errands


28
Nov 23

Perhaps the most wind, non-storm related, I’ve experienced

We covered the fig tree in the backyard. This was a process. It took several days. First, you have to find out this is necessary. Then you have to make some attempts to find out how to cover it. Everyone has an opinion. None of them are authoritative. Some seem excessive — insulation! plastic! whale blubber! — and some some very casual. So who knows, really.

Anyway, get some burlap. Burlap does the trick. Burlap, you can’t find in stores. Oh you can find some useless burlap netting, which is meant to get in the way of your gardening, I guess, but it has no practical application. So finding burlap is the second step. We found some coverings. We put it on the fig tree. It was not big enough.

So we ordered a second burlap covering. That was step three. It arrived last Wednesday, and we put them on the fig tree on Thursday. One cover on the left half of the tree, the other cover on the right. It took the two of us and, there was a moment when a third set of hands might have been helpful. That was step four, I guess. One of the covers blew off last night, so today, step five.

And I got the fig tree, the part on the right, covered once again. All by my lonesome. And, oh, the details I could tell you about that. Only it was very windy today, so this was done in vain. The cover stayed on for … about two, three, hours. It was very windy.

This is how windy it was today. I went out for my bike ride and I went down this road. The map shows about six tenths of a mile, and if you go from right to left you’re on a slight, a very slight, downhill. You lose about 15 feet of elevation in that time. It’s nothing. But then there was the wind, blowing from the left to the right, gusting at 36 miles per hour.

I was in my hardest gear, pedaling as well as I could, and my Garmin said I was doing 8 mph. I was afraid I would just fall over from lack of progress. At the end of that image there’s a road that makes a big circle. Our neighbor, also a cyclist, says he’ll go ride that loop to hide from the wind. He says he’ll do 15 laps in there. It is almost 1.7 miles of a lovely wooded neighborhood, and it does keep a lot of the wind off of you. But that seems like a lot of repetition to me. Plus, three buses came in there during the short time I was there today, and I passed the same landscapers six times. They were beginning to get curious, and my feet were beginning to get cold.

The weather app said it felt like 25 degrees. And there were also flurries. Which is funny, because, before I consulted the app at the end of my ride, I thought I saw two or three suspicious things falling from the sky.

I’ve never ridden in flurries or snow before — because I used to have more sense, I guess, but we’ll get into that tomorrow — and I still haven’t, not really. I thought something was falling out of the trees. I thought I wanted to be inside, which is where I went, after I discovered that the second cover, on the right-hand-side of the fig tree, had blown off again.

Well tomorrow for that, then. This evening I had to make a run to the hardware store. I picked up some electrical tape for another project-in-vain, some more of that twine for same. And, also, a short length of garden hose. Like extension cords, you can never have enough garden hose. It’s been a while since I’ve purchased any hose. You have many options these days, and I have no idea which is the most appropriate for the particular planned drain duty. I chose the heavy duty version. It’ll probably last longer than any of the other ongoing outdoors projects.

And, now, to the grading! So much to grade! But a lot of it is fun stuff. So much fun stuff to grade!


2
Oct 23

The stuff that makes the hodgepodge of life

Welcome back to Catober, the only month that guarantees a daily post on the site, and constant pictures of the kitties. They’ll go up each day between 10 and noon, and we’ll take turns giving the spotlight to Phoebe and Poseidon, because they’re jealous furballs. Phoebe was up first today, Poseidon takes over tomorrow, and so on. If you miss a day (and how could you?!?!?) just follow the Catober category.

But that’s not the only thing we’ll see here this month, oh no. All of the usual stuff is on tap throughout October as well, of course. One of the key features will be an extensive denial of this being October — a recurring theme of the site until March or so, of course.

But I digress.

I spent the day elbow deep in making notes for class this evening. (Class went well, thanks for asking!) The students talked about Neil Postman, a Jonathan Haidt essay and Edward Bernays.

To balance that out, I left them with this uplifting little Ron Garan interview.

We also talked about some design composition rules and color theory, because this is a class that mixes the philosophical with production. It’s an unusual hybrid as these classes go, and the students, thankfully, are up for it.

Watching them get invested in understanding Postman and the Huxleyan warning was a great moment.

The Yankee went to campus with me, to take part in a regular feature called Pizza With The Pros, a program accurately named. They bring in a sports media pro, buy pizza for the students and learning and networking take place. My Monday night class take place during this program, so I might see a few minutes here or there this semester, but not much. Perhaps I’ll be able to see more of them in a future term.

Saturday I slept in. We went for a bike ride. It was a shakeout ride for my lovely bride, since she was doing a sprint tri on Sunday. I just tried to stay in front of her as we both complained about the breeze and our legs. After, we drove over to Delaware for first state chores.

We visited a Chick-fil-A in a mall, which is the slow-moving and entirely uninspired variant of an efficient fast food distribution model.

After that, we visited a museum’s gift shop, for gifts! Actually, we picked up our Bike the Brandywine shirts. This was a metric century to enjoy the sites of the greenest parts of Delaware and the Brandywine tributary. It was supposed to be last weekend, but it was canceled in light of the rain and huge winds. That was the right decision, honestly. No way in the world you want to be on soggy roads being blown into a bunch of other cyclists, if you can help it. But we have the map for the route, so we can go back. And, Saturday, we got our shirts. They’re a nice green.

We also visited Trader Joe’s, which wasn’t busy, but was crowded, and navigating those other customers was plenty of fun. We also visited another grocery store, a Food Lion, because they carry Milo’s Tea. We could get it closer, until about a month ago, when suddenly the local stores stopped carrying it.

Food Lion is an older sort of grocery store. Everything is manual. Everything is slow. And the lines are delightfully long. This allowed us the opportunity to strike up a conversation with the older gentleman behind us, who asked about my tea. Asked where it was from. And so I got to tell him it was from a factory on a hill not far from where I am from. He didn’t think I sounded like I was from Alabama, and he wasn’t sure, he said, if that was a compliment. He didn’t sound like he was from anywhere in particular. But he’d hitchhiked through Alabama when he was young, he said. Making him one of the few out-of-staters in his age group I’ve ever met who said they’d been to Alabama but didn’t say they were one of the Freedom Riders. (I wish I’d kept count on that over the years; I don’t think there were that many buses.) He said he’d been through Montgomery. Said his mother was from Tennessee. His wife was first generation from Germany or thereabouts, and his mother-in-law, he could understand some of her dialects, but not all of them.

I thought about turning the accent on, but there’s always a question about that. should I do the fake Virginia tidewater accent everyone wants to hear? The low country accent that I don’t have? Or should I just underwhelm with the low Appalachian hills-and-hollers sound that belongs to my people, but not me?

And by the time I’d figured out how to shade my vowels, it was, finally, my time to check out.

On Saturday it was cloudy in the morning and the sun came out just in time for that bike ride. Sunday was beautiful throughout. Not a cloud in the sky, 78 degrees and a light breeze. And so I took an afternoon bike ride. I noticed this mantis hanging out on the window as I got ready to leave.

My bike computer’s battery was dead, so I had no idea how the ride started, but it felt fast. I was moving well and not working hard. The wind was behind me on my out-and-back. I thought the road was pulling me forward, but it was the breeze pushing me on.

That was something I didn’t realize until I turned around and the wind was in my face. That explains why I wasn’t riding as efficiently on the way back. Also, I was being miserly with my fuel for reasons that made no sense. But here’s the thing. I found some really quiet roads. I headed southwest, which is generally a direction we haven’t explored here yet. I saw some beautiful countryside, and some Revolutionary War era sights. And this proud little municipal building.

Not bad for a township made up of just 2,580 people.

I went out that direction to find some more historical markers. It was a successful trip, and you’ll see some of those coming up on future Wednesdays. But these views made for a fine Sunday afternoon ride.

The only problem was that, for the whole of my route, there was nowhere to stop for a snack, and I started thinking about hamburgers and fries in such a way that I couldn’t shake it. There wasn’t even anyone grilling as I rode through, which would at least explain it. There’s only so long a PB&J can last, and that actually explains it.

But it was a lovely, lovely day to spend pedaling out to the saltwater marshes and the estuaries that dot the river coastline. The area was called Wootesessungsing by the indigenous people (the Lenape, I believe it was) before the Swedish, and then the English, came in the 17th century. I learned the name on one of the signs I saw; Wootesessunging has apparently never been published online, according to two different search engines. Just goes to show, you’ve got to get out there to see these incredible things. Not all of it can be found online.

Catober will be found, though, right here, all month long. So be sure you stay online for that.


5
Sep 23

Some things were accomplished

This is how the day went —

You shouldn’t begin a daily post generally grounded in the day-to-day events and notes of interest to the author; it is implied.

You’re right. Should I try again?

I think you should. No one has started a post like that since the days of the burrrrrr-krrrrrr-beeeeep—whiiiiii modems.

You’re probably right.

I think that I am, yes.

This is how the day went. I got a later start than I wanted, but that was fine. I did a little prep work for this week’s classes. Then I took a trip to the convenience center to drop off a good 10 days worth of garbage and recycling. Eventually, the novelty of that little chore will wear off and we’re going to want some actual curbside service, like most people from the later part of the 20th century.

The garbage haul was two bags from the house. I also moved four bags of weeds and one tub full of recycling. This took, I dunno, three minutes to load up, probably less time to unload and 25 minutes of driving, round trip.

Which meant it was lunch time, and so I had a nice bowl of chicken noodle soup on a day when the heat index will hit 100 degrees. After that, I did a a bit more work, and then set out for a haircut. The place I visited offered me a 145 minute wait. Not two hours and 25 minutes, but 145 minutes. There was a small circus worth of children in there, so I shared my thanks and departed. There was another place not too far away, I went there. Equally crowded. Did not go in. I’ll try again tomorrow. Maybe I’ll make an appointment, which carries the hefty cost of, for some reason, having to share my cell phone number with a company.

With my still shaggy and unkempt hair, I went to the grocery store. Potatoes for dinner, check. Soups for lunch, check. Cheez It because we eat it, check. Grapes as an impulse purchase’s sake, no dice.

Back in the home office, another few hours of prep work and it’s possible that I’m over-prepared. The spontaneity, I fear, is going from my best speeches and jokes. Or, I could be kidding myself about my level of preparation. The good news: I have all day tomorrow. So I’ll re-read this stuff for the 15th or 16th time in the last week.

So I called it and went for a swim.

And, this evening, I set a personal best. Longest swim of all time, 3,520 yards. I do not know what is happening. My lovely bride went for a run and caught the last of my swim, or the part near the end, the part where I was tired. I could feel it, of course. From about 2,700 to 3,000 felt different. Not desperate, but not good. Not haunting, but a distracted. My good shoulder was a bit achy, but I figured it would pass and it didn’t seem like something to stop over, so I kept on.

Then it all got better for most of the last 500 yards. And for the last 100 or so I sprinted it out, because that always seems like a good thing to do.

After I got my breath, she gave me a few pointers about what was going on with my form during that struggling portion. It seems my usual poor form deteriorated for a while, and that’s bad and can lead to injury. I’m not injured, but I am sore. I also swam two miles, so that stands to reason.

She said I should break up my swim into smaller segments if I was getting tired. And I was getting tired. This weekend I swam 3,080 yards and so I know about the point where I’d get tired. She said, with the wisdom of a real swimmer, that she’d rather see me swim 35 100s, with some rest breaks in there, so that I don’t get so tired that me and my sloppy form don’t swim myself into an injury.

I said that sounds like a good idea, and really good advice. But I had to find out if I could swim two miles.

You know, for shipwreck purposes.

And then I went to upload my swim into Strava, and found that the highest data point they allow for a swim is …

So I have a new goal. I just have to prove I can swim 100,000 yards. (I’ll take breaks.)

That’s 56.8 miles, almost three trips across the English Channel. (I’m never doing this, of course.)

Let’s wrap this up with a bit of the Re-Listening project. Though it hasn’t appeared here in a few weeks now, you’re accustomed to the concept: I’m listening to all of my old CDs in the car, and in the order in which I acquired them. These aren’t music reviews, just good music, occasionally a fun memory and, mostly, a bit of whimsy, which is always important in music.

And we’re up to late 2003 here, when Robinella and the CCstringband released the self-titled major label debut with this single.

They’d been a huge regional bluegrass sensation, which eventually brought them to the attention of the Columbia label. They’d released two smaller CDs, but this one, which included a bit of that earlier work, also got them some mainstream airplay.

You could best call the group progressive bluegrass and jazz blues. Which is great, because before I saw someone shoehorn the band into those genres, I thought, while listening to this record again, “This is one of the things bluegrass could have become.” You can hear some of that here, I think.

The musical version of that argument is sprinkled all over the record. It was one of those things that bluegrass could have become, but it wasn’t too be, for whatever reason. The next album had some pop and funk. Maybe that’s why.

I didn’t listen to this much in 2003 when it came out, for whatever reason. I liked the single, which was enough of a reason to pick this up, but it took me a while for the rest to grow on me, which is more about my musical shortcomings than anything to do with this band, which could put 12 good tracks on you and make you listen to all of them — if you’re ready for it.

Robinella and the CCstringband was Robin Ella Bailey and her then-husband, Cruz Contreras. They met in college, and shorted the band name to simply Robinella after this record. Somewhere after that the couple divorced and the band was dissolved.

While that song plays us out, let’s see if we can find out where everyone wound up. Robin Bailey is still playing locally, in Tennessee, as Robinella, having put out records in 2010, 2013 and 2018. She also makes art. Her Instagram suggests she plays a lot of unconventional, interesting places, which looks fun. Contreras is touring as well. I listened to the sample song on his site. I liked it. Cruz’s brother Billy Contreras played the fiddle on that record. When he was 12 years old he won the National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest and has played with everyone and everywhere since then. Everyone: Lionel Hampton, George Jones, Doc Severinsen, Crystal Gayle, Charlie Louvin, Ray Price, Ricky Skaggs and more. He also taught at Belmont for a time. Steve Kovalcheck has also played with many of the greats, he’s the guitarist on this record and he’s an associate professor of jazz guitar at the University of Northern Colorado. Taylor Coker plays the upright, and he toured with Cruz for what looks like most of the teens. He’s still plucking strings, now with the biggest jazz band in eastern Tennessee.

Twenty years later, everybody is still playing. Doing what you love all that time, it’s a great thing.

The liner notes on this CD had some extra content on it. The instructions:

With this CD and a connection to the internet, you will have access to special “Behind The Scenes” footage and more:

1. Inset this disc into a computer connected to the internet
2. Log onto http://www.robinella.com/
3. Click Sign In

— ConnecteD May Not Work With All Computers —

Two decades ago, things really did seem limitless. You just had to remember to connect your dial up modem.


10
Aug 23

So maybe I dozed off as it rained

Not every day, he said to himself in the sort of conciliatory fashion that usually comes with hair being tossled, or a sweet jab on the shoulder or the word “Slugger,” is meant to be the most productive day of the week. And in a week of slow productivity, that day was today.

I returned to Lowe’s to pick up the garbage can lid I forgot yesterday. It’s a fair drive over there, so I had time to work up some material. And I had a tight four minutes of poor comedy ready for the person at the customer service desk. But here’s the thing about the person at the customer service desk: they don’t care.

That’s not fair. This woman seemed perfectly fine and approachable. She’s just been trained, either by corporate decision or reasonable experience, to not be bothered by anyone that walks through that door and the story they share.

She did explain the corporate red vest policy. Apparently, they aren’t allowed to take them home. So they’re never clean. That’s a long way to go to avoid Halloween photos on the ‘gram. I said, because it was obvious she caught herself saying something that was too much. She agreed. And she let me get that garbage can lid. And she also rung up a few extra purchases. I got some specialty bulbs for some recessed lighting. I picked up some new air filters, because we have a lot of air to filter, and I also got some packing tape, because I need some crispy, sticky, prrrrrrrrbt! PTSD in my life.

I made two other fruitless stops, which built to a nice little mood. Then I hit an upscale UPS store. I say upscale because this place was built for a certain clientele in a certain part of town. You could tell by the “light fawn” shading of the stucco out front. Our last UPS store was in a tired little strip mall. Twice, within the last year or so, someone drove through the store. Going there for more than a few seconds at a time felt like a gamble for that very reason. Today, I was given two things to drop off at the UPS store. One was going back to Amazon. No problem. The other, the young man straight out of Disinterested Young Clerk Central Casting, vaguely assured me he didn’t want the package.

“Uhhh, these instructions usually mean they’ll pick it up?”

Who is they?

“The UPS driver.”

Well see what brown can do for us this week then.

“Huh?”

I got back to the house just in time for the heavy rain to start. Some of our flowering flowers haven’t recovered from Sunday’s rains. This, then, made for a demoralizing scene. Maybe in a week they’ll pick themselves back up, the flowering flowers. Maybe they won’t. This is the headspace I’m reaching for.

After all, I have to simultaneously deal with things like this. This is American fireweed. It’s fire.

As in burning. It’ll burn the flesh right from your bones.

(No, it won’t. — ed.)

It’s actually named that because this is one of the things that first pops up in great abundance after forest fires. It’s a broadly indigenous plant. It has some medicinal uses. Mostly, you forget about this stuff and then wake up in August and this thing is interfering with air travel lanes.

It can grow up to eight to 10 feet, almost over night. I pulled up a lot of it today. All of it in a hard-to-reach spot. I am wondering if it was nature or a person that thought this was a great practical joke.

I looked in some storage for a few items I can’t put my hands on. Still can’t find them. But I did pull out some good thread, high quality envelopes and some thank you cards. I am sitting on some weird, arbitrary fine line of “Will this be useful? Or should this be stored and forgotten until after it would have been useful?”

Which is to say, how many times have I purchased a batch of thank you cards while six other blank cards sit in a drawer and I’ve forgotten about them?

The next thing to do — that’s probably not true, but this is on a long list — is to make sure that all of the things are placed in rooms and drawers and shelves that make sense for when and where they’ll be used. All of that tape I picked up today was placed in a cabinet in the mudroom. Because it doesn’t need to go in a kitchen cabinet, and we might forget it if we put it in the basement somewhere. There are dozens of these little decisions.

And why is that large nail protruding from the wall at almost eye level? I spent a few minutes solving that problem, because the nail is in use, but it is inelegantly applied. Martha Stewart would just cringe.

Also I disguised a bit of floor under the stairs in the basement. This is the area where things with no daily demand will go. But you can build a little box fort around that area, so that, one day, when you are cleaning up down there, and you find the old seashells that would have been useful for that one project, and the extra wood flooring and such, you’ll smack yourself in the head remembering that you did have some walnut-shaded maple, and a bunch of broken bits of ocean life. And you’ll wonder why you built up this box fort. Because it made sense on a rainy day in 2023.

Oh, I changed the air filter, and added an innovation. I wrote the date on the air filter, so I’ll know when to replace it. (Don’t worry, there’s a notation in my calendar, as well.)

The best part of the day is that my in-laws arrived safely this evening. They’re going to spend the weekend with us. They sampled our peaches.

Like that new basket, don’t ya? I surely do.

Anyway, they said the peaches are delicious. And they are! I had a few after dinner tonight.

If fresh fruit is involved in the best part of your day, no matter how productive the day was, it was a pretty good day, Slugger.


9
Aug 23

Is August too soon for ghost stories?

One of my former students, I learned yesterday, is beginning her new job as a reporter in Savannah. Great city, of course. The Yankee and I were married there. We visit often. And I’m excited for my young journalist friend. It should be a great market for her to start polishing her skills.

The day before yesterday I learned another former student has just begun a job reporting at NBC in Chicago. Her third stop in the business is number three in the Nielsen rankings. Only New York and Los Angeles are bigger markets, of course. In the media, the dues paying a young employee does sometimes means starting in smaller newsrooms, or in smaller markets, or both. Over time the successful worker bee moves up the ladder. Courtney, who is now in Chicago, started in market 138, moved to 35 and is now in market number three. To make it that high, that early in her career is a testament to my innate ability to her incredible talent and superior networking skills. Success stories are successful for a reason, and I’m always so proud to see my friends continue their success.

I keep a map of where my former students are. They’ve spread out across the country, of course. But I know, from my map, that four of them are working in Chicago. A few are working abroad. The problem is that I’ve been doing this long enough that inevitability some people fall off my radar. I only catch so much on LinkedIn. (I updated four of those map locations last night, for example.) So please keep me updated with your success stories, my friends.

Someone I met 15 years ago in my first year on campus went out into the world, and then law school, and is now teaching classes at a law school. That’s the one that aged me.

Today’s errands put a few new lines on my face too, I’m sure of it. I took the garbage to the garbage taking place, because, again, no one picks up garbage in this neighborhood. Despite two companies which pick up garbage in the neighborhood. I have witnessed it and taken photographic proof. Monday, a truck stopped at the house across the street. A gentleman stepped off and grabbed our neighbors’ discarded materials and drove off to … wherever garbage trucks go when they’re through on your street.

We had a little chat with our neighbor yesterday. A wonderfully pleasant and cheerful man. The sort that knows everyone, and talks about them like they’re all old friends, and you are too. I should have asked him about the garbage truck. Probably he owned the company, or the person that does owes him some not insubstantial favor.

Anyway, in and out at the convenience center, as it is locally called. And, except for the location, it is convenient. Of course, if that isn’t too convenient, or at least upwind, that’s OK, too.

From there I went to the Tractor Supply to inquire about peach baskets. They have no tractors, a thin selection of supplies, and no peach baskets. The woman I spoke with there suggested I go to the Coal and Ice, which is a local hardware store that has kept it’s name, if not it’s original products. The Coal and Ice does not carry peach baskets. (I wonder if I can make a gag of renaming that store everything they don’t have. This would be unfair, it’s a small store. And it would become a long gag pretty quickly. For example, so far it would be the Coal and Ice, and Digital Deadbolt, Sliding Glass Door Lock and Peach Basket. They do carry, however, weather stripping for basement doors. I have to be fair about this inventory gag I won’t pursue.)

A nice lady at the Coal and Ice suggested a farm market. Produce stands on the side of the road. That was, actually, my next option. They’re ubiquitous, and that’s lovely. But most of them are all stocked and sold on an honor system, which is charming. I needed to talk with someone, but no dice.

So I set out for a distant grocery store to buy Milo’s. They did not have Milo’s. So I visited a sister store to try my luck again. I think maybe the delivery guy has been under the weather or something, because I went oh-for-two. I need that driver to get back on the road, quickly.

My next stop was a Lowe’s, but on the way there I ran across a place called Bloomer’s Garden Center. A big, sprawling, someone-has-to-water-all-of-these-plants-daily place. A place with a water garden wing, and another bird sanctuary wing. Everything smelled of rich nitrogen soil. These people are in the business of selling things to people who want to grow things. The woman there had no idea about peach baskets. I think they must appear from the very air.

So I went to Lowe’s. I looked there for peach baskets. No luck, of course, because that’s a pretty small, and obviously obscure, item for a box store. I did get two garbage cans, because see above, and a spool of weed eater string. You could purchase this in spools of one or three. I had the three-spool pack in my hand, considered my traditional weed eater habits and opted for the smaller, less expensive version. Rolled my two garbage cans to the self-checkout, and then out to the car.

Next to the Lowe’s there was a Dollar Tree. I walked in there. No peach baskets. But I did find small plastic baskets that are about the proper size, have a big breathable basket type pattern and a convenient handle. I got six of them. Paid eight bucks, which is probably close to how much gas I’ve spent on that search today.

Picked up some Chick-fil-A for a very late lunch and then drove it the 20-some minutes back to the house. Whereupon I learned that one of the two garbage cans I picked up … doesn’t have a lid.

So I’ll go back there tomorrow.

We went on a bike ride early this evening and it was obvious almost right away that I had no legs. My lovely bride waited on me twice, but finally I waved her on. No need for her to slow down if I can’t speed up. This is a training ride for her, anyway.

I just turned mine into a scenic experience. Here’s today’s barn by bike.

The last four miles on this route are uphill, which is to say, have a gentle, gradual slow ascent. There’s nothing bigger than a roller, but you gain the same 70 feet a few times over and over. Also, I was developing a soft rear wheel. I titled the ride “Slow leak, Slower legs.”

Tomorrow’s ride will be a bit better. But I have to allow for a few minutes to swap out that tube. Some first world problems feel insulting even to the concept of the first world problems meme.

For dinner, we took some of these tomatoes from the backyard …

And some of these peaches from the front yard …

And mixed them with some things we purchased at a nearby grocery store to make a tasty little peach salsa.

It complimented everything nicely, but the cilantro and the onion muted the peaches just a bit. Anyway, we’ll have plenty more opportunities to try this concept. We might also soon be eating peaches as an entree. I mean, aside from breakfast and midday snacks.

And I have those baskets now, so we’re now important produce power players, locally speaking.

I have started tracking down the local historical markers. New county, new goals and all of that. I found a site that lists 115 markers in this county, so there’s a ton of easy content!

This is the second installment. You can find them all under this brand new blog category, We Learn Wednesdays. What will we learn about today?

This is a place called Seven Stars. Built in 1762 by a man named Peter Lauterbach, it is architecturally significant, and there are important bits of social and military history inside those brick walls as well. The side features Flemish patterned brickwork, which was once a common thing here, and will come up again in a later post. In this case, the pattern carries the initials “P-L-E” for Peter and Elizabeth Lauterbach.

Their son John Louderback changed his name and lived in the tavern during the Revolutionary War. The British came through and raided the tavern, looking for him. He had a price on his head because he was thought to be giving food to the Americans. Louderback and his family hid in the woods. And, a few years later, he marched with a unit out of Pennsylvania. Earlier he’d served under Casimir Pulaski.

Peter, the father, died in 1780. John lived to see the country independent, and died in 1802. His mother lived until at least 1806, which is where historians find her name on a church roll. She also voted in 1800, presumably because of the property she held, inherited from her husband or otherwise. During that period, depending on where you were, it is estimated that between seven and 25 percent of the tallied votes were cast by women. (A state law that was billed as progressive at the time disenfranchised women and Blacks in 1807.)

Seven Stars has a lot of ghost stories attached to it, as well. In the early 20th century, the residents claimed seeing figures on horseback riding up to the tavern window, that small one to the left of the door, which was where people got their orders. Someone is said to have seen a ghostly figure checking on a baby. Supposedly Peter roams the ground looking for valuables he buried during the Revolution. Another spirit is said to be a spy for the British who found his end at the end of a rope in the attic. A Halloween-type site says loud footsteps and scuffle sounds can sometimes be heard in the attic. A pirate is thought to be a frequent haunter, as well. Be as skeptical as you like, but someone also needs to go camp out and see if the ghostly ghosts and their ghostly horses trot up to the tavern window.

It is now a private residence.

In the center of town you’ll find this wonderful bit of signage. There’s a lot going on there, because, for a small town, a lot has gone on there.

I’m sure we’ll pick up on some of those themes again in future installments. For now, here’s the door to that bank, which is still standing, sturdy and beautiful as ever.

Some day, I’ll go back and photograph the whole of the building. When I was there for this, it was small-town rush hour, and people have to get where people want to go.

(Update: A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to improve on the shot. Here’s the First National Bank.)

Which is what you should do, right now. Go to the next place. But come back here tomorrow. There’s going to be a lot more fun to discuss here tomorrow.