Moving Heaven & Earth


Weather was yucky for most of March, so we focused on things indoors. My big job was cleaning an original oil painting that I’ve been lugging around for decades. Cleaning an oil painting means working with a Q-tip and swabbing/cleaning one spot at a time. Since the painting is 5’x3-1/2′, it took most of the month. The first picture below somewhat shows midway the difference in the colors. The second is the final result.

The painting looks drab in the photos, but the colors are actually subtly vibrant.

Now that it’s finally warmer and non-wet, we figured out where our garden is going to be this year. It will be a 40′ x 20′ area for our first year.

I’m working the soil in the way my grandfather taught me — and the way his grandfather taught him, even though its a lot of work. Instead of attacking the area with a rototiller, this old method means digging in with a shovel and manually pulling out the weeds and sifting through the dirt, breaking up the clumps, and eliminating all roots from the soil.

Leaving the roots (whole or broken up), invites weed production later.

After the entire area is cleared of the weeds and their roots, then I will throw on top all the compost I’ve been making all winter and rototill everything together. Then let it rest for at least four days or until the next waxing moon (whichever is last) to begin planting. Here’s the before and after of one tiny corner.

I will be planting the Three Sisters together in the traditional manner, but all the rest of the veggies (onions, tomatoes, etc) will be more-or-less in the modern rows. I’m debating whether to plant perenials like garlic in the garden area or in the herb bed or in a separate area near our planned barbeque area. What do you think?

Hate to admit this, but after cleaning that one little patch (shown above), I felt like I had been run over by a steam roller. Gads, I am soooo out of shape! Of course, my aches have nothing to do with the fact that I’m almost 70 years old — it’s just that I’m out of shape!

Domestic Triumphs


Its still a bit too cold to do much outside, so we’ve been focusing on acquiring items to prepare for the thaw as well as items for inside. Our favorite “shopping mall” are local thrift stores, and the treasures we find sometimes amaze us.

Here’s one of our found treasures — an oil painting that is perfect for our dining room. I was absolutely thrilled.

One of my kitchen challenges has always been my dish rack. I felt like I started playing Tetris, then evolved into a leaning tower of disaster. With breakable dishes and cups, the tower of freshly washed dishes really became interesting. Jim surprised me with a double-decker dishrack, which I now love, love, love.

Maybe if I bought instant everything instead of making food from scratch I wouldn’t be so overjoyed to have a double-decker dishrack. Makes washing and stacking my dishes so much easier!

My pantry was starting to get nightmarish, so I decided to get some of those racks for canned food. We live so far from town that we shop once each month, which means we buy in bulk. Sounds easy enough until we get home and try to organize it all in the pantry. I opted to get commercial-quality racks that had to be ordered from a restaurant supply. They arrived and had to be assembled.

This is what they looked like when I finally figured out how to translate Chinese-English instructions.

Stacks of boxes piled on each other that took a lot of room were converted into an organized dream that is space efficient and makes getting ingredients really easy to access.

We hope as the cold is starting to ease that we can do some real work soon. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying finding ways of maximizing every inch of our future home.