Friday, December 21, 2007

Lately it occurs to me…

Moving closer to the middle of the fifth decade...Happy 53rd birthday to me!
This year has been interesting, as in may you live in interesting times. A number of unpleasant things occurred, but none that caused me to turn away from my life in hopeless despair. I feel like I met each challenge with relative competence, and occasional humor. (Though I still cannot pass the spinach display in the produce aisle without a shudder) Perhaps this is a start of some long-asked-for internal equanimity.
Last night I found my way to the Beaverton Jade Sauna, a Korean-style women's bathhouse. As a member in good standing of the Church of the Holy Hot Water, it was wonderful to find yet another sacred site to visit on pilgrimage. Meeting with two dear women friends there made the evening enjoyably social as well as blissfully relaxing.
Today, I stopped off to see my neighbor Marianna, and give her a little holiday gift. She showed me the big project she's been working on, remodeling their bathroom... Imagine walls covered in warm creamy-golden stone tiles, with a narrow border up high of darker, textured toast colored stones. Imagine using big 12' square floor tiles cut in half diagonally as triangular shelves in the corners of the shower enclosure. And best of all, imagine the floor covered with smooth flat manycolored pebbles (about the size of hen eggs, only flat) with deep golden colored grout. I told her how beautiful this space was, and how amazing a job she had done. The creativity hidden within apparently ordinary little houses is so inspiring... (and I want to copy the idea of a pebble-tiled floor)
On the way home last night, I noticed yesterday that amidst their lighted holiday display, the house on the corner has two wreaths that are actually peace symbols. They are a little lost amidst the "reindeer pulling a decorated red convertible through the garden bed" but seeing that old familiar sign made me smile. And in honor of my not so misspent youth, I'll send one of my 2008 calendars to the first respondent with the correct answer as to why the "chicken foot in a circle" is/was a symbol of peace…
Happy solstice to all!

Monday, December 17, 2007

salvage goodness, & solstice celebration tea-party

As some of you know, poor Acorn Cottage currently has no bathroom sink, due to circumstances only partially within my control. (There are eventual plans for a splendid copper replacement sink; I've been occasionally making sketches of various design ideas) Well, yesterday found me wandering through the salvage side of Rejuvenation, and I found some vintage acorn eye-candy. Sturdy, twelve inch, cast iron support brackets. The cast design is 3-D on both sides of each bracket. I almost never make what is called an impulse purchase, but these just had to come home with me, as I've never seen anything like these before...

I'm thinking maybe supports for a future wall-hung sink.
and just so it is clear to all, I'm not intending to fill all the rooms in my little house with acorn things... I'm going for subtle and occasional.
afternoon tea-party and solstice celebration

Come see the giant collage wall! Wish Fjorlief many happy returns (of the day before)! Admire the living room without a workbench! Pet Smokey the compact Akita! Brave the scarey bathroom-without-a-sink! Eat tasty snacks! Pet Smokey the compact Akita!

I'm having a post-birthday tea party this Saturday afternoon, December 22nd. All friends of Acorn Cottage are invited, I'll have tea, and various tasty snacks. Open house after 1 PM, contact me if you need directions. Potluck tea-snacks welcome if accompanied.

There may be a trip to Sushi Takahashi for sushi dinner, later, in the evening, if folks are interested ...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

fruit and flower

Earlier today, while checking my email, I got a message from Kria (the Friends of Trees coordinator for my neighborhood) that said "go order your tree NOW!" I logged onto the FoT website and sure enough, there were the promised fruit trees... So, Acorn Cottage will be gettting a Fuyu persimmon as a street tree, in February. I had tasted the Fuyu persimmons from New Seasons, they are the smaller ones that look a bit like a flat tomato, and according to all information, and my tasting, are the ones that are edible while still firm. I realise that it will take several years before any harvest, and I've seen persimmons on yard trees only a few blocks from here, the ones I've had taste almost like mango, so I'm excited.

Ive been working on a roman shade for Aelfflaed. Yesterday I finished the valance stencilling, which was more challenging than any I've done before. Cutting the stencil was straightforward, it is a lovely three color design (Arts and Craft style rose border) However, since the window in question is rather large, the motifs are proportionally larger than any fabric stencilling I've done before. Held my breath while doing the work, but it all came out beautifully. The rest of the project is straightforward sewing and construction, I'll post pictures when I have a chance ...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Acorn Cottage houseversary...

Two years ago, in a transformation even more radical that becoming a Laurel, I became a householder. And really, that changed everything. I shan't bore everone with woeful tales of my younger adulthood, but having a home is something I never thought possible. Until it was.

Gratitude for all that made this possible....
Happiness every day for a home where I belong....

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

winter-spring fever : a cogitation

"You know, it's very cold in Portland town this time of the year,
I wouldn’t mind if I could find someone to hold me near…"
- New Riders of the Purple Sage
When I came home Tuesday night, feeling a bit weird and blue, I took Her Own Darling Self (aka Smokey the compact Akita) for a long walk, which usually settles me back into feeling good. We walked over to Willamette Blvd, and with the night so warm and clear, the lights were particularly pretty. Though I will probably miss the Delphi Valley views for the rest of my life; within easy walking distance of Acorn Cottage there is a place where I can see further than across the street.

but somehow, the walk didn't sort and settle things, and I came home close to tears...

Usually I feel this way in the springtime, wishing that I had some affectionate connection with another human, skin hungry for touch, heart hungry for sweetness. For the last few years, I just push these thoughts away, as impossible to reach for.

I don't think I'm hideously ugly, or frighteningly odd; although some folks have said that I have a few alarming areas of competence, I don't think that I am all that scarey. But I can count on one hand the times in the last twenty years that I have noticed signs of interest in someone I found interesting. Now granted, a Venn diagram would probably show rather small areas of intersecting interests, but surely not non-existent. I once asked a good friend and former lover why I seemed to be invisible (as a woman) to men. He responded that, for lack of a better way to describe it, I do not give off "girl vibes", but seem more like one of the guys.

The older I get, the more I feel that some of how people find relationships is Luck. Some, but not all. And the part that is not luck is where I find myself totally clueless. I guess I was busy doing something else on the day they handed out the instructions (probably skipped class, off somewhere drawing pictures, or making baskets out of grass stems, or picking pretty pebbles out of a stream)… Never understanding the whole flirting thing, I wonder how many times I've missed connecting with someone, by missing whatever "signals" were out there, somewhere a more clever girl would have noticed…

To be sure, my life does not suck. I like the life I have. (I have Acorn Cottage as my haven, projects galore to keep me happily busy, Smokey for company and the hens for comic relief. I have wonderful friends, a loving family-of-origin, I no longer start every day feeling broken, and I end every day grateful for all the good I do have in my life.)
I'm not looking to get married and have a family. I'm not looking for a full-time live-in relationship. What I would like is some part-time occasional sparkle and warmth, with someone affectionate and kind. Most of the time, I don't think my desires are too extravagant... I (not so) jokingly say that the difference between artistic and autistic is only one letter… anything beyond friendship remains a confusion.

and, on a not quite parallel track…
When I was a child, I really wanted a pony. Children who lived between the pages in books got ponies; by the time I was old enough to understand why a pony would be impossible (…in our tiny suburban yard, moving somewhere else almost every year), I was too old to want one anymore. So in the spirit of finding a way to one's hearts desire, I made this with the small bits of wool left over from making the bunny… (and no, this pony is not for sale)
I've discovered the "museum" setting on my digital camera, it does several things: one - it takes pictures without the flash, which is something that I rather often want; two - it takes pictures almost a close as the macro function, which is something I use at least half the time, and three - it takes pictures without an audible click, I guess so you can take pictures in a sneaky silent way. I'm not a photographer, I don't even play on teevee, but I've found that this little camera becomes a more and more useful tool, the more I experiment.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

slow day, not snow day

Saturday, day two of our holiday sale, was quite slow, though everyone that came found things to purchase, which was encouraging. We are planning to do a "Mother's Day" sale in the spring, when the weather shouldn’t be an issue. I'm rather happy with how everything looked on display…

I somehow misplaced my knitting needles for the giant slippers of doom project (I'm knitting the to-be-felted "jester" slippers from the current issue of "Craft"), so, thanks to Rafny I had the chance to do another bit of needle felting. Inspired by one of the japanese crafty books, I started this rabbit, and had almost finished by 6 PM when we closed up shop. The horsetail hair that I bought long ago, (for the tassels on my Norse banner), has come in handy many a time for animal whiskers on various little crafted creatures.

As always, the next work project(s) beckon. Window shade jobs, and the various orders for clothing and jewelry for Twelfth Night are now at the top of the priority list.
I'm also going to be doing some pattern development, variations of my favorite blouse pattern, (to finally get started on my much-delayed cold weather wardrobe). I'm thinking about layered combinations, with long-sleeved knit shirts under soft dresses, topped with new jumpers with fun embellishments. I've been very inspired by the Nordic designer Gudrun Sjoden. I love her style, and beautiful color sense; had I funding enough, I would happily have my entire wardrobe of her designs. However, the exchange rate (dollars:euros) makes that, shall we say, rather impractical…

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

the shameless commerce division...

I am doing my best not to panic. Many things are completed, but not everything. I was hoping to do rosemary wreaths, but... not this year, I guess. The bulletin boards are done. The collage mirrors are done. I need to find the jewelry backstock, 'specially the mistletoe earrings. I need to figure out some clever display ideas.

And oh, I need to remind folks that might be interested that our holiday sale is this weekend: do come to the ManyHands Studio Market, there will be lots of fun artist-made creations.

When: Friday November 30 - 9 to 6
and Saturday December 1 - 9 to 6

Where: 13355 SW Rita Drive, Beaverton OR 97005

Mapquest map

Now off to do waay too much for the rest of today

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

more manyhands busyness

Sometimes it feels like all I do is work. Our holiday market event is just about two weeks away. I've been busy every evening making more tidbits; about half the items on my "hopeful-to-do" list are now colorful reality.
These little pincushions are known on-line as "biscornu" ("that which has irregular form, with projections" or "complicated and bizarre") I like that.
All work and no play makes Alison a dull girl. Inspired by some decorative sewing pins I saw out in blog-land I decided some playtime with colored pencil and shrinky-plastic would be fun. A quick trip to Collage over on Alberta (I like having an art stuff store fairly nearby that isn't a big box store), and I came home with a package of "Polyshrinktm - artists grade shrink plastic" made by "Lucky Squirrel" (is it only me that finds these names peculiar?, our heroine wonders to herself) Having never before experimented with "shrinkydinks" my first attempt came out waaay too tiny, but on the second try, I made these three little pins… (which you can actually see in the previous picture too). They're about 1/4" wide, a nice size, if a bit difficult to get my camera to focus down on.
I've been bustling about getting the house picked up before the assessor inspection yesterday, so Acorn Cottage is relatively tidy, with lots more stuff piled in the workroom. I did find a whole carton of outdated catalogs mislabeled as "useful books" (well, they were useful once, but now are merely recycling), but most of the boxes will need to be actually sorted and organised. It does look like there will be room for everything once the storage shelf wall is built, 'specially if I do something similar in the future sewing-guest-computer room, and it is obvious that I need to come up with some good way to store the wood bits (molding and lumber and wood, oh my!) that I seem to be accumulating.
Since the house is more accessible, with the boxes consolidated, I'd like to do more social things here. I'm thinking of having Monday night be open-house-drop-in project night, since I am usually home working on one project or another anyhow. And I'm also thinking about starting up the (formerly Not-Just-For-Sewingtm) once a month tea party, on the third Saturday of the month. Feedback anyone?...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

pink & happy : young & spicy

No, not what you might be thinking...but I scored a bunch of young ginger at Uwajimaya. Now I can attempt homemade pickled sushi ginger, with the last bits of the purple shiso which is still hanging on in my herb planter. I found a recipie which looks fairly simple, and so in addition to spending the weekend making various things for the studio sale, I'll be experimenting with steeping shiso leaves in rice vinegar. The pink color traditionally comes from shiso, rather than Red dye #??

Monday, November 12, 2007

hidden treasure

The promise of wind and rain encouraged me to clear away some of the detritus that collects on the platform/deck in front of Acorn Cottage. Leftover plastic plant pots, stakes from early garden peas, and a healthy dusting of leaves. Not to mention the giant blue tote box, in which plants came down here this spring from my friend Sharon's garden (the only one that seems to have made the transition at all well is the Michaelmas daisy which got planted in the parking strip, though I have slight hopes that some of the Clerodendrum may yet surprise me…)
Amidst all this, I found a spindly cherry tomato plant, wedged between larger pots; I had somehow forgotten to plant it with the others in the backyard this summer. The nearby planters and south facing exposure obviously protected it, so I present for your visual enjoyment :

the last tomato!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

inspired by ikeahacker

Current organizing theory (for the home, rather than the political world) suggests having a place to recycle unwanted paper trash close to where it enters your house is a good idea. (To help prevent the "oh-I'll-just-set-it-down-and-deal-with-it-later" syndrome.) Those of you who have actually visited Acorn Cottage know that this is not a big house, and that the front door opens directly into the living room. For a while I had a tall covered wastebasket in the living room, near the door. This, while effective, did not give a very welcoming impression, and it was probably very bad feng shui. I was inspired after discovering the ikeahacker website, to create a little ikea-hack of my own… The kitchen is on one side of the front door, and there was space just inside the kitchen doorway for this tidy trash and recycling center. The hacking part was more like sawing, as one of my Ikea cutting boards was re-sized to become the shelf (aligned with the adjacent wire shelving) that supports the smaller wastebasket. Now junk mail can immediately be recycled upon entry; and having the debris "trashcan" available without opening a cupboard I find very handy. (it must be working as far as unobtrusive, since some guests have had to ask where the kitchen trash is...)

The rest of the weekend will be mostly devoted to finishing the eight-linen-curtains job (re-sizing and trimming with green ribbon), which is due next week. Hopefullly also completing the full size drawings for the roman shade project. Maybe a bit of yard work, I'd like to get some of the cover crop seeds sown, and if it gets dry enough the yard needs raked...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

tiny acorn goodness

The garlic is planted…hooray! And it looks like today will be another dry day, so if there is time between all the myriad bits of busyness scheduled for today, I will try and get the walking onions planted too…(time for another stop at Starbucks for a bag of free coffee grounds)

Yesterday I ended up spending waaay too much time waiting for Les Schwab to put new tires on Nimblefoots front wheels. Fortunately I brought not only the book I was reading, but the little basket of portable handwork, since it was over three hours sitting and waiting. I had lots of time to stitch ten little acorn caps out of bronze-green hand dyed wool felt, and later that evening I finished the emery acorns for the ManyHands studio sale.

(I was very excited to find an online source for real emery, since I had been looking for several years…the last "emery" strawberry I purchased had sand ! inside.) The emery gives the acorns a nice solidity and unexpected heft for their size, they are about two inches long. I feel compelled to keep one for my own sewing basket… An oak leaf needlebook would make a good companion piece, maybe if I end up with enough time before the sale, I'll see if I can design something appropriate…

Much sewing will be happening here at Acorn Cottage. Mostly working on the various window treatment projects. I often wish that my sewing machine actually sewed faster. I actually wore out the first original foot pedal set, because I spend so much time with the poor thing "pedal-to-the-metal". If I end up with extra time, ha ha, I will try and cut out some clothing for me, as the wardrobe situation is not improving.

Sewing modern clothing for myself is just not fun or interesting, which may be why I have a much better SCA wardrobe than I do of modern clothing. I really need another five or six jumpers, and the same for shirts would be really helpful as well. If I could buy off-the-rack clothing in the shops, that came near to fitting me, that would make life easier; but being a short round woman, who likes to wear dresses, the shops do not deliver; sewing is necessary. That is just the reality of it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

a bit of graphic design

Yesterday I finished working on the flyer for our holiday sale. While using the computer as a typesetting machine is not as efficient as an actual publishing program, it does a tidier job than I can, since I am not a calligrapher. I'm rather happy with how the border drawings look, though. And, I found a way to get my scanner to work, after a fashion, so I can share with you the results of my efforts with you.

As always it is on to the next project(s). I need to do the design work for the ManyHands website, (fortunately I do not need to do all the coding!) and I have several large sewing jobs to complete. When I lived in the house at Mud Bay, we had several of the 8 foot formica covered banquet tables, which made big projects easier to lay out and work on. If curtains and window shades continue to be what folks want to hire me to sew, I ought to get a sheet of plywood to make a temporary big tabletop….

Monday, November 5, 2007

Where have all the bay nuts gone? long time passing...

I loves little Acorn Cottage, but sometimes I am very frustrated by the left-behind mis-repaired fewmets of the previous owners… When we last saw our plucky heroine, she was clapping her tiny hands with glee, for the washing machine had returned from its long vacation under the carport.

(Somehow, in the last few months, she had forgotten what a piece of crap the washer really is) While the appliance does actually wash clothing, it only functions when set on extra-big-load, which uses the maximum amount of water possible. When set on any lower setting, it somehow cleverly splashes lots of water out from under the lid to the washing compartment. There is absolutely no information in any of my trusty fixit guidebooks that cover this scenario. And despite my best efforts to adjust the damnthing, it has an amazingly loud whump-whump of a spin cycle. It chattered the locking casters on its new platform round and about, and skitters sideways when the cycle shuts down. Maybe if I can roll the platform onto some of the spare foam mat, it will stop dancing across the floor?

The good news is that all the new hoses that I attached to "Mr Noisy-spin" held up quite well, no leaking there. I am always pleased when I can replace or repair something and it actually fixes it. The bad news is that the old faucets, that deliver hot and cold water to the washer, seem to have degraded, while the washer was on vacation. The cold faucet, which I capped when I couldn't it get to turn off properly after the demolition, seems to be working just fine when attached to the washer. The hot water faucet however, which shut off nicely months ago, when activated, is now leaking from around the handle. (note: after leaving the tap shut back down overnight the leak seems to have stopped, unless the tap is opened again) While the usual setting for the wash cycle is cold/cold, it would be nice to have the option to wash with warm or hot water for the occasional things that want such treatment; but I can't have a leaky hot water tap dripping, or "there will be no money in what is called the till…" (extra points to anyone who identifies the quote).

Ugh! and harrumph! Soooo…I will probably have to replace these faucets also. At least there is no sheetrock to remove, everything is just out there in the open along the east wall of the workroom, and the washer and dryer can just be rolled out of the way…

I would dearly love a shiny frontloader, which would use about a third of the water, and a lot less electricity as well. Maybe someday…which is not to say that I am not grateful to have a washer, and a home to keep it in, I'd just like something that was a little bit more earth-friendly...
It seems that the current phase in sewing-work-land is window coverings. I have two different projects in the works, and a consult over in SW next week. Can't complain, work is good…
Having finished the computer part, I'm now doing the decorative drawing on the flyer for our holiday studio sale; hope to have the master copies ready by tomorrow evening. While this all would be easier with the correct software, and a scanner and a printer that were functional, I can manage it the old fashioned way, and my local copy shop is only about a mile or two down Lombard. (For those who are interested, the sale will be on November 30th and December1st. More info soon, hoping for pictures and a website too.)
Later today, I must plant the garlic and the walking onions…who knows when we will have another nice afternoon. I did take a big chunk of the weekend off to do some recreational window shopping, and browsed the goodies over at Powells on Hawthorne. Hence the busy day today... remember…"we lead full and interesting lives… by choice"
No, I'm not talking about some odd coastal or oceanic cult, but the little nuts that fall from the myrtlewood, (aka pepperwood, California laurel) trees. The larger trees, a relative of the avocado, produces many small nuts in the autumn. The nuts fall from the tree, encased in green seed coat with a thinner or thicker fleshy layer covering the actual seed. this is where the resemblance to the avocado is most obvious. Last year, I was able to scavenge many of these nuts, enough to almost fill a 5 gallon jar after husking and heat treating them. This year I picked up a few, at the beginning of October, but there haven't been many more. Oh there are a few nuts under the biggest tree in my neighborhood, but they need to be gathered when freshly fallen in order to be good to eat after the necessary processing. I'd hoped to put some away for gifties and trade goods for those of my friends who like them... they end up tasting a bit like espresso beans, and you don't want to eat more than a few at any one time, as they are also a stimulant.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

further progress on the workroom front

The washer is now back inside the house, and waiting to be hooked back up. I'm going to replace all hoses and such-like, since now that the machine is on its very own wheelie-cart, it will be easy to do. I'm hoping that the locking casters will prevent any spin-cycle-rhumba; it would be alarming to have the washer start dancing its way across the workroom. I intend to stay close by when I first try out this new arrangement !

The bathroom sink valves have been replaced as well. Chance was correct, I was amazed at how easy it was, but nonetheless, it was good to have someone who knew what they were doing to show me. (and he even gave me a giant plumbing wrench to keep my mother-of-of-all-slip-joint-plieres company) So at some point a bathroom sink can happen. It will probably be a temporary version, (until the wonderful copper and forged iron one materialises, which will take some design work on my part, and sewing in trade for my smithcrafty friends)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

the further adventures of window-trim girl

I'm not a carpenter, I don't even play one on TV... nonetheless, the trim on the north windows in the workroom is done. At least for now. (did you know... that if you don't want to buy a gallon of "stain-killer" shellac/paint to cover up an egg-sized patch of weird magenta pigment on the recycled wood that you are using for window trim bits, you can buy a 99 cent bottle of white nail polish, and it will work just wonderfully. yup, two coats of nail polish, and it is all good... what do you think, should I send the tip in to Fine Homebuilding? Ha Ha!) Later on I can do some of the more elaborate surrounding woodwork, and the chalkboard of my dreams...but right now I am feeling very eager to have the workroom morph into an actually usable space, with crafty supplies actually findable.

I decided that I would turn the north wall into a collage wall for the winter, I don't really want to do a lot of wall painting, even with zero-voc paint, until keeping the windows open for a couple of hours feels nice rather than shivery. So I've been having fun looking through my various bits and files of cut-out magazine pictures, and old posters, and such-like. The oldest thing I found was an old poster from a Barnsdall Park (community art center) film-making workshop I went to when I was in junior high, back in Los Angeles in the sixties.

Phase number next is to re-locate all the boxes and bags and bins and bits of crafty goodness into the workroom. I figure that if I stack everything along one wall, It will give me a better idea of how much stowage I will need. And by keeping it all to one wall, I can still start using the worktables.

I need need need to get the washing machine inside. I've borrowed an appliance moving contraption, like a handcart with straps, to shift it from the carport, but I need a warm body or two to help steady everything, and keep the wheely-platform from scooting away during the transfer. Hopefully this will all work out in the next day or two... maybe tomorrow, when my friend Chance is coming over to help me replace the valves under the former and only, currently non-existent bathroom sink. (another story of the former owners and their fondness for the use of putty as an innapropriate construction material...)

So once my laundry is finished up over here at Chris's house, I'm heading off to the hardware store to get two shut-off valves for tomorrows "Adventure in Plumbing"...

Monday, October 29, 2007

progress report

I miss Franchesca. She was the massage therapist that I found here in PDX, who was willing to swap hours for hours, and actually lived fairly near me. Even better, she also grew up in New England, so that bridge of common ground helped us connect. Unfortunately, she moved back east at the end of the summer, and I've been too busy to seek out another trade... why this matters is that I have been busy with the continuing effort to rehabilitate Acorn Cottage, and my body is feeling the strain. A bright spot was the wonderful foot massage that a friend gave me last week; the intractable knot in my left foot is gone, and has stayed gone! Walking without pain is a good thing, and the 95 pound compact Akita is happy that walkies are now back to the way they should be.

Yesterday I decided that it was time to stop struggling with the tearing-apart-old-pallets to get the materials to build a wheeled platform for the washing machine. Those old pallets that I salvaged were put together with spiral nails! I'll use them to extend the compost bin, cos they just don't want to be dis-assembled. So I headed over to one of my favorite stores, "Mr Plywood" (just have to love their goofy retro logo), and actually bought new material, they had some 50 cent triangular bits perfect for corner gussets, and some short boards that were actually the right size for the framework, and I had them cut a piece of 3/4" plywood to the exact size I needed...It seems so extravagant, I've been really good about using wood from the Re-building Center for my projects,...but...I've been struggling with this particular project for weeks now, and with the pieces all the right size and shape I put together the platform in about four hours. Now I may be able to get the washer back into the house before the weather turns frosty, and I can cross this off my to-do list!

The interior window trim is coming along nicely, and I'm thinking about moving ALL the craft and art supplies into the workroom, which will give me a better visual idea of how much storage is REALLY needed, and give me a more serene home again. Last week I put together an Ikea shelf unit to be a temporary replacement for the pantry, and moved the bookcasefull of food out of the kitchen, and the picnic coolers, and the canning jars and kettle. This cleared out the north wall of my tiny kitchen, and it is amazing how much difference that made. Immediately more peaceful and spacious.

Sunday I went to a planning meeting with several artist friends; we are going to have a holiday gift sale, with all kinds of amazing artistic creations, on November 30 and December 1. Stay tuned for further information...

Monday, October 15, 2007

it's only a dream, go back to sleep...

Perhaps this is some kind of weird mental side effect of the wasp sting medications I took earlier this month? I have been having very bad nightmares for the last week or so, something that hasn't happened for years, and with very different content than anything formerly seen in any of the dreamlands that I commonly frequent... nuclear mushroom clouds, fire explosions, and a kind of terrifying nowhere to run sensation... given the content, the dreams seem to be related to the upcoming "disaster-preparedness exercise". Last week I accidentally heard part of a radio broadcast that was talking about how easy it would be for the imaginary exercise to be (purposefully) not imaginary. For some reason, I found this idea completely terrifying, and have been completely unable to regain my normal equanimity. Paranoia is definitely not my everyday mindset.
The one person I spoke to about this merely said that "well there are wacko editorials on the radio, that kind of thing wouldn't happen..." So, I'd welcome any hints as to how to move my thinking about this to the same level as, say, the way I think about major earthquake hazard, as opposed to the constant frantic mind-wheel-spinning that is my current state of mind. And just in case the dreams are true-dreams, I am now and have always been consciously grateful for the incredible blessing of friendship in my life. Love you all...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

screen capture

For those who asked, here is the picture that lives on my virtual desktop, (minus all the shortcuts and files)

I think it looks like one of the Pauline Baynes illustrations of Tolkien, but it is actually my friend Heidi, just before her wedding. She rode up to the ceremony on that very sweet Fjord mare.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

said I going to a party party

Well, I'm back from my Saturday jaunt north, to deliver the balance of the sewing I've been doing for Jen, and the corner flashing, which was unavailable in Olympia, that I picked up for their current house maintenance project...intended only to daytrip up to visit the Menagery, though Bill's (low-key) birthday festivities were for the whole weekend.

Ended up deciding to stay ovenight and drive home in the AM, as there was promised art project time after dinner. Well all who know me know that I am rather hopelessly fond of just such things...

The delivered sewing fit well, and I came away with more sewing to do for Cathy. We took a trip to the Coop, which had young! organic ginger in the produce case. I've been looking unsuccessfully for such hearabouts in PDX. Now I can move forward on the canning japanese-style pickled sushi ginger project; I have purple shiso growing in one of the planter boxes, and that herb is what is "supposed to" give the sushi ginger that lovely pink color, so this week I'll be trying out a new recipie. If it works well, I'll post the results.

We then returned home to cook various dinner and dessertly things; BIll had asked that he not have to cook his birthday dinner... Jen made a delicious spicy potato and bacon soup, which we had with some of the heirloom tomatoes from the hoop house in the backyard. There were more different kinds and colors of salt on the table than i have ever seen anywhere. Cathy made an apple crisp, I tried applesauce pudding, and Jen made an apple cake with plum and ginger bits studded throughout. Add a bit of vanilla ice cream, and a tasty dinner was had by all.

The art project turned out to be oil painting. Bill is a quite accomplished painter, and has had paintings in various gallery shows.His website has images of some of his paintings I've somehow never in all my years even tried oil painting, and now have not only a much greater appreciation of what it takes to do well, but have discovered yet another way-too-much-fun medium. It is just as addictive as knitting, or beadmaking; we all ended up painting till after 1 in the morning! Here is the little picture that I came home with...

Unfortunately I could not justify spending all day Sunday up north also, though the plan there was to fire up the big brick outdoor oven over at Blue Heron Bakery and bake pizza in the evening; the plaintive call of Acorn Cottage and my two hens drew me back home.

And just for fun, here is a picture of the Japanese anemone blooming near my front door:

Friday, October 5, 2007

not gone, not forgotten, just gradually ramping back to what passes for normal for me...

Ten days on Prednisone is no picnic. Hopefully the dizzyness and falling down and disrupted sleep will continue to diminish, (the hens found my slow collapse into the last remaining twig fence very interesting: as in can we get past her to get to the place where the chicken food comes from...). My right hand is looking like itself again. I am cleared again to for tool useage, which will help with the current state of Acorn Cottage.

Yesterday I managed to attach one set of casters to the bottom of a (found the right size) wood pallet, which will hopefully hold the dryer. I need to construct a pallet for the washing machine in the next few days. Then they both can come back in the house from their vacation in the carport. As the weather has shifted back to dampness, I need the carport for Nimblefoot, the slightly-leaky station wagon.

I'm still thinking about hosting a social/crafty evening on Monday nights, and rather than waiting for the house to be re-constructed, I just say lets do it anyhow. So Monday from say 7 to around 10..

I'm off to Ikea this afternoon to look at possible shelving for the workroom...

Having spent the last several hours wandering about Ikea, and thinking about what options will give me the most bang for my miniscule buck, I decided that constructing a temporary replacement for my beloved pantry cupboard would move the most stuff back into the (future) utility room area. (This is in addition to the already planned (and mostly funded) storage wall of crafty goodness. An assortment of GORM pieces were decided on and purchased, to tuck into the area of the former pantry, but still be easily moved once the possibility of actually removing the concrete to replace the screwey pipe damage is an option. Since said pipe isn't currently leaking, I have the time to figure out how best to deal with the wierdness. Now all I need is a 11mm socket and rachet, since I seem to have selected the only Ikea product that doesn't assemble with an allen wrench! The GORM shelving will be useful even after the pantry area is eventually actually reconstructed with real sheetrock, and real shelving, as it can be useful in the garden shed, or under the carport, but since my estimated timeline for reconstruction is in the area of several years at least, I decided that temporary pantry shelves would really make my life better, since that was one of my favorite little things about Acorn Cottage... so shelf assembly over the next few days....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Never say "I'd give my good right arm for..."

Thanks for all the good wishes and healing energy. I've no idea why this year has had so many medical incidents. Am on the road to recovery, with a hand and arm that look more human every day. The mixture of three medicines that I am taking definitely alter my state-of-being, as well as continuing to reduce the effects of being stung. Kind of a wierd mixture of sleepy-floppy combined with too-much-coffee-man, and a turrible case of cotton-mouth. It is a bit difficult to maintain my focus, but should be done with medication by the middle of next week.

Yesterday the good folks from Growing Gardens came by and I now have an improved (bigger) worm bin, and a compost enclosure made from three wood pallets, which should be great for all the garden vine bits and the leaves form the front yard. I will be thinking about putting some kind of "roof" over the top so the plant-stuff does not get completely waterlogged during the winter, eventually, as it looks really raw, and blue tarp is not really my aesthetic. I will have to take a better look at how Mr Dawson added a roof to the compost bins up in Olympia, the next time I am up there, or just kludge something together....

The garden in back is looking rather tatty, the only things still growing are the tomatoes, and I'd better pick them soon, before the weather gets much colder. I'm hoping to make some ketchup from the romas, if I can find where I put the recipie I copied out. I haven't weighed out the potatoes that I dug up, the purple ones are the most tasty, and the rose fingerlings look like alien food, very branched and lumpy. I have been able to pick a bunch of plums from a house about three blocks away, and have been slicing and freezing them, with the thought of plum sauce to be made in the future as well. Once the weather gets cold, I will feel more like heating up the kitchen with preserving and conserving, and i have no desire to faff about with boiling water with my head so unfocused. but I predict an autumns-worth of condiments sometime soon.

Have started making some new jumpers, using fabrics already in stashland, and also re-fashioning some thrifted garments. Not too sure about the most recent one; as a switch from my everpresent indigo and black fixation I re-made an fifties housedress. The fabric is a lovely smooth cotton, grey background with little dry-brush roses in pinky purple and golden yellow. I haven't decided if i like it or not... it seems really colorful... Maybe for later in the year with a black knit top? The next jumper will be made from the denim duvet cover which keep threatening to ooze off the top of the fabric stash tower. My most favorite denim jumper is totally wearing out, but I can salvage the fun strip-patched hem border and transfer it. I'm also tempted to re-construct my denim overalls into an overall-jumper. I remember doing that in high school...

Monday, September 24, 2007

yet another reason to fear spinach...

On Friday I was stung on the index knuckle of my right hand, by what was most likely a yellow jacket that was in among the stems of a store-bought bunch of spinach.

I have the most awesome friends, who have been incredibly helpful. Just after I got stung, I called Aelfflaed to let her know that I wouldn't be making the rendezvous to caravan to our household encampment. I know I wasn't thinking too clearly, as I was in a lot of pain, and quite frightened. She reminded me to take benedryl, and came over to drive me to the emergency room. Stayed with me the whole time, and made a scarey experience less traumatic, fed me yummy YaHala lunch afterwards, and before heading back out to what I hope was a fun weekend camping, even thought to take the Benadryl capsules out of their little blister packs for me.

Which turned out to be a good thing, since my hand continued to swell up, and by the next morning, despite meds and intermittent ice treatment, the swelling had passed my wrist and was heading up my arm... After calling the nurse consulting line, I called my friend Ellisif, who lives a few blocks away, and asked if she could drive me to the Urgent Care clinic, where the doctor examining me said to take the Benadryl every four hours, and to call again if the swelling went past my elbow. Every four hours, I woke up to take more medicine, and marked on my arm where the normal-reactive line was...

By Sunday morning I could no longer use my right hand at all, it looked like a pink balloon, and the fingers couldn't really bend, though I kept trying to flex them to keep the circulation going, and the elbow joint was quite puffy. As it was early morning, I decided to take the Max line to urgent care, as the few folks I called were still asleep. So this visit, I get a prescription for a fresh epi-pen, a prescription for prednisone, a prescription for Zantac?, and a painful shot of some anti inflammation steroid in my bottom! ( yuck) The hope is that all this medicine will turn the reactive inflammation around, and allow healing to begin. My friend Rafny came and collected me from urgent care, and drove me home, after a stop at New Seasons for some lunch, and more meds from the pharmacy. She also very kindly brought me a stack of DVDs, as watching movies is about all I'm good for right now...

This morning there was some noticeable improvement, my hand is slightly less swollen, and I can move my fingers, hence I can type this. The good news is that there doesn't seem to be any secondary infection, and I didn't go into anaphylactic shock. (I did have my epi-pen in my dress pocket on the trip to the emergency room, and the doctor gave me a prescription for a new one, as my old one is several years old.

SO instead of the fun weekend I had been looking forward to for the last six months, I got to spend the weekend repeatedly going to the medical world, interspersed with medicated sleep... Oh well. There will be other camping trips...Am grateful for the help of friends, and that there actually is medical care, unlike many parts of the world.

In the next day or so I should be be to resume my regular daily life, goodness knows that the home and garden are both needing attention.

I am thinking about hosting a Monday evening open project night at my house, anybody interested??

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

a time to every purpose

I 'm back from not posting much lately... have been feeling rather discouraged, amidst all the busyness of my life, about how little actually gets accomplished. I have been busy, really, taught two weekend enameling workshops up in Seattle, and did a demo at Art in the Pearl, but poor little Acorn Cottage is still in a state of major demolishment, and I am tugging at the proverbial bootstraps to maintain balance. The more disorganised my environment is, the harder it is for me to focus and actually get things done, (I tend to run away to the Library, or Powells, and immerse myself in imaginary worlds), and until progress happens in rebuilding the house, organisation is very difficult... and around... and around.

I realised about a month ago that some where in my heart-of-hearts I kept hoping imagining wishing that some magical hero would show up on a white horse with a chopsaw and saddlebags full of tools, to put things right. Well guess what, that hero is out on the prairie somewhere, along with the pony that I wished for when I was eight, and a whole bunch of other phantasms, and if things are going to be rebuilt, I'd best get off my duff and begin the work...

The first and always challenge is to figure out what needs to happen first, and then to break it into small enough pieces that it is actually doable. With the workroom, I decided that I could begin with the far wall, which will eventually become the Storage Wall of Crafty Goodness. The window trim project has taken about a month, but is now mostly complete, with two narrow bulletin boards on either side. I just found two long bits of 1x6 to use for pseudo-baseboards, so once those are painted, and I figure out how to attach them to the lower wall above the concrete, I can paint the wall, and start the process of attaching the shelving I have and creating more shelving. All the wood for this has come from the ReBuilding Center, and the bulletin boards are Homasote(a condensed recycled paper board) pieces, which I had cut to size at Mr Plywood.

So here is what the wall looked like before all the demolition, but with almost everything in the room already moved out 'cos i knew that demolition was imminent. The wood structure is the stand that my kiln (now on workbench in living room) usually lives on...

And here is the room in the middle of demolition...

Here is how the wall looks now, about a third of the way towards what it needs to become...

I think I can...I think I can....

Sunday, September 2, 2007

in which the answer to a mystery is uncovered

Yesterday some impulse caused me to look down as I walked through my garden gate. Holy Shit! My hens have been laying eggs after all... very sneaky! An enormous mounded nest under the arborvitae next to the downspout. There were seventeen eggs! Sadly, I had to throw them all away, as there is, of course, no way to know how old they are. I never saw the hens anywhere near that shrubbery, and it is right next to the pathway into my backyard!

So, Ive gone to the craft store and brought home a wooden egg, which will live in the nest box in their henhouse. Maybe that will give them the idea that the nest box is where eggs belong? After all, I have been "stealing" the eggs from the nest box for months, no wonder if they decided to find a safer place...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

better health is just around the corner...

Thank you to all who sent me good helped. My arm is much improved this morning. Still has some symptoms, but definitely better than yesterday, I can bend my wrist now, and the red streaks are fading. I will try the bentonite clay, I've got some in my medicine box.

On a different topic, the Japanese anemone that I planted last year has blossomed. I'll try to find time to take and post a picture, but it is lovely in a big galvanised pot near my front door.

Now I'm off to do all the things (that had been put off due to pain) to get ready for my demo tomorrow at Art in the Pearl. Cloisonne street art! Woo hoo

Friday, August 31, 2007

All bad things come in threes, or urgent-care twice in one day!

This is a week of injury for me. Yuck! besides the getting all banged up after tripping over the divot in the parking lot last Saturday...I woke up yesterday with a very sore ear, so spent the morning at Urgent Care and got it looked at, with a prescription for antibiotic ear drops. Went about my busy day, working, house fixing, getting ready for Art in the Pearl demo... by dinnertime I noticed that my right arm/wrist was being hard to bend, and that the little scratched place on my wrist had turned all red and swollen and a long red streak was headed up my inner arm! Eeep, I know this is not good, so I manage to make it back to Urgent Care before they close, and I get seen my the same (nice) doctor that I saw that morning. Yes I was here earlier, no this was not a problem then .

They cultured the wound, and I got sent home with oral antibiotics, and instructions for care. Today the arm is worse. I am doing everything that the doctor suggested to help healing. The culture results won't be in till Sunday. It is gorram Labor day weekend and I am supposed to be doing a cloisonne demo at Art in the Pearl on Sunday, which will be damn difficult with an arm that is all swollen and painful. I hope the antibiotic starts working soon, this is actually scaring me, and I wish that I had computer access at home, I'm at the library right now, while out doing errands like picking up more epsom salts to soak my arm, and getting some food for the four houseguests I expect this weekend.

I am not sure why my body has chosen this week to do all this...I sometimes manage to get the message within the occurrence, but what obvious thing am I not noticing, that would generate all this injury. Or is it just the random unfolding of the universe... anyway, if anyone wants to send healing thoughts my way, I would be grateful...

Monday, August 27, 2007

ashes ashes all fall down

On Saturday, on my way home from Mr Plywood, I stopped at the Concordia New Seasons for a snack. I fell in their parking lot, the asphalt was worn and uneven. So instead of finishing the window trim project, I got to spend Saturday night at the ER where the groovy digital X-rays determined that my wrist and thumb were not broken. So I am all wrenched and bruised, but my hands should feel better, hopefully before too long.

I am doing a demo on Cloisonne Enameling this weekend at Art In The Pearl, on Sunday afternoon. Should be interesting, it has been years since I did a public demo. Am expecting Bill, and Jen, and Travis and Molly, down from Olympia, as Bill and Travis are also demo-ing, on Monday.

The hens have started laying again, Hooray!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

can we build it, yes we can...

This morning when I was working cleaning the home of my client in Sellwood, the children were watching "Bob the Builder". Somehow I've never seen this cartoon before.... So when I came home to Acorn Cottage, after stopping at the Environmental Home Center, where I found a gallon of creamy white Safecoat no-VOC trim paint in the mistint corner (yay, $8/gallon instead of over $30), I decided to finally get off my duff and start the cutting and putting together of the window trim for the workroom.

I have been gathering useful bits of wood from the Re-Building Center for the last several weeks. And no magic knight on a white horse with a chop saw in his, or her, saddlebags is going to show up and magically transform the workroom. It is going to be me, figuring it out as I go along. (As well as help from my awesome band of friends) But mostly it is going to be me, and today I made a start. Measured and cut and used the scarey saber saw, and the sureform rasp, and cut out the first set of trim, and painted the first coat of paint. I'm going to do the window trim in stages, as I'm not sure enough of how it will all fit together to cut it out all at once. But I've begun. and even though I have done bits here and there with wood, it is not a skill I have a lot of confidence in myself...this feels like leaping yet another hurdle, but in a good way.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

jam yesterday, and jam tomorrow, but never jam today..

In which our intrepid heroine returns to her regularly scheduled life...

Came up from Acorn Cottage to visit the Menagery for the weekend. This morning Cathy and I went to the Olympia Farmers Market and bought three flats of organic fruit: strawberries, peaches, and apricots. We have the strawberries hulled and frozen, and most of the peaches canned, with the small leftover amount on its way to becoming peach balsamic vinegar jam. Tomorrow the apricots will be dealt with... in the morning, before the birthday party.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hey Mr Spaceman...won't you please take me along...I won't do anything wrong...

When we lived in the Allston House, sometime back in the late 1970"s, (nine adults and two large dogs in a two bedroom apartment in Boston) we imagined that it was good preparation for what we called "when the shit hits the fan" Some unspecified environmental/political disaster that we were sure would be coming soon. What it really did, was to make us all a little crazy, and remove most all of the shreds of suburban modesty any of us still had...

As a child, if you slept alone in a single it meant that you had bothered the others in the dormitory until they wouldn't tolerate you.
A person whose nature was genuinely unsociable had to get away from society and look after himself.
... but for those who accepted the privilege and obligation of human solidarity, privacy was a value only when it served a function.

- from The Disspossesed, by Ursula LeGuin

I have had this undercurrent of thought drifting just below the everyday concerns of my life, disturbing my positive feelings about the life I am building here at Acorn Cottage.

When I went up to teach at Danaca in Seattle, I stayed with E and her extended family... the visit was very enjoyable, I met new interesting people, and the teaching went very well. Somehow, coming home felt rather lonely...

For almost all of my adult life, since leaving the home of my parents, I have lived in community, with rare short intervals of living partnered. Living this way was a purposeful choice on my part, for various reasons that changed over time... the reality that there are limited resources, companionship and overlapping skill-sets, the fantasy that this would be good practice for life in space (well, we were very young), economic reality at the bottom of the food chain...

Living with others has a way of showing a person where their rough edges are, and clever and lucky folk are able to thereby further their growth as human people. Living alone, you can be just as peculiar and dysfunctional as your nature allows, with far fewer opportunities to notice...

Invariably, my life with others ended with my being asked to leave. While sometimes this was for such benign reasons as needing the space for a coming baby, most often it was a more or less kind version of "we cannot stand to live with you", on occasion prefaced with "we like you, but..." In actuality, this was the real-time form of my great struggle in the middle chunk of my life, that I am an "Unwanted Being"...

I don't want to give the impression that I go around all the time brooding about this, mostly now I just don't think about it, as I am too busy with the life that I do have. I'm not sure what mental-emotional-spiritual re-construction of my belief system would help. While I am far more often calm and happy and productive than in my younger days; I cannot help feeling that I've given up on being a connected part of the human world. I like the shape of my life, and have awesomely great friends and a home that is mine, for the first time ever. I am quite aware every day of how great these blessings are. I wonder though, is it "giving up" in the sense of failing, to simply turn away from a struggle and say well that is just how it is, I have enough to do...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

little miss muffet at 70 mph

The last several days have been very busy. I left on Thursday last for the first leg of my trip up to Danaca to teach the weekend cloisonne workshop. Waited till after 8 PM to leave, as the traffic on I5 was, as usual awful.
While driving north, I realised that the moving blob on the windshield was in fact a spider, was somewhere between the size of a nickle and a quarter(legs included) and was in fact, on the inside, almost at face level. I do not like spiders in my personal space, and while I can usually manage to scoop them up with a cup and a bit of cardboard at home, while zooming down the highway I just am not quite so coordinated. Somehow I managed to detach my rubbish bag from its holder and smuush the spider, while maintaining control of the car and staying in my lane. At 70 mph.

Stopped overnight in Olympia, to leave Smokey at "doggy camp", and have some visiting time with some of my friends. (always good) Got to see what a ton of rocks looks like, as they are building a new raised bed on the edge of the driveway. Since they have both a pickup truck, and a quarry just across the valley, rock edging is more of a possibility. A ton of rocks looks a lot smaller in person than in my imagination. Nonetheless, there will eventually be a wonderful home for all the mediterranean dryland herbs, with several tons of rock edging.

More to come, but I've got to go to work now....

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Hi ho, hi ho...

Am feeling much improved, dread rhinovirus may be on the run... I no longer feel like my teeth are thumping through my skull, and I can breathe. There must be something to that hot whiskey and lemon and honey. (And having a tiny blue microwave to heat things up in helped)

I finished the class handouts with minutes to spare yesterday, had to go home in the middle and transfer files onto a CD, as the copy shop computer gagged on my handout file. This meant that I needed to figure out how to put the file onto a CD, something I do rarely enough that I never remember the process... And I made up feedback forms for the class, so I will have useful information from my students, and documentation about my teaching so I can seek more teaching jobs closer to home....

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

spontaneous generation of rosebushes

For some reason yesterday, I was looking along the south edge of the backyard, the narrow zone where nothing much grows, where the hens like to take dust baths, when I found there were three new little rosebushes starting to grow.

Now, I know that they weren't there when I moved in, 'cos what was there were several really sickly rhodies, which I gave away on Freecycle, to folks with a better place for them than total shade. And I know that my neighbor on the other side of the fence hasn't got roses, 'cos the old fence blew down last year, and during the months before the new fence went up, I got a clear view of his little backyard, and the plants on the other side of the fence do not include roses. Though I wouldn't be at all sad if the daphne over there decided to send up sprouts on my side of the fence (not very likely, ha ha)

So my best guess is that wild critters have dropped rose hips in the yard...maybe the destructo-squirriels have actually done something non-destructive. I guess that baby roses will do alright there for now, but wonder if moving them to a spot that actually gets some sunlight might be a good idea. (Long term, I intend to extend the hen run along that edge of the yard, since it is pretty dry shade under the shadow of a six foot high cedar fence, and anything in the hen run will get scratched to bits).

Am still feeling under the weather, but not as bad as yesterday. Made some hot honey and lemon and whiskey before going to bed last night, and it sent me right off to dreamland. Between that and all the echinacea tea and tincture, hopefully will have useful teaching brain by the weekend. Am running around like mad today to get all the class prep done, then suddenly get all exhausted and need to go nap... I feel a bit like a toddler today

Sunday, July 29, 2007

the queen of Likes-to-Sew...

Yesterday was the Tour De Coops, and I had a very busy time talking with the people that came to Acorn Cottage to see my chicken coop and the hens. Got lots of positive comments, and I think that there were about thirty or so folks over the course of the day. I actually got sunburned (grump, grump) from being out in the yard, there were some places that I missed with the sunscreen, and I usually do not go out in the yard during the middle of the day. This morning I gave another tour to my neighbor Tuan, baby Pippin, and her houseguest from San Francisco. They arrived too late in the day yesterday, but it was no trouble to show them around the yard today.

I've been having difficulty starting to actually fix things in the workroom, not sure why I'm feeling intimidated...? I've played hooky for the last two Sundays, when I should be sawing and hammering, and gone downtown to the new Museum of Contemporary Craft.

They just opened last weekend, with a free fun creative block party full of live music and hands on craftyness, as well as demos by local groups of various kinds. You know me, I love crafty projects. So I got to make two collaged matchbox shrine magnets, and an artist trading card, but the most fun was the raku fundraiser... for two dollars you could choose a prepared hand-thrown teacup, and paint your desired designs on it with metallic oxide colors, and they would fire it right there, and you could pick it up about half an hour later. I painted two little cups, with acorns and oak leaves and birds on the outside, and a little decorative bit on the inside at the bottom of the cup. They had this amazing propane fired kiln setup, and it was quite the fire-dance to watch. My pottery artifacts will be a great addition to my kitchen, being just the right size for morning juice, or kombucha...

This weekend I went back on Sunday, and the museum itself was, of course, much less crowded. Still plenty of folks there looking at the great artwork, but there was room to actually see things. The last Sunday of the month they have a hands-on inter-generational craft workshop. I asked, and it is not just for parents and children, so I went . The project this month was inspired by the selection of modern crowns and tiaras in the current exhibit. I ended up finding some old bone and mother of pearl buttons in amongst the pipe cleaners and artificial flowers, and came up with a construction of twisty wire and buttons that looks quite fanciful. I wandered back to my car parking spot wearing a crown of buttons, and actually got a number of smiles from passers-by.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled house-repair programming...

P.S. I'm looking for a place to stay in Seattle on Friday and Saturday night this coming weekend. I'm teaching an enameling workshop at Danaca Designs in the U-District. Anyone up for supporting the arts, or at least giving the arts a place to sleep?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I think I can I think I can

Hopefully, once I get a bit ahead on the needed re-construction, guests visiting will again be a possibility. I'd really like to get back to having monthly social gatherings at my house.

I've been gathering used wood from the Re-building Center to use for window trim and baseboards in the workroom. Figuring out how to configure things without replacing the former floor has been a bit daunting. I've decided that I can just tackle one wall at a time, which makes the task of fixing/re-building/improving the space feel more do-able. I'm going to start with the west wall, which is in the best shape (no damaged plumbing, no missing sheetrock, no missing ceiling) All the west wall needs done is
1. adding the woodwork that makes the wall look finished,
2. painting the wall and trim,
3. and adding the storage shelving (west wall is the "storage wall of crafty goodness")
I'm thinking that two weekends worth of time would make this wall a much happier place, and with the storage wall more complete, much crafty supplies and equipment could move back into workroom, which would be a good thing.

I'm going to move the old bathroom sink out into the carport. It can go hang out with the washer and the dryer. I need to get on with removing enough sheetrock from the former sink location, so I can see if any of the hidden plumbing has any "surprises" that need dealt with.... Regardless of what I find hidden in the wall, bathroom sink replacement will be next after the storage wall. If it was just a matter of re-attaching a sink, this would be the work of an evening, but there are the putty encrusted shut-off valves to deal with, and whatever else is involved with the drain plumbing. I really want a wall hung sink in the bathroom, and I have a home for the pedestal sink to go to. I may put in a temporary sink setup, once the plumbing is dealt with.

My one zucchini plant is giving me just about the right amount of green veggie per day. The Delicata squash is threatening to take over the entire squash and bean bed, though it may have to fight it our with the lemon cucumber. My poor little Tasty Jade cucumber plants are rather being covered up by the more vigorous cucurbits, though I did get two long green TastyJade snacks, along with about seven little lemon cucumbers. The tomato plants are not yet ready to harvest, everything is really green still, and I need to put down some more lime-rich fertiliser, as the baby Brandywines show signs of needing it. I'm going to harvest my first eggplants today. I've got about three ready.

I'm feeling sad that going to SCA events just isn't possible at my income level. Not this year anyway, 'specially with Acorn Cottage all demolished and everything, and with all the needed repairs clamoring to be fixed. I knew that being a homeowner would involve tradeoffs, but dang, I miss some of what I've given up. Not missing the politics and weirdness, but the hanging out with my friends times, and the hey there is this cool information about stuff times, and the I'm working on this exciting project, want to see... times

Well, the less time I spend on the computer, and the more time I spend actually working on Acorn Cottage, the less clutter confusion there will be in my life...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Henrietta gone broody

I've noticed in the last few days that my Buff Orpington hen (Henrietta) has been spending most of her time in the henhouse all puffed up. I thought perhaps she was resting in the shade, then I thought maybe she was ailing. Nope...after talking with my friend Sharon, who has been raising poultry for years, we determined that Henrietta has gone "broody" She thinks it is time to raise baby chicks, never mind that I keep taking the eggs away, and there is no rooster in sight. So I've been instructed to block off the nice warm dark nest box (the girls can lay their eggs in the corners of the coop), and gently remove her from the henhouse whenever I notice her staying in there. Hopefully this will discourage her, as a broody hen stops laying eggs, and it is hard on the hen to basically stay inside all the time and mostly not eat or drink. Not to mention that Henny Penny also wants to use the box. On-line research says this behavior is more common in hot weather, and if I wanted to raise chicks it would be helpful, but hungry omnivore that I am, I want to eat the eggs.

Friday, July 20, 2007

So now I have a deconstructed bathroom sink to match my deconstructed workroom

In the madness of OCF prep, I managed to drop one of my little hair clips down the bathroom sink. Left the housesitter with strict instructions via duct tape across sink Do Not Use. Once sufficiently recovered from Fair to attempt home repair, I attempted to remove the offending barrette from the plumbing. Hooked wire down the drain...nope. Strong magnets wired to skinny dowel...nope. Long flexible wire grabby thing with extensible "fingers"...nope Thought about sledgehammer...nope

Decided to try and remove trap under sink. Damn pedestal sink makes access to undersink plumbing almost impossible, but by contorting self am able to feel for trap hardware...oh no, former owners not only "fixed" leaky shutoff valves with putty, but seem to have puttied over all the undersink connections as well... I cannot feel the bolts to remove the trap... After scraping away the caulk around the edges of the sink where it attached to the wall and floor, and removing the two screws holding the basin to the wall, I began to gently pry the sink assembly out, thinking that I could get a better view of the pipes...

The entire pipe assembly disintegrated, spilling a small amount of water, and the rouge hair clip, onto the bathroom floor. There was no sign of any threaded hardware attaching the various undersink pipes together. Apparently the former owners literally stuck the entire assembly together with putty!! Woo HOo Lets all give a mighty cheer for the amazing adhesive power that kept the sink drain together for so long...

Now I'm thinking about how I want to replace the bathroom sink. That is once I've removed enough of the bathroom sheetrock to get a clear shot at fixing the shut-off valves, which, though putty encrusted, are actually doing their job of keeping water from spewing out of the sink water lines. But they do need replaced before any sink work happens. My current fantasy for the bathroom sink is a copper hand forged round basin, done as a wall hung sink with forged iron brackets holding it in place. (must do some sketches)

Acorn Cottage is feeling a bit too deconstructed for my comfort. I think I need to learn to do soft-soldered copper pipe repair. Some friends say it isn't too hard, and I do have a torch and plenty of hard-soldering experience... Between the hot water tank lines, the washing machine lines and the bathroom sink lines, there is a lot of pipe repair that needs to happen before any re-construction can take place. I wish the repairs to have already happened, but that is a luxury for those with fatter piggybanks. I need to hold the clear image of how I want the room(s) to be, and somehow keep moving towards that goal. I realised that I can start on the workroom, even if I'm not ready to tackle the necessary plumbing; the sheetrock finishing, window trim, theoretical baseboards and some wall painting are all within my budget and skill-set.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

OCF:organic material+dust=compost (or) don't ask about my lungs

Here is a picture of my little wooden cart all dressed up in Fair finery, doesn't it look cute? (I'm thinking about an alternate set of flags and pennants for the cart to wear at SCA events);
I'm not quite sure why the image is a little catty-whumpus, but I always feel like that after the Fair...

It was a good time, mostly, especially considering how little notice I had, and I have successfully maintained my status as an active juried crafter. The booth location was good in that it was shaded for most of the day by a large oak tree, and a bit difficult in that it was at one of the far ends of the Fair, behind Chela Mela Meadow. So not too crowded, but also fewer public folk/shoppers. My eventual goal is to get strolling vendor status, which would allow me to wander with my wares during the Fair.

Having my entire display on the cart meant that I could stroll around with my wares before the Fair opened to the public in the morning, and after sweep in the evening, and only needed to be in the booth during the public hours from 11 to 7(Most of my sales are to Fair family, who have as little time as I do to wander around during the Fair) I ended up making a bit over my costs to attend, so that is good, some money to put into the rebuild-studio fund. Came home dog-tired, bug-bit and in desparate need of a good massage, with a number of fun ideas for new artwork and a clearer idea of what I need to do next year to help maintain my balance and equanimity in the SOOoo intense atmosphere of OCF.

Woke up this morning at 5 AM 'cos I heard the sounds of rain! rattling against the window awnings. This got me to leap out of bed and out the door to harvest my garlic in the early wet dawn light. The garlic was almost ready before I left for Fair, with the ground nicely dried out by the days of awful hotsunny weather. Once the garlic is "ripe", if it gets wet the bulbs swell, split apart, and get moldy. Hence my early day leap outside... I did come back inside, wash and doze off a bit afterwards.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

too hot to handle

It is at least 100 outside Acorn Cottage. I went out and swapped the chicken water for cooler water, and sprinkled the hens with water as well, they were walking around and panting! Most of the time in the heat they hang out under the arbourvitae on the side of the yard, in the shade, but when I show up they think it is treat time and come running...

The word is in, I'm basically on my own at Fair, as none of the possible helpers could make it. I've got an extra camping pass and no one to use it. It will be okay. My friend Maeve will come by and give me some breaks from the booth, so I will not have to sucumb to the dread floating-yellow-eyeball syndrome (as in need-a-biffy-break-now!). Hopefully I will have a chance to take enough of a break to maybe catch a show or two, and see some of the rest of the Fair. And hopefully folks will feel like shopping...

It is so hot now that my neurons don't feel like they are firing properly, everything takes waay too long to figure out. Right now I'm on my way to housecleaning work this afternoon, and when I go home it is back to the rest of the Fair prep....

8:12 pm
: further update, hold the presses, this just in...

Jen suggested that I call a friend of hers, another student, Alihandre (not sure about spelling). She is really excited about coming to the Fair, and we worked things out over the phone, plus Jen filled her in, as much as you can without having been there, about what kinds of things happen at Fair... So, I have five folks coming to stay at Acorn Cottage tomorrow night, and I'm out rounding up enough sleeping-pads so everyone will be able to bed down comfortably, and hopefully get a good night sleep before heading down to Veneta on Thursday. Well, except for my house-sitter... who is planning a Joss Whedon DVD marathon, between making sure my home and critters are okay.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Ups, downs, and Nimblefoot spews fluid!

Friday night I woke up at 3 AM thinking "business cards!" . Rather than leap out of bed, and alarm the dog, i simply added it to the long list of Country Fair prep errands scheduled for Saturday.

I started the day by heading over to Mill Ends for satin rattail cord, and stopped at the giant garage sale at the home Conor and Liaden. It was fun to see so many of my friends, and I also ended up buying a white tarp plastic dayshade, which I intend to re-configure with bird-netting into a British style "fruit cage" to protect the future berries I want to grow in the backyard. Between the jays and the squirrels, fruit wouldn't stand a chance currently.

At a stop light on Grand Avenue, I noticed that Nimblefoots' temperature gauge was becoming too warm, so I turned off the air-conditioning, opened the window, and turned on the heat. That was when I noticed the bus driver next to me was pointing at me and waving his hands. I rolled down the passenger window to have him tell me "lady, you just lost your radiator, coolant is spewing all over the road" and then I noticed the steam suddenly billowing from under Nimblefoots little grey hood...

After an AAA tow to the mechanic, I was rescued from the long walk and busrides home by the kindness of Rafny.

On the way home, we stopped at a favorite shop of hers in Southeast, with admirable Asian furniture both antique and reproductions. My real find, though, was a stash of old house windows piled behind the shipping cartons. I'd been thinking about making one of the window-mirrors to hang on the shiplap wall sheathing behind where my washer dryer will live once I get the plumbing fixed. The old sheathing is a lovely rich brown wood, and I have no intention of putting sheetrock over that chunk of wall, but it is the darkest corner of the workroom, and my friend Rois suggested hanging a mirror there to gather the ambient light and brighten the space. Now for only $5, I have a lovely old twelve-pane window to convert into a mirror. And though I've been trying not to bring home any more projects to an Acorn Cottage already too full of projects, this is an exception. I already have ALL the materials and supplies I need (ie a jar of window putty, a glass cutter, and two catty-whumpus closet mirrors that the former owners left behind), and I don't need to learn a new skill to make it happen. So some weekend in the not too distant future, I can bring light to a dark corner.

In the last day and a half, I've been busy customising my little sales cart to make it more festive for the booth at the Fair, and to come up with display options that are a bit more secure... I've added skinny six foot tall bamboo poles to each end of the cart, with a strand of small tie-dye pennants hanging between them. I found some old painting-on-silk art that I did several years ago, and am turning them into small rectangular banners to hang from each pole, in a vaguely Japanese-military-flag-sort-of way. I found my old string of bells for hanging from the woodwork. And to securely display the stock, I've come up with a kind of wirework grid of delicate black steel wire and fishing swivel snaps. I need to finish the wire grids, and make a signboard, and I think the cart will be ready. (Pictures after the Fair, the cart looks really cute.)

Waiting to see how the helper-at-the-Fair thing sorts itself out. Due to unexpected family issues, my current arrangement may not work, and it is really short notice to find another assistant. I am doing my best to remain positive about it all working out well. The only other time I was in a booth at the Fair, (rather than helping Bill with his strolling vendor cart), the hardest thing was not having another person there to help me. Somehow it will all come right in the end....

I've got folks coming through on Tuesday and on Wednesday on the way to Fair, so I'd best get on home and do a little cleaning and picking up, so there is room, and Acorn Cottage doesn't look too scarey....

~~ the return of Nimblefoot! ~~
Now back and better than tiny car is repaired, hooray! I have the best mechanics, they did their best to get the car fixed so I would have a few days in Portland just to "make certain" nothing else needs help before the drive to Fair. And with the forecast for temperature over 100, I'm really grateful not to be on foot tomorrow. Still have waay too much to do, but things are looking improved. and all the fixing was less than 500$, which is more than I can easily afford, but not so much that I will have to bail on going to the Fair.

Friday, July 6, 2007

better late than never

Doing my best to get things ready for going to Country Fair. Those who know me , know that I do not like doing things at the last minute. I did find suitable (non-SCA-awards) stock for selling at the fair, and am planning on divvying up some of the pairs of earrings to sell as tiny pendants. Which will give me more pieces at a lower price, which sounds right to me. If it wasn't so HORRIBLY hot I'd think about trying to make something spectacular for display. but working in front of a 1500 degree oven just isn't appealing with the inside-my-house temperature being over eighty.

The important thing is that I did find space to be at Fair this year, which means that I maintain my juried vendor status. I'm looking forward to getting to know new people; I'm going to be sharing space with the folks from Holy Lamb Organics. They're from Olympia, and my friend Ariadne suggested that I contact them.

All I need to do, in between working, is:
rebuild my display with new more functional panels, attach the bamboo pennant poles to the cart, find or buy bits of fluttery bright silk and make pennants, create a sign for the cart, get shiny cord for pendants, go to the fishing store to get little snap-hook-things to keep jewelry from walking away, muck out Acorn Cottage enough so that my housesitter can get from room to room, write up instructions for critter care, arrange for camping space at the Fair, pick up my housesitter at the Greyhound station, and go grocery shopping so the dear girl won't starve while she is sitting on my house... oh, and pack everything.

I can do it. Even in 90+ degree heat. (drink water, drink water) Somehow everything that needs done in the next few days will get done. (Deep breath, deep breath) I'd like to find time to get Nimblefoot in to the mechanic for a look-see before travelling south. I am worried about leaving for the Fair on Thursday though, since that is assuming that there will be no last minute glitches, or horrid traffic.

Friday, June 29, 2007

nature channel news and more

This morning, when I stepped outside the front door to start my day, there was a whole assortment of little brown birds on my front lawn, picking up nice soft nesting material. Smokey is deep in the middle of the shedding-of-the-fur, and looks like a molting caribou. Yesterday, before going back into the house from our evening walk, I stood her on the front lawn and plucked out handfuls of nice soft grey undercoat fluff. (don't even ask about the state of my carpeting!) Had been intending to rake it up and put it in the compost, but didn't get to it... now some baby birds will have nice soft nests...

Here is a picture of the completed Scythian horse pendant, that I posted the whole series of pictures about earlier. I'd been meaning to let you all see how it turned out.

Oh, yeah, and this news just in ~
I'm going to Oregon Country Fair this year!
I am actually a juried crafter there, as of 2004, but for those of you not familiar with the craft scene there, jurying in doesn't get you a space, just the right to sell IF you can find someone willing to share space with you. In 2004 I was very fortunate, and was offered a bit of shared space. The following summer I lost my place of residence, which threw my life into utter chaos, and the Fair was not really high on my list of priorities. Last year I wasn't able to find shared space, and I was beginning to doubt that I would for this year either... (You need to be present and selling you craft at least once every three years , or you lose your juried status, which requires going through the jurying process all over again, with no guarantee of getting in again. I was lucky, it only took me two years of jurying to get accepted). I'd resigned myself to going through the jurying again, when one of the folks I'd contacted a while back had a space open up.
SO In the past I've taken at least a month or two to prepare; now I have less than two weeks to get ready for a major craft fair, wheeee! Fortunately, I've been able to get a good responsible house sitter, the daughter of an old friend, to come and stay at Acorn Cottage. So I needn't worry about Smokey and the hens. All I need to do is create an appropriate display and sign, and make sure that I have enough suitable stock for three days (I don't think peerage medallions will work....)

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Just as a change from all the workroom trauma and drama, as I'd promised here are pictures of the potato blossoms in the backyard. Even if they weren't something yummy to eat, I think I'd still plant them...

and here is another picture ~

Smokey, with sheetrock

Monday, June 25, 2007

Light On Two Sides

Over the last two days, the workroom changed to a much more appealing space, even though it remains a construction zone for many months to come ...

A nine-foot chunk of the interior was carefully stripped back to the sheathing. (Which uncovered former owners outlines of tools stored when it was a garage.) Then much framing happened, to properly support the two new windows. I learned a lot about how the weight transfers properly through the wall framework, supported by the intersecting of sills, headers and studs.

This pretty much took care of Saturday, so Bill and I went off to the Barley Mill for a late night pub dinner and some Grateful Dead tunes...

Only once all the framework was in place did any work happen on the outside wall. Enough of the lovely 50+year old cedar shingles were painstakingly removed to allow access to saw the new window openings. We were able to save all the old shingles (there are no old-growth cedar shingles available anymore for anything an ordinary person can afford; besides, I wouldn't buy currently cut old growth any more than I would buy currently harvested ivory; it seems respectful to the tree that gave its life long ago to cover my home, to re-use as much as possible).

The openings were re-wrapped in fresh tarpaper, the actual windows were leveled and installed, and then we were off the the Rebuilding Center to find trim wood and flashing. Even though the new windows are protected, under my carport, they have all the correct stages of installation and parts. Trim in place, the layers of shingles were replaced in the order they were removed, and the outside was completed. I now have a small amount of spare shingles, in case repairs are needed elsewhere.

Then the interior sheetrock had the first layer of "mud" and tape applied. BIll discussed with me the steps and process for interior finishing of the windows, and left me with a good understanding of how to proceed. The interior trim installation is well within my skill and comfort level, as is the completion of sheetrock wall finishing. The former owners left bits of the old exterior paint, so the shingle nails can be touch-up painted and the window trim can match the rest of Acorn Cottage

In A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander, there is a pattern called light on two sides. It is a more vital pattern than most of us may realise. Formerly, my workroom, although at 26 x 10 the largest room in tiny Acorn Cottage, had only one window. Imagine a long dark shoebox with a window in one end. Though the new windows are each only 1 foot high and 3 foot long, having light coming from two sides of the room completely changes the character of the space. I am feeling more confident, that, over time, as I can afford the work and materials, my choices and ideas for this room will actually turn it into a welcoming space for creative endeavors.

Friday, June 8, 2007

they call it mellow jello...

Long ago, when I lived in Seattle, and had enough disposable income to eat out (on a more than occasional basis) my sweetie and I would go out for dim sum at a restaurant called Sun Ya. In addition to their wonderful seafood specialties (salt and pepper squid - yum!) they served a delicious mango "pudding" dessert. I realised that I could attempt recreating this favorite of mine when reading the chapter in Laurie Colwin's delightful book of food essays More Home Cooking. In the chapter "Desserts That Quiver", she gives a very simple rule of thumb for making gelatin desserts: 2 cups of fruit juice to one envelope of gelatin.

What I do is start with the two cups of fruit juice measured out as two one-cup bits. I put the dry gelatin in a pyrex bowl, and pour a little bit, maybe less than 1/4 cup of juice from one of the cups, over the gelatin to start it softening. Then I put the rest of that cup in a little saucepan, and get it really hot, almost boiling. Then pour it over the softened gelatin and stir till the gelatin dissolves. Then pour in the other cup of juice, stir, and pour into little custard cups or ramekins. I love to do this with mango juice, "Looza" brand juice works well, but you could use other kinds of juice also. Sometimes I've dropped a bit of canned mango, or mandarin orange into the jello. I pour coconut cream over the top before serving. This makes a good dessert for folks who don't eat dairy, but not for vegans. You who know me know that I am certainly no where near vegan

Anyhow, here is the recipe for any who are interested. and now I've made myself hungry!