The End of Summer at the Red House

I’ve been remiss in writing about the Red House and things we have accomplished and things we unfortunately still have not gotten around to doing. So a quick recap should bring everyone up to speed.

First and foremost, although we did spend an enormous amount of time and some money planting a variety of vegetables and flowers in the spring, in the end only the flowers seemed to do well this year. Maybe it was the lack of rain even though we did have the sprinkler on a timer running every other day. Or perhaps it was the rabbits or the squirrels or even the occasional neighborhood cat that got into the garden and ate everything in sight. When we would arrive on a Thursday night for long weekends up at the Red House, we were initially very happy with what was growing in the garden. There were zucchini blossoms, cauliflower, broccoli and beets.

IMG_8563IMG_8571IMG_8637IMG_8582Most Friday or Saturday mornings I could be found weeding the garden, admiring the veggies that were growing as well as noting how pretty the flowers and sumac trees looked. But I was also worrying about how very dry the back meadow seemed.

IMG_8549IMG_8550 IMG_8643IMG_8614However, as the days of summer grew longer and hotter (especially if we missed a weekend or two up at the Red House), we would come back to find that the lack of rain coupled with the heat had literally “roasted” the cauliflower on the stalk. And while some of the green beans grew, most of my tomatoes did not.

IMG_8634IMG_8631IMG_8621With very few vegetables to pick, we started visiting more farmer’s markets around the area to make up for our own feeble growing results. What’s even more disappointing this growing season is that this year not only did we till the soil first and both fertilize and try to water, we were also spending an enormous amount of time weeding the garden. (The weeds won.)

Speaking of winning (and losing, too), I had been thinking of getting a ping pong table for the Red House for a while. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Munich playing ping pong on a fairly regular basis coupled with the fact that my parents still have a ping pong table in their basement and many a grandchild was raised playing a game or two before a family meal. I researched buying tables online (too expensive!) and then started scouring Craigslist ads for garage sales. Low and behold, one Friday morning I saw an ad for a garage sale listing the exact ping pong table I was looking for up the road from the Red House!

It was in four pieces with a stand and a complete set of paddles and balls. I won’t mention how long it took Lynn to put it together (hint: nearly two days) but finally when it was assembled, we had a ping pong table to play on! (Eventually, it will be moved into our attic but for now it’s in the room next to the TV.)

IMG_8596Little did I know that Lynn grew up playing ping pong, too, and was EXTREMELY competitive playing ball with me. Even though I was usually the one who had to coax him into playing a game or two after dinner, inevitably he won. Here’s our scorecard to date – LOL.

IMG_8702Since our ping pong table also looks out onto the back meadow, I realized we had a dead tree in the backyard, in addition to two very large dead trees in the front of the house. I was seriously worried that one if not both trees in the front could possibly fall on someone driving or walking by the house so we had to get an estimate to have the trees taken down ASAP.

Another reason to have the trees taken down right away was that we were also in the process of getting estimates to have the main roof of the house redone.  I’m not one to cut down trees ever but unfortunately these two had to go.

IMG_8641So the day before the tree guys were going to take down the trees, they parked their “toys” in the driveway.

IMG_8707IMG_8708Let’s just say when they came to do the work Friday morning shortly after 7 a.m., they started up both the truck and the Bobcat at the same time in addition to revving up their chainsaws. Regardless of the incredible noise they were making, they did manage to get all three trees down in under 3 hours.

IMG_8714IMG_8716Trees down, we are trying to get the money together to get a new roof before the winter sets in, followed by much needed siding in the spring.

IMG_8670In the meantime, even the little projects are coming along. For example, Lynn put up some solar stair lights so now that it’s getting darker earlier, we are not fumbling in the dark to walk up the Red House steps.

IMG_8674Granted, they don’t shed a lot of light, but enough so I’m not tripping in the dark carrying bags and trying to find the house key. (A problem we wanted to rectify before going into the winter especially since I broke my wrist last March slipping on some ice in my driveway on Long Island after taking out the trash!)

Lynn has also taped around some of the ceiling light fixtures in anticipation of someday spray painting them.

IMG_8648Wow, Lynn what’s up with all that blue painter’s tape? Just kidding!

And even though some may be confused about labeling the purchase of a grill cover as a “project,” the fact is we have been grilling in the driveway for 5+ years. This may not be a big deal to some but our driveway (like everything else on the property) slopes which means when we want to grill we have to lift up the grill (which is pretty heavy) and place it on a part of the driveway that’s fairly even. This past weekend, I decided the purchase of a grill cover in addition to a grill “mat,” would enable us to place the grill on the deck and leave it there permanently.

IMG_8729Other projects include Lynn buying a bunch of clamps to try and get our kitchen cabinets to hang properly which is a really big problem since the kitchen walls and floor (like our driveway) lean more than slightly to one side.

IMG_8680Meanwhile, even though our kitchen is slowly coming together, we keep making more and more work for ourselves! While we originally were going to buy more cabinets to fit next to the stove, Ikea discontinued the cabinets we already had and the replacement cabinets were an entirely different size. So we talked about putting an eating area near the stove, a “Stube” as the Germans like to say, but had to build it first.

So back to Ikea we went after seeing a picture of someone who had built such a “Stube” by using a couple of kids benches. Lynn put the benches together in an “L” shape but then realized there was still space between the two so he used a piece of wood from an old desk to bring the whole thing together.

IMG_8723And here’s how it’s going to look with cushions although I’m going to recover the cushions at some point with a different fabric. And, of course, we need a table, too.

IMG_8725The biggest news at the end of this Red House summer is that nearly 13 months after thinking about getting a kitchen counter – we finally have one. Here are the before and after shots!


IMG_8720It came out pretty nice – a sturdy black laminate with a grain pattern that actually gives the counter a wood look. We also were finally able to put the remaining drawers into the cabinets and Lynn spent nearly an afternoon attaching the handles, too.

Unfortunately, to make room for the counter installation we had to move everything out of the kitchen into the dining room.

IMG_8699So while one project is seemingly done in one room, we often create a bigger project in another room.

And even though it’s nearly the end of September, the flowers are still blooming and we are still putting shrimp on the grill with lots and lots of homemade pesto with basil and garlic we grew here.

IMG_8666IMG_8662We always enjoy these last few days before the leaves turn and the cold weather sets in. There will be more projects to do inside since everyone knows an old house renovation is never ever done.

IMG_8642On a final note, two weekends ago we spent a few days in Manhattan celebrating Lynn’s birthday and our anniversary. We had lunch at Bouley (!) and one of the dishes was fresh asparagus. I was bewildered since normally asparagus herald in the start of spring. Up at the Red House however, I realized that we, too, had a second crop growing and we weren’t here to reap the benefits of one of my favorite vegetables.

IMG_8731Here’s a shot of one of my many asparagus plants! So in addition to an overabundance of asparagus (which we’ll definitely be looking forward to when spring arrives once again), the fall will bring us a ton of brussels sprouts to eat with many holiday meals.

IMG_8732But for now, it’s the bees that grabbed my attention as we were about to leave the Red House this weekend. They are still drawing the sweet nectar from the flowers in the garden – enjoying every last minute of this very lovely summer.


Posted in Construction, cooking, Flowers, food, Gardening, Gardening tools, Garlic, Grilling, kitchen, Renovation, The Property, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Years Later…Strawberries!

After planting strawberries in one corner of the Red House garden nearly five years ago, we suddenly have lots and lots of strawberries. It seems, however, that I’m a bit late in picking them since when I parted some of the strawberry leaves, I discovered many that had already started to rot. Little did I know that picking these precious little berries is not an easy task. First of all, there was the logistical problem of actually standing in the strawberry patch without trampling the other strawberries in the process! Furthermore, I didn’t realize how delicate the berries are and often the minute I touched one, it would turn to mush in my hand. It’s almost as if it decided to become a jam first rather than a strawberry to be eaten!

IMG_8468So when all was said and done, or picked to be more precise, I was left with barely enough strawberries to fill a ramekin. (Truthfully, there were many more out in the garden but it was difficult to get to them.)

IMG_8527Besides the strawberries, everything else in the garden this year appears to be growing nicely. Last year we were lazy and didn’t properly till the garden or even set up a sprinkler to keep things adequately watered. This year we did both and used new top soil and fertilizer because I was determined that everything I planted would grow. So the zucchini is doing nicely as well as the spinach and basil, too.

IMG_8476IMG_8485IMG_8478I’ve also been picking asparagus since the end of May and have managed to get at least 4-5 stalks to eat with nearly every Red House meal. Like the strawberries, they are perennials which are exactly the kind of vegetables I like to nurture. You buy them once, plant them and they just keep giving you food year after year.

IMG_8474This asparagus obviously grew way too high but the dill-like fronds when the asparagus is trimmed down will make their way into the soil for more asparagus to sprout next year.

On the home front, I’ve been remiss in writing about the Red House renovation because right now we’re in a holding pattern. Our current contractor has been trying to put in an upstairs master bathroom for nearly a year. Why this has taken so long can only be attributed to his working infrequently on the project coupled with him undergoing some major surgery in the past few months. Unfortunately, a lot of what we want to do (finish the master bedroom and build a huge walk-in closet) can’t happen until he finishes the bathroom.

I am, however, encouraged when I see things he has labeled indicating at least there is the possibility of a shower and lights, too!

IMG_8460I also like the fact that he randomly leaves “boy toys” lying around which also gives me hope that eventually the bathroom will be done and we will have one more room finished.

IMG_8461In November this is how the shower looked.

IMG_8453And as of June, this is where we are now. (In other words, we’ve got a long way to go.)

IMG_8456Since we spend a lot of time outside in the summer at the Red House, I can’t complain about what’s not being done inside the house. The rabbits living on the property have been gracious enough to not eat everything (so far) I’ve planted which means the lettuce (usually their food of choice) is amazing and the flowers are absolutely gorgeous.


IMG_8484The deer, too, seem content to nibble only at the grass and wildflowers around the property. Isn’t he/she adorable?

IMG_8494Going into the start of the summer season which is my favorite time up at the Red House, I’m trying not to fret about how things have crawled to a halt on the Red House renovation because of time and money. It’s no good worrying if the very old roof on the main part of the house will make it through another Upstate New York winter or the fact that we really need to get new siding! Since we’re half way through our anticipated completion of the project (yes, we’ve been here five years!), I have to take a step back and be happy for all we have accomplished.

I know there are quite a few people who think their dream home has to have a water view. With the meadow that we have and all the peacefulness it inspires, we can only be very, very thankful for the Red House.

IMG_8462 Oh yeah, and hope the tree that’s dead in the foreground doesn’t fall on top of the kitchen roof that is new! Happy First Day Of Summer!

Posted in bathroom, cooking, Flowers, food, fruit, Gardening, Renovation, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment


When we left the Red House a few weeks ago, the back meadow was still green but all the leaves had nearly fallen off the trees.

IMG_8394And the deer, who love to walk down from the waterfall and roam the property, also still had plenty to nibble on.

IMG_8293So imagine our surprise a mere 2 weeks later when we drove up to the Red House after Thanksgiving to find icicles hanging from the roof and the back meadow covered in snow!


IMG_8403So, even though our intentions last time had been good by leaving our shovel “ready for action” on the deck by the side of the house, we had to get through the snow to get up to the deck in order to get to the shovel!

IMG_8342Luckily, our contractor had driven his truck over our driveway enough times that there was a path (albeit icy) for us to follow so we managed to pull the car in just far enough to unload everything.

But as we were walking through the snow I couldn’t help but think of the vegetables I had just picked from the garden. Hadn’t I just made a big batch of tomato sauce from the last of the season’s tomatoes? Washing them and chopping them up until they boiled down to a rich goodness?

IMG_8306While I was still contemplating that activity, Lynn managed to reach the shovel and shoveled some of the driveway and the sidewalk. I went inside and pondered lunch and thought about our last visit to the house.

Two weeks prior, he decided that the project on my list that was nearly dead last (that would be replacing all the door handles) became his #1 priority!

Remember the photo of my bag of handles from (gulp!) the spring of 2013! Yep, here it is again. Well, suddenly he was reaching into this bag and pulling out handle after handle.

IMG_6170So while my #1 priority was to WORK ON THE MASTER BEDROOM…

IMG_8387Lynn’s priority was to do this:

IMG_8381I won’t even go into how long it takes to cut a round circle in a door to put a new handle a couple of inches above the old one but let’s just say it takes a lot longer than you think it should!

In fairness, he did build a new entry way into what will one day be my office.

IMG_8319 And since neither the opening or the wall existed prior to this, I have to say he did a really nice job. (Thank you Lynn, it’s okay you spent 2 days doing 3 door handles – only 300 more to go – just kidding!)

Meanwhile, I guess the snow surprised me because just two weeks ago we had put away all the outdoor furniture (which means we carry it inside and put it in an empty room).

IMG_8327Notice the leftover pieces of sheetrock placed on the table so the metal chairs don’t crack the glass? Really, if you are ever in need of tablepads for a dinner party, this works just as well!

We also picked out additional tile for our bathroom (please don’t ask how the bathroom is coming – it’s just coming) – choosing a simple white “subway” tile for the inside of the shower floor and walls.

IMG_8316And while we still have yet to get a countertop for the kitchen, I’m just really happy that none of the upper cabinets have fallen down (even though Lynn assured me they wouldn’t.) Truthfully, finding things in one of the lower kitchen cabinets is a lot simpler without a countertop because I can just reach into a cabinet and pull out the pan I need! (Getting a countertop will hopefully happen early in 2015.)

IMG_8332Meanwhile, the town itself has gone into full blown Christmas mode and seems to have made an effort to decorate the downtown by hanging up festive kissing balls and angels tooting horns from the light posts. My reaction? At least there’s no awful Christmas music blaring, too!

IMG_8419A few blocks from the town’s main drag, the gazebo in the park was also decorated with lights. When I saw it and looked at all the pretty houses nearby, I almost expected George Bailey to come running out of one them on his way to save the Bailey Building and Loan Association! (Yes, there is a certain It’s A Wonderful Life quality to living here.)

IMG_8408Dinner at the Red House (and lunches, too) this post-Thanksgiving weekend consisted of  generous slices of turkey with nearly every side dish you can think of, omelets filled with pieces of the leftover Thanksgiving ham, and finally overstuffed turkey sandwiches topped with lettuce and tomato.

IMG_8445I was a bit concerned for the deer on the back meadow, especially since I saw one trying  to push away the snow with a hoof, hoping I guess for a couple of inches of grass that he or she could eat.

IMG_8433But here’s the thing, the first snow regardless of where Lynn and I have lived is still kind of exciting. There were tons of kids sledding on the hill next to our house (even though it was a brisk 28 degrees outside) and even our crappy old Colonial lamp post that’s in the driveway managed to transform itself into something quite pretty.

IMG_8401 So even though winter has come a bit early to the Red House, it will not conquer us (we hope).

red house november snow 2014Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas, too.

P.S. I promised Lynn Santa would bring him a snow blower in 2015. His response: “Make sure it has heated handles!”

Posted in Construction, cooking, food, kitchen, Renovation, The Property, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fall Upstate And A Craving For…Baking

Fall has definitely arrived at the Red House. The leaves are turning shades of crimson, yellow and orange. I think the sumac trees on the property are my favorite only because their colors are so intense and often the deep dark red stays that way sometimes through much of the winter.

IMG_8175I wish I could report that we’ve made progress in renovating the Red House but unfortunately at this stage in the game (meaning the complicated stuff), we’re very dependent on our contractor to finish our upstairs bathroom. This means while most of the plumbing has been installed, the insulation needs to be put in the walls before the sheetrock and then tile are applied. As you can see not much has changed in this room since the last time I photographed it!

IMG_8221Apparently since our contractor has a lot of outdoor jobs that he’s scrambling to get finished before the weather takes a turn for the worse, I do have to give him some slack. He has assured me that I’m #1 on the top of his list when he finishes with everyone else. Being me (frighteningly straightforward and to the point), I also reminded him that last winter he complained that he couldn’t get into the house without shoveling a path to the door because of all the snow. (I don’t have anyone who plows for us and don’t intend to incur that expense either!)  I also suggested since he obviously didn’t want to spend half of his day shoveling when he could be inside working on a room, he may need to speed things up a bit.

I would also love to start working on the dining room. But since all the materials he needs to complete the bathroom are sitting in the dining room, this room, too, has to wait.

IMG_8216While the leaves are turning, the marigolds seems to be thriving in the garden, the weeds even more so and with all the asparagus ferns cropping up, I’m thinking I’ll have a very nice asparagus harvest in the spring indeed. I’ve decided however, after planting two seasons of garlic in the fall, I’m going to wait until the spring to do it this year and see how that turns out. Reason being: Lynn is busy trying to finish our master bedroom (that means even though he took off all the moulding around the room and put everything back up, there is still a lot of patching that needs to be done as well as taping, spackling and finally painting.

IMG_8219To pull him away from this to get out the tiller (I’m afraid of the tiller it kind of drags me across the field) to plant some garlic seemed dumb. So the garlic will wait until the spring to be planted along with whatever else we can manage to grow in hopes that the deer, rabbits, squirrels and even a local cat or two won’t devour everything we’ve planted.

What is particularly nice about living up here especially in the fall are all the farmer’s markets as well as field after field filled with pumpkins in lovely shades of orange.

IMG_8234Last year I was lucky enough to grow a couple of pumpkins. This year I had to buy one.

IMG_8269Since the weather is turning colder (it was barely 55 degrees when we arrived this Columbus Day weekend), I’m also thinking of food that will warm us. That would be soups (pea and lentil), stews (goulash and chicken paprikash in particular) and lots of carbs like mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese! And while I do try to stay away from sweets as much as possible – I have been thinking of making cinnamon rolls (no, not the kind you bang out from those icky cardboard containers in the refrigerated section of the supermarket) but cinnamon rolls made from scratch.

For those readers who have children or other instances where your household size shrinks from 4 to 1 or 2, I can say that I’ve finally mastered cooking for just the two of us without a huge amount of leftovers. And if we do have have leftovers, it’s because I’m usually trying to make sure at least one of us has something to take to work for lunch the next day.  The problem with this cooking for 2 instead of 4 (or more) thing though is that there are simply dishes (particularly desserts) that just don’t get made anymore. Why bake a batch of brownies or oatmeal raisin cookies if there aren’t any teenagers around to eat them all in a single sitting? Did I mention I’ve been craving cinnamon rolls?

In the meantime, I picked the last of the tomatoes (still green) from the Red House garden.

IMG_8186And admired not only the meadow but how pretty the marigolds still looked in the garden.

IMG_8146IMG_8144And since it was rather chilly, I also decided to make some Braciole stuffing the meat with slices of mozzarella and some smokey ham.

IMG_8213I managed to find a few (albeit slightly bruised) leaves of basil still growing in the garden and found a bag of potato gnocchi we buy at a little Italian deli near the Red House for under $3 a bag that was still in the freezer from the summer.

IMG_8199Did I mention even as I was cooking the gnocchi and Braciole I was craving cinnamon rolls?

On a completely different note. We have a neighborhood cat who shows up like clockwork between 5 and 5:30 on the weekends we are here. He or she slowly meanders to the back of the property seemingly looking around for maybe a tasty little mouse or some other morsel to eat. Now, this cat is really the slowest cat I’ve ever seen so it was particularly funny when I tried to take a picture of the cat and suddenly the cat took off at an amazingly fast pace.

IMG_8251I followed the cat as it walked the length of the property and found myself staring at the stainless steel rolling cart we’ve been using in the kitchen as a table/work counter since we still don’t have countertops for the kitchen cabinets. Wouldn’t that surface be just fine for rolling out dough?

Since I also don’t have any cookbooks up at the Red House (I know that’s old school but I still use them!), I dragged out my laptop and followed a recipe from the Pioneer Woman for Cinnamon Rolls 101 online.

IMG_8247And yes, I already did have all the ingredients on hand so this was a really easy recipe.  I mixed everything together and tried to follow the instructions but the dough just seemed a little bit too wet so I added more flour than called for. The dough rose, I rolled it out, layered it with melted butter, sprinkled on some sugar and lots of cinnamon just like the picture online.

Except I wanted to add some apples to my cinnamon rolls so I did just that.

IMG_8265Really, doesn’t this just look yummy?

I rolled the dough into a log shape, cut the log into slices, and arranged them in a pie pan. The dough seemed a bit wetter than it probably should have been but I figured it would “correct” itself when baking.

I’ve always had a problem with every oven I’ve ever owned and this one is no different. I read a recipe and it suggests a cooking time of say 15-18 minutes and when I peek at what I’m baking, 9 times out of 10 I need double the amount of baking time indicated. Since I was convinced that the thermostat in this new oven wasn’t working properly, I actually went out and bought an oven thermometer. I’d like to say the oven was off, but actually the temperature was exactly what it was supposed to be.

IMG_8285So back to the cinnamon rolls. The recipe called for adding “maple flavoring” to make the frosting. Ha Ha Ha. Living in Upstate New York, I don’t need “maple flavoring,” I can use the real stuff. So I did, mixing maple syrup together with some powdered sugar and milk.

IMG_8281The rolls came out of the oven, I frosted them, and here’s what they looked like.

IMG_8279Yes, they looked delicious but when we ate them in the morning for breakfast (after sticking them back in the oven to warm up a bit), they were a tad too gooey inside! So even after following the recipe and adjusting the baking time and having for the first time ever a second thermometer inside my oven to make sure the temperature was correct – these rolls needed to be baked a bit longer. (We ate most of them anyway, no worries!) So like the cat that prowls our property looking for tasty tidbits, I got mine too this weekend.

Finally, knowing that winter is literally around the corner up here, it’s awesome to drive a mere 5 minutes from the Red House and see the leaves changing, some late summer flowers still blooming and the water in the creek flowing so beautifully. What we’ve learned up here the last 4.5 years is to enjoy every minute of it.







Posted in Baking, chicken, Construction, cooking, Dessert, Family, food, Garlic, kitchen, Pasta, Teenagers, The Property | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Midsummer Night’s Red House Story

Since I posted my last article (end of June), quite a bit has actually transpired at the Red House. First and foremost, we have all of our kitchen cabinets in place (minus some drawers and a couple of doors).

IMG_8103And even though Lynn was really cursing the entire time he was putting everything together, in the end he said it was “easy.” Go figure.

I feel I have to share once again how the original kitchen looked in 2010 just to give this story some perspective.

IMG_0288We also have two amazing hardwood floors in Guest Bedroom #1 and Guest Bedroom #2.

IMG_8111Originally I was going to get a laminate floor to save some money but the guy installing the floor (who came to do the initial estimate, too) advised us against it. Also we have hardwood floors throughout our teeny, tiny Long Island house and even 12 years later the floors still look great and are really easy to clean.

So in case you don’t remember what the floors looked like, here’s a shot:

IMG_7999Unfortunately, our master bathroom and bedroom are nowhere near completion…

IMG_7436So right now we are bunking in Guest Bedroom #2 (the larger of the two).

We also finally got some of the electrical work done – so no more fixtures literally dangling over our heads.

IMG_7426Lynn and I always have a problem finding products that we like (ceiling lights and bathroom fixtures are our two biggest challenges) so we decided to try and salvage the existing light fixtures. A can of silver spray paint on one of the bedroom light fixtures and some rewiring on a decorative living room fixture therefore were a good compromise.

IMG_8109IMG_8101And yes, we cheated a bit, too and picked up a really inexpensive Ikea light that looks like a spaceship!

IMG_8102With my kitchen nearly done (I’m having an issue with ordering the countertop I want but more on that in a later blog post), and my parents coming up to visit, I also baked. I know I complain about baking over and over again but not only did I make zucchini bread but I made a cheesecake, too! Originally the plan had been to make zucchini bread using the zucchini that was growing in my garden. Obviously, that didn’t happen but I can say I did get two huge zucchini from the farmer’s market – one went into the cake, the other went into some homemade ratatouille.

IMG_8086 IMG_8093 IMG_8088Originally I thought when we came up to the Red House our garden would be brimming with vegetables. I had planted zucchini, beans, peas, carrots, tomatoes and tons of basil. Unfortunately, we now have a very large family of bunny rabbits living on the property.

IMG_8114 While they did leave me with some basil and a few tomatoes, they ate nearly all the peas and all the zucchini! (The carrots are still in the ground so I’m not sure of their status yet.)

IMG_8010I did start to harvest some of the garlic since this time last summer I had dug it up. I was particularly happy that I managed to grow a crop from some of the cloves I harvested last year. After digging up about 30 garlic heads though, I decided to let them be for another week since some of the heads were rather small.

IMG_8035One interesting side note to our time up at the Red House this summer has to do with a reunion we attended. Most people know I lived in Munich, Germany, for 10 years but some may not realize I graduated from high school there, too.

IMG_7779Since this was my 35th (gulp!) high school reunion and Lynn and I hadn’t been to  Munich since 2007, I decided it was definitely time to go back (especially since I had also somehow missed every single reunion prior to this one as well). Dare I mention that Lynn and I will be celebrating 35 years together, too, this October?

Consequently, while most summers are spent exclusively up at the Red House, this year we spent 10 days in Germany and 5 days in Italy. As usual we did a lot of driving and eating and gushing at all the beautiful architecture, vistas and of course food.  And while I love the Red House even in it’s unfinished state, I do want to share some pictures of the trip.

There were farmer’s markets brimming with fresh radishes, artichokes, beans, tomatoes and lettuce, as well as flowers in nearly every hue imaginable.

IMG_7708IMG_7546There were shots of castles on the Rhine as well as picturesque vineyards (even on a gray day), and too many pictures of Italian art and architecture to share but a handful.

IMG_7630IMG_7614IMG_7883IMG_7949And then there was the food. Bread and cheese, homemade pasta, beer and pretzels the size of basketballs, Apfelstrudel and pizza!

IMG_7976IMG_7706IMG_7975IMG_7838photo(134)photo(87)Of course after the Europe trip (particularly with nearly a week in Italy) and with a “real” kitchen, I had no excuse but to make my first Red House pizza in my new oven, too!

IMG_8042Truthfully, the oven could have been hotter since the crust came out soggy. (The leftover pizza that we warmed up and kind of burnt the next day actually tasted better.)

What I realized after this trip however, was how very similar the area around Munich (particularly Garmisch-Partenkirchen) was to upstate New York. Undoubtedly, it’s why I always liked being up here. Granted, the mountains are not as high, but we have very pretty lakes and streams, rolling hills, and gorgeous forests a mere hour’s drive from the Red House.

IMG_8074On a different and not so bucolic note, we came home from our journey to find bats in the Red House. Our contractor has been working diligently to replace all of the plumbing in the house primarily to put a bathroom in the master bedroom and in doing so has unfortunately created a few “holes” in the walls.

IMG_8001This has resulted in at least two bats trying to take up residence inside the house! We noticed this one night when we were watching a DVD. Suddenly one of us saw something fly by out of the corner of one eye with what looked like very dark wings. Lynn and I are not good with bats or any other type of scary monster-like animal for that matter. Consequently, we quickly exited the room, shut the door and ran upstairs.

The next morning, our contractor showed up and found the bat sleeping by the basement door. He put on a pair of gloves and simply picked up the bat and put him inside a plastic supermarket bag. Once in the bag, he took him outside and released him back into the wild! Since the bat slept through the entire experience, I can only conclude it was a “teenage” bat.

We thought the bat episode was over, until the next night we were watching another DVD and sure enough once again there was something dark flying around in the next room. So, we repeated our previous night’s performance by quickly exiting the room, closing the door and going upstairs. This night however, Lynn also decided he was going to “seal” us in the room – so underneath the doors he wadded up some placemats and a kitchen towel.

photo(175)This didn’t bring me any great amount of comfort and truthfully, I woke up at 4 a.m. thinking I heard and saw something flying around the bedroom. Plus, I was really really hot since the room was probably around 300 degrees since we had put in new windows, insulation and now a new floor! (Okay, it wasn’t really that warm but it felt like it.) Plus, now that I was hot and annoyed, I really had to pee but was afraid to go into the bathroom. Note to self: this is why you’ve never been camping – you hate bugs, creepy crawlies, bats and other things that are generally scary.

Finally it was morning. Our contractor showed up again (in itself always a good thing) and he found the hole in the wall that he thinks the bats were flying through. He grabbed some insulation and filled up the hole. We have not had any bat sightings for about 24 hours now so I’m hoping this method worked.

I was also hoping that similar to Shakespeare’s play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” our very own “Puck” would emerge from the forest behind the Red House and tell us that the bats were only just a dream! Unfortunately, he did not, they were in fact very, very real!

I will leave you with this thought and image. We started our trip this year in Frankfurt, Germany, a city Lynn and I had never visited. We walked through the old town and came upon a pedestrian bridge called the “Eiserner Steg.” There on the bridge, similar to many bridges we’ve seen in Paris and Florence, were locks that had been affixed not only to the structure but to other locks, too.  As romantic history buffs will know, the padlocks when locked with a key, symbolize a love that can’t be broken especially since the key to that lock is thrown away.

Since I, too, am a hopeless romantic, I spent a lot of time looking at the engravings thinking I would find a couple who had the same initials as we do. Perhaps, instead, I should have been looking for a lock with the initials “RH.” After all, I think our relationship is pretty darn good after 35 years (especially since this is our THIRD house renovation). The Red House still needs a lot of work and love put into it – somehow I know we can do it.


Posted in Baking, cooking, Family, food, Garlic, kitchen, Mom and Dad, Munich, Pizza, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Start of Summer

It being the end of the school year and the beginning of summer vacation, I decided to splurge a bit on the provisions I would be bringing up to the house for the weekend. Now, I’ve been hauling food up to the Red House for nearly four years and while sometimes it has been a hassle, ultimately we’ve always enjoyed my purchases.

In the winter months whenever we’re driving up to the house after work, I usually leave all my electronics (camera, laptop) and booze in the car. In the summer however, I’m afraid things will “melt” and thus, drag everything into the office with me. This past Friday, therefore, I carried into my office and back out – a laptop, a camera, two bottles of wine, my briefcase and a purse. I piled everything into the car (or so I thought) and started the long drive. Five hours later as we’re unpacking the car, I realized somewhere along the way I lost the cooler! Which meant we had no dinner, which meant we had this:

IMG_7443Somehow I had left a pound of very expensive Florida shrimp (jumbo-size), hand-sliced smoked salmon, a variety of cheeses, and sausages sitting somewhere in my office. Oh and the pork cutlets Lynn had so lovingly made the night before were in the cooler, too.

Luckily I had packed the brioche rolls and some salads in a separate insulated bag so with the tuna we did have some salad and of course wine.

What annoyed me the most (besides the expense) is that knowing I have no food up at the Red House, the cooler should have been the first bag on my shoulder, but it wasn’t. As I was dwelling on this Friday night (and trying to slice a brioche roll with a very sharp steak knife at the same time), I also managed to cut a very deep gash in my thumb which then bled all over my new tile floor which resulted in this:

IMG_7441At this point there wasn’t enough alcohol in the world to forget that what should have been a pleasant start to summer was turning uglier by the minute. So, I just went to bed.

In the morning I remembered what Lynn had started last weekend. He decided after four years of not being able to find any tool he needed quickly, to simply organize everything on a shelving unit. So now all his stuff looks like this:

IMG_7425 I then opened the door to what will eventually be the master bedroom and remembered he had started taking off all the moulding so the room now looks like this:

IMG_7436While we had really wanted to expedite renovating the bedroom, what became a bigger project was assembling the kitchen cabinets and putting them in place. We ran into a problem with one of the corner cabinets however, in that while it should have technically just slid into place, the corner it was supposed to fit into still had one of the original beams of the house. So, after much planning on how to make this work, Lynn simple cut the cabinet so it would fit around the beam making the cabinet look like this:

IMG_7465I went outside. There I found the beginnings of my tomatoes growing as well as the asparagus I had tried to chop down last weekend.

IMG_7459IMG_7454There were also some really pretty flowers that looked like this:

IMG_7461And the first crop of snow peas when picked looked like this:

IMG_7470(PS I love this shot, it came out really neat!)

Anyway, we’re actually going to be away from the Red House for a couple of weeks but know what we have to deal with when we come back. Electrical issues that look like this:

IMG_7426Radiators that need to be painted since we’re having two new wood floors installed in both guest bedrooms.

IMG_7431And a real good cleaning and organization of all the stuff we’ve had to push from room to room to hallway back to room!

IMG_7432On a final note, we have finally brought up every single kitchen cabinet that we need to finish the kitchen. (Yeah!) So hopefully the car will never look like this again!

IMG_7448And eventually the kitchen will resemble something like this:

IMG_7472Just kidding! But it was the only picture I could find in this mess of a Red House.

Happy Summer!

Posted in cooking, Flowers, food, Gardening, Renovation, The Property, Vegetables, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Even Upstate We Can’t Escape “Grades”

Last weekend was Memorial Day and we thought it might be a good opportunity to have our furnace looked at since “cleaning and tune ups” are part of our maintenance package. A service technician came, stared at the furnace, fiddled a bit, and said it was just fine. Since I’m not a fan of the scary-monster basement, I quickly walked back up to the first floor of the house. What I didn’t realize with my hasty departure is that I left Lynn stuck with the service technician who immediately upon pronouncing the furnace “fine,” whipped out a laptop so that Lynn could do an online survey and “grade” the visit. WHAT?

Meanwhile, our contractor had installed our very expensive kitchen faucet to then tell us that while it might have been given an “A” in “Design World,” in fact it was a piece of crap and he decided it warranted an “F.”  Apparently, it came with an integrated supply line that was too narrow. (Trust me, I didn’t know what that was either until about 2 weeks ago – it’s the hot and cold supply lines that are permanently attached to the faucet.) Since the lines weren’t the proper size, if we wanted a drink of water, let’s just say it took a really, really long time to fill up an 8 ounce glass. Want to fill a pot with water to make pasta? Forget it, that’s at least a 20 minute task.

So while it looked good…

IMG_7360It needed to be replaced. So we went out and bought a new faucet that was half the price with two separate supply lines that would hopefully give us something that resembled a steady flow of water and not the trickle we were dealing with.

IMG_7366We also managed (I say we but Lynn did all the work) to put up one wall of kitchen cabinets with doors!

IMG_7347And while I had written in my last article about having a dishwasher that was useless because it wasn’t bolted to anything (an “F” in my book), Lynn did manage to screw it into our temporary plywood countertop which meant it was instantly usable and thus quickly became an “A.”

Meanwhile, the bird that had been creeping me out in my last post (she gets a “D” for scary) was really just sitting around waiting for her little birdies to hatch. They now spend a lot of time poking their little heads out of their nest while they wait for another bird to come and give them a worm or two to eat! I desperately tried to get a photograph of this happening in action but the bigger bird start flipping out at me when my camera kept “clicking” (no dumb ass it’s not a gun). Plus, Lynn was yelling at me that the bird was going to attack me! Geez! So this is the only shot I got.

IMG_7349The other Herculean task we managed to accomplish last Memorial Day weekend was some of the planting. Problem was there were so many weeds, it took us nearly 5 hours to dig them up before we could even start to plant! Which means by the time we got ready to plant, I could barely move. (I know that’s an “F” for being out of shape!)

Still this year, I put in at least 4 different kinds of tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, acorn squash, basil, carrots, spinach, Romaine lettuce, plus seeds that promise to sprout pumpkins and sunflowers!

IMG_7385I also planted a fair amount of marigolds hoping like last year that they will in fact keep the animals away. It obviously wasn’t going to work instantly though since last weekend we saw an “abbondanza” (as the Italians say) of animals with glimpses of at least 2 bunnies, 3 deer, a chipmunk and a very large snake hiding in the garage.

One of the bunnies immediately went for the carrots and when I tried to “shoo” him out of the garden, he freaked out and started hurling himself against the fence! Really, it was quite a sight to see. Luckily, he did manage to find a big enough hole in the fence to squeeze himself through. We’re hoping he was so traumatized by this experience that perhaps he’ll think of the garden as an evil place? (I’m kidding.)

This weekend we found new connectors (elbows and such) sitting on the floor waiting to be somehow hooked together so we have new PVC that will directly feed into our sewer line. (Yes, it does in fact look like a installation piece at a museum!)

IMG_7395Right now we have an old cast iron pipe that our contractor revealed was actually leaking in several places. This means since we’ve discovered this that when we flush the upstairs toilet, it leaks into a small hallway. (That’s a definite “F.”) So we try to flush as little as possible (when it’s yellow, let it mellow, when it’s brown, flush it down), but sometimes we forget.

Meanwhile, back outside, the meadow and the wildflowers this time of year are simply stunning. (That’s an “A.”)

IMG_7419IMG_7407My only concerns are that while I seem to technically have plenty of strawberries, (green leaves and little white flowers), I have yet to see one berry or even the beginnings of one.

IMG_7424The garlic however, seems about less than half the size that it was last year but perhaps I’m rushing things? When I did, in fact, check my pictures of garlic scapes from summers past, they actually came to maturity in early August.

IMG_7387I’m not going to grade my gardening skills or give a letter grade to what may or may not grow this season. Summer break is nearly upon us and with enough weed pulling, watering and good old sunshine, hopefully everything will bear fruit.

Oh yeah, on the drive home, even the gas station wanted me to do a survey to give them a grade! I “opted out.”


Posted in Construction, Flowers, Furnace, Gardening, Garlic, kitchen, Renovation, The Property, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Red House Weekend (And Things That Make Me Crazy)

Spring has arrived at the Red House. The bamboo is coming back to life which I think is the neatest thing to see up here so far North.

IMG_7295I even managed to pick a few thin stalks of asparagus that were growing in the garden, although looking at them in the colander they look like a very paltry crop indeed! (There’s more coming up these were just the ones that were long enough to pick.)

IMG_7287Our first Red House dinner (if you can even call it that) on a Friday night at 11 p.m. was an all-American cheeseburger (sliders to be exact). Since it was late and I was battling a cold and couldn’t really taste anything anyway, it just seemed to be the perfect and quick thing to cook on our new stove.

IMG_7280What I failed to realize when frying was that without cabinets or an exhaust fan, our newly painted white walls were going to be very quickly grease-speckled! Which led Lynn to rig up this fancy contractor bag “back-splash”  temporarily. (We’re not winning any design awards for this one, trust me.)

IMG_7305The other thing I failed to realize when we ordered the dishwasher, that without a countertop to hold the dishwasher in place (along with the brackets you have to attach to the countertop as well), you actually can’t use the dishwasher because it tips forward!

IMG_7308Consequently, while my intentions were good (no more hand washing dishes!), in reality I should have spent the money to get the rest of the cabinets and had a countertop done as well. Which means I have a basically useless appliance sitting around doing nothing which makes me a bit crazy.

The other thing that made me more than a bit crazy this weekend is that the town finally has a 24 hour supermarket. When I lived in Syracuse, New York, in the 1980’s, Price Chopper was the lower-end supermarket where one could indeed buy things for less. Seemingly this is not the same supermarket it once was. Pulling into the newly paved parking lot at 7 p.m. last night eager to see what the store carried, I walked around in disbelief at how expensive everything was. Apples for $3.99 a pound? Fiddlehead ferns for $5.99 a pound? Fancy cheese and not even great-looking meat at upwards of $7 and $15 a pound? It made me wonder who did the market demographics for this supermarket since I can’t imagine the people who live here wanting to spend that much money on food!

This made me realize that while I may have thought my days of lugging a cooler filled with food up here for the weekend were finally over, unfortunately, unless I want to spend a lot of money to buy mediocre stuff, they were absolutely not.

But let’s get back to the kitchen. We bought four of the upper kitchen cabinets first. Since this will be our second Ikea kitchen, Lynn has mastered the art of putting the cabinets together in record time and only occasionally has to look at those stupid little drawings with the fake Swedish names for reference.


IMG_7320Yes, we still have to figure out how to hang them up on the rails that were provided, put on the doors and buy the hardware, too. We figured if we did the upper cabinets first, we could then put the lower cabinets in (which we haven’t purchased yet.) So until the lower cabinets are in and countertop is on, we’re still going to be washing dishes by hand.

Like the food we’ve been lugging upstate, we also managed to find tile for the master bathroom. Little did I know tile could be so very heavy! Even with a mere six boxes of tile, they felt like 66 boxes of tile! We actually opened the boxes in the car and hand-carried them 3 pieces at a time and laid them out on the floor in the dining room.

IMG_7291Now that the weather has gotten warmer up here, we aren’t too keen on spending time inside the house when it’s just so beautiful outside so we’re torn with finishing the inside projects and working on the garden. While the daffodils have indeed come up, by next weekend I need to start planting my veggies and the garden desperately needs to be weeded, too.

IMG_7299On another note, we have a strange looking bird who has made a nest on one of the old columns that’s still attached to the house. Her nest is right by the kitchen door and I’m not sure what she’s sitting on but she’s been there for the entire weekend, sometimes with her mouth open sometimes with her mouth closed.

IMG_7323At first we thought she had died, frozen in that position because she just looked so strange. But then she started to turn around and at one point she even flew away and came back! I’d like to think that maybe she was like one of the San Juan Capistrano swallows who return mysteriously year after year, but this is the first time we’ve seen her. If, however, she returns next year at the same time, it will in fact be somewhat of a miracle. Kind of like how I’m hoping the Red House will somehow get done (without me going crazy in the process.)










Posted in Construction, cooking, Flowers, Gardening, kitchen, Meat, The Property, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Spring…Maybe, Stove…Definitely

I haven’t contributed an article to The Red House Project since September. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, it’s mainly been an overloaded work schedule and not any time to sit down and write. Plus I have to admit since I sit in front of a computer for sometimes 12-14 hours a day, spending another hour or two writing about the Red House is difficult.

We came up to the Red House for spring break week to hopefully speed the renovation process up a bit.  Lynn has finished painting the main guest bedroom and is currently working on the second, smaller one. It was a fairly big job since he had to take off all the moulding in the room, then put it back on when he finished painting. In the process, he also made all new baseboards which I think look very good.

IMG_7227We also managed to get our kitchen (finally!) painted and even have two of the four appliances we need (that would be the dishwasher and the gas stove) delivered this weekend. We still need a new fridge and a microwave, but I’ll have to hold off buying those other two things for now. I’m extremely pleased with the way the kitchen turned out (a lovely bright white) and now just have to think about cabinets and possibly a kitchen “island.”

IMG_7219We’ve also started work on the master bathroom. In the beginning, there was a small room (probably a nursery at one point) next to the master bedroom that I had used as my office. Once we realized that we’d have to walk through a guest bedroom if we needed to use the facilities, we decided the room should really be converted into a master bath if we could find someone who could do that without breaking the bank.  We’ve found that someone and the contractor we’ve hired managed to tear out the walls and floor boards and start all the plumbing necessary to put in a toilet, a shower and a vanity.

IMG_7225I’ve been with Lynn for 35 years and little did I know that he was very, very particular about toilets. We have lived in four different homes together (this being our fifth home), which means four different bathrooms over the course of our many years together! I, however, didn’t realize that he had a thing about cleaning the bottom of the toilet – you know that part where all the dirt and dust collects when it sits on the floor! Which led us to buy the only model available that didn’t have all the plumbing visible on the outside but was tucked nicely inside for a very clean look.

IMG_7235All I can say to this is, it just better work, especially since we had to haul it from the store into the car and from the car into the house including up 3 deck stairs! Who knew a toilet would be so heavy (the box said 90 pounds, to me it felt like 190!)

While the snow has melted on the property and it looks like our landscaper even mowed the back meadow at some point last week, there’s a lot of pruning and clean-up work that has to be done.

IMG_7228The fact is that besides planting the garlic, I don’t remember what else I planted or what survived this brutal winter. I know I have to take the hay off the garlic (put there in the fall to protect the crop) and at least rake up all the rest of the debris (including some old pumpkin vines!) I also looked for some signs of asparagus peeking up through the ground but I saw nothing. Also, even though I thought I planted as many garlic cloves as last year (over 70!), right now it appears that maybe half that number are coming up. What did seem to “spread” were my wild strawberry plants so if we can get to enjoy them before the bunnies and the deer that roam the property, I think they will be a very sweet treat.

Chives that I grow in a big wooden barrel are always abundant, so I snipped a few and threw them into a batch of scrambled eggs with goat cheese one morning.

IMG_7204I did spend most of an afternoon raking and even pulling up weeds when I realized half way through that weed pulling was an enormous waste of time before anything is planted. I did, however, make repeated trips with the wheelbarrow dumping dead “things” to our compost pile and since I haven’t been doing this kind of manual labor since last fall, it reminds me of what a great workout it is! (Meaning I was sweating like a dog.)

IMG_7260Also walking the property I came across tires that had been tossed into the bamboo as well as ramps that were in the forest on a path up to the waterfall.  First, I pulled the tires out from the tangle of bamboo.

IMG_7243Then I picked the ramps (digging them out with a pruner actually). I did have a thought that they might be poison-ramp look-alikes but figured what the hell. So I brought them in the house, washed them off, and plan to eat them for breakfast with a couple of fried eggs.

IMG_7239Besides the ramps, there are other little signs of spring, daffodils that I don’t remember planting in a certain part of the garden have come up and when they do bloom (hope we’re up here to see it), they will be very pretty.

IMG_7249As I was walking the property though and seeing the signs of spring ever-so-slowly emerging, my heart kind of sank at the house itself. While we’ve made every effort this past year to keep the renovation moving (inside at least), the outside looks awful, and the only thing I can say is I feel really bad for my neighbors. We need a new roof, new siding and a new front walkway as well as entrance. I guess I need to apologize that this is what they have to look at day in and day out!


IMG_7266On a different note, I went into town the other day and low and behold the supermarket is scheduled to open next week! When I inquired at the drugstore as to what day this will actually happen, the cashier told me they would be opening the store on April 21 to anyone who donated $5 to charity (what charity she didn’t know) giving people the option to “walk around” but not shop until the following day. For some reason I thought this was particularly funny; it’s almost as if the supermarket were being granted some sort of museum-like status. What were they thinking? Letting the townsfolk walk around and “oh and ah” at all the shelves stocked with different brands of soup, cereal and bottled water?

Speaking of museums, our handy Proctor Silex burner, the one thing that’s managed to cook our food these last four years, we think is worthy of being its very own installation piece. I’m thinking of taking off the legs and mounting it on one of the walls at the Red House, not only as an objet d’art, but also as a reminder of how very far we’ve come.

IMG_7210In case anyone is curious, this is what the new stove looks like. Yes, it’s gas, and yes, the oven is slightly smaller than the one we have on Long Island. I’m already thinking of what the first meal should be…



Posted in Construction, cooking, Flowers, food, Gardening, Garlic, kitchen, Renovation, The Property, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The End of Summer…And Finally the Start of a Kitchen!

Unlike last summer where I had over 100 heads of garlic, this crop, because of all the rain (and the flooding in particular), yielded less than 50.  Of those 50, the cloves were very small.  I might have picked them too soon, but I was afraid if I kept them in the ground any longer they would rot and then I’d have nothing. And while most of the literature I’ve read about harvesting garlic insists you can do it with a fork, Lynn actually has to take a crowbar out to the garden to pull them up. Yes, the roots are that deep!

Once unearthed however, the German “reds” were tinged the exact shade of purple they were supposed to be. I’ve saved some cloves to plant in October but I think I’ll also have to pick up some more hearty varietals from a roadside farm market, too.

IMG_6813What’s left in the garden are tons of zucchini blossoms but only a few very large zucchini.

IMG_6984I picked the zucchini but also in error picked what I thought might be acorn squash which my newest contractor told me was pumpkin.

IMG_6959I contemplated putting the pumpkin back in the garden for the bunny to chew on but decided instead to take it back to Long Island to see if even after it’s picked it turns orange or simply rots. (My guess it will be the latter.)

The more exciting news to the end of the summer is that finally, my kitchen is underway. The walls have been stripped down to the studs, new framing has been put in, with insulation and new sheetrock to follow.

IMG_6927I also suddenly have electrical outlets.

IMG_6951And an indication where the fridge and dishwasher will go.

IMG_6948Unfortunately, while Lynn and I have been putting off thinking what type of floor to put in the kitchen, we suddenly had to make a very quick decision this weekend and pick out some tile.  Now, we had picked up tile samples of things we liked over the course of the summer and decided on a simple brown, but when we went back to the store to buy it, they had discontinued the exact shade of brown we had agreed upon. Which is how we ended up with this:

IMG_6957Ironically Lynn is the “fussy” one with things related to the way the Red House should look but when push came to shove (as in you need to make a decision now), he was actually kind of cool about the choice.

There’s still much plumbing to be done not to mention the painting we ourselves have to do, but at least it’s a start in the right direction.

I’m already thinking of next summer…when hopefully all the painting will be done and the appliances bought and installed.

Meanwhile, because of the crazy weather this summer, my bamboo, flowering madly on the property, seems to be confused. Normally this time of year it’s actually turning brown not lush like this.

IMG_6993Wouldn’t it be lovely if summer could start all over again? On second thought, no. I must admit though, we learned a lot of “skills” this summer. #1 being how to make sandbags, fill up gaping holes in a basement wall and not panic when you’re standing in 6 inches of water.

When I woke up this morning, our last day of summer at the Red House before we head back to Long Island, we found a sparrow in the house. Apparently we have many holes in the recently demo’d kitchen that need to be plugged since it appears that’s how the bird got inside. We opened all the windows in the living room and it managed to fly outside.

For those readers who remember my garlic story that I wrote this time last year in relationship to our daughter Rachel, you might be pleased to know that she is going to school in Florida next week. She had completed a trimester last spring and is now heading back to hopefully a productive and successful year. Like the sparrow, she’s managed to escape and for that Lynn and I are very very happy.

We didn’t work on the Red House all summer. We managed to take some time off to do a few things we really wanted to do: a short trip to Montreal, a couple of trips to our favorite lake, and lunch at a new winery. It’s the little stuff that makes me happy, really. Oh yeah, and the thought of next summer and a finished kitchen.


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