Saturday, April 12, 2014

Outdoors at Tanglewood






 East Texas is sunny, bright, and soggy. I'm a bit daunted by  nearly 2 acres. I tried several online landscaping programs and determined that I should continue to do as I've always done: find out what the indigenous plants are, beg some, and buy some.


There was a brick flowerbox near the front door when we bought the house. My mother hated it. Research said we could deconstruct it ourselves, so that's what we did. Slowly, with hammer, cold chisel, and safety goggles. As it turns out, a medium screwdriver is more effective than the smallest cold chisel. The bricks were elderly,waterlogged, and more fragile than the mortar, but we'll be reusing them for part of the patio. They're already here, you see.


For starters, we'll fill in the former flower box with  recycled bricks.


The first lawn mowing of the season took place after I spent 2 weeks raking pine needles and branches from the 2 acres. I'm sure that some folks could have done it in a single day, but raking a little at a time kept my head from falling off when I sneeze. And it allowed me to build up my tolerance for pine mold and pollen. The local garbage pickup services advised us to bag needles and branches for removal, but I'd rather have them as mulch at the base of the trees. After all, Cox Arboretum buys Texas pine needles for its mulch.


My mother wants a large vegetable garden. The area she chose to have tilled must have been some sort of garden in a previous life, because the soil is so much darker and richer than anywhere else in the yard. The man doing the tilling announced that all he was doing was making mud, and that he'd have to come back to finish it. If that area ever dries out, I have a feeling that we'll be planting things as soon as we rake out the dead grass. 

 

Since the last post nearly 4 months ago I have battled with greenbrier 3 times. If you subtract the time I spent swollen, feverish and itching, my last post was only 2 months ago.In the past two months, we acquired a few things for the yard: a dwarf lemon tree, a fig tree, a crape myrtle, a few veggies. We've got radishes and lettuce sown in the window boxes, and shrublets dug from around trees replanted in cans. There are enough boxwood seedlings to start a  hedge. 
 
 
      

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Incremental Progress



Everything takes eons. I checked online for hardware to reinstall 40-year old premium Kirsch traverse rods. The online search is not entirely satisfactory. I can have brackets for everything else, or all kinds of rods, but not what I ask for. In the end it was simpler to drive to the store and buy a different rod.

Draperies for those sliding glass doors will be remade from draperies made for a house in Laurel, Md. I located the box, persuaded my mother they were right, and she unpicked, ripped and sewed. Being able to handle this large a project seems to have given her a tad more energy. As soon as I am able to spend time on a ladder again, I'll install the new rod.



I attempted to clean the gutters above the patio today. Every time it rains, water comes down in sheets in front of the patio. The corrugated roof has a new-to -me sort of gutter, more than half closed. The space for leaves and silt to sneak into the gutter is only 1 inch wide; that means it's hard to fish things out. I cleared the corrugated area and wiggled a finger in the gutter, but that's not going to do much. A hose and some detergent might help.

While I was on the ladder, a lovely Husky appeared. Ivan, who had been attempting to scale an 8 foot fence, vanished. The dog's owner arrived to assure me that Lola lives with a cat and knows not to annoy the cat. At least not at too close a range. Lola bounced around the base of a tree while Ivan went about 35 feet up. Sweetie went up another tree. Lola made use of our 8/10s of an acre, streaking from one end to the other faster than I care to run. She has an equally large yard of her own, but she had found a hole and intended to make the most of her time. She knew very well that home was just 4 houses away.

Ivan and Sweetie seemed to enjoy the view from the top of leafless trees, and didn't come down until suppertime. Why yes, they would accept a serving of food meant for people in addition to their regular meals.

The living room is still a maze of boxes. I've moved bookcases around, moving boxes to do so. In the end, some of the larger pieces will stay where the movers deposited them because I'm tired. I've been here 6 weeks. I want to put out a bowl of Christmas ornaments, empty boxes, replace rotting draperies that came with the house with my beloved creamy cotton duck from Dayton. Those draperies remain stubbornly among the missing.


Washing and sanding the insides of drawers and cupboards left them dingy. The 44 degree days outnumber the 77 degree days, but my determination not to paint anything until I can open windows is wavering. An almost perfect can of icy blue paint appeared at the reduced paint rack in a store near me. I bought it, and a quart of white, and am mightily tempted. Until they are painted, I will not be unpacking much. And there are all those drawers from the original kitchen. They can be bolted together and used as shelving for the garage, if I paint them.

The bedrooms will look better when the bookcase headboards are installed. This waits for a bright warm day.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What Longview Means To Me




1. Everything I need is packed in a box behind stacks of other boxes.

2. By the time I find what I need, I've either lost the energy to use the tool, or have forgotten why I needed it.

3. Tile cleaners frequently leave soap scum behind. Pure rubbing alcohol doesn't remove all of it. Using a razor scraper gets most of it.

4. I do not need all the clothing I own. I intend to sew more of it. So there, world.

5. The list of things that should be done is self multiplying, but my energy level is constant and inadequate.

6. Cats do not like change. Tokens of their discontent are usually smelly.

7. Banks LOVE change. It gives them new reasons to erect barriers between me and my money. My accounts are secure because I do not have a Smartphone. People at customer service desks for banks are naive and cannot imagine that everyone in the world does not have a Smartphone.

8. Putting checks in an envelope and mailing them, as I eventually did, is MUCH faster than hunting for an ATM that accepts deposits for other banks. Five (5!) days searching. Two days after I mailed the checks, they reached the bank. The next day, I could use the money. 

9. Laptop computers are wonderful electronic pacifiers.

 10. I searched for 3 weeks before locating Snyder's Sourdough Pretzels. Texans may stock Snyder's, but they stock pretzels covered in chocolate, with honey mustard flavoring, or other fad flavors.  

12. It is warmer at 10 pm than it was all Saturday.
  1. There are 55,000 people in Longview. Many of them were at Hobby Lobby Saturday  afternoon.

13. Jarritos grapefruit soda is easy to buy in Longview. 



14. My Magna cart with folding wheels allows me to move filing cabinets. To those who sneered when I bought it, I say Nyah.



15. One interior door stretched over 3 filing cabinets provides a secure temporary workspace for two sewing machines. I say temporary because it looks slightly repellent and is far from my desired sewing space, but it is a sewing space.



16. Six weeks is too long to go without sewing or beading. This is undoubtedly the reason I ventured into Hobby Lobby.



17. It is warm enough outside for plants to grow, but I don't know enough about native Texas plants to do any planting.

18. Learning Open Office is not intuitive. Spacing for numbered lists is idiosyncratic. 

19. My digestive system lives in Dayton.






Are We There Yet?


My possessions got here 2 days before I did. They were stashed in the garage and shed with malice aforethought. All detailed contents labels are hidden. Nothing is where is ought to be. My shoes are still missing.

On the bright side, all computer pieces landed in the same room, a room  without a lot of boxes. The laptops are fine anywhere in the house. The Tower demands direct hookup. We had planned to put the Tower in the same room as the TV, as we so often end  up checking facts from the news.The movers and the installer thought differently.

It is slow going. The dishes have not surfaced and we had to buy 4 plates. The flatware, pots and pans did surface. Whee. One day I managed to shove around two dressers in order to put my bed against a wall and hidden from the entrance. Movers had it positioned like a stuck out tongue. No matter what you did, you'd see that bed.There are days I don't feel like making the bed until 5 pm, and I don't want to look at it either.

Another day I shoved bookcases, a loveseat  and a recliner to make room for a computer desk. The next day I returned the computer desk to the bedroom. In between, I moved 3 small bushes to the property line, dug grass from the street gutter so that rainwater from a steady daylong rain could trickle into the drain, and discovered that portulaca grows wild here. That explains why a mammoth pot of portulaca sold for $2.49.

Curtains and draperies? I sure that someday I will  find them. Meantime, a quilt over the front window gives nighttime privacy and daytime gloom. My room seems oddly barren without  plastic crates of patterns. My mother's room is a box canyon of plastic storage containers. She believes that plastic organizers save space. I believe they are the work of Satan.

My gardening implements are MIA. Also the work of Satan.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Perilous Paint Mixing



Painting a kitchen is best done by someone who has never tackled the task before. Only a person who has never painted a kitchen full of woodwork, all needing semi-gloss paint,  not satin finish, can approach this without wanting to run away from home.

It helps if you are not too picky about color. If you want something similar to  the color currently in the kitchen and pry off a piece of wood to match visually to an existing paint chip, you will be accosted on your way to the paint department by a flimflam man who has never used the colormatch computer and is just dying to try it. I lost 40 minutes to one of these guys, only to be advised by his manager to go match the painted wood to a sample chip. Sample chips have the recipes on the back. That's what I had planned to do before I allowed myself to be dazzled by the prospect of a quick match.

Fuming, I returned home and tried to revive a can of paint that had spent years in the garage and may have frozen at least once. I got pale lumps for my trouble, and had to pour kitty litter into the can and leave it open. When (if) it solidifies, the garbage men will take it.

This was so much fun (not) that I looked at two other cans of paint that had sat around way too long. A gallon country white was in fine shape. A quart of dark green was fine. The devil  told me to drip the green into the white and blend, blend, blend. The results were scrumptious, but not semi-gloss.

It took awhile to find a paint applicator that was fast and smooth. The flat pad method seemed likely, but was marred by the pad's habit of sliding off the applicator. The fleecy roller (why are all rollers covered with long fur?) left bumps. Bumps! In a kitchen, these will collect grease.

A supersmooth foam roller seemed to offer an alternative. It is fast. It leaves teensy bumps. I thought I could live with somewhat smooth and not semi-gloss,  but another devil told me to coat the painted wood with polyurethane. This process is specifically advised against. Paint websites point out it is easier and cheaper to get the kind of paint you need in the first place. I brushed the super smelly  non yellowing polyurethane on. It promptly yellowed, but I loved the result so that's just fine. What is less fine is that I did it late at night when I was tired, and left uncovered bits, and had to go back and redo some of it.

Thrilled that I had not completely failed, I tempted fate.


I added more green to the paint, to use in a lavatory,  and ran the paint mixer for 30 minutes, twice. The result, in wet paint, is only slightly more intense than the wishy washy kitchen color. What does not show is tiny grains of dark green that show up only as the paint pad hits the wall, leaving a line. Rubbing the pad in a circular motion over the line removes it, until the next time.  The shock came when the paint dried.  It was intense, as intense as bottom of the swimming pool blue.  

Home trends tells me that the intense robin's egg blue is desirable. It is growing on me. It is the smallest room in the house. I am not going to spend my life painting it. Anyone who is truly bothered by it can buy a quart of paint and change it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Lamp Shades and Spiders and Plastic Beads, Oh My



On the theory that you can find instructions for anything online, I researched how to make a lamp shade. Too many instructions start with "Take any old lamp shade and recover it with fancy paper." Or paint it.


There's a sexy pendant lamp made from rings of plywood and cardboard. (Thank you, Instructables)  You need a jigsaw. This would be dandy, except for my fear of jigsaws. I can order one  -- a lamp, that is-- on Etsy for about $50, including postage. This is more than my budget for 4 lamp shades.

Papier mache is a favorite in the crafty crowd. There are pages of Google entries that I will spare you.
Another set of instructions advises me to deconstruct 10 to 15 wire hangers, form 2 rings, and cut 10 vertical struts to be hotglued in place and wound with fabric strips.  Only when that is done do you begin to construct the shade covering, which, based on the precision of the prior instructions, is undoubtedly lined and silk. I'm not using hot glue with anything that I hope will last, such as silk.

I can start with a bare frame from the Lamp Shade Company, which has more listings for youtube videos than for a website. I'm sure this is a mere oversight. The bare frames cost more than I want to spend. And then there are the coverings. The result is a lamp shade that could be sold for $75. But I want lamp shades to disguise my compact fluorescents. That's all.

Perhaps I should take out my handy dandy soldering iron and solder some hanger wire to a metal washer, creating what is known as a spider. The metal washer could fit on to the shade harp, the wire spokes will reach to a ring which can be made of cardboard. And then find parchment paper and glue it to...over budget again.

Perhaps I've been too literal in my definition of lampshade. Perhaps what I really want is a lampshade made of plastic beads heated in an oven until they fuse into a multicolor form.



  Or a screening and wire basket. Or kitchen utensils.
 


Or I can go back to the 2nd hand stores and keep looking.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Poor Choices

Lowe's clearance shade


Once upon a time one could buy basic lampshades without hocking one's children. I consider $29.95 for a plain medium sized drum shade -- no fancy shapes, no pleating, ruching, piping  or ruffles -- extortionate for what I want,  essentially a piece of heavy paper on a wire ring.

Lowe's has a shade for under $10. It fits a lamp with a harp, and I was willing to try it until I saw that it is lined with red. I'm sorry, I do not want a red cast on everything. It has a similar sized cousin in a nauseating mustard yellow. No sale.

Target has a whole lot of chandelier shades, and a whole lot of large shades. Nothing medium sized, except for small lamps with medium sized shades at $15.97. I briefly considered plastic cubes meant as locker storage. I toyed with the idea of using ice cream containers, or even plastic planters. 

Reluctantly I perused the WalMart website. While there are oodles of choices in the $15-$40 range, there are a few plain shades under $10 in small and large sizes. Hobby Lobby, too, has shades that will do.
Hobby Lobby self adhesive shade

What do you do when what you need is only offered by stores you'd rather avoid? I weigh the amount of my revulsion. WalMart is a store that is good for no one but the Walton heirs. I object to subsidizing a family that is wealthy enough to buy a third world country. Hobby Lobby sanctimoniously closes on Sundays so its workers can spend the day with their families, but wants to opt out of health care programs because they can't control how the money they pay in will be used.  Specifically, Hobby Lobby wants assurances that no money it pays into a health care system will ever be used for abortion, even when abortion is needed to save the woman's life. This  sort of moral superiority may be even more revolting than soulless money grubbing.  

I suppose I could order metal rings from a lamp supply house and make my own shades. Martha Stewart would. But there's no way she'd stop at 4. 

Will I stand on principle or cave to expedience?