Wednesday, February 27, 2008

sprung, sproing, spring

Today is the second day in a week that it has been warm enough to hang the laundry to dry on the clothesline. And in the front yard I have violets blooming, and the little snowdrops and tiny blue iris. No sign of the grape hyacinths yet, but the hellebore that my friend Sharon gave me has a lovely rosy pink blossom, and what look like more buds. pretty amazing for a plant that went through last year with basically only one leaf.
Had a great visit this morning with Vikki, yummy sushi goodness for lunch, and a very inspiring trip to the Craft Museum. The current exhibit there (Touching Warms the Art) has some amazing jewelry made from non-traditional materials, and is intended for the visitors to be able to actually handle and try on the art jewelry. Really got the creative juices flowing, there were some amazing felted pieces, and things made from rubber and plastic fruit, and wood and wire, and old x-ray film, just lots of fun things from all over the world. Go have a look if you are in Portland, admission to the museum is free!
I'm getting eager to start working on the garden, even though the studio has current necessary priority. I managed to acquire some discarded fence boards, which should be useful for another raised bed in the yard. Given the length of the boards it will be smaller than the other beds, but I'm thinking about using the curved concrete scallopy bits that former owners left behind to add half-round beds on either end, kind of a long oval bed rather than rectangular... And then there are the big window screens from the Rebuilding Center that I am hoping will work as hen-barriers. Yup, the warm weather really gives me a touch of spring fever.
Months ago, I submitted my "tiny recycling center" to ikeahacker, since it met their guidelines, and today they published my "hack" online.
Yesterday I bought a two zone bus pass for March, and did more traveling on the Max, even figured out how to get down to the MetroPaint place in the industrial zone, and picked up a gallon of recycled light blue paint. At their store, they have a chart/book of many colors that are possible by mixing the fixed colors that they carry. I discovered that I can change the "baby blue" light blue to something more like a "bird-egg" blue by mixing it with light brown, which I hadn't thought to do. This year, the rooms in Acorn Cottage will be painted, at least some of them, and not white.

Yesterday I think I only walked about three miles, will look for the old pedometer, just for curiosity sake. The hot tub after potluck was soooo welcome. I 'm signing off to go walk to the Post Office now, while they are still open.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Previewing the post-petrol possibilities

Some of you may know that for the last several weeks Nimblefoot (my faithful little station wagon), has a transmission that no longer includes first gear. Well, Saturday my transport situation devolved further. The car started losing power, sounding ill, and there was this not-good "shaking" going on in the engine compartment. Then the "check engine" light came on as I was limping the car home. Managed to get home without incident, but whatever is wrong did not go away and be better in the morning. My car is kerflooey for the indefinite future
Sooo...Yesterday, spent most of the morning being productive around Acorn Cottage: got a bit further on the studio/workroom, put up shelves in my closet to hold guest linens, re-potted my spider plant babies, and put mulch and a "half-brick" border around the new persimmon tree in my parking strip. Jen (& Bill and Cathy) from up in Olympia were down here in Portland for a school field trip, and called to ask if I wanted to join them for sushi at SushiTakahashi downtown. Oh yeah! Now I live about a mile from the Max line, so there was definitely some walking, since I missed the bus and the Sunday schedule is not as frequent. Met up with my friends at the Craft Museum, and then on to sushi. By the time we had all eaten our fill, it was no longer daylight, and I decided that the best (safest) option was to walk up towards Powells and across to get the Max, rather than down through Old Town. So, all in all about three miles of walking yesterday.
Today I've already walked two miles, since I wanted to check my mailbox at the Post Office and see if anyone has sent me a mobile for the swap, or anything else. The mailbox is least I know that the mobile I sent out last week arrived. Later this afternoon, I'm going to walk to the grocery, which will add another two miles. If my knees hold up, I should be getting into really good shape this Spring...
I called around, and it looks like it will be possible for me to rent a car for the two teaching gigs I have in March. Since I have a lot of stuff to transport, taking the train is unfortunately not realistic, though it would be much more pleasant than driving, and cheaper.
My legs are really wishing that my massage therapist hadn't moved to New Hampshire...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

updated snippets

On Saturday, the folks from Growing Gardens called; they wanted to know if I was interested in a free baby dwarf apple tree. As I am hoping to put a number of dwarf fruit trees into the backyard here at Acorn Cottage, my answer was a delighted YES! I'm not sure what variety the trees are, but the little trees are labeled, so more information will be available when they actually come to plant, probably sometime next week. Stay tuned…
At the CraftTeaParty on Sunday, I finished the mobile I've been working on for the swap, and mailed it off to its new home.

My new project had better consist of garden fencing improvement, since Somebody has been jumping the fence and eating my kale plants! (and I had been hoping for homemade colcannon, with some of the wintered-over little kale, and the potatoes I grew last year) Somebody is going to get her little yellow chicken wings clipped.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

… every time that wheel turns round, bound to cover just a little more ground …

Heather and Chris are by now back from their coastal honeymoon. Last Friday Bill came down to Portland to do some City business and to drive me up to Olympia for the wedding, and I spent the weekend up there, being something analogous to a godmother of a no-longer-child; I've known Heather her whole life, and her mom for most of mine… feels a little weird to think of Heather as a married woman; I've got pictures of a snowsuited child in my photo box, and memories of a little ballerina sprite tagging along at Country Fair… I guess I'm getting old…


It was great to visit with my friends:

Jen has been taking a mosaic/art history class, and showed me some of the projects she has been working on. Very inspiring (hmmm… maybe Acorn Cottage needs some mosaic decorations) and Bill has more ongoing studio projects than ever.

I also had a chance to talk with Mindy at the reception on Saturday, she and her husband moved, with her father, to a farm-housey place on the other side of Olympia. They have a small neglected orchard of assorted fruit trees on their new land, and with pruning and caring for, hope for future abundance.

Ceilidh (almost ten) is now about as tall as I am, and her aunties Beth and Karen are surviving the transition to total self-employment. I suggested that they look into "Basic Health", since Washington, unlike Oregon, does have sliding-scale state health care for working poor, uninsured folk. (sigh, there are only three things I miss about living in Olympia; my Olympia friends, the amazing food co-op, and having medical insurance… but I love living here in Portland, and I love having so many Portland friends, and I have put my name in the OHP permission-to-fill-out-an-application lottery)


Nimblefoot went and had a transmission oil change. Just as suspected, the transmission gears themselves are okay, but part of the Mysterious (to me) Mechanism that shifts is broken. Leo, the kindly shop owner, told me not to drive up into the West Hills, and not to let anyone else drive my car, since attempting to force a shift into first gear would cause further damage, necessitating a more immediate V.E.T. (very expensive transmission). And realistically, there will be no VET till sometime this summer, since I do not have $1800 just hanging around somewhere with nothing else to do with it… Leo also pointed out that with over 200,000 miles on my car, it might be time to think about a different vehicle, since everything will be wearing out… Argghhh, cars! While public transit and bicycle are both possible for some of my transport needs, I cannot go teach a workshop in Seattle or an Ithra in Fire Mountain Keep and drag my gear and the kiln and the dog without a car…


The shelves in the studio are all attached, and my arms are still sore from the installation. It was good to take last weekend off. Many, but not all, of the boxes are moved onto them, box moving continues as I can make time. Then will come "box sorting", and eventually I will have the mother of all crafty shelf walls. I've moved the extra, less sturdy, standing workbench out of the studio, leaving the middle of the room empty; I can visualise a worktable for students to sit at, which can be folded away when not in use. The former workbench, minus the formica top, may become an outdoor stand for growing salad greens… wrap the legs with copper foil and it is slug-proof, and the greens would be right up at countertop height. I read an article last year in the NYTimes Home and Garden discussing the idea… and the Ikea kitchen island, with 4x4 legs and 2"thick butcherblock top, is far more suitable for shop use. I want to rebuild my small seated workbench, maybe with locking casters so I can move it about the studio as needed… Hmmm, many ideas, and Bill showed me drawings he did of the six-student workbench at Brian's school in Ireland. I'd like to build something like that eventually, as resources allow and need dictates.


Snowdrops blooming in my yard, and I found in the side yard a plastic pot chock full of bulbs that I forgot to plant last fall, all tangled and sprouting and starting to bloom; baby iris and snowdrops and probably grape hyacinths. Maybe I can dig a hole in the front garden and drop the whole pot gently in??? I feel so absent minded at times, trying to keep track of all that needs doing at Acorn Cottage.


I've been working out what I want to make for the mobile swap I signed up for last month,

I know that adding an additional craft project into my busy life seems like a crazy thing to do....but most of what I do is "work", satisfying work, but primarily task-driven. This is just for fun, and with the added whimsey that somewhere out there someone is making a mobile for me...

After deciding what I wanted to make, I cut the horses out of a scrap of really thick watercolor paper

and though I really liked how the pieces looked as ghostly silhouettes, I decided that painting them would be fun.

Now I need to turn them into a mobile. With wire and thread my idea will become actual. Whee!

This weekend I will assemble the mobile and mail it off to my swap partner. It has been interesting seeing the various mobiles already in progress,(images posted in a Flicker group), and I am not the only person who is wondering "is one of those for me…" I hope that the person I'm making this for ends up liking it. I know that I do.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

This is your Craft-Tea-Party reminder notice

What : the theme this month is "fun with felt"...We'll have felted sweater pieces for those who want to play with making tea-cozies or whatever, and Rafny has said she'll bring her needlefelting tools and expertise. Or just come and visit... bring your knitting and enjoy tea and snacks and chat...

When : Sunday afternoon, 1 PM onwards

Where : Acorn Cottage

potluck tea snacks welcomed happily

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I am woman! watch me rebuild my studio!...

Monday I replaced the bedroom nightstands with wall-mounted shelves, as I'd planned for a long time. And, thanks to the kind assistance of my friend Chance, and his trusty chop-saw, the wood for the studio shelf-towers was cut to size. The old nightstands are now in their intended place in the workroom, and connected (with more Ikea shelving) to make the under-the window shelving. They still need to be shimmed level and anchored to the wall. I need to figure out some kind of waterproof shims, since there is a spot on the edge of where the wall meets the floor (along what was once-upon-a-time the garage door) where damp seeps in when the rain outside is very intense. Not a puddle, just a dampness in the concrete floor, but damp and wood are not friends…
I've also started constructing the tower shelving. Just brackets and cleats and wooden shelves, up each corner of the room on the window wall. Each shelf requires at least ten holes drilled, and all the concomitant screwing. I've done three shelves so far, and I'm tired. Of course the fact that it is almost 1 AM might have something to do with that… time to stop playing with power tools.

It's not fancy, but looks to end up holding a mortal large amount of supplies and such. Conveniently, the new tidy storage boxes fit neatly: two to a shelf. The plan is to sort and cull the massive number of boxes of creativity clutter; I mean art and craft supplies. Metalworking and enameling will have their own special prime storage zones, and everything else should be able to find a home as well. It is exciting to actually make progress on this long delayed project. Only nine more shelves to attach! (I think I can, I think I can…) Arnica and Ibuprofen will be my friends Oh for a power screwdriver, with a clutch and a quick change chuck…
In April, the Craft-Tea-Party activity will be a trade blanket of art and craft supplies and materials. I know that a number of you are also doing the primate sorting behavior thing, and while we all will end up with homes less cluttered and more organised, it is possible that someone out there may really want some material that I've decided I don't. Like that lovely bronzy-green yarn, for example… So while de-cluttering, you might want to put aside any particularly wonderful goodies in a separate bag or box just until April 20 (tentative date)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

a rose is a rose

Some pictures of the custom stencil and sewing job that I just finished and installed

close-up of the curtain tie-back

curtain panel for the French door

Roman shade and valance

Friday, February 1, 2008

trying to keep calm... and an invite for later in the month

On the way home from my housecleaning job today, my car stopped having a first gear. As in when starting up the shift lever no longer shifts into first gear. But since it still willingly shifts into second gear, and third and fourth, I was able to drive. The car didn't do anything that I noticed other than stop having a first gear access. UGH! I hate when my car breaks.
While I do have many skills for repairing my world, automobile fixing is a deep dark mystery. I am reasonable sure that it is not the transmission itself, for that would mean that none of the gears would be working, and I'm reasonable sure that it isn't the clutch, or I wouldn't be able to shift into any of the other gears, but really these are just words to me and I have no useful understanding or visualisation of the "guts" of Nimblefoot. Just a guess that somewhere inside the black box that is my car, between the mystery that is the shift lever and the mystery that is the transmission something has gone awry. I imagine that it has something to do with the mysterious shift linkage.

A bit of on-line googling also turns up the possibility of some kind of shift cable bushing that is prone to disintegrating, prompting clever folk who know how to take apart the car enough to access that area to McGuyver all kinds of clever fixes, since there are no replacement bearings sold, but only the very expensive entire shift cable assembly..
But I don't know what is wrong, and I don't have any idea how to fix it. All I know is that it will cost more than I can afford. Just when I was feeling like I was getting a bit ahead. And planning on getting internet access at my home. And planning on driving up to Olympia next weekend to attend the wedding of my very dear young friend Heather.

I'd be tearing out my hair, if I had enough to bear offering it up in frustration....


On a cheerier note, this is your early warning for the February Craft-Tea-Party..
Sunday February 17th afternoon tea - all friends of Acorn Cottage welcomed.

Expanding on the suggestion of Rafny that we make tea cozies, the activity will be fun with felt..
Make something from a felted sweater, or try out needlefelting
(of course, your own projects of choice are always welcome too)