Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Egg Balls

Warning:  I’m going to discuss my scrotum in this post, so if that’s a subject you might possibility find offensive, stop reading now.  Also, now would be a good time to mention that there are no photos of my scrotum (or any scrotums) in the post. 

Over the Easter holiday we spent a majority of the weekend working in the vegetable garden.  Since it was Easter some people may wonder why we were not in church.  My point of view is if the Higher Power really wants me to be in church he/she would not allow Atlanta’s NBC affiliate to broadcast Meet The Press from 10:00 to 11:00 on Sunday mornings. 

While in the garden, I think I got a chigger bite.  For those of you who may not be aware of what a chigger is, Google it.  I’m not really sure myself.  But, it seems they usually bite on or near your private parts and it itches. When we were kids, my grandmother referred to them as Red Bugs.  They’re too small to see so I don’t know how she knew they were red.  I assume she called them Red Bugs because the bite spot is red and the bitch itches. 

This year we added a lot of pine straw to help control the weeds in the vegetable beds.  Chiggers like pine straw.  I was wearing cargo shorts commando.  Get the picture. 

I haven’t had a chigger bite in years.  I grew up in South Carolina and our house was surrounded by ‘the woods’.  In South Carolina ‘the woods’ are filled with mostly pine trees, which mean there are chiggers.  During the summer months, my two younger brothers and I did what all little boys do.  We played in ‘the woods’.  We built forts, made bike paths, climbed trees and all the other normal stuff little kids do.  Many summers, while my mother was at work we were dropped off at my grandmother’s for safe keeping.  My grandmother was an avid gardener.  All my knowledge of plants, gardening, common sense, sarcasm and bad attitude I learned from her.  We loved to play in her greenhouse and help her pick vegetables.  Also, her house was surrounded by ‘the woods’, so when we became bored with helping her in the garden we ran wild through the pine trees. 

In South Carolina during the summer months it’s hot & humid.  So, generally we wore a pair of beat up shorts, a cheap tee shirt and flip flops.  WOW, I just realized that’s still my summer outfit of choice!  Some things never change.

We had all the normal accidents associated with little kids playing in ‘the woods’ - cuts, bruises, stepping on rusty things, setting each other on fire, hitting each other in the head with fishing lures, etc…

But, the issues I remember most were the Red Bug bites.  It seemed we were always getting eaten alive by the Red Bug chiggers and they itched.  But, my grandmother had a solution.  She kept bottles of nail polish handy.  Whenever we complained of a chigger bite, she would dab it with nail polish. 

Don’t ask me why.  She was born in 1914.  There were a lot of things she did that could be considered unusual.  She wasn’t particular about the color.  Generally she tried to save the clear polish for scrotum painting, but my two youngest aunts were still in high school so there was lots of dime store nail polish around the house.  And, when you are seven years old and your balls are itching, you don’t really care what color granny uses, just as long as it provides some relief. 

I really don’t know whether it worked.  I think it was just another one of my grandmother’s wives tales.  But we swore by it.  After all, we had to get the problem taken care of so we could get back in ‘the woods’ to rake away the pine straw for more bike paths, thus getting more chiggers. 

By middle of the summer our scrotums looked like miniature Easter egg baskets.  Our balls were polka dot, adorned with shades of pink, red, and coral spots. 

So, I guess it’s appropriate I got a chigger bite on Easter weekend.  Maybe it’s because I don’t go to church.  Maybe it’s because I was planting tomatoes in pine straw.  Maybe it’s because I wasn’t wearing my Calvin’s, but I want to believe it was just a flash back of time spent gardening with my grandmother; a time when you were so young you didn’t care if granny saw your balls. 

Home of chiggers...

got chiggers but no weeds...

A real Easter Egg Ball...

A conceptual Easter Egg Ball...

Ben Wa Balls...which of course have nothing to do with Easter...

Eddie Ross's Easter Eggs, which of course have nothing
to do with ... (well never mind)

And real Easter Eggs layed in the hedge next to the side porch on Easter Sunday...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Martha and Me

Several months ago I wrote a post called ‘A Gray Interior’.  It showed a NYC apartment I really liked.  In the post I ranted on about Martha Stewart’s book, ‘Housekeeping Handbook.’  Of course my blog postings usually go off in some weird multi focused direction.  We had just burnt up an enamel pot, so that’s why I was digging through Martha’s book to see if she had a solution to remedy the situation.  Some where in the book was a pic of this particular apartment and I remember I’d seen it before.  The guy that owned the apartment worked for her, so there was a connection.

In the post I mentioned that I was trying Martha’s solution and I would report back if it worked.  And, guess what…of course it did.  Here’s the inside of the pot.  Now, it may look like its still burnt, but considering that the burnt layer of black stuff was about the thickness of a car tire, I’d say her solution worked pretty well. After all she is Martha Stewart!  Martha suggested I soak the pot in a couple of cups of water with 3 to 4 tablespoons of salt overnight.  Then the next day bring it to a slow boil.  The burnt spots should slowly disolve.  She also said I may have to repeat the process for severe burns.  I had to do it four times!

I almost met her once a few years ago when I was still in NYC.  I attended a big deal black tie event at the new Le Cirque.  She was one of the first people I saw when I walked in.  She was dressed in a gold satin tunic top with matching palazzo pants.  There were two things that really caught my eye.  First, her outfit was the same color as her hair, which was the same color as her skin.  Now being someone who thinks your drapes should match the carpet (don’t get carried away… I’ll explain); I actually like my drapes, wall color and rugs to match.  I like saturated color, so I found Martha’s monotone look rather sophisticated. 

Secondly, she has a big head.  Really, it’s kind of oversized. 

But, I can also say she was the most striking person in the room.  And there were about 500 in attendance and lots of gowns and striking people, so that’s saying a lot.

On the way to my table I tried to push my way near her.  But, some old rich guy cut me off and I would have had to stand around like a strange tuxedoed groupie just to brush up against her so I had to move on. 

Back to the burnt pot, the other night I did it again.  I burnt the shit out of an All Clad skillet.  Some times I cook like I drive.  Zero to 80 in 3.1 seconds.  And I mean I really burnt it, to the point where the pan caught fire.  If C had not had been standing there, I’d probably caught the kitchen on fire. 

We are really good cooks.  Honestly, we are.  I’m good, C is very good, and I mean chef like.  But, like child stars, sometime good cooks go bad, or at least have some bad days.  So I broke out Martha’s book again to see the remedy for non-stick pan solutions.    

All this got me thinking.  I’m going to add a new category to the blog called Housekeeping and test Martha’s book.  I know, it’s not unique and I’m not going to go all Julia and Julia on you.  Besides, I have no plans to start at the beginning of her 700 page housekeeping instructional manual and work my way through to the end.  Martha takes us through everything from ‘how to store wine’ (I’ll skip that chapter since wine doesn’t sit around my house long enough to worry about being stored) to ‘golden rules of vacuuming’  (stimulating).  In fact, knowing me when we look back a year from now this will be the only post in that section!  But, for now it sounds like a nice idea. 

The real reason I’m going to try this is not to test her book; she’s Martha, of course the shit works.  It’s because my house could use as much attention and ‘housekeeping’ as possible.  Every bit helps and anything I do just advances the cause!
Guess which pics belong to Martha and which ones are mine.  Since this could be tough, I'll give you some hints...

That's not me...

Is that my garage...hmmm...could be...

who could this be?  perhaps my house?

or is this Martha's?

and what about this you have a clue?
who's more anal?  me or Martha?

one page 489 Martha tell us the best way to park your
car in the soon as I get mine organized I
just might give it a try!

Friday, April 22, 2011

A "Classic Catholic" Easter Blessing

This post is about as religious as I’ll ever get on the blog, but it’s almost Easter, so why not!  

Side note: I’m not knocking anyone’s beliefs; I’m just using the phrase "Classic Catholic" as a descriptive in referring to a decorating style. I have no plan to discuss the Catholic Church or my thoughts on organized religion being the root of much evil for centuries, Priests & little boys, or the Pope’s stand on homosexuals & abortion.  Besides, I like the Pope’s hats and jewelry. 

The apartment further down in this post reminds me of when we were in Rome.  We were in St. Peter’s Square for the Papal Mass on Easter and I’m not even Catholic.  I do have to admit that we didn’t go there intentionally.  In fact, we didn’t realize it was Easter Sunday and were just looking for a place to have brunch and a few glasses of prosecco.  In fact, the conversation went something like this.

“Is that a loud speaker I hear,” I asked.
“I think so,” replied C.  “There’s a huge crowd up ahead.”
“I think we’re near the Vatican,” added V.
“That sound’s like the pope,” I said. 
“Wait a minute,” C thought out loud.  “It’s Easter.”
“Let’s go see,” I begged.
“And get in the middle of that crowd,” stated V.  “I’m not sure we want to do that.”

A few minutes later, after pushing our way through the huge crowd we were standing in the middle of St. Peter’s Square at the Pope’s house. The first two photos prove it.

And as V put it, “You can probably put those Old Navy shorts and the white Izod you’re wearing on ebay.  After all just by being here I think they were blessed!” 

I’m certainly not a big religious icon guy and some of the pics of this Madrid apartment does get a little too Catholic for me, but you must admit it’s a nice look.  The black and white, heavy classical influence, and all the gold detail are rather nice.  And, I especially love the placement of all the artwork.

Originally published in The World Of Interiors, January 2006.  Photographed by Ricardo Labougle.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Trumpet Vine Canopy

We have a lot of shit that’s just lying around.  My garage is full.  I can’t squeeze another thing in that building.  So, I’m always trying to use the stuff I have just to de-clutter & to recycle.  Last year, wanting some shade in the vegetable garden I rebuilt a metal frame of an old shade tarp.  It used to cover some building materials behind the guest house, but during some really bad storms it got twisted up against some pine trees.  I probably should have just tossed it out, but piling it in the garage (along with all the other broken and collected stuff) was easier than hauling it off. 

I cut the pieces and ‘planted’ it in the middle of the garden.  I covered the top with a roll of left over wire fencing and started some trumpet vine on each pole.  As you can see it’s almost completely covered and has bloomed out in a big way. 

Do I get repurposing points?  Eat your heart out Al Gore.

Monday, April 18, 2011

My Pee Smells Funny

When we moved to the farm, back in 1907 one of the first things C wanted to do was to start a garden.  Even before he had picked a location and tilled up the ground he was buying plants.  The very first thing he planted was asparagus.  Writing this I now realize beginning gardeners starting with asparagus sounds either extremely confident, very elitist or just plain gay!  Whatever the case, it was the first thing to go in the ground.  A year or two later, it suffered the same fate as most things around here; we decided it was in the wrong place and moved it.  Considering it takes a long time to establish asparagus, and when you move it you basically start over I was surprised we ever got any results.  But, for several years now it’s had its place in the vegetable garden and the last couple of growing seasons we are finally reaping the rewards of fresh asparagus.  In fact, for about three weeks now we’ve been harvesting a bunch each day.  I’m on asparagus overload!  Which is a good thing. 

My favorite way to prepare and serve it is also the simplest.  After washing and snapping it, lay it out on a sheet pan, toss it with olive oil, course sea salt, freshly ground pepper, lemon zest and a squeeze or two of lemon juice and roast it until tender, but still crisp – about 10 minutes or so depending on the size of the stalks.  Then a couple of minutes before it’s done, I’ll hit it with a very generous amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese and stick it under the boiler just long enough for the cheese to slightly brown and form a thin crust.  Perfection. 

The asparagus crop will soon be ending and we’ll have to move on to the next item.  The lettuce seeds have just gone into the ground.  We usually have very good luck with lettuces.  Soon every meal will consist of some type of lettuce.  And of course being the over confident gay elitists we are, we plant a lot of arugula! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Freshly Mowed

One of my favorite days of spring has just passed.  It’s the day when we cut the grass for the first time each year.  After a winter of brownness and then the grass (and weeds) start to sprout the farm starts to look a little straggly.  After the first mowing of the season everything looks a thousand times better.  It makes me feel much better about all the many projects and chores that are required to keep this place in check.

Then after a day or so, reality sets in.  To keep the fields and lawn in shape, we have to cut this shit every two weeks and I go right back to being overwhelmed.  But, it's a nice feeling for a day or two. 

Every year there's one section of lawn outside the courtyard we don't cut until later.  These beautiful little yellow flowers bloom each year.  They remain for almost a month.  I don't know what they are, but they're really nice to have around.  If you know what they are, let me know. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Highpoint Drive By

I was at the Spring Highpoint Furniture Market last week.  I always post my interpretation of the market trends.  I’m sure you’ve already seen other blogs about the Highpoint trends.  I’ve been traveling over the past couple of weeks, so my posts have been pre-scheduled, which makes this one a little after the fact.  So, I’m only going to concentrate on the things I found most interesting for two reasons.  

One, I got a late start and lost a day due to an unfortunate encounter with Law Enforcement over an expired car tag.  [Side note:  I may go to court and fight it since my tag expired on March 31 and I was apprehended on April 3.  But, I also didn’t have proof of insurance with me and I’m not sure if my excuse that I was busy in Vegas for a week and now rushing to see the latest furniture and accessory trends will hold up in court.]

The second reason is that as I expected there was no real change from October’s market to this market in the overall trend point of view.  If I had to pick one theme, it would continue to be what I call Industrial Chic & Euro Vintage.  It’s still out there in a big way.  I’ve decided it is a better and reinvented version of the Cottage trend from the 90’s – remember Beach Side Cottage, Country Cottage, and Shabby Chic Cottage.  Those hung around for years and so will this.  Which is fine.  Like I’ve said before there are parts I really like – the linen, farmhouse chic, and some of the vintage.  Just remember I also said – moderation. 

Chicken Feeder Lamps from Tritter Feefer
One other side note on trend - due to my run in with the Law I only had about ¾ of a day at the market and generally just walked the temporary spaces and only a few of the designer and larger showrooms.  Although, as I noted Industrial Chic & Euro Vintage was still very prevalent, there seemed to be one other thing emerging.  I noticed a move toward more refinement - a little more glamour & sophistication. 

Is it the next big thing?  I don’t know.  I’m not sure there is a next big thing.  Home style has gone the way of fashion.  Think about it.  It’s now OK to mix a $30 H&M skirt with a $600 designer jacket.  There is no regard for combining price point or style in fashion or home style any longer.  We’re all exposed to everything, so it’s really only a matter of personal style.  Anything goes and you can put anything together…as long as you like it. 

This outdoor lounger is from Seasonal Living and is beyond

and there's a side chair and ottoman version

the photo does not do this justice.  This sculpture holds candles
and is from Belle Luna.  Beautiful!

I love these pieces from Prints Charming Soho

Also from PCS these are old parchment sheets.  I have a box of
100 year old bank sheets from the original AJ Barnes store and
I'm trying to decide how to use them...

Nice shape and design

I always love a good over sized map...

these chairs are kinda snappy from Mr. Brown

The next four pics are from Lowcountry Originals.  It's all very AJBarnes.
All their designs are great...and she'll do a custom piece for my
dining room...

The rest of the photos are from the new antique section ...these are great chairs...

I love this mirror, but I got yelled at for photographing it. 
she was a bitch...

Zsa Zsa

and one of my favorites...these were huge.  the largest was about 6 feet in diameter...

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