Friday, April 30, 2010

Barnette Heating of Mocksville: NOT Recommended

The reply came this week from Barnette Heating & A/C, Inc. of Mocksville, NC, and while it was the one I expected, it does affirm for me that this is not an HVAC provider or servicer that I would recommend to others. Of course, this is just one homeowner's opinion based on his experience with this firm in connection with the renovation and addition project here at the Roediger House. But I'd say that there were enough problems with them that I would not be willing to suggest or recommend them to others.

Over the coming weeks, I'll try to chronicle here on this personal blog my best recollections of all the Barnette-related trials and tribulations. I do remain at present an unsatisfied and unimpressed customer. Others may have different and perhaps better stories to tell.

I'll do the telling of my own story with them.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Trash Collection

Here's another one of those things about downtown living: the prevailing winds are quite good at bringing trash into the yard, constantly. It's not as much of a problem in the front yard, in part because it sits up above the sidewalks and adjoining driveways. But the backyard has always gotten regular doses of cups and bags and receipts and wrappers, blowing across the gravel parking lot beside me and coming to rest in my yard.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Key Lime Pie is the Key

You know, as I sit in a hotel room this evening, while I'm working with administrators for a couple of days, I find myself wishing I could have another slice of the key lime pie I had for dessert this past Monday night.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Meal No. 92: Tuna with Agrodolce Sauce

This turned out to be a good day to have one simple meal, around 4 pm. Since I've got to head down to Richmond County, I wanted something without much muss and fuss, and what struck the right chord was some pan-seared tuna medallions topped with a red onion agrodolce sauce, with sugar snap peas and company mashed potatoes on the side. De-lic-ious.

Territorial Aggressions

My big spacious open windows in the kitchen area have let me bear witness to two fun territory defense actions by the local birdlife: this morning, I watched two blue jays chasing and attacking a hapless squirrel, and just now I saw a fearless mockingbird send a much, much larger hawk scurrying.

I'm hoping this is a sign that the blue jays have nested around here. But I'm also ready to see some fierce feasting by a well-aimed hawk.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meal No. 91: Pork Medallions with Dijon Mushroom Cream Sauce

Somehow I got myself on the hook to make a special birthday dinner, so tonight's small gathering around the supper table was for the sole purpose of enjoying a total request meal. Here's the break-down:

•pan-seared pork tenderloin
•dijon mushroom cream sauce
•Fordhook lima beans
•company mashed potatoes
•yeast rolls
•key lime pie

All-in-all, it was pretty darned good. Not much left over, but enough to be happy about.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Keys to Failure

In the new kitchen area, the eating nook is nestled in a floor-to-ceiling bay that mirrors other bays in the original part of the house. I love the great light that comes in through all those windows. Some of that light comes in through a glass patio door between this eating bay and the new fireplace.

So, the plan was for that lock to be the same as the other two exterior doors in the house. Unfortunately, Peter LaRoque (the General Contractor) keyed it using the copy of the house key that I had made at Lowe's, and the result is not an exact match for the other exterior door keys. The only key that fits it is the one used for the keying.

Now, if you were the General Contractor, would you have left it that way, or would you have gotten that lock keyed to match ALL the other exterior door keys? Hmmm...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Scoring on eBay

Every once in a while, I have to hit up a saved search on eBay and see what might be available in the pattern of dishes my mom passed on to me. These were the dishes that were somewhere between 'every day' and 'fine china.' But hey: they suffice. I've been trying to get enough on hand to be able to have dinners for eight. Then, when I got the new dining room table, I wanted to bump that up to 12. Of course, why not go for 20?

Last week was a good week to have checked eBay. I think I can now say I've got plenty of flatware and I'm well on my way to having enough dishes. Replacements, Ltd., is good and all that, but I don't have that much money burning a hole in my pocket.

By the way, the baby grand piano seen in a recent blog post about the south parlour was my first winning bid ever eBay.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Buckle Up

I guess this is one of the things that happens when my fair city of Winston-Salem actually gets enough snow that it accumulates on the porch: all the moisture in it (as it melted) managed to wreak a little havoc on the floorboards of the front porch. This was always a terrible problem just from rains with the side of the porch where the parking area is, because it was uncovered and it was wooden. That's why I had it restored to a concrete platform, as seen in this earlier blog post.

Now that buckling problem is showing up elsewhere, I'll be adding this to my to-do list. What is it they say about old houses? The work is never done. But I'll keep slogging away at it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Damn Cat

This is the damn cat. Not my damn cat. It's somebody's damn cat. And it's a damn cat because it does what nature intended for it to do: to be mesmerized by birds and to lie in wait for them. And occasionally to snag one and kill it.

Yep, this is the damn cat that finds my yard particularly attractive, because there are five feeders up and about. Something I got from my mother, I suppose, this simple enjoyment of looking out and seeing the birds at the feeders.

Lying in wait for a slow bird is something this cat got from its mother, too, although hers has the distinction of being instinctive and natural. But I hate it for my birds. I wish the cat only liked mourning doves, because I can't stand them.

And of course, another joy of having a cat sneaking around, besides the bird carcasses on the porch, is the occasional piles of spit-up that are usually where I would not really want them. Like the above shot from the side porch. The middle of the side porch. Where you walk when you're coming up from the parking area.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Meal No. 90: Pizza Again

The pizza bug bit me. I downloaded some recipes for pizza crust, gathered together the leftover ingredients from Sunday's pizza-making extravaganza, and I set to work trying my hand at pizza again.

And as you can see from this first picture, I'm still much too much of a novice. You can't go piling your stuff up on a pizza and expect it to actually bake all the way through in the middle.

And I was timid in the crust making, because truth-be-told, I've not done a whole lot of direct work with breads and yeast and such. So I don't yet have a knack for it. The crust tasted fine, but it didn't rise up as much as I'd hoped.

This is about a 10-ingredient pizza, starting with a mixed flour crust with oregano, basil, and garlic powder mixed into it. Once again, a pesto base felt like the way to go. Then: mozzarella, sliced Roma tomatoes, chopped Vidalia onion, cubed portabella mushroom, asiago cheese, feta cheese, cheddar cheese, sliced sweet peppers, and chopped garlic spiced shrimp.

It required extra baking time and I think I let the pesto spread on a bit too thick. But it was still a delicious pizza when it all came out and was ready for the eating.

Next time, though, I need to remember what 475° F does to slices of tomato: I burned the ever-loving heck out of the roof of my mouth.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sentimentally Plucking a Chicken

A while back, when I was making chicken salad for the first time ever, I actually went to the trouble to isolate and remove the wishbone. It brought back a flood of memories from when I was a kid, and my sister and I would almost always be given the wishbone from the chicken my mother had just boiled up, and we'd do the wishbone pull and make a wish.

My nostalgia led me to grab my camera, and it turns out the late-afternoon sunlight was spilling in from the window over the kitchen sink, so I tried to artfully place the wishbone to be captured. I liked it enough to print it on the front of a notecard and send it to her with a note of my reminiscence.

See: I'm much sappier than you thought I was.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Letter to Barnette Heating & A/C, Inc.

19 April 2010

Greg Barnette
Barnette Heating & A/C, Inc.
965 Salisbury Drive
Mocksville, North Carolina 27028

Dear Greg,

I’ve received your bill for the repair trip you made to my house last week when the upstairs system ceased cooling.

I am sympathetic to your father Mike's concern that the younger generation's different value system threatens to jeopardize the decades of hard work he invested to establish the reputation of Barnette Heating & A/C, Inc. I would like you to double-check with him about the wisdom of billing a customer for repair of a brand-new system that shut down with the spring's first weekend of hot weather. I don't mind waiting while you solicit feedback from him about this bill.

Raymond C. Jones

PS: I should add that, if the system you have installed in my home is so delicate that it will shut down with a dirty filter or if I leave bedside lamps on upstairs, we have a far more serious issue at hand.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Meal No. 89: Pizza with Pizzazz

It might be because I know this blog has a frightfully small readership that I'm willing to confess that I've never actually made a pizza from scratch before. My claims to pizza fame are buying a better frozen one and then adding some freshly-cut sweet peppers and cheese to it before chunking it into the oven for the requisite heating spell.

So on this fine mid-April Sunday, I got a little hankering to make pizza for the first time. I had a nice semolina pizza crust mix that I'd gotten sometime back from King Arthur Flour, and I went ahead and grabbed a ready-made crust in case I went for a second pizza. I looked back through some recipes I'd clipped and put aside but also looked at the ingredients list on the online menus from Mellow Mushroom and UNO pizzeria. I ended up making two pizzas, because once I got started, I didn't want to stop.

Pizza No. 1

Semolina crust, pesto base. fresh mozzarella, garlic spiced shrimp, asiago cheese, parmesan cheese, carmelized Vidalia onion, portabella mushroom, and some olive oil.

Pizza No. 2

Pesto base, fresh mozzarella, sliced Roma tomatoes, yellow and orange bell peppers, asiago cheese, feta cheese, and cheddar cheese.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Barnette's Bill Is Still a Bitter Pill

So it's been a couple of days that I've had this bill from Barnette Heating and A/C, Inc., of Mocksville, NC, and it is still sticking in my craw. The installation and functioning of the new system in my house has not been without problems and complications, and I've lost count of the number of times they've had to come out and get the system up and running again after it simply quit.

And there's something especially irksome about bills that come with that sticker there at the bottom of it. The last time I got a bill from Barnette, they'd already sent me a second one one week later with an annoying handwritten admonishment added to it. For service that is as imperfect as they've shown themselves to be in my experience with them, I hardly think they can go around making the demands of a stickler regarding the bills being paid.

It does not endear me to the business, I can tell you.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Baseball Is My New Neighbor

You know, although a few vocal residents over in the West End Neighborhood were terribly antsy in the planning stages about the noise from the new BB&T Ballpark, I think I am going to welcome the noise of the loudspeakers, the roars of the crowd, the cracks of the bats, and the occasional celebratory fireworks that will all be a part of the Winston-Salem Dash seasons each summer.

Opening night was Tuesday, and although the Dash lost, they have made up for it with their next two games. I'm excited about walking over to a game one of these days when my schedule permits.

Seems to me this is another good thing for downtown, and I'm ready to see what else might grow out of this addition to life and living in the heart of Winston-Salem.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15, 2010

If you've spent any time on this blog, you know there are a lot of ways that I love using my kitchen. This year, I had to spend a couple of days locked up in it in order to get my taxes done. It's always a long, grueling, and tedious process, and it takes a lot of table top and countertop space.

Boy howdy, do I have the kitchen for that, now!

So even though it was the drudgery of figuring and sorting and filing and tracking things down, at least it was in a mighty fine kitchen that is enjoyable, even for that.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New HVAC System Already Breaking Down?

You know, if you're a small business (I don't know: maybe like Barnette Heating & A/C, Inc, in Mocksville, NC), and you're going to take on the challenge of putting in a completely new system in a 4000-square-foot house, and the first time it gets hot, half the system quits working...would you send the homeowner a bill for coming out to repair it?

I hope the $65 makes the bad press worth it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

House Captured in the Journal

The Winston-Salem Journal ran an article in this past weekend's Sunday edition, as part of their full coverage of the opening of the new BB&T Ballpark downtown, that focused on the impact on local businesses. There was a terrific photograph at the top of the article (huge in the print edition; not so great size/quality in the online edition) that featured a very familiar looking house in the lower left corner. Walt Unks took a great photo; this is a link to the article.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Meal No. 88: Coronation Chicken

What a terrible picture this turned out to be. I was in a hurry because it was well past 8 o'clock last night and the food smelled so good and I was ready to eat. This was a return to a favorite: Chicken with Coronation Sauce over basmati rice. Such a good and easy recipe. Never quite tastes the same from one time to the next, but it's always good.

I doubt there will be any cooking today, because this is when the procrastinator who lives in the Roediger House finally gets it together to do his taxes. It'll be about a 12-14 hour ordeal, so while I may be spreading out all kinds of papers and receipts in the kitchen, it'll just be a whole 'nother kind of work space. Wish me luck.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Yep: spring has sprung. God bless all of you with allergies.

But what an unfailingly gorgeous day...too perfect to ignore the grass any longer, and excellent weather for taking regular breaks and sitting in the breezes on the wrap-around porch and reading.

Another sign of spring: I get nostalgic for the banana sandwiches I ate so many of growing up in Buies Creek:

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Paving Broad Street

Looking out back of the house last week, towards Broad Street, gave me a chance to see the spectacle of a burning car. This week, the activity back on Broad is its repaving, all part of getting the area ready for the opening next week of the new downtown BB&T Ballpark, the new home of our minor-league Winston-Salem Dash baseball team.

Since I get to use Broad Street so much, especially coming and going via the downtown expressway, I'm happy to see its upgrade. It had gotten pretty rough and bumpy. And I hope all the plans for how to funnel traffic and parking will fall into place, but that may be an area of some bumpiness too, while all the kinks are worked out.

This is a shot from Broad Street at its intersection with Fourth; the house can be seen almost dead-center in the picture:

I went up on top of the Wachovia Center's parking deck to get this next shot; you can see the house off and to the right.

And here's one final photo on the topic of the paving of Broad Street: it's now smooth sailing in my sweet VW CC...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wasp Invasion

So by the time I'd killed the third wasp inside the house, I knew I was likely dealing with an invasion somewhere. Most likely site of entry: attic. Finally, today, I found the scene of the crime: up under the roofline on the south side of the house, over the front room that's currently where the TV is for watching DVDs.

My 25-ft jetting wasp and hornet spray and I climbed up on the porch roof and gave 'em a good dousing, but alas, the can emptied too quickly. So the problem is not abated.

Then again: don't I have pest control service? Score.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Barnette's Quick Response

I'll give Greg Barnette props for a speedy response: he was at the house the day after I reported that my upstairs HVAC system was not working. Turns out it had frozen up and he worked about an hour to get it up and running again.

Here's what I'm not giving props for: apparently a dirty filter is enough to bring this system to its knees, which makes me wonder about this unit. Now, because I wasn't at home when he came to fix things, I don't know if the frozen-up part was in the air handler unit in the attic, or in the external heat pump unit, or somewhere in between. It was pretty hot in both places: outside and in. Still, this thing cost me too much money to be that fragile about the conditions under which it is and isn't willing to work. I need a dependable workhorse; have I got something else instead?

Because it gets worse, and here's the other thing I don't get: Greg says I shouldn't have lights burning upstairs because it makes the system work too hard and can lead to future freeze-ups. Forty-watt bulbs on nightstands in two of the bedrooms will also bring my system to its knees? Pardon my incredulity, and disappointment.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Barnette HVAC and My Scorching Upstairs

Have I had a chance to introduce you to my two new very nice and very expensive heat pumps?

Here they sit, nestled in the little recess that backs up to the rear wall of the butler's pantry, between the dining room on the left (in the old/original part of the house) and the new eating bay in the kitchen addition. If you look closely, you may notice that the smaller one in front isn't working. Or it's not able to fulfill its job of cooling. So this week, the upstairs is over 80 degrees.

Perhaps you too will want to reach out to Barnette Heating & A/C, Inc. in Mocksville so that you can spend an amount equivalent to my salary as a third-year teacher and not have any air conditioning when it gets hot.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Western Sky and Our Lovely Day

A couple of evenings ago, it was really awesome to sit out on the north end of the wrap-around porch and to watch traffic on Fourth Street and to see the approach of dusk in the broad expanse of western sky. (It was while having coffee at that same spot on Good Friday that the Fourth Street scene included a procession of earnest Christians carrying their oversized cross, complete with a police escort. Made me think of the bumper sticker I saw recently: Jesus was a community organizer, while Pontius Pilate was a governor.)

Somewhere along the way the recessed can lights around the exterior of the kitchen's eating bay clicked on.

Yes, that bay: I love all the light that comes in. This was a random shot I took when the sunshine was so brilliant outside.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Eventually, Fridge Space Runs Out

As of Monday morning, even after all the preparation of last night's Easter Sunday Brunchy Supper meal, I still had a stuffed refrigerator and freezer. I am going to have to slow down and start consuming more of what's on hand, instead of making fresh grocery runs.

When this picture was taken, I think the count of just leftovers in the fridge included grilled filet and gorgonzola cream sauce, a slice of quiche, a container of mixed greens for salad, three grilled chicken breasts, a container of fresh fruit, pear cobbler, hummus, chicken salad, and cut sweet bell peppers and carrots. Purchased but no time to do anything with them yet: two chubs of hot sausage, two chicken breasts, and a brie wheel. In the freezer are containers of leftover chili from the 2010 Chili Cook-off and containers of the Brunswick stew I whipped up back in the winter.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday Brunchy Supper

One of the usual events with my Wake Forest students was a Sunday brunch, most often held on Palm Sunday. It was an excuse to get together with them, which I always enjoyed, but also a reason to whip up a slew of recipes I've got that work best with a brunch kind of meal. Since I took my leave of WFU, the guest list has changed, but it's still a terrific reason to bring people together.

This year, for the dozen who gathered, the menu included spring frittata quiche, special crockpot scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, Bundt coffee cake, zucchini bread, cheesy grits, bacon, and a pear pudding cobbler. From the guests came deviled eggs, cheesy potato slices, and fixings for mimosas. It was all good. The weather was so nice that we took it out on the front porch, where the crew lingered until after 10 pm.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Meal No. 86: Garlic & Lemon Grilled Chicken

With the exception of the time I got suckered into doing so by Linda Dunlap, at a gathering at her house, I think this evening represents the first time I've ever grilled chicken. Well, at least, here at the Roediger House, that is. I got some big old breasts from Sam's and pounded them down for more even cooking, marinated them in a nice concoction of olive oil and lemon juice and garlic and various spices, and grilled them up in the cool breezes of this glorious April evening. Made for a fine dinner.

Sunshine in the Cherry Grove

It is true that I am pretty much giddy over spring. The older I get, the more I hate cold weather and being cold. But I do love being able to drink coffee in the morning on the porch, or sit outside in the evening, or look forward to the coming season of outdoor movie nights.

It was such a beautiful day yesterday, so here are two shots of the "cherry grove" in the side yard, with morning sun coming from the east in the first picture, and the late afternoon sun behind me as I took the second picture.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Meal No. 85: Spicy Garlic Shrimp

This Good Friday was perfect for trying out another new but simple recipe. This one was for spicy garlic shrimp, and I think I'm safe in saying that I've never cooked shrimp before. In my life.

When I started on the recipe, I was struck by how many spices would actually go into it, so much so that I had to take a picture of them all lined up.

It was a pretty quick process to get the shrimp cooked up, and they looked just like they were supposed to. Ordinarily, I do not like food you have to assemble or disassemble, once it's cooked, but the shells came off easy as pie. The end result was a tasty variation on a typical mixed greens salad.