Tuesday, October 30, 2012

--------------------- From Timeline of Kings Queens from Charlemagne to Elizabeth II by Gordon Kerr -------------------------- 

1730  Russia: Tsar Peter II dies of smallpox on his wedding day; his new wife jumps into his deathbed in a futile effort to become pregnant.
It takes a little more than just getting into the bed, and it helps if the guy is actually alive.

1733  Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: August II the Strong dies, having fathered over 300 children during his life.

1766  Denmark & Norway: Christian VII becomes king; probably schizophrenic, his reign is debauched and scandalous.
 But oh, SO much fun!

We got power back after about 21 hours which meant no TV,  Internet or land line telephone.  The great storm was essentially a wind event here in southern New Hampshire.  We were lucky in that the trees that fell did so on the edge of the woods and fell away from the house.  The rain during the storm itself was no more than a heavy drizzle -- the heavy rain is coming down now during an evening of thunder storms.  

During the power outage, the "Indoor Generator" I bought last summer (actually a high capacity marine battery backup system) kept the fridge, deep freeze, water pump and on-demand water heater, and about half the lights and outlets in the house working, making it worth every penny of its cost. 
You've probably seen this, but in addition to the massive flooding of subways and tunnels New York has endured the drama of a wind-wrecked 50 ton crane, its massive arm dangling partially detached over 57th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.  The building under construction is a luxury condo that recently pre-sold two of its units that are believed to be the most expensive ever sold (at least in the U.S.) at $90 million each.  The crane is up around the 900 foot level on a building that will top out at 1004 feet.  The street is lined with residential buildings, office towers, and the great historical and cultural landmark, Carnegie Hall.

When the enormity of the problem was realized, the city's officials urged people living on upper floors of the residential buildings to evacuate down to the lower floors.  Considering the massive destruction that would happen if the crane arm dropped from almost a fifth of a mile high, I wondered if that was the best possible advice.  Since then hotels and residences have been evacuated but nobody yet knows how long the crisis will last. 

As of tonight, the dangling arm hasn't dropped.  Engineers have said that the only way to deal with the situation is to strap the arm to the building and dismantle it piece by piece, then build a new crane in place to finish the building.   

On a vastly smaller scale but dramatic enough in its way was the collapse of an apartment building facade in the Chelsea neighborhood during the height of Sandy's winds.

I hope all of you made it through OK without damage or injury!

This painting showed up on a Facebook page with no information as to the artist or date it was painted.  Given the general style, the clothing and the highly sentimental, even melodramatic subject matter, Fritz and I estimated French and late 19th century (1870s-80s).  If anyone knows the painter and when it was done for certain, please let me know.

By the way, the painting is approximately six feet high by nine feet wide (estimated by the figure of a viewer standing next to it who has been cropped out).

 The Buy Locally, Organic Witch.  Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

---------------------From Timeline of Kings Queens from Charlemagne to Elizabeth II by Gordon Kerr -------------------------- 

1520  Sweden: Christian II becomes King: the murder of 82 notable people in Stockholm, known as the Stockholm Bloodbath, earns him the nickname "Christian the Tyrant."

1532  Wallachia:  Vlad the Drowned is so named after he gets drunk and rides his horse into the Dambovita River where he drowns.

1590  Rome: Cardinal Giovanni Battista Castagna is elected pope as Urban II and dies of malaria after 13 days, making him the shortest reigning pope in history. 



We're waiting like everyone on the east coast to see if the hurricane turns into the "perfect superstorm" that the forecasters are predicting.  Fritz has pulled all the potted plants into the house for the winter, but the autumn gardens are still very lovely.

A bank of chrysanthemums with our abstract cityscape behind.  Some of those "skyscrapers" will probably go over in the wind so we may have to do some urban renewal after the storm passes.

The flower plumes of one of our stands of ornamental grass sparkle as if they're made of crystal beads when the sun is behind them.  I love them like this.  This group is right outside the living room windows. 

A Kusa Dogwood whose various reds, oranges and yellows glow as if lit from within when the setting sun backlights it at just the right angle.

Starr, on rug and in the sunlight of a perfect late October day.

A new structure rising on the concrete patio outside the Center.  The idea was mine, that we should have our own maple sugaring shack where the boiler/evaporator unit could be housed permanently. This would eliminate having to put an awkward, heavy piece of equipment with a fair number of sharp edges into some kind of vehicle and then get them into the barn when sugaring is over in the spring, only to have to reverse the process late in the next winter.

I drew up a plan for a low wall around three sides of the boiler made of concrete block and the idea was that Fritz's nephew, who is in residence in the old house (background), would build the open-sided shed.  He planned a much larger structure than we had envisioned but it's turning out to be very attractive and his mortise and tenon joints in the post and beam frame are true things of beauty.  The same red metal roofing that's on the house will be on the shed.

Several cords of firewood are stacked under the center's balcony.  I spent the day carrying the last of the wood from the dead trees we cut down in September down to the pile, so that's done for the season and we're ready for the winter!     

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

---------------------From Timeline of Kings Queens from Charlemagne to Elizabeth II by Gordon Kerr -------------------------- 

1241  Poland: High Duke Henry I dies fighting the Mongols at the Battle of Legnica; the thousands of dead are beheaded and mutilated, but Henry is identified by his eleven toes.

1435  Russia: Vasili the Cross-eyed is ousted by Grand Prince Vasili the Blind.
Obviously, the eyes have it on this one.

1447  Wallachia: John Hunyadi's troops capture Murcia II, blinding him with a red-hot poker, then burying him alive.  Vlad Tepes the Impaler (the model for Dracula) becomes King; he uses extreme violence to control the country, including impaling 20,000 Turkish prisoners on sharpened wooden stakes.
Lovely, sweet people, those medieval Wallachians!

A Fall-flowering ground cover in the walkway area in front of the house.
While on the hillside above the house, the Fall asters are popping out everywhere.


We've just come back from a two week small boat (80 passengers) cruise that began in New York City and sailed us up the Hudson to Troy, where we turned west and went up the locks into the Erie Canal.  The Canal had become a serious interest of ours four years ago when we were on a road trip and stumbled onto a two hour boat tour of the Canal's westernmost passage through the daunting, solid rock Niagara Escarpment.  On that boat we spent the whole time with the captain in the wheelhouse, learning all we could about the Canal's history and engineering.  We've since read one of the best books on the Canal's history, Wedding of the Waters.

When we were researching small boat cruise companies that had itineraries in the eastern section of the country, we found Blount Small Ship Adventures that offers a cruise every fall from New York City to the Saguenay Fjord, almost at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, then back to Montreal.
The big lure was that we'd be crossing half of New York State on the Erie Canal, then turning north into the Oswego Canal to Lake Ontario.  From there we entered the St. Lawrence in the beautiful stretch known as the Thousand Islands.  I will be posting photos in future posts.  

In brief, we had a wonderful time, met some great people, and were delighted that a surprisingly large number of our fellow passengers were involved in the performing arts, either as practitioners or as frequent audience members at plays and concerts.  More in coming posts.


Monday, October 08, 2012

I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth, I've been having computer issues. My beloved, now 5 & 1/2 year old MacBook Pro with the 17 inch screen was refusing to install new applications I needed and it turned out that the opersating system was severely obsolete. Problem was that a new operating system could not be installed on the old machine. Long story short, there was a fully rebuilt 17 inch MacBook in the shop (important because they're not building 17 inch screens any more). I've purchased it and the shop will transfer everything, so I'll eventually be back. Hope you all had a good Columbus Day Holiday!

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