Saturday, June 16, 2007
Thursday night was gay boys' night out at the Dogwood Cafe, a very popular bar/restaurant opposite Forest Hills Station just north of me. Stephen and I made a dinner date, it got expanded to include Atari and Stephen’s boyfriend Charles (aka Grinny). An extra treat was when Steve and Grinny showed up with 4Moms--Steve’s name for Ryan who was born to a lesbian couple who later broke up, each woman eventually pairing with a new partner to give him . . . four mothers. Gay life is SO incredibly rich and varied. Steve was in high good spirits, Grinny and 4Moms turned out to be great young men, Atari and I enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, and the time flew by.
My house has developed an echo. On Friday I rolled up most of the rugs and tied them securely. I took the smaller ones up to Fritz’s along with a big load of other stuff. All of my window curtains are also down, so there’s not much to absorb sound in the house any more.
The place is built like a fortress. It dates from 1860, back when 2x4 was actually a little thicker than two inches by four inches, not the skimpy measurements of today. My basement walls are two feet thick and made of granite, the subfoundation under them is four feet thick and of granite. The house's main sills are the size of railroad ties and the interior walls are three layers of real plaster over lath. And all the plaster had goat hair intermixed as an extra binder. They truly don't build them like this any more. The plaster is so thick and solid that when I talk to my cat, or talk on the phone now that there’s nothing to damp down the sound, I can hear my voice ringing off the walls.
Fritz and I had an accomplishful weekend. The big job was to finish cleaning out the "garage" part of his barn so that my furniture can be stacked there in July when Gentle Giant comes to do the moving. This space is on the lowest level of the barn, easily accessible from the road. It probably sheltered farm wagons back when it was built. We also weeded our new blueberry bushes, restacked his woodpile in preparation for cutting up tree trunks that have been seasoning all year for next winter's fire wood, and ran errands. We also had a couple of lovely dinners, talked a lot and laughed continuously.
I have a couple of tasks. Tomorrow and Monday and I'll be building a new sawbuck to hold the seasoned tree trunk sections for cutting into wood stove length. And I have to get going on change of address notices, lots of them.
As soon as I arrived on Friday we went up to the house site. Excavation had begun in earnest and we were anxious to check out the situation on ledge, the rock stratum just below the surface. I'm building on the side of an ancient volcano and there’s rock everywhere. It's of two kinds--old volcanic rock and huge surface boulders from the glacial period. The later aren't a problem--the earth moving machines can roll them to the side of the site. Ledge can be a big problem, but in the preliminary digging all of it had broken up readily. This is referred to as "rotten ledge"--stratified stone that has been softened up by tree roots and the freezing and thawing of the ground over the millennia.
But it turns out that there are two areas within the house footprint--the northwest corner and a section more or less in the middle of the front of the house--where the ledge isn't rotten at all, but good and solid. This will require blasting. I called the general contractor right away to let him know. He'll have to find someone who can come, do the drilling, set the charges and blow up the obstructions before much more of the excavation can go ahead.
Otherwise, it's back to packing. My next trip up with a load (lamps, rugs and some small furniture) is Wednesday. That night we'll drive a bit south to Methuen, MA for an organ concert at the famed Methuen Music Hall. G, a talented photographer and emerging composer is having a big piece on the subject of Jacob wrestling with the angel played as part of a program that will tour through Denmark and Sweden this summer. The organ piece is the source of themes for an opera he's writing on the same subject, that's under consideration for production by Intermezzo, the opera company I design for. G's a great friend and I'm hoping the opera gets produced so that I get to design it for him.
Heard in Highlands, NC last weekend during one of the wedding events: "The trouble with Oklahoma is that the women think they're from the South and the men think they're from the West." That could be a problem but it sounds more like the premise for some serious bodice-ripper Romances.