Friday, January 30, 2015

Books, Books, and More Books

Did I mention that I've been ordering books? I do that in the wintertime. Reading is a great winter activity when the cold winds blow and the couch beckons. Light a fire, sip a cup of tea, and sink pleasantly into a book. A while back I ordered these two:
a semi-autobiographical book
Would you escape cold London, to warm Italy and wisteria?
I've loved the movie Enchanted April for years, but was unaware of the book. Elizabeth von Arnim is an interesting lady of the late-Victorian era, married twice rather unhappily, who wrote quite a few books. The Enchanted April is apparently her most light-hearted, but I found Elizabeth and Her German Garden (her first book) quite fun and delightful. I love her humor. Just as in regular human interactions, so it is between reader and writer:  if there is sympathetic humor, two hearts that giggle together, nearly anything is possible.
I could share passages with you to prove my point, but that's so exhausting. Suffice it to say that I giggled in bed quite often while reading, and Adam even noticed. I don't mind pages of paragraphs of description (or in her case) fleshing out of characters and their thoughts. She was a people-watcher, I'd say.
The advantage of a book over its movie version is that a movie is over in 90 - 120 minutes. Poof! Gone. But a book is luxurious; it lasts for days or even weeks ... if you dole it out to yourself each day. That takes self-control! I can't wait until my 50-something brain has forgotten both books sufficiently for me to reread them with new enjoyment :)
So, I closed Elizabeth for now and turned back to George MacDonald, who is good but not quite as engrossing.
Then in the mail today came these:
 I found Susan Branch's first three books, used at, and snatched them up.
Heart of the Home is now out of print, I think (it says so on her website, anyway), so I was thrilled to find it. Each of these lovely, like-new-inside hardbacks cost me only about $3.50 with free shipping! I love Abebooks. The Von Arnim books also came from there, also for cheap. Yay!
Susan Branch's books are not engrossing fiction, but they're fun, homey, warm, up-lifting. They're cookbooks and more, with snatchets of story and sweet quotes from all over the world of literature. These books warm the cold cockles of the heart when winter hangs on with its icy claws and one thinks longingly of soups and hot beverages and deep pots of stew.
What are you reading these days?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Where It Belongs

Adam and I drove by the newly-moved house to see it on its new legs. I think it looks very fine, as if it always should have lived there.
They've put temporary lumber stacks underneath until the foundation is built up.
A surveyor put a nail in this tree in the front yard (see the pink flag, nailed into the tree?), indicating the height of the house. The foundation folks will work off a line from there. Not sure what that wooden arrow is for. It had numbers on it too. Perhaps a flood marker from past hurricanes? Let's hope not!
Here's the happy new home-owner. She's cleaning up branches from the house-movers, left in her front yard. She's amazing. I won't tell you hold old she is, but I think perhaps she's older than you'd suppose! This county seems to produce strong, active, sharp older women.
If I think of it, I'll occasionally post pics of the house as it beautifies.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Stripey Blanket, Half-Way There

The winter blanket project (pattern here) is half-way through, and now it covers my legs and waist as I work on it, which is handy in the cold.
 A Catherine Wheel in beige and white:
 The latest Granny Stitch rows:
I've added splashes of bright pink or blue or green, but the underlying color scheme of this blanket is more subdued. Much of the yarn was given to me by a very generous friend in Alabama, sometime last year I think, and at last I chose this project as a fine use for it. To her skeins of muted beiges and browns and light blue, I've added a few other smaller skeins. So I didn't really need to buy any new yarn for this blanket, thankfully, because my guest room was bursting with yarn already! I like how it's turning out. The variety of it keeps away winter boredom, and making a full-size blanket is quite rewarding.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

House Moved

It appears my readers from the British Isles particularly enjoy the house-moving event. Without further ado, here are a series of pictures from the move this morning. I stayed as long as my frozen fingers and toes would allow.
Adam called this morning from his bike ride to report that the house was already at the corner. I zipped over. Here's what met me on the street:
 The house is riding on steel girders, mounted on three sets of hydraulic wheels. One end tried to clear the trees on the corner.
 But they're having trouble with one set of back wheels. There's too much torque turning the corner. See the wheels in the back?
 One pair is actually lifted off the asphalt from the pressure of taking the curve.
 They studied the problem, backed up, and corrected it.
 After some serious study though. This fellow operated the little Bobcat.
 Adam (in helmet, for warmth!) and his friend Mark were among many observers.
 Wheels all back on asphalt:
 I stood in a friend's yard, with this immense view before me,
 ... and right behind me, because this is Oriental ...
 Here's the empty lot across which it would have been so much easier to move the house, but the owners of this land would not allow it. I don't blame them for worrying about their lot and its dead grass.
 Clearly they are highly invested in the property and visit often. Alright, alright, that was a bit harsh!
 The electric company, at the same time, was letting down one last line inhibiting the house's progress.
 The fellow in the brown overalls, leaning over, studying the house and wheels, is the head honcho. In his hand is a yellow control box with which he adjusts all the hydraulics, and makes the machine go that's moving the house. It's basically a very fancy remote control.

(At this point I took a short video of the move, which I'm having NO END of trouble importing into this post. Sigh. Maybe later.)
Soon the house moved down the street to its new location. The home-owner observes.
 The back wheels came across a sandy spot concealing a hole. The wheels went in the hole, so they backed up, filled the hole with lumber, put those metal plates across the top, and successfully got over the hole.
It was so cold, and some of the men didn't wear gloves.
 A long flat-bed came to the new site with big lumber and flat steel plates.
 Then I dashed home to make sure Julia was on task for school. She didn't want to come stand in 37º windy weather (20º real feel). Here's the street upon my return:
 People brought dogs. It was a community event.

 Tillman came. He's another "Billy, the Sailor Dog" pup, here in town. He carries his own leash.
 Crossing the little ditch onto the property was tricky.
 Finally! Out of the road!
 Quite a bit of lumber and metal was put into the ditch for a smooth ride over it. Then a fellow wedged a block behind this wheel. I couldn't help feeling that was wishful thinking.
 This is the hydraulic pump, placed in the house's garage. It's the brain of the machine, connected to the remote control and the wheels.
 They'll rotate the house slowly as they move it over the cement foundation that's been poured already.
 The back of the house will look over that grass, and the broad ditch in it, a quite low spot that becomes a creek in high water. But in Oriental they carefully gauge the height of a house to avoid water.
 The Bobcat driver was amazing; he zipped here and there, moving lumber, and moving large and small steel panels to form a flat road in front of those wheels. He was a surgeon with a forklift.

 The assistants were crouching under the house, dashing around, moving timbers, adding plumb lines. At this point, the remote control man was very attentive to placing the house exactly where it belongs. He got out his measuring tape.

 Guys with shovels scraped mud off of the cement foundation that ran in a square around the spot.
 Head honcho (in brown), guy in charge of the foundation (in white hood), old home-owner (in blue jacket):
 You can almost get a picture of the house in its new spot.
 This was a slushy, muddy mess, a difficult area to drive a house.
 These workers trust their machinery so much they place their drinks on one girder that sticks out from the house. In fact, the lady home-owner left everything in the house -- furniture, even dishes! Oh yeah -- there's very little bashing around involved.

 They inserted rebar in the foundation corners, and those metal straps on the ground run into the cement and will attach to the house.
At this point, cell phones were whipped out, and evidently someone essential to the final stages was not yet present. So they had to wait. I don't mind standing in the cold and wind if things are happening, but at this point I drove back home. Adam says the house is now in place with big stacks of lumber underneath, keeping it off the foundation. The wheels and movers are gone. Success!