Bob & Ellen's Excellent Adventure

Black Sheep Tower House

Buying Insurance

October 15, 2020 Today, Bill and his crew from Smokestack Lightning in Brookfield, MA, arrived to start the installation of our lightning protection system. What we discovered while researching lightning rods is that it is an extremely specialized field, with only a few companies in the entire Northeast. Smokestack has an excellent reputation, and just like so many things, we had needed to book them months in advance. As you know, lightning can definitely strike more than twice, so we felt it was going to be excellent insurance for the future. A few friends had questioned the expense (which was quite a bit) of doing the entire house, but actually we are very happy to spend the money now while the house is unfinished inside because it is so much easier to install. If the house was already completed, the cabling would have to be mostly on the exterior, running down the corners of the house, in what we thought would be an unsightly manner. The Smokestack guys are able to install every bit of cabling inside the walls, so the only evidence of the system will be the “air terminals” or lightning rods along the roof ridge and the cables bolted to the metal railings on the towers. Interestingly, the original owner had intended to install lightning rods on the tower, but never got around to it, and we found in the house a reel of aluminum (naturally) cable, an air terminal set up with a pulley for a flag, and an American flag, new in its box. We would be using copper cables, for better conductivity, and protecting the entire house with surge protection as well.

Random fact: Smokestack Lightning got their name from the 1956 blues song by Howlin’ Wolf, who was a favorite of Bill’s father, the founder of the company (the original “lightning”, according to Wolf, were the sparks from the smokestacks of freight trains, as seen by night traveling the rails). I must say, I am learning so many cool things during this adventure, who knew I would one day talk intelligently about lightning rods? Anyway, on Day 1 we were impressed by Bill and his team. They were all over the house drilling holes and feeding copper cable.

The Smokestack guys have a 2+ hour drive each way and leave mid afternoon, so when all the activity was over, I took a bike ride to explore some of the local roads. I came upon a Little Free Library, which I have heard about but never before seen in person, so I stopped because this is SO cool. Apparently it is a thing in NH, but not in Maryland… and I LOVE to read (Bob too) so this was just so fun. This library was dedicated in memory of a young reader who passed much too soon. I could only borrow a small book to fit in my bike bag, but that seems reasonable, since it IS a small library! I will be back sometime to contribute some books in my turn.

So, I may have talked about the way we continue to find random items in this enormous house and garage that have been left behind, inadvertently, over time. Here is a sample of some of the items found in the attics, which we have photographed and offered to the former owners, in case they are still interested. It is a bit like a time capsule, but mostly people choose what they want preserved in a time capsule, to remember them by. (Is that proper grammar?) For us, it is more like a surprise grab bag… and our curiosity and imagination will have to fill in the empty spaces.

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