Monday, September 19, 2011

How It's Going, Part 2

Since the garden walk season is for the most part, over, we are pouring on the coals in an effort to go full steam ahead with the Round/Stone/Ruin/Thing.

Look how far we got over the weekend!!
Ta Da!!!!!!!!!  

See, when we put our minds to something, stuff happens.  I told Carl, all he has to do is commit to a style of stonework and window framing and then this job will go so much faster.  See what happens when he listens to me? 
 I guess we could have used nicer windows, though.  The plywood makes it a bit hard to see the view of the garden.  But it is in keeping with the 'ruin motif'. 
Would you look at all the stone we mortared up in the last two days?  Gosh, I'm tired.
Wait, you may notice something unusual about our project....that's right, it's not Round.  Very good, you are so observant!  And if you said, 'That's not their stone house thingie, who does she think she's fooling?' you'd be right again.  Guilty as charged, this is not our hard work.  But I wish it was, sigh. 

Let's back up a bit, shall we?  Friday afternoon was a bit dark and chilly out but after Carl got home from work, we wandered outside and had a Planning Committee/Staff Meeting.  The Committee consists of just the two of us, but sometimes our membership swells to three people when Joel is roped into it.   He was off on another adventure on Friday night, though.  Lucky guy.  I hate these Staff Meetings.

No leg-pulling going on here, this is our Ruin.
So, we sat in those white chairs inside the Ruin and Carl proceeded to make some drawings and take some measurements and more drawings and more measurements.  And more head-scratching and more questions and less answers. All in all, it wasn't a real productive Staff Meeting, but it was necessary.  We decided (at least we think we did) on what size of windows we want to put in the building and how we're going to do it and whether or not it's time to start putting windows in or do we need more stone courses? 

By the time we got done kicking ideas around, the sun was going down, so we mutually agreed we should go and buy some cedar 2 x 4's to frame the windows at our local big box store in Green Bay.  It was getting late and we had a lot of things to buy and look at, so we sorta dropped everything and piled into the car and then WHOA, we piled back out of the car in dismay.  WHAT is that smell??  It reeks!

Well, the smell was a gallon of milk which had been purchased on our anniversary exactly one week before, on September 9.  We had gone out for a little lunch that day and then stopped in at the grocery store for a few items, among which was the milk, before we went on a little ride just for fun.  That's normally what we do on our anniversary, we go on a cruise.  In the car.  Close to home.  I know, we're weird.  

But anyway, back to the milk thing...Carl insisted we needed another gallon at home, and I insisted we didn't since there were already four in the fridge, but in the end, he bought it anyway.  He put the gallon carefully on the floor in the backseat so it wouldn't tip over and since our ride was only of short duration, he didn't worry that it would spoil.  (In 33 years of marriage, we have never had milk spoil around here, Carl is a Certified Milkaholic; he drinks four gallons a week.) When we got home from our little cruise, I carried in some of the groceries, but told Carl he'd have to get his milk since my hands were full.  He said he'd get right on it but at that moment, the phone rang and he answered it.  And I put the groceries away and promptly forgot it, too.  Bad idea.

It was kinda hot that weekend and last week Monday, up into the high 80's before the temps dropped to almost freezing mid-week, but I suspect the damage was done rather quickly.  Just goes to show how much I venture away from home on my own, doesn't it?  The car never moved from September 9 to the 16th.  But the milk sure did.  The indentations on the side of the plastic jug were no longer, that jug was now sporting full-blown Out-ies.   Although the jug was sealed, when the pressure built up, milk sprayed out from under the cap, all over the floorboards, seat and door.  Carl was horrified, his Precious Milk was wasted and what a mess it made (and it goes to show we didn't need the milk in the first place (see, he should have listened to me, but no, I didn't say it out loud.)   Carl was worried he won't like milk much anymore after this, but I'm not.  I know he's addicted.

So before we could leave we tried to scrub the car out to get rid of the smell (no luck on that yet) and finally gave up and just drove to the lumberyard with the windows at half mast.  We had to load our own lumber, and Carl was digging through the stacks of lumber for nice, straight boards.  I waited outside for him to get done since the smell when we weren't moving was far from pleasant.  Our car is not new, but at six years old, it's new to us (Carl's still driving a 1989 Olds to work every day).  I would much prefer New Car Smell to this any day.  It's like the 'Smelly Car' Seinfeld episode, no one will ever want to ride with us again and I guess it's a good theft deterrent, too. 

When he got done picking out sixteen eight-foot long 2 x 4's, I helped him slide them into the trunk and almost up to the dash in the front seat.  We weren't sure if they were all going to fit, but they did.   For rest of the ride home we had to talk to each other over a towering pile of cedar, but at least it smelled much better.  I guess we'll have to keep a few 2 x 4's in the car with us at all times from now on.  We drove across town to another store for three 70 pound dry mortar mix bags and finally made it home with our loaded down, smelly car by 11PM. 
Saturday morning dawned and found Joel up on the windmill tower 40' off the ground taking pictures.  This is the view of my renter's cornfield to the east of us.  Joel had some spare time again this weekend, so he was outside early and ready for stonework.  His parental units were, however, still in bed.

He was so hopeful the sunrise would have been more dramatic, but was disappointed when the cloud cover didn't cooperate. He did take some pictures of the garden from the tower, too.

 You can see the back of the North Quarry Hill and the Stone House off to the left. 
I was amazed to see how much the trees have grown since the last time Joel took these pictures.  Pretty soon we won't be able to see the garden from the windmill tower.  

When we got up, we realized we'd need more mason sand if we were going to run any more mortar, so a trip to the quarry that sells the stuff was in order.  We always mix our own mortar with sand since it's the traditional way and  cheaper than buying premixed mortar.  We loaded up the trailer with four 50 gallon drums and Carl and I with Joel following along in his car (he wasn't sure if the Olds would make it towing the heavy load, lol) we drove about 15 miles to the quarry.  I forgot my camera, I am sad to report, for I could have dazzled you with views of one of my favorite places to be: a real, live, Quarry abounding with stone of all sizes.  Next time, I'll remember.  I'll be going alone next time, or maybe with Ann.  Ann, you hear that??

Anyway, we loaded up the four barrels of sand rather quickly with three of us shoveling and weighed in on the scale (2800 pounds) and back home with the load.  We overweight by about 800 pounds, but Carl drove slowly and made it home with out a problem.  All that sand came to $19.  Not bad.  

Then it was time to start turning these rocks, below:

into more new construction using this machine:
All right!  We're all prepared, time to get to work.  

But not so fast...once again, another Staff Meeting was in order which turned into a Brainstorming Session and ended up being a Headache in the Making.  Carl had drawn up plans for this building once before but we made so many changes to what it originally was going to look like he had to scrap all his old drawings and start over.  From scratch, literally.  So, while he went back to the Drawing Board, Joel and I tried to keep busy cutting more stone (but then we were pulled off that job because Carl didn't know what size to aim for) and then we were put on demolition work.  

That's right.  Demolition.  There were two partially finished courses of stone that Carl deemed too high, so we had to take them out.  Carl's biggest fear is that this building will fall down if we don't build it right, but I told him he can rest assured it's not going anywhere in our lifetime at least, after trying to remove the stones.  Wow.  Mortar is strong stuff!  Whacking away at the mortar joints with my stone hammer and a chisel was much, much harder than dressing the stones ever was.  The mortar is so dense that the chisel doesn't make much headway and after literally whompering at it for fifteen minutes (and hitting my hand holding the chisel several times) I turned the chore solely over to Joel who was also amazed at the effort it took.  I highly doubt the stone building will fall down in the next decade or so.  

But Carl's doubts were so strong and he also had qualms about how to proceed to put the window frames in the mortar.  Just butt the wood up to the mortar or what do we use for a window sill?  So I got to thinking about some stone lintels we had picked up at the dump decades ago.  I knew we had them somewhere and voila, after poking around in our stone yard out back, I found them almost overgrown by the white pines.  The pallets they were on were rotten, so we had to transfer them to a new one, but these will work! 
They're kinda mossy, so we've been scrubbing them clean.  Carl is still sort of reluctant to commit to using them, but we've got enough to go around, and my vote at the Staff Meeting to the question of 'Shall we use up the Junk we have sitting around?' was a resounding 'YES'.  Joel seconded the Motion.  
There.  Problem solved as to what to use for window sills.  Then, just as we cleared this Road Block to Progress, it started to rain.  That's when I had another Bright Idea.  Let's take a road trip, everyone.

In a far away Magical Place known as Maribel, there stands a Ruin Extraordinaire. There are No Trespassing signs up all over, so we didn't trespass (much, ok, a little) I just didn't feel like getting arrested and it was raining and almost dark last night.  I can't run as fast as I used to.  

But check out the size of this ruin.....

It used to be a hotel--you can read the sort of sensationalized history here: Maribel Hotel  but since a fire in 1985, it's a ruin.  And a BIG one, at that!  I told Carl if these stone walls in the hotel and the surrounding stable and bottling plant have stood since the early 1900's (and since 1985 without a roof or any supporting wood floors and beams since the fire) then our little one story stone hut shouldn't have a problem.  We don't do the greatest masonry work, we'll be the first to admit, but it's strong.  And if the good ol' Maribel Hotel can stand as a shell four stories tall (including the basement) and have so much wind pressure on it and not tip over yet, I think we'll be ok.  Carl is such a fuss-budget when it comes to construction, he wants to do it right, and for that I commend him, but I also tell him not to worry so much.
 This is the interior of the old bottling plant, there is a mineral spring nearby, which is down the hill from the Maribel Hotel.
 The buildings were purchased by a private owner and there was talk of restoration attempts, but what a lot of work it would be.
 It was good for Carl to see the way the windows and doors were put in.  According to the websites I've read the hotel itself was built in four months by thirty stone masons.  Gee, it's taken us five years....I guess we have to step up the pace a little more, right?
 Amazingly, there isn't much graffiti here, given how it's less than ten feet off the County Park property.  I don't know how much vandalism has taken place in the hotel itself, though. 

Legends abound of the hotel burning down three times (each time on the same date) and of ties to bootlegging and prostitutes and gangsters like Al Capone and other characters hanging out here...who knows how much is true?  As the supposed true history goes, it only burned down once, in 1985, but the other story is much creepier, right? 
I did get a little creepy crawly feeling walking through the woods along the trail by the actual caves......What's that?!  Oh, never mind, it's just Carl, crawling out of the cave. 
The areas around the hotel are supposedly Haunted.  People have heard voices and unearthly moans and bright lights flitting about.  Huh.  More silly legends.  Bright lights and unearthly voices.  Wow, some folks have vivid imaginations.

I didn't see or hear anything out of the ordinary.

 Just because it was getting very dark and raining harder and just because Carl was behind me and Joel went on ahead to get the car and I was walking on the slippery trail in the woods all by myself and smelled cigarette smoke very nearby is NO reason to get scared.  The horror movies have it right, you have to split up for Maximum Creepy Effect.

And just because Joel's car acted up on the way out of the park is no reason to get all freaked out, either.
One of his headlights was burned out, but when we left the park, it worked again....oooooohhhhhhhkay......let's get outta here!  


Missy said...

You had me going for a moment there. I was thinking they couldn't have, could they?
I love Joel's photos from the windmill. There's a real difference from last year with the height of the trees.

Beth said...

Loved seeing the old stone ruins; I was about to congratulate you and Carl! You'll get there! Love your trees, Karen. Enjoyed the milk story too! Hope you got that smell out of your car.
Hugs, Beth

Sue said...

I just love old stone buildings, especially "ruins". How neat!

Chad B said...

I actually like the look of your current ruins as is. It seems like a nice place to sit and talk with people even if it is for a "staff meeting".

All that stone work you guys are doing makes me wonder if you're read (or seen the mini series) Pillars of the Earth?

Gatsbys Gardens said...

You guys lead a charmed life! Just think of all the stories you will be able to tell your grandchildren. I like your round design much better than the rectangular ones. This will be a great place to go and hide!


africanaussie said...

You keep me hanging on by a thread with every post! such an exciting life you lead :) I love that old ruin, and yes I can imagine it getting a bit scary as it gets dark. I was walking in the forest the other day a bit later than normal, and was amazed how the sounds and smells seemed more intense and fraught with danger.

HolleyGarden said...

OK, don't go back to those ruins!!! Just finish your own, and you won't have to worry about ghosts. I've had milk spoil in the car, too, - not fun. It takes some time to get the smell out!

My Garden Diaries said...

Love your blog! Great gardens and beautiful flowers!

Toni - Signature Gardens said...

Okay, now I'm creeped out, too! You did not have me fooled on the stone house, though. Y'all are going to hear a resounding cheer from the blogosphere when you GET THAT STONE HOUSE DONE!! We are all pulling for you. I know this sounds crazy, but I am so jealous of your arm strength to be able to chop away at all of those stones. My arm hurts just thinking about it. My stone choppin' days are over, I fear. If that hotel ruins does not give Carl the confidence to build your house, I don't know what will. I mean, look at those rocks all cattywampus, and the window areas rotted out, AND it survived a burn and is still standing. You've got this! And you've got us -- waiting.....the temperatures are dropping, tick, pressure or anything :-)

Randy Emmitt said...

You can't fool me@! Sorry about the milk. I think you need your own cow with Carl's addiction. Think of the cheese you could make.

Karen said...

Hi Missy, oh, I wish I could say we made this much progress, what a hoot that would be. Soon the windmill photos will be nothing but treetops, lol.

Beth, thank you for the words of encouragement, and the milk....ugh, we'll never do that again!

Sue, stone buildings have always been a fascination of mine, who knew it would take so long to build one, though?

Chad, thanks, and you're right, we could leave our ruin as it is or make a fountain out of it. I'm going to check into Pillars of the Earth, I always wondered how those medieval castles and churches were built way back in the day.

Eileen, my thoughts exactly! It would come in really handy when tour groups show up, too, in case of rain.

africanaussie, isn't it amazing how much more intense our senses become after dark, especially in the forest? I'm so glad you enjoy my wanderings, I always fear I write too much boring stuff.

HolleyGarden, I think I have Carl assured that whatever we do, it will work somehow, so we can stick to the job now. And if you have any suggestions (or miracles) for ways to rid a car of sour milk stink, please share them. Please!

My Garden Diaries, thank you and glad you stopped by!

Toni, I hear you, believe me, I do! I try to encourage without nagging and you know what? It still comes out like nagging. That's why I thought the Field Trip was in order. Carl is more at ease with the job now (I think) after seeing the ruins up close and personal in Maribel. And you're jealous of my arm strength? Oh, don't be. I'm jealous of the fact I look like an old lady weight lifter compared to your slender, graceful beauty. I have the biceps of a 25 year old and the torso of a blimp!

Randy, The cow thing has come up more than once, but we decided to keep the Dairy Farmers of America employed.

Lona said...

Well you had me going there for awhile Karen. LOL! I thought, wow, look at all they got done until I saw the wall picture and knew then you had to be bamming us. LOL!
Nothing smell so bad as soured milk. I hope the perfumed car losses it aroma. LOL!

Patrick's Garden said...

I continue to be amazed your work. By the time you are done, I could see your property as the beginning of a public garden someday.

Randy Emmitt said...

The rock at Duke Gardens and the University comes from a special quarry. Wish we could buy those rocks beautiful aren't they.

Karen said...

Lona, no, we're not that fast, but if I had my way, we would have been done a whole lot sooner. Dang perfectionists are hard to work with, lol. The car is still a Stinkmobile, sigh.

Patrick, well, thank you so much, that is so very kind!

Randy, point me to the special quarry! Gorgeous.

mudderbear said...

What fun. What a storyteller you are. It's wonderful. Loved your description of staff meetings, too.

Karen said...

Hi mudderbear, glad you enjoyed my ramblings. The staff meetings are SO boring around here.