Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November 2008 Update

Life is finally beginning to return to normal. We lost out house last year on October 21, 2007. The new house was finally completed on October 20, 2008, ready for us to move in on the 21st, exactly one year later. It took us longer to move that I had anticipated, so we didn’t actually make it back home until October 29. It is now November 18, 2008, and we are still living out of boxes, trying to find a place for everything, and hanging pictures. We are still waiting for most of our furniture to arrive. It will be easier to complete the move when we have drawers to put things into. We had our furniture custom made in India from solid rosewood. As a longtime guitarist, I am aware of the lasting qualities of Indian rosewood – that’s what most of the fine guitars are made from. We are waiting for a dining table with chairs and a bench, bed frame with headboard and footer, 2 night stands, dresser and mirror, chest of drawers, living room coffee table and 2 end tables, dining room hutch, curio cabinet, and a DVD and VCR cabinet. Hopefully the furniture should arrive soon and we can put an end to this chapter in our life. By the way, you can see the furniture on picasaweb.google.com/tsmerk if you really want to. They sent us photos before it got loaded on to the ship.

Our outdoor spa should arrive tomorrow. It is a nice large unit with music, lights and a waterfall. I’m all ready for a nice soak! The pool arrived last month, but we decided not to install it until next spring. It is a 20 foot above ground “Tuff Pool” with all of the accessories. It will be a lot of fun, but right now there are not that many warm evenings left to keep the pool water warm enough to use.

The trip to visit our children and grandchildren in July was wonderful. No problems getting there or getting back, I was in good health this trip, we saw a lot of interesting sights and had a really great time. I really like the Kentucky and Tennessee area. We saw the country’s largest (in size) church in Louisville, saw the Gibson Guitar factory and went to the company showroom where you could play and Gibson or Epiphone guitar (and of course I played a few), we visited Daniel Boone’s grave site, my favorite vintage guitar shop, Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, and a lot of other sites of local or historic interest.

It is so nice to be home that I don’t even mind the extra hour each direction of driving to and from work. It is a nice scenic drive, and it’s always so nice to arrive home. Living in the rural mountain area is like coming home to a campground, only no quite so rustic. I used to love to sit out on the swing at night and listen to the sounds of nature under the big, bright starry sky. We bought a swing at a yard sale for $20, so we are able to once again enjoy this. It is so nice to be home!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

July 2008 update

It has been five months since I last posted in my blog. Since then, I have become less optimistic about the completion of our new house. We originally expected to be moving back home at the end of May, then that got pushed to the end of June, then to the end of July, and now I’m hearing that it might even be August before we see the majestic beauty of Dulzura, California once again! Why can’t contractors realize their limitations and schedule work accordingly. Do they honestly think hat a client is going to say “go ahead an build the other houses first, I know you’re busy, and I don’t mind waiting?”

Peg and I have been buying so many things for the new house that we no longer have room to move around the apartment. Since my last communication, I have acquired some new guitars. I picked up a nice 1966 Epiphone Riviera thinline electric guitar which will be great for blues and smooth jazz, and I met a local luthier, Dan Altilio, who owns Top Gear Pro Shop in La Mesa. I bought two guitars that he had hand made, a steel string acoustic electric thinline guitar and a nylon string acoustic electric thinline guitar. I also purchased a 1967 Fender Twin Reverb guitar amplifier from a store in Oregon. I took it to Top Gear, and their tube amp expert, Tim Pinnell, worked his magic on it. I would now put it up against any other amplifier in the world for tone and versatility.

We also bought a vintage farm/construction tractor, a Case 430 from the early or mid 1960’s. It is equipped with a bucket loader on the front and a gannon box scrapper with ripper teeth on the back. If you want to check it out (although I don’t know why you would) there are some photos at picasaweb.google.com/tomsmerk.

I ordered some custom accessories for our 2008 Dodge Charger, and next week it will be wearing a new rear deck spoiler wing and a new hood scoop. The Charger has always been a sporty car, and this will help its appearance a lot.

We visited our youngest daughter, Georgette, on her 22nd birthday, June 21, at her home in Phoenix, Arizona. While we were there the temperature stayed at around 117 degrees!

Peggy and I will be traveling to Kentucky on July 22 to attend the graduation of our daughter, Melody. She attended a community college studying medical office courses and hopes to work at a family practice office in Louisville. While we are there, we hope to visit a business associate of mine, Kelly Poelker, who lives in western Illinois near St. Louis, a 4-5 hour drive from Louisville. Kelly and I are getting ready to open an online business school. I have already written one course for the school and it will be available soon. We also hope to visit one of my favorite entertainment spots, Nashville, which is within driving distance from Louisville.

I’ll let you know more next month. See you then!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Life goes on, good or bad, it still goes on!

Here's what is new since my last update in November:

In December, during the Christmas holiday season, Peg and I went to Kentucky to visit our two daughters and our 3 grandchildren (the other daughter & grandchild lives in Phoenix, and we'll be going there in February). About half-way through our visit, I became very sick and too weak to walk. I came home on a wheelchair. When I went to the doctor, I found out that I had developed diabetes. To give you an idea how bad I felt, books say that if your blood glucose level is over 300, notify your doctor, if it is over 500 it is critical. Mine was 668! It took me 3 weeks to recover, but I now have my diabetes under control, and I haven't felt this good in a long time. Apparently, I must have had this coming on for a long time, and I just thought I was weak or had the flu whenever the blood glucose levels would go p or down. Then on my first day back to work, I came down with a weird flu that is going around and had to take off another week!

I am gradually starting to rebuild my music career. I now own three guitars - A Carvin AE-185 for blues & rock, a Heritage Golden Eagle for jazz, and a Martin D-42 K2 (all Koa wood) for folk. I also bought a Presonus Firestudio Digital mixer, an Audio-Technica 3035 studio microphone, a Music Man RD50 guitar amp, a Zoom H4 4-track field recorder and some multi-track recording software. I am almost ready to begin recording again. When the new house is complete, the Audio Barn recording studio will be moved inside and will occupy bedroom #3. I am scheduled to appear at the Telemagica festival on May 22-26. I'm not sure yet what day I will perform. Maybe I'll camp out and perform several days!

Plans for the new house are progressing nicely. We have most of our furniture bought and on hold for delivery, and the contractors should be getting started in about a two weeks. We had the opportunity to design the house exactly the way we wanted it, and we are very excited. The new house will be larger than the old one. We even bought a top-of-the-line spa for relaxation! We still have to make plans for a pool and a pond, as well as have the landscaping re-done. I'll post pictures when the project is complete.

Please respond or email me. It would be nice to hear from you.