Sunday, May 17, 2009

Craigslist Fire Hydrant

A fun search tool I’ve been using for a while is to use the Google search engine to scour Craigslist for treasures. Type Craigslist into the Google window and then put into parenthesis the article you are looking for. Google will check all the Craigslist listings for your query. I use my “oddball” searches for this method. Thursday afternoon I was playing around in this fashion using “fire hydrant” as my search. Mother of Pearl!!! I turned up a listing for this Ludlow Hydrant in Buffalo, NY!!

Doing a check of the phone number on the ad I was able to ascertain this was located not far from where Gary lives. I called him right away and talked him into picking up and paying it for me if it was still available. I called the ad and spoke with the owner. Yes, it was still available. I explained how I was in Tuscaloosa, AL, but my friend Gary would be picking up and paying for the hydrant. I told her I would let Gary contact her in the matter, as there was little I could do 1000 miles distant.

Gary called me Saturday in the late afternoon to relate the adventure in picking up this hydrant. I was laughing so hard. Gary was on his way to tune a piano when he stopped to get this hydrant. It was located in the back corner of a terraced back yard filled with stuff. Fortunately the owner had a hand truck to move the thing up to the driveway and assisted Gary in lifting it into the van.

This man asked how it was going to be shipped to Alabama. “That will be real expensive to freight” he said. Gary replied that I was going to plan a road trip to get the thing…The man got mad then saying to his wife they sold it too cheap!

Gary’s next stop was to tune a piano for Mike and Holly. I’ve not seen Mike in 15 years or so. Gary explained how he had a fire hydrant in his van for me. I can just see the bewildered look Mike gave to Gary that was further intensified when told this hydrant number three for my collection!

Poor Gary was waiting for Sean to return home so he could unload it from the van when he called me. Believe me I know how heavy those damn things are! Now my mind is working overtime planning the next road trip that could be as early as Monday back to the hometown…….

Speaking of heavy… my poor truck was groaning under the crushed limestone I picked up from Scotty’s. It was a good thing I did not have to travel too far. That truck was really groaning. I don’t think I have ever overloaded so.

With the crushed limestone foundation pounded into place I was able to start laying bricks. This is the most time consuming aspect. Because I’m using different bricks, each brick has to be set and leveled. Also, because I’m laying these bricks with the names showing also raises problems. It is so good to finally see progress on this project.

I’ve been chuckling to myself for the past few days on how crazy my life of the past few days must look to those on the outside. What Cornelius said comparing my life to the “two Edies” from GrayGardens was so true!!!

Laying out the bricks. Those gel kneepads are a Godsend!!!

The finished section: The odd sized bricks are from last brick swap I attended in Wellston, Ohio.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Visitors from the other side???

I think it is safe to say our area is out of drought mode. This has been such a wet and damp spring. I can’t remember the last time my yard was so green. This wet has put a damper on the latest patio project. The ground is so much easier to dig, but it is not fun laying out forms in the mud. This is a job I dislike immensely to begin with.

Finally I dug out the last of trench late yesterday afternoon and began the aggravating process of leveling out the forms. Once that all gets poured I can start digging out the lawn. I currently don’t have enough bricks for the entire project. I can see this being a “work in progress” for quite a while…….

Tuesday morning while we were rowing, Ted installed the new ¾” pipes to the racks we made up. We parked the new shells on them and they worked! What a relief. The one bad thing was when figuring out the length of the pipe; we did not take into account when the shells are rigged up. Jason suggested the pipe be eight feet the same as the bottom supports. When we go that route we will have to jump to 1” pipe. More aggravation….but that is way in the future…..

My sinuses have been pumping out fluid on overtime for the past few days. Monday was so bad I was working with Kleenex stuffed up my nose to help stop my nose draining all over. I’m not alone as most of the crew out Tuesday morning experienced the same problem. Conditions seem to be improving though.

I’ve developed a friendship with a Cardinal since I started working in earnest on the latest brick project. This bird will fly onto low tree branches and annoy me till I throw a handful or two of sunflower seeds onto the patio for him to gobble up. He shows up regular as clockwork now. I was clearing up my tools at dusk yesterday and put out some seed for my new friend. I was sitting crossed legged setting up a shot with my camera to try and capture an image of this bird. I felt a nudging against my left side. That must be Stumpy giving me head butts; no wonder the Cardinal will not descend to the patio. I reached around… nothing. I then looked and checked. Stumpy was asleep on the stone bench at the other side of the yard. There was nothing that could have nudged me.

A friend of mine lived in this house as student in the 1990’s. He has told me how the one of the women who also lived here felt spirits. She always kept the basement door locked. She would wake up in the morning and find pennies that had been pushed under her bedroom door. I’m not sure if it was somebody from her church or the university who came and affirmed there were indeed spirits here. The house was “cleansed” and the pennies stopped.

I’ve felt presences here before. They are friendly so I’m not going to get crazy. The next time I head to New York I’ll stop and have a reading at Lillydale. To see if I can learn anything.

This is a wonderful psychic community. Back in the spring of 1995 I stopped and had a reading. The medium I saw was amazing. When she entered the room she started to sneeze, her nose began to run, and her eyes turned red and watery. She asked if I had bad sinuses. My answer was “yes, they are terrible.” She then explained she was fine before entering the room, she picked up on my rotten sinuses.

She then explained how she “read auras”. I sat across a table from her. She took a large piece of drawing paper and used pastel chalk for her reading. I have this paper tacked to the wall of my workshop…


She then interpreted this for me. Some of what I was told and the reality follow:

I would be changing jobs: Late on this one. I had just transferred out of a department I had worked in for many years to a different job.

There will be a great deal of building in my future: Maybe in my past. I was finally finishing up on the restoration of my old house I’d lived in for 17 years. My remodeling days were soon to be history. The last thing I wanted was to do that again!

I was surrounded by death in those I had lost, but this was not a negative effect on my life: Here she was correct. I had lost an address book of friends during the AIDS crisis. My Aunt Fran died in Jan 1994, my mom in December 1994.

I was allowed to ask one question regarding the spirits surrounding me. I did not really have a specific question. I just wanted affirmation things were well with my mother who died the previous December. “There is a picture of your mother in a gold frame. She wants you to hang it by your bed” I was told. There are not many framed pictures of my mother, especially in a gold frame. But, I knew just the picture she was describing to me.

This picture of my mom (on the right) and aunt Fran was taken on Long Island Sound by mom’s cousin Criss. Aunt Fran is clutching a chocolate bar! (Criss is still kicking and will be 101 this year!)


Little did I know then in less than one year’s time from this meeting: I would be making plans to change jobs, sell my house and move 1000 miles away and begin restoration of another old house! She was right on after all.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Never Buy New - Mend and Make Do




Going back to 1976 when I got called back to GM from over a year lay off, things were pretty tight financially. My job was buried deep in the bowels of “building eight”. At that time there was a maze of conveyor lines for parts, fixtures, and the assembled cores to ride on. It was a dirty, oily, noisy area. Clothes generally did not fare well when you had to run a “clincher” like I did. My friend Al ran a clincher on the opposite side of the supply line from me. We used to have “contests” to see who could make their clothes last the longest. It got to the point where we were putting patches over patches. This drove our co-workers crazy. Whenever we would get deriding comments on our attire we would just answer back, “Ma always said, never buy new, mend and make do!” That would drive them even crazier. My poor mother hated to sew: nothing could be further from the truth in her case. My dad used to tease about the time he asked her to sew a button on his shirt, and she told him to buy a new shirt!!

I was saddened that one of my Great Aunt Bess’s monogrammed hem stitched sheets finally bit the dust, getting a huge tear. Aunt Bess has been gone from this earth for nearly 50 years now. My mother would never use these sheets because they were too “good”. Well they have been good enough for this boy to use! I could not bring myself to rip this fabric into rags. Instead I was able to salvage enough good material from that old sheet to make up three pillow cases! I was just shy of getting four because the remaining fabric had a couple tiny holes starting….


Sunday I worked some in the yard before the bad weather hit. It was just before daybreak when I loaded up the wheelbarrow with the busted up concrete from my latest project. Over a block and around the corner was a half full open construction dumpster. The hardest part of these projects is getting rid of the debris. The streets were deserted as I made two trips over with the concrete. I don’t need to have the neighbors seeing me wheeling that crap down the street in a wheelbarrow! I don’t need the authorities to see me either. That would be all I’d need, get busted for illegally dumping

Going through old pictures I found this shot of me in a rowboat from 1959. I was seven years old at the time. See I’m a natural at the oars!

I was thinking of how Cornelius “read my beads” a few weeks ago as I was tuning up the Singer treadle sewing machine to stitch the pinned fabric together this morning. It has been quite a while since I’ve used this old machine. It took a lot of oiling and adjusting to get the stitches flat and even. I was chuckling to myself as I hemmed up those pillow cases. This is not the life of a “normal” middle aged male I’m living.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May: Brick of the Month

I’m so far behind in my writing. With the first of May it was time to change out my profile picture for the “Brick of the Month”. May’s brick is a cream yellow paver brick. It was acquired from my first brick swap in Paris, Illinois back in 2007. My now good friend Jean in the Brick Collectors Club saved this for me. It was made in Empire, Ohio by either standard Clay Co 1928-29 or Standard Fire Brick Co 1903-1919.

Jean is such a knowledgeable “bricker”. She has a wonderful collection and always lets me know where the good bricks are during the swaps! We have mailed bricks back and forth using the flat rate boxes. The post office workers silently groan when they see me in line!! They never know when I’ll be sending off heavy parcels!

Speaking of bricks, I’ve been working on the expansion of the back patio. It is so good to be working with the brick saw again! There was a section of the patio where there were a bunch of odd angles and heights. That has been broken out and will evened out. There is always some kind of brick project going on here!

The broken out mess:

The first reconstruction and addition:

This first work used many of the bricks from the last brick swap in Wellston, Ohio. I can see these bricks now and relive the history behind their acquisition.

My rowing crew is still basking the 2nd place we earned in last Sunday’s race. I’m so glad we carpooled together. It was a great opportunity to bond. On the way home it was Alison, Peter and I in Alison’s car. We listened to all kinds of eclectic music as we talked.

We were out of the Chattanooga traffic when Alison asked if I were dating or seeing anybody. This was the moment of truth. Do I come out in the open or do I hide in the closet? I answered Alison, “Well, you probably figured out I’m gay. I lost my partner Ron, back in 1992 to AIDS. I’ve buried an address book of people and am so numb emotionally, I doubt I’ll ever have that kind of relationship again.”

Alison is in her upper twenties and Peter is 39. They had no idea what it was like to live thorough those dark years of the 1980’s and early 1990’s as a gay man. I tried as best I could to explain those times. We are on a much closer level now. By showing how being gay does not mean you are an “oversexed barfly” and can contribute in a positive way to life, helps to take away the ammunition for hate and intolerance used by the extreme right.

The country is in such a different place than it was even 20 years ago in acceptance of being gay. I did the right thing.

We are really into spring now. The Confederate Jasmine is in full bloom. The sweet smell of those blossoms is everywhere. The old box fan is working now in my bedroom window pulling that fragrance into the house as I type this out.

Here is one of my pillars draped in the jasmine. You can see the fire plug from DefianceOhio to the right….

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About Me

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Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States
Retired auto worker who can now spend too much time restoring his 1922 Bungalow Home. I'm involved in a number of varied activities from collecting bricks to rowing with a masters rowing group. This blog is to share different aspects of my life on my Facebook page. I've kept an on-line journal for eight years.