Monday, March 24, 2014

the misfit builds a closet

Have you heard of the one-room challenge?  It's a little idea whereby a list of invited bloggers each remakes a room over a six-week period.  They post an update on their progress (with photos) each Wednesday.  I've been following it for a couple of years - it's highly entertaining.  Most of the aesthetic choices are very creative.  A few are really ugly (I get to be honest.  It's the internet).  I have not been asked to participate, possibly because:

(a) the people running it have no idea who I am
(b) I am not actually a design blogger
(c) I cannot finish anything in six weeks, and if I did I certainly wouldn't get the photos done

but since I was gearing up to start a big-ish project and I have this notion that I can totally finish it in way less than six weeks and I am always wrong about these things, I thought I might join the ranks of pathetic groupies who post their own updates during the one-room challenge even though they have not actually been invited to participate formally.  It starts next Wednesday, and I will try to actually post every Wednesday about my progress, like a good groupie.  One of two things will happen: (1) I will totally fail to meet the standards set by the actual participants, demonstrating why I have not been and never should be invited; or (2) I will far exceed the standards set by the actual participants, demonstrating that I am above such foolishness and don't need them. 

Either way it promises to be entertaining (to me), and provide yet more fodder for therapy.  (Not that I was running out.  There aren't enough letters on my keyboard for that post.) 

Another reason that I don't belong in the ORC is because I'm not actually "redoing a room."  Of course, I've done so many times in the past (probably not in six weeks.  I think my kitchen took just under a year).  The rooms ORCers have done in the past have ranged from bedrooms and dining rooms (obvious) to powder rooms and laundry rooms, so the terms are fairly flexible.  However, my project is a bad fit (hey, that's true of a lot of things I do!).  It's not quite a room - it's just a closet.  And it's not quite a redo - I am actually building it.  Probably none of the real participants are going to start out with studs and drywall, or put in wiring and a light fixture where there formally was none.  (Actually, occasionally someone remodels an existing space fairly extensively - adding or subtracting a bit of wall here and there - but I think they always hire out.  In fact, some people have even hired out for painting and wallpaper, which is against my religion.)  So while I will make a poor showing on square footage, and also on fancy decorated-ness of the finished product, I'm going to blow everyone out of the water on hardcore DIY.  (Again, this is assuming I finish.) 

So let me show you the area I'm going to be working on.  There is currently a wall closet in the master bedroom - which I carefully did not clean or organize for these pictures.  Here is my master bedroom closet:


It has a box of pictures (with sweaters on top) and also a tool box in it.  Those sweaters are usually slightly neater; I shoved them around a bit.  This will give you a very slightly better idea of where the closet is in the room:


The closet has a very special feature you'll all enjoy:


It is too shallow to hold a standard hanger (or a standard piece of clothing, such as would hang on a standard hanger).  I'm not having you on here:


The hanger is touching the back of the closet. 

That is the only closet in the master bedroom (which is the largest bedroom by far).  So our clothes are in the closets in the other two bedrooms.  This seems fine, as we are the only people who live there, but I find it is awkward with guests.  Also, it would discourage people from buying the house if we needed to sell it.  Therefore, it was on my "some day I'll work on that" list.  Then I remembered how I have a policy against "some day" lists; if it needs doing, I should do it as soon as I'm not doing something else.  Namely now.  (Soon, I will be working full-time outdoors.  But the weather isn't cooperating yet.  So I need to accomplish something.) 

Partly because I already wallpapered the wall in the master bedroom that has the closet door, I will not be doing any construction work from that end.  I will be working from the second bedroom.  That room has two closets.  One looks a lot like the master bedroom closet, and is probably about equally old (maybe even as old as the house).  That's the linen closet of which I am so proud:


Have I mentioned that it looks like that all the time?  It's true.  I didn't just clean it.  (I never remember to clean for photos anyway.)  Here's another picture, so you can appreciate its beauty:


I'm going to demolish it.  The other closet in this bedroom is not large, but it is a normal depth and has a handy wire shelving system.  (That's where all my clothes are now.)  So this bedroom doesn't need the second closet.  Moreover, the second closet shares the distinctive feature of the master closet:


They are the same depth.  Which, by the way, is perfect for a linen closet.  (Requiescat in pace, linen closet.)  They are also back-to-back - hypothetically speaking, if you knocked out the right-hand wall of the linen closet, you would find yourself in the master bedroom closet.  As you may have guessed, I'm about to make that not hypothetical.  The superfluity of this closet (except for the storing of linens - all neatly folded - I'm really going to miss it.  I'm already pondering a replacement) will enable me to double the width of the master closet, using its existing door and frame.  But I will also need to increase the depth, so we can use actual hangers in it.  And since I'm not planning to give it double doors, it will need to be even deeper - so we can actually scoot in and see the clothes that are hanging in the part of the width not revealed by the door.  (If I did double doors, it could be shallower, but then I wouldn't have a wall to put our bed on.  Also, I double closet doors don't belong in old houses.  So that's out.) 

Last week I was supposed to start work on the project, because after buying a bunch of studs I had stalled out - I couldn't decide on a design that I wanted to execute but would also function.  Then I got the flu for a week.  Happily, time at home on the sofa only somewhat groggy yielded the pathetic but essential progress I was looking for.  Without further ado, here is what I accomplished last week:


I taped a line on the floor.  That's where the new wall is going to go.  But first, I'm knocking out the wall to the right of the door up there.  And also removing the door and its framing.  There's also some issues with the ceiling height of the closet, but I'll explain more when I get to that.  It's going to be disgusting (that will sound odd if you haven't done this sort of thing before), but I am planning to be brave.  Oh, there in the corner are two other relevant items:


Two outlets (AND a phone jack), within a foot of each other.  Obviously we do not have a land line in the bedroom.  (This room actually has two phone jacks.)  Since we don't have a land line at all.  And strangely, both of those outlets actually work (one is even grounded!).  The room has two others, which is not a ton, but for a guest room, it works.  Both of the outlets above are within the taped area - but, no, I am not planning to have four plug options in the closet.  Instead, I'm going to re-route one set of wires so I can have a switched overhead light in the closet.  (Given its shape, lighting will be absolutely necessary.)  Apparently I have learned nothing from all my past failures, and am setting my sights high. 

All this should offer plenty of fodder for weekly updates; if nothing else, there will be lots of highly photogenic demolition. 

You'll want to check back on my progress.  It will make the chaos in your home seem like nothing. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

maybe I should build a stove

***I shall share my little musings at Metamorphosis Monday***

Nobody could bring themselves to pick a favorite stove of the ones I've been considering so far.  I don't blame anyone!  Everything I've looked at is either not nearly lovable enough, or way too expensive. 

Strange, small voices have been whispering in my head...what if you could build a stove?  Then you could have exactly what you wanted!  You have so many ideas!  It would only need to be a LITTLE different from what's being sold now! 

Obviously, I need to ignore those voices (and other voices, should any arise.  Alternatively, this).  I don't have welding or sheet metal fabrication skills, to say nothing of, ah, being able to assemble a full system of reliable gas plumbing.  Even building a stove out of the parts of other stoves would be tricky - I've spent a bunch of time studying stoves already, and I don't fully understand how they work.  That is not a recipe for success.  But the voices persist.  Maybe if you just made some cosmetic changes? 

They're very persuasive.  So, let's say I started with this stove:


I don't like the oven door handle.  I like the handle on the Ilve:


But (as I recently learned trying unsuccessfully to replace the broken door glass on Stove the Third), oven door handles are not actually part of the door.  They're screwed in, and fairly easy to remove.  And you can buy two feet of 1" diameter solid-copper pipe for just $12 at the big orange store:


Ah.  Now to attach it.  Of course I'd have to get my hands on a stove first to figure out exactly how wide the current handle is and how the bolt holes are set, but brass shower flanges could maybe work (they're $12 per pair):


I mean, if I also used some copper pipe elbows:


Those are $5 each (I'd need two), and would only require just a little soldering.  I haven't used a blow torch on my kitchen yet.  (Or I guess maybe I could use industrial adhesive, since they won't actually have water running through them.)  Alternatively, there are these:


They cost more than the brass flanges, at $16 each, but would be simpler to use for this purpose.  They'd also hold slightly smaller pipe (3/4" diameter), but that would save a dollar or two on pipe, so that's OK.  Although that would leave the ends of the copper pipe open, so maybe I would also want a pair of these ($5 each):


I only see them up to 5/8" inner diameter, but I'm sure I could find some 3/4" ones somewhere.  (They're threaded inside, so I'd have to glue it to the unthreaded copper pipe.  Since it would be purely cosmetic, I'm sure that would be fine.)  And if you really wanted to go nuts on your oven door handle, you could go with something like this:


That looks like the simplest solution, right?  But here's where un-scaled hardware pictures deceive you.  (I actually spend a lot of time in the HD plumbing department playing with small pieces of brass, copper, and chrome for this reason - if you're not buying them for the intended purpose, you really need to understand how they work.)  I say "go nuts" because the item above has a 2" interior diameter - it's meant for assembling railings (the sort you see in airports and movie theaters).  So it would be for a VERY LARGE oven door handle.  But sometimes playing with scale yields very cool visual results. 

Oh, and on eBay you can usually find cool vintage stove knobs, like these:


And you can buy replacement knobs at Sears, too, like these:


So let's picture our stove again:


But this time, imagine he has an awesome copper and brass handle instead of that white one, and cool chrome knobs.  Clearly more fun!  Although of course not a total makeover.  And the whispers start again...I could paint it.  They sell high-temperature spray enamel (which can heat take up to 1500*F in some cases).  I could use a nice pastel, like on the mid-century appliances, and paint the whole thing (except the stovetop itself, probably, since that area takes the most abuse)...or I could paint the white parts of the upper and lower door in a nice charcoal gray, like that first Ilve I saw.  And maybe the top panel around the programming pad? 

It also appears that stoves' lower storage drawers are actually made in two pieces: the drawer is coated steel, and it's just bolted to an enameled front.  So I could just remove it and replace it with a different front...in stainless...or maybe they sell them in copper...or I could take one off another stove...or I could build one with a copper panel and some hardware...or a wooden one???...or maybe taking it off would just make it easier to paint. 

Or I could buy sheet copper and use heat-resistant industrial adhesive to attach it to the upper and lower stove doors.  That wouldn't be so easy with the shape of the storage drawer on this one.  But if I got a stove more like this, it would be comparatively easy to add sheet copper to the doors...


I am beginning to see potential here. 

Tell me, would you be concerned if you were shopping for houses and the stove had some, ah, after-market trim?  (Assuming it was done well and in perfect condition.)  It strikes me that the likeliest scenario (assuming I made the changes skillfully) would be that a buyer had no idea I had altered the stove; he'd just think it came looking rather unusual.  I see that as definitely a good thing, but perhaps others would find it off-putting. 

Now that I'm thinking about it, it seems odd that I've never even seen a re-painted stove.  I spray-painted the refrigerator in our old rental after the door started rusting - it was not a quality item - and I used heat-resistant paint to fix a chip in the stove enamel as well.  It's not difficult, and the products are easy to find; obviously I am not the only person who has done this.  Of course I was using the same color that the appliances were previously, and probably others do that too.  But why has no one taken that further step and said, "My current stove works fine, but looks dated.  But I'd really love a cobalt-blue stove!  How much harm could I do with $20 worth of spray paint?" 

Why is this not a thing? 

Go paint your stove. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

the litany of stoves

DID YOU KNOW THAT WARREN G. HARDING ONCE LOST SOME OF THE WHITE HOUSE CHINA IN A POKER GAME?! 

I just learned this from Snapple.  My first reaction is - that is almost certainly a violation of contract and fiscal law, although of course the heads of executive agencies can't have more authority to obligate federal resources than the president...hmm.  My second reaction is, of course, that he's a huge jerk.  I bet that was awesome china.  And now I'd like to see it. 

But instead, I need to look at stoves.  First of all, let's refresh everyone's memory.  Here is the Stove of All Stoves:



It is not available.  (It dates from the 1950s.  Few exist.  Those that do don't work.  Those that do are not affordable.)  Then there is the amazing Ilve stove I found on teh internets:


Which, I think we agreed, would cost around $10,000 (for the double-oven version - assuming that is available in America).  Then I listed some criteria.  I've thought about my criteria more, and decided to come up with some that are more concrete.  Assuming you're paying close attention (yes, I realize that no one is), these will be even less helpful than the previous set, although those were even more subjective:
  1. Functional Criteria
    1. Cooking things
      1. Large burner grates are good (continuous grate surface best)
      2. Larger oven is better (5 cubic feet would be awesome)
      3. High-BTU burners are nice, though probably not necessary*
      4. Two ovens would allow two temperatures at once; broiler drawer almost as good 
      5. No serious design defects 
    2. Surviving the climate
      1. If I could have a principal functional criterion, it would be insulation (i.e., heat retention). For some reason, though everyone and his brother reviews stoves, nobody analyzes this
      2. Since I can't have that criterion, I would like two ovens, so I could bake pizza or cookies or bread in the summer without heating up a big oven 
    3. Other
      1. Must self-clean
  2. Aesthetic Criteria
    1. Matching my kitchen
      1. 30" wide, ideally
      2. Color should coordinate (more or less) with gray-blue lower cabinets
      3. Nothing excessively modern
      4. Preferably looks a little unusual
    2. Selling the house
      1. Ideally, is not precisely off-trend whenever we decide to sell
      2. On-trend would be handy, too
      3. Does not look cheap or throw-away
  3. Price (obvious)
That's all very enlightening, isn't it?  Oh, and in reference to high-BTU burners:

*I have never, to my knowledge, had a stove with a special high-BTU or low-BTU burner (although Stove the Second had a magical simmer/high flame feature that was awesome, and I have used that).  But I do low-temperature simmering operations (in my case, heating custard for ice cream.  Pace Consumer Reports, I wouldn't melt chocolate directly in a metal pot.  Does anyone do that?).  And I automatically put that custard pot on the right front burner.  When I'm simmering something that is done when it produces teeny bubbles and a faint cloud of steam, and that curdles if overcooked, I want it right under my nose - and apparently, I also want it next to my dominant hand, so I can whisk it off the heat that much faster.  Conversely, when I am boiling an enormous pot of water for - let's see, last time it was mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, I believe - I set it all the way at the back of the stove.  Because my enormous stock pot is, well, enormous.  It would hang over the front of the stove; if someone bumped into a huge hot pot walking by, it could cause injury.  It's also tall enough to block my view of things on the rear burners, if it were in front.  I haven't developed these habits out of some weird theory.  I do these things automatically because I can't imagine working any other way.  And I have watched other people boiling vast pots of water - they put them at the back of the stove, too.  (I haven't watched anyone else simmer custard that I can remember.)  But those of you who have not shopped for a stove recently may be surprised to hear that all the different manufacturers have one thing in common: they put the highest-BTU burner in the front, and the simmer burner in the back.  That's not just less functional; I think it may be dangerous.  So that's what I think of that. 

Is it predictable to those reading that in practice, my decision-making is dominated by two criteria: price (OK, yes, that was predictable) and "preferably looks a little unusual"?  I want the two ovens, but they drive up the price and narrow my options a lot, so I think I'm willing to let them go.  If I do have just one oven, it has to be pretty big.  I tried to make my DH look at stove photos with me last night, and after trying hard to communicate non-verbally that he is not interested in stove photos, he started looking over my shoulder and agreed that we should probably have a stove that's a little bit funky.  Because he is awesome (i.e., is willing to indulge me).  But which stove? 

Now I treat you to photos of stoves I have considered, and share my headache with you.  First, as we know, I think the Ilve above is awesome.  Ilve ranges also come in this style:


Also breathtaking.  And $6448, if you're curious.  It may also lack a self-cleaning feature, but at that price range I suppose the point is academic.

Then there's the Elmira 1890s-style range (perfect for my 1894 house, no?):


The base price for the 30" gas stove is $6295.  (A dual-fuel version would actually be $5795 - a considerable savings - but I'd eat up most of that money having a high-amp outlet installed for the stove.  In the imaginary world where I am spending $6k on a stove, I mean.)  There's one for sale on my local craigslist:


Evidently it includes some features beyond the base model (I recognize some extra chrome trim-work and that decorative back plate from the catalog's upgrade section), because the seller claims it cost $8900 originally.  Whether this is true or not, it is now offered, used, for $4500.  I think not.

Then there's the mid-century reproduction avenue.  (For those having trouble keeping this straight, I own a real mid-century stove whose ovens I cannot get to work.  The picture immediately above is a reproduction of stoves made in the 1890s, though real stoves from that era [which can still be purchased] were wood-burning or sometimes coal-burning.  And there are also companies that sell brand-new stoves that are reproductions of mid-twentieth-century style.)  Elmira actually has a division that makes these, called Northstar.  They're quite nice-looking:


And they come in fun colors (plus white).  The base model there is $4300.  Moving right along...another company, Big Chill, also makes mid-century reproduction ranges:


That's about $4300, too.  (And I think I like the look of the Big Chill version better.  Plus it comes in buttercup yellow, which could conceivably coordinate with my kitchen walls.  Another point that's totally academic.)

Then Made for Another World offered some priceless information: GE is now making a retro-inspired line of appliances, called "GE Artistry."  Apparently this is an effort at market differentiation, as it's at a fairly introductory level, price- and features-wise.  It comes in black and white, and looks like this:


The gas stove has an MSRP of $649, but seems to sell in the high $500s - and through today, it's on sale at Home Depot for $539.  (As you know, Home Depot does not pay me to say things, and, indeed, doesn't know I exist.  I'm just letting other midnight stove-shoppers know.)  This being the first option I've shown that dwells in the land of reality, I have many thoughts.  I like the styling.  I especially like that there's style differentiation happening at a more introductory price point.  It makes no sense that (assuming the features themselves are not costly) options start to appear only at high price points.  If I have 70 options for the print on my Kleenex box, why can't I decide what color stove handle I would like when I'm spending $500-$1000?  So while I think GE's "marketing to millenials" approach may be misguided as such, I like what they're doing here in general.  And it's around what I'm looking to spend.  On the other hand (because I can't be satisfied), I'm a little disappointed by the extreme no-frills-ness.  I don't share some reviewers' concerns with the lack of electronic oven programming, for example (that's less stuff to break, and I can buy a timer cheaply), but I don't love the tiny burner grates, and I am really not enthused about the lack of a self-cleaning feature.

Then I wander into the mental morass of whether I want to go with stainless steel (presently I have a stainless steel countertop microwave and a stainless steel dishwasher.  The dishwasher is fine but not excellent; the microwave is showing its age.  The refrigerator is white, but that's in the pantry.  I actually like the Artistry dishwasher and fridge more than the stove, design-wise, and if I needed to replace the dishwasher or fridge, I would be interested in replacing with something like that.  But I'm not hoping to have all my other appliances fail on me.  And so keeping the stainless look consistent in the kitchen itself would be intelligent.  Unless stainless suddenly experiences a huge backlash of hatred, which I have been predicting for years now, but which is stubbornly not happening.  I know I am making this very difficult, but in my mind, I'm trying to be prudent).  Having failed to resolve that issue, we move on...

For about the same price as the Artistry stove (with major footnotes on delivery and installation costs), I could get a number of normal contemporary stoves from the Sears outlet (which I recommend checking out, online or in person.  Lots of options there.  Note that I have not purchased any of them to date).  So, for example, there's this:


It has the functional features I want.  It starts at $719 for a refurbished or floor model - but that's without delivery or (significantly) installation.  It's nice-looking, but it's, well, a bit boring for my kitchen.  In my obviously not at all humble opinion.  But I don't think my concerns are totally delusional - I think Stove the Third, which is also fairly typical/modern, is a visual blight on that wall of the kitchen (I could possibly be overreacting).  So I don't want to make that mistake again.  Then there's this:


It starts at $649.  Again, good on function.  On the plus side, it's white, which I consider more traditional than stainless; and it avoids that "I'm from the future!" look.  On the other hand, I think it looks dated.  (Do I sound crazy yet?)  To my way of thinking, retro doesn't look dated, because it isn't trying to be current.  But things that are trying to look current and failing - those look dated.  This makes sense in my head.  So, then, there's this stove:


Once again, I approve of its functional characteristics.  It starts at $805.  Design-wise, however, I would say it reads, "I'm from the future.  GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"  It would look extremely bizarre in my kitchen.  There are other double-oven options (nothing I'm in love with), but the prices just climb from there.  So then I looked at single-oven stoves.  First I found this:


It starts at $442.  And I wanted to love it (I'm not 100% sold on the strictly-horizontal grate design, but it has an attractive simplicity, and I could picture swapping out the oven door handle for something a little fancier - maybe after the fashion of the Ilve), but the reviews made clear that there are issues with moisture from the oven seeping inside the door glass and making a mess.  And I have had my absolute fill of oven-door-glass issues; I would actually prefer an oven without any window, all other things being equal.  So that was a no.  And then I found this:


It starts at $640.  And of course, it also doesn't fulfill my double-oven criterion.  But, though I found this impossible to explain to my DH, I thought it won overwhelmingly on design.  It did what I assumed impossible - it looked very contemporary (I can't imagine anyone in five years thinking it looks dated), and it looked retro.  I'm not on crack here, really.  Check this out:


That's a vintage stove.  You see what I mean?  (My DH, only slightly persuaded by this, wanted to know why I didn't buy that one.  "Because it's not for sale, obviously," I said.  "That's a picture of somebody's kitchen."  Then I opened the page and realized that that was a sales photo.  The stove is actually vintage, apparently actually working, and sold for $2700.  It's 36" wide, though, so I don't have to cry over the sale or the price, because it wouldn't fit in my kitchen...we'll move on.)

So then my DH wanted to know what other cool-looking stove options were out there, and I was disoriented.  Quick, tell me what you mean specifically, or I will answer that question completely.  Trust me, that is not what you want.  I decided to take him on a quick survey of the internet.  I showed him the blue Ilve above, and he thought it was awesome.  This suggests that I am not merely swayed by the amount of stove-marketing I've endured (or the knowledge of its price, which I didn't tell him at first): it really is objectively lovely.  I also showed him what I've been toying with as the sensible option:


It starts at $660 (though yesterday I think they had one in the $400s.  They probably will again; it's the outlet).  It's GE's "slate" line, which strikes me as a good strategic choice.  It would go well (I suspect) with my cabinet color.  It would mollify the stainless crowd, I think, and yet (not being stainless) might withstand a future anti-stainless backlash.  And, it's unusual.  I like unusual.  I also picked that one over the more contemporary-looking slate one with the much bigger oven window because (as noted) I do not like oven door glass, and I think this one, which has more simple lines, almost looks just a little retro.  My DH, however, saw nothing special about it.  (That doesn't mean I won't buy it anyway.  I'd just have to decide that I'm totally in love with it.)

Then I tried to find some colored-enamel Bluestar ranges to show him something between the discounted GE and the crazy-expensive Ilve, and realized that the TV shows that claim Bluestar is an affordable pro-range-style option are simply lying (some actual professional ranges cost less).  However, I also learned that Bluestar makes this:



I know it looks dull there, but other photos confirm that the copper is shiny.  The 30" model starts at $6339.  Why is that starting to sound reasonable?  And, while we're on our non-reality tour, we have to see what La Cornue is offering:


Ah, yes.  The 30" starts at $21,000.  Very nice.  But I've always preferred the Aga...


That's the 36".  It also comes in 24", but I'm having trouble finding a 30".  I know this is the modern-adaptation one, not the original with the three different fixed-temperature ovens that are always on, but still, I'm quite surprised to see it's a mere $5700!  Oh, here's the one with the pre-set temperatures:



Is that gorgeous, or what?  It's 39" wide, and $15,000.  But for that price, you not only get those magnificent good looks (that color is "British racing green"), but near-magical cooking powers: "Because there are no elements or flames, all oven space can be used for cooking. The design allows you to grill at the top of the roasting oven, bake in the middle, and fry on the floor...all while simmering, boiling, or toasting on the hotplates!"  I don't even know what that means.  But I'm pretty sure La Cornue doesn't offer it.

Would you believe I actually negotiated a discount with the seller and ordered something?  Can you guess which one?  What would you choose?

Because your help is still needed.  Although I thought I had left plenty of room, after all the costs added up, installation would have exceeded my price ceiling, so I abandoned the order at the last minute.  The search for Stove the Fourth continues.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

chicken $h!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!t

On Sunday, realizing the temperature had started to drop (from a ridiculous high in the 50s) and the storm was on its way, we got out to spread some top soil mixed with chicken manure (I FOUND SOME!! In fact, I may have gotten the last two 25-pound bags in the county. It sounds like that's a lot more than I need, but after quite a bit of effort tracking some down, my view is that you can't have too much chicken $h!t), followed by a bunch of wood-chip mulch in hopes of deterring the weeds until the vegetables are ready to go in. Just as a cold rain started, we finished:


I haven't started my seeds yet (though all have arrived but the leeks and ranunculus), because my sunniest spot is on the enclosed porch, and despite all my insulation work, the porch is cold. It looks like it will be decently warm by next Saturday, so I plan to start them then.   But of course it may immediately get cold again, in which case the seeds may have to live on a radiator.  It can be either bright or warm, OK, seeds?  Think about what your priorities are and get back to me. 

Also, I still do not have a fourth stove.  More on that shortly, of course.