Almost Easter

I was hoping to gloat over my assured triumph in the Grand Tomato-Off, but, you’ll see, that may not be so certain. So let’s do something else. Here is a peek at my heroic efforts to shore up the locked-down economy. Heroic, I say. It turns out that avoiding Amazon turns up some interesting alternatives.

And, well, then there is the tomato thing. Julien did the paperwork necessary to get blanket permission to work. Yesterday he brought over tomato plants started by a teacher at his kids’ school. This is the good one. The others may be goners. The plants he is starting for me might arrive next week. So I’m thinking hmm, it’s April. I still have time. Maybe. As Lance Armstrong used to say, it’s where you finish that counts. A little performance-enhancing fertilizer might just do the trick.

Tidying Auntie’s Things

The aunt of a friend died a while ago. Three decades ago, at least, so definitely a while. Relatives squabbled over whatever she left; think in terms of the scenes at Scrooge’s deathbed. What they didn’t take went into storage. Then into my garage. Now it is in the house, all of it.

This is the last of the fabric, waiting to have the yellowing and mustiness washed out of it. I looked at those boxes and figured, okay, I’m home for weeks. This stuff is in the way of my MPII project. Who knows, there might be something nice in there. Why not get it out of the garage? Now I have an answer.

This is why not. I don’t know what to do with all this. There are tablecloths with matching napkins, old lace, linen sheets, Auntie’s undies, unused bolt ends of fabric with the price tags still affixed — 2 francs per meter. Each item is actually quite nice, but there is so much of it. Every piece needs to have the mildew washed out and most should really be ironed.

I was delighted to pull out the first cotton nightgown. Now I have at least half a dozen and I’m thinking they are a little plain. Maybe some embroidery?

I know silk can be washed, but I’m not feeling that brave right now. Do I even feel brave enough to sew it? Maybe not. France is the land of good seamstresses. Maybe I should hand this to the experts.

After all, I have plenty of work right in front of me.

Another Money Pit Moment

So, when I bought the house, they basically threw in an acre of land and two barns, more or less the way nice bars give you snacks with your drinks. Those barns have been talking to me.

The other one will be the biggest two-car garage ever, that plus housing for four pairs of barn owls, should they ever choose to move in; I think last summer they nested in some loose hay on a mezzanine. It’s a big open space where there used to be a porcherie. It could be a terrific pop-up concert hall, gallery or cafe. It’s nice looking and has doors on its public side, so no need to invade my space or irritate the owls. Right now I’m happy that I can leave it the way it is.

This one is getting my attention. This one is shaping up to be Money Pit II, MPI being my happy home, of course.

Let’s start here, in the room above, the one with the oven. To save money, maybe, when they reroofed the barn, previous owners decided to destroy the chimney — not completely, just at the level of the roof. So if you light a fire, you’ll die of smoke inhalation. Plus, let’s face it, the whole installation needs help.

This little project went on the back burner and this room became storage. And then. I sold the rental house. The bar snack there was half an acre of land and all the furniture. The land can stay, but the furniture has to go.

I’m doing pretty well. I got it down to the dining room table and sideboard, which are too nice for the BonCoin bottom feeders, who are cheaper even than their Craigslist equivalents, but maybe not nice enough for a local auction house. In addition, I found a good guy to rebuild the chimneys on MPI, they having suffered years of brutal bullying by the ravens. Seriously, at this point those chimneys are swaying in the wind.

So, to avoid the pain of selling some decent furniture for almost nothing, and because the right contractor — maybe — will be on site anyway, the storage barn will soon be transformed into MPII. I’ve been running the numbers, so I know. Wiring, plumbing, refurbished chimney and um, did you notice that the floor is half dirt? Well, I found these gorgeous glazed terracotta tiles and the factory is less than an hour away! Don’t think about the price. You’ll just get depressed. And what could be nicer than a sweet little summer kitchen with a way cool pizza oven? Seriously, what?