Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Francesca wore her Jolly Roger gloves to school yesterday. She was told to turn them inside out because her teacher deemed them inappropriate. I fail to see how the gloves are inappropriate. Is it me? Am I missing something?

Olde House Parts

The Tuscarawas County Heritage Home Association is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the documentation and preservation of the architecturally and historically significant homes, buildings, and neighborhoods of Tuscarawas County.

Their mission is to cultivate awareness and appreciation of this part of the local heritage, encourage interest in preserving historic structures within the community, and to educate those who are interested in preservation or are actively involved in the restoration of historically significant structures.

Olde House Parts is the association’s newest project to create an additional source of revenue to further their mission. It is an architectural salvage shop specializing in old and very old interior and exterior hardware, fixtures and accessories. Customers might find light fixtures, doorknobs, hinges, mouldings, pillars, staircases, windows, latches or sinks. Some days shoppers might find signs, corbels, mantels, gas lights or spindles. On other days, heating grates, drawer pulls, brackets, doors, shutters or slate roofing might be available. An ever changing inventory comes strictly from donations.

Members of the association staff the shop. Everyone who works in the store does so as a volunteer. A love of old homes and buildings brought this group together and they will be on hand to help each person peruse the inventory.

Olde House Parts held their grand opening on Saturday, Nov. 6. Volunteers who arrived early to ready the shop for the day found customers already waiting. Dealers, old house enthusiasts, artists, craftspeople and those just looking at the interesting inventory stopped by.

Nearly everyone made a purchase and walked away with a historical piece or part. By day’s end the inventory was drastically reduced.

Members of the association are constantly looking for new inventory to add to the shop. Donations from the public are encouraged and are tax deductible. Only items that date before 1950 are accepted at this time, during business hours or by appointment.

The shop is located at 123 W. Third St., in Suite 101 of The Galleria, in downtown Dover, and is open for business each Wednesday from 4-9 p.m. and each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment. Contact them at 330-364-5757 or via e-mail at

For more information about the Tuscarawas County Heritage Home Association, visit their web page at

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Only the First Day of Winter

My brother lives in Lemoore, California. The weather there is a little different than it is here. I just checked the weather report for his region. He’s suffering in 56 degree weather right now with light rain. He made a point to let me know he just received an heirloom seed catalog and is very excited about it. He, like me enjoys gardening. He’s always been resourceful so growing food for himself and his family is a given.
I love my brother but right now I am saying things under my breath. While he is tending his winter garden probably filled with cool weather crops like spinach, lettuces, herbs, carrots and radishes I am lucky to be getting baby carrots from a diligent farmer in Big Prairie whose season extension methods far surpass my own.
My mailbox is yet to be filled with seed catalogs. They usually arrive in February just as madness begins to set in. They will pull me out of my doldrums rather quickly and I will dream of warmer days and green things.
I walked to the compost bin this afternoon to drop off several days’ worth of kitchen scraps. There’s not much activity at the top of the pile but I managed to open the bottom door with a few gentle steel-toed kicks. Delight filled the nineteen degree air as I saw a bit of steam rise from the lower part of the pile…I did have to poke it with a stick. The smell of earth and the sight of worms was enough to make any gardener smile.
Winter is difficult for gardeners. We sit around thinking about all the things we could be doing. It’s too cold to fix the fence. It’s too cold to do much of anything outside. As I watch the birds, squirrels and barn cats I realize what a wimp I am. Granted, I do adapt and don’t complain too much about the cold. In fact, I really love the snow and how it blankets the Earth with its whiteness. Still, winter is long and I long for dirty hands, muddy boots and perhaps a new shovel this spring.
Christmas is coming and it helps to put a lot of woes out of my mind while I fill the house with cheer and watch magic appear in a wide-eyed little girl who is probably as anxious as I am to get outside. Her hula hoops and pogo stick are put away for the season. I reluctantly brought her bicycle inside but it doesn’t cruise well amongst the furniture and throw rugs.
Sled riding is certainly in order and the fresh air will do us both some good. Fashion and winter do not exist in our home so we will don our ear flap hats and the extra long scarves my mom made for us. It’s so much fun going down and so much working coming up but its winter. What are you going to do?
Before long February will arrive and my letter carrier will be faced with the mountains of seed catalogs she must stuff in my mailbox. So what if my brother has tomatoes months before me. So what if he can garden all year while I must wait patiently for my spring to arrive. To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Being in Hot Water is Not So Bad...

Here's a piece I wrote for a weekly newspaper. After the fact I spoke with a plumber friend who said even this routine maintenance will not do much good and a typical water heater will last about seven years. I bought the nine year warranty with this new one so at least I did THAT right.
My water heater died. It died a long-drawn-out death because I paid no mind to it. I mean, who actually looks at their water heater? I had no idea, and by the time I discovered it had serious issues, I had no hot water…for days. Come to find out, a smart homeowner does look at their hot water heater…about every six months.

Routine maintenance of systems and appliances keeps your home running smoothly. You can spot problems before they get too big to fix and in some cases prevent the problem from starting at all.

No one ever told me a water heater had to be maintained. I suppose I believed it to be a self-sustaining system that would, of course, eventually need to be replaced due to age but not my own inadequacies as a homeowner. Looking back at high school math, I see I really don’t need to know too many equations or theorems but I sure wish somebody would have filled me in on basic, biannual water heater maintenance.

My new rule is this: if it plugs in, is connected to a gas line and subsequently costs me money to maintain through one utility or another, it requires a biannual checkup of sorts. I will follow this rule come heck or high water…or in my case, cold, very, very cold water.

My plumber had several tips to help keep your water heater in optimal condition:

To maintain your water heater, begin by determining if it is gas or electric. Gas heaters will have a knob on the gas valve and electric heaters will have a thermostat behind a panel.

Turn down the heat. Most of us keep our water heaters set too high. A temperature of 115-120 degrees is suitable and will save you money on your utility bill. Keeping the water any hotter is a waste of energy.

Next, check your temperature and pressure release valve. This valve is very important in allowing your water heater to function safely and efficiently. If the temperature or pressure in your water heater tank gets too high, this valve releases a small amount of water. If your temperature and pressure release valve is defective really bad things, including explosions, can take place.

To check it simply lift up the valve lever a bit and allow it to snap back into place. You will hear a gurgling sound as the valve releases a small amount of water into the drain tube. If it does not, consult a plumber who can replace the valve.

Sediment develops at the bottom of your water heater over time. It is important to remove it so it doesn’t cause rust and corrosion to slowly eat away at your water heater tank. Water heaters have a drain valve near the bottom of the tank.

Depending on the make and model of your water heater, the process in opening this valve may vary. Consult your owner’s manual (there is a reason to keep those pesky manuals) to see how to open this drain valve. Drain a few gallons into a bucket. At first the water may appear dirty. That is OK.

The whole point of doing this routine maintenance is to get that dirty, sediment-filled water out of the tank. Close the valve. Empty the bucket and give yourself a pat on the back. You have just fulfilled your duties as a homeowner.

Friday, July 30, 2010

They're HERE!

They have finally arrived.

Here's a column from a few weeks ago...

There’s an old Guy Clark song from the ’70s that epitomizes how I feel about homegrown tomatoes. If you haven’t heard it, you ought to. If you have, then you know what I’m talking about. When I was a kid, my dad played that song over and over again on a jukebox in a local restaurant, much to the embarrassment of me and my brothers. I can’t imagine the other patrons liked it too much either. When you’re passionate about something, however, you don’t mind how it might annoy others.

“Ain’t nothin’ in the world that I like better

Than bacon & lettuce & homegrown tomatoes

Up in the mornin’ out in the garden

Get you a ripe one don’t get a hard one

Plant `em in the spring eat `em in the summer

All winter without `em’s a culinary bummer

I forget all about the sweatin’ & diggin’

Every time I go out & pick me a big one

Homegrown tomatoes homegrown tomatoes

What’d life be without homegrown tomatoes

Only two things that money can’t buy

That’s true love & homegrown tomatoes

You can go out to eat & that’s for sure

But it’s nothin’ a homegrown tomato won’t cure

Put `em in a salad, put `em in a stew

You can make your very own tomato juice

Eat `em with eggs, eat `em with gravy

Eat `em with beans, pinto or navy

Put `em on the side put `em in the middle

Put a homegrown tomato on a hotcake griddle

If I’s to change this life I lead

I’d be Johnny Tomato Seed

Cause I know what this country needs

Homegrown tomatoes in every yard you see

When I die don’t bury me

In a box in a cemetery

Out in the garden would be much better

I could be pushin’ up homegrown tomatoes”

Well, they have arrived. They are out there in the garden. Sure, they’re green but they won’t be for much longer. They get a little bigger every day. There’s not a bug or a blight on them. The waiting is killing me.

I’ve enjoyed some local tomatoes already from the farmers market. They were delicious. They were, in fact nearly perfect. Big and red, a few heirlooms too, of various shapes and shades. Only trouble is they weren’t from my own garden.

In my own garden I can tend a little, pull a few weeds and gently tie the tomato vines to their stakes with pieces of old, torn T-shirts. In my own garden I can watch little seeds turn into little plants. I can watch the sun and the rain turn those little plants into big healthy plants that develop pretty yellow flowers. I can get that weird itch you get when you touch the leaves of the plants. I can water the plants with water from the rain barrel when it doesn’t rain enough.

When I was a kid, my dad always walked the garden with a salt shaker in his pocket, waiting for the first homegrown tomatoes to never make it to the kitchen.

Soon I’ll be complaining there are too many and we’d better get to freezing and canning them before it’s too late. Soon I’ll be leaving them on my neighbor’s porch when he’s not home.

In the meantime I’ll wait, salt shaker in hand, humming that silly old song about homegrown tomatoes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Turn off the TV and Get in the Kitchen

I did not learn to cook by watching television. I learned to cook by not watching television. I know there are a lot of cooking shows on TV these days and they seem more a marketing platform for cookbooks, cook wear, pre-packaged processed food and the not-necessarily talented celebrity chefs that star in them. Since when is a chef worthy of celebrity. It's food people, we all need it and some of us are pretty good at taking the right ingredients and creating near works of art...but the celebrity thing puzzles me. Celebrity is never more admired than by the negligent. Real chefs don't have time to show the world their creations between advertisements for Stove Top Stuffing and Hot Pockets, they are in their kitchens. Most people who watch cooking shows don't even know the difference between a food mill and a mandoline. Granted, there are exceptions and some people who really like to cook get inspired by these shows. I'm sure some people who want to learn to cook might also get inspired and actually give it a go. Watching Tyler Florence chop ingredients and then pull a beautiful blue cheese souffle with figs and honey out of the oven is not going to teach you to cook. I could not even find one recipe on his web site. I don't care how good he looks in a sweater, I am not going to buy his over-priced zinc cheese tins. When I saw Mario Batali's pasta sauce in a jar available at the local grocery store I nearly gasped. No, I did gasp. At nine dollars a jar I really had to wonder, are there people so stupid they would buy this? For nine dollars I could make enough pasta sauce to last a month. Even though Mario's line is made in small batches (sure) with no added sugar (who puts sugar in pasta sauce?) in a certified green facility (just what does that mean anyway?) I'm going to make my own. Nine dollars? Are you kidding?

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Pound

Mom and I went to the dog pound today. We had agreed to foster an abused dog named Sophie. She is nearly eight months old. She was living with a crazed hoodlum who "disciplined" her as he saw fit. He threw her against the wall and fractured her leg...more than once.
They euthanize dogs at the pound after they have been there for too long, sometimes as soon as three days. Sophie needs surgery to fix her leg. Had we not stepped forward to foster her while she recovers they would have euthanized her. Members of the community donated money to pay her medical bils.
She had a housemate who is also at the pound. She may not be as lucky as Sophie. Her name is Brownie and she is a playful beauty.
Mom cried and had to leave the building...who can blame her. I held back tears.
I saw each of the dog's faces, and there were a lot of them. I saw their tails wag with hope as I passed their kennels. I touched as many as I could. They all touched heart.
I cried hours later while I made Francesca and Clint's lunches for tomorrow. We have a tomorrow. Sophie has a tomorrow...and hopefully a forever family will find her. She will be healed and ready to start her life over with people who will love her. She will be disciplined with a raised eyebrow and not a raised fist.
Several of the dogs we saw today have no tomorrow. Time ran out for them.
How I wish I could help them all.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

French Breakfast Radishes

This morning's harvest was exciting. It marks the season of eating food we grow! We've been eating herbs like chives, oregano, tarragon, thyme and green onions but radishes, these radishes, we can really sink our teeth in.
French Breakfast Radishes are longer than the typical radishes you see in the grocery store. They are red with a white tip and have a milder, almost sweet flavor. They can be eaten cooked or raw. We prefer them raw. The greens can be blanched and eaten as well but none of us seem to like furry leaves so they will go to the compost bin.
Harvesting the radishes left an open spot in the garden so I planted more. This time a variety called Violet de Gournay. They should be ready in about 35 days.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Making Crafts

I am writing a feature for a local newspaper about inexpensive crafts for kids to make for Mother's Day. I had been experimenting with the ideas prior to picking up Francesca from school including tissue paper flowers and thumbprint flowers. When she jumped in the Jeep she immediately said, "Why is your thumb red?" I explained I had been testing crafts for my article. She wanted to make something too. When we got home she went straight to work. She made a lovely picture.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Climbing Trees

Francesca climbs trees. In fact, she climbs most things that can be carts, counter tops, cars and trucks, deck railings, her dad, desks and occasionally, the dinner table...filthy feet and all. I don't often mention this to our dinner guests and I do make a habit of washing the table often.

No Ordinary Meal

Asparagus-Leek Frittata

Spice-Broiled Tofu Fillets

Here at the Compound we tend not to prepare traditional meals like Turkey for Thanksgiving or Ham for Easter. For Easter this year the meal was mostly vegetarian with the exception of salmon for the three carnivores in attendance.

Spice-Broiled Tofu Fillets with Jade Pesto (to even call tofu a fillet is somehow funny to me)

Asparagus-Leek Frittata (the Pièce de résistance)

Mushroom Rockefellers (yes, a variation on a theme, Rockefeller would not have approved)

Baked Potatoes with Butter and Panko

Spice-Broiled Salmon

The tofu looked great but had a custardy texture I am not fond of. I will not make it again. If there was a way to make tofu crunchy I might like it. The frittata was delicious and never have I been so proud of the poof these eggs performed at 400 degrees. The Mushroom Rockefellers were good and I will make them again with a few minor adjustments. The potatoes were, like all potatoes, potatoes. Not much to like or dislike. The small amount of salmon left over made its way onto a salad that I packed in Clint's lunch. I expect it was well received.

Sleeping in Tents

For the last three nights Francesca and I have been sleeping in a tent. I want to kill a bit of grass to make way for a new perennial bed and putting up a tent seemed to be the most enjoyable way to do the weather has been so fantastic, who wouldn't want to sleep outside? We had rain the first night but we weathered the storm. We had rain, thunder and lightening the second night and found ourselves somewhat wet in the morning. The third night was perfect. The temperature never went below 69 degrees. The wind was perfect. Today I wash the linens as the whole campsite is starting to lose its freshness. I'll put it all back together this afternoon in anticipation of another night under a glossy moon and the sounds of Earth's beasts.
For some people in the world, this might be the only shelter they have right now. They might not have the ugly orange extension cord to light the reading lamp or the pretty paper lantern as we do. They might not have an indoor bathroom a few steps away as we do. They might not have a glass of wine while they read Maurice Sendak's Little Bear to their children. And they probably aren't trying to decide between duvet covers while their linens are on the spin cycle.
There is something to be said about sleeping outside.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring Planting-The Beginning

On Sunday I put in a row cover for the radish and carrot bed. I used PVC pipe and steel rods to make the frame. Plastic or frost fabric works well to keep the seedlings warm. The fabric is nice because you can water through it. The row cover also keeps out deer and bunnies, my Spring-time arch enemies. They too, want fresh food. The temperature is just right for planting cool weather crops. I put in two rows of French breakfast Radishes and a row of Danvers Half-Long Carrots. I am waiting on a seed order from Le Jardin du Gourmet When the seeds arrive I will add spinach, Spring garlic and lettuce to the bed. The soil is warm enough to work. I am ready for fresh food. Radishes take 25 days.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


We got the greatest lunch box. It's called The Goodbyn. It has several sections to keep food seperate so your cucumber romaine wrap never smells like a banana. It has a reusable drink bottle that actually holds the amount of beverage a kid will drink at lunch. It's cute and I will never have to buy evil plastic baggies again. It comes with tons of stickers so it can be personalized. Kids like stickers.

There is a grown up version available too. It has no ears...and no stickers.

You can order one here:

Monday, February 22, 2010

Grant Me a Wish

I have spent the better part of the winter writing grants for the farmers' market. One might not think it costs much to operate a farmers' market but is is surprisingly costly. Most of the cost is for advertising and marketing, which in the market's infancy is vital to getting customers to break their super market habits and make the market a part of their weekly routine.

Last season we opened The Market Grill, a stand alone portable kitchen where we make ready to eat meals using ingredients sourced from our vendors. The concept has proven to be a challenge. Food is seasonal...and vendors are not always reliable. If the cheese vendor doesn't show up...we have no cheese. If the pork vendor doesn't show get the point. Despite the challenges, The Market Grill has proven to be a nice revenue stream. In addition to serving healthy meals, we are also show casing the ease of cooking with local ingredients.

We hope to make improvements to The Market Grill that will allow us to serve a more varied menu and to serve more patrons who choose to eat at the market or carry out. With a little extra effort...and a lot more customers, The Market Grill could allow us to be self sustaining and not have to rely on grants so much.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Down and Out and Face Down

A gentleman came into the deli last night. I hesitate to call him a gentleman as he was far from it. Gentle, yes. A man, yes. But combining those two words does not help to describe the sad state this young, Mohawk sporting, tattoo laden, toothless fellow was in. At first glance he appeared to me a transient sort in search of a warm place. He asked to fill out a job application. I was obliged to allow this so he could take fifteen minutes away from the cold and wind. He asked for a pen and sat down at the booth closest to the cash register. Within five minutes he was face-down on the table, pen still in hand. I was unable to stir him even with my best, hey buddy, ya gotta wake up bartender voice. Numerous attempts were made but he was out cold, as it were. Fearing the worst, I checked for signs of life from a distance. He was indeed breathing and an occasional lip twitch reassured me he was not dead. Lacking any alternative, I telephoned the police and asked for assistance in removing him from the deli. The police were quick to arrive. Several attempts were made to rouse him and eventually it worked. They asked the usual question, who are you, do you know where you are, etc. He seemed to know who he was but he was not willing to give up much more information. The police questioned him for at least a half an hour, asking him to remove items like a candle and very clean, white shoes from a satchel he had in his possessions. They questioned him about the candle repeatedly, asking if he stole it from the Christian book store. They even asked if the candle had a scent. One officer went so far as to bend over and smell the candle and remarked, "Ah, yes, it does smell good." He never did return the application or the pen. I also believe he stole two chocolate chip cookies. The police officers put him in the back of their car and drove off into the night under the biggest, whitest, brightest moon I have ever seen. And I continued to clean the sneeze guard with white vinegar as we were out of glass cleaner.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Like Dogs

And I like people who go out of their way to help dogs. I was asked to create a custom piece for the humane society benefit auction. It was a joy to do.
This is Grace...and hopefully someone will buy this light box so that dogs without love, homes, food and behind the ear rubs might have a chance.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Casablanca: Overlooking Atwood Lake

If you've never been to Casablanca in Delroy you really ought to go. It is a husband and wife team, the wife is the chef, the husband the maitre d'. Their restored 1860's home serves as a restaurant by reservation only. The menu is eclectic and includes steaks, seafood and pasta. The food is typically American with a hint of Mediterranean. They do not accept credit cards and something about that sits right with me.I am thinking of taking Clint here for Valentine's Day. In all the years we have been together, we have never gone here together. It was a favorite place for me and my Dad. I think Clint will love it.

Friday, January 8, 2010


BUCKEYE: Monday- Chicken parm.; bread sticks; salad; peaches. Tuesday- Chicken nuggets; dipping sauce; parsley rice; fruit; green beans; homemade cookie. Wednesday- Coney; mac & cheese; veggie; apple crisp. Thursday- French toast sticks; syrup; sausage links; hash browns; OJ; muffin. Friday- Pasta supreme; augratin beans; bread sticks; fruit.

CLAYMONT: Monday- Hot dog; corn; peaches; Twix bar. Tuesday- Mustang burger; pickles; hash browns; peas; mandarin oranges. Wednesday- Fish sandwich; tartar sauce; mac & cheese; green beans; fruit. Thursday- Spaghetti; meatsauce; salad; apple/cherry crisp; bread stick. Friday- Pizza; cheddar cheese wedge; celery stick/dip; applesauce; bread stick.

CONOTTON VALLEY: Monday- Pizza/Taco sticks; corn; fruit snacks; fruit. Tuesday- Mini corn dogs; potato chips; sherbet cup; baked beans. Wednesday- Chicken patty; noodles; carrots; apple crisp. Thursday- Fish; fries; cheese chunks; pineapple. Friday- Pizza; broccoli/cheese; corn chips; jello.

DOVER: Monday- Chicken/ranch snack wrap; lettuce & cheese; pears; pretzel rods. Tuesday- Pizza; corn; peaches. Wednesday- Sausage patty, egg, & cheese english muffin; tater tots; banana. Thursday- Shredded turkey sandwich; green beans; applesauce. Friday- No School!

GARAWAY ELEM.: Monday- Hot dog -or- Coney; baked beans; pears; cheetos. Tuesday- Popcorn chicken; butter bread; green beans; fruit turnover. Wednesday- Hamburger gravy; mashed potatoes; roll; corn; baked apples. Thursday- Toasted cheese; tomato soup/crackers; baby carrots/dip; applesauce. Friday- Stuffed crust pizza; peas; peaches.

INDIAN HILLS: Monday- French toast sticks; sausage links; fruit. Tuesday- Chicken on salad; crackers; tomato soup; cinnamon roll. Wednesday- Pizza; carrots/dip; munchies; treat. Thursday- Walking taco; Gold Fish; applesauce; cookie bar. Friday- Turkey sandwich; potato soup; fruit; dessert.

The local newspaper prints the school lunch menus complete with misspellings. I am appalled at the amount of processed, canned, frozen, artificially sweetened and just plain unhealthy food being served to our children. There are no whole grains, no fresh fruits and everything seems to have some kind of breading on it. If carrots are served they come with dip? Most kids believe carrots are just a vehicle for dip anyway.
60% of Tuscarawas County residents are over weight. Hmmmm?