Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February blues

Note Pete, outside the window.

First, an update. It continues to be February, and wintry February at that. The car repair we thought would be $$$$ turned out only to be $$, so that is a big relief. I am still sewing and listening to podcasts and trying to stay patient with the snow but also really really wanting to plant three more cold frames, rake the yard, finish painting the porch, and drink a beer on the lawn.

I've been waking up at 3:30 am for about three hours each night, almost every night, for no particular reason, for about a week straight. My mind starts going ten miles a minute, I stare at the ceiling, I glare bitterly at the snoring Patrick beside me. I try to imagine I am a buoy on the ocean, rocking up.... and down... with the surf. Sleeplessness has never been my problem before; I'm not sure what's up.

On Sunday night, we went to close up the chickens for the night, and found only Genevieve and Loretta inside. That is about par for the course-- lacking a rooster, they sometimes have a hard time getting themselves in the coop autonomously at night. We started looking around.

Dolly was dead in the snow not too far from the coop, and Patsy a little further away, still alive but injured. The dog tracks went all around.

It's completely nauseating.

Patsy has moved into a cardboard box in my office. Last night, we set her broken leg, and today she's eating. I have no idea how hopeful I should allow myself to be. 

I have talked to the town supervisor, the mayor, the dog warden, the sheriff, the department of environmental conservation. And when I'm awake at 3:30 in the morning, it's something I try really hard not to think about beyond that. This tide of bum luck needs to turn itself around and be gone. Go haunt someone else's house.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Long Point

It's been awhile, it seems, since I marked our dating anniversary on this here blog. Actually, it's been awhile, I think, since we really marked it to each other, doing something special to honor the day. And though we're trying really hard not to spend any money right now, yesterday after my writing commitments were met, we felt the tug of Ithaca, Ithaca, and found it impossible to resist.

We hadn't been to Long Point in far too long, anyway, and we hadn't had time alone together in Ithaca in even longer. 

This is where we went for our second date, and it was a day very much like this one-- sunny and not too breezy, and perfect for starting to get to know each other.

After rocks were skipped and lucky stones were pocketed, we drove into town for a few happy hour beers, a game of pool, and wonderful Mexican food. It was absolutely perfect.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Sun chickens

Yesterday was a good day to be a chicken. It was a good day to be alive-- I took the Pete and settled into a lawn chair situated on the south side of the garage, where it was a good 60 degrees, at least, and we basked. The chickens came, the chickens went. 

I walked. It was really the first moments of spring-- that first assessment of things that need doing and encouraging along. I pruned my blueberry bushes, and cut down my brittle forest of dry asparagus stalks. 

Life is going to be alright. The car is out of the shop, and the repairs were mercifully half as expensive as we expected. That's the first good news, the first lucky break, we've had in months, so I'll choose to take it as a sign the tide is turning. Either way, spring is coming, that is a surety, and there is nothing a little sunshine can't improve.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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Monday, February 11, 2013

A good sturdy challenge

Can I just spend the rest of the winter posting simple slice-of-life photos of things I'm cooking and baking and sewing? Please?

After waiting all day Friday for it to start snowing, (by the fire with a jigsaw puzzle) it finally did start around 4pm. The storm left us a scant six inches, but I went into full-on cozying mode anyway, cranking the fireplace and working on that puzzle all through the weekend. It's a thousand pieces, I started it Friday, I had no help, and it's almost done. It had been so long since I did a puzzle; I forgot how good it can feel.

Sunday, I slipped into my usual cozy Sunday groove: it's rehearsal day for Patrick, usually from 12-4, so I kick the festivities off by shooing him out the door and listening to This American Life. I cook the evening's dinner, and usually there is bread or a batch of muffins to be made, as well, and sometimes (sometimes) I clean. Yesterday I oiled some chairs. 

I've been beating around the bush about talking about this these past few weeks, but it's time. I've gone back to hitting the grocery store sale flyers and looking for coupons. We don't buy a whole lot from the grocery store, as I've mentioned, and it's hard not to let those coupons sway your shopping habits in an expensive direction. Call it the Coupon Paradox. But more and more I'm looking out at 2013 and seeing it as more of a gauntlet than a pleasure excursion. 

Patrick is planning on scaling back his office job to half-time, which is a fine decision he's been wanting to make for years. Patrick is a musician; he doesn't like the necessity of being an employee somewhere. The standing plan is to spend those extra twenty hours a week he'll gain working on our Binghamton house, which has been vacant for three months now. Then we'll sell it, to be rid of it, to get it off our backs. One set of tenants cured us of any grand aspirations of being long term landlords. 

We have a healthy savings account, and pretty low expenses out here in Gilbertsville, as long as I can keep myself out of Home Depot and the lumber yard. As long as I don't decide to build another $800 greenhouse anytime soon. (No problem!)

So that decision was all fine and well and good, and then pretty much on the eve of this decision, I learned I needed to trim back my working hours a little. Then Patrick's car broke down three times in three weeks. Then a pipe froze in Binghamton, flooded our old kitchen, and the insurance company won't cover all the damage. It's been like, whack, whack, whack lately. Upheaval. 

I didn't want to write about all this. The blog is my happy place, but it's also a true story. All this has been stressful, and probably will continue to be until the house is sold. BUT, it's also an opportunity, a good sturdy challenge, something Patrick and I can work on together. Our grocery bill is usually around $50, and I'm trying to turn that into $50 every two weeks. We've cracked down on our "fun money" spending-- in the past, Patrick would pay for all our date nights, and he is mighty liberal with his own money. I am stingy as all hell with my own money, so our solution for now is for me to take out $100 cash once a week, and that's what we get and when it's gone it's gone. So far, this is working out pretty well. It will be easier in the summertime, when hiking is more appealing.

I am couponing. We are finding fun, free things to do at home, like working on puzzles, playing guitar by the fire, and embarking on an online puzzle quest. Last night we took out colored pencils and gave each other drawing prompts, and Patrick drew a starfish brandishing a bow and arrow (and a ferocious war face) and I doubled over laughing. 

We're going to be fine. Things just need to settle down: we need to fix the car, work on the Binghamton house. I need to find more assignments to take. (Things are actually going really well in that department.) 

Anybody with good budgeting tips, let me know! 

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Friday, February 8, 2013

On the cusp

Lo, for the hatches have been battened. We have wine, beer, chocolate, lentils, and flour enough to last into next week, plus eggs. You can do a lot with wine, beer, chocolate, lentils, flour, and eggs. I have this stitching to keep me company, as I sit in my chair and let it snow.
The light this morning is so soft and gray; all I did was walk around taking pictures of pretty places and things I hadn't talked about for awhile. It's amazing how little changes happen over time, and how easy it is to forget they haven't had their time in the sun.

Patrick snatched this up off eBay last year, and it was a Good Husband Moment. You probably can't read it, but it says Second Annual Ball, blah blah blah, to be held at Village Hall, Gilbertsville, NY. Friday Eve, January 28th, 1898. What a lucky, lucky strike that was. Patrick loves to lurk on eBay looking for guitars and amps and general good deals on gear, but sometimes when he's bored he types in "Gilbertsville, NY," and sees what pops up.

This is a mold someone once used to cast decorative plaster trim. A fine antiques shop score. I'm thinking it might look at home hung on the wall someplace, maybe in our new bathroom, when it's finished.

And of course I have to show you that bookcase I mentioned here, don't I? Isn't she a beaut? I'm not sure where she's going to live, but it's going to be someplace prominent. Sometimes a piece comes along that you just need, y'know? We don't have a lot of things in this house that look original, or in step with the era it was built in. And that's fine, we're not purists or anything. But it's so nice to have this one, for now, and imagine that it might have come from a house somewhere built about the same time as this one (probably not quite, but close) and think about its story.
Side note: according to the deed, our house was sold furnished for the first six decades of its life, 1850-1910. SIGH.
Well, happy Friday, everyone. Hope those getting more snow than we stay safe and warm. There is a snow party tonight, with pizza, next door, and tomorrow there will likely be snowshoeing before another non-snow party with other neighbors. It's gonna be a good weekend.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Square corners and tucked-under edges

This is fun. I've been nibbling away at my scrap basket since Christmas, making hexagons and dropping them into a popcorn bowl. Now that I'm running out of hexagon papers, I have to start doing something with the hexagons I've made so I can steal their paper innards and make more hexagons. It might take three eternities of hexagons before I've got my scrap basket emptied, but I intend to try, anyway. I did get to pull a bunch of bigger scraps out and make some patchwork bias tape, which was also fun. Generally speaking, the more different fabrics I get to work with at one time, the happier I am.

This is going to be our table runner, as I mentioned last Wednesday. The top is linen, the middle is pieces of a ratty old sheet that was on that ironing board I recovered, and the back is a piece of another less-ratty sheet, chocolate brown, part of a set that wore out on us this summer. We wore out two sets of sheets this summer-- sets we've had for years which happened to choose summer, 2012, as their personal time to go. As a result, the suitcases where I keep old sheets and blankets and things to be used as quilt backings or batting (sometimes I cheat) are filled to overflowing. 

It's been so nice to get back to sewing this winter. I still have that list of home improvements I'd like to take on, before spring, which is seeming less and less pressing, to be honest. Sometimes I need to take a break from projects that are overwhelming and messy and expensive, and make square corners and perfect tucked-under edges and let someone else handle the messy and the overwhelming. 

Case in point.

Seeing this was a big-time squeal moment. We chose the subway tile, of course, but it was Tom who worked in the little cubbies for shampoo and such, and Tom who suggested we use some leftover glass tile from their kitchen for an accent partway up the wall. Brilliance. The whole thing is beginning to look spa, somehow, and I am electrically excited for the day it's done. Not impatient, mind you, just excited. 

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Friday, February 1, 2013


This is the part where it starts to get good. Those straight lines, those perfect gaps. That wire on the wall where the switch to control the radiant floor heating is going to go.


Oddly, the marble is not the most photogenic stuff, but I think this one comes close to doing it justice. We came pretty close to running out-- the darn things kept breaking as they were cut, and the stuff being clearance, we couldn't just run back and get more. We ended up having three tiles left over. Three. Whew.

I have to leave off with this picture of Pete wrestling his catnip container. He'll actually chase it around (it rolls), ambush it, knock it over and start trying to pry the lid off with his teeth. He's the best comic relief ever.

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