I finally decided that the piano needs to go bad enough to actually take it apart. Beginning was no easy feat since the top of it had been the repository of a large collection of fiber waiting to be woven. So many projects, so little time.
Once cleared off I took the screwdriver to the hinges on the top and realized that I didn’t need to unscrew anything – everything was so loose it just pulled apart. The top was removed in three sections. These beautiful pieces of wood I will find some way to repurpose.
All of the felts, leather, even wood have turned to dust in this piano. I didn’t realize how far gone the instrument was until it was opened up. There really was no restoration that could have happened here. It would have been a complete rebuild.
The harp is one of the most beautiful things about this piano. Hand painted in gold, reds and greens it shows the artistry of the time in which it was built. Once the strings were off you could actually see why it’s called the harp – it looks like one. The question remains, how many strong men is it going to take to remove it, it’s cast iron.
I’ve also decided to save the keyboard. It’s ebony and ivory which is illegal to sell no matter how old it is. I started to think about all of the hands that have pressed these keys and it began to take on a magic of its own so it stays for the time being with ideas floating around on how to repurpose it with the wood that’s been salvaged and other odd bits and pieces.
There is interest in the beautifully carved legs so the only piece to get rid of will be the case.
I thought that getting rid of this instrument would be a painful experience – in some ways it is – but in taking it apart and realizing what bad condition it really was in made the job easier. I also learned a lot about the actual mechanics and how long it takes to unscrew hundreds of screws.
Once it is out of the room there are things that need to be mended, painted, reworked. It has been in the same place since the late 70’s I think. Once that’s done, a rug will be put in place to make way for another loom that has been waiting patiently in the shed for its moment. That’s a story for another day.
We moved into the house at Fort Pelham Farm in 1967, I was 11 years old. The house has a huge attic. It has two rooms that are finished on each end and open space surrounding it. No one ever goes up there. It’s not that it’s creepy, it’s just the repository for the things no one can part with.
When my mother’s mother broke up her household in the early ’70s boxes of things were brought up there. Wedding gowns, the winter clothes, toys, games, all of the stuff from my father’s childhood room and home. Papers, photographs, vintage containers of all sorts. Furniture, good and bad. All of it found its way there. To my knowledge nothing that ever went into the attic ever saw the light of day again.
There are also a few things that need to be taken care of – restoring power to the second floor, dealing with bad insulation, cleaning up a mess left by masons years and years ago. All of these little things go hand in hand and I have to get rid of stuff in order to tackle those jobs. Painters will soon be here to scrape and paint the peaks of the house repairing the third floors windows at the same time. I don’t think they can get to the windows right now, sigh.
It’s starting to feel like I will be staying here for quite some time – it’s taken a while to feel that way. I have made do with the second floor as a place to sleep with my clothing piled high on spare beds most of the time. I visit our home in Enfield and recently have begun longing for a cozy, comfortable place of my own here. The first floor is comfortable enough but it has always been more of a place to entertain rather than live.
The second floor has peeling wallpaper on every wall. Carpet over wide pine floors dating to 1970 or so. Plaster falling from ceilings reminds me of a Dickens novel I once read sans the cobwebs.
There was some furniture that I wanted to move to the attic and I went up there yesterday to check out the situation. (Yeah, it could be said that I’m part of the problem but I can’t part with the antique rockers that my grandfather brought up here). The stairs leading to the attic are more like a modified ladder they are so steep and narrow. Once up there I realized what a real problem the mess is. I had thought I could just pitch stuff out of the window onto the lawn but that was before I realized just how much stuff we are talking about. Did I really want to handle any of it more than once?
A 20 yard dumpster was put next to one end of the house about 15 minutes ago, it will be here for two weeks (or less if I can get things done). I’m sure I will feel as though a great weight has been lifted. Now I just have to muster the energy.