Monday, September 24, 2012


I turned fifty about forty-five minutes ago. Today may be the official day, but yesterday was the party. Yesterday was the second-most perfect day ever, and now today is the rest, re-read cards and eat leftover cake day.

Everything about yesterday was wonderful: the garden...

and the table.

The food - oh, the food!

And the cake.

The flowers from Margaret and Madeleine's gardens...

...and most of all the company.

Happy Birthday to me!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The last wall

Big announcement: we have painted The Last Wall.

We have been renovating this three-story house from top to bottom, which has meant, in part, painting every single wall. Make that scrubbing, patching and painting.  And on Friday, more than three-and-a-half years since we began, we finished the last one.

There's still some trim to paint in various locations around the house, but we're done with the walls. We're so close to being finished the Longest Home Renovations on Record we can taste it.

The best part? We finished with just a bit of paint left in the can. And then we went out for lunch.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I've been infusing up a storm all summer long. Oils, that is. Rose petals, mint, comfrey, lavender, chamomile and lots and lots of calendula. In olive oil, rice bran oil and grapeseed oil. 

[The former Math teacher in me feels compelled to note that with six different herbs/flowers and three different oils, there are eighteen different combinations - just in case you were interested.]

Why, you might ask? Soap! Salve! Luscious, skin-friendly cream! Plus two delightful afternoons with the three completely charming girls (ages 8, 10 and 12) who live next door: one spent picking leaves and petals and cramming them into a jar to infuse with oil, and a second spent turning the oil into this salve.

The jars have looked so beautiful on the verandah in the sunlight it's almost a shame to use them.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about laundry these days, mostly because the laundry room is one of the rooms we're currently redoing. Which means our washing machine and dryer are living a life of leisure on the front verandah, having a little holiday while we make their special room a bit more special.

I'm aware of this every time I take off my clothes, because the knowledge that we're going to have to go to the laundromat if we want clean clothes is making me give a lot more thought to whether any particular item can be worn just one more time. This is a good thing, because we've been pretty cavalier about the amount of laundry we do. We can certainly afford to be more frugal in our clothes-wearing and clothes-cleaning habits, for a whole variety of reasons: energy use, hydro bills, time and effort, and wear-and-tear on our clothes. So even once these last renovations are done and our washing machine and dryer return to their rightful place, I hope the habits we're forming now stick.

We made our first trip to the laundromat yesterday, partly because the dirty clothes pile was reaching toppling height, and partly because Kim's current dental adventures (dentist visit for tooth pain followed by crown followed by more pain followed by emergency root canal followed by infection followed by antibiotics  followed by very uncomfortable side effects from the antibiotics - all of which is probably going to be followed by a search for a new dentist) meant she wasn't up to installing baseboard, but she was game for sitting in a chair at the laundromat while I fed coins into machines. 

In case you lost your way somewhere in the middle of that ridiculously long sentence, we went to the laundromat yesterday. And it was a very good reminder of how sometimes being poor can make you poorer. Because it cost $2.75 to run a medium sized load through a washing machine, and about the same to get it dry. Five bucks a load? Plus soap? Plus whatever it costs on public transit to get there? Wow. This is where I start thinking about community cooperatives, where people could share washing facilities without being gouged by laundromat owners. My mom always wonders why every family has to own their own set of luggage - couldn't we all share? I wonder the same thing about washing machines.

Speaking of my mom, being at the laundromat made me think of one of the happy memories from my teenage years. Our washing machine broke down one summer and it took a few weeks to get repaired. So my mom and dad would take the laundry to the laundromat - just the two of them - and spend the evening having a laundry date, sitting on the hood of the station wagon and eating bean salad from the local KFC. Even as a fourteen-year-old I thought that was pretty cool - that my parents liked each other's company enough that doing laundry together could make a date.

Since I'm writing about all things laundry, you might be wondering how things are progressing on the last phase of The Slowest Renovations of All Time. Here's the Before picture of the laundry room, which you've already seen. (Do I need to tell you that wallpaper was not one of the selling features of the house?)

Then it looked like this...

...and now it looks like this.

I know our choice of flooring might not be to everyone's taste, but I laugh every time I see it. In a good way. I love that floor. In fact, because I love it so much, here's a longer view of the mudroom and laundry room.

Burger and milkshake, anyone?

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I want to say we grew these, but the reality is the tree grew these. We really had little to do with it. The tree just did its thing, minding its own business, hanging out in the vegetable garden with the cabbages: it blossomed beautifully in the spring, grew fruit bountifully though the summer, and now, in early fall,  has presented us with fifteen gorgeous, juicy pounds.

We've already eaten a pound or two, more have gone into a crumble for dessert after tonight's supper, and some will be made into jam. A handful were earwiggy and were given to the chickens, but that doesn't feel like a loss. After all, the peach tree shades the entrance to the coop, so the chickens have been eyeing the ripening fruit hanging above their heads all summer, waiting for some to fall. It seems mean to whisk it all away without giving them a taste. And for them, the odd earwig is a bonus. 

(Want to know how fast can six chickens devour a peach? Fast.

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