Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Love Trail-Mix

I've been asked to be an alpha tester for a new file organizing and sharing software program created by Brennan Gaunce called Trail-Mix. It has changed my life on-line! For example: my blog posts are now so much easier to create. Every time I have a topic or idea I want to blog about, I file it in a Trail-Mix Activity Folder under notes, web links, files or pictures. Then when I want to blog about that topic, I simply open the Activity Folder and drag the content to Blogger's New Post window. So simple! I love this product. All bloggers - check it out. It runs as a Firefox plug-in.

The 10 Reasons Why I Love Trail-Mix!

1. I love saying the name: "Trail-Mix!"
2. Trail-Mix and
Firefox make for speedy web searches
3. Sharing trip information with my family: all the details are in one place, in a Trail-Mix Activity Folder
4. The Trail-Mix features: notes, files, pictures, web links all filed under a specific Activity Folder
5. I love "squirreling away" little nuggets of information in Activity Folders
6. Three words: click and drag
7. No more searching around the Internet for pages to hyperlink (In what AOL folder did I put that "favorite" link?)
8. Blogging is greatly simplified - ideas for posts are stored in one place
9. I can drag from Trail-Mix directly to Blogger, skipping the tiresome old way of copying and pasting links, files, text, pictures
10. I think that Trail-Mix makes my PC think it's a Mac!

PS: I also use this application when I'm creating itineraries for travel --- especially my "ArtTrek" itineraries which are extremely detailed. For example: the "ArtTrek" to Chicago last May was created using Trail Mix. The Trail-Mix application saved me so much time that I didn't need to rush my packing.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Steinway Art Cases

1908 Steinway Piano / Model A

One of the things I love about my 1908 Steinway is its beautiful art case. (More photos of my piano in my 9/30/08 post.)

While searching for digital piano recommendations yesterday, I happened upon Steinway's site with some of their art case options. All were beautiful, but here are a few of my favorites.

By Dale Chihuly
Model D

In keeping with Mr. Chihuly's reputation for avant-garde glass artistry, Olympia - Steinway by Chihuly breaks dramatic new ground in the long history of Steinway art case pianos. Olympia - Steinway by Chihuly, unveiled at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, reflects the abstract expression of wintery mountain forests juxtaposed with the bright Promethean colors idealized by the fire of the Olympic spirit. The piano's many extraordinary features include a clear glass piano desk, and a translucent glass top, the first ever designed for a Steinway piano.

Now, wouldn't Chihuly's piano fit in beautifully at Ashley Lake? (Future site of the piano studio at Ashley Lake, 13 miles West of Kalispell, Montana. Architect Jeff Sheldon)

By Steinway Master Craftsmen
Model B
This remarkable instrument is an identical re-creation of the piano Cole Porter played in his Waldorf Astoria residence, and on which he wrote many of his best loved songs. Skillfully re-created by Steinway master craftsmen in figured mahogany, the design features double Empire-style legs, intricate hand-carvings and decorative paintings to beautifully embody the passion and creative spirit of this great American composer. Mr. Porter's original Steinway was created in 1907, and today distinguishes the lobby of the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.
I've sat at Cole Porter's Piano at the Waldorf. They won't let you play it --- there is only one woman in all of NYC who is allowed to play it. She managed to get her name in Porter's will as the caretaker of the instrument. At least that is what the bellman told us.

By Joseph Sidorowicz

The design of the newest Steinway art-case piano Grove Park pays tribute to the Arts & Crafts Movement.

There is a delicate and deliberate balance of both architectural and furniture design elements that are incorporated into the overall theme of Grove Park. The striking figure of American Quarter sawn White Oak veneers is used throughout this unique design. The lid of the piano has a fine ebonized stringing inlaid around its perimeter as well as a geometric quadrant of inlaid Malachite, a natural stone material with a greenish hue, at the front corners of the lid. This same Malachite motif is repeated at the upper portion of each leg and once again on the bench. All of the hardware is finished in an antique bronze, which contrasts with the mellow golden oak.

The handcraftsmanship of the various components such as the legs, lyre, music desk, and bench all utilize classic mortise and tenon joinery. The centerpiece of Grove Park is the music desk which features a leaded glass panel depicting a majestic oak tree with outstretched limbs reaching across the horizon with the sunset in the background peaking through between its branches. The bench is designed in a duet configuration. It has a low back design and a repetition of vertical spindles and is capped by a horizontal top rail in the spirit of the classic Morris chair design. There are two leather upholstered bench cushions that are inset into the bench top.

This piano would look great in a Maybeck house in California or in a Frank Lloyd Wright! The Robie House (below / view of the front of the house from the street) in Chicago will do.

Frank Lloyd Wright was an accomplished pianist and always had a piano in his home. His designs were influenced by the Arts and Craft movement - especially the Roycroft Community in New York. I think he would approve of Joseph Sidorowicz's art case.