Bob & Ellen's Excellent Adventure

Black Sheep Tower House

Back At It…

November 1, 2021 Arriving back in NH on Monday, I was excited to see progress, and happy to find out that Scott and Company were prepping to attack the tower. Meanwhile, Brian and his assistant Jim had been working on the wiring… Brian is up on the staging setting the wiring for the chandelier over the dining room table, and also putting 6 specialty can lights in the big angled ceiling. At the moment, the location of the chandelier is an educated guess! BUT, the date for spray foaming has been set, so now the push is on! Every exterior wall and ceiling has to be completely wired, plumbed and all the line sets in prior to spray foaming. (We thank ourselves now for last year’s installation of 1000′ of copper cable for the whole house lightning protection system, in those walls and ceilings!)

Decisions needed to be made about the gas fireplace… for wiring, but more importantly, for venting to the outside (through the wall?, through the roof?). The plans we made last winter called for a “see-through” linear fireplace (for viewing from both rooms, really the whole 1st floor!) between the great room/living room and the “media room” where we planned to mount a large TV. (See one fireplace example below) This wall, with the walk-through openings on each side, would be wrapped in stone from front to back, with the stone continuing all the way up to the angled ceiling, as shown in the lower right photo. We hadn’t chosen a fireplace yet, but Scott had a contact at the aptly named Stove Shoppe, and he was scheduled to come out at the end of the week.

I looked up the fireplace sizes, and typical TV sizes, and cut out some cardboard to create a mock up, which I stapled to the wall. The TV cardboard is sized and cut to a 60″ TV, and I measured and placed them based on the specifications for how high a TV should be above a gas fireplace, including a mantel. Then I took photos for Bob, walked around it for a while, asked Brian and Jim’s opinion, and sat in front of the fireplace and TV wall in a chair…. and did it some more. It works best for both Bob and I to have mock-ups and live with something for a bit to really know if it is the right thing….

Bob and I came to two conclusions: 1. The TV was too high on the wall, and would have to be higher still if we wanted a larger TV (yes, please). Craning your neck or leaning back to watch a show out of the correct part of your glasses (for those of us with bi-focals) was not the right answer. 2. From the living room, the fireplace looked too low, and not at all proportional to the height and size of the future stonework. Additionally, the bottom of the fireplace really should be about the same height as the seat of the chairs and couch surrounding the seating area (22-24″) – otherwise the flames would be hidden from sight by the furniture. And would there be a place for a hearth stone? Hmmm. We might need to re-think this…. Bob was in this process on regular FaceTime calls!

Outside, fall was happening. The colors were not as vibrant as last year, but still pretty against a blue sky. We were entering a relatively mild spell, just like last year… it is hard to believe that this week in 2020 it was in the 60’s, and we had big lifts and exterior painting happening! A whole year gone, what?

You might recall a post about the Dread Pirate Roberts… No, not him, drat…. the Dread Japanese Knotweed – that evil invasive plant that was taking over the backyard. I knew nothing about this scourge previously, and now I am on a first name basis with the NH Cooperative Extension horticulture specialists. This plant reproduces by rhizomes, and instead of having roots as we normally know them, the rhizomes can travel underground up to 60′ away and pop up plants – that can grow up to 8′ tall, in addition to pieces of the plant itself being carried on your tools or shoes to another place, and randomly start growing there too! Therefore, mowing it or cutting it will just keep spreading it! It can, they say, only be killed by removing all light (like covering the ENTIRE area with black plastic for 3-4 MONTHS), or using chemical warfare, like Round Up (which is also evil), or both. No good choices here, AT ALL. The extension agent recommended that I apply Round Up in the fall, when the rhizomes were drawing nutrients from the plants underground (as opposed to spring when the process is reversed). So, before I left in October, I suited up in protective gloves, mask, etc. and took my tank sprayer to the back yard – there were SO many of the bastards growing just everywhere. (Sadly, they say it takes several years to completely (or mostly) eradicate the infestation, and even then you are at risk for a resurgence… and this is exactly where I want a garden, and wildflowers, and lovely nature…..)

Lastly, for something positive, before I left Maryland, I took a few shots of the interesting (to me) art that I have collected over the years, from many parts of the world (although it wasn’t always me that did the traveling!). The 18″ gong, (currently flanked by Garudas), I can see displayed in a custom made specialty wood stand on a small table somewhere in our house… it helps me to imagine my art (and personal things) with me, when all around me at the Black Sheep Tower is in chaos.

And there is more chaos to come! ūüôā Bring it on!

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