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Three Kitty Konstruction
Point Arena, CA

Our First Home, Upton, MA

Being brought up in the northeastern part of the U.S., we naturally first settled there.  Our first home was about 30 miles west of Boston, MA in the town of Upton.  We purchased a parcel of land, spent several months with family and friends clearing the oak, birch and hickory trees from the house site and then had our home built.  We then spent the next 10 years developing the gardens and landscaping.  Below are just a few of our favorite photos and some stories of our adventures in home-ownership.

4361-0003t.jpgIn the deep forest, we built our home, gardens, garage and greenhouse. 4361-0011t.jpgThis lobelia was actually a wildflower that grew near our seasonal brook. 4361-0070t.jpgDaylilies were planted in some of the flower beds. 4361-0071t.jpgWe "tamed" the wild "Black-eyed Susans" into garden flowers.
4361-0073t.jpgWe were always delighted by the butterfly visits. 4361-0078t.jpgThis heavily scented houseplant flowers one night a year. 4361-0080t.jpgDeep in the forest, we would find Indian Pipe, a saprophytic plant that feeds on decaying organic material. 4361-0122t.jpgWe put two frog ponds in the gardens for the forest amphibians.
4361-0126t.jpgIn the fall, the trees drop their leaves and the gardens rest. 4810-0038t.jpgOne year, we had a huge, old oak tree removed from in front of the house. 4810-0009t.jpgThere is snow on the gardens for many months in the winter. 4810-0017t.jpgUntil the brooks freeze, they still run in the winter.
uptonwinter2t.jpgThe snow-covered ornaental grass looks like a space alien. 4810-0024t.jpgEven though it is cold, the snow can be beautiful. 4810-0023t.jpgWith spring and summer, the garden lilies flower freely. 4810-0036t.jpgMore lilies ...
4810-0039t.jpgAnd columbines also graced the gardens.4810-0057t.jpgIn the fall, the leaves turn color and are reflected in the local lake.We hope  you enjoy the stories below that come out of our home in Upton, MA.  We lived there for 12 wonderful years until we moved to California.

Imagine, if you will, a chilly evening in the fall.  After a day spent preparing the gardens for their winter rest, we decide that relaxing in front of the fireplace would be perfect.  A few minutes after the first, small fire was built, we heard much noise coming from the top of the firebox - IN THE CHIMNEY.  Shortly therearter, a duck (a Wood Duck) landed in the fireplace behind the burning kindling.  We removed the screen from the front of the fireplace and the duck flew out onto the back of the sofa.  It was a little singed but unharmed.  We opened the window and the duck flew out with quite a story to tell.  We have since seen Wood Ducks roosting in trees.  They evidently nest in holes in trees and mistook our chimney cap for a dead tree.  The following Spring we replaced the chimney cap with a screened cap and still use the old cap as a garden ornament.


In the winter in Upton, it would often thaw and some of the snow and ice that had built up on the ground would actually melt.  One January, with about a foot of snow on the ground, it rained as well as thawed.  But the snow had a hard, icy crust on the top of it and the snow didn't melt.  In one night, over an inch of rain fell.  The rain soaked into the drain pipes going down under our 300 foot long driveway.  At the bottom, the drain pipes were still frozen.  The force of the water in the pipes, trying to obey gravity actually shattered the pipes, blowing them out of the ground (and into the trees above).  In the morning, there was a deep trench across the driveway and for years, we were removing PVC pipe shards from the trees and brush.

The following summer, our local excavator came to reinstall the drain pipes.  He built a beautiful dry well at the bottom of the driveway for the drains to empty into.  Just before he completed the final grading, we had a thunderstorm that again delivered over an inch of rain.  In the morning, the drains and the dry well were totally washed away.  He then built a much bigger dry well and for 10 years, we had no further trouble.


It seems like we have a couple of stories involving snow.  Being energy-conscious, we built our greenhouse on the south side of the house.  Being totally dumb, we never realized that the snow that built up on the roof would slide off right onto the greenhouse.  One Thanksgiving, after visiting relatives in Philadelphia, we returned home to find the snow had slid off the roof of the house, broken the tempered glass of the greenhouse and the orchids were frozen to the greenhouse benches.  The orchide survive to this day.


We also have several more stories about birds.  One spring when the Baltimore Orioles returned for their nesting season, we were "graced" by a male Oriole sitting on our bedroom window sill, singing and pecking the glass every morning at dawn.  In Upton, dawn in June is between 3 and 4 AM.

But the Oriole was better than the partridge that flew through our basement window in January.  We went down to Jacks office in our basement to find a perfectly round hole in the window, a broken light fixture and a dead bird about 15 feet in the room.  That bird must have been really moving fast.


One last story involved one of the potential difficulties of owning a home with a water well (as opposed to getting water provided by the community).  One night, Frosty and Jan were awakened by a severe thunderstorm.  (Jack was away on business.)  During the storm, there was a huge crash of thunder, a flash of lightening and the smoke detectors in the house sounded.  After ascertaining that there was no immediate threat, Jan and Frosty went back to bed.  In the morning, Jan realized that the circuit breaker to the pump in the well would not reset.  She correctly assumed that the well (which was about 30 feet from the house) had been struck by lightening and the pump needed to be replaced.  The repair people came out and couldn't get the old pump out of the well (due to the nature of the original installation) so they put a second pump above the first.  That pump burned out shortly after installation.  While removing the second pump, the pipe broke and the pump fell to the bottom of the well.  A third pump had to be installed but it could not be placed deep enough to provide a reliable water source.  That summer, a second well had to be drilled.  The second well was about half as deep as the first, provided twice the water volume and worked better than the first for over 10 years.

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