Monday, October 10, 2011

How It's Going: Not Fast Enough

Another weekend is at an end, and so is the four days of vacation that Carl took to work on the stone project.  Ever since last Tuesday, we have had gorgeous weather in the upper 70's and abundant sunshine.  We couldn't have asked for better working conditions, especially in October.  Work went on day by day...
 I know it would be so much more impressive to show you windows installed and pillars soaring to the roof line, but, well, the reality of this silly project is this:

It takes TIME.

 A whole bunch of time, way more time than you'd think, heck, even way more time than we thought.  If we ever do this sort of work again (and that's a big IF) we'll need our heads examined.  The temptation is strong to leave this a 'ruin' with half-built walls.  
Carl has been under a lot of pressure to get the window sills in perfectly.  Yes, there we go with that 'perfection' problem again.  I have to tell you, though, he's gotten a lot less picky this past week.  He even accepted the majority of the rocks I picked out for the walls.  Can you imagine?  He realizes that there simply aren't any rocks that are exactly the right size and shape on the pallets.  Oh, once in awhile, we get lucky, but for the most part, we have to convince the rocks to fit.

 There's Carl, convincing this rock that it really wants to be part of the wall.  Sometimes there are perfectly apparent cleave lines in the rocks and they come apart cleanly, but so very often, they will shatter into teeny tidbits of gravel for our driveway, usually after an extended round of whacking. Ah, just what we don't need, more gravel.

 Carl has been using the grinder more and more lately and though we know it's not the old school method of rock work, it cuts down on the time we both have to spend making rocks fit.  Many of our rocks have hairline cracks in them from the quarry that aren't always apparent until you take a hammer to trim up an edge and suddenly, voila! you have two (or sometimes, three) new rocks to work with as they split and fall in all directions.  I've learned to watch my feet when I whack a rock, you just never know which way they'll bounce when they break apart.  And we always wear eye protection.  That's a Must!  And hearing protection and dust protection.  Too bad we didn't think of Idiot Idea Protection, too, then we'd have been safe from Karen's Wonderful Dream of building a Stone Thingie.  

And I've had a few comments on what we should be calling this thing we're building.  Ok, you're right, 'thingie' is just plain silly.  I've been leaning toward Castle Conundrum since this is truly a jigsaw puzzle of epic proportions and as close to a castle as this ol' broad will ever get.  But then I got to thinking about Monty Python and the Holy Grail again and I think the perfect name would be 'Castle Aaarghh'.  I just hope I don't die before I finish carving the name.  (My apologies to anyone reading this who is not a Monty Python fan; I realize what I just wrote doesn't make any sense.)  

Joel surprised us by taking off Thursday and Friday last week to help us again.  (Did I ever mention how much we appreciate him??) 

We ran a lot of mortar on those two days.
There I sit in my best mortaring finery with my very own mortar board, brick jointers and tuck pointing tools, finishing the joints.  Dang, I'm a lovely specimen!  Like most chubby women, I detest having my picture taken, but I figure I have to have proof I actually touched a stone for the record books.  Usually I'm safely on the other side of the camera, taking the pictures. 

While I was busily mortaring away, we had some more help arrive on Friday.  We need all the help we can get and believe me, the Younger the Better!

Meet Clara, our newest Rocker.  That's right, she's not even a year old yet, but she swings a mean hammer.  We put her to work right away. 

At first, Clara wasn't too happy with the tools we provided.  (I don't blame her, that hammer is pretty lame and we didn't have any safety glasses for her, either.) 

But she picked up on the techniques right away.

Clara has what it takes to show those rocks who's the boss.  In no time at all, she had this one ready for the wall.  (Clara is the daughter of our friends, Cody and Briana, and she's welcome to come over and whack rocks any time!)

We were amazed at how hot the sun was at times, and it was a relief to be in the shade.  I know in all too short a time, we'll be missing that wonderful warm sunshine.  We're working on borrowed time here, this lovely weather is just a blessing.

Getting dark out on Sunday night...Carl is trying to figure out how to make the sills level on the north side.
Somewhere in this jumble of pallets, the perfect stone lies in wait.  This is about a quarter of the stone we have left to work with, the rest of it is out in the field yet.  I did a number on my back on Friday afternoon.  Joel and I were out moving rocks from rotten pallets to new ones and I stepped on a rotten pallet while carrying a really heavy stone.  The pallet broke and I went over sideways still holding the rock and did some fancy footwork which made my back unhappy.   I wore a warm pack on it for much of Saturday and now it's much better.

All too soon our five and a half days of work came to an end.  Here I am hammering (no, I'm not hammered...I just look goofy) on the last rock of the night.

We went in last night (I had to go and walk my five miles yet after dark....but the moon was so bright, it was really pretty) and felt a little defeated.  Yes, we did make progress, but this is not a fast process and now Carl has to go back to work.
Castle Aarghh will have to wait for another day.  

We've got some time left yet before the snow flies.  

Rock On.


El Gaucho said...

Perfect name, perfect. Once completed, it'll make for great stories for all visitors down the road.

"Why is it named Castle Aarghh?"

"Where should I start: the seven years it took us to build it, the 900 hundred times I wanted to brain Carl with a rock, the tons of stone that I lugged around, etc..."

Well done.

Junebug said...

I can see progress!!! Oh the love you are putting into this Castle Aarghh! Little Claire is adorable, keep training them young! have a great week!

Kelsie From Our Country Home said...

I so admire your commitment to finishing the project...I surely would have made it a "ruin" a long time again...added potted plants to the wall and called it good.

Or told hubby to finish the top half in would it good...

Yup I am lazy and impatient...You however girl are a rockstar...especially taking that walk after all that hard work and with the hurt I would have taken a hot shower, plopped down at the computer...and you guessed it...called it good.

Blessings Kelsie

PS: what a Blessing your boy is, give him a big hug from me and tell him what a good boy he is for being so good to take time off work to work harder for his parents for free, a rare quality indeed.

Peonies & Magnolias said...

I love seeing your progress on the stonework, it is looking great. Clara is adorable and it is best to start them young. haha Your jacket looked wonderful for the reunion. Have a great week.


Chad B said...

I'm glad you guys have the right tools for the job . . . Can you imagine how slow it would be if you were forced to cut those rocks with a herring?

FlowerLady said...

Another great chapter in the Quarry Rock Saga.

Love the pictures of you hard at work.

Hugs ~ FlowerLady

Alison said...

You have made progress while on vacation, I can see it. The rocks under the sills look great. And yes, you have made progress on it this fall, since you started working on it again. So feel proud. Great pictures of the baby playing with the hammer, she's so cute!

Love the name Castle Aaarghh.

Sandy said...

Although your post sounds a bit sad, that you have not finished this amazing project.. let me tell you I am totally amazed at the progress you and Carl have behind you! Must be getting a bit tiring for you both, I mean your bringing in the troops (the baby) to help!
Your doing a beautiful job and don't feel bad if you must finish it in the Spring! It's a huge project!
And, will be beautiful!

Missy said...

Will there be a Black Beast?

Darla said...

Of course I can see progress Karen. You guys are so entertaining! You have a great son and what an awesome little rocker girl.

Zoey said...

I see the progress, too. You certainly had some unexpected great working weather. How tall will the wall be? Sorry, if you have already told us and I missed it.

HolleyGarden said...

Love the name! And you are coming along great! I can't believe how much you do! But, really, Karen, there is a minimum age limit for workers! ;) Actually, I bet Clara loved hammering away!

Randy Emmitt said...

Looks like great progress. Carl, glad he is coming to his senses.

Pamela Gordon said...

Love the new name for your castle. I do see some 'growth' in it. I'm sure it's a frustrating and long process for you but it will be worth it. Blessings, Pamela

Anonymous said...

I see I commented in the wrong comment box. Well anyway, Clara is a real cutie.

Indie said...

The baby is so cute!!
Your Castle is looking beautiful! Just watch out for any unusually mean looking bunnies...

Cathy W said...

I love reading your entertaining. Your garden looks beautiful, as the work you and Carl (and Joel and Clara) put into it. I can't even bring myself to rake the leaves...

Toni - Signature Gardens said...

Every time I open my blog I look to the sidebar list of blogs to see if you have a new post. I'm so excited to see progress on the Castle! To see the window sills in place is definite progress, not just physically, but for Carl's sake. He has moved on from indecision (at least for that phase)...and THAT is progress :-) Amen? Amen! That little girl is ADORABLE!! You know, kids these days have all those crazy electronic gadgets. All they need is a rock and plastic hammer :-) I can see the slogan changing ....Rocks are a girl's best friend. I'm telling you, my arms hurt just watching you with that rock and hammer. For your sake, I'm glad winter is coming so you can take a break and give your bodies some rest from all of that rock hammering. Keep up the good work! Aaaaargh!!!

Anonymous said...

Gosh! You have been busy this past week. I do think however if you’re going to call it Castle Aarghh then you need to be wearing a tiara while hammering rocks!
Love Clara and her hammer so sweet! Take care of your back hun.

Karen said...

El Gaucho, Castle Aaargh seems fitting, though I'm having a hard time selling it to the Boss.

June, I know, isn't she the sweetest little girl?

Kelsie, you are FAR from lazy! I couldn't keep up with you and Sarah and the new goats and your sewing and decorating. Joel has been instrumental in building the garden from the time he was little, he's dedicated and we are so very lucky to have his help.

Sandy, yes, Clara is adorable, and I can see the beginnings of a great interest in stonework there!

Chad, build the Castle Aaargh with a Herring!? It can't be done. It's just not cost or time effective. Even those who arrange and design shrubberies are under considerable economic stress in this period in history.

FlowerLady, thank you!

Alison, if we could have had another week (or three!) we maybe could have gotten more done, but you're right, we did make some progress. Good ol' Castle Aaargh is a task of Epic Proportion.

Sandy, thank you for the encouragement. If winter wasn't so blasted long, we'd be done in a few weeks. It took us a long time to get back in the swing of building the thing and now it's hard to stop.

Missy, no Black Beasts if I can help it, though I feel sad for the illustrator, I'm glad he isn't around to dream one up for us.

Darla, we're blessed to have Joel's help and Clara is an added bonus, too!

Zoey, yes, the weather was Unbelievable, just perfect! We are going up to about six feet, I think, but I could be wrong. There will be a lot of windows in there, so mostly from here on out it will be pillars of stone. Not sure how that will work....

Holley, I know, and here we forgot all about the child labor laws...ooops!

Randy, Carl's seeing things more my way, now. And I didn't even hit him.

Pamela, thank you. Mostly we feel silly for having it sit around for so long without working on it. We're both terrified we'll let it go another five years again if we don't finish it this time!

Donna, so good to hear from you. Clara is a cutie and thank you for the encouragement!

Indie, I know, they do have nasty, big, pointy teeth. We'll have to keep the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch handy.

Cathy, oh, thanks, but you know I haven't raked a leaf in years!

Toni, thank you, getting the sills in place and Carl's perfectionism tamed a 'little' has been a big step forward. Your paralysis by analysis statement is so true, and I brought it up to him more than once. No, it's not perfect, but it's as close as we can get and still have something done, lol. And my kids would spend hours playing with the cardboard box the toy came in because the toy itself was too boring.

Sueb, I'm going to have to locate my tiara now. I only hope I don't blind Carl with the sunlight glancing off the gemstones!

Pam's English Garden said...

Dear Karen, I LOVE your castle! Even incomplete it is far from being a ruin. The picture of you working on the pointing is very impressive. Well done! P. x

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Wow, Karen! That is a very ambitious project! It already looks cool to me. I don't think there is any rushing of this one.

I'm glad you showed the photos of you. It's nice to be able to see a blogger in action. Your friends' little one is a sweetie.

I hope your back is healing well. Thanks for your nice comment on my blog.

Tufa Girl said...

I see great progress. I do love the Monty Python quotes. Which reminds me I should get the rental for Shawn.

So if you decide to keep it more ruin-ish - what if you finished the top with some iron work - all open and airy. As intricate or not as you please, can still put outdoor lighting in it and enjoy it in on nice evenings. And see the quarry garden...

Andrea said...

Karen, because of the enthusiasm and inspiration, and humor you put in the Evolution post, now i am here reading most of your old posts. I am certainly amazed at the diligence and strength you are putting in Project Castle Aaarghh, I can't even make the spelling right! But your humor is contagious, most especially with Carla's participation. I wish i am just near so i can make pile some rocks and mortar too! I really want to join in the fun with you!