Monday, May 31, 2010

Dan Bare and the legendary Michelle Stillmaker

The phone rang at 10 P.M. the other night. It was Dan. He had a special friend with him: Michelle, his former girlfriend from long ago. Becky and I hadn't seen her in 32 years. We had a great evening together.

Michelle Stillmaker and I

If you haven't seen some one in 32 years, it is time for a picture.

What's 32 years between friends?

Me and the Two Legends


Derby Day, as always the first Saturday in May. The old lady was off in the Smokies, so I drove down to Frankfort, the state capital to buy some beekeeping equipment. Everyone was talking about the Derby. I thought about the 1973 Derby. The great horse Secretariat won it in record time. I was there. It was my first time in "Kaintuck" i.e. Kentucky. I was only 22 years old, working as a deckhand on the Delta Queen. I snuck my girlfriend, Carolyn, on the boat for the steamboat race against the Belle of Louisville. After that we drove around Kaintuck in her VW Beetle convertible: Red River Gorge, Cumberland Falls and Mammoth Cave.
With such thoughts in my head, I headed home. I stopped in the small town of Stamping Ground, Kentucky. Jennifer Thierman is from there. She's the best. She runs the choir at St. Paul's church where Becky sings alto. Up by the water tower in Stamping Ground, Kentucky on Derby Day I found this and the next several bricks.


L.F.B. WKS stands for Louisville Fire Brick Works. To find this brick on Derby Day was cool for the old man.


Okay, where was this brick made? We know LFB WKS stands for Louisville Fire Brick Works, but plain as day there is OHIO. Answer: this is a Kentucky made brick. On the other hand, the "Kentucky Crown" brick is from Ohio. So there.

Temple (Pennsylvania or Portsmouth, Ohio)

Yet another Derby Day find in Stamping Ground, Kentucky. In the data base the middle measurement is 4 1/2 not 4 1/4 but probably a typo.

Monday, May 24, 2010

McMANIGAL (R.D. McManigal from Logan, Ohio)

Several years ago I bought a large pile of McManigal bricks behind a beautiful old church was about to be torn down in Walnut Hills in Cincinnati. A favorite brick of mine: the font, the name 'Mcmanigal' itself, the durability and the fact that they are 'church' bricks. When I found out I would be meeting a young architect student in Ekaterinburg, Russia, I decided to present Sasha with a McManigal brick.

Sasha, Becky and I standing in Asia and Europe

Here we are with Sasha. We are posing in front of a monument outside of Ekaterinburg straddling the line that marks the division between Europe and Asia. Becky and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. On our honeymoon we struck a similar pose at the equator in Ecuador.

Sasha and Friends at a Dinner Party

Not long ago Sasha sent me an email with these three pictures. Here she is with other college kids dressed up for fun for a dinner party. Everyone looks so wonderfully young, especially with all the traditional food and costume. a great picture.

Young Students in Ekatarinburg

All Dressed Up

Sunday, May 23, 2010

712 Washington Newport Ky.

Here I am taking a breather from knocking down a plaster and lath ceiling. There is a thin layer of coal soot on top of the plaster which gets into everything. Demolition is a lot of fun if you haven't done it in a while and if you have a good respirator. Poor Dan. His girlfriend kicked him out and he is living in the front room.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Over-the-Rhine children's eco-vegetable garden

A vacant lot has been taken over and now all types of wonderful vegetables are being grown there. My close friend Julia Wolf is a volunteer.

Julia Wolf, my first Russian teacher

Julia gave me such a great start with Russian that I am still at it six years later. Here she is at the Eco-Garden in Cincinnati's where she helps inner-city kids grow vegetables to sell at Findlay Market.

Hose Art at the ECO-Garden

Julia and Geishay out back after dinner.

Geishay is a Tibetan-born Buddhist monk who lives across the street from us.

Friday, May 14, 2010

View of backyard from the attic

Here are some pictures of the yard as we get ready for the brick swappers and for the Garden Tour.

Garden in Progress

In the end of June we are in the East Row Garden Tour. We are considered a garden in progress.

West Wall and Ellipse

This was the first wall, built a year ago. Recently added is the elliptical garden path. The granite paver border mostly came from the streets of Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati.

East Wall -middle section

Many beautiful bricks here are from a swap meet in Haverstraw, N.Y. (near West Point up the Hudson River From New York City) and from trading with International Brick Collectors president Terry Taraba down in Stonewall, La.
Eventually the red wood fence on the right will be replaced with another section of the brick wall.

A Close-up

This section I mortared in place in March, 2010.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Rumpke Alert

Major excitement for a rehabber. Trash cans are suddenly empty.

Sam Huff

Sam is my unofficial building inspector. He makes his down Brown Alley Tuesday and Friday mornings.

Tell City, Indiana brick

Not a very good picture of a newer brick found in Hyde Park by my buddy Chris Earls

A man so handsome that second picture is needed

Chris is the leader of our travelling Sunday morning coffee club. He is helping me with technical advise in two on going projects: Renovation of a tiny shotgun house in Newport and reconstruction of a dungeon.

Chris Earls

Chris Earls- Builder, architect, bicyclist and saver of lost souls

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Husband and Wife

Another look at the bride and groom four hours into their marriage

Nicolay and me

Nicolay and me congratulating ourselves on having brokered such a fine marriage

You Look 20 Years Younger

As Becky sashayed to the wedding party around the corner, one of the neighbors burst out, "You look 20 years younger!". We had a lot of fun with that line.

Natasha and Marat

Natasha is the proud mother of the bride. Marat, a good friend, is from Kyrgyzstan.

Daniela with her father Nicolay and sister Veronica

The Haheu family is from Moldova. Nicolay and I help each other with English and Russian. Scott is my neighbor.

Just Married!

Four an a half months later they got married. It was love at first sight.

Scott and Daniela

Back in December we threw a big Christmas party where Scott met Daniela.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Here is Kristina, the 3 year old daughter of Stacy, my Russian teacher. Kristina was a big help one cold Sunday afternoon, before she suddenly decided that it was time for us to head to the playground.

I have had a dozen or so people help me out back. This youngster is a natural.

Me and my little Partner

Let's get this done so we can play on the swing set.

The way I figure it, she will either be a stone mason or a punk rockabilly singer.

Granite Pavers from Over-the-Rhine

Here is Kristina mortaring a 10 pound granite paver in place in the corner column. She carried across the yard and I was afraid she was going to drop it on her foot, but as we all know there is no telling Kristina what to do.

Intense concentration