June 24th, 2008


Warm Friends ...

... warm house.

Sunday, our friends and family met The Tree House, and The Tree House met our friends and family -- and the extraneous new neighbor or two.

I very much wanted to have an open house as a house warming for our new house.  Husband wanted to "get it over with" if we were going to do it.  And I have learned from experience that, if I wait until we're "settled," we will never have a house warming.  So, we took over a bare minimum of tables and chairs, threw a couple of futons over un-upholstered love seats I inherited from my mother (original upholstery was far too smokey for civilization) and brought in party trays.  Add guests and tours of the house, and you have instant house warming.

Not all of our dearest and nearest could join us, but sufficient number of good people did attend, and the house was indeed warmed to the idea of fun, laughter, love and friendship.  It has been declared a party house; now it merely has to live up to its reputation.

Thanks to all who helped with the birthing of this dream.

We invited our new neighbors, who are really great people.  One has already offered to help with our landscaping (I very much admire what he did with his own -- they live across the road), and the other has already offered to help us get our land native and into conservatorship.  He and his wife actually live outside the subdivision, on the road that parallels our main road.  They bought 4 of the subdivision lots, however, and just finalized the paperwork last week to turn it into land preserve, so it will never be developed.  Their parcels constitute the main portion of the wetlands (we have the rest), so there is state aid available, and he is going to introduce us to the right people.  His wife works at the feline refuge where we got the sisters, Trick and Treat.  So we already know we're compatible folk.

We also invited the artisans who made our house so special.  Erik, of course, was the man of the hour.  As I recall, he gave his
card out to 4 different folks, so I hope I've brought his some business!  Ron Dean, who did the beautiful work on the entryway slate tiles, also came in for some accolades.  Erik described to Ron what we're thinking of doing for a surround for the fireplace in the family room, and Ron is going to give some thought to how he would incorporate the same slate tile into the surround, and give me a quote.

The youngest of my father's sisters-in-law, and the one cousin on my father's side who was closest to my parents and kept in touch with me,  both came.  They did a lot of catching-up, although I could only join in spurts.  Still, it was nice to have some real blood relations there to represent all the ones spread across the country.

Now, the move starts in earnest.

DHD friends:  I've not forgotten you.  I owe more stories about the construction.  I have a list of things I've not discussed, and I'll be posting those over the next weeks.  Orlo -- I will have time to check in on your blog, now, so I'll see you there.

Too good not to share

compliments of my mother-in-law

Mom sent me the following in email.  Since the "original" has no attribution, I can't share it, either.

              Railroad tracks.

              This is rather fascinating.  Be sure to read the final paragraph.  Your understanding of it  will depend on the earlier part of the content.

              The U.S. standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.

              Why was that gauge used?  Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US railroads.

              Why did the English build them like that?  Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

              Why did 'they' use that gauge then?

              Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

              Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing?  Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

              So who built those old rutted roads?  Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions.  The roads have been used ever since.

              And the ruts in the roads?  Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels.

              Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.  Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

              Bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a Specification/ Procedure/Process and wonder 'What horse's backside came up with it?', you may be exactly right.  Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horses' backsides.) 

Now, the twist to the story: 

               When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad,there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah.

              The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.   The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel.

              The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

              So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's butt.

              And you thought being a horse's butt wasn't important? Ancient horses'  butts control almost everything.

              ....And CURRENT horses' butts are controlling everything else....Any questions?
~Author Unknown
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