Did we have a thanksgiving? Did we have a Thanksgiving?
Seriously? What kind of a question is that? Duh! Of course we did. We did it real big
around here, with the help and companionship of Stan and Jackie. That’s how we do things. Family china, tablecloths, and beer in the glass. Sort of. Casey made the turkey – a heritage bird that was raised just around the corner at Meadowland Farm– and boy did that thing taste good. The timber framing nerd in me has to point out that the hay barn at Meadowland Farm has a wild x-brace feature I’ve never seen before. Anyone who knows about this stuff and who might be interested in sounding off or providing info, please do. Anyway, back to the turkey: a week later and we’re eating turkey soup for just about every meal. We also had my mom’s infamous candied sweet potatoes (no marshmallows here, thank you very much); Casey’s mom’s famous MSG casserole with chestnuts, artichokes, asparagus and about 2 pounds of butter; delicious stuffing with olives, currants, and homemade bread; brussels sprouts hash with bacon and apple cider vinegar; homemade cranberry sauce; spinach salad; cream gravy (this is new for me, and is apparently the Texas
tradition); pumpkin pie not from a can with whipped cream, not from a can. Let’s just say we ate well.
It was great having guests because we got some real motivation to actually sweep, mop, and make a bedframe that could lift the mattress up off the floor. Now when you visit, you too will be treated to an evening’s slumber in peace, tranquility and fluffiness, all at a Sam-height from the floor. Oops. Sorry about that. It was only after the fact that I realized that I made the whole thing a little tall. Maybe my next project will be a climb into bed stepstool.
We followed those guests up with a reprise of some of our first and most honored visitors: Charley Kozakawicz and his sidekick, Bob. First of all, we were sorry that Chris could accompany them. Second of all, we were extra happy to have Bob out of the hospital, looking svelt and having great color. Bob: stay healthy for a little while, will ya? Charley brought his newest talent to share with us: frisbee. He used this talent to distract Bob and me while we were trying to loosen more plugs in the Sisyphean task of prepping the radiators for install. I couldn’t have done the deed without Bob’s help, and pipe wrench. Still, we’re getting closer to heat by the day. The work from yesterday was the building of a wall on which to hang the new propane boiler. While there, I found myself doing a lot of demo of the old ductwork from the dirty, undersized, and outdated forced hot air heating system. It reminded me of that Gillian Welch song: “I’m down in a hole/I’m down in a hole/I’m down in a deep dark hole.” It’s exciting to be down there, though, since coincident to Bob’s visit was a massive
discovery (one which I’d secretly hoped for, for a long time). Here it is: We’ve got this one huge room, right? We’ve got the shop set up in it, and strange, later add-on fireplace and chimney. The room, and that whole side of the house has a real sag to it, as if there was once some kind of support there that was taken away. At the same time, there’s what appears to be part of a stone pile in the basement, part carefully, professionally laid stone, and part jammed-in rubble wall. Above this stone pile up, the first floor/basement ceiling is quite insubstantial in a 10′ x 10′ square and was reinforced with new dimensional 2″ x 12″ boards. It began to dawn on us that that there had been a chimney there, at some point, maybe at some point fairly recently. Our suspicions were confirmed when Casey pointed out the smooth cement in the floor that gave away the location of the second half of the chimney foundation. When we went into the attic we were even able to see the hole where the chimney pierced the roof. At some point in the past (and maybe in the not-too-distant past, like within the last 50 years) this
house had twin chimneys. The second chimney, which was removed, supported much of the north side of the house. Without it, the floors are all sagging. I think in a rare moment of agreement, Casey and I are both interested in trying to put this big central chimney back in place. When something like that could happen, and when we’d be able to afford it, is anyone’s guess. Check out the photoshopped version of Owls Hoot with a correctly placed chimney, where it was and where it actually ought to be. It’s just below.
While we were doing all this sleuthing, we also found evidence in the basement of a closed off and plastered room, with shelves. The room is mostly gone but there is evidence of its size, and the beadboard ceiling that was installed in it is there. What was going on down there? Preserving fruits and vegetables? Root Cellar? Dairying? Making cheese or butter? More on this to come as we get it figured out.
During Bob’s visit I also got the idea to go pick through the rubbish pile from the summer kitchen. I keep pulling parts of the collapsed wall out of the pile, and there’s actually more and more complete material there. It was exciting for me, though I think Bob was tired. Right afterwards, we went inside, and Casey spotted a tick crawling on my sweater. In case you don’t know, Casey HATES ticks, and with good reason. Lyme disease is pretty rampant around here, as are the ticks that carry it. Sufficed to say, as we sat there, we pulled a combined 10 ticks off of both Bob and me. That, after 15 minutes on the trash pile and in the brush. We gotta get on the tick-killing case!
Next post: new free radiators from Super-Ron the HVAC and plumbing master. They look like a portrait of a man with a mustache and hairdo from the 1910s!