Two Much in One

Since I'm not moving to my uncle's house, it seems my uncle's house is slowly moving here. Initially, the one thing my mom planned to reclaim was her old piano, which she's had for 40 years. My father installed extra support beams in the basement under our living room, because it is heavy. Wednesday was the big day for the movers to transport it, but it was neither the first nor the last new arrival. Nearly every day for the past two weeks, my mom's been going through things to make sure nothing of sentimental value is discarded. Boxes and boxes of old photos and important papers have found their way into our already crowded house, along with furniture such as antique tables and an old rocking chair. The entire house is starting to resemble my room, and I've been reminded of just where I get my own packrat tendencies from.

When I came home from work on Wednesday, a large wooden chest sat on our front walk. “Are we pirates now?” I asked as I walked into the kitchen. “Huh?” said my dad, stirring a pot of spaghetti, “Oh yeah, I need you to help me carry that downstairs. Your mother saves more garbage...ahhh, but you're the same way; I can't talk.” It's definitely been hard on my dad seeing more and more floor space disappear, and even I'm starting to have nightmares about fire.

After carrying the human-sized “treasure chest” downstairs, I got my first view of the living room. My mom sat on the couch, going through old sepia tone photos of my grandmother's kindergarten class, trying to figure out which child she was. Unfazed, our cat Chirp had already claimed my great-uncle's rocking chair as his own. The piano meanwhile loomed in a corner once reserved for a small table during all times of the year save Christmas, when our tree set up residence. I have no idea where the tree is going to go this year.

My mom says she's throwing things out as she goes through things. Though my grandmother passed away over twenty years ago, boxes of her old medical papers lined my uncle's attic. Other things, such as furniture, she's not so quick to part with. Several chairs have been displaced from our living room to our dining room, while our living room now houses three different coffee tables. Boxes of ornaments have moved to the basement, which resembles a jungle since my mom hasn't had time to sort out all the plants she brought inside for the Winter, and there's a maze of pots on the ground. I suggested public storage, or more reasonably the garage on our lot. Unfortunately, the garage is full of items she planned to sell in a yard sale. Books, old clothing, and glassware are among the ticketed items that have sat there for years, while her volunteer work at the arboretum and some health issues kept her too busy to ever actually have a sale. I'm going to look into eBay and if I can convince her to sell some things, explore the online option.

The years have not been kind to her piano. Screws were missing, and the leg supports fell out when the movers brought it inside. It needs tuning, but that I'm told can only be done after a piano has settled in a new spot, as the act of moving it messes it up every time. Several keys stick, and the entire frame was crooked. On her growing list of things to do, my mom is also planning to refinish the wood. On Friday morning, as I was catching up on the shows I'd taped while at my office party the night before, my dad paced back and forth, waiting for my mom to wake up and give us the go-ahead to adjust the piano. Pulling apart under its own weight without the leg supports, there were gaps that needed to be shifted back in to place. Attaching the legs was no small task, as we had to remove the front panel, lid, and two other blocks of wood just to find where the screws went.

My dad was and is an awesome mechanic, but he's action before thought, always. He never lays out all the tools or parts he needs ahead of time. Several times he ran downstairs to find screws, since the originals were long gone. Once or twice we didn't have the right screwdriver, and another time he needed to get a magnet when the a screw was too small and I couldn't retrieve it. When a screw was the right thickness but not the right length, he took a hacksaw to it. Catching the screws on the bottom was impossible. The piano is too heavy to set on its back, and too heavy to tilt even if it didn't pull apart. I had a small screwdriver and I was getting it in place while my dad tilted it slightly, but not quickly enough apparently. He insisted I needed a ratchet while I, reaching under the base, could tell that a ratchet wouldn't fit in the opening. In true sitcom fashion, he let the piano rest, leaving my finger stuck while he ran downstairs and assumed I was crying for help to be melodramatic. After he returned and freed me, and my mom came in to see what the yelling was about, I let him try the ratchet so he could see for himself it wouldn't work.

Ultimately, we decided with two screws on top of each leg, they would stay in place. My mom's only going to take it apart to stain the wood anyway, so we moved it back into its corner. After such a fun morning, I'm wondering if it would have been more or less work if I bought my uncle's house and a lot of this junk stayed over there. My mom may well be on the verge of a scientific breakthrough, as it's only a matter of time before two objects occupy the same space, at the same time. Of course that will create a rift in the space/time continuum, so if I suddenly stop writing, you'll know where I went...


Blogger b13 said...

Was that an old player piano? You know the ones that played on thier own... we have one as well at my parents home and it is both old and huge. The "player" innards had been removed well over 40 years ago and it needs an overhaul as well. But I agree with your parents...keep the old stuff for the memories and to pass down through the family.

And I hope your hand is ok. I think your dad knows that you need that thing to type and play your tunes ;)

12/09/2006 1:17 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

I'm not sure if it ever was a player piano--when I used to go to my grandma's as a kid I always thought that window up top opened for the player roll, but all you can see when you open it is the tuning strings. Maybe it has the same frame as a player piano; I'll have to ask my ma.

The hand is fine; there are small wheels on the piano so it's not like the weight of it was on me. But the wheels only keep it an inch off the ground, and my finger was wedged alongside a small screwdriver in an opening under the base at a bad angle; no room to dislodge. No breaks or scratches though, so even though I really was stuck, I guess my dad was right about me being melodramatic lol.

12/09/2006 10:19 PM  
Blogger Otis said...

O.K., here is the latest pic of MCF. I'm convinced I know his true identity now!

12/10/2006 12:00 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

Heh, that's great Otis!

12/10/2006 12:27 AM  

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