Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sunshine in December.

Today was a beautiful day, not too cold, clear and pretty - unusual for mid-December.  My family woke to find a pan of porridge on the back of the Aga, and their excitement was definitely disproportionate to the 5 minutes it took for me to make it last night!  Bri taught the girls how to cook toast on the top, and off they went, well fed, happy, and ready to enjoy Saturday! We got the woodstores filled, the driveway cleaned, the girls rode their bikes, we baked bread, did a spot of cleaning, and then this afternoon Becca and I made muffins. 

Dinner was roast chicken, with rice and roasted onions/peppers/carrots - Rebecca liked the peppers best, Caity liked the carrots, Brian and I were just so glad to be eating out of the Aga.  The fruit is soaking in brandy, ready to bake the Christmas cake tomorrow, and it has been a lovely day, in the kitchen and out! 

Everyone is in bed now, except me, it's that late-at-night quiet time that I so love.  I have tv (an old David Jason series on Netflix), tea, knitting, and the blog.  Who could ask for more? 

and finally...

... the Aga in the kitchen is working!  She came to life at about 4.30pm PST and she is now up to temperature and ready to rock and roll.  Well, truthfully, she is more likely to just gently stroll along, but I am ready to rock and roll! 

I have so much to do before Christmas, and only a week to get it all done, and I'm excited!  First stop, roasting a chicken, I have been craving good roast chicken and the combi oven just isn't up to the job, unfortunately!  Then cranberry sauce, stollen, Christmas cake, Christmas puddings, mince pies, fudge - all the things! 

We are so excited, it feels so nice in the kitchen to have that gentle glow of warmth coming from her side of the room.  We have named her Constance, because she is always ready to feed us, and everything else feels like it's going to be okay now that we have this beautiful, dependable friend sharing our home.  Welcome, Constance, we are thankful for you and we will be spending a LOT of time with you! 

Friday, December 16, 2011


The gas man called, 15 minutes ago, to tell us he was on his way...

Brian left work and drove home, because the gas man said that Brian HAD to be here, his name is the one on the county permit, after all. 

The gas man knocked on the door and said that he can't do the work now because he has to go on 'a mergency' - he told us this about 6 times, and then he went and got in his van. 

Then a second van arrived...  and the two drivers sat on our driveway, talking about their 'mergency.


They could have used that time to turn the gas on and it would all be done by now, it's a 30 second job! 


So Close We Can Taste It...

It's been a busy couple of weeks here, Becca has had her very first finals, and we have had a lot of work to do on the house, to try to get it cleaned up for the insurance company, who wanted ALL the things mended at once before theyw ould insure us for another year!  We now have a new roof, a new garage door that doesn't scream like a banshee very time we open it, and 2 large woodstores stocked to the rafters with cut wood.  My dear husbands jeans are falling down, he has, literally, worked his butt off cleaning up 30 years of debris and hoarding from around the yard! 
New roof, new gutter, new garage door.  I can't wait to wash the shingles and get them cleaned up a little, too!  

Last weekend we lost patience with the Aga company, who have made no effort whatsoever to send us the parts we ordered, and we spent Sunday evening on our computers (all 4 of us) searching HVAC and commercial cooking suppliers for the 2 small pieces we needed.  They arrived today. 

Tiny aren't they?  Amazing how much trouble little things can be!


This evening Brian rebuilt the burner, with the new natural gas compatible parts, and it's installed and ready to go.  Tomorrow morning he will call the gas company and ask them to come out and turn on the gas supply and light the pilot light, and then we will be ready to go.  It takes about 2 days to get the Aga up to full cooking temperature but, at this point, it is still possible that we will have proper cooking facilities for Christmas! 

In other excellent news - for those of you who are sick of winter already, do not despair - spring is on the way, it said so in Safeway...

Oddly enough, this display was only present that one time, and it has now been hidden away til after Christmas! 

I feel quite disoriented this evening - today was such a strange day.  Caity got up, ate breakfast, didn't feel well, and went off to sleep in my bed til 11am!  Becca didn't even show up until 1.30pm - after several very late nights working on last minute exam prep, she really needed some sleep!  I was up late last night, and woke at 7 this morning, so by mid-afternoon I was napping on the couch, and Bri has just gone to bed after a 90-minute long snooze by the fire - we really need to get some 'normal' sleeping going on! 

The fire is so inviting though, it's hard to leave it and go to a chilly bed, far nicer to snuggle up here and doze off...maybe I'll stay just a little longer... 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It Just Gets Better and Better...

I've finished uploading today's post, and sat back to drink my tea...

'what's that noise?'  I wondered, aloud...

Darling husband said 'I can hear the bread machine kneading the bread upstairs in the kitchen, the woodstove clicking, the fan is running to move the heat around the house...'

'Yes', I said, 'and I can hear a vehicle'.

I ran upstairs to find that time management is also an issue for our talented roofer - the dumpster is being hauled away as I type, even though the job is not finished!!! 

Oopsie, looks like the rest of the cleanup is going to have to be hauled away in trash cans then, doesn't it? 

In Which We Are Reminded Of Why We Usually Opt To DO IT OURSELVES!!!!

A veritable catalogue of disasters this week, but I refuse to be stressed out.  Our roofer has committed many crimes, most of them against grade school mathematics, at which he cannot be said to excel! 

It all started when he posted a 30% off coupon on his website, and then tried to deduct $300 from my $10,000 bill (using simple numbers here for those who are percentage impaired, his numbers were both bigger and more complicated, but he did have a calculator!), which he called 'honoring the coupon'!  When I pointed out his error, he looked at me horrified, and said 'I can't do THAT, I'd lose money'! 

So he wrote up a 3% discount instead.  Then he went home, and edited his website, and is now offering a 5% coupon - which is clearly worth MORE than the 3% he gave me - we're still waiting to have THAT conversation!

Now at this point you are probably wondering why we did not simply select a different builder.  Well, the fact is that, even without the 30% coupon, this guy came in several thousand dollars under the next lowest quote and, as we don't have money to burn, it seemed impractical to spend 25% more on the same product just by buying it in a different store. 

Yesterday, I got home, after dark, to find that the roofers had gone away.  This was a little worrying, since there was still a mess of dropped shingles all over the floor - they hadn't cleaned up!  A walk outside with a flashlight revealed that they hadn't finished the roof either - they have no more shingles!!!!  A full 1/6th of the roof is not done, but the shingles are all gone!  So now the truck will have to come out and deliver another batch, and the roofers will have to come back for the 4th day of a 2 day job. 

I guess now that 1/6th of the roof is not completed, we can see how his quote was so much lower than everyone elses - not only are we dealing with the percentage impaired, but it seems that 'area' isn't too sound of a concept either...

This would not be so bad but for 2 things - the dumpster is supposed to be leaving today.  This is because at 11am Monday the garage door is being delivered and installed!  I see a conflict arising...

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today, we are finding it easy to be thankful. 

Many things have happened this year that have made us question our choices, our life path, our decisions.  There have been times when we have felt financial pressure, career insecurity, anxiety about our geography.  But today, as we get ready to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal, it is easy to see how very lucky we are, how many things have come together in such a perfect way to get us to this place in our lives, and how many people we have to think of as we sit at our table this evening. 

Dinner is coming along nicely - pioneer style...

Turkey finishing off on the left, gravy and soup bones in the big stock pot, potatoes waiting for the oven in the back. 
We had planned to be making Thanksgiving Dinner in the new Aga but, alas, the little gas nozzle and the teeny tiny screw-thing are still in transit, so her ovens are cold and empty. 

Instead we had this... 

I bought this combination oven when we were living in Indiana, as a luxury item, really, and I am so thankful now for that opportunity!  It has really saved the day today!  The turkey went in this morning, and the turkey legs went in the stock pot for soup.  The soup broth was ready by about 2, so we chilled that for another day and put everything but the turkey breast meat into the stock pot with most of the juices from the cooked bird, and finished that up on the woodstove, with the sliced turkey breast resting in gravy to keep it moist and juicy.  The sausage pies, which you can see in the picture, are standard fare in our house for the holidays, and when it got to 4pm and there was no pastry made yet, Becca started to ask a few polite questions...

So we made the pastry and the stuffing, and baked them quick before we put the potatoes in to roast. 

It was a good dinner, not the best, not by a long way, but it worked, and we managed pretty creatively with the meagre cooking facilities we have available, and managed to get the cooking done in between the numerous naps that seemed to punctuate the day for some people!

Feel free to pull up a chair, everyone is welcome! 

At the table, as we ate, and chatted, we thought of our friends in England who are not celebrating today, but we are still thankful for.  We talked about our lovely friends on the east coast that we have had the good luck to share many meals with over the years, those who still live there, and those who have moved back to England or off to Canada on their furthering adventures.  We made a plate for our dear friend Russ in Indiana, who asked me to fax him a meal, and we laughed about the silliness of it as we took pictures to share with him.  We remembered fun days when our families were together, and talked about Thanksgiving's past when we were welcomed into many Indiana homes with open arms and happy hearts.  And we toasted our friends here in Washington, too. 

It's worked out well that we shared our thanksgiving with all of you 'virtually' this year, because everyone feels a little flat today, we've been busy since September and now that we've stopped, it's all caught up with us.  Becca and Bri have sore throats, Becca has been dizzy and pale, Cait has a '40 a day' cough, and every now and then her cheeks flush cherry red.  It's better than last year - last year Becca had laryngitis and she and I slept for no more than 2 hours at a time for about 4 days.   She was in such pain, and nothing much helped, poor child, it was pretty awful.  At least this year it's just a bit of a cold-type-thing. 

I'm off to clean down the kitchen, by myself, which almost never happens - just shows how exhausted they all are that they can't even bring themselves to help, usually they are all available to work.  Hopefully everyone will sleep soundly tonight, with their tummies full of yummy food, and we'll all feel a little more energetic tomorrow. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I hope that your eyes and hearts were able to appreciate the wonderful good fortune that is at work in your life.  xx

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Very Noisy Night

When the girls were little, we used to read to them every night, before they went to sleep, and one of our favourite stories was The Very Noisy Night.  It's the story of a little mouse who cannot sleep, and who thinks that the night-time noises outside are big, scary things.  He wakes up Big Mouse repeatedly, looking for comfort, and at the end they both sleep through the morning alarm because they finally fall fast asleep. 

I'm still waiting for that last part, even though it's almost 3am here. 

The wind is howling outside.  It's raining, sometimes hard, and every noise makes me jump.  I tried to go to bed, but our room is the one with the tarp on the roof, you know, the tarp that keeps the rain out of the room, and every time the wind blows the tarp shifts and groans up there, and I'm pretty sure it'll be in next door's pine trees by morning. 

We had hired a roofer, he was all ready to come out and install and brand new beautiful roof on the whole house, and then Bri got laid off, so we waited.  And then Becca got into college, and our 'roof fund' became our 'we have to pay for college 4 years earlier than we thought' fund, so we waited.  And now, the roof just HAS to be done, it's leaking, the insurance company are unhappy, it's a mess up there - and our roofer just got offered 3 months works, 7 days a week, working for a builder.

It just wasn't meant to be. 

So I spent the evening on the internet, searching for reliable contractors with good reviews, and I have 4 emails out to people.  One called my cell phone yesterday evening, and one emailed me, which is good news - I'm thinking there aren't many people installing a new roof in November, so we should be able to get it done pretty fast - but not fast enough for me to sleep through The Very Noisy Night. 

I went to bed, I did my kakuro puzzles, like I always do, I lay down, turned out the light, and listened to the noises, marvelled at how the wind is SO loud it even drowns out Brian's snoring, and eventually gave up trying to sleep!  I will do more puzzles in a minute, now I'm comfortably ensconced in the basement, with the fire blazing and the upstairs rooms between me and the tarp knocking on the roof.  It's quiet down here, I'm yawning, it's looking good for at least 4 hours sleep! 

My laptop died again today, it has taken to doing this, like an elderly actress looking for attention it comes over all dramatic and faints clean away.  It took much of the evening to coax it back to life, and really, there are so many things wrong with it now that it's probably going to be cheaper and easier to just replace it - but roof first, aging laptop later, hence the continued application of smelling salts.  It's that month, the one where All The Things need attention, and we're doing our best to attend to them all, we really are, but we'd be grateful if there were no more 'things' in the last 8 days of this month. 

The Aga is still sitting in the kitchen waiting for a small nozzle and a little screw thing to arrive at the local gas showroom in the mail.  They are the last 2 remaining parts for the burner, which currently is set up for The Wrong Type Of Gas.  It's one of those things, along with all the other 'one things' that are currently taking up space in our heads.  Soon.  Soon it will all be clearer, some things will be finished, dealt with, done. 

Small victory for Brian this week - he did get his life insurance policy issued - only 5 months after we began negotiations with ING.  Working for a smaller company has its down side - we have to get our own insurance, and that's not easy since we are not citizens.  Mine is still awaiting a visit from a nurse, who did not take enough blood last month, and so has to come back for more.  I can hear Tony Hancock

There are times when I think life in our family would make for some good stand up comedy, and November is definitely turning into one of those times - maybe a new career opportunity exists here...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Good news, bad news

The good Aga news is - the gas pipes passed inspection today, with flying colours, the inspector was very impressed with the quality of the work. 
The bad news?  Although the advertisement for the Aga said that it was Natural Gas fueled, it has been 'converted' at some time in its life, to propane - and now we need either to convert it back or to buy a new natural gas compatible burner, the jury is still out on which will be the cheaper option.  We're waiting to hear back from the dealership...

Good news - they can definitely help us to get the correct burner.

Bad news - probably not until after Thanksgiving! 


Good knitting news, there are some VERY pretty things living at my house right now. 

Bad news - pictures are going to have to wait because it's late and I'm tired and the pics are not uploading properly. 

Good family news - Parent teacher conferences at the U today, Becca is doing well and has settled in beautifully - hurrah!   

Bad news - It took until 9pm to tell me this, and then another half hour to drive home, yawn! 

Good sleeping news, we have the day off on Friday, we can sleep in. 

bad news - tomorrow is Thursday!  :-( 

Anecdotal news, the word news starts to look REALLY weird after you type it for the 9th or 10th time.

'Thank goodness for that' news, I'm out of news...  more tomorrow! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Back On Track

It's been quite an adventure in Aga-ville - last time I wrote we had the 2 oven unit in place and were getting ready to build the rest of the stove.  Bri got quite a bit done...

and then disaster struck and he discovered that the base had not set properly and so had not retained its 'horizontalness' when he had put several hundred pounds of cast iron on top of it.  So we stripped the whole lot down and relaid the base, giving it an entire week to set. 

And then we started the build again. 

By Sunday, it was looking pretty great, almost done, all we need to do is fill it with insulation and pop the top on.  Then we hook up the gas, fit the chimney, get it inspected, and we'll be able to cook with it!  We're getting excited! 

But then....

as we poured in the vermiculite...

it all poured out again! 

Bother!  So Bri refitted the front panel, and we refilled the whole thing - and it leaked out the side instead!  At this point, we were tired, and over it, so we walked away and went to bed!  When I got up on Monday morning, he'd fixed the leak and was refilling again!  This time it stayed in place. 

Haven't done much since, of course - Hallowe'en got in the way on Monday -

Narcissa Malfoy means business!

And Bellatrix is ready for action, too! 
Tuesday was busy, too, we headed up to school for Caity's band concert, which was really fun.  This is the first year she's been in anything like this, and she really enjoyed the concert, even though she was nervous beforehand.

And now it's already two days into November, the woodstove is running 24-7 to keep the chill off the house, and we're wondering where we're going to cook a turkey in 3 weeks time.  Hopefully, in the Aga, but it may not be running in time.  I did discover, on Monday, that if you brown some ground beef with onion, garlic, and the necessary spices, throw in some tomato sauce and some kidney beans and sit it on top of the woodstove for the day, you get the best chili EVER, but I haven't figured out how to do the turkey on the woodstove ;-) 

Today it is quiet and chilly, the fog this morning was quite horrific but it burned off as the sun rose and it's a pretty fall day.  I've got knitting to work on, as usual, a scarf and a hat both in progress today.  It's warm and cosy by the fire, I think the biggest challenge of the day is going to be 'staying awake'!  :-) 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

That went by fast...

And it's Saturday again, already!  It's been quite a week in our house, hallowe'en costumes needed to be made, knitting is underway for presents, R turned 14 yesterday, so we threw an ice-cream free-for-all at the RC where she goes to class and about 50 of her closest friends showed up to eat with her!  She had a blast! 

This morning I slept til past 11, felt much better for it and got up to find Bri getting ready to start work on the kitchen again.  He has, this week, built the plinth that the Aga will sit on, and it needed to be leveled off ready to go.  I needed to finish the Bella mittens that I was supposed to have given R for her birthday yesterday, so I sat down to knit for a bit.  After eating a sort of brunch-ish-lunch with the family, I was told to go and rest for a bit...and I just woke up, after a 3 hour nap.  I can hear my Nan, bless her heart, telling me that I must have needed it or I wouldn't have slept that long. 

I woke up to find this...

I have to go now - apparently he needs a 'strong helper' for the next part.  Really.  How he got that first part in WITHOUT a strong helper, I don't know! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

This Is How We Do Dinner...

So hubby and daughter 2 went to the boat club this morning, to help with 'cleaning up'.  When they were leaving to come home, hubby texts me with 'have a bottle of red wine.  COV for dinner?'

Well, of course!

And here it is, the bottle, the coq au vin, and the obligatory glass of wine for the chef, of course!  ;-) 

The wine was a 'thanks for helping clean up' gift, someone had donated a box to the club and it's the end of the year, so there aren't going to be any more parties to drink it at. 


4 chicken breasts, I threw them in whole because they were still partly frozen (I did only have an hour notice, after all)
2 onions, chopped chunky
half a box of crimini mushrooms, stems separated from caps, but nothing chopped
a squirt of garlic (That stuff in the tube is so easy and smells wonderful, much better than a jar of chopped garlic, and less work than doing it yourself from scratch)
salt and pepper
a good teaspoon of mixed herbs
half a bottle of wine and the same volume of water

throw it all in the pan, and simmer it for as long as you've got, at least a couple of hours.  Once it was all warm I pulled out the chicken breasts and tore them apart with 2 forks to get rustic chunky pieces, and then threw them back in to get dyed that beautiful wine colour that makes coq au vin so distinctive a supper.  It will be served later with rice and some veggies, and another glass of wine for me, of course!  Yummy!

In other kitchen news,

the wall is sanded and primed, just a couple of places need a little more sanding, and then we can paint. 

Here's what it looks like from my side of the kitchen - lovely, isn't it?  It's quite impressive that there are still home-cooked meals every day, don't you think?  ;-) 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Decisions, decisions.

It's Friday, and it's painting day in the kitchen.  Yay!  Today we can finish the sanding, tear down the plastic sheeting, and put some paint on the walls.  Hurrah!  I've been busy looking over design ideas, thinking about tiles, planning layouts, it's all in my head at this point, but I keep standing in the kitchen, thinking, looking, imagining. 

Table?  No Table?  Island?  No island?  Island with small sink?  Pantry?  No pantry?  Baking counter?  Trash in a free-standing  can or in cabinet?  Go for what I really want?  Or stick to a tight budget?  Mixer on the counter or in a cabinet?  Easy access, or less cleaning? 

The biggest difficulty is that I've already had my dream kitchen, it's in a house in Maryland.  I worked so hard to get that room just how we wanted it, and it was perfect.  And I'm stuck, this time, because I can't rebuild that kitchen here, it won't fit, and anything else feels like a compromise. 

But it's time to make dinner - lasagne tonight, we have a combination microwave/convection oven that is serving us well right now.  And since the oven will be hot, maybe some brownies or a fruit cake?  Hmmm, these chilly fall days make me hungry for comforting goodies! 

Also, note to self, exclamation points look just like the letter 'l' in this font, which is annoying - must change font! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Who Knew?

It's been a strange summer.  Right around the time that school stopped for the holidays, the diggers arrived on the plot at the end of our road and started to rearrange the mud.  They've been at it for 16 weeks, so far, and they're still going, like little boys in a sand box, driving their Tonka Toys around and around, beeping and grinding gears and revving their engines for all they are worth.  The noise pollution alone should be against the law! 

The dirt, the dust, the mess, that's a whole other story, and it was this mess that I've been blaming, all summer long, for the fact that I wake up every 3 or 4 days feeling like I have a headcold.  Other days I may have a headache, or an earache, or a cough and, recently, my chest has been tight, the cough more wheezy, the ability to take a deep breath more challenging.  Some days I can run up the stairs, others I barely have the energy to get off the couch.  I was beginning to wonder (usually at 2am when it's dark and lonely and cold) whether maybe there's something serious going on here (there's not!). 

So I did the decent thing, and went to tell my doctor about the boys and their toys. 

The doc said 'it's a virus, you just have to wait for it to go away.  It's aggravating your lungs, here, have an inhaler so you can get a deep breath.'  And that was it.  Bye bye, go home, and enjoy your headache.  'Take it easy' she said, like I had a choice about that. 

So I came home, and puffed on my inhaler, which helped a little, but only with the breathing thing, not with the dizzy, or the earache, or the sinus pain.  On Sunday morning I cracked and took a Sudafed, felt better, but haven't really slept since - Sudafed does wonders at keeping a person awake!  I wish I'd known this when my children were younger, it would have helped me a lot some nights! 

Today Brian went to do some work with his friends at the research center - they're all doctors of one sort or another, mostly specialists who do research for part of their week and see patients for the rest.  He asked them about my weird ailment, and not only did they produce a diagnosis (without ever having met me) but they have a cure, too! 

The treadmill!

I know, I know, it would have been more fun if they'd said 'a week on the couch with movies and cupcakes', right?  But alas, it is their considered and most well-educated joint opinion that I do, indeed, have a virus, that it's living in the membranes of my lungs, and that the only way to shift it is to exercise it out!  Snore!

I hate the treadmill, it's really boring, but it's been raining for the last 24 hours, everything is wet and heavy and all the leaves on the ground are every so slightly rotted, maybe even a touch mouldy, and so outside is just going to add 'damp' to the list of things that are aggravating my lungs. 

I wonder how fast I could walk whilst knitting...  I'll let you know tomorrow! 

P.S.  Nothing much to tell in the kitchen department, more sanding, more mud on the walls, tomorrow there's probably going to be more sanding, and then more mud on the walls! 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wait Five Minutes....

Everywhere we have lived in America, we have received the same advice - if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change. 

This morning, it was grey, chilly, rainy, what you might call 'typical' for the Pacific Northwest in October, and I was wishing that the Aga was just a little closer to warming up the house.  Although, it has to be said - this

Insulation - a modern invention not used when this house was originally built in 1978! 

is really helping quite a bit already. 

It's lunchtime now, and the rain is gone, the sun is shining, and it's a really pretty day.  The leaves are starting to turn, the girls are settled into school, and it looks like it's my turn to get a project underway.  I have plans, but I can't write about them just yet - my family are still reading the blog.  Once the novelty wears off and they get busy with other things, I'll tell you all about it!  ;-) 

The kitchen is coming along really fast - Bri put in two long days out there over the weekend, and we now have insulation, drywall, and the first coat of mud up on the wall behind the Aga.  There'll be a lot of mudding and sanding this week, and hopefully paint by the weekend!  The kitchen is a mess, a good proportion of it is behind plastic sheeting, the remainder is housing all the dishes and cookware that used to be in the cabinets that we pulled out last weekend, it's a difficult place to make food right now...but I'm thinking that if I wait for a metaphorical 'five minutes' it'll all change, just like the weather. 

Here's what I'm working on today -

I wonder what's for dinner...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

This Is What Saturday Looks Like.

Saturday is a day for getting done what we need to get done.  In our house, it looks like this....

Bri is busy in the kitchen,

Cabinets need to come out so that we can install fireproof drywall. 

Cabinets out, drywall out, new wiring completed.  Socket on the left will be over the baking counter, AGA will sit between the two sockets.  We'll pull the bottom cabinets later, when we have new cabinets to go in there.
the girls are both lost in books...

One is lost in the latest Hardy Boys adventure. 
The other is lost in 14th Century French history notes! 

and me?  Well, I'm not needed for wiring or plumbing right now, so I'm keeping the woodstove stocked, and working on this,
It's a scarf, but it's beautifully shaped so that it wraps well, and this makes the work rather more complicated than a rectangular scarf would be.  In summary - it's kicking my butt!  ;-)
So far, I'm loving Saturday! 

Friday, October 7, 2011

An Aga In The Kitchen?

What is an Aga, anyway?  Well, for those of you who don't already know, it's a cooker, a stove, a large kitchen appliance that takes care of all of your cooking needs.  You can roast a turkey, bake cookies, melt chocolate, boil potatoes, and keep the plates warm, all at the same time. 

You find them a lot in old English farm houses, and that is where I met my first Aga.  I was away for the weekend with a friend, at a house belonging to a family I'd never met, an old, chilly, bug-infested place with multiple staircases and pokey little corners.  I was supposed to sleep in a particularly spidery box room, with the daughter of the house, but the cold and the spiders were keeping me awake, so I crept down the stairs and found the kitchen.  There, in pride of place, was this wonderful 4-oven Aga, gently warming the massive stone-floored room, waiting to be needed. 

I fell in love with that Aga, it was beautiful, practical, warm, reliable, comforting, solid, charming. 

When we were first dating, I told my husband about this previous love affair, and he confessed that his grandmother's house had housed a similar solid-fuel stove, and that he loved them, too.  We declared that, one day, we'd have an Aga. 

That was 20 years ago, in the south of England, when we were young, and had big dreams.  Now, 20 years later, we still have big dreams, but we also have 2 daughters, and a mortgage, and we live in Washington, USA.  We've come a long way from those youthful dreams, but they never left us, and now we are beginning the demolition of our kitchen, in order to install the Aga of our dreams.
He's in pieces in the garage right now, rescued from someone else's garage where he had been resting for quite some years. Luckily, we get to give him a new lease of life!