Monday, October 24, 2011

How It's Going: Looks Like We're Done...

....for this year, anyway. 

No, Castle Aaargh is not done.  But you knew that already, didn't you?

It sure does take a long time to throw a stone house together.  We're still going to do some more stone cutting and preparatory work, but I think we're going to be towing the old mortar mixer back to the machine shed for the winter.  
Carl trying to go faster with the stone cutting on Saturday afternoon.
  Though the weather on Saturday was absolutely gorgeous, we didn't run any more mortar this weekend since it takes up to three weeks (or more, depending on weather conditions)  to cure completely.   I've done some reading and there's some debate out there about cold weather masonry.   Some say the so-called 'magical temperature' the mortar should not be subjected to is less than 40 degrees before it's fully cured.   Well, we've had a few nights down below freezing already and the last thing we need is unsound mortar. The last mortar we ran was a week ago, so I hope we're ok with that stuff.  Ok, it won't be the end of the world if we have to chip it all out next year; just a shame, that's all.  Maybe we'll be lucky, but anyway, we've decided not to tempt fate.

There we were, on Saturday afternoon, working on cutting stones for the big pillar where the round window will go.  I was on the inside whacking rocks to size and shape with a hammer and chisel and Carl was doing some grinding. 

I sorta feel like we're abandoning the project, though rationally, I know better.  We'd put it on the back burner for so many years and it was a challenge to see how far we could get in a month and a half, but now the race has been called off and there's a bit of a let-down.   It's not like I don't have other stuff to do; the whole garden needs to be put to bed for the winter, I have bulbs to plant, apple trees to wrap up against rabbit damage, a garage and barn to clean up, a chicken coop to clean and winterize,  and if all that gets done, we still have the stone wall in the Formal Garden to finish up, too.  That's a dry stack wall, so no mortar to worry about curing.  Whoopdedo, what am I worried about?   I guess I won't be bored.

Ann and her daughter were here on Saturday afternoon to help for awhile, and Ann picked up the camera and took some candid shots of us in our Native Habitat.  See how she was stalking us from the trees?  We never know who's watching.
Dusty.............good thing Carl wears a mask. I was upwind, luckily.

Chipping away at rocks is slow-going work.  I wish I was faster at it, but it is satisfying in it's own way when the rock breaks the way you want it to.  Not so satisfying when it lands on your foot after breaking into two or more separate hunks, though.  

Whack away at a rock and then check the poor thing for fit, pick it up, and bang away some more, knocking off the bits that don't play nicely with the course of stone below.  (Just thought I'd throw in some technical terms in for good measure.) 

Our little dog, Pudding, is often lying in the sun, waiting for me to get done working.  On Saturday she wanted to go in just before sunset, and came to ask me if it was time to quit yet.  Pudding is a little bit camera shy, so Ann's photo was a great capture of our little eleven year old dog.  Pudding used to be Ann's dog before she came here to live with us almost three years ago, and we love her so, it's hard to remember a time she wasn't part of the family.

We worked right up until dark on Saturday night and then I started a campfire so we could cook a few hot dogs and call it supper.  We had company stop in right at dark, Richard and Emily and their adorable little girl, Courtney.

Richard and Carl examining the work so far.
Look who we put to work:
Carl handed Courtney a hammer and she was off to work.  Check out her grip!
First she had to examine the rock up close, looking for the best angle.
 She's working on her technique here........

(And yes, that's a real 20 ounce hammer!)
Look out rocks, we have another young rocker on the job now!
(Child Labor Laws are strict, but as long as we provide our youngest workers with a break for naps, we're not in violation.)

We ended Saturday night playing cards with our company.  I'm always beholding to anyone who stops in to see us; thank goodness they can overlook the mess our house is perpetually in.  We're spending so much time outside trying to get Aaargh done that I neglect to do much in the house we actually live in except cook meals (the slow cooker is a blessing) do dishes and sweep once a day.  Once the snow flies, I'll have plenty of work to keep me busy for another solid month just doing some deep-cleaning.  Not that I'm looking forward to it, mind you.  Growing up as a tomboy, I'm not thrilled with being indoors.

Just a few more views of the garden before I end up ripping it all up:
The River Bed--looking tired.
Formal Garden---Profusion zinnias and Victoria salvia still blooming
The Escarpment---mums still doing their thing
On top the Quarry Hill
The waterlilies are in need of cutting back and raking out of the puddle, but I leave them until just before the water freezes up so the fish have somewhere to hide from the herons that keep coming in for lunch. 

 Amur maple leaves....I'm having a hard time pruning this tree to any sort of shape, I guess I should have left well enough alone and let it stay multi-trunked.  It wasn't an expensive tree, but I think it's time I retire my loppers and leave the poor thing alone.  

The rudbeckias are still blooming, bless their hearts.  
The Inca marigolds are also looking happy in places.
'Sunkist' and 'Smaragd' thuja occidentalis with a miscanthus thrown in for good measure.

And finally, (yes there's an end in sight to this post) Chocolate Eupatorium providing a foretaste of the white stuff to come.  

Every time I walk by the eupatorium I feel happy, at least this is one chocolate that's not a no-no in my life.  
Time to face the music, Winter waits for no one.  
We gave it our best it's time to get all those pallets off the lawn and out to the Back Eight.  And we'd better find a tarp to cover up the walls.  There's always next year.  
(We can still whack a rock or two yet, though, before the snow flies.)
On Sunday afternoon it rained so we went bumming  to an honest to goodness Real Quarry, so stay tuned for that post. 
 A Granite Quarry....oh, be still my heart!


Alison said...

You know, Karen, breaking rocks used to be a punishment for criminals in prison....

Great pictures of your nearly finished garden. I need to get out there this week in my own garden and finish cleaning up, cutting back, and doing a final weeding. Good picture of your pond, I didn't realize you had fish.

Rosemary said...

Hi Karen;
Your garden is still looking good. Castle is coming along. Always hard to have to stop work..... Sunday was a sunny day here and I did the yard clean up. Sort of sad to have to pack it up for another year which I am sure you are feeling for the Castle and soon the garden.......still there is planning for next spring.. that helps get thru the dark winter days and all that indoor work.My mission for Nov is cleaning the basement..... not my fav job..Happy Halloween to you

El Gaucho said...

You ongoing love affair with rocks is always so entertaining to read about. I don't think there's another blog out there that will be full of "I wish it wasn't snowing so I could go throw some rocks around and play with mortar" postings all winter.

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Dear Karen ~ Your posts are always a delight to read and your photos wonderful to see. ~ I've got some cleaning that needs doing too, but would much rather be outside than in, especially when the weather is nice.

Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

Anonymous said...

I am so surprised at how much and what flowers are still blooming in your garden. I thought you would be getting the cooler weather than we have had. Your photos of children are always the show stealer, and then you through in one of Pudding. I can not stop smiling and saying Awwww.

Pamela Gordon said...

Your flowers are still looking great! I cleaned up all my garden and deck decor this afternoon and will try to clean the flower beds on Saturday if the weather holds. It's a lot of work and I only have 3 very small gardens! I can't imagine all that you have yet to do! Have a great week! Pamela

HolleyGarden said...

You have done so much on the walls! And this gives you a chance to breathe a bit before the temps are o.k. again to start mortaring. Although I know it's a bit frustrating to stop a project once you really get into it. I'm so glad you included some garden shots. I can't believe how much you have still blooming! It looks beautiful, as always.

africanaussie said...

Even though you seem to be spending each waking hour on the castle, your garden looks magnificent. It must have been good landscaping to being with! I like that view looking down your quarry into the water lilies towards the house.

xoxoxo said...

I love the name Castle Aaargh :)
I think it looks great too! I can't beleive you are chiseling rocks to make it look old--and I thought I was crazy for sifting dirt for rocks... a new level of crazy I can hope to attain.

Carol said...

You really have gotten alot done in the past month!!! I get sad this time of year when I have to start putting everything to bed for the winter :( Now's the time to start planning for next year.

Indie said...

I've enjoyed watching the progress of the Castle for the last couple months! It's going to be beautiful. I know it's a letdown to have to stop after you're in the momentum.

Your garden is lovely as always. I love seeing the pond with all the rock around it. So pretty!

Anonymous said...

Hello My Sweet.
Now I know you and Carl are reluctant to put that mortar mixer away but come on people. YOU NEED A REST!!! You have been flat out working so hard. You don’t see the progress you have made the way we do. It’s amazing the job you’re both doing and your new worker is a sweetie. She will be a real help.

I saw a sign the other day and I am going back to get it said
Only boring women have clean houses. I don’t wish to offend anyone but it made me laugh. I think that would go well with the other one I sent you!!

Autumn Belle said...

I am very proud of you judging by what you have accomplished so far. Great DIY job. Your garden is very beautiful as at now, it will be exciting to see the end result later.

Sandy said...

Karen, you say "It's slow going" to complete your stone house... I've wandered the ruins and have seen some of the majestic buildings in Europe and the Middle East and those builders took up to 300 years to complete their work.. so don't feel bad! You two amaze me! Really!
Winter is on it's way and time to put away your tools for another season...
Your doing a great job.

Darla said...

I love the photo of the pond looking towards the back of your home. You will be out there with that crazy snowblower of yours blowing off the castle this winter to check on it, I just know you will! The little rocker is adorable

Karen said...

Alison, you know, Carl and I have joked about prisoners breaking rocks so many times, too! I think I should write a post about that, lol.

Rosemary, you know just how I feel, why is it that indoor work just doesn't hold the same appeal?

El Gaucho, we are not well people, are we? Perhaps I should look into this addiction of ours? If there is another blog out there, we could join forces.

FlowerLady, house-cleaning is so defeating, it's undone as fast as I do it. At least the rocks stay mortared in for a few years!

Donna, yes, the flowers are lasting a very long time here this year, I guess we're getting a reprieve from the very late spring. I know, isn't Courtney adorable?? And Pudding, well, she's a sweetheart.

Pamela, good for you! I wish I could say the same; I have to much to do out there yet, but there's always next spring, right?

Holley, oh, it's so hard to quit, feel like we're giving up, but I know we have to. Now to find the same enthusiasm for the indoor

africanaussie, Camera angles are just perfect for not showing the weeds and dead stuff also in the garden, ha. Now I have no excuse not to get the pond cleaned out, either.

xoxoxo, we're not chiseling them to make it look old, we're growing old because we are chiseling them, lol. No, the only reason we cut the stone is to take off the lumps and bumps so they fit better. Nothing aesthetic about it, but crazy? Yes.

Carol, I know, me too. I should give some thought to next year, our first garden walk is the first week in June. Sigh.

Indie, I am one of those people who needs a mission, and Aaargh fits the bill perfectly. Now it's time to put away the hammer and pick up the vacuum cleaner. Sigh.

SueB, Only Boring Women Have Clean Houses. LOVE it! I am definitely Not Boring then! (I was always afraid I was.) Looking at my house proves it once and for all, I'm the most exciting woman in the world.

Autumn Belle, thank you! I hope we can get back to it and Some Day post pictures of the silly thing when it's actually done.

Sandy, thank you for the vote of confidence; 300 years? Oh, boy, we'd better work faster and/or try to improve our longevity over winter. We aren't going to last 300 years at this rate, lol.

Darla, I've been eyeballing the snowblower the last two days, wondering what it needs for a tune-up. I wish I could make it more powerful so I could snowblow the Back Eight better than last year. I need to walk.

mudderbear said...

Hi Karen, It all looks like a wonderland to beautiful. Little Ann is so lucky to have your quarry to play/work in. What memories you are creating. And what a lot of work you get done! It's just very beautiful.
I hope the cold weather stays at bay for awhile. There hasn't been nearly enough autumn yet.
Take care, Rosalie/mudderbear

mudderbear said...

Little Courtney, sorry.

Karen said...

OH, no worries, mudderbear! When Ann was a little girl, Little Ann was her nickname. And you are so right about the weather, it's changing over much too quickly, autumn could linger right up until Christmas and I'd be thrilled.

Gardens at Waters East said...

Karen, You and Carl have sure taken on a project. More ambition than I have! I do love all the rocks. What is it with rocks, water, and plants? I love how they look together, and you do have so many rocks. Great. Here I have a few, (brought in 50 tons for the gardens when I build the home). however, I would love to build right in a stone quarry. That would be a great location. I have seen gardens that did just that. Regarding cairns, this past week I spent time with a number of gallery owners in Door County and most are unhappy at all the cairns that are appearing on the shores. They are trying to remove them because they now think there are way too many and it is looking "overdone"! I will be keeping mine in the garden. Jack