Archive for the ‘the future’ Category
It seems that summer has arrived here in Round Hill. Nights are still quite cool, but days have been warm and this week threatens to be quite hot. I continue to work away at things here – both indoors and out. Instead of writing much in this post, I thought it would be fun to share some photos taken over the past week or so (click on all photos for larger views).
To begin, the above photo was taken down by the river. As you may recall, I have been cutting trails through the property and have cleared four access points to the shoreline. This is the one that I can see from my bedroom window. The photo was taken about three-quarters of the way down the hill. From my room, the chair looks quite tiny. Anyhow, there is now a steep but walkable trail from the house to the river. It’s a nice view. One of these days, when I actually take some time off work around here, I may actually go down and sit in that chair.
This photo is of a rusty cast iron tripod that I found while clearing trails back in the woods. As I work my way through the property, I constantly unearth objects. This is the largest as yet. Mostly, I find glass bottles, tin cans, metal pans, and occasionally reams of the most horrid looking “barbed tape” fence wire which I carefully remove and wind into hoops to be stowed in a safe place. The history of this property has something to do with the stuff that I unearth. Behind the old house, there was once a barn, and on the hillside down to the river, an old cooper’s shed where barrels were once made for shipping apples from this region. Down by the river, on a lot which is now severed from this property and owned by a neighbour, there were once two large factory buildings for the Round Hill Woodworks. Only one building remains. It was the general store for the village for many years, before eventually closing down and being sold off. In any case, with so much activity on this property, it is really no surprise that objects are unearthed almost everywhere I look. Kind of fascinating.
If you are on Facebook, you’ll already know that I spent last Sunday removing three large windows from the second floor level of the house. Last summer, I made an unsuccessful attempt to remove the rotten old storm windows from the upper level. I soon discovered that the windows were not only attached by the regular screw bolts, but that they had also been nailed to the sashes using huge common nails (ggrrrrhhhhh!!!!).
There was no way that I could get proper leverage to extract the nails while standing at the top of a ladder, so I decided to leave the job for the winter and figure out a different way to get the old windows off the house. This time, I tackled the job from the inside, first removing the inner windows which all need some repair work anyhow. Then, I used a crow bar to partially pry each window away from the sash. Once there was a crack of open space, I threaded some cord around each window and tied it to a nail I hammered up above the inside window frame. Then I finished prying the windows out, catching them as they swung out and down, but stopped from crashing to the ground by the cord. With the windows now out of the way, I can do some repairs to the sashes and the upper siding and finish painting the upper level exterior before summer’s end.
My modus operandi for working on this place is to tackle several jobs at a time. I know that probably bothers some of you. Why not start one job and just work at it until the very end? Well, that wouldn’t suit my personality too well. I like to have several irons in the fire at all times. There are practical reasons as well. Sometimes it is too hot to be working on the trail building project, or it’s been raining and the exterior walls are too saturated to paint, so I need an indoors job. That’s what the above and the next few photos are all about. As some of you may remember from last year’s work program, I repaired and painted the downstairs but stopped about half way up the staircase. Now I am carrying on into the upper level. The above photo is of the long room with two windows that look out onto the front garden (the same window openings featured in the photo further up this page). I like this room very much and intend to turn it into a studio at some point – maybe around the same time that I go down to sit in the chair by the river.
Anyhow, the condition of the walls in this room are not too terrible, other than at one end where the plaster is off the lath on the sloped ceiling, and there are planks that were covered with wallpaper which frames a rather spooky closet. The rest of the ceiling is peeling and requires scraping – all similar to the Room of the Scary Wallpaper which I worked on last summer.
There is a square tower room as well, and it is almost ready for painting. There are two more bedrooms and a long hall on the back side of the upper floor. They are in rather dreadful condition and will require *a lot* of work. I don’t think I will get to them this summer.
Anyhow, here is the same view of the *proposed studio* after most of the wallpaper has been scraped away and the first coat of plaster applied. It is already looking much nicer and brighter in the room and my imagination is busily creating visions of a nice studio with a work table, easel, cabinet for paints and brushes……… Well, I shall get there eventually.
Now, lest anyone think that I don’t take the odd day off, The above photo will prove you wrong. On Saturday mornings, I usually tear myself away from work for an hour or two to visit the Annapolis Royal farmers’ market. Generally, I buy a couple of soft pretzels and fruit turnovers, then poke around looking at everyone’s stuff. The above insulators were acquired over a couple of weekly visits to one of the vendor’s tables. At some point, I hope to build a little glass shelf upon which they will sit at the top of the now-absent windows of the partially-plastered studio room. Do you get how all of this works? It’s all about building up a series of carrots leading from one job to the next. Somewhere at the end of the string of carrots, there is a chair by the river and several colorful insulators displayed on a glass shelf.
Okay, I know what you are thinking. What on earth is this photo about? Well, this is a photo of the next major town north of here – as depicted on a postcard dated circa 1900. It is one of about two dozen neat old postcards in a scrapbook owned by my next door neighbour. In my *spare* time (what’s that?), I have been scanning the cards, along with an old post office register book that was kept by her uncle from 1894 to 1931. The point of this activity is to preserve these relics for posterity. Once I get a bit more *spare* time, I hope to contact the local historical society to find a safe, permanent home for the old postal register – where it might prove rather useful to genealogists and historians of this region. For those who are interested, I have put .jpegs of all the postcard scans in an online gallery here. Hope that link works.
Now, believe it or not, I do manage to remember to stop and eat occasionally. Of course, by the time that happens it is usually around 7 or 8 in the evening. A week or so ago, I decided it would be nice to cook the odd meal on a barbecue. Only one problem – no barbecue – as I gave the old one away when I sold the farm. However, I had noticed a small kettle type barbecue on sale at the local grocery store, so I stopped by and bought it, a bag of chunk charcoal, and a bunch of vegetables. The barbecue came -unassembled – in a large box weighing 25 pounds. At first, I thought to leave assembly until later in the afternoon – after all, the instructions said it would take just 10 to 15 minutes to assemble the unit. However, some rational part of my brain quickly deduced that there was no way that 25 pounds of barbecue parts were going to fit together and be ready to cook in 15 minutes. About 1 hour and 15 minutes later, the barbecue was ready for charcoal. The asparagus and the long strips of a sweet red banana peppers proved to be especially good.
Of course, no long, busy day of work would be quite complete without turning on the UV lamp and firing up the camera gear for an evening of mothing. Listening to Loons calling, Barred owls hooting, coyote howling, raccoons fighting over vegetable scraps back at the compost bin while you photograph moths can be so relaxing. With any luck, I get a few nice moths like the Pachysphinx modesta in the final photo. It’s a good way to wrap up the day before catching a few hours of sleep in preparation to start all over again in the morning.
The dogs and I have returned to the old house at Round Hill. The weather has been very cold and damp – a familiar scene around much of North America this spring. I was feeling as though I must be turning into a wimp, but after overhearing a few conversations at the hardware and grocery stores this week, it appears that I’m in good company as there was much cursing and moaning on the part of the local population.
In spite of the weather, the dogs and are are doing okay, but have had to spend an inordinate amount of time holed up in the living room which has been converted into a bedroom-office. I have taken to calling it my Cape Evan’s hut. Although much work on the house is planned for this summer, for now, it’s too wet and miserable to work up much interest in carpentry. Instead, I’m devoting my time and energy into yard clean-up and gardening. Two new rhododendrons, fifty strawberry plants of two varieties, and about two dozen large perennial clumps were purchased for the garden and I have been busily working up garden space and planting the latest acquisitions. Also added is the Mexican Talavera ceramic coyote which I carefully packed and brought back from Bisbee (see above). To me, he seems like the embodiment of desert light, brightening up an otherwise misty coastal garden. I had hoped to bring back a large iguana as well, but after packing my van for the trip home, I realized that the iguana would have made an already crowded situation even worse. Maybe next year.
About the middle of last week, I was struck by a brainstorm for solving the problem of what to do about a big heap of crumbling planks in the back garden. It was too large and rotted to load up and move to a waste disposal site. However, I reasoned that it would make good organic fill for the hollow at the end of the yard. It took about fifteen wheelbarrow loads to move everything to the new location. During the clean-up process a 4.5 cm red eft was exposed (see above). An eft is the terrestrial juvenile stage of a newt – in this case, of the Red-spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens). Sorry for having disturbed the eft, I relocated it to the end of the garden where I dumped the rotted wood. Hopefully the little creature will find adequate food and shelter.
After removing the last of the wood, I dug up a bed in which to plant two varieties of strawberries – Annapolis Early, and Bounty, which is a late season variety.
Also found in the tangle of grass and rotted wood was the above snail. I wrote to my friend, Dr. Fred Schueler, to find out which species it might be. He identified it as Cepaea hortensis. Here is another view showing the working side of things.
A few hard days of digging and now I am sitting in my room waiting for the rain to stop. Today, I made periodic trips outdoors to empty the five-gallon collector pails that catch water from the drip edge of the roof. There are two large rainbarrels for water storage, and I am thinking of adding one or two more. I store the water to use for washing laundry and watering the garden.
On dreary days when the rain is pounding down, I sometimes wonder why I am doing any of this. I work quite hard just taking care of the daily stuff as the house has no modern conveniences. Basically, it’s just a step above camping. However, finding a little newt in the garden, seeing an Osprey winging over the rooftop clutching sticks for its nest, or having an enraged Pheasant pace back and forth outside the kitchen window screaming at his reflection in the glass, help to remind me that this is why I am here, doing what I set out to do when I bought this place. Not to try to make the house into something it can never be, but to live in harmony with whatever exists here. I will write more soon.
P.S.: I would like to call attention to two posts on Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ Artlog, at this and also this link. Clive has provided a wonderful “tour” of the retrospective exhibit of his art at the National Library of Wales. Be sure to click on at least a few of the photos to see much larger views. It really is quite something. I regret that I can only attend via the internet!