Day 229: Delightful House Plants

I’ve become delighted with house plants. For years and years I thought I was a plant killer — nothing would stay alive for me. My new interest in house plants started after my trip to Europe in 2018. I noticed that a plant that my sister-in-law, Diane, had on her lanai had “babies”, and I asked if I could take one. I did and planted it, only to have it die. I was ashamed and put it outside in the spring, planning on using the pot for something else. Imagine my surprise when the plant started putting out leaves. Today it is quite healthy and getting bigger each season.

The last trip I made to the grocery store before the pandemic restrictions were put in place was just before St. Patrick’s day 2020 and I bought a shamrock plant for the holiday. It continued blooming all year long, although the foliage and flowers became very thin. I call it my pandemic plant.

When I met up with my friend, Rosanne, I took a cutting of her Swedish ivy which is now a full-fledged plant.

I’ve written about my success with propagating a wintersweet plant — it’s still growing strong.

Armed with four successes I’ve asked Andrew to pass along cuttings from his vast collection of houseplants. He gave me a pothos a while back and more recently a “wandering Jew” (that he has renamed as a “wandering dude”, believing that the original name is slightly derogatory).

Today I repotted the shamrock, Swedish ivy, wintersweet and wandering dude.

As noted above, the shamrock’s leaves and flowers had thinned out considerably — likely because it was terribly root-bound. I replanted it in a much larger pot and saved part of it for Andrew. It’s likely to go dormant now since I disturbed it, but I have confidence that it will be back after a while.

The Swedish Ivy was fine, but I thought I might as well put it in a larger pot since it was growing so well.

The wintersweet was in a tiny (but lovely) pot, but I knew it would outgrow that quickly so I put it in a not-so lovely larger pot.

Finally, while the wandering dude’s pot was not too small, the soil was infested with fungus gnats. Against Andrew’s advice I removed all soil from the roots and repotted it into clean, gnat-free, soil.

Fingers crossed that all the plants survive.

Day 204: Alone Time & Mezze

Dean had to go into work this morning so I had the house to myself. It was delightful.

This afternoon I spent all day in the kitchen making a few Greek dishes for dinner including avgolemono soup, something that I’ve been wanting to learn how to make ever since a friend made it for us in Pittsburgh in the 1980s. I also made pita bread, baked feta, hummus, and a lettuce Greek salad.

A few months ago Dean came into the kitchen, hungry and wondering when dinner was. I mentioned that I’d been cooking all afternoon and it would be ready when it was ready. He said something like “you always cook elaborate things”. I took it as criticism but when he said it was a compliment I let it go, although I still think he was criticizing me. Yesterday, expecting a similar remark, I said that I think that cooking is becoming a hobby. Now that I have the time to try new recipes I like to make meals whose dishes go together. He was impressed with everything last night. Delightful, but making it was delightful.

Alas no photos of dinner but a bonus delight in the way of Dr. Fauci on Dean’s computer from earlier in the week.

Day 203: Part of the Rainbow

We have a multi-faceted crystal in the living room window that casts rainbows around the room on sunny days. Today as I sat on the sofa, reading a book, a light shone in my eyes. I looked up and saw that I was in the way of one of the rainbows. I moved my head back and forth while looking at the crystal and saw different colors. I was inside the rainbow. I was delighted that I could capture it with my phone.

Day 201: Nice People and More

Nice People

I am quite the procrastinator when it comes to calling anyone on the phone. This includes calling for services such as repair. If there is an option to chat or email, I will take that any day. This week I made the commitment to contact people about various repairs. Yesterday’s connection with the Bosch people gave me the courage to contact other companies about repairs

The Floor

In the last few weeks we’ve noticed an ever-widening gap between a few of our tiles in our kitchen. I noticed a small gap months ago, but Dean didn’t think it was a problem. Now it is a problem since the gap is a quarter-inch wide. We first considered fixing it ourselves; it only required us to remove the wooden transition trim between the dining room and kitchen and push the tiles inward towards the gap. This didn’t work because the smallest of the tiles are attached to the floor with some sort of adhesive. (The tiles have a tongue and groove and are not supposed to be stuck to the floor, but in this case it was necessary because they were tiny parts of the tiles.)

Anyway I contacted the first company (family-owned since 1923) on the list of recommended dealers for this particular product and the man who answered the phone was very nice and promised stop by the next day, a Thursday. He didn’t show up (or call). I called again on Wednesday because he’d mentioned he was tied up through Monday and he promised to stop by on Thursday. He didn’t show up (or call). I called him on Monday and left a message saying that if he was not planning on helping us out, just call and tell us and we’d move on. He never called back.

I looked at the list of dealers again and found another company that seemed promising (“family and friends” was part of the name). This time I emailed with the exact issue, a photo, and a plea to let us know if they were not able to help us since I’d already been ghosted by another company. These folks immediately returned my email, empathizing with me about the no-show/no-call company and saying they’d discuss it and get back to me with a time they could come fix it. Needless to say I was relived and delighted with that response.

Outdoor Furniture

As you may recall, we bought a teak outdoor dining set in the middle of winter. Dean put the set together in the dark on a freezing night just before a snowfall. In hindsight I think waiting until daytime and warmer weather might have been more practical. Anyway, I’ve been applying a teak protector on the furniture to keep it a honey-brown and noticed that some of the chairs were not put together well — in fact some of the chairs were missing dowels. I mentioned this to Dean, hoping he’d kept some of the hardware, but he hadn’t and instructed me to go to the hardware store to buy some.

I decided to try the company from whom we’d purchased the furniture (chatting this time) and within a few minutes was told that they’d send dowels to us at no charge. I guess we did spend a pretty penny on the furniture and it is under lifetime warranty, so I should not be surprised. But I was delighted nonetheless.

Weather

The temperature this afternoon made it into the upper 70s. Glorious! Delightful! This Carolina wren agreed with me.

I still have it

I’ve not thought about, much less worked on anything related to accessibility since the day I retired. I unsubscribed from my favorite accessibility email list and uninstalled all accessibility software from my computer. I found that thinking about it created anxiety and I didn’t want any more anxiety thank-you-very-much.

Then last week Clare asked me to help out with a PDF for her second job. Since I was converting a word file to PDF file I figured I would make it accessible too. That felt good.

This week she asked me to check the website for her second job and see what needed to be done to make it accessible (its a non-profit organization, but still should be accessible). So today I spent a few hours looking at it with my long-neglected accessibility perspective and sent the results to Clare.

It felt good to know that I still knew what I was doing. I’d gotten caught up on the fact that I was not the best in my field at work and the competition there was uncomfortable, thus my decision to retire early. But with something like this, I am the most knowledgeable person at the table (between Clare and myself and maybe the people who she works with) and I feel my confidence coming back. Which is a delightful feeling.

Day 200: 200! Plus a Few Other Delights (and one non-delight)

200

I’m on day 200! That in itself is a delight. I’m getting back to being able to recognize delights as they occur. Another delight.

ABW and Bosch

Our contractor suggested we use a company called ABW (Appliances a Better Way) when we were looking at appliances for the kitchen remodel. We did and they’ve turned out to be a good choice. We’ve had some issues with our Bosch duel fuel range. The door won’t close completely. Technicians from ABW have been out several times to try to fix it and it has never properly worked. Each time they have been out, they are empathetic with our situation as are the people on the phone when I call to tell them that the door is not closing, yet again and my trick involving rolled up dishtowels is no longer working.

The other day our oven became very slow to preheat (not preheating at all on bake or convection bake, but eventually preheating on convection roast). I am not sure if it is related to the door not closing (I am currently using very strong magnets to keep it closed). It would seem that no matter what the setting, it would either preheat or not, but I am not an expert. I called ABW and the woman I spoke to warned me that the range was out of warranty and we’d be responsible for the service call and parts. I mentioned that I was pretty fed up with the range and was thinking of scraping it for a different brand. She said she’d check with Bosch to see if they would pay for this repair since it was less than 6 months out of warranty and it was the same problem that we’d been having since we got the range.

I didn’t expect Bosch to cover it having overheard their service representative telling one ABW technician someone must have sat on the door for it to not close. Also, according to the Internet this is a common problem for this particular range (older versions, but the same general range model). But this morning I answered a call from Bosch who said they’d be happy to foot the bill for this repair. I told them this call restored my faith in their company. Delight!

Villeroy & Boch

Dean and I were given for our wedding a lovely tray and serving platter with primitive scenes of rural life in Belgium (Design Naif) and because of that we ordered that pattern for our “good dishes” with some of our wedding cash. We still use the set for only special occasions, the rest of the time it sits in our china cabinet. I still feel delight when I look at the patterns.

For years I acquired more of the set, either as gifts from my mom who picked them up at Home Goods, or by buying them myself. About 10 years ago I bought two pans with the same pattern and they lived on top of the china cabinet until this afternoon when I moved one in order to put a planter with a trailing plant in its place. I figured I might as well use these pans more than I’d done in the past. I don’t even think I’d gotten a good look at the design until today. They made me chuckle. One depicts a woman scrubbing the floor while her husband sits at the table enjoying a bowl of soup while the family cat sits on the table. The other is a little better, but even though the man is cooking something in the wood-fired oven, the woman is still working. At least the cat is off the table and warming itself by the fire.

Not a delight

I’ve decided to try to cook a recipe from my original Moosewood Cookbook each week and provide a rating in stars (0=inedible; 1=edible but won’t cook again without modifications; 2=Ok; 3=Good; 4=Excellent, will make again often). I’ve not yet rated anything as 4 yet. This week we had an excess of peppers and the remaining ingredients for a recipe I’d been meaning to try: Bulgarian Pepper and Cheese Delight. Don’t search for it on the Internet — you’ll only find Katzen’s updated version Bulgarian Pepper and Cheese Casserole.

Even though the name of this dish includes the word “delight” the finished product did not delight me, although all of the ingredients I used are things I like. The just didn’t work well together. The cheese topping didn’t blend with the onion/mushroom/pepper layer and neither blended with the bulgur layer. We ate most of the dish, but didn’t save what was leftover. I’m giving it a 1.5 star rating.

Days 184 – 193: Mostly Plants

A couple of weeks ago we met with a landscaper and his partner to discuss some plants for our backyard. It’s pretty much been an eyesore for years and I decided that I didn’t want to just add a few plants, but really re-do the yard. Pull up the ivy and vinca, plant native wildlife-attracting shrubs and perennials. We’ve been throwing ideas back and forth with the landscapers and have settled on some exciting-to-me plants:

  • Skip Laurels along the back to hide our neighbor’s driveway and guesthouse-office
  • Beautyberry bushes along the other neighbor’s fence along with some other, yet to be decided native perennials
  • Native shade-loving plants around the deck:
    • goldenrod
    • bleeding hearts
    • wood asters
    • two types of ferns
  • Woodsy plants in the deep shade such as jack-in-the-pulpit, maybe some trillium
  • I also want to plant a spicebush on the side of the house

The folks have done quite a bit of work — mostly removing invasive ivy and vinca. They also took down a wire fence between our yard and the backdoor neighbor. It looks bare now, but at some point it will be beautiful.

I really love my houseplants. When I look at them my heart soars. I thought I was a houseplant killer, but these are doing well. Of course they are pretty easy to keep alive, but still.

Other delights of the past several days:

  • Snowdrops were discovered under some ivy and pachysandra — a remnant of a fairy garden Clare and I tried to create
  • The juncos are still around and enjoying the thistle seed
  • I’ve figured out where to put the bird feeder when the garden is done
  • I didn’t kill the wintersweet (whew!)