Archive for the ‘Home and garden’ Category

Owning an older home reminds me of raising my daughter. It also reminds me of running my business. It also reminds me of why I no longer work on double basses (even though I LOVE bass players) and small instruments (even though I LOVE kids)! It reminds me of everything and anything that requires serious prioritizing.

I have been criticized for “wiping up” instead of Cleaning, and power vacuuming the most trafficked areas rather than moving the furniture and creating a completely pet hair and dust free zone, which really only lasts for five minutes, but in my opinion, is still a good thing to do now and then.

Let’s face it. I am one person and I cannot do everything.

This weekend I painted the front door, even though I’d prefer to paint the whole house, which is an adequate, but excruciatingly BORING gray. I removed old, cheesy curtain rod hardware in the upstairs bedrooms, along with the errant THUMBTACK that the previous painters had simply painted over (sin against my very being!)  and then what did I do? Thankfully remembered the can of paint left in the basement by said hosers (painters) and proceeded to slap it on the damage I had created removing said crappy hardware and thumbtacks (even though there is serious adhesion issues at play here)! Hallelujia!  Am I happy about that? NO!

But, I am happy about finding a door in my garage (that’s another topic)  that clearly used to fit at the bottom of the attic stairs. Well, it’s there again (the attic door), even though it meant pilfering hinges from somewhere else. This is important because the attic door opens into an alcove adjacent to the room that WILL be my new workshop. The alcove is to provide light and a needed storage area. I’m imagining  secondary jigs, forms and less frequently used tools and materials. Yes, I have plans.

If you are a person like me, there aren’t too many things that you don’t notice at all. Sometimes this is a great asset. I am a good violin restorer. I was a lousy carpenter. To be kind, I guess I’d say I’m “detail oriented”. So the challenge is always to keep the big picture in mind and allocate limited resources to affect the greatest benefit while  ever moving in the direction of a larger goal. Which means some things must get short shrift, as much as it goes against my nature.

In parent-speak, I think the phrase is “pick your battles” – about the best advice I was ever given (thank you Liz). I asked myself constantly, “is this a big thing or a little thing”? Which meant that plenty of little things worked themselves out, or not, to some degree or other. The daughter has not only become a fantastic adult, but is also my role model in terms of learning to prioritize within seemingly overwhelming circumstances and, btw, making it all happen ahead of schedule. Clearly she didn’t get that from me. She’s 25, and it’s not that she has it all wrapped up. Hardly, but her mo is admirable. I have learned that what I might be inclined to call “cutting corners” is not intrinsically bad, if the corners are well chosen.

To be fair – about the front door? I also admit to having removed the mail slot hardware a few weeks ago, and painstakingly stripping it of a gazillion years worth of paint. Oh and then re-antiqued it – black in the recessed areas. Pretty sweet huh?

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It seemed appropriate somehow, this being Bastille Day.

Late last summer, I planted some little cabbage plants along the driveway. Really, I stuck them in, not  expecting there would be enough growing season left for even a late fall cabbage crop. Indeed. I watched the proverbial snow fall, since we didn’t have much of the real stuff, and didn’t give mes petites choux a second thought.

Then, we had a week of summer-in-March, and I discovered that one little intrepid cabbage had not only wintered over, but had already bolted out of the starting gate! This had promise! I was a proud mama!

I’ve become kind of accustomed by being met in the driveway by Madame La Chou, as she has become known in her maturity. Kind of like having another pet. Since I need that like a hole in the head, I’ve had to deal with the inevitable:

When to do the deed.

All my other cabbages are still (appropriately) babies, so it will be a while before we see another like Mme La Chou. Hers was a story of endurance, tenacity and determination and a grave reminder that it is always possible to wake up on the wrong side of the Revolution.

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I realize that I have written next to nothing about violin restoration so far. Oh well. Most of my friends and family think I only work (and work) which is pretty much the way it is if you are self-employed and not married to a software engineer. If I’m missing something, please enlighten me.

I love photography, and have had romances with many cameras. But these days, cameras are fickle and so quickly become passé, even before you have the chance to really get to know them. Maybe I am old school, but I am suspicious of things that are meant to be thrown out before they are broken.

There’s another post here in the works, I can tell, so I’ll stop here, my point being that  – What do I take pictures of? Work, mostly!

And so this is really a post about gardening. It’s the thing I enjoy most that doesn’t really have anything to do with work. Although, I could easily extrapolate a connection…perhaps some other day.

I purchased this house in summer of 2010 and this is what the back yard looked like:

I employed Nancy Howard Landscape and Design to help me get started. Nancy got Mike to come in with some machines to remove a broken up old cement area, and to push some dirt around.

We went shopping, and on  Nancy’s recommendation, came home with  a Yellowwood tree and some beautiful foundation plants. By the end of the summer of 2011, my back yard looked like this:

So this is how I’ve been spending most of my non-work time (notice I didn’t say “free”). On this first day of July 2012, in addition to further work in the shady area by the back fence, I have made three vegetable beds w bush beans, eggplant, tomato, basil, peppers, tomatillos, cabbage, lettuce and brussels sprouts. There are rhododendrons on the NE side of the house now and as of a few weeks ago – a pink dogwood, viburnum and weeping cypress in the front. And more veggies and flowers along the driveway.

It’s happening! It’s feeling like a place. I sit frequently out by the Yellowwood and wonder what it will look like in 50 or 100 years. My kind of time frame. I know…! In the meantime Bailey and I are both happy with the daily dose of fresh lettuce and kale, with the promise of more things to come.

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Possibly the best thing I ever brought home from my visits to Italy:

I had my first spritz in Venice, in a bar at Piazza San Marco. I observed city workers in yellow safety gear and large rubber boots stopping in after their day’s shift to down a tall icy wine glass full of something I had to try. I was traveling solo and so it was all up to me to make this educational experience happen. I was motivated.

Some kind of sketchy Italian combined with some sketchy English and a few minutes later I had myself an Aperol spritz and a new best friend. I had opted for bitter, rather than sweet and I’m still not sure what the sweet option would be – maybe Campari, or maybe more of what I was offered on the train platform in Florence (that’s another story)!

I’m a little embarrassed that I’ve had to (cough!)google the proportions of Aperol, prosecco and seltzer. Then there is the issue of a slice of orange? like I had in Venice? or a green olive, as is recommended in some foody travel blog I read once (maybe they know something)? Personally, I prefer both. A slice of orange grabs your nose as you go for the dive, and the olive is that opening to another dimension as you come up for air.

By the way, a spritz is readily available in Cremona as well (this is a violin related blog), where I’ve had it served in the early evenings with a bowl of pistachios and/or a bowl of potato chips. I think it’s a northern Italian thing. Say “Aperol spritz, per favore”.

2 oz prosecco

1 1/2 oz Aperol

dash seltzer

orange slice, green olive and lots of ice

*note: be sure to add the Aperol last, after the seltzer and prosecco so that it diffuses nicely in the glass, rather than sitting at the bottom.

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