69. Rounding the edges…

While I was having fun in the sun on the first ever Sisters’ Vacation, Mr. H.C. was hard at work. When I asked him over the phone what he was doing, he said, “Oh, working…” So I let it alone, and wondered what project he was doing… He had permission to organize his shop, lay in the hammock under the trees, and take naps.

He admitted to laying in the hammock for fifteen minutes one evening (see post 18. Gifts of Time.) but he declined to take any naps. This is the almost-finished project that greeted me on Saturday evening.


This project included insulating the space that was “the cave under the cottage“, wiring the cave so there would be a permanent light there, hanging and electrifying the schoolhouse light fixture over the counter, finishing the outlets and wall switch, bolting the two cabinets together, and adding the butcher block top. (And pouring glasses of wine…)

On Monday, I added the doors to the cupboards — it took me hours to find the hinges, spray paint the hinges, find screws that would fit, and put the closers on the doors. I wouldn’t do well being paid for my labor, but the end result was pleasing.New counter top in kitchen

New countertop in kitchen

The butcher block top is not yet bolted down; we are still trying to decide which side will get the overhang — the kitchen or the dining room. I was thinking of voting for a symmetrical look of even on both sides.

I’m thinking that the countertop is too square; Mr. H.C. doesn’t want to hear it. I would like to curve the ends on one side. Correction: I would like Mr. H.C. to get out whatever saw will work and curve the ends on one side. He’s still thinking about that; the other option would be to round the edges on the end — you know, where everyone would walk through, bump against the corners, and bruise their hips? Kind of like life? Rounded edges are better than sharp corners…

Here’s the photo that was my inspiration:

rounded corners on countertop

See how the edges of the island are gently curved on one side?

Do any of you out there in reader-land have an opinion on this?

64. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like a Kitchen…

Everywhere I look
Finished walls and doors,
beautiful shiny floors
What a grand place to cook!

Yes, yes, I know. Bad rhymes again. But every time I walk into the kitchen I feel like singing (and dancing on the checkerboard floor). We’re getting close to the drum roll, but not yet. Still no stove. Still no French doors. But we redded up the place on Saturday in preparation for visitors — it is spring after all — and it looks almost like a real kitchen.

Built in behind-the door spice rack

This is the built-in floor to ceiling spice rack. The bottom shelves are larger to hold olive oil and larger bottles.

It was well that we neatened everything up, because we had more visitors on Saturday than we’ve ever had in one day. We even had our first international guests — our son-in-law’s parents from Spain are here visiting. Such a lovely time we had; I would have given anything to speak the same language…

His mom is an artist, and I was so pleased she noticed the kitchen windows. For outside the windows is the green green grass of spring, and inside the windows on the wall is Blooming Grove green.

The inside green and the outside green are separated by the creamy white of the windows, and I love it. I can’t manage a photo of it though. When I take a shot of the grass outside, the inside green is too dark; when I take a shot of the interior walls, the outside blurs. If someone out there in readerland is a photographer and can tell me how to do this, I’d be happy. In the meantime, you’ll have to look at these two photos and pretend.

We’ve also put wainscoting on the short wall that flows out to the peninsula between the living room and dining room. We’re still working on the rest of the wall as it turns the corner. The beam that separates the two rooms has to go up first. This is good because it means that we can finally get rid of these 2x4s that we’ve been walking around and through for the past year.

Hey, the human species is very adaptable — we can get used to almost anything! (Washing dishes in the bathroom sink was tough though…)

We've put the island back in place. A dark oak cupboard will go on the wall next to the green door.

We’ve put the island back in place. A dark oak cupboard will go on the wall next to the green door.

We actually ate dinner in the kitchen on Monday night — on stools around the island — even though the stove is still in the living room. It was still a little too cool to eat on the porch, but it is ready for spring.

And so am I! Give me a gray, rainy day in spring over a sunny day in winter anytime!

57. The Crooked Little House

Yes, we’re trying to straighten up a crooked little house — and it’s driving Mr. H. C. bonkers. This is a man who has to have pieces meet within a thirty-second of an inch. And that level bubble? Well it has to be right between those lines, as close to the middle as it can be. Poor guy. Some days he just shakes his head. Some days he wonders aloud why we ever got into this. And some days when the bird clock whistles 5:00, he just goes and quietly gets a glass of wine.
Is it level?
For the record, the nursery rhyme goes like this:

There was a crooked man who walked a crooked mile
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile,
He bought a crooked cat who caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a crooked little house.*

black and white checkerboard VCT
Hmm… No mention of a crooked little wife. That’s good, I think. And we’ve found plenty of crooked little mice — all dead — thank goodness. But I was beginning to wonder if the black and white checkerboard tile I had planned was wise on a crooked floor…

If I had a crooked sixpence for every time Mr. H. C. complained about the walls not being level, and the floor not being level, and the doors not being level, I could probably buy a crooked cat. Oh wait, we have one already…
Sleeping cat
This was the weekend that we were putting down the underlayment for the floor. For those of you who don’t speak the lingo, that is 4×8 sheets of thin plywood type stuff that doesn’t bend around crooked walls or over crooked floors. It makes a nice, smooth surface for laying linoleum or tile. Mr. H.C. is a genius at making crooked things look straight, so I wasn’t too worried about how it would look — I was more concerned about his state of mind while the floor was on its way to looking good.

The first piece went down easily; the second was more difficult because it had to have many specific holes cut out for the plumbing. And then, I heard him say, “Wow, this is really pretty square.”


I made him repeat the sentence.

And later, as he was cutting the last piece and I was nailing the others down, he said it again!

Stapling down underlayment

Almost 3000 staples went into this underlayment, and my shoulder is feeling the pain… (I really do work sometimes!)

Now, we’re not to the point of throwing out the level, and the rest of the house may still be crooked, but the kitchen is Straight and Square.


And ready for checkerboard tile.

*“There was a Crooked Man” originates from the English Stuart history of King Charles I. The “crooked man” is said to allude to Scottish General Sir Alexander Leslie, who signed a treaty that secured Scotland’s freedom. “The crooked stile” represents the border wedged between England and Scotland. The English and Scots agreement is represented within the line “They all lived together in a crooked little house.” The rhyme refers to the uneasy peace between the two countries. (Source is many websites that all give the same history.)


This illustration is from The Real Mother Goose — you know the one with the black and white checkerboard cover?

And here are some of the absolute best nursery rhyme books:

My Very First Mother Goose and Here Comes Mother Goose both by Rosemary Wells
The Original Mother Goose by Blanche Fisher Wright
Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young by Jack Prelutsky
Tomie dePaola’s Mother Goose by Tomie dePaola