and I decided to go check out what was going on at Ausable Chasm.
The water in the river is near its all-time low. There was some rain today–the first in a long time, but it won’t be enough to bring the water up. Rafters are not able to traverse the rapids. Indeed, even a raft with a lone guide had trouble getting through to pick up her passengers who had to walk around the rapids!
Whirlpool Basin is the lowest I have ever seen it.
Dean (brother in-law) and I moved the dock and boat hoist out for the third time so far this year. The lake level is below 95 feet (above sea level) and falling. Mission accomplished, Mom, Dad, Kelly, Dean, and I took the boat for a ride down Willsboro Bay and back. Despite a raininy morning, it was a beautiful day on the lake!
While we were waiting for dinner to cook, we sat on the porch. Seeing a massive plume of dark smoke on Trembleau Point, I hopped in the boat to investigate. By the time I got out there there wasn’t much to see. I suspect someone had started a fire using a serious amount of yard waste–probably a lot of pine needles. The plume we saw from Camp had settled down to a haze that drifted down the bay and which we could smell back at Camp 45 minutes later.
Me on my way back to Camp:
After dinner, I futzed with the Sea Doos, which never seem to run exactly right for us. The 3-seater’s battery was dead, but the 2-seater fired right up. Both needed gas. I removed the dead battery. It’s charging overnight.
I put the boat on the hoist and then took to preparing a replacement manifold I had to order for my Dad’s air compressor, having broken it 2 weeks ago while working on his lawnmower. Fortunately, it’s a standard part and was both cheap and easy to find online.
It’s ready to go. I’ll install it some time this week, while I still remember where everything goes.
More porch time with Mom while Dad went for a walk. When he returned he reported seeing a young deer lazing about in the weeds in the ditch next to the road. He walked past very close and the deer did not flinch. It was still there on his way back. It seemed healthy…it just had no interest in being anywhere else.
I went inside to post some pictures on Facebook. Amanda called to say goodnight. (She stayed home because she has a conference in Boston this week, but doesn’t leave until Tuesday morning.)
That’s it for today. I’m going to bed (11pm). Here’s a picture of a fawn I saw on the beach north of Camp shortly after arriving today:
Breakfast at the food court in the casino. I played cash poker again and set a personal best for profit! Back to the room for a nap, then over to The Mirage for their 2:00pm tournament. Didn’t make it to the 2nd break. I wandered back to the room by way of the Treasure Island hotel where I picked up a piece of memorabilia at the request of a friend; Then back to the room for another nap. While I was sleeping, Amanda went in search of pizza. We stayed in for dinner and watched a movie. After that, I went for another walk among the Canal Shoppes, stopping for gelato in St. Mark’s Square. It was nice to just sit there and watch people. I was at a table for 4 by myself, and was eventually joined by 3 strangers as I finished my gelato.
Back to the room and bed. I know all of that sounds uneventful, but that’s what we decided we were here for! As I write this, we are at the airport awaiting our flight to Philadelphia. (I made another $43 at poker in half an hour before we left!)
We found breakfast at a restaurant in our own resort this morning. We got their buffet because it had all the foods we wanted and if we added up the costs of any single entree, coffee, and juice, it was more than the buffet! (The buffet was cheap, for Vegas!)
After breakfast, I played cash poker (and lost the money I won yesterday). Amanda had better luck with the slots and treated herself to a Spa package (and myself to a neat electronic gizmo I had been ogling yesterday!). Back to the room for a little rest and then back to The Mirage for their daily 2pm poker tournament. I made it to the final 9, but then busted out. On the way back to the room I explored a little bit. This resort is comprised of three massive towers. I went to the “Pool Deck” of one of the other towers. 8 stories up, it’s a huge collection of 8 different pools surrounded by lawn chairs, misted private cabanas, and bars. The opulence and decadence are staggering all on their own, but one has to appreciate the architecture and the engineering that goes into the creation of a place like this. The gondola “canal” in which we rode yesterday, for example, is hundreds of feet long and 2 stories above the street! Once minor earthquake—one small crack in almost any place—and the amount of actual splash damage to a place like this will be the stuff of insurance adjuster nightmares.
We found dinner at a joint just up the strip called “Strip Burger.” Not much in the way of ambience, but the food was delicious! We walked through the Treasure Island casino on our way back to The Venetian, watched a movie, and went to sleep.
More coughing fits at night. Not at full energy levels during the day. Am seriously wondering it I actually have mono. I’m listening to my body, am not overdoing it, and am drinking lots and lots of water.