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A week of harvest food pickups

At my computer at 7:28 AM on a Saturday, because we were awakened by Mark’s cat, who was trying to bury something in the bed … I will spare you the scatological details, but they involved a long-haired cat with a hairy butt, and a misunderstanding of what things really must be buried in her litter box, and not the bed.evilcat

On Tuesday, I drove out to Waisman’s farm in the rain to pick to pick up pig. It was an illustration of all the reasons why I’m glad I don’t drive to work – or commute into Madison from one of the outlying towns, like where Waisman’s is. It was raining, heavy traffic, dark and hard to see. It was also quite warm, 55°.

But worth the trip; here’s the massive list of pork I brought home:

Smoked shank
3 packs of bacon
8 brats
2 tubes liver sausage
1# bulk breakfast sausage
1# ground pork
Pack of Breakfast links
Shoulder roast
2 loin roasts
Giant pork steak
3 packs pork chops – 2 each
3 ham steaks



After I put the pork away, I spent the rest of the night trying to make the towel dams hold – but it was just raining too hard. I thought I had everything basically secure, with a load of wet towels in the dryer. I meant to just sit on the couch for 20 minutes and then go swap the towels, but I fell into the most delicious sleep in front of Jimmy Fallon, with Hammie all snugged up next to me – and was awakened 40 minutes later by the dryer buzzer. I went downstairs to find about 1/2 inch of water on the basement floor, coming up under the bed. I sopped everything again, using everything dry thing I could find including an old mattress pad and a flannel sheet that I’d been saving to pad furniture in a move, put another wet load in the dryer, and this time lay on the couch with Hammie and the black cat, until 2:00 AM when I went and checked everything again, added more dry towels, and finally went to bed.

On Thursday, on an only slightly colder, but much windier day, I went and got my winter CSA share – what Megan’s been calling my Thanksgiving box. Here’s what was in that:

Box “A”

Beauty Heart winter radish, 2 (I got 3, actually)
Beets, 3 lb
Brussels sprouts, 1 – 2 short stalks – 2lbs. when pulled off the stems – perfect amount for Thanksgiving dinner
Carrots, 6 lb mixed colors
(orange 4 lb, yellow 1 lb, purple 1 lb)
Green cabbage
Leeks, 3 lb
Parsnips, 3 lb
Rutabaga, 1 or 2

Box “B”

Butternut squash, 3-6, ~12 lb
Sweet potatoes, ~10 lb
Red Maria potatoes, ~5 lb
Carolla potatoes, ~5  lb
Red onions, 1 lb
Yellow onions, 4 lb
Garlic, 3

Then finally on Saturday morning in the snow, and about 26°, (after kitty cat cleanup), we went and picked up the turkey in the parking lots out back of the indoor farmer’s market – a 15-pounder from Matt Smith.

On Saturday night, I made a small bone-in pork loin roast from the pig – I mixed up orange marmalade, hoisin sauce, and garlic, and rubbed it on the meat. It made a delicious black crust that according to the latest reports, is probably carcinogenic. With it we had a vegetable gratin that I “leaned” quite a bit – used a pint of half & half instead of heavy cream, and maybe 2 TBLS butter instead of the whole stick the recipe called for. It sure was good – yellow and orange carrots from the Thanksgiving box, and celeriac from the last box of the regular season.

On Sunday we tried the bacon, to go with home made freezer waffles, and applesauce, and Mark made some eggs with cherry tomatoes from the indoor farmer’s market and Farmer John’s cheese. The bacon is fattier than some of the other kinds we buy, but it sure is tasty fat – and probably another  tasty carcinogen. But as Meredith said today, “It’s not like bacon was ever supposed to be good for you”.

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Long weekend in Minneapolis


seen on my walk on Friday

seen on my walk on Friday

On Thursday, a terribly windy day, I sat on the upper deck of the double decker bus to the Twin Cities, to meet Mark who was already at the techy librarians conference. The bus was full and I had to share a seat, so I only got out my computer to shut it down – there was no room, and it was too bumpy to type because of the wind.

The first keynote was an expert on digital governance. Even after her talk, I’m not really sure what that is, but seems like another kind of project management.

The second one was the technology director of the Digital Public Library of America. He rambled quite a bit, but the main message was check your privilege before you create metadata and linked data (the new data format for libraries that is going to get our collection info out on the web with all the other stuff), because whose story are you telling – or description are you creating, I guess. Kind of in opposition to most of the discussion I’ve been hearing, and my thinking around the topic, which is that getting library, archive, & museum data out onto the Web is inherently good – because we’re not selling anything, and have reputable data – so we will class the joint up.

The closing keynote was a library consultant, who talked about getting out of your comfort zone – the echo chamber – to bring about innovation and organizational change. And a lot about SXSW.

In between I heard talks about altmetrics, linked data, data visualization, and trying to de-dupe a collection of 25 million MARC (the old library data format) records for government documents.

My brother lived in Minneapolis for about 6 years, from 1988 – 1994. On Friday, I went past his old old place across from Loring Park on the way to the Walker Art Museum (and the Claes Oldenburg cherry on the spoon). On Saturday I went near the last place he lived before moving to Seattle, near the Minneapolis Institute of Art. I fell and skinned my knee on that walk.

On Friday night we went to dinner with a big group at an Indian place, Dancing Ganesha. Good spicy food, but everything I had on that night, down to my bra, smelled like curry. On Saturday I could’ve easily skipped dinner, because we had a big lunch with the conference, but Mark wanted pizza and a salad so we went to Pizza Luce, and split a small pie and a salad with apples and walnuts and blue cheese.

On Sunday, we spent the afternoon walking – visiting the Minneapolis Institute of Art, to see a Delacroix show, that was about his influence on other painters, and honestly didn’t have much Delacroix  in it. These were my two favorite paintings & story in the show, one by Delacroix  and one by John Singer Sargent, both now in the UK National Gallery. We went back to the hotel by way of the Walker sculpture garden again. After working up an appetite that way, we went to Restaurant Alma, a 3-course fixed price dinner. Mark had been there before, and liked it so much he wanted to go back. I sort of wanted to try two courses instead of the full three, but even though the menu had assurances that a la carte was perfectly OK, there were no prices. Probably price-wise the fixed price was better. It’s the type of place where they list the ingredients and you figure it out, like the warm roasted beets I started with, subtitled petit basque, pickled chilies, chorizo sauce, that turned out to be the beets, a few thin slices of chorizo – which must’ve been house cured and was very good, and a foamy white faintly cheesey sauce, which was the petit basque, kind of melted, I think. I liked my middle course the best,  a coconut and rice crepe, supposed to be filled with pulled pork, but I opted for the vegetarian filling – roasted butternut squash. I thought if I was going for three courses, I should do whatever I could to lighten them. I couldn’t detect the coconut in the crepe, which was nicely herb-y, nor the cucumbers in the description. For thirds I had the duck two ways, 3 slices of breast that were way too rare for me, and a confit leg that was delicious, with a puddle of apple puree (applesauce) and parsnips and Brussels sprouts. The vegetables were there but so tiny, they just kind of merged into a bed of matter the meat sat on. I would’ve preferred a couple of visible sprouts and hunks of parsnip. Everything came decorated with fresh chives.

Sunrise from the hotel room window on Saturday morning

Sunrise from the hotel room window on Saturday morning – NPR talking about Paris in the background

We stopped at Norske Nook in Osseo for pie on the way home on Monday. I’d been craving sweet potato, so I had pumpkin, which inspired me to bake a sweet potato pie on Wednesday night. Lard crust.

Sweet potato pie with a lard crust

Sweet potato pie with a lard crust

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Race Comes to Milwaukee

Unless you’re on heavy tranquilizers, or really not paying attention, you know that the Republican Presidential candidates’ debate was in Milwaukee, on Tuesday. The headline on the Milwaukee paper when I brought it in Wednesday morning was “Race Comes to Milwaukee” which made no sense at all to me. “WTF”, I thought, “race has always been in Milwaukee, it’s one of the most segregated, if not THE most segregated, Northern city”.

Republican candidates, picture from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Republican candidates, picture from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Anyways the headline reminded me of two, or maybe two and a half,  race-related things, that I think I put into a half-written blog post that I never published. If I did publish it and I’m repeating myself, I apologize (which reminds me of watching the last half of The Giver a few nights ago; they say that a lot).

I think the best thing Bryan Stevenson said when he was here to give his Go Big Read author talk (behind UW NetID; those of you not affiliated with UW can watch his TED talk) was when he said that the real evil of slavery in the US is that we made it race-based. Slavery had existed for thousands of years, as a state that almost anyone could end up in, through bad luck or consequences of war, but could also get out of, not that it was easy, but it was possible … until we made slavery race-based. Think Game of Thrones – or the Roman empire. Born a slave, die a slave, is not necessarily true in either of those cultures.


Wisconsin Public Radio did a show a couple of weeks ago, that I think I heard because I was up and in the kitchen a little earlier than usual on a Saturday, on white privilege. One of the commentators on the show, Naomi Zack, a philosophy professor at University of Oregon, said another thing that stuck with me. She doesn’t like talking about white privilege in conjunction with events like the Michael Brown shooting, and other violations of Black people’s rights. Her reasoning, which seems sound to me, is that being able to walk down the street and not get shot, to not see your children shot, are not privileges, they are rights. So we shouldn’t talk about white privilege in contrast to these violations of rights.

But hey, I’m white and middle class. But I’m female and I’m old. I’ve suffered very little serious hardship in my life, unless you count always feeling like I should do the right thing, instead of whatever the fuck I wanted to. I by no means wish to equate this with the years of systematic racism that Black people have been subjected to, but I still can remember feeling discriminated against, in the 1970s, because I was female, and young. So I’m with Naomi Zack – not keen on reducing the discussion to white privilege – it does seems a reduction, to me.

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Where you could easily sub in person for family.

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Missing the last outdoor market


That's Matt Smith, Blue Valley Gardens

That’s Matt Smith, Blue Valley Gardens

Right now, I am missing the last outdoor Dane County Farmer’s Market. I’m in Chicago to take Al out to dinner for his 27th birthday, which was just a little over a week ago. I’m not doing so well at taking pictures – and, even worse, looks like I never even posted about my last Chicago trip. That one was in mid-October. I got the 1:00 bus from Madison on a Tuesday afternoon, and we went to see the Chicago Symphony that night. There was a guest conductor, Semyon Bychkov, and he had big hair, curly, and the soloist, Renaud Capuçon, violin, also had big hair – he was very French, big forelock.

On Wednesday morning I met Al for coffee. I had lugged a foot bath and bag of accessories (probably handmade soap) an early birthday gift from (his girlfriend) Emma’s mom on the bus, and I wanted to deliver the stuff. We went to a place I’d never been to before, that’s a Chicago limited chain – Dollop. I got a PB&J with my coffee and it was pretty much like what I would’ve made at home, bread sliced off some kind of whole grain boule, toasted, with natural peanut butter and black berry jam. The coffee was good too. I came back to the apartment and graded websites for as long as I could stand it (actually what I’m supposed to be doing now, too). We went to dinner with our friend Joe, who’s on sabbatical, so he can travel around to places where people he likes live, at Viaggio. Which turned out to be a good, traditional, Italian Chicago neighborhood place. Bread with powdery Parmesan, olive oil, roasted peppers and olives. They’re known for their meatballs, which are the fluffy kind. We all started with salads and then had pasta – Joe got the vodka  sauce with sausages added, Mark had Bolognese, and I had the Sunday gravy – shredded pork in tomato sauce with a blop of ricotta in the middle.

What’s reminding me of all that is that last night, we stopped for dinner at Cochon Volant, a newish place in a Hyatt on Monroe St. I wanted to go there because I read that the executive chef is Roland Liccioni, who, 25 years ago when I lived in Chicago, had a fancy prixe fix restaurant in Wheeling IL, called Le Francais – that we always talked about going to, when my parents visited, but it was a 2-hour seating and long drive and what would we do with the kids ….. Cochon Volant sounded ever so much more accessible. And it was, good French bistro food. We split a Caesar, that came with potato chips on top, and then we both had stuff with frites, moules for madame, steak for monsieur. The waiter, like our waiter at Viaggio, had a restaurant French accent (the Viaggio guy was Italian American – he even said badda bing at one point) that we assumed had to be fake. Is there a school for waiter accents in Chicago? Tonight we go to BellyQ, a hip Asian place, so we’ll have to see what their waiters sound like.


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Advising week

Advising week this year – which was last week already – at the library school probably wasn’t as busy as some. I had about 17 30-minute student appointments and last spring it was 21. I think I had more other meetings in between and all around the student appointments this year, though.

I’m feeling uninspired and un-creative – I haven’t posted a recipe in months. And it’s that time of the year when it’s basically impossible to photograph food at night in my kitchen, under its harsh lights.

I made a big batch of naan last Thursday night, to go with a curry – I used this recipe from the New York Times that seems to be attracting notice, but I made it with cauliflower & potatoes instead of chicken.


On Friday we were going to a concert, and I had some big ideas of what I could cook (that I don’t exactly remember now) but in the end Mark had a sandwich and I had Halloween candy.

I went for Tipi’s kale deal – 6 bunches for $12 – even though I knew it could potentially be upsetting to Mark to have all that kale in the house. I started blanching it and packing it in cartons to freeze on Thursday and finished on Sunday. I left three bunches whole leaf and chopped the rest in the food processor, ready for kale-a-kopita.

This is one bunch of kale. Order by multiples of 6 bunches.

This is one bunch of kale. Order by multiples of 6 bunches.

On Saturday, I roasted peppers and steamed and pureed pumpkin and made another batch of the Food52 hard squash hummus, with kabocha squash this time. Which made a very thick and dry hummus, and it’s spicier, too. There’s still the neck of a large butternut in the fridge waiting to be made into something. We went to an early movie (Bridge of Spies) and after, for dinner I made a pasta with some of the kale and ends of goat and feta cheeses and pepper from my CSA box and some cream and half & half from the back of the fridge. We ate it with salad and the roasted shallot dressing I made last weekend. Mark made sure to not get any kale in with his noodles.

We left the Halloween candy in the vestibule with the inner doors locked and outer doors open. And my funny looking pumpkin on the porch.  It’s supposed to be a slice of pie with a fork underneath from a Food52 template.

2015's rather sub-standard jack-o-lantern - tried to scoop & carve it in 45 mins, to not be late for movie

2015’s rather sub-standard jack-o-lantern – tried to scoop & carve it in 45 mins, to not be late for movie

Sunday morning was an almost full English breakfast – no sausages and no mushrooms. I took a walk before breakfast and photographed leaves. Since I used up the pork in the baked beans, later Sunday evening I made some of the extra rice I’d cooked to go with the curry, that I originally thought would be made into pork fried rice and I even bought fresh ginger at the Saturday market, into coconut milk rice pudding. And I made applesauce – pureed with my immersion blender, and I’m not quite sure if I like its smoothness, or if it’s too babyfood-like. And in the true spirit of using stuff up, fig butter to use up the dregs of two bottles of red wine. Yum.

Still on my stuff to cook list – Butternut squash and black bean chili? Or Squash gratin. Broccoli with peanut sauce. Green chili stew. Mexican lasagna (I never fry the tortillas when I make this, and I always leave out the raisons). Squash and beans and kale and cilantro …

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That was fun

Dave Rawlings Machine at the Capitol Theater at Overture Center.

They started & ended with songs the Dead also covered – Monkey & the Engineer (Jesse Fuller), and Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad (trad. arr.)

Here’s the set list:

Dave Rawlings machine 10/30/2015
Monkey & the engineer
Is it candy?
The weekend
Wayside/back in time
Young boy (is to be sad, is to be high)
Luminous Rose – Robyn Hitchcock, from Globe of Frogs, my first Robyn Hitchcock album, but Peter Buck doesn’t play on that track so I didn’t pay as much attention to it as Chinese Bones and Globe of Frogs.
Keep It Clean – Willie Watson sings lead
The trip
Too easy

The last Pharoah
He will set your fields on fire – featuring the bass player (Bill Monroe cover, I believe)
Sweet tooth – another one about candy
I hear them all – this land is your land
Call & response – Stewball
Don’t go chasing white ponies
Short haired woman blues
Queen Jane Approximately – covered by the whole Dead and I think JGB as well

Miss Ohio – I was wishing for a Miss Ohio – which I of course first heard performed by Robyn Hitchcock, with Gillian and Dave – and Peter Buck, and John Paul Jones
Going down the road feelin’ bad

Don’t leave nobody but the baby – acapella
The weight – which seemed appropriate since I had just watched (on YouTube) RH the Sadies perform Stage Fright entire, at Winnipeg Folk Fest. 

And, I like how the cover picture looks like a daguerreotype.


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Some pig

So, life should be back to normal, whatever that is, after house sales and moving apartments and pie palooza.

But it’s been a busy week, and I have a cold and “reading the news, and it sure looks bad”, like the Joni Mitchell song says. Way too much Paul Ryan, dismantling various WI clean government entities, like campaign finance and the government accountability board.

Let’s see if I can even remember what happened this week. Monday I managed to get out for a walk before work. I had a meeting on Bascom Hill that went to 12:30, and I walked a little more up State Street to get some lotion and fancy soap and cash. I stopped for an iced honey latte at Colectivo. The last time I got one it was perfect – cold, milky, sweet, but not too sweet. This one was way too sweet. I watched the barista make it – she had the plastic cup filled with ice and milk, OK, and the honey in a little measuring cup, into which she poured the hot coffee shots to melt it, also OK. But it looked there was at least three tablespoons of honey, maybe a quarter of a cup of honey – no wonder it was too sweet. I drank half and poured it out. I think I had a salad for supper and made pumpkin muffins, to use up the pumpkin, the last carton frozen last winter, that I started using for the pumpkin scones last weekend. There’re still a few left in the fridge.

Last five pumpkin muffins

Last five pumpkin muffins

Tuesday I had a funny back and forth day. Started off in the office, only one meeting at 10:15. I took the muffins and the last of the scones to work with me, and good thing too, as we shall see. I headed home to be there at 3:00 to let the cleaning lady in and pay her, and to grab my carefully packed dinner to take back to work with me. Where I needed to be until 8:00 PM, to help run an info session in Adobe Connect for prospective students interested in our online masters degree. In which we had about every possible technical glitch. I logged in about 15 minutes in advance which should have been enough, but my Adobe Connect chose that moment to update. I should have noticed that the icon on my phone had got different from the one on my computer. Then the director had no sound. Lots of background noise and feedback. And I forgot to start the recording, but we all agreed that a clean recording later would be better. And I forgot my dinner – I had a scone and an apple instead of the soup and bread with pepperonata I had packed.


Wednesday I has an 8:30 meeting. I walked in because I thought it was going to rain. After the meeting, I needed to do major catch-up in the “how-to-teach-good-online” course I’m in – if I complete at least most of the work, I get a big stipend that I can use for travel. I had a student logging in (from Qatar) at noon (about 8:00 PM her time) for an online help session, then a 2:00 meeting. I headed home – I started walking but the bus went by and I got on – and got my bike and went and bought some milk, since there wasn’t even enough for the next day’s latte. Then I made a big stir fry for supper, and and got upstairs in time to meet the next student who needed help. (They’re hand coding small websites, and I have offered individual coding help by screen sharing) Her questions were easy so I had time to eat before class. Then another student after class – which meant I was working until 9:30 PM.

Cultural mashup bottom of the vegetable bin stirfry with onions, sweet potato, carrots, ginger, soy sauce & sesame oil and garlic, and kale and bok choy - and baby Parmesan cheese ravioli

Cultural mashup bottom of the vegetable bin stirfry with onions, sweet potato, carrots, ginger, soy sauce & sesame oil and garlic, and kale and bok choy – and baby Parmesan cheese ravioli

Either Tuesday or Wednesday I sat at the kitchen counter and had a microwave S’more – I’m guessing it was Tuesday, of the forgotten dinner.

Microwave s'more

Microwave s’more

Thursday it was 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM meetings. I drove over to pick up my CSA box, the one I was making the crazy mixed up stirfry in anticipation of, because I was feeling the effects of my head cold. It was a good box: a head of Savoy cabbage, a small Butternut squash, 2 big leeks, a bag of carrots, 4 or 5 frying peppers and 2 poblanos, a head of garlic, a smallish cauliflower and two nice trees of broccoli. I could only be a tiny bit disappointed, because in the newsletter they had pictures of gold and purple cauliflower and the fractal vegetable Romanesco broccoli – and I just got normal stuff – white cauliflower and regular green broccoli. Still nice stuff. I had one last student help session, and then I ate leftover pumpkin pie from pie palooza, and collapsed on the couch.

Which seemed to help my cold a lot – on Friday I felt much better. I felt relatively prepared for the f2f meeting for my “how-to-teach-good-online” course; I got enough work done so that I left work before 5:00 (I mean it was about 4:50, but that’s still before 5:00). It was really raining, so I left my bike and computer at work to be picked up on Saturday.

We went to see the Steve Jobs movie. I liked it better once I figured out it wasn’t comprehensive, just the events around the Mac launch in 1984, NeXT in 1990, and iMac in 1998. When we got back, I baked dark sticky gingerbread to take to Steve & Heike’s – we were planning to go see their new house either Saturday or Sunday. And, in more anticipatory cooking, I put a pork roast in the oven that was the last piece of meat from the last pig we bought last winter – this year, I’m going in with 3 other families on a whole pig. Anyways, it was an overnight slow roast – basically like this from Food52 – and man, did it make some good pig.

On Saturday, Mark and I had pulled pork sandwiches on big buns with coleslaw (remember, Savoy cabbage in my CSA box) and pickles. They were so good that Mark packed one to take to Chicago – and he usually doesn’t like to pack food. We also went to book fest stuff – we saw David Maraniss talking about his book about Detroit. we had to sit out in the overflow seats and watch on TV, but it was OK. Stu Levitan asked a good question – “what do you think might’ve happened if Detroit got the 1968 Olympics?”

I think I get to have another sandwich as my reward for making it through Monday dinner, and maybe I’ll get better pics then.

Pulled pork meat

Pulled pork meat

Pulled pork sandwich fixings

Pulled pork sandwich fixings

Black sticky gingerbread

Black sticky gingerbread

Sunday we went out to see Steve & Heike’s new house out on the Northside. It’s right by the house where I lived for about 9 months in 1986, the period when Jeff & broke up, until we started seeing each other again, to go to Dead shows, mostly – and I got pregnant with John and we got married. On Sunday we walked around in the nature preserve and behind Dane County Human Services, which is grand old building and a county park, where I used to go for foster parent classes, oblivious to how close it was to where I once lived. We ate the gingerbread with some apple-pear sauce I made from the not so great pears I got at the farmers Market Saturday, and one of each variety of apple I had in the fridge. I smoothed it out with the immersion blender and it was perfect with the gingerbread.

Ovens banner in Steve & Heike's new neighbor's basement - that they bought from the woman I rented from in 1986

Ovens banner in Steve & Heike’s new neighbor’s basement – in the house they bought from the woman I rented from in 1986

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Stevie Nicks Moment

Yesterday I closed on the sale of the house where for 7, almost eight years, I had run my underground dining club. This morning I woke up worrying if I’d have to drop my CSA share next year, when not only will I have no dining club, my older son’s girlfriend, Megan, won’t be living with us any more either….

A Stevie Nicks, Landslide, can I handle the changes in my life moment. A song I first heard performed not by Stevie, but by Gene Corbin, a folk singer I knew in Pittsburgh, who I think lives in New Mexico now. One of my old boyfriends, Dave Kreimer, played soprano sax with Gene for awhile. And, as Ed Feeny, another of my musician friends, but here in Madison, rather than Pittsburgh, calls her, Stevie Nicks is the amazing pig nose woman, a snarky reference to her appearance and cocaine habit back in the ’80s, the type of thing that record store guys, like Ed used to be, are allowed to say.

I got up and made pumpkin scones.

My scone on Saturday morning

My scone on Saturday morning

I’m not sure where to start the saga of selling the house – with the new cork floor, installed in July?


Old floor – the worst spot, out in the old sealed porch with the fridge and Thelonious the cat’s food


New floor

With the fact that if Stephen my renter paid me the back rent he owes, it would pay for the floor with almost $300 left?

With all the work I got done in July and August, windows washed, yard de-jungled, a little over $4000 worth of painting?

With all the trips to move my stuff out, and take leftovers to the the city drop off recycle site, cleaning up the shattered glass table top that we left on the sidewalk when the renters moved out?

Once I finally got the house listed, I got one low offer within the first 5 days – while I was still in the midst of answering crazy questions from one set of lookers:

Q. Why does the basement floor go up at the bottom of the stairs?

A. Gosh, I don’t know – I never noticed that in 9 years of owning the house.

Q. Why don’t the lights in the front hall and the basement work?

A. The switch for the basement lights is actually on the wall in the kitchen, so you can turn the lights on before you go down. If the front hall lights are not working, they must need new bulbs – I’ll get those replaced as soon as I can.

I was up on a step ladder – that I had to bring over, because everything else to stand on had been moved out – replacing the front hall light bulbs when I got a call from the realtor that we had a much better offer.

Then came inspection, over Labor day weekend. I think they had an inspector who didn’t really know old houses. The report started off by recognizing that it’s an older house and some “deferred maintenance” was to be expected – and then proceeded to point out every worn tile and broken sash cord and de-laminating countertop. The three big things were they thought there was an old, possibly leaking, oil tank under the house; they thought the insulation was asbestos; and there was knob & tube wiring that should be removed.

Obviously the oil tank was the least fixable. There’s a big clean dry hole behind the house – accessible through a hatch, that’s like a mini slanty basement door. Everyone else who ever looked at it thought it was probably a cistern, which were common in Madison in the 19203 and 30s – and the house was built in 1924. We got the inspector to come back and agree that there wasn’t an oil tank.

Kind of the same thing with the insulation – they took another look and agreed it had been safely encapsulated.

That left the knob and tube. My realtor got one estimate, and the buyer’s realtor got a cheaper one, so I went with that. Neither bid specified any amount for dry wall repair. I set it up from Canada, calling on Skype while I was there for TIFF, and went to let the electricians in on the first Wednesday I was back – having gotten back on Monday night (must’ve been Sept. 23). All seemed well – except it seemed to be taking them long time. I went over on Thursday a week later, to try to figure out how to move home the big black pedestal table. Megan was just finishing up work at East High, and came in with me. To discover plaster dust absolutely everywhere, and holes bashed equally everywhere. The estimate had said “access holes will be required” – but sure seemed like they weren’t very careful. In one of the upstairs bedrooms, they knocked out three pieces of lath and just stuck them back in the hole. So much for my $4000+ worth of paint.

Most egregious hole punched by electricians

Most egregious hole punched by electricians

I woke up at 4:00 AM Friday morning and couldn’t go back to sleep fretting about it. I called my realtor and she talked to the buyer’s realtor. I called the electricians, and got them scheduled to come back and clean the following Tuesday. And, then in the late afternoon, I got a call from the realtor, and evidently the buyer had seen the electrician’s aftermath, and said, “I thought there’d be more holes”. So that was settled.

The next thing was the weatherization stipulation. There’s always some crazy last minute document that you need at the closing. I had signed something when I bought the house that I would get a weatherization inspection. I remember going over to meet the inspector – he got up on a step ladder, measured the insulation, came down and said, “You’re fine”. But no one, not me, not the realtor, and not the register of deeds, could find the certificate. I even found an email to my renter that I was coming over to meet the inspector in the afternoon, on Friday August 17th, 2007. But no certificate.

So I just had to get another inspection, cost $250, but it was actually kind of fun. The inspector liked old houses, and was pretty impressed with mine. So that was settled.

I’d gotten the electricians to move the black table into the garage, and Megan and I went over there with a zipcar SUV but it didn’t fit. For a little while the closing was going to be moved up to October 9th, so I thought I needed to get the table out – but the buyer needed to wait on some money, so the closing went back to the 16th and I had more time. Mark and Megan and I went back with a zipcar pickup truck and got the table in that, no problem. So that was settled.

I couldn’t find the keys the electricians had used when they came back to clean – I thought they were going to leave them in the kitchen – turned out they hidden them under some cushions on the wicker love seat on the porch. So I went back to get them the day before the closing and had my own farewell walk through.

The closing was completely uneventful. The buyer is a nice young guy, first house, an engineer – why he wasn’t worried about the holes in the walls. He really wanted this cat foot stool – it used to be my mom’s, and when I had the supper club I had it by the front door. It got moved to the basement while my renters had the whole place, but when I cleaned up to get the house ready to sell I put it back by the door. I told him I had another – there’s a stripey one too – but the tail always falls off. He got out his wallet, but wasn’t seriously interested.


I took the check from the closing and went directly to the Credit Union to pay off Kendall. I was at the corporate offices/mortgage services building – not a regular branch There’s a reception area, with a receptionist, a woman at the time I walked in,  stuck there, all by herself surrounded by closed doors. The payoff must’ve been the most interesting thing she got to do all day. And coincidentally, the mortgage guy who helped me buy the house in the first place wandered through, too – knew me right away, said, “hey, did you get tired of the supper club?”

No, I’ll miss it – have to think of what to do next. Bye old house.

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Three CSA boxes in a row

Because of going to TIFF, and rescheduling boxes, I’ve had three CSA boxes in a row. Here’s what was in each one, with what I’ve made so far listed following various vegetables. Pictures to follow when I have better light.


green bean casserole

September 24:

  • Red potatoes, 3.5 lb – green bean casserole*
  • Italian beans, 1.75 lb – green bean casserole*
  • Broccoli, 1 – 3 heads depending on size – Roasted and eaten on salad, and just eaten, cold, right out of the container
  • Leeks, about 1.5 lb – leek confit, which in addition to being plain old delicious is also delicious mixed into mayonnaise and spread on a cheese sandwich
  • Slicing tomatoes, about 2 lb – some of these were sliced and eaten with the leek confit above, and goat cheese on a baguette
  • Red bell peppers, 2 – roasted and frozen along with 2 others from the Farmers Market
  • Zavory “not-hot” habanero chiles, small handful – Borlotti bean & squash mole, with kuri squash from the market – but I didn’t cook it two hours; the squash woulda dissolved
  • Cilantro, 1 bunch – made into salsa with the tomatoes and roasted poblanos and a jalapeño purchased at the Farmers Market BT (Before TIFF) – cut the slimy parts off; then I made the salsa into Spanish rice a few days later. The rice and the mole were good together.
  • Garlic

Leftover salsa Spanish rice

October 1:

  • Red bok choy – part of the bunch has been made into a veggie stirfry† along with some of the green beans and carrots and onions and half a red pepper and some of the pretty, fresh ginger and cookable greens, like mustard and mache pulled out of a bag of mixed greens from Jones Valley, with ramen noodles
Stir fry with as much CSA box stuff in it as I could get

Stir fry with as much CSA box stuff in it as I could get

    • Edamame soybeans, 1 bundle – finally got around to cooking these about a week later. Kind of a chore – they come in the CSA box as a bundle of silage; beans on stems. You have to pull the beans off the stems, wash them, boil them, and then pop the beans out of the pods. Good bundle this time – I got a whole cup of edamame. I think I will put them into a bean salad.
Whole cup of Edamame

Whole cup of Edamame

  • Carrots, 2 lb
  • Cauliflower – cauliflower gratin and roasted
  • Italian beans, 1 lb – Cooked the beans (except for the handful I’d put into the stirfry†) from the 24th and Oct. 1st on the 7th – then finally, on the 9th, made them into a *green bean casserole, that’s kind of a shep’s pie – with mashed potatoes on top, and beans chopped and cooked with hamburger meat and diced onion and the other half of the red pepper
  • Frying peppers, 3 – pepperonata
  • Oranos peppers, 2 – 3 – pepperonata
  • Tomatoes, 1 to 3 – sliced tomatoes with basil
  • Yellow onions, about 2
  • Jalapeño chiles, 2
  • Basil, 1 husky sprig – sliced tomatoes with basil
  • Baby ginger, 1 knob – stirfry†

October 8:

  • Sweet potatoes, about 2+ lb
  • Broccoli, 1 head, some are small
  • Red kale, 1 bunch
  • Carrots, 2 lb
  • Bell peppers, red or green, about 3 – pepperonata, and sliced to eat with hummus
  • Yellow onions, about 2
  • Fennel, 1 head with fronds
  • Japanese eggplant
  • Anaheim chiles, HOT, 2 – 3
  • Scallions, 1 bunch
  • Baby ginger, 1 chunk
  • Garlic, 1 head

Stuff still to make:

Cauliflower gratin from the NYT; to test as a possible pie filling for my savory veggie offering for REAP;

I guess I’ll have to make another stirfry with ginger and other assorted veggies, like broccoli & peppers & carrots

Pepperonata or pepper & onion confit as Deborah Madison calls it, peppers cooked slowly in olive oil with onions, and a little tomato paste and water and then some balsamic vinegar at the end to finish – I have A LOT of peppers! This will freeze and it’s good on bread and eggs and pizza.

Bean salad with edamame

African peanut stew with eggplant and sweet potatoes

Fennel! – I think I will put fennel fronds into the bean salad, in lieu of celery.

And here’s what really happened:

I burned the beans for the bean salad, but it seemed to be only the bottom layer. Instead of adding lots of other ingredients, like peppers and fennel, etc., I just combined the Rancho Gordo beans with the Edamame and added some chopped scallions.

Rancho Gordo beans & Edamame

Rancho Gordo beans & Edamame

Un-cooked Rancho Gordo beans

Un-cooked Rancho Gordo beans

So I’m still not sure what I’ll do with the fennel, and instead of eggplant & sweet potato peanut stew, I think I’ll make greens with peanut sauce (using the kale) and we’ll have that over couscous.

I made the cauliflower gratin and it’s quite good -I think when I use it for savory pie filling for Pie Palooza, I’ll put a pinch of red pepper flakes into the tomato sauce – and/or maybe one of the hot peppers Tipi sent me.

Cauliflower Gratin with goat cheese

Cauliflower Gratin with goat cheese

Extra roasted cauliflower

Extra roasted cauliflower

I made the pepperonata on Sunday – put in all the peppers except the hot ones, and few that I sliced for Rach to eat with hummus.



I made carrot muffins to use up at least one of the three bags of carrots the fridge.

Carrot Muffins

Carrot Muffins

And they didn’t use up any vegetables but I made a round challah – only a month late for Rosh Hashanah – and a couple of challah rolls. I still want to make honey cake.

Challah Rolls

Challah Rolls


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Moving apartments in Chicago

After a long week – I told you about some of it already – like the shelves trying to come down on my head on Tuesday when I was trying to get towels down to sop up the flood – I’m in Chicago to  move apartments. No internet because it’s already shut off at the old place and we’re not in the new one till Monday.

State St. apartment on move out weekend

State St. apartment on move out weekend

So enforced no work although I met with one student online this AM before we left to help with an assignment and I’ve been emailing with two others about the same assignment all day. And I might go use the wifi at Chicago Public Library tomorrow if we get enough packing and cleaning done.

We took the train down and so far went to the UPS store to return the Comcast converter box and buy packing boxes, and to Whole Foods for a few things for breakfast and while-packing snacks tomorrow, and Target for a bucket. Next, Lou Malnati’s and Black Mass.


From something like 5:45 until 6:45 PM Saturday: We’re at Lou Malnati’s trying to get pizza & a salad before the movie.

Art at Malnati’s that reminded me of Jen’s, and the bathroom tile floor

Didn’t work so well – they were having some kind of problem and it took so long to get the food – even though I pre-ordered the pizza – that at 6:37 I realized that even if we got the food we wouldn’t have time to eat it. Mark went to the bathroom and of course the salad arrived. While the waitress was dishing that up I asked to cancel the pizza and just get the bill. So of course the pizza arrived with the bill and we got it to go.

We jumped in a cab and made it to the theater in plenty of time to get decent seats and watch all the previews. I even went to the bar and bought a water and a beer. The bartenders talked me into getting the larger 20-oz. beer, “have to make it through the previews”, which I predicted at 6, and they said 25 minutes.

Black Mass was well done, not prettified at all, and I suspect Johnny Depp will get an Oscar nomination. Seemed like a lot of good actors with small parts in it, too.

We went back to the apartment and ate the pizza and went to bed. So all’s well that ends well, except I had kind of stress dreams in which one of our exchange students had head lice and I had to deal with that and washing bedding in time to pack and working at my computer with all kinds of metal shrapnel all around. Must’ve been the big beer and pizza consumed at 10:30 at night – too close to bed time for an old lady like me.

On Sunday we got up and packed, then went out for coffee (at the Roosevelt Rd. Starbucks, which must be the worst Starbucks in Chicago) and sat by the Legs, and set up with Al that we’d meet for dinner at a pasta place. Then back to the apartment for a little breakfast, and more packing and cleaning. We both showered and Mark scrubbed the bathroom. I went over to Chicago Public Library to use the free wifi to work for a few hours. While I was working at a table on the 8th floor (Art), I got a text from Al, ditching us. As usual. So instead of pasta at 7:00 at a place up on Halstead with Al, we went to a burger place at 5:30 and then went to see the Martian. Which was much more uplifting than Black Mass – it was good hard science fiction, American ingenuity, people that are too smart to fit into the rules and regulations. Lots of actors that I like, Sean Bean and Jeff Daniels, and that everyone likes, Matt Damon.

On Monday morning the move itself was ridiculously easy – I hung around after the movers left and vacuumed. I especially like that they took away all the shrink wrap and other packing materials they’d used on our furniture so we didn’t even have to throw it away.

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