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.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fiction Writing Exercise (06-24-10)

I wrote this fictional text with a certain house in mind...:

Sadie had spent days sweeping and mopping floors, opening boxes of once important things that now seemed pointless to hang on to, and she could tell the adversary was formidable. The house was malevolent. Not your evil-horror-movie-house malevolent, but insidious and discreet about its evilness. Despite her scrubbing them with scouring cleaner, baking soda, and even alcohol, she had been unsuccessful at removing the many smudge marks from the walls. It seemed that only paint would cover the damage.
She had encountered various noxious creatures: ants, tiny ones who had invaded her sugar containers, as well as the more destructive carpenter ants, and even the occasional spider, huge and hairy. She wouldn’t even be surprised if, getting up one morning, she found a scorpion curled up inside her slippers.

Another Day with Contractors Over (06-24-10)

I have lost track of how many contractors and/or workers have been over since we moved in. Whether it is roof, gutter, foundation, or insulation, somebody's come over to look at it. I may post a sign by the mailbox: House With Problems Straight Up the Driveway. And Bring Yer Own Flashlight and Measuring Tape this Time.

In the case of the foundation, if five contractors have been over to inspect the underside of the house, there have been that many opinions about the state of the foundation. These people all seem to describe a different house, ranging from shrugged dismissal, the age of the house given as an explanation for its shabby state, to manic smiles in anticipation of a fortune made to bring everything to 21st century standards, to paranoid rants about how one should be paid to even look at anything like that. Yet, there is never any mention of the issues that had been pointed out in the house inspection report (repairs Mrs. Previous Owner promised to do, but didn't).

And when one of these guys goes under the house, it's not like I can really tell him that I'll be in the house, and to just let me know when he's done. No; there is a sort of unspoken expectation that I will be standing by the side of the porch leading to the crawlspace, and kill time while whomever is crawling about under the house. Some guys like an audience and talk away the whole time (inaudible muffled sounds coming from under the house)... There I am, patiently standing by the opening under the porch, thinking of how to muster dinner out of what may or may not be in the refrigerator, or looking for weeds to pull by my feet, while nodding and making sounds of agreement to whatever he may be saying.

When he comes out, and rattles on about whatever repair he thinks is necessary, I try to look interested, but pinch my hands behind my back as I hear the keywords that trigger yawning reflexes: posts, piers, cinder blocks, etc. Then I ask inane questions, like were there spiders under the house? Little spiders, or giant ones? How about rats? Any carpenter ants?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fabric Face (06-17-10)

I worked one day as a volunteer at the Summit of Awesome (organized by Hello Craft and held at Kennedy School).

I used fabric scraps, felt and embroidery threads to make this face and plan to put it inside a shadow box I recently bought at an auction. My sketchbook is in the background.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Too Much Rain (06-10-10)

My days are spent on the phone, calling contractors.

We can’t repair the gutters because the roof eaves they are braced to is totally crumbling (dry rot and suspicious ants in the vicinity); we can’t repair the roof eaves because there is an electrical conduit with live wires braced to them; we can’t move the electrical conduit (not up to code) because the electrician needs to come brace it up to the exterior wall, etc.

In the meantime, whenever it rains, I watch water pouring out from the gutters and going straight into an opening under the house where there is no foundation wall...

My Octopus Window (06-10-10)

...Here are some photos of the window Jennifer Hanson made for our house since the other one was too small for the window frame. The window is in the bathroom upstairs now and looks superb, especially from outside at night.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Haiku: The Homeowner's Lament (06-09-10)

A poem by Pascale Steig

Found a house, at last
Charm abounds everywhere
It sits on a hill.

Yellow wood siding,
A nice porch to while time away
On warm summer days

Wake up to the light
Filtering through old stained glass
Lavender, red, green, amber

To rest, -Home at last-
And finally settle in,
Unpack my boxes

Secret garden spots
It is ours now, all of it
Plants, shrubs, flowers, trees.

Glorious spring blooms
Peonies, roses and more:
Endless surprises.

Water runs downhill
Rainy weather, soggy ground:
Endless surprises.

Alas! Rain; more rain!
Water pours under the house,
A river, a lake…

Crumbling foundation
Carpenter ants, -worse: spiders-
Problems all around

A mess to fix;
“Sell it before it’s too late,”
Says one contractor

“Don’t think about it -
It’s been here a hundred years,”
Says another one.

I try to fix it
I paint it; I buy windows:
Presents for the house

I want to tame it:
The cantankerous old house
Hides its beauty well.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Removal of the "Lump of Dirt" (06-08-10)

It's been driving me crazy to look out the living room or the dining room window, and to see the stupid eyesore of a mini-mountain covered with weeds behind the house! According to neighborhood gossip, it was erected when the previous owner's old father dumped the dirt that was excavated when the green house was built next door (insert the crazy vision of an old man pushing wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt up the driveway, through the carport, by the garden area, to the back of the house...). We finally got rid of our "lump of dirt" and the dingy concrete pad touching the house, and had the land leveled. This was no small task; the tractor had to be brought in through the neighbor's driveway because there was no other access from our side, and three huge dump trucks' worth of dirt and one truck's worth of concrete were hauled away...
"Before" view: dirt partially removed, concrete pad in foreground.

Pretty funny, the guy talking on the phone; note the little boy watching.

View of the shed and family room.

View of the family room and the back of the house.

"After" view of the back of the house.

The Toxic Couch: Part Three (06-08-10)

My project was not going well. After letting everything fester under the carport for weeks, I convinced Gary to rent a Rug Doctor, so I could try my hands at a last ditch effort to rescue my couch and recliner.
I decided to treat the stinky mattress first. It was a nice, thick mattress; it looked comfortable and clearly had never been used before (by a human). Unfortunately, it had been in contact with the rusted springs inside the sofa and had been contaminated with the same sour smell as everything else. I laid it down on an old shower curtain on the lawn, and scrubbed the heck out of it. I then left it to dry on the green lush lawn, hoping that the fresh spring air would do wonders for it. There was nothing else to do for it but wait... Next, I scrubbed the sofa and the recliner. The leather responded beautifully, springing back into shape, a testimony to quality materials. But the dark places which had been stained and damaged, once wet, had the same sticky gummy feel as the cushion covers; the leather was rotten.

All those efforts were for nothing in the end; the repulsive smell oozed and wafted from the couch, mattress and recliner, no matter what.

The last episode in this saga: I reluctantly took everything to the dump. As I was driving away from the huge bays, I turned around and got a last glance of the couch without its cushions, with a mountain of trash all around, as a bulldozer was advancing in its direction.

RIP beautiful couch.

I drove the car to the exit window, paid the dump fee and briefly told my woes to the lady at the window. She laughed and said "I always tell people; you gotta give it the sniff test before you buy it!"

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mosaic Glass Windows (06-07-10)

I decided to post some photos of the absolutely gorgeous mosaic glass windows made by Jennifer Hanson. I found the window with the hand, the window with the flowers and the wide sun window at Portico. The cherry tree and the small sun windows were on display at Houlton Bakery in St Helens. Jennifer made two smaller windows for the master bedroom in a crazy mosaic patterns to match the colors of the "real" stained glass windows. She also made a large window with a big octopus for the upstairs bathroom (the photo of the octopus window below is similar to mine).

I'm really excited to get this Vintage Project going (06-07-10)

What a dream come true to get a perfectly postcard-charming 1904 farmhouse with a huge landscaped yard, with old oak trees, and a rose garden...
I am really excited to start organizing all the fantastic vintage treasures I've collected over many years, to have them available to you, and to welcome you, dear Readers, to my little Studio once a month.
I'll try to keep you informed about new developments as they come...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Closet Palace (06-06-10)

My closet is finally finished. It's so big, it's more a dressing room than a closet; I could lie down on the rug to meditate or read a book.
We got the clothes rack, the cute red bookcase and the dresser at Ikea. The antique mirror belonged to my mother and is a replacement for the big mirror with a blue wooden frame that fell and broke at our previous house. The big black trunk came from Village Merchants. The rug and the floor lamp in the far corner both came from the local Goodwill outlet store. The floor lamp was rewired by Hippo Hardware; the small candle lights were outfitted with specialty flickering light bulbs for an added fun touch. I bought the crazy chandelier in Belgium, but it is essentially a novelty deco item made in China; it used to hang in my closet at the old house. The gorgeous mosaic glass windows were made by Jennifer Hanson; my favorite is the one with the hand, and the colors of the sun window work perfectly with the room's color scheme.

OSU Chamber Choir Concert (06-05-10)

I drove down to Oregon State University in Corvallis yesterday to attend Valérie's Chamber Choir concert. This is a sketch of a few of the students singing in the choir.
I was extremely tired yesterday because I went to bed at 3:30 AM due to the concert the night before (and because I tend to go to bed late no matter what), As I was driving south in I-5, I had to try to stay, but couldn't help dozing off at the wheel for a few seconds. I woke up as my car was just about to go off the road. This totally freaked me out. I stopped the car and went into a store to walk and try to stay awake. Consequently, I made it late to the concert. I was sorry to have missed the beginning, but at least I managed to make it there without getting in an accident.
As I walked by the back to the church to get to the entrance, I could hear gorgeous Church Music (Bach) coming from inside. When I finally sat down on a bench, it was restful to enjoy the wonderful music, the perfect acoustics and look at the beautiful stained glass windows. Valérie is is Section Leader for the Altos and was awarded a certificate at the end of the concert.
I don't like driving at night when familiar landmarks are not visible, but felt reasonably awake on the way home. I got off at a rest stop barely 30 miles out of Corvallis to rest for 5 minutes... I woke up 40 minutes later because some people were talking in the parking lot, otherwise, I'd have slept on for hours. I eventually made it home while driving carefully and changing radio stations every few minutes.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Glitch Mob at the Roseland Theater (06-04-10)

Anyway, the big name at the show at the Roseland Theater yesterday was the Glitch Mob, and the best way to describe this is badass Electronica. They were quite good. The walls and the floors were vibrating.
The most intriguing aspect of this concert was that the music was essentially sound-based and directed from computer touch pads. the guys were nice; they hugged fans, posed for photos, and in my case, signed my sketchbook.

Deru (?) at the Roseland Theater (06-04-10)

I was driving in my car last Sunday, listening to KBOO's Electronica show, when the DJ announced free a free promo for the 8th caller. Amazingly, I won tickets to a show at the Roseland Theater! So, the obvious guest was Julia (I couldn't imagine Gary ever wrapping his mind around Electronica...). We got there late, and I think that the performer playing when we got there may have been Deru. The other name on the bill was Free the Robots, so I am not entirely sure who was the DJ... Anyway, it was pretty loud and heavy Electronica.
(Speaking of Deru, if you click on the "Say Goodbye to Useless" album on his MySpace site, you can then click forward to "Fadeaway," a totally haunting remix of a -possibly Philip Glass?- clarinet piece.)

Pretty Young Woman at Flutter (06-03-10)

This young woman caught my attention because she reminded my of Julia, but an older, more sophisticated Julia. She was wearing a vintage sweater and skirt and a 1940s style flower ornament in her perfectly curled hair.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Urchin Dresses at Flutter (06-03-10)

Flutter carries the most amazing line of dresses. Urchin is a line of deconstructed formal dresses redone with elements from other dresses. They are exquisite, ethereal and extravagantly expensive.

Flutter Fourth Anniversary Party (06-03-10)

Flutter is my favorite shop in town to browse and marvel... So I couldn't miss their fourth anniversary party for anything. And for a rare glimpse into reality vs. sketches, here is also a photo of the scene I drew, but from a slightly different angle.