Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I actually have zero to blog about this weekend as I was so sick that I couldn't snap a camera shutter let alone hold the damn thing. I suspected Friday morning that something was amiss with me as my head felt stuffy and a sense of dreadful foreboding came over me, followed by a swift self pity episode as I realized my hard earned weekend was about to be ruined. I ended leaving work a little early that day and as soon as I got home and fed Kota I was horizontal on the sofa. I awoke around 10pm with my nose blocked and a headache along with a chill. I crawled to bed and stayed there, apart from necessary breaks, until Sunday morning. Then I got up with such aching limbs and more chills that I wanted to just drop back under the covers again. But I was craving big time for soup and doggedly drove into town where I whizzed around the grocery store and was back home within 40 minutes. I grabbed a tin of tomato soup only to discover I bought stewed tomatoes instead. I cried. Although I had stuff in the fridge I couldn't face cooking so it was just sandwiches for me this weekend.
Thanks to everyone who called and kept me going with kind words and generous offers of help. I loved the offer of 'soup and snuggles' but I was loath to let anyone near me and pick up those frightful germs. But the chats helped immensely. I was back to work on Tuesday but it wasn't until today when I felt back to my normal self again. And today I hankered for something but I just couldn't put a finger on it until I was looking through Craig's List. Of course, a chainsaw! I have so many fallen branches and logs lying around the place, I could saw them up to burn in the fire pit. I saw a really good bargain which was up for sale close to work. and less than an hour later I was back at work with a Reamington 14" saw and a can of oil.
On the way home the rain poured down all the way to Tractor Supply.
A rainbow over the grocery store as I ran into Tractor Supply to buy some safety glasses. I was seriously wondering if it might be too wet to chop any wood this evening. I was getting a bit upset thinking my plans would be thwarted yet again but as I drove home, only 2 miles away, the roads dried up and I saw that there had been no torrential rain recently at Meadow House so the wood chopping was still on!
This two big branches were hanging from the chestnut tree by the shed and were the ones I wanted to practice on tonight.
 Fired up and ready to go! And of course Kota had to be in on the action.
So I got chopping, and bloody hell if the damn thing wasn't as blunt as a butter knife. I had a fleeting moment of being really pissed but I wasn't giving up. Those branches were being cut up if it meant staying up all night.
But after lots of brute force determination I got there and the branches got sawed up, or rather hacked. 
But overall I was pleased. It only cost me $30 and so it looks like I'm going to have to get a new chain or something. Whatever, I'll figure it out, I love my new toy!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall Preparations at Meadow House

Saturday was a damp dreary day and not wanting to venture far but wanting some fresh air, Kota and I had a walk through The Lanes, as I've started calling a network of grassy paths that link the local houses together.
There is an abundance of wild chives growing here which I've often used, and in the summer there are wild strawberries, black berries, wine berries and grapes. I've even spotted a few mushrooms and hope one day to be up early enough to claim them before the local wildlife.
I loved these knotty creepers which hang and stretch through many of the trees.
After our stroll smelling the earthy fragrances of autumn and noticing the first oranges and reds on the dogwood and bramble leaves I was in a fall decorating mood so back at the house I pulled down boxes and bags of decorations for fall and Halloween and got started.
I lit the first house fire of the season using twisted paper and pine cones with the kindling, then after cracking open a bottle of red wine I started transforming the living area into a seasonal grotto.
I got quite carried away using everything I had and then looked for more. Undaunted that I had no more leaves or scarecrows or gourds or orange lights, I realized that I could look forward to adding bits in the future weeks with all the natural resources  that I have outside the house. And I will. Satisfied with what I'd done so far I relaxed on the sofa and sniffed the wonderful aromas coming from the fireplace and the oven which had a steak stew slowly cooking inside.
On Sunday the weather had improved and it was time for chores. Rob decided to visit and had arrived armed with wasp sprays and so it was time for the demolition of the Bell Hornets' nest.
These humungous critters have been upsetting me for some weeks. Whenever I turned lights on in the evenings they were banging on the glass trying to gain entry and to be honest they frightened me. They're really big, fly fast and I know they'd think nothing of zapping me if they felt inclined. Their constant presence was wearing me down. We knew where the nest was located so Rob went up the ladder and filled the hole with both of his cans of insecticide while I hovered at the bottom offering moral support but ready to sprint if the occasion arose. After emptying his cans into the wall Rob then sealed the tomb with foam, an additional deterrent, just in case.
The next job was to unearth an old iron ring I'd discovered in the undergrowth at the back of the barn. I thought it would make a superb fire ring and Rob agreed. I'd sprained my back dislodging it from the earth into which it had sunk over the years so Rob rolled it over to the back of Meadow House.
It looked just right. On Tuesday afternoon I leveled the ground underneath it so it now sits straight, and I'm ready for a fire!
The next big job was getting shot of this huge old AC unit which had been sitting in my bedroom window. Rob lifted this out on his own, I have no idea where he got the strength from, it weighed a ton when both of us carried it to the shed. It certainly won't be going back in next spring. We also rigged up a better walkway for Kota to enter his cat flap in the window and he's been very happy with it.
I found an old axe in the barn so the final job was splitting a few logs for kindling. I'm absolutely useless at this but will endeavor to get better with practice at the back of the house where no one can see my feeble efforts. Rob filled up my explosive box for me so the next step had to be to light another fire and resume positions on the sofa while Kota curled up again on the rocking chair.Meadow House is now ready for the fall.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Party & Lace Weekend

Friday evening I drove down to DC to Emily's house where we were celebrating Jason's birthday. It was an exceptional evening seeing folks I'd not seen for a while and meeting new people. And also great because I didn't have to drive back home, Emily had a spare bed for me. It was an evening of many laughs but not too much alcohol for me as we were on a mission to Scranton, PA, the next day.
 Emily with Mukul and Molly.
Me with Joe and his entourage, great lads.
And even though it was Jason's birthday, he was the one who gave me a gift. Throughout the evening he and Emily would mention the 'stuff' that was upstairs for me, and as people went on the house tour they came back down the stairs saying that they liked my 'stuff'. I didn't get a chance to look until I woke up the following morning and had a fine old time unwrapping paper and boxes to unearth an assortment of possible candleholders. Jason had heard me mention that I wanted to start painting glass pots for lanterns and hence the collection of 'stuff'. Awesome, Thanks Jason! Unfortunately the poor man had an eventful night with the pair of us as Emily was ill and needed help and then just when they were settled, I walked in still mostly asleep and wanted to know where I was, even going over to the window to try and get my bearings. I don't remember much of this but obviously went back to bed and slept OK. In the morning poor Emily had to sit through a hair appointment with a major hangover while I sat and demolished a sumptuous breakfast cooked by Jason. As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that this guy was the star of the weekend having to put up with us and also doing all the driving.
Soon after midday we set off of PA excited to finally exploring an old lace museum, a trip we'd been trying to pull off for some weeks.
We saw this wonderful doors and windows store on the way.
We managed to get to Scranton before dark and immediately headed to the factory to get our bearings. We actually had permission from the owner to explore the buildings which was quite a novelty for us but somehow I couldn't stop my instinctive skulking and lurking as we prowled around the perimeter. We snapped a few shots and then concentrated on finding a motel for the night and dinner, and of course, beers.
 We drove and walked around downtown Scranton but soon were desperately tired and realized we needed our beds. The next morning we were disciplined to get up at 7:30am and fortified with a Dunkin Donuts breakfast we raced back to the factory.
Scranton Lace Factory was the world's largest supplier of Nottingham Lace. During its heyday in the early 20th century, Scranton Lace employed over 1,400 people and had bowling alleys, a gymnasium, a barber, a fully staffed infirmary, and owned its own coal mine and cotton field. Founded in 1897 in Scranton, PA, the company used looms that were made in Nottingham, England, stood two and a half stories tall, were over 50 feet long, and weighed over 20 tons. During World War II, the company expanded its production line to include mosquito and camouflage netting, bomb parachutes, and tarpaulins. After the war, the company returned to producing cotton yarn, vinyl shower curtains, and textile laminates for umbrellas, patio furniture, and pool liners. In recent years, the number of employees dwindled to around 50 people, with annual sales averaging $6 million. As mechanized looms replace manual ones, Scranton Lace joined the ranks of craft-style textile manufacturers and shut their doors in 2002. The photo above was taken before 1928.
The building inside was vast and we realized it would take many hours to explore this place thoroughly. There was a radio playing on a talk station downstairs which I found a little unnerving as it would fade in and out as we wandered through the rooms. Records lay around as well as many packing boxes but for the first couple of hours Emily and I found nothing gut thumping exciting in the huge storage rooms.
We later met up with Jason by the clock tower and naturally had to climb up there. The ladders were very steep but the views in the clock face were worth it.
From the clock face level it was another 3 vertical ladders to the cone tip which you can see in the first SL photos above. The platform in this photo led to the outside of the cone where there was a final ladder to the whistle at the very top. I didn't do that one.
 We later came to a beautiful room with a domed roof carpeted with thousands of loom pattern cards. There were more in the next room, along with old sewing machines, which was once a basketball court. And then we came to a bowling alley.
It was still operational so Jason hurled a few balls down one of the lanes.
We found one of the loom rooms filled with wonderful old iron machines from Nottingham, England. They looked as if they could still be run and I tried to imagine the noise when this room was in its heyday. It was almost sad to see them standing silent yet still intertwined with miles of colored threads. We did notice that most of them were marked with notices telling us they were earmarked for removal to a museum. Good to know.
Some of the windows caught my eye as I walked around and these two were my favorites with the tendrils of ivy framing the hazy glass. We'd been exploring here for over 5 hours and decided we'd had enough for one day. There was more to see but creativity was waning and our beer cravings were sharpened so we left with a few hundred photos and headed south. I put together a short video which can be seen here. On the way up to Scranton we'd spotted an old coal breaker so thought we'd stop in on the drive home.
This impressive structure is the Huber Breaker which closed in 1976. There is currently an organization at work to trying to raise money and create a community park on the grounds. The coal breaker was in a lot worse condition than the Nicholas Coal Breaker which we'd explored a couple of years ago and we were a little apprehensive as we walked towards it.
Someone had climbed up to hang a Stars & Stripes in commemoration of the day, the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
The light was starting so fade so we had no intention of scrabbling amongst those ruins but I did climb into the turbine room and take some photos helped with the last rays of the sun. This would be an excellent exploration to continue another time when we have more light and no need to rush.
On the way out I looked around and without thinking read the sign aloud as 'America's Finest Anthrax' Could've been funny but when I took the image into Photoshop with the intention of adjusting the sign to read that, I didn't find it so amusing in the light of previous anthrax attacks and the 9/11 anniversary so I left it alone.
We were totally beat by now and still hadn't had our ritualistic Exploration Beers, so we drove further south and stopped at the Appalachian Brewing Company in Harrisburg where we quenched our thirst with some fine beers and an equally fine beef chilli with garlic bread. From there it was nonstop to DC and then for me another 1.5 hours back to Marshall, held up on 66 by bloody roadworks, 2 lots of them. But I had planned ahead and taken Monday off so it was with a very satisfied smile that I finally rested my head on my pillow next to Kota and slept deeply. A pucker weekend.