When the rain stopped…

…Max and I emerged, like moles, blinded by the light. All was so green and bright and glorious looking– I almost made you another movie. Really it was very close.

Max in the sun

Instead I will show you this brilliant new plan I have, to dig up a bunch of the lawn.

flower bed planIt’s early afternoon, but look at those wintry shadows.

Anyway, you can see how I have used my flower-bed-definition system, or sticks, to kind of map out the shape of this giant new planting.  Also, the first residents, pots of propagated stuff (viburnum and nandina), are perched in places like part of an undisciplined game of lawn-checkers.

I’m going to go for easy on this project, just excavating the perimeter and then putting down the massive collection of flattened cardboard I have been hoarding all summer, together with some layers of compost and leaves, very exciting and I hope it doesn’t kill the trees. Also this new bed is situated partly under the clothesline area so next summer I may regret the whole enterprise– but really next summer is far away.

cyclamenLike the cyclamen, the perennial fuchsias are utterly pleased with the rain, and flowery. A pale pink one is what I see from my kitchen window, grown rather lank and unruly in the summer but still covered with bloom. Almost daily my pet hummingbird Francine comes by to sip at the flowers– like in the image below, taken through the window this afternoon.

Francine in the pink fuchsiaThese plants are easily started from cuttings, and I’m thinking of propagating a few for next year, as a surprise for Francine when she gets back from her winter travels.

Francine hoversToday she said to tell you hello.

In other news, there is a kitchen remodel underway.

You may recall my vow to not paint things but I found a loophole in that and it has to do with whether the things are inside or outside, and so I painted the kitchen ceiling three times. Then I wallpapered maybe two thirds of the room.

A couple things about wallpapering a kitchen. First, no one is doing that any more. And I doubt I would be doing it either except my house is old and the walls are made of wide rough boards. They were white-washed once but aren’t surfaced to paint so it’s mandatory wallpaper. Also you have to tack up cotton fabric first, between the boards and the paper, or else the paper rips.  (I’ve done the whole house this way so I’m used to it and only occasionally sink a tack into my hand.)

Anyway the next image shows you the paper, called Aurora, which I recognize is a peculiar pattern but one I quite like. It’s a reproduction of a ca 1870 design uncovered during restoration of an Aurora, Oregon log house, except the background is sky blue (the original was tan). I really like it because it’s historic and also because it’s like a perpetual blue sky, very cheerful in this rainy place.

Also the design, with its vines and flowers and birds, allows me to say, “I put a bird on it.”

Aurora Colony reproduction wallpaper

That I have not wallpapered the remaining one-third of the kitchen is not my fault but rather has to do with Other Things which must be Done First. The First Thing that must be Done most First is to to determine if it is possible to make functional a circa 1926 Hotpoint electric stove –or electric cooker for those of you who say that. Use of this stove dictates the rest of the kitchen layout. (You can see the not-yet-papered board walls in this image of the stove taken during the Ceiling Painting Phase.)

Old Hotpoint electric stove 1926By now you are thinking OMG she is nuttier than I thought– but in response to that I will simply say that not everyone can evaluate sanity by just reading blog posts so don’t be so hard on yourself sweetie. In addition I will tell you a secret: there is a huge movement toward restoration and use of antique appliances, especially those made before about 1950. It’s part of the preservation of many early and mid-20th-century houses and also because the older stoves and refrigerators are made to last forever and in many cases work better and use less energy than new ones. Also they are way cuter and more fun. (My house is 19th century but I refuse to cook everything with a woodstove so I’m fudging.)

Anyway I love this old range and I was excited to start rewiring and reinsulating and to get a nice pot of soup going. So we tore it apart.

stove in bitsAnd now I spend all my indoor time polishing enameled pieces of metal and looking online for parts and wire and new insulation and also advice. (If you know how to remove the cover from the external oven thermostat please let me know right away.)

But the stove skeleton looks nice with the wallpaper don’t you think?

I’m going back outside now before I start to talk about the clothes-washing machine that I took apart because the guy on YouTube made it look so easy and how I ordered a pump for it but the problem turned out to be the door switch which the diagnostic website had said was possible but SO unlikely and which Mr O fixed in about seven seconds. (Boy am I glad to have him working on the damn stove.)

Really this whole appliance repair thing does not come easily to me and the sun is shining and I completely need to get out in the garden and therefore today I am of the opinion that the clothesline is just going to have to find a new tree next summer.


About linniew

Unpublished novelist seeks therapy in gardening. Westie assists.
This entry was posted in actual plants, birds, Max the Westie, my 19th century house, weather and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to When the rain stopped…

  1. Looks like a cool project Linnie! The stove looks very much like industrial flat grills I have seen inside. I think my grandmother had one which looked just like this but burned wood! If you are really having a hard time looking for parts I would check commercial and restaurant supply. As for that cover is there a set screw you can loosen and remove a knob or whatever? If there is it is probably on the back side where you might not be able to see it? There’s always the chance one of your fans actually has one they use.

    Max looks very stern! I take it he does not care for lying on the wet grass!

    So it was nandina versus viburnum? Who won the lawn checkers?

    • linniew says:

      Rachelle! It is very nice to hear from you–I have been off-blog for ages. I think it’s true that these stoves aren’t many steps away from a woodstove, just as the first automobiles were a lot like the horse-drawn vehicles. We have combed the thermostat cover for ways in. There are two screws (removed already) on the top wide surface, and a couple of non-removable pins on the edge. I spoke with a woman who remembered taking the cover off the one on her old stove but it was some years ago and she couldn’t recall how. This thermostat has a ceramic cylinder part that goes through the stove wall and the oven wall and pokes into the oven. I’m starting to think of it as Rubik’s thermostat.

      The nandina outnumbered the viburnum but the viburnum cheated and won.

  2. kininvie says:

    As you say: “OMG she is nuttier than I thought.” I mean, you can go out and buy a cooker that WORKS and maybe has a touch screen and hallogen thingies and a ceramic surface and easi-cook buttons and stuff you can show off to envious visitors, instead of having to say please can you help me with this thermostat designed in 1950 because it’s so cute, but it doesn’t work. I despair sometimes….there’s retro-chic, and there’s bonkers (but I like the wallpaper). And also, although you may not have noticed, there appears to be a hole in the floor beneath the cooker. This is not wise. I fear for you sometimes, Linnie, I really do.

    • linniew says:

      Hi Kininvie
      Yes indeed I was thinking of you with the OMG remark. But, a hole in the floor? Well let’s see… In the first image the stove/cooker is on a dolly, so I could move it and access the ceiling painting. So what you see below it is the dolly. God I suppose you call them something else… Anyway a thing with four wheels and a frame for rolling furniture around. In the second picture the dismantled stove is in its destined location, and beneath you MIGHT be able to see a cast iron floor vent where heat comes to the kitchen from the furnace.

      But you read too quickly again Kininvie because you think my stove is 1950 but it is 1926 and you must get the date right in order to savor the magnificent depth of my nuttiness–rather like peanut brittle candy. But then too even I know that hallogen ‘thingies’ are called light bulbs.

      How’s the chicken sexing coming along?

  3. How funny, Linnie. You must have been commenting on my blog while I was reading yours. I’ve been in a short story binge and Carver is only one so may writers that I adore at the moment. Lorrie Moore is another and I can’t help but think that you’d love her.

    You are another writer whose words I relish. I almost emailed you to beg another post out of you. I checked several times to see if you’d poke your head up. It’s always good to hear from you and Max and Francine.

    Your wallpaper is lovely and the stove – well, that just looks like a big project.
    Good Luck!

    • linniew says:

      Oh Roberta, our psychic streams cross, clearly. Once I ordered a Carver book from Powell’s, Fires I think, and they offered me an autographed copy which I took. I cherish it. Don’t know Lorrie Moore but I will check on her. I’m still reading John Crowley who is some kind of mix of history genius and magic and poetry, extraordinary. I read and reread his books. Lovely to hear from you– I think of you often.

  4. Grace says:

    Don’t listen to him, Linnie. I for one adore that cooker! The new ones just don’t have the same charm, Kininvie, don’t you understand? Old is the new new! It’s all about vintage. The stories that cooker could tell…

    The wood in your house is beautiful, Linnie. And I’m very excited to see your new garden bed take shape. I bet Max and Francine are too. And her cousins are still busy fighting over my fuchsias. I’m hoping for some decent weather this weekend so I can do some gardening. Enjoy your many projects.

    • linniew says:

      Well here is my top secret interpretation of Kininvie: he loves the cooker. Just guessing but I do know he likes to be in charge of red flags to bulls. And he is a closet romantic. [Go ahead and smack me back Kininvie!!]

      I’m so glad the hummers are still dancing in your fuchsias Gracie. Aren’t they amazing? I hope you get to garden this weekend. Being semi unemployed I hope to get outside tomorrow which is great until you want to buy a new kitchen sink. (You would not believe the cost of a sink!)

      xo L

  5. Susan says:

    I saw wallpaper applied over fabric in a log house in Vernon BC. Done in the 1880s by a city girl brought out west by a rancher. Nine children in 16 years, nothing to look at but cattle and still she had the spirit to stick up that wallpaper. Perhaps you are a descendant?

    • linniew says:

      So far as I know there were no Canadians in my family tree, but throngs of other hard-working people, farmers and gardeners and small businesses. And sometimes lots of children but that was long ago wasn’t it? Mine is a romance of history– I’m afraid I love the old house with all its idiosyncrasies and demands, and I have found that the more I am true to its character and original design the more wonderful it is to live within.

  6. Greggo says:

    I have an old porcelain monkey wards coal stove if your interested.

  7. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Your stove is some kind of gorgeous! I live in an old house too and am looking forward to someday un remuddling the kitchen. One of my neighbors has a stove similar to yours that she found already restored and it looks perfect in her old house! I’m impressed that you’re doing the restoration of the appliance yourselves, I’d end up burning both the soup and the house. All the planting space you’ll get with your new bed is exciting! Wallpaper – beautiful. When you run out of projects, you can come to my house!

    • linniew says:

      Kind sweet crazy Peter! I should have guessed you were one of those Old House People. Sad. But isn’t it rather fun? As to the stove restoration, we have reached a new low, with stove parts strewn through three rooms and no way to dislodge the thermostat. Still, as my dear dying mother said, “I think everything will be all right.” I quote her a LOT. She was seldom wrong. xo L

  8. bridget says:

    Love that stove! Well worth restoring…if possible. We have an old American fridge which I love. It’s also a Hotpoint…manufactured in 1957…still going strong and so much roomier than modern fridges. Max is looking so sweet in that pic!

    • linniew says:

      Hi Bridget
      Yes the old appliances were made artfully, and by hand. The refrigerators seem to be especially immortal–glad you have one. I would like to have an ancient one of those one day too! This stove project is only difficult because the parts– switches mainly– are not easily replaced. I want to keep the old external knobs and they aren’t easily combined with new switches. We have, however, crossed the Rubicon of stove restoration (it’s in too many pieces now to sell) and will forge on, for better or worse! I’ll let you know the outcome…

  9. Katie says:

    Hi Linnie!
    I love the nostalgic wallpaper and crusty old appliances! Once you get them all fixed up I can see you gliding around your kitchen in a sensible frock, cooking a hearty meal for the menfolk. Hmmm… or would you be more likely to be a flapper? Don’t you think a lot of the people who garden wish for the simpler times of the past?

    • linniew says:

      Gosh Katie, no one has ever accused me of being in any way sensible before–makes me think you are a little bit crazy too, which is probably what I like about you…

      There is romance to the past, and to gardens. Maybe not for everyone but for many. I can testify that living in my old house is certainly not always simpler–every now and then I imagine a nice shiny condo.

  10. Alistair says:

    Naw, you’re not nutty Linnie, just a retro girl like my daughter. Every time I see the word Aurora I do a double take to see if its someone talking of HMS Aurora which my father served on during the war, well not exactly many people left who would have shared those days.

    • linniew says:

      Thanks for your confidence in my rationality Alistair, very encouraging. The stove project continues at blindingly glacial speed, but does progress. I have a 2-year-old grandchild named Aurora. She has a mighty spirit–tough like your dad’s ship, I expect. I hope your move to England is going smoothly. I think of how it must be for you and wish you so well!

  11. I love your cyclamens and the stove is amazing…sanity is overrated. Life is to be lived.

  12. Susan says:

    Dropping by to say Hi. I hope all is well. Sue

  13. Has anyone heard from Miss Linnie? Hellloooo out there!!!

  14. I am also wondering about you, Linnie, since I so enjoy your humor writing, your fabulous greenhouse and your Westie. Hope all is well. Just want you to know there are others in blogland that think about you. Maybe you be well and happy whatever you are doing!

  15. kininvie says:

    You may all have noticed that Linnie and I eloped for six months. This, of course explains our absence from the world of garden bloggers. Well, I’ve returned – I’m not sure where Linnie is, frankly. I just hope her cooker’s working, wherever she is.

    (If that comment doesn’t draw her back into action, a subsequent one with precise details of how we eloped, where, when and what happened next, surely will)


    • linniew says:

      What? A threat? This from the man who recoiled in horror at my innocent attic room scene… Such bravado. But of course it is delightful to hear from you and to see you indeed blogging again over at your place. I actually wrote a post after Christmas but I never clicked the publish click. Stuff happened. I don’t know, just stuff. Totaled the car. Got sick. An (elderly) death in the family. (None of those things are related.) You know how it goes. Will I resume this blog? Sure. Maybe. I don’t know. Thinking about it, as I’ve done for a while. But I must say it seems a little careless of you to have lost track of me on the wedding trip. And my cooker is working fine.

  16. kininvie says:

    Oh God, not ANOTHER auto wreck! Remind me never to climb in the same car with you (luckily it was all horse-drawn carriages and samba bands during our brief elopement)

    • kininvie says:

      PS You will be pleased to know that your pan-internet female intuition was correct, and that even now, Fluffly is the proud mother of three chicks….watch this space (or rather, watch my space)

      • linniew says:

        You make rash assumptions– I was not the person who crashed the car. But the horse-drawn etc sounds wonderful; I can’t wait to hear the rest about my trip. Funny I don’t remember but I suppose that has to do with your boxes of champagne. As to Fluffy I warned you about her and you certainly should have been more protective. Now look what she’s gone and done.

        • kininvie says:

          You mean you’ve forgotten the incident with the chiffon gown and the evening when the phosphorescence lit up our faces as we leant on the stern rail? I see I must ration the champagne in future.

          • linniew says:

            Well Kininvie in my experience chiffon gowns are definitely trouble so maybe don’t post the “incident” okay?

            But are you stealing stern rail scenes out of The Titanic? (We may yet need to resume our novel if it’s come to that.) Still I guess we didn’t drown. In any case I think I should test the champagne again before you get all management about it–when will my case of bottles arrive?

  17. Susan says:

    Oh hooray, Spring is here and Linnie has spoken.

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