Breakin’ Rocks in the Hot Sun

I fought the law, and the, the law won.

Ok, I didn’t fight the law.  I respect the law.  We even got pulled over on the Garden State Parkway last night, and given a warning for driving too long in the left lane.  Seriously.  That actually happened.  What’s more amazing about it is that the state trooper who pulled us over was real chatty and nice.  Turns out, he’s Polish (first generation) and is making his daughters go to Polish school to learn to speak Polish, same as he had to.  All this while pulled over on the side of a major 4 lane highway.  Never a dull moment with junque on the road.  And by the way, we literally did have our junque on the road.

If you look closely, you can see a pickup bed full of junque

The bed of truck was packed to the gills with 2 cast iron kitchen sinks (photos to come) an antique foot powered sharpening wheel, two trunks, a rocking chair, an enamel chamber pot, etc., etc.  We were looking pretty Beverly Hillbillies.  Except in North Jersey.

What’s happening around the house?  Well, something smells dead in the little back section.  I’m hoping it’s a chipmunk, because, apparently, they’re living in the walls, and the more dead Alvins, the happier I’ll be.  That little back house has gotten pretty neglected for the moment, while we’re trying to get front house up and running.  We still don’t have names for the parts of this grand ol’ rambler, so here’s a photo of the part I’m talking about:

The little back house, as seen from the southeast

We still don’t know all the history and phases this house has been through, but there’s some speculation that this little back, the west wing, let’s say, is quite early – a dutch timber framed cabin (well we know part of is surely timber framed, and in the dutch tradition, but when it was built is still a mystery) – it could be the earliest part of the house.  Anyway, this is the part with the beat up roof, and the busted off gutters, the rotted fascia boards, and almost certainly, the rotted and vanished north sill plate.  More on that another day.  But as we’ve revving up to dive into a major demo and rebuild project (on virtually no budget, by the way) Bob, Chris, and Charley came to visit.

Charley in the woods

Charley in the woods

Bob, sage Bob, wise Bob, grumbling, cynical, Bob our primary counsel said, “for God’s sake, don’t start too many projects.  Get the thing battened down for winter (which is just around the corner). Don’t start tearing anything off til you’re ready!  You’ll burn yourself out and bankrupt yourself and start hating each other!”  Great timing, since all we wanted to do was tear into it.  We reconsidered our path and spent the day Bob, Chris, and Charley left patching the roof on the west wing and installing gutters.  Fact is, nothing’s worth anything if the roof leaks.  Nothing’s worth anything if water runs off the roof, hits the ground, and gets diverted right into your dang house or barn.

Precious Lumber in the Wagon Shed

So the other water-fighting project was to break up the concrete apron in front of the wagon shed, to stop it from sluicing inside the wagon shed to rot all of our precious lumber.

Incidentally some previous owner of this house seems to have thought that concrete was God’s gift to mankind.  Everything has been paved.  Ok, not everything, but lots of stuff!  While water can run off concrete, it can also permeate concrete – the concrete can act like a big sponge – so if you pour concrete in contact with things that rot, like wooden framing, siding, etc., you doom the structural parts of your house to a soggy demise.

the soggy demise of the front of the wagon shed.

Needless to say, I see myself becoming really familiar with a 10 pound sledge hammer, prybars, and a masonry chisel.My new best friend  I got about a third of the way through breaking up the apron on the wagon shed on Friday, and plan to work on it, bit by bit til it’s gone.  The good news, though, is that already in the weekend’s rain, I could see that water was

Need some concrete? Feel free to let us know

diverting into the ground, instead of into the inside of the wagon shed.  At present roof and gutter repairs seem to be holding.  We’ve also got propane installed and run (although, my stars, at what a cost).  We still don’t have hot water but we do have a stove – no longer cooking on the hot plate – and our mouser-in-training has arrived.


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