Wildflowers.

It was one of my mom’s favorite things. It was one of mine too.

Springtime was and is a wonderful time in the lower Stoney Creek valley. It was a time to head out on adventures. A time to stomp in the creek, set out on a hike or take off on a bicycle ride. To smell the abundance of new life and to be in awe of all the colors that it brings with it. It was something that could be appreciated and admired by a young child. Often times it could even be seen as spectacular.

With the abundance of new life came the wildflowers. Some of which were very finicky and only grew in certain spots. Rocky spots with just the right amount of sun, shade and moisture at the edge of the forest on sloping ground at the base of a hill. This was the only spots that you could find one of mom’s favorite wildflowers. Fire Pink.

The time directly after or during the ending of a storm or heavy rain was one of my favorite times to set out on one of these adventures. To stomp in the puddles and find the rivulets of running water so I could send a stick down one of them, following it and imagining riding it and it taking me along to who knows where.

Wet rainy days such as this I would often take off on my bike. An old gold colored single speed Schwinn with a noisy seat spring and shiny chrome fenders. It was handed down to me by my brother and probably handed down to him by someone else. I don’t recall how we ended up with it.

Riding the old gold Schwinn up and down the driveway sometime in the 70’s.

I loved the way the fresh rain smelled steaming off the warm pavement as I rode. I wanted to get to Stoney Creek and see how much it was flowing. Hopefully more than usual. Maybe even roaring.

Along the way I would search for an old can or bottle tossed out some never minding car window. Unfortunately but fortunately for me they were not that hard to find at the side of the road or in the creek. I remember many of the old soda cans were rusty. You don’t see too many rusty soda cans these days. When I claimed one of these old cans as my own I would then head down to the creek to fill it full of creek water. If I was lucky I may even be side tracked by a snake or two. I will most likely see a frog, maybe a turtle.

With my rusty can in one hand and my bike handlebar grip in the other I would begin my search for wildflowers. Thankfully they were much more plentiful than the cans and bottles. Purples, whites, yellows and pinks and hopefully get my hands on that elusive Fire Pink.

My mom’s favorite color of all was yellow. However that Fire Pink flower was her favorite of all the flowers that grew out here. I would hopefully find it growing in its usual spots. When I did a rush of excitement would come over me as it joined the other flowers in my can full of water. The feeling of pedaling home with that can full of color was one of the best in the world. I knew how happy she would be to see them.

Her face said it all. Even though I am certain I had some ‘weeds’ in that can that she was most likely allergic to, I was none the wiser. She always seemed as though she had just received the best thing that anyone could have ever possibly given her.

I have been a part of this great earth for 48 years and shared only 15 of those with my mother. The springs back then seemed to last for, well, to last a lot longer than they seem to last now.

It is spring time now and I hear the rain dripping off the trees outside the old stone house as I write this. Still to this day when a storm pops up or a heavy rain I often think of stomping in the rivulets or sending a stick on another one of it’s great adventures. But whenever I smell the rain coming off the warm pavement or see a Fire Pink showing off in the rocks at the edge of the woods something else always comes to mind. That one hand gripping the can and the other gripping the handlebar pedaling like my life depended on it. I think maybe a big part of it did.

We usually find the Fire Pink in and around the rocks near the bottom of the hill in the woods in the above photos. The bottom three photos are of the Fire Pink that showed up earlier in the spring of 2017.

Silene Verginica (Fire Pink) http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=sivi4

 

Three Windows.

Together, these three windows are one of several  things that this house has given me during these renovations. They were the first of several instances in which I have needed something while working and then upon looking in the house there they were.

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I drew up the sketches and decided what I wanted to do and it happened to have three windows. These windows I wanted to match the attic windows on either side of the chimneys of the original stone house. I remembered seeing some sitting up in the attic and I went and looked. I found three. The house gave me exactly what I needed.

These windows are three of eight total in the kitchen addition. We wanted a lot of light coming in so we filled it full of windows. All the windows came from the house in some form or fashion. Some were simply relocated as the addition made what were outside windows now interior openings. The windows facing to the east line up directly with the stone windows facing to the west. Much the same way the original windows lined up.

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The above is a view from a second floor room of the stone house through one of the windows which once looked outside. It now looks down into the kitchen and across to what we call the reading loft. The reading loft is a small nook off the library that is about the size of a twin bed. You crawl into it and it has a futon and pillows and a stained glass window for light.

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Above is the reading loft as seen from one of the openings off the second floor library. We will get more into this loft and the other details in future posts.

The attic windows to either side of the chimney in the photos above are similar to the three added to the kitchen addition that is seen in the center photo.

Misty morning, chickens, half an outhouse and the truck cab.

The 2nd day of 2017 finds North Stoney Creek and the Penn Marshall Stone House (PMSH) shrouded in mist. My mind and my thoughts seem to be enveloped in the same thing lately. (my wife would say that is normal, pretty much all the time…) Although a good bit of progress has been made to the house I have yet to find the correct moment to write about it. So for now, some moments from today.

It was a great day to rid the property of some wood scraps and brush with a good ole burn pile.

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Misty morning.

Chickens.

Half an outhouse and the truck cab.

The outhouse was on the property when our parents purchased it in 1971. It was a whole outhouse then. Half of it has oddly (and evenly) been consumed by mother nature. I do plan to make it whole again with a new bottom half. The truck cab came along later with maybe a few others…

Some other moments from the day.

Kitchen ceiling woodwork.

Just a quick update on the progress of the wood going up on the kitchen ceiling.  My son is home from college and has been helping me finish this phase of the kitchen renovations.  We have completed the installation of the wood on the ceiling and I have just finished trimming it all out.

The view below is looking into the kitchen addition from the old stone part of the house.  The pine walls are being white washed and the ceiling will be natural.

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There are several different species of wood being used in this kitchen renovation/expansion.  Some of the local woods we have used are cherry, oak, walnut and cedar.  The walls and ceilings are of white pine and the ceilings have been trimmed out with some cedar I had on hand and some poplar dowel rods I grabbed at a local home supply store.

Some pictures below of the ceiling as it looks today.  A big thank you to my father for consulting with me and giving me some ideas and direction on finishing out the trim work on the ceiling.

 

From porch ceiling to kitchen/library wall.

When we moved to the house in 1971 it had a shed kitchen addition on the back and a hipped roof porch on the front.  This hipped roof porch lacked a lot to be desired as far as looks and complimenting the architecture of the house.

In addition to the hipped roof style of this porch it had a plain concrete floor, crumbling concrete steps, wood columns on brick pedestals and asphalt shingles.  You can see this porch in the old photos below at which time it was still in use.  This porch may have been mismatched to the house but it was appreciated and held a lot of great memories for me.  We used it for many years as it stood.  I remember keeping our bikes and outdoor toys stored on this porch.  It was a dry place to hang out and wait out the storms.

The tree to the right of the house in the above right photo is the very maple tree that I posted about in the previous blog entry. It fell in the storms that passed through the valley recently.  The link below will take you to this blog post.

https://pennmarshallstonehouse.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/aliens-crop-circles-or-gustnadoes/

It was rumored that a large millstone  under the concrete floor of the porch.  Those that spoke of it remembered an old millstone used as a front stoop.  The gentleman that built the porch could not remember if it was left in place or not.

A good many years ago we did finally remove this porch but have yet to uncover a millstone where it stood.  I am not yet sure what I am going to put in its place at the front door here, although I do have some ideas.  Below are some photos after the porch was removed and is much how it looks today.

There was not much worth salvaging from this porch.  The brick in the columns were nothing special, not real attractive really.  These columns and the concrete were broken up and used to fill some sink holes on the farm.  My father did however save the old bead board ceiling from this porch.  It has been sitting in his barn ever since and was getting somewhat in his way.  I decided to put it back to use on the house that it came from and I had the very wall that needed some covering.  The kitchen side of the wall that divided the kitchen from the library.

I gathered it all up and treated it all as if it contained lead in the paint.  Although I was sure it more than likely contained lead I did perform a lead test on it from a kit I purchased on Amazon. I guess there is always that slight chance it would be lead free and I was hoping for that as I awaited the results.  Kind of like a teenager with a grand plan for the future waiting on a pregnancy test and hoping that it is not positive…

It came back positive.

I power washed it all which removed a lot of the old paint and years of grime.  I damp sanded it all outside and got it down to the paint that still held strong.  It came out real nice and had the look I was hoping for.  I used a respiratory mask and had a shop vac set up on my saw as I cut the bead board up for the installation on the wall.

The photos below show the old bead board on the upper wall from the kitchen side.  I left the original window in place that you see as the largest opening next to the stone wall.  It is roughly the same size as the original upper windows in the stone house that you can also see below.

This wall is framed with 2×6’s that are 24″ on center.  I opened up every other one in this wall between the library and the kitchen both to let light in to the library and to look down into the kitchen from the library.  This created three two foot wide openings in the wall.

The opening furthest from the stone wall opens onto a “reading loft” that you can see under the stained glass window in the photos above.  This reading loft came at the request of my daughter and is the size of a twin bed.  The plan is to put a twin sized futon mattress in this loft so one could crawl in and veg out with a good book.  The two openings in the center will have sliding windows that can be shut to reduce noise coming up to the library.  These windows were found stored in the basement of the house we have in town.  Neat old windows and the perfect size.

The photos below are of the same wall taken from the library side.

I plan to go in to more detail about the reading loft in future posts to this blog.  I also hope to go back to earlier construction that was going on when I was a young boy and not long after we moved in.  Thankfully my parents took a ton of pictures of all this work.  I did scan a couple of the house when it still had the old shed kitchen (see below).  You can see the newer 1970’s addition behind the shed kitchen in the photo below right.  This is also where the new kitchen expansion is now.  The photo below left was taken before the 1970’s addition was built.

The black wall above the shed kitchen in the above photo on the right is now the interior wall between the library and new kitchen expansion.  Both the windows you see above the shed kitchen roof, one on the 1970’s addition and one on the stone part, are now the interior openings that look down into the new kitchen.

Seeing these old pictures remind me of a story that involves the window in the old shed kitchen, a very large Doberman Pinscher and the UPS delivery guy.  Sounds like a future blog entry to me…

 

 

Aliens, crop circles or gustnadoes?

As I drove out to the house this past Tuesday morning, the morning of the 26th, I was keeping an eye out for storm debris and damage.  We had a strong front move through the area the night before.  You never know what these storms are going to bring your way or what they will leave behind.   Stoney Creek has had more than its fair share of damage and devastation from storms.

Thankfully the storms that past through the night before were not that bad.  I did notice a few small limbs were down here and there.  Some random gravel washed out onto the roads from various driveways.

When I turned on to Stoney Creek Road I did see that some larger limbs had been blown down.  As I turned on to the bridge at the beginning of North Stoney Creek Road I noticed the creek was running pretty strong.  I stayed for a while, watched and listened to it.

As I came to the fields just before coming to the old stone house something caught my eye.  Very strange looking patterns and swaths cut in the cover crop and clover.

It had laid the grasses down in several different directions.  Some were kind of swirled, some were just like a pathway, some were going every which way with no rhyme or reason at all. Nothing like straight line winds would do nor anything like animals.

I took some pictures of the areas as seen above and sent them to my family.  My brother sent them to  an individual he knows that works with our local emergency management system.  They sent them to the National Weather service and my brother forwarded me a text on the 27th that they wanted to come out and see this for themselves.  The photos peaked there interest and they always welcome the opportunity to investigate and learn from these events.  They all wanted to come out and see this for themselves.

The day began with sunshine and as the crew arrived at the house it had the makings of a beautiful and breezy sunny afternoon.  We talked for a bit as we walked to the site, a very interesting group to hang out with.  I could try to explain what they found but I will let the findings from their report and photos speak for themselves in the link below.

http://www.weather.gov/lmk/Gustnado_crop_circles

The fields in the report above were just about 200-300 feet East and Southeast of the old stone house.  There was very little evidence of any strong winds next to the house other than an overturned wooden bench and one very large Red Maple that was brought to the ground.  This Red Maple had been struck by lightning in prior years and was damaged at the trunk and starting to rot.  I had planned to cut it down soon but mother nature did the work for me.

 

The photo above left shows how close the old Red Maple was to the house.  It was one of the prettiest trees in the yard.  One of our neighbors and I looked at the tree and decided it was definitely going to fall away from the house.  He is a certified logger and owns the wood mill down the road.  All the weight of the tree was unanimously on the side to which it did end up falling.  Most all the weather comes from the West which if (or when) it did blow over it was going to blow it away from the house.  Strange things do happen though and in the back of my mind I was hoping nothing strange would happen here and somehow blow the tree back against the house.

I have a great deal of respect for mother nature and I thank her for taking care of this tree for me.  We all loved that tree and will miss it.

 

 

 

Wild Turkey, Sunshine and The Reading Loft

Here in central Kentucky when someone mentions Wild Turkey the first thing that usually comes to mind is the bourbon.  I know that is true for me.  In this case I am however referring to the actual wild turkey that we have running around out here in what we locals know as Bald Knob.  Bald Knob is a rural area in northern Franklin County in central Kentucky.  I know the wild turkey are in much more of an abundance now than they were when I was a kid (this is probably true as to current state of the bourbon as well…).  All the wildlife seems to be more prevalent now than they were then.

We have had some beautiful warm and sunny days here, a wonderful break from the rain and cold. In speaking of breaks, I was taking one from working on the house and looked out across the drive and saw a small flock of wild turkeys coming out of the woods.  This day it was only three that came out.  I have seen groups out here numbering up into the 40’s.  I lost count at 44 with one flock I happened across not long ago.  I unfortunately don’t have a photo to back this claim up…

Below is a photo from the front/side yard of the ‘flock’ in the distance.  Granted this is not much of a flock but they are a welcomed site to see on a beautiful March afternoon.

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I have been distracted by taxes and bills and some maintenance work to the house in town.  Not much fun and it has taken me away from work on the old stone house.  I did however get some time to get some more of the pine wall boards up.  I have made it up to the ceiling and do not have much of the walls left to do.  I will be installing the same pine boards on the ceiling of the kitchen.

My first thoughts were to stain the walls a color similar to the cabinets and older kitchen pine walls.  Kind of a light golden brown color.  I was going to do the ceiling in a white washed pine to brighten it up.  I am now thinking I may go with the white washed treatment on all the walls and the ceiling to set them apart from the cabinets.  This would also brighten the kitchen up even more.  It is already a warm and bright room with all the windows.

Some photos below of the progress on the pine walls in the kitchen.  The two photos on the upper and lower left show the three smaller windows that run about a foot or so above the upper cabinets.  The middle photo is of the two larger windows to the left of the kitchen cabinets.  The photo on the right is where the cabinets take a turn.  The upper cabinets will stop at these windows and the lower cabinets and counter will continue past the old column.  The sink will be in the area to the right of the lower window.  From the sink you will be able to look out this window to the left and the opening to the right into the family room.

If you look closely at the photo above right you will notice the three wood beams just above the upper window.  This is to be a reading nook/loft off of the second floor library above the kitchen.  The loft and the library will look down into the kitchen.  The reading loft will be about the size of a single/twin bed and will have a pine floor that will be made from some leftover boards from the 1970’s when this kitchen was originally built.  The plan is to place a futon mattress on the floor of the loft for relaxing and reading.  This nook will be like crawling into a bed basically.  This was at the request of my daughter and will be a nice spot to hang out, relax and read.

The three beams were things I had on hand.  The larger beam at the outside edge of the loft is somewhat re-purposing a re-purposed timber.  This was leftover from the wood that my father had found for the ceiling rafters in the seventies addition.  They were salvaged floor joists from a house being torn down in Lexington Kentucky about a half hour from our home town.  There are still short sections of these joists/rafters sitting around but this was the last of the long timbers.  The other two beams are local cedar I picked up from a mill not far from here.

There is a single stained glass window up in the reading loft.  In the below photos the one at the upper right shows where the beams come into the pine walls above the kitchen cabinets.  In the middle right photo the library wall is to the right.  This wall will be finished with bead board salvaged from an old porch ceiling that was torn down on the front of the stone house.  This porch was added to the house maybe in the 1940’s or 1950’s and did not complement the house at all.  I have cleaned the bead board and it will be sanded and white washed along with the other kitchen walls and ceiling.

In the bottom right photo above you notice my tar paper has seen better days.  I hope to replace this tar paper with new that I have and put the siding on this spring.  I have salvaged the redwood siding that came off the outside of the kitchen.  It will cover a lot of the addition but I will need to purchase some more to complete the job.  I salvaged it all as redwood is not cheap.  Even a little can cost a good bit.  We will see how much I need after I get the old siding up.

My daughter is ready to move now and says she is sleeping in the reading loft.  This suits me just fine as I would like to get moved in as soon as possible.  We may all be sleeping in the reading loft…  This suits me fine as well as I was ready to move yesterday.  A little Wild Turkey and I can sleep just about anywhere.

Sunset on Stoney Creek.

I didn’t work on the house today.  I did a bit of ‘mental surveying’ as I walked around and thought about where I was and what I was needing to do next.  Finishing the kitchen walls I have been working on were priority in the house at the moment.

I walked outside to look at the chicken tractor as my daughter wants to give chickens a go again this year.  I saw a fence row that needed cleaning up and started to take out some old wire here.  I gathered some limbs that had fallen in the yard and added them to the bonfire pile that we hope to light this weekend for my daughters birthday.

The Chicken tractor is pictured below.

I am quick to get lost in thought and I also tend to get distracted rather easily.  There were more pressing things that needed my attention today.

One of my father’s calves was sick and it was needing some care today.  I spent some time with the calf, gave him water and feed.  My brother is the expert in this area and has had him in the pen and setup with alfalfa hay and feed.  Some medicine in the water he is drinking and he was taking to that real well today.  Hopefully he will improve.

We are also about out of feed for the cattle so I spent some time today getting things ready for feed delivery in the morning.  It was a good day for this sort of thing.  Sunny and cool but not cold.  No rain expected till tomorrow evening.  This is good.

I was blessed with a wonderful sunset on the drive back home.  The photos below are looking up Stoney Creek as the road crosses it about a mile and a half from the old house on the way back in to town.

Sunset on Stoney Creek

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Heat and eat.

The new furnace went in the first day of this month, February 2016.  I was glad to welcome it into the family.  I can already tell it is a big improvement over the twenty some odd year old furnace it replaced.  It is a 95.5% efficient Tempstar propane gas fired furnace.

This furnace is installed on the second floor of the 1970’s addition as a downdraft or downflow furnace as some refer to them.  Same furnace just flipped so it pulls air in at the top and blows it into the duct system at the bottom.  The existing duct work is then vented out through a few places in the floor on the second floor and the ceiling of the first floor.  As I mentioned in a prior entry, this setup has turned out to be advantageous with the wood stove as it can pull in heat that rises up high and circulate it through the ducts and out the vents.  I am very pleased with the performance of this furnace so far.  I am happy to have one that works.

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The Vermont Castings is still hard at work this time of year even though the new furnace is now on the thermostat.  We had a warm spell but temps are dropping back down in the 20’s at night for the next several evenings it appears.  The wood heat helps take the edge off the chill and the bill.  The river is up a good bit as well but not over the road.  It has crested about 5′ shy of the level at which it gets over North Stoney Creek Road.

The wood stove is also providing a cook top for my breakfasts and lunches while I am at the home place working.  I had oatmeal this morning.  I Usually heat soups or stews on the griddle for lunch.

I did clean up the wood shed a bit in anticipation of some more wood coming in.  I am just about out.  I have a little bit of Maple left, maybe a couple days worth.  What I am hauling out tomorrow morning is a load of nicely seasoned Oak.  It was given to us by a coworker of my brothers.  Some wood that was cut off of a county right-of-way.  Nice to get wood already cut to length (for the most part…).  We still need to split it.

The wood shed is an old corn crib that we hauled in from another property a couple miles up the road.  This was many years ago when I was a kid.  They didn’t want it anymore so dad said he would take it.  It turns out that old corn cribs make great wood sheds.  The gaps in between the boards let air pass through and help the wood to season.  It however will also let snow pass through when the wind is blowing during those strong snow storms.

That is about all we have gotten done this week so far.  Had to work on my Land Cruiser a bit and my son’s car.  I hope to get back on the kitchen walls very soon.