03. July 2014 · Comments Off on Tending the Home Fires – And Stuff · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Literary Good Stuff, Local · Tags: , ,

This is what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks – tending to home, and to the business, and wrapping up two of the three current book projects. The two authors involved are thrilled to bits with the work done for their books, and both of them – marvelously – have each a follow-on project which will come to me by the end of the month. Hopefully, the third follow-on project will be completed by then. The visual elements for that book are … well, the author is one of those who has to see the completed project before deciding if it is satisfactory, or not. Anyway, the business is paying nicely, and so I can afford some more home renovations and repairs.

Last month’s home renovation project was a complete revamp of the kitchen pantry – basically, a small closet, 25 inches wide, and about 27 deep. The original builders put in five or six wooden shelves, which ran the full width and depth of the closet … and basically made anything shoved to the back of the shelves unfindable and irretrievable. Unless you emptied everything out. Last month we hit Peak Exasperation with the whole thing – that is, the point where the hassle of doing anything constructive about about the problem is less than the hassle of continuing to put up with it. So – emptied everything into cardboard boxes, knocked out the shelves, repaired the various small dings in the drywall, repainted to cover the patches … and applied about $140 worth of wire shelving from Lowe’s, an assortment of square bulk storage containers from the Container Store, and mirabile dictu, now we can find everything easily.

This month, the project was – where to store Blondie’s inherited vintage Chambers stove, and all of the gear we need to do the various markets, especially around Christmas; the tables, the pop-up, the dolly, the chairs and all. The garage is packed pretty full with Blondie’s household goods already, and so … it came to us – a shed. A nice, tidy little shed in the back left corner of the yard; for the stove, and all the market gear, and various gardening tools, the home-brewing and canning things – which take up an incredible amount of space in a small house … any way, whatever we decided on would have to be fairly attractive, because the windows at the back of the house look out on that patch of garden. Function and beauty – as William Morris’ dictum has it, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

All the wooden sheds that I really, really liked the look of were way too expensive, even if we put them up ourselves – and I am just not interested in that kind of construction any more. The inexpensive ones – Rubbermaid makes them, and I seem them all over the place – do not age very well at all. We compromised on a metal version – temporary and portable – the salesman assured us, but built to order. It was a bit more than I had thought to spend at first – but we wanted one that had the appearance of a small porch with an overhang at the front, although the porch is really more of a wide step. It has one little window, and a door, rather like a kindergarten drawing of a house … and two carpenters from the company came to install it yesterday. It had to be assembled on site, but the four walls were already pre-fabbed, so they only had to build out the foundation, slide it into the most advantageous position, put the four walls on it and nail them together, and then do the roof. It only took half a day – Blondie thought it would be more than a day, but they were quite terribly efficient.

So – the project for the holiday weekend is to fit out the inside with shelves, move everything intended to be inside it to them, paint the bare wood of the support posts and balusters to match the color of the trim (dark green) and to re-accomplish the landscaping around it so that the shed itself presents an attractive appearance. We’ve promised a couple of pictures to the company, of course. And that was my chief concern – Blondie’s is how to go about moving the Chambers stove from the back porch into the shed. I think we’ll appeal to some neighbors for help on this.

30. June 2014 · Comments Off on Blondie’s Inheritance · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic · Tags: ,

It was delivered this afternoon, by a pair of muscular and sweating young men from a local moving company. No, not what you might think and get your mind out of the gutter – the main inheritance is a relatively lightly-used and mostly complete vintage Chambers stove, which item had occupied the kitchen of Blondie’s employer and my business partner likely since it was first installed and brand-new. A Chambers stove is apparently the American equal of a British Aga – and Blondie had always admired it. Alice didn’t cook – although her second husband did – and so the stove is the next thing to mint-condition, having the accessory pots for the thermo-well and just about all the accessories save the folding cover that went down over the stove-top when not in use. It has a built-in griddle – which I also had always admired, since the house where I lived in Ogden had a stove-top griddle and I have always wanted another like it. There don’t seem to be any big chips in the exterior enamel, or degradation of the chrome fittings, although the back and sides, and the various compartments are somewhat less than pristine. I foresee a lot of elbow-grease and de-greaser in Blondie’s immediate future.

Alice had no children, you see – although she had a living younger sister, and a number of fond nieces, and grand-nieces and nephews. In recent years, since she and I went into partnership in the Tiny Publishing Bidness, Blondie was her housekeeper, main home care-giver, chief Girl Friday and errand-runner. She did Alice’s grocery shopping, took her to routine appointments, sorted out all kinds of household and computer matters. They had a very comfortable relationship; Blondie observing on more than one occasion, that Alice was the grandmother that she wished she had. Alice, knowing this, was actually pretty chuffed at the compliment… and knowing that Blondie loved the Chambers stove, said that she could have it when she was gone. Her house is being cleared out by the family; I had already gotten all of the books and records necessary to carry on the business. Her library – including a comprehensive collection of Texiana – has been sold entire to a book dealer, the sister and nieces and other family have taken the furniture and memorabilia which was to be theirs – and Blondie has the stove. The gas to Alice’s house was turned off last week. I suppose that the house will be sold soon, although it was such a strange and eccentric concoction, added onto in such weird and awkward ways, without central air and heat – without any charm to the yard and plantings, and in a slightly marginal area – that any new owner would be best advised to demolish the whole thing and start again from scratch.

And the Chambers stove has been delivered – sitting now under the overhang of our back porch. We likely will have to redesign the entire kitchen to accommodate it, as it is very definitely an odd size, and I have no idea if there is a gas line in the kitchen anyway. I would have to scoot the present electric stove away from the wall to ascertain this, and right now that seems like too darned much trouble. And locate some kind of instruction manual for it on-line. Chambers stoves seem to be very popular items among aficionados of vintage kitchen appliances. Well, now we have one.