I can do a lot of stuff on my own. A lot. I didn’t get to where I am today by depending upon others for help. All through school, I would beg and cajole my teachers until they would let me work alone and skip all those “group projects” where I would end up doing all the work anyway while everybody else goofed off and then would be happy to share my A grade at the end. I know independence can be considered an admirable quality, but it becomes a detriment when you genuinely need help to complete a project.
I’m learning, and Silver Spring Farm is my teacher. The first time I had friends help me with work was the construction of the bee yard last year and it turned out great. This year I have tried more collaboration and it is starting to grow on me — I no longer feel like an annoying imposition on other people’s lives. My cousin, Maureen, helped me clean the house attic with such gusto that I looked forward to her company on projects! It doesn’t help that she is a totally awesome, also independent, woman. (This is a trait that runs in the family for good or bad.)
She really likes digging through garbage for treasures. So much so, that she begged to be included when it came time to clean the various haylofts in the barns. As did my friends, Lisa and Harry, who look for any excuse possible to hang out with us at the farm. Lisa is a great pitcher-inner, a Girl Scout leader class-mom-type and probably the tidiest person I have ever met. Something I’m surely not.
We cleaned out the main hayloft of the old, post-and-beam barn. Best guess puts its construction at the same time as the big house next door: 1795-1805. I regard the barn as being much “newer” than the house (1730), but to put this into perspective, 1805 would be 8 years before Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice. 1805 is 7 years before the War of 1812. In 1805, Thomas Jefferson was sworn in to his second term as President, Lewis and Clark began their expedition to discover the wilds of the American mid-west, while Napoleon Bonaparte was tearing up Europe. And the Congletons had built themselves a barn.<
Someone literary once said, “The eyes are the windows of the soul.” Maybe, it was Shakespeare. Maybe, it was someone else — but no matter. The words are true. When speaking of houses in the same terms, it stands to reason that a house’s windows are the windows of it’s soul. Well… Of course!
A window says so many things — conveys so many messages. Because our house is so old, we can only imagine all the events that have been watched from those windows. Halley’s Comet, three times. Union soldiers, marching off to war. Redcoats, marching in for war. Lenne Lenape indians. Wildcats, boars, countless cattle and maids in white dresses. Porsches, Model A’s and wagons. Travois.
What kind of windows do you put in a house that has seen so much, yet keep in the heat and keep out that howling winter wind that whips down the valley? I chose Silverline, very pretty white vinyl windows with dimensional grilles and gas-filled panes. They look just like lovely colonial windows, only are absolutely air tight, and tip in for cleaning. Windows made by Anderson, that do all the exceptional things wooden Anderson windows do, only without needing paint.
I deliberated over this for quite a while. I’m in my early 50′s, still strong and limber enough to climb ladders and wield paint brushes, and wash buckets. How will I paint those windows in 10 years? In 20? And that is the reason I heeded the vinyl siren’s call. After feeling bad about another “unauthentic” choice for the house remodel, I thought a little about the Second Amendment.
The first Americans expressed their right to keep and bear arms by owning flintlocks and Kentucky long rifles, because that was the technology of the day. What guy from 1780, if teleported to today, wouldn’t say, “Oh, hell yeah!!!” if given the opportunity to take a nice Remington .270 rifle, or an AR-15 back in time upon his return? So I drank the vinyl window Kool-Aid.
And the ones installed so far… look great. Absolutely great.
I have been busy packing up the excess stuff at our house in order to make it more desireable to prospective buyers. I found this small poem tucked inside a sewing magazine down in the studio. I wrote it in 2002 and it has no title:
My heart flies on its journey
through the dark and distant night
past the towering timbers
the ground’s steady breath
to that dimly reddening dawning
of some distant horizon
where you are.
Dumpster Number 8 has arrived on the scene. 8. Eight. Ocho. Holy moley!
Billy, Contractor Mat and I had placed a whopping one dollar bet at the beginning of this – who could guess the number of dumpsters we would use? I said six, Mat chose seven, and Billy picked eight. I never thought we would have that much debris – and Number 7 was 1.5 tons overweight (and an extra $152, thankyouverymuch).
I have a feeling we may see a NUMBER NINE in our future. We still have the big hayloft to do, and the dairy room isn’t cleaned out yet.
Number nine…. number nine…. number nine….
“Americans are held hostage by the tyranny of political correctness.”
-Robert Griffin III
Mat has torn apart the old porch and rebuilt it to resemble more of what a porch from 1730 would have looked like, the exception being that this time around, it was constructed with pressure-treated lumber. I think it is quite authentic. We love it. It will certainly be our favorite place to hang out, barring that bone-numbing icy wind that blows down the valley in the dead of winter. We will paint the floor battleship gray and the rails and posts will be white.
You’ll have to use your imagination a bit, and visualize the wide (very wide) set of stairs descending gracefully down to the rose-filled front garden with its curving brick walkway. We’ll get there, but first some sort of retaining wall will need to be built to keep the new stairs from following the old ones down the slope.
The old roof was completely ripped off, as well as the plywood underneath. The bathroom was vented into the attic previously (and there was no ridge vent), causing the sides of the sheeting exposed to the attic to be covered in black mold. The roof leaked badly, so the sides of the sheeting facing the outside were soaking wet and rotting. All in all, not a pretty picture! Now the roof is dry and tight, and looking awesome. We chose GAF Timberline shingles in a charcoal gray/black color combination.
It’s really nice for Bill and I to be able to sit and enjoy something new, and not have to be thinking about how we will have to rip it out and throw it in the dumpster.
(PS – Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad. Sissy and I miss you a lot.)
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Today the package bees were ready for pickup. There’s an older gentleman in our bee club, by the name of Tom Webb, who drives down to Georgia every April (practically every beekeeper in northern NJ knows him as he’s been a beekeeper for 75 years!) and picks them up for himself and for anyone who wants to buy them from him. He arrived home last night with 300 3-lb. packages of bees. Bill leaves work early on Fridays, so he drove up and got them. I think he’s very brave, my sweet city boy, to drive all the way home from High Point with stray bees flying around in the cab of the pickup. He only got stung once. Tomorrow I will take them all to the farm and install them into their new hives. I promise to take photos!