B: Blade, Funk Protocols, Wheelie, Weavings!


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.”

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

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


“Bring the Funk! (Dance!)”

“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!”

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

“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!”

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

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


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”.


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.

2018: In or Out?


For every fish out, let’s have a fish in. May your ladders be sturdy. See clearly. See stars. Grow flowers. Spin the wheel. All in.

This is a collage made from Dresden trim, layered over a recent sunset here in Pacifica. I know the blessing is silly, but it is heartfelt. Welcome to 2018, friends.

The Solstice, Lighting


Last night — Good Solstice, all! — I set to work installing the ceiling lights in the Sea Rise Pavilion kitchen.


Because I’m such a lighting electrics n00b, I used five 3-volt chip LEDs, set in mini eyelets. They are tragically insufficient to light the kitchen. But hey! I learn by doing. So I went to bed.


This morning, I ordered some larger (3mm) LEDs, then pulled the chip LEDs and eyelets from the ceiling installation. (Those are the holes you see.) Under-shelf lighting seemed like a good use of the sadly pale chips, so I plotted a layout in Illustrator to use as a template, and drilled new holes in the upper shelf. (Um, not an ideal construction protocol, the drilling of already-installed things.) I methodically undid all the twisty magnet wire connections from the ceiling — thankfully I had not set the heat shrinks — and reset the eyelets under the shelf. With my teensiest drill bit I made exit holes for the wires in the back wall, in line with each eyelet.

It is a good setup, but two of the chip LEDs did not fully survive. (Though they do work intermittently, argh, whygodwhy?)


Then I walked out to see this sunset over the ocean. One can aspire.


An Idea Occurs

Some backstory: A long time ago, there was the Sea House Pavilion build. Good times.


It surprise-won the Grand Prize in that year’s HBS contest. Then more stuff happened, and once again, we packed up and moved house. This time, up the coast to Pacifica. Time passed, and we got a new kitten. Whereas the older two boy cats had always ignored my work, Scarlett’s relentless depredations of all miniature endeavors, um, challenged my work flow. All the builds had to go live on top of tall bookcases.


Here is the above-mentioned cat, now slightly less naughty, and a partial view of our north fence line, in the process of being demolished and rebuilt.


Late this afternoon, I sat outside on the retaining wall, looking at the back of our little blu house. We’ve had some very high temperatures in the San Francisco Bay Area — like, tacky wax melting; all the miniature pictures and signs fell off walls in all the builds. Triple digits F° hot. Today was the first day it was cooler than the face of the sun possible, pleasant even, to be outside.


Perhaps it was the temporary expansiveness of a fence-less suburban back yard… but an idea — a solution to something else entirely — occurred to me.


The idea began when I unearthed this lovely corroded Master lock, as I was weeding and tidying up some of the excavations before the fence guys return tomorrow. Kris Compas’s post about how she dilapidates upholstery, read earlier in the day, and the steady stream of Abandoned Miniatures in my FB feed no doubt contributed to my thinkings.



2+2=5 was playing as I wrote :)

So the idea to reimagine the Sea House Pavilion as “a post-sea level rise coastal squat” may be the solution — a transformation — to the problem of housing all these builds. Just keep remodeling them! And I get to do research and problem solving and learn by doing new techniques! My favorite things! There’s still Scarlett to reckon with, of course, but she may turn out to be my assistant disheveler.

Anthers, Easter, Stormy, Bunka, Scarlett


The buds on the recently-noted succulent flower open out into pretty minimalist flowers, but look at all those tiny anthers! Nothing says Spring like pollen :)


Of course, tiny Easter baskets. Undelivered because of a sudden plague at granddaughter’s house (resolved now).


My husband was biz traveling for a long week, and we’re all very glad to have him back.


I scored a one-gallon ziplock bag stuffed full of gorgeous, pristine (though moderately tangled) bunka for $5 at one of our local thrift stores. I’m not entirely sure of the implications. The colors are spectacular, and it untangles surprisingly easily. Fascinating stuff.


At ten months old, Scarlett has mellowed considerably. She spends a lot of time outside exploring and “helping” me garden, and is still incredibly needy demonstrative with her affections and vocal interactions. I texted this pic to my daughter today with the caption, “So sad. My cat only has one leg.”

Cutting 1/16-inch, New Basket, Erosion


After trying several different 1/16-inch materials — illustration board, mat board, chipboard — I finally found a cardboard I can get the Cricut machine to cut all the way through (on the 2mm thick leather setting, five passes with a deep cut blade). Unfortunately, it’s from my cardboard stash pile, and I’ve no idea what it is :\ These circles will make an easier base to work with on the soon-to-be released round basket kit.


Here’s a peek at a new rectangular woven paper basket. Too bad the light is so poor; the two colors of this prototype are “Spice” accented with “Burnt Orange” and are very appealing. Still very early stages. Now that I can command shapes… ideas may expand.


Keeping things real, here in Northern California (in Pacifica, at least) we’re enjoying some drying out time, after a series of very wet, damaging storms. This is the remains of the already sketchy trail that leads to the sometimes-beach below the bluffs at the bottom of the hill. It’s the last super-low King tide, and a beautiful view stretching to the Marin headlands. Gratitude, thankfulness, appreciation.



Supplies and materials flowing in at a steady rate. Got the next two kits prototyped and spec’d, therefore only needing specimens, photography models, and instructions. Easy-peezey. Mighty progress!

The Argo Wool Works build-in-progress has been moved back up onto the high shelf, to free the work table for kitting, photography and the rest. I’m also putting away the needlepoint frame, and about half a dozen other would-be, want-to-be, once-were projects. Deargod I may even dust.


So sad.


I’m surprised I get as much done as I do.


In other news, Brian and I headed out this morning for a beach walk and cleanup. Esplanade had no beach at all because of high surf, so we went to Sharp Park. So very many small bits of styrofoam, plastic bottle caps, straws, and miscellaneous plastic packaging, all washed down to the ocean with the recent rains :(

Still, the waves were booming, and there were many dogs and walkers out. I love the coast in winter.



First light, and we’re continuing to enjoy some much-needed rain here in Northern California. There’s bustle going on downstairs in the studio, but it’s uninteresting compared to Scarlett, sleeping off an early morning foray into the great suburban outdoors.


In that respect, her explorations are not that different to my own, except I’m neither five months old nor a cat. No matter how much I wish.


Still. She approaches her new domain with seemingly equal amounts of enthusiasm and caution.


I want to be like Scarlett. Especially the perfect nap part.

Woods Class


I’ve been taking a wood skills class through adult education at Westmoor High School. My neighbor Lynn got me interested. She’s been taking it for untold semesters. Basically what it gets you is access to a full wood shop, with all the giant, scary full-size machines, an accomplished instructor, and classmates of varying skills and experience.

It is awesome.

For us newbies (and others) our instructor had secured a very good price on a lot of rough lumber called Afzelia. I’d never heard of it before. Turns out it’s a very well-behaving (his words) and interesting wood. We’re all, I mean, we newbies (there are many serial takers of this class) are doing some variation of a table with four legs mortised-and tenoned into rails, and a top as yet to be determined…

Above you can see two of my 1.75-inch square table legs, after being rough cut, jointed, planed, re-sawn, and then planed to dimension. My professional woodworking friends, I beg your forbearance. Observe the color and grain diversity! My sneaking suspicion is that there is a reason this wood is not more widely know, but so far, for me it has been a revelation.


At my level, woods class involves a lot of waiting, for machine time or instructor instructing. Fortunately, there is an awesome library in the classroom.


These tips, from a book I’ll reference next time (Wednesday 6–9pm) are insight and solutions I thought directly helpful for us small-scale builders.

I approached this class with trepidation, but with a hopeful sense of cross-pollination? Miniature wood-working skills absolutely do not apply. Maybe other than artistry, attention to detail, tidiness, respect for sharp blades, and willingness to let glue dry. Anyway, I’m loving it.




For no particular reason, I’m ready to move on to November. I woke this morning directly from a dream to this view of rapidly moving clouds and shadows cast on the ocean. This (next) month’s splash screen caption is a lyric from the band Real Estate’s 2014 song “Had to Hear”. (The full line being, “I don’t need the horizon to tell me where the sky ends —
It’s a subtle landscape where I come from.”) It’s not a great photo, but totally captures my mood, as enhanced by the song. You’re welcome.


Tonight in Wood Skills adult ed class at at Westmoor High School, I noticed this display on one of the machines. We just don’t see enough graphic design as clean and untroubled as this any more. When I reached up to touch the opening between 200 and 300, the metal cleanly sliced my finger tip open. Powermatic!