Friday, September 30, 2011

Fertilizer Friday: Farewell to September

Despite my wacky post of the night before, I'm still home on the Funny Farm here and waiting out the wet weather once again.  We're under a High Wind Warning tonight and they're not kidding.  The wind is really whipping along at up to 60mph out there and when it rains, it sails by in vertical sheets.  So far our power hasn't gone out and that's a good thing. 

So another soggy day has passed and still no progress to report out there in Stone Thingie Land.  I just had to say a hearty Thank You for all of the comments I received on that last post, especially.  It's so nice to hear I'm not alone with thinking the Boss is a just a 'little' over the top.  (And yes, I did read the post to Carl and he just smiled and said, "Well, like I said, all you need to do is bring me the right rock, and we'll have no more problems.") 

Oh, I'll bring him rocks, you betcha I will.  I'm sure I'll be writing more on that topic, lol. 

Carl was making measurements and I was running around with the camera.  I did manage to take some pictures of the garden when the sun was shining on Wednesday night while I was waiting for the Boss to get his act together.
We bought a Korean Maple (acer pseudosieboldianum) two years ago and every fall it dazzles us with it's pretty foliage.  So far it's just gotten a good start on coloring up, but with the winds whipping the way they are, there might not be any leaves left on the poor thing come morning.  I'm glad I took some pictures last night, anyway.
The maple normally goes to a rich, crimson red, just blazing and beautiful with other tints of green and orange, it's a stunning small tree. A garden visitor told me recently not to get too attached to it though, as it's really only a Zone 5 and warmer plant, but we've had such mild winters here lately that we've taken a chance.  We have it situated in a fairly sheltered area, so with any luck at all, it will survive.

It surely does look like Fall around here, doesn't it?  The grasses are losing their color, too and even the lawn has taken a different shade of green.
The grasses out by the Escarpment have really changed color, especially the miscanthus.  There are some mums too, but they're not showing much color at all yet.  I was hoping they would for the wedding on Saturday, but that may be a long shot.

The Spruced Up Bed is still a delight to me, even though not much is going on there.  When I was mad at Carl the other night I went and plunked my behind down on one of the granite stones and was amazed at how calming the area was.  Maybe a hammock suspended between two of those big trees would be a good idea after all.
I know the picture above is a weird perspective, but it's different, isn't it?  In the distance, you can see the trunks of the Spruced Up Bed beyond the Pachyberm. 
I think it's about time to dig that sweet potato out, too.  It sure did a grand job of almost covering a third of the Something Else bed along with my petunias from seed, too.
Here's the view of the dome from the Spruced Up Bed.  If I pretend real hard, I can imagine those lily stalks on the right side of the photo have fresh buds on them.  It would be so neat to have them rebloom, wouldn't it?  But no, it's just the way the light is hitting their leaves.
The melampodium 'Melanie' was still giving a fantastic show on Wednesday night.  I hope this ferocious wind leaves a few flowers for Saturday. 
The grasses always amaze me.  See, here's another thing Carl was right about.  Planting ornamental grasses here was his idea, not mine.  In fact, I strenuously objected to planting any grasses at all, it just seemed like insanity to me.   I was wrong, and I promptly admitted it.  Now I can't imagine the seasons  (especially Winter) without the tall grasses doing their thing.

Zebra Grass is also borderline hardy here in Wisconsin, but so far this one has been performing beautifully.
In the late afternoon sunlight, the 'Yellow Ribbon' thuja occidentalis really shows off it's Glow Power here with it's underplanting of rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'. 

If all goes well with the Stone Thingie, this will be the view looking out of two of the windows facing west.  I'd better scout around for some more spring bulbs to tuck in this bed before the snow flies. 
The famously Elusive Lucille was here on Wednesday night, too.  She had been busily deadheading the flowers in the River Bed for me.  I was burning the old pallets and other assorted lumber when she surprised me by coming over and pulling up a lawn chair to sit a spell.  Normally, she hates the smell of wood smoke, but for some reason she decided to sit by the fire with me for awhile before heading home.  Carl took the picture and at that point I was not Too Happy with him...I think it shows, ha.  Note my lovely camouflage coat and matching kneepads and work glove ensemble.  Oh, yeah, I dress for success in the garden.

Speaking of dressing for success, since it was raining today, I picked Carl up at his job and we went shopping after first dropping off my SD card for my CPAP machine at the doctor's office.  On Monday I have to go in and find out how I've been sleeping.  I like my sleep specialist MD, he's very thorough.  And I can fully endorse the benefits of CPAP therapy.  I know I feel much better than I used to before becoming a Hosehead.

But anyway, back to the shopping spree.  The mission was to find me something to wear to the class reunion on Saturday night.  We went to a LOT of stores and here I have to admit something again, though the Boss is a terror to work for when it comes to masonry, he's a joy to go shopping with.  And I'm not kidding, either.  He doesn't mind traipsing to every store in the mall and even hauled me to a few more miles away when we came up empty at the first round.  We didn't find anything though. 

Yes, I have clothes in my closet I can wear (I know how pathetic it sounds to most men when their significant others have a small garment warehouse in their bedroom and still can't Find a Thing To Wear) but for some unknown reason, this idiosyncrasy of mine Carl 'gets'.  He doesn't understand the frustration that wells up in me when we're working on the rock thing-- but he does understand that somewhere in my feeble little mind I fantasize there is a Dream Garment out there that will transform me into a Lovely, Slender Lady who looks much younger than her fifty-three years.  I think we both hoped we'd walk into a store and there, shining in the blaze of spotlights would be The Garment, ( in stock AND in my size) and the heavenly music would play softly from the speaker system as I floated toward it. 

Well, dream on.  We ended the evening at the fabric store and I came home armed with several patterns that just might work (if I can find the time to sew something new before Saturday).  I don't think it will happen though; I'll have my work cut out for me in the garden getting ready for the wedding party after all this wind tonight. 

OH, well.  That's the way it goes.  I'll just have to wear something that's hanging around here.  (The kneepads will be staying home, though.)  Wish me luck!

Me and The Boss bid you a pleasant Weekend. 
Here's a keychain that Ann's children bought for Carl on a recent trip to New York.  See, it's Official.  He has his own keychain proclaiming his status.  (But I told him he's only the Boss in New York, that's not a Wisconsin plate.)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How It's Going: Gofers and Marital Bliss

The rainfall on Sunday and Monday totaled nearly three and a half inches and then finally, the sun came out late on Tuesday.  The thirsty ground soaked it right up, too, there are no puddles standing around.  Even though we needed the rain, it was a good feeling to see the sun again. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday evening we were able to get back to work on the Stone House.  We didn't do any actual construction though; mostly Carl was trying to get the spacing of the windows perfected and then decisions were made on the pillar placements, too.   

On Tuesday night, Carl cut the sills for the windows out of the limestone we'd had stockpiled here for years from either the landfill or people we knew who had removed the stone from their homes during remodeling projects.
 They aren't mortared in yet, but I think they'll work great.  Carl was on the fence about them; didn't think the style was the same and had some worries about the color, but I think even he's convinced they're OK now.

The stone pillars will be in the spaces between the sills.  I'm a big one for needing visual aids so I am constantly picking up the window frames and trying to picture the stone pillars between the windows.  After the sills were cut on Tuesday night, I thought we were on a roll, but the roll came to a crawl and then a stop after Carl decided he had more deciding to do yet again.  And yup, I plunked myself down at the white table again, too, and went back to making those annoying scritchy noises, taking off more of the flaking paint while I waited for orders.

Here on Wednesday after work, Carl is once again measuring and rechecking and measuring some more.  I go-fered his stuff again, "Oh, I forgot my pencil," and "Oh, I left my ruler in the garage," and "We'll need some string to use as a guide," and "Hand me the level," and well, you get the picture.  Carl is the Boss and I am a Gofer.  I don't mind gofering, I've been doing it my entire married life. Someone has to be the Boss and if that's what it takes to get the job done, I'm the   Though sometimes I wish he could lighten up a little, especially when it comes to my ability to select the 'correct' rock from the vast array of pallets available.  I just don't have 'the eye' for the right rock, at least according to my boss.  This has been an ongoing problem for me/us for years. 

"We need one that's about two and a half inches thick," he'll say and I'll dutifully march over to the nearby pallets and dig around awhile, and finally select a rock, carry it over and stick in on the wall to try it out for size.  This stone of ours is lumpy, so there's rarely a nice, straight rock fresh off the pallet that will miraculously fit.  Almost every stone in the building had to be dressed to size.  The idea is to pick a rock that doesn't need too much work to fit the allotted space, in other words, don't try to make a ten pound sausage fit in a five pound skin.  And for some reason, Carl and I clash endlessly over my inability to 'Find the Right Rock'.  

I think the rocks I pick out look fine, but he will invariably find fault with almost every one I bring.  I'm not sure if I'm just dense or he's just too picky or a combination of the two, but I can tell you this.......I am looking forward to this job being over!  Tempers flare, well, ok, Confession Time, mostly my temper flares because I get really really tired of hearing, "No, no, that rock's not right.  Can't you see how it's 
A. Too Small
B. Too Big
C. Too Lumpy
D. Not Lumpy Enough??

"Now go back and see if you can find one that is two and a half inches thick, ok?"  (I hate the patronizing, he's talking to a two-year-old tone.....grrrrrrrrr.) 
And I'll march back to the pallets and poke around some more and find another one (and yes, I have a ruler with me so I can measure correctly) and then like as not, the same scenario will play out again, can't I see the rock is 1/4" too A, B, C or D above yet again?? 

Things that make steam come out of this Gofer's ears.
And a Menopausal Gofer at that.  

A Menopausal Gofer Armed With a Rock Hammer.  

But, no, there will be no Assault and Hammery going on, I'm an Adult, I can Do This.  Deep cleansing breaths everyone, IN and I put on my Big Girl Gofer pants and head back to the piles to look for the *%#)@ Perfect Rock yet again.  

And yet again, Fail.  

Two more times.

The Boss sees what is now my fifth rock and is let down again.  "Now, can't you see what's wrong with this rock?"

No, all I can see is Red.  

And I yell.  


And then Louder.  That's right, you heard it here.  I'm not a Saint.  I  have a temper.

Carl doesn't yell.  Goodness, no.  He's so calm and matter-of-fact.  "I just don't understand what you don't understand about me needing the Right Rock.  You can't see how what you've brought me just doesn't work?"  And then he proceeds to put his level on the wall and demonstrate the error of my ways and how Vitally Important it is that this Random Rubble Structure have Impeccably Even Courses of Stone, because if it doesn't, well, then, People Will Snicker. 

Snicker!?  Good Heavens, that stopped me in my tracks.  Why, we Cannot Have People Snickering at the Stone Thingie!  What was I thinking??  What would happen if we had a Visitor come with a laser transit and measure the courses and find out we were One Eighth of an Inch Off?  Can you imagine the Snickerage?  Why, their guffaws might reverberate in the Stone Thingie and cause the mortar to crumble and then what would we have?  

I know I'm in danger of being demoted to Head Goofer instead of Gofer, but at this point, I really don't care.

I took a walk around the yard until I calmed down enough and then came back with a Proposal.  I will bring him as many stones I think might fit the hole in question and he can pick the Right One.  Then, I'll gladly cart the Offensive, Stupid, Oversized/Undersized Stones back to the pallets.  No questions asked, no yelling, nothing but Calm, Composed, Rock Hauling.  I figure if I can't be trusted to find the Right Rock, well, then I'll bring the selection to the Boss and let him take his pick. 

But, nope, that's not gonna cut it, either.  "Why can't you just bring the Right Rock in the first place?  You shouldn't have to haul a whole bunch of rocks back and forth."

We interrupt this Blog Post with some Breaking News:

Outagamie County, WI: 
A woman was found wandering on Highway 54
  in a state of delirium at 3:00 AM Thursday morning.  A passing motorist swerved after nearly striking her in the roadway.  When officials arrived, the subject was standing in the ditch muttering to herself, 'The Right Rock, I can't find the Right don't understand, the Right Rock is there, I just can't find it.  Can you help me find the Right Rock?"  
When asked her name, the woman would only respond with one word, 'Gopher'.  She appeared to be suffering a psychotic break and was transported to a nearby Mental Health Facility. 

Citizens with any knowledge of this Jane Doe's identity are asked to call the Sheriff's office Tip Line.  All calls will be kept confidential.  

With any luck, I'll be out for Fertilizer Friday.

Monday, September 26, 2011

How It's Going, Part 4: Wet and Wetter

Here it is, Monday again, and what did we get done on the Stone Thingie over the weekend, you may ask?   Not much.   The weather is not cooperating.  Mother Nature does not want us to build this thingie.  Maybe it's a sign.  Maybe it's an omen.  Maybe it's just because we waited too long once again and the usual weather pattern happens that almost always happens in September in Wisconsin, we are now into our Monsoon Season.  We do need the rain, I am not complaining about that, I just wish it would rain and get it over with.

Friday was another day of hit 'n miss showers, we'd get a downpour for a few minutes followed by brilliant sunshine and then another sprinkle or two, then a shower, then sunshine, so on and so forth.  Saturday was the same, temps in the upper 50's and everything and everybody damp.  Since we couldn't run any mortar in the rain, Carl decided to finally finish making the cedar window frames for the rectangular windows inside our garage, out of the weather.

I spent the two days scouting for suitable rock on the pallets in the Back Eight, way out beyond the windmill. I didn't want to bring a tractor home due to the intermittent rain showers, so if I saw a rock which looked as if it'd work, I'd just pick it up and carry it from the piles to the Thingie.  Amazing how heavy a rock gets after you carry it awhile.  One in particular was just a bear to tote, and when I finally dropped it in exhaustion, I thought, 'Wow, if I could only lose weight like that!'  (You feel so much lighter after dropping fifty pounds, lol, which is what Carl estimated the rock weighed.   And Note To Self:  Don't gain another fifty pounds.)

Here in this view from the windmill tower taken in 2002 is where the rock for the Stone Thingie is coming from, the lane out in the Back Eight
After a little rest, I picked the limestone block up one more time and plodded back up to the construction site with it, dropping it again and making sure my feet were safely out of the way.  You'd be surprised how much some of these rocks like to bite people's feet (especially mine).   After hitting the ground, spunky ones will do a somersault and whack me in the shin at every opportunity.  I suppose it is their only defense since I am about to do them great physical harm with my rock hammer and then encase them in mortar for another coupla decades.  They have to put up some kind of a fight. 

Carl scolded me for 'working too hard' and said I should be using the tractor.  I pointed to the showers building in the west again and he shook his head and went back to the garage to keep on sawing.  To pacify him and make my life a little easier,  I took my two-wheeled cart or mover's dolly or whatever they call it with me to haul up some more stone instead of carrying it.  That got old after awhile too, so on Friday night when the rainstorms seemed to let up a little bit more, I broke down and walked up to my mother's machine shed a quarter mile away and brought the tractor home.

I was dismayed to see the Bush Hog (a large lawnmower-y grass cutting tool) was hooked up to the tractor from the week before.  So, I had to take the Bush Hog off the 3-point hitch which was no problem but the power take-off shaft was being bucky, it needs grease badly. Try as I might I just could not get that puppy disconnected from my tractor.  I finally had to resort to texting Dave who had just come home for a bit (yes, this old unit does know how to text on a cellphone, amazingly) and he came out from the house to lend me a hand.  It took the two of us to yank and coax and swear the PTO off the tractor, so I didn't feel too stupid.  I like to be self-sufficient and though I could have called Carl to my rescue, he was finally wrapped up in cutting the boards for the windows and I hated to interrupt him.  Dave and I put the forklift teeth on the tractor and I was back in business with a mean rock-hauling machine.

Remember the picture of all those pallets out in the field from years and years ago?  You don't, well, here's  a rerun again:
Another 2002 photo.  Rocks In Waiting out in the Back Eight.

Do you know what happens to wooden pallets over the course of nine years when they're fully loaded with hundreds of pounds of rocks and they've been sitting in the weather on damp ground?  Yes, you're right.  They rot.  And when you pick them up with a tractor, sliding forklift teeth in between the slats and raise the hydraulics, the pallets will oftentimes self-destruct, raining rocks down all over the place.  That's what I did with the rest of my time on Saturday, moved all the rocks from rotten pallets to new ones, performing more complicated sorts as I went, from bigger rocks on one pallet to smaller on another.  I don't know how many tons of rock I shifted around, but I was Tired with a capital T on Saturday night.

After I had them loaded up on new pallets, I would bring the load up to the construction site and toss the old wood in our campfire ring.  Don't I lead a fascinating life?  While working on this job,  I was also wondering how many times I have handled each and every one of these rocks from the time they fell out of the back of the dump truck to the many, many times we've shuffled them around.  What a work-out these things have been.

I have really well-toned biceps, believe it or not.  Too bad the rest of me doesn't follow suit.  Our 35th class reunion is this coming Saturday.  Sigh, again.  We're going, but I hate to, in a way.  I wanted to be a coupla big rocks skinnier than I am now, and well, that's not gonna happen no matter how many rocks I toss around.  I had good intentions of trying to lose more weight than I did.  But we all know what good intentions are like.  The thyroid makes my life a roller coaster, it's all over the place, working and not working which makes my metabolism unhappy.   Like my former MD said, I have to watch what I stuff in my mouth.  Apparently, I haven't been, though I do keep track of calories and have cut down on portion size.

I think the really sad thing is that old feeling of being judged.  How's that old saying go, "You can never be too thin or too rich?"  Well, shoot, I'm not either one.  But isn't there another saying, "The best revenge is living well."  Wait, I don't want revenge, but I'm living pretty well.   For the most part, I'm content with who I am and that's worth a lot.  Skinny ain't all it's cracked up to be (Yes, that's what fat women say when they know there's no chance of ever getting to Skinnyland.)

I can move mountains of rock on my own, but can I budge the scale to go down when I step on it?  Not a chance. And no use crying over it, either.  I'll just sail into my class reunion and maybe I'll win the award for Biggest Broad or something or other.  Take it from me, the class reunion looming is like being 17 all over again at 53, same song, second verse, a little bit louder and a little bit WORSE.  Maybe they'll have a weight-lifting contest....I venture to guess I could win that.  Skinny chicks won't stand a chance against me.  Fear This.  (Ok, the Paranoid Wishing I Was Someone I'm Not Portion of this post is over now.)  I'm just me.  Sorry.  Moving on............

Finally, on late Saturday afternoon, Carl finished up the frames for the windows.  I helped him haul them out to the Stone thingie and we set them up against the wall.  Then the next round of debates started.

There's Carl, standing in the middle of the mess and in deep thought.  He has to figure out how this will all go together and being a perfectionist, his mind is on overload.  He spends a whole lot of time just staring at the project and frankly, it drives me nuts!  I know he has to get this in his head before he can begin building again, and I'm not of much help to him.  That's why I do the mundane-but-necessary chores of bringing more rock up or sweeping or something to ward off the boredom and rising panic and not screeching 'We're running out of time for the year again......Come on!  Make a decision!  Take a stand!'  I know Rome wasn't built in a day, but sheeesh.....can we just put some mortar on the rocks and move on?'

Carl wanted me to be nearby for the next brainstorming session, so I stayed put after sweeping the water out of the foundation for the umpteenth time this weekend.  (A roof will really come in handy for this building.)  As he stared at the spacing and tried to make a decision, I finally plunked down in a chair and did something else that drives him nuts, I started picking away at the loose paint flakes on the wrought iron table with a screw from the window framing project.

Scritch, scritch, scritch, the noise bugs Carl, so I stop, but soon go back to it, since I have to do SOMETHING.  I just can't sit for very long.  If this project goes on much longer, I'll have all the paint off the table and the chairs, see, something will have gotten done!

Saturday's dilemma was this: I wanted the rectangular windows to be evenly spaced going around the building, such as from the doorway:  two small windows, one large window, two small windows, the round window, two small windows, one large window, two small windows and finally, the door again.  The idea was there will be stone pillars between each window.  But then Carl said the spacing wouldn't work right for the roof we'll eventually be building (probably in another five years, if we keep going the way we are) so he said the two smaller windows would have to be touching each other.  I needed a visual aid, so I talked him into propping the window frames up on the not-yet level wall to show me what he meant:

Hmmmmmmm.......not bad, but not what I had in mind.  I really liked the idea of them being evenly spaced with stone in between better.

It was then Carl's turn to be frustrated with me (though he didn't say anything) and he obliged by moving the windows into my configuration:

"Space them out a little more, make them even, just humor me," I said. 

Luckily, at this point, Joel came home from his gallivanting and more or less agreed with me on the spacing.  (Good son, he is.) 

I like this much better, and even Carl agreed,  but he still has to figure out how to support the roof on this spacing.  (You have to remember, the walls are not level here, so the windows go up and down, we're not leaving it like this, and the round window will be up much higher in the wall, too.)

  Joel and Carl discuss the possibilities, which are endless.  It's getting on to sunset on Saturday, around 40 degrees and damp out, the floor of the house is wet from the earlier showers and my feet were very cold.

Did we come to a decision? 

Seeing him standing there with his hands in his pockets, I know he's in Mental Misery and I feel for him.  He's afraid of making a mistake.  So did we make a decision? 

Mother Nature made a big decsion; the sun went down.  And yes, we decided, too.  We decided to go out to eat with Joel and Richard and Emily and play Sheepshead until 1AM which put an end to the day's decisions.

And Sunday was just like today, Rain, Rain and MORE Rain which put an end to any further work on the poor ol' Stone Thingie.  Our forecast calls for rain right up until (if we're lucky) this coming Friday.  The wedding is coming for pictures on Saturday (hopefully) and then we have the class reunion that night, too, so even if the sun does shine, not much will happen on the job then, either.

 Here's a picture of water running off the garage roof this afternoon.

 And the creek starting to rise out by the Pachyberm.  We've had three inches of rain since Saturday.
 The flowers look ratty and the lawn looks worse...but the sun will shine again. I guess we won't get the stone house done this fall, either, but we gave it a shot.  Maybe October's weather will be better, it usually is Bright and Blue.  Right now, it's Cold and Goo.

Well, we tried!  I'm going to spend some much needed time housecleaning, especially in the stained glass studio (my doesn't that sound Grand? It's our basement, lol.)  It's hard to shift gears but we gotta do what we gotta do, right?

Now, where did I leave my Shop Vac?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fertilizer Friday: Last One for Summer 2011

How hard it is to believe summer is over already.  Every time I look at the calendar I'm amazed another week has sped by and the days are getting shorter by leaps and bounds, too.  We haven't had a killing frost yet, so my trusty annuals are still doing their best to keep on keepin' on.  I ran around with the camera last night just before sunset, so some of these pictures are darker and gloomier than usual, but I guess that's in keeping with the change of seasons.  Sunset is a whole lot earlier now.
'Inca' marigold and 'Double Profusion Cherry' zinnia
'Bubblegum' Petunia in both the planter and the ground
Did I mention I love this petunia before? I still do!
Though the sedum is giving everything a run for their money in this little bed by the bridge, the wax begonias are still competing for attention, too.
'Limelight' hydrangea is turning to delicate shades of pink. 
Gloomy skies make the colors so much more muted, but the evergreens show off their diversity from a distance.
The little pot of impatiens I started from seed is still faring very well up on the Nail Planter stand.  I might just bring the entire pot in for winter. 
I started way more hyacinth beans 'Dolichos Lablab' than I had trellis room for, so these spares were once again planted on the Pachyberm hillside.  Never had to wait this long for profuse flowering though.  
The view from the Gazebo...the hose is running to the mortar mixer by the Stone House project, so I didn't feel like moving it.  Something about the end of summer makes me lazier than usual.  
I am always happy with the 'Indian Summer' rudbeckias, this is my second crop this summer and they're very welcome so late in the season.
Marigolds, love 'em or hate 'em, will always do their best along with the black-eyed susan vine.  I love 'em. 
 The 'Autumn Joy' sedums are starting to turn much darker now and some of the miscanthus seed heads are turning silver already.

'Skylands' oriental spruce is supposed to be yellow, so he fits right in with the season.

The Pachyberm is still carpeted in colors.  All too soon it will be white.
A very young Japanese white pine (parviflora glauca) has grown quite a bit on the berm, too...I hope I gave it enough room to develop. 
This is a miniature rose (don't know the name) and the flower is less than an inch across.  Miniatures appear to be the only roses I can grow well.  Isn't it odd they are tougher than their larger cousins?  Yeah, I should have used a tripod, too, to steady my hand in the dark, but then I'd have to go find it. 
The posture I had to assume to get these pictures less than four inches off the ground was, shall we say, less than flattering?  (I was looking around to make sure Carl wasn't lurking around with another camera capturing my posterior for posterity.)
Speaking of Lurkers!  I almost walked right into this guy's trap.  I felt the webbage (is that a word?) on my face and used the camera's flash to illuminate the situation.  I'm glad I did.   Back away from the Arachnid.
My life is fraught with peril.
Just for kicks, I took a few more pictures with a flash.  (And to make sure there were no more creepy crawlies in my path.)
The black, shiny thing at the bottom of the picture startled me too, no, it's not a seal!  It's a black granite rock.  This picture is full of illusions, at first I thought the cloud bank was a distant mountain range.  (Sorry, the nearest mountains are about a million miles away from here.) Hey, I can dream, can't I?  Besides, the spider made me really jumpy. 

Up Next: Stone House Update 

This entire week (except for Thursday) was a wash for the Stone House project.  Carl got home from work and we'd start cutting stone when suddenly the sun would go behind a cloud and sheets of rain would come out of nowhere, soaking everything.  We'd put everything away, and then the sun would come out.  We'd go back out to work and it would rain again; short little five minute showers, but wet is wet.  Just like the old farm adage, 'you have to make hay while the sun shines', well,  the same goes for mortaring stone. It wasn't worth the hassle, so I canned tomatoes instead.  Hey, I'm up to 25 quarts of juice for the season so far, and there's still a lot of green 'maters out there on the vines.

Finally, last night we were able to spend almost four hours on the project which started out with another Staff Meeting again.  Topic of discussion:  How high should the round window be?  Carl told me to go stand outside the building and look through the door frame and tell him at what height the round window looked the best.'m not sure. 

This height?
Sheesh, I felt like I was at the optometrist when they flip those goofy lenses in front of your eye, "Is this better........or this one?  This one.....or this one?  Ok, now how about this one?"

So, what did I do when Carl asked me which height looked better?  I panicked, that's what I did.  I don't know which way looks better and then he goes and complicates my uncertainty by saying, "It's not like it's going to be set in stone, you don't have to be so worried about it....oh, wait, yes, it is going to be set in stone!" 

Ha, ha, very funny. No changing my mind allowed.

I dashed to the house and dragged Joel, who had just arrived home from work, outside to get his opinion.  Joel did as he was told and stood back a ways and looked at the different heights Carl was modeling with the frame.  The discussion was going nowhere fast; Carl is afraid it will look like a church if we put it too high.  Joel said it would look like a mausoleum if we put it too low.

And they both said, "Well, I don't want to be the one who makes the decision and be blamed if it's not right."

So with that, they both turned to me.  Apparently I'm the one who blames people? Or do they want to be able to blame me?  Entirely too much dad-blamed blaming going on around here. Someone has to take a stand.  So I voted for the middle of the two extremes.  Don't put it too high or too low, go halfway in between.  There.  Problem solved.  Moving on......

We started the next course of stone for the back wall where the round window will be next.  I don't know  how (or if) professional masons would build this building with the stone we have on hand.   And I hope to high heavens one never wanders through our yard and sees this travesty of ours because I know they would be horrified.  The masonry style we are using could roughly be called 'random rubble' and like I said before, it is Wild Rock, all lumpy-bumpy and free-spirited.  None of these rocks want to conform to a uniform size, no sirree, they are all Proud Individuals and resist all attempts to make them flat.

What takes the most time, though, isn't so much the dressing of the stone to the size and shape we want, it's finding the right stone in the first place.  Carl likens it to putting a giant stone jigsaw puzzle together where the pieces could be on as many as 50+ different pallets scattered hither and yon.  And the worst part is, there's not really a perfect stone in the pile, you have to make it fit with a hammer and chisel.   I sometimes bring as many as 10-15 rocks up to fit in a space I'm working on before one of them will work  I'm quite sure real stone masons have a much better eye for the right stone in the right place.  I also quite sure no one is pickier than Carl.  To keep our marriage intact for another year, I simply bring lots and lots of rocks over for him to select from and then do as I'm told to make them fit.  It goes much easier this way instead of arguing over why I think the rock I picked out by myself is good enough.  (Remember, we're both holding rock hammers, we don't want this to get messy.) 

I was looking at a pallet of ashlar the other day at a home site under construction and literally caught myself starting to drool.  (Some women covet expensive designer clothing or high heels, I covet dressed rocks.)  Oh, if we had gorgeous flat, trimmed rock like that we'd have been done a long time ago.

But looking at the random rubble walls at the abandoned Maribel Hotel last weekend, I'd say we're doing as well as can be expected considering what we have to work with.  Their 'random rubble' is way more random and rubble-ier than ours is.  It still amazes me to think those three huge buildings were all built in four months' time, though.  Even with thirty stone masons working, that's a short time span.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Ah, the Haunted Hotel and its Random Rubble construction.
Each course of stone only raises the wall on our creation at most maybe 5" at a time, at the least less than 3", so the work isn't for the person who loves instant gratification.  In theory, the addition of windows should make the job go much faster since there's less stone to cut, but we have to construct straight as possible pillars between each of the windows and that's not going to be easy to figure out either.  But we'll keep plodding on. Speaking of windows, there's two of them now:
Things got a little heated and Carl ducked when I chucked my rock hammer at him, and look what happened!
(No, no, just kidding.  Please don't call the authorities.  Please.  Don't.)
Yes, one of them is 'slightly' broken.  Oooops.  It was windy one day and over it went, hitting a rock on the way down.  We weren't thrilled it happened, but thankfully we have more than enough windows to finish the job, so we use this one as a prop.

So, for now, that's it for my Progress Report as of Thursday, September 22, 2011.

 Now,  go over and see what's blooming in all those beautiful gardens Tootsie is showcasing this week at Fertilizer Friday!