Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Favorite Bookshelves

This post is written in response to librarian extraordinaire Maeve Clark's Facebook page My Favorite Bookshelf. That got me thinking... I have a LOT of favorite bookshelves. Here is a bit about the biggest one.

The first of many jaw dropping aspects of Foxcroft when we came to look at it was the library. I've written about it and the wall of bookshelves before. Here is the first mention, from June 29, 2005. A Little Bit of Completion.

Here is how the Foxcroft library looks today:
Bess built the library to fit her bookshelves. There is a seven inch gap between the far left hand side of the shelves and the wall. That was deliberate as Bess wrote to the builders "I want a space to store my card tables there." I have found Weis Bookshelf Company catalogs from 1916. That seems to be when she purchased them. That predates the building of Foxcroft by 12 years. I've also found a letter where Bess asked her moving man if they could transport the bookshelves with the books in them. Thankfully he replied "No."

Buying Foxcroft did not include the contents of the house, but we happily purchased these from Helen's cousin. She also told us to keep whatever papers or books we wanted, especially anything related to the house. That is how we were able to merge our collection of books with those already here.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas in the 'Teens

I went through more old photos today. The scrapbook I've never looked at too much is the one that covers the era before our house was built. Helen, who we knew for nearly a year prior to her passing away, was born in March 1911. Every Christmas after that her mother, Bess,  took her picture in front of the tree. Since Helen's father was a doctor they were relatively well off. For the first 7 years the pictures presumably are from their home in Waucoma, Iowa. In 1918 they were in El Paso, Texas, at Bess' sister's home. At that time Bess' husband, Walter was a captain in the U.S. Army stationed at Ft. Hood, Tx, prior to going overseas.  So here  is Helen from her first Christmas to her 8th:

 1911, 9 months
1912, almost 2
 1913 almost 3
 1914 almost 4
 1915 almost 5
 1916 almost 6
 1917 almost 7

 
1918 almost 8, taken in El Paso Texas, with a cousin?

A couple notes:
  • The morris chair to the left in the 1912 picture is currently in our library. 
  • The wicker rocker (1912, 1913) never seems to have been moved to Foxcroft, nor was the "death's head" tabouret table in the 1911 picture. 
  • "Bill" was the dog's name.
  • I think the number and type of presents indicates the relative wealth of the family. 
Looking at the pictures in full scan is wonderful for details, the wallpaper (1911-13) is phenomenal. I don't know if they moved the tree location or painted?

Also the rug in the 1917 picture is the same from the 1930 Christmas picture, the first one I can find  at Foxcroft, even though they moved in fall of 1928:



I wrote more about this picture here:

Christmas Then and Now December 13, 2005









Sunday, December 16, 2012

Other Bloggers


Time for a brief shout out to the inimitable Garner St. John. He is the three time mayor of nearby Verne.
Please visit his blog above. His latest episodes with Sean Hannity on election night and Anderson Cooper showcase the insight and depth that make him one of our favorite local politicians. Also his touching tribute to Andy Williams shows a side that few elected leaders have the guts to display.

In a startling coincidence city Clerk Danforth Quinn's house (pictured above and can be found below at 1:22 in the clip) could easily be a twin for Foxcroft! An unrelated but equally startling coincidence is that Garner could easily be the evil twin of my childhood pal, Rob!



Monday, December 03, 2012

A Hopping Good Time!

Here is a brief update from a post last year about my hops.

I had to move them since the original spot I planted them in was too sunny. I then put them outside the garden fence where Lisa promptly pulled them thinking they were weeds. I was seriously skeptical that anything would come back for the 2012 growing season.

Boy was I wrong! While only three shoots came out of the ground they spread all over the fence:

Here is just a bit of them. I picked 2 gallons of flowers and have them in my freezer.

Now I'm looking for a local brewer...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Seven Years...

Today not only is my birthday, but it marks seven years that we have been living here at Foxcroft. We "officially" moved in on July 23, 2005. It was a beastly hot day to be loading and unloading a Ryder truck. I remember going by the bank and seeing their thermometer read 100. Well today is likely the hottest day we've had since then. This afternoon when I came inside from painting on the North side of the house our thermometer said 102. The sensor is behind the gutter and in the shade.

It must be too hot for my camera to work so here are some pics I took on Saturday when I was sanding the areas that I'm now painting.

Here is the overall view:

And a few close ups:



You can tell where I've already painted (trim) and stained (shingles)


And the difference between sanded wood ready for new paint, and the untouched porations where the paint has failed. I don't believe the trim has been painted in nearly 30 years.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Greatest Hits of 2011 INSIDE


Since I was very remiss in not posting about projects as I worked on them last year, I'll just have to cover them now in a "Best of" fashion. Here is one project that gave me great satisfaction in completing: The final door in our upstairs.

A brief recap: in 2005 we started converting the 1200 sq. ft. attic at our home into a liveable second floor. My goal was to make it look like it had always been finished, and I matched the trim, etc. from the 1928 first floor by using our original blueprint profiles. I bought 8 matching doors in jambs on ebay to use upstairs and wrote about getting them here: Ever Lose a Ball Hitch at 60 MPH?

Eventually I put those doors in, as detailed here: A Major Hang Up

The only problem was that we had NINE door openings upstairs. Older daughter has gone 5 years without a closet door until she went away to camp last July.

Unlike the other doors, I had to build the jamb for this one. I got Pete to come over and re-live old times. The photo above shows Pete at the start of the project.

We constructed the jamb first and then built up blocks to hold it into the opening. Thank God for 1 x 4 door trim to make up for a lot of extra area:




We set the door in place and marked for where we would need to mortise the jamb to inset the hinges:




I used Pete's "Toolwerks" reciprocating saw that I also borrowed from him when I worked on this: An "Outside Mushroom Factor" Tale. With it I cut a lot of bits into the wood and then went at them from the side. Eventually I smoothed it out with a wood chisel:





And here is how it looks with the hinge in place:



I used a similar process to mortise in the door strike plate:



After cutting all the casing to fit I stained and varnished it as well as the jamb and put it in place. I love the grain in the wood above the door, I call it the "Sunrise" pattern:





And finally with all that together I could cut the baseboard to fit and attach it to the wall:



By this time, oldest daughter's week at camp was up so I still have to wait to install the quarter round and trim the inside of the closet...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas 1953

I haven't posted for quite a while due to other facets of my life taking up lots of time, and that actually plays into today's post.

When we were emptying the contents of Foxcroft in 2005 and getting ready to renovate, I put some items in the upstairs storage space at my office and promptly forgot about them. We moved to new offices this fall, and as I was going through things I found several boxes of memorabelia stored away. One box contained a stereo viewer and 2 boxes of stereo slides, the viewer didn't work so I'd never looked at any of the slides.

I brought it home and took it apart and replaced the 2 D batteries and lo and behold it was functional. Then I started to look at the slides.

Apparently Helen and Mick bought a stereo realist camera some time in the late 1940's and began to take and make their own stereo slides. The two boxes have scenes from Foxcroft (when they would have been visiting Helen's mother, Bess prior to their moving in with her in 1955) and from vacations in the South Dakota badlands and Yellowstone National Park.


Here are a few scans from Christmas Day, 1953. They don't begin to do justice to how good the images look in stereo in the viewer, but it is a start. I passed the viewer and slides around to my family on Thanksgiving and we spent a very enjoyable two hours discussing the images!

Here's the companion to the above pic of Helen at the Christmas tree in the living room:


And the stereo view of Christmas dinner, which appears to be two whole chickens for 4 people!