French Farmhouse Project Report for 1/12/20

architecture clouds daylight driveway
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Well, this last week was not as French as I had hoped would be. We no sooner resolved the issue with my computer when my car hesitated and stalled on acceleration, plus it was making a weird rattling noise.  The dealer, the import mechanic here in town, and Google are at odds with each other regarding the issue. Whatever is going on involves the bearings, but the dispute was over which set and the cause of the hesitating.

In related news, the hunt for the best Prius at the best price is under way.

On the French living front, I made a very French dinner last week: blanquette de poulet with roasted potatoes. It provided an antidote to the car-related chaos as well as the cold weather. The recipe for the blanquette is Mimi Thorisson’s from her book A Kitchen in France. The potatoes are in the book, but not on the website for some reason.

While it is technically a recipe for blanquette de veau, we just aren’t into veal around here. I used chicken legs (remove the skin or it will make a greasy mess). This would probably work well with turkey, too.

Yes, it is rich (I used sour cream, not creme fraiche, and it worked perfectly well). Yes, it is time consuming. Yes, there are a lot of ingredients. But it provided a counterbalance to the stress of the day. And it made the house smell great.

Hubby commented that he felt like he was eating in a high end French restaurant. Not long after that, he dozed off in his chair.

I smiled, knowing my job for the day was done.

In Praise of Normal Days

a brown barn close to the river under cloudy skies and snow covered grounds in winter
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Forgive my unintended sabbatical, Gentle Readers. Hubby, Oakley, and I have been enjoying an extended stretch of normal days. You know the kind, the ones that unfold according to routine where you get up, do your work, walk Oakley, watch maybe a bit too much TV (such as impeachment hearings), perhaps lunch with a friend.

The good kind of normal, like really high end vanilla ice cream, the slightly off white with the seeds speckling it. On its own, it’s great, but it’s able to provide a backdrop for hot fudge or strawberries if those are available as well as supporting a swirl of whipped cream.

We give thanks for the basics right now be they vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry.  We have the pantry stocked for the winter with human and canine food. No outstanding bills loom over us; no human or canine health crises or passages to the great beyond disturb our peace. The vehicles declared their suicide pact null and void. None of them have acted up since my VW’s last trip to the dealer’s just after Labor Day.

Outdoors, the garden was prepped for next spring with layers of cardboard and mulch. One of my friends who is an experienced, wise gardener suggested that as a last ditch effort to rid the bed of the rogue mesclun mix and seeds in the compost that hadn’t cooked properly. Just poke holes with a spade, add the plants, and voila, instant garden this May.

Indoors, I’ve been decluttering. How two people and a total of two dogs can crap up a house like this is beyond me. Not purging the knickknacks and books so much as the piles of junk like boxes that we didn’t know what to do with, so we put them in the dining room until we could figure out the best course of action. Then they decided to use it as a breeding ground. I passed those on to a couple of friends who have an Etsy shop. Or the bags of hoarded inanities and old clothes that I piled into my car for their ride  to a donation center. I was a little surprised that I didn’t get a flyer with information about opening my own Goodwill franchise.

We have opened some space. What it will be filled with remains to be seen, but we welcome the good and normal.

 

 

The Automotive Report for 9/16/19

blue sedan
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We started shopping for a new car Labor Day weekend. We have our eye on a sea glass pearl (light teal) Prius with all wheel drive. I didn’t go for a test drive, but I did sit in one, and it felt as if she was giving me a little hug.

We are overdue for one, and wanted to make an informed, rational decision unlike other car purchases we’ve made in the past. Like when my Chevette dropped pieces of the engine while I was driving. Or when the Pulsar’s timing belt broke, again while I was driving. Or mice eating the Thunderbird’s electrical system. There was the day when I closed the door on the Sentra and a chunk the size of my hand sheared off and turned to dust when it hit the ground. And who can forget the front end of the Crown Vic getting obliterated by the deer who ran in front of it, the turned around and ran in front of it again?

Between the two of us, we have three old vehicles. Just old. Not at an age where they could be considered vintage. Just…old.

However, they are paid for.  Neither of us like going into debt, so we pay cash when we can. That’s why we own a ’95 Corolla that  Hubby inherited from his mother. It could likely survive an episode of “Game of Thrones.”

A ’93 Ford F-150 that Hubby uses for hauling wood and other materials. It has the most comfortable seats and a ride better than some luxury cars I’ve been in.

And an ’03 GTI, my primary vehicle.  With a “T” as in “turbo.”  As in I wonder if energy streams come out of the back end as they do from the Enterprise in the opening credits of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” when I hit the gas.  The sound system still works. She handles well in adverse weather, so I can ask for little else.

Old they may be, however, they’re all paid for, so that’s a plus.

This month the three of them formulated and tried to follow through on what looked like a suicide pact.

The F-150 started it. While Hubby drove home, the brake lines went out on him. He arrived safely by some act of grace. The dealer managed to get the parts, get it fixed, and retuned it to the road.

That being done, attention turned to the power steering on the Corolla. Just needed a little fluid and a bit of adjusting. She came back to her usual self for a few days until her brakes and fuel lines started acting up. Hubby took her to several repair shops, but no one was willing to touch it. He decided to do it himself. Right now, she’s in several pieces in the garage.

Then the GTI’s electrical system decided to flake out. First, the gas gauge thought it would be funny to bottom out at random, even just after I’d filled up. One trip to the dealer about an hour away.

Next, she began being balky about starting and stalled as I turned into the driveway. They replaced three electrical relays. OK. All is good. She took us to and from the last Ren Faire of the season without issue, a 180-mile round trip.

And then the next day, she started acting up again. And stalled on me in traffic. With a semi coming down the road behind me. Thanks be to whatever benevolent forces which started the car and saw me home that day. Hubby took it in; they replaced an engine speed sensor. She’s been fine since then.

For how long, we don’t know. But we do know what we want, and won’t need to scramble to figure out our next vehicle.

 

Oh, Hi There….

Here I am. I missed you, too.

Since the last missive, colorful and interesting opportunities for personal growth took over the days.  I just haven’t been able to write anything coherent here in WordPress Land. However, this wave of experiences abates, and I hope to hang out on a regular schedule again.

It’s been mostly good happening. I’ve been taking a writing and environment class at a literary center in Geneva. The teacher is passionate, enthusiastic, and better prepared than some instructors I had in academic situations. It’s a small class, only four students, and we enjoy each others’ company. I will be sad to attend the last session next week.

The draining part: we’ve been dealing with another round of automotive follies the last few days. It’s to be expected when one co-owns two vehicles produced before the millennium and one shortly after.  We may as well count them as new with all the work Hubby’s put into them. Last year was the year of his Corolla needing quite a bit of work. I can’t remember everything that needed to be done, but it was pretty extensive. Then the air conditioning crapped out on it just after Labor Day.

This year, my VW needed help. My A/C crapped out. Since heat and I don’t get along, and since Oakley is my usual passenger, we moved that up on the priority list.

And then there was the oil leak.

And the lock that didn’t respond to the remote.

And then this past weekend, the latch activating the door over the gas cap quit working. Of course I only had an eighth of a tank of gas left. The well-intentioned attendant at the gas station offered to pop it open for me with a screwdriver. Since that would lead to the need for the quarter panel getting replaced (VWs of that vintage do nothing half way), I politely declined.

Hubby figured out how to open the door manually. Open the hatchback. Pull out the panel over the gas cap from the rear. Apply pressure from the inside. Still had to do some  rearranging and moving of this bit and that part, but he was able to fill it up.

Better yet, he was able to get the gas cap door fixed and the new lock installed. Not a pretty sight to see the innards of the door stacked on the workbench in the garage, but he completed the task. No screws were left behind, either.

Somehow, literature concerning Toyota Priuses materialized in the last week. We may be materializing one in the near future.

 

 

 

An Atypical Fondness for Monday

Yeah, I kind of felt like that this weekend:

It wasn’t a bad weekend, not really, but dodging of flying objects needed to be done.

The festivities began on Thursday. For some reason during the first part of May, Oakley gets a colitis flare-up. Right on time, it arrived.  The urgent 2 AM potty run request pulled me out of a sound sleep. I called the vets’ office, explained what was going on, asked if Doc R. wanted me to bring him in or of we could just fill a prescription for antibiotic and so when could I pick it up? They called back, saying I could pick it up before closing. We quickly ran over to pick it up. I checked Oakley’s weight–he’s lost six pounds of the weight brought on by the Prednisone. We slept better that night.

On Friday, I confirmed that my nephew was in town for his birthday. Oakley and I would make the drive up to see him at his parents’. I decided to make one of my grandma’s carrot cakes to take with, not a formal birthday cake, but just a little something to contribute to whatever festivities there were. Sounds good; see you tomorrow.

Saturday began with a clogged toilet. With not a little cursing and not a few petitions to any deities concerned with plumbing, I unclogged it. With a sigh of relief, I returned to my native land of the kitchen to put the cake together.

Eggs, flour, sugar, cinnamon, carrots, baking soda, carrots, and butter were introduced to one another in the medium sized pink bowl. Oh, don’t forget the dash of salt. Just a dash. A bit of stirring, then into the 9″x13″ glass pan. Set oven to 325F. Puttered, wiped counters, wondered why the oven was taking so long to heat.

Because it wasn’t. Hubby troubleshot. The igniter went bad, most likely. He launched into a mumbled rant concerning everything breaking at once. Well, the stove is the one we’ve had since he build the house 18 years ago, and the plumbing is plumbing, and the VW is 15 years old and the lock cylinder on the driver’s side needs replacing and…

Alrighty, then. When he gets rant-y like that, nothing can be done. Just let it draw to its natural conclusion while making sympathetic noises. Scoop batter into two separate pans that can fit into the toaster oven. So it just took a little longer.

This was all before 8 AM. This was all before my second cup of tea. As I started the slide into a pool of self pity, I reminded myself that I had coped well, and should be pleased with myself for staying centered,  and for that a second cup had been earned. Especially since I make a point of not opening the wine before 4PM, antioxidants and iron aside.

After breakfast, the day leveled out, or so we thought. I loaded Oakley and the cake into the car and headed off to my brother’s and sister-in-law’s. The visit itself was pleasant, if a bit tricky. Nephew had brought his cat home. Oakley loves cats, and believes all cats, like Sonny at his day care and boarding place, want to be friends with him. I kept him on his leash since Nephew’s kitty seemed ambivalent at best. Kitty hid in Nephew’s room or under the sofa table. If I were a 10-pound cat, I would be intimidated by an 85-pound dancing, squealing, play bowing dog as well.

Due vigilance prevented any incidents. We had a good visit, and parted ways. As I drove off, I adjusted the car’s air conditioning. It hadn’t responded well on the way up, and now  the air blowing from the vents was the same temperature as the air in the car. I opened windows, stopped at a drive through for iced coffee (me) and ice water (Oakley). The high for the day topped out at 85.  I sprinkled Oakley with the water at each stoplight to cool him down. He set a personal best for number of stink eyes shot in my direction in an hour.

Hubby was cleaning the garage when we pulled up. The sorting, stacking, and sweeping had proven therapeutic for him. When I let him know about the A/C, he shrugged. “Well, it is 15 years old,” he observed.

I concurred. Not much else to do, especially since I had neglected to grab a bottle of rose or Shiraz. We watched a goofy sci-fi movie on TV followed by an international mystery, then went to sleep.

Sunday began with a bit of rain. It cleared in time for us to walk with friends. The chaos dissipated, and the day unfolded in a most pleasant manner.

Still, it was good to start a fresh week this morning.