This week’s photo assignment was ‘mirror’. I knew immediately what image I wanted to capture—but it depended upon the electrician’s work schedule.
Our house is over a hundred years old and has original flooring and light fixtures. We’ve replaced a few things along the way; updating some of the wiring, replacing broken plumbing pipes, installing mini splits for climate control (a vast improvement over open windows and ceiling fans in the summer and huddling around the gas fireplace in the winter.
But then there were the light fixtures. In some decorating whim of the seventies (I think), we had shag carpet on the stairwell (removed within a month of our moving in) and painted light fixtures. There were some other oddities—the water heater in the corner of the kitchen and the boarded up kitchen windows, the double sink double drainboard cast iron occupying nearly eight feet on one wall and burst plumbing pipes.
One night while I was waiting for my back pain to ease, I entertained myself by just looking at stuff on the internet. I discovered a place in nearby Houston that would refurbish and rewire old light fixtures.
I took them a set of sconces and a rather plaint chandelier that had been in the breakfast room. When they were finished, they replaced a set of existing sconces and I decided to take the dining room and living room chandeliers in for refurbishing.
It takes some time for all of that to happen; we had a single light bulb in both rooms—mood lighting—romantic in a way but really tough to see the clues in the crossword puzzle each morning.
The chandeliers have now been successfully rehung—the rooms are bright and cheery and I just had to brag on how pretty they are.
Here I am trying to get the perfect shot:
Just to keep my humble, I took a photo through the mirror of a dresser (grandfather’s) looking at another mirror which served as a hat repository–and a place to check self before exiting (grandmother’s).
Living in a house that is over 100 years old has its challenges. It seems there is always something that needs repair or refurbishing.
Wallpaper began to peel off the stairwell wall—a two story high wall—with ten foot ceilings. I had hung that paper hanging over the stairs on an extension ladder with the help of my middle son who steadied the ladder and helped me maneuver that long sheet of wallpaper–I ended up with glue on my hair, my clothes, my shoes—but it was hung—and it was lovely for many years. But then we installed mini splits and had actual climate control—the paper began to peel off the walls.
Scaffolding was not to be rented by anyone, paper-hangers advertising their skills only worked on eight foot ceilings and no stairwells—and so we tried a long pole with a roller on the end to glue up the paper—this worked well for some smaller areas but one strip peeled back about a quarter of the length—making it impossible.
Now that I am older I do not want to hang over the stairs to rehang that paper—middle son is no longer here to assist.
Husband came up with this idea:
And we will be hanging a rod for me to display some of my art quilts.
And…..the lighting fixtures in this house are all original–except for the ones we replaced with ceiling fans. There were two sconces in the attic—I took them along with a chandelier from the breakfast room (now a ceiling fan) to a place in Houston to see if they could refurbish them.
They are absolutely gorgeous:
Two more sconces and two chandeliers are awaiting their refurbishing; we live with two single bulbs in the living room and dining room in rather dim light—I am not so interested in romantic lighting while trying to work the daily crossword puzzle….but it shouldn’t be long before we will have plenty of light with all the reflections from all that brass.
Two dogs live at our house.
Although both are rescues and both are Border Collie mixes, they have two very different personalities.
Dora is husband’s shadow and guards him wherever he goes. She warns us of people walking by on the street and notifies us of bicyclists, skateboarders, and people who dare to show up at the dog park without a dog. She is very particular about who she allows to pet her—and definitely not children. Dora proudly fetches the morning newspaper and makes sure it is quite dead before dropping it.
Toby, on the other hand, has never met a stranger. She loves children–and will knock them down just to lick their face. She can French kiss anyone accurately regardless of height. Squirrels and pigeons have no business being in the crepe myrtles in our back yard, ditto possums and cats. She is incredibly excited to let Dora fetch the morning newspaper as she knows she gets the same treat just for not running out the door.
Each night we must watch TV with the dogs; sometimes Toby looks like a little boy sprawled out in front of the screen but then she will lie on the couch—totally relaxed.
What a life!
Some years ago we planted a satsuma tree in our front yard—actually Lee planted it for me as Toby had dug it out of its container at least three times as I had hoped it to be a surprise birthday present for my husband. The tree miraculously survived and has produced satsumas in abundance last year. This year it does not seem quite as loaded down. Last year, we would pick a dozen or so and think we had picked the last of them….until we ate all of those and went out again and found a dozen more. We ate fresh fruit for nearly three months!
There are a few that seem to be ripening now and the branches need propping up….along with an abundance of lemons on another tree out at the shop. I froze lemons one year and used them to make some absolutely wonderful lemonade. I also made salted lemons which I pureed, some with dill from home-canned dill pickles and some plain—used over chicken or fish with a bit of olive oil. It is supposed to be good on Lamb as in Moroccan style cooking but lamb is not something easily found in the grocery stores here.
Along with what passes for fall here, we are trying to do a few repairs and updates around the house. One involved rehanging wallpaper that had come undone with the humidity here—and then some electrical repairs. Living in an old house means some odd things..like a light switch at the door that turns off an outlet but not the overhead light.
My mother left behind a lot of good intentions and ideas in the form of partially completed quilt tops, left-over blocks and a few completed tops just awaiting quilting and binding. My father also left behind a lot of good intentions and ideas and partially worked out projects in the form of metal work, a forge, welding equipment, a metal lathe and assorted scrap metal pieces.
While I am not inclined to finish any of those metal projects- or deal with the left-overs from Dad’s garage and basement doings—that was brother Rick’s task, I am dealing with all the fabric bits and bobs left in Mom’s sewing room.
Sometime this week, a package will arrive on a small boy’s doorstep—a great grandchild–and my great nephew—two lap sized quilts—one with tiny farm animals in an intricate Irish chain pattern and another one featuring my dad’s welding tools set against a background of the junction of Plum Creek and Shanghai Ridge.
There are still more to complete but the stack is slowly diminishing and there may be an end in sight-.
Thanks to my dear husband who willingly served as quilt holder-upper for these photos.
This week’s photo assignment was ‘crooked’.
This was taken in a smithy in Gladys City, a reproduction of buildings from the days of the Spindletop Gusher–the first in Texas. I spent a lot of time in the smithy–my dad did a lot of work in his workshop–welding, grinding-sharpening blades on hoes and mowers and occasionally knives, and in later years making reproduction engines.
We had an anvil in the basement, he used to crack black walnuts on it–so did we. He would pick out the nutmeats while watching television at night.
This anvil was held down by those crooked nails at each foot.
One of my brothers, destined to become a fine carpenter, bent a lot of nails–and put a few knobs on his head wielding a hammer far too heavy for his four year old hands.
I remember pounding nails into a nice five gallon bucket of paint–they made such a lovely plunk sound when they hit the paint….I think we put in about five nails in the lid before being discovered.
And then my grandfather kept a bucket full of bent nails–meant to be straightened and re-used…one of my cousins took those home with him, used them all, and hoped to find another bucket full.
In March of this year, I went out to Tractor Supply and bought four chicks—supposedly sexed–as I did not want to deal with a rooster. I don’t mind the crowing—we have a neighbor somewhere nearby that has a rooster—but roosters can be mean. Those four chicks rapidly grew into hens—clucking and cooing and surprising us with eggs about six weeks ago–much earlier than we had expected. These chickens were surprisingly cute during their entire childhood, adolescence and now adulthood. Unlike the previous set of chickens that flew the coop one day and resisted the efforts of Toby and Dora to be herded back into their rightful places, these chickens were never ugly.
Toby and Dora (Border collie/Lab and Border Collie/Aussie) kept a very close eye on these new chickens. One of the chickens always seemed to be by herself–and we worried a bit that it might be a rooster—but then we began getting four eggs every day–proving that we had four hens.
The loner chicken has escaped several times; over the fence, under the fence—and Dora was called to help round up the wanderer. One day last week, the wanderer escaped again and this time Toby found her—there were feathers everywhere—Dora herded her under the car—where I spied her squatting down behind the rear tire hoping no-one could see her. She was returned to the coop yard and the next day we had four eggs—she seemed none the worse for her adventuresome day.
We celebrated Glen’s birthday that day with a meal at a local Mexican restaurant—we don’t eat out much these days—but a margarita with a tiny sombrero suitably sized for one of Glen’s collection of turtles was fun along with a huge plate of shrimp nachos which we agreed would have been plenty for our meal.
Alas and Alack, one of the hens died—apparently this happens to chickens—and it was not the adventuresome one. We had only one egg today, I watched them all happily scratching away at the dirt and leaves in the side yard—keeping our fingers crossed.
It is silly to mourn over a dead chicken–they are not the brightest of creatures but they do make such a lovely cooing sound. They know when we open the side door and they come running when they see us—of course we have food and water to offer—-and we are enjoying all those wonderful fresh eggs.
Disappointments are part of life and come in an assortment of sizes. They can come from many sources–family, friends, work, medical issues, property responsibilities, hobbies, and even weather. Their impact seems to be related to the strength of the relationship and importance of the issue to personal well-being.
These past few months have not been easy. Assaulted on nearly every side, I tend to retreat to take the time to heal and re-evaluate all those relationships, decide which ones will give me joy (to borrow a Marie Kondo phrase) and which will not. And to give a try to some new things, new relationships, new hobbies, and maybe even a new pair of jeans (just kidding–I wear mine until they have holes…ditto shirts and socks and shoes…saves a lot of time getting dressed in the morning when the selection is limited—take the one on the top of the pile)
And now adding survivor’s guilt to the pile—Imelda flooded this area and recovery efforts have begun.Piles of wet carpeting and furniture are outside businesses and homes that flooded. The grocery store took on a foot or more of water; they are open again but with nothing on the bottom shelves of half the aisles and the other half are closed; an armed guard stands at the door.
Nothing happened at my house–we watched it rain for two days–and now it is raining off and on again. My bee hives looked fine, the chickens continued to lay although they were clearly confused by the really long night they had, Toby required bathroom breaks on a leash due to the thunder, we had power and water and no interruptions in our lives except for canceled doctor appointments.
Being thankful for what I do have , coming to terms with the disappointments, and not feeling guilty for having so much shouldn’t be so hard.
Several years ago, there was a booth at the Quilt festival in Houston featuring Rare Bears. This is a project now encompassing over 11 countries and sponsored (among many others) by Spoonflower. Spoonflower prints pairs of soles for teddy bears; huggable Teddy Bears to be given to children with rare diseases.
Of course I signed up with great intentions but this past month finally put together two of these bears. I made them from bamboo fleece that was hand-dyed for another project—and the bears required fairly small pieces. I think I have enough for one more bear.
While they prefer the Rare Bear Army members to send just skins.=—take up a lot less room–I had to see how these bears would look.
Here is my sweet husband trying out the huggability of the bear.
Here they are hopping into the box to send away.
And here they are with little notes.
When they are gifted to a special child, a photo is sent of the bear with their new master. I hope these two get picked soon.
And for a bit of trivia: – Rare Bear’s factory Pratt & Whitney R-2800-30W engine producing 2,250 shp was replaced by a Wright R-3350 engine producing somewhere between 3,400 – 3,800 shp depending on the base model selected – factory numbers. As a current racer, the specifics of Rare Bears engine remain undisclosed.
In 1976, the engine failed during the Mojave Race with a resulting belly landing. It wasn’t raced again until the 90’s.
More details are abundant on the internet, but I might just ask at the Lone Star Flight Museum sometime.
Some years ago, I won a covered Marble notebook at an event; I immediately began to use it as a journal. Since then I have covered many Marble notebooks and currently have a stack about three feet high of completed journals. I have also covered 3 ring binders, and my sketchbooks. I use pieces that are an experiment–something I wanted to try on a small scale but decided against a large piece, leftover bits from other projects–that are too many and too big to make into postcards (another fun project).
And then sometimes I make them, just because I want to play around with fabric and thread and paint and have fun without any grand expectations of a formal art work.
Having been gifted the contents of my mother-in-law’s linen closet–some lovely vintage doilies among other things, I decided to make two book covers for her two daughters–my sister-in-laws. One of them is an artist and so I covered a sketchbook, the other is more bookish and so she got a Marble notebook for her to keep records of whatever she liked. The covers are removable—and I could do that with mine—but I enjoy have new ones to look at.
The doilies were linen with fine tatting around the edges–made by their grandmother who had an advanced degree in Home Economics or perhaps it was Domestic Science at the time. I hand-sewed them onto some wild sand-dyed fabric I had made…so vintage over modern Bohemian.
The one on the far left is the sketchbook cover, the next one to the right is the Marble notebook. The two on the far right are two workshops I took, and definitely did not want to make either project the fulls size—-of course, that one with the purple and greet triangles might have been more successful if I had not used a stretch denim as a base.
And yes, they both said they loved their notebook covers.