Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ten things

1. These are berries on the same tree I photographed for my header.

2. They're a really good almanac for the progress of fall.

3. Our bathroom has plumbing again, but no tile yet. That is quickly changing.

4. This is the laziest Halloween in history. I'm planning on wearing a vintage dress (a very vintage dress) and makeup. That is all.

5. Last night for dinner I layered three toasted tortillas with refried beans, salsa, and cheese and let it melt in a frying pan for a few minutes. And it was GOOD. And EASY.

6. I really don't like the bank right now.

7. Absinthe is fast becoming my drink of choice. Auditioning for a spot in Impressionist-era France, perhaps?

8. Last night I drew my future Gilbertsville Garden Complex on a sheet of graph paper. I made sure to include four raised beds, arugula, brick paths in a herringbone pattern, sunchokes, and room for 25 asparagus crowns. It was deeply satisfying.

9. Tonight Patrick is going to make mushroom barley soup for dinner, and I am going to sit on the couch and embroider.

10. I'm really happy with the homemade chai piece I wrote for Grow and Make last week.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Of tile board and floor-leveling cement dust, and the realities of life without a shower.

You've never seen pictures of our upstairs bathroom, and there's a reason. It is the armpit of the house, small, with peeling linoleum and no less than four doors opening into it. But all that (except the doors) is changing.

On Friday, the antique claw-foot tub was ousted. Five layers of flooring were torn up, and floor-leveling cement was poured. Saturday, the window was removed, old sheetrock came down, and more cement was poured. It wasn't so bad, really. Actually, it was pretty nice. I stood in the kitchen, singing along to Gillian Welch, listening to the whine of the saw and the wrenching of old nails. I canned applesauce. I made cauliflower soup. I made a beer run, and ushered the guys downstairs for soup, bread, and more beer. This is the beauty of belonging in a family of DIY-ers. "The guys" are my husband and my sainted father-in-law, and they are a formidable home-improvement duo. I love them.

Overhauling the bathroom is another step closer to Gilbertsville. I can't wait to see it done, in its spic-and-span shiny-tiled splendor. I can't wait to clean it for the first time, post-redo, and have it really be clean. You know? With peeling linoleum involved, it was hard to make it really feel clean.

Sunday, the new tub was carried through the kitchen and set into place. *Tingle.*
Afterward, there was the dusting of hands on knees, the satisfaction of a project strongly begun, and the realization that the rest of Sunday was ours for the taking. For the going. So, we went. We went to Cooperstown, to the Farmers' Museum. We bought a bag of molasses peppermint drops, beers at our favorite downtown bar, and a lavish dinner at Alex and Ika.

It was wonderful.

The reality of the redo is, we have no shower right now. It was a weekend of sink-washed hair and intimacy with washcloths. Showering at my inlaws' house this morning, after three days without, was a religious experience. Who knew I could get passionate about a hot shower?

The journey to self-discovery, and a beautiful new bathroom, continues...

Friday, October 22, 2010

What we're thinking

I love our hikes. We talk about stuff. We take Diesel, or not, and spend time walking around in the woods participating in marriage. And botany.

Lately, this line has been showing up near-daily in our conversations.
Me: You know what I can't wait for?
Patrick: What?
Me: Loading up the truck with paint cans and heading to Gilbertsville.
Patrick: Hmmm.
Me: You know? Aren't you excited too? I just can't wait.
Patrick: Yes, dear.

We're getting closer. I'm not sure if we've set some sort of record here, but closing is taking a long time. We signed the contract in June. We had the inspection in August. Now it's two weeks shy of November, and the bank has just been dragging, dragging, dragging. But. You know? Once we close, it's going to be two-mortgage-payments-per-month until we sell our house in Binghamton. Who in their right mind would be looking forward to two mortgage payments?

Uh, me, I guess.

Soooon. I've been leafing through old Country Living and Country Home, flagging pages. I've been sending Design*Sponge pictures to my "Stuff I Like" folder with a little more urgency. Rooms are taking shape in my mind. All sixteen of them.

My annual post-Christmas seed catalog perusal will take on a life of its own, as I order asparagus crowns, and plot the 50 x 50 expanse where I plan to grow my garden.

I can't wait to start making it my own. That time will come. And me, I know that as wonderful as it will be to start making progress, in some ways this time is better than that time. More abstract. More fantasy. More perfect.

I need to keep reminding myself of that, as we get ever-closer.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It approaches.

An addendum to last week's Preparations: series should've been Preparations: Thanksgiving. I'd been bopping along mindlessly through October, only to realize, with sudden shock, that Frog Pond closes next week and I don't have any idea what to cook for Thanksgiving.

Make that didn't. While Patrick made dinner yesterday evening the cookbooks and magazines came out, along with my meal planning notebook, and I drew up a list.

Dried Currant and Orange Stuffed Squash.
Brussels sprout slaw with mustard-maple dressing.
Scalloped potatoes and fennel.
Brown sugar Pecan Cupcakes.

Are you coming?

What are the favorite dishes in your family's Thanksgiving? Do you stick to a rotation of tried-and-true classics, or change it up every year? At my family's table, it was mostly tried-and-true classics, until I took over. If you want to be eating Brussels sprout slaw at Thanksgiving, hire a foodie to cook the meal.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just a little addicted

This is what I found at that marvelous antiques store I showed you yesterday. Not the flowers, silly, the pot!

This is a McCoy jardinière in my favorite translucent bluey-green glaze. And unlike most of the items in the shop, it was underpriced. I wasted no time.

I'm dreaming of a wide sunny windowsill in our next house, and how it will be populated with begonia-filled McCoy planters. Dreaming, dreaming.

Time was, people would ask me if I collected anything, and I'd say, "Yes. Everything." Now I have just one thing I collect, and it's McCoy pottery, preferably in my favorite translucent bluey-green glaze.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I went to visit old neighbors.

I'd missed these guys. I'd missed our shared garden and our canning sessions, but mostly I missed the thoughtful, interesting, inspiring, adorable fact of their company. When two of your closest friends move from twenty-one steps to one-hundred-ninety-eight miles away, it takes some getting used to. I've spent most of the last month fastidiously saving up things to tell them like an eager rodent hoarding nuts, looking forward to sitting with them again.

Patrick stayed behind, to recuperate and clean up from Friday's shindig. (And he did a bang-up job. I swear I'd never seen so many empties in one place at one time.) When canning is on the agenda, Patrick fears not tread. It was okay. Lucky for him, I brought back cute cat photos. This is Taj, the fearless sneaker-wrestler.

Part of my visit (more than I expected) was spent secretively stalking around with my camera, snapping pictures of their beautiful new house. They moved out of our neighborhood-- and the gorgeous Victorian with the cavernous great room and chestnut molding-- and I knew the bar was pretty high for where they'd choose to relocate. I was happy to approve their decision, as only a friend can. The bookshelves, yes, the built-ins, yes, the closet in every room, yes. All of these things I approve.

Also on the agenda: a little antiquing. Another reason for Patrick staying away. We stumbled into possibly the most beautiful antiques store I've ever found, in Strasburg, PA. An old tobacco warehouse, three floors of goodness. I appropriated myself a treasure. You'll see.

And then, we drove.

This is Amish country. I can't describe the beauty. In most views, there's at least a half-dozen silos. In most views, there's a least a half-dozen different crops planted. Every farm has horses and mules (for buggy-pulling) and often sheep, chickens, or cows, as well. Farmland is my favorite thing to gaze at; I was in my element.

And did I mention the covered bridges?

We posed for a quick shadow-portrait and hauled butt into Lancaster for ice cream. Molasses ice cream, in a pretzel cone, to die for. And then rather quickly I was on my way, the miles spooling out behind me as I sped homeward through the mountains. As much as I wish they were still my neighbors (wishwishwish) it was great to make a little vacation out of visiting them. Things change. Life goes on.

I'm already planning my next trip. Or should I say, our next trip. With this many horses and mules and sheep and chickens and cats, Patrick's presence will be requested.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Preparations: Feasting

Tidying and clearing off tables and setting out candles, because there's nothing cozier than a house full of friends on a chilly, spitting October night. Patrick's band is playing tonight, and it promises to be an excellent time.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

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