Category Archives: house

dawn redwood tree

Next to the new house is a majestic tree that was unknown to me. My tree guides were all packed away so I searched the internet with a description of the reddish, cedar-like bark and luckily I found it fairly quickly. The tree is a Metasequoia, or the Dawn Redwood Tree. Native to China, it’s in the same family as our towering redwoods and considered a living fossil. I love that name, Dawn Redwood Tree. Here are a few pictures I took today.

The Dawn Redwood Tree in front of our house.

The Dawn Redwood Tree in front of our house.

She’s a pretty big tree! Even though the smallest of the redwoods, they can grow to over 150 feet tall. So, my feeling is that this tree is the guardian of our place. I took a closer picture of the bark. When it rains, the red of the bark becomes a fiery orange-red. This picture does not do it justice.

Metasequoia bark

Metasequoia bark

Since moving to this house, I’ve been getting up rather early each morning and this morning I was greeted by a stunning dawn sky outside my kitchen.

Morning sky

Morning sky

Settling in is slow going. Unpacking is daunting (so many boxes of books!) and figuring out where things go takes time. As I get used to the flow of the house, I have to tweak and make changes. The other morning, Brni asked, “So where are the glasses today?”

We also don’t have a clothes dryer yet so I made Brni dig a hole and plant a clothes dryer. I haven’t hung clothes outside in a very, very, decades-long time. I kinda like it.

no dryer yet

no dryer yet

trying to not be part of the problem

I had a moment today. It seems that no matter how long you’ve been established in a home, or how much stuff you have, when you move to a new place you end up needed different stuff. Like a different dish drying rack or trash can because the ones you have don’t work in the new space. I tend to make due for as long as I can but when the jury-rigged rack ended up almost destroying the counter in the new place, well, I broke down and went out to buy a couple things for the new house. Since there’s a Bed Bath & Beyond not so far away, I headed out there.
(now this is not the moment I am writing about, this next bit is)
As I exited the highway to route 100, I saw a young man standing at the side of the exit. He had a sign stating that he was having a very hard time and any help anyone could give would be appreciated and “god bless.” I looked at his face, and he was just so young, and so sad with such a despondent look in his eyes, I waved him over and gave him a twenty. He took it, said “thank you and god bless,” then he looked at the bill. His eyes grew very wide and he looked at me and exclaimed an incredulous thank you and started to say more, but I just waived at him and said, “It’s okay, take care.” Then I went to Bed Bath & Beyond but I was terribly shaken and tears almost happened.
And they wanted to charge me $80 for a dish drying rack and $200 for a goddamn trash can.
Really? After seeing a young man, so broken he had to beg for help on an exit ramp, and acted like a twenty dollar bill was a gift from god, you think I’m going to pay these crazy prices for a trash can?
I was so incensed, I left.
It is just not right, that in a country with so much wealth that this sort of thing should ever happen. So I will continue to help when I can, one person at a time. Just like I did when I was doing wildlife rehab, helping one animal at a time.
And I will not be part of the problem of spending money mindlessly or on things that just aren’t that important when that money could be better spent helping ease another’s pain.

taking up residence

For the past few years, we’ve had an influx of ants taking up residence in and around our house. There are teeny, tiny, little ants that run the perimeter of our house, back and forth, all around the foundation. It’s a little like being under siege. Truthfully, it’s a little creepy.

We also have great big carpenter ants that drop down from the trees and make their way over, under and inside. They move slower, are big enough to recognize individuals and stay long enough that we give them names. Until this year, we’ve managed to keep things under control (sort of) by keeping things clean, never leaving food out, and using non-toxic stuff like diatomaceous earth (DE), borax, peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, etc.  But this spring, the scales tipped out of our favor and the ants took over.

First the teeny, tiny, little ants made a big rush for everything in the kitchen and sunroom. I spread DE all around the house, inside the trash, all along the windowsills, across the threshold, virtually everywhere I could think of. I finally broke down and bought ant traps. That seemed to help a little.

One evening, my sister walked into the kitchen, stopped, backed out and yelled for me. Covering every inch of the kitchen floor, the sunroom floor and the counters, walls, stove and fridge were the big ol’ carpenter ants. It looked like something out of a Hitchcock film.

I tore through everything, wiping, moping, scrubbing, sweeping and laying down DE, more ant traps, scattering cotton balls and paper towel wads soaking in ammonia in the trash and recycle bins. After hours of effort more ants poured in, covering everything.

I spent the next day trying to scout out where they were coming from and became convinced that they were nesting inside the walls in the sunroom. Short of ripping all the walls out, I admitted defeat and called a pest control company. Actually, I called a few and settled on one local firm that seemed responsible and was willing to work in such a way as to not contaminate my yard and keep my animals safe. Things have been okay since then.

Until recently. I’ve noticed the teeny, tiny ants are making a comeback and have begun circling the wagons again. Two weeks ago we had the storm door replaced and when the contractor removed the old storm door, big old carpenter ants came pouring out of the door. They had actually set up house inside the wood core of the door, complete with a nursery with lots of eggs. I have a sneaking suspicion that come this spring, I will have to rip out the walls in the sunroom.

But, today — today when I turned on my iMac to do some work, I saw a teeny, tiny, little ant on the monitor. I went to knock it off but nothing happened. It wasn’t on the screen, it is IN the screen. It is running all over, inside my monitor between the glass and the LCD. I don’t know how it got in there and there’s no way to get it out. I keep trying to hit it with the cursor. Sometimes, when I move the cursor over it, the ant falls down. After a couple virtual whacks with the cursor, the ant clues in that there’s no real threat and digs all its little heels in, daring me to try to kill it.

It knows I can’t touch it and it’s flaunting its new found invincibility by parading across my screen as I try to work. But how can I work with the damned ant taunting me?

I just hope it doesn’t invite the rest of its family over for a party.

camp tables du jour with an immediate ikea upgrade and a surprise

(I started writing this  last month, but never posted it. Things tend to get away from me. Finally, posting with updates).

We’ve been in this house for almost 15 years, and I have yet to manage to carve out a permanent work/office/studio niche. Over the years, I’ve had to move my office about four or five times for various reasons (people coming, people going, etc.). For the past four years, I’ve been sharing my husband’s office space, which eliminated our only guest bed, and my art stuff has been living on a small camp table in the sunroom with the bulk of the art supplies down in the basement. Not the most efficient work set up. And no more overnight guests.

When my younger son needed a place to stay while work was being done on his bathroom, the only place he could sleep was on the couch in the living room, which was not ideal. The cats enjoyed watching him sleep, but it would have been better if he’d had a bed to sleep on in a room with a door to keep the cats out.

The day after Christmas, our dear iguana died (I’m still very sad) which opened up about four feet of floor space in the sunroom.  This sad state of affairs prompted me to move my stuff out of Brni’s office so that we could put a bed back in there for guests.  But I soon realized that there was no way I could fit my huge computer desk in the sunroom and still have room for me. My solution is less than ideal, kind of terrible looking, but I think it might work out okay. Here’s my new setup.


Milo is dubious about the whole thing.


(update: 3/5/15)

And as it turned out, I found I needed an immediate upgrade to a more efficient and not so ugly workspace. There’s just no inspiration when surrounded by ugly.


Off to Ikea I go, right before Brni’s birthday (big party/a future post for that) to get an affordable setup. I found components I could put together with loads of drawer space for all my computer and art stuff, plus an underneath shelf space in the corner for things I don’t use frequently (like my powdered pigments, wax, paints, and other things that I use to create cold patinas on my sculptures). I even have space for my sculpture stand. The table tops (three of them) sit on the drawer/shelf/file cabinet units, maximizing space and making the whole thing really sturdy. It took me two days to assemble the drawer units (four of them) with Brni’s help when my thumbs gave out.

my deskI really like this set up. Except for the hideous panelling on the wall. I plan to rip that out in the Spring, replace it with drywall and install above the desk shelving.

The day after I put it all together, Brni surprised me with a belated birthday present. This most fabulous, awesome-est printer!

awesome new printer

My very old Epson R800 gave up the ghost last year and I just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money to replace it, so I stopped doing my own printing. But this! I can do so much more with this (huge) printer and the quality is superb. There are nine pigment inks with four different blacks! I’m beside myself with the joy of it all (thank you, dear huzban’).

And Milo is so much happier (parrots do not like ugly either).

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