Monday, June 30, 2008

Yesterday's Project

Our task yesterday was to finish cleaning up the back yard including the firewood I never finished stacking last year. For nine months I told B, "Don't worry. I'll take care of it." But, of course, I never did. As it turned out, if I had finished stacking it in the shed, I would have had to move it back out when we tore down the shed. I admit that for those nine months I had no idea that we'd be tearing down the shed. But I'm always delighted when procrastination pays off.

The lawn slopes down under the clothesline hiding the pile of scrap lumber behind the firewood. For twenty years or more I stored firewood there while it dried and behind it I tossed all sorts of wood scraps that I didn't know what else to do with.

The inexorable process of filling empty space begins...

I'm no longer tiptoeing barefoot across the pristine concrete floor. I walk right in, even with muddy feet.

I have a deep seated dread of seeing my beautiful new garage become the dark hole of dead storage that so many garages are. This garage was designed to hold: the car, firewood and tools. Period. Check back next year to see how I'm doing.

Belinda started at 8:30 and I joined the project around 10:00. By 4:00 we felt we had really earned our cocktail.

I think Belinda's envisioning a lovely, wide expanse of grass to mow. But I'm definitely seeing an opportunity for more ferns and woodland plants...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Unexpected Entertainment

Remember my new "sun tunnel?" Turns out it has a bonus entertainment value. It's a wild light show in a thunderstorm. If I had a real internet connection, I'd add a video. But use your imagination. Don't forget, it's not just a hole in the ceiling. It has a lens on top. It was GREAT!

By the way, last week I noticed that a house near my office was having a sun tunnel just like mine installed.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

There's not much to say about painting the stairs except that if you're doing it on your day off, it goes well with a beer. And it looks a lot better when it's done.

I should emphasize that these open stairs had to be painted top and bottom, inside and out. I was only on the third tread when I started getting paint on my hands. By the fifth, I also had paint on my feet. Eventually, working on the bottoms and insides the paint started getting in my hair. Someone should remind me next time that happens, to clean up before the paint dries.

In my own defense, I was really focused on trying to avoid falling down the stairs and taking the paint bucket with me. And at that, I succeeded.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Maggy's Birthday v.26

Maggy and Andy were here for the birthday - well, almost. Maggy arrived on the 12th and Andy on the 13th despite the actual birthday being on the 11th. In the immortal words of one of my fellow town board members, upon hearing that Maggy's birthday was on the same night as the board meeting, "Who has a birthday on a Wednesday?"

While she was here, Maggy and Charlie discovered that they both still enjoy riding. That may not be so surprising for Maggy, but Charlie's the same age as she is. For a horse, that's quite a bit older than for a person. So, I'm pleased to see that he's aging so well.

[It's not totally that her stirrups are too long. She's posting and leaning into a turn. Notice that after years of high heels in New York, she still keeps her heels down just fine. Here they are at a walk.]

Construction Phase One Complete

The new living room looks great! Here it is a week ago, painted and empty.

And a few days ago, furnished.

The kitchen, last week, painted and relatively empty.

A few days ago, well, furnished isn't quite the right word. It still needed a bit of work. It's better now. But I don't have a newer picture. I'll wait 'til B gets the cupboards done.

There's still plenty of work to do, but the results won't be so dramatic.

Here's a dramatic hazard of cleaning up after carpenters. This is the end of the hose that connects to our Kirby vacuum cleaner. Look closely at the nail piercing the plastic. Would Kirby use this as an ad for how forceful the vacuum is?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Pouring the concrete. Brud chose this company because the concrete is mixed on site and metered as it pours.

I've never seen the top of a concrete truck as I saw it from the upstairs window.

The guys looked pretty relaxed as the first concrete dripped from the chute.

The pace picked up as they plunged into the relay between two wheelbarrows.

It was great teamwork as two guys alternately dumped their wheelbarrows and two other guys pushed the concrete into place.

They spend about half of their time bent over like this leveling the concrete. My back hurts just thinking about it.

The pace slacked off as they finished up.

Greg stayed pretty late waiting for the concrete to set up enough for this final polishing.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I'm stuck with this advertising on my house for a while longer. It irks me that apparently Du Pont appears not to have a good grip on the concepts of "miracles" and "science."

mir·a·cle: An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is
held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.

sci·ence: The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Odd Jobs

Sometimes with so many construction guys around, it's better just to get away and work on one of the many other necessary projects on the imaginary list.

Our garden wagon took its last gasp last week. It's about twenty-five years old and we've never babied it. It's carried manure, firewood, compost, maple sap, people, mulch, rocks. There's rarely room for it in the garage after all its hard work. So, its varnish is long gone.

I'd probably just keep patching it up, but B, who never does anything halfway, got some roughcut hemlock at the nearby sawmill and totally reconstructed the wagon.

There are never pictures of me on the blog 'cause I'm the one taking the pictures. But since B was in charge of these before and after pictures, Murphy and I jumped into the spotlight.

On the topic of B's pictures, this is the one she thinks should be my new headshot. What do you think?

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Andrew Sullivan reprinted a poem from The Atlantic that took my breath away.


by J. T. Barbarese

When he was young he used to spend the whole summer
in the abandoned slag heaps around the old mines
outside the city of Scranton. It would take him hours
to pick through the shale stacks, the sweat writing lines
in the dust on his face, and the old ball peen hammer
slung from his belt pinching his belly button.
Some days there was nothing to read but the signatures
of ice and erosion and tools. Then he'd find one,
a slate unnaturally filigreed with the fright masks
of a trilobite, ferns, the inferior commissures
of ancient clams. He would wrap them in moist newspaper
and carry them carefully home. Once his teacher asked
him to talk to the class about fossils.
Satan plants them to trick us,
he said. When I get home I smash them to pieces.

J. T. Barbarese teaches English at Rutgers University. He is the author of New Science (1989) and of a translation of Euripides's Children of Heracles (1999).