Saturday, January 19, 2013

Photo--Hillbilly In 1966

This 1966 view of the Hillbilly was part of the photo collection I found in Grandma's house, where many of them I found had gotten wet and were molding.

He is seen here in his standard attire of a tan shirt, with a white undershirt, hat, and blue jeans. Only on very special occasions did he don anything else. Though he passed on in 1995, I recently found his watch in a box. It's unknown what he was doing in this picture.

The covered porch in the background is a little worse for wear, and the lilac on the right is still there, though I'm sure it would appreciate regular watering again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Photo--Garden Area

The place has a large garden area convenient to the house. For many years a bounty of produce was grown to sustain the family.

In this view of tomatoes, you can see the orchard beyond them, with trees that are now very tall. In the background you can see the basalt wall containing the cave where the Homesteader first set up his abode.

The garden is now a heavy duty matted area of grasses, as it hasn't been used in years. It may take a tractor and disk to get the ground ready for plants again. The orchard beyond has been the domain of deer and coyotes, with the trees hanging on without any care or watering. All the trees need serious pruning, and there is an outbreak of poison oak in one section. The well out in the orchard was damaged on purpose years ago, so we are unsure if it can be put back into use.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Photo--1958 Family View

Best guess of a date for this photo would be from 1958. The kids, Oxnix, Unc, and AuntI, along with their mom. I cannot recall too many instances where my grandmother was not wearing an apron. She always had those glasses too, which were part of her hearing-aid set up. Though she passed away when I was ten, I do recall her having a bit of fun by sticking out her lower denture plate when I was least expecting it.

The house is largely unchanged today. The table in the background was finally removed, after removing the stack of junk on it. Though worn, it can be yours, for free.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Photos--Cows At The Big Spring

Here are a few photos of a roundup at the big spring. The year is unknown, but probably in the early 1960s. The Hillbilly can be spotted in the tan shirt on a horse. Others seen in the photo are unknown, but perhaps one of the ladies in white is the oldest sister of the Hillbilly, and her husband.

The big spring still has water in it, and you can still find cows near it at certain times of year. The power lines in the last photo have changed since then, as one line has been upgraded to larger towers.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Starting Out

When we inherited this place four years ago, there was "this" much to do." I've mentioned this before -- spread your arms out wide to demonstrate the enormity of the job, but at the end of the day, there's still no shortening of the distance between your fingers.

We started in the living room. The stalemate between the siblings had grown so bad that neither cleaned and neither touched the other's stuff. there was literally a path from the table on one end to the thermostat on the other. Newspapers, mail and general stuff were piled so high that it simply cascaded from five-feet up the walls, down to the floor.

Unc's and Hillbilly's rooms were the same. Cigarette smoke and tar had changed the paint colors. Decades of furniture friction and consistent wear patterns had worn away the floor tile and exposed original floorboards. Three generations of paper and "stuff" history filled every drawer, shelf, closet and square-foot of lack of space.

It took us several weeks to throw out the obvious garbage and box up the rest so we could sort it at home. There were about 60 large boxes in my classroom that winter.

Most of the family had been into treasure hunting, and Unc -- ever paranoid -- had always worried that someone would ransack the place over rumors of buried this-or-that. In a sense, he was wrong. The treasure -- family pictures, turn-of-the-century documents, and old trinkets -- were buried under years of junk. But it was only treasure to us.

Now, Dude is posting these treasures here on the blog, and we're hoping you're enjoying them too.

Outside, it's not much different. 100+-years-old walls are falling down and in, some held up by years of rotting grain and decomposing produce containers. Old equipment sits where it was last parked. We found sheets of extra roof metal in the front yard, with grass growing on top. Stashes of giant insulators are everywhere, collected when the power lines were put in and someone offered to buy one. Old wood stoves, rusty gas pumps, and a broken-down apple press hide behind outbuildings where they were dumped. Rattlesnakes hide amongst the piles.

We've cleaned up so much over these several years, but there's still so much to do. A labor of love, to be sure.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Musical Heaters

I don’t ever remember a time there wasn’t a space heater under the dining room table. I only remember once using the table as a table, until we put ours in a few weeks ago. Whatever reality was, when we moved in, there were about eight space heaters under the table, one operating in front of it, and several more stashed downstairs.

Each bedroom has one now, as does the living room, and the rest are stored away in the basement until they’re needed and thus, tested.

I woke up one morning, and snuck out to the kitchen for my energy drink before catching my favorite morning radio show. AuntI stopped me (I thought she was asleep there in her recliner) and said the heater had died. Not wanting to miss my show, I asked if she was already cold; she assured me she was fine with her sweater and throw.

Half an hour later, I donned warm attire and headed to the frigid depths of the basement for a replacement. Bringing up an identical one, I sent the failed one with Munchkin to my bedroom. “Toss it out to the metal pile.” She shot me a look of delight. I was amazed not to hear the crash that followed, as it sailed out the two-story window and scattered the chickens milling about below. I plugged in the “new” one, and went about my day.

About an hour later, it sounded like giant eagles were sliding down the metal roof… repeatedly. I stood in the living room and stared at the ceiling, trying to locate the sound. Yes, definitely in the living room and not the bedroom side of the house. OK, here above the table. No, here above the TV. No, wait, here above the entry bench.

I gave up and went outside in my slippers to look at the roof. No eagles. No cats. No branches. No wind, even. Back inside to stare at the ceiling some more. AuntI, whose ears had been plugged for weeks now and couldn’t even hear the phone ring, was fascinated at my strange silent behavior. I explained and began pointing at the ceiling where I supposed I was hearing the sounds. After an exercise that looked like an uncoordinated Travolta move, she suggested there might be a bird in the attic. I could only picture an eagle squeezing through the woodpecker hole above my room.

Just about the time I was ready to climb into the frigid attic, I discovered the sound was coming from around my feet. How I hadn’t caught this before, I’m not sure, but it was true. The “new” heater was squealing loudly in an effort to produce the heat we had requested.

Out the window it went, with a gleeful launch from the Munchkin. And up came another heater.

This time, it was a far older model that proved to have no fan despite producing a proper amount of heat. Dude gave Munchkin a sharpie to label it for small-room heating only, another slightly destructive task she relished. We brought up yet another heater, which seems to be working fine… so far. Only another half-dozen or so to test.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Breaker, Breaker... We've Got Ourselves a Problem

I realize there were fewer electrical appliances back in the ‘50s, but this is getting ridiculous. Last night, we blew the kitchen breaker and didn’t know it for about two hours.

The little divider wall between the kitchen and living room features the stove on one side (on its own 220 breaker) and one receptacle on the other side above the dining room table. In the entire long living room, it’s one of only four of these. Besides that, they’re two-prong receptacles, so every one of them has an adapter of some kind to allow for modern three-prong plugs.

With our lack of lighting and heat (okay, minimal – not entirely lacking), we have 3-way lamps and space heaters everywhere. When you add the desktop computer and the Dish/Wii/DVD/surround-sound/computer-compatible system, there’s nowhere to plug in other necessities, like the laptop and phone chargers.

So in this one receptacle and its adapter/splitter, we had connected a space heater, my little tabletop heater, the laptop, and my smartphone. It had worked this way for a couple of weeks with no problem.

Last night, I must have turned my heater up higher. It gave out just before Dude was done cooking dinner, but it took me a while to notice because it regularly cycles on and off. When I discovered it, I was devastated. I hate being cold and this was the one heat source I could control without overheating everyone else. Not common out here, but it happens sometimes.

As Dude was headed to bed, I donned an extra thermal shirt and my ski-bunny hat with the yarn braids, and went out to cuddle up to the large cabinet heater at the far end of the living room. I would have added the heavy winter gloves, but it’s hard to work that way.

AuntI suddenly noticed the space heater wasn’t working. We moved all the plugs around, thinking the adapter had melted or the receptacle was bad. After we connected it to an extension cord and it came to life, we concluded it was the receptacle. On further inspection, we found the microwave and the fridge were off. Apparently, that receptacle is on the kitchen breaker.

Now, I can hear you asking how we didn’t notice this during dinner prep. As I said, the stove is on its own breaker, as are the kitchen lights. This threw me too; sometimes Hillbilly wired things wisely, much to my surprise.

So I made a visit to the breaker box, where nothing makes sense. Some breakers were never labeled, some haven been relabeled as we’ve fixed things, and some are just obsolete. It got so bad last summer, I put painters’ tape down both sides of the box and stared labeling what we knew went where. That job isn’t done, apparently, because I ended up turning the living room breaker on and off in the middle of Jeff Dunham – a sacrilege, I know. With Munchkin’s keen eye on the microwave’s time display, I eventually discovered that the obsolete stove fan (as it’s labeled) is tied into the not-obsolete kitchen circuit (not labeled anywhere).

Problem solved. All appliances in working order. New label on the breaker box. And I was now too tired and cold to work. Productive night.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Photo--1946 AuntI

Here is a photo of AuntI as an infant, being held by her grandmother, Hattie. The house behind them, known to this day as "Grandma's House," named for Hattie, is still standing, though in poor shape. After Hattie died in 1967, the house was largely left alone, save for a bit of use as storage.

About 6 months ago I went through the house and removed any remaining paper I could find, as the roof leaks and mice have had their way with the place for years. There was lots of paper in there left from when the family came from West Virginia in 1926, never filed, never thrown away. I also rescued many photo albums that had been stashed there 20 years ago, filled with many water-damaged photos.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Photo--1952 Kids

Here is an early view of the kids. The youngster on the left is unknown, but sitting on the steps on the left is Unk and AuntI. Standing between them is Oxnix. This portion of the house had an enclosed porch built over the entrance. The kitchen cabinets seen inside the doorway are still intact and in use, though now very tired. The house got new siding not long after this photo, and it is still the same siding visible today, though also very tired.