The Cottage: Day 3

Beginning the second story

So this is how it looked at the end of the day yesterday…from the outside. The casual observer might think “one wall in an entire day?” but there is nothing casual about this crew. The supports for the floor were painted. Next up, let’s take a trip inside!

Bathroom and stairs!

It took most of the day to get the support beams up for the second story, and the floor laid–after they put in the wall and the stairs. The bathroom will go in the space under the second story and stairs.

My best guess based on how quickly they got the first floor walls up is that they will get the remainder of the second floor walls up, and the roof framing today. Normally, they return to Illinois on Fridays, and return to the work site Mondays. Yep, the crew is based in Illinois. I said that was a pretty long weekly commute, but we sure appreciated that they did it. They start at 7 every morning and work until 6 or so, depending on the light conditions. Once they finish, the electrical and plumbing will be completed, by the same contractor who did the foundation work–another crew we appreciated and look forward to an ongoing relationship with until we get the house issues all corrected.

It was a productive day for me as well, restoring items to the kitchen and continuing the unpacking process, so we did take-out last night. We are a little tired of our usual stand-bys, and while looking at options, I spied a restaurant name I did not recognize: Tarasque Cucina. One glance at the website and menu, and I said “that’s what I want!” Chef John Martin Stokes, native Oxonian, “is classically trained in both French and Italian styles. Stokes is influenced by Old World cooking, Southern classics, and the idea that the best way to get to know someone is to break bread with them.” He and his wife live in Water Valley, are renovating an 1840 home, and have a dog named Scufflegrit. How could I not love these folks?

Pappardelle Bolognese for Rand and Capellini Puttanesca for me. It was love at first bite! They will be #1 on my list for a while.

Posted in Cottage Construction, Food and Wine, Kitchen Remodel, Mississippi, Oxford | Tagged , | 5 Comments

The Cottage: Day 1 and 2

Monday and Tuesday began the dismantling of the cottage on the Home Depot lot, and Wednesday was completing the dismantling and transporting it to the site. Finishing the dismantle and transporting took all of Wednesday, and then the rainstorm halted work briefly. They began construction late Wednesday afternoon.

By the time they left as it was nearing dark, the first floor shell was up. Currently, they have put in the floor for the second story, the stairs and interior wall. I know that because the lead carpenter is walking around on the floor of the second story, unless he is able to levitate and hover like Superman.

Dinner was spicy New Orleans red beans, rice, and sausage paired with a Spanish garnacha I have fallen in love with, following by a movie, and Randy and I loading the new dishwasher. It was an exciting day–mainly because he surprised me by helping in the kitchen!

Posted in Food and Wine, Mississippi | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Warnagala Wild Sri Lankan tea

Warnagala Wild

I got an email last week from Rakkasan Tea Company that they had a limited amount of a wild-grown black tea from Sri Lanka. Knowing that when Rakkasan is able to obtain a superb tea (like the wonderful Black Ruby from a woman-owned estate I was able to score once), I know not to dilly dally in ordering. I ordered two, and they had sold out the entire stock shortly after mine was shipped.

This morning was a cool fall morning and just a perfect day for tea, particularly one as special as this. The tea is from an abandoned colonial tea estate founded by Scottish planters during British colonial rule. When they abandoned the estate in 1890, the tea bushes were no longer tended and grew to heights of 40 and 50 feet. Rakkasan notes the forest was “reclaimed in 2018 by a young Sri Lankan farmer.”

…leaves have a sweet aroma with earthy notes of pipe tobacco and honey, an altogether unique character infused by the nutrients absorbed from the tap root in deep layers of the unspoiled environment’s rich soil. This wild tea is produced in small batches and rolled with great care.

Warnagala Wild (Sri Lanka)

I do not know when or if Rakkasan will be able to obtain another batch of this elegant tea, but for now, I will savor it one delicious sip at a time.

Posted in Acts of Restorative Kindness, Ecosystem, Social and Economic Justice, Tea | Tagged | 10 Comments

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program for this update….

Steffi wants a selfie

You know what they say: when it rains, it pours. Just when you think it is safe to breathe a sigh of relief, Mississippi throws a curve ball…or truthfully, the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico throw multiple curve balls.

The Good News

The kitchen is done except for the counter top and the counter fabricator came yesterday to measure. The temporary counters enable my ability for a mostly functional kitchen. I am slowly moving items back in and figuring out the best use of my new space, but it is a work on progress still. I love love love the cabinets, flooring, appliances, new walls, new paint, and the simple, clean lines.

The Other Good News

The cottage construction is in progress…and that’s all I have to say about that (Forrest Gump–I know, you all know who said that, but the academic in me says give credit when it is not your words or your idea).

The Less Than Good News, But Not Bad News

You just never know what might happen in life. But it might, and then you must be prepared to breathe again, just to survive to breathe again another day. After all, this, like everything else, will pass. Things turn out, because they cannot not turn out, even if it is not turning out how we wanted.

I still feel fortunate and grateful, even though I am too tired and sore to do the happy dance. I will dance again soon. Meanwhile, I raise my glass to the working women and the men who love them–because we just don’t quit.

Posted in Country Philosophy, Ecosystem, Family, Kitchen Remodel, Mississippi | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Hope is a dog; hope is fall season; hope is a September bloom

Lycoris Radiata: Red Magic Lily, hell flower, equinox flower, Naked Lily, Resurrection Lily, hurricane lily, Red Spider Lily

This morning felt more like fall than since the season change crept in. There is something about the light in fall that always makes me think of a special filter on a lens: the air just looks different. A couple of days ago, I noted the September lilies had emerged. When I first saw the green stems at the beginning of the week, I was reminded of one of their names: hurricane lily. They emerge often after a hurricane.

Fall shadows and reflections

As I have sat outside on the porch, Beyonce and Scruffy on my lap, enjoying the coolness again, I note the leaves of the box maple beginning to carpet the ground under the tree. This morning, the sun was just rising over the tops of the pine trees across the road and the play of shadow and light was everywhere.

Posted in Acts of Restorative Kindness, Ecosystem, landscape architecture, Mississippi, Mississippi Cats, Wildflowers | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

How long did the remodel take in dog years?

“Are we there yet?”

As days go, yesterday was a trying one. You know that thing I said about ‘jinxing’ the kitchen renovation? The thing I said about it being the final day yesterday? It almost was, but there is another saying that “almost only counts in hand grenades and horse shoes.” On the last task, attaching the corner door to the Super Susan: no screws with the door. And the door requires a special kind of screw, of course.

“But I don’t want to take a nap now unless you do.”

So now…really and truly…the door is on the Super Susan, the knob is on the door, the final check has been written…and the counter man cometh. No more napping and lolly-gagging around–got to get a cottage built!

Posted in Kitchen Remodel, Mississippi | Tagged , | 4 Comments

And now, the winner for the semi-finals is….

The final day that turned out to be the semi-final…

At last, after a weekend with a range and refrigerator–one in the kitchen this time!–the sink is finally in and water back on!

Today the covers for the toe-kicks go on, the door to the Super Susan goes on, and the final knobs and handle attached. I am afraid to jinx it, but this really should be the final day, and then the counter guy comes to measure the exact dimensions for the counter tops…which will take who knows how long to be cut and installed?

Monday starts the work on erecting J’s cottage. At least this time, the workers will be outside of my kitchen and I do not have to corral dogs!

Posted in Kitchen Remodel | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Deciphering bottle marks: The Owens-Illinois water jug pitcher

1937 Owens-Illinois Glass Company 1/2 gallon pitcher jug

Back in the early 1970s, we found this half-gallon pitcher jug under the house, along with a light aqua gallon jug and a ribbed soda bottle.  I think that may have started my collecting of old bottles and jugs, and now, of course, I am figuring out what to do with them all.

The jug itself is a refrigerator jug, with a finger handle, manufactured by Owens-Illinois Glass Company in 1937 at its Alton, Illinois plant # 7.  It bears the integrated O/I in the Diamond trademark that the company adopted when the Owens Bottle Company and the Illinois Glass Company merged in 1929.  Owens-Illinois manufactured for any number of products, and several variations of this design can be found on ebay and other online websites advertising vintage or antique items. 

The Speas Vinegar Company used this design, with slight differences in the ribbed marking, in their U-Sav-It pitchers filled with apple cider vinegar, apple juice, or white vinegar for pickling.  U-Sav-It debuted in the late 40s through the 50s, as a marketing tool.

The jar was designed to accept a standard canning jar lid, presumably in the event the old lid became corroded.  The lid on this jug is circa 1942, Presto Universal Jar Closure with a glass insert and aluminum ring cap.  It took quite a bit of sleuthing to figure out it was not the lid original to the jug, and once I discovered the O/I mark, it was a bit easier thanks to a great bottle-mark website with information on all the most common glass manufacturers.  The Speas half-gallon jug had the name Speas Co. and U-Sav-It embossed on the bottle, whereas this jug is unmarked other than the O/I data. The Speas U-Sav-It jugs and bottles I have located have had the latter trademark of the I inside the O, which dated from the late 1940s forward.

This jug could have been marketed just as a refrigerator jug, or contained a food item.  It may have been an earlier version of the Speas jug.  The flat panels would have held a paper label, and the Art Deco style design was found on many bottle types during the late 1920s-1940s.  Although I am about to dispose of my fairly sizable collection of bottles, I have a couple I will keep, and this is one of them.  Think of the women who bought vinegar or apple juice and then had a handy refrigerator water bottle when they were done with the contents.  The jug would have been used again and again, and some enterprising woman replaced the lid with one that is certainly more attractive as well as the glass insert keeping the rim of the pitcher cleaner.  I just have to admire that and wonder how many fingers have been in the ear handle.

Jug Handle

And to conclude with an interesting-to-me tidbit, I learned about the New Jersey jug handle on my first visit there when my friend and I traveled to a social work meeting and stayed with her grandmom in Jersey. One turns right to turn left–a traffic maneuver that debuted in the 1930s and is safer and more efficient than turning across opposing lanes of traffic.

Posted in Vintage bottles and jars, Vintage dishes | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Getting close…I know it counts in horseshoes, but kitchens?

Temporary counter top & portable grill

Last night was a celebration of sorts…real food, not microwaved frozen food, or sandwiches, or take-out. It is rather inconvenient to not have water and sink in the kitchen, but cleaning the grill after dinner was not that difficult. It was certainly worth the effort, and my body thanked me.

Simple fare: steak and potatoes

Mississippi sweet potatoes were featured at Larson’s, and they had some small rib-eye steaks with my name on them. It was the first meal in a while that actually felt satisfying and that nourished my soul as well as my belly. It is good that a simple meal, served on a paper plate and eaten with a plastic fork can accomplish so much. The Vissani range hood got its first workout, and performed admirably–first time for cooking steak indoors with not a hint of smoke!

The appliances are on their way for delivery before noon today, and then it is just the sink and the final punch list, scheduled for Tuesday…coming soon to a kitchen near me. I might sleep in there–after all, I have been on the floor often enough these last few weeks.

Posted in Food and Wine, Kitchen Remodel, Mississippi | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Today’s post is brought to you by Rakkasan Nam Viet Earl Grey

I am still washing my tea cup and wine glass in the bathroom sink. Sigh. It is probably some kind of karmic equalizer to ensure one does not become too cocky in the grand plans of the universe. At least, it is a reminder that we often do not have control of outcomes. It is also a good reminder that when things are not to your heart’s desire, sometimes a nice cup of tea is the best option.

Things in the kitchen were scheduled for completion of all except the appliances due to their rescheduled delivery of two weeks later. And truthfully, most of it is complete…the big beautiful white fireclay farmhouse apron sink and its plumbing was to be the final wrap up…and then Rand interrupted my research to say I was needed in the kitchen. That is not a good sign when in the midst of a remodel that I thought was almost complete.

For whatever reason, there was a breakdown in communication (isn’t that always what happens when something happens?). I have been watching McLeod’s Daughters and apparently the Australians say “I stuffed up” when they make a big mistake. I rather like that explanation for an error. So while we do not know, nor perhaps, does it matter, someone stuffed up. The sink was too deep, too large across the front, and too heavy to be safely installed per our contractor. Given the incredible job they have done thus far, I was certainly not inclined to challenge him. We already knew it had to have a particular type of mounting support, which was ready for installation. We had no idea until the sink was unboxed that the ways the doors had been built on the sink base cabinet, if we proceeded, the sink would rest on top of the doors, which would render the storage space under the sink useless, not to mention possibly problematic. Yes, had that been clearer at the outset, the doors could have been reduced slightly so there was still frontal support for the bottom of the apron….but “if” right?

The contractor ran through all the options he had considered to still mount the sink, and we all concluded the best thing to do was get another sink. I spent the rest of that day and the next looking at apron front sinks…which we were still locked into, because the sink cabinet had been cut for one. I certainly did not want to wait another 3 months for a new one to be constructed and to have water in the kitchen. The replacement is scheduled for delivery August 1…maybe. Anyone who is buying anything these days knows the shelves are bare in all kinds of stores again. Another sigh.

Yesterday, I vacuumed all the sawdust, sheetrock dust, and bits of debris from all the cabinets and floors, and cleaned all the bits of paint and sheetrock spackle from the floor. Although I had attempted at the end of every work day to wash off any that had eluded the drop cloth, with all the equipment, bags, tools, etc., in there being moved here and there as work proceeded, there was work to be done. It necessitated being down on the floor with a sponge, because the floor has a texture to it. And there I was, lying on my side, scrubbing when Rand got back from returning the sink. Shelves are in, and today starts the moving things back to the kitchen process. As soon as the sink is in next week, the counter installer can come measure, and then will be the wait for the counter to be cut and shipped. We know we have to assume at least 4 weeks. Yet another sigh. However, we have temporary counters that will at least enable me to function once the sink and faucet are in on Wednesday…if it comes in on Wednesday.

On that update note, I am about to put on my work clothes and go start moving things back into the kitchen. I am fortified with my Cheerios and Earl Grey, and nothing can stop me now. This too, shall pass.

Posted in Country Philosophy, Kitchen Remodel, Mississippi, Tea | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments