I can’t compete with polar vortexes or 37 feet of snow — nor do I wish to — but it’s a bit chilly, so I made a fire. Wheelie came out to approve the primal nature of warmth and goodness, and flex her wings in the glow.
There’s a storm blowing in.
Bolstered by a double cappuccino, I chanced a walk on the beach. Observe my chilly, stubborn fingers.
Of course I got rained on and walked super briskly back to my car. Driving home, I blasted the heater and the seat warmer.
Work on the Sea House Conservatory continues also briskly, yet slowly, thoughtfully. That’s a thing, right? This photo was mid-January, when I had just completed Kris Compas’s chaise lounge kit, in a fine cotton canvas trimmed in black and cream cording. And yes, that’s the Cynthia Howe Victorian birdcage and table, finished in multitudinous coats of flat black spray paint to round out the brusque laser cut edges. Almost everything has changed since then, and I could not be happier.
2019?! This is beginning to require a lot of mathematics. For this I am very glad, because consider the options? Above are the new Sea House Conservatory leaded glass front doors. The conservatory has more of a celestial, sun and planets design, whereas the Sea House Sea Rise Pavilion, below, is all about surf froth.
I cannae help that I’m the same designer, and that all my structures are connected in long time, in location, history and circumstance. And that they’ve all been built (and rebuilt) using salvaged parts of the now venerated Sea House Pleasure Pier and Estate. Oh, what a time and place to be actually alive and doing something than whenever that was!
I finished gluing the painted paper 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 the options. “Why yes, that might actually work …”
As part of the solution, from quarter-inch birch ply I built a two-inch riser for the 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 tile assemblies, prior to their 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, admiring its reflection in a glazed ceramic vase.
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 weary of seeing pictures of these tiles?
Then here’s a pic of 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.)
This is my current design inspiration for conservatory decor. It is a Cycladic terra cotta vessel from 2000 BC — ! — 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.)
A last peek at the conservatory in the night studio, with the standing walls. For now.
In real life, I’m working on a landscaping project on the side of our hillside house under the sunroom add-on. The soil is compacted and full of rubble, and I’m putting down flattened 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. In September I noticed what looked like a young tomato plant growing 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, multi-lobed heirloom. In December! It’s like a miracle :)
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 the Things That Are Rusting collection.
I added more pattern sections to the tile floor template.
To facilitate a smooth transition between tile colors, when I began to run low on the first set I glued them randomly further out on the template to integrate with the as-yet-to-be-painted new batch of tiles.
Using the same paints as before, I splattered up a new sheet to cut into tiles.
Meanwhile, I’ve got a working idea for the back fireplace wall, so I can alternate experimenting on that with setting floor tiles.
I painted a couple of sheets of 11 by 15-inch 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper with washes and splats of neutral gray, tan and yellow oxide acrylics, then pressed them flat between two drawing boards weighted with books.
The tile pattern and grout lines were refined through several test cuts and pasteups. I added a 3-point corner radius to the tiles to suggest age and wear.
After a few more test cuts, I loaded the painted watercolor paper and began cutting tiles. Because this paper requires three passes of the deep cut blade for each tile, I used masking tape on the edges to hold the thick paper to the cut mat to ensure adhesion. (Lessons learned through bitter informative experience.)
I’m gluing the individual tiles to prints of the pattern layout showing the grout lines. The process is far less tedious than I anticipated, a pleasant surprise. It *may be* that I won’t have to actually add grout after they’re all assembled and adhered to the subfloor. I plan to add one final light gray wash and some delicate speckling to the whole floor to unite the separate assemblies. And with pressing and a coat or two of matte varnish… we shall see.
The final tile floor won’t be put in place for some time — so much painting to do! — and the ideas for its total design still floating need not be finalized at this point. Which is good, because I’m still kind of all over the place, design-influence-wise. Right now I’m trending from Art Deco back to Bauhaus, and how that might all fit in with the larger Sea House story, sea level rise, and a crow named Clary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
First breakfast at home with my new hips.
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.
You can probably guess who the most egregious is.
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 :)=
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.)
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
Keli sent these giant pill capsule highlighters, which still make me laugh. The only thing better than miniatures are giant things.
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 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.
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.
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.)