Friday, February 28, 2014


It's the last day of February, and it's when we all start coping. Even the most enthusiastic winter-people amongst us begin to yearn for spring, and I am with them. Progress on the kitchen has been, for lack of a better term, like pulling teeth for the past few weeks. We bought the wrong kind of can lights, because we had no idea what we were doing, and then we tried to make them work, and then we resigned ourselves to returning them. This took several weeks to figure out. Now we have the right can lights, and our tile is ordered, and this quilt is sort of happening, too. 

And tomorrow is March. Tomorrow is March!! Updates might continue to be sporadic here, until the kitchen really starts to come together or until it really starts to look like spring out there. (Could be awhile on both counts.) Regardless, I'll be here, stitching and pressing open these little half-triangles and drinking tea and pacing a bit, as well. We'll get there.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Eight years

Eight years ago today, I met a guy. I wrote all about how we met here, and all about our first date here. They're still stories I love telling, because they're both so improbable and sweet. And so dated, in a way. So perfectly and inescapably of the era. No one meets on Myspace anymore, do they? Yep. It was 2006.

It was somewhere near 10 degrees the night of our first date, and, figuring fresh flowers would freeze in the back seat of the car, he instead brought me seed packets. (He knew I was a gardener.) There's something so metaphorical about that. When I got home (late, late) that night, I put the seed packets in a shoebox under my bed. Shoeboxes are where I keep almost all things meaningful and significant. 

The following morning, a four-month-old Pete woke me up, swatting at the shoebox under the bed, making the seeds rattle. This was very tempting to the Pete-cat. He proceeded to pull the box out from under the bed and wrestle it around until the seed packets fell out. He chewed on a few of them, then curled up in the upturned shoebox and went to sleep.

He knew, didn't he? He knew, and he wanted to get in on the ground floor. 

Eight years later, my garden rules my life spring, summer, and fall. Pete is all grown up and thinking about trade school (kidding). Patrick is still that sweet guy, still surprising me with his kindness and generosity. I can't wait to see where the coming years take us.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow dog

Who said they like seeing Del in the snow? Was it Becky? Probably it was Becky. Well, get ready to feast your eyes!

We got some snow yesterday. All day snow. A lot of snow. I don't think we quite got the 10-14 we were supposed to get, but still, we got fresh snow. I love fresh snow. Crusty tracked-up dirty snow, not so much. But fresh snow keeps me loving winter. 

Delmer and I share this sentiment.

When we got on walks in fresh snow, I know what he's thinking: must run! must run and leap and bound, bound, bound! leash is of no consideration, for fresh snow was meant to be bounded in! For whatever reason, he doesn't seem interested in bounding around the yard in the snow, but on walks or hikes: he's unstoppable.

Yesterday I was trudging to the garage and back many a time, in the snow, cutting and hauling and installing drywall. A new capability in my ken. I love adding new capabilities.

When we moved here, I'd never used a power saw. Not once. Now, I have built a fence, multiple compost bins, a chicken yard and coop, a greenhouse... installed chair rail, insulated our basement, installed light fixtures, disconnected and reconnected outlets... Wow. It's easy for me to name the lessons the garden and yard have taught me, but easy to overlook how much I've learned about home improvement just being in this home and making improvements. ANYway.

This all is coming along. It ain't perfect, but it's really starting to shape up. This weekend, Patrick will hopefully make headway on installing the can lights (five of 'em) that are going to live in the header. One little bit at a time... we're getting closer.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Three necklaces

This is making for a pretty good winter, I have to say. Not a lot of folks on the east coast are probably sharing that opinion, but here, things are cozy and relatively calm. Even in the midst of renovation. I spend two afternoons a week (after the writing is done) working on the kitchen, and two afternoons a week doing something crafty. Yesterday I put up some drywall. Monday afternoon I finished a necklace and started a belt.

I've been wanting something big lately. I have a lot of sweet + demure, which is fun, too, but sometimes you want something wild and a little flashy. Just a little. I had a few Anthropologie necklaces I was gawking (like this one and this one) but honestly, $150+? For a necklace? 

I knew I had a shoebox full of broken jewelry saved from my youth, when I spent Saturday afternoons making miniature lamps and vases for my dollhouse, and an antique button habit. I had pliers and wire and all manner of crafty know-how. How hard could this be? I googled. I bought a little bit of chain and some jump rings and clasps for about $15, enough to make dozens of necklaces. Then, I started tinkering.

Mother of peal teardrops wired together with copper wire (this was fiddly), one big chartreuse rhinestone, linen for the backing, jump rings, and copper chain. Yeah baby.

Blue cotton cloth with a piece of cardboard inside to stiffen it, beads, chain, wire, rhinestones, pearls, broken earrings and brooches, a metal teardrop shape that I'm pretty sure came off a fishing lure... uh huh, yeah. This one was inspired by this project here, which I found in my searching. 

Then I made this one, with beads I've had since I was probably twelve, basic beading thread, crimp beads, jump rings, and chain. I want to make another one in green, and maybe even another one in red. Why not? We have six more weeks of winter, and I'm (honestly) in no rush for springtime.

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Monday, February 10, 2014


We were so overdue. Patrick didn't have rehearsal on Sunday, like he usually does, and it was awesome. Sometimes I get to spend extra time with him and it is extra good and I don't want to give him back-- it's exactly that stubborn possessive feeling toddlers get when they don't want to share their favorite toy. But give him back I do-- to his job, to the band-- but not without a sly hope for extra time together in the future. 

We hiked. Lord. We needed it. Our last hike was over a month ago, and with the kitchen work eating up our Saturdays, usually, we must subsist on the occasional rare Sunday off to get a hike in. Poor Del has been jonesing.

We made it count, though.

I only discovered this loop back in the fall, and somehow, it makes life in general a lot better. Being able to take a terrific, long, scenic and wild hilly hike without having to drive anywhere is my happy place. The loop is probably three miles or so-- we walk way out the river road, then up up up a very steep windy hill road, and then there is this magnificent little dead end/driveway that improves into a stone wall-bordered farm road as we walk in away from civilization. There's a gorgeous stone farmhouse that's only used in the summertime (if at all?) and surrounding barns, a farm pond, and some old machinery lying around... and as we walk past all this, further into the woods, we pass another old place, even further into decline than the first. 

This time, we stopped to explore a little.

I don't know why I love shambles like this, but I do.

It was a good hike. The best part is letting Del off-leash, which we (and he) are getting gradually more comfortable with. Mostly, he is an angel. Mostly. Yesterday he ate lots of snow and snuffled for mice in the dead weeds, and did lots of gleeful dog-bounding. Sweet guy. This kitchen work has not been his favorite thing, but he (and we) are suffering through it.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

The slog

I have a feeling the next few stages of this project are going to go very... slow. It was pretty thrilling to have Steve the Contractor and his assistant here for six days, and BOOM, a nice big open space and a sturdy new beam in place, and all we had to do was write a check! BUT. That is the tip of the iceberg, here. Now we are back to fumbling our way forward, alone, without benefit of professional help.

We have pretty limited time in which to get things accomplished in here, and the next stages are going to be the trickiest-- making the new half-wall and the header mesh with the existing walls and, er, angles. Nothing is plumb, nothing is level. So it goes with old houses. 

On Friday I was able to demo out the studs from the old wall, which was gratifying-- why is demo so much faster and more gratifying than construction? It's so nice to see that view into the dining room unencumbered. It's going to just keep looking awesomer and awesomer...

On Saturday, we went to see Jason Isbell in Geneva (sooo good) and Sunday P had rehearsal. So it goes. I'm going to try to get a few things accomplished over the course of this week, like framing out the new header... but... it's just so daunting, y'know, to build something so structural and prominent and obvious and high stakes... oh, jeez. Much easier to pace and consider, than to suck it up and build something that might look terrible. 


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