Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Adding space

I sometimes joke 'now that the kids are gone we need more space'.
Our business has crowded us out of the house! We have our offices, studio, harp workshop, CD and book warehouse, and costume storage for our own duds and also the Grand Design costumes.

I mentioned in the last post that I had been shoveling a lot of sand. Here are some photos of the work in progress.

Our land used to be a granite quarry in the 19th century, so the soil is quite shallow. Hence we have no real basement. The blocked in square is to be a mechanical space where we will install water tanks as our solar heat battery. We wanted to build a house here years ago and got as far as making the foundation. After a hiatus of fifteen years or so we decided that we weren't going to use the whole 42 feet. I have been reinforcing the corners to take a post & beam frame and making a wall at the 32 foot mark.

The panels are to keep the ditch from caving in. I don't want to shovel this sand more than necessary.

Oh boy! Another ton of concrete! At least this truck has a crane. The last delivery we had to unload by hand. Horsing those 80 pound (36 kg) bags into the mixer isn't as much fun as it used to be.

This is the view of our back yard. We'll have some big windows in the new room. Our plan is for one big room with a loft in one end. We our going to install solar heat collectors on the roof and a rumford fireplace, both of which will be used to power a radiant floor. Our goal is to have this room operate "off the grid".

I'll update progress as it happens.

Foliage Report

The Great State of Maine published a foliage report. This is our informal contribution. We performed for a wedding last Sunday in Stockton Springs. On the way home we drove up Mt. Battie, in Camden. Here is an eagle-eye view of outer Penobscot Bay and Camden.

As we were coming down Rt 90 we saw this scene and had to take a photo. It's grand just now. October can be the prettiest month of the year in Maine.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Harvest Home!

Our grapes are coming in by the peck! We can only eat so many seedless Concord grapes while they are fresh and we don't eat a lot of jelly and haven't tried making wine with them. One thing we have tried is Grape Fool. Julia runs the grapes through the blender with some honey, then fold it into whipped cream. You can eat it room temperature or frozen. It keeps frozen, as well. Another thing we have done with excess grapes is to extract the juice and just keep it in the refrigerator. A spoonful in a glass and sweetened to taste make grape juice.

Another Wildlife Report

We have been doing a bit of ground work in preparation for an addition to our house. I have shoveled a LOT of sand, which we had trucked in to fill our foundation. There are many of these little newts, and I also saw a big spotted salamander. Cute, isn't he?

There are nine species of newts and salamanders - eight of them are in North America. These creatures have the ability to regenerate missing limbs and are being studied by medical graduate students, I am sure.

How do you mend a broken harp?

We narrowly averted disaster on Saturday. We were engaged to play for a wedding and reception in Bar Harbor. When I was loading the car the harp slipped and I bumped the top of it. I didn't think anything about it at the time, but when we got to the wedding the harp was quite flat, which is unusual. As Julia was tuning up I realized that the pillar was broken.

I hoofed it to the other side of town and bought a couple of C-clamps (G-cramps if you're British) and Julia played with this extra temporary hardware on the front of the harp. We had to slack the strings in the lowest octave to get the clamps in there.

Don't try this at home!

I glued the break and added a brass plate to the far side of the joint. It looks OK on the back and the bolts on the front aren't too noticeable.

So far it's holding OK but I guess it's time to build her another one. I built this one for her in 1998 and it has been in and out of the car at least 2500 times, so I suppose it was bound to happen eventually.

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