Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This Old House

If you've never owned an old house (100 years or more), you probably have no idea what it's like. They are beautiful, interesting, and historic, yes. But, they also require constant and close attention and upkeep. It's an old house...Right? No one really knows who did the work on it..........the rehab, the repairs, the upgrading. Or, how well it was taken care of. Upon buying an old house you can, of course, completely restore it, including all the electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, etc., but that is pretty pricey. And the days of finding one, in a decent location, cheap enough to off-set all the expense of restoring are pretty much over.

My house was built in 1882. It's a beautiful, 4028 square foot, Victorian, 3-story brick building with 5 bedrooms and 4 baths. I bought it nearly 15 years ago and turned it into a bed and breakfast, It is situated in the 3rd largest preservation area in the US, making it a part of America's history. I had never owned a historic home before and had no idea what I was getting myself into. Not that I have ever been sorry. I love my house, every original nook and cranny of it. But, I didn't know it would need constant attention, in order to keep it in tip top shape. Now, I am ecstatic if I get through a year with no mishaps.

I've lived though the collapse of my parlor ceiling, the cracking of water pipes which sent water trickling down out of the light fixture over my kitchen worktable, while preparing breakfast for guests, and the explosion of 7 feet of water out my water heater onto my basement floor, causing the furnace to go out in January. These are just a few situations; there have been more. Remember, if you haven't replaced all the major systems, pipes, structures, and tanks, those systems, pipes, structures, and tanks might be "ancient." I couldn't afford to do so, when I moved in, so I am having to attend to them, one at a time, as life and the B&B go on.

So, this brings me to today. We have been having severe snow and ice storms for the past 3 days. One day of snow (6-7 inches), one day of ice and sleet, and a 3rd day of more snow. How has this affected my beautiful, old historic home? Well, first of all, the strong winds and ice tore away some of the roof. This sent icy water dripping down onto my 3rd floor storeroom floor (unbeknown to me), where the carpet soaked it up and dripped it down onto the second floor ceiling. The ceiling swelled and threatened to explode water all over the back hall. Knowing what to do, I poked a hole in the middle of the swelling to let the accumulated water out. Down it came in an avalanche of dirty icy liquid....all over me and the floor. I thought I was prepared, with my pails and old bath towels, but I expected it to drip out, not rush out! Finally, I situated two large containers under two different drips and went to bed, totally unaware of the leak in the 3rd floor storeroom.

Next morning, it dawned on me that this leak wasn't coming from a pipe on the second floor; it had to have originated from the 3rd floor above, where the storeroom was . I checked the storeroom and found I was right. I placed the containers under the 3rd floor leaks, which stopped the 2nd floor leaks, and called my maintenance man at 6:30 am! He lives in the neighborhood, so he was there in a flash. (Love this guy, Richard). He confirmed my suspicions, but said, because of the ice storm, it would be too dangerous to get up on the roof, until Saturday, after the storms receded.

So I'm living with the dripping ........... and the shhhhing sound of huge branches falling from my beautiful, old Magnolia tree; branches heavy laden with ice and snow, falling one by one across the old icy, snowy front walk leading to my beautiful, old house. And here I sit, writing on my blog, away from the storm, warm, cozy, and quiet, except for the constant dripping from the ceiling in my storeroom.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fried Green Tomatoes and Barack Obama

excerpt from Chicago Bites #126

Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop
By Bridget on January 12, 2009

"...Barack Obama is a Chicago foodie, so when Tammy and I heard that the president-elect likes the southern fare at Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop in Hyde Park we headed over there to check it out ourselves. My mouth has been watering ever since! I’m craving the fried green tomatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, catfish, greens, and sweet potato pie at this very moment. Part of a small Illinois restaurant chain, Dixie Kitchen does it right -- tasty food and spectacular service all for a good value...."

NOTE: "...Want to hear Obama’s take on Dixie Kitchen? A lost pilot episode of the show
Check it out! taped in 2001 features the then state senator’s review. It aired at 8 p.m. on Friday, January 16, on WTTW." (excerpted from Chicago Bites)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

CookBook Caper

(continued from sidebar: Room At The Table)
...and so the committee had to do most of the work, including raising funds for the project, testing all the recipes, styling all the photographs, and writing & editing all the copy (with a little help from our friends, the publishers). In addition, we engaged in long brainstorming and planning sessions and spent hours setting up systems and contacting & talking to potential Innkeeper participants.
We hired a photographer and a publisher.

The going wasn't always easy. As a group, we bonded, we argued, we had lunch together. We agreed, we disagreed, we had dinner together. We became adamant, we acquiesced, we traveled together. We laughed together. We cried together.
There was more togetherness than most of us were used to.

Traveling through Kentucky
......working the whole time

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Who knew?.......Amazing restaurants in Louisville

When I moved to Louisville and opened my bed and breakfast almost 15 years ago, I had no idea that the city was fifth in the US for conferences or that it was filled with amazing restaurants! Of course, both of these facts are major advantages for Innkeepers and their businesses, as well as for business and leisure travelers.

However, it is the restaurants which seem to generate the strongest reactions from visitors. They are surprised and impressed with the mere number of them, the creative and widely varying cuisines found in each, and the extremes to which the owners and chefs will go to please their customers.

I have guests who come into town, after having done their research, with a list of restaurants they want to visit and why. For example, lots of visitors have heard about Lynn's Paradise Cafe and want to go there......and Jack Fry's .......and, Lilly's. I have been to all three and, let me tell you, they are very different from each other.

Lynn's is a unique experience, as you can see on this video: . Is it any wonder why travelers would be curious about this restaurant? And, the owner is as unique as the restaurant.

Lynn's Paradise Cafe
Jack Fry's offers a totally different ambience. Moody, sophistocated and upscale, this restaurant is one of my favorites. It reminds me of the little intmate places with soft tinkling pianos (think Bobby Short) you can find in New York or Chicago. I would also group Buck's, which is in walking distance of my Inn, into this category.

And, I can't leave out Lilly's. Owned by Kathy Cary, Lilly's is a charming Kentucky bistro often touted by local food columists. "If an American city is fortunate, it will have a signature restaurant, an eatery combining a sense of place with the best local flavors. To be truly outstanding, it will have a worldview, too, drawing on many culinary traditions. For over two decades, our city has been lucky indeed to have its own such quintessential restaurant. Lilly's says Louisville." (Susan Reigler, Courier Journal)

There are many more fine restaurants here , too numerous to mention. They run the gamut from steak house to vegetarian; from American cuisine to Asian fuse.; from easy-on-your-budget to expensive. But they all are extraordinary

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Could you Use a little Humor today?

Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.The winners are:
1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are runover by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation withYiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here is this year's winner:

Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. (The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future).

Thursday, January 1, 2009

a very happy, healthy & prosperous new year to all

Remember the good omen I talked about yesterday? ..........the one about the first guests of 2009? Well, let me tell you what happened when they checked in. First of all, they got here around 7:30 pm (two friendly 30-somethings from Kansas). I came running down the stairs (I have a lot of them) to let them in. Noticing that it was extremely cold on the first floor, I walked back to the thermostat to check it out. Josh ( the husband of Shana, my other guest) followed me, thinking maybe he could help, if there were a problem. The thermostat had fallen to the lowest point! ( and it was 25 degrees outside).

I mulled over earlier events that had happened before their arrival, looking for a possible explanation. I suddenly remembered that I had heard an unusual hissing sound a few hours earlier, but had dismissed it as something going on outside. someone's car.....or whatever. Josh and I continued to analyze the furnace problem, standing over each of several registers on the first floor. All of a sudden I put the hissing sound and the failing furnace together and my mind flashed to the basement.

Josh had offered to check out the furnace. I opened the basement door, turned on the light and peered down the stairs to see at least 5 inches of moving water traveling across the basement floor. Upon walking a little further down, I could see the water heater from the stairway. It was gushing water! OMG! I have guests tonight, there's no hot water for showers, and the furnace is out!
Good omen be damned! be continued.