Saturday, December 12, 2009

Catch Up

Half-frozen 'Cramoisi Superieur' buds

Garden Update
It's been a rough several weeks from a blogly perspective. I had to work late a lot, it's dark all the damn time as far as I can tell, and on the few occasions that I'm out during the daylight, it's dull and washy, through a dense curtain of frigid mist (that's "frigid" as defined in the South--low 40s to low 30s--not Minnesota frigid, which I gather makes the ice planet of Hoth look like the Garden of Eden).

Needless to say, we have not spent a lot of time in the garden lately. And the news from the garden is not particularly fun, anyway. We got our first hard freeze a week or so ago, and it caught 'Cramoisi Superieur' and 'Duchesse de Brabant' with bushes heavy with buds, all now dangling dully from their stems. 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' had several big, fat, petally blossoms and buds, which froze into solid wilted blobs that are now rotting on the ground.

A couple of hopeless 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' buds

But now that heavy-hitting bloomers like Cramoisi and the Duchesse have been in the ground for over 2 years, I think they'll probably rebound and bloom again if we have a long enough period above freezing. After all, they're finally getting rain, a fact that is probably making the sap rush deleriously through their half-dessicated xylem and phloem.

'Green Ice,' that miniature paragon, is chugging along, undaunted. As usual, it is completely outblooming the tiresome parvenu 'Knockout.'

In House News
We finally replaced the tap in the guest bath. It look a long time because there is no such thing as a cheap faucet for pedestal or claw-footed tubs. They're all painfully expensive. I finally found the model I wanted (Barclay Products Limited 4025PL Wall Mounted Tub Filler w/Hand Shower) on eBay for $125--over $100 dollars cheaper than the nearest competitor.

Handsome new "tub filler" (what's up with that name, anyway? Is "faucet" insufficiently smarmy?)

And we also got some cellular shades for the window, so now our guests can be both clean and private. The room's not done (needs a new mirror, a new bath shelf, some sort of stool or small stand, a small antique dresser or bachelor chest, and the A/C vent needs to be moved about 7 feet toward the door so it doesn't blow on people's faces at night.

Nevertheless. Good progress. Rome wasn't built in a day. From little acorns mighty oak trees grow. Slow and steady wins the race. Or, as Jon Stewart puts it, "Keep fuckin' that chicken."

The other big house new is that we're planning to install a ventless gas fireplace in the living room as our Christmas present to each other. This is going to be a many-stage process because we want a custom surround and, ultimately, a pair of built-in bookshelves on either side. This is all going to take a very long time, so we're just going to start with a wooden platform and the firebox. Below is a composite of fireplaces I found online that looks more or less like what we're going for.

The long-term goal, more or less. Brought to you by the magic of Photoshop.

We've already bought 6 vintage Helman Art Nouveau tiles to go above the fireplace--we'll find some (cheaper) coordinating modern tiles to go around that. Shout-out to the folks who sold us the tiles, by the way: we love the tiles--they're even prettier in real life than they were on the web; they're in terrific condition; and when the shipping came out to more than they had estimated, they reduced the cost of the tiles so that the total remained the same. They company's called Recycling the Past, and they have a great selection and really good prices. Love them.

Our lovely period tile from Recycling the Past

In Culinary News

After Thanksgiving our local HEB had pork loin half off, at which point I fell off the local meat wagon and bought one. Because look at that thing--it's longer than my arm!

I brined it and then we grilled it per the directions at the Grilling Companion, and it turned out completely delectable--juicy, smoky, fork-tender, and flavorful. I think pork is in the process of becoming my Second Meat: first chicken, then pork, then beef or lamb. (Lamb would be my Second Meat, if it weren't so darn expensive.) Must go back to buying it locally, though.

And Finally, the Big News
I bought a car! I've been saving up for ages, and I finally bought a replacement for my late lamented 1995 Accord: a 2010 Honda Insight (hybrid). It's lovely and complex, and I think it's even rather sporty. I'm still amazed that I'm sufficiently adult and responsible that financing companies want to give me cars, but hey, I'm not gonna complain.

My new baby. It was rather cold out, as you may have inferred.

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