What is a true eclectic to do when her passions lead her in different directions?
This is a blog for the unfocused, the round pegs in the square holes, the short-attention span types, and all those who just can't bring themselves to join the ranks and adhere to a single category of activities or interests...whether sketches, drawings and comics, fixing an old farmhouse in Oregon, or whatever else strikes my fancy.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Kelsi W. (05-30-10)

This is a not-very-good sketch of Kelsi W., whose smile is a lot cuter than this.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I bought a cherry tree! (05-29-10)

I can't help it, I love cherries...often eating them till I feel miserably sick (I once ate 5 lb)...

To satisfy my annual lust for cherries, I ordered a Compact Stella tree from One Green World Nursery.

We already have a huge cherry tree on the property, but it is so tall that the branches are out of reach of even a 20-ft ladder.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Phi Theta Kappa Induction Ceremony (05-28-10)

Julia who started college last year at age 16, got inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. It is really a credit to all the work she's done, while looking totally unfazed. 
Each student's name was called one at a time and they had to go to a table to sign their name on an official document, light a candle from the candle set on the table, then walk across the floor to shake some guy's hand who gave each student a nice certificate with their name on it, then walk back to the table with the certificate and burning candle to pick up a white rose and then back to their space in the auditorium... It was totally weird, in a sort of nineteenth century pageant way.
I sketched a few of the people attending. The woman with the scarf was apparently a visiting officer from the national chapter of the honor society, but that didn't stop her from taking Julia's seat at the small dinner afterward (despite the presence of Julia's jacket and bag), and then from looking cross with us when Julia reclaimed her seat. That was a bit awkward.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Work has started on the shed (05-27-10)

After days of agonizing over it, I finally decided to hire the artist carpenter since he was available when I was ready to get started with the project.
We decided to focus on fixing the base structure at this point, to get it ready for pest control treatment and insulation. So far, he removed the damaged wood boards (carpenter ants), replaced them with new ones, and installed the French doors I bought at the Rebuilding Center. So here are some before and after photos of this work in progress.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Mammogram (05-21-10)

I dread getting mammograms. I never used to worry about my breasts until my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and died.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Comics Logos (05-10)

I drew these for the final project I compiled for the Comics class I teach once a week (ages 8-12) at the Walters Cultural Arts Center in Hillsboro. I wanted these to be fun, yet to clearly look like a logo.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stately Oak Tree (05-13-10)

Today, I directed the students in my adult Sketching class at the Walters Cultural Arts Center to work on sketches outdoors. While they were busy, I drew the old oak tree in front of the building.

Efficiency Expert at Church (05-11-10)

This is a sketch of an "Efficiency Expert"who came to give a presentation at my church.
She went in great details over the benefits of using the many (unmatched) mini lazy-susan spinning trays ("for toiletries!"), pink fabric drawer inserts ("so cute"), drawer organizers ("for toothbrushes and toothpaste!"), etc. she'd brought with her. It was a bit obsessive-compulsive, but to each his own...
Yet, the suggestion that these props were a necessary means to an organized house (and an implied condition for the ultimate goal of pleasing God) struck me as ridiculous and laughable. I don't think God cares about the state of my drawers.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wanted: A Competent Contractor (05-12-10)

My days are spent trying to get contractors to give me estimates to make the shed usable as an art studio to spread my art supplies around. There is no middle ground; contractors are like day and night.

An upscale-looking remodeling website recommended this contractor based on my zip code. Right off, when I see that this gentleman specializes in Lake Oswego and West Linn remodel, I doubt that my modest project will be worth his attention… In any case, he comes promptly with his dad, a retired architect. Both are dressed in business casual, and, with similar perfectly creased pants and matching shirt, look so much alike that I can’t help repeatedly cast surreptitious glances from the father to the son during the visit. Rather than give pertinent directions as to what I am expecting from the project, all I can do is distractedly point to the inside of the shed and lamely say that I want it, you know, “nice.” They walk around the inside of the shed, take notes on a legal-sized pad, nod their head in unison, and promptly leave with the promise of an estimate... Neither ever calls back.

According to my real estate agent, this guy is a true artist who worked on various local artsy projects on a regular basis. He looks like a nice quiet young guy, but seems to be pretty bummed out due to some recent losses in his life. He explains what could be done to turn the shed into a really cool building and seems knowledgeable about how go about to achieve that result. The problem is that he doesn’t have any tools at the moment, and neither do we; I am not sure how this problem can be overcome. He sends me a rather vague text estimate via his cell phone.

The day I find a crudely printed black and white flyer in my mailbox praising the merits of this contractor, I am particularly fed up with deciphering Yellow Pages ads in tiny print, so I call him, my heart full of hope. He seems competent enough, but I am not sure he understands what I mean by "an artistic look, like in North Portland," using materials from the Rebuilding Center. The blank look I get in return and his immediate naming a nearby suburban home improvement center as a perfect source for materials suggests that he does not, in fact, know what I am talking about. As I ponder whether this guy has ever been anywhere outside of suburbia, he clears his throat and spits something huge on the gravel outside the shed... (My mental picture of my perfect little shed is now jarred by the presence of pools of spit…). His high estimate confirms my determination to not hire him.

Many times, one relies on a network of people who recommend people who did a great job, etc. This contractor, a smiling, happy-go-lucky type, comes with high recommendations. His estimate is very affordable, but I am not sure he understands the scope of the project, despite my best efforts to overcome the language barrier. When I mention getting recycled materials, he suggests vinyl windows, then shouts "No problem!" when I object. In fact, he keeps interjecting "No problem!" for every issue we may find, be they carpenter ants or structural beam that need strengthening. This is a man with vision. He gesticulates, waves his arms around; we could move over that wall, remove the siding; we could even tear down the building and build a new one! Despite his contagious enthusiasm, deep inside I suspect that there will be problems down the road...

Again, the homeowner benefits from using references, and references from other contractors are valuable. This guy exudes a quiet self-assurance in his capabilities, seems competent and immediately comes up with sound solutions to eventual issues we may encounter. He clearly knows what he is talking about and asks me to give him a chance to prove his skills. As I finally think I may have found the right person for the job and I see my charming little art shed taking concrete shape in my mind, I get an email from him. His high estimate is distressing; I just can't afford him.

So, it looks like I will either pull my hair over costs, or pull my hair over having to babysit someone all the way...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Efficiency Expert at Church (05-11-10)

This is a sketch of an "Efficiency Expert"who came to give a presentation at my church.
She went in great details over the benefits of using the many (unmatched) mini lazy-susan spinning trays ("for toiletries!"), pink fabric drawer inserts ("so cute"), drawer organizers ("for toothbrushes and toothpaste!"), etc. she'd brought with her. It was a bit obsessive-compulsive, but to each his own...
Yet, the suggestion that these props were a necessary means to an organized house (and an implied condition for the ultimate goal of pleasing God) struck me as ridiculous and laughable. I don't think God cares about the state of my drawers.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Toxic Couch: Part Two (05-10-10)

Now, you may ask, what does NOT work on a cat-stench-infected high-end leather sofa bed and recliner bought on Craigslist? Here is the answer, from direct experience: Febreze (1 bottle); Nature's Miracle (2 bottles); Biokleen (3 bottles). Add to that, a couple of big rolls of paper towels to spread the products all over the leather.

I removed the cushions from their zippered covers and took them to the laundromat, with the idea that if they were thoroughly cleaned, the problem may be resolved at last. Armed with detergent and bleach from home, I loaded three large-sized front-loading washers with the cushions. I filled the soap and bleach dispensers with what I estimated to be the required amount of liquid to deal with the situation at hand, and for good measure, I added yet more soap and bleach in each washer's dispenser. I watched as the machines filled with soapy water, and as I saw the water level rise behind the glass door, I noted with slight alarm that there was an awful lot of foam.

I was alone in the laundromat. I could see some foam pushing through the soap dispenser door on the top of one of the washers; I tried to wipe if off with my hand, but the foam was coming through anyway. A card on the wall behind the washers said that the place was under surveillance 24 hours a day. A glance to my left confirmed the presence of a camera overhead. I casually walked over to the thrash can by a folding table and pulled out an old pair of jeans that had been tossed away.
The foam had worked its way through the dispenser door and was now pulsating down the front and side of the washer and pooling on the floor. I tried to wipe everything, like it was just no big deal, once in a while glancing at the camera overhead. As I was busy wiping, I caught sight of mountains of foam cascading out of reach, at the back of the washer and the one next to it... Needless to say, once my load was done and the cushions had gone through a dryer cycle, I was out of there in no time.
But the cushions had come through with flying colors. They were clean and smell-free. There was hope, after all.

Filled with visions of myself sitting on my luxury distressed leather couch and telling people about my good fortune ("Would you believe, I got this $4,000 Restoration Hardware set on Craigslist of all places!), and bolstered by my success with the cushions, I decided that I might as well also take the leather cushion covers to the laundromat.

I walked in like an old pro, put detergent in the dispenser, inserted money and washed them, three times for good measure. I stood in front of the machine like it was perfectly normal to have this unappealing, even gross, stuff churning inside, and watched the yellow-brown water swirl about behind the glass, every turn of the drum causing a shot of brown color to ooze into the foam. Once done, I carefully stretched the wet covers and ran them through a gentle dryer cycle.

But despite the thorough washes, the part of the cushions that had been at the back of the sofa and recliner still smelled awful and rank and was gummy and sticky to the touch and stained my fingers with an oily substance I tried wiping on my jeans. When I got home, I asked Gary to help me gently stretch the covers, to then let them air dry on a chair in the sun. Cripes and aggravation! Inadvertently pulling too hard on one of the gummy corners caused the leather to tear!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

At the Beauty School (05-08-10)

A nice sketch of a young woman at the Beauty School; she caught my attention because her haistyle reminded me of a young Parisian at the turn of the 20th century...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Toxic Couch: Part One (05-02-10)

One evening, while cruising the Internet, I saw an ad on Craigslist for a fabulous-looking leather recliner and sofa bed. The ad caught my attention: "We are literally selling these for pennies on the dollar. EXCELLENT condition except for the areas that have been treated as a scratching post." True, looking at the photos, one could see that the arms of the recliner were extensively scratched, but still, the set looked pretty cool.

We'd given our worn out couch and loveseat away before moving, and this pair looked like a viable replacement. I insisted that Gary and I go to check them out all the way to Hillsboro despite his less than enthusiastic response when I showed him the Craigslist ad.

The house looked new and decent enough, and the guy how opened the door was friendly. Yet there was something odd about the inside. There was no carpeting in the living room; the perimeter of the room was edged with what appeared to be unswept matted pet hair. The exposed plywood was grimy and had large dark oily stains in several spots. My mind registered the incongruities, but I dismissed them when I saw the sofa bed and recliner. The set had that casual elegance of quality expensive furniture, and the leather color was a warm brown and distressed finish. I immediately liked them.

The only problem with the sofa bed and recliner, the owner said, was that the resident cat had clawed the arms extensively. But this was an expensive set he assured us; it set came from Restoration Hardware, and cost thousands of dollars. They were reluctant to part with their furniture, but hoped that by parting with it, they would be able to train the cat to not scratch the new furniture they were planning to purchase. How old is the cat, I politely asked. Twelve, he said. Again, a little warning sign flashed in my mind, but I merely chuckled at the answer, looked at Gary, and rolled my eyes at the idea that one could train a twelve year-old cat to do anything.

The guy opened the sofa bed, and, -I swear there are times when I wonder about my powers of observation-, although I noticed that he had a difficult time working the mechanism due to very visible rusting of the springs, I didn't wonder why there was rust in the first place, or why the leather was darker in some areas on the back and in the recesses of the couch... So, like a dummy, I paid the guy $160 cash. We quickly loaded the furniture in the truck and trailer under pouring rain, and off we went, Gary and I couchless no more...or so we thought.

When we got home and unloaded the pair from the trailer, as we lifted the sofa up, we got a whiff of a pervasive horrific smell. Upon close examination, we found that the inside of the sofa and the recliner had been used as toilet by an animal, most likely the same cat responsible for the scratches.

To make this sorry story short, despite weeks spent airing under the carport, the sofa and mattress were unsalvageable. They exuded the most repellent toxic fumes that made walking by them enough of an ordeal that one would prefer going around the carport rather than be exposed to the stench.

But wait! There's more!..

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Our Very Own Vermin!!! (05-01-10)

Here are some photos of the disgusting carpenter ants we found in the shed.
1. Beam damage; 2. Remnants of nest; 3. They're back! 4. Still trying...
But that wasn't all...
A rat's nest!

New Sketchbook (05-01-10)

I started a new BomoArt sketchbook, and this one is areal beauty!