Monday, October 31

Fall in the Garden

I've done some gardening in the past, and I remember that it was hard work. But I really wore myself out on Sunday. First, I created a bed for flowers, laying down newspaper then mulch to kill the grass. Inspired by the butterfly bushes, this is a purple flower bed so I planted Iris, Allium, and crocus, plus mixed daffodils for contrast.

At this point, my knees, back, and hands were sore. But I couldn't stop. I'd actually been putting off the garden day for weeks (to do silly little things like work all day and tile the bathroom floor).

My next step was to create 16 square feet of soil, according to the recipe in Square Foot Gardening. Okay, this is hard work. First I hauled about 350 lbs. of soil ingredients into the yard, then I dumped them all together and mixed them up with a shovel and hoe. Sounds so much easier than it is, especially when you don't do it every day.

In the end, D. and I shoveled the soil into the 4' x 4' bed we built:

In the spring, we'll do this three more times (ouch! ouch! ouch!), but we only need one now in the fall for the most important crop: garlic. We're going to plant two varieties - Music Pink (hardneck) and Inchelium Red (softneck). We really hope that with this good soil, full sun, and TLC we'll get a garlic crop out of it. But even if we don't, we love to eat the garlic chives that pop up in the spring. Yum!

Tuesday, October 25


It was just over three months ago that we were the kind of couple that didn't even have a dining room or a second bedroom in our apartment. And so it still feels weird to me to think that we are now the kind of family who has not only a second bedroom and a dining room, but also a library. I'm not really sure what made us walk into a room that was the most stereotypical young girl's room that I could possibly imagine and immediately envision it as a study where we would retire to read dense novels and compute cohomology classes associated to elliptic fibrations, but that is exactly what happened. Of course, before the room would suit that purpose lost of things would have to change -- I may rehang the Mary Kate and Ashley Olson posters at some point, but the pink walls needed to go.

I suppose it was inevitable that I paint the library a deep blue, given that this is the color not just of the Braves but also of all three of my alma maters. And that is exactly what I spent this past weekend doing, painting the library while K. floored the bathroom.

Some pictures of the process:






And the finished product:



Hopefully next weekend we will set up the room with the desk and the aforementioned bookshelves and possibly the time will finally come to unpack the many boxes of books which have remained unpacked since early June.

Or maybe I'll just catch up on the rest I didn't get this weekend.

Monday, October 24


I guess we are turning into one of those houseblogs where there is a flurry of activity on Sunday evening and Monday morning, and then we don't post again all week. I suppose it is inevitable, as we don't really spend all that much time working on the house during the week, so unless we are going to post stories about my crazy students or recipes for butternut squash soup, there isn't much to write about.

I'll fight the inevitable a little bit by NOT posting the photos and the report from what I was doing to Professor Plum in the library with a paintbrush while K. was busy tiling the bathroom floor quite yet. And hopefully, if we're lucky, I will get around to posting those photos in a relatively timely manner, unlike last time. But we'll see. Maybe while my students fight with the chain rule on their exam later in the week.

This weekend did mark a few milestones with our possessions, though, which got me thinking about heirlooms. And, in particular, when an item becomes an heirloom. simply says that it has to be passed through 'successive generations', but I have to admit that most of the belongings that I get from my parents I don't really think of as heirlooms, no matter how much I love them. And it isn't just about the generations it has been through, because while I consider some of my grandparents' possessions to be heirlooms, I have to admit that the dining room table I inherited from one of my grandmothers just doesn't have that feel to it (again, no matter how happy I am to own it), probably because she bought it in 1995.

In any event, I certainly consider my grandfather's grandfather clock to be an heirloom, and this weekend I finally got around to having someone out to fix it. Or, rather to "fix" it, as it turns out that the only thing wrong with it is that my parents had removed the chains to move it up here without either reading the minds of the inventors or going back in time to find a copy of the instruction manual. So for the low low price of $35, a very nice clocksmith (clockworker? clock-dude?) came out and fixed it so that now every fifteen minutes -- like clockwork, as they say -- it chimes throughout our downstairs. It's very exciting.


(yes, dear reader, that photo could have been taken before the clock was fixed, and there is no way for you to tell that it is indeed chiming. you'll just have to take my word on it)

And today I arrived home to find two large boxes that had been shipped to us from my other grandmother (my father's mother, in case you are keeping score at home) and which primarily contained her wedding china:



When we registered for wedding presents almost five years ago, we decided that we were not Fancy China people and that instead we wanted to be Casual China people, which it seemed ironic to us was actually significantly more expensive. (our actual pattern is Denby's Energy Leaf line, if you are wanting to get us that belated wedding present) And while we have both remained happy with that choice, it is quite nice to now own a real fancy set of china, even if it means that in addition to finding guests to come over for dinner, we now have to find Fancy Guests.

We are both honored and touched that she gave these to us, and extra happy that we have them now and that we can send her photos of how nice they look in our house (while we consider it a success that our parents read this blog, we won't push our luck with Grandma). She also included several other nice items, including a McGuffey's Reader from the turn of the (last) century which she received when she retired as a schoolteacher and which will find a nice home in my newly painted library, which I'll tell you about another night...

Weekend Developments

On Saturday morning, I was overjoyed to discover that I really do get the new season of New Scandinavian Cooking on our local PBS station. Yay! I've already told you about my love for all this Scandinavian, and I was dying because I hadn't seen the new hostess. Double yay! (Which in Norway would be spelled jag and would mean "I." Which reminds me of how my dear friend Jay's Norwegian grandfather always called him Yay. Which I think is funny.)

On Saturday evening, we went out to the downtown Italian restaurant for the first time. It always has long lines, and we had to sit in the smoking section to get a seat (Ask me sometime about how wierd it is to move from a state where there is no smoking in restaurants and bars to a state where they still allow this ridiculous practice.) The service was fast and pleasant, and the food was passable. Very Spaghetti Warehouse! I don't think we'll be going there very often. We make good pasta at home, so when I go out for Italian, I want something special. Then we saw a Belle Epoque French farce at the College. The theatre was lovely, and the farce was very farce-y. The acting was surprisingly good, but the costumes only only passable. We finished off the evening at the local diner for desserts. Eh. Mine wasn't that good, but I'm willing to go back to try the cheesecake.

On Sunday, we headed to the farm stand and bought a red, white, and orange pumpkin, a half-bushel of apples, and some of the season's end tomatoes.

Somewhere in there, I found time to lay Vinyl Tile in the upstairs bath. Let me remind you what the bath looked like originally:


The floor was 1958 flecked linoleum:

Bathroom Floor

Eventually, we'll renovate this bathroom completely. I'd love to raise the ceiling again and bump out into the hall closet and some of the utility room for more space. When that day comes, we'll pull up the floor. But that is years away, so we've gone the quick, easy, and cheap route. Vinyl tile.

Almost two months ago, we were looking at tile options, and we asked you, our dear readers, for your input. The popular vote went for dark grey faux-slate tile, and I was swayed. D. was not, but his favorite was out of stock at Lowe's last weekend. So, abracadabra, the popular vote wins.

Here are the results:


We're happy with it. I'm looking forward to getting used to it, because right now, it's a little disconcerting to pay so much attention to the floor.

The process was fairly simple, though I am clearly not very good at it. I swept the floor, then primed it with KILZ latex. It wouldn't have been hard to paint the floor at this point, if you were so inclined.

Then I spent about an hour arranging the tiles in every conceivable way (grid, grid plus offset, diamonds, diamonds plus offset). I also shifted them a half-dozen times to test out aligment with different parts of the room. Eventually I just gave up and chose the simplest thing. It only took a half hour to get all the full tiles down, then a long time cutting in all the edges. Ugh. That's when my back started to hurt, and my hand was sore from breaking off pieces of the tiles.

But the bottom line is that it was an easy, inexpensive (<$50) project that could be done in one day and freshens up the bathroom immensely. So thanks, Internet, for helping me choose vinyl bathroom floor tiles.

Sunday, October 23

Little Visitors

In our first weeks here, I said something that has turned out to be more prophetic than I imagined. We were contemplating the "bee ivy" that has overtaken the back half of our yard.


Grandpa's son, who was technically one of the sellers but who never lived in the house, told us during the final walkthrough that it was Boston Ivy and that it was an offshoot from a 250-year-old plant at some farm in the next county. He also said it would have "really nice purple berries in the fall." Which I was glad for, because I might have torn the whole thing out if he hadn't told me that.

It's badly overgrown and during the summer it is completely covered with bees, yellow jackets, hornets, and wasps. I don't know what the swarms like about it, but you have to walk right through this vibrating mass to get to and from our car. It is also right next to the compost pile and surrounds one of our planting beds.

For now, I think we're keeping it, but pruning it back significantly (once all the bees go away for the winter). It is after all the Ivy League ivy, and actually I saw it on a brick building in a town nearby and it looked really cool.

But, in July, we didn't know what we were going to do, we had just gotten here from the BIG City, and I said: "Maybe we just have to get used to more bugs here in the country. They're probably a normal part of life, like garbage and rats in the city."

And, hoo-boy, ain't that true! In addition to the constant drone of the bee ivy, we have regular visitors to the butterfly bush: monarchs and other butterflies, those big fuzzy bees, and once the tiniest hummingbird I ever saw (not really a bug, I know). Crickets jump away from every where you walk, prune, weedwhack, or mow. A few spiders have freaked me out, and of course the compost pile is crawling with the creepies. That's just the garden, it's inside the house that I'm having a hard time getting used to.

Insect visitors have included:
- Big old buzzing flies, who seem impervious to the fly strips,
- Little web-spinning spiders in all the floor corners,
- A big old scary millipede, who ran so fast I couldn't squash him,
- A big old black wasp, who buzzed around the library for a few days,
- A few city-type small roaches in the kitchen,
- Daddy-long-legs slowly crawling across the ceiling, and
- Crickets crickets everywhere, from small to the size of my thumb, and they never seem to know how they got here or how to get out.
Mercifully, there have been no ants. I've even gotten a little buggy, thinking I see out of the corner of my eye something black crawling across the floor, then turning my head to find nothing at all.

I'm not properly scared of bugs, but I don't like them. Maybe after more than three months of country life I'll get used to all the jumping, chirping, web-spinning, crawling creatures of the field, but for now I'm still reacting like a city girl.

Saturday, October 22


One of the things that's really different about life in a small, old-fashioned town is the vastly altered view of home security. I've lived in cities all my life, so nothing really much scares me. "Bad" neighborhoods, late nights, walking alone - no problem for me. So I've always been pretty laissez-faire about home security. I mean, I locked my doors, but I didn't double-triple-bolt them or anything. And I never had any problems, so there was never any reason for me to get more freaked out.

That said, I am ASTOUNDED by the way people think about home security here. It's not that people say we shouldn't lock our doors, because they don't. They say, "Lock your doors at night." Then they tell me it's completely okay to leave doors unlocked during the day. And everybody's windows are open and not locked anyway. There are no bars on any windows. People leave chairs, tables, decorations, baskets on their porches.

It's the contradiction, don't you see, that gets to me. I haven't studied the crime figures here (I'd love to get my hands on those), but let's be honest with ourselves, is there really any more risk at night? Is the risk during the day really so negligible that no security measures are needed? See, I think it's wierd. If we're the kind of town where we can leave things on our porches, do we really need to lock our doors? Maybe we do, I don't know, but it's strikes me as sooooooooooooo irrational. Based on fear and myths, rather than any reality.

What brings this up now? Well, I ordered a bunch of things from to take care of my auburn mascara/organic skin care dilemma. And the lovely UPS delivery lady, who has been on the route for 17 years, happened to catch me at home when the box arrived (that was back when I wasn't working more than full-time out of the house, which I'll tell you about at some point.) After I explained that we were the new owners and it was only one unit now, she said, if I left the door to our back porch unlocked, she could leave packages for us there. (The electric company has asked us to do the same thing, so they can get to the meter. I asked two different meter-readers in a row to call us the day before they want to read the meter, and we'll either be here or leave it unlocked. But they seem to have lost that memo, because they haven't called, have left little notes, and have been estimating our bills.)

Because half of our belongings and almost all of my inheritance is currently in the enclosed porch, I'm a little reluctant to leave them completely open to anyone who might be tempted to walk in. Irrational, maybe, but after you've spent a thousand dollars shipping everything you'll ever get from your mother, you can tell me I should leave it out in public.

The UPS lady gave me another option: I could put a box, like plastic, on the front porch, and she could leave packages inside it. Then people wouldn't see my package, and presumably steal it, before I got home. Oh the nonsensicality! Is this a safe town - where we leave our porches unlocked - or is it someplace where people steal your mascara and toner off your porch? Which is it?

Writing this, I realize that the compromise solution is clearly to put a box outside the BACK porch and asking her to drop off packages in that. (Which doesn't solve my electric meter problem, but ... whaddayawantfrommeperfection?) Duh. That's my Seven Sisters-educated brain at work, the one they pay me to drag into the office every morning. But that doesn't really solve my overall mystification about whether to lock my doors, close my windows, install bars, and worry about burglary. As I said, my natural tendency is to not worry about it.

But don't get me started thinking about the possibility of a fire. Because that's scary.

Monday, October 17

Of Roofs, Batman, and Pumpkins.

So what was it that we were doing instead of posting the pictures over the last few days? Well, I wish I could say there was one big exciting thing that was going on, but alas that is not the case. Instead, we spent the weekend doing little odds and ends, most of which are not even remotely blog-worthy. A few of the highlights:
  • We may have gotten rid of the beast of a window-unit air-conditioner left by the previous owners a few weekends back, but there was still the little matter of the DirecTV dish that was making the front of the house oh-so-ugly. So on the gorgeous autumnal day on Saturday I crawled out of our bedroom window onto the roof above the patio with our electric screwdriver and tackled it, the whole time singing that little song about the girl asking for proof. Woohoohoo woohoohoo indeed.

    The end result: some stripped shingles which may need to be fixed, a much prettier front view of the house, and a leftover mini satellite dish which goes for $25 on ebay and will likely end up in the dumpster:



  • I spent some time struggling with my grandfather's grandfather clock and trying to get it put back together. My parents say that the clock stopped working at some point before they so generously transported it to us, but I can't even figure out how to reassemble it to see what is wrong. I went online to find the instruction manual, but the only ones available are for more...shall we say 'contemporary' clocks. I think I'm going to have to call (and, worse yet, pay) someone to come fix it. Ugh.

  • I unpacked and alphabetized the cd's and put them in the racks in the living room. Yes, even the Everclear cd.


  • While I didn't get around to putting together the new bookshelves -- that project has to wait until after I paint the library a deep blue (we're thinking of painting it either Braves Blue or Rice Owls Blue but certainly it will be something far more manly than the pink it currently is) which will hopefully happen this weekend -- but in the meantime I did read the plans and fantasize about building a secret passage that could be triggered by a book on the bookshelf, Batman style.

    OK, not really, but how awesome would that be? Seriously, go look at those pictures.

  • Autumn means one thing and one thing only here in the Revivalized house: autumn squashes. We may have a ridiculous amount of summer squashes growing in our yard, but my heart belongs to butternut and acorn squashes and pumpkins. And while I love pumpkin ravioli and similar dishes, when it comes to cooking these squashes for ourselves I tend to stick with the soups. And it is with this in mind that I present to you the first squash soup of the season.

    It turned out a bit fruitier than I normally make it -- possibly because I roasted the squash in apple cider rather than water, and possibly because the squash was more of a pumpkin than a butternut -- but it still had enough garlic and ginger to be quite tasty. Which is good, because I made about seven gallons of it. If you want to come over and try some, just let us know. Next up: The First Mole of the Season!

Sunday, October 16

Get Color

I wanted to add my two shekels about Homestead Ballroom Gold. It's dark. You can see that in the photos, that it's not like a background neutral color. Now that's okay with us, we're people who paint every room a different, really bold color. But I wouldn't want you to get the wrong idea. We refer to it as tan or beige, but for most people it would be too dark to qualify for those monikers.

Going on, it really gave all the charm of the inside of a baby's diaper. We were worried. Have we told you already that we didn't swatch the color before buying three gallons? Oh, we did. Okay, because we were worried.

But now it's distinctly caramel, butterscotch even. Very appropriate for the season, I guess. And it definitely achieves the rich, deep, camelhair coat look I was wanting. You can't tell from the photos, but it matches very well with the Mincemeat orange in the dining room. In the end, a lighter color just wouldn't have held up to the orange. Homestead Ballroom Gold is still much more soothing and relaxing, homier as Jocelyn put it, than the other colors we have chosen.

Another thing we did differently in the den is painted the same color on the ceiling as the walls. In the living room and dining room, we used ceiling white tinted with the wall color. Which, honestly, left us with pretty gnarly borders where the ceilings and walls meet. In this room, where a cozier feel was desired, we went the lazy way.

Okay, that's all I had to say. I'll leave you with this picture of the one little tomato that has ripened from the plants I scavenged at the grocery store in July:

Pretty cute, huh?

The Big Reveal

I know, I know...we promised you final pictures of the den and the new paint job several days ago, and we have yet to give you the payoff. Well, as we often did here in La Casa De Revivalized, we asked ourselves "What Would JJ Abrams Do?" and of course the overwhelming answer was to make you wait much longer than you wanted to find out what is in the Rambaldi's hatch that we call the den. Hopefully not too many of you have switched the channel, and for those of you who have stuck with us now all will be revealed:




As I mentioned last time, we are quite happy with the way the color turned out, and we will be even happier once we can afford real furniture to make the room even nicer. But it is starting to feel better and better.

Wednesday, October 12

Ooh Ow Oh Sneeze Snuffle Ow Ugh

Shoulders - sore, arms - sore, back - sore. Even my fingers are sore from yesterday's labors. I remembered how hard house restoration was ... somewhere around 3am, the fourth time I'd awakened from pain and stuffiheadedness. Yes, it appears that I truly am allergic to paint. (And polyurethane too.) I had tried to write off that two months of sneezing, snuffling, and stuffiness to ... moving ... living in the country... maybe a dusty house. But now I have to accept that the day we started painting is the day all of my symptoms returned. And boy do I feel crappy. What's worse is that I have a networking meeting tomorrow - a really important one, at the college. Now there's never been any guarantee that job would come out of it, but it seems all the less likely when my nose is all Rudolf and I'm trumpeting my snottiness every two minutes. Sigh. I've opened all the windows, maybe that will help. And I probably shouldn't watch TV tonight - but ALL my shows are on tonight. Double sigh.

Anyway, one of the reasons I am so sore is because I did a bunch of heavy yard work yesterday. You know, as a break. While the paint was drying. I transplanted the two peonies that were in my designated compost area, then turned all the compost. That kind of shoveling always wipes me out. I wanted to share with you this enormous peony root:

For those few wimpy little sprouts, the root is the size of your head!

Tuesday, October 11

What I Did On My Columbus Day Vacation

I may not have gotten Labor Day off, but I reaped the rewards of that this weekend, as my college gave us a nice four day weekend, officialy entitled "Reading Days" though I'm pretty sure that none of my students did any reading. And while many of my fellow faculty went camping or slept a lot or at the very least caught up on work, I spent the time Revivalizing, as K. and I finally found the time to paint the den. This weekend was not ideal for painting, not just because I was exhausted but also because we got our first rainfall in months which made everything dry very very slowly (at least compared to the drying speed in the 138 degree weather in July). But I figured the provost wouldn't especially want me to take a four day weekend next week, so we forced ahead with out plans and painted away.

As you may recall, we were flying without a net, as despite putting three different swatches on the wall, we opted to go with a fourth: Homestead Ballroom Gold. I think it ended up a little yellower than I had planned and a little darker than K. had planned, but at this stage we are pretty happy with the color.

Anyways, our weekend in pictures:




We tried to watch baseball while painting, but it just didn't work...

...but thank god we were able to stay online the whole time



It was a long weekend (in more than one way), and the end of working on the den is almost in sight. Well, the end of Phase One. This room more than any other needs a serious dose of new furniture, as that rug is even uglier in person -- we got around to throwing away its twin brother earlier in the weekend -- and we really want a new couch and buying one is very high on the priority list once we can afford it (Is it worth pointing out that my birthday is coming up? And Christmas? Hannukah?) But for now we just have a bit more clean up to do, and you should all stay tuned for the big "final" reveal, coming tomorrow to this very blog!

Monday, October 10

We Break for IKEA

Yesterday, in the very midst of our weekend project (painting the den), D. sidled up to me and proposed that we take a trip to Ikea. What do you think I did?

I was feeling pretty listless in general and not bubbling over with enthusiasm to wash the walls with TSP. (D's attitude: "Why do we have to wash the walls at all?" My response: "I don't know, because it says so." D: "It doesn't say it on the side of the paint can." Me: "Hrmph!") And you know how I feel about Ikea. I jumped up and down and squealed with joy!

We then had to spend an hour talking through whether it was really a good decision to leave off our work and drive 70 minutes each way to wear ourselves out looking at furniture we probably wouldn't buy. So we made an agreement that we HAD to buy something. Now that's the kind of shopping trip I like!

The vision of all the things I want danced around in my head, like it was May Day morning. I especially didn't want to move the old, uncomfortable sofabed and nasty rug from the previous tenants back into the newly painted den. I gathered up all of our room measurements and floor plans, and off we went!

Ikea was swarming with people. Columbus Day Sale, dontcha know? We sat on lots of sofas. We fingered lots of area rugs. I dispiritedly sorted through the pathetic towel selection. We walked back and forth the entire length of both levels of the store many many times. We were exhausted by the end. But we did actually manage to spend an enormous sum of money.

We invested in a starter set of Effektiv shelving in Antique Stain. They should reach floor to ceiling on one wall of the "library," which has somehow become known as "D's Office."

Here's a sample pic from Ikea:
We'll post ours once D's office is painted (maybe a navy blue or a deep red) and the shelves are assembled and installed, but in the meantime, we have to get back to sanding, washing, and priming the den!

Thursday, October 6

A dip into the Revivalized Mailbag brings the following question, direct from Shaker Heights Ohio:
Hey D - Where the eff have you been?!?
That's a good question, and I wish the answer were more exciting. But alas, I have been spending my days drowning in midterm exams to be written and graded, and giving a colloquium talk in addition to all the normal teaching, research, and service that comes with the job title of Assistant Professor. And as much as I admire blogs where mathematicians bitch about their students, that is not a route that I feel like going down. At least not until I get tenure. Or at least until finals week.

But I did want to give you all updates on a couple of quick items:
  • While I did not win the Daily Show set (truth be told, I never even bid on it), the people who did are putting it to decent use, touring it across the country and creating a podcast about their adventures. Oh what the 21st century has brought upon us.
  • Despite our grand aspirations and the fact that K. spent six straight hours yesterday cooking meals for us to eat over the next month and a half, we still have yet to have a second dinner party. Also, I have yet to remember to turn on NPR in the morning. Instead, while I get ready for school I read our local paper: something which takes approximately 78 seconds, and that's if I actually stop to read the heratbreaking and exciting adventures of the family in For Better Or For Worse -- have I mentioned how crappy our paper is?
  • I actually used my 90210 trading cards in a clasrsoom activity related to the Harmonic Series. Now they are sitting in my office, so I can flip through the pictures and reminsce about the true love that Brenda and Dylan shared in between lectures.
  • We are still planning to paint the den this weekend, as I have a four day weekend. That plan assumes I will wake up sometime on Saturday or Sunday, though, and I'm becoming less convinced of this eventuality.

Monday, October 3

Monday morning is here, and the verdict is guilty. Of not getting enough done on the house over the weekend.
The only accomplishment was removing the air conditioner from our living room window. It extended about three feet onto the porch. The enormous beast was GLUED in place in 1987, and we struggled mightly to get it out. Eventually we figured out the trick - to remove the guts from the casing. In the end, we're so pleased with the newly revealed window in the living room...


and the increased space on the porch. All of a sudden, the porch looks spacious and comfortable enough for a bench or some rocking chairs.


As little as we got done, we are planning a BIG project for next weekend: painting the den. D. has a long weekend for First People's Day, so he's paying attention to house projects again. After swatching three paint colors, we ended up choosing a fourth - that we never even swatched. (Yeah, we're dangerous like that.)


It's Homestead Ballroom Gold, one of the Preservation colors of American Traditions. It's a nice camel-ly, golden beige. We love the deep, vibrant colors in the living and dining rooms, but we thought a more mellow color would be appropriate for a TV room/den, where we want to relax at the end of the day.

Buying paint led us back to Lowe's after a month-long absence. It was very pleasant. We ventured into new areas, found items I hadn't previously been able to locate, and just generally enjoyed the experience. I got a super exciting Black and Decker 125-piece Bit Set - woohoo! I'm not sure which came first, but D's enthusiasm for home projects seems to have really increased after our outing.

Autumn has definitely arrived, with chilly temperatures in the house and elaborate scarecrow and pumpkin displays on many porches. The vegetables at the market are shifting to pumpkins and gourds. Long-neck pumpkins seem to be terribly trendy here - is that the case elsewhere? Our grapes on the vine keep getting sweeter and sweeter. Last night, I found in one of my cookbooks a recipe for grape leaves, so I might get adventurous. I'm doing a lot of ambitious and delicious cooking - squash lasagna, squash enchiladas, roasted squash and beets, stuffed squash blossoms, (starting to see a theme?) Indian lime rice, samosas, kale leek soup - and I'm thinking about posting some of the recipes.

Just in the nick of time, it appears that our dripping furnace problem is solved. Don't ask me what they did, because I don't know. In the process, I learned more about our heating and hot water systems. Including a new problem. When the plumber guy was here last Wednesday, I thought I would take the opportunity to ask him to point out the location of our second-floor thermostat. You see, we had been told it was a two-zone boiler, but I'd only found a thermostat on the first floor. Well, he thought he knew where it was - in the basement! But then it wasn't there. We looked at the wiring, which was wonky, and we followed it all around the house. Until we found a second thermostat in the enclosed patio off the back of the first floor. Furnace guy told me that he thought that thermostat controlled the second floor.


Okay, I have to admit, I knew there was a thermostat in the patio. We haven't spoken much about the patio, because D. and I really don't like it. We want to get rid of it, tear it down. Yes, I have grand plans for making a spa room, a greenhouse, or a screened-in patio (instead of vinyl siding out and faux wood paneling inside). But the reality is we'll probably tear it down. We don't need the space, we do want more green space in the yard, and it ruins the view (and smell) of the second floor back porch. I think the best choice for us is to restore the old, two story, turned wood porch.

So suffice it to say, this is NOT an area we want to heat all winter long. But after further investigation, I think the way the system works is that the old original hot water radiators are all on "Zone One" and controlled by the thermostate in the dining room. And "Zone Two" is just the patio, which I hope we can just turn off and fuggedaboutit.

As the season changes, a woman's thoughts begin to turn to the garden - there's so much that needs to be done and so much more that I want to do and so little time or money to do any of it with. But that didn't stop us from ordering seed garlic - we LOVE garlic. And we especially love garlic chives, the first green bits that pop up in spring. So I'm going to build our first planter this week. I picked up some lumber while we were at Lowe's (I really appreciate the way they cut it for total amateurs like me), and I'm going to hit a garden store for the soil ingredients. I think I'm going to experiement withNo-Till Gardening, and not bother digging up the grass. Instead, I'll just lay a lot of newspaper, then build the bed on top of that.

Lastly, I'm worried about the state of the exterior paint. It's flaking and chipping, leaving wood exposed in many places. Winters here aren't terribly snowy, but will we be okay if we don't repaint before next spring?