Archive for the ‘Bisbee’ Category
Please Note: The comments on my blog stopped working a couple or so months ago. I’ve been trying to repair the database – called the host’s tech support, etc… and so far, have been unable to get them working again. My workaround was to modify another blog on the same host as a “new” version of this blog. I’ll continue to put up new blog posts here, but if you want to see a version with working comments, go to http://magickcanoe.com/blog10. Sorry for the inconvenience!
It’s been a very long time since I posted anything to my blog. I had hoped to keep up with it, but then the blog was plagued with technical problems that remained unresolved. I was in Arizona for the winter with just the iPad and a limited net connection, so I abandoned any attempt to sort out the problems. Even now, this solution isn’t exactly ideal. I’ve had to resurrect an old blog and repurpose it as the new version of Journey To the Center, and hope that it will keep working right. I’ve already spent a bunch of time on the phone with the server tech support and they can’t seem to fix the problems with the original blog, so this work around will have to do until I come up with a more permanent solution.
Anyhow, enough about the technical problems. I’m going to try to pick up where I left off last autumn after finishing the fifth summer of work on the house at Round Hill.
I began the trip to Arizona around the first of November. I’m often asked what I would do if my truck broke down on the way. I’ve thought through several scenarios that include such things as renting a U-Haul van to drive the rest of the way, or even buying another van. However, I try to keep a positive mindset when I set out on my almost 4,000 mile journey. If I didn’t think positively, I’d never be able to make myself go. This trip was no different than the others. I set out with my plan to drive for eight days. I knew where I would stop at the end of each day. However, there’s that saying about the best laid plan. On the first day of travel after setting out from my Mom’s place in Ottawa, about three hours after crossing into the U.S., the truck broke down on the side of the freeway near Batavia, New York. I sized up the situation — the truck had blown a heater hose and lost a lot of coolant. I filled the rad with water as best as I could manage, and used wire and tape to attach the broken hose together (it was a broken off plastic T-fitting). In about eight very short hops to prevent the engine from overheating badly, I managed to drive the last few miles to the Batavia exit and limped into the parking lot of the Days Inn. Fortunately, I got a room for a couple of nights and the next morning, made a couple of calls and had the van towed to a shop for repair. To make a very long story short, I was back on the road within two days — not trusting the van too much — so I spent the first day back on the road, taking the scenic route on toward my next night’s stop in Pennsylvania. Emboldened by no further catastrophes, I got back on the freeway the next morning and followed the rest of my original trip plan.
This winter marked a change in my accommodations. In previous years, I rented a house in the Mule Mountains on the outskirts of Old Bisbee. This winter, I would be living in a cabin in the desert valley, just a few miles from Bisbee. Although I enjoyed all the winters at the Bisbee house, it always felt a little confining as there were steep slopes just beyond the garden. The cabin offered something completely different – a greater feeling of freedom – of being able to just walk out the door and go rambling with the dogs – no one in sight, no cars, no need for leashes. Although it was fairly spartan living, it was comfortable enough. A good bed. A convenient place to cook meals. And terrific views of mountains and incredible skies.
Those who know me well, know that I do most of my cooking outdoors spring through autumn while at the place in Round Hill. Doing so in the desert was old hat for me as I spent several autumns camping my way around Utah, California and southern Oregon. However, the winds tend to be rather challenging at times. Still, it’s not too difficult to produce excellent meals on a gas burner or in the barbecue.
The rewards for roughing it are many. A fabulous 360 view of the sky, with mountain ranges in every direction. Good weather for the most part. Almost absolute silence. The photo just below was taken through the west window while sitting on the bed.
Did I mention the sunrises and sunsets? Cooking in the outdoor kitchen was such a wonderful thing. I never missed a terrific sunset. I could look around while I cut up vegetables, or tossed a stir fry on the bbq, and see all of these amazing things happening in the sky in every direction. It was wonderful. I’ll write some more about last winter in Arizona in the next day or two – then it will be back to the present here in Round Hill.
There’s no denying that summer is coming to an end. The leaves on the maples are just beginning to change colour, and the last lingering hummingbirds seem to have departed a couple of days ago. Nights are getting colder. The only heat source in the house – a portable fan heater – struggles to keep the chill at bay in the old living room which I use as bedroom and headquarters for all that happens here.
This morning, I reinstalled two sets of rebuilt windows in one of the upstairs rooms. When I first arrived here back in April 2010, many of the glass panes throughout the house were cracked or missing. The window frames were in tough shape – sprung apart with peeled paint and chunks of missing glazing putty. I removed the worst of them to rebuild. This summer, I got started on the upstairs windows. When my mom and brother visited in August, mom worked on the first two sets of windows, removing the putty and panes of glass, scraping the frames down to bare wood, reglueing all the joints, and then priming the frames ready for me to install new glass and final coats of paint. It was so nice to put the windows back in place this morning. I shot a few photos from inside and out. I have one more set to finish up and install – hopefully within the next couple of days.
Work continues upstairs where I have been replastering the badly damaged walls and ceiling. I am about an afternoon’s work away from finishing the third room – an L-shaped room with a large gable window looking down upon the woods along the river. The floor is made of planks, some of which are of very good width.
The room has required many hours of work as it was in very rough shape. It probably has not seen much use since this poster was tacked to the wall, perhaps sometime around 1979.
This will be the third room finished, not counting a long hallway. There remains one unfinished room which will have to wait for my return next summer.
Another project which is coming along quite well is refinishing of the staircase. I scraped through several layers of paint on the treads, risers, handrail and newel post. The treads and risers are going to receive a sort of folk art paint treatment. I am just getting started on that and will not have time to do much before I close up the house, but at least everything will be ready to carry on when I return next summer. The newel post and handrail are very handsome now that the are scraped back to the natural wood. I intend to varnish them.
The outside of the house has progressed quite well, but it looks like I will have to leave a section unfinished as the weather seems to have turned and next week’s forecast promises rain almost every day or two. That’s okay. In truth, I am feeling ready to pack up my tools for the season. With the cooler, damper nights, arthritis is taking its toll on both Sabrina and me. Time to make a hasty retreat to the desert.
It’s been quite a productive year. Although there is still a huge amount of work remaining, I feel that this summer’s projects have made the house more inhabitable.
Now it’s time to get back to Ontario, and from there, to make the long trek to southeast Arizona. I look forward to the stronger sunlight and arid desert environment, and to get together with good friends.