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.
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 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.
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 :)=
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.)
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.
Many thanks to Keli for participating in the totally legitimate focus group which determined this name.
What a difference between black and gray for the contrast. I love them both.
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.
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.)
And finally — as if you’ve ever doubted — here is proof that cats can defy gravity. Even when they’re sleeping.
T is for Tobin’s Tunnel. Yesterday, it was clear and sunny. B and I walked out to Mussel Rock at low tide, and came upon the remains of Tobin’s tunnel. It was first blasted out in 1874 so the landowner could enjoy scenic carriage rides along the beach without having to detour around the headlands. Very soon the tides, winter storms, and finally, the 1906 earthquake made other arrangements of the work. This is the only section that remains. (NOTE: The geologic and social history of this area is truly fascinating; I recommend a google dive. The best is Shawn Heiser’s SFSU thesis, Living on the Edge: Environmental History at Mussel Rock, 2010.)
T is for triptych. The view looking west, over the ocean. That’s Mussel Rock on the right, with the wooden posts sticking up, and old highway riprap, which forms part of the seawall, in the lower right. The San Andreas fault line is directly underneath us.
T is for trails. The network of trails leading down to the beach — when there is one — are the remains of the old Ocean Shore Railroad (abandoned in 1920), and the Ocean Shore Highway (bypass over the headlands completed in 1957).
T is for thread. I am eagerly awaiting the San Francisco pattern I ordered from Haptic Labs to hand-stitch a small quilt. Serious goodness in this shop. I’m sure I’ll have much more to say when it arrives.
“Handmade is as much a path as it is a product, an ethos that creeps into every aspect of life. When we make things for ourselves, we take a singular pleasure and satisfaction from every use, sure of its provenance and intention. The creations of our hands become the warp and weft of our days, until life becomes a tightly woven tapestry inspiring us with purpose and pride.”
T is for tea. Fermented kombucha in this instance. My daughter gave me a book of recipes and a large Weck jar at my birthday. This is my first batch, brewed with Yorkshire Gold — a two-week-process in my chilly kitchen — bottled for second fermentation. That’s Meyer lemon + ginger in the Weck, and ruby grapefruit in the cute recycled bottles. Yum and Salute!
S is for Smorgasbord. Yes I know I’m stretching it, and being somewhat silly. There was a break between storms, and the ocean at Manor Bluffs looked so pretty. That’s the unstable, crumbling edge of the cliff you see in the lower right, and the beach 60 feet below. (This was also the vantage point for February’s H: Horizon shot.)
S is for Slice. In this case, grapefruit. Or pamplemousse in French, which is a superior word.
S is for Shelley, sharing. I bribed Shelley with some wider (taller?) looms to continue experimenting with her weaving magic. She sent variations on three traditional patterns, bird’s eye, twill and goose eye.
Mind blown (again.)
Jan of morphunkyMiniatures in Edinburgh, UK let me share what she’s doing with the Toto2 basket kits. Love the vintage illustrations on the lids! Be sure to check out her other great luggage, furniture and “eccentricities” — very original and beautifully made.
S is for Stone. I like rocks, a lot. This one is incomprehensibly old, and it used to be alive O_O. Keli recently surprised me with a package of Michigan goodness, including this specimen of fossilized coral called Petoskey Stone. Well worth reading about! In the sun, the white parts sparkle. Stunning.
S is for Sign and a Sign-off Story. This is a large — almost five feet wide — sheet metal sign, “handcrafted by an Amish craftsman known around Lancaster County as Rusty Merv”, that I accidentally got some years ago. Originally ordered as a gift for my daughter, I mildly damaged it slicing open the shipping box with an X-acto. (In my defense, it was very poorly packaged.) So I had a new one shipped to her, and held on to this one. It was a nice brick red color at the start; when I lived in the mid-century house with all wood paneling, I spray painted it this dull moss color.
Right-reading, ‘gather’ has hung in various places in a few different houses, and most recently, perpendicularly in the entry way that opens to our living room. With the nancyland studio re-org, I moved it over the thinking couch (which folds out into a guest bed) and hung it upside down. This makes me smile all the time, I think because I’m an introvert.
N is for … N.
I’ve been collecting vintage sign salvaged Ns for some years. My husband is especially accomplished at finding and gifting really good ones.
Some I admire for their intricately weathered surfaces.
Some I love for their over-the-top appearance. This one is three feet tall, of heavy wood painted red, and oversees a stairwell.
Much of the typography is beautiful, like this well-balanced classic uppercase N, of green metal.
This is the newest one, a hollow aluminum lowercase n, about 12 tall by 3 inches deep, an early Christmas present (of course) from my delightful husband.
N is also for Napoleon, my stoic and dingy old man cat, who is growing very boney. It makes me so happy to see him comfortably napping in the early morning sun.
This was the remarkably pastel dawn over the ocean that morning. There’s the horizon obscured with a far-off fog wall, as often happens, but the colors — especially the lilac and rose — were extraordinary.