Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Sun smoked out

 IT'S BEEN A beautiful week weather-wise in the Q-Town, but it's been strangely overcast and the sun has been obscured by smoke from wild fires out West.

The photo to the right was taken Monday night from the roof of our Second String Music building. It was indeed eerie looking right at the sun without squinting. It almost looked like the moon. The light didn't slowly fade as much as it just turned gray and then black.

Contrast that in the photo above from the night before, same vantage point, when the skies were clear and the daylight faded past the Mississippi River.

It's fitting this is happening in 2020, the most messed up and strange year ever. Here's to hoping we have more sunsets in beautiful light to bring on the night. And sunrises, for that matter.

Friday, September 11, 2020

It's an Election Year. Be careful out there.

POLITICS IS SERIOUS business. I get it. The upcoming election is huge. But some people involved in politics often lack a sense of humor. So if you are easily offended or if you think the election is already rigged or certain candidates are backed by aliens, stop reading right here. Or, have somebody read the rest of this blog to you, which I suspect might be the case anyway.

I am not a member of either party. I have opinions and I will vote. If you want to know my opinions, call me. But opinions are like assholes - everybody has one, nobody needs two, and they often smell. So save it if you want to comment on this and tell me how to vote or how wrong I am. 

This morning, Sheryl discovered a political bumper sticker on her car had been defaced. I will not tell you what it said. But it was written in marker. So some dirtball actually walked down our alley, saw the sticker, went home, got a marker and came back and wrote on the bumper sticker. Now THAT is dedication. Congrats, dirtball! You get the Dedicated DipWad Award! Lots of people in Calftown get it, so it's not that big of a deal.

I do have an opinion about people who deface political signs or cars, and people who steal signs. Now would be a good time to have the person reading this to you read very slowly so you understand every word - 


There aren't enough Dedicated DipWad Awards out there to give you but the police would like to have a talk. Just stop.

Don't bother commenting on this blog, or on Facebook, if you stole the signs or wrote garbage on a political sticker. Tell the person who is reading this you and writing your comments to stop. They'll get removed the minute you post them. 

If you want to put a sign in your yard, great. If you want to gather in a parking lot and then drive down Broadway honking and waving flags, super duper. If you want to park around Washington Park and jump up and down and tell us how great your guy is, good for you. I won't be around but I have no problem with it. 

The beauty of living in a free country is that you have freedom. Your freedom ends when it harms someone else or their property so be careful. Especially around Sheryl... she's had enough of your stupidity.

This is an election year! Go out and support your party and your candidate. But don't cross the line, and don't tell me who to vote for or why. Otherwise, you will be sentenced to laughing for five minutes every day until you cheer up.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Cleaned out and rented

 WE'VE BEEN CLEANING the daylight out of the upper floors of our historic Second String Music building. Into the 503 Maine space formerly occupied by Electric Fountain Brewing went massive amounts of old drywall, windows, insulation, furniture and bag after bag of dust, dirt and crumbled plaster. Throw in a small mountain of scrap metal and the space quickly got filled.

On Monday our friend Kate Daniels came into the store and asked Sheryl to help with an Adams County Democratic Party project. Then she asked if the 503 space was still for rent. When learning it was and negotiating monthly rent, we asked when she wanted to move in.

"Uh, how about now?" she said.

So 503 Maine is the new temporary headquarters of the Adams County Democrats, and will be through next spring's municipal elections. Sheryl had been doing research on what to do to get rid of the small mountain of junk in the space. Tuesday morning she called Clayton Roll, a young Quincy man who owns Rolling Operations dumpster rental. Two hours later we had a large dumpster in front of 503 Maine and we started filling it up. 

We recruited Isaac Smith from our 505 Maine Studios space, and he got his young son Jaden to help out. Soon we were swinging heavy bags of dirt and the tons of junk into the dumpster. A couple of

hours later we had had it filled to the top, and we tossed an old couch on the top to smash it down.

Clayton was awesome. He was willing to work with us if we needed a bigger dumpster, but fortunately the dumpster was exactly the right size. Sheryl messaged him Tuesday afternoon and he was there 20 minutes later to pick it up. His prices are fair and we are relieved to get all that junk out of there.

Yesterday I took two Jeep loads of scrap metal to Alter. In the end I got a mere $20 for the scrap, but the fact it was finally out of the space and not in a landfill was more than enough to make it worthwhile. 

Our new tenants started moving in literally minutes after I left with the last load. They are happy, we are happy, and our chiropractor has picked up more business this week (Sheryl is there as I write this).

We highly recommend Clayton if you need a dumpster for your trash. Thank you Isaac and Jaden as well!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Malcolm turns One!

 WE HAD ANOTHER birthday of significance recently  - Malcolm, our little Cowboy Corgi of doom, turned 1-year old last Saturday. We celebrated with a long cemetery walk, some belly rubs, and treats. Well, actually, it was just another day at Fifth and Maine and in the Calftown Hood. Malcolm loved it.

Malcolm is fierce, irascible, demanding, a cuddle bug and super friendly with strangers. He has a habit of chasing rabbits down cockleburr-infested hills in cemeteries and barking at other dogs walking around Washington Park. He loves stealing the ball from Uncle Angus, which often sets up a cacophony of barking and mayhem. He's very good at stealing the food off your plate (Sheryl is still traumatized by the "pork chop incident" the other day) and he fails to understand why I would give Genie some love and not pet him at the same time.

And just when you want to yell at him and banish him into the puppy corner, he wiggles his little Corgi butt and stubby tail, perks up his ears and turns his head sideways. "Hey," he says. "It's not my fault I'm awesome and you love me. And you didn't finish the belly scratch from earlier today."

I think a lot about Tucker, our beautiful Border Collie who passed away a few weeks after Malcolm came to live with us. Malcolm has filled the void and is working on becoming a part of the two-headed dog with Genie. Tucker and Genie were inseparable most days. Sheryl expects him to start riding around on Genie's back someday...

Our lives revolve around Second String Music, guitar lessons, big gardens, three dogs, and two cats. And it's a good thing. Our lives would be boring without these great animals/babies.

So happy birthday Malcolm, you little bleep. I'll give you another couple of belly rubs this afternoon at the store between lessons.

Here's to many more, and keep the barking down a bit, would ya? What? He's a Cowboy Corgi? Oh. Never mind.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Happy 100th birthday to our elevator

SUNDAY WAS A historic day at Second String Music - our birdcage elevator turned 100 years old.

Sadly, it's been about half that time since the elevator worked, to our knowledge. It was operated by hand and took doctors, lawyers, opticians, florists, bankers, and many others to their respective offices.

It was made right here in Quincy by the Hollister-Whitney Elevator Company. It's still in remarkable shape - the motor doesn't work but it is still up by the roof, along with the braking system.

The ropes and cables are still intact and it's perfectly safe to walk into, though we keep it closed off. It was covered up by drywall for many years, likely since the 1970s.

George Lewis, who owned the building back then, told me that it never worked when he had the property. We do know that Mercantile Bank sold the building in the early 1960s and moved across the street. Likely what happened is many tenants moved out, and as the building grew empty, the owners didn't want to maintain or fix it, so they boarded it up.

The day we bought the building in 2013, Frank Haxel and I went into the basement, broke off the lock to the elevator shaft, and opened the doors. There was nothing in there, but when we looked up we could see the underneath of what looked like the birdcage. We removed the drywall on the first floor, and there it was, encrusted in many years of pigeon poop but still remarkably well-preserved.

Several Hollister-Whitney employees have seen the elevator. I would think there would be more interest from the company, which was only about a year old when the elevator was installed.

If an elevator ever goes back into the building, the old one will have to be removed and will be quite a conversation piece. I know a downtown building owner who sold his for a good price, so it's worth a penny or two.

Sheryl recently removed the drywall from the upper floors, and it's made a huge difference, especially on the third floor where it was really dark. The light now flows from the shaft and brightens the area considerably. The elevator shaft is not accessible since it is caged and gated all the way to the top.

The elevator isn't original to the building, as it replaced the one installed in 1896. We know it's 100 years old because of the plaque inside the birdcage - 8-23-20.

Up by the roof where the motor and braking system is enclosed, there is a signature on the wall of the person who probably oversaw the installation. His name is H. Hoener, and it's dated 8-26-20. One could surmise he worked for Hollister-Whitney.

There is other writing on the walls all over the building, including the signature of A.A. Brown, who inspected the electrical wiring sometime in the 1920s. Again, it's speculation, but we wonder if that's the founder of Brown Electric in Quincy.

So happy birthday again to our elevator, and we are proud it once transported some of Quincy's more prominent citizens many years ago.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Back to school, strange days indeed

 TODAY IS THE first day of school in Quincy. Emily graduated from Quincy High School 11 years ago (yikes) so we have no direct connection to the schools anymore. But we pay taxes and we pay attention to our school system, and the music program has a direct impact on Second String Music.

I'm glad we have a superintendent like Roy Webb, who is very good at communicating on social media and addressing concerns. To the many people we know in our education system, we wish you the best of luck and hope everybody is patient and understanding.

The logistics are staggering. How do we ensure a proper education with reduced classroom time and online learning in place? This puts a lot of pressure on educators and parents alike. Basically, Quincy Public Schools is doing both in-person classes and online classes, meaning students are only coming to school a couple days of the week, also spending time at home learning online.

Please check out this really well-done video by the Wall Street Journal, which sent a reporter to Quincy last week and did a very fair and thorough story.

I hope I'm wrong about this, but I don't know if we'll get very far with students in the classroom. Our COVID-19 numbers continue to rise and a lot of people around here just don't take the pandemic seriously. When they have a friend or family member, or they themselves get it, maybe they'll change their minds. But we aren't holding our breaths.

Many of my younger guitar students are going back to school. We are worried about them bringing COVID into the store and not know they have been exposed. Kids going back to school affects us all no matter how much you try to ignore a global pandemic. Please be safe out there.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Great gardening again

SHERYL'S GARDEN HAS gone crazy as usual this time of year. We have tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers coming out of our ears. Our big challenge is to figure out what to do with it all. Obviously, we are enjoying the fresh produce for lunch, dinner, and snacks.

Sheryl delivers a lot of fresh vegetables to our neighbors. The other day she drove across town to bring some of our super hot peppers to a guy who wanted them. We are glad to make sure our garden bonanza gets shared.

We've had a lot of rain this summer, and that means mosquitoes, lots of them. It means Sheryl can only go back there for a short time until they drive her inside. The same thing happened last night when I tried to sit out by the fire. Oh well. At least we are keeping the bug spray people in business.

Last night Sheryl pulled out some of the basil to make the garden less crowded, and it smelled awesome back there. The garden looks great, smells great, and produces a ton of healthy food. It's worth breaking my back to get it tilled in the spring and the time (in short bursts) Sheryl spends picking weeds and gathering the vegetables.

Maybe when we retire we'll just open a Calftown vegetable stand and keep the Hood healthy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Facts about downtown, not political jibberish

 A MAN IN Quincy recently decided to run for mayor. There was a story about him in Sunday's Herald-Whig. I think it's great he's running for office, even if he has no experience. If somebody thinks they can do better, they can file the paperwork and get to work, and let the voters decide.

This man had some interesting things to say about downtown Quincy. According to the paper, he wants to redirect riverfront development plans toward encouraging economic development in The District.

"I like the idea of focusing on Washington Park," he told the paper. "I can just imagine how all of those empty storefronts could all be businesses, how we could have more upgraded apartments in these buildings."

He has the right to say what he wants, and he can "imagine" all he wants. But here are some things to consider from a person who's worked down here for nearly a quarter of a century. I worked at The Herald-Whig for 16 years. Sheryl and I moved Second String Music to Fifth and Maine eight years ago, and we've owned the building for seven.

First of all, downtown storefront occupancy rate is above 90 percent, according to Bruce Guthrie of The District. Yes, there are some unfortunate examples of neglect, but there are lots of people trying to make a living down here, and there are more and more people living downtown.

I walked around Washington Park and counted the number of "storefronts," a term subject to debate. There are a couple of places not open to the public but certainly occupied, so I've included them as occupied. I counted all the buildings around the square, including all four corners.  By far the most exciting news is what's coming in the old building at the southwest corner of Fourth and Hampshire. There are construction crews in there as we speak. I won't spill the beans because I'm not sure the new owners have made it public yet, but it's an incredible addition to the square.

There are 30 storefronts. There are five that aren't "occupied" at the moment. The biggest holes on Hampshire Street are the old Winter's West Wing and O'Griff's properties, and they've been for sale for a while. There is interest but it could take time. There is one more debatable unoccupied space on Hampshire. I'm counting the Washington Theatre as occupied.

On our block there are two "unoccupied" storefronts. So I've come up with five total. Out of 30 properties, that's an occupancy rate of 85 percent. Is it good? Well, no, to be honest. It needs to be 100 percent. But it's not as horrible as many people believe. Also, when elected, will the new mayor shop downtown and shop local if our percentage is "only" 85 percent?

As for renovating upper floors in downtown buildings, yes, we could be better. But take a look at what Sixth Street has done in recent years, and the west side of Washington Park. The apartments are incredible and new businesses have added a ton of flavor down here. Will our mayor live downtown?

Sheryl and I have spent a lot of money and time renovating just the first and second floors of our historic Dodd Building. Sadly, the top three floors are not in good shape and require extensive renovation. We've spent the last month cleaning those floors and the basement, and it's nasty work but it's got to be done because our building is for sale. We are in no hurry and it's our fervent hope the new owner will have both vision and resources to make the upper floors spectacular.

There are programs to help and the city will match funds if you do decide to renovate apartments, but it's a competitive process, and we are simply not in the business of being a developer for a five-story building.

Since the man running for mayor thinks we need to renovate all this space, I'm asking him to come up with some concrete ideas, not just say it needs to be better. Of course, it needs to be better! So on his first day in office, I'll come down to Eighth and Maine and he can just hand me a blank check to renovate my building, and everybody will be happy. Maybe he can loosen up the building codes and give us exemptions on the fire code. It's easy to point out what needs to be done. It's harder to come up with practical and affordable plans to make it easier to accomplish.

There is a billboard at Eighth and Jefferson of the candidate. I'll reserve comment, other than saying posing in a military uniform for a political ad is interesting, at the very least. Best of luck to the candidate as he moves forward. In the Whig article, he says he'll connect with people via Facebook and social media. I'm taking a Facebook and social media break right now, so I guess we'll talk later, if he wants.

If he does come to Second String Music, he has to wear a mask, though in the article he says he's "neutral" on the issue of a citywide mask mandate. I do invite him to call Bruce Guthrie at The District office if he wants accurate information.

Downtown Quincy has come a million miles, even in the seven years we've been here. We have a million more to go. Solid ideas and plans backed by practicality are needed, not general perceptions and inaccurate viewpoints. Come down here and talk to the people who live and work down here, especially if you are going to run for office. We'll be all ears.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Sign? What sign?

SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERYWHERE A SIGN at Second String Music. We have signs explaining WHY masks are required in our store, we have a sign letting people know they can purchase a mask for $1, we also have two signs at the door telling people that masks are required in our store. We also have a sign of Uncle Sam pointing at YOU to wear a mask. Signs. Everywhere.

Many people get it. So it is baffling to witness people that just don't know about the virus and how serious it is, but as Sheryl says, "We are done making excuses for them."

We just don't understand why people don't see the signs. Perhaps they have other things on their mind when they come in. Maybe they think the signs don't apply to them. Or, as one man from a neighboring state recently said, "COVID? I thought that was over."

On Saturday afternoon I was by myself in the store and three customers came in without masks. I educated all three about why we require them, and they all understood and bought masks. Actually, I forgot to charge one of them because I usually add it to the sales receipt, but it's no big deal to forget once in a while. He actually thanked me for the mask and said it was a good reminder for him to keep it in his vehicle and take it in with him while running errands.

We are still considering the open by appointment only route. I'm going to be extra careful while doing guitar lessons in the back and make sure we are being socially distant and safe. We have students from Palmyra and I heard there was a big event there this weekend. It is frightening to think a student could bring COVID into lessons and we need to stay vigilant.

I'm sick and tired of this stupid virus and I want it to be over. Isn't everyone? If we'd all be smart about it and mask up, we could get back to business as usual much sooner. The longer this virus is spiking in our community we are endangering the lives of our medically fragile citizens. A national proclamation for mask wearing would be nice but I don't see that happening. Dang, even a local proclamation would be encouraging...

Thursday, August 6, 2020

No Cheese

THE CHEESEBURGERS ARE taking a break. All five members agreed this week we will not play again in 2020, in light of COVID-19 concerns and Kirk Gribler getting the virus.

Kirk is still struggling with fatigue some three weeks after getting COVID-19. This is no hoax. This is real. His health is paramount and we aren't going to mess with it. Replacing him, even for just a show or two, wasn't appealing to us. 

We haven't played since March. We canceled our Music Under The Stars show in Hannibal in two weeks. This was a bucket list show and we are bummed. It would have been one of the better shows we've done, had we been ready. But the band was not ready. We had a few other shows planned, but almost everything got canceled during this long and strange F-2020.

So, The Cheeseburgers will not book any shows for the rest of the calendar year, and we will wait to see what 2021 brings. I think we'll play again at some point, but our days of playing regularly every weekend are long gone. There are fewer places to play and it gets harder and harder to practice and prepare.

Then there's the physical effort involved. I'm not complaining - playing music for people is a blast and if it looks like we are having a good time, well, we are. But the last few years haven't been as fun, and it takes two or three days to recover after a good night. We have a lot of stuff to set up, and it requires back-breaking lifting and hauling. Again, no complaints, but we aren't spring chickens anymore.

A few weeks ago I saw Non Stop play. They are a local country cover band. They are really good. The gig was outside at a benefit and the crowd was small, but the band couldn't have cared less. They were busting their butts to entertain on a steamy summer night, even though most of the people there hung out by the beer truck (never put the beer in the back. That kills the crowd's interest in the band every single time). As I watched I thought of the countless times The Cheeseburgers did the same thing.

It's been an amazing 10 years with a lot of great players. Now it's time to put The Cheese in storage for a while. Hopefully we get back and hot off the grill again.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Lost child found

SHERYL WAS WORKING in the front yard Sunday morning around 8 when she heard someone screaming “MOMMY.” She ignored it and kept on clipping the front shrub near the neighbors yard. The screaming continued and got just a little bit more frantic so she put down her shears and stuck her head over the shrubbery. Way up the block was a little girl running up the sidewalk screaming for her MOMMY. Diaper, T-shirt and socks. Perfect.

She went over and calmed the girl down and asked if she knew which house was her mommy's. What car? What is mommy's name? Last name? If you have ever talked to a 2-year-old, you know that Sheryl couldn't understand a word. So she called 911 and asked for assistance.

Several Quincy Police officers showed up. They decided to have Sheryl keep her in the house while they canvassed the block. Mom and dad would be missing her soon so they were totally confident of finding them.

The toddler had a fresh diaper on and looked healthy. Strange, a little one like that roaming around the street. You think the worst and you wonder if there are other issues at home, etc. Sheryl told me not to put those negative thoughts out there. She was sure it was just a child that had gotten out of the house somehow.

With permission from the police officers, we made her scrambled eggs and bacon, and gave her chocolate milk. She had quite the appetite. Bacon and eggs - yum!

When the officer came back, the little girl got scared again and insisted Sheryl pick her up and hold her. The officer asked the little girl a couple of questions but still got nothing. We told him it was fine. We could just keep her calm and keep her company.

A few minutes later, an officer located mom. Turns out she lived nearby and had been up really early, and she simply fell back asleep. Apparently the little girl managed to get outside and on the porch, then wandered away and became disoriented.

Mom was glad to see her baby. After some thorough questioning, police determined there was no willful neglect. I've seen the mom with several small children before and she keeps a close eye on them when they are walking out to the car or playing on the porch.

Sheryl used to be a foster parent and her old shepherding skills came in handy. We'd like to think our little stretch of Calftown is a safe place and we all look out for each other, but you always wonder about the world, too. 

It ended well and I still make a mean breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon. She did drink my chocolate  milk. Hopefully I’ll get over the trauma.

Monday, August 3, 2020

No seeds for squirrels

ISN'T NATURE WONDERFUL? Isn't living in harmony with our fellow living beings a joy and beautiful to behold?

It is. Unless you are a squirrel and you are eating Sheryl's sunflower plants.

Sheryl grew some beautiful sunflower plants in an area separate from the garden. They were doing really well until last week, when she noticed several had been destroyed at the stalk. Upon further observation she noticed a squirrel doing all the damage, likely to get at the seeds in the flower itself.

Squirrels put their lives at risk when they are in our yard. Our three dogs love squirrels. Genie, our English Shepherd, is the only one fast enough to catch them. Most of the time the dogs charge off our porch and into the yard when they see a squirrel, and it climbs up one of the two bigger trees, chittering back and angrily defending its right to cross our yard. We also have a pear tree with tons of pears this year that are actually edible, so they go to town when the dogs aren't around.

On Saturday afternoon I was in the middle of a busy day in the
music store when I got a text from Sheryl. Attached was a picture of a dead squirrel. Apparently it was eating the sunflower plants again and this time, Genie managed to murder it. BAM. One quick lunge and the squirrel was in trouble.

I think Genie and Angus played with it for a while but it didn't take long for the lights to go out. Then Sheryl went to take a look and noticed Malcolm licking the squirrel's face, so it was time for the Squirrel Removal Posse to get rid of the body.

The squirrel looked younger and not fat but full. It's been a good growing season in the Calftown hood and they've taken full advantage. The sunflower patch was just the most recent section to take the squirrel hit. Good for them, except when the dogs charge out to defend their turf.

This morning I was back there and two young squirrels were hopping along the fence and squeaking like mad at me. "Killers!" they said. "Murderers! We are only getting ready for winter! And do you know how bleeping good sunflower seeds are?"

The dogs came out and the squirrels ran away. "You were destroying our plants. Enter the yard at your own risk," I yelled.

Ah, the balance of nature.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Caution wins the day

MONDAY'S POST ABOUT Kirk Gribler dealing with getting COVID-19 has more than 9,000 views. I'm glad he's helping get the word out.

First off, I commend two local establishments for deciding to cancel all of their August band shows. Both Red Light and The Dock have canceled for the month, citing the need to stay safe and keep social distancing in place. It's not an easy decision and potentially hits right in the pocketbook - bands draw big crowds in the summer, and big crowds drink lots of beer.

The Cheeseburgers haven't played since March. We have two outdoor shows coming up, and we'll wait to see how Kirk is doing and how the area is responding before making any decisions to cancel.

Cori, Lincoln and I (HartLyss) have played a few outdoor shows, but none have had more than 50 people and we've been comfortable and distanced enough from the stage. I've turned down a bunch of potentially good-paying indoor gigs - it's just not worth the risk.

We've been holding our own at Second String Music and we are confident we'll continue to do so the rest of the summer. We are keeping a close eye on the numbers (Adams County is one of the worst in the state) and if we have to, we'll go back to being open by appointment only. Our phone number will be clearly displayed on the door and we can be at the store within minutes if there is the need.

Sheryl is asking that people call (223-8008), email (, or send us Facebook messages if they have simple questions or are in need of random information. Minimizing contact is our main goal. We will still take your order/payment over the phone, and deliver it to your car.

We appreciate all of our customers and we are always glad to see them in person, with a mask, of course. Our compliance rate on masks in 100 percent right now and we haven't had any anti-mask or hoaxers come in lately.

I continue giving guitar lessons. We are 6 feet apart in the lesson room, though I'm considering moving back out into the bigger area for more distancing. This week we've had four students decide to stay home because of COVID-19 concerns - one had direct contact with an infected person at work, and three others recently got back from summer vacations and are self-quarantining for a week just to be safe.

We'll look back at all of this mess someday and be glad we took precautions. Sheryl is determined to not catch this virus. Let's help her and be safe out there!

Monday, July 27, 2020

Kirk's COVID story

THIS IS KIRK Gribler. He lives in Quincy and is a chiropractor. He plays drums in our band, The Cheeseburgers. Kirk is a good guy who is never at a loss for words when we are hanging out and driving to and from shows

Kirk got COVID-19 almost two weeks ago. Here is his story. Watch the video and decide for yourself what impact this awful virus has on us  - all of us.

He got it at work. Let's just be generic about the details, but Kirk had no idea he was encountering somebody with the COVID-19 virus. The next day he got a phone call from the Adams County Health Department saying he'd been exposed. Kirk immediately went to get tested, but they sent him right home and told him to come back if he started showing symptoms. He immediately canceled all further appointments at his office and waited it out.

Sure enough, a few days later, Kirk started feeling fatigued, and he lost his sense of taste and smell. He got tested. And it came back positive. It isn't life-threatening for him, but he likens it to having a bad case of the flu, only the symptoms are lasting a lot longer. It probably feels like the morning after a really good Cheeseburger show. Watch the video and you can see it for yourself.

He is going to miss about two weeks of work. He's self-employed. He downplays it. But losing your income is very difficult no matter who you are.

His awesome wife, Susan, is quarantined for 14 days. She is able to work from home, thank God.

Health is the most important thing. He's feeling better and hopes to be back at work soon, but only when he's completely symptom-free. There are many other things about getting the virus that pale in comparison. Kirk and Susan are social creatures and often have people over to the house to enjoy the pool and hang out. I think they had a vacation planned but that got canned, too.

The Cheeseburgers haven't played since March, but we do have some outdoor shows coming up. Maybe. The running joke was that you can mess with somebody's life and livelihood, but screw up band practice? F-2020, indeed.

Kirk was inspired by Kathleen Birsic's post last week about getting COVID-19. He wants people to know it's real and not a joke or something to dismiss. Stay socially-distant, wear a mask if you go out and go inside a store or public gathering place, and be kind to your fellow human beings.

Hopefully, he's back at work and behind the Cheeseburger drum kit soon, and kudos to him for sharing his message.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

COVID hits home

I AM DONE dealing with people who think COVID-19 is a big hoax, masks are useless and the whole thing is a political conspiracy. Done. DONE. A very good professor friend once said, "Never argue with a person who knows they are wrong." Right.

It especially hits home when somebody you know gets it. I have a friend who was diagnosed yesterday. He's in the medical field. He got it from a patient he treated. The person didn't know he had COVID.

He is fatigued and he lost his sense of smell. He'll be fine. But he can't work for two weeks - he's self-employed - and his wife now has to quarantine for two weeks, so she can't go to work.

I have a guitar student whose 92-year-old mother is in a nursing home. She fell the other day and they didn't find her for a long time. This guy just wants to go see his mom. But the nursing home is in lockdown and not allowing visitors. There are grandparents unable to see their grandchildren.

A man I used to know in Quincy many years ago recently caught COVID and spent the last week of his life on a ventilator, alone.

It's caused a lot of anxiety for Sheryl, who is a Type 1 Diabetic and would likely be fighting for her life if she gets it. She is already at the top of her anxiety scale and back on medication.

We get lots of people in the store we don't know, and they have to wear masks, but still - do they have COVID and not know it? How safe is it? We have warnings posted about Sheryl's auto-immunen disorder, people just ignore them. The woman who came in the other day and said, "I choose not to wear a mask" didn't help one bit. You can make whatever choice you want, but we'll help you once you move back over to the door or just ask you to leave, thank you.

If you are going to be virulently anti-mask, just call for the information you need. Don't put other people at risk because you think someone will relent just to get your business. We won't. This IS life or death for so many people.

There is so much unknown about all this. You can have it and not know it. Or you can get it and die, no matter your age. One of the silliest arguments around is that people don't know if  COVID is causing all these deaths. Yes, immune-compromised people have other things to die from. But it's pretty simple - they get COVID, and they die. Not hard to figure out, Einstein.

Be safe. Be courteous. Think of others when considering you responsibility to wear a mask. Don't go to big indoor gatherings, and make sure you practice social distancing. Cori and I have a few more outdoor shows this summer but even those are risky and the more we think about it the more we are not sure about playing anywhere.

The Avenue Beat girls have it right - F2020 (warning, it's graphic. But right on the money). We are so proud they made it into Rolling Stone!!

We are so ready to be done with all of this but it can end until everyone does their part to keep everyone safe. #MaskItOrCasket

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

In search of senior vitamins

MY MISSION THIS morning is to go all the way to the other side of town to pick up the new water heater for our Fifth and Maine building. We have no idea how old our current water heater was, but it is dead now, so off we go to get a replacement.

While I'm at it I'm going to find a new supply of senior vitamins. Yes, senior vitamins. The official and overpriced name is Centrum Silver. They are marketed as pills for people "over 50." Sheryl says they are all the same, even men's and women's senior pills. "Just get the biggest bottle you can find for the cheapest price," she says. My Dutchness is rubbing off on her.

Morning routine ....
Sheryl has me on a regimen of vitamins, including methyl folate, magnesium glycinate, K2 and D3. They all have functions and I have to admit I feel pretty good for being an old fart at 55. As I like to tell many of my guitar students, "I have socks and T-shirts older than you." I had a 10-year-old boy take his first lesson yesterday and he asked me how long I've played guitar. "Longer than your mother or father has been alive," I said. "Wow. THAT old?" he said. "And I thought my dad was a dinosaur."

I even have a fancy two-week pill box to keep them organized. Every morning I lift the little flap and gulp down the pills, plus take a dose of CBD oil. I may have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, lifting my arms above my head and feebly swinging a golf club, but hey, I'm alive and wearing my years like a badge of honor.

Centrum Silver, of course, would be a great name for a band with old farts in it. I qualify. I'm not afraid of it, and I actually embrace it.

I have the pills to prove it.

Friday, July 17, 2020

To travel or not to travel

SHERYL AND I would love nothing more than to get out of Quincy for a few days, but the COVID-19 thing has thrown wrenches into those plans. We are still not over our dream vacation being canceled at the end of March, and we are still owed a big chunk of money (we had trip insurance, thank God). Sheryl has been dogged and determined to get our money back and it hasn't been fun.

Traveling during a pandemic is not a good idea. The thought of sitting in an airport with a bunch of strangers, then sitting right next to somebody you don't know on the plane, isn't appealing. On Labor Day Weekend we are supposed to attend the Hart Sibling Summit in Arizona, but Sheryl and I still haven't finalized plans. We will wait another few weeks and then decide.

We have some family camping in West Michigan in two weeks, and again, it would be a blast and fun to sit on a Lake Michigan beach for a few days. But driving up there means going into rest stops, restaurants and maybe hotels. Most of the activity would be outdoors, weather permitting, but there are still a lot of variables you can't control. So that trip is likely a no-go.

It's OK. Health is paramount, and we continue to stress safety and wearing masks in public. Last week I heard about a man I knew a few years ago in Quincy dying of COVID-19. He spent the last week of his life on a ventilator and it was living hell for his family and close friends. There's been other related issues that have affected guitar lessons and even gigs and band practices. It appears in Quincy area businesses are finally taking the mask enforcement issue seriously in the wake of our COVID-19 numbers spiking in recent weeks.

People say, "When will we get back to normal?" Well, there is no normal anymore. For us it's one day at a time and making smart choices. We'll get through it, with any luck, even if it means not hitting the road.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Lost .... then found

TWO DAYS AGO I lost my wallet. I was walking the dogs and when I got back to the Jeep it wasn't there. I usually lock it in the Jeep with my phone out of sight. I retraced my steps and asked Eric and the crew at Woodland Cemetery to keep an eye out for it. I scoured my car, the house, the store, everywhere. I drove Sheryl nuts with my anxiety over losing the dang thing.

Finally, I had to admit it was gone. We had the credit cards and my debit card frozen. There was cash and a check in the wallet, thankfully not much more. It's a horrendous sinking feeling when you realize how much of your life is enclosed in a small piece of leather. Sheryl made plans to get another wallet and I resigned to the fact Mr. Dumbass, me, had lost it for good.
THIS is blog worthy.

This morning Sheryl gave the Jeep a "Sheryl Search." She didn't find the wallet, but she did remove a lot of debris from behind the back seats, shook out the blanket full of sticks and fur, and repositioned all the seats. No wallet.

When she got back in the house she looked around the dining room table, where I throw all my junk when I come into the house. She called up the stairs, "I found your wallet! I haven't moved it yet. I will let you see where it fell."

The wallet was lodged between our dining room table and the wall. I looked down there earlier but it was dark and I just failed to see it. Thank God Sheryl is good at looking harder and found it.

So we can unfreeze the cards, deposit the money and just generally breathe a massive sigh of relief.

Now, where are my sunglasses?

Monday, July 6, 2020

One dirty job

SHERYL AND I have been cleaning our historic Fifth and Maine building, as it is now up for sale. The third, fourth, and fifth floors haven't been used for 40 years or longer, so there is an incredible amount of junk and trash. As we got window sealed, the remains of birds haven't been swept up. We are doing that now. Yuck.

When we purchased the building in 2013, the former owner had it cleaned, and the workers got some of it out, but not all of it. There are two rooms on the third floor full of doors, old trim from remodeling and scrap wood. There is another room on the fourth floor with similar items. Plus there is debris from replacing many windows in the past few years as storms blew through 5th & Maine.

Sheryl has gone up and organized it. My job is to simply take stuff downstairs. We are using the 503 Maine space (formerly the coffee shop) as storage, and we'll hire a hauler to take it away soon.

I spent four mornings last week going up and down five flights of stairs. It's hot and it's dirty, and I wear a mask, but I can only do it for 45 minutes to an hour at a time. SSM employee Steve Harrington and I carried down some old furniture and old mattress/box springs last week. We have to take large pieces of glass and other stuff down, and it's not that the stuff is heavy - it's just bulky and often has to be grabbed one piece at a time.

It's looking a lot better, and it's more than safe to go through. We continue to have showings and we want it to look as good as possible.

Someday we'll see great things happening with the upper floors. Cleaning them out is just a way to show them off to a potential buyer

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

July 20% off Sale

JOE MAYS OF Mays Real Estate has officially listed our historic Fifth and Maine building. Click here for all the details. We had our first showing yesterday and we are ever hopeful as the process starts.

Sheryl and I know this will take time, and we are patient people for the most part. Second String Music isn't going anywhere soon. Again, the best-case scenario would be for somebody to buy the business and building and keep the music store open, and I continue guitar lessons in the back. Sheryl is pragmatic about it and thinks that scenario is least likely.

We've been busy getting stuff organized and cleaned. Electric Fountain Brewing is officially out of the 503 Maine space today after one last deep cleaning. There's still a lot of debris and junk to throw away from the top floors, so we will haul stuff downstairs as Sheryl organizes.

In Second String Music it's business as usual and the last few days have been good. Our July special is 20% off all electric guitars & electric bass in stock, and we've seen a few beauties find new homes.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Quincy Cares

Indivisible of Adams County is hosting a second donation event called "Quincy Cares." The group will collect essential needs and donations for disadvantaged youth in Quincy. All items will be donated to My Brotha's My Sista's Keepers.

The event is Saturday, July 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at County Market, 48th and Broadway. The idea is to safely drive up to the location and drop off the items.

Cash and check donations are also greatly appreciated. All funds go directly to the organization and help families right here in your community. If you can't make the July 11 event, you can bring items and donations to Second String Music during our normal business hours.

This is a great idea and another example of how Quincy really does care, and we hope you can participate!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Changes at Fifth and Maine

ELECTRIC FOUNTAIN BREWING has decided to move out of our 503 Maine location. I think it's been a couple of years and it was always a beautiful thing to see people hanging out in there and smelling the coffee. Owner Ryan Christian did a lot of work to the space and made it a cozy hangout.

When EFB opened a much bigger space a block up Maine Street, we figured they would consolidate and have one location eventually. It makes sense. So it's sad to see them go but totally understandable.

We have some plans for that space and potentially big changes for the music store.

Sheryl and I have decided to put the building up for sale here at 5th and Maine. The goal is to eventually be able to close the music store and have the 503 Maine space for guitar lessons.

It isn't a concrete plan but we are putting action behind this and Joe Mays will list it today. It's very exciting - we can't wait to see how our building could be used by someone else. We are entrepreneurs at heart and might just do something completely different. Who knows?

Issac Smith continues to do well in his 505 Recording Studio on the second floor. We have space for rent on the second floor and in the basement vault. They are great spaces for the right person.

It's all part of the ebb and flow in The District, and it will be interesting to see what happens next. No matter what, we will be up for the challenge.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Best Father's Day Ever

SHERYL AND I had a great time Sunday with Emily and her girlfriend, Amy. They came down from Macomb with their recent addition, Stevie, a cattle dog mix rescue. Stevie had a blast playing with her new friends Malcolm, Angus and Genie. Angus took a little too much interest a couple of times but let's face it - he's just a dumb dog and it was all harmless fun.

Emily gave an oboe lesson at Second String Music and we went back to the Calftown hood to order takeout for lunch and sit in the shade. Sheryl gave a tour of the garden and the dogs followed them all around the yard.

For Father's Day, Emily got me a Forgottonia Brewery T Shirt and growler with some excellent Scotch ale. It didn't last long! Amy handed me a payday bar with pride. Then we headed back to the store and Amy tried out some guitars - she's a wonderful player and is discovering the joy of playing nicer electrics. I know somebody who could make her a pretty good deal ....

The point is we just hung out, and it was the best day ever. I am so proud of Emily, who is embarking on a huge adventure in a few months. She is taking a leave of absence as assistant professor of music at Western Illinois and moving to Rochester, New York, where she got her Master's from Eastman School of Music. She will get her doctorate at Eastman, a huge undertaking and major life decision.

A masters degree, a real job as a professor and starting the pursuit of a doctorate, all before age 30. Geesh. We may need another blood test to see if she is really mine.

Anyway, they managed to get out of the store just as the massive rains hit town and they made it back to Macomb without any issues.

Thank you Emily and Amy for making this old man feel special on Father's Day. Maybe it didn't seem like a big deal, but it was the best Father's Day ever and I am indeed fortunate to be Emily's dad.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Sale

DISCOUNTING ITEMS IS one of the trickier things small retail encounters. Second String Music matches the internet price on all of our new Fender, Jackson and Gretsch electric guitars. We have decided to have a massive sale and now every one of our new in-stock electric guitars is 20% off, and that's a big chunk of change.

We are doing it because having a summer sale seems like a good idea in light of the COVID-19 shut down. We are grateful we were able to reopen and it would be nice to find new homes for our new electrics that showed up the first two weeks of the shutdown. We also want to pay the bills that don't seem to stop just because your business must close.

A young man came in last week to check out a Gretsch solid body guitar with a Bigsby tremolo. He returned Saturday and said he'd been in St. Louis looking at the same guitar in a big music store. Our price before the sale was cheaper, and he saved so much he was able to add a really nice hard-shell case for the guitar. He is happy and he'll tell everybody how well he was treated at Second String Music, and that kind of goodwill is priceless.

We have some amazing Fender guitars just begging for new homes. The Fender Alternate Reality Sixty-Six and Powercaster guitars have unique body shapes and are super playable. I actually want the white Powercaster, but the whole "Need Vs. Want" thing is a big deal right now and I'd rather it find a new home with one of our local guitar players. Plus you will pay way less than anywhere else.

Once word gets out we are hoping we find new homes for these beautiful instruments. We are open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We are still asking our customers to wear a mask inside the store and we much appreciate your patience and loyalty.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Lessons and country music

WE'VE BEEN FORTUNATE that there's been no drop off in our guitar lessons at Second String Music. In fact I've picked up some new students and it never ceases to amaze me what music they like and why they want to play guitar.

One of my new students is a 13 year old boy. He has longer hair and his mom bought him a cheap guitar to get started on. He's done some plunking around on it already but we spent most of the first lesson on technique and how to make noises when pressing fingers into the strings and frets.

I asked the young man what kind of music he likes and he said, "I listen to a lot of old country." Now, coming from a 13 year old that could mean a lot of things, but it turns out he loves Willie, Waylon and the more traditional country music.

I've said this many times before, but when I started giving lessons full time eight years ago I had strong opinions about music genres and I wouldn't be caught dead telling somebody I liked country music. Teaching has opened my mind to a lot of different musical forms, and you can't deny there is killer guitar playing in country, blues, rock, jazz and reggae.

And just what defines a genre, anyway? The best players are the ones who can make a guitar sing on a country song and then turn it around to blister away on a rock track. Have you ever heard of Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits?

I hope the young man really tries to learn the guitar and succeeds on his new musical adventure. And if it takes Merle and Hank Sr. and Patsy Kline to get there, well, I'm ready for the ride and ready to learn new things, too!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Lost items lead to ... garage sale?

SHERYL'S BLOOD SUGAR machine died the other day. She ordered a new one. She says there is a spare unit in the house somewhere. "Now I just have to remember where I put it," she said.

Famous last words. But I relate because I am always misplacing stuff, and, in order, I tend to lose my keys, wallet, watch, keys, shoes, mind, coffee cup, beer and keys. At least it happens all the time and enough to remember I am my mother's son.

This morning Sheryl went into the bedroom and there was a lot of crashing and scrapping noises as she searched for the elusive spare machine. She hasn't found it yet, but in the meantime she's located other valuable items like cords to charge phones, sunglasses, dog and cat collars, ancient wedding invitations and milk punch cards. Well, the last two items are things I'VE found in the last few minutes as I search for my keys. Again.

This prompted the suggestion to "have a garage sale" with all the trinkets, gadgets and generally useless items (to us). I could volunteer a lot of old cords and probably make a mint (haha, breath mint maybe) selling my vintage Gus Macker swag. There are stereo speakers, guitar cases and way too many ball caps laying around the upstairs rooms. So I could contribute.

"While you are looking for stuff you could go through all those boxes upstairs and throw away all those old newspaper clippings," Sheryl said. "And maybe you'd actually find your Canadian citizenship card."

Sheryl and her sister, Stephanie, had a garage sale at her old house before we moved into the Hart Manor in 2009. I vaguely remember moving stuff into her old garage and then purposefully staying out of the way as Sheryl and Steph expertly priced and sold all kinds of junk. Err, stuff. Err, valuable items to other people. Who knows? We may have accidentally sold my Canadian citizenship card.

So hang on to your hats, Q-town. The mother of all garage sales could be looming to a Calftown alley garage near you soon. Sheryl says maybe next year but I'll start making posters, as soon as I find my glasses.

Friday, June 12, 2020

We've got the No Blues blues

TONIGHT WAS SUPPOSED to be the first Blues In The District of the summer. Washington Park is quiet today and our sidewalk, normally the life of the party during happy hour(s), is empty.

We've got the No Blues Blues. Sounds like a song or album or even band name. It really sucks and sometimes it seems like a bad dream. Sadly it's very real and pouting about it doesn't do any good, but I really miss it.

There is a virtual Blues in the District planned for June 19th. Watch and enjoy a cold beverage at home.

It also means no noon Blues show. The Butcher Block grills won't be rolling and people won't be sitting in the sun or shade listening to music and enjoying a beautiful early summer day.

Fortunately Cori and I (HartLyss) have our first gig in three months. We are playing Saturday night at Tipsy Bricks in Hannibal on their wrap-around porch. No doubt we'll be a bit rusty but Lisa and the crazy Hannibal girls are so much fun, and we've never had a bad show at Bricks. The weather is perfect and it could be greatest night of our lives - or maybe just a really fun gig.

It's outside so we feel relatively safe. I will still take social distancing precautions and be careful. There are times when we take for granted how fortunate we really are to play live music, so we feel grateful and appreciative of our awesome HartLyss followers and venues like Bricks.

At least the Farmer's Market is back up and running in Washington Park. Hopefully our bars and restaurants in Quincy can resume normal operations before the end of the month.

So have yourselves a rock and roll weekend! No blues to soothe us, but better days are ahead.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Farewell Blu

MALCOLM'S FATHER, a handsome cattle dog Corgi named Blu, was killed in a hit-and-run incident yesterday. We met Blu a few times and we certainly see a lot of him in Malcolm. Blu and Jess (Angus' sister) had two litters and made beautiful babies. We feel lucky to have one of his offspring.

Jess (top) and Blu, Malcolm's parents.
Dogs in general are much smarter than humans and not tied down with stupid human vices, unless you count rolling in death and eating nasty substances on cemetery walks.

Malcolm is now more than nine months old, and he certainly has a lot of cattle dog in him, with the long legs and propensity to dig stuff up. Malcolm also has a ton of Corgi from his mother's side - a yelping bark and boundless energy. Then he'll crash hard and cuddle right up in your arms. Such a sweet disposition.

So it's a sad day for us and for everybody in the Rising E Ranch family. Sheryl and I consider the dogs and cats our kids, and it's never easy to say farewell. Blu lives on in our Malcolm and we are grateful he comes from such a diverse family.

Pray for Ms. Jess the Cowboy Corgi as she mourns the passing of her "husband." They had a short relationship but a fruitful one.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Well done, Q-Town

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE organizers and gatherers of the Black Lives Matter vigil and march in Washington Park Sunday. It took place to mourn the murder of George Floyd and protest the racial inequality that still exists, and it was a massive success. It was well organized with a powerful message, it was on the mark and it was a beautiful thing.

I'd estimate the crowd at around 400 or 500. There were impassioned speakers and songs, silence to remembers the many victims and the crowd was responsive on a very hot and humid day. There was anger in some of the speaker's voices, and appropriately so. If we want to talk about racism and a lack of justice, it's not going to be comfortable and you can't put it in a nice little space. Addressing it isn't supposed to be easy. Doing the right thing often isn't.

The event did not turn political. There was no need.

I was glad to see a strong Quincy Police Department presence. They joined the crowd instead of forming a line or standing off to the side. Chief Rob Copley gave a potent message about the failures of addressing racism, and how young people have to take up the cause to make things better. Then he went out to the corner of Fifth and Maine and personally directed traffic until the crowd was ready to march up Maine Street. Kudos to him and Chief Deputy Adam Yates and the other 10 officers.

It was also good to see our prominent leaders attend. Quincy Public Schools Superintendent Roy Webb was there, as was Mayor Kyle Moore and Quincy boys basketball coach Andy Douglas. We look to them as examples and community members standing with us.

There were a few social distancing issues, but 95 percent of the crowd wore masks. You CAN have a rally and be safe. Sheryl and I stayed toward the back so she could attend, wear a mask, and still not be exposed in a large crowd.

I am white and have white privilege. I do not pretend to understand what black people have to go through. I cannot stand in their shoes. But I can stand with them. I can listen. I can encourage them to lead the discussion and empower change.

In the chaos of our present-day world, there was light and hope in Washington Park Sunday. I am proud to call Quincy home. We have so much work to do, but it's a huge step in the right direction.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Sunday vigil in Washington Park

A GATHERING IS planned for Sunday in Washington Park at 4 p.m. It's being organized by the newly-formed Adams County Coalition For Racial Equality. Sheryl and I hope the gathering will promote unity and help address the great racial divide in this country. It will show support for George Floyd and will show how we won't tolerate hatred, ignorance and inequality in this country, this state, this county or this city.

The gathering will be peaceful. Call it whatever you want - protest, call for change, candle-light vigil (even at 4 in the afternoon), march, etc. It doesn't matter. We all have the right to gather and protest, and the event needs to focus on what we can do as a community.

Law enforcement has been notified of the gathering. I really hope we see some participation from Quincy Police, Adams County Sheriff and Illinois State Police officers and brass. There is no need for a line to be drawn and hate-driven anger spewed at them. The law enforcement officers I am friends with know we can do better and we need to address this and communicate, not tear gas innocent people and fire rubber bullets into peaceful protests.

It amazes me, all the paranoia going on around here. I won't tell people to relax, but I will say we need to be part of the solutions and part of the dialogue to make this a better place to live. For those that try to say "All Lives Matter"... If all lives mattered we would not have to protest to make sure Black Lives Matter.

Of course, I'm against the violence and looting that's taken place in larger cities. Sheryl and I are property and business owners. But the systematic oppression of people of color has long been a problem in our society and we need to be better. We. Need. To. Be. Better.

I pray the event goes well and voices will be heard, and we can all be better off for it.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Amazing weekend

WE HAD A fantastic weekend at Second String Music, our first days open for regular hours since mid-March. Sheryl and I are grateful for our customers and it was awesome to see familiar faces and do business again.

Open again at Fifth and Maine!
The support and compliance for our mask policy was overwhelming. We are asking people to wear masks when entering the store, and we are trying our best to adhere to social distancing. A few people came to the door and then and went back to their vehicles to retrieve masks - it's still something to get used to and it will take a while.

I hate wearing the masks all day, but it's safety first and we are VERY protective of Sheryl's health.

We had a few customers not come in after reading the sign on the door. We are not offended. Come prepared for any store to have a mask policy in Quincy. We can't afford to have this pandemic get set loose again and close the state down.

Several of our longtime customers said it was "all about respect" and "I know where you are coming from." They don't want to wear a mask. They do it because they know it's the right thing to do for several reasons. They get it.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Masks much appreciated

SOMETIMES IT'S THE little things that make a difference during tough times. Trish Santos of Quincy made and dropped off two masks for us yesterday, and they are awesome.

Second String Music opens for regular business hours Friday, after nearly 2 1/2 months. We've done some curbside business and had customers by appointment, but we are ready for the doors to open and get back to the "new normal."

One thing we are stressing is wearing masks when coming into our store. No doubt we'll have some people think they don't have to wear masks, even though we have them for sale for $1 right as you enter. No mask, no bidness. It's pretty simple. Our customers have complied during our limited by appointment hours, and we are ever hopeful it will work out.

The masks depict Snoopy and Minnie Mouse and they are perfect. We already have masks and Sheryl is getting even more made, but you can't have too many because we'll be wearing them all day and every day.

Thank you, Trish. We appreciate you thinking of us in the new normal. You can't mask our readiness to open and get back at it!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Learning from cats

WE COULD LEARN many things from cats. We have two felines, CoCo and Josie. They pretty much run things around here and don't put up with any crap from the much bigger dogs, especially the youngest. Malcolm has learned the hard way from some well-placed nose swipes that cat claws are sharp and hurt.

All this alley patrolling tires poor Josie out!
Lately our cats have been getting into watching from windows. We've opened them up in the house, and Josie especially likes to sit in the window with her nose to the screen and observe. When the cats see a squirrel, bird or dog outside, their tails star twitching and they make funny cat noises.

Josie will wander around in the backyard. Every now and then she'll jump the fence and give the alley and neighbor's yards a good patrol, but she pretty much sticks close to the back porch. She has a safe space under the porch where she goes when hearing loud noises or dogs barking, and she's never run off.

Right now CoCo is upstairs with me and having a blast playing with the curtains, batting at a fly and jumping in and out of window sills. Such a silly cat, and so easily entertained!

It's a cat's world, and we are just happy to be in it.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Playing live again

CORI AND I did our final quarantine livestream show on Facebook Sunday. HartLyss had a blast for the past couple of months playing songs, hearing from all kinds of people and making stuff up. And watching Malcolm get his tummy rubbed. Thank you Sheryl for running the camera and keeping things from going completely off the rails, and thank you to everybody who tuned in and had great song suggestions.

It was good for us in that we were trying to play well, but it was far more relaxed than a regular show and we didn't get too worked up about botching chords or remembering words or remembering the song in general. Now we have a bunch of songs to play the next time we have a gig.

We are not sure when that will be. Missouri is opening up, but we are not interested in playing indoors. We hope to get a show outside on the Tipsy Bricks deck soon in Hannibal - we love and miss our Hannibal peeps! Same with our Quincy venues.

Nothing beats playing live in front of people who get it. The more you hoot and holler with us, the more fun we all have. We've also missed our drummer, Lincoln, and it's about time he starts hitting stuff and keeping us in tempo.

Keep your fingers crossed and hopefully, we will see you soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Safety first can really rule

SECOND STRING MUSIC will be open for regular business hours starting Friday, May 29. Until then we are open by appointment only and we ask you call us at the store (223-8008) to make an appointment. We will be resuming guitar lessons as well.

There are going to be some rules. Most importantly, we are asking customers to please wear face
masks when entering.

Sheryl put together an awesome Facebook post yesterday, reposted here. As she is fond of saying, "Slow and steady wins the race."

Some "rules" for entering a small business once we re-open...

1. Wear a mask, cover a cough, and stay home if you feel sick. We will have hand sanitizer and disposable face masks by the door if you don't have your own.

2. Don't touch EVERYTHING and avoid using our bathroom if possible. Shop in small groups of one or two, no crowds please.

3. Pay with cash - we love and really need cash right now. Debit or Credit will be totally ok but remember an out of town corporation gets fees when you pay with a plastic payment of any kind.

4. Don't ask if we got a loan, received a grant or are "doing ok." We probably didn't and probably aren't. We are here, working and moving forward as best we can.

5. If it is in stock, it is priced well. Buy it. Forget about special orders for a while please. Sheryl has already had to be very flexible with this one since that is the nature of the beast.

6. Virtual hugs are still hugs. We need them. Write up a recommendation on google. We love your continued support.

Every small business will need us to support them when this is over. Stay away from online buying as long as you possibly can. Your local economy needs local buyers in order to survive. We can't afford to send our local dollars off to the internet/out of town right now.

So there you have it - some things to consider as we enter our new normal. We've missed our friends and loyal SSM customers. Hopefully we all have patience and understanding in a strange and different time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Dolls in the stands

SOUTH KOREA HAS recently resumed sports. At a soccer game the other day, the home team placed mannequins in the stands, since people are not allowed to attend yet due to COVID-19.

Turns out the mannequins were sex dolls, or at least people think they were sex dolls. In the settled and mystic world of Korean culture, where it's a crime to even question the integrity of soccer, this has "blown up" and created all kinds of kinky commentary.

Proof? BBC News even covered it. When the world's only balanced and accurate news organization gives you love, well, it's a big deal.

Apparently, the idea was to make it look like people were in the stands. Geesh. If you wanted to put dolls who do nothing in the stands, why not make them look like politicians or Dolphin fans? They don't do anything either

Sports like NASCAR have started back up here. Leave it to the rubber-burners to be the first to get going and repeatedly turn left in front of empty stands. Soon baseball could begin and every game will be like a Florida Marlins home game, with nobody there and nobody to care.

Fans have been marginalized for years and it's no different now. Let's get started without them! Greedy owners, players and huge TV money mean everything now. Fans? As long as they pay $200 for a cheap seat, no problem.

So why not put sex dolls in the stands instead of real fans? This could lead to all sorts of interesting questions and analysis, but it's a family blog and we'll just let it be. Just so long as the sex dolls are cheering for the right team and keeping the cheers clean, well .... it will all blow over.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Please wear a mask

WE ARE ALL in favor of getting back to normal and reopening Second String Music to the general public. But there is no "normal" anymore and we believe things must be different to safely get back in business.

If you want to come into Second String Music, we ask you to please wear a mask. Many people think wearing masks are unnecessary. They think this whole COVID-19 thing is a big conspiracy, and they think wearing masks won't help and are "infringing" on their freedom. Over 80,000 people had died in the United States from this "hoax" in three months, and those are government numbers. Let's admit those dead people can't respond to your hoax anymore.

We love our custom face masks.
If you think this whole thing is a joke and we should reopen businesses and not worry about getting the virus, I won't change your mind. But it's not about you getting inconvenienced, it's about protecting us and our customers. Medical professionals have been wearing masks to keep from being infected by patients since the late 19th century. It is real and it works.

We believe wearing masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you think we are being brainwashed and the opinion of medical experts is to be disregarded, well, OK. You still can't come in without one. And whether you like it or not, many other businesses are doing this, too. Adapt or don't adapt, it's up to you. #MaskItOrCasket is Sheryl's new motto.

By the way, I do think we need to regionalize our approach to reopening, but to still do it safely and within guidelines. Our biggest concern is if we see a spike in virus cases this fall or winter locally - what do we do then, and who makes the call to shut down, and how do we respond?

We want nothing more than to rock and roll again at Fifth and Maine. But there is no normal anymore, and we have to all be smart, listen to science, and use common sense in a most uncertain time.