Sunday, April 29, 2018

obsessing over packing and other distractions

My medium sized suitcase is bigger than I need and my small, carry-on size is too small. Small suitcase and backpack would be enough but no extra space if I buy stuff and want to bring it back. Small suitcase plus backpack plus shoulder/carry bag would give me more room...check small bag, carry on backpack and shoulder bag. My sister has a medium sized bag that is a bit smaller than my medium so I'm going to add it into the mix. What I want is the smallest checked bag I can get away with and carry-on backpack giving me enough room for items I may want to bring back. Volume of space is a major consideration since five of us will share the car for the first two weeks. And apparently they don't have big cars in Portugal, or even Europe. The whole world is not like Texas where the road is open and vast and things are big, even now.

And so, because we are bleeding money over this remodel/recovery and somehow that has made us think that well, hell, as long as the spending is out of control, why the fuck not, I bought two new lightweight long sleeve shirts today that aren't basic or 20 fucking years old (that's how often I wear 'nice' clothing it lasts that long) or torn or missing a button. They are still V-neck pullovers with regular sleeves which is a thing since apparently belled sleeves are now back in fashion and I didn't like them then to begin with, but they both have lace! And one of them is a light sort of mint green. The other is my comfortable gray.

Gray is not a color, my daughter tells me, when I say it's my favorite. I wear gray a lot. I don't wear white (well, yes I do have one white blouse) because I'm up front and personal with life. I wipe my hands on my pants. I get around messy stuff. I don't have the interest needed for keeping white white. I don't wear black because it was ingrained in me early, black in clothing was not allowed by my father who associated it with death, but even though I long ago outgrew that restriction, it has still been a rare choice for me. Besides, gray reflects my belief that there are no absolutes, it's all shades of gray.

So two new shirts replace two old shirts. And I got notification that the last of my ordered items, in this case the jeans, did indeed arrive in time but I must go pick them up at the store and then wash all the sizing out of all the new items.

In the not packing news department, the garden has just exploded in the last week or so, easily more than twice as big as two weeks ago, just in time for me to leave.

And I went and picked up my lamp and the two bedside tables from the antique store yesterday since she has decided to close it again because no customers and she has better things to do with her time than sit in the store two days every week.

I love this lamp with it's main bulb and three candle lights and the blue glass ornament on the pole and I'm pretty sure the onyx base lights up too because there are three switches though I haven't figured out how to open it up to change the bulb. Surely it opens so the bulb can be replaced.

And the bedside tables are so cool even though someone did paint them black. The bottom section pulls out, to provide a step up to the bed?

Now all I need is a bed to go with them.

Friday, April 27, 2018

counting down the days

I had a rude awakening last night emailing with my Canadian friend who is traveling on the same flight to Portugal as me, when she commented after I sent her my arrival time in Toronto, “I hope you don't get held up by Customs” since if my plane lands on time I will have only an hour and ten minutes til take-off, much less til boarding.

Shit! Damn and fuck, I didn't even think about freaking Customs when I made my reservations (in my defense, there was a lot going on around here back when I made my reservations). I'm hoping that arriving at 10 PM on a Tuesday night that there won't be a crowd. My friend did some quick research and sent me a link to download an e-declaration app that will help speed me on my way but it could still be a close thing.

Since my birthday is on Monday, the day before I leave, the day I'll hopefully already be completely prepared for traveling and won't be stressing out, we went to the movies today to see Avengers Infinity War to celebrate, and so no spoilers but at the end, I'm like WHAT?! 

It will help that I'm not leaving really early on Tuesday like I usually schedule, so no having to get up well before dawn to get to the airport on time. And I sent Rocky packing last Wednesday morning so I didn't have to deal with construction the rest of the week but I did pick up the rest of the tile and bought the mirrored cabinet for above the sink.

I'm mostly packed except for the clothes I've been wearing this week and still have a lot of room in my suitcase so I may try the smaller bag. We'll see. I'm always conflicted about how to pack for unfamiliar weather...mid-50s to low outdoor wear more lightweight long sleeve shirts than short sleeve, one casual dress, one long skirt, more long pants than shorts, a fleece vest. It should do.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

another day in the life

Rocky and Bill the plumber showed up early yesterday morning and got the drain to the sink done and whatever else was needed to start putting the shower liner in and the purple backing board which is a puzzle of the first magnitude considering the trapezoidal shape of the shower. Rocky and I had a little discussion yesterday morning about this last week before I leave and I told him that I had let go of any expectations for progress which was a relief for us both especially since he has a very seriously ill family member so anything he gets accomplished is good enough. He and his helper (Gunner is on a different job) got the liner in and the purple backing board up. The tiles are just laid in there for looks. 

Not sure what is on the agenda for today but apparently nothing since Rocky, Gunner, and the new helper came early, rummaged through the tools and took off. “I'm gonna get these two started at (somewhere else) and then I'll be back." That was about 2 hours ago. And no sooner than I typed that, he showed up. Wainscoting goes in today.

I drove out to Bay City to pick up the all the rest of the tile yesterday but I misunderstood that they were going to go get it on Monday, not that it was all going to be there on Monday and so whoever had gone to Houston to pick up the tiles for the floor wasn't back yet. The little hex tiles were there so I brought them back but now I have to make one more trip out there. That's about the only thing I got accomplished yesterday.

The weather continues to be cool/warm, clear blue sky, and low humidity...our lovely spring days. Walking the dog along the road beside the agricultural field I'm seeing things I hadn't noticed before, likely brought by the flood, like some coreopsis, blue pimpernel, 

a cornflower, and this native clematis.

Small list of trip related errands to attend to today since they didn't get done yesterday. One week left before I leave.

Saturday, April 21, 2018


As mentioned previously, I'm working on getting ready for my trip. In advance! Who are you and what have you done with me? Bought a backpack, it will just have to do unless I come across a smaller day pack between now and then, and ordered a pair of jeans online since no one ever has my size. Well, I can find my size just not the proper length. Apparently stores think all women wear 4” or higher spike heels with their jeans and so never stock 'short' in length. And I'm not particularly short. I dug out my old Canon PowerShot (pre IPhone) to take with me and charged the battery and tested it and emptied the sim card since my IPhone tells me at least once a month or less that my storage is almost full so I have to delete the message log and phone log and mail folders and old photos and no I don't want to do the cloud since it screwed up my photos app in Hawai'i and I now have 17 empty albums that I can't get rid of, the photo stream function no longer functions, and within 2 days was wanting me to buy more storage. I've got the electrical converter gizmos. I've checked the average temperature for Portugal for May...mid 50s to low 70s. I've downloaded three English/Portuguese dictionaries because I'm not sure which one will be the most useful. I bought some leggings, something I have never owned, mainly for comfort for the plane rides and yes I do have a shirt long enough to cover my ass to go with them. I got my hair cut, shorter than I wanted but once that first snip is made you are pretty much committed.

this is what 68 years of living looks like

Oh well, it'll grow and will be easy to take care of on the trip.

Guess I'll get out the suitcase on Monday and start assessing clothing and packing the nonessential items like one of my yoga mats. Still need to contact the credit card company and alert them to my travel plans and decide how much cash I want to convert to Euros. Still having some involved dreams of groups of people and being places but I don't really remember much about them.

Whatever the situation was about the shower drain was resolved Wednesday but blah blah reasons why no more progress was made this week. It's all supposed to start happening Monday heard that a million times in my life, said it more than a few too but I'm becoming increasingly detached from expecting any progress at all before I leave which is a good thing. Still need to pick up the rest of the tile Monday and order x amount of bullnose tile to finish the shower edges. Details and loose ends.

Other activities this's dewberry season.

I bet I've picked at least 12 cups so far, maybe one or two more, though mine are about done. Maybe one more decent pick. The dewberries (our native blackberry) loved the flood. They have colonized the front right corner of the shop and spread all along the front fence. I have made and we have devoured one dewberry cobbler and I'd make another if he would just go to the grocery store since the first one involved a madcap drive, or as Leonard says, a bat out of hell, to Judy's house at the other end of the street in the middle of preparations to borrow 1/3 cup of flour to continue.

Here's a picture of the garden a few days ago. Still haven't planted the okra. It could wait til I get back. It probably will.

And a monarch on the love-in-a-mist.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

as Rosanne Rosannadanna's daddy used to say, “it's always something”

Rocky's in there working on the shower drain and it is not going as planned. Looks to be bordering on catastrophic but what do I know. Bill the plumber showed up last Monday with the small jackhammer for Rocky and then promised to be back today or tomorrow to fix the drain to the sink which should have been done when they replaced all those galvanized pipes. So far haven't seen him today.

On the upside the flooring place in Bay City with the very nice people did find and order the rest of the tile so yay that. It should all be in on Friday. And I talked to my friend Gene the glass fuser about making the border tiles which would be no problem and I was going to meet him at the wholesaler to pick out the glass this morning but he told me I should check at Floor & Decor first, a huge warehouse of flooring including tile and they had this, 1/2” wide of varying lengths of blue glass linear tile

and while darker than the paint chip it is the same color family and while I'm not thrilled by the 2” lengths, it will do just fine so there's another step forward. Now to draw the layout of the tiles for the floor for when Rocky gets to that point.

They also had this display up which I nearly swooned over.

So what do y'all think, one width of blue tile between or two?

floor plan

In other aspects of my life I'm starting to get ready for my trip now instead of waiting til the last two days before I leave as is my usual wont. I got a new backpack yesterday to that end and in true Ellen fashion I was having second thoughts about my choice last night during those wee hours when I am usually awake which is fine for airline travel but seems a bit big to schlep around for day trips.

Too many fucking decisions to make in too short a time. I think I'll go get my hair cut and mark something else off the travel list. No decision there as I get it cut the same way every time.

Monday, April 16, 2018

more flowers and another view

Since you may be as tired of rebuilding posts as I am here's another spring photo dump. I'd write and post about my art and work but I basically haven't engaged in that since the house flooded at the end of August last year. The few little feather pieces I did before the December open house had already had their models made before Harvey. I've made one model since then, one, in the last in the last 7 1/2 months. And it sits still waiting. Too hard to concentrate on model making or the rest of the process with ongoing construction. Hell, I'm not even drawing, not even little sketches in the brand new sketch book with my brand new colored pencils that I bought last December. I may have to ditch the 'artist' nomenclature. Odd not to be drawing at least since I have spent so much of my life sketching and drawing the full size patterns for the etched and carved glass. I don't miss doing that work, the etched glass, but I would like to get back to being a little creative. If only the house would get finished. Still can't even get to the kiln.

I have never seen the dandelions so profuse, the entire yard looked like this

nun's orchid

clasping leaved coneflowers in full bloom in the mini wildflower meadow

larkspur and love-in-a-mist


german verbena

miniature gladiolas

One last photo or two of the back bedroom for Sabine who asked about the light. All the pictures I have taken have been from the same vantage point at the other end of the room. There is another small window that faces east that never shows. The etched glass windows face south but because light expands when I photograph them, it makes the rest of the room look dim so here are a few pictures taken about 11 AM looking the other way.

The doorway opens to the small hall with the bathroom on the right and the closet on the left and the door to the rest of the house.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

the curse

So it seemed my tile problems were solved didn't it? Went back to Home Depot and bought the tiles I need for the shower and drove to Bay City today to order the rest from the very nice lady and oh gee, the large mottled tile is no longer on the manufacturer's website though it is still listed on the most recent product list they have which is only a few months old.

Of course. Of course!!!

She called the company who has a bad habit of not answering their phone, she says, apparently in an attempt to get people to do their business on-line, to check for product availability and of course they wouldn't answer their phone while I was sitting there. I'll keep trying she says and call you later this afternoon with good news. It's 6:30 PM and I still haven't heard back.

There is some good news though as I had previously done an internet search for this tile so I was pretty sure it was still available at some of the bigger national tile and flooring places and I only need 3 boxes so when I got home I looked it up again and found a place in Florida that has it. So I have a back-up if she doesn't come through.

Rocky and Bill the plumber were supposed to show up last Thursday after Bill's helper crapped out on him and he prevailed upon Rocky to come help him on Wednesday in exchange for inserting me immediately after but Bill fell Wednesday and banged up his knee and had to go to the ER so his job needed another day on Thursday but we'll be here Friday Rocky tells me. Friday morning Rocky comes by to ask on Bill's behalf if I'd be OK with putting it off til Monday so Bill could go back to the ER and get his knee X-rayed to make sure it wasn't broken now that the swelling was going down. What was I supposed to say, that I would rather Bill and his banged up knee come and finish the work? Rocky was all apologetic. I figured what's a few more days. Even if they had showed up Friday, it's already too late to get the bathroom finished before I leave.

This is why I try not to have expectations. Life is just putting out one fire after another.

The flooring is in in the back bedroom though. Now just need the quarter round and it's done.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

tile hell

The rain stopped and it warmed up and I shook off my malaise and drove to Bay City on Tuesday to order tile. And fell into tile hell. The woman that helped me after Julie brushed me off (I guess she was tired of my indecision) agreed that the tile for the floor was going to make the shower too dark if I used it there and I couldn't find anything lighter besides subway tile which I didn't really want and turns out no one makes linear tile 3/4” - 1” wide and about 6” - 8” long that I wanted for a border around the hex tiles. So, deflated and defeated I told her I would go ahead and order the tile for the floor and she wouldn't let me!

I don't like to turn away business, she says, but I want you to be happy with your choices. You're going to Home Depot tomorrow to get your sink (I was) so look and see what they have. They buy in larger quantities than I can and have better prices.

So she sent me away with the samples I have been holding on to plus two more. I returned home sullen and discouraged and stomped around the rest of the day and night...I can't do this!!!

Wednesday morning I had worked my way to a grudging acceptance of subway tile for the shower and took off for Rosenberg and Home Depot where I found 12” x 12” matte white tiles with a hint of gray (it's a touch whiter than it looks in the picture) by the same company that makes the tile I want to use for the floor and half the price. Score! I didn't buy it because I didn't have my figures with me but I'm getting that for the shower and will get the other tile I have chosen for the floors (bathroom, small hall, and closet across from the bathroom) from the tile place. 

So one more major decision made. Now all that's left is deciding on a mirror/medicine cabinet combo, light fixture, and faucet and I think all the decisions and purchases will be made, not just for the bathroom but all the rooms that flooded. Well, except for talking my glass artist friend into making the linear tiles out of fused glass for me that I need. So now I'm once again headed to Rosenberg and Home Depot.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

four days

Four days. That's how long I've been a useless slug. Monday was cold and drizzly. All fucking day. Not cold cold but in the 50s and 60s and 100% humidity what with water coalescing out of the air and such. Not cold enough to justify turning on the heater but borderline. An hour before I was due to pick up my sister for yoga, I called.

How invested are you in going to yoga tonight?” I'm the driver since her house is on the way.

I could not go” she replied, “or I could go.”

We chatted for a while longer about how miserable the weather is, the main deterrent to going. About how inactive we've I've been these past four days. But truth to tell, I have four parameters that affect my willingness to drive to the next town over for yoga...cold, rain, wind, and dark. There has to be three out of the four for me to not feel guilty about not going to yoga and today there were only two...cold and rain however slight the rain was.

OK,” I sighed, “I'll pick you up at the regular time.” Even though I could just as easily have taken a nap. Actually, I'm glad I went. Monday is usually a small class and we kept it low key which sometimes is exactly what is needed.

Also Monday Rocky and Gunner installed the flooring and baseboards in the back bedroom. Still needs the shoe mold which will go in today and then I think Rocky is going to close up the temporary opening to the garage from the closet, finally making the house closed off from the outside but of course that means they will now have to go through my studio room to work on the bathroom and finish out the little hall and closet.

Since I did not drive to Bay City to deal with the tile yesterday, that is my goal for today which has dawned with an almost clear sky and a promise of warming up even though I don't expect Bill the plumber to show til next week. Still, best to have everything on hand and towards that I was notified that my pedestal sink is ready for pick-up. Wednesday's chore.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

you want me to what?

The cat woke me up out of a deep sleep early Friday morning, amid more involved dreaming that I don't remember, to go outside. She was very insistent. I fell back in bed and back to sleep for another hour or so before I got up. Hours later I still didn't feel completely awake. We finally got the rain Thursday early evening that had been predicted all week and Friday it was still overcast and humid lending itself to my lethargy. I intended to drive to Bay City and order the tile for the bathroom but around 3 PM I admitted I wasn't going that day.

Saturday morning, winter, ever the bad sport, slipped an icy finger down here with high winds plunging the temperature about 40˚ as a sort of 'fuck you' to spring and the dog and I occupied the couch all day reading and dozing. Well, I read, she dozed. OK, I dozed some too. This morning it was so cold in the house I had to turn the heater on while the temperature registered 42˚ outside. In April.

Looks like a third day of zero motivation.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

dirty dishes and hawks and roses and plumbing woes and a new birdbath

I spent last weekend working out in the yard tending to numerous things and enjoying the excellent weather while I ignored this...

Instead I watched the red shouldered hawks out keeing for mates flying back and forth between the Wild Space and the trees in my absent neighbor's backyard. I looked up one time to see one of the hawks flying around, back and forth, clutching what looked like a small snake in its talons which I thought rather odd. After a bit, a hawk settled on a branch of a tree in my neighbor's yard next to another hawk and I watched as he mounted her and then settled on the branch next to her for a moment before flying off. I wonder if he brought her some food as part of their courting. I know male cardinals will feed their mates during spring courtship because I have seen this behavior often thanks to the tea cup bird feeder. A short time later I saw her fly down to the open yard and pick up some nesting material and fly back to the trees and watched as she moved from branch to branch before she settled into the crook of the pine tree and added to the nest she's building. I have an unobstructed view even though it's high up.

The weather wizards have been predicting rain all week which hasn't materialized so far but at least today it has clouded over and darkened. The yard is still glorious and the dandelions are so numerous and full of bees that Marc is loathe to mow even though the hay grass is going to seed. I've given up trying to pull it all up, an exercise in futility. And my Cinco de Mayo rose is just outdoing itself this spring and so fragrant. It will bloom all summer but this first flush is gorgeous.

Monday Rocky starts putting down the flooring in the back bedroom and then the baseboards and that room will be done except for a minor punch list. I ordered the pedestal sink I settled on for the little bathroom and it should be here next week

and tomorrow I'm going to order the tile I need. There will be plenty of time for it to come in as now it looks like the concrete floor in the shower will have to be broken up and a new drain gizmo put in because the screws were so rusty they broke off when Rocky took off the part that has to be off before the shower liner can be put in which looks like it has already had to be done once before 

plus when Bill the plumber was here the drain for the sink wasn't dealt with like it was supposed to be, it being all corroded and broken (what the hell did he think?). 

I wasn't here when Marc settled up with him or I would have pointed it out. So doubtful the bathroom will get finished before I leave for Portugal next month.

On the upside, I bought a new birdbath this week. One spring years ago, the HEB grocery store had Talavera ceramic birdbaths and I didn't buy one. Next year, I told myself, I'll get one next year. Well, the next year they didn't have them or the year after that or the year after that and maybe not even the year after that. But last Monday, there they were sitting out front. And now one is sitting on my tiny patio in the Little Backyard while I decide where to put it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

progress and growth

Progress is being made! The chair rail and crown moulding is all up and the windows are in. 

Still needs to have some of the paint touched up and the flooring and baseboards but that won't happen til the bathroom is done so next is to close off the back room with plastic to keep the dust out while they work on the little bathroom.

And the garden is growing. The corn is up and the beans are up 

and the tomatoes are blooming and I even have a few little ones forming and so put the cages around them and the blueberries are covered in swelling berries and the peach tree actually came out and is growing this spring instead of waiting til the fall like it did the last two years even though it didn't bloom and the squash and onions are growing and the peppers of various kinds are putting on buds.

Spring is still springing and while the bluebonnets are going by and the mock dogwood is dropping petals like snow, the maroon japanese iris are blooming

and the roses are robust 

and the evening primrose are in full bloom and the clasping leaved coneflowers are coming on 

and the poppies are vibrant 

and the rocket larkspur are starting up 

and the yard is full of dandelions and the amaryllis are blooming, the red and white ones and the pink and white ones and my beautiful all red one is blooming for the first time since I dug up the bulbs when we sold the city house 4 years ago this summer (has it really been that long already?) 

and our nice dry days have given way to killer humidity in anticipation of the rain forecast for tonight.