Conservatory, Cycladic, Tomato, Cats, Rust

I finished gluing the painted tiles to the pattern for the Sea House Conservatory main floor.

Stoic Albie helped keep them flat, as Stoics do.

I then spent a lot of time considering how best to make the floor fit the base and carry over to outside the walls in a way that pleased me. 

If I was a cat, this is how I might look pondering options.

As part of the solution, from quarter-inch birch ply I built a two-inch base and painted it medium grout gray. And — not because I want to relive the 1980s and feature wall faux finishes — I sea-sponged on a lighter warm gray. Mostly because I didn’t want to stare at a flat gray box. My building process involves a lot of staring.

Eventually, the weather/temperature/humidity cooperated and I was able to spray two good coats of matte sealer on the floor tiles prior to grouting.

Also got a few more coats of satin antique white on the fireplace. (Built from this Houseworks Deco fireplace.) Here it is curing in the late afternoon sun.

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Gluing down the sealed tiles to the base. It will might make more sense in a few days when you see the whole idea. Are you really, really sick of seeing pictures of these tiles?

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Then here’s Scarlett sitting next to me on the front deck yesterday, watching the sun go down (and grooming). (Her, not me. I was sipping a glass of delicious Double Brut IPA.)

cycladic_spirals

This is my current design inspiration for conservatory decor. It is a Cycladic terra cotta vessel from 2000 BC — that’s a long time ago — found on Naxos. I’m smitten with everything about it: the spiral waters, fish, the sun, or maybe a full moon? (From Art of Crete, Mycenae and Greece by German Hafner, 1968, public library.) 

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A last peek at the conservatory in the night studio, with the standing walls. For now.

tomato

I’ve been working on a landscaping project on the side of the house under the sunroom add-on. The soil is compacted and full of rubble, and I’ve been putting down cardboard to suppress what weeds do grow, and adding top soil, compost and worm castings. There’s next to no direct sun, so I’m transplanting hardier succulent cuttings to see what will survive. They get a little leggy reaching for the light, but they’re doing all right. A few months ago I noticed what looked like a wee tomato plant ?! at the back of the area, evidently self-started from the compost. When it put out flowers I was charmed; what hope and vigor this plant has! And then the other day I noticed it had made a tomato! A single heirloom. In December! It’s like a miracle :)

rust_plancha

And finally, here’s one for your reference files. Look at the beautiful rust pattern and colors on this cast iron plancha, sadly left out in the rain next to the BBQ. (Left behind when our neighbors moved, it was already warped, but was still serviceable for outdoor cooking.) We’ll see if I can bear to scour it clean, or if it joins my collection of Things That Are Rusting.

Doesn’t everyone have one of those?

Peacock, Pacific, Sea House Conservatory

Maddie_peacock

There is much to appreciate in this drawing, presented to me by 5-year-old Maddie. No hand turkeys for that girl; a peacock is more compelling. This avian’s boisterous tail, for one, is a breakthrough in both interpretation and technique. Vibrant life radiates in the rich purple effortlessly confident strokes on wings and body. Its feet hold firmly to the bottom of the page. Not least is the pathos of the bright pink worm; its expression reminds us that outward beauty is not a sure sign of good will. Be inspired.

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Had my first opportunity to walk outside today (!), along (what remains of) the paved Manor Bluff trail, and even on some hard-packed sand atop the bluff. It was breezy with rain-moist air, and felt so good. Another milestone in my recovery, almost eight weeks post-op. Yay go me, and she was.

working_on_bed

Still somewhat working from my bed top, but I have made progress in cleaning the various surfaces in the studio proper. Sad and ridiculous, I know, but just what is. It’s like I’m growing up all over again.

both_halves

The other half of the conservatory is in rickety dry fit, and I’ve decided on a layout and also that this might will be the new (former) home of the small local business, Modern Miniature S___ & Sundries, est. 1921.

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It of course had a different logo (and maybe name) back then. Backstory, in media res.

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I’ve given a great deal of thought and research to the floor, and have arrived at this pattern. Still undecided between watercolor paper or egg carton for the pavers.

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A closer approximation to the tonal contrasts. The interior walls will be a warmish white, perhaps with Art Deco-y botanical stencils on the lower panels.

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The floor pattern with the top grid removed. I’m torn between simplifying the amount of work it will be to cut and lay the more intricate pattern with the simpler design.

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Current thinking is to break the rigidity of the more complex pattern with setting “whole block” units randomly into the design. The amount of work required is not appreciably less, but the overall effect is more pleasing to my eye.

As always, your input and reactions are welcome, for yay or nay or… other. Lively discussion encouraged! (I’m still not getting out enough :)

 

Progress Report

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Seven weeks post op, and recovery continues. I’m walking without a walker or cane, going up and down stairs, and weaning off oxycodone use. The labs monitoring my blood supply making are coming back better than expected. Last week I was cleared for conditional driving, which means I can start swimming at the community pool very close to my home. Yay and go me.

camp_fire_smoke

I live just south of San Francisco, on the coast, and the smoke from the wild fire some 150 miles north has been very bad, with air quality advisories to remain indoors. This is the afternoon sun over the obscured horizon and ocean. My heart aches for the people and animals and the unimaginable losses they are enduring.

EC03_scaled up

Fortunate to be safely indoors, I am beginning to feel curious and coherent enough to make stuff again. Here is an exploration around scaling the paper succulents up to 1:6 (on the left, nope). The middle example is what would be 1:9 scale (uh, maybe) and on the right is the existing 1:12 scale (magic). It was a good exercise to get thinking again.

EC03_molded

I played a few iterations with a wet molding technique on the leaves, seen here with a 1:9 scale succulent, and learned a bit about the nature of cardstock. Again, nope.

guitar

Scarlett found her soulmate in my husband’s studio.

arrival_conservatory

And then the factory second conservatory kit(s) arrived. Even though I have no room.

box

Scarlett at least approves.

dryfit_01

The front half in dry fit. (Keli helped solve a critical assumption error I had made on the roof.) I have spent the last two weeks or so happily researching, ideating, sketching and going through my considerably disorganized collections of accessories, materials and building components. My biggest challenge now is to get some work surfaces clear in the studio so I don’t have to work on my bed any more.

Unexpected Circumstances

gown_02

What happened was not anyone’s fault. It was not because of what the surgery team, or the hospital, or Mercury — or I — did or did not do. It was more just a clusterfuck of normal, acceptable and carefully calculated risks gone awry. Two weeks post-surgery, I ended up back in the hospital, via the emergency room. (I got some new bracelets and a gown, a mid-century scratch print in pale blue, gray and teal.)

Here I was earlier on that day, patiently healing away, legs elevated to combat the cartoon-like swelling in my feet and legs, memory foam pillow held over my stomach with just the right amount of pressure to ease the mild, persistent nausea, likewise, ice pack on brow to numb the headache.

legs_up

Unfortunately, inside my body was bleeding inappropriately, unknown to us. I was feeling increasingly crummy — a new kind of crummy — and short of breath, and very pale. Fortunately, my daughter, a nurse practitioner, was with me that day and recognized that something was seriously wrong. She coordinated with my doctors and we hied ourselves to the ER.

I wound up losing half of my blood volume and developed severe anemia —though it took eight hours of testing in the ER and two more days of various hospital tests to arrive at this diagnosis, and to rule out all others.

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I was sad and frightened and angry and very uncomfortable that long first night, and Wheelie came out to keep me company. Also the hospital had shitty wifi.

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After ruling out embolisms, transfusing two units of blood, determining the internal bleeding had likely stopped, that my shortness of breath was getting longer, that there had been no damage done to my heart when it was trying to maintain me with half a blood supply, and that all other systems were, um, regular, I was released back out into the world.

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I don’t think home has ever looked so welcome.

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The Other Side

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Greetings from the other side! All the things went, and are going, very well. I took this silly hair picture to make Maddie laugh, and to feel connected. It’s a big ol’ dose of reality. I’m sharing it here to illustrate the relief I feel, but also because I look like a vampire. Between the old reconstruction surgery scar on one side of my dangerous smile, and the mildly different set of the recent tooth implant on the other, there could totally be fangs in there. I am also taking a lot of prescribed medications, as one might expect after getting all of one’s hips replaced. And the reflections in my glasses is very 2001. May I come in, Hal? <Ed. note: check were there vampires in 2001>

The photo order is going backwards in time, and there will be NO medically graphic images or details. There may be no order in the photos at all, because it doesn’t even really matter. Everyone skims. And I only spent two nights in the hospital anyway.

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Downstairs in the Surgery Waiting Lounge (Pre- PreOp) — one of the circles of heck. The first bracelet and assimilation codes. And a hair tie to fiddle with endlessly.

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The curtains of Bay 32 in PreOp. There were very many conversations going on in all directions and dimensions. I had a good long while to study these curtains, trying not to hear the very many conversations and the carting of things covered in sheets.

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I got a soft new gown in a muted foulard, and more bracelets. Then came the long procedural afternoon. Everyone on the surgery team was witty, attractive and kind. Some of the best moments came toward the end, waking from the anesthesia (a spinal epidural) in an ecstatic dream. Brian and I were in our house, only there were no floors, just expanses of bright clouds and blue skies. Because of the no floors, we had to fly everywhere. And we did, flitting and soaring like birds, holding hands, and you know how great it is to fly in your dreams! The feeling has stayed with me.

The hospital is on a hill in already hilly San Francisco; I had a private corner room with lots of windows and views of the Bay and a eucalyptus grove. There was also this pole — a cross between a mechanical droid and a bird feeder — that held mobile machines, miles (kilometers) of tubes, and bags and canisters of fluids and secret spices, to which I was kept very attached.

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Comfortable and accommodating as it was, I was so stoked to qualify for early release from the hospital. I had to pass a series of suitability tests, including fitness, stamina, answering odd questions, and spelling “world” backwards. Everyone was proud and congratulatory. And then Brian got me the hell out of there.

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I set up my well-stocked MedBay in and around the Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries set — and this is not all of it — mostly because it is amusing. I should put googly eyes on them :)

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First breakfast at home with my new hips.

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Of course because all pets are strictly and for very good reasons forbidden from being on or near the Recuperator’s bed, the cats are constantly skulking up here.

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You can probably guess who the most egregious is.

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But she is also far lighter in weight than Albie, so…  …all I really know is that I’m very happy be home, with a clear path and help for recovery. The road has risen with me :)=

 

Z: Eyes on the Prize

Z_eyes

Z is for eyezzz on the prizzze.

You can take a hundred pictures of the same thing, as I do, and five of them might be true. Living on the edge of a continent facing due west, with a view of the horizon, I find joy in this vista every single day. This is the prize.

This also concludes my ABChallenge, with a final nod to Dr Seuss’s On Beyond Zebra —one of the most personally influential books I’ve ever read. (I wrote about it here.)

zebra_spread

distinction_final

Speaking of prizes, here is the official, distinguished Certificate of Distinction for you poets to download and laminate and proudly display. Fond regards for all who haiku’d their X hip hardware puzzle answers.

This is meaningful
Hope I spelled all the words right
And that you like fish

pill_highlighters

Keli sent these giant pill capsule highlighters, which still make me laugh. The only thing better than miniatures are giant things.

memory_foam

Scarlett finds it comfortably convenient that we got a new 3-inch thick memory foam topper for the downstairs guest bed, which is where I’ll be recuperating for the next few weeks after tomorrow’s surgery. I am so ready to do this thing.

Looking forward to seeing you all on the other side.

 

 

 

Y: Yikes

Y_Yikes

Y is totally for Yikes! The answer to the previous X question: This is a model of the hip replacement gizmos that will be used in my upcoming procedure. Thank you for all your responses. I hope you’ve made a new friend in expression with haiku. Certificates of Distinctions available soonly.

There are three parts to the contraption: the long lower knife/cane/golf club grip that fits into my femur, a dense plastic faux cartilage, and the round pelvis-nested salad bowl.

(And yes, I was the only one at the surgery preparation class that was so awed as to take photos of these amazing devices.)

What I love the most is the coral reef/spaghetti-like parts to which my actual living bones will meld/grow into. I’ll pause here, and let you read that sentence again…
It’s all made of titanium, and yes, I will set off metal detectors.

So Y is also for Yes?

Yes, I’ll be needing to close down MMS+S for a few weeks while all the magic (and pain medication) happens, so if you’re thinking about ordering a kit or two, please do so in the next few days.

Albie_sunroom

Yes, I’ve not been getting out much, but reading a lot and appreciating the many comforts of home. This is a late-night surprise encounter of Albie (and his debris field), stretched out on the (unmade) single bed in the sun room.

the_light.jpg

And Yes, yes, wily Scarlett. As poet David Whyte suggests,

Turn sideways into the light as they say
the old ones did and disappear
into the originality of it all.

(From “Tobar Phadraic”, one of my many favorites from him.)

Yes. Yes. Yikes.

W: Weaving, Waxing, Waning

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W is for weaving. I’ve been playing with hand-tinting the looms of the round basket kits in spectral and hombré shades. I started with black weavers and rims, then went to a medium warm gray. After a few baskets, I thought the offcuts would make good banners or samples of the colorways, and then the idea was born for the Basket Circus + Exposition.

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Many thanks to Keli for participating in the totally legitimate focus group which determined this name.

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What a difference between black and gray for the contrast. I love them both.

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gray_green_basket

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We’re getting to the glorious sunset colors time of year here in foggy-summer Pacifica. I remain in awe. Nature, you know she don’t mess around.

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Albie joined me a short time later on the front deck. This picture is significant because it answers the question, “What phase is the moon in?” Each September, my husband and I celebrate the anniversary of our marriage on the full moon. This year, it seems we have 10 or so days to go. (Hope we remember.)

gravity

And finally — as if you’ve ever doubted — here is proof that cats can defy gravity. Even when they’re sleeping.

V: Vagary

V is for Vagary. Fluctuation, variation, quirk, peculiarity, oddity, eccentricity, unpredictability, caprice, foible, whim, whimsy, fancy.

I can’t think of a better word, or set of synonyms, to describe the new 1:12 scale echeveria kit available now over at MMS+S. There are no fewer than five leaf sizes and shapes that combine to make three sizes of a charming pointy-leaf echeveria. I’ve redesigned the build method, too, to start on a fine paper-wrapped stem wire (included in the kit), which is perfect for armatures (gnarly-armed structures) and general ease of shaping the plants.

Here is a bushel basket of prototypes, using both of the base colors — white or apple green — colored with alcohol-based markers. (If you want true reds and yellows — or blues and purples — order the white stock. If you’re good with more muted tones and want to spend less time coloring, choose the green :)

Possibilities of color combinations are endless (and fun).

This is a versatile kit, and a form to make a succulent wreath is available soon!

Let Scarlett’s tail and rabbit feet, seen here in complete repose, be your inspiration.

I recently re-found this unfinished Henri Rousseau-inspired collage panel, and glued it to the side back of the Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries set.

The MMS+S set is in disarray, like many aspects of my life, but potentially still functional.

Zoom out now, please, to 1:1. The former owners of our house built this charming, funky wave-topped gate (seen here from the back). But, inexplicably, they painted the front of it the same dispirited brown as the rest of the decks, and completely ignored the back. For four years, it has *nagged* at me.

Yay go me. Here it is finished in four shades, by the light of the silvery security beacon.

Albie and I survey the change. You can just see that sad brown deck color peeking out under cat and mat.

This is the old hardware, atop the treacherous birdbath pedestel, for those of you/us interested in these things.

And finally. Keli and I have been challenging ourselves to … not let the bastards drag you down draw a random thing and post it on Instagram, until, for each of us, momentous events transpire. (For me, that’s undergoing replacement surgery of both hips, on 01 October, 2018.) I have chosen Crayola and ink as my drawing medium. We are #messy_k_enge and #curlymuenich, if you care to follow along (+also under our regular names @iseecerulean and @nancy_k_enge). We are expecting phat coffee table art book publishing contracts to swamp our respective agents.

How could they not?

 

U: Until

U_until

U is for Until I Can Press Publish Again. It has also been for Unaccomplished: unfinished, unconcluded, undone, ugh. Unpleasant, as in occurrences and diagnoses. Understanding, as in where has my mojo gone? Oh.

fresnel_lens

This is a first order Fresnel lens from the Pigeon Point lighthouse, just south of Pescadero, California.

Maddie_Ren

Here is 5-year-old Maddie Lou, draped in Kylo Ren’s leather cape and light saber, at Lucasfilm in the Presidio.

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Wheelie and I enjoying a sublime egg salad breakfast sandwich, on freshly baked sourdough in Pescadero.

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There is a new kit of pointy-leaf echeverias over at MMS+S. It might be the best ever. Check it out.