Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Not for want of trying

Scaffolding on the west side came down on Christmas Eve, except enough to go up to lay slate on the lowest roof and finish all the copper trim and gutters and downspouts.

The crew is at work every morning when I get there, and at it when I go home.
Some days the temperature approaches 25 degrees. Fahrenheit. Warm by late afternoon, when the sun has worked all day to warm the air from 10 or so degrees in the morning. Fahrenheit.
Oh, and it's snowed on and off the week between December 24th, above and
December 31st, below.

Slates are laid, gutters are hung under the eaves with care.
Around on the east side of the building all the scaffolding is in place.
I believe all the slate is down, but I've just lost track.
I see copper up there, for gutters. Look through the V of the tree.

The crew knocked off around 2 pm today.
I don't expect any of us back at work on Thursday; 
the warning is for eleven inches between tonight and Thursday afternoon.

Except all the road crews out there keeping roads open for travelers and especially for emergency workers. Keep them in your thoughts; they're working for us all over this country.
Happy New Year.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Everything changes

I've passed this property almost daily for the last ten years. Until the last couple of years, activity. A car in the drive, an old fellow out mowing the lazy acres.

From the road I could see a lake with a dock, some rowboats, those old metal shell chairs watching out over the water.

Nice place for grand kids, I thought.

Then quiet descended. Ah, the old folks are gone, I thought, and they were.

A year or so later a For Sale sign went up. 

I thought it was an old farm and surely had a beautiful old barn on the property. 

I took a picture on the way down the lane,

Then encountered No Trespassing signs posted on the doors, 
so I backed out to the road and left.

Recently the For Sale sign had Sold pasted over it.

Sold, I learned, to a developer who would split the lots and build two homes.There is so much acreage they will be lovely, secluded homes, only a short walk to the National Park. Hop on a bike. Jog on down. The park is just down the road.

I mentioned to one of the policemen I  would like to take pictures before the buildings were gone. Would anyone catch me?

"Oh, the old campground! No one will care."

I went back down the lane, past a fallen down sign.
Reminded me of Woody Guthrie's walking song, encountering a "Keep off the Grass" sign.
"And on the other side, it didn't say nothing...."

A little worse for wear since the last time I was down.
Every building taped off with Condemned tape.

That was not a barn out back, but a good utility building in its day.

Folks could rent little cabins, or tenting spaces,

eat meals out looking over the lake. 

When I was a child we stayed in so many campgrounds like this, vacationing.

Overlooking a lake.

My brothers fishing off the dock.

Some bulbs coming up in the unseasonably warm December weather, nestled in a warm tractor tire.

An old resident of the township once told me, apropos the homes demolished and ninety odd percent of the township eminent domained by the parks,  

"If you drive down any road and see the daffodils blooming in the woods or in a field, there used to be a house there, with a front porch and a door, a tire swing in the maple tree, kids running...."

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sly dogs

Synchronize: in time with

I asked Google to define synch. The top line came back with Webster’s definition. Think eyes intently on wristwatches, setting each timepiece to the time called out by the leader of the group.  Now, in the old movies, a plan could be precisely executed.

What does synching do, I next asked Google. A thousand user boards answered, Synch synchs!

I let that sink in for a day, while I read my comments, and looked around the internet for unsynching. (Unsynching is also a word on thousands of user boards.)

In my mind’s eye I saw all the brooms in Fantasia carrying buckets of water, the music synchronized; the action relentless.  The applications, or uses of our devices are synchronized (oops, synched) to the wand of our device’s conductor.

The electronic world is synchronized to travel the information highways, mostly in harmony. There is no benevolent mind intoning for the greater good. It simply is for the greater ease of information, commerce, recreation, communication. All the ageless activities of man, facilitated by the speed of electrons and radio waves.

The option to unsynch seems to be parked in every device and every application. I found some easily. I can disconnect Chrome from my Google account. I can unsynch the data back up from my android phone. Free at last…

But what happens. If my phone data isn’t backed up, it is no longer available to be restored on the occasions I get stupid and lock up my phone. Soft reset, my miracle go to, would have nothing to put back in my phone. No apps, no numbers. NO GOOGLE MAPS!

What if Google is disconnected from Chrome? Apparently my Google account (Blogger!) is used by Chrome to encrypt and safeguard my internet sessions.

There is no going back. We bought into the ease of information in a flash, phone calls at our fingertips. Even my sister, with her old flip phone in her purse, bought into the system with the iPad that’s in her purse, too.

That’s the long and the short of it—this technology is predicated on everything working together. Everything running on the same information highways.  Gatekeepers along the way protect some of our data by encrypting it, but there is a trade off for them to be out there working for us for free. The gatekeepers fund themselves by selling advertising.

No going back. I am many light years from my first phone number, Hemlock 9805, that I memorized at age three. No going back and not going back.

Hemlock 9805

Monday, December 23, 2013

And we thought the government snooped…

Recently I read that Facebook tracks what I don’t post. I don’t post on Facebook, except to cheer on my nephew’s quit smoking endeavor. But, if I would write “Tommy, you little addict, you’ll never beat it. ", reconsider, and don’t hit enter, the big processors at Facebook remember I wrote it. If I would start over in another box, “Tommy, you…” Facebook will fill in the box with everything I already wrote. Just being helpful.

What does Facebook do with all the posts we've thought better of and never entered? Keep them safe, like Target? We all know what happened to millions of their transactions recently.

Google+ is completely incomprehensible. Google already knows everything about me; it can prefill my queries faster than I can type. Google knows me because Blogger belongs to Google and you can’t have one without the other.  I have a Google email address I do not use. My phone knows it, and uses it to email phone pictures to my real computer.

I get emails that my son-in-law shared with me on Google+. I have no idea. I do like him, but I won’t open the emails. He has my phone number and my email; we can talk.

Google+ sent me a message recently, with a picture I used here on my blog:

A moment from this week ready to share on Google+

It also informed me the AutoBackup on my phone automatically saves my photos to Google+.  But I took that picture with my autonomous Nikon and it is nowhere except on my hard drive and on Blogger.  Does Blogger automatically save to Google+?

I also read recently that every smart phone picture is stamped with the date and GPS coordinates. That is over the top.

Everything we do, and apparently do not, post out there, is available. I have locked down my grandchildren’s internet access; the most they can look at are Donald Duck cartoons, unless I type in the magic code, behind their back. I also get a spiffy weekly report of what they looked at and tried to look at.

That should work in reverse, too, but probably never will. My project for the afternoon is to learn how Blogger saves to Google+. I also must end my phone automatically saving my photos to Google+. It’s in the fine print somewhere; I’ll find it.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Just sprinkling now

FORECAST: Rain off and on today. Flood warnings continue.

This is the lower lake at the golf course. The trees belong on dry ground, as does the little sign.

The water running from the lake, across the drive of the golf course.

The water is flowing from right to left of the picture. I do not know what causes the back rill.

The water is flowing down to a creek that runs into the Cuyahoga River.

This path goes under the road, from the main golf course to a smaller green and club house.

Golfers can walk or drive a cart from one side to the other.

As close as I would come. Note the rope to warn off would be pedestrians. As if.

The tree, back on the high end of the golf course.

This lake is not over its banks.

 I do not know, but I will guess the overflow from this lake to the lower lake is open.

If this lake leaves its banks, it crosses two roads to go down to the river.

That would not please the county engineer.

The tree, a little further up the road.

I did not realize it had a bald spot.

I almost said "she." 

I know I like it, but anthropomorphically?

Further along.

I believe I'll stick with the full frontal views.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Up on the rooftop...

I haven't made a roof report for several days. In my defense, there has been no sun in several days, and gloomy pictures do not make me happy.

Nevertheless, I went back out this afternoon.

This is for John Grey, who was feeling a little Bah Humbugy this  morning. He may be over it by now; morning was seven hours ago in Wales.

This lighted Christmas display has been on this house for the entire twenty five years I've been driving by.

This year the house is for sale.

I wonder if Merry Christmas...Bah Humbug is in the contract.

I've not had the heart, day after day, to post pictures of these fellows up on the roof.

Our temps still should be above freezing.

Obviously, not. 

In the morning they take off the tarps protecting the next day's work area and sheets of ice come down!

I know the flashing is copper, as are the little "dialogue boxes." The men call them "angels"; they are a guard to break up sliding snow.
All the copper will blend in when it acquires its patina, but for now it's rather showy.

The device in the picture had me stumped, so I took a crash course on slate roofs

It may be a soldering iron.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Be careful what you wish for

Long, long before I moved to Boston, with the Village of Peninsula in it, a visionary moved into the Village. A rich, architectural designer visionary. He surveyed the shambles of a formerly thriving canal and railroad town, spotted many architectural gems, and set about saving them. He considered himself the hero he might have been, had his ego been smaller and his love of community larger.

He passed away four or five years ago, and left all his holdings to be administered and perpetuated by a foundation, The Peninsula Foundation. It is worth a trip through the web site to see how much of the village the foundation owns, and has removed from the tax rolls through historic easements. This means all the other residents of Peninsula pay to plow the streets.

Designation of the downtown area of Peninsula as an historic district, too, probably did more harm than good. Not that not paying taxes for services is a good thing, by inference. There are so many restrictions on the area that innovation didn't come. Modern services like sewer and water never penetrated the village. Other than that, a lovely place.

I have a history with one building in town, the Wood Store. It is a building renovated by the architectural visionary, and, if you haven’t clicked over to the Foundation’s page, here are before and after pictures.

The pictures of the restored Wood Store above was taken when my friend Kathleen, from The Crooked River Herb Farm had her shop in the Wood Store, when I began as township clerk. I helped her there for several years, until, like much of Peninsula’s downtown, the rents exceeded her budget, and she moved on. In fact, the picture of the restored building was during her time. Her large shop sign hung from a bracket that is part of the lamp standard. Apparently it was taken down for the picture.

I took my camera the other day to the Wood Store. I wanted to take some pictures of the sandstone interior wall, and tell you about adventures like a flash flood that came through the wall one June evening, years ago, and the shop vac I sped home to grab and help stem the tide. The store currently is leased to another shop, LeSeraglio. The shop, billing itself a fair trade importer, previously was down the street, and I shopped there.

The windows, lovely for displaying lots of goods.

The sandstone wall of infamy. Leaks like a sieve on a good day, and can't stop a flood.

For several years I've had a problem with the store. The Wood Store is a beautiful example of 
Western Reserve Greek Revival style architecture.

The last tenant, a furniture store, was permitted, by the Foundation, to put up that horrid structure over the sidewalk. Since its construction I think of the Foundation's visionary founder, and picture him spinning.

But as I walked up the steps to go in and take pictures, I saw what is really wrong.

There is a long bracket on the lamp standard to hang any sign, LeSeraglio included.

But, they have BOLTED a very large bracket INTO THE TREE to hang their sign.

The principles were not on premise. I declined the clerk's offer of baklava, took pictures, left.
The next day I brought the bracket to the attention of the Foundation by email.

No reply.

I mentioned it to the Mayor of Peninsula, who signs off on all zoning variances.
He shrugged his shoulders. "It's their tree."

I picture the spin attaining supersonic speed and delivering the Foundation's founder like a wrathful god onto Main Street.

In any case, my money won't go there.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A weekend on the tree lot

When I drop Emily at work on Saturday or Sunday, I drive up the hill and drop her at the barn, ready to work. At night I wait for her in the "Employee Parking Only" field at the bottom of the hill. At night a constant stream of cars goes up the hill and comes down with trees on top. 

But last weekend Aunt Beth and Uncle Bill went for a tree. I got right on board for a first hand view of  what it takes to man a Christmas tree lot. Or child labor it, as the case may be. Heritage Farms has jobs for any teen who wants to work.

Cut your own. "We give them a sled and a saw and tell them what field to use. If they come back with a tree we didn't tag in the fall, it's a two hundred dollar tree." OK, then, there are rules! And a lot of fun, too.

Trees everywhere! By the barn.

Beside the house.

On the front lawn, lashed to stakes that held the corn maze only six weeks ago.

The "shaker". It shakes the snow and loose needles from the tree by vibrating it mightily.

The "baler". The trunk of the tree goes in the large end and comes out the front, the tree wrapped tightly in mesh. I watched the boys reach in and grab one or two fist fulls of branches (technique) to bring  the tree through. 

We arrive, and see Emily finishing up her last sale. (The ground was frozen at 8:30 in the morning, by the way. A lot of feet have tromped through in the subsequent seven hours.)

She sees us.

This way, Uncle Bill. The Fraziers are right over here.
(Yes, blue in Caroline's hair.)

The tree is selected, shaken, baled, a receipt written. To the total amazement of one (at least) cousin, Emily shoulders the tree, takes it to the car. Up, up and away, she hoisted it to the roof.

And commenced tying it down from the roll of twine in her back pocket. She has her very own pocket knife, too.

This was a favorite picture and I thought I lost it! Caroline and Francis (behind Emily) studying technique. Emily has just made a knot she can use to pull the twine through and get good tension against the tree. Francis demands the knot's name. "I don't know. I learned it. I do it. Next customer, please."