Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A recipe for summer!

Here I was going to rattle on about weights and measures once again, but I noticed this recipe in the cook book section of my 1909 copy of "Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis's Cookbook".
Being an avid coffee drinker (about a quart a day) and seeing that this only listed two ingredients I realized that it was a recipe I could follow.

"Iced Coffee with Orange Flavor

1 quart strong coffee
2 cupfuls sugar

Boil the ingredients 10 minutes. Allow this to cool and add to each cup or glass 1 tablespoon orange syrup and the same amount of cream partially whipped. The orange syrup may be obtained at a drug store or made by allowing cut oranges to stand in sugar and straining off the juice."

Now I'm sure that with modern refridgeration and ice making this will taste great on any hot day. I know what I can make tomorrow!

You will just have to wait to hear about the establishment of "Standard Time" in 1883.

Friday, June 24, 2005

What were they thinking? Part 1

I took Elizabeth out for a walk today around the neighborhood. I took the camera with me because I wanted to capture the strange and unusual for all of you to view.

Some people do really strange things. Look at this window.The wall was built up to support it I'm sure and the hole allows light into the basement window.

This other one, well, your guess is as good as mine. These houses sit next to each other so the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it?

Now look at this sign. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Some Hill Billy kant spel..... that's what happens I guess when you have a festival by Pennsyltuckians for Pennsyltuckians. At least with all the attendees there will be a full set of teeth! I wonder if the contractor who mooned me will be there?

Then there is this. Click on the picture to enlarge it.

This is one of our fine neighborhood funeral homes. In fact it was originally built by the same guy who built our house. Supposedly as a wedding gift for his daughter, Marianna. I don't think they realized the implications this could have. Would you want that awning over your front door?

Dumb Contractors

My neighbor's property is a rental unit. Every year he gets cited by the city to paint some portion of the house or garage. He has always made minimum effort to get the old paint off the structure and so has this problem every year.

This year he got a ticket. He has hired some local cowboy to put vinyl siding on the house and replace the garage roof. The cowboy has a crew of young guys do the work, when they show up. Whenever they get a chance they smoke pot in the garage. They have become a problem for me. The have destroyed all of my 5 year old hostas at the side of the house. The plants are completely flattened. You can see for yourself. They have also put branches and shingle in front of my garage door so that we have difficulty parking the car. This was the growing pile today. My garbage can was filled to the brim yesterday with their trash. I couldn't put my own trash in it!I don't know how these guys get work, their referral network must really suck.These guys are absolute morons!

Actually, I take that back. I underestimated them. I thought they were morons but now I know they are cretins. When I went out today to confront them and the property owner, they insulted me and one of them even mooned me! (Sorry but I wasn't quick enough with the camera to get that picture.) The property owner was polite as usual. What they don't realize is, that as the president of our neighborhood association, I will do my best to see that they don't get any more work in this neighborhood. We don't want our residents supporting their drug habit now, do we?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Weights and Measures Part 3

I know you would all like to read about what I'm doing on the house but I'm back to stripping paint off window and door frames this week and I wouldn't want to bore you with that. So I will bore you with this instead.......

A cord of wood is a pile of cut wood that is 8 feet long, 4 feet wide and 4 feet high. It contains 128 cubic feet. A cord foot is 4 feet long, 4 feet wide and 1 foot high.

See, this is much more interesting than hearing about me stripping paint off of wood, isn't it?

Liquid measure

Soon after the discovery of America in 1492 the English established a standard gallon measure that held 8 pounds of wheat of 12 ounces troy each. This was determined by statute to contain 268.8 cu. inches of water at 62 degrees F and was called the Winchester gallon. This was readily adopted in America and it became necessary to establish a national standard for customhouse purposes. On May 1, 1830 a resolution of the U.S. senate procured the construction of a set of uniform standard weights and measures to be supplied to all customhouses. For this purpose a Winchester gallon of water at a temperature of 39.83 degrees F., was taken as the standard and afterwards legalized by Congress. Hence the legal capacity was fixed at 231 cubic inches of water. As a result there was a considerable discrepancy between the English and American Winchester gallon.In the meantime, by an act of Parliament effective January 1, 1826, the capacity of a British gallon was made such to contain 10 pounds avoirdupois of distilled water at 62 degrees F. or nearly 277.5 cubic inches. This is the Imperial gallon and the only legal gallon in Britain for liquid or dry measure.

Confused yet?

Here is a table of United States standard measures for liquid or wine.

4 gills - 1 pint(pt.) 28 7/8
2 pints - 1 quart(qt.) 57 3/4 cu. in.
4 quarts - 1 gallon(gal.) 231 cu. in.
31.5 gal - 1 barrel(bbl.)
2 barrels - 1 hogshead(hhd.) 63 gallons
2 hogsheads - 1 pipe or butt
2 pipes - 1 tun
282 - 1 beer gallon
36 beer gallons - 1 barrel

Here is the Imperial table

5 ounces avoirdupois of water = 1 gill
4 gills - 1 pint 34.66
2 pints - 1 quart 69.5 cu. in
4 quarts - 1 gallon 277.25
31.5 gals. - 1 barrel
42 gals. - 1 tierce
63 gals - 1 hogshead
2 hogsheads - 1 pipe or butt
2 pipes - 1 tun

Now for that info you have been waiting for!

7.5 English gallons = 1 firkin of beer
4 firkins = 1 barrel of beer

Now you know exactly what a firkin is!
See, I knew I could fit beer into a houseblog some how!

Monday, June 20, 2005

My Vacation Home(s)

Several times a year we venture off to places near and far if possible, but always seem to end up in the 17th century. As such I have to take my home with me. This isn't too hard since it is made of canvas. In fact I have 5 such vacation homes, all identical although two have more mud adhering to them than the others. Here is a picture of several of them.


  They tend to be rather small compared to the old "CrackHouse". They sleep two and have no electric or plumbing. The kitchen looks sort of like this; 


Every year we try to attend the Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin, Ohio (near Columbus). We set up a small recruitment camp and perform drills throughout the day. This year the festival is August 5-7 and generally brings in 50,000 visitors. We get to attend free. Food is provided to all performers (we are considered to be performers!) and we get to hang out and watch some really cool Celtic bands at night. We tend to stay in tents on site but some of the members get hotel rooms. If there are any house bloggers out there that think attending this would be fun let me know. The bad news is the women have to dress like Deborah in the picture above and the guys have to dress like this (I am in the orange coat); 


  I have extra orange coats (orange is not a popular color at an Irish Festival. I am often asked why I am wearing orange. I then get to explain about how wonderful Oliver Cromwell was..... If you know your history you will find humor in this.) I have extra muskets and some hats etc. and of course the extra vacation homes (A-frame tents). If this looks like something you would like to try out, let me know so I can send you off to Goodwill to find some cheap ass shoes that I can cut the sides out of. Additional information: My regiment is the Earl of Essex's Regiment. They were a Parliamentary unit during the English Civil War (1642 - 1653) hence the orange coats. We do this small event with Col. Tilliers Regt. a Royalist Irish Regiment (and thus the reason we attend an Irish Festival). If you have ever considered any kind of re-enacting, this is by far the cheapest period to do. Uniforms are not standardized and if you don't like guns we have these too;


 They won't teach you this in school because according to them history in this country began in 1776 but, the last battle of the English Civil War was fought in Maryland in 1655. Two years after the war had officially ended a unit of Parliamentary "New Model" soldiers was sent to claim the Maryland and Virginia Colonies. A very small battle (300 participants total) took place near the present Bull's Run battlefield between these soldiers and the St. Maries City militia. It is known as the Battle of the Severn and is pretty much forgotten unless you study the history of Maryland. 17th century events are held mostly in the eastern states where settlement occurred during this century and in Florida where many pirate raids are re-created. We have even done some events involving period sailing ships and some relating to the earliest wars with the Indians (who sometimes won in this century), as well as skirmishes involving the Swedish colonists and Dutch colonists. See, the 17th century was great! Everyone was beating up on their rivals so they could take their smokes (tobacco) and steal their furs. So much like prison, today!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I actually need advice!

I know that I give more than I ask for but, I actually need advice. Some of you are more avid gardeners than I am. My desire being lost when we acquired the "Old CrackHouse". Right now I am just trying to maintain it at the residence. The "CrackHouse" yard looks like some woodland scene right now.
What will get rid of thistle? This stuff won't quit! It looks nice on a prairie but not in my back yard! If you pull it up, five more replace it, if you cut it down it branches out and "Round-up" won't eliminate it....

Sections of my yard are looking like "The Day of The Triffids" (did I just age myself?). I could try salt water but I think the thistle will suck it up and spew more thistle!

My other thought is napalm........ but the neighbors might complain........ just a little.

Monday, June 13, 2005

There be treasure under thar!

During one of my putzing moments I started to strip paint from the mantle in the master bedroom uncovering some nasty burn marks in the wood. (Which explains why it was painted.) I concluded that it would be easier if I removed the mantle from the wall, so I removed it. After stripping the paint from the alabaster hearth I thought "If I could lift this out and get it downstairs then I could polish it." So, I did that too. Here is the room now....


The space below the hearth is filled with rubble and ashes and this stuff!



There are several bits of paper. One is a calendar page from May 1883, there is a receipt from Legler and Barlow Co. Here is what I found about them; "In 1865 Messrs. Legler, Barlow & Co., began the dry-goods trade in Dayton. This branch of commercial industry requires more skill and offers a wider field for legitimate operation than any of the other industries, hence the dry-goods traffic needs to be mentioned in order to make this book complete. We find by careful inquiry that the well-known and popular house of Legler, Barlow & Co., of Nos. 35 and 37 North Main street, ably represent this branch of commerce in Montgomery. They import and job all kinds of dry-goods and notions, and enjoy the confidence of the entire public. They use for the prosecution of' their business a building 140x40 feet, five stories. All members of this firm are gentlemanly to all." There is a pair of scissors (that work well) as well as some china and glass shards, a broken piece of a hinge and some HELP WANTED ADS


  I found the ads amusing myself. Work seems as if it was so much simpler then.....

Patching plaster and covering cracks!

I have taken a diversion into the master bedroom while waiting on some tile to arrive that will finish my shower pan and allow me to grout it. I have been patching cracks with mesh tape and smoothing the walls with joint compound. Two areas were particularly bad as this room settled away from the main house after the bay addition was installed around 1890. There were two floor - ceiling cracks that extend up into the attic as well as the full length of the parlor walls below. They are right where the addition was attached to the house. The cracks were filled with a combination of caulk, "great stuff" and patching plaster depending on the width at various locations, taped over and then joint compounded! There was a portion of wall around one of these cracks with extensive water damage due to efflorescence. It is mostly smooth now. I am on my 2nd bucket of joint compound already. Anyway, if you want to know how to get nice crisp corners without buying the metal or plastic ones


 Yes, that is a plank of wood attached to the wall! When patching plaster to brick, it is wise to wet the brick first so that it doesn't suck the moisture out of the plaster. I also add sand to the plaster to give it more volume and fill the space but keep it recessed from the wall surface. I then use the joint compound to smooth over the patch. If you plaster over wood lath it is easier if you staple some metal lath to it first or some wire mesh to which the plaster can "key" or hold on to.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow...

There was a little girl who had a little curl Right in the middle of her forehead


  And when she was good she was very good indeed 


 And when she was bad she was horrid 


 Words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807 - 1882 Pictures with the co-operation of Elizabeth age 2 whilst eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Weights and Measures Part 2

Did you know that a pound of iron weighs more than a pound of gold? However an ounce of gold weighs more than an ounce of iron! Let me explain;

There are three principle systems of weights in general use: avoirdupois weight (the universal standard) from the Norman "Avon du poids" or "goods of weight"; Troy weight for coinage, precious metals and jewelry (From Troyes, in France where this was first used in Europe): and apothecaries weight used by druggists and physicians.

Way back in the Middle Ages grains of wheat were used to establish a standardized system of weights. 32 grains and later 24 grains established the weight of an English silver penny also known as pennyweight (dwt. or pwt).

On the Troy standard;

24 grains = 1 pennyweight (dwt.)
20 pennyweights = 1 ounce (oz.)
12 ounces = 1 pound (lb.)
1 pound = 5760 grains
1 ounce = 480 grains

For the gem collectors out there or in case you really wondered about the size of your best friend's diamond ring - 1 carat = 3.2 troy grains.

Avoirdupois weight has both English and American variations (we aren't just two nations separated by a common language). they are basically this;


16 drams = 1 ounce (oz.)
16 ounces = 1 pound (lb.)
25 pounds = 1 quarter (qr.)
4 quarters = 1 hundredweight (cwt.)
20 hundred = 1 ton (T.)
2000 pounds = 1 ton


27 11/32 grains = 1 dram
16 drams = 1 ounce
16 ounces = 1 pound
14 pounds = 1 stone
2 stone or 28 pounds = 1 quarter
4 quarters = 1 hundredweight
20 hundred = 1 ton
2240 pounds = 1 ton

The avoirdupois pound has 7000 troy grains.
The avoirdupois ounce has 437.5 troy grains.

The apothecaries use the Troy standard except that an ounce is divided as follows;

20 grains = 1 scruple
3 scruples = 1 dram
8 drams = 1 ounce troy
12 ounces = 1 pound troy

All this information is in my copy of Household Discoveries & Mrs Curtis's Cookbook (1909) that we bought on one of our antique mall excursions. I haven't even got to the cook book section yet.
You know, this book should be added to the curriculums in public school! Hmmmm, on second thought maybe not. Some of the people in my town might take to washing their mattresses with gasoline.... (see my earlier post on this subject.)

You want to know the local pick up line?
"Nice tooth!"

Monday, June 06, 2005

Things are not what they seem....

It would appear that I have been duped! For the last month I thought, I really thought that my pigeons had gone. They haven't! Now there are two more!

I noticed that there was some old style glass fiber insulation on the floor of the balcony, the kind that is in the attic of the "cottage" side of the house. So I stuck my head up into the attic and there I saw two young pigeons with undeveloped tail feathers. They obviously can't fly yet because they would have taken off. Mama or Papa was nearby watching me.

Damn birds didn't leave at all. They just relocated to the inside of my attic. I think it is time to put a ceiling up on the balcony!

I must admit, these birds have been pretty good about limiting the amount of guano deposits on the balcony, which is why they have remained undetected these past weeks.

If only some of my neighbors were as clean as these birds.......

Thursday, June 02, 2005

This you HAVE to see!

This is amazing, I have actually managed to impress myself! Last year I stained and urethaned two doors. I thought that they looked good and was happy with the result. Here are some pictures. If you click on them you can see a larger image.


   These are brand new pine doors from Home Depot. Well, yesterday I stained two more doors. Again brand new from Home Depot using the same "Golden Oak" stain BUT this time I put on three coats of Zinsser "Bullseye" amber shellac and NO polyurethane. Besides the fact that I had both doors finished and hung in the same day (because the shellac dries in 45 minutes), they look like they have been in this house for 100 years! Look at these pictures



 WOW! I know that I keep pimping this stuff but, if you need to replace a door with a new one and want it to look like it has always been there, then shellac is the way to go! I know of two doors that are going to get the shellac treatment sometime soon! Amazing, simply amazing....