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I wrote a book about preserving food. The same step-by-step instruction and full-color photos you find in my blog. Buy it at Yes, You Can 

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Sprouts is a terrific source for certified organic seeds intended for home sprouting. Dress up salads, stir-fry, sandwiches, spreads, and other dishes with homegrown sprouts of all kinds. Follow this link to order your sampler or to find home sprouting kits.


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Daniel and Stacy Built a Wall

It has been no secret that my dad moved out of our family home of 50+ years and I’ve spent a very long time emptying the house and getting it ready to rent. It’s a departure from the gardening content this blog’s title promises, but this is my life these days:

My wife has accompanied me to Ithaca for a final, crazy push to finish work on my dad’s house. She has cleaned most of the rooms I emptied, we have removed a bunch of recyclables and even more for the trash, and we’ve done some construction & maintenance. The most obvious building project was building a wall in the basement.

Wall in the play room

Stacy and I courted while I was renovating a two-family house with a friend in Boston. She gamely pitched in, going with me from work to a fast-food restaurant to the house every evening and building until bedtime. This trip to Ithaca has recaptured all the magic and romance of those first three(?) months. The photo shows our latest creation.

The “play room” might have been a one-room efficiency apartment before we moved into the house in 1961. It contains a barbeque-capable fireplace, a small sink with many cabinets, and a bench that could seat 4 or 5. As very young children, we wrestled in the play room. We learned microscopy there and discovered paramecia, amoebas, and hydras. We played with electric trains and race cars, and had epic games of hide-and-seek and “find the kitchen timer.”

We had (Boy Scout) patrol meetings in the play room, and we occasionally busted open pinatas there. My brother Kris entertained us in the play room with his chemistry set, and we used a washing machine motor to build a barely useable spin-art device.

We played down there with an Erector Set, Lincoln Logs, Corgi Toys, a Switch-N-Go set, a Thing Maker, Hot Wheels, and a Spirograph. For a few years, we used the play room as a street hockey rink: taped up some wooden hockey sticks and used them to smack around a plastic puck on the linoleum-tiled floor.

In the play room’s last “family” configuration a ping-pong table filled most of the space. The ceiling is low so there are many, many scuff marks where paddles topped out during overhand slams. Early last spring I cut a chunk out of the ping-pong table (my dad had made the table out of plywood) to patch the bathroom floor.

The play room mutated quickly once I and my siblings moved out. My dad and brother installed a table saw, and a stack of lumber grew along the wall opposite the sink and fireplace. To accommodate a wood furnace in his “work room,” my dad moved a long cabinet into the play room. When he retired, he stored all kinds of lab equipment in the play room. My brother Eric also stored some stuff there. Oh–and some of my grandmother’s antiques ended up down there as well.

The ceiling in one end of the play room fell some years ago and restoring it would require ripping down the entire ceiling and maybe a wall. To bring the room up to snuff, we’d also need to scrape up the old linoleum tiles and put down something new.

Or… We built a wall. Stacy and I ran a wall across the play room, cutting off the ugly and creating a large storage space for furniture our kids might someday want for their own apartments or houses. I’d have simply locked down the play room (to keep future tenants out), but there’s a fuse box that needs to be accessible.

I could go on about symbolism and all that… but what of 18 months of clearing out the family home hasn’t been symbolic?

Having Stacy here has been a great help. Sunday will be a very busy day.

My spider friend

As we finished the wall this morning, twin fawns walked into the yard. Later, I was out back adding an entry light on the porch I had built last spring. I made friends with a spider who was fearless as I splashed sawdust on its web and periodically bumped the handrail it calls home.


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