Sunday, September 30, 2012

this old house, part 2

This is the second part of one long post. If you haven't read the first part, you can see it here. Go on, as Pearl would say, we'll wait.

Back now?

the house about 10 years into our ownership, you can see the 'skirt' around the bottom of the house

Some of my long time readers might remember my lament (it's worth the read if you have the time I think) about abandoning my 125 +/- year old, very cool house in the city. It needed more care than we could afford and once we moved permanently to the country house, with little reason, aka work, to come in, it really started to deteriorate rapidly.

the house about 5 years before we moved, the skirt had been removed to level the house and never replaced

Houses do that, fall apart much quicker when there is no life in them.

Anyway, it had gotten to the point that I didn't want prospective clients to come to the shop, and not just because the outside looked like an abandoned house, which it was heavily resembling, but the yard also. I preferred to meet them at their homes or offices which entailed lugging several very heavy bags of samples, portfolios, and design books along.

I kept telling The Boy and LL what bad shape the house was in but I think they were a little surprised when faced with the reality. Because we got a little busy the week or two before their arrival, we did not get everything done we thought we would do. Because our little studio apartment was in the same terrible shape, that's where our efforts went. They didn't have a toilet because we moved it to our bathroom. Their kitchen sink was still stopped up because we were fixing the leaking sink in our kitchenette.

So they rolled up their sleeves and went to work.

The house looks happier. It still has all the same major problems...termites, ancient plumbing, ancient wiring...but they are fixing up the inside and outside. They are repairing the damage caused by having the house leveled 10 years ago, taking care of all the little things we ignored over the years. There was a time when we engaged in minor repairs but somewhere along the way we quit doing it.

the house and yard now

They installed a toilet and unstopped the sink (no mean feat). They have filled in the cracks in the sheetrock, scraped the peeling paint, repaired the screen doors, replaced rotten boards, given the wood floors a good cleaning (well, given the whole house a good cleaning). They've started giving it a new coat of paint which is making a huge difference and they're working on replacing the skirt on the exterior with something more within their budget.

And the yard is being maintained although they did get rid of my ground cover and planted grass, returned the old turtle enclosure to yard. But they keep the sidewalk and driveway swept, something I rarely did and stuff is getting watered when needed now and they're keeping the ditch out front clear. They are slowly getting to the things that have grown unrestrained for three or four years.

The place is looking tended.

And that makes me happy.

ps. and yes, they are very appreciative of our letting them live in the house as we are appreciative of their taking the responsibility for it off our shoulders.

Friday, September 28, 2012

this old house, part 1

You might remember that last spring I got a call from The Boy and LL (our daughter-in-law) in Portland. They were ready to move back to Texas and could they stay in the house temporarily while they decided on their next course of action. They arrived at the end of April and have settled in, temporary being only temporary for now.

Since we still used it on occasion (and hopefully more than occasionally in the future) we decided to carve ourselves out a little apartment in the back corner. We took the two smallest rooms, what had been the laundry room when we lived there and the small office adjacent to it and one of the two bathrooms and this is where we stay when we are in the city.

The old laundry room and the kitchen both opened into the back hall which, when I bought the house, was the back porch so the house had two back doors. I had the back porch enclosed so that I didn't have to walk through the entire house to go from the kitchen to the laundry room.

To separate the two living abodes, the kids installed a door from the kitchen to the back hall which gives us a private entrance to our little apartment through the back door. They can still use the back door but mostly refrain when we are 'in residence'. The other doors into our part have been closed and blocked by furniture.

The old laundry room became our kitchenette with our single burner, coffee maker, and mini fridge. We have a small table and two chairs in there too so I finally have the 'eat in kitchen' I have always wanted but somehow this isn't exactly how I envisioned it.

This (along with the little bathroom) is the oldest room in the house. By that I mean it hasn't been updated since ever. It still has the big porcelain covered cast iron sink with two separate faucets, one for cold, one for hot. The drainboard which you can't really see is exactly that, a board which slants slightly into the sink and has a groove running around the perimeter for water to drain into the sink.

What had been the office (originally it was the nursery and then the play room when the kids shared a room and then our son's room) became our bedroom/living room combo. You can just see the end of the bed which takes up the other half of this room. The last time we painted this room, we intended to strip all the woodwork. This bank of windows and one door frame was as far as we got and we never did go back and repaint the rest of the woodwork.

The little bathroom opens off that. The door into the bathroom is adjacent to the doorway into the kitchenette.

After the kids moved out and the antique toilet broke, we turned the second, ancient, bathroom into a storage room for all our canoeing gear so it took some doing to get it back in working order. We installed a toilet and had to repair leaking plumbing under the house from the tub. You can see it still has the old, two faucet sink and claw foot tub. Also the hole we had to cut in the sheetrock many years ago to repair leaking plumbing in the wall (we left the hole accessible in case we ever had to get in there again, at least that was the rationale, more likely we were just too lazy to fix it right).

I've stayed in hotel rooms bigger than this. In fact every hotel room I ever stayed in was bigger than this but it serves it's purpose, giving us a small place while we are in town to work.

Monday, September 24, 2012

digging and packing

Today starts the work cycle again. I think I'll primarily be working on the drawings for the mountain wall. I received the files on Friday and I think they'll work. Now I have to get them printed out and figure how I'm going to make them into patterns.

At this rate we're going to be late getting our winter garden in.


We are already late getting our winter garden in.

I've been working this weekend on getting the grass and weeds out that grew unrestrained during the summer while it was too hot to do any sort of chores except water the plants and I intended to finish that yesterday but then I remembered that I had to box up and send off three pieces to a gallery for a show that opens in October.

The gallery owner doesn't actually want them to arrive before Friday but if I don't send them off this morning, they won't get sent til next Monday because this little transplanted city girl is not willing to brave waste her time at the post office in the city. Not when she can leave the house, go to the bank, go to the post office, and be back home in 15 minutes or less out here in this little country town.

A line at the post office is maybe two people in front of you and that's if you go at lunch time.

So I abandoned the garden and started wrapping up and boxing for shipping the aforementioned works.

I didn't get 'Ode To A Peach' finished in time for the opening and I didn't get the three large botanica erotica pieces finished and displayed like I mused I might much to the gallery owner's disappointment but I have promised them to her when they are finished. The show will go for a while so I hope to get it sent before it is over.

Well, I'm off to work in the city for another week.  If things go well, we might finish the map wall.

Friday, September 21, 2012

work, blooms, and pecans

Having work again is kicking my ass. The whole shuttling back and forth thing is a pain too leaving me little time to surf the internet, visit blogs, or impose myself on social networks.


I know, it's heartbreaking, right?

This is our schedule:

Monday – office work and button down the country house, try to remember all the things we need to take with us for the week, and head into the city.

Tuesday, Wednesday – work in the temporary shop. The first two weeks, I cut stencils while Marc worked on getting the sandblasting equipment and booth set up. The third week (this week), he blasted while I tried to make some progress on a sample doing metal leaf or working on some compositional sketches for a pair of doors.

Thursday – more of the same and then return home but yesterday the blaster was being balky. Too much moisture in the line caused Marc to have to stop frequently to get it unstopped or try to increase the flow. Frustrating. And a problem to be dealt with next week.

Friday – sleep late! And more office work and lots of piddling around the yard or doing house stuff.

Saturday – I work at the store.

Sunday – my freaking day off.

Back before we finally moved permanently, back when we had regular work or as regular as it ever gets for us, one of the first things I would do upon getting here is walk the yard to see what there was to see.

And so that is what I did and there were some very nice surprises.

This was the most unexpected. We've had this little water lily for many years and it bloomed right after we got it and never since. You might remember that this spring I moved the small pond into a sunnier location and it has rewarded me.

I also saw that a couple of the little yellow rain lilies were enticed by the recent rain.

The miniature amaryllis had sprung up.

And the first of the mature ripe pecans have fallen. I think we are going to have a good crop this year. Maybe our best so far.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

viney shrubby thing with ants

I have a small shrub sort of thing in my yard. Or maybe a medium shrub thing. They can get tall actually if they like where they are and we have mild summers. I had one in Houston that was planted at the base of the light pole. It got so tall that the ends quit being branches and turned into vine that was starting to twist ever higher up into the wires so I had to cut it back.

I always thought it was called morning glory bush because the flowers looked like beautiful pinky purple morning glories. It was quite a surprise to see it do that. The other thing I find weird is that the ants love it. And not just one kind of ant. I think I saw three kinds of ants on it.

There were the big tree ants, a medium sized ant that was sort of honey colored with a big abdomen looked like it was full of fluid, and then some very small ants. And they all moved at about the speed of light.

It was like watching one of those movies that speeds up the film.

It was hit or miss with the pictures.

It's hard to tell how many there really were because every time I would move in with the camera, they would all scurry off.

I wandered over to the small pond. The big garden orb weaver still has her web set up there between the althea and the plumeria. The small pond, with it's lily pads, gets a lot of traffic from wasps, bees, dragonflies, and the like. You can see she has herself a dragonfly now.

Across the gate, growing on the old clothesline pole is the moonflower. I was late getting it planted and it is late blooming. It's had about 4 or 5 flowers already but I can't seem to remember to go out at dusk and look. By the time I am up in the morning, which isn't that late, they have already closed up. So this is how I have seen them this year...the possibility of moonflower.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

X is for...

(I may or may not return to the genealogy, the third post I mentioned. Right now I'm busy so I'm going for the easy out.)

a xebec

X is for X

Do you know that my very old dictionary which I still use even though the cover and the first couple of pages are missing (and the back cover is not in any great shape either and I'm pretty sure a couple of the pages are taped in), given to me by a neighbor (she owned a bookstore) as a high school graduation present (that would be 1968), only has one page of words for the letter X?

It begins with:

x n 1 a : the 24th letter of the english alphabet b : a graphic representation of this letter c : a speech counterpart of orthographic x  2 : TEN  3 : a graphic device for reproducing the letter x  4 : one designated x esp. as the 24th in order or class when order and class, the 23rd in order or class when j is not used, the 21st in order or class when j, v and w are not used or the first in an order or class that includes x, y and sometimes z  5 a : an unknown quantity  6 : something shaped like or marked with the letter X

and ends with:

xylotomy n : the art of preparing sections of wood for microscopic examination

in between are these:

xebec n : a usu. 3-masted Mediterranean sailing ship with long overhanging bow and stern

xeric adj : low or deficient in available moisture for the support of life

xiphoid adj 1 : shaped like a sword 2 : of, relating to, or being the xiphisternum (you're going to have to look that one up yourself)

xylan n : a yellow gummy pentosan present in plant cell walls and woody tissue

xylography n : the art of engraving on wood or of taking impressions from engravings so made

Now, don't you feel smarter?

PS. if you want to read all the alphabet entries, there is a link on my sidebar under 'stuff about me'.

Friday, September 14, 2012

work and tree work

Now that we have work, that's pretty much what I am focused on though I may not have much to do next week if I don't get the art work for the mountain wall. Finally getting some work seems to have opened the gates. We sold a pate de verre piece, won 1st place at Archway Gallery's show, got a residential commission, got the deposit to start the Invesco commission, two gallery shows for the pate de verre coming up, and now I have three more possible jobs for the etched glass that I have to submit proposals residential, one corporate, and one restaurant. All since the first of August.

Sheesh. Where was all that earlier this year when our total income from our business amounted to less than $1200? Well, no matter. We survived, even if we did eat an inordinate amount of squash from the garden.

So with some of this new disposable income, we had some much needed tree work done. The small maple, already stressed before the drought last year, was continuing to die from the top down. You can see from the stump that it was severely damaged on the inside. The other tree they took down was an old red bud that was mostly dead.

We also had a large branch taken off one of the pecans that was crowding the big maple and the magnolia and another branch off the same tree that was on the roof. Also two branches on the tallow in the little backyard were pruned back some.

And what was supposed to be just one branch off the magnolia that was on the roof, they thought to even it up all the way around to 'make it look nice', so they cut off all the low branches, the ones we could reach to pick the flowers. You barely had to duck under them. Because we were delayed in Houston that day, I wasn't there to stop them, so I'm kind of heartbroken about that.

The result is a pretty big pile of limbs and leaves behind our neighbor's storage buildings. Technically it's part of the 13 Acre Field but he keeps it mowed and maintained. We were detained in Houston the day the tree guys came and so were not there to direct the remains to our burn pile, which, granted, was pretty big already. Anyway, there is now a big pile in my neighbor's area.

They did get sort of permission from Frank, whose son it is that owns that mostly empty half acre between us and Frank. He came out and after talking to them, I guess, said it would be alright.

Anyway, we have yet to see Alan. Either he's been gone or we have. And I'm sure he's seen it but whether or not he got the story from his dad or what it is Frank might have said, I have no idea.

So, last weekend we burned our pile mostly down, until Marc went to check on whether or not we were in a burn ban which, as it turned out, we were. So, mostly mission accomplished, I got the hose and put it out. I was amazed how much water it took to put it out completely, not a wisp left. And it needed to be out because I had to get in there and consolidate the remains.

The resulting pile is still pretty big but not as big as the one we need to move. So since I work at the store on Saturdays, Sunday will be the first chance I get to actually start moving the limbs.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

wherein I tell you about the big job

Some of you may remember that I have been consulting on a job since last January and it was finally funded in August. The project is for Invesco, an international investment firm that is expanding it's offices in Houston, and the job consists of two 16' long x 9' high walls.

The design on one wall is a map of the world done in diagonal parallel lines about 1/8” wide and spaced about an inch apart.

The other wall will have an image of a mountain, their logo, done in carving and shading. They will both be installed, on different floors, in front of a wall of custom painted blue glass.

Because these panels are so big and heavy, beyond Marc's and my ability to pick them up and maneuver them around, we arranged to do the work in an empty 20' x 40' warehouse that belongs to the guy's glass company that does our installations. We not only get a bigger shop to work in, but manpower as well. His guys come over and move the glass for us whenever we need it moved.

The downside to that is that we have been very busy the last several weeks getting our supplies in and basically having to build a shop from scratch in the little warehouse, from glass racks and tables to a walk-in sandblast booth and all the machines and air delivery system that goes along with it. We have bought smaller, less powerful, versions of the machines in our regular shop with an eye to bringing it out here afterwards so that we might do the smaller jobs out at the country house.

the framing on the left is the future sandblast booth and you can see the stack of glass panels on the right

After a frustrating week last week trying to get started on the actual fabrication and finishing of the sandblast booth, we ended it with one panel cut and ready and all the machinery acquired for the blasting, if not completely set up, at least there. He should have it all ready by the end of next week.

half of Africa, the Middle East and India, and half of China; in reverse as it will be viewed through the clear side

So, this will be our schedule for the next several months: go in to the city Monday afternoon, spend three nights and three days working our butts off, and coming home Thursday evening. I hope I can get the other three stencils cut next week but we'll see.

This first week of fabrication, with all it's starts and delays, kicked my butt! We haven't had a job that requires this kind of attention for a couple of years. Being semi-retired via the bad economy has made me forget how much work it is to have work!

I know we'll fall into the routine well enough, body memory will take over, but for now, I may not be around as often.

Monday, September 3, 2012

you can just call me Princess from now on

* disclaimer: I have no idea how accurate any of this is since I didn't do any of the research. In fact, it seems unlikely and now that I've made a brief sortie into the Land of Wikipedia and Google, appears to break down with generation 4 as Eadnoth 'The Staller' of Somerset doesn't appear in any of the lists of children of Svend II that I've looked at to compare against the list I have. But it also said his supposed father had something like 20 children mostly from concubines. I am just presenting this as it was presented to me. Unlikely as it probably is, I'll just live the dream anyway.

Generation 1 -

My most ancient forebear, Thorgils Sparkaleg Stybrjornsson, born 967 in Sweden had a son, Ulf, born 1000. Thorgils claimed to have been the son of Styrbjörn the Strong, a scion of the Swedish royal house, by Tyra, the daughter of king Harald Bluetooth of Denmark and grandson of Olaf Bjornsson (see the previous post). However, Thorgils' parentage may have been invented to glorify the royal dynasty founded by Ulf's son, Sweyn Estridson

Generation 2 -

Ulf Wolf Thorgilsson joined King Canute The Great's expedition to England and in 1015, married Canute's sister, Estrid, and was named the Jarl (Earl) of Denmark to rule when Canute was absent. He was also the foster-father of Canute's son Harthacnut.

When the Swedish king and the Norwegian king attacked Denmark in Canute's absence, Ulf convinced the freemen to elect Harthacnut king, since they were discontented at Canute's absenteeism. This was a ruse on Ulf's part since his role as Harthacnut's guardian would make him the ruler of Denmark.
When Canute learned what had happened, he returned to Denmark and with Jarl Ulf's help, defeated the Swedes and the Norwegians. Ulf's assistance did not, however, cause Canute to forgive Ulf for his coup.

At a banquet, the two brothers-in-law were playing chess and started arguing with each other. The next day, Canute had one of his housecarls kill Earl Ulf. However, accounts contradict each other.

Ulf was the father of Sweyn Estridsson, and thus the progenitor of the royal house that would rule Denmark from 1047 to 1375.

Generation 3 -

Svend II, Estridsson Ulfssonn 'King of Denmark', born 1019 in England, died 1076 in Denmark. He married the Queen of Denmark.

Svend grew up a military leader, and served under the king of Sweden for a time. He pillaged the Elbe-Weser area in 1040, but was caught by the Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen, who released him shortly thereafter.

Svend was made Jarl under Danish king Harthacnut, and led a campaign for him against Norway, but was beaten by Magnus I of Norway. When Harthacnut died in 1042, Magnus claimed the Danish throne and made Svend his Jarl of Jutland. Svend fought for Magnus, won a great reputation and had the Danish nobles crown himself as king in Jutland. He was defeated by Magnus and fled to Sweden.

The war between Magnus and Svend lasted until 1045. In 1047 Magnus died, having stated on his deathbed that his kingdom would be divided: Harald would get the throne of Norway, while Svend would be king of Denmark.

Generation 4 (don't worry, I'm not going to do all 36 generations, I just think these very early ones are so interesting. To me anyway, probably boring the hell out of all my readers) -

Here is where we leave the direct royal line as my next forbear was not a first son. Also, while I have been briefly trying to corroborate some of this, I could not find anything about him being the son of Svend II. I did however find one reference to him as a son of Ulf (Svend's father), making him Svend's brother, which would actually make this generation 3 rather than Svend.

Eadnoth 'The Staller' of Somerset was born about 1030 in Bristol, Somerset, England and died about 1068 in Stamford Bridge, Yorkshire, England.

Eadnoth, "the Constable" of Somerset, was "Staller" to King Harold and to Edward the Confessor. He was also called Elnoth or Alnoth.
He appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (1067) as Sheriff in 1057 in an account of an invasion from Ireland against Somersetshire and Ednoth, master of the horse, fought against them and was slain.

Names were fluid that far back, with many spellings for the same spoken word and the name Hardin or Harding doesn't come in until the next generation (gen 5) with his son Harding 'of Bristol' fitz Eadnoth and his son (gen 6), Robert fitz Harding, becomes the Baron of Berkeley.

My next (and last post) on the subject will be about that.