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Norway in a Nutshell with Romey

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This iteration of Norway in a Nutshell was a one day jaunt out of (and back to) Bergen.  Things got underway early (around 8:40) at the Bergen train station.  The trip went Bergen–>Voss–>Gudvangen–>Flåm–>Myrdal–>Bergen (through Voss).  Arrival at home was 6pm.

Of course the day was perfect and the light was beautiful.  Even the clouds of Bergen parted temporarily as we departed.

Here’s how the day went.  After a delicious breakfast in Bergen at the Børs hosted by the delightful Dalia, we walked to the plastic-wrapped train station and found our place.

Masked on the train to Voss

It was still early in Voss and the 15 minute connection wait for the bus was uneventful.

Voss station (the blue appears)

The bus to Gudvangen is roomy and nice.  But no wifi this time (WTF?!).  The trip took about an hour, leaving 45 minutes to have some cocoa and walk around in Gudvangen.

Waterfall from a bus

 

On the way to Gudvangen

 

Majestic and way bigger than this picture makes clear

 

Looking back to Gudvangen

 

The bridge

 

The fjord was simply magical

 

A crystal clear day with little wind left the Fjord a gigantic deep mirror.

 

The ferry arrives

Since we were touring on off season (and during a pandemic), snacks were harder to come by than on previous Norway in a Nutshell runs.  Even the ferry (which usually has a nice snack bar with various food items) was limited to coffee and tea.  Bring along some snacks.

The two hour ferry ride is nothing short of stunning.

Pretend Viking boat

 

The ferry (very upscale)

 

 

These days, the ferry (which can comfortably hold 400) is a super modern, quiet boat with lots of room.  It is also fast.

Pole position (with a charger)

Just as we departed, some base jumpers blew in from on high.  Check out this spectacular landing.

 

Looking back into the wake

 

 

 

 

 

From the bow

 

Norway

 

Mountain boat

We called ahead to the Flåm for a pizza from the bakery.  This is a good move!  The pizza was delicious and it was great to walk in and have a hot pie waiting.

 

Yum!

 

 

Then it was a 3 minute amble over to catch the Flåm–>Myrdal train (one of the steepest inclines in railroad) in an historical vehicle.  Here we go.

 

The climb really is remarkable.

 

Myrdal here we come (check out the switchbacks)

A short stop at the waterfall is always in order.

Romey takes a picture

Romey also takes a video.  (These bits are for Emily.)

 

 

 

 

 

And then on to Myrdal with some daylight remaining (remember, the sun sets around 3:30pm in late November).

 

We made it!

 

 

After a few minutes at the top, the train to Bergen arrived.  Then it was three hours back, arriving just in time for dinner with friends (including Vemen and Hovard this time).

Last train back

 

The route

 

Back home in Bergen.

Catoctin Creek: Local Excellence in Distilling

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It was an interesting evening…a fundraiser for the USO at the best local distillery (well, the best legal local distillery anyway).  The dress instructions were vague and a bit confusing.  Something about casual something or other with red and black.  LOL.

So anyway, we wore this.

Our dear friends Donnie and Geri came and we scored the head table with our excellent hosts and good friends Scott and Becky.  Scott and Becky are the powerful couple behind Catoctin Creek.

Scott pinged me and we did the kilt thing!

I love wearing my kilt, and I especially love it when my buddies wear theirs too.  More kilts is what we need to solve global warming.

The kilts and the stills

 

Romey was resplendent in her red shoes.

 

The food was good.  The company was interesting. And the 1908 Rye?  Well, you only get to try that once or twice in one 2021 life.

We ran the proof in the back.

 

Fred Minnick was the MC

Fred did a great job keeping things moving and imparting wisdom about the booze we were drinking.

 

Geri in the house

 

More fred

 

There was cake.

 

All the hosts at once.

 

A Paper Plane nightcap back at the home bar ended the evening.

 

Romey Buys a Building

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Jumping way ahead.  The Natural Mane in its new state.

 

As a successful salon business owner for over a decade, Romey knew she should own her own space instead of renting.  Any idea when the best time to take a financial risk and do that is?  Never!  So when is the second best time?  During a global pandemic, of course.  It takes a special kind of vision to fly directly into the vacuum.  Here is Romey’s story.

Before: The Barbershop

The discussion quickly became a reality in late 2020 when the 1850s era Berryville jailhouse (that had been a barbershop for many years) came on the market.  Here is what the space looked like before it was purchased.

From the back room

You can’t quite tell from here, but that floor is 5 layers of flooring all tottering on joists that are about to give up the ghost.

 

Florescent lighting and dated fans (instead of AC).  And that green.  No words.

 

Looking back (one of the stations is shown here)

 

The bathroom where the basement “access” was

 

The back was in better shape, though still green

 

 

Romey contemplates ownership

Before buying the building, finding a contractor and spitballing what renovation would cost was the next step.  Also an in-depth inspection.  Needless to say, Romey kind of knew what she was getting into.  Kind of only because a building from 1850 always holds surprises.  This was going to be a hell of a project!

Demolition

The barbershop was utterly removed, the attic was exposed and cleaned out, the floor was removed, and lo and behold the bones of the building began to emerge.  But first, a permit.

Demo permit

 

Removing rubble

 

These beams turn out to be a treasure

One of those unexpected finds was a chimney basically hanging in space.  It had to go.  But the architecture review board had to approve first since the skyline changed.

Uh oh, an unexpected chimney ready to crash down and kill somebody (the beams are from the contractor)

 

Oh but these stone walls!

 

One day this will be a gorgeous window

 

But first a slight delay waiting for a building permit.  Thanks to Allen Kitselman, all of this permitting happened as smoothly as possible.

The permit (and the new holding company)

Floor and Plumbing

All that flooring?  Gone.  And all of the joists?  Replaced.  Plus the basement was parged and lined with plastic.  While the floor was missing, the plumbing trade got started bringing the building’s water system to code.  Everything was replaced.

For a while, it was fun to walk on the skinny boards that sufficed for a floor.

Floor joists and subfloor

 

Reframing the back

 

Plumbing in the basement

 

Hey look, subfloor

 

Framing the back of the main room where the stonework was not up to snuff

Stonework

Repointing the stone was also an unexpected expense, but one well worth the investment.  just look at these walls.

Gorgeous stone

 

Yes please

The rest of the space was framed for drywall.

Shampoo area

 

Newly widened doorway to back (in order to meet code)

 

Looking almost roomlike

 

The HVAC and machine room (hot water up there too)

Drywall

Drywall is always surprisingly fast.  And then it was up!

The back room

 

Those beams!

 

And this is before they were treated with oil

 

It’s coming together.  New crawlspace access below the window.

 

The boss woman checking out her future space

Painting and Lights

Finish work is always a thing.  Romey picked out flooring (local hardwood), wall, and trim colors, and supervised their proper application.

First the back, where a pocket door was installed

 

Back finish

 

HVAC and cathedral ceiling

Now look at this.  The space is coming together.

Gorgeous new floor looking back

 

Wow

 

Just wow

That eye for lines, color, and design shows right through.

Birthday Dinners

So what do you do in February with a space that is coming together and two February birthdays?  A dinner party in the space.  Cyn and Ant joined us to celebrate the new space and the old people.

 

By this time Romey and I had a habit of meeting for cocktails after work to check out progress.  This was a fun tradition and made the stress of renovation turn into celebration.  Magic.

This temporary window was installed to appease the architecture review board. Allen comes through again!

 

A repurposed sink from Cyn

Moving In

A one day move in included shampoo sink, work stations, retail, heck, everything.  Even some lights moved.  Claudio was more than useful.  Moving two blocks is way harder than moving 1000 miles.

Even the sign moved

 

Plumbed in shampoo station

 

W/D in their slot

 

Wired in work station

 

Retail shelving

The Completed Space

Several months later, the final move in (originally planned for January) happened in March.  And the salon was reborn in a fabulous, unique space.

A perfect blend of old features like the beams and the stone with sleek modern design befitting a place of beauty-making.

A new front light was icing on the cake

All told the project was an absolutely excellent way to spend the heart of the pandemic.  A new beautiful space built in the interstitial time.  Risk taking like this is brave, to be sure, and it usually pays back.

Be brave.

Coda: The Stained Glass

Six months later, the stained glass panel designed by Romey was installed.  Now the space is complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only an Expert: Laurie Anderson, The Weather

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Very Small Laurie Anderson

Oh boy, oh boy did we want to go to this one the second we heard about it.  Laurie Anderson has overtaken the second floor at the Hirshhorn with an installation that is a bit of a retrospective and a living piece of art at the same time at the same time art at the same time living piece of art at the same time.

Just go.  I mean, you’ve been already right?

The Hirshhorn is under construction.  Just like the exhibit.

So lets go see…  But before we start, I just have to mention in passing that my artistic son was psyched to see the exhibit spontaneously well before I did (beat dad by two weeks in fact), but failed to connect the art he was experiencing to Laurie Anderson’s music (especially Big Science which he has heard a zillion times).  I think hooking in some of the great music would be a treat.

I guess this counts. Kinda. Only an expert drum machine.

Flags in unison, except for one flag that was on strike or experiencing technical difficulties, or maybe it is just an iconoclast.

 

The striking flag. You can tell it is a communist since it is red.

 

This picture makes the song play in my head.

Anyway, here.  This song was only alluded to through text in the exhibit.  Have a listen.

This picture will play the song in your head, through your earholes.

Then there was the crow room (actually probably a raven, but I am calling it a crow anyway).  For me, this is all about Emily Shepardson.  I think Laurie owes Emily some royalties.  Or maybe just a make up concert in the living room.

This room is striking, fun, quirky, disturbing, and classic overload all at the same time same time all at the same time classic overload all at the same time.

The raven crow

 

The crow raven

 

The craven row

 

Romey and the crow

 

Did I mention that my dear friend Spool was along?

 

The golden canoe looks as seaworthy as some of its NH counterparts

 

A picture for emily of a picture of the picture, but not this picture, the one IN this picture.

 

 

Color!

Kind of a shock after all of that black and white. Big paintings.

 

Color too!

 

The tape loop violins

 

Then it was back to Fall in the beautiful gardens next door.

My art compatriots

 

I mean who gets to see art like this with two beautiful women? Oh, its me.

 

Fin.

 

The Stick (Fall 2021)

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Sunset and Moonshine (by Romey)

Who knew that installing a new washer/dryer combo thing could be so fun?  That’s the nature of the Stick, I suppose.  Now that I properly own it again, the time has come to spruce it up (a constant battle in the elements provided by the nearby Atlantic).  We also fixed the ridiculously installed electricity, added some lights in the kitchen and over the bar, and installed a beautiful shelf in the bathroom.

Special thanks to Mr Skaggs for the help, as always above and beyond the call of duty.  Anyway, here’s how all that unfolded over two visits

Moonshine and Rosie demonstrate how it feels to arrive at the Stick.

 

Mike learned about pickapeppa on cream cheese.  A serious YUM.

 

The ocean is great when you are under one

 

Look at that professional grade piping!

 

The new shelf

 

Kitchen lighting. Now there is no excuse for not properly cleaning the kitchen.

 

The bar lights

 

Claudio and his family are going to do some major work next year. But first they need to see what they are getting into.

A second trip down with the Shepardsons and Romey was required to install the W/D (on order for several weeks).

 

Installing this thing required taking the entire closet apart, cleaning out 25 year worth of dryer lint, and putting it all back together (without improving the design one tad…LOL).  Gotta say that drying sheets and towels is a thing.

How you feel after several days of partying at the Stick

 

 

 

Moonshine demonstrates what it feels like to leave the Stick.

Ganesh Chaturti on the Shenandoah

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Sometime last summer (during the height of the pandemic), “the shrine” on my property was designed by Allen Kitselman and implemented by Claudio and his brother.  On 9/12 it was properly initiated with a Ganesh Chaturi ceremony led by Karthik.

Here’s how that went down.

First, Karthik shared the significance of Ganesh Chaturti, read some ancient text, and made an offering.

Ready for the ceremony

 

Karthik leads the reading

 

Incense

 

Ganesh at the shrine (and everywhere else in the universe too)

 

In the verdant woods of Virginia

 

A gift for the mantle