Saturday, July 19, 2008


The world of blogs has been a great comfort to me. I've long had a fascination with old stuff. Lo, didn't I find that I'm not the only freak with that particular preoccupation? Over at Bush Babe's blog, she often regales us with pictures of the old things around their cattle station. I love those particular picture posts of hers.

Tim and I bought a house in town about Christmas time.

It was built in the 1880s, and was quite the house in its time. You can see at the back of the house, which happens to overlook the Conewango Creek, that a kitchen was added at some point. It is a nice kitchen with a wall of windows that provide a nice view for whoever's cooking. Glass front cabinets on the other side. Hardwood floors which some damn fool covered with carpeting, vinyl backed. Even in the aforementioned kitchen. (Who on earth carpets a kitchen?!!!)

A two car garage was added at some point. We replaced the garage doors and the roof and fascia boards. Next comes a good power wash, and then replace some boards at the bottom there, and give it a good coat of paint. The rest of the house is sided, and in fine shape. The windows are all themal windows, replacements, except for one in the upstairs. The house is well insulated. But the floors sagged something awful. The last owner had a washing machine in the downstairs bathroom that leaked, apparently for years, into the basement. The floor was rotted away, as were some of the main support beams in the basement. I want to show you these beams.

These are hand hewn. But the most remarkable thing about these is that these are scavenged beams. They came from a barn. These beams are older than the house. Let's do some basic math here. Suppose that these beams are from a barn, say, even 25 years older than the house, this would set them in the same time frame as our Civil War. Now, how old were those trees cut down to make those beams? These are some massive beams, a foot square. The trees were old, maybe 75 years or more. These trees may well have been growing when we were a British colony.

That's a lot of work there. You can see why they were recycled. Getting hold of these beams saved someone a lot of work. They merely made new notches and fit them all back together and built a house on them.

I wonder about the man who sweated all those years ago, making these beams for his barn. Was he the farmer, piecing together a farm, through the labors of his own hands, the sweat of his own brow, making a life for himself and his family, taking pride in his land, and his craftmanship?

Tim has the pegs carefully saved so that we can put these back together.

Look at the square nails. Now stuff like this can send me off on mental tangents for days, daydreaming and pondering. Here's my question for you. Now that I have scavenged these beams from our house, forced my husband to bring them home, what would YOU do with them, were you me?

Here's our latest find. When we jacked the house up, and replaced the beams, a lot of the lathe and plaster cracked. We ripped this out to be replaced, discovering two old chimneys. Tim also found this. This was in the outside wall of the original portion of the house, behind the original plaster and lathe that was hidden by some cheap paneling from the 1950s.

This is hand blown glass. No seams. You can see where the hot glass was twisted to make the neck narrow and shaped. The top was formed by 'folding' the hot glass back down over the neck to provide a good seal when it was corked.

And I'm off and daydreaming again. Do you suppose it's possible that the man doing the lathe and plaster work finished off his drink, and tucked the bottle behind the walls,

daydreaming about who would find that bottle

...and when they would find it...

And finished his good work, daydreaming about what the world would be like then?


That's the story I like.


jeanie said...

I once renovated a garden at the side of a house I rented. I had to as the previous tenant had 3 boys who caused $600 glass damage to the house, and most of that broken glass fell to this part of the garden and I had a toddler who I didn't want to hold in my arms for the rest of my life - and nor did she.

Anyhow, I did a bit of dig to find as many large bits of glass as I could, and about 4 inches down I found some antique bottles. Well, they had "Brisbane Bitter" on the front, which dated them at least 30 years old. I am sure the one who buried 3 dozen bottles was having marvellously lurid daydreams - may not have been so virtuous as your daydreamer though!!!

Great beams... Maybe a garden pagola or living room feature could use them - they need display.

mikey said...

ooo, that's a GOOD POST! Love those pics, and now you've got me daydreaming as well. That bottle is gorgeous, and again, I'm left wondering "how did it get there?"
Boy, questions to ponder for a long while. Bet those beams are unbelievably old!!!
Too cool...

Anonymous said...

I am with mikey - it's a good post! I wish I could lay claim to finding treasures here. But no, just junk!

Scotty said...

Great photos, Debby - ain't renovating fun at times? As for the beams? Hmmmm, that's a hard one.

steviewren said...

If only the owner of the bottle had had a pencil, I bet he would have written you a note...

debby said...

A message in the bottle would have sent me into a daydream that lasted for days!

Rhubarb: we found silver ware in a stuck drawer. That was cool. And the cast iron coal stove in the basement, as well as the cast iron tubs (no not clawfoot) will bring a heap of money at the scrap yard. These are to be rentals, and already are in two apartments, so we want bathtubs with one piece surrounds to minimize the possibility of unreported leakage and damage.

Jeanie - it did occur to me that maybe my daydreamer was a lush and hiding the evidence, but really I like my first story better.

Mikey and Scotty - no one has ever complimented my picture taking before. I have to show your comments to me kids. They say I suck at pictures!

Everyone! Think harder. What am I doing with those beams! The only thing I can think of is artfully stacking them on the back deck as a plant stand. I HAVE NO IMAGINATION! HELP!!!!!!

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Amazing history. The layers of the house are layers of history itself. Mind boggling discoveries here. This bottle is quite interesting. Its remarkable that it was not crushed or broken. It sat quietly hidden for decades....

No wonder your imagination has been engaged.....