N: N

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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.

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Some I admire for their intricately weathered surfaces.

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Some I love for their over-the-top appearance. This one is three feet tall, of heavy wood painted red, and oversees a stairwell.

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Much of the typography is beautiful, like this well-balanced classic uppercase N, of green metal.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

L: Left Behind

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L is for left behind.
I felt a brief, but distinct, sensation of being left behind, as my newly-mobile seven-month-old granddaughter paused to look back at me as she crawled off into another room.

G: Gray, Gray + Green

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G is for the grays of a winter storm.
Sharp Park Beach, looking south to Mori and Pedro points.

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G + G, for the warm grays and bright-eyed greens of a handsome cat.
Napoleon, overseeing the Sea House Warming Hut build.

 

B: Blade, Funk Protocols, Wheelie, Weavings!

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B is for BLADE: X-Acto X-Life No. 11, on an old silver-plated tea tray that lives outdoors atop my worm compost bin. Hmmm, maybe I should have saved this for X. Megan and over-achiever Keli, I’m looking at you.

Thank you for sharing your funk wisdom and protocols. I laughed, and cried a little, and felt deeply how truly kind you all are. It was helpful, and energizing. Some of my takeaways:

“Give it a little time and some sun; sun will break up a funk like nobody’s business.”
—Sheila

“Keep breathing through, keep walking, keep looking out and seeing that unexpected beauty, accepting that unasked for kindness.”
—Azteclady

“Having something to look forward to helps me to make the transition from funk to functional. Be kind to yourself.”
—Megan

“Punt.”
—Joyce

“Bring the Funk! (Dance!)”
—Jodi

“I know from experience that once in it, you just have to ride it out to the end… usually they’re just passing through.”
—Elizabeth S

“Every day is different, life is a wave, happily!”
—Ingi

“First I have to recognize The Funk. That always seems to take longer than it should.”
—Keli

“Hang in there, I have faith in you that we’ll see more wonderful creations. And get that cat out of your beautiful, tiny house!”
—Bennie

“… I also find doing a kit, following someone else’s instructions helps me to, at the least, get back a sense of accomplishment.”
—ShelleyB

“Take this time to pause and reflect, but trust your instincts.”
—Barbara W.

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So Wheelie and I went to look at the waves and do salt air aromatherapy for a while, to “take it all in and savor the goodness”.

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I returned home to find this brilliant rendition of the Toto2 picnic basket kit that ShelleyB was kind enough to share. This changes everything! and we’ve been pinging ideas back and forth. She says the proportions and shape of this basket makes good storage containers, with or without lids, and wondered if a kit of three might be made available. Maybe a taller version, too, as a laundry hamper? I can’t wait to get out some graph paper and chart monograms.

Also, I have not forgotten or given up on the protea flower kit. Really.

Funk, ABChallenge, Mudroom

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I’ve been in a bit of a creative funk recently. It feels like Scarlett looks.

(Even though what she’s really signaling here is, “If I don’t make eye contact with you, you can’t see that I’m up here again, biting on the lead blade of the scythe and chewing the potted palms.)

My symptoms of creative funk include seeing everything I do as crap, simultaneous restlessness and fatigue, dropping things on the floor even more than usual, and a sense of dullness.

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In a creative funk, even though many wonderful things continue to occur, like finding surprise! beautiful flowers on the doorstep, like magic… well, actually, unexpected kindness does wonders for boosting spirits.

I know to keep breathing through a funk, not push too hard, to listen. Go for walks. Take naps. Soon, I’ll issue the funk an invitation to tea.

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I decided some arbitrary and not-too-difficult challenge practice might help, so I started ABChallenge: Take or draw a picture representing every letter of the alphabet, in order from A to Z. Nothing stupid like every day, but don’t be lazy. Why not do it with me? Then we’ll have something to talk about.

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I finished the mudroom in the Sea Rise Pavilion remodel, meant to be a shrine for the pieces from Charlene’s Legacy that Keli gifted me us. Here it is the late night of completion, with cruddy lighting.

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As seen from the interior.

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And through the open back door in the fresh light of morning.

Funk slumps happen to us all, I think. What do you do when you find yourself in one?

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.

 

Greenhouse Lighting, Lineage Legacy, Beauty

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Growing in electrical confidence. I pulled the beautiful 12 volt bulbs out of these fixtures from miniatures.com, and replaced them with 3mm 3 volt LED bulbs.

lighting_01.jpgI drilled holes through the greenhouse framing to accommodate the aluminum tubing. Here are the fixtures upside down, glue drying.

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Right side up, but still wobbly.

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On the outside of the greenhouse I routed the wires down through 3/32-inch shrink tube, and drilled holes back into the interior. I’ll glue the shrink tube conduit to the vertical leading on the outside glass, and re-gather the wires inside to connect to a coin cell battery concealed in an under shelf tub. All in all, an elegant solution to a lighting retrofit? You will please be the judge as I implement the plan :)

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In other goings-on, I received a parcel from Keli, containing — among other things! — an astonishing bestowal of gifts from Charlene’s legacy. I will share in detail in future posts; I am still processing the magnitude of what I was gifted, and am in flat-out awe of the artistry of miniaturists. These things need to be shared.

I flashed on a fever dream/hallucination I had while living on the East Coast, and had contracted Lyme disease and was very ill. In bed, gazing out the window to the woods beyond, I had a vivid vision of all the people of my individual lineage, stretching back through time — all my ancestors — accompanied by a tremendous sense of comfort and rightness. Coupled with that biological heritage review, there was a sense of recognition of others who were of my tribe. Miniaturists are my tribe :)

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This is my older granddaughter Maddie, who will be 5 years old in March. Photo taken by her mum (my daughter) on a family hike with her baby sister and Papa on New Year’s Day. The expression on her face… serious wonder.