Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More Farm Pictures!

Because I know you all love them so much. LOL

Sunday the 20th, we spent another day going through the house and walking the property. I've selected only a few interior pictures to share. I've taken quite a few more that I'm eager to show you, but because the current occupant is still there packing and sorting, I'm trying to protect his privacy. A lot of the house has been closed off and needs cleaning and so I'll wait until we get to that. But we have a few highlights...

One of the things I've always loved about this place is the big old beams. You can tell they are hand hewn. The marks of axe and saw are still on them after 160 years. I've asked the owner to sell me that pot rack BTW. 

Bypass cabinets doors open on both sides of this custom built freestanding unit. These are the upper doors. 

This is a lower unit. Only the drawers open on one side. Note the high gloss wooden slab countertop? :D

Upper unit open so you can see the back doors. This side faces into the kitchen prep area, the other side faces the entryway and a trestle table beneath a double window. Lve these cabinets!

Over by the double sink, single sided cabinets against the wall. My understanding is they were all custom made out of old oak shipping pallets. Wow! 

It's needs a good cleaning and sealing, but the kitchen floor is hand laid slate. I remember when that went in, and I always admired it. I said I wanted a floor like that too someday—just didn't realize it would be this actual floor...

The kitchen cabinets surround the prep area in sort of a horseshoe shape. In the middle of it is a brick enclosure for an old gas range that will be turned into a prep island and storage shelves, as the stove has seen its better days and mine won't fit in there. There is a brick chimney and wooden topped counter on the far end toward the dining room, that now accommodates an old cast metal wood cook stove. That stove is a lovely thing, but kind of in the way, and it's leaving anyway, so my big 40" gas range will go there, and we'll cap off the flue for now. The brick stays though, I love that look!

The owners took out the low ceilings in the kitchen and dining area, insulated with foam board, and put in new ones, exposing the old roof rafters. It gives the area a light and lofty look, and some unexpected shelf and hanging space. Love those old beams, even without their cross ties. That area used to be lined with old tins and bric-a-brac and will be again once my stuff gets unpacked. 

I tried to lighten this picture a bit, it was really dark. The dining room, which is one entire end of the ell, has deep-set windows with barn board  trim, with the same board as wainscoting with a shelf edge all around the exterior. You can just see some of that brick divider and wooden counter top at the right. That window looks out over the side yard. 

Now lets head outside again shall we?

A shot of the corner of the main part of the house, showing the old mortared stack stone footing and the cement steps. We want to replace  all that cement eventually, it has cracked and heaved a bit. This is a much better looking footing than I've seen in a lot of these old places, but it will likely need some attention over the years. 

The end of the barn and milk room again. I am dying to get in there, clean things out, and set up my garden shed. Gardening is calling to me again this year. I bought some seeds yesterday. LOL

The far end of the barn, you can see that some clearing has been done. We definitely plan on restoring this building, it is in better shape than most barns that age. I close my eyes and can feel the life that used to bustle in and out of there. 

Looking out over the field across the driveway and toward the treeline, there is a lot of room to roam there. I suspect someone viewing this is already saying there's a lot of mowing that will need to be done. Yes it is, but we have a couple old riders and a vacuum cart, and the grass becomes mulch in the garden afterward. For a good 20 years or so we've been coming to this place to mow and gather mulch for my garden here, hauling heaping pickup loads of it home. Now, we can just mow as we need to, and unload right on the property. I love grass mulch, it is fine and packs well, shading the soil and keeping weeds down, but letting water perk through. Grass mulch rots over the season and can be tilled under, adding humus, improving the soil. To have this all on one property, and not have to hustle to get it all in on one or two days, or drive over 12 miles one way is going to be a lifesaver. 

This is the lower end of the pond again, with all those cattail beds, sort of a slough area. All kinds of wildlife love that broken water, I expect we'll have plenty of things to photograph. Those are trailers in the distance, they will eventually be leaving. 

Looking back over the field, the pond is in the distance on the left, that is the garage on the right. It was a really nice day!

Looking toward the treeline and garden. Yeah, that's a person over there, trying to find the front corner pin. 

They eventually found it. 

Walking up back again and passing the mounds of soil. Funny how land tends to want be colonized with the types of plants its had for generations. This place was mostly in pasture over the last maybe 60 or more years, and hay grass is the first thing that grows in. Must be uncountable numbers of dormant hay seeds in that soil, which is considerably open even after at least 10 years of neglect.

The idea of having an actual pond amazes me. I've always loved wildlife and this place has a little bit of everything. This would be a nice spot to sit and think. Being a writer, I do a lot of that...

A tussock of old rank pasture grass in the middle of the pond. I am hoping wild ducks will nest there, but we might consider getting a few domestic ones just to see something use the pond. I hear they get Canada geese, and they make a mess of the banks.

A little farther up the line, you can see the lower end with its cattail beds. Yeah, ducks, that's sounding interesting...

This is the little brook that leads away from the pond. Interesting that it goes out and not in. That pipe is just laying there. 

I walked around the pond, on the back side, and you can get about halfway around by this very open trail. We plan on keeping that open, and finishing the lower end so you can take a jaunt all around it. Clearing the brush in strategic spots and maybe throwing in a rough bench, log, or well placed stones will give places to sit and think, enjoy the view, or fish from.

Hard to see but this is a concrete base where a wooden gazebo once stood. We're on the far side of the pond, between the water and the wooded hill behind. It was a lovely place for a private picnic, but unfortunately burned down a few years ago. We'd like to rebuild it someday, and may get a screen house and some chairs over there for this year, if we have time.

This shady little nook was where they used to launch the little paddle boat, because the bank slopes gently to the water. We'll clear it again and keep it open. My boys went fishing here for the first time when they were pretty young.

Going back the other way again, you can see how the trail turns around the back of the pond. 

This is about the worst snaggy, brushy area on the property, other than the far boundary, which is a fenced bank full of overgrowth. 

This tree is strangled by vines, likely either Oriental bittersweet or wild grapes. Most of the native vines such as Virginia Creeper and poison Ivy don't form such thick mats. It's likely a tree that was used a lot by migrating birds who fed on the berries of the invasive species in other areas, and 'pooped' the seeds out here. That's often how they get started. A hard seed that passes through an avian digestive system goes through a crop/gizzard and gets scratched up and then is exposed to gastric acids that wear on its shell. That creates thin spots and striations that allow water to absorb, and when it gets dumped out the far end of the bird, it has a gob of fertilizer to feed it. Now you know something you didn't know before, huh? TMI maybe, but it explains why those invasive plants like the bittersweet and Japanese honeysuckles get to colonize large areas. The birds love those berries! 

Yeah, that back corner is pretty scruffy. You can see the stone wall in there though. Not sure where the corner pin is here, we looked all over for it. Got plenty of ticks for our trouble too. 

Somewhere way off in the distance, where that shaded knoll is, there should be another back marker pin. I didn't get over there, too tired to walk that far. That is the back of one humongous mushroom compost pile to the right, trees and all. 

These are the big trees I took pictures of last time. I made my way over there and sat on the stone wall, right next to the big old oak.

No that's not the iron pin we were looking for, it's the remnants of some old fence line. There were several of them around the stone wall, and barbed wire laid across the top of the rocks. New England woods are full of old stone walls, their courses marking where fields were cleared and divided back in the Colonial era through turn of the century.

Looking down into the gully before the hill rises. That bit of branch you see over me is from the big oak I am sitting next to. That is a large white pine ahead, the most common native conifer in Connecticut now that the Eastern Hemlocks and red cedars are getting scarce. 

Panning to the right a bit, you can see more of the hill that rises next to us.

Sighting down the end of the stone wall, trees appear to have been left as a boundary marker. Couldn't find a pin down there though. 

Yeah, like you needed one more look at the mushroom compost pile, but I was heading back toward the house by this point. 

That's the back of the pond here again. There's a trailer on the property in the distance to the left, and then the nearest neighbor's house, the white one with the gray roof. The pond trail goes off around it to your right.

Another shot of the gravel pit on the way by.

Saw a few shrubs like this what had gnawed bases. Under the snow, field mice (voles) have tunnels and in hard winters like this one, will chew bark off, girdling things. This is just something wild, but if it was a cultivated plant, I'd be upset, because girdled bases like this kill the plant which can no longer properly feed or keep itself hydrated. There is a lot of vascular activity going on in the cambium layer right below the outer bark. 

Another shot of the pond on the way back. 

I had several vultures circling over me on the way back. I hiked around so much, guess they were trying to tell me I needed a shower! 

One last shot from the back of the pond, and all, showing the long distance vista toward the house. If you look past the second pine tree on the right, you can just see the golden shingled roof of the house rising above the barn. I'm going to love this place so much! 

Ah yes, hope springs eternal, and with every spring comes new hope. Nothing says 'home' faster to me than planning a garden. I will have to buy most of my plants this year, but did purchase some very important seeds yesterday. Between the grandson and the neighbor's twins (4 year old boy and a girl) I think I will have some little helpers in the garden. 

Some veggies I wouldn't want to miss out on. I have plenty of room for vines to run, so will let the vine crops sprawl to their heart's content. We won't have time for pole beans this year because of working on the house, so I got bush beans instead. I have a grandson who loves string beans best of all, and he now knows how to plant them, so I can count on his help. The pumpkins are for all the kiddies, so they can have something to carve come Halloween. 

The last few years, I have planted long rows of mixed sunflowers here, and will do the same thing at the farm this year. Nothing says summer like sunflowers! 

Plenty of pretty morning glories to dress the place up. I want to keep my mother busy puttering with flowers, so there will be other additions. 

You know, I wasn't planning on gardening this year, I'm so busy with writing, but there is something about new land to tame and get to know that is so inspiring. Add to it that I can actually see this garden from the house, and don't have to climb hills to get to my tools and supplies, or wait for truckloads of mulch, and suddenly it all seems doable again. I can't help but think that this move comes at the best possible time. A new start for all of us, and another chapter in my life opens before me. 

With flying fingers on the keys,

Monday, March 28, 2011

Did You Write? 03-28-11

Did You Write? 03-28-11

It is that time of the week again. You report what happened in your life this week whether you wrote or not, and then tell about your writing or why not. To have to report that you did not write is intended to be an incentive to actually open your work in progress, and hopefully do something with it.

How much counts as writing can be anywhere from one word to thousands. Opening your work is most important.
We don't care if it is something old or brand new. new writing is always thought of as writing, but so is editing, even if it is the work of someone else. Critiquing is also editing. When editing one might be adding content or cutting something back to publication size. We have all had times where we edited something, going through a number of pages, deleting passages and adding new, and end up with near the same word count. Word count during editing does not matter.
Poetry, writing assignments, blogging, article writing, technical writing, world or character creation are all writing. Even E-mails can be writing if they are wordy and pertain to story or writing. If you have to ask if it is writing, our answer is yes.

As for me, I working through an edit of my first Waxy story for the editor. I started out at 41 pages with all the comments. I am eliminating comments as I make the changes and am down to page 28 of what is now 40 pages. Some scenes require some thought or work but others flow rapidly. Right now, I am in the middle of a major change in the story, eliminating some bothersome sections while making it work. One change here effects other things. During my last editing session, I stopped when it got tough.

On the story idea front, New ideas started appearing again. I am at 45 story ideas, not counting what I am posting tonight, and the top few of those are good new ideas.

On woodworking, I should finish my second fairy next weekend. My main project is making a base for her. She is painted and has her wings, and the king frog is made and painted. I have to create the base so it looks good, which will require some more mushrooms which I will make on the lathe.
I found out that I am not a carpenter. Mom needed a frame to hold some stuff up off the carpet in case of a leak. I measured carefully and cut carefully and yet my creation was not square. It did not help that the batteries of my battery powered drill refused to hold a charge, and the switch of the electric drill decided to not work in reverse and struggle in the normal direction. It also did not help that I was told AFTER IT WAS DONE, a tip that would have made it a whole lot easier.
If I did it again, I might do it better. I had the right concepts, but execution is not there.

For a story idea, you have a bunch of people who are program-educated. All the knowledge of mankind is pumped into their brains. they are then sent to a new site to build a colony of their own.
The problem is that while they have knowledge, they were never given the skills. There is knowledge one cannot gain unless you do it and you learn by doing it wrong. They have limited resources, the people who set up the project presumed the youngsters would do things as master workers would so they did not allow for a lot of mistakes.
The colony is built, but nothing like the designers expected because of a loss of supplies during the learning process. by the time the youngsters mastered the basic skills their "book knowledge" was fading away.

As for me, I can honestly say



Sunday, March 27, 2011

Week 585 Wood Working

year 11, Week 11, Day One (week 585) (January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.) 03-26-11 Saturday

84 degrees, very light breeze, blue skies without anything that resembled a cloud, wonderful day for working. This weather report is brought to you by the City of Pompano Beach department of Tourism.


I sold the bark bowl to my boss this week. Never as much as I would like to sell it for, but I like his money more than my wood. He told me that this was one of my best pieces I have made. His wife said she loves it. He joked that he is saving all the pieces he buys from me because when I die, they will become valuable...

I painted the second fairy and soaked her in some linseed oil when I saw that the yellow of her hair blended with the light wood. I have commonly oiled my fairy carvings, usually using motor oil. It darkens the wood slightly which adds to the look.


I wanted to relocate an indoor antenna and that required me to get into the corner of the living room where I have a bunch of boxes piled. It happens that my art show stuff was scattered within the pile. I decided two excuses was worth digging into the mess,
In the process I made a little more room to stack stuff by placing some plastic and wire shelving in the open space between two bookshelves. I now have access to some cords that were previously unreachable and can get through them through the plastic shelving, and I separated the pile into three stacks: Art, crafts and junk.
I also emptied and scrubbed the kitchen counter, emptied and rearranged my desk giving all six teddy bears a good long hug.


No yard sailing. We went to Ace hardware and I got some nails for one of my next projects, replacing the little lathe box, and a connector for the indoor antenna.
At the end of the day, I stopped at Home depot for several items. I got some glue and piano hinges (lathe box project), along with a two by two for carving and I got some two by fours for mom.

Mom needed a suit case pulled out of the closet and it was jammed. We pulled it out and we found the carpet beneath it was wet. We pulled everything out and are drying that. I ended up calking the shower which was next to it as that was likely where the water was coming from, The two by fours I got at home depot was to put the stuff up on in case there is another leak. The two by twos mom had were big enough for the plush carpet in there.

I looked at the little cannon barrel I made for my grand nephew and decided it needed sanding. I mounted it on the lathe and ran sand paper on the surface. It is oak and the fibers stick up. It is better but will need more sanding, with finer sand paper. I should get some wood filler for it. I doubt I will, though.

Toy cannon barrel

One of my bathroom cabinet doors had come apart a long time ago. I glued it back together, but it came apart again and I never did anything about it again. I removed the hinge piece off the case, the only part still attached, and took the whole thing with me. I cleaned up the joints, and then glued it back together. This was the first time I had seen metal splines used in joinery. After it dried enough to handle. I drilled holes for dowels through the corners.
While drilling with the dremmel, the drill bit slipped off the plastic coating they used as a finish and the drill caught the webbing between my thumb and fingers. I have no idea how deep it went but it was not just surface wound. The dremmel was running quite fast but it was just a touch and while I did see that it was not just on the surface it hardly bled. For a couple hours, it felt like that part of the hand was tired. That sensation went away and the hole closed up so it just looks and acts like a surface boo-boo.
I ran skewers into the holes. I want to add some more glue and then trim the skewers which I left hanging out before I install it. It should stay put now.

I chainsawed a piece of the Tababulia and made a new bark bowl. I think I did not go quite as deep into the bark. This was an end piece where it was split off when it was cut. that caused a crack to run up under the bark. I made the bottom a lot thicker than I planned because of the crack. I will soak this one in linseed oil so it will dry slower.

Bark bowl #2

I painted a set of fairy wings, should paint all of them and get that out of the way, and I installed them onto the fairy. I need to dowel them in place so they stay put, then clean up the joints. A little paint will hide any repairs.
I never got onto the base which is a project for today. He said the frog king looks cute.

spare fairy wings just painted black

freshly painted Fairy with her new wings.

I went out to dinner with the family in the evening and then went to a book store. I picked up a machining magazine to read.
I had stopped at my brother's house and he has started making the forge from a water heater. I never knew the shell was that thick.

The early morning disaster slowed up my activities and I had left earlier than planned because of the dinner.

I will set up the little lathe when I get there as my nephew may drop by and will give him a project to work on. I will also work on the fairy base and see if I can get that done today.
I may cut another piece of Tababulia to turn, and may also cut a few pieces for carving.
I will see what I actually do tomorrow.

year 11, Week 11, Day two (week 585) (January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.) 03-27-11 Sunday

85 degrees, strong breeze, no clouds until some appeared over the Everglades in the late afternoon. This weather report was brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.

At a yard sale about six months ago, I picked up a palm pilot 3 with a cord and keyboard. I did not have the software to get it to work. In the past month, I located the "desk top" software that allows your computer to talk to the unit. I then found the software for the keyboard. After a couple missteps, I got it operating. I loaded a 33 page story into it and it split it up in some 20 notes.
I have to get used to the folding keyboard, but this may well be quite serviceable for typing quick notes and ideas. It is nice to have it working. There are a lot of APPS on line for it so I might look to see what is available and what will actually be useful. It seems to have more memory than I ever expected which is quite impressive.
I might make use of it on days where working is not a priority or when traveling, though I need to figure out how to keep it balanced on the connector on the keyboard. It is barely on it and easily bumped.

Palm pilot 3 with keyboard and typed text on the screen.

I arrived later than planned. I bothered the kitties, unloaded the truck and got half set up.

My first project for the day was to make the base for the fairy. I wanted to mount the fairy, mushrooms and frog on a log. I went to my wood pile and picked up a oak branch for measurement. It was too small to get the angles I was after. I searched my wood pile and tried several pieces. I then took a large piece of wood. I cut a section off and then cut it in half length ways. Nice, but not quite right. I then decided to make some boards. I cut a board from each side and, after cutting the straightest edge, I sanded them straight and glued them together. I did not cut the boards straight, so I decided to use the thickness planer to bring it even.
Many years ago, I got several gift cards for Home Depot. I decided a thickness planer was exactly what I needed. with deals and sales, it cost me $200. I think I have used it a total of six times so far. My brother has used it about twelve times. The big problem was that I am not doing the kinds of projects I had in mind.
Well today, I decided to use it. Mom's garage is a pathway down the center. There is tools and stuff stacked on both sides. Some of that is for yard sales she is tired of having, and some of it is just storage and "In case I need it."
I took about half an hour moving all the stuff out of the way and drag the planer out of the garage. I then took about fifteen minutes planing down the wood on both sides so it was flat rather than two opposing wedges. I then took about half an hour getting things back where they belonged.

top of wood base showing "bookmarked" faces.

Bottom side of the wood base
I positioned the fairy and a few mushrooms several times so I know what I want to do. I may take a branch and use that as part of the scene. People liked the effect on the rain fairy.
I took the board and the fairy home and am soaking the board in linseed oil. part of the reason I love to soak my wood is that it is an effective way to kill any critters that might still be within the wood.

Mom needed her frame made to hold her closet stuff up off the carpet in case there is a leak. I measured carefully and cut carefully. I then screwed the thing together. somehow, I got one board off angle so it is askew. I should have taken pictures but did not think about it. My battery powered drill decided to drain the batteries over night and within minutes of using them. The electric drill I chose to use decided to have a switch problem. I had a knock down fight with it.
My brother told me that in the main board I am drilling through, there is no grip to help hold the piece together. That can be a lose fit. It is only in the second board that any real grip is achieved. I could have made my job a whole lot easier if I drilled.

I was pretty much out of gas as for working. In my unloading the garage to get the planer out, I got some tools that is of use. I found a caliper for checking board thickness, and I found an angle drill attachment so you can drill sideways in a smaller space than your drill.
I decided to test a concept with my metal lathe. I put the angle attachment in the chuck, and took a jig saw attachment for a drill I got and mounted that into the chuck of the angle attachment. All I need to do is make a wood table and I can use the angle arrangement to "scroll saw" wood. Put in a metal blade in the jig saw and can cut metal. That is just another thing that little lathe can do.

My brother and I talked about several articles in the metal working magazine I got last night. he took dimensions for a tool post that will allow me to machine on angles. The big thing we were doing was looking at the advertisements and figuring out how to make those parts. One thing he told me is that I can get regular router bits and use them on mild steel, aluminum and brass with no problems at all. I guess I will have a reason to look at router bits and see what machining might be possible.

Overall, the day was rather unproductive for the art show. There was better ways of designing the base, but I just had the idea of making my own boards into my mind and went with it. I will say that it sure used up a nice day of work.

The spot I poked myself with the drill bit has closed up and looks like a normal boo-boo. It only hurts if I rap it which I did a few times today. It does have a little swelling but not bad, I missed it but my mom saw it. There is no pain to it and the hand works normally.

Friday, I will retrieve my art work from the antique shop. I will have just a couple weeks to go over it to see what damage they have, and possibly fix the finish, and figure out a better pricing for his work.
I plan to touch up the paint on the fairy so the filler I used as part of the wing attachment does not show. I should have doweled the wings in place but other things distracted me on that. I can do that here but don't know if I will.
I want to get her base made and have her ready for display. I have a face vase I need to sit down and carve on. It is really the only big project not done.

I will see what I actually do next week.