Saturday, November 30, 2013

The week in slate

The slate crew worked all last weekend; they worked on Monday, they worked on Tuesday, as the snow began falling.

A friend whose office is in the building came out Tuesday night. She took a picture of the forlorn hard hat to send to me. So sad, covered in snow.

But two of our intrepid young men were forlorn in the parking lot. A dead battery, and no jumper cables. He gave them to his grandpa last night because he was worried about grandpa's truck.

My friend's best fella was on the way to pick her up. He's a road guy in the next township. We know they're always prepared.

My friend baked brownies for the boys and brought them on Wednesday. But there was no shingling on Wednesday, and it wasn't for a dead battery.

So, her best fella road guy got even more brownies. But I'll bet the young men on the roof will find a plate of brownies in the hard hat spot one of these days.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Folk Art Rocks

In the research I did last summer for Boston Park I could not come up with a satisfactory explanation of the stone planter. I eventually concluded it was built to protect the water pipe in the park. My only evidence for that is a picture I did not use because it could not be reliably dated.  It showed two automobiles foreground, probably from the 1930’s, and a small wooden enclosure on the edge of the park, with a pipe extending from one side.

A picture from the early 1950’s shows the stone planter in the same location, without the pipe. There is no community recollection of the water pipe at that date, either. For the little history I surmised the stone enclosure protected the pipe, further evidence being the sandstone surround, probably to keep the ground from being muddy. When the spring feeding the pipe was contaminated the stone structure became a planter. A logical continuum, but unproven.

I put every construction of folk art rock structures into Google to turn up an explanation of the origin of the little planter.  I've seen a thousand variations of rock urns and folk rock, but not a clue about the art form or movement behind this planter. I did turn up a homestead built entirely of stones, full of whimsical stone forms and creatures now open to the public on the death of the creator. Not a hint of how he was inspired.

In town there is a house with two rock urns in the yard. Aha, I thought, when I first wanted evidence. I will just ask Jim and have the story. He’s an octogenarian and a lifelong resident of the town. He’ll have all the answers. Jim bought the house in 1940, he told me, from the original owner, who built it in 1900. The urns were in place in 1940; he figured the previous owner built them, but knew absolutely nothing else. Except, they held flowers and flags well in summer.

All dead ends; I’d probably never know. Was this a project in Popular Mechanics? Or one of the newspapers back in the twenties or thirties, like all the quilt top patterns women accumulated and made? I’d never know.

Turning the pages of the last Township News, I stopped short. There was another stone urn, pictured in a story about the Fiscal Officer and Road Super of Perry Township refurbishing the arch to their township cemetery as a surprise gift to the township trustees.

I found the phone number and called in a heartbeat. The Fiscal Officer had not received her magazine yet. We had to sort through the confusion; the urns they replaced atop the arch? Those came from the hardware store.

No, no, the urn on the grave. She found the article on the internet. Oh, that urn! It was on the grave of the man who donated the land to the township, back in the 19th century. He died before the turn of the century. She had no idea who built the urn or why.

I would love to hear from anyone who knows of this folk art that seems to be built from fist sized rocks, a small mill stone, some concrete and some spare time. The urns, Jim’s and the one in Perry, could well have been built about the same time. Were they isolated ideas, or already in the popular culture. 

The urn examples, in a Perry Township cemetery and Jim’s yard, are about 250 miles apart, or the other side of the world in 1900 farming communities. The pipe surround in Boston Park, a different shape, is a logical extension of the urns in Jim’s yard, plus the stones and concrete. Someone had seen them and could do that when the original pipe housing in Boston Park needed replaced.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Who spent two nine hour days working outside in 17 degree F (that's -8 C!)

These guys, of course. (How about that Green Monster hard hat!)

Saturday and Sunday mornings we went past at 8:30 a.m.
Taking Emily to work at the farm,
and there they were. On the east side now.

Christmas Tree time at the farm.

Here they were a few days ago, "training."
How to bag up a tree and put it top a car.
I pulled in (Emily's ride home), and was turned into the "customer."

Emily has been working in the more or less thirty degree weather for the last several weekends.
And I confess, I lost track of the weather last week
Until Friday night.
"Emily, it will be bone chilling tomorrow! What are you wearing?"
My God, they are invincible.
"Five layers, Gram. I'll be fine."

We dropped Emily off at 8:30 and were at the sporting goods store when they opened at 9.

Her skippy little sister ran like the wind up to the barn to take more clothes to Emily.
She ran like the wind back to the car, too. It was only 17 degrees on the outside of that tee shirt and jean jacket.

We bought Emily an outer fleece shell to go over the five layers,

And gloves with a lining that hold heat. Don't ask, they do work.

And I knit her a cap of a skein of silk and wool. Cute as a button.
She looked like a '20's flapper girl.
I see she wore it to school today.

Hats after school. Seems Laura's could be bigger.

Friday, November 22, 2013

"A slate roof is a piece of art." John 11-22

It rained all day yesterday. It's raining all day today. The tapping on the roof just goes on and on. Occasionally I pass a cheerful young man in the hall way. "Oh, it's not bad," in response to my sympathy for the weather.

Unremitting cheerfulness. I hear them in the halls. (The walls and floors of the brick school house are brick. There is no private conversation in a hall.) "Hey, Dude." (They call each other Dude.) "Warm crappers!"

Green baseball cap hasn't been on the job for days. The "dudes" up there all wave at me when I come out with my camera.

John here is the foreman of the shingles. He joined me on the sidewalk after this load went up. "You guys sure are singing in the rain up there," I observed. John grinned. This is his slate team. "We're in the groove." He tells me how slate is laid, how the nail holes from the copper flashing are protected from water, how the tacks go in....."

I don't get any of it; I'm just the smiling fool with the camera. "Yea," John said. "A slate roof is a piece of art."

"Thanks for coming out to admire it again. Excuse me now, Joanne, I have to send another load up now."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Shingles are up, just not on the roof

I was on the phone with the township's legal counsel today when I realized the tow motor was passing through the parking lot. With shingles! I concluded that call tout suite and was in the parking lot, with camera, post haste.

The on site crew today was very big. I didn't talk to anyone, just popped in and out and took pictures.

They are using an elevator after all, not a crane. At least for today's operations. The elevator is the silver rail, mid picture.

A load of stuff on the elevator. That may be a few shingles under the spacers.From my observation, today was flashing and some tricky cuts. Nothing to shimmy for.

Waiting, waiting. It's coming up.

It has arrived.

Some explanation about the last two pictures. I left my sense of balance back in the hospital three years ago, with the stroke. I think it was blown apart by the clot buster, too. I never, never do two things at once. Don't ever look one direction and step another, for instance.

Bringing me to this new daring young man. He was laying the flashing and I was watching him through the telephoto, when suddenly he just disappeared down the other side of the roof. I nearly fell over backwards!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bridges and slate

When I took Emily to work over the weekend she remarked the flags were down from the bridge. And the flower boxes! 

The flowers are long past, but I thought the boxes stayed up year round. I supposed the garden club ladies were getting ready to hang winter greens, but still--no flags is like the end of Mom and apple pie.

Just a naked old bridge now, with its rusty rails and art deco--but wait! The garden club ladies got a grant to repair the railings they picketed Ohio Department of Transportation to have installed. 

My first clue. All the center ironwork on the north side of the bridge is gone and the bottom rail is on the ground.

The support posts are coming down. That red truck is M & M Certified Welding. They keep more than a little of the township in repair; they put the lifter handle back on the old front end loader that gets the winter salt from the salt shed and into the dump trucks.

The bridge is in good hands, we can move on up the hill and check in our our slate roof.

The daring young men were coming down for lunch, and I learned a lot. They will finish cleaning up this afternoon, shingles start up tomorrow. The actual shingling will take about three weeks. The black stuff is tar paper, "at all the critical ice and snow areas." The orange stuff is a less expensive alternative to tar paper.

This job has been a little longer, "we've replaced a lot of ancient wood up there!" As the schoolhouse went up in 1887, one might expect that. However, the building was "restored" in the 1990's. As long as someone has ascertained the structure can support slate shingles...

We talked about actually installing slate. The young man (I must get his name tomorrow!) said it's more difficult in cold weather; every shingle must be tacked down and a miss with the hammer shatters the slate. Since every slate is hand cut (must investigate that detail tomorrow), broken shingles increase the work. Since he cuts the slate his installers know he doesn't want to come up there and...

I mentioned it would be warmer tomorrow (high forties), and I was sorry they weren't doing the job in warmer weather. And he said this weather is perfect! "It's brutal up there in the summer; this kind of weather you can get your groove on and it's tile after tile after tile..." And he swung an imaginary hammer and shimmied a bit to demonstrate.

That's all for today, from the corner of Main and Riverview, where your reporter knows how to get around yellow tape.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

And the roof goes on, but not until Tuesday

Mother always said other people went out for a quart of milk, and I went out for an adventure. I was at work before nine yesterday; things to do before I left for Columbiana. The man in the plaid shirt was the boss of all the pipe. He's gone. Now we have the boss of the shingles. He wears a green ball cap. He wife may not like him, either. The daring young men and I remain friends.

The young men were on top, and shingles already were tumbling when I arrived. I stayed well off the parking lot; I went out to the sidewalk to take my pictures. Used my telephoto, and everything!

I thought I'd go a little up the drive to the upper lot and take pictures of the mess of shingles coming down. That got the attention of the man in the green cap.  He came across the lot yelling and waving his arms. "You can't come up here!" I came as far as I intended to, almost up to this hand stuck straight out, while his other hand motioned for a truck to get over there. 

As soon as he had the place effectively blocked from an old lady he left, and I took pictures of stuff already on the ground, before nine in the morning. Good for them, getting up so early!

Then I walked on the grass, behind the tailgate of the white truck and leaned against a tree on the corner to take a couple more pictures. Here's stuff going down:

Here's stuff coming up.  I was real sorry I hadn't hooked my cane over my arm so the man in the green cap could see what a tough old lady he really was dealing with.

Saturday morning. This morning. Things are happening. No shingles, yet. I took this from across the street, because the boss in the green cap already gave me "The Eye."

I drove over to the town hall, parked in the lower lot and walked on the grass to the corner of the upper lot. I turned to take a picture, and look at that. The boss in the green cap really wants to be on the ground. When there, he got in the white truck and left.

The daring young men called over, "It's OK, you can get off that grass and come over", and so I did. I got thumbs up from them before they went back to their roof. They also told me the shingles would start going up on Tuesday. As I drove home I saw shingles were just starting to come down on the other side of the building.