Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Catching up...

It's been awhile, hasn't it? We've been very busy between work and a ton of other things. We sold a house. We sold some timber. We went to visit Dylan and Brittani in their new house. We took William with us. He's such a very good little traveler.

While we were there, we had a surprise. Cara drove in. She was celebrating an important job she's gotten, one that will permit her to get through her last year of grad school with no student loans. She also gets a new, furnished apartment.

There was another surprise. They had arranged for Bob and Dixie to come for supper. Bob and Dixie and I met in Michigan at least 25 years ago. They both wound up losing their IT jobs due to downsizing, and relocated to Eastern PA, and live about an hour from Dylan and Brittani. I love these people. I have not seen them since 2009, and there they were again. We laughed and talked and caught each other up on our lives. They met Brittani for the first time, and they met William for the first time, and in the middle of all the talking and laughing, I realized how far I've come and how many prayers have been answered between those days and now. I'm a very lucky woman.

We took William on a train ride, and Dylan got the most adorable picture of him (I couldn't find my camera. Turns out, someone ~ who has not yet been identified ~ thought I'd forget it, and put it in our suitcase, which was not where I'd left it, and so it was lost for a time). He enjoyed the train very much, and got a train whistle. I realized that only a grandma can cheerfully blow a whistle that is dripping with William slobber. It seems to sicken everyone else.

Today was a strange day. We went up to the old house to do some work. My job was to mow the lawn. The lawn mower stopped running. I went back to find out if we had more gas. "No, but it's got a full tank," Tim said, and strode around front where the deuced thing started right up for him. I resumed mowing as he headed back to the garage. After a few laps it stalled once more, but started. After a few more circle around the lawn, it stopped once again, but this time refused to start.

I headed back to complain to Tim about the lawnmower. I found him driving one of his project cars. I was a little confused because this was not the plan. We'd driven the truck up to get a load of valuable engine pieces and parts that he was storing at his latest garage. There was no load on the truck. Turns out that it would not start.

I looked out at the dead lawnmower. I looked at the truck, which has been a pretty reliable vehicle all these many years. Peculiar that they both refused to start. I've heard tales of this, but they almost always involve the Bermuda Triangle or UFOs.

Tim went to the lawnmower, which started right up for him. He mowed the entire rest of the yard. He made several extravagant shoulder shrugs as he passed by. I ignored him and pulled the morning glories off the rhododendren. Why is it that those vines will choke everything but the weeds?

The truck started too, and got us home.

I've spent a quiet afternoon cleaning the second floor.

I walked downtown to a monument that commemorates the fellow our little town was named for. I'm on the third draft of a piece that I'm writing for an historical presentation, telling his story from the perspective of his mother. I met a neighbor, and we talked for a few as I took notes for my project.

I ambled back towards home with my notebook, and stopped at a gift shop that features stained glass in the window. I found a couple things that would make nice Christmas presents for Dylan and Brittani's new house. (Not stained glass, which they assure me they both hate). I talked to the owner for a few, and we discussed some of the local artists featured. He showed me some clay tiles he just got in that I love. Even worse, I know exactly where it wants to be in my own house.

I went to the library and picked up Howard's End, which I always meant to see. I was surprised to see that they had McLeod's Daughters, several seasons. Bush Babe and Jeanie talked about it once, so I took Season 1 home with me. I traded the beautiful book I'd finished (Benediction, Kent Haruf) for Little Bee (Chris Cleave) and spent a few minutes there laughing with the librarians.

I headed for home with my notebook and my book and DVDs, and I saw a lady setting a table out in the front yard. I liked the little table very much, and, damn, wouldn't you know...I knew exactly where that table wanted to be in my house. I studied it a bit, but it argued very convincingly. I sighed, and said, "Are you setting up for a yard sale?" and she said, "No," as her husband said, "We've got too much stuff. If you see something you like, take it. Help yourself." Luckily it was only the table which wanted to be in my house. So I continued on, with my notebook, and my book and DVDs, and now a table, which was a bit of a struggle, but it was only two blocks.

I really do live in a very nice little town, something that I notice more when I'm on foot and not in a rush, and have time to chat with people.

I have spent the evening finishing the third draft for the history group meeting here tomorrow night. I rewarded myself by rearranging the living room for my new little table who looks quite happy to be where I thought it wanted to be. I began Little Bee and decided that it was too brutal for my tastes. I watched Howard's End, which was a wonderful movie.

And now it is time for bed.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Continued from previous post...

 This is was the Newbold mansion, built in the 1820s on land granted to the Irvine family (Newbold was the name of one of the descendents later on down the line.) The land came to the family in reward for William Irvine's service during the Revolutionary War. It stood until the 1970s and was burnt to the ground by the company that owned the land. It was deemed dangerous and structurally unsound.

I passed by that house every day on the way to school as a little girl, and it intrigued me. Five children lived in it, children of the caretaker. They told stories of roller skating in the ballroom. I wanted to be invited to that house in the worst way, but I was older than those kids. I had an ongoing daydream that the family would be in desperate need of a baby sitter one day...

I will never forget the morning that we passed by and saw the flames. The bus driver actually stopped the bus and stared, as astonished as his riders. No one had an inkling of what the company intended to do.

Anyways, that long ago Mr Irvine imported a Scottish stone mason to do the stone work around his mansion. The icehouse still remains today. I swear to you that I will find his name. I know that I have it.
The picture above is the Irvine Church, which still stands today, with an active congregation. It underwent extensive structural repairs about 10 years ago. Pretty good handiwork, I'd say, seeing as how it was built in 1837, by that same Scottish stone mason. 

Anecdote 1: Mr. Irvine built this church in honor of his wife who was devoutly religious. She just as the church was completed and Sarah's funeral was the first service in this church.

Anecdote 2: The little town is called Irvine, and I lived outside this town for most of my growing up years. We would come from the woods, on foot, crossing a railroad trestle that scared me plain to death, to trade in our library books at the Bookmobile.

In any case, I wanted to give you an little background to yesterday's post about that little stone gatehouse that is being renovated.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Makes me happy.

It did not rain too much today.
That made me happy.

Something else made me happy.
Once upon a time there was a very rich land owner in Pa, who brought over an Scottish stone mason who built this house here in 1841. It was a small gatehouse for a larger estate, which I have a photo of, but stinking blogger will not let me add it. Which doesn't make me happy, BTW.
 I have sadly watched this house fall into disrepair, and it seemed so very sad to me.
I often wished that I was rich, because I would have totally taken on this house.
It would have made me happy.
I was thrilled to hear that after at least a decade, this old place is being renovated.
It made me way happy.

 I tried to capture this, but failed.
Which did not make me happy.
This window is ancient, riddled with imperfections. Just beautiful.
This is my neck of the woods.

The Allegheny river (flowing around an island).
I live along the Conewango creek which flows into this river.

Just some random shots from my neck of the woods.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bidding War

Tim said, out of the blue and apropos to nothing, "They're having an auction today. Let's check it out."
And we went.
The last time that we went, Tim's hand went up a lot more than I thought it should, and I ended up with a tea service that I hide because it's easier than polishing it.
Auctioneers talk too quickly, and it makes me nervous, because by the time I figure out what is going on, somebody's pointing and yelling 'sold!'

Have I ever told you that I have a 'thing' for clocks? I do. I have one that hangs in the hall. It ticks authoritatively and counts out the hours in a somberly resonating way. I love it. Everyone else hated it until now that we have a foyer, and it belongs where it is. That's my nicest one, but I've got a small collection of clocks, an old alarm clock from the 30s, but most everything else is just interesting in an ordinary way.

At the auction, a clock came up. Nobody bid on it. The price went down to $10. TEN DOLLARS. I couldn't help it. My arm went up. The auctioneer asked several times who was going to give him $12.50, but nobody did, and just when I was sure I'd spent $10 on a clock, somebody gave him $12.50. And I gave up $15 as quick as a wink. I didn't dare look at Tim. Suddenly there was a flurry of bidding, but by that point, I'd already figured out where I was putting it, and I had a severe case of covetousness that I was fully prepared to march into church and repent on the morrow. I snuck in a bid a $22.50, and then $27.50. Just I was sure that I wasn't getting a clock, the auctioneer was saying, "I need to see your number," and I was saying, "Oh, sorry," and just like that, I had a clock.
It is a William Gilbert mantle clock and it is from the mid-1800s.
Know what else?
It works! It keeps time with a very satisfying tick.
Further inspection shows a wobbling gear which is probably why the chimes cannot be wound. It looks like it will be an easy fix, and once again my funny little clock will sound a gong to count out the hours and 'ting' a bell to mark the half hour.

And no. It's not going to remain on William's art table.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Stepping out of Her Rut

I've been busy lately, but restless. It is hard to explain. I have plenty that needs doing, but I can't seem to galvanize myself to get these things done.

Today, I dropped a large tin tub of pink and white geraniums off to someone who really needed a 'pick me up', driving there in a thoughtful daydreaming sort of way. I pulled the tub out of the trunk and set them in place, and headed back out, without her even knowing that I'd been there.

On the drive back home, I decided on a whim that it has been a very long time since I treated myself to a good cup of coffee, and stopped into a little cafe that I've been meaning to stop into for a very long time. The young man serving was quite talkative, and we talked about Fair Trade coffees. It's been a long time since I invested in good coffee beans, and I walked out of there with my fresh cup of coffee and it was good and I was savoring every sip as I walked down the street.

I stopped to study a store window, and saw a doll. I am not a doll collector, but I know someone who is, and so I stopped to check the name of the doll. I found myself involved in a conversation with an elderly lady, and after some minutes, I asked her name.

When she told me, I laughed. "I have some framed art of yours in my livingroom!" We walked around the store, and I recognized the names of some of the artists. I went to school with one of them. I went to church with another, and was shocked to hear that she was in a nursing home now.

These artists were painters. Sculpters. Jewelry makers. Photographers. Metal makers. Potters. Ordinary people who had jobs, and made things in their spare time. Some of it was not my cup of tea. Other stuff caught my attention.

There was one piece, a large piece. Beautiful. Although the piece itself was too modern for my taste, it was exquisite. I realized that I could do that. I realized that I had the things I needed to do that. I realized that I could adapt that art form to my own tastes.

The woman and I talked at great length. She went to school with my parents. I remembered her father in law bringing home sea shells for us when we were kids. I had never been to the ocean, and I was thrilled with those shells. She knew my uncle. A cousin. One 'life in a small town' coincidence after another.

She was a teacher, had gone to school in a one room school house. We talked about the old school where I had gone, and the names of those long ago teachers sprang readily to mind, one right after another...'Mrs. Cable, Mrs. Bower, Mrs. Ware, Mrs. Crosley, Mrs Friel...' Could it really be possible that this was all 50 years ago? We talked about the old days when all teachers played a piano. We talked about the days when teachers were not afraid to hug their students.

We talked for nearly two hours, believe it or not. My coffee was gone when I walked out of there, and I walked back to my car across a brick parking area I remembered as a child, waiting in the car with my father as my mother walked into the pharmacy for a prescription for someone. I studied the shiny reflective black tile that so fascinated me back then. I drove home remembering the squeal of playground swings and playing 'button, button' under the old square gazebo in the center of the playground.

It felt like a little vacation, really, and when I got home, I felt refreshed and invigorated, and excited about creating art.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


So, Nash has been popping in regularly. After a lot of trial and error, I discovered that he likes tuna cat food, 9-Lives, and so I have a stack of cat food. When he pops in, I feed him. He comes into the kitchen, and keeps me company, but does not have access to the rest of the house yet. He is not neutered and I don't want him spraying around the house. This would only validate Tim's opinion that animals should not be allowed inside.

So, I feed him and I noticed that he is filling out nicely, which makes me happy.

I also noticed that for a stray cat, he's pretty darn picky about his food. For instance, he has turned up his nose at his tuna. Other times, he will gobble it down like it's gourmet.

I've been reminded anew what a fickle beast a cat is. Sometimes he will come to me to be petted. Other times, he looks at me as if he has never seen me before. I imagine that life as a stray makes a cat even more fickle though.

The plan is to get him neutered. I do not want to get him declawed until I am certain that he'll be content as an indoor cat. Like I said, he's got a peculiar nature that can go either way.

Today, we came home, and there was Nash. He darted into the garage, away from the car coming up the driveway. I got out of the car and called him. Tim looked at me strangely.


"He just ran out the back of the garage. How'd he get out the back of the garage?" This was a very good question. There are no doors back there. If there is an exit big enough for a cat, we need to find it post haste. We have a coon hanging around, and I have trapped a possum out of here, not to mention a slew of red squirrels that we don't want getting in. They do a lot of damage.

I headed to the house to feed my cat. Tim headed to the back of his garage to find that egress.

He came to the house and he looked very unhappy. In a disgusted voice, he said, "There are two of 'em. Two long haired black cats. There's another one, a more skittish one that was hiding behind the garage."

Surprised, I looked down at Nash, who gazed up at me, blinking his inscrutable cat blink.

Well. Maybe it was Nash. Hard to tell.

It might have been his brother Crosby.

Anyways, he was the fatter cat. The friendly cat. The one who is not all that fond of tuna, as it turns out.