Monday, June 22, 2009

"...Booked out and bound to go..."

Big Bill Broonzy: "I got the keys to the highway, booked out and bound to go..."

Mike in Westminster, Maryland purchased a Barker Bass and it set out on the journey last week.

But before that, well, here's your behind the scenes peek. Though the inventoried basses hang in a pretty clean room, it's not perfect. Dust, like a desperate pilot, always finds a place to land. (You can get a feel for this room, including the photo corner, on this Oregon Art Beat segment from Oregon Public Broadcasting.) So first, cleaning. Compressed air first, microfiber cloth next.

Then to the bench for setup as if it were just assembled: Neck relief, string height, string spacing, string radius, pickup height, tuning, intonation and checking for the proper amount of Barker Mojo Fluid.

From there, back to the SemiClean Room for playing, double checking the feel of everything, noting the balance of string tone, and snugging down the Mojo Fluid Dipstick.

Wrapping is a little more involved than you might think, with protective foam between the strings and fingerboard, new, clean plastic sleeve over the whole instrument, custom cut foam blocking (the same foam insert in the custom box accommodates all three sizes of Barker body, provided this little added block is right) and then inserting the stand and bag set in the box, making sure the owner's manual is in there along with the wrench for string height adjustment.

Once all that is done and double checked, the final strapping goes on. It's ready to

"...leave here runnin', 'cause walkin' is most too slow."

It's a triumphant, top-o'-the-world feeling to have brought this instrument from nothing to something, attempting to instill in it my ideas about quality and beauty and joy, hoping that will be reflected through the hands of the new owner and into the ears of those who hear her or him play it.

Mike, welcome to the Barker family. She'll be at your door soon.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Math of Dirt

The long range plan: Replace the lawn between the sidewalk and the street--sometimes called "the parking" or "the terrace"--with pavers.

The motivation: conserve water and reduce mowing.

The steps so far:

1. ad on Craigslist: "free sod--you cut, you load, you haul." A young couple answered, did a great job.

However. That sod--50 years old--had grown tall with years of accumulated normal thatch decomposing and, in effect, creating soil. Setting the sodcutter at its greatest depth still left the remaining soil about even with the sidewalk and the curb.

"You've got a lot of dirt there, Lee," was the common comment from Those Who Know.

We enlisted the help of Rex (guitar player and contractor) and his wife Sharon and grandson Chance, and JD, manager of his rentals and owner of a stunning home which he built by himself up in the Ochoco mountains. And among JD's credentials, maybe the topmost: He owns a tractor with a bucket. Add Linda and me, and you've got the crew portrait.

The soil to be removed measured thus: 3 inches (depth of paver) by 588 square feet. If one focuses on the inches, it doesn't look like much. But what you have is 147 cubic feet, which is nearly 5 1/2 cubic yards--a small dump truck full.

It wasn't all tractor--shovels, landscape rakes, buckets of rocks up to large grapefruit size (and two marbles and a few shards of a flowerpot).

Little barbecue in the middle of the day.

JD dumped the surplus soil over the fence in the back yard, raw material for Linda's dreams of berms and plantings.

I can't grasp the work it would have taken to get it there by wheelbarrow.

By 5 o'clock the paver area was raked free of rocks and roots and screeded to depth. Amazing.

Now it gets easier.

Love your friends.