Suddenly…Winter!

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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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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Learning How To Make Sandbags

I didn’t plan on spending this past week up at the Red House learning how to make sandbags, but I did. My TOP TEN list of things I could have done this week included:

  1. Sleeping
  2. Making ice cream with my new ice cream maker.
  3. Sleeping some more.
  4. Having a pitcher of Mojitos.
  5. Grilling outside rather than trying to “cook” inside.
  6. Sleeping.
  7. Going to a lake (any lake).
  8. Going to a winery (any winery).
  9. Sleeping some more.
  10. Weeding the garden.

This, however is what I did instead.  I spent a lot of time in a cold smelly basement trying to figure out with Lynn where exactly all the water was seeping in from.

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See the weekend after we got our hot water back, we had a serious rain storm.  So severe in fact, that the water started pouring in from the walls like one of those crazy fountains you sometimes see in Italy (but minus the cute little angels or quirky gargoyles). The water simply shot forth from every nook and cranny, small fracture in the cement or hole in the foundation that wasn’t visible to even corrected eyesight.

Then there was the floor.  We saw water leaking not only from the walls but pouring in from the floor, too. We knew we were in big big trouble. As it kept raining, the water kept pouring in; I put on a pair of boots and grabbed a couple of buckets. Lynn grabbed a broom, and we tried to capture the water – first with the buckets, then with the broom pushing the water into the sump pump.  This took us nearly 2.5 hours when finally it stopped raining and the water stopped coming in.

The next morning we got up early (the day we were supposed to tackle #7 on my list (that would be going to a lake, any lake) and instead went to the big box hardware store to try and buy cement or something that we could use to shore up not only the walls but the foundation, too.  Problem was that the big box store RAN OUT OF ANYTHING that you could use to do such a task because apparently everyone else in the county I’m currently residing in had the same exact problem.

We got in the car and kept driving until we found a mom and pop store that had the last two buckets of “leak stopper” cement and a couple of brushes.  Oh yeah, we bought extra brushes, masks and a really big container of stuff you wipe on the walls after you’ve patched all the visible holes.

We also wanted to buy some work lights since we had none (which the big box store had) and sand bags (which they didn’t have.)  So, I ended up ordering the sandbags online and had them sent Fedex, then picked up some play sand that the big box store had in stock.

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Meanwhile, it hadn’t rained in nearly 24 hours so we decided to try and do some patching. Let’s just say it was an experience, and when we were finished nearly 12 hours later, I SIMPLY TOOK OFF MY CLOTHES IN THE LIVING ROOM AND THREW THEM AWAY. This is what the basement (patched and supposedly waterproofed) then looked like.

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Problem was the floor was still wet and actually with the mess we made trying to stop up all the holes and waterproof the walls, there was more paint on the floor than on the walls. This proved to be a good thing.  Why? Because suddenly we had a little river of paint that was running where it always collected (under the staircase) and hence, we were able to detect a few leaks in the corners that we had missed.

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Even though the smell of all this surely cancer-causing stuff was making me sick, I was actually thinking about food.  What I had wanted to make (peas from the garden with gnocchi) was not to be because this little guy ate all my peas!

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I still, however, had all the scapes I had cut from the garlic a few days prior, and decided to make a scape pesto.

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Now, while the scape pesto looked gorgeous, when I tasted it, it was vile.  I mean, really garlicky and bitter.  I did something I never ever do.  I actually threw the entire batch out.  Yet, now that I’m looking at the consistency, kind of like the cement we had been using to patch the basement, I wondered if perhaps it could have been used for that instead!

I did, however, leave just a tiny smidgen of scape pesto on the food processor blade (to give it a slight garlic flavor), went out to the garden to pick some fresh basil, and made “real” pesto that I then tossed with some linguine instead.

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And then I went to sleep! (At least I’m doing some of the things I wanted to do on my list!)

The next morning it was around 120 degrees, okay it was really 86 degrees, but the humidity was right up there and I was thinking if I had to do a still-life of what my summer should look like it would resemble this:

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I wanted a pitcher of Mojitos, buffalo chicken wings, and crunchy celery sticks with blue cheese. And geez, yes, I was able to make all of these good things although I did substitute blue cheese for Roquefort since that’s what was on sale at the supermarket.

I also wanted ice cream.  Meaning I wanted to make my own.  See, we have a really great Goodwill store in the town next to ours (that’s the town with the only supermarket, too!) and the last time I was there I picked up not just an “ice cream maker” but a La Glaciere for a mere $4.50!

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Yes, I did read the article that was floating around recently about how much the CEO of Goodwill makes (millions) versus how much he pays his disabled workers (22 cents an hour) but the fact is if I didn’t buy the La Glaciere someone else would have beaten me to it. So I did and I brought it home and washed it out and realized I had nothing to make ice cream with (ingredient-wise) but I did have store-bought vanilla ice cream, walnuts and a jar of hot fudge (hidden between the rum and the hot wing sauce in the picture.)

But first we had to make the sandbags. Now, if you’ll remember I paid extra to have them sent Fedex, so they would arrive in two days.  And while they did arrive in two days, in our town you have to go down to the post office to pick up any Fedex packages!  I didn’t ask why this was, I was just glad the post office was actually open, and that I was able to get my box of sandbags and take them home.  Once home we attempted to cut the bags of play sand open and dump them into the white bags.  Now play sand is for kids, right?  What would possess any manufacturer to put that much sand in a bag (50 lbs) so that mom or dad could easily break their backs trying to transform an old plastic tub or baby swimming pool into a sandlot for junior?  Really, I never knew these bags would be so frigging heavy!

Anyway, we managed to not spill half as much sand on the driveway as I thought we would, but poor Lynn, he’s a really strong guy but was just struggling with the weight of this sand.  We eventually filled all the bags and then had to carry them down into the basement.

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Lynn managed to carry two at a time, I was struggling carrying one. We laid them flat, like sausages, trying to make a barrier in front of the furnace, hoping that if we get 3-4 inches or more of water in the basement again, at least the furnace will be protected.  I don’t know if this will work out not, but at this point I was running out of ideas and it was the only thing I could think of.

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So back to the list.

#1,3,6,9 – We did sleep a lot. (Fitfully however, because of the day and night noise of all the county trucks going past our house carrying large loads of rocks that they were dumping in the creek north of us to try and stop the flow of water onto people’s properties.)

#4 – We did have a pitcher of Mojitos (and a couple of pitchers of vodka martinis (no vermouth!) too.

#5 – We did grill (mostly steak and the occasional hamburger).

# 7 – We did get to a lake (twice).

#10 – We did attempt to weed the garden but said screw it, there are too many weeds and it’s just too damn hot.

So, while I didn’t get to try out my new ice cream maker, I did learn how to make sandbags. And yes, gussied up store-bought ice cream with fresh strawberries, hot fudge sauce and walnuts was the perfect sweet ending to yet another Red House “adventure.”

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Posted in Basement, Dessert, Flooding, Furnace, Garlic, Meat, Renovation, Vegetables | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Definitely Not A Pioneer Woman

This past 4th of July tested me. First, with all the flooding that hit Central New York State in the past week, we weren’t sure what we would find when we got up to the Red House.  Thing is the Red House basement floods when it rains. With an avalanche of water pouring down from West Canada Creek then meeting up with both the Erie Canal and the Mohawk River we couldn’t even imagine what the damage might be.

So when we arrived late on July 3rd, everything appeared to be okay (granted it was dark). We had power so I was able to warm up a roast chicken with some potatoes I brought with me and then made a simple salad with cubes of  feta cheese. After dinner however I realized there was no hot water to wash the dishes. We went down to the basement and there was a puddle of water where it always is. The furnace appeared to be on but when I tried to turn up the thermostat to make sure the heat was working the radiators did not heat up.  Which meant we had no heat or hot water and if I wanted to wash some dishes I would have to boil water.  Taking a frigid shower wasn’t my idea of the perfect way to start off a holiday week but I managed.

In the morning I got on the phone with National Grid who didn’t want to tell me that they themselves might have cut the gas until the flooding in the area subsided. They weren’t going to turn it back on they informed me unless we hired a plumber who certified the inspection in writing that our equipment (furnace and hot water heater) was A-OK.

Problem was it was the 4th of July and we knew no plumber was coming to the Red House to do us that kind of favor.  So we got in the car and just went to the lake instead.  First however, we drove through the county and looked at the havoc this storm left.

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The debris lying on the street, from 1st floors and flooded basements I presumed, reminded me of the last storm we endured, Sandy.  Except while Sandy left sand, this storm left mud.

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Our community field was pretty much ruined also, although the pool seemed to be okay.

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We were also not prepared for the turbulence of the Erie Canal.  Here are a couple of shots of what is normally a very calm body of water.

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That said, all this water wrecked havoc on my garden.  There were weeds everywhere and the ground was saturated.  What made matters even worse was the fact that we had the sprinkler on a timer the last two weeks we hadn’t been at the house so besides the abundant rain fall, the garden was getting soaked by the sprinkler, too!  So while the lettuce seemed to thrive under these conditions, the tomatoes definitely did not.

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The peas that had been so prolific last year appeared to be chewed off exactly where the pod should have been.  Since I saw at least two if not three rabbits hopping away from the fence (guess the fence didn’t work), I can only assume they had themselves quite a feast.

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I did, however, learn my lesson from last year and cut off the scapes from the garlic.  I think I might have been about 2 weeks too late, but I cut them anyway and plan to make a garlic scape pesto from them.

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Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about how much of my day up at the Red House goes into preparing food.  Now with no hot water to bathe or wash the dishes, I’ve resorted to boiling the water in pots, actually, a pot (singular) is more accurate since I still only have the one electric burner and a small pot to make pasta in.  I found myself the day after the fourth of July spending an enormous amount of time prepping (I wanted  to make cole slaw), and cooking (followed by pulled pork sandwiches).

This summer I decided I couldn’t live without a food processor. Now, during the late 1850’s,  I realized the women living in the house before me had neither running water (hot or cold) and if they wanted something resembling cole slaw, they were chopping all the ingredients by hand.  Truthfully, if I had to choose between a hot shower and a food processor, my food processor would win hands down.

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But of course even the set-up wasn’t that simple. I had to put the food processor on a coffee table in the living room in order to plug it in, then walk through three other rooms to get to the kitchen sink to wash it out with cold water from the tap with a bit of hot water I had boiled in a pan.  I will admit I was already exhausted from the amount of time and steps it took to make and clean up this simple side dish! The only thing that didn’t make me totally lose my mind was that since it was roughly 87 degrees both inside and outside the house at least I wasn’t in a long skirt and a petticoat!

Meanwhile, back upstairs, Lynn was relying on the help of a 20th century tool, (a drywall lift) to help him get the sheetrock in place for one of the bedroom ceilings.

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Luckily, he managed to do this project without my help which gave me time to keep boiling pots of water to do all the pans and dishes. (I did at one point consider paper plates but I just hate the way food tastes on paper….)

We have been eating much of the lettuce that’s been growing in the garden — one salad comprised of Greek feta, cucumbers and grape tomatoes, the other simple lettuce leaves with big chunks of Roquefort cheese.

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Since we still have NO SUPERMARKET IN TOWN, I’m happy to bring up the cheese and even happier that I have lettuce growing in my garden.  Looking at how little they’ve accomplished on the site of where the supermarket should be, it’s difficult to even guess when a supermarket will be built and open for business.

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So right now I’m waiting for the plumber who hopefully will tell us the hot water heater and furnace is OK and then I can place a phone call to National Grid to get them to turn the gas back on.

The reality is that every time it rains up at the Red House, we have water seeping into the basement. Luckily we do have a sump pump but it doesn’t seem to handle the amount of water pouring in.  There could be a leak in the foundation or there could be water seeping in from someplace we can’t see or get to.

Lynn and I never minded the rain in our many years together and often would find ourselves forging ahead (especially when we were traveling) to see everything we wanted to see — bad weather or not.  Let’s hope our storm-related problems at the Red House end on a happy note, too.

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P.S. The rainbow after yesterday’s storm is faint but visible in the upper right hand corner of the shot.  A fitting tribute since the plumber just left. He simply lit the pilot lights in both the furnace and the hot water heater. He figured there had been about 4 inches or more of water in the basement but both very expensive pieces of equipment were just fine.  No call to National Grid would be required….

Posted in Cheese, cooking, food, Furnace, Gardening, Garlic, kitchen, The Property, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment