Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Every Time You Go Away

Last week was my spring break and Mother and Father of Ken came to visit. We spent the weekend doing church things as Mother of Ken was preaching at my church for both services on Sunday and then we had invited several people over to the house for Sunday dinner. Unfortunately, my camera batteries died during the dinner preparation, so I don't have any photos. I can tell you that we made papaya glazed ham, twice baked potatoes, roasted butternut squash and we also cut up a pineapple and served an assortment of rolls that we bought at the bakery. For dessert, we made Ina Garten's Pavlova, which was quite good.

On Monday, we met with the new realtor so that she could see the house and tell us if there is anything that we need to do before we put it on the market next spring. In general, she really liked the place and thought that it looked great, but she did suggest that we install carpet in the bedrooms, so stay tuned for that fun and adventure in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, we went to Auburn, NY to see the Seward House, which we really enjoyed. It is the beautiful home of former presidential candidate and Secretary of State William Seward (of Seward's Folly fame). The house was originally built by Seward's in-laws, but Seward remodeled and added to the house and what you see today is mostly original. The Seward family lived in the house until 1951 and these people never thew anything away. There are rooms full of furniture, fabric, carpet, paintings, sculptures, and clothing (and I'm sure all kinds of other things) that are not on display. The parts of the house that visitors can see are also fully decorated and the family, who still lives in Auburn, continues to give things to the museum. They saved clothing and put notes in the pockets about where they wore certain garments. They have the bloody sheet from the bed in which Seward recovered from being stabbed on the night Lincoln was shot. They have a huge library that includes several first editions of books like Uncle Tom's Cabin. The whole place is a historian's dream and if you're ever in the area, it is worth a visit.

Actually, it is worth a visit not only because the house is so cool, but also because if you are as lucky as we were, your tour will be lead by Paul. Ask for Paul. You won't be disappointed. This guy was hilarious, although I don't think he intended to be so funny. He was probably in his late 50s and he had a wallet on a chain, which he wore with khaki pants and a St. Patrick's Day sweater, and he had longish gray hair. His voice had a very strange rhythm that is difficult to describe except to say that if you didn't follow what he said from the very beginning of a sentence to the end, you were totally lost. He had a story about everything, although we're pretty sure he made some of it up. For example, he told us that Lincoln stunk. As in, worse than other people during that time. He inferred that it was a known fact that Lincoln was very smelly, although Mother of Ken, who has read quite a bit about Lincoln, has never read this. Throughout the tour, he would give us a factoid and then holler "INCREDIBLE! WHO DOES THAT?" while stretching his arms out in front of him and staring at us.

After spending Tuesday in Auburn, we spent Wednesday working on securing some carpet for the bedrooms, cleaning up the yard, and planting bulbs in the front flower bed that will (hopefully) come up in the summer. We also played our favorite game: Who Will Come Along and Take the Crap That We Put by the Street? This time, we had some cinder blocks that we dug out of the area near my propane tank and this stupid bench that I have been trying to get rid of since I moved in. Mother of Ken made a sign to entice potential takers:

This was gone within ten minutes. All of it. I finally got rid of that damn bench.

We ate well last week--besides Sunday dinner, we had rare roast beef using a recipe from Cook's Illustrated that was almost like eating beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin, and Parmesan chicken. Here are is Father of Ken enjoying his salad one evening:

Mother of Ken with her plate of pork tenderloin, brown rice pilaf, edamame and peas, and a roll from the bakery:

Father of Ken enjoying some chocolate chip cheese ball (which I just put in a bowl instead of making into a ball this time) with graham crackers for dessert:

And, finally, Father of Ken enjoying a large glass of wine after working hard to recaulk in both bathrooms, install a new doorknob, spackle some seams on the master bedroom ceiling, and change some difficult-to-replace light bulbs:

The creek one evening when it was foggy:

Kenna loves it when Mother and Father of Ken come to visit--she gets way more attention and a lot of scraps:

On Thursday, we had planned to go to Seneca Falls, but ended up staying home and doing more work around the house. Even after four years of living here, we continue to discover the stupid things done by Mr. Disgustington (the previous owner). This time, we found a poorly installed fluorescent light fixture that Father of Ken had to completely replace and two more poorly installed lights in the loft closet, among other things. So, on Thursday, we cleaned out both closets and replaced the lights in the loft closet. In the process, we found more stuff to get rid of, so we loaded everything into the car and took it to
Finger Lakes Reuse.

They ended up taking everything except for the crutches, but I'll make some calls to get those into the hands of someone who can use them. I finally put my foot down and insisted that we get rid of this terrible light fixture, which used to hang in the picture window. Father of Ken wanted me to keep it for the next person who lives here, but I think it is just too ugly and I'm sick of storing it.

There were a few other special items that went out by the street with another of Mother of Ken's signs:

This stuff didn't last long either. Too bad Mother and Father of Ken will miss the action when I put the old upstairs bedroom carpet out there in a few weeks.

We had a good week together and got a lot of things done at the house, for which I am grateful. Mother and Father of Ken had a safe, if long, trip back to Kansas and Kenna has been lonesome since they left on Friday.


M said...

I've been to the Seward House, too! One of CGP's alums is the director there and my class did a project for them. Did you see the bloody piece of cloth from Powell's attack? I have some hilarious memories from that project.

Leah said...

Who took the crap?

Melissa said...

The picture of the foggy creek is phenomenal. I'd frame it and hang it up somewhere. Maybe Leah can put it in her guest bathroom since she was discussing having a black and white print in there. It's quite the same effect. And way more awesome.

Ken said...

I thought you had been there and done a project for them. I feel like we talked about it not long ago. I did see the bloody sheet--gross! Did you guys meet Paul?

And Leah--two or three very nice individuals in pickup trucks snagged the crap. I don't know who they were, but I'm eternally grateful.