Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Gift!

Christmas Gift! is the title of a book by Ferrel Sams, an author I had the privilege to meet in the 1990s. It also covers the work I've done over the last six weeks, trying to get everyone's gifts ready. A year ago January, I started teaching myself to crochet (thank heavens for!). I'm left handed, and I've taught myself to work right handed so I can follow the videos. It's been an interesting journey.

For my two-month-old grandson, I finished up a sock monkey blanket. It had been intended as a gift when he was born, but I found myself challenged as to how to assemble the pieces. The body of the blanket is a v-stitch. I was determined to get this blanket right. I started the blanket over 15 times until I was satisfied. Someone recently accused me of impatience. I pointed out that anyone who would start over 15 times could not be impatient. I just have a low tolerance of fools.

Grandson's baby blanket

Close up of grandson's blanket

My favorite crochet pattern in the granny square. I seem to be far more accurate with it than others.

Daughter-in-law's lapghan

Mother's lapghan

No, Rosie's not crochet. But an interruption to enjoy a cat is necessary around my house. I love how she sleeps with her paw over her eyes. Probably the result of too much exposure to bright lights in the middle of the night when I get up to go to work.

Rosie's contribution to the process

Christmas Eve service is always important to us. I've missed church these last two months, trying to recover from an upper respiratory infection. It was a relief to make it back to church.

An interruption in creativity for midnight service

I love my church. Candles, incense and garland feels very pagan. I really look forward to the burning of the green.

Midnight Christmas Eve service at church

Like Rosie, Lugh had to provide his share of distraction. Lugh's in the box. About ten minutes after this picture was taken, Lugh got out of the box to eat. When he came back, Thor, the cat on the table, had taken over. He never go the box back.

If I fits, I sits.

 I made a bunch of scarves. There are more, but here's kind of a representative sampling.

Mother-in-law's scarf with her favorite school colors.

Sister-in-law's scarf

Brother-in-law's scarf

One day shortly before Christmas, one of our contractors asked what I was making. I told him I was working on my dad's scarf. He hinted that he's  scarf kind of guy. All four contractors and their boss will get one as well. We live in the south, meaning we only wear scarves a few months a year. I'm going to have to come up with other ideas for next year.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Construction, Destruction and Cats

This was a window with a tree in front of it. The light pouring in through the doors brightens the whole house. It also has internal blinds to keep cats away. The French doors were a huge splurge, but my dad still gives into "please daddy" when I ask prettily. I'm a very fortunate and blessed girl!

In the beginning, there was a yellow house. I liked my yellow house, as I had always wanted a yellow house and I had painted it myself. 
In September my dad and I began discussing repairs to our home. I own a 28 year old trailer, with affordable property taxes, 3/4 plywood floors and relatively new roof. Everything else about this double wide needs updated, repair, etc. Dad made me do my homework. I researched new trailers, new houses, and the cost of renovation. Eventually dad and I settled on renovation.

The tree sheltered the window, but was too close to the house. We had also nailed pet proof screens over the windows to prevent cat escapes.

I put a roof on my yellow house about ten years ago. I also bought new appliances and replaced a good deal of the plumbing one break at a time. Would have been cheaper to replumb the whole thing!

This was the second to worst window. Note the water damage and rot.

It was bad. really bad. And the released mold and mildew spores resulted in
a terrible upper respiratory infection for me.

We got the outside mostly under control with patches and repairs, then tackled the demolition of the kitchen while I was out of town.

The above middle window became a French door! 

The new door laying in the back of the truck. Scary to see
a hole like this in your dinning room.

This picture is especially poignant because the grey cat, Tannis, was dying. He made it to the dining room to see the changes and to look out the new window before dying. He was 14 and had been rescued when I lived in Atlanta.
Moving the door to its new location stopped a rather exasperating problem. The back door had led in by the laundry area, stove and refrigerator. Every time I opened the door, I either ran into one of the doors or I hit my head on the vent. Ten years that went on.

My very generous parents also agreed to a deck!

New windows, new door and the porch are complete.
It takes time for the crew to get things done. They also have contracts with rental agencies and real estate agencies, so we get worked in between and betwixt. The prices are good, the wait times suck.

Iben, the grey striped cat, immediately was convinced that we built the deck and ramp for him. He seems to deeply appreciate both.
In the midst of the outdoor work, my grandson was born. An upper respiratory infection from mold and mildew in the house resulted in my delayed trip to Arkansas. But I finally managed to go.

The first time I held Ben.
And Cameron managed contractors for the week without me. Cameron just looked at this picture and asked, "God, did we live in that?" We did. And it depressed me every day.

Note the back door that went away. We've got places to put things now, and a new pantry, along with a new rule that NOTHING sits on the dryer. Cameron insists! LOL The floors here are just the plywood. The dog ate the floor about six years ago.

My kitchen was gutted in my absence.
Note the cat proof bungee cord to keep them out. I couldn't wash the front of the cabinets or the fake wood design washed off with the dirt.
Duct tape held the disintegrating cabinet top together, sort of.
Ibn observed the changes carefully.
Cameron has also enjoyed the changes with Ibn's approval.

The outdoors is complete with siding, shutters, door, lighting and gutters!
It's taken months, and there are still details that will be polished along the way (painting and floors come last), but here's the new kitchen! And we also have, a new frig and additional counters and space. 

Check out the awesome river rock in our back splash. I still need to finish polishing it with the drimmel and then it will be sealed.

And Shane's got to come Monday and the cords for the under the cabinet lights hidden. They were added at the last minute. My contractor has been very kind about coming by and sprucing up details that we missed. Note the lovely new frig. We now also have an icemaker! I haven't one of those in 20 years.

No more bungee cords! We have magnets now. Ignore the clutter here. We still haven't gotten everything completely sorted out. 
In January, Corey will be removing our old fireplace and replacing it with a wood stove. I hesitated in putting this picture up, but it makes such a huge contrast I can't resist. The fan can't be turned off. The flu is opened with a coat hanger. The glass doors are gone, so I have plastic lids to keep cats out. Note the piecing pieces of the metal curtain. 
Sigh. It's been a rough ten years.

This is what we choose. May have to get black instead, but it will be the same model if the red's not available.
In the meantime, the deck in finished and this is Cameron showing off the new seat.

This is the window that had rotted out. We also have a new light on the porch. And gutters!

This is the stone for the wall behind the wood stove. It will go floor to ceiling.

Shortly after I got my job, the porch light stopped working. That would be five years ago. So I've left for work at 4 in the morning in the dark. I now have a light, a porch and a ramp. My daddy is the bomb.

I adore Cameron's whimsy. He was so excited to decorate the deck!
The transformation to our house continues soon. January will bring the wood stove and Cameron's bathroom. Then my bathroom, and the remaining repairs to the inside. Finally, we will install new flooring and paint. My parent's generosity and changed our lives. We will no longer be ashamed to invite friends over. Cooking has already become much easier. And my new pantry is awesome!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

I had to work Christmas Eve, as we always do. Over a month of "traditional" Christmas music, turned too high, culminates in Santa Claus and a clinic full of children on top of the usual chaos and the added chaos of those who depend upon methadone daily. And addicts also tend to walk around triggered for a month before Thanksgiving until shortly after New Years. So the conclusion of the working day was a huge relief.

We gathered at a friend's for the Orphan's Christmas. Unfortunately, he and his wife separated two years ago, and finalized the divorce most recently. It's been hard watching two people who shared their lives for twice the amount of time I've known them shred their relationship and bicker over the details. The last detail is the house will be sold, so there will be no more Orphan's gatherings in the same place. Nevertheless, we had a lovely evening with friends, followed by the midnight service at church. I treasure being Episcopalian in a gay friendly church. The heavy Pagan influences also don't hurt.

Photo: I love Christmas Eve service....

Since we cannot find a stable Pagan group in our area, the church is of great spiritual comfort. And the service last night was a joy. I've been ill with first an upper respiratory infection, and then an upper respiratory virus. So as Cameron has tried to get back to church, I've not been accompanying him. Being in church for a very familiar service, listening to the priest talk about things that ring of the Sacred Feminine, was amazing. It touched that deep place that calls me to the path of the Goddess, to the Sacred, to Being and Becoming. It's, after all, not about the destination but the journey. And the journey is good.

Cameron and I are enjoying a quiet day today together. School is done, the license is complete, my body is healed. We have a new grandson who is very much part of our lives.

Today we have corned beef in the crock pot and are watching Highlander today on Netflicks. It's a wonderful day. Thor was thrilled when I put the crock pot on. He licked the edge and dreamed of when he was kitten. Thor was found cold and wet, wandering a field behind the neighbor's house. They thought perhaps he was one of ours. It only became a few moments for him to become one ours. A few days later on Christmas, he made off with a piece of corned beef. He couldn't have been more than 10 weeks old, and the corned beef was bigger than he was. He managed to keep the entire house off of him and eat every bite himself. Then he feel into a food coma for the next 24 hours.

After he gave up on the lid, Thor fell asleep on the table. Christmas day is hard work!

Photo: Evidently supervising the corned beef is hard work...Thor now must take a nap!

Merry Christmas to all, and welcome back to my blog. Other days will be filled with complexities and challenges. Today is beautiful and wonderful.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Baily's Horses

I don't know Baily. I only know that for her senior show, Baily chose to sculpt horses. While these pictures do not do her work justice, I share them just the shame. For a short time, the amazing creations can be found at the front entrance of Converse College in Spartanburg, SC. Amazing how, in the hand of an artist, metal captures the grace and beauty of a horse.