Ramble On

Monday, March 31, 2008

Cabin Chores and Projects

Over the weekend, we worked on getting estimates for some of the projects this year. We found a local pool guy and have an appointment to get that estimate started, and we gave a list of projects to Jesse so that he can give us an estimate.

Meanwhile, I went to the Page County Farm Store and picked up some tools - shown in the first photo. I figure, with the number of trees on the lot, having these items is a must. And it is likely I will need a chain saw as well, even though the neighbors have them and would probably lend them, or I could rent one.

Here is the new ax, a sledge hammer, and a wedge. So even if I don't use these on the current tree, I'll use them to chop fire wood.

After purchasing, I decided to test out my new ax. I worked for about an hour on the downed tree on Sunday - cut off about ten large branches and began gathering the smaller branches from around the yard. If this ends up taking too long, we'll get the landscaper out, and have him cut this down into 14-16 inch sections that I can then breakdown into the proper size.

In fact, once I have the branches off, we'll probably have him out to do that anyway. I think I can get it ready for him over the next weekend. We'll see.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Signs of Spring - episode 2

We were back at the cabin this weekend, obtaining some early estimates for this year's projects. All in all a pretty industrious visit, there are several blog posts to catch up on soon.

Here are a few more photos of the spring flowers as they come into bloom...first here is a group of forsythia bushes that are near the entry to our little community. While in Alexandria the forsythia is already past prime, they are in full bloom in the Shenandoah Valley.

Second photo, here is the daffodil drift that had not yet bloomed last weekend. Now most of the blooms are open. In the photo you may just see some small asters that grow wild on the hillside, their purple makes a nice contrast to the yellows and golds of the daffodils.

Last, another photo of the daffodils, this time giving a perspective of the house.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Signs of Spring - episode 1

During our last visit to the cabin, I was pleased to see that the daffodils I planted during the fall have come up - it means the deer missed them, which was my biggest worry. This small patch is one of five patches I had planted around the yard, this one up the hill in the back and just visible out of the clerestory windows in the kitchen and dining room.

This second photo is of an older daffodil drift - it was a surprise to find them. They are planted near the base of the big pine that fell last month. This was taken on Saturday, before they fully opened. The sunny and warm weather on Sunday encouraged them and they may be in full bloom when we are out this weekend.

Two more photos, one of a three year old planting of daffodils at the Alexandria house, these are at the base of the dogwood tree in the front yard. I hope that the ones planted at the cabin will multiply like this - this group started with four bulbs. And our forsythia is blooming, although, in its sunny spot, it is already past peak.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Another one down

We went out for a quick turnaround trip this weekend, leaving Alexandria on Saturday night and spending the day on Sunday, having a nice Easter lunch with some visiting friends. In a later post, I will start a new series called "Signs o' Spring" and snap shots of flowers that bloom at the cabin and at the Alexandria house....

During my normal walk of the lot on Sunday morning, I found that we had another tree down. There are a couple of interesting things about this. First, it is the same species of pine as the other downed tree (which we haven't cleaned up yet and need to), except that this tree was clearly dying, where the other seemed healthy. There are four or five more of these trees located around the lot, with two other evergreen species appearing in similar numbers.

The second thing about this tree's falling is the direction of its fall - in the first photo here, taken from near the earlier fall, you can see that the new trees lies almost parallel with the earlier one.

This tree is further downhill, and while it was on our lot, it now straddles ours and extends into a neighboring unbuildable lot near the little Beaver Run stream. In the second photo, you can see the little stone bridge that the road runs across the stream on, courtesy of the Commonwealth.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Also for Sale in Hawksbill Pines

Two more properties in our subdivision have recently come up for sale. The first is a new cabin, completed in 2008. Unfortunately, it is built in a contemporary style that doesn't match any of the other homes in the neighborhood.

The listing price is $218,900 and it is on a .44 acre lot. MLS number 63232, it is a 3 bed/2bath property.

A second new listing is a .4 acre lot that adjoins the new cabin property, MLS 63233. This lot is between ours and the new cabin - our house is visible in the photo, as is Hawksbill Peak - and the lot has been improved with a septic system.

We are keeping an eye on these. We welcome the chance to have some new neighbors! Regarding the land for sale, most of the lots in this neighborhood are in the .25 acre range, and while unimproved, have been assessed at values more like $5-$6k for property tax purposes.

Adding on March 24, here is a photo from our driveway looking across the empty lot and up the hill to the new cabin:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Meanwhile, back in Arlington...

Since joining a new firm in January, located in the Clarendon area of Arlington, I’ve been able to enjoy a unique view of some site preparations going on in this high density, high growth urban corridor from my office on the 8th floor. This district is home to a lot of mixed-use, transit-oriented development, and it has changed a lot in the nearly 20 years that I have been in the DC area.

I started out with a firm in this neighborhood, as a matter of fact, and with all the new apartments and condos, and retail buildings, it is very different from back then. This old building was located right at the exit of the Clarendon Metro stop. On my first day at work, they had already demolished the rear parts of the building, leaving only the red brick façade, as shown in the second photo.

Then they began the careful demolition of the façade itself, with these large machines that reached, clenched, twisted, and pulverized the concrete and mortar. Over the course of 10 days, they tore down what remained of the building, with limited interruptions of traffic or street life.
Finally, with the building gone, site work and prep has begun for what’s next on the site – we suspect it is another apartment building with retail on the first floor, like those shown surrounding it in the third photo, although it may be an office tower as well.

Currently, they are in the process of breaking up the old concrete and separating the steel rebar out for recycling. Then the “cleaned” concrete is mixed with soil and ground, and is used as fill for the old basement and foundation areas. It is a sustainable approach – we anticipate that the building will include many “green” elements when it is finished. Over the next year or so, I may have some follow-up reports as the building goes up.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Old Post Cards

We have a small collection of postcards with Skyline Drive subjects - we are going to have them framed and put them up on the "gallery" wall in the cabin.

In addition to one of the "alphabet" cards - "Greetings from Skyline Drive" - there are these three new ones, each with an image of a nearby land mark. We found these on eBay today, they are views of some of our favorite spots on Skyline Drive, which overlooks the Valley and is visible on the way into the cabin.

The first is Hawksbill Peak, which dominates our part of the valley. When the leaves are off the trees, the peak is visible from the yard.

The second is Old Rag, the mountain Chris and I hiked up back in November.

The third is a view from Skyline Drive near Stoney Man peak. This pull off area is just before you get to Skyland Lodge on the Drive, and offers a view down into the Shenandoah Valley, mostly of Luray.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Cabin For Sale in the Hawksbill Pines Area

Just came across the listing for one of the "vintage" cabins in our area:

MLS ID# PA6661491
.25 acre
Apparently these folks updated the kitchen, although the realtor.com ad doesn't mention it.

There is another property for sale, but it is "new construction" and did not maintain the stone character of the rest of the neighborhood. May post that at a later date.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Auction Action part 2

So I have been out of the loop a few days, down with a cold. Today we’ll finish up the story about the auction last week.

There were over 200 registered bidders at the auction. The auction began promptly at 10am, with the items that were on display in the back of the house. In the backyard, there were a lot of garage-oriented things, some construction materials, and livestock equipment. Promptly, the temperature dropped and the winds kicked up. After watching the action and getting an idea of how long it would be before the action returned to the front of the house, we decided to go home for an hour or two and get out of the cold. Before we left, we saw a Craftsman tool chest sell for $600, contents included.

An hour later, Mary and I returned without Mom, and the auction was at the front of the house. As the crowd assembled, it was easy to get out of the wind. The “ring men” gathered at the trailer, where the iron pots and pans shown in a previous photo had been arranged. Other significant items on this table were about 30 crocks of various types, sizes, and vintages, 20 or so baskets, and a few other collectable types of items. In short, I expected that there would be a lot of action on these things.

There were three Luray/Page County memorabilia items that we found of interest and had planned to bid for – one was an aerial photo of the old tannery works in Luray; we want to collect a few of these kinds of historical items to display in the cabin. There was a framed set of memorabilia from the Stanley Garage – a photo, one of those old-timey fans people used in church back in the day, and a little calendar. The other was an item we first saw in the Hawksbill Diner – a poster that was distributed when the Hawksbill Pool in Stanley first opened – and we had seen that there were two copies of this in two separate lots in the auction.
This poster features black and white photos of the pool and the dance hall that was built as part of the Hawksbill Pines development, where our cabin is. At the bottom of the poster, there is an ad for quarter-acre cottage lots – which is how our development was started. This was our primary target in the auction, but not having a good idea of its value, Mary and I set a bidding strategy of $25 for the item when it came up.

So the collectables starting going up for bid. The first basket was a large, rectangle shaped one…I was stunned when it sold for $400. The auctioneer said to the winner, “Let’s hope you don’t need a new set of tires this week!” Next, a crock – “that’s an old one” – sold for $300. On it went – baskets in the “multi-Franklin” range, and crocks, too.

The aerial photo came up for bid – there was interest with about five bidders – it went for $70. Then the poster we wanted – about a dozen bidders, we went in twice but the bidding quickly passed $25. We were out of the game, and the hammer was $65 for this item. One last thing, as the auctioneer passed over Mary for another chance when the bidding hit $40, he said, “Where are you going to get another one?” But we had a fallback plan, since we knew there was one coming up later.

As you can see, we were learning quite a bit about our neighbors and how this kind of thing works. After about 30 items were sold from this trailer, there was a guy with about $1500 worth of crocks at his feet, and a woman with about $1200 in baskets. The aerial photo and Hawksbill Pool poster had gone to the same person as well. So, collectors were there in force, and with them bidding against each other, things could get “pricey” in my opinion – probably not in theirs.

Finally the trailer was cleared of items and we moved to the next area, where our poster was among the lots. This trailer featured 50 or so green depression glass items, another 50 pink depression glass items, other china, some vintage military photos (interesting stuff – V-2 test photos, and atomic tests at Bikini Atoll!), three or four old accounting ledgers, and our poster.
The two items I can remember well enough to highlight: Two of the accounting ledgers were sold as a lot; the entries in them were dated in the 1830’s. I hadn’t looked carefully enough to know what the business was. This lot sold for more than $300. The other item was a little matched salt and pepper in pink depression glass; it included a glass caddy. When the hammer fell at $250 – there were as many as 10 people bidding on this item all the way to $200, I was stunned.

Then, finally the ring man picked up a little child’s story book, pretty old. No bids at $5; dropped the price to $3, no bids; dropped the price to $1…no bids. There is another little trick of the trade that had been going on from time to time during this auction when an item generated no interest…the auctioneer would say, “Okay, let’s spice it up” and the ring man would combine another lot with it.

To our surprise, the story book was “spiced up” with our poster. Interest quickly swelled, but this time we knew what to expect. The poster was in much better shape than the previous one, and it included actual photo prints rather than lithographed ones. We figured it would go for more than the $65 we’d seen the previous one go for. Mary did the bidding and stood her ground thanks to her New Jersey heritage. The hammer fell at $100, which was more than we had expected to pay at the beginning of the day but we had learned an awful lot during the process.

Because of the cold, we took off right afterwards and went home to warm up. Here are a couple of final phone cam shots of the loot.

I’m keeping an eye on Mike’s website. This seems like a fun outing to do from time to time out there on the weekends.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Auction Action

The big plan for last Saturday was conceived a couple of weeks ago, when the Page County News and Courier started arriving. I had read about an upcoming auction given by http://www.mikesauctioneering.com/ in Stanley, and having missed the action in a previous one last Fall, we decided we would go and check this one out.
The description of the items on the website was extensive - we have been looking for Hawksbill memorabilia to decorate the cabin with, and that was among the items that were advertised - as was furniture, baskets, crocks, garage equipment and findings,etc. Checking this morning, the information has already been taken down from Mike's site - I was going to cut and paste the list. The auction took place on a property not too far from the cabin, listed by the agent we worked with to buy our place.
First, on arriving at the house the big auction trailer, above, was there in front. This hauls the loudspeakers, registration tables, and a lot of equipment that is associated with doing these on-site, country auctions. After passing by the crowds, you go in and register, getting your bidder's number.

After registering, we came back outside to check some of the items up for bid. You often run into memorabilia that remembers the agricultural heritage of the valley - as seen by these flower sacks and produce labels. We did not stay to see these items auctioned off (it was a very cold day), but we did watch these cast iron, mostly "Griswold" branded, pots and pans as they were sold for bids ranging from $15 to $80.

Also, there was a lot of furniture on sale at the auction - these wardrobes and other items on the porch, for example, and other items in the backyard. We saw a few of these items sold, including the oak farm table shown here, which received a winning bid of $850 (chairs sold separately). Again, we were not after furniture, and now that the cabin and the Alexandria house are fully furnished, we just don't have room for anymore...

In a second auction post, I will share some additional photos of the action, and of our experience with the process.