June 15, 2010 – In Case of Fire

OK, so of all the photos Claire’s taken in India, the “in case of fire” sign has been most interesting to me.

I am particularly impressed with the first instruction, which is usually left off similar instructions in the US – that is to yell “AAG AAG” or “FIRE FIRE.”  Come on admit it, if you saw a fire you’d yell and scream on your way to push the fire alarm!  I’m not sure I would have thought to yell “AAG AAG,” but I’d be OK with shouting FIRE repeatedly. It also sounds interesting to try to use gunny bags as fire beaters.

These instructions are much different than those at my employer, which our only task is to get out of the building, not help anyone out.  I was really taken aback at one question at the building safety hazards class that if the fire alarms went off and the elevators were disabled, that if there was someone who was unable to walk down the stairs, that you were to leave them at the top of the stairs (six story building) and wait for the fire department to carry them out – and not try to assist them.  We were assured that the fire doors on each floor would keep them safe from the flames (let’s not worry about toxic smoke suffocating them long before the flames arrive).  No doubt, this is one case in which company policy would be violated in short order.

one year ago…”Drying Strawberries”

June 14, 2010 – Putting Martin to Work

Martin put in about three hours working pretty consistently tearing shingles off the roof.  It was about as long and hard as he’s worked on a project with me.

He was a bit fascinated with the pattern and arrangement of the shingles. Unfortunately, there are two layers – I had hoped for just one.

It’s been hard to get much done lately.  It’s been an exceptionally rainy June to date – it’s rained 12 of the 14 days this month – and many of those heavy thunderstorms. The garden is really starting to get out of hand with weeds.

one year ago…”EZ Barn Door”

June 13, 2010 – Dominoes

OK, now that the garage is in process of tear down, the dominoes start falling. The stuff in the garage has to go somewhere.

One place will be on these newly constructed shelves in the corn crib. Then there’s the old kitchen cabinets, countertops and the like in the garage, full of canning jars and so much more that will need a new home.  So, time to throw out the even older cabinets in the shed and move those over.  Oh yeah, and we’ll move the old school lockers out of the mud room that nobody ever used and cut some of the other cabinets to a length that will fit – but before we do that, we need to find a place for all that stuff, and as long as the room is empty, time to tear out the old musty walls from leaks gone past.  I think you get the picture.  Waaaay too many upcoming blog posts about the garage!

one year ago…”Emma at Dorian Music Camp at Luther College”

June 12, 2010 – How Do I Hate Thee…

I have detested the attached garage to the house since the day we moved in. The garage suffers many ills, none of its own making, but rather in those that imagined and  constructed her.

The garage is the 3rd addition onto the traditional foursquare farmhouse – The first addition was a mudroom and back bedroom – not in a contiguous line mind you, but adding a “U” shape and dead space in the center of the U.  For this addition, the previous owners chose steel siding with large vertical lines, to no doubt set it apart from the traditional 3 inch lap siding that it juts up against.  The garage, added onto this addition, made yet another statement when the wide masonite siding to offer another view. So in 15 feet or so, there are three vastly different looks.

The garage leaked soon after we moved in – but the problem that makes the garage salvageable is the fact that the floor is below grade and every time it rains, it fills with water.  So, rather than re-roof, reside, putting a new door and window on, I decided it is time to tear off the garage and start from scratch some day.  So the demolition begins!

one year ago…”Strawberry Season”

June 11, 2010 – She’s Gone to the World

Claire got on a plane today for her trip to India. Des Moines to Chicago. Chicago to Frankfurt. Frankfurt to Heyderabad. About 18 hours of flying time not counting layovers. Someone from the research center to pick her up holding a placard with her name at 11:30 pm local time.

As I went to bed, waiting for the night’s round of heavy rain and thunderstorms to arrive, I tossed in the dark of night, under a new moon, thinking of her hurtling through the blackness over the ocean – letting her go to the world, to follow her path – the moment which all parents prepare their children over the course of their childhood, with ever increasing responsibilities and trust until they board a plan alone to travel half-way across the world. I’ll feel better about all that after I learn she’s arrived safely.

I’ve added a link to Claire’s blog in the page navigation bar above for those that want to check in on her.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #166″

June 9, 2010 – Post-Thunderstorm Winds

We had some strong winds that followed a thunderstorm this week and they gave me a few extra things to do.

First, it mangled the bottom of the shed door a bit -time for some pounding and bracing.

I guess Murphy’s law predicts that of all the empty space under this big silver maple, chances are close to 100% that it would drop on the only object it could damage sitting near the tree.

one year ago…”Barred Rock Chicks”

June 8, 2010 – Barn Staining Update

Looks like Claire managed to complete staining the east side of the barn.  There is not complete agreement as the window frames are left unpainted, but daughter claims that was not part of the instruction since no white paint was left in an obvious location.

At any rate, the stain-splattered body tell me that she indeed make a good-faith effort before her looming trip to India!

one year ago…”Spring Lettuce”

June 7, 2010 – Parfrey’s Glen

Another spot worth visiting was Parfrey’s Glen Natural Area – the first such declared area in the state because of unique and sensitive fauna and geologic features.

parfreys glen

The walk is about .7 miles and follows a small creek – as you walk along the broad open forest continually constricts.

parfreys glen

At the end, it’s a small rocky canyon and with a small waterfall.


The canyon held something for everyone (in our party). The cool, canyon walls provided shade for many interesting plants, among those, these liverworts Linda found fascinating.


FOr others in our party (me),  the walls showed off great geological formations, here a couple of bands of conglomerate (the rock layers made up of many small rocks.

Our last stop of the day was at the park chateau  which buts out into the lake for great views – the chateau also has an old-time wooden dance floor, much like the one in Luchenbach Texas.


We stayed at a B&B on a retired dairy farm.  This was an early morning view from a hayfield on the farm.

morning silo

Here’s “Lucky” a shaved collie who accompanied me on an early morning walk at no extra charge!

one year ago…”Painting West Side of Barn Complete”

June 6, 2010 – Devils Lake State Park

You could ask for a nicer day, but might not ever get one!  Today, we roamed Devils Lake State Park.

Devils Doorway

I’ll lead with what may very well be one of the world’s most scenic lunch spots.  A nice rock ledge shaped like a chair, an awesome overlook, a light breeze, interesting clouds, and temperatures in the low 70’s!  The featured rock formation is known as the Devils Doorway. The lake’s name was thought to derive from a mis-translation (or marketing gimmick) of the native American names roughly translated as Spirit Lake, Sacred Lake, or Holy Lake.

A look at the same spot, only facing away from the lake.

Devils Lake Beach

The lake is a clear with a sandy or rocky shore that fills the remnants of an old glacial valley with bluffs reaching 500 feet above the water.

West Bluff Trail

After hiking up from the lake along the West Bluff Trail, we pause for a break in the lushness of the spring vegetation.  Since there’s hardly ever photos of me on the blog, Linda took the opportunity to take some of the man behind the camera.

Yet another promontory on the West Bluff Trail.

West Bluff Trail

One of my favorite pastimes is hanging over the edge of precipices, one thing I don’t get much of a chance to do much anymore.

Potholes Trail

This stretch of  steep trail is on the Potholes Trail – which leads to a geological formation called kettles, which are round holes where rocks have circulated in soft rocks in a river and dig out round holes.  I’ve seen them often in Minnesota, but here they were near the top of the hill in 1.6 billion year old rock.

Baraboo hills

Here’s a view from the end of the lake looking east out of the glacial valley.  It was truly a spectacular view in all directions with rolling hills as far as the eye can see.

East Bluff Trail

Finally, much later in the day, another panoramic shot from the East Bluff Trail.

one year ago…”Blue Flag Iris”

June 5, 2010 – Frank Lloyd Wright – Taliesin Tour

To celebrate getting one child safely through high school, GJ volunteered to watch the kids while Linda and I picked a place for a two-night get-away.  We headed to south-central Wisconsin.  Our schedule was kind of loose, and since it was pouring rain, we opted for the tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home of 60 years along the Wisconsin River – Taliesin.  The tour featured the Hillside Studio and Theater and Wright’s Home.  The price seemed steep – $52, but we plunged ahead.

Hillside Studio

This is the view of the north of the Assembly Hall.  Only exterior photos are permitted, and even so, I have way more photos than are usual for a blog post, so I just picked a half-dozen.  This building was originally used as a boarding school, and eventually was used as a school of architecture which is still operational today.

Hillside Theater

Here’s a view looking from the north into the theater.  It contained a great stage curtain, designed by Wright, the original seats, also designed by Wright.  When you sat in this theater, when all the curtains were open, you could see light out all four directions, in some cases for over 100 feet or more within the building.  Behind and to the left is a 5,000 square foot building with drafting tables for the school of architecture fellows.

Exterior of Frank Lloyd Wright Studio

We now have moved out of Hillside and a hill and valley over to Wright’s home – Taliesin.  This is an exterior view of Wright’s personal drafting studio, where he presumably designed Fallingwater and the Guggenheim. The windows here are numerous and high, offering light, but not the distraction of people entering and leaving the house as the windows are above the height of the visitors.

Taliesin Courtyard

The courtyard at Taliesin shows part of the house.  The house is 37,000 square feet.   Next year, parts of the house will be 100 years old.  It was very interesting to tour the property and see the genius at work.   The house and buildings were seen as experiments – lab experiments and not necessarily designed for long-term use.  For example, he added a room above his own for his 8-year-old daughter, scaled appropriately for her, with short ceilings.  Of course, the question is why would you design a room for an 8-year-old that would be useless later – well, Wright thought, then you’d try something else and re-do the room.

While his style that has been so broadly adapted throughout North America, these particular structures require tremendous upkeep.

Wright Estate

A view of part of the 660 acre estate looking from Taliesin towards the Hillside school.  Wright thought that this landscape was the perfect human scale – the hills and valleys were something that you could imagine walking to without much trouble – unlike the great plains or mountains.

Wright Hog Barn

Finally, as a farmer, I had to include the Frank Lloyd Wright designed hog barn with the roof sloping down towards you (and noting how the slope of the hog barn also slopes away from the resat of the house!

The tour was worth the $52.

one year ago…”News Flash – Crunch Berries Aren’t Really Fruit”

June 4, 2010 – First Celery

We had some electrical problems in the barn (like the lights don’t work and the box keeps blowing fuses). At any rate, it was out of my league, so I called an electrician who hadn’t worked here for a couple of years – actually since the wind turbine was installed. But he’s got a great memory and I was slow on the pick-up when he started talking gardening and asked how the celery was growing? I told him we never grew it since it took such a long time.

Well, lo and behold, he drags out a bunch of celery starts for us to try! They look great and Linda already has them tucked away in the soil.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #165″