Saturday, September 24, 2016

What a DIfference a Day Makes.

Yesterday I sweated my .... well, I sweated a lot as I wrestled some cut logs over to the splitter and stacked the results. The afternoon temp reached 85-86 degrees with a bright sunlight. (Luckily, the place I set up the splitter was in the shade most of the time.)

Today, I woke up to a low of just 46 degrees and a forecast of a 68 as the afternoon high. I took advantage of that and put in two and a half hours finishing up the remaining logs between 8:30 and 11 AM while the temperatures were still in the 50s. I never even broke a sweat.

I've still got some cut pieces of fallen trees (read partly rotten) up in the woods, but they'll stay there. I've more than enough to keep the house warm since we only use the fireplace when the temperatures remain below 30 degrees all day long. 

Now I'm ensconced in my recliner and tuned in to the Rutgers vs. Iowa game. Let's go RU!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hello, It's me again. Getting Ready for Winter.

Terry's been in Virginia for one of her Smocking Arts Guild gatherings this week. And I've just been sorta loafing around. Sorta.

Besides doing the house cleaning, fixing the garden gate, harvesting tomatoes and peppers, cutting up some longer logs that I had sitting behind the house, and moving firewood from the trail nearest the house using the tractor, I decided to split the wood I had stacked from last year and the stuff I had just moved.

But first, I had to get the wood splitter started. I was a little apprehensive about that. See, I hadn't used it since the fall of 2014 and it had been sitting idle behind the garage all that time. I wasn't sure it would want to start. Or if all the hoses, etc. were still intact. Mice have a bad habit of gnawing on that rubber, you know.

I didn't feel any more confident when I pulled it around the corner of the garage and put some gasoline in the tank--only to watch it leak like a sieve from the area of the carburetor. I shoved a plastic cup under the stream of gasoline to capture as much as I could and took the cover off the air filter so I could get to the problem area. Then the flow of fuel suddenly stopped. I hadn't even gotten to the carburetor and the gas tank still had fuel in it. What the heck?

So I did what anyone else would have done: switched the engine on, moved the lever to "choke" and gave the cord a pull. On the second pull, the engine sparked to live and went running merrily along. Gotta love hose Briggs & Stratton engines! I put the cover for the air filter back in place and started splitting wood.

About five hours later--with only a short break to have lunch--I called it quits. I managed to stack all the stuff I split today while I was working. I still have some wood to split but my back and knees were shouting, "No mas!" The 85 degree temperature didn't help either. I finish the rest manana.

Terry reports that she's having a grand old time. Before the bulk of the members showed up, the leadership got to go to Williamsburg for lunch one day and had a private tour of some stitching and quilt work at the museum. She's enjoying her classes and meeting with all her lady friends. She's to come home late Sunday night.

Monday we take our problem cat, Shadow, to the vets again. She had some serious scratches right in front of her ears. She got some oral antibiotics for that as well as a cream that gets applied daily. This in addition to her pill for stomach issues every other day. Oh, and she's wearing a collar of shame, which she detests something fierce. 

They've been working on Every. Single. Road. around here lately. Mostly in preparation for the increased truck traffic expected to come rolling, rolling, rolling Any. Day. Now. See, Shell Appalachia will be drilling a gas well on top of the hill about 3/4 mile (as the crow flies) from the Aerie. Between construction of the pad, workers, water pre-fracking and waste water post-fracking, there will be some hustling and bustling going on. They've almost finished the road work--we've got a lovely asphalt paved section from the bottom of the slope to the top of the hill now--so I expect the tree crew will be showing up to clear the pad site as soon as the weather cools. Then the trucks with their rock and concrete and what not will be moving along on a regular basis for a couple months.

I can deal with it. Especially if they manage to hit lots of gas and pay out lots of royalties.

Well, that's about all for now.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Toy Chest/Legal File

And, finally, I returned to the woodshop and worked up some plans for a project that got altered--often--as I went along.

It was supposed to be a toy chest for Chelsea and it was supposed to look like a bee hive box, but I got carried away. Constructed of red oak, it's a bit heavy and more classical looking. The outside dimensions are 18"W x 18"D x 26"T. Each draw is 14-1/2" wide and approximately 14" long and 11" deep. That makes it pretty close to being legal file size, just in case Sandy wants to steal it.

Family Addition

Then there was this distraction:

This is Richard Justin who was born on August 27 and adopted by Rick and Sandy on the 29th. This little guy has since gotten home to Portland where his older sister (Chelsea, 16 months old) is seeing to it that he is treated well. And the dogs (Penny and Harbor) are taking care of both of them.

Clam Bake!

Another of the things occupying me since we returned from our trek through the northeast was the annual family clambake out in West Wareham, Mass.Technically Terry and I are not members of the family (The Westlakes), but we have been pretty much adopted.

We try to get out there the day before The Bake because that's when Bruce leads an excursion to Buzzards Bay to do some quahogging. These are mostly clams to be used in the chowder but the smaller ones end up either being eaten raw or grilled Friday night. Tides weren't really the best this year so Bruce, his brother and sister got out there on Thursday and got themselves three pecks of clams. We still went out again on Friday and got another three. We also harvested some sea weed (fucus) to use in the baking process.

Thursday night's snack before broiled chicken dinner on the grill.
Bruce opens a clam on the beach of Buzzards Bay
Gotta sample the product!
 In addition to the clams we harvested, Bruce and Co. ordered 2-1/2 bushels of steamers plus a dozen or so oysters. These needed to be cleansed before they were steamed in the bake and served up to be eaten. To that end, they went out Saturday morning to get two large garbage cans of sea water. The clams were placed in large coolers, covered with sea water and then stirred. They sat for a 30 to 45 minutes, and then were moved to clean water. They were moved three or four times before deemed ready for cooking.
Clams placed in coolers for cleaning.

Clams in sea water
Meanwhile the chowder was being prepared. Veggies sliced and diced, what could be called a rue prepared, and then everything went into the pot with plenty of butter and cream.

Working on the chowder.

Veggies getting peeled and diced.

Preparing the bed of coals on which the bake will cook.

With the bed of coals hot, the metal cover goes on and then a layer of sea weed. The Bake Box goes on top of that.
Shade was at a premium. People moved around all day trying to find some and stay in it once they had.
 Terry and I had a great time but were happy to head home with only a few squash from Bruce's garden. (Last year he gave us a very large garbage bag of Swiss chard! We still have some in the freezer.)

Saturday was the day of The Bake and the clan gathered from far and wide.

Corning Museum of Glass

 A week or so after we returned, we got a visit from my sister and her husband. They drove out from NJ for a brief visit and we took them up to Corning to visit the Museum of Glass.  We arrived just in time to hustle over to the new theater and watch a glass blowing demonstration.

Afterward, we walked around looking at the various exhibits including one of glass sea creatures by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka. They created these delicate pieces in the 1800s to show the world some of the amazing things found in the ocean. Specimens in glass jars just didn't do the trick, they thought, so they did some fantastitc, colorful work.

 Many of their pieces had been sitting in boxes in back rooms of various museums before being acquired by the Corning Museum of Glass. Many of them were in pretty rough shape with even the least damaged requiring extensive cleaning.

This was a temporary exhibit, so we were lucky to get to view it.

One of my favorite--and permanent--displays is the scale model of one of the early glass furnaces built in Corning. The detail is amazing.

We also listened to a talk about fiber optics that was fascinating.

Ruthann and Al were impressed by the Museum and the Pennsylvania Welcome Center on Route 15 as we came back home.

Thousand Islands and Boldt Castle

After visiting the ECHO Center, we headed further west to the area of Alexandria Bay, NY where we camped at a brand new resort. By far the nicest place we had along our way. The sites were all concrete pads with pull-through access. It's own drive to the P&C next door. And it was right on the water with a marina. And a swimming pool with a tiki bar. Only thing missing were trees. They did have some small saplings they had planted but the drought was taking its toll.

But enough about the campground. We were here to take a two nation cruise of the Thousand Islands and a stop at the famous Boldt Castle.

The summer "cottages" on the American side were both older and more elaborate than most of those on the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence. Part of that had to do with the early development of the American side (late 1800s) versus the late development of the Canadian properties (1950s) and part of it had to do with restrictions placed upon developers on the Canadian side. There could be no clear cutting on the Canadian side, for instance. Builders could only remove enough trees to provide for the foot print of their homes and a buffer between the home and river had to be maintained. Still, a few took advantage of rock outcrops along the shore to have a clear view of the water.

American Cottages

American "floating" cottage

Catholic Church on the Canadian side

Canadian cottage

Canadian cottage

Canadian cottage and boathouse--It's for sale!

Statue of Saint Lawrence on the Canadian side
 We weren't the only ship taking advantage of the beautiful weather.
Canadian tour boat

Sister ship to ours.
This is the last span of the bridge on the northern end of I-81 crossing over to Canada. I've driven it many, many times. What I didn't know is that the construction of the bridge was a make-work project back during the depression. At that time there was no I-81 or the equivalent on the Canadian side. The bridge's construction was considered a frivolous waste of time and money. Today it's one of the busiest crossings.
Span of the International Bridge

Shortest bridge between two nations.
 If this guy and his wife have an argument, he can cross the bridge and be in another country! (Canada on the left, USA on the right.)

 Boldt Castle was being constructed at the turn of the century by millionaire George Boldt (manager of the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC and the Bellevue-Stafford Hotel in Philadelphia) as a gift to his wife, Louise. When she suddenly died in 1904, he cabled the construction crew to stop what they were doing and neither they nor he ever returned. The Castle was 95% complete at the time.

Over the years, weather and vandals had their way with the vacant building. Then, in 1977, the Thousand Island's Bridge Authority purchased the place from Boldt's heirs for $1 with plans to rehabilitate the Castle to its initial glory. The only stipulation is that it never be completed. The most they can do is bring it back to it's 1904 status.

They've been hard at work and the place is an amazing testament to the Gilded Age.
Heart Island and Boldt Castle

One of the many indoor fireplaces

The patio fireplace

The dove cote

The clam shell fountain
 To generate electricity, there were two diesel generators installed in the powerhouse.
The powerhouse

Another view of the powerhouse

The powerhouse seen from the water
 One area never completed was the main entrance. The stones they planned to use for the steps still lay on the lawn.
Planned original main entrance
 This side was to be the grand view looking back to the USA side of the St. Lawrence. The round extension in the front right is the indoor swimming pool.
Original main facade of the Castle
 Guests arriving by boat would have come through this archway and into a small, protected lagoon.
Stone Peristyle Archway

Stone Peristyle Archway
 Feel like taking coffee out on the lawn, there's a gazebo for that.
 Send the kids out to the playhouse to entertain themselves.
Alster Tower--The playhouse.

Alster Tower--The playhouse.

Two lane bowling alley

Terry-sized entryway to the tower

More entries to the tower and a covered patio--with fireplace

View from the docking area.

Boldt Castle's Boathouse on the Canadian shores.
Time to go home. And we did.

Straight down I-81.