After being very proud of everything I learned to do with all my “boy toys” in the last few weeks, the reality is, I’m not terribly good at ripping off moulding and knocking through plaster.  Lynn has been using a hammer and a chisel to tear at things but it’s a very slow process.  Every morning I feel like I’m a surgical room nurse, lining up the “instruments” he needs to operate for the day. 

To rip off the moulding on the baseboards and the ceiling before we can put up a single piece of sheetrock I’ve already laid out:


  1. A chisel
  2. A hammer
  3. Work gloves
  4. A measuring tape
  5. A pen 
  6. A utility knife
  7. A t-square

As he’s pounding and ripping, I try to clean up after him following him first with a broom and then with a shop vac.  But the reality is most of the time I’m waiting for him to finish tearing everything out before he and I can put up a single piece of rock.  With that much down time, I start to look at the map of New York State, planning day trips around the area.  I focus on names of places like Russia and Poland and Norway that I know will just be a house or two, a general store if I’m lucky were we to go there. Even so, the names are romantic and entice me to think of a time when the house is done and we can do road trips to see the towns around our house.

But as the day goes on, I start thumbing through some back issues of Food & Wine I haven’t gotten to and think about meals I could make in the Red House kitchen.  This means I can’t do anything particularly complicated since I have two crappy electric burners on a wobbly stove, a small toaster oven and an outdoor grill to work with.

I see a recipe for grilled watermelon with chunks of feta and realize I have watermelon in my fridge so I get a tad inspired and hunt around for other things to make.  From the fridge I pull out a bag of carrots, two ears of corn, the aforementioned watermelon and also find a couple of purple plums.  In the freezer is a nearly an entire container of vanilla ice cream.  Why an entire container in the middle of the summer?  Because Lynn and I rarely indulge in ice cream and the Ice Cream Queen, our daughter Rachel, has only been here once this summer otherwise the ice cream would have been long gone.  

I think about dessert knowing Lynn doesn’t like dessert but besides the toaster oven pies, we’ve been dessert-free all summer.  Could I poach some plums in a bottle of pinot noir that was sitting in the fridge because it tasted off to me and spoon them over vanilla ice cream with maybe a crumbled cookie or two as a topper?

Before I could put my plan into action, Lynn starts hacking away at some plaster near the furnace.  That’s when he discovers we have a really nice brick chimney in nearly perfect condition.  Could he remove all the plaster?  Don’t most Manhattan apartments that claim to have “exposed” brick command top dollar?  Since he tried terribly hard not to damage any of the brick while trying to remove the plaster, this became a very slow tedious task.  As he was chiseling away, I started wrapping things in tinfoil.

I decided I would grill some carrots after dousing them with olive oil and a good shake of dried oregano.  I cleaned and wrapped up some sweet farm corn in tinfoil, too.  Then I sliced the plums and put them in a pan to cook with the wine.

When Lynn took a break from chiseling and walked into the kitchen he looked in the pan.

“What are those? Body parts?” he asked.

I looked in the pan and didn’t see what he was seeing.  Maybe all the dust from the plaster was making him crazy?  I even turned them around.  They still looked like plums to me.  I gave him a napkin to wipe the sweat off his face.

“Keep working,” I said.  

He kept hammering and chiseling at the plaster until we finally lost the light for the day (we have no ceiling fixtures in that particular room).  Dinner that night?  Grilled salmon and the aforementioned corn and carrots.  What happened to the plums?  We actually ate them the next night for dessert.  Body parts or not, he devoured the poached plums with vanilla ice cream with a store-bought oatmeal raisin cookie I had warmed up in the toaster oven.  And remember this is the guy who hates ice cream and fruit.  Or so he tells me.


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