Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Art of Perfectionism - Example 1

Perhaps you may think being a perfectionist is simple, something that anyone can be good at. Well I hate to disappoint you, but that is far from the truth. As an example, not only does a perfectionist have to build, construct, repair, or fabricate a perfect solution, he has to first find all those problems that lend themselves to having perfect soulutions implemented. Here is a wonderful example: Yes, a lowly little outdoor plug - all it has to do is sit there and provide power safely when you plug something into it right? I mean really, how can you actually find fault with a properly and safely installed outdoor plug? Well, that's actually wrong, and a perfectionist can find fault...that is his or her duty! Not only does it have to work properly and safely, it also has to be aesthetically pleasing, and functionally located.

BEFORE: A GFCI decora style outlet in a modern rectangular box with decora style weather cover. It is located directly above the coal chute. Ugly and inconvenient if you ask me!

AFTER: A traditional duplex style receptacle, with the old style twin covers. It is not a GFCI, but it does have GFCI protection, as it is wired in sequence after a GFCI located in the crawlspace uner the front sunroom.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Guided Tour - Dining Room

After leaving your coat in the foyer closet, you could turn again toward the back of the house, with the staircase on your right, and proceed throught a doorway into the dining room. Off to your left lie both living rooms. The photograph is taken from the back of the dining room (in the doorway to the kitchen, looking back to the front of the house, the foyer, and the main front door. The dining room table and chairs, hutch, and sideboard (not visible) are turn of the century pieces, we were told bought by the Field family for the house, and simply transferred along with the house over the years to all the new owners. Although it is a charming story, it is not the truth. The dining room suite was bought by Mr Hilcox and his wife, who owned it for a number of years. Some time ago they downsized, and had the suite moved to their father's house, which eventually became the home of one of their sons.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Characters - Old Man Burkie

To answer a question that some of you may ask, the house is not haunted. And yes, I know what it is like to be 'asked to leave' after ignoring the disturbing activity another house's non-living resident directed at me. Better I think than being haunted, the Field House has a history with one very eccentric owner, who most of the longer-term residents of Tavistock have some familiarity with.

Six years ago, Katherine hosted the AGM of the KW community orchestra at our house (she was tired of driving to Kitchener for all her meetings, and decided it was time for the members to drive to her!) After dinner, the members got to business, leaving some of the spouses and me to entertain ourselves for an hour or two. One gentleman was rather earnest in getting a tour of the house, so we got drinks, and I took them around. While I certainly like the house, and think it is impressive in its own style, this particular gentleman was quite effusive in his appreciation: "Wow, David, these pocket doors, they are fabulous!", "Oh, look at the woodwork, the baseboards, and the moulding around the doors!" and "My God, the staircase is fantastic! And look at the stained glass windows!" were typical of his reaction. After finishing the tour, I asked "Now Vern, generally the reaction is a little more....ummm....tempered, but you seem very impressed with the house, I was wondering why" and he replied "David, you don't understand, I grew up in Tavistock, just the other side of town, and for the life of me, I never, ever thought I would get to see insinde old man Burkie's house! This is fantastic!"

From what I have heard, 'old man Burkie' (a certain Mr. Burcholz) was a very private man, to the point of telling kids not to walk in front of the house when they went by. He was a bachelor, who bought the house with his mother in the 'thirties, and lived in the house until he passed away in the mid-'eighties. He and his mother emigrated from Germany, and there was apparently some (mild) suspicion that he may have been a spy during the war. He worked in the import/export business, evidently of agricultural equipment, and had business dealings in Venezuela. Interestingly, before the war, Mr. Burcholz adopted a boy in town (a young teen, not an orphan, but close) provided him a home, love and guidance, a boy named Hilcox, who went on to marry and have a family of his own. On Mr Burcholz's passing, the house was willed to one of the two sons of Mr. Hilcox, who lived in it with his family for the next ten years.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Guided Tour - The Foyer

If you were to arrive at the front door of the Field House, you would be let in to the sunroom, and then through that and a very wide tall wooden door with a large window in the upper half. Upon entering this, the main door of the house, and looking to the right, this is what you would see. Actually you would see a lot more than this, as my 24mm Nikon lense on the D-100 digital body doesn't open up as wide as I would like, so until I win the lottery and buy a true wide angle, this will have to do! A three part rectangular layout staircase, with tall baseboards, and wall panelling underneath. The thing that amazes me is that the lacquer finish on all the woodwork was applied around 1890 (give or take two years - see first post!), almost 120 years ago, and now, apart from a few minor buffs and scrapes, still looks as good as new. I like the small octagonal framed stained glass windows, which let in just enough light. Sometimes climbing the stairs I wonder about all the other people over the years who have climbed the same staircase, holding the banister, or gliding their right hand on the wall as they went up......If only these walls could talk, the stories they might tell.