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.