Tag Archives: demolition

It’s Not the Little Things

It’s the big ones.

This Summer, anyway. The little things are getting done, bit by bit. I’ve been hauling more rocks (a little at a time, in the more hospitable temperatures of nearly-night) to get the rock walls done. The “Sunflower Forest” is growing nicely. (Freakishly, even.) The side yard grass is establishing nicely. The vegetables and perennials are growing well.

(The new section of rock wall, sunflowers, tansy behind)

Those are all little things.

As for the big things, I gotta get a plan going, no matter how much I don’t like it. The 40×40 house-hole is now about leveled off. I need to get a load of sand/soil to fill it. I need to cut up (a ton of) wood for use in the cabin during the Winter. And I need to get the last (huge) piles of junk house cut-up/hauled away/whatever.

Does it count as an Official Plan if I say I’ll get to it all when the weather is cooler?



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The Hole

I’ve never gotten a decent photo of the hole-full-of-rocks where the house used to be. Don’t know why it never occured to me to take one out of the window from in the RV. It won’t be there much longer – gonna have the hole filled in a few weeks – but here it is, folks. At the back of the photo, that’s the stone wall along the front of the property.

Off to run some errands today, maybe even getting the canoe out of storage! Highs are in the 40s this week, but it’s sunny. Warm weather is coming, Friends!


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The Franklin County Glitteratti

I was just reminiscing about the time Dr. Trudeau came by the house. Several times, actually. And Paul Smith came by repeatedly. And P.T. Barnum. Yes, yes. I wasn’t actually there. However, our little hamlet was the pass-thru to Paul Smith’s famous resort once upon a time. And after the railroad came in and the train station was built, our hundred-yard-hamlet was the station stop for the hotel, guests being taken the final two miles by coach. 

When we took down our unfortunate old house, we found a little something underneath it. The foundation, beams, and log joists from an very, very old log cabin. From photos, we were able to see that the house dated to at least 1915. But underneath, the original structure was much older. Before the 1880s, the only real structures were a few trapper cabins along the main road. Perhaps the solution to the mystery lies there.  There’s been a dwelling here on this old road a really long time. So, you see, all those folks really did pass within a few feet of our door. 

Town-wise, we’ve had John Burroughs, Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone. Marjorie Merriweather Post moved in down the street, summers only. Calvin Coolidge was here, using Miss Post’s camp as a Summer White House. I imagine one or two of them must have cast a shadow on our old front porch, being as the village store has always been next door. 

True, the “new” Grange Hall (built in the 1930s) is now a good friend’s antique store. And the old Legion Hall has been turned into a beautiful house and studio. But most of the original building are gone. History disappears so easily. I used to idealistically think that I was not someone who would ever tear down a 130-year-old house. But, I’ve learned that a house is not good just because it’s old. Still, I felt a little bad about that; taking down the oldest house left.

I’m comforted a bit when I think about the fact that the original cabin foundation is now a rock wall along the front. And I have sixteen of those 150 year old logs from the original cabin structure. They’ll end up in our house, or maybe a nice, tough barn. I certainly can’t let that old trapper’s hard work go to waste.

Those rocks and logs belong to the property as far as I am concerned; and they’re staying right here.


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The Old Girl’s Gone

I guess we can’t quite call it official yet – I still need to get a load of loamy sand brought in to fill up the rubble hole, but it’s gone, friends. All 1500 square feet of it. The angles aren’t quite the same in the pics, but you get the idea. Our little patch here is maybe twenty feet wider on the left than the second photo shows … and it no longer features a big, ugly house!

The temptation to spend hours Photoshopping a new, Adirondack-style house into that second photo? Let’s just say it’s lucky I no longer have the program on my computer!




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Dear Diary

Busy day here, and that’s an opportunity. I thought it might be fun to present the day’s news in a slightly different format. Today I’m totally “Dear Diarying.” Only you’re the diary. And I’m hoping that it might be vaguely interesting to see what exactly it is I do around here all day. 

7am –  Unseasonably warm in the Northern Adirondacks – 50s and sunny. All the same, I didn’t feel much like playing with the chickens this morning – maybe I didn’t sleep well. Felt unusually tired. I let the hens out into the run, filled food bowls and changed their water. They seemed happy enough with just that. 

8:00am – Went to fill the water tank on the RV (one of my morning chores), but … froze hose. Set the hose out in the sun for a while. Grabbed a cup of coffee at the store in the time being. The Sun did the trick. Must remember to get one more length of heat tape and pipe insulation. 

9:00am – Walked up to the post office to get the mail, and noticed a pair of dogs roaming around out back of my friend’s antique shop in the old grange hall. I stuck my head in the door of the workshop to see if he knew anything about ’em, but he wasn’t there.  By the time I got back, the dogs were in my yard! They were gone soon enough. Don’t know exactly where they went. 

10:15am – Had an awesome cup of coffee and good-natured chat out on the porch of the store with my friend from over Onchi. It’s a morning ritual (as you know), but today was especially nice. 

stones11:00am – I discovered last night that I had placed my Halloween graveyard too far from the road – couldn’t see it tucked back in the trees. So000, I took it all apart and moved them ol’ styro-stones near the road (and even grabbed a few old chunks of rock from the foundation to make a few extra headstones). Got the floodlights hung and bolted in, and we’re all set for a week of Halloweeny goodness. The pic isn’t our yard, but it’s close – gives you the idea. We have the stones, skeletons, fences, and all. It’s not a remarkable display, but respectable. I’ll add the fog machine and some lights in the trees on Halloween night. 

11:30pm – My awesome friend (who was also my teardown guy) came by, and we whiled a way an hour or so sitting on the remains of the foundation chatting about this, that, and the other thing. I don’t have a lot of friends in my age range or specific peer group, so I think of this particular pal as my reverse-friend. That is – twelve years younger, rather than twelve years older. He brought me some earthworms for my chickens. Predictably, it took us 30 minutes to get them to even peck at the stupid things. We’ll see how that shapes up.

Photo_102109_0101:00pm – Quick peanut butter sandwich, and time to move the trailer (pulled by the neighbor’s big red tractor) over to take another load of house-chunks away. I have grown to absolutely loathe this task. The chunks of house are, on average, about 6 feet wide, and 8 feet tall. I guess I don’t even mind the work so much, it’s more that I have been doing it for a month. Today … a reprieve! A neighbor from around the corner was walking by and we had a nice chat. And in the lady-power department, she totally climbed up in the junk pile and helped me flip a huge chunk onto the trailer that I couldn’t lift by myself! Awesome. 

3:30pm – Finished raking up the remaining rubble from where the pile was (I’m particular), and I’m exhausted. But today’s assignment is done. Probably one or two more loads, and the site will be clear. Friend that owns the antique shop in the old grange was coming back from a walk with his dog, and we visited for a few minutes. We chatted about the town nay-sayer – who quipped that “those two boys will never get that house down by hand!” (And then we did.) And that I had no business building a rock wall, and couldn’t do it. (And then I did.) Made me laugh. 

4:00 Dead tired, and I have a hankering for a brown bottle with Mr. Labatt’s name on it. I was never much of a beer drinker, but oddly, I really do find that at the end of a hard-work day, I feel a little less beat-up after a pint. So, I grabbed a beer and headed across the street to another neighbor’s house for a visit.

000_18515:00pm – Still at the neighbors. Funny story – My friend’s toddling daughter went home last night after being across the street at her grandma’s house. Mom noticed something on the little girl’s shoes, and after she got home called Grandma. “Mom, is there crap on her shoes?!” Grandma replied, “Not from my house there isn’t.” Mom takes the little girl to daycare the next morning, and the leader says, “What is that! Is that crap on her shoes?!” And then she smells the shoes. “That is crap! She has crap on her shoes! I’m gonna have to go scrape that off with a knife.” Mom says, “I’m so sorry! I don’t know where it came from!”

The little girl had been over at my house with her grandma, chasing chickens in the chicken yard … running around in chicken crap! 

Which reminds me of a compliment I was paid on Saturday night. A student that I know from the local college mentioned that he hadn’t been around when we were tearing the house down, and wanted to know if we used a backhoe or a bulldozer. “Neither,” I replied, “We used a sawzall, a steel cable, and a jeep.” Impressed, he said that I had officially graduated. I asked him what he meant. He explained, “Tearing down a house with a jeep and a rope? Dude. That is so redneck.”


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City Boy Makes Good

I got a good chunk of the house junk gone yesterday, and did some more work on the rock wall. My awesome friend and demo guy is going to bash down the rest of the foundation next week. Past that, just a little clean-up afterwards. Yes folks, finally. We may not get the rubble covered up with fill dirt before Winter, but that big old junky 1500 square-foot, two-story beast-of-a-house should be completely and utterly gone inside of two weeks.

000_1303I ran into a few old photos today. You know what? I’m proud of myself. We started taking this house down in early/mid July. It took three months, but we did it on our own. Without a single backhoe or bulldozer. Just me and my friend, a jeep, a cable, a few hammers, and a saw. 

It is at this point that I am actually pleased to tell you that there were folks here who said City Boy simply couldn’t do it, that I/we didn’t have the skills, that I didn’t know what I was getting into. A few of those folks have recanted, and have even stepped up to say they’re proud of me. A few others have told me that I’ve really done a nice thing for this community. That’s awesome. I count these folks among my new friends.

The other ones? The ones who talked around corners, razzed my plans behind my back, scolded me for planting trees and tending grass before I had the house down, questioned my methods, offered unsolicited criticism, and have not bothered to consider that maybe they had City Boy pegged wrong? 

Well, you know I’m pretty gentle-hearted. I won’t say too much to ’em. However, I will be sure to point out that every single thing that I said I was going to do, is done. 


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Hobbits Live Here

We’re still in the middle of The Race to Winter here, handling heating and water issues, and getting the house as-gone-as-possible. Awesome working weather – 30s and mild. Yesterday’s project was “the front.” We still had 10′ piles of old house on each side and in front of the house. At this point, we’re down to one side. (Awesome.) Yesterday’s projects included hauling off that front junk pile, and beginning to build a rock wall. 


I’ve always wanted a rock wall. I think they look awesome – totally hobbit. So, I figured, as long as I have a rock foundation to take down, might as well haul some of those big boys out of the hole and build a short wall along part of the front of the property. What I’m doing is saving the 15′ of front foundation wall, building it higher, and adding 20′ on each side. 

The section of wall in the photo is the chunk I built yesterday – the original section is off to the right. Remnants of the old foundation are behind the wall.) I’ll pull some extra rocks out of landscaping, and the remainder will go in the hole where the cellar was. 

On the down side, I smashed a finger. (It’s not too bad.) On the up side, I love the wall. Awesome.


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