IT’S ALL ON TOP – Marilyn Armstrong

EVERYTHING IS ON THE TOP

These are top pictures. Top of the line, top of the heap, top of the steeple. These are all the top of something. Exactly what depends on the picture.

But they are all, definitely, absolutely and totally, on top of something! Let’s enjoy the bird’s eye view of reality. Or look at the peak and think of how high we could go.

High in the sky, a helicopter

Three top-of-the roof pigeons

On Top of the World

On top of the rail yet still looking up

ARCHITECTURE ON TOP OF THE WORLD – DAY 2 – Marilyn Armstrong

ON TOP OF THE WORLD 

I’ve taken a lot of pictures of this church. Since it was abandoned now about 10 years ago, it has been slowly dying of neglect. What a pity. it’s a classic clapboard New England church. It could be a museum, a place for town history. It ought to be something and not allowed to simply collapse.

But that’s what is happening, so I take a lot of pictures. Because one of these days, it will really collapse or be knocked down.

The steeple on top of the world

A CENTURY OR MORE – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Over 100 Years Old


Lucky us! We live in an old town. We officially became a town in 1662 and quite a few of our building were built in the 1700s and a few, even earlier.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Built in 1882

1707

Another from the 1880s

Built 1720

VICTORIAN HOUSES – Marilyn Armstrong

We all think we’d like to live in one of those mansions. I know several people who bought one and tried to restore it. They acquired them with the best of intentions. They saw in their minds glorious images of perfectly finished wood paneling and ceiling beams with miniature gargoyles and carved balustrades in the hallways.

Gleaming wood floors and a kitchen big enough to run a restaurant with a dining room to match.

Despite those dreams, everyone ultimately gave up. The reality was too expensive. Every piece of every part that needed repair was too expensive and many parts had to be bought from places that collect parts of fallen down buildings and sell them to would-be restorers. It was just too much house and in due time, they moved on.

One couple actually finished the job. The house was magnificent. Then, they went bankrupt.

These are wonderful homes. Big rooms with plenty of light from windows much taller than me. High, airy ceilings, hand carvings, and stunning hand-carved wood interior decorations. But with those beautiful parts came rooves that were incredibly expensive to repair and early 1900s wiring never designed for modern appliances. Plus primitive plumbing that needed to be completely redone.

Those gigantic rooms and 12-foot ceilings made the homes much more expensive to heat than a “normal” house. Everything that made the house beautiful also made it a problem for a modern homeowner. Most particularly,  the sheer size and lack of insulation in these houses as well as the lack of modern infrastructure.

Beacon Hill mansion

These homes were designed to house large families with lots of children and probably two or three generations from babies to great granddad. And maybe the odd aunt or cousin, too.

Did I mention that they don’t have closets? What they considered a closet, we would call a “tie rack.” Because most people had a set of fancy clothing, an outfit for Sunday church-going, and work clothing. They didn’t need the amount of storage we’re used to.

Classic Victorian “Painted Lady”

In the real world, as we get older we realize we don’t need a 3-story house with 8 bedrooms and only one bathroom. We’d be fine with a single-story house, two bedrooms with one and a half baths. And hefty closets.

Luxury? How about a small fireplace and a fenced yard for the dogs?

In my middle years, I yearned for large and open. With tall windows. Oh, those windows!

For a brief time, I owned a one-fifth of a Victorian. It was a one-bedroom flat on the first floor of a much bigger house. By the time I bought it, the house had been broken up into five apartments — four in the main house and an even bigger one on what would have been the attic level. My piece was not huge by square footage, but it felt bigger than it was

It was elegant with twelve-foot ceilings and polished elm flooring. It cost me almost a thousand dollars to have simple cotton curtains made for the windows. Not fancy drapes, mind you. Just enough to cover those 7-foot windows.

My apartment was on the first floor and was not in the country. You had to have window coverings. I lived there for less than a year and then Garry and I got married. The apartment only had one small bathroom with no room for another. Garry and I can share many things, but NOT one bathroom.

NO closets. Well, in theory, the bedroom had a shallow closet good for hanging a bathrobe, a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt.  Real Victorian houses in their time never stored much. Whatever they own was on display. The rooms were huge, but there was no room to move in them. They were unbelievably cluttered with lamps, vases, statuary, knick-knacks, pottery wildlife and often, many dogs. You had to be a ballet dancer to not knock over the breakables — and it was ALL breakable.

Pre-plastic, everything was fragile although often surprisingly ugly.

Victorian, but a farmhouse along the river

We tried to buy the other (empty) apartment across the hall, but the condo association got confused by the concept. I don’t know why because combining two condos is not such an unusual thing and wasn’t even 30 years ago, but they got all fluttery about it. We gave up and moved elsewhere. I rented it out for a couple of years, then I went bankrupt.

No one wanted the apartment. At that particular time, this area was unsaleable and had gone far downhill. The GE plant had left with its jobs and the drug dealers had moved in. The bank canceled the mortgage and but I kept the place. I gave it to my son who lived in it with his wife and my granddaughter until finally, he passed it along to an ailing friend who completely remodeled it. It’s gorgeous and looks just the way I’d have done it if I’d had the money.

Many of these glorious “painted ladies” have been broken into pieces for condos. It’s probably the only way to maintain them. At least that keeps them as one building because otherwise, they end up falling down to make room for more sensible housing.

These are houses to dream about and for which we yearn. If you are wealthy, you can fix them up and live there, but you need some pretty big money to make them livable and it takes years to bring them up to reasonably modern living standards. Not only hundreds of thousands of dollars but a lot of patience. It helps if you don’t have to live in them while they’re being remodeled — if you want to come out of your reconstruction sane.

Not a Victorian, a big farmhouse

At this point, I can’t imagine dealing with so much room. I can barely take care of this house which is less than half the size of one of those Victorians — not counting their basement and attic sections. For most of us, Victorian homes exist to admire. Otherwise, they are the highest maintenance houses ever built with far too many stairways and an awful lot of glass.

When my rare moments of yearning come to me, I watch “Meet Me In St. Louis.” That makes me feel better and I can sing along, too.

THREE ANGLES: BOSTON STATEHOUSE – Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Three Angles

From the back, Boston Statehouse – Built 1795–1798

From the front, Boston statehouse

Closer

Boston’s statehouse’s resemblance to the U.S. Capital is not accidental. The Capital’s cornerstone was laid by George Washington on September 18, 1793. The building was completed in 1800. Both buildings used the same architect (Charles Bulfinch) and were built during the same decade.

A TINY CHURCH – Marilyn Armstrong

Gallery

This gallery contains 6 photos.

It’s a tiny church hidden behind houses in Amherst. If you don’t know to look, you would never find it. About the size of my living room and dining room combined, the cross on top is a bit crooked. Such … Continue reading

PORTLAND STREET ART – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I recently spent two days with friends in Portland, Oregon, the Vermont of the West. Pot is legal and the arts are thriving, all over town.

Our friends drove us and walked with us all around town so we got a good overview of the city.

Beautiful design on a billboard in town

This design covered two buildings next to each other

Artwork on the side of a building

The side of another building. I love the whimsy of this one!

Another cool scene on the side of a building

Courtyard entrance to a shop

On our drive through town, I took a picture of an interesting sculpture I saw on the porch of a house. Later that night, our friends drove us to a local tourist attraction – a psychedelic light show that a local resident projects every night. I realized that this was the house with the interesting ‘sculpture’ – much more interesting with the lights!

ANGLES: CEE’S BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Lines Angles

I love angles in black & white. Please forgive me if I reuse a few favorite pictures I love so much, I just have to use them.

Cee's Black-White

 

POINTING WITH BEAK AND PEAK – Marilyn Armstrong

Judy’s “To the Point” Photo Challenge

Upside down pointy

Downy woodpecker – pointy!

Kayak pointed

DESIGN AT DISNEY – BY ELLIN CURLEY

On my recent trip out West, we went to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA for a day. I was struck by the beautiful design elements and artistic touches I saw all over the California Park. There were also many California Craftsman style pieces as well as Art Deco, often in the most mundane places.

Walt Disney with a map of the original Disneyland

The park is dotted with artistic plant arrangements and mini gardens

California Craftsman style fountain. Similar to Art Deco style.

Pseudo Frank Lloyd Wright style building, with his iconic stonework patterns

My favorite – a total art deco pretzel stand! Gorgeous!

Closeup of a colorful mosaic over a bench

A larger section of the mosaic over a bench

A FEW MORE SHOWER INSTALLATION PICTURES – Marilyn Armstrong

I hardly ever find a use for my wide-angle lens, but this was perfect. The bathroom is very narrow, so I got a few extra shots using my 12-mm Olympus lens. It gets much better color than the Panasonic lens does and I think also a sharper finish, too.

The room, well-lit

You can see a little more of the way the whole interior of the shower looks, too.

Plenty of room for our “stuff.”

It’s quite spacious since it takes up all the space that used to be used by the full-sized tub. Also, the seat is kind of pebbly, so it isn’t slippery. Very comfortable to sit on.

It’s comfortable. And so nice and clean!

FENCES AND GATES IN BLACK & WHITE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Fences and Gates

Sometimes I know I’ve got material in my folders. Sometimes I think maybe I might have something … but where? This time, though I knew. For one thing, fences are one of the pictures I enjoy turning into black and white, so I was pretty sure I not only had them, but I had them converted.

I was (for once) right and (for twice) was able to find them easily. Black and white. Fences and gates!

A little bit of snow and a deck railing

A lot of snow and the front gate – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Farmyard fence

Western fence — Photo: Garry Armstrong

Along Rockport Harbor

BATHROOM REDO AND THE BUSYNESS OF LIFE – Marilyn Armstrong

Have I mentioned we’ve been a little bit busy?

We have indeed been a little bit busy and more than a little pressed for time. Everything seems to happen at the same time. For me, all my medical stuff happens in March.

Installing plumbing

The bathtub is already gone.

For reasons I don’t entirely understand, most of my major surgeries have occurred in March which is why I’ve spent so many birthdays in the hospital. It’s also why I have so many physical work-ups in March.

Putting in the glass doors

I suppose in a way it’s good. I get everything sorted out in a month or maybe six weeks and with a little luck, I don’t have to think about it again for another six months or a year. But the period of time makes life pretty hectic and the older we get, the harder these hectic periods are for us. I get tired quickly and these days, Garry wears out fast too.

Utility wall and shower

Bench end

Add to that all the changes I’ve been making in sorting out our utilities and this major change in the house … and there are more to come. I’ve still got to get the chimney repaired before it falls down.

Bench end with sink and window

As much of the room as I could fit into the picture!

Did I mention that someone apparently took a baseball bat to our mailbox? And our across-the-street neighbor’s mailbox too? And our around the block neighbor’s mailbox too? Apparently, that’s what bored teenage boys do in rural neighborhoods in winter when there’s absolutely nothing to do. So we can’t get mail delivered until we get a new mailbox and post — which we can’t do until the ground melts and the snow is gone. Which is going to be a few more days, assuming we don’t get any more freezes.

Winter makes everything somehow busier. The plowing and the shoveling and the expense of paying the plow which is huge for our small budget.

Another view of the bathroom. Looks pretty good!

And everything will settle down in another month or so I fondly believe. Meanwhile, here are some pictures. I’ll try to get some better ones with a wide-angle lens tomorrow assuming we have reasonable light.

It’s supposed to rain. Or maybe not.

Will There Ever Be A Mile-High Skyscraper? – REBLOG -SCIENCE SWITCH

In order to build the Temple Mount in Israel, they dug all the way down to bedrock and started the support walls there. Otherwise, it would have sunk. So the deal is still basically the same, but I guess there are fewer guys with shovels and picks and huge boulders … and more machinery?

ScienceSwitch

Frank Lloyd Wright, an architect, put forward a proposal to build a mile-high skyscraper, a building five times as high as the Eiffel Tower. Many slammed at the architect and argued that the tower would collapse. But today, bigger and bigger buildings are appearing. How did this happen?

Via – TED-Ed

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