Monday, August 22, 2016

Bedrock Gardens

We just discovered Bedrock Gardens  in Lee, New Hampshire.  What a treat to discover such a local treasure.  The Gardens are the labor of love of a husband and wife,  Jill Nooney and Bob Munger.  They bought the property in 1980 and  began transforming it into over two miles of walking trails, twenty separate garden areas, a pond and waterway.    There is even a Tea House (above) with just enough room for a bed for summer sleeping.

The Gardens are privately owned and  not open every day.  Check their website for dates and times before heading out .  There is no admission charge, but donations are encouraged.

A partial list of features listed on the website include:

Noteworthy Features Include:

  • 3/4-mile circulation path, connecting the garden rooms, with vistas along the way
  • Two 900-foot cross axes
Jill is the sculptor and created all the sculptures in the gardens.  Most are made of industrial salvage - wheels, gears, bars - all given new life as fun pieces.

I love this ballerina with her sanding brush tutu.

Love this bench covered in lichens.   It has that look  that Vivian Swift calls "decrepitude".   I''m a fan.

A fun flamingo installation in the grasses.

This is a slightly creepy section - old logs that look like beheaded people.  Love this one with the bent leg pose.

Man-made pond with lots of benches for enjoying the views.

This must be the family - love how the child has a red heart that says "Mom".

And how this one is Mom, with the fancy doo-dads, and of course, the boobies!

If you go, bring along a picnic lunch.  There are several funky table and chair arrangements that are perfect for relaxing and enjoying the scenery.  

The owners are ready to move on.  I can only imagine the work needed to create and maintain the huge spot.  They are transitioning ownership from a private garden to a non-profit organization to maintain the gardens as a public space.    

We've been to fancy gardens all over, including in  Paris and Scotland, and this one can hold its own with the best of 'em !

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sewing Machine Table Redo

I inherited a sewing machine from my old friend, Barbara

The machine belonged to her mother, so I knew it was ancient.    Turns out it was made in 1926 and the machine alone sold for about $60.00.   That doesn't seem like much until you consider the wages back in the day - the machine would have cost a few months' wages.   For frugal Yankees, this was not an impulse purchase.

Here it is in its former state - a lovely table that needed a bit of TLC.   The veneer on the top had split and some was missing , and the metal base was rusted in spots.  But the drawers were gorgeous, the metal base all intact and the top salvageable.

I started ( with the help of The Captain) by taking out the machine  and all the other guts - springs, cords, and the wooden casing that housed the machine.  I wanted to make the table as sleek as possible, so the front decorative board and the one of the top center boards had to go.

I was able to pry off most of the peeling veneer.   The rest of the veneer was in reasonable shape - a few patches with wood filler smoothed out where I had chipped off some of the loose stuff.

The metal base was in good shape - a few rusty spots that cleaned up well with a stiff metal brush.    I sprayed it with  charcoal gray paint - love the dark gray , almost black color that is sort-of, but not too shiny.

Considering that a sewing machine  wasn't made as a family heirloom but as a functional machine for home sewers, the craftsmanship is amazing - all kinds of decorative details.

I experimented with the top.  I wanted a matte, chalky finish but didn't want to spring for chalk paint. I have used Annie Sloan chalk paint and liked it, but not sure it was worth the cost.  Since this was a small project, I used a flat white paint and finished it withe Minwax.   Honestly, I can't tell the difference in this knock-off chalk finish and the real deal.

A bit of sanding to add some distressing and done.

Decorative detail on the sides of the table.

The drawers are beautiful !  I had planned to paint them, but couldn't bear to cover up all that detail.  I  did have to refinish them because the liquid sander I used to clean them up bubbled the old varnish.  Then I had to strip off the bubbly mess and of course the color came with it.   Some new stain and wax  brought them back to life.

Thank you, frugal Yankee women for taking good care of this gem.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Seeking Dead People

{available here}

The Captain is obsessed with genealogy.   He has traced our family histories,  watches every genealogy show on TV  (yes, that's right - there ARE shows about genealogy), and we have all contributed DNA so he  can trace our ancestors' migrations across the continents  (or so Homeland Security or the NSA can keep track of us in their databases).   Since he puts up with my obsessions, which are legion,  I try to humor what I can his  "certified old man  hobby".

Hence a trip to a local cemetery to search for a local ancestor.

As you can see, this is a cemetery from the Pilgrim  era.   Many of the stones are broken and many of the engravings are worn away.   These folks were a serious lot and lived a hard and often short life.  One family plot had parents and their three daughters who died at 3 , 8, and 20 years old.

Some of the stones are still legible, and the inscriptions are heavy on the religious fervor of the day:

"Here lyes Interred the body of the Revd. MR NATHANIEL GOOKIN M.A. & Late the Pastor of the 1st Church of CHRIST in HAMPTON, who died Augt. 25th. MDCCXXXIV in the 48th. Year of his Age, & the 27th. of his Ministry. He was A Judicious DIVINE, A Celebrated Preacher, A most Vigilant & faithfull PASTOR, a bright Ornament Of Learning and RELIGION & An excellent Pattern of PIETY, CHARITY, & HOSPITALITY"

"In memory of Reverend Ebenezer Thayer, who for nearly twenty-six years dispensed the bread of life to the S"ociety in this place and on September 6th 1792 fell asleep in Jesus, supported by the Christian hope of a resurrection to eternal life. AE 58 "While o'er this modest stone religion weeps, Beneath an humble, cheerful Christian sleeps, Sober, Learned, free from care and strife, He fill'd the useful offices of Life; Admired, endeared as Husband, Father, Friend, Peace bless'd his days and innocence his end; Blameless throughout, his worth by all approv'd, True to his charge, and by his people lov'd, He liv'd to make his hearers' faith abound, And died that his own virtue might be crown'd."

"In Memory of Mr. John Moulton, who died March 4th, 1794 aged 45 Years "In his death, his Consort has Lost an affectionate & Loving Husband; his sisters a kind & friendly Brother; & the publick a useful member of society & one courteous & hospitable to strangers."  We noticed several stones with either the husband or wife listed as "consort" which apparently was used to mean spouse.  It seemed odd that the Puritans would be announcing a less than sanctioned relationship!

Not even an old cemetery is safe from The Google!

While he was looking for his ancestor,  I was just appreciating the headstones.   

This weird alien-like head , the Death's Head,  is common in stones of this era.   The Puritans were a cheerful lot - this head symbolized mortality and got around the prohibition of creating religious images that looked like real people.

The stones were shaped like headboards with the high center arc and smaller ones on each side.  This was supposed to symbolize  the headboard for your final sleep.   

This one isn't so dark - the face looks more human, less alien and there are flowers and flourishes- how worldly !  This is about the time of the Great Awakening when things lightened up for the Puritans - less gloom and doom.

 I am fascinated by the lichen growth on the stones.


Many have a green lacy growth, but  there  was this beauty nearly covered with white lichen and green lacy lichen along the bottom.

I did a little research on lichens, a combination of algae and fungus that grow slowly -- about a millimeter a year.   They can  eat away at the engraving over time.    I discovered that there is a British Lichen Society (why are we not surprised?) that is dedicated to the preservation of lichens.    Cleaning stones to remove the lichens damages both the stones and the lichens - and the British Lichen Society is having none of that!

The Captain didn't find his long-lost, but added to another of his obsession - factoids - this time  about headstones and lichens .  You know how often both come up in everyday  conversation  !

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