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.