Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bagpiping and Drumming Medals

2014 pre-season trophy
I started competing with piping and drumming in the Midwest Pipe Band Association in 2014. I have drumming mixed in there as it was a way to get into playing with the band while I was still working toward getting on the full bagpipes (you start on the practice chanter and don't move to the full pipes until you're ready and that can take many months).

For the 2014 MWPBA season I competed on novice bass drum and practice chanter. I won first place on novice bass drum in the pre-season solo competition. I also won first place at the Alma Highland Festival on novice bass drum and practice chanter. At the end of the season I had enough points to win the MWPBA Champion Supreme trophy for novice bass drum.

2014 medals
For 2015 I'm concentrating on the bagpipes and just qualified to play at the pre-season solo finals as a Senior Novice piper. The regional qualifier I played at was this past weekend in Lexington, KY and despite the weather it was a good weekend. I received some great feedback from the judge and played very well for my skill level.

I've been taking lessons with Angus Martin here in town, he's a Grade 2 piper and a great instructor. I've been progressing with him at a very satisfactory rate and I may graduate up to Grade 4 next season.

Pipes and drums has been a wonderful experience and it's something that the whole family can participate in as we grow up. Meg doesn't mind attending events chock full of lads in kilts and the boys have small practice chanters that they sometimes play with me when they are in the mood.

I'm looking forward to the 2015 season and I'm already off to a good start.

The Murphy bed

For the past 6 1/2 years, we have not had a guest room, a consequence of a small, 3 bedroom house and 2 kids. We've had a very comfy couch that would sleep 2, and a single hide-a-bed, but an actual guest room is something we've missed having.

The boys happily share a bedroom, but the small 3rd bedroom has been their playroom. And since it's function as a playroom is more useful than just returning it to a bedroom, with little floor space, we decided to install a Murphy bed.

A Murphy bed, for those who may not be familiar, is a bed that is stored vertically in a cabinet when not in use. This was an ideal solution to our space and function problem: most of the time the room will still be the boys' playroom, but we also have a full size bed available for guests (mostly grandparents).

Chris did a bit of research and decided it would be more affordable plus a good project to build the Murphy bed rather than buy a pre-made model. We purchased the deluxe full-sized kit by Rockler on Amazon. The kit includes plans for building the cabinet to hold the bed.

Chris standing next to the Murphy bed and frame while assembling it in the playroom guest room.
Chris building the bed and frame, in situ.
We purchased the lumber and plywood panels from Lowes and had it delivered since moving 4x8 sheets of 3/4" plywood is not a walk in the park. The cabinet is finished, other than staining the wood. It looks great and the playroom actually has more floor space since its footprint is smaller than the hide-a-bed it replaced.
Photo of the finished Murphy bed cabinet installed against the wall.
The Murphy bed cabinet.
The mattress had to fit certain specifications for weight and size. If too light, it wouldn't hold the bed down in the open position. If too heavy, it might not stay in the upright position. It also had to fit within the dimensions of the cabinet.

Finding a mattress that fit those criteria was a matter of shopping on The mattress was vacuum packed and rolled for shipping. It is amazing how small the mattress gets when vacuum packed! We got an 8" deep mattress that weighs just under 60 pounds.

Photo of the mattress vacuum packed and rolled.
Amazing how small that mattress looks!
Once the vacuum seal was opened, the mattress puffed up to normal size very quickly. Below is a picture of the Murphy bed open with the new mattress installed. (It was my first attempt at a panoramic photo, hence the weird line down the middle.)

Photo of the Murphy bed open, with mattress installed.
The Murphy bed with mattress installed.