Friday, January 23, 2015

Grandmother's Rocking Chair

After my parent's passed away and we had to clear out their house, we found in the basement an old platform rocking chair. It had come from my grandmother's estate, hauled from Wisconsin to Oregon.  While my folks likely planned to get it redone, they never did so.  It was in total and complete disrepair.  The fabric was torn, the grass-looking stuffing was disintegrated and it was covered with dirt and even bird poop.  It also had visible rat gnawing on both arms which did not surprise me as my loving, but eccentric, grandmother did not believe in killing any living thing, including rats and mice.
My brother said he didn't want to haul it back to New Hampshire.  I already thought I had enough stuff, but  I was too sentimental to throw it away.  We figured we would take it to the dump, but I kept setting it aside.  When the very last day came, I still couldn't bear to throw it away and stored it for a couple of months in the garage of my very loving and tolerant aunt's home.  After several months we finally drove down to Portland and packed it in the van. I couldn't believe that I was taking it home, but also couldn't quite bring myself to toss it either.  [Sentimentality can not only be costly, but it also takes up a lot of space.  Ask me sometime about the piano we shipped 200 miles and which then required taking the doors and door frame off both the garage entry and the laundry room in order to get it in the rec room.  I do not play the piano, although my folks bought this piano (used) so that I could take lessons when I was 7 or so.   Yes, that is a milk can in that photo.]] 
But back to the chair.  So one day I realized it was time to fish or cut bait so to speak; we needed to either get it fixed and reupholstered or play taps and send it to its final resting place.  I went on line and discovered -- Design Craft Upholstery, a local company that specializes in reupholstering furniture of all eras. I called them and made an appointment to bring the remains of the chair over.  So I dragged the visible skeleton and diseased hanging tissue of the chair over to get it diagnosed.
Amazingly enough, for the right amount of green ($), I was told it could be restored to its former glory. So we chose new upholstery, made a down payment and committed ourselves to bigger bucks.  We left it there to be torn apart,  refinished (wood portions) and then rebuilt using the original springs and as much of the original structure as possible.  The company subs out the refinishing.
We took the chair in on August 15th with an estimated return of three months.  That estimate would be sometime around Thanksgiving.  Two weeks later my husband fell off his ladder while working and his income disappeared for the same time period.  So we were not at all unhappy to wait  to get our "your chair is finished" call on January 15, 2015.  So it was five months but well worth the wait!  Allan and Shelly and their company did a great job!
What a change!  Wouldn't grandma and/or great-grandma be surprised!  The rebuilt chair is stuffed with flax and hogs hair as it was when new.  We appreciate that the chair is as authentic as it can be!.
Close up of the fabric.
Gnaw marks are gone!
Platform springs
Wooden wheels.
Chair rocks very well and is quite comfortable.  Reading on the internet, it appears that platform rockers were invented around 1880 because they wouldn't "move" around on wooden floors while rocking.  We don't know if this originally belonged to Grandma Susan, Great Grandma Ella Jane or maybe even Great Grand Aunt Nellie (Richardson) Thompson.  If only this chair could talk, we could find out so much! A loving link to Spring Brook Farm.
Received comment:  A cousin's wife wrote " [Cousin who lived for some time with my Grandmother] said the gnaw marks were from squirrels.  Aunt Susan saved bags of hickory nuts on the second floor so the squirrels got in to get the nuts. These squirrels kept most of the rats and mice away. He remembers the chair but not its history."

Friday, January 16, 2015

On the Road Across America -- Day Six

On January 3rd we woke to a beautiful winter wonderland.  The kid had already gone down and swept off her car before we thought to document the snowfall.  We weren't sure yet if the roads were good to go, but we knew we were up for a trip to Starbucks. We decided we'd stop there and then get out on the road and see how it was.  We knew we could always turn back in a pinch. Cars were going by on the highway - not often but some.   So the road was open.  It was interesting coming into these cities in the mountains and always seeing signs that said "I-90 was closed if the signs were flashing", and then at the ramp following the sign there would be an arm to lower like across a rail-road track to stop traffic from continuing. 
 The little barrels showed that we had about three inches of snow overnight.  It didn't seem to be slowing Butte down very much although we knew that this storm would have brought Seattle to a complete stop!  But then we saw more plows on the Interstate in the morning than the City of Seattle probably owns in total!  And besides, Butte was pretty flat and that is not a word that describes Seattle and environs.
As we started out, the mountains were still shading the morning sunlight.
It was nice when we could see the sun on the pavement and begin to hope it would evaporate some at least.  It was too cold to hope for melting!
 This driver had nice affectionate feelings for the plows and drivers!  Out there working hard and helping us along our way.
This area said Anaconda - Warm Springs.  We both thought the likelihood of seeing an Anaconda was pretty low!  Finding a Warm Springs sounded a LITTLE more likely, but this was not an "off the beaten path" sort of day.  
Part of the reason our trip went so quickly was that there was no reason to stop and look at anything.  Simply too cold!
The roads got worse for awhile as we left the populated areas. You'll notice how many cars we are traveling with.  No one on our side for a long time. We'd see an occasional car coming the other way.  It still looked like it could still be snowing a little in the mountains.  
The main reason we headed west this day was because the weather report predicted another storm watch for around 6 PM with  a significant amount of snow coming in.  If we didn't keep going we could get stuck again and for a longer period of time. We wanted to take advantage of this window of opportunity.
Garrison - Gold Creek, above and below
Keeping to a recurring theme, a Montana plow in high seas!

Gold Creek - and wide open spaces!
Drummond -- this train reminded me of all the train trips my Wisconsin relatives took all over the West between about 1900 and 1920.  It is fun to think about them looking out their windows on the train and seeing the same places I have seen.
The nicer pavement was behind the plow, but alas, we didn't want to go quite that slow.
Alberto-Frenchtown-Wye, above and below.
 St. Regis - West End 
Ready to change states again -- on the pass bordering Idaho.  Haven't seen a lot of Exit 0's!
Our 4th pass, but not our last.  Four down, one to go!

Mulan above and two below
 Coming down into Coeur D'Alene.  The Rockies were simply gorgeous all the way through them. So dramatic, strong and the weather so unpredictable.  Somewhere around here my Aunt from Portland called and wanted to know if we were home yet.  It turned out her husband, a very experienced long-haul driver, had been routed the same way we had come, but the company had shifted him to drive through California to avoid the incoming weather system.

After Coeur D'Alene we dropped down into Spokane.  Originally we had planned to take one last night on the road and stay over in Spokane, Moses Lake (where I lived from 5th to 9th grade) or maybe even Ellensburg.   But the weather forcast showed that the snow was still following us and if we didn't want to deal with snow on the pass, we should probably keep going.
So we kept going through nice, flat eastern Washington.  You can't tell from this picture, but it actually already looked like snow clouds ahead which kept us eagerly moving along. 
 Sprague area.  
Coming down to cross the Columbia River at Vantage.  When we lived at Moses Lake, the dam was not here and the canyon was not flooded. We used to dig around with our hands in the gravel on the riverbank looking for arrowheads.  It looked much different then, but now I doubt I remember it clearly.  There is also an area with petrified wood very near here as well!
This was one of our last photos before passing Ellensburg and heading for the pass.  Darkness descended, so no dramatic photos going over Snoqualmie Pass. This last pass was really the worst part of our entire trip.  We had wet pavement with spray, dark and glare and people rolling 70 and trucks going 30, construction areas and herds of people. 
As soon as we made the big right hand turn and merged onto I-5 northbound after days of I-90, we came up on this bus that says "WE ARE 12" on the back. It was dark and so it didn't come out well. The photo below as we pulled along side is a little better.  Question -- is this a team bus?  A fan bus?  It didn't look like a graphic covered Metro bus.  Curiosity!  Hopefully someone will know!
 Here is our odometer reading at the end of the trip.  We didn't push the trip button until after our first day, so if you add to the 2776 the 312 miles we covered the first day, we get 3097.  A fun adventure, with many good memories, good meals and good nights sleep.    But I still have one more wish.  One of these days my goal is to take my family, husband and both kids, to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.  We need at least one more good long road trips together!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

On the Road Across America -- Day Five

January 2nd in Gillette, Wyoming dawned very cold and clear.  In spite of the fact it was almost 8:00 by the time we left the hotel, it was pretty dark. Our first stop of the day was STARBUCKS (no surprise there!) and our second stop was at O'Reilly's Auto Supply because the kid's car did not have chains.  We had been looking for chains for several days and were surprised that they were not that easy to find along the highway.  We discovered the Walmart does not sell chains in spite of having a large tire department!  The reason we did not have them was because they are illegal in Virginia and are not sold there.  That seems like an odd law.  I mean, you could make it illegal to use them, but it's an odd idea that no one leaves Virginia ever! No accounting for logic sometimes!  Our trip to O'Reilly's was quick and successful and we had the relief of knowing we were finally prepared for the mountain passes.  Our goal today was to get well into Montana.  One of the drawbacks of GPS is that you don't actually have to look at a map very often.  I could drive for hours without knowing what was coming because I had no idea of the topography.  I new the Rockies were between myself and home, but exactly where in Wyoming or Montana I could not remember from past trips.  But I did know that Montana is a BIG state and so we wanted and early start. 
Leaving Gillette in the morning!
The snow and the golden grass accented the amazing beauty of the wide open spaces of Wyoming! 
The roads had icy spots early but overall were clear and dry.
The day before's snowy drive from Albert Lea, MN through South Dakota and into Wyoming, brought home the need for sun glasses. I almost never use them, but I started to realize that the constant snow brightness was slowly toasting my eyeballs on the inside.   I got a great, comfortable and effective pair at the gas stop in Rapid City!  They are the best sunglasses I've ever had and they were only $16!  One of the benefits of living where it rains all the time is that sun glasses are optional!
With stop sign --
Without.  Which is more interesting? I couldn't decide.
Parkman, WY; almost to Montana
Now in the Billings, MT area.
Big Timber - South of the Yellowstone (or so my phone says).  It is obviously snowing  in some places ahead.

 Livingston - a little panorama above and below.
More Livingston above and below
Seriously heading into the Rockies.  Bozeman
Bozeman area.
Coming into Butte.  We had crossed the Continental Divide which determines which ocean every little rain  drop will head towards.  Now we were seriously on our way downhill toward home!  At this point my husband was talking to the Missoula AAA rep who said that it had been snowing a little while before, but was not snowing now.  We were beginning to get info on a Weather Storm Warning.  Our hope had been to reach Missoula and it was still pretty early in the day, so we decided to go on.  Of course, we did stop and get gas and grab another Starbucks! 
So we headed off for Missoula.  A few miles down the road, we got a call back from my husband. The Missoula AAA office had called him back and let him know it was snowing hard.  It was about 114 miles to Missoula (as I recall) and since we didn't know what the terrain was like, we decided not to continue on.  There were a couple of places we could have stayed with minimal amenities. With Heeding the saying that "Discretion being the better part of valor,"  we exited the freeway on a service road and turned right back the way we had come.  What is an extra 50 miles or so (we had come about 25 toward Missoula) when we knew we had a Comfort Inn, Starbucks and a variety of restaurants in Butte.  We also had the long view -- what if the second storm front kept us here more than a day???  Yes, it is always good to have a Starbucks nearby and of course, a Comfort Inn.
At the hotel we read about a sculpture that we had passed (not close by) as we came over the pass before coming into Butte.  We read about Our Lady of the Rockies and when we looked out the window, there she was shining in the darkness.  Follow the link to get more information.  Apparently there are bus tours and a tram in the summer time.  It is also apparently the second highest statue in the US, after the Statue of Liberty. 
A little closer up, but of course it can't be seen well from so far away.
We walked across the road and ate dinner at a Perkin's Restaurant.  Both of our meals were really good, but my daughter's steak was FABULOUS!  I wished I had ordered the same thing.
Shortly after we came back to the hotel, it was snowing with enthusiasm. We went to bed (again at a wonderful Comfort Inn) we did not know whether or not we would be leaving the next day. But we knew we had made a good choice to stop and wait out the storm and to not try and make it to Missoula that night.  We traveled 461 miles on the 2nd, a little short of our goal of a 500 mile day.  However, if we added our over  20 miles each way leaving Butte and then returning to it, we did more than a 500 miles day.  After dinner and crawling into bed, we thanked God for safety and His watching care over us and went to bed with plans to sleep in.  No point in getting up early when the plows would have to be at work long before we would start our day!