Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Goodbye, Lestat.

You were my best friend on four legs, and better than most on two.

You were a good dog, bunnyman.

Addendum by DH: This was truly a special animal. Trainable, tolerant, loving, highly intelligent, compassionate, epicurean (he loved prosciutto, fine German salami, and all manner meat or fish). You loathe the notion of the end of a life like his.

This is why I offer this to anyone with an aging or ailing pet: At the end, it's your job to suffer so that they don't have to. You've got one super important job to do for your pet and that is to not let them go through misery needlessly. It's a horrible thing you must do, but a noble one. Fortunately, if you pay close attention, your furred friend will let you know when it's time--at least that has been my experience. Have courage and give your friend one final gift. You'll thank yourself for it in time.

Monday, June 29, 2009

"Live Every Day As if it Were Your Last"

Ah.... “Live every day as if it were your last”

I hear this all the time, or see it on some goofy bumper sticker or some damn fool teenager with Earth Day and unicorns and hope clearly emblazoned on the inside of their blindfold.

It’s just one of the many sayings that we, as a society, keep spurting out like automatons without ever stopping to THINK about. I’m starting to pay attention to the things the media spews forth (and I don’t just mean the punditocracy in charge of the cable networks) all in the name of happy bunny fluffy cheerful thing-are-going-to-be-ok.... as long as you stop thinking and repeat repeat repeat after me...

But most never stop and think about what this means. If this day was your last day alive and you knew it, how would you live this day out? Stop for a moment, and get scared. You’re going to die tomorrow. Not everyone else, just YOU. It doesn’t matter how or why, but know that it is a certainty.

Would you wake up early, take a shower and brush your teeth, or would you just roll out of bed, skip the deodorant and slip on your favourite jeans and first T-shirt you could find and head out the door?

Would you eat a healthy breakfast —or would you hit McDonald’s on the way out on your last big adventure?

Would you take the time to help someone with a flat tire on the side of the road, or stop and give directions to someone who was lost? Or would you be too much in a hurry to bother?

If this was your last day on Earth, knowing your last breath would arrive far too soon, would you spend everything you had and more on the things you’ve always wanted but never bought; expensive and over-the-top, as a gift or for yourself, knowing you can’t take it with you and could never pay it off?

So, drive as fast as you can with the wind in your hair, skip feeding the parking meter, keep moving, because you can smell the roses when they’re lying on your grave, or you can 'sleep when you're dead', eh?

They would most likely be smelly, fat, aimless bastards in debt up to their necks, thinking only of themselves and those they care about, to hell with the rest of us, right?

And these are the people, with smiling faces, oblivious to the world around them that you aren’t in, that cut you off in traffic, blow through the red lights in front of you, that don’t even see you because you don’t matter to them.... they are self-absorbed, self-centered, and more often than not, heard spouting cr@p like, 'Live every day like it was your last', 'Every cloud has a silver lining' or' It's always darkest before the dawn' (which, it most decidedly is NOT the case, duh.)

The next time I hear one of those “Yes we can” or “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, “You get what you ask for” “Failure is not an option” thought terminating platitudes, I’m gonna slap a “Mouth breather on board” bumper sticker on their car.

I have three of them. I made them myself.

Please, don’t live each day as if it were your last.

Seriously, those people are @ssholes.

Note from DH: On days like this, I try keep hammers and pointy objects under lock and key. I can't say that it's not a top shelf rant, however.

Brook Trout for Dinner

Brown trout caught and captured by David French.

Brook Trout image courtesy of the Ohio DNR.

The other night we had a brace of trout (one brown and one very pretty brookie) that my father caught that morning. It was so exquisite that I thought I'd share the recipe/menue with you all.

Grilled Brown Trout with New Potatoes and Braised Baby Artichokes

Figure on one 10"-14" trout and 3 baby artichokes per person.

For the Trout:
two sprigs fresh tarragon per trout
2 Tbs rendered bacon fat
salt and pepper
Kitchen twine

For the Potatoes
3-4 medium new potatoes p.p. peeled and halved
1 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste.

For the Artichokes
3 Baby Artichokes (p.p.)
2 tsp salted capers, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic, sliced
1-2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
a squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper to taste.

This dish is all about brining out the rustic goodness of the ingredients. It seems simple, but pay attention and you'll be suprised by the depth of flavor. Real fire is better than gas and real wood is better than briquettes.

Start your fire, and when the coals are hot, arrange them on one side of the grill. While the fire is getting ready, blanch the potatoes for 4 minutes, then drain, and add oil and salt and pepper. Toss to coat. When the grate is hot, add the potatoes, flat side down, directly over the coals (if the fire isn't too hot for you). When they start to brown, turn and move them off the main fire, and cover (vents open). Cook for 10 minutes while you prep the trout and artichokes.

Cut the tops off the baby artichokes and any brown part of the stem. Pluck off the outer petals until you get to very pale leaves. You want them to be quite tender as you eat the entire thing. Keep them in acidulated water to keep them from turning brown until you're ready to cook, then dry them briefly.

Rinse and dry the trout. Salt and pepper inside and out. Brush the interior of the trout with bacon fat, then stuff the tarragon inside. Tie with 2 lengths of cotton twine. This makes them easier to manage. Brush with a modest amount of bacon fat. Pre-heat your oven to 200'. Check on your potatoes.

If the potatoes aren't golden brown, move them back over the fire for a few moments. When done, place them on foil or a plate and keep them warm in the oven. Bring the trout out and place on the fire. If the fire isn't too hot, you can grill directly over the fire, turning after 4 minutes and basting with bacon fat. Cook another 4 minutes, turn, baste again, cook 2 minutes turn again. When the skin is brown and crisp, you're done. If the fire is terribly hot, you'll want to cook them indirectly for 6 minutes, then baste and turn and cook for another 4 minutes, baste and turn and finish over the flame if needed. (cooks note: if you don't have bacon fat, you can substitute butter and it will still be quite good) Pre-heat your plates.

While the trout are cooking, heat olive oil in a pan with a lid. Saute' garlic for a moment, then add capers and saute' until the garlic is lightly brown. Add the artichokes, toss, add salt and pepper to taste, and cook for another minute. Add stock and cover. Lower heat to low. Right before the trout come off the grill, take the lid off, raise the heat, and cook off any excess liquid. Add a squeeze of lemon and plate with the potatoes and trout. Cut the twine off the trout.

Serve with a dry pinot grigio or perhaps a sauvignon blanc.

If you came here from Julia's Blog Party, here's your link back to Hooked on Houses.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Henry Farny Opening Ceremony for New Covington Park

Free pizza, friends in period costume, and art. What a way to kick off the weekend!

The new art park dedicated to Henry Farny [(1847-1914, also friend of local Covington, KY artist Frank Duveneck (1848-1919)] took place this afternoon, a half block from our home.

It's great to see the neighborhood coming together to take vacant lots and make something artistic and community oriented out of it, most due to gracious volunteers, and artwork by another up and coming local artist, David Michael Rice, (who we've seen do a show downtown Cincinnati... very cool stuff this guy makes. Very cool.) Seen here above *inside* his latest sculpture.

Just remember, whatever happens, "Don't Break Character!" (Ref.: South Park episode 1207)

The sculpture which is the centerpiece for the park, by David Michael Rice, is a depiction of Henry Farny's signature character, seen in the bottom right corner of the artwork below, which I believe (and I'm open to correction on this) means "Long Boots" in Sioux.

There were quite a few 'dignitaries' here to officially open the park, so as for the ribbon cutting ceremony, there were a lot of scissors needed.

Seven, I think.

David did the honors after the ribbon was cut.

Kids were having as much fun as the parents were...

And then again, some were just having fun all by themselves. (You guys are just too cute for words... )

Then David rested IN his laurels ;-)

Of course, we thought one of the better parts of the park was the clever use of local native arbor species to represent the signature of Farny....

Looks familiar, don't it? (Here's why)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Henry Farny Art Park

The Dedication ceremony is Saturday 6/27/09. 12:00-2:00.

Corner of Banklick and Robbins. Check out the rather neat artwork by David Rice.

Check out the flyer, here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This Old House Loves Covington!

This Old House' honors Covington

By Mike Rutledge

COVINGTON - "This Old House," the 30-year-old television program that helped make restoration of older homes more fashionable, has ranked Northern Kentucky's largest city as one of the country's best places to buy an Old House.

"Houses here are beautiful, solid and cheap," touts the television program's Web site. "Covington is a New Urbanist's dream, with shops, groceries, parks, bike trails, and the city of Cincinnati, all within walking distance."

Covington Historic Preservation Officer Beth Johnson prefers the word "affordable" rather than cheap, because the homes - many of them constructed with bricks, and many 100-plus years old - were built to last, with both flair and sturdy craftsmanship.

"You can go down a street and see large amounts of intact historic fabric," Johnson said. "You can go block for block and see another beautiful Italianate, then you see a Queen Anne, then you see a Second Empire."

Another big thing is "the people who fill the houses," Johnson said, and the active neighborhood associations "that automatically make you feel welcome, because they're out there talking to you."

You're not just buying a house, she said: "You're buying a neighborhood, and you're buying a great place to live."

"We have a lot of historic buildings, and I think we're beginning to become more and more recognized for that," said Aaron Wolfe-Bertling, Covington's housing development director. "They are not only very affordable, but located literally in the center of a large metropolitan area that offers all kinds of amenities."

Wolfe-Bertling lives in Covington's Mother of God neighborhood, within walking distance of both the MainStrasse entertainment district and Cincinnati's sports stadiums.

Covington was among 16 Southern places that made the list, joining the Poplar Springs area of Meridian, Miss.; East Durham, N.C.; and the Lower Garden District of New Orleans. It was among 51 places nationwide.


While we're at it, don't forget you can Buy This House!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rehabbing an Old House Step 6: Plans and Permits

Rehabbing an Old House Step 6: Plans and Permits

This follows Step 5.

OK, so now you have your rehab (or are moving in that direction), now what? Well, you're going to need permits. You're going to want to check with your local municipality to see what permits are needed. If you hire a plumber, HVAC, or electrician he or she will get their own permits. If you do this work, you'll need to get them. You'll also almost assuredly need a building permit and you may need a demo permit. If you don't need a demo permit, you may still need a permit or other permission before putting a dumpster on the street. Here, we have the NKAPC (Northern Ky Area Planning Commission), and said folks were easy to work with and happy to answer questions.

In our opinion, if permits aren't required for something you want to do, fine. If they are, don't be cute. Get the permit. You can run into bad trouble trying to get tricky. Inspectors look for dumpsters. You don't want to get on their bad side by cheating. Furthermore, permits are to make sure the job gets done right and safely. You can DIE if some things aren't done right. The inspection is a fail-safe in the event you or your contractor screwed something up badly.

So when you apply for your building permit, you're going to need to submit a plan. Now, this may or may not be a big deal. If you are going to have a relatively simple design and you will not be moving or removing any load-bearing walls you can probably do the plan yourself (though check with your planning commission). If the architectural design is more complex, you may need an architect. If you're doing anything structural, like cutting openings in load bearing walls or moving them, you may want an architectural engineer. Don't let this scare you off, as the expense need not be outlandish, but also be advised. Things are simpler if you don't move any bearing walls.

A note on load-bearing walls: How do you determine which walls are load bearing and which aren't? As a general rule, head to the basement. If there's a doubled joist underneath the wall, it could well be load bearing. If there's anything transferring the load from that wall to the ground, it's probably a load-bearing wall. Now, if you don't see anything supportive under a wall in the basement, chances are it's not bearing. Chances are... BUT, with old houses, just in case, if you're removing the wall and your sawzall binds or you hear loud creaking or the ceiling saggs, STOP. You may have found a partially load bearing wall. Get a 2x4 or two in there to support things and go find a pro to give you a hand. More on this in the Demo step.

In any case, if your plan is relatively simple, leaving load bearing walls as they are, you can probably do your own plan. There are lots of resources for this on the web, and be advised that some jurisdictions may have very strict requirements while others will be just fine with a hand drawn plan.

Where to start on your plan? Measurements. Accurate to within 1/2". Don't measure trim to trim. Measure wall to wall. Twice. Graph paper is great for this. Make a rough drawing of each floor and then insert measurements. You'll also want to accurately measure the location of each window and each door. Widths of stairways should be measured too. Don't forget ceiling heights. Note that different rooms may have different ceiling heights.

You may want to get a look at some floor plans
We found that

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Kestrels are out!

Kestrels abound!!! "How many?" you ask? Thou shalt count to four, no more, no less. Four shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be four. Five shalt thou not count, nor either count thou three, excepting that thou then proceed to four. Five is right out.

Again, I apologize for the shoddy photos, but they were taken from my from my bedroom, with a digital kodak peering through one side of a set of binoculars. It's the best I can do. It's a long way from our front bedroom to the roof of the Church across the street.

For more background, check out the prior post here: http://www.rehabordie.com/search/label/Falcon

BTW, we can add both house finches and gold finches to the list of birds seen in our NKy yard spotting zone. Tip: feed your birds lots of sunflower seeds and thistle seed. Brings the wild ones in. You'll bring in blue jays and cardinals with peanuts.

Addendum by DH on 6-23-09: The young kestrels (sparrow hawks) have moved around to the back of our house to, interestingly enough, watch the bird feeder. On Fathers Day, we got to watch one take a shot at a sparrow, only 20 feet from our revelers. Yesterday, one showed up on the branch outside my window with a bird that (s)he had caught.

This is too cool.

If you came here from Julia's Blog Party at Hooked On Houses, this is your link back.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's our six year wedding anniversary today.

Yeaaaaah!! Love is in the air... along with a whole lot of water.

Six years ago today, on a Saturday the 14th... (day after you-know-what) my DH and I invited our close friends and family to a celebration of our marriage, which, they all thought, had happened the previous month in an odd and disappointing eloping to the Sevierville, TN Smoky Mountains.

Well, it didn't happen then or there.
We had a surprise wedding.

But the real surprise was the uninvited guest... four inches of rain within 30 minutes.

It wouldn't have been so bad if the location of the wedding a.) wasn't planned for outside and b.) if we weren't situated at the bottom of a freshly cleared very tall and very steep hillside that was cleared to replant the Monte Cassino Vineyard. (see previous Easter video for the planted hillside.)

In a word: 'BuildAnArk'.

The water was pouring down the hillside, and the pressure of the moisture coming through the rock walls was making the water squirt sideways through the retaining walls.

We didn't get any good pictures of the actual monsoon, I think we were all just too stunned. The pictures above are looking out the front door onto the veranda where we planned to serve hors d'oeuvres. The water/mud almost made it into the foyer.

We had tents outside to keep the sun off of guests. We thought they were waterproof. They weren't.

Sister of the groom: "What's plan B?"
Groom: "This IS plan B."

Needless to say, once the rain stopped, cleared out the humidity, we quickly had dinner around the pool, and then, just as dessert was to be served, the rains started again.

So we had our guests grab their spoons and head back into the house, where we made our announcement.

"We didn't want to get married without all of you there.... so we didn't.... but now that we have you all together, we thought we'd do it now."

And so we did. Thanks to all of our accomplices: Ab, Andrea, Rob, Steve, and Pete.

But now, every year, on our anniversary, it rains. A lot.

Funny that.

Addendum by DH:

It was an "Avengers" themed party...

One of more fun episodes was "A Surfeit of H2O"

Watch The Avengers - S04E08 - A Surfeit of H2O.avi in Entertainment | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Post addendum by DW: Which is why I put the anniversary banner up in the garden :-)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Garden update, back inside.

Well, DH has upset the applecart.

After laying out soaker hoses throughout the vegetable garden last week, they've been sitting in the dirt doing nothing. I thought I would advance the cause and place landscape fabric over the hoses, then dig up about 100 pounds of wood chip mulch to cover the fabric to keep in the moisture.

Unbeknownst to me, this is so very very wrong it is worthy of banishment from the garden. I swear, sometimes that man can suck the joy out of a baby kitten.

I'm back to working inside the house, so looks like I'm back on track to finishing up some inside projects.

First thing's first... the upstairs bathroom was painted with antique white flat paint and has already started peeling near the tub insert. We purchased semi-gloss about 2 months ago and it's been sitting in the basement, waiting for some attention.

It's gonna get some love today.....

Friday, June 5, 2009

More "Leaducation"

(we took the certification course, but this one is helpful if you aren't using HUD money and you just want to be safe)

Northern Kentucky Health Department sponsors

Lead Safe Work Practices Class

Thursday 6/18/09

6 pm to 8:30 pm


Mary Ann Mongan (Covington) Branch

Kenton County Library

502 Scott Boulevard

Covington, Ky, 41011

Who is the class for?

· Homeowners doing renovation, repainting, or remodeling work where lead-based paint may be encountered

· Building supervisors and landlords

· Homeowners and property owners associations

· Community and social service organizations

· Home (or code) inspectors

· Maintenance workers

· State and local municipal agencies

NOTE: This class does not satisfy HUD requirements for lead safe training for workers on federally funded projects between $5k and $25k. Please call for more info if you need a class for this purpose.

What will be covered?

This class will teach attendees lead-safe work practices and the strategies for implementing them. Many homes built before 1978 contain lead-based paint, so it is important that renovation, remodeling and repair activities use methods that reduce and control dust and debris created during work. Even a small amount of dust can pose a serious health risk to children and families.

Is there a cost involved?

Class is free of charge.

Is there a deadline for registration?

Thursday 6/18/09 4pm

To register call

Tony Powell at 859.363.2049

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cincinnati Banks

Bank'rupt' more like.
OK, I'm about to vent here on Cincinnati and the Cincy COuncil/Government.
They're completely incompetent.

Here's just a few reasons...

Viva La Covington!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Wanted: Shade in the Backyard

Yeah, no tree, no shade.

Actually , that's not true... we do get shade in the backyard, all of it (drumroll, please...) in the garden. The concrete slab on the back of the house gets almost no shade from 1PM until 7PM. It makes it really uncomfortable to sit out and have lunch on the patio while watching the birds... and the neighbor's cats slip under the fence to chase the birds.

In fact, we had a couple over just this past weekend and we ended up standing i the breezeway to get out of the sun. That's no good. So our friend, Donna, suggested one of those canopy shade sails.

Ok, I nodded my head knowingly and thought to myself, "self, what the hell is a shade sail?"

Well, here's a shade sail:

The idea is grand, a tethered non-permanent canopy, that comes in various sizes and shapes, some companies offer custom sizes even.

These guys even sell the fabric itself in 6 foot widths for only $2.50/linear foot:


I'm not above making my own shade, but DH wants to buy it pre-made and save the fuss and effort.

The problem with the premade/grommetted triangles is that they don't offer custom sizes within a decent price range (A small shade umbrella will only cost $90), so this is the competition in my mind, and I'm sorry, but I just can't see this massive yard thong out there. I just can't do it.

In order to discourage the yard thong, I did the only thing I know how. SHOW how weird it would look and figure out a way to prove it won't fit/look right/offer enough shade.

So, DH settles on him wanting a 12 x 12 x 12 equilateral triangle shade. The only way I know how to make this work is to actually try to suspend the triangle (sans fabric) and see how it looks and what shade it would offer.

So I mark off some string, every 5 feet it gets a dot, so we can get better measurements and an idea of size in an odd 3 dimensional space.

Since the triangle wouldn't necessarily have to be actually tied to anything but a rope/bungee, we've got a lot of flexibility as to where it could be placed.

We started with one backbone string going from the second story window hinge down to a 4x4 garden fence post, then tied a 24 foot string with 2 tight loops [(2) 12' lengths] onto the backbone length, and a small loop halfway along the 24' length, and tied another string to the mid-line loop to pull on and form a triangle.

Then we could adjust the whole geometry along the backbone to see where it would fit best (noting the markings along the backbone to keep the 2 loops separated by a general 12 feet.) and offer the most shade.

After a lot of quibbling, adjusting, remeasuring, and knot tying, I think we've decided on the 12 x 15 rectangle instead. >;-)

Sometimes it takes a lot of work to convince your other half that he was right all along, he just didn't know it yet.

Death to the Yard Thong, may it rest in pieces.