Friday, April 30, 2010

If I Had A Hammer...

I mentioned my William Foster in a previous post and waxed romantic about the possibility that it could have been used by the last blacksmith in our family - my great, great grandfather. Something much more meaningful happened over Palm Sunday.

We went back to Minnesota to see the parents and the in-laws. While we were visiting my parents, my dad went out into the garage and came back with a three pound blacksmithing hammer. "I took this out of the garage at the old farm. It was dad's. It might have been the old man's."

We don't know for sure how old it is. There might be a manufacturer's stamp on it and if so, I might be able to track back the company that made it. But I'm not sure I want to. There are times when facts and truth should be researched and shared. But not always. I smile when I think that somehow the hammer of my great, great grandfather has been handed down to the very last of his male descendants.

My parents are coming to visit us this weekend; I expect them to be at the house in another hour or so. It should be an interesting weekend. Our youngest is turning three, so that should be a fine party. We also bought one of those overly large, assemble it yourself play sets for the girls. Assuming the weather holds, we'll be installing it this weekend.

The possibility of a blog posting coming out of this weekend seems high.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Heartbreak of Picture Rail

A few months back I found these guys. They have picture rail that almost perfectly matches our existing picture rail. I took down the picture rail in the dining room as part of the paint stripping project. It wasn't in good shape. It was broken in two places, dinged up and warped. So after agonizing about it for months, we opted to replace the picture rail with new. Actually, I'm the one that agonized over it. I'm not sure Ms. Huis lost any sleep over it.

Because our kitchen and entry never had picture rail and the previous owner took the picture rail down in our office, we also decided we might as well get picture rail for those rooms too. I measured up the rooms and called Ashland. They quoted us a price for several different styles of picture rail, and even sent out a few samples. Monday I called them back to officially order what we chose. They got back to me on Wednesday. There was a problem.

Getting the picture rail to us was going to be problematic. It ships in 14 foot lengths, which is great for reducing splicing when installing it. It also makes shipping it here difficult. Sending it to us was going to cost $450. Ironically, this is about the cost for our local milling company to create a custom knife to match our existing picture rail profile. Looks like we might be installing the original back in place.

I guess I'll just have to keep digging.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ted the Ninja Buckthorn

Wow. What a hiatus. Longest one ever. I'll just reference this and move on.

When we bought our house, it was seriously overgrown. European Buckthorn was the most prevalent species. I pulled it out, cut it down and chopped it up. There was one buckthorn near the property line that was actually quite nice as invasive species go. It was tall and straight, adopting a tree-like form, rather than the bush form. I named him Ted.

In my research of buckthorn, one warning that was frequently expressed was to NOT cut it off at the ground. Buckthorn freely suckers and cutting it off at the ground would just make the issue worse as the plant would turn into a messy bush. While I could appreciate Ted as a tree, he was still a buckthorn, so two years ago I cut him off at five feet and decided that I would wait until out tree guy came to visit. Then Ted would get cut off at the ground and chipped out. So last spring, we had our tree guy come out to chip some stumps. And somehow we missed Ted.

Two weeks ago, we decided to have our tree guy out again to finish off the last of the scrub. My wife and I went over what needed to be done. She went over it with the tree guy again. And we missed Ted again. At this point, I've dubbed Ted the Ninja Buckthorn. He hides in plain sight.

But no more. As part of the honeysuckle clean up, he's succumbed to the shovel. He's been dug out and Ted is now hiding in the backyard, propped against a tree, waiting for the fire ring. We'll see how long it takes for me to find him to burn.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010