Friday, November 9, 2012

Time is Growing Short

November is a tough month around here.  This is the month we traditionally take inventory of what we have done and what we will end up leaving undone for yet another year.  As the days grow shorter and the weather deteriorates at about the same rate, hope begins to fade for much more progress on projects.

I'm not sure if everyone who lives in a distinct four season climate feels this way or not, but we like to be outside as much as possible for as long as possible because winter is a long season here.  Now that the garden is pretty much put to bed, I have time to do other things, like tidying up the mess around here.  (And that's just the outside mess, the inside mess is still to come, but it will snow soon enough.)  I decided to focus on rocks starting last week.

I was out in the Back Eight loading rocks on pallets today when I heard the windmill groan.  On really damp days, the mill makes eerie noises, especially if the wind is switching a lot.  When we have drizzle and a slight breeze the mill develops a quiet knock on every revolution.  This may sound weird, but since I work outside alone when Carl is at work, I welcome the windmill's commentary.     I know just how it feels, because I groan quite a bit too.  Rocks are heavy.

 I took a break from the stone work and stared at the Aermotor the other day; it could use painting again. We'll have to add that job to the never-ending list. 
Our circa 1920-30's Aermotor windmill gets ready to face another winter.  Gray skies abound.

It's a long way to the top if you want to paint your windmill.
 I know, it's only 40 feet....but that's a long way for me.  I've only been to the top of the mill a few times.  Do you see those little braces on the one leg of the tower?  That's the ladder.  The little platform at the top is made of cedar and it's teeny-tiny.  I have never stepped off the ladder rungs to get on the platform, but Joel has.  Many times.  See, Joel is brave. (And I wonder why my hair turned gray?)
Joel in 2004 on top the tower.

 The windmill looked a lot better eight years ago freshly painted back in '04.
Carl and Joel hauling the mill to the tower.  The bullet holes are only slightly visible from a distance after painting. 
I was thinking l could just stand on the tower holding a can of spray paint while the mill went around and voila, a new paint job.  Ok, I was daydreaming about that.  Of course it wouldn't work.  (Would it?)  Nah.  Put in on The List.

November weather can be challenging with cold drizzle, brisk, biting winds and freezing nights.  Low cloud banks form in the northwestern sky, looking bruised and moody.  Some days I feel just like our little angel statue; forlorn and pouty.

I miss summer already.
And, once again,  Aaargh is going on The List, too.
Carl has been cutting stone to go around the round window.
We're going to put the mortar mixer in the shed for the winter this weekend since we're all done with cement for the year.   We decided to go with a radial pattern around the window and Carl's been hard at work cutting stone to fit. 
Fussy work.
While Carl's been fussing with the stone cutting, I've been going through the pallets out in the Back Eight sorting rocks again.  After two years (or less) most of the pallets the rocks are perched on have rotted.  So, we get some fresh pallets and we spend days transferring rocks from the old to the new.  We like to go through our stone inventory to make sure the best of our stone supply is getting put to use on Aaargh construction.  The problem is the grass has grown up around the rotten pallets and it's hard to see what we have.
There's rocks in those weeds........

And in those weeds........

AND in these weeds, too. 
Who knows what lurks in the tall grass?  I'm about to find out.  So many rocks, so little time.  Luckily, we have access to some fresh pallets.

The guys bring pallets home from work.
The pallet in the picture above has just about disappeared and the rocks are sitting on the ground.  Time for a new one. 
I enjoy the work.  It's peaceful and even if it's in the 40's or near 30's, the work warms me up.
All new pallets, good for another year or two.
Each one of these pallets can weigh up to a ton by the time they're full.  I lift some and roll most, trying to put the biggest ones on the bottom and hoist the smaller stuff on top.
Carl has a lot of pallets to choose from for Aaargh now. 
I still have oodles of limestone flat rocks to dig out of the tall grass yet, too...but Carl's got enough to pick through at the moment.   That's when I got another bright idea.  (There's something about this time of year that brings out the idiot in me.  I think it's the change of seasons and spare time on my hands and Denial all rolled into one.)

For years we have collected rocks of all kinds, no duh, you all know that......but the Quarry and Aaargh have been constructed of only limestone.   For the most part, we've kept our collection of limestone separate from the granite.  Not all limestone is the same quality, color or consistency, either, depending on quarry, so that's all separate, too.  Any miscellaneous rocks we have found in our wanderings here and there have been deposited on yet another rock pile.   And that rock pile is over 30 years old and overgrown with grapevine, sumac and blackberries.  In other words, it's a massive eyesore.

The rockpile that started it all. Sitting here since 1978 and growing every year.
 Here's where my idiocy popped up again.  I decided to try to tidy up this pile and sort it out by stone type.  Unfortunately, I ran out of pallets in a big hurry.  There's everything from limestone, granites of all colors, tufa, quartz, rhyolite and other unknown minerals all together.  That's when I decided we should build something out of this mess instead of merely moving it from Point A to Point B.  Joel helped me load the really big flat rock last week since there are really large pieces and if I drop them, they will break.  Whenever he has spare time, he lends me a hand, and boy, do I appreciate it!

First I started adding on to the low stone wall we tossed together last year.  We know it's not good to put stones so close to the trees, but the trees aren't going to be with us for too many more years anyway; they are blue spruce and too crowded here with not enough light to sustain the lower branches.  It was one of those mistakes we made as rookies when we first started gardening, but they were beautiful when they were young.  (Weren't we all better looking back in the day?)  We've got some ideas of what to plant once the spruce have run their course, but that will probably be in a few years. 

Piles everywhere.
At least the tufa is light.  We're going to add on to an already existing tufa wall in the hosta bed with these.
There was some nice limestone in there, too.
I've also found bricks and cement blobs we've made over the years.  Not sure where that's going yet.

It's like a time-capsule, I'm finding all sorts of stuff.

 I think there's too much stone here for the stone wall.  Carl agreed.  We got to thinking about making a weird pile somewhere in the garden, like a pyramid of loose rock.  Ok, I know, like we need something else to do...but the rocks are just sitting there.......and it wouldn't need mortar.......(and Carl agreed with me!  How scary is that??  See, we both don't want to see winter come yet!)

But then it rained.  And since I don't like loading rocks in the rain, we decided to do something with the grapevines last weekend.  And a friend of ours bought two fancy trees at a greenhouse in Minnesota and asked us if we were interested and, and, and........well, this is long enough.  I'll have to write another blog post to fill in all the details. 

Yes, the time is growing short for this year, but we're gonna give it all we've got this weekend.  Snow is forecast for next week.

That's ok, I've got a snowblower.


Sue said...

See-you don't need to use a gym--you've made your own!

We pile our rocks up in a little grove of pines out back--nothing grows in all that acid so they stay visible---hollering at me to USE THEM for SOMETHING. Ack!

FlowerLady said...

I agree with Sue above, you don't need a gym. You are one hard working lady and I LOVE all of your rocks. I like what Carl is doing around the round window, that is going to look fantastic.

It is chilly here, but we are loving it.

Your piles of rocks are so interesting, with different shapes and colors. I like the wall around the trees.

Hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

Andrea said...

I am always awed with your passion with building those rocks. Maybe your pastlives centered in building the pyramids or the great works of antiquity, stone circles of Scotland maybe, or some open theaters in Turkey! haha!

El Gaucho said...

I so thoroughly enjoy reading your stories about your rocks. For some reason your tales of hauling heavy rocks around the garden and fields always makes me smile. Good luck with the new project!!!

We've got a whole bunch of snow coming here this weekend in North Dakota, followed by very chilly weather. This may out the final stake into garden work for the year.

Alison said...

Your piles of rocks are so much bigger and more interesting than mine. But I understand the theory of "If we have to move them to sort them or put them on new pallets, why don't we just make something with them?" Have you ever thought of using the big flat rocks for a path? The windows on Aaargh are going to look really cool when they're finished.

There's no snow in our future, but we are having some cold weather, st least in the morning. By early afternoon, it's usually in the mid-40s, which works for me. I can do housework in the morning, and get little chores done out in the garden in the afternoon.

Larry said...

I'm looking forward to seeing this project of yours come to fruition Karen! It going to be spectacular!

I'm in the process of building a fieldstone wall... the first installment is about 50' by 3' high and 3' wide. Today I found two new (to me obviously) rock piles on neighboring farms and I felt like I'd hit the mother lode! Hoping to complete this section before winter.

Tomorrow I hope to patina the nine foot transom I designed and get it delivered... using drapery glass on a big panel like this carries its own problems and frustrations... you can't just flip the window this was and that to get the solder in the correct places! I'll be glad when it's done... I much prefer working on lamps! Larry

Toni - Signature Gardens said...

Love the rock trim for the window!! That's going to look year, maybe?? In all my born days I have never seen so many rocks on one piece of property!! And even more mind-boggling than that is that you have lifted every stinkin' one of them! Yes, nature's gym :-)

Indie said...

Wow, just looking up at that windmill makes me dizzy! (I don't do heights.) That is one impressive collection of rocks! Hmm.. maybe you could build a rock mountain and make a big rock garden out of it? Or if you would like a water feature, you could build a pretty long rock-lined stream (though probably not the best in the drought you guys have been having). That is quite the workout lifting all those rocks! (Turn it into a weight-lifting gym and charge admission?)

Shirley said...

Such a task master you are! Those rocks are heavy! I feel like you and your garden angel, forlorn at the thought of summer past and winter upon us, literally. I hope the weather holds a while longer for you so you can accomplish more of your goals in your lovely garden. Such an inspiration you are! said...

The windmill height - terrifying. The little rungs of the ladder, I'd be physically frozen and not be able to go back down. The round structure is coming along beautifully. Your hard work impresses me to no end! I also think the wounding path of rocks under the trees add interest and beauty.

I can't imagine going from such hard work in a beautiful setting to being almost wondering what is under the snow? The stained-glass work is so intense, it seems like a perfect balance for the seasons.

Seeing all the little details is such fun. You have made me appreciate gardening and the outdoors and Hostas on an entirely new level!


Junebug said...

You two are the original rock and roll buddies, and I don't mean music!
You are always a moving and a shaken!

All I can say is have fun painting that windmill! Sorry I'm not volunteering!!!

Karen said...

Sue, I KNOW, those rocks are always hollering at me, too. We got a start on making something this weekend, but now it's raining again. We'll see how it turns out. At least where you have yours stacked, they're visible. That's a plus!

africanaussie said...

You are so full of energy - I am always exhausted just reading about your antics!