Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Flute and Spindle

Wouldn't that title be a nice name for a blog? I'm thinking of changing mine. Although, it also sounds a great deal like a 17th century pub. My life is mostly about family, fluting, spinning, knitting, and other crafty things, with occasional forays into other enterprises. Besides, I'm seeing "postcards from..." something more and more and I hate being just like everyone else. It's time for a change.

I referred to my spinning resolution a couple entries ago. Oops. No, I didn't. Jeez, I'm really certain I did. Think of this as a teaser (or a reminder). Here's the fiber I'm working with. Ain't it pretty? Ashland Bay Merino/Silk, color "Damson."

That's the spindle part of the story.

Here's the flute part (ha ha). More specifically, the alto flute part (ha ha ha ha, doesn't get old).

My DH, my darling DH, gave to me a curved alto flute headjoint as an anniversary gift. Whadda guy! He really knows how to make a girl smile. I smiled a great deal. There was just one tiny little problem...the manufacturer didn't ship the headjoint in a case...just marvelously bubble-wrapped.

Before I go on, there's a story behind this. There's always a story, right? I've owned an alto flute for about 20 years, also given to me as a gift by DH: a beautiful solid silver Gemeinhardt 10AS with lovely tone and a straight head. 20 years ago no one was making curved headjoints. I don't think they were anyway, and I probably would never have thought of it. Okay, it's not the top of the line but it sounds nice and that's what counts. I played it off and on over the years, and I really love playing it, but sad that my wrist hurt so much when I played because the darn this is so long. A different set of body mechanics needs to be employed when you play an alto, and I have never managed to get it so my wrist wasn't cocked at a gross angle. Combine that with very short see my issue.

I saw a curved headjoint for the first time when I joined the Hampton Roads Flute Choir a few years back. I got excited. I started researching. Most recently I was working with Flute World to check tenon joint diameters and lengths and inner diameters and outer diameters and so forth, I knew I'd have to start saving my dimes and nickels and twenties for a Pearl headjoint. It is the one that fit the best, according to Flute World. I had no idea what it would do to the tuning, but Gemeinhardt wasn't making a curved headjoint for purchase separately at the time I made that decision.

Fast forward. Gemeinhardt started making a curved headjoint not too long a few months ago...I think mine might be one of the first ones off the line. Back to the one tiny little to transport? We started looking at alto flute cases. Sticker shock. Holy cow! What the cuss! These things cost more than the headjoint. Jeez.

That was a couple of month ago. Last week I got an alert from I set up an alert on alto flutes over a year ago. Last week's alert was for an alto flute case accommodating a straight AND curved headjoint. What luck! I got it, knowing I'd have to do some modifications. That's okay. I have the tools and it doesn't involve soldering. Not that that's a show's just extra work.

The first piece is removed. No turning back!
The case is in terrific condition. I almost felt bad cutting into it. But cut, I did, and more and more. The body and the headjoint are the only sections that require modification. the foot and straight headjoint fit perfectly.
I like how I can use my own tools.  Headjoint is sitting in the
lid of the case. I'm using the flex shaft to carve out a wider
and slightly deeper curve to accept the crown of the
There was padding beneath the crook of the neck that
I had to remove and lower. I am also adding a velvet
covered shim beneath the crown end of the head for
balance. This allows the case to close securely without
over enthusiastically squishing it.
I need to carve 1.9mm into the side of the case. This
happens to be the kerf left by a heavy duty cut-off wheel.
This cut  is to make room for the body of the flute and
accommodate a single layer of velvet.

That's where I've left off as of last night and I have made good progress. I don't have enough leftover velvet to cover some of the exposed wood support parts so I'm making a trip to the fabric store today. Every part should be covered with some kind of protection so it doesn't damage the finish or the mechanism of the flute. Velvet is the most common, but I'm sure there are other fabrics that would do just as well. Shims can be made out of just about anything that provides slight shock absorption. Rubber, plastic, folded cloth, felt...I have some felted wool test pieces that will make a great shim beneath the headjoint. It really just needs to be stable.

I'm winging this entire enterprise based on reasonably good mechanical assembly skills. I bet Barbara and Fred never thought I'd put their silversmithing training to use like this, but it also wouldn't surprise them. I'm not a woodworker, though, so I get a teeny bit intimidated by working with wood. I know how silver and copper behave. Not so much about the wood.

And for anyone who wants to try this themselves: your mileage may vary. You have to be willing to take a loss on the case if it doesn't work.

I will rip everything out and start from scratch if things really go south. So far, all is well.

Cya anon,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Warm and Almost Clean

The heat pump is cured! Not before it got down to 42 degrees in the house on a couple of the coldest days this month. I praise multi-zone heating systems.

The fan fell off it's peg inside the heat pump. Really. One bolt. I mean, really.

"My computer won't turn on."
"Okay, ma'am, is your computer plugged in?"
"Is that the black snake with the prongs? It's just laying there on the floor. I smacked it with a hammer a few days ago. I think it's dead."

Humiliation is free. Heating technician labor is not free.

In other breaking news, the dryer works. Two years ago, and I really thought I'd blogged about this, we had a spectacular nor'easter which made the water table rise which flooded our basement a foot or two b and prevented it from draining for about a month. Hard to gauge how much water there was, but all of us up and down the street had our sump pumps going 24x7 for several weeks. After all the excitement we were able to determine that the washer and dryer, only a couple of years old, were goners. Whirlpool came out and said, sorry, it's flood damage and even though you're under warranty, you'll have to go through FEMA. Riiiiiiiight.

For the past two years we've been schlepping to the laundromat with clothing, soap, and entertainment gear in hand. Did you know they use re-loadable swipe cards now? Instead of cash? Meanwhile, I didn't know DH was checking to see if either of the appliances had come back from the dead, but a few weeks ago he sprung this info on me, that being the aforementioned dryer.

Me: happy dance.

It appears that by this weekend we'll also have lucked into a washing machine.

Me: happy dance, including a few tap moves.

I'm sure it's a basic run-of-the-mill washing machine but that's more than acceptable as long as it resides in my house and sitting atop two courses of cement blocks.

Right, then, on to other life tasks. Like taxes.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Sunday Morning Looks Like

Whilst I browse my favorite department store, I didn't buy anything. This time.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


The cussing heat pump is rattling like a jar of pennies and we think a bearing is on it's way to the big HVAC in the sky, so we've turned that heat pump off. Good news: two zones! so the second floor is comfortable. Bad news: it's about 50 degrees down on the first floor. Maybe colder. Really chilly down there. Instead of catching up on our Tivo recordings (downstairs) we're hanging out in my lair (upstairs).

Help me name my office/craft room/place where I spend 8+ hours of my day Monday thru Friday. I telecommute from this room. My knitting stash is here. My spinning stash is here. Sometimes my spinning wheel is here, too, but lately it's been in the dining room. My silversmithing equipment is here. My sewing equipment is here. My flutes and music are here. My ginormous Ikea Galant desk is here. And right now I am here. It's a good big room. It has no name. Calling it "my office" sounds a little pretentious. "My room" sounds presumptuous, although it is my room and DH has his room/office/playroom wherein resides his computer(s), misc electronics, big honkin' man desk, theatrical paraphernalia, and Yamaha keyboard.

I also need a name for my spinning wheel. I've been referring to it as Betty but that just doesn't have the right ring. Also, I would like to tattoo the wheel. Or, paint tattoo-type images of Koi and Japanese waves and things.

I don't know why I like this so much: So Now You Know: World's Heaviest Snow Plow, but this blogger shared an amusing caption written for an old wood block print: Cupcakes?

I upgraded my laptop to Windows 7 last week. As if I didn't already have enough on my plate what with trying to launch that darned scorecard I mentioned in the last post I wrote in 2010, oh back in August. Yes, since that time I've been pushing developers, negotiating with stakeholders, and writing project documentation all in a race to launch a new online executive scorecard before the end of the calendar year. We would have made it, too, if one of the developers hadn't (a) resigned and (b) failed to actually complete (like he said he did) some key components of said scorecard prior to leaving. He was supposed to leave at the end of December and decided to leave ten days early. What a smeg head. I worked over my Christmas vacation on this. My manager worked over her Christmas vacation on this. We discovered last week that even if the defects we found had been resolved by 12/31, we never would have been able to launch it because, lo and behold, our erstwhile developer did not build the space on the production web server and the new owner of the web server says "oh no, server not stable, can't use it, go elsewhere." No amount of escalation was able to break through that barrier. We have a solution, we repoint the URL to a different web server (found one, owner says "sure, come on in, mi casa su casa," then build the new space, load the code, and test. It was an eventful week.

But you know what? It's friggin' done. The code is complete, all the functions work, the interface is as clean as my stakeholders have allowed (we disagree about flashy thingies) and I'm getting ready for a JAD session to design requirements for the next release. I gave life to this monster but did I mention I have to feed and water it? And, I expect that sometimes it will poop on the floor and I'll most certainly step in it. This has been an enormously valuable learning experience. I've learned that it's okay to break an egg as long as you say "yep, my egg. Does anyone have a towel?"

I wonder how many other metaphors I can mix and destroy tonight. DH will be counting.

I need to upload pictures but there are obstacles. Windows 7 upgrade. Right. Photoshop isn't loaded, but I'll probably do that tonight before bed. MyPad won't sync with iTunes on the laptop. It wasn't syncing before the upgrade so not a step backward. I have an assortment of lovely photos on the iPad from Christmas and, lamer that I am, might have to...I don't know...upload them to a cloud and then download them back again. Google Docs might be the ticket and I haven't tried that yet.

Cya anon.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year, New Blog Goal

That being "do more blogging." We'll see how that works out. I sure do like the idea of doing this while sitting in bed, though, and it might be the perfect incentive.

Christmas at Mom's in Silverdale was relaxing and lazy and full of good cheer. We walked through their neighborhood of Klahowya, visited one of the best yarn stores I've ever seen (Linda's Knit n' Stitch has a WALL of Koigu, dude), spent some time with my grandma and Uncle Stan, we ate Ivar's at the airport before we bothered to pick up our luggage, and didn't go to Seattle at all. We did some shopping, naturally. One must aquire accessories for one's new toys. Best Buy was conveniently located across the parking lot from Costco. The Silverdale Costco positively dwarfs ours here in Norfolk. You could put two of our Costco's inside theirs.

Note to Mom: My Costco has that yummy sheep's cheese and hopefully not just for the season.

Our plan this year is to really get moving on our kitchen remodel, but we'll be doing it in stages. We agreed to sacrifice some important events this year to make this all happen. This weekend we'll be scouting ranges, and two base cabinets. We badly need a new range, and the base cabinets allow us to make the first major modification: moving the sink from the peninsula to the wall and getting rid of the butt-ugly peninsula. Did I say butt-ugly? What I really mean is grossly, sadly, spectacularly butt-ugly. Hyperbole: not a thing of the past.

So unless I get a really spectacular bonus (I did well but not five-figures-well), and no more horrible automotive issues, I won't be getting a second spinning wheel this year, I will only be going to a little fiber festival locally, and am scaling back my fiber purchases this year. It's not a fiber diet, just a tightening the belt thing. DH is giving up a couple of conferences, although we might still be able to do the yoga teacher training.

Meanwhile, I've been configuring the heck outa my new iPad. I love these apps right now:
  • Flickpad because I can see all photos my friends have posted this by the week to Flickr and Facebook.
  • Flipboard because I can do basically the same thing with this and the blogs I follow as I do with Flickpad. Flipbook formats it all into a magazine-like format, which is very lovely. If only I could drop Flickpad into Flipboard...
  • Angry Birds. What's not to like? It's so fun!

And I'm going to stop right there and post the damn thing! And by the way, typing on the iPad isn't nearly the headache I thought it would be. It works just fine, thanks.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad