Friday, May 18, 2018

Small town

Random rainbow on our street
Turns out we moved to Bedford Falls.

The more we walk around this town, the more I'm sure of it.  There was a town-wide yard sale last Saturday, and this week is the Free Fair, which is where everyone brings all the leftovers from their yard sales down to the "landing", which is more or less the town square, lays it out and everyone can pick through it and take it home.  For free.  Whatever's left gets boxed up and dropped off at either a shelter or the local thrift store, depending.

In June, there's an ice cream social in honor of the town's 125th anniversary.

Nearby park
There's a Fourth of July parade, and fireworks at the high school field.

There's a thriving farmer's market and arts scene.

There's a big sycamore tree, with its own park, that serves as the town's logo.

Santa arrives on a fire engine on the weekend after Thanksgiving, depending on fire calls.  Last year his arrival got interrupted by a call and he had to continue on later in the day..

Presbyterian church - with bells
There are also, weirdly, blue laws.  There are no liquor stores in town.  No bars.  No restaurants that serve alcohol.

It's odd, but considering one of the reasons I was tired of West Philly was because of my two competing corner bars, I can live with it.  We do most of our drinking at home these days, anyway.

Memorial at the church
Technically, Lansdowne is a suburb of Philadelphia.  It's about 5 miles from our old house, with a stop on the regional rail train, but it feels more like a small town than a suburb.  Mario grew up in the suburbs in New Jersey, and he agrees.

I never wanted to live in the burbs; I loved the idea of a small town, but as a non-driver, that didn't seem possible.  Now, here we are, in a small town in the burbs, where I can walk almost everywhere.

We did good.

My favorite house that I don't live in

Another park

Corner maple and bench

 Looking down our street



Friday, May 11, 2018

Sleep tight

When I was 18, I got my first apartment.  My great-aunt had died several months before, and her sister started breaking up her household at the same time. 

For some reason, she didn't want her sister's bedroom set, so I bought it from her for $100 (the same amount the "junk man", i.e., antiques dealer) offered her.

It has served me well since 1982.  Until . . .

Several years ago, the bed frame failed.  It was one of those traditional four piece (headboard, foot board, side rails with hooks) and the wood had split in a few places.  I glued and braced it, but it cracked somewhere else, and started making alarming noises every time we got into the bed.  Eventually, one of the posts on the headboard separated completely, and I gave up, let it go and bought a metal bed frame from Amazon for the time being.

I cannot even articulate how much I hated that metal bed frame.  It squeaked, it shifted, it rolled even with the wheels locked.  And without a headboard, I always felt like the bed was just floating in space.

But with a move coming up, I didn't want to spend money on something new, plus I didn't actually see anything I liked.

A few weeks after we moved in, we stopped into an antique/auction place near the house, and lo and behold, there was a bed frame leaning against the wall.  Mahogany.  Carved.  Heavy.  Old.  All good things.

We bought it for less than we would have paid for a new one, picked up pine boards for slats at Home Depot, and the other day, we finally got it assembled.  Not only that, but a young neighbor getting her first apartment is taking the metal frame off our hands, so it was a zero-waste replacement.

It feels like a bedroom now.  The art is the right height, and if I want to read in bed (once I find shades for the bedside lamps that aren't out yet), I have something to lean against.

Also, you'll note, I finally got curtains up in the bedroom.  These were in my workroom at the old house, but fit and look perfect here.  I love how little new stuff I've had to buy to make this place a home.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Starting over

One of the very few things I knew I would miss from our West Philly house was the blueberry bushes in the back yard.  We'd purchased them about 7 years ago as 3 year old plants, and they had fruited year after year, last year giving us more than we could manage to eat.  (Don't worry, I froze the excess).

But when I tried to dig them up, I realized just how deeply embedded they were.  Some of the roots I uncovered were the thickness of my fingers, and I knew that if I managed to excavate them, there was a very good chance they wouldn't make it.

I reached out to the woman who bought my house, through her realtor, and asked if she liked blueberries.  She did, and her kids even more so. 

So that was okay, at least they would be appreciated and I wouldn't walk past the house and see them sitting at the curb on trash day.  If she'd said no, I'd have risked taking them out.

On Sunday, we combined a visit to Mario's family with a visit to a related blueberry farm in Hammonton, NJ, where we used our combined birthday money to buy three fully-mature bushes.  These will bear heavily this year, but since they were grown for transplanting, they didn't have the ginormous root issues of our old bushes.


I had removed a nice stretch of grass from the back yard along the fence with our neighbor, and they went in there, flanked on either end by Chinese ceramic statues that my mom painted before I was born.  I've had them for years, and I'm somewhat attached to them, but not enough to have them indoors.  As garden guardians, they work just fine.

On the other side of the garden, along our garage, I peeled off another strip of sod and put in four tomato plants and two peppers, and a row of string bean seeds that can climb up the garage trellis.


I still want to rip up some more grass and put in my cold frame to late-plant some more peppers.  I have a pack of Padron pepper seeds that need to get in the ground - they were my favorite tapas when we went to Barcelona a few years ago and I try to plant some every year.

BONUS PIC: my new tchotchke garden, so-christened by my neighbor Grace.  I pulled out a bit of the ivy that had been there, discovered a buried outdoor faucet, and then just kept pulling.  The large space by the pole is intended for a Gertrude Jekyll rose, whenever David Austin gets it together to deliver it, and though they are barely visible in the photo, there are 4 lavender plants, a rosemary, and the dried-out tulips and hyacinths transplanted from the back yard.

The tchotchke portion: a large pale blue Chinese fish (sitting on the stump of a long-gone azalea), 2 ceramic cats and a silver metal horse, all flea market finds that didn't make the cut to get in the house.  It'll look better once the plants fill out.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Mother's Day

A week ago, I received an order for a baby blanket bear.  I responded with the usual email, thanking them for their order and providing my mailing address so the blanket could be shipped.

The customer responded, and asked if I could possibly have the bear ready by Mothers Day.  It's for his wife - they lost their little boy at birth in February, and he wanted to give her a bear made from the blanket wrapped around little Archer during his brief time with them.

If Mother's Day had been the next day, I would have said yes.

One of the thing I love about custom work is hearing the stories of the people who wore the clothes, or about the loved baby (now toddler or grade-schooler) who used the blanket.  But a baby who only lived for a day?  I shed more than a few tears while making this little guy, and I hope that he brings some healing to the parents. 

I can't even imagine a situation like that, and I give major props to the dad for knowing that this would have meaning for his wife.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Looks like home

The house has felt like home since the first night. But finally, this week, it's starting to look like home - from the outside.

Despite the fact that it's mid April, the temperatures have felt more like early March. There have been a few false starts to spring, and one day of full-on summer on Saturday, which is when I got most of the planters for the front patio potted up and in place. It's raining again today, and chilly, but I did two more pots and got them out front so they could get nicely watered in.

Things to do: get an outdoor faucet installed.  The lack of one might explain the ratty condition of the lawn, which won't be around much longer. At some point, I'm going to install a rain barrel, but right now I would like to actually be able to turn on a faucet and have water come out.

In old house news, it went on the market two weeks ago and I got several offers. I picked one, she had the house inspected and found no major monsters in the basement, so it looks like things are moving forward and soon I will only have one house on my plate. That will feel good.

Friday, April 6, 2018

End of an era

The house went up on the MLS yesterday, and the sign went up this morning.

It's still mine, but it no longer feels like mine.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Space

Bedroom. The floors never looked that good.
The emptying of the old house is somehow still going on.

My advice to you: declutter now, so you don't have to do it later.

I actually admitted defeat and hired my local thrift store to come in and empty the attic and basement. Whatever they couldn't use, they would take to the dump.

Living room. So much brighter without
curtains. Shame there are neighbors
4 feet away.
I assumed, wrongly, that all the contents of my house were of such high quality that they would dispose of very little.  And then I saw the dump receipt.

They removed a TON of stuff. Literally a ton.

I'm dizzy at the idea, even knowing that about 200 lbs. of it was my big wooden conference table that I used in the workroom.  (They said it had limited resale because of its ginormous size, and also they didn't have a place to store it).

Even then, I had to get a scrap metal guy to come in and remove the old dryer, 50 year old hot water heater, and an old oil tank.  The last 2 had been in the basement when I bought the house,but as my realtor just told me,"It's not 2000 anymore; standards are higher."

Which means, apparently, a clean basement. And attic. And floors. And rooms that no longer even faintly smell of cat.  I found a cleaning product at the dollar store that did everything. It's recommended for use in "public bathrooms and animal quarters," so I figured it would shine floors and alleviate minor cat funk in a few corners.

It certainly did that. The smell of the cleaning product was so strong it clung to my clothes, and the house smelled like a roofing truck drove into a bar.  The smell faded after a few days. Thankfully.

Kitchen.  It hurts to leave those
cabinets behind. But they're so
perfect in that space.
Every time we go back, I think we're done. And every time we leave, we say, "Just one more day should do it."

This time, I think we're right.


Workroom. The table took up
almost the entire space.
*** In case anyone wants to look up the cat-odor-defeating product, it's called Creolina.  Here's a link, but there's a good chance you can find it locally.  Try your nearest dollar store and work out from there.