June 30, 2012

It Was A Dark & Stormy Night

Although I’d rather it have been a Dark N Stormy cocktail, for all of the damage it did. We were hit on Friday night by a storm system called a derecho. Here’s the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s explanation:

A derecho (pronounced similar to "deh-REY-cho" in English)  is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. Although a derecho can produce destruction similar to that of tornadoes, the damage typically is directed in one direction along a relatively straight swath. As a result, the term "straight-line wind damage" sometimes is used to describe derecho damage. By definition, if the wind damage swath extends more than 240 miles (about 400 kilometers) and includes wind gusts of at least 58 mph (93 km/h) or greater along most of its length, then the event may be classified as a derecho.

I had been listening to the radio, and while they said there were storms in the area, imagethey were significantly to the west of us, so I didn’t worry. But at about 11:00 p.m. I felt the wind slam into my house. For the next hour, we were battered by wind, rain, thunder and lightning. My power flickered on and off, but stayed on for the duration.

More than 3 million other households, including my mother and my sisters, were not so lucky. As I drove around, I saw orange power cords criss-crossing streets.

Traffic lights at major intersections were out, and limbs were hanging from power lines. The area where I live is filled with 50 to 100-year old trees, and many of them went down in the winds that topped 60 mph. Streets were blocked with fallen treeseverywhere I turned.My poor sister, Bird, who has just finished the kitchen renovation from hell (Thanks to IKEA and their horrible, horrible customer service and even worse sub-contractors!), about three weeks ago, was standing in said kitchen when a branch came hurling through the roof. It struck her, but the force was blunted by the ceiling beams, thank God! To add insult to injury, on the other side of the house, her car, which she’d just paid off, was under a fallen tree. Luckily, Bird is okay, but she has a hole in her roof, with more storms on the way.

I saw some houses which had been hit, although the most of the damage to this one seems not to have been repaired from Hurricane Irene last fall. Such a shame. It’s a gorgeous house, but it looks to be all but abandoned.

I hope you weathered the storm!

June 29, 2012

You Are One in a Million!

As I sit here writing this, with a freakishly savage storm raging all around me, and Connor on the shelf of my desk, I managed to check my statistics for the blog (vanity!). 11 30 6 29 total

This the total number of visitors since the early days of the blog. I couldn’t bear to look at the stats then, as it was just me and my mother reading it! Thanks, Mum!

In the next 24 hours, the numbers will roll over and hit one million. And of course, I will be obsessively checking to see when I hit the mark! And you’re one in a million! Thank you!

June 28, 2012

Closing Some Chapters… But Not This One!

As you may have guessed, something’s been afoot with me, and it has all conspired to come together within the same week and even the same day.I have resigned from my current position as of today, and am moving on to a new post. It’s at a small private school in downtown Baltimore, and I will basically be starting their fundraising program from scratch. I will mainly be working from home, so maybe this will help alleviate some of Connor’s anxieties about me leaving. Or maybe they will get worse, since I am around all of the time.

At the exact time I was leaving my position, I was sitting at a trial that’s the final act in something that happened about 18 months ago. I was assaulted by one of the parishioners at the church next to my old house. I wasn’t badly hurt, but it really shook my confidence, and was the root cause of my move to the new house. The person who pummeled me was found guilty of all but one charge. It took a long time for the wheels of justice to turn, but I had faith that, in the end, the system would work the way it’s supposed to. And it did.

I am excited about moving on to new adventures, a new job and the relief of not having the trial hanging over my head. At times, writing Pigtown*Design has been a welcome distraction from everything that’s been happening. I will welcome my millionth visitor in the next two days, something that makes me incredibly pleased, and also humbled that so many people take time to visit my blog.

(P.S. – The lawn was mowed right after these pictures were taken! I have the nicest lawn “boy” who’s really a 50-year old fireman from the local station. He’s worth every penny I pay him!)

June 27, 2012

House Hunting–Still Not Me!

When I was looking for the listing of the house I showed the other day, which wasn’t listed until late in the evening, I had a chance to check out some of the other houses for sale in the same zip code.

The one thing to know about this neighbourhood – it’s where I grew up – is that almost all of the houses are 100+ years old, and that the development was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead’s company.image He also designed Central Park in NYC, and took great advantage of the contours of the land when laying out roads and plots. This neighbourhood is the first planned community in the United States, and rightly proud of that fact.

This house is on the older side of the neighbourhood, and it’s typical of the time of its design – lots of porches, as well as beautiful shingle work, an eyebrow window and other details.image

It looks like some of the original details are intact. I think this is the turret room on the first/ground floor.image

I love this newel post!image

I’ve always loved this house. It’s perched at the edge of a hill, with views over the local golf course, and the valley. image

I love the beadboard ceiling of the porch, but I can’t quite figure out the huge empty frame on the wall.image

I love the front door!image

Honestly, I can’t decide whether I like this kitchen or not. What do you think?image

A lot of these houses have a back entrance – ours did – so that you don’t have to climb the 50+ steps from the garage to the front door. image

A friend of mine lived in this house, and I always thought the pergola-style porch roof was fabulous.image

Try to ignore the furnishings and concentrate on the amazing doorways. image

And this incredible ceiling.image

Honestly? I would murder for those cabinets along the wall, but the one around the fridge is another story.image

And it’s got a swinging door into a pantry! This is very similar to the pantry at our house, but our cabinets weren’t glass-fronted. imageI am not sure which I like more, the ceiling or the floor! image

Of course, I’d love to hear your comments!

June 26, 2012

My First Crop!

One of the best things about my house is that I actually have space to grow things, and the sunlight help them grow. While I had a wee back garden at my last house, it was in shadow for all but about 15 minutes of the year, and the only thing I grew was moss.

So, I was delighted to pick the first of my crop this evening, and of course, I had to photograph it!Three teeny, tiny tomatoes! Fresh off the vine, warm from the sun! What could be more perfect? frontYou can just see the two tomato plants in the bottom left corner, above. I have one that’s a Sweet 100’s cherry tomato plant, and the other is a Big Boy. One of those was red, but the bottom had been eaten off. Bloody rabbits.

One of my favourite things to do with these little tomatoes is to cut them in half, and put them on a baking sheet. Then give them a spritz of good olive oil, or toss them beforehand, and lightly salt them. Stick them into a 180-200*F oven and go about your business for the next six or so hours. Your house will fill with the most amazing smell, and the tomatoes will gradually dry out to a leathery texture. Let them cool and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge. Use on salads and pasta as you would sun-dried tomatoes. Or eat them like candy. You can see the patina on my stainless steel, free-standing commercial kitchen counter, aka, my desk. It’s the only piece of furniture I kept when I moved to the UK, because I knew I’d never find one like it again. It came from an old navy yard we took apart when I was doing salvage work. There’s one spot that some poor prep cook must have stood for hours, chopping vegetables, because it’s worn in so rough in one spot. Connor’s rather fond of it, too! books 001[2]P.S. I pronounce it “to-mah-to”.

June 25, 2012

House Hunting {No, Not Me!}

I was driving to The Book Thing on Sunday and noticed a “For Sale” sign in front of a house that I’ve always loved. It must have just been placed five minutes before, because the house was not yet listed on the realtor’s site. imageThis is what it looked like as it was being constructed in 1913. It’s still remarkably similar today, although with much more surrounding it.imageIt looks like some of these pictures were taken recently because the hydrangeas are at their peak!imageI could do without the fountain, or at least paint it a less garish colour, and I do love the row of windows!image

It looks as though a lot of the interior detail is still intact. imageI know it was broken up into flats for a number of years and I had a friend who lived just above the front “porch” on the top floor.imageThere is lots of stained glass in the house, and it looks to be original.imageI can’t quite figure out where this room is located.imageThe current owners have certainly kept the Victorian-era look and furnishings that would have originally gone into a house like this. imageI would guess that the floors are original, judging by the detail in the corner. And it’s clear that they’re still using the radiator heat, and the listing says that there’s no central air! {just shoot me now!}

It fascinates me that they’ve got a big old vegetable garden out back. imageUnfortunately, there’s also a convalescent hospital located immediately behind this house.

Any guesses what this house is on the market for? No peeking!

June 24, 2012

Reggie Darling & Blogging

Over the weekend, it was my great pleasure to host fellow blogger, Reggie Darling and his partner, Boy Fenwick at a small drinks party.image If you’re not reading Reggie’s funny and informative blog, you should. You will learn a lot from what he has to say, whether it be about the use of salt cellars, finding vintage Christmas ornaments, or the correct size of spoon you should use for dessert (hint: not a teaspoon!).spoons 007When I met Reggie and Boy, I felt like I’d known them for years and that I was seeing old friends again. In a way, I have known them for years, ever since 2009 when Reggie launched his blog. Reggie and Boy’s adventures in restoring a Federal-era house provide interesting tidbits on cleaning, decorating and entertaining, as well as collecting all sorts of antiques.

I am so delighted to count Reggie and Boy amongst my new friends!

It has been the same when I’ve met so many other bloggers. tres bloggersThere’s no awkward “getting to know you” conversation, rather an immediate launch into some post or another that caught your fancy, and off you go, talking a mile a minute.Les Gals[2]You have an instant starting point because you know the common reference – your blogs. Even they are on totally different topics, you can find commonality in the act of blogging, why and how you started, and those pesky snarky comments that everyone receives. nelle and dustyEach and every other blogger I’ve met has enriched my life in some way, and in most cases, without the blogs, I never, ever would have had the opportunity to get to know, and eventually become friends with many of these people.

As I get ready to embark on a new chapter in my life, I know that one thing will remain consistent – my time spent writing Pigtown*Design. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.