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More Wool: A Prince of an Idea

It’s time to ‘fess’ up, as they say. Aunt Toby has never..ever…met HRH Charles Philip Arthur George, the Prince of Wales.
We just don’t move in the same, as we might say, circles.
But on the other hand, if we did meet, we’d have a lot to talk about.
He’s a organic gardener. Aunt Toby’s an organic gardener.
He believes in good solid architecture. I’m into barns, too.
He’s been a fierce advocate of protecting the ecology for years; moi aussi.

And he believes that the world would be a healthier, happier, warmer place if people wore more wool. (more…)

55: Keep Your Eyes on the Thermometer

I know for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s still summer (for my readers fro the Southern Hemi- file this away) and it’s rather difficult, especially given the temperatures experienced this summer, to think about winter, but it’s out there. And for those of us for whom winter has, ahem, a ‘special meaning’ (as in it can get so cold that you’ll freeze the insides of your nose), soaking up the warmth is really nice.

But it is coming – get over it. (more…)

Curtain(s) Up!

There are probably as many ways to install shades and curtains on a deck or pergola as people can dream up. The basic making directions are here : I’m going to go over some ideas that I got AFTER I made the decisions that I did:

Adjustable shower curtain rods. You can find these to fit spaces between about 40” and 72”. So what I could have done would have been to have either put grommets into the top of the shades and then used shower curtain rings (and goodness knows there are a zillion different types of those; I could have found some to match the pergola, even). OR, I could have gotten those humongous curtain grommets (JoAnne Fabrics has them, as do other curtain supply houses), put those into the top of the shades and strung the adjustable shower curtain rod through those. The upside of that would have been that the shades would have been like curtains and could be opened or closed at will. Neato. (more…)

More Shady Doings at Chez Siberia

I did not describe the process by which Aunt Toby came to the conclusion that making shades for the pergola was the way to go. Actually, I did not describe the process by which the decision to put a pergola on the deck was made either. But, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

There are numerous ways to gain shade: (more…)

My Kingdom For Some Shade

Aunt Toby is not sure exactly when decks replaced porches but somewhere in the not so distant past, people got all hot and bothered to have a place to sit outside that wasn’t a patio and didn’t have a roof. And not being immune to this, when we did “the first big dig” on Chez Siberia (which consisted of a double dug, French-drained basement with its own separate sump and pump to take care of the amazingly huge hydrostatic pressure that we had), we put on this little deck at the back entrance (it is a RULE that all houses in the country must absolutely have a ‘back door’ or ‘kitchen door’ which is what everyone expects to use as the entrance no matter how lovely or appropriate the front entrance is. It is a rule, probably promulgated by Organic Gardening or Mother Earth News or some such publication, but I digress). (more…)

Snow Bound

Aunt Toby realizes that there are a whole lot of people in what is referred to as the Mid-Atlantic Region who are (if they are clever and good at following directions) hunkered down, looking out their windows at snow and wind and general ‘snowmageddan’. And many of them are in areas (cough, DC, cough) where the whole concept of snow plowing and road cleaning is really more in the theory rather than the practice. From my quick and dirty search, it looks as if there are several hundred thousand homes without power in Maryland and Northern Virginia. (more…)

Magic Marmots or, It’s Still Winter

Enough with the dueling ground hogs. And wishful thinking as well.

It’s still winter. It’s the beginning of February and climate change notwithstanding, in Upstate New York, it’s still in the ‘damn cold’ range. Versus last weekend, when it was in the single digits during the day (without wind chill factor) and in the minus numbers at night and was in the ‘miserably cold’ range. We still have at least 6 weeks of cold weather to get through before it even starts to approach the ‘getting warmer’ stage. (more…)

Coat Test

Yesterday, the DH, The Boy and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to view this exhibit Art of the Samurai
and cram in whatever else we could from the museum at the time (which was not much – one of these days, we’re going to take a weekday off and go – my claustrophobia was on high alert). We also had some errands to run (me down in the Garment District, the DH in a couple of other places. I had a shopping list and knew that the places I was going had what I wanted; he came home empty handed. Research helps). So, even with the subways, we had a lot of walking to do.
The temperature in New York was hovering in the 20s and the wind was fierce with occasional snow flurries. I don’t have the official statistics, but it was in the ‘OMG, my face is being flayed off’ range. Today, it’s 18 degrees with a wind chill of 2 degrees, which I actually think is worse than what we got yesterday.

BUT – the coat came through like a trooper. Even with the high winds and cold, I was toasty warm outside on the sections where we had to walk for blocks and blocks (and there were several of those) – I was wearing a cotton knit turtleneck and a lightweight long sleeved wool sweater, heavy tights and slacks. I could not wear that coat inside of course (and the coat check room at the museum was overflowing out the hall) and had to carry it around (which made things sort of onerous because that coat weighs a LOT). So, I feel thoroughly justified in 1) making the coat longer than knee length, 2) interlining it with the shrunken wool flannel and 3) using the heavy-duty flannelized coat lining.
(image at the top courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Personal Warmth Systems

bxtai0284aIt never ceases to amaze your dear Aunty that there are people in the world who believe that cotton is an appropriate fiber to put into a long sleeved sweater. And if you are in the business of doing so…and your entire market resides between Southern California and Florida (and points between), then I suppose this makes some sort of sense. But if it’s cold enough to require long sleeves, it’s cold enough to require something that will actually keep you warm, even in a place such as Southern California.

I recall once doing a trade show in January in Anaheim, California. It rained for several days and hovered in the high 30s. We were all extremely miserable (and I thanked myself numerous times for hauling around my wool-lined raincoat). A cotton sweater at that time and in that place would have been useless. (more…)

Stucco Repair With Caulk

Sometimes, you’ve got to just get creative.

One of the things that we found very unique and intriguing when we bought Chez Siberia, lo these many years ago, was the stucco treatment on the house. It was…sparkly. We found out later that the way this was done was that after the final surface coat of the stucco was put on, the plasterers would take scoops of broken up shells, dishware, glass, etc. and throw it into the surface. It would stick there and provide surface interest, a little color and yes, it was sparkly. It was a popular stucco treatment in our area for about 10 years, from the mid-30s on and it disappeared – it was too labor intensive. But it made the house unique. (more…)

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