roosting roosters

the chickens have taken to roosting on the mesquite tree next to the coopdiminium to beat the evening heat - nice eye level horizontal branch to line up on to receive their petting and get a jump on the morning daylight feeding.


last rafters are up...

now that's how you go about volunteer work

log cabin notes: check
hammer: check
aluminum tags: check
stamp set: check
margarita w/ backup: check
patty griffin on the radio: check


brock cabin

The Brock log cabin sits in Lion's park at Lockhart. Built about 1850 it is a two pen / "saddlebag" configuration made from hand hewn oak logs. It has a full loft, a full width front porch, and a log framed with cedar sided addition across the back. Reportedly it is the oldest building in the county. It was moved into the park from its original location on a creek about two miles north of town as a fairly well done restoration project by volunteers in the 70's. As is pretty typical though, a portland cement mortar was used to "chink" the logs and the unforgiving nature of the mortar along with a badly leaking roof has allowed significant water damage. I believe the original configuration of the house may have been somewhat different - with possibly a fireplace at both ends - but no photos survive showing that. The one old picture we have shows siding covering the entire building, probably to protect the mud chinking, and high windows into the loft each side of the chimney. The present porch framing doesn't look quite kosher and some of the oak logs have smaller round mesquite or cedar elm logs in between them; again - probably not how it was originally. Regardless; the intent of the Caldwell County Historical commission and the Save the Cabin committee, both of which I am now a member, is to raise enough for a proper professional restoration. There is debate whether it should be relocated to a completely different site or just closer to the street for better visibility at its present location. Either way, the structure needs to be surveyed and recorded for reassembly. I volunteered to tag and number the logs; so Jeree and I and a few other committee members started that process last weekend. We've tagged approximately 60 individual logs with stamped aluminum tags held with galvanized nails for a permanent numbering system. Lots more to go. I will record the numbers in sketches using photographic reference elevations and then when the time comes to take it all apart, the builder will have a map of log locations for restacking. A fun project that hopefully will yield good results some day.

more cemetery work

The Hubbard Hill Cemetery was hit with wicked straight line winds during an isolated thunderstorm last Thursday PM. Neighbors say there has never been another wind like it. The poor oak trees around the house survived but a few were shredded to near stumps. The house escaped major damage because scaffolding surrounding the project caught all the flying branches before they got to any windows or restored wood. The old Hill's Prairie post office that the Sartains had just set on a new foundation was rudely shoved about 10' splitting the entire building open at the corners and tossing the porch another twenty feet further north. The trees on the place took the brunt of the damage though. Believe the trees may have been under stress from the drought and so were more vulnerable, the snapped branches looked an unhealthy dry yellow inside. A damned old mesquite in the cemetery shed a 6" thick branch that flew about knee high horizontally east until it met up with the freshly restored cast iron fence. Four headstones were mowed down along the way and one of the blessed little concrete finials was snapped off at the narrowest part of the base by a strategically flying branch. Two other headstones on the north side of the cemetery were blown over; they were the two tallest, flattest, and thinnest designs of the bunch. One of the headstones is of Damaris Pope and her infant child Willie, maybe the most poignant marker there. I had repaired hers for the second time just a few weeks ago after a possible unrepentant act of vandalism had knocked it over and broken it in several pieces. This time the wind blew it in the opposite direction and rebroke the epoxied fracture. Sigh. Another smaller marker of little Louie Hubbard simply toppled off the base at a weak mortar joint atop restored delaminated sandstone layers, a new dowel through the whole mess may be required to fix this one. Seems unfair somehow that the place was in such disrepair for decades and now just after a thorough restoration a freak windstorm comes along to show us who's really boss.


gazebo of junk (fun with links)

This place was ripe with trash when we started clearing nearly two years ago. The Muses had a real talent for trash generation, accumulation and redistribution. Their house had no indoor plumbing but we have discovered pieces of at least four toilets. Piles of metal roofing, all types of livestock fencing, jars and bottles of every description. Condiments and laundry products were abundant around Birdie's house. The house was waist deep in old furniture and bedsprings. Dozens of tires and unidentifiable car parts. Every place the under growth was the thickest was guaranteed to have a pile of old junk fully integrated into it acting as some kind of fertilizer. With plenty of acreage here we thought that possibly we could make some use of it all and avoid numerous trips to the landfill too. Zero waste stream responsibility - even if the waste is not ours (well ok. it is now). Since the majority of the junk is actually vintage from the 1890's up to the 1960's there is no pressing worry about sanitation, the concern is more of an aesthetic nature. However; art history shows us that any old crap in its own context can become a Nevelson, a Rauschenberg or a Duchamp. Our main inspiration is the incredible installation piece in Austin, the CATHEDRAL OF JUNK that we have visited several times. Vince Hannemann has built - over a period of more than 20 years - in his own backyard the Watts Towers equivalent of trash piles. There is no adequate explanation of how awesome it is, it must be seen to be understood. We picked a central location to the rear of the house site, a short walk from the camp site and along the perimeter trail. A grouping of mesquite trees gave us a backbone to start with. All the bedsprings from the house and miles of baling wire provided an easy to expand framework. With only the lowest-tech action of twisting wire together we have formed a three room, three door, nearly enclosed structure composed of nothing but junk. And, just like Vince told us would happen, it has morphed into a breathing organism. A truck load of additional stuff will now absorb into the density of the walls without notice. Several hundred jars and bottles, retired toys, wagon to car parts, bad ceramics, license plates, tvs, shoes, dead chainsaws, skulls and bones, lots of barbed wire and failed cemetery finials. There is a definite post-apocalyptic voodoo vibe about the place, especially the few nights we have sat inside by candle light around the dryer drum fire pit and watched the firelight flicker off of chrome, colored glass and broken mirrors.
Some strict rules have developed:
1. no imports - all that is there has come off of this place only. except for roadkill ( non-animal).
2. do not buy anything to put into the gazebo no matter how cool it would look. unless it is really cheap.
3. donations are accepted.
4. anything in the gazebo is fair game to be used in other places if a better use comes along.
5. for structural purposes, every new item added must be wired to at least two other things.
6. it will never be finished.
7. ignore rules 1 through 6 - there are no rules in art.


be it ever so humble...

Craigslist furnished our 1957 Mobile Scout home office / master bedroom suite. She was built in Arlington, Texas and it saw duty as a field office for the USDA Soil Conservation Service. We are gradually polishing the well oxidized aluminum to a semi-consistent shine but far short of an extremely labor intensive mirrored finish. Have gutted the interior (non-original particle board faux light oak garbage from the 80's) and finished it out with salvaged material from Birdie's house including bead board ceilings for the side walls, T&G fir flooring, a re-sized screen door, lots of salvaged wood and trim for bookshelves and rusted corrugated tin for the ceiling and curved end walls. Also replaced the exterior running lights, rewired for computers and satellite internet and installed new A/C on the back side. Have looked for replacement window cranks without much luck and half finished restoring other hardware but am still needing a few things. Cousin Terry, a recent overnight guest, furnished a fantastic CAD cut vinyl stencil from his Ft. Worth sign shop - Atlas Graphx - for replicating a convincingly distressed official Soil Conservation Service logo and shield on the side. I sent him art work in Illustrator that was based on the barely there ghost outlines of the original decals. Still have some painting of the tongue and frame to do outside and could use some more shade on the hot western exposure. Would like to replace the wheels with some plain painted steelies, better rubber, and half moon hubcaps. Very cozy sleeping. There have been many Netflix movie nights on the iMac, reading in the queen size bed plus me and Ian have spent (too) many hours at the computer desk in the old canned ham so she has really been a good investment.


more framing

So they say this is the hottest driest central Texas summer since the 1920's. Not that we would know any different since this is only our 2nd summer on the place so somewhat encouraging to think that maybe we haven't bought a slice of desert. Oh well; on the bright side there are no mosquitos. We have been sitting out on the floor deck after dark every night and enjoying the stars, watching for satellites, have seen the shuttle and ISS and a rare falling star all completely bug free. After huddling under the A/C until after supper we have been able to get more framing done in a couple of hours before dark. Have the south end bay window framed and started with the clerestory window across the front and a few rafters as I was anxious to see how the roof slope and overhangs will look in proportion to the rest of the house. Liking the forms, feeling the enclosed space and spotting the views out now. Joey likes to stand guard right in front of where the front sliding glass doors will be, can see now there will always be nose prints on the glass. Been fighting crooked lumber (just try and buy a decent 20' 2x8 these days without ordering $$$ no. 1 material) but with a lot more blocking and bridging plus the 1x4's across the roof it should all straighten up nicely.