Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Aaargh Update: The First Seven Years

We spent the weekend working on good ol' Aaargh again.  The weather was just perfect; October's bright, blue skies were out in full force. 
Early Saturday morning, perfect weather for stonework
 On Saturday morning, we realized we were out of mortar, so a trip to Home Depot was in order.  On the way to town, we took a few backroads and some photos of other round buildings that have been an inspiration:
Should Aaargh have a roof like this?
I took this picture out of the car window haphazardly in a big hurry as we were in traffic, so that's why it's crooked.  This house was built in the 1970's.  Carl and I were married and built our humble abode in 1978.   We were both 20 years old and had no idea what sort of home to build, but I do remember this stone entrance/staircase was high on our list of dreams.  We couldn't afford to build anything so fancy, but 34 years later, this structure remains a favorite with us both.  We drive by this home quite often and never tire of looking at the field stone masonry tower with the copper roof.

A little farther down the road, a housing development was built a few years ago.  Check out the lovely little stone structures in the entrances:

Entrance to subdivision

Not sure what purpose these stone towers serve, other than to look amazing.
Every time we drive by these towers, I admire them, they are just gorgeous.  And ironically, they're actually newer than Aaargh is, ahem. 

 Beautiful masonry.
Interesting roof lines, the upper windows must let in a lot of light.
 There are a few more round or octagonal buildings in the neighborhood; I just thought I'd take a few pictures since we're really not sure how Aaargh's roof will eventually look.  (Yes, I know, most people would have all the construction details figured out, but we are not most people.  Sigh.) 
Look at the size of this tower, makes Aaargh look like a speed bump.

This is another structure in the subdivision,  the stonework is gorgeous.

In a nearby neighborhood, we found our dream home. 
I had to have Carl back up the car so I could get the whole 'house' in the picture.  Now that's a Castle!
Check out the details on this stonework:
No Trespassing signs kept me from getting closeup pictures (and arrested)...this is the south part of the house.

There's the midsection with a castle tower. 
And there's the other end complete with another castle tower.  All this could be yours for just under $3 Million
This place was built around three to five years ago, but the realtor's listing states it is not finished, so I'm assuming no one has lived here yet.  I don't know if this was a spec-home (built in hopes of a buyer) or someone's dream home, but what other description can you give than 'Wow'. 

Carl and I sat in our aging sedan and took in the view for awhile.  Then we simultaneously said the same thing, "That's a LOT of stonework." 

We've been together for way too long.

"It's for sale," I said.

"Yes, I see," Carl said.

"Can you imagine living there?  All the upkeep, just look at the size of that roof; why, we'd be up there forever putting new shingles on when those go bad, and as the years go by, all the stonework will need tuck-pointing," I said.  "Of course, it is a new house, so I guess we wouldn't have to worry about the stonework needing attention until we're long gone." 

"Yes, that's true, being new, what problems could there be?  But as the years pass, the upkeep would be a never-ending thing," Carl ventured.

"And who is going to clean it?  You'd need a fleet of maids.  Heck, I can't keep up with our little hut."

"I hear you."

"Oh but that masonry is fantastic, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is."

With that, we slowly drove away from our Dream Castle and back to our mess here with the Never-ending Castle Aaargh.  Right after lunch, Carl popped the trunk and hauled out the two seventy pound sacks of mortar and we were back to work on our dream gone bad.

Walls rising ever so slowly.

The 'Golden Raindrops' crabapples are just starting to turn.

I was looking at some of the old pictures of when we started back in 2005 (yes, it's been THAT long.)

There's Ann and Ron, seven years ago, in the thick of the action, shoveling wet cement into place while Carl and Joel run the 'screed' board to level off the pour.

L-R,  our youngest son, David, 15 at the time, Jessie, Ann's daughter, 11 years old, Ann, 35 years old and Joel, on the other end of the board, 19.  How time flies!

There's the floor after we were done.  The hosta leaves were put on the cement when it was wet to put imprints in the floor.

You can see the board we balanced on to put the leaves on the cement.
Oh, how the trees have grown....look at those teensy cedars
We've gone so slowly on the construction phase and all because we had other stone work to finish on the Quarry itself and other 'things' that came up; garden walks, tours, weeding, you know what I mean.  Stuff. 

But look how much the trees have grown; in the picture below, the little 'George Peabody' cedars are less than two feet tall and the spruce are very young; the white fence posts were supporting the three 'Golden Raindrops' crabapple trees:
September 2005: Joel, Dave, Carl and a friend during the first courses of stone.

One year ago, October 2011, me (standing around yakking) and Ann, working on Aaargh.
Six years later, in 2011, the cedars and spruce had grown a few feet.  And the crabapple trees just don't quit growing, supposedly reaching a height of 20' with a 15' spread.  I hope they like being pruned.

This Monday night: Castle Aaargh, October 22, 2012
So, there's the update and the flashback all at once.  It took us seven long years to get this far. 

We coulda/shoulda/woulda worked on this project much more diligently than we have been, but life keeps getting in the way, and the weather.  Carl works full-time and though I don't work, it seems I'm always busy.  Can't mix mortar when it's freezing cold and snowing out, and in the summer the garden has a mind of its own and we have to tend to the planting and weeding chores.  About the only time we can find to work consistently is late summer/early fall and alas, this fall is getting long in the tooth already, too. 

On Sunday afternoon, we were taking stock of what we've accomplished this year on Aaargh.

Carl optimistically said, "We've gone up another foot or so in some places."

"How far do we have to go before we're done?" I asked.

"Another seven feet, give or take a few inches," Carl said. 

"Oh, brother......at our current rate, we won't be done for ANOTHER seven years!" I blurted out.

That was, unfortunately, not the most encouraging thing I could have said to a tired man.

We've both been working as fast as we can.

 Oh heck, if it does take another seven years, let's see, we started this project when we were 47, so by 2019, God willing, we'll be 61. 

October 2011

If anything is falling apart on the old mortar by then, we'll just whip up a new batch and fix it.  (I'm not sure what we'll do about any random parts that are falling off of us by then, though.)

 All we can do is hope for the best 
Rock On.


Sue said...

Karen-it's gonna be amazing. I know it's taking a WEE bit longer than you thought, but really-life never stops and so things get pushed aside. It happens to us all. It's gonna be so worth it!

As for the $3M house--you can have it. I couldn't even imagine what the heating bill or tax bill would be............but I bet it would make your hair stand up on end!

FlowerLady said...

Dear Karen & Carl ~ Castle Aargh is a wonderful project. We are like you, not going by plans all that much, we basically 'wing it'.

You have some wonderful inspiration up there, my favorite being with that home with the round stone covered entry.

As to that $3 million dollar mansion, to me it is rather ugly. I too can't keep up with taking care of our tiny cottage, to think of that, or the expense of the whole dang thing, YIKES. Give me what we have, it's much less stressful.

Your colorful trees go really nice with the stones of Aargh. Glad you had a good weekend to work on it.

Love and hugs to both of you,

FlowerLady Lorraine

Alison said...

You'll get there eventually, Karen. Just in time for Carl to retire. I have to agree with Flower Lady, I don't like that big stone mansion. Can you imagine heating that behemoth in the winter? That big stone mansion looks like a castle, from the English countryside, which is fine if you actually live in the English countryside. I prefer prairie-style, Arts and Crafts homes -- the real thing. It's a very popular style here in the PNW, a lot of new developers try to emulate it, but without the attention to detail and workmanship of the real thing.

Sandy said...

For all the time and energy you and
the family have put into all your
beautiful stone work over the years
you could have built that house although
I'm sure you would not want to be the
one to clean it...lol
It's been a great ride, don't you think?

HolleyGarden said...

Even if it takes another 7 years, it will be worth it! It's amazing to me just as it is. I hadn't even thought about a roof for it - but, yes, I love the first roof - is it really copper? That would be so beautiful! I'm amazed how many towers you have around there.

Jennifer said...

Hi Karen, I could not believe that 3 million dollar castle! When I first scrolled down to the picture, I thought it was must be townhouses, and then, of course, I read the text underneath.
I like the conversation in the car that you recounted. I could just imagine sitting there in the backseat.
I would hate to think about vacuuming something that size. Talk about a project that would never be done!
We have been renovating our house forever it seems. I can identify with the pain of a project that never seems to be complete. One day it will be.
P.S. I am with Holley, I like the copper roof in one of the early pictures.

El Gaucho said...

A fantastic photo recap of the Castle its noble builders. I'm looking forward to the day that you complete it, it's going to be terrific.

africanaussie said...

What will you do with yourself when it is finished - you will have all that time on your hands... :) It truly is a work of art, and just like life - sometimes it is the journey that is more important than the destination.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Karen,
I enjoyed your review and update. It is fun to see your progress and the growth of the plants. That's a big project, and you will feel like you've really accomplished something wonderful when it is done.

I need to pay more attention to see if there are homes with that kind of work on them around here. I don't think there are.

I think once you are ready for a roof, you will be able to figure out what it is going to be.

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Debbie@Debbie-Dabble and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Castle Aargh is amazing!!
And so is your dream castle!!
Thanks so much for your visit and kind remarks!


Dragonfly Treasure said...

The color of your trees during Fall are spectacular! What a sight to see when you guys finish Castle Aaargh. I know it is taking longer than expected, but think of all the memories you have...maybe some good and maybe some bad, but I have faith you will sit inside a once finished Castle and joke about them all...well, maybe not all...but most! LOL

Just keeping on keeping on. ;)
Thank you for the visit and sweet comments you left on my blog. Much appreciated!

Have a great day!

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Karen said...

Hi Sue, yes, that $3M house was way more than we'd ever want, like you said, the heating and taxes alone would break us. I suspect that is why it is still for sale? Thanks for encouragement on Aaargh, we need all we can get.

Hello dear Lorraine, oh, we've loved that house with the copper roof since the day it was built. The big castle is not our style, even if we could have it for free. I don't know what a person would do with all that space!

Alison, I much prefer the Arts and Crafts style too, now that my tastes have matured along with the rest of me. I am still partial to Cape Cods, too, and also to stone structures. Ok, I guess I don't know what I want, do I?

Sandy, yes, it has been a great ride, even if we never do get the silly thing finished. Lots of memories, lol.

Holley, I know--who would think Wisconsin would have so many towers, and all the ones pictured are less than ten miles from us. Maybe it's the heritage of farming and all the silos around? Hard to say. Wouldn't a copper roof be just dandy? We'll see what shape our roof takes when (and if) we ever get to that stage, lol.

Karen said...

Jennifer, I am with you on the vacuuming and cleaning of the stone castle/house, I would hate it! Our house is just 1500 square feet and I struggle to keep it up. We want to start remodeling the house we live in someday soon and I'm already dreading that step. I can just see it taking as long as Aaargh. Maybe we'll finish Aaargh and live in there til the house is remodeled? (Wishful thinking.) And yes, that first house pictured is my favorite, too. I so hope it will be complete one day, thank you for the hope!

El Gaucho, when we get this thing done, we're gonna throw a wing-ding and you and Alycia are invited!

africanaussie, thank you, you're right, we should just enjoy the process since who knows what will happen in the future. And free time would be bad, it might lead to more goofy ideas to build. If we don't finish it, we can always say it's a 'ruin', right? I hear people have constructed fake ruins for their gardens, so hey, we're right in style!

Corner Gardener Sue, thank you for the encouragement, too. Yes, we're hoping we'll have a plan by the time we're up to roof level. We have lots of ideas now to work with. Just another seven feet to go. We can do this. Right?

Hi Debbie, thank you!

Dragonfly Treasure Deb, thank you for the inspiration, too. When we put the tent up over Aaargh this summer for the parties, we were both so taken aback by the change a roof made. It felt cozy and yet roomy; just a weird sensation which made us want to finish it all the faster. Keep on keeping on is so true.....we're going to finish this some year.

Lona said...

LOL! Well it looks pretty with those beautiful fall leaves behind it. If you get tired of building it Karen you can always make a ruin. LOL!

Rosemary said...

Carl and Karen ....... love seeing the progress of the beloved Castle? Yes there is progress..... slow it is but what else would you be doing? LOL.
how you both find the energy I will never know.....must be the resistance bands...
Looking forward to the next 7 years. I vote for a roof similar to the favourite house photo. One of your dreams come true!

myomyohi said...

Hi Karen,
I love castle Aaargh, and I know it is slow going, and so hard to wait for, but it will be worth it. You and Carl are constantly busy in the yard, moving things, building beds, walls, planting, weeding,... it's a wonder you have time to work on Aaargh at all. Whenever I visit and see all your amazing projects and gardens I feel like such a slacker. And when you look back over the year, and see all the things you have done, you have to feel good about that.

As for the modern castle, it's entirely too large and cold for me. It needs age, some rough spots, and lots of trees and plants. If you had a house like that you wouldn't have time, or money to have a yard as amazing as you have now.

I mourn the loss of summers warmth and blue skies already. I am not ready for winter.

Enjoy your weekend.

Karen said...

Rosemary, I know, those resistance bands are really invigorating; I have to move fast to get out of their way when they whap me in the face! (Oh, why did I ever start this fitness craze?)

Myra, you are definitely NOT a slacker, dear lady! Your cornzebo is the coolest thing ever; I wish now I had been able to buy a corn crib instead of this stone pile, but we're too far into it now to quit. I know the big castle/house is way over the top, I can't imagine living there, it looks like a hotel. I don't know who decided to build it or why, I'll have to do some asking around since it's less than eight miles from us. Summer is long gone now, and I feel the same way you do....I miss it already!