Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Off We Go...

Yesterday was a pretty full day of art presentation. Rented a truck, picked up the artwork, delivered it to a big office building downtown (with the usual horror show of using the loading dock and freight elevator), assisted with the presentation, then packed it all up and took it back to the art consultant. Later in the afternoon I had to deliver some painting materials to one of the crew out in Lincoln. The boys seem to have plenty of work for while I'm away.
Today we finished packing and took the dawg and kat off to camp (the kennel). We fly out of Boston at around 19:00 to Newark and then on to Rome... A little more nervous than usual, as niether of us knows Italian, but everone assures us that we'll be fine.
We return on 1 October... don't know if I'll have a chance to access the blog from Italy. Should have some good stories when we get back. Best to all...

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Saturday and Sunday...

Yesterday (Saturday) was raining, our bit of hurricane Ivan. Writing out estimates in the morning. Then I was off through some serious rain to Clark Gallery in Lincoln to pick up the artwork that wasn't there the day before. It still wasn't there... wasted trip. Pamela was most apologetic and gave me a nice catalog for the next exhibition. Errands and then I'm done for. Watched britcoms for the evening... "Keeping up...", "Are You Being...", "Ballykiss..." and "Monarch..."
Today was up and make reservations on the train from Rome to Florence. Off to the Plough, crossword under my arm. The usual there, really. Home to laundry and the prelude to packing.
One problem about working for myself is that there is no holiday pay... several people calling in to look for me to do things during the time that I'll be away... lost revenue, there. I can't afford this, but you only live once... and I plan too.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Finally Getting Things Done...

So, with my refurbished van... (new front tires, new radiator) I headed out to Beacon, NY at about 6:30 yesterday morning. A rather uneventful 3 1/2 hour drive. Ugly little town... very New York state. Interesting that things can be so different in such a short drive.... in America, anyway. I'm sure that looking at us from afar you think that we're all McDonalds and Wallmart... not really true. I'm sure they were near at hand but this little burg had none of that. A few empty store fronts... and this weird little gallery. The woman that ran the place was a bit of a nutcase. No paper work no packing of the artwork... but she gave me some grief about the way I was putting the work in the van. Sorry, I know what I'm doing and I've been doing it longer than you've been doing whatever you do. I never said that, of course. Loaded it in, got petrol... and headed back. Signs for an easy off, easy on diner intrigued me... better than the stops on the highway. It was. Rough to find decent radio through Connecticut. Back to Cambridge about 3:30, Jim was home so I went and unloaded. And so to the Plough.
Today was all over the map. Installing 9 pieces in a brand new, brilliant house in Brookline... then I go to install 6 pieces at another place nearby. Then it was picking up artwork from an artist and delivering it to the art consultant. Out to Concord to pick up the last of our gear, and collect a check... then I stop by Clark Gallery, in Lincoln, but they didn't have the pieces they want me to take in town (tomorrow, that). Over to Weston to pay the boys and I was on a barstool by 4:30. A good couple of hours with the lads and here I am home...

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Better Here Than on the Mass Pike...

Up and out early to replace the two front tires on the van. Everything is going fine they got the job done quick but after paying, when I went out to get the keys, the guy said, "You're leaking a lot of coolant." Jeepers creepers... over to my regular mechanic, Vinny. Filling the petrol, I tell him about the coolant and ask if we can find the leak... hoping that it's just a clamp that didn't get tightened properly yesterday. Nooo... it's the radiator itself. I'm not driving to Beacon, NY today. I leave the van and walk home. Calls to the gallery and the artist I'm picking up for. A few errands around the neighborhood with Syl. She gave me some money to change into euros... $559=430 euros. So the day wouldn't be a total loss, I headed out to Concord to help the guys finish up. They had the place fairly well in hand and I went to work putting a second coat on a big old pile of stops that will hold the screens in. Lowell and Paul seemed pretty antsy and actually left early, leaving Michael and me with a certain amount of pick up and finishing up. (Queer that, and I'm going to have to say something) We did finish up and Michael left his number so that they can get in touch with him once the carpenters get the decks ready to coat. He's the best team player of the lot... he just can't get to the job early enough. All these guys have ways about them that make me crazy. Every once in a while I think that I should chuck it all and go find a real job , today was one of them. Bought some flowers for Sylvia's birthday on the way home and went to ransom out the van. Off to Beacon, NY early tomorrow... I've gotta try to be there for 10:00... meaning I should leave here by 6:00. Early to bed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Better Today Than Tomorrow...

Off I go to clean up the last of the unfinished business from last week. First I have to stop at the one good hardware store left on the planet. Home Depot... a big, warehouse home improvement chain has put all the little neighborhood hardware stores out of business. So it can be difficult to find classic hardware. I'm looking for brass, #6, oval headed screws, 1 1/2 inch or longer. No where to be found... I'll settle for flat head, then. Home Depot only carries philips head screws of this sort and I don't think that they look right with antique fixtures. The problem with Home Depot is that they only stock the cheapest and most common sorts of hardware... they have their strengths but the uncommon is not one of them. In the old days (15 years ago?) every villiage in Newton (the town I was familiar with at the time) had it's own wonderful hardware store (iron mongers). Great places, with creaky, unfinished wooden floors, after looking around a bit you'd describe what you needed to a clerk, who would scratch his head and go downstairs to return with just the item... Or maybe I'm dreaming.
Anyway... on the way over to Swartzes, I noticed that the van was running hot. Not good. For the last couple of oil changes I'd been told the coolant was low but only had them top it off. I decided to go to the oil change place to have them look at it as I knew they'd do it right away (I was overdue for an oil change anyway). They decided that the radiator needed a good flushing and that did seem to cure the problem. Good, as I have to drive to Beacon, New York tomorrow to pick up artwork. I'd rescheduled the installation job, and instead got some paint and went out to Concord where the guys were finishing up this porch. Michael and I went off and did an estimate down the way for Meena, another client. I finished off the day, quite happily painting a pair of French doors. Oh, I tried to get a new pair of tires but was too late... they can do it early tomorrow before I head out.
I don't need all this just before I go on a holiday that I can't afford in the first place.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Whoa... Where'd the Weekend Go ???

Monday again and I was making the rounds trying to finish up the loose ends that I'd left last Friday. Hung 10 shelves out in Wayland... still not crazy about the system the manufacturer used... little keyholes in the back that slide down over a screw head. They all wanted to tip forward and if I tried to tighten the screw they wouldn't go on at all. I did warn the client not to put anything heavy on them. Then it was into Boston to finish up this poor ceiling... sanded, primed and painted the patch. Looked OK... and I got out of there.
Yesterday was my normal stop at the Plough with my crossword. Julian came in with the New York Times puzzle and we finished that as well as the Globe.
Saturday was a sort of family birthday party at my folks (a bunch of us have summer birthdays, so they all get bunched together). Normal family gathering. A fairly well adjusted lot, considering...
So... Blogging... Ruud has commented on mine, Keith Bates has commented on Sylvia's... it's getting pretty cozy. Greenfield returned a collage that we're working on... I suggested that we don't use words on this one, since we did all text last project. He took me too literaly and didn't send a note ! The spell checker for this blog is interesting... it doesn't recognise "Blogging"... go figure.

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Last Two Days...

Yesterday was a bust... Lowell and I went to finish touching up this horrible ceiling and the patch that he'd put in the day before was barely dry. It needed another thin skim and once that was done we were both standing there wishing it was done. It was useless to wait around so we got out of there. I went home to do some paper work, walked the dog. Later on I walked over to the Plough to see Rick, who was in town from North Adams... he was here to pick up his friend Jan-Willem, from Holland, at the airport. We had a bit of a visit, but he was distracted as he was going to be staying with his sort of ex-girlfriend.
Today I was all over the place. I started out picking up a painting in Newton... then on to Wayland to install some shelves. The hardware provided was inadequate, so I'll have to go back for that. The client also had some cuppy things (6 of them) that needed to be assembled so I did that. From here I went over to Concord to see how the porch was coming along. Everything was fine and everybody was busy. I was able to get a much needed check from the client while I was there. I'd had to put off the ceiling because my time was to tight. Back into Boston to deliver the painting, I'd picked up earlier. To the bank and a quick, late lunch. Over to Brookline to install a cabinet and 3-4 pictures. There were also a pair of sconce to be hung but once again I didn't have the proper hardware... even though I'd stopped to get what I'd thought I'd need, according to the description I'd been given. This rarely works. Usually I've got to see the job to get the appropriate stuff. So, leaving a wake of unfinished projects... I stopped at the Plough on the way home...

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Whew... I Made It...

Started out the day setting up Lowell to fix a ceiling... nightmare, that... the whole skim coat wanted to come down. We opted to do a patch on the area we started with and the client will get a plasterer to put up a new celing. Off to return keys to the previous client and then I'm off to the cape (Cape Cod) to look at two houses.
It was 3:00 and I noticed that the reception for one of my all time favorite clients was 4:00-6:00. Did the estimates and bulleted back to Cambridge, MIT. Arrived in time to spend an hour. These people had a wonderful minimalist collection... truely world class. Dan Flavin, Sol Lewit, Ad Reinhart, Sean Scully, Roni Horn... it just goes on. I've worked with them for close to 20 years, unpacking, repacking, installing and painting the place a number of times. There are stories to be told... worthy of a whole blog. About a year ago they got rid of everything... giving their children first choice and then dividing the rest of the collection between Harvard and MIT. We delivered the art to MIT (Harvard did their own pick up). Me and Paul with my ratty old van driving a Dan Flavin piece, worth at least $50,000, probably more. We painted the place, with color this time... and outlined where some of the pieces had been (Rick did that). Well, I made it... glad of that... I'll miss them.
I knew about half the crowd and I was one of the last to leave. Glad I made it.

Originally uploaded by jstangroom.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Boring as Hell, I Guess...

Moving art today.... Artwork from Brookline to the South End... then, later on it was artwork for presentation from the South End to State Street. I got there before the art consultant did and all of a sudden a meeting started about the piece. They thought it was too small for the space and were sending me away with it, when the art consultant finally arrived. She said, move this over here... try this pic there... and we were back in business. I still had to take the piece back out... to the framers, I guess. Had to remind the art consultant that I could do the installation. I do hate doing the pain in the arse presentation parts and not getting the rather cushy installation bits. The painting crews seem to be OK. Got an autographed pic of Clint Eastwood that I'd bought on eBay.

Monday, September 06, 2004

The Long Weekend...

So Saturday was consumed with errands. Had to go to the bank, pay Lowell and use the van to pick up some plywood for him. Nothing more of note, there.
Sunday... more chores around the house, walked the dog. Then I was off to the Plough with my crossword. Went through Harvard Yard on my way and there were freshmen and dorm guides everywhere... as well as a good lot of Japanese people with video cams. Stopped by the Travel book store... but couldn't decide from the many books for Italy, figured that I'd wait for Sylvia. At the Plough, Rev. Richard, (who cleans and preps the place), was there but no sign of Mitch, the bartender. Richard poured me a Guinness and we were soon joined by Mark Thompson. Richard kept us in beer for the hour or so that it took Mitch to get there (on the house, he doesn't have access to the cash register). A slow day, being a holiday weekend and there was no brunch being served. Most of the regulars were at a music festival in Rhode Island. A good time was had and I walked home to arrive just about the same time as Sylvia returned from work. Monday, today... I discovered that people couldn't hear me on my cell phone... it rings, I answer but they can't hear me... I can hear them. If I place the call it seems to work. I doubt that there's any fixing these things... most likely I'll have to buy a new one. Sylvia and I went back to the travel book store and selected a few more volumes. A Malaysian lunch and I was back to the Plough, while she went home. I didn't stay long and once I returned home I tried to purchase train tickets from Rome to Florence on-line, with no success. The only thing that I ca figure out is that I was doing it too late for them. For whatever reason the timings for booking tickets on-line are between 6:30 and 23:30... with the time difference I was just off... try again tomorrow.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

College Arrivals...

The Greater Boston area contains some 30+ institutions of higher learning (colleges and universities). Harvard, MIT, Boston College, Northeastern and Boston University being some of the largest and most famous. There's a host of others... UMass/Boston, Emerson, Leslie, Brandeis, Bentley, Babson (who own 2 of my paintings), Wellesley, MassArt (my alma mater), Museum School.... it goes on and on...
So, as the school year starts in September... we get an influx of students. New, freshmen and those upper classmen who return from wherever it is they go for the summer. The cusp of August and September is the traditional moving time... (book well ahead if you want to rent a truck). Needless, to say, this screws up traffic in the whole city, with newcomers not knowing where they're going, double parked trucks and anxious parents kissing their young scholars goodbye for the semester. It's also traditional for some bonehead to get his rental truck stuck under a bridge on Storrow Drive. There are also those newcomers who thought that they'd want a car in Boston... this lot usually figures it out by October.
A great many parents of students stop by the Plough to rekindle memories... every so often there's someone we remember. There's also a goodly amount of student partying for the first couple of weeks without parental control... but that calms down as most realize that college is serious business... the others are gone for other reasons.
I commuted 30 miles each way for my first 2 years of college and then got married before I was old enough to drink... hell, I couldn't have afforded it anyway. I put myself through Art School... while trying to grow up too fast. I've made up for some of it...

Friday, September 03, 2004

Friday Finishing...

So... Lowell and I were trying to finish up the job in the Back Bay... almost made it.
We spent the morning cleaning up and getting things in order to take out to the van. A bit of last minute prep for the trim we still needed to second coat. Then Pat (the client) asked if we could rehang the two big pieces that were going back on the long wall in the hallway. If I'd known that they were going back I would have marked where the hangers were. I'd originally hung them there 20 years ago... but I was younger, then and not wearing the bifocals. Two 51 inch pictures, one above the other in a stairway. Moving a ladder around, trying not to damage our newly painted walls... the problem with the bifocals is that the reading bit is at the bottom of the lens. So... when you're on a ladder and try to look down you're out of focus... if you try to look up to plot the hooks, you're looking throught the distance part, again out of focus. Twisting your head around to find the "sweet spot"on the lenses, while you're on a ladder with tools in both hands gets a little hairy. We got it done... they needed a little tweaking to accomodate the irregularities of the architecture. Lunch and then back to finish painting the trim, (almost... there's still a bit of work on the risers). Pat gave me a check, but she dated it wrong and I'll have to deal with that tomorrow. Meanwhile, the crew out in Concord got payed and I'd asked Stephen to sort that out for me... it appears that he had to reinstall some math skills to complete that task. I saw Paul at the Plough and he explained how it all went... everything is fine. Ahhh... the long weekend.
Tomorrow, we'll talk about the college arrivals in Boston.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Move Art...Paint...Move Art...

Started out the day be arrainging the van to accomodate some artwork.
Picked up the artwork at Brickbottom Studios (for later delivery).
Met Lowell in the Back Bay to help him tweak up the trim work.
Lunch, where I finally finished reading, "White Teeth" by Zadie Smith (good story but it seems hurried in the end).
Back to paint a few doors, then off to deliver the above artwork... pick up another piece and deliver that.
In the mean time there were a few calls to the other crew... trying to find out thier hours so that I could request a check. I ask these guys every week, "What are your hours?"... and they act like I was asking them to explain the Pythagorean Theorem.
A quick stop at the Plough, where I did the NY Times crossword with Chris Wright... our last crossword for a while as he leaves for Dubai tomorrow... editing a new magazine there or something. And so to home...

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Today We Spray...

A bit of a late start as Paul was getting his car inspected.
Over to Home Depot, where we rented an airless paint sprayer. Out to Concord where Michael and Paul started masking off the trim around the lattice work that was going to be sprayed. Me to the paint store for primer and paint. Stephen had arrived by the time I got back. He helped Michael finish up the masking while Paul set up the rig. The carpenters were there installing the ceilings but we were able to keep out of each others way. Once it was up and running we had the lattice work primed in no time. I got the job of crawling under the porch to put cardboard down to keep the overspray off of the gravel. Lunch and then I started painting the fascia boards so that they would be done before the gutters went up. After cleaning the primer out of the sprayer, Paul commenced with the finish coat. It went on a little heavy and had to be brushed out in spots. Stephen and Michael took over the facia work while I followed Paul and once again crawled under to move the cardboard. Pretty efficient, it was. Cleaned up the rig just in time to load it back in the van... Paul and I had to run over to Peggy Boyers to do some emergency art installation. Just three pieces, but she hadn't been able to handle them. She gave me some homegrown tomatoes... always a treat. Returned the sprayer and went home to cart out the trash and type out some bills... A reasonably successful day. (the lattice will have to be touched up a little)