Monday, April 28, 2014

back to the grind

I finally finished most of the art work I've been working on for the past three weeks while I wasn't being distracted by the outside, or being hurt, or the new shop. Not all of it, still have two drawings to finish and a sketch or two but we need to get started on fabrication so it's back and forth to the city for us for the next several weeks.

Plus I have a long 'to do' list for today before we can leave.

Marc made our first mark on the new property Saturday.

This ground is so hard it needs to be tilled and our little tiller is electric. There's no power over there right now but it is supposed to be on today. We put two wheelbarrows full of compost in there and have bags of dirt to add. We're going to try and get the last tomatoes and the squash that never got planted (no room) in before we have to leave.

There's a tree on the east side fence that is blooming. I have no idea what kind of tree it is but it makes these seed pods and is nice and fragrant.

And next to it there are some shrubs that are also blooming, also fragrant.

In between, dewberries.

This tiny blue flower, just 1/2” across, was blooming in the grass.

And on the back fence, the most enormous poison ivy I have ever seen. I'll be keeping far away from there.

And back home, instead of the silver pony foot from last year, I put portulaca in the little boy's pot.


Friday, April 25, 2014

first look and a selfie

Wednesday we closed on the new shop. Signed multitudes of paper, handed over a check, and got the keys, walked across the street to city hall (gotta love a small town) and got the water switched over and then went to check out our new space.

OMG, it's huge! Overwhelming. We looked it over fairly quickly then walked back across the street to home. Still had/have plenty of art work to get done by Monday.

And besides, the enormity of what we had just done started to sink in.

Yesterday, we spent some time over there opening it up to air it out (must have been smokers) while Marc measured all the rooms and I took pictures.

It's about 2,000 sq.ft. Bigger than our whole house. The country house, which is bigger than the city house.

So, would you like to see? Come with me...

The new shop.

Starting on the right, the old paint bay. The back wall used to have doors back there and they are, in fact, leaning against the side of the building. I think we will put them back on so that both ends can be opened up. We think this will be the cold work room. There is a door on the left wall opening into the large bay space.

The large double bay space. Don't know how we are going to utilize this space. I'm waiting for Marc to decide where he wants to set up the sandblasting booth, whether he builds a new one in the space or we move the old one (a tuff shed on the driveway of the city house) onto the property. The doorway on the back left wall opens into...

a medium sized dark room with only one small window. We think this room will just be general storage. That's a fiberglass stand alone shower on the right which we will probably remove. It's pretty funky.

Another view of the big bay space and the other door on the left wall which leads into...

the 'living' areas.

The first room has a sink and cabinets...the 'lunch' room.

The second room is the 'office'.

The third room is the 'lounge'. These are the designations we have given them so we known which room we are talking about and does not indicate how the rooms will ultimately be used. The back wall of this room leads into...

the bathroom...sink, toilet, closet. We will probably turn the closet into a shower. There is also a door to the outside.

The old dog pen and dog house. Would make a nice enclosure for chickens. Wouldn't want too many.

View of the property behind the shop.

This concrete bunker is in the yard in front of the building. When I asked what the hell that was used for, she said she thought they stored barrels of something in there. I guess it wasn't always a body shop.

The view inside. There are drain holes so water doesn't accumulate.

Plenty of work ahead for us. First order of the day, getting a professional cleaner in there.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

earth day 2014

Following up on my last post...thank you all for the wonderful comments assuring me that the universe is not that mean. I don't really believe that my little bit of magical wishing was the cause of my fall. Or even the cause of the guy backing out of his contract even though I do believe that thought is energy and the more energy put into an idea the more likely it will become manifest. But I also don't believe in coincidence all that much either though that doesn't mean the two things are connected, but you have to admit it made a good little story.

Also, there are definitely baby wrens in the bird house. The parents have been calling loudly and flying back and forth with little tidbits in their beaks.

So, today is Earth Day, the day we think about, focus on, this beautiful blue marble spinning through space. Of course, every day should be Earth Day because we are not, on the whole, doing much to preserve it. Climate change is upon us most likely propelled by human activity.

It's getting extreme folks. Bigger fiercer storms, hotter dryer summers, colder wetter and prolonged winters. We poison the water, we poison the ground, we poison the air. We poison our food. We frack, crack, the very bones of the planet to extract it's marrow. The oceans are filled with trash. The oceans! In all those weeks of trying to find that missing plane, what they found instead were masses and masses of trash.

photo by Zak Noyle

My heart bleeds.

Now they want to geoengineer the atmosphere by releasing toxic metal oxides like aluminum into the stratosphere, if they aren't already, in an effort to combat climate change.

God forbid we should just alter our behavior. But we won't. We won't because human beings have the ability to adapt. While we are destroying a vibrant diverse ecosystem (we are currently in the middle of one of earth's great extinctions fueled by human activity) we are, at the same time, adapting to it as this new scenario of Easter Island suggests.

What a sad diminished future we face.

But change is still possible if we will just give up this notion that whatever we want is good, that we can do away with whatever bothers us to no ill effect.

The simple re-introduction of wolves into Yellowstone Park, for instance, completely changed a degraded and denuded ecosystem in just a few years into one that was healthy and thriving.

While most of us don't have the power to make big changes, we do have the power to make changes in our personal environment.

Refuse, reuse, repair, recycle.

Don't use poisons...herbicides and pesticides also kill the good things.

Grow a garden and support organic farmers.

Plant flowers, especially milkweed, for our butterflies and bees.

Don't kill something just because you can because that creature has an important job.

Provide a water source for birds.

Keep a bit of wild space if you can.

Go green.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

short stories 14


What?”, Marc calls from his office.

I'm standing in the hall, “I can't remember why I even came in here.”

Obviously I haven't even made it to my destination since there's nothing in the hall except entrances into other rooms.

I never did remember what it was that propelled me into the hall.


The wrens are giving the cat what for. She's stretching her claws on the trunk of the oak. I think they have a nest in the birdhouse hanging under the eave of the little porch by the front door. There is nesting material in it and they are hanging around and in the large yew tree next to it.

I haven't looked into it, it being the bird house, because I have to climb up on something to be able to peer in and I don't want to discourage them and have them abandon the nest.


I watch Once Upon A Time. It's a show on TV. And what they say is that all magic comes with a price. I think that's right. Good or bad magic, it still comes with a price. The Harry Potter books were wrong. You don't lightly bend the universe to your will.

That said, perhaps my injured wrist is the payment for my little act of magic. And that's what it was, have no doubt.

Saturday, I wrote my little spell. Tuesday the man backs out (and it was the need for flood insurance for the loan that did him in which, when I heard that it was required, I hoped would be the deal breaker) and we are in the office signing papers. Thursday, I slipped and fell.

I've walked back and forth on those mats plenty on rainy and wet days. Maybe not a terrible price to pay. An injured not dominate side wrist and a close call.

It feels pretty good today.


I watered a small seedling in a pot that I had nestled into the stump of the little maple that had to be cut down because it was dying and these ants came swarming out. I don't think these are the fire ants which infested the small tree and, I think, caused it's demise. They were all large and more orangey, almost like tree ants. Maybe tree ants.

I thought the pictures would be better but they were moving pretty fast.


The yard is looking pretty good. The early day lilies are putting up scapes. Three of the four plants that I thought I had lost because of the long cold winter are finally coming out...the hummingbird bush, the morning glory bush, and the angel trumpet. Still waiting on the star of india which still shows green when I nick it at ground level.

And the plumerias. The bridal veil plumerias are definitely dead. They didn't make it but I think most of the hardier pink ones will come out.

Since teeny tiny sprouts and dead looking stems don't make that great of a picture, I used the one of the rocket larkspur along the driveway instead.

Friday, April 18, 2014

a sudden surprise and a selfie

Fate? Karma? I dunno, but apparently it was meant to happen despite my precautions.

Yesterday, I fell.

The concrete floor of our garage is very smooth and when wet, very slick. Spring and fall are the worst times when it tends to sweat. I'm always very careful when it gets like that because I've almost slipped several times.

So, one day when we were at Costco, I bought a packet of interlocking foam floor pads and laid a trail from the door into the house to the garage door. I had an extra one so I put it at the end making a very skinny 'L'.

yes, it's very messy and cluttered

Yesterday was one of those sweaty concrete days.

Marc had gone into the city to run a few errands and bring back some of the old art work from past jobs (it's quicker to trace instead of redraw something I've already drawn) and he brought back all the tubes of stored drawings.

decades of work and this isn't even all of it. I still have a giant plastic bag full of drawings I haven't organized yet

as well as this small pile

When he got back I was helping him unload the tubes. Now, when I walk, I tend to walk quickly with long strides and solid footsteps. Marc accuses me of stomping around when he tries to take a nap.

So about halfway through, I was headed to the truck for another couple of tubes and I hit that extra mat and something about my speed, stride, and angle of the placement of my foot caused that mat (which I discovered had wet leaves under it) to become un-interlocked and fly right out from under me.

It happened so fast that I didn't even realize I was falling until I hit the concrete.

Being in my 60s, falling is something I try to avoid especially since I was diagnosed with osteoporosis about 10 years ago.

I landed hard on my left side hip with the brunt on the heel of my left hand and wrist. I rolled over on my back, stunned, while I tried to determine if I had broken anything.

The pain diminished pretty quickly thanks to those wonderful endorphins and we got the rest of the tubes unloaded. But about half an hour later, my wrist really began to hurt.

Once again, Marc was off for a pressure bandage and ice and I crafted a sling out of bandanas. is that one of the 100 life skills on the list going around FB, cause baby, I've got that one nailed

By about two hours later, I was in some serious pain from my fingers to my elbow. So much that I finally took one of the narcotic pain pills left over from my snake bite several years ago.

I'm happy to report that it is better this morning, and by that I mean it only aches a little unless I move it still wrapped up in it's bandage. But I am sure now that it's not broken and my hip is surprisingly not painful besides the bruise.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

the once and future shop

Sometime after the first of the year, 'for sale' signs appeared on the fence of the property across the street from the country house. It's an old auto body shop that did little business. For the 4 years we have lived here we would see him there occasionally but mostly he was retired and then he died.

We were a little concerned since rumor had it that there was a guy interested who wanted to use it to store stuff. 'Junk it up', I believe was the expression the neighbor used. And another guy interested who wanted to put trailers on it and rent them out. Neither option was something we wanted across the street.

We toyed with the idea of buying it if it was still on the market by summer.

But then the decision by my daughter and her husband to sell their house this year gained momentum and they were feeling us out about selling too and well, I've covered all that.

Anyway, about the time that we decided we would, albeit reluctantly, put the city property on the market with them and with the knowledge that we would have to subsequently move the shop, that property became very appealing.

One Sunday, mid-March, I stood on our driveway gazing at it across the street and I felt with certainty that this was the place, we should do it, but we were closing in on finishing the fabrication we had in the shop in Houston and were leaving the next day.

So, last month, finished with the work and with the time to consider other things and learning that the price had been reduced, Marc called the realtor and expressed an interest only to be told that it had sold the day before.

My heart just sank.

The following week when the widow came to mow, Marc talked to her and told her that if the guy couldn't get financing, that we would be very interested. And a week later than that, last Saturday, he called the realtor again to tell her we wanted our offer on the table in case the contract fell through. And got her voice mail.

I could just not let it go. I tore off a scrap of paper, wrote down the address with a note that this was 'our new shop', and put it in my wallet.

Yesterday mid-morning, the phone rang. It was the realtor and the guy had just backed out of the deal and did we still want it and when could we get there?

By noon we were sitting in the realtor's office signing papers. We close next Wednesday.

Talking with the realtor, there had been several contracts tendered that the widow had rejected and a couple more out there wanting to offer a contract, none of which bode well for the adjacent neighbors, us included.

Once we returned home, we were sort of shell shocked. It was like we were propelled into this big decision. But it felt right, still feels right. We got it for a good price and it's on an acre and a half and it's right across the street.

I see solar panels on the roof, a big raised garden, fruit trees, maybe a labyrinth of flower beds.

I mention the acre and a half because when we were looking to get out of the city, I wanted about two acres but the house and property we both liked was only a half acre. Which, believe me, has turned out to be plenty to take care of, but now I feel like it's complete.

I have a lot less anxiety now about putting the city property on the market since we have a place to move the shop. Still have to figure out the logistics of getting and delivering glass, but that's doable.

Monday, April 14, 2014


All the pink roses, and one red, seem to have exploded in the last couple of days. The pink ones generally bloom twice a year while the red ones, which are just starting to open, will bloom all summer.

I thought this bush in the back yard was in full bloom last week but now it has twice as many blooms.

This red climber only had one or two open a few days ago.

Pretty in pink, one of several in the front yard.

This one is different from the other pink roses, it blooms mostly just in the spring. Poor thing is crowded by the althea next to it so it was hard to get a good picture.

This old climber blooms twice a year and is way up in the crepe myrtle and the lower branches of the oak.

Friday, April 11, 2014

ch ch ch changes...

Change is essential to life, is it not? To live is to change. Without change we become stagnant, stuck in a rut, start to decline eventually.

I resist change. We all do, I think, to one degree or another. Moving out of the city was a long drawn out process and we are still not completely out. Still have the city house. Still go there to work two or three days a week, when we have work and are doing fabrication, which is really three or four days a week when you account for the travel there and back.

And our kids are there, the boy and his wife in the house, the girl and her family in the one next door.

The girl and her family want to sell, need to sell, are going to sell this year. That house is tiny and there are six adult size people living there with one bathroom, 4 of whom are teenagers. There's no place for any of them to escape the pressure.

When they bought that place from us we made a casual verbal agreement to both sell at the same time to maximize our profit, the idea being that one large plot is more valuable than two smaller ones but that was supposed to be several years down the road yet.

So we've been resisting.

Because selling means moving the shop and wherever we move it, all the options have negatives that have to be solved. It means months of disruption. Not only for us but for the boy and wife.

But, the thing is, this land is getting ridiculously valuable and to get the big bucks, we need to sell together.

I've sort of felt out a couple of realtors in the area. We have a figure in mind, the offer we would have a hard time refusing, that we will, albeit reluctantly, sell for and it may not be out of the realm of possibility. It's high but we have a good location and no deed restrictions and people we know in the real estate market that we casually mention it to start salivating.

That someone might actually give us a contract, that's a little scary to me and I do not look forward to moving the shop regardless of where we move it to and if we stay and our daughter sells we will have a new neighbor to have to acclimate to the noise of the compressor when we work.  No way to tell how successful that will be.

More troubling than moving the shop is that the family will be scattered. We are all here, close together. We may not see everybody every time we come in but they are there. The boy and his wife in the house, the girl and her family next door.

That's a hard thing to leave behind.

But leave it behind we must.  We've decided to put the property on the market in May for a very high price.

This is me contemplating all the full size art and fabrication we need to finish before summer in case the property sells right away.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

garden, blooms, and work

Since our little excursion last Thursday I have been busy. I puttered around in the yard all day on Friday, just being outside, getting some bedding plants I got from the local nursery earlier in the day. Saturday, Marc tilled compost in the big garden and then I set about to get it planted. I dug up all the tomatoes he had already planted, put some of them in pots (the determinates) and some back in the garden. I got all the tomatoes in, all the different peppers except the jalapenos, got the eggplants and cucumbers in also. And then I ran out of room.

So now I have to get the little garden ready and by that I mean pulling out all the lettuce and spinach. The carrots are still growing. The squash and watermelon will go back there. I have no idea where I'm going to put the jalapenos. And I still have beans to plant.

Here's some of the stuff blooming around here:

a garden club member shared her miniature amaryllis with me last year

the mock dogwood is in full bloom

and this rose bush

along with three large clumps of baby blue eyes

and the wildflowers at the back of the property are starting up...larkspur, evening primrose, bluebonnets, and an occasional poppy.

The next couple of weeks I am back to doing full size art work. Right now I'm working on the two windows for the couple in Maryland who live on the Chesapeake Bay. I also have a door panel with a grapes design for a wine room to do. And I have to finish the drawings for the upstairs cabinets for the job which has had all the downstairs stuff installed already.

another heron