The Yearly Pilgrimage

Every year my husband and I take at least one drive up to the Delaware Water Gap and then meander our way home. Sometimes we do it in the spring, but usually we do it in the fall. Sometimes we do it both seasons, now that we have the convertible. 🙂 This past weekend was our pilgrimage. Although it was bright and sunny, it was also in the 40s with wind. We decided to leave the top UP on the car.

My husband loaded the back seat with CDs: Blind Faith, John Mayall, Manassas and more of the same ilk. I confess – *I* thought we’d listen to football. I was wrong. 🙂 I didn’t even get to check scores until after we’d been driving for nearly 3 hours.

Driving with my husband is a lot like driving with Honour. Neither of them will take pictures out the window for me and neither of them wants to stop anywhere. IMG_9569I thought we should not cross the river at the Gap but drive to Belvidere. I’m fairly certain we’ve never been to Belvidere. And there is a free bridge in Belvidere that we could have taken across to Pennsylvania. I’m all about free bridges (other than Rt 80 right through the Gap), which is why I refuse to take the Rt 202 bridge. There are so many cool little towns on both sides of the river with great (old, small, FREE) bridges.

But my husband had our itinerary planned before we ever left the house, so we crossed at the Gap and meandered down along the river on Rt 611 and Rt 32, until we took the bridge to Stockton. Those of you who know me as Ms Leadfoot would undoubtedly have been shocked to see me pulling off the road to let cars that had accumulated behind me go by. We really were meandering. Fiesta was a bit annoyed, but ultimately even she relaxed and enjoyed watching the scenery.

The painting on the overpass is in Easton. I hung out the window while I was stopped at the red light. One of these days I’ll let someone else drive (hah) so I can also get a picture of the donkeys at the narrow end of the abutment.

My husband’s goal was dinner in a lovely restaurant in Ewing, NJ – Erini’s. We’d eaten there a few weeks ago with friends and I had to agree it was a great place for dinner, even if we had NOT been driving for 4.5 hours. Our waiter Matt did an excellent job. A lovely meal. When we came out to go to the car, the moon was gorgeous in the clear night sky. I took a picture, figuring there was no way this would come out as anything but a big blur. I was happy to be wrong. Into the car for another hour of driving. I suppose for some that much driving would be a horrible time, but we do enjoy our pilgrimage.
IMG_9570

The Elusive Catbird

IMG_9554 (1).

.

.

.
GC alerted me to the presence of the elusive catbird in the bushes outside of our living room window.

IMG_9558
.

.

.

It’s very hard to capture these elusive creatures on camera (do we still say “on film”?). You can’t approach them directly – you must shoot through windows with screens. The morning sun streams into the lens, and the catbird is black (affectionally called “Lilah”).
.

IMG_9566.

.

Catbirds never stay long in one spot. There is always a distraction somewhere, calling them to investigate.

Dressing the Walls

IMG_8035One of a homeowner’s great pleasures, and often greatest frustrations, is decorating the walls of the house. Some people like a stark look, almost nothing on clean walls. Others hang zillions of photos – family, or vacation, or nature, or animals. Others hang artwork (however you choose to define it). My old kitchen had walls with LOTS of pictures and art and photos, because I had a lot of wall space and LOTS of chachkes.

My new kitchen has cabinets and brick, not exactly conducive to attachments. It also has a very clean, spare look, also not exactly welcoming to chachkes. I had a lot of chachkes hanging on the old cabinets, from the windows, on the refrigerator. I didn’t want to repeat that in the new kitchen. But there was a wall that cried out for artwork. I knew from the design stage that there was a wall that would need something.

I thought I’d found the perfect picture to hang on the wall between the basement door and the doorway to the front hall, above the new radiator. I’d found it in July at a street fair, when I bought another picture from the artist, Linda McAdams.IMG_9532 As I realized when I started looking for dish towels and oven mitts, there is no way that RED will work in this kitchen, and the “perfect picture” had a big red and white striped beach umbrella (that’s why it was perfect and I loved it *grin*). I was a bit bummed, to tell the truth. My friend and I started idly perusing Linda’s website via my phone and discovered that besides her beach/ocean series, she had an Italy portfolio as well. So many of the colors were the same colors as the brick backsplash in the kitchen – warm, rustic, brick. My friend was clicking through the mini pictures when I stopped her. “That looks like Castel Sant’Angelo”, I said. We enlarged the photo and sure enough – it was Castel Sant’Angelo.

I LOVE Castel Sant’Angelo. When my son and I were in Italy a few years ago, one of our best experiences was touring Castel Sant’Angelo. IMG_9531We spent so much time there, loving every floor, taking a zillion photos, staring out at the bridges across the Tiber. Originally Hadrian’s tomb, various popes turned it into a fortress, attached to St. Peter’s Basilica. We both took panoramic shots of the river and Pons Aelius (sorry – we switch to Latin for this *grin*) and the 10 angel statues decorating the bridge. We spent our whole time there exclaiming how much my husband would love to see it – structures, architecture, archaeology, history. All 3 of us adore those fields. *grin* And for B, who I know reads this blog – we love talking about Hannibal and elephants, too. *grin*

Once I saw that photo I knew I had THE picture for my kitchen. 3 of my friends had seen photos of the kitchen with the back splash and said it reminded them of Tuscany/Italy. I’d felt that way also. IMG_9538 Here was a picture that was the right color, the right mood, and a reminder of an extremely happy time. I had to have it. I contacted Linda McAdams, gave her the measurements for that space, gave her my credit card and within 2 weeks – there it was. I also learned a lot about how to hang artwork on a drywall (not plaster wall) that was hollow – the pocket door is behind the wall – no long strong nails could be used. A friend had recommended Command hangers (I’d never heard of this fantastic product before) but although I DID buy various packs of Command hangers for future use, we ended up using High and Mighty hangers, which are designed specifically for drywall.

My sister “discovered” the art for the doorway between the breakfast room and the kitchen. It was in my dining room. I’d bought it many years ago with a bonus check I’d received, due in part to the work I’d done in virtual worlds. The piece was mounted on a dark wall. IMG_9537It SHOULD have been on a lighter wall but we never did get around to repainting that wall for that purpose. The piece, therefore, has probably been overlooked by most visitors for years. Now it has a place of honor over the new doorway, with lots of light from the skylight and a clean white wall behind. I can enjoy it every day when I sit at the bistro table.

I will probably put back at least one of the pieces that used to be in the breakfast room on the driveway-side wall above the table, and very possibly put them both back. I’ll have to get that done before the “come see my new kitchen party”. 🙂

An Unexpected Gift

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold, meaning it happens long after the fact. What do they say about gifts that appear long after the gifting? There must be some equally apt phrase. Maybe it’s “good things come to those who wait”.

fricker1I have finally decided to upgrade my blog from a free account to a paid account. I have no good reason. Or rather, I suspect the final straw is NOT something that will be handled by a paid account. The last week or so I’ve been getting trackbacks from spam sites. It was annoying. I’ve also used over 75% of my media storage. I thought I’d investigate and see what I’d learn.

I had a wonderful, informative, upbeat chat with the online chat support. Do you know that they are called “Happiness Engineers”? I think that is a GREAT title. The person with whom I was chatting was a fantastic representative of that concept. She gave me a discount code to give me 2 months free. I noticed something odd when I went to pay. The screen was showing me a $15 credit, bringing the bill to $33. When I put in the discount code, the amount was just over $39. ???? I asked my happiness engineer where the $15 credit originated. She said “The $15 credit is applying the value you have left in your current plan to the upgraded one.” Well that was odd. fricker 3My current plan was a FREE plan, I had never paid any money to WordPress. The HE agreed my plan was a free one and she investigated further. “I show $15 in gift credit from a user named “Fricker Fraker” back in 2009. Dear reader, I kid you not – tears came to my eyes.

Fricker – I don’t know where you are, or how you are, but thank you, thank you, thank you. What a sweet, generous gesture on your part. Which is exactly how I remember you.

Ahuva ❤ Fricker

Beauty and Function

My husband will say it’s Function and Beauty. Every time he does something in the kitchen (cooks, cleans, preps) he comes over to me and says “As beautiful as it is, it’s even more functional than it is beautiful.” I always reply “it’s equally beautiful and functional.” It really is. IMG_9479 We are both amazed and delighted each and every time we are in the kitchen. I’m not sure but I think the sink might actually be the best single improvement in the room.

Our contractor did not think we had sufficient cabinets and counters. We kept assuring him that we thought we were okay with the new plan and that for us it was so much more than we’d ever had. He (and most everyone else) told us to think ahead, that just because it was better didn’t mean we’d achieved best. We think we achieved best. I cannot believe how simple it has become to prepare a meal. It’s so easy, and such a pleasure, that I’m cooking again, not just baking. *laughing* Sometimes we both say “I thought I’d make this for dinner tonight” and one of us will give way and let the other have the fun. I love how I can have my measures right at hand along with the compost bin, and my knives within reach if I need a new one. IMG_9474When I work there at the counter the stove is just to my right, easy reach to go from cutting board to pot.

Today we passed the last of the official township inspections: electrical, building (fire), and plumbing (note the Oxford comma). (By the way, every inspector commented on how beautiful they found the new kitchen.) That does NOT mean, however, that we have actually finished this renovation. We still have a final payment reckoning. There were MANY add-ons, and those costs need to be tallied. In addition, the floor is still not right. They are coming on Thursday to try to fix it. I’ve been promised deck lights and we’ve actually agreed on what kind and how many and where. And the kitchen ceiling still needs to be sanded and painted after the plumbing leak. We’re close, but we are NOT there yet.

I WAS going to throw a party in November, a “come see my beautiful new kitchen” party. That is not going to happen, at least not in November. It will happen on New Year’s day. Now that we moved our New Year’s Eve party to New Year’s Day, we’ll invite the world to THAT party to see the gorgeous kitchen. In the meantime we have cooked meals for a few people already. I had the ladies over for Sukkot, we had another friend over for Sukkot, and friends over last weekend for a soup-to-nuts dinner – cocktails through to dessert. IMG_9520My husband and I were able to do that dinner without any bumping into each other, or needing to time counter space or any other “right of way” issues. It was great. I made bread (from scratch, no bread machine), Turkish coffee brownies, salad, yogurt pie, and roasted broccoli & cauliflower. My husband did his wonderful hand-made pasta, and a tagine chicken dish that is sensational. I also had time to make all the accoutrements for the cocktails: allspice dram and a cranberry syrup. It was all so much fun!!!!! The leftovers are pretty yummy also. 🙂

Morning Mystery

It’s a beautiful bright sunny day today! When I was opening the blinds in the breakfast room I noticed a big something on the deck. It is a piece of siding. I turned and looked at the house but….. I’m not seeing any missing pieces. A long piece of siding is a bit heavy to have traveled very far by wind. I backed up and backed up and craned my neck to see. Hmmm. Perhaps under one of the windows on the 2nd floor, above the breakfast room roof? IMG_9527But how did it get where it is without damaging the skylight? My husband came and looked also and that’s our best guess. Neither of us remembers if there was a piece of siding there or not, or if it was all flashing where the breakfast room joined the original house. There’s an UP side to it all, however!

We made an executive decision last week. We need (oh we DESPERATELY need) all new windows upstairs. It has always been ‘the next thing’ after the kitchen. I’ve been dreading getting quotes and setting up appointments and making decisions. And more contractors. I finally began researching the topic last week and what I found played right to my preferences. Most of the articles said pick your contractor first, not the window. Work with someone you trust. We have someone we trust, who does great work. We asked Don to give us a quote to put in new windows and a front door. 🙂 Done. And since Don is already used to how much scope-creep we have he will not be surprised when we ask him to put back the siding as well. 🙂

The other exciting news for me this morning is that all of my new appliances set themselves to the correct time this morning!!!!! I was dreading trying to figure out how to reset the thermostat and the kitchen stove. The microwave is easy-peasy but I still have not figured out the complexities of the stove digital controls. Yay for things that solve themselves!!!

I’m NOT Hiding

Am Yisrael Chai
jewish starI’ve written this post over and over and over. I started with growing up, I started with the past weekend, I started with the wonderful Shabbat service I attended last night with my congregation/community. But it all comes down to one thing – I will NOT hide. I will NOT live in fear. You hate me and want to kill me? That’s on you. I may have my moments of despair, but I will not fear and I will not hide.

AM YISRAEL CHAI!!

.
THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL LIVE!!

Am Yisrael Chai lyrics


Stat Counter

wordpress analytics