Peacock, Pacific, Sea House Conservatory

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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.

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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.

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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 :)

 

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 :)=

 

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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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.)

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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?

 

Q: Quandary

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Q is for quandary. Where to next? How do I get there? The signs are not clear. What to do?

Things have been a bit unsettled in nancyland of late. Not in a bad way, but in a way that hasn’t necessarily been conducive to working on the Sea Rise pavilion project, or the miniature protea kit, or posting … anything. So it goes. (Thank you Kurt Vonnegut, for that all-expressive phrase.)

Slow progress — and regress — on the studio reorg, but the end *is* in sight.

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Got the bookcases installed along the half-wall upstairs, and the reference library culled and organized. There’s happy Scarlett in her old-cashmere-sweater lined new-location fleece bed.

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One of my favorite places on Earth is Harley Farms Goat Dairy in Pescadero, perfectly located halfway between Santa Cruz and Pacifica. On a meandering birthday drive home, we of course stopped there to check in with the mamas and babies. These are some of the very pregnant mamas in the loafing barn, waiting to give birth.

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K-2SO is fully functional — with articulated thumbs! — and has begun work at Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries.

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Spent a recent morning painting and drawing with Maddie, who just turned five years old. If you’re looking for artistic inspiration and to question and push your boundaries, I highly recommend the company of a child.

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Or you could just go to the hardware store.

 

 

 

Marion’s Cape Town Proteas

Marion Russek kindly sent some protea family photos from her visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town. Though the peak bloom season is from June to November there, she still got some sumptuous shots. I cropped them pretty tightly, and sampled some colors from the flowers for additional eye candy :)

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Pulling swatches really helps me understand what colors are going on, and provides a natural starting palette. Many, many thanks, Marion, for sharing the warm sunlight of South Africa with us. Plus! I learned a new word: fynbos.

Color + Form Research

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Spent a drizzly hour+ marching around the South African garden at UCSC Arboretum, taking reference photos of proteas for the upcoming kit, inspired by Keli’s free-style flowering.

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So many other-hemisphere plants to see. Not all are in peak bloom, but I was more interested in surveying the range of protea forms, their structures and colors.

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I didn’t even concern myself with recording variety names, since I plan a sort of hybrid form for the kit. But the colors, the colors!

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This one is a Leucadendron, “Inca Gold”. So luminous.

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In the transition zone between South Africa and succulent gardens, there were flowering eucalyptus. The scent was heavenly! There’s nothing quite like being in a deserted botanical garden on a rainy day, with only hopping bunnies and many small brown birds.

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Look at the subtle coloration and bold pattern of this succulent.

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Again, but with the spiral nature of growth (and decay).

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These were quite a surprise. Smallish, leathery, spiky, but what?! If I had done these colors I would call it a mis-step, but now I am emboldened.

This field trip was a wonder. I’ve many more examples of natural plant colorations that will probably necessitate having to buy more markers.

 

A Surprise Mudroom, Keli’s Flowers

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The new year brings gifts of change, and gifts of gifts. I have scrapped the idea of a shower room in the Sea Rise Sea House Pavilion remodel, opting instead for a mudroom back entrance. Specifically, to act as a showroom for the gifts from Charlene’s legacy that Keli has bestowed.

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A mudroom fits right in to the spirit of the build, and believe me, these pieces from Charlene’s collection are exquisitely detailed and realized.

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I’ll show more detail on the actual pieces after I’m not so caught up in building the mudroom. Shown here are waders, completely handmade from very thin leather, paint and wire buckles. Tiny black seed beads for suspender fasteners. One of three (!) uh, two fishing poles, made of metal, wood, wire and magic. The tackle box will be the subject of its whole own post — there are tied lures with real feathers, and other stuff only fisherfolk know about.

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These are flowers realized by Keli from the EC01 Echeveria kit at Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries. Wow, wow, wow. She made the leaves and sepals, and arranged them in a vase with microbeads.

They reminded me of proteas, and so now I’m all researching and sketching for a new kit. Thank you, Keli, for sharing the rich wonder of Charlene’s legacy, *and* for sparking a brilliant idea for a wonderful, waterwise flowering plant that plays very well with succulents.

Wrought Iron Sign Salvage

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I wrought Sea House emblems for the landward and sea-facing sides of the pavilion roof. They’re meant to be salvage from the old Sea House Pleasure Pier and Estate. And so they are.

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Sized to fit between the raised seams on the metal roof, I cut seven copies of the emblem from 65 lb. black cardstock and glued them together. After drying under weight, I sanded the edges even, and slightly beveled the top edges. I added fastening “bolts” then lightly stippled and dry brushed some wear and weathering. Not too much. The caretaker is diligent about her conservation duties.

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Then I had to make a smaller version to mount on the fireplace.

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It looks splendid, don’t you agree? (Well, except for the ripply rug. There’s always something.)

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I bashed out the support column in front of the kitchen, and felt much better about the space, even though it still looks like every other ELF kitchen ever made, ever. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I’ll scrape away the brackets on the floor, patch where the post was, and it’ll be an intentional remodel artifact :) I found the LED pot lights I ordered, then lost, so next step will be the ceiling/roof, and then the exterior siding.

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In the greenhouse, the hydroponics have been relocated to an anchored barge just off the rear utility deck.

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Meanwhile, I got to open an early present, a vintage sign hollow aluminum lowercase n, about 12 tall by 3 inches deep. Feeling the love. Thank you, my B.