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blueshoefarm at gmail dot com.... and that would be how to reach me

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Replacing Beams - What happens above those beams

The carpenters are busy downstairs.  I am sitting at my dining room table on the computer.  The southwest corner of my dining room DROPPED -the floor moved, the walls moved. 
I heard the carpenter come upstairs and into the dining room,  "Did you see it move?"
I answered from the living room, in the stable part of the house where I moved in about 1.2 seconds... "Yup, I saw that!"
They are "dropping" the mid section of my house while raising the edge, above the foundation.  This section of my house was described to me as a floppy tortilla, high in the middle with edges that droop. 
My house is only (only) a couple inches off level.  Friends told me of a newish home in a high end development 12" off level.  I don't feel so bad when I hear that. I just don't sit above the posts and beams they are working on...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Work horse truck ill.

My white work horse Ford f250 had to be towed yesterday.  It was acting strange, erratic, loud and gassy with electrical blips, uneven running and the engine light going on and off.  
Fred at the shop said they could tell it was not feeling well and gave it a hug.  Unfortunately, said he, that did not fix the problem. The computer failed.  (I love any man that is comfortable talking of giving a truck a hug.)
My home computer was losing keyboard keys left and right.  It too, has been replaced.  You all need to say a prayer over your computer components... this is not an inexpensive venture!

Monday, December 10, 2012

What a basement does for organization

The carpenters needed access to my basement so I emptied it out.  Into my horse trailer - full of boxes.   Into my garage -full of furniture.  And my living room?  Boxes.  I have been cleaning out so much paperwork I have filled my car twice with bags of paper to recycle.  One stuffed garbage can of shedded paper.  Why oh why did we not get rid of things as we went along.  I found my first house rental agreement from when I was 20. And self-indulgent teenage pep talk letters about boys. And my favorite paper from my favorite class in college.   Memories... yes.  Interesting.. kinda.  Did I need to haul these through five Seattle homes and one Florida home... until they finally ended up in my basement? I can never complain about how much the basement cost, because this job made me go through the paperwork, so it does not move with me to the retirement home.  Good lord.  The sad thing is (I am not done. There are more boxes of paper.)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kids. House. Health.

1. Kids. 
I had a dream:  My children were kidnapped.  Taken to an apartment complex which I tracked them to and waited.  I had to rescue them so I enlisted the help of the police.
Reality: My kids are teenagers... it is like they have been kidnapped. Rose has repeatedly pushed the ticket and a couple times gotten into trouble.  She just opened up about acquaintances and friends being abused, drugs, sex ... all that crap that I hoped she could avoid until adulthood (NAIVE I KNOW).  Wilder is 13.  Enough said.
2. Getting work done on my house.
 I slowly figured out my house is an analogy for me.  I cannot fix all the things with me, but I can on the house.  Like new posts, beams, and joists to strengthen the foundation of my house....will also somehow strengthen me.  At least I am aware I am delusional.  There is concrete improvement occurring on the house that you can document and take photos of  which is not available with my health.  There are no pictures to be taken of my returned ability to stay awake for 16 hours straight or work an 8 hour day.  Or the lifting (89% of the time) of the fog on my slogging self-repairing brain.    I feel lucky.  But obviously not lucky enough to win the powerball (ohhh, think what I could do to the house then!!) (that may be because I did not buy a ticket...)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Signing the work contract - Replacing joists and posts.

What an enormous amount of legal-ese goes into the paperwork to hire a contractor --three pages of obscurity to read and sign. The job starts in the basement --we are leveling the house and adding structural supports . (See, I can listen to suggestions!)
First we are adding or replacing beams and posts... and sistering joists.  Then, and this one cracks me up, we are going to take a laser level and even out the SW corner.  Laser level and my house just don't seem like a good blend.  Abacus and my house.  Eyeballing by squinting next to a straight tree as a guide seems like my house.  Not laser.  But it will be grand in the end and she can stand up a bit straighter.  Never mind the cracking walls I will be repairing after they move things that have not been level in a century. 
We are still in negotiation on replacing siding/windows.  I lean toward bringing it back to the 1904 style windows, albeit with insulation and double panes.  But my budget keeps me in the "keep it the same" style.
Sidenote: we have a historic company town (Port Gamble) 4 miles away that is such a great resource for my home.  The exteriors of the 20 or so buildings are virtually unchanged.  The interiors- not so much. Someone described them as "Pay-n-Pak'ed" (you have to be an old northwesterner to get this reference). Pick any cheap materials do-it-yourself store and you get the idea.  This company town was built in the late 1800's by Pope and Talbot for processing lumber. They still own all the buildings that make up the little village.  Nowadays individuals can rent the homes and businesses from the company.
  This is my original window style.  Not the 80's sliders they put in.  (At least they are not aluminum). (Image of Port Gamble home)

NOT my window style.  I took it for the plain detailing of the board trim at the roofline which I am thinking of adding. (image of Port Gamble home)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dave the contractor

I mentioned before talking to a contractor about my house.  His name is David.  He has a slightly gravelly, slightly nordic (NW) voice and asks all the right questions. We walked through my house, and he just wanted me to talk about it.  Seriously?  The first person not bored to tears about old house stuff ad nauseum?  About history and old beams and fires and how that all shows in the house?  It was all good to him.
After my list of stuff that was beyond my skillset --mystery leaks through siding, unsupported bathtubs, strange wood chewing insects eating the top of my fir floor and foundation work--he wants me to fix the foundation (as you all said I should do first).  My foundation is not attached to my house, a common thing in an old house.  Some posts are missing or taken out. The SW corner of the house is taking a slight tilt downward - gravity must be particularly powerful in that corner of the house, or, the 102 years the house stood without gutters did not do wonders for the foundation.
David and Sue, the project manager, are going to add/replace/sister all sorts of materials in my basement.  They are going to attach my balloon framing to the cement foundation.  They are going to have me clean out my basement so they can access everything.
OMIGOD.   Clean out my basement?  THIS is why I don't get this particular job done.  I have no closets in my house, my basement is basically my house size closet.  You know, the one that you shove things in when people come over and rapidly shut the door so it does not fall all out on your head?    The garage is not an option - it is full of construction materials.  My horse trailer is the only available covered protection I have and not near large enough.  I'll figure it out.  David says they will help with the moving....

Monday, November 5, 2012

House Dreams - Literally dreams about housing

Blue Shoe Farm
Well, I can tell brain recovery is almost fully done... I had a house dream last night.
In real life I am dealing with a finite budget and two or three (or five) to-do things on my list that are somewhat crucial. 
1. My post and beam support system is "fair" to failing.  Repair cost : $5-6K.
2. The upstairs bathroom is nearing the two year mark of completion.  Should probably finish that. Cost $2-3K.
3. My south wall siding has failed.  As in water pouring in when there is wind plus heavy rain so that the angle of rain just shoots straight behind my vertical siding, runs down behind it to the inside of my room. Not where I want rain. Drizzle or rain with no wind do not cause water infiltration, just with the addition of wind.  And what is the fall season? Wind and rain.   
So last night I had a dream.  I sold the farm. Rapidly, so fast I didn't even get to tell my wonderful neighbors, but already had a plan to invite them over to the new place. That I also bought rapidly. So rapidly that there was still furniture in it from the previous owner.  But let me tell you about this house.  A house in a development with an acre on each site.  Everything new and working and not needing repair.  An open kitchen with seating area, a studio outside with skylights and tons of built-in bookshelves. Matching trimwork and molding throughout. It was all beautiful and fit us. No plumbing, electrical or foundation issues.
While we were in the kitchen a group of boys Wilder's age walked by with bikes and baseballs.  He went out to meet them.  I thought : Golden.  Tons of boys for him to play with.  I was outside moving things around when another neighbor walked up.  He welcomed me and said he was the volunteer community somethingerather... his job was to make sure everything was according to the community covenant.  He told me the fridge left by the previous owners next to my garage would have to be moved soon.  That is when I froze and wondered what the hell I had done.  I moved into a place where you have to have your yard a certain way with only approved plants.  Your house has to be painted in a certain palette. Can't leave cars in the driveway. The horse trailer would be banned.
I immediately wanted the farm back.
Good thing it was just a dream.
Development housing.  Level and to code and no issues. Sigh. Is there something wrong with me that this gives me the heebie jeebies? I think so.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chicken Coop finale

The three year chicken coop project is done.  Done I say!  I can cross this fully off my to-do list.
The coop had a previous life as a very wee little home for someone, most likely a farmhand.  I have records of the builder's wife (in 1904) moving to a "small house on the property" when the husband died, leaving my house vacant.  I don't think she moved into this.  There is still a wood burning cooking stove rusting away in the corner...
When I bought the farm four years ago, they gave this structure no value.  What a surprise.
 This is the siding removed for repairs. And a lot of repairs were needed : the siding was rotten ground up, the corner posts were rotten, the roof shot, the eave supports rotten, and no foundation for the whole thing. I thought of going to Home Depot and buying a prefab shed as a chicken coop, it would have been damn cheaper. But after looking at the lumber used in this (other than the siding!) I thought this was worth saving.  And now the coop will be home to 50 more years of chickens. 

 Regarding chickens... these two are Glory and Fred.  They moved here this summer from the humane society when we had a bumper crop of rats RATS living under the coop.  After 11 days there were no more rats.  The tabby is in particular an excellent hunter. Alongside our little black cat Bella the two of them cleaned up the rodent issue.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hiring a contractor - why I screwed myself

I had a contractor out last week familiar with old house restoration come look at the farmhouse.  He had a multi-page article in our local magazine in his restoration of a century old craftsman, so would understand how to fix all the funkies in my old house.... keeping its integrity without Home Depotizing it. 
This is how in the last four years I have screwed myself.  By doing (what seems like) four years of research and how-to classes and online information and books, by hiring my own labor when things get over my head (sometimes it doesn't take much!), by shopping craigslist and all the re-use stores... well, that basically makes me a cheapskate.  Since I can find most anything I need dirt cheap, I can't see paying someone $8K to replace the siding on my leaking exterior wall (and weatherproof, and seal, and replace windows).  One wall.  One wall of six.  Because I know with a bit of hunting I could find leftover cedar siding from someone's project for a couple hundred. I could get those windows for $700.   And if I had the experience to be able to know and explain how to fix whatever weirdness (mold? rot?) is under that siding... I could have Javier do it for $300. 
See the knowledgable contractor knows what to do.  I don't.  But it is not worth the $7K difference for me to hire him.  And that is why I screwed myself.  I can't get someone in who really knows his old house stuff because I know I can do it less expensively.  I already figured out if This Old House was going to re-do my house, I wouldn't want them, since I watch what they put in and think "Holy crap, they paid full retail for that gas stove/old barnwood flooring, patio flagstone, etc etc. that they could have got for 1/5 price on craigslist?"  Cheap. Skate. 
I still haven't had that architect out that I won at Wilder's school auction.  At least I don't have to fret about that money!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September Update

I am off of my insect frenzy.  They are (or have been) eating various portions of my house. Most of the damage was done before the house was built, so I realllly don't need to worry so much. I just need to replace the damaged wood, which is manageable.  
My lovely daughter Rose blew the head gasket on the car.
I've been to the ER a couple times for standard ER stuff. I am overall fine and plugging along.
I tore out the old playhouse in the horse field, and the old dog house in my front yard.
My manure pile is getting a bit overfull, so I did an all call out on craigslist for people looking for horse manure. The ones getting stuff for free are the fun people! They always have great stories, and one even brought me a home produced bottle of wine. Bonus!
My mom had a garage sale to clear her house out before she put it on the market.  I brought over stuff leftover from my move 4 years ago.  We made $300, which is great considering most the stuff was under a buck.  Garage sales are a lot of work, but it is fun to chit chat with folks.  Next time I am taking my stuff to Goodwill and getting the tax write off.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Termites. Powder post beetles.

Remember when I did that nice to-do list?
Well, as usual, it seems that something else popped up and moved to the front of the list.  This wasn't even on any list I have ever created in my wildest moments for this house.
Termites in my porch posts.  And I found powder post beetles in my other porch.  A bug guy I talked to asked why I knew these bugs and I told him of my training.  One of the classes in museum studies is insect recognition - so you don't get them in your collection. We had a donated wedding dress from Iowa I kept in a fishing company's deep freezer for a month to get rid of some funky bug living in it. 
Someone asked me if I still like my house, and I told them "yup".  Too bad I can't put it in a big tupperware container and stick it in a freezer for a month....while I vacation somewhere lovely.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Canning time

I have been in canning mode on the farm.  22# of peaches for salsa and chutney, 28# of blackberries for jams, jellies and pies.  My trees are all overloaded with apples and pears, so that is for sauce, chutney and butters, and drying.  There are new recommended guidelines for hot water bath canning... basically they are all increasing the length of time.  Check the Univ. of Georgia coop extension office website for updated info- or whichever is your favorite canning site.  Here is their link: I am also fond of which absolutely covers everything!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Friday Harbor or San Juan Island

Mom and daughter dancing to a tune on the haybale dance floor.
Whenever I look at my pictures I am reminded that I need to take the date stamp off my camera.  Well, here we are on San Juan Island.  When I was growing up we called the whole thing Friday Harbor, but technically that is incorrect as just the town is called Friday Harbor.  We were up for a big birthday party and pig BBQ and it was a blast. 

We rented a house right across from a lake resort (Lakedale) where as a young adult I spent lots of swimming hours in the warm water.  This was our fave dock, and it was obviously closed when we were there.  

These two are historic Roche Harbor, a resort at the north end of the island.  To age me, when I was a kid, John Wayne used to visit here all the time.  He was a good tipper.  Also, between high school and college I worked here as Asst. Head Housekeeper which was the ideal job for an 18 year old!

This is one of the more embarrassing pics.  These two gals noticed there was cell service at Roche, so they both got on their little phones.  My mom to play words with friends, and Rose to check her texts.  Amidst the touristy loveliness, they had their heads down.

The other end of the island has American Camp. When I was a kid this was just a big rabbit filled field, it did not have interpretive centers and houses and signs.  British Camp in the lush middle of the island had more to it. There was a Pig War in 1859 that decided who got possession of the island... the British or U.S.  No loss of life except the pig - who was raiding a garden at the time. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Keeping me honest : to-do list

Since I seem to be moving rapidly from one project to another... I thought if I wrote them down here maybe, just maybe, it would keep me focused so I could actually finish a couple before summers end. 
-finish painting the barn and the chicken coop.
-reattach and/or replace the trim on both.
-take out three of the seven holly trees and make a patio.
-paint the damn house.
-finish the damn bathroom.
-find reason why it rains inside my bedroom window sill and fix.
-reattach my interior base moulding.
-rewire the garage (have my electrician find where the power originates and replace)
-have neighbor show me how to replace my trucks brakes...
-then do it on the horse trailer brakes, too.
-clean out car(s).

The bathroom and bedroom leak really bother me.  But in the day-to-day of everything they get ignored, I am hoping now that it is written it will be like indelible marker on my soul until I finish.

Not my barn. This is a barn I drive by on my way to the ferry that has always fascinated me since it is such a rambling affair.  I can only imagine my to-do list if I owned this. Shivers.  Since this picture, part of it has collapsed.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rats in the chicken coop

We completely rebuilt the 1950's coop this year.  I toyed with tearing it down and building another but we looked at the lumber and realized the framework was milled on site and still good so we just gave it a new roof, new siding and new windows.  And I guess we also gave it a healthy population of rats.  I cannot quite express how much I dislike rats running across my open-toed shoes in the dark. Where I could feel their little toes running across mine. (insert squeamish high pitched scrinchy faced BLECH here from a woman who is never squeamish or high pitched)  In all honesty I am sure the rats were always there but we just made their home so much more conducive to good health and breeding that they run in front of me drunk with chicken feed and water.  I am declaring an all out war.  Traps. Poison. I am not a gun person but if I was I'd be sitting in a rocker with a shotgun waiting for them. Shotgun? Rat? Can we say overkill? Not when they run across my toes in the dark.  I will try not to look at their faces however.  Because to tell you the truth they have very cute faces and I don't want to have any second thoughts.  Rats make me consider getting rid of chickens.  Seriously.  But first I have to try the war thing.  Maybe more cats, too!  The unfortunate thing is this coop is closer to my neighbors house than mine -- I really don't want them heading over there. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

One year anniversary.

One year ago I had a stroke.  Soon after I went into my doctors office (if you are in Seattle and need an excellent neurologist -- send me an email). Unable to walk straight, unable to stay awake and alert for more than a couple hours, entirely overwhelmingly terrified with how my future had just changed...  my doc cleared boxes off an exam table (he had just moved into a new office), told me I wasn't on the right meds (given to me a week before by the hospital), told me they had misdiagnosed my type of stroke (nerds), and then looked me in the eye and said " In one year you won't even know this happened."  Meaning that I would have no visible outward remnants of part of my brain being dead.  I remember thinking he WAS NUTS... but he wasn't.  Today I am close to how I was pre-stroke.  Other than I weigh less, have a bit of short term memory spaciness, my muscle mass is different, I say things "differently" at times, and am on cursed cursed prescription drugs.  But who's to say I wouldn't be a little ditzy and tongue-tied at this point anyway? 
There always will be the life shift that happened on that day.  I went from being in control of everything... farm, kids, finances, future -- to being in charge of not hitting the door jamb with the left side of my body when I walked through a door.  I learned to accept help from others.   My way of looking at life, disability, and independence took a tumble toward the real.  You know, that we are not actually in control?  I am very good at ignoring the unpleasant.  Probably why I can own an old house... I can just merrily trudge through my home repair to-do list as an oblivious optimist.  I read sometimes that when people survive something drastic they change their look on life. ( I have Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying, " going through my head right now).  I thought all these life changing thoughts for about nine months and then realized : I wouldn't do anything different.  This is the life I would lead if I knew I was going to die in a year.  All the mistakes I've made, all the successes, my failed marriage... I wouldn't do it differently.  I've got great kids, love where we live, have always had jobs that were ones I picked for interest and luckily supported me.  I have not solved any world issues.  I don't know how to stop young men from taking guns and harming strangers.  I have not found the cure for cancer.  But I have lived, gave friends hugs, had long conversations with my ma, laughed until I peed my pants (wait, should I be typin' that?), watched my kids grow with pride and love.  I guess I don't record what is important to me anymore as the accomplishments that list my resume, and I used to.  That is not what I will take to my grave, and that is certainly not what I thought of when I was in the hospital waiting for my stroke to do its damage.
Best to you all.

Garage electrical

My neighbor came over and offered to rewire my garage with a friend visiting from Africa. His friend wants to learn everything he can so I guess they decided my garage was a good candidate.  I know he is familar with the inadequacies of the garage, as the previous owner and he were friends. And the previous owner was very creative with home repairs.  After I bought the house, he told me he had cut electrical lines in the yard to the pond and all outside lighting because he knew they would not pass inspection. 
All  I need is to get an electrician out to find out how it is powered --where the lines are buried from the house and update that-- and he will do the rest.
Neighbors are good.
Hydrangea outside my front door. This is the first it has bloomed in a couple years. Previously we would have a cold snap at an inopportune time and freeze all the wee blooms off. Not this year! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer is here?

They always say in Seattle that "summer doesn't start until after July 4th."   Last week rolled around, we were at the family birthday/4th of July picnic, and it was a blindingly gorgeous day.  Blinding because it has been so dang cold around here the last 2 weeks we are all mole-like in our ability to handle the sun.
Finally my tomatoes may have a chance.  It does not do well for my ego to work with a bunch of professional horticulturists at my nursery job.  The yields they get from their gardens vs. what I get is mindboggling.  Right now they are making salads with peas and strawberries... I have one flower on my bean vines.   But dangit I am lovin' that little future bean!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Giving something away on Craigslist or How To Weed Out Your Responses Responsibly

In prep for my new garage doors, I bypassed the $300 dismantle and dispose fee and listed the old ones on craigslist.  This is how I weed the emails out. 
I posted the ad with a picture of the doors.  I only use the craigslist response email, I do not give any personal info, no phone, no email, no address in the body of the ad. Here is the ad.
"Three garage doors, two mahogany, one I don't know. Four paneled doors, all with glass panels, approx 8 x 7.  Ca. 1970's. They are being replaced with metal garage doors.   Use them for gardening? Building a chicken coop? Your own creative object d'art? Sometimes I am looking for weird stuff on craigslist that I know people are getting rid of, so I thought I would see if anyone is looking for these! "
  The key thing is I am going to have them work (they had to dismantle and take the doors) so I want to make sure they know there is a reason I am giving them away.  That they have all the information they need.  I do not hide problems with the item and hope they don't notice when they get here... that wastes my time and theirs.  The only big problem with this ad is I did not give dimensions.   Here is how I navigate responses. I edited and changed the following emails and names to protect the innocent. Ha.

1. This guy totally legit, since he is emailing from work (bad employee!) and gives his full name.  Since I wanted to get rid of the whole thing, I passed him by for other folks who wanted all three.

From: Dean F <>
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2012 9:24 AM

** Avoid: wiring money, cross-border deals, work-at-home
** Beware: cashier checks, money orders, escrow, shipping
** More Info:

I need 2 to 3 wood panels, and no glass. Are your new doors up. I can pick the panels up at noon if they are.


2. The following three I never respond to other than to tell them they are gone.  Many people just surf the free section and don't even really need the item, they just look at it as a resale.  This first guys problem is lack of intelligence, and I prefer not to have strangers over that miss such key information. Such as it is an item priced as free and listed in the free section.
Sent from my iPad

** Avoid: wiring money, cross-border deals, work-at-home
** Beware: cashier checks, money orders, escrow, shipping
** More Info:

How much?


3.  These are what the free surfer dudes look like. I guarantee when you call him he will have no idea what you are calling about and you have to remind him because he responds to anything he can resell.  I have found these fellows to be inconsistent (not always showing up) and uncareful in removal(since it is not for their own use).
Sent from my iPhone
Very interested please call me . Aaron 360-611-

4. Do NOT EVER ask this. Just don't. Say you are interested, you can pick it up soon, that you have a way to transport it, why you want it.... but never this.
Sent from my iPhone
Do you still have the doors?

5. This is who I ended up giving it to. He wanted it for a fixer upper he just got from the bank. He had a large truck, was so courteous and careful, and regaled me with stories of Hollywood and the house he just bought. He was a fellow ole house lover! He also was persistent (two emails) had a real email and name (not or
and used capitals in his sentence. I know that the youngsters probably would not blink if someone didn't use capitals, but it is just one more sign they have a semblance of wherewithall to know if you are sending an email out into the ether because you want something for free, and someone is going to trust you to come to their home... well you can throw a little punctuation and capitals in that sentence.

From: Phil D 
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2012 2:57 PM
Subject: garage doors
** Avoid: wiring money, cross-border deals, work-at-home
** Beware: cashier checks, money orders, escrow, shipping
** More Info:

I emailed you earlier, wondering if they are still available and that I can come and get them as soon as I here from you..I can sure use them..Thank You..Phil at 425-
From: Andrea
Subject: Re: garage doors
To: "Phil" <>
Date: Friday, June 15, 2012, 3:18 AM

Hi Phil,
You understand I am replacing them... so they are definitely not perfect? Andrea
Yes thats fine.Where in poulsbo,and what time tomorrow would work best for you?thank you,Phil

To finish it all off be courteous and let the responders know your item has been given away, and take the ad down from craigslist when it is gone.
Re: Garage doors

Hi, They all got picked up today. Thanks for your interest.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


This is a window from the Lutheran church between my hotel and the convention center.  I didn't want to interrupt a service and gawk at the building, so I dodged up this tower and sat and listened to the music out of sight--and took a pic of a fantastic window.  I am telling you, if they had built churches in Seattle like the ones I saw in Minneapolis, we wouldn't all have the reputation of being such agnostic heathens and humanists.  I would go to church anyday in these stunning buildings!

Window detail

Personal pet peeve.  You tear down a building and put something else up... what do you do the the highly skilled stonemasonry work from the building?  Put it on the ground, in a teeny area, outside the new building.  These were designed to be high on top of a building, not below navel gazing level.  Similar to laying Michelangelo's David on the ground... the perspective would be all off.  Stepping off soap box...
I guess this is better than them being in the landfill or a private garden out of view.

Historic photo of the park superintendent's office, Loring Park

Lovingly restored!  There was a sign that it is now used for the dressing area for performers/concerts in the park.

I loved this picket fence-like siding detail.  You can see that it was on the original structure, too.

Monday, June 18, 2012


I am finally putting up pics from the museum conference I went to over a month ago. We ended up at many museums (duh) and it reminded me that I don't go to museums enough!  Besides being exhausted exhausted by the end of each day, it was also a fantastic town.
This was the biggest damn flag... inside a mall connected to skywalks throughout the city. Even when the weather gets (HOT!) and (COLD!) those residents can keep moving through Minneapolis on these elevated walkways.  

At the Walker Art Center ( )... this was a 2-D art installation of a dolphin that talked with you by keyboard. You typed, he answered on a screen.  He'd also swim and look cute.  Excellent engaging art!

Again at the Walker, a room of dripping gooey changing color things.   It was very visceral. Definitely an experience, not a necessarily a good photo op.

This painting was huge. And it was actually a photo of a model town and I was fascinated by the detail- and that its model perfection was somehow  realistic.  (James Casebere)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We won an architect

We won an architect at my son's school fundraiser auction for $100.  Such a deal!! I am really trying to pare down my needs... I don't want to overwhelm someone with a list three pages long.  Keep in mind, I don't want to change the house, I feel there are 106 year old patterns of use, patterns of living that were put in place for a reason.  I want to respect those patterns...since what is life but one big continuum?  Historically, I also am keen on that this house was designed as a working farmhouse... every room was placed for a very specific reason, whether I know the reason or not.
I would like my fridge moved in my kitchen, however. I know the reason it is not there... kitchens in 1906 did not have double wide, tall, stainless steel with water dispenser cooling units... they put it in the mudroom in the because it fit fifty years later. And some windows on the exterior have been moved... and all have lost their two over two single hung windows in favor of vinyl sliders. But I can't dwell on that sad bit of info.

Not my house. Just showing you that the original window style looks alot better than sliders.

My house. Hmmm. What project was I tackling? It was probably the gutters and installing that rain barrel. That is the ladder I drove over with the truck.  Lesson: Always put your tools away.

Friday, June 8, 2012

13 years old.

You are in a car, an enclosed space, with another person.  You know how those are the times you have conversations that are more in depth than the average garden variety?  More personal? Today that person was my son, Wilder.  We ended up in the car for 4 hours while taking my mom to the airport.  On the way home I was thinking about him, getting a little wistful, and I said,  "Sometimes I wonder what you will be like when you are an adult. What you will be doing, who you are."
Wilder: "Yeah, I wonder too. I wonder what my hair will be like."

Chicks, Garages, Paint

1. I walked by the baby chicks at the feed store and no lie.... the three alone Rhode Island Red chicks in the top cage all looked at me.  If you know chickens at all... they tend to scatter and freak out (the sky is falling!) rather than quietly stand close to the edge of a cage watching people.  That should have been my warning to walk on... instead it is why I now have three chicks at home in the chick enclosure.  They are very unchickenlike in their bold, peck me, run-me-over tactics when I am going to feed them.  They are still small-  I don't think that bodes well for when they are big.  I tend to like the big, fat, slow, friendly chickens... the austalorps, wyandottes and especially the orpingtons.
2. I ordered my flipping garage doors! Yay! Three of them! For a whopping $2500!
3. Deciding paint for the house.  I think it was a rush paint job the former owners did 4 years ago, because it is looking pretty sad.  Will show you possible colors in another post. 
4. Did I tell you I got a job? Very part-time, in a nursery.  LOVE IT.  Give them most of my paycheck back when I buy plants.
5. This week Rose turned 17, and last week Wilder 13.  I am not sure when it happened I can no longer sling them over an arm and burp them, but it seems to have happened quick.  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Where have I been?

Where have I been? Obviously not posting on this blog.  It is spring, the garden is calling, or more loudly, the weeds are growing.  I also got a part-time job, the kids are doing kid stuff which means growing up and making dorky dumb decisions (like "If I say I don't have homework and don't do it -- it will disappear" or "when driving if I back into a rock -- I should go faster to get off it quicker." These are all necessary mistakes to make on their way to growing up but jeez-louweezie they are guaranteed to keep my grey hair growing in lush and fast.  It also seems like high school is one big marijuana festival, I am so naive I thought it was a few kids, like when I was in school-- the 'stoners.' Nope, there is a serious pot problem out there, the football team gets high before practice.  The 4.0 students do it during school.  Do you have that in your schools?  I was shocked when I learned all this.  I knew it was bad when a police car pulled over a school bus.  For pot.   
Good thing Rose never looks at my website...this is her getting a color in her hair to fix a color experiment she and a friend tried.   The experiment did not work, hence the professional intervention.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chickens and Cats and a Mouse

While I was in Minneapolis for a week the kids dad stayed at the farm and "took care" of things.  He cleaned up a pile of wood next to the compost heap and saw a mouse run from the woodpile into the chicken house. 
On my return in the evening, I was noticing that our new cat "Margaret" (called alternately Margie, Madge, Marjorie and Large Marge courtesy Peewee Herman) was looking a little wild in the eye so I offered her the choice to go outside. She took it.
Our other cat Bella was already outside.  When I opened the door a couple hours later, there sat Marjorie on the front stoop, Amanda dog by her side.  They both sauntered in.
Bella was nowhere to be seen. I went back an hour later and called. And another hour later...Bella always comes in, but not this night.
I wondered where she was, figured it may be her wild night and went to bed.  When I got the paper in the morn I expected to see a cat right at the door... but Bella was not to be seen. I was getting worried.  I did regular morning stuff --took Wilder to school, stopped for tea, scones, and drove back home.  As I got out of my car I noticed the chickens had not been let out of their house by Wilder that morning and they sounded pissed.  Usually when they are cranky birds I talk to them and they calm right down.  But they were in a state and as I walked around the house to let them out they were really lecturing me. 
I unlocked the door and lifted the flap... and out shot a small black cat, Bella.  She had just spent 14 hours in a coop with five birds.  I hope she got that mouse!
Pic: A Welsummer and a Golden Laced Wyandotte on my porch surveying the insect population.
Rose told me when she was locking the chickens up tonight, Bella, Marge, and Amanda went with her--but Bella stayed far away from the door.

Monday, April 30, 2012


I am heading out to Minneapolis for a week for a conference.  This is for my museum skillset -- the American Association of Museums-- and a gal friend was supposed to speak at it.  I thought it would be good to see how my new brain would do, since this was easy as punch information pre-stroke.  I am curious how my brain processes things now.
The hard part is leaving the kids and farm.  You cannot believe the to-do list I have. The kids dad will be staying here, and now that Rose is a driver (did I mention she got her license??) it should be easier.  Still moms will be moms and I am fretting about Wilder feeding his guinea pigs, Rose locking the chickens up at night... the garden being watered... on and on and on.
Once I get on that plane it will all be a non-issue!  But right now I am Type A 'ing.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Horse Fencing. Again.

When will the fencing saga end? Probably not as long as I have horses to contain.  The Red Brand fencing I put in last summer is magnificent.  Neighbors dogs cannot have access to the horses, bunnies can't even get in.  I haven't seen the deer hop it either, to graze with the horses.  The clincher is that I need to have an electric hot tape running the perimeter.  "The grass is greener"... and my horses are leaners.  So I spent way too long electrifying another section.  I know the fence works because I wasn't being careful, zapped myself, screamed, the horses both jumped (I am not usually a screamer), and then I swore that my finger was permanently damaged. It wasn't, I am fine, if a little over-dramatic... but this is not the electric fence of my youth! 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring break for the kids

We took a staycation to big ol' Seattle and acted like tourists for a couple days. Wilder brought a friend along and poor teenage Rose just had me. Funny thing... they had more fun at the small neighborhood park playing lavamonster and getting unseasonably wet in the international fountain at Seattle Center (I don't even know if it is still called that! My 70's roots are showing). We all had fun, I got enormously exhausted. Stayed in a perfect Seattle funky (historic!) hotel next to Seattle Center that was as quiet as my Poulsbo home. Actually quieter during frog season at my house. The Marqueen. If you are looking for cheap and funky... we had a kitchen, reading nook, and four people fit in our room great. We ate well, drove (fast) down the hills of Seattle (poor suspension!), talked to homeless people, went to uberexpensive EMP, took the monorail from Seattle Center to downtown.... some standard tourist stuff, some maybe not so much.

That is my son with the umbrella... prepared to enter the water spray. I can tell them "Don't get wet" but those words just disappear in the wind when they get near the challenge of a fountain.
Wall of Death. Have one in your city? One of the hidden gems under a bridge in Seattle. We also tracked down a troll squeezing a VW bug under a different bridge.
Kerry Park on Queen Anne hill is always a great place for a photo. Hopefully yours will not be a kinda dark, missing a flash photo.
Wow. Seattle traffic. It was insane. I freaked the kids out and said I was going to roll down my window and start asking people where they were from since there was so many more cars. (I didn't.)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Garage doors

Pics: This is the post in the best condition with the foam dug out. I have three garage doors, two which don't open. I got bids to replace them and one bidder noted "it doesn't appear anything is holding this whole wall up." Upon looking closer it appears someone had patched WITH FOAM major structural pieces and then painted it to match. Only when you poked it was it apparent there was nothing of substance, the paint was the toughest thing there.
So yesterday new handyman Erik came over and fixed them. He is a local, and me trying to find another local person for repairs since Javier is all the way in Seattle and always booked solid.
All the support posts holding the three garage doors were rotten and missing except one. I did not take a pic of the most dramatic because my camera went dead, but take this image times three and you get the picture. Erik said my building was being held up by the 70's steel rails from the garage doors. At least they were still making solid stuff in the 70's otherwise my garage would be slumping. I talked to him about converting the third garage into a studio but it not looking like a "former garage door closed off to make a room." To do that would not be a quick job and take some more concrete and structural work so I put that off. I still have a bathroom to fix.
More garage images here...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Change of focus - Mom's House

My mother bought a house 11 years ago so she would have someplace to call her own when she visited her grandkids. I know she would add "and her daughter" but I am a realist, and when her grandkids came on the scene they were quite the attention hogs. As it should be.
She is here about 3 months out of the year so liked having her little house. At about 900 square feet and built like a tank it is a solid, if petite, place. She is gearing up to sell it this spring and I recommended Javier to do painting before she got here from Michigan so she was not asphyxiated by fumes. I told him what she told me - which was the ceilings need painting. I unlocked the door, gave him some paint, and drove to Lowe's for more paint. When I returned he had me follow him around. "It looks like a little hole for a mouse back here... (behind her fridge) want me to patch that?" "I pulled off some of this where the hole was and there was a whole 18" paper hornet nest (in her shower)." Do you want me to paint over the green paint around the doors (incomplete paint job)" " Do you want me to attach her baseboards and sink the nailheads and paint?"
So a ceiling paint job turned into a Javier fixit couple of days. God bless that man. Did I tell you he charges me $150 a day? If he brings his cousin I pay $300. And a day is as long as it takes the job to be done?
Did I tell you I pay my plumber $150 an hour?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Plan of Attack - farmhouse

So say I had $10,000. And with it I could do any house project I wanted. (Which I guess is not that much considering what I am working on --it could disappear fast.)
Some options are to:
1. Paint the whole house and replace some siding (who is burrowing in my siding? Do I really want to know?)
2. Replace my three garage doors (two of which are broken) and the painted FOAM filled support beams-- part of the previous owners Walmart crafty repairs. God I love them for the humor aspect when I am not cranky about their workmanship. Foil. Foam. Empty paper towel rolls. Why buy it when you have perfectly good repair materials laying about the house, preferably from the garbage or burn pile?
3. Foundation work. Add support to the basement and stabilize the south wall which has a bit of a tilt. Should my house move like I live on the train tracks when youth are running rampant on the main floor? Granted they are boys, but still.
4. Move my fridge to the kitchen. Yeah, a novel concept... it is currently in the mud room. This job involves electricians, and they never come cheap.
5. Build out a two level studio/guest house into the loft and main floor of the garage. This might be a weeeee bit more than $10K. BUT it could be an income generator down the road.
6. Build a porch. I have always wanted a porch to sit on and narrate the neighborhood goings on. My house would be cuter with one, too.
7. Something else that I can't remember now.

A side note: I was doing house research this weekend and found the obit for a 92 year old woman who was born in my house. Makes me sad I found out about her from a news article about her passing. I would have liked to invite her over and visited.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wacky weather - snow

It has been snowing since last evening. Granted it is very wet, but we do have a one inch blanket making everything white. Strange weather. The frogs went silent about 36 hours before the snow started. Its pretty! Of course, I got the spring garden fever a little early and cleaned out a major flower bed a week ago. Probably all those perennial and bulb starts I uncovered are frozen lumps of green mush now.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Skep plaque outside the Portland Museum of Art.   Bees/skeps images on architecture and in design were used to show industry/cooperation/teamwork.

 Found this while wandering last weekend. There was no identifying signage visible, but this was from a series of architectural plaques that looked like they came off a masonic hall - probably one that was torn down to make way for a new structure.  They were rough edged, sitting above the grass by a few inches, some it was clear what they were of... (bees, sun and moon) while others were more abstract (lodge emblem). They were alongside the sidewalk in a narrow elevated garden about four feet off the ground.  Context, people, context.  What does this have to do with Portland? With the art museum? What do these images mean? More crucial to the passerby... why are they here?  Sometimes I cannot turnoff my museum public education and outreach training, since I have seen the spark people get from having that knowledge, enthusiasm, sharing.  (Maybe not this skep info per se, I may be the only one that loves such stuff) 
   I did have a point to choosing this picture to post. I took it because I am going to bee training class for 5 months so I can get bees down the road at B.S. Farm.   Maybe then I will have to change the name from Blue Shoe to Bee Sting Farm. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Getting geared up for college visits

My daughter is a bit of a ham. A smart ham, but a ham nonetheless. Univ. of Portland.

 Cricket at Oregon State. 
 Communing with the coyote sculpture at the Portland Art Museum.
 Our only officially led tour - Portland State University.  Rose was getting sick by this time so we cut out early. This was before she fell out of the chair when we were waiting for the chemistry dept. talk. She was fine, no one was there yet, but we both got the giggles.
Reed College.  Rose's favorite campus on this tour.

We spent the weekend touring Oregon's colleges.  Or more specifically, six on the west side of the state.  I didn't have much more stamina than that... having woke up Saturday morn with one whoppin' cold.  A friend asked :why drive down when you can do all the research online nowadays?  I explained... online will give you the physical details, attendance, location, price, student demographics, main focus and grant monies received.  Visiting will a) a very small, almost too quiet campus in a suburb of Portland (Lewis and Clark) b) everyone walking by you either swearing their heads off (Willamette) or smiling and saying "hi" (University of Portland) c) whether there are impromptu cricket games in the main square or informal study groups in the library on weekends (OSU), and what their libraries are like.   Rose and I were particularly drawn to these buildings... frequently the largest on campus, and a visible sign of what was/could be important to the school.  Rose would wander and check out the chemistry section and I would sit in the cushy chairs and try to breathe normally through my plugged nose.  Oh, and always grab the student produced newspapers.  These quick views we took were not an exhaustive viewing of any one college, but just to get the college hunt juices flowing.  Her cousins went to MIT and Stanford so she maybe is thinking a wee bit out of our price range.  We have a couple other states to visit, and at least a dozen schools.    

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Escher inspired knitting

I have always been surrounded by friends who have multiple creative skills.  One is a master knitter and the other a prolific knitter so I have been the recipient of some stellar pieces that you can find on my feet, around my neck and on my hands.   My first meeting with the neurologist he asked if I knitted. Nope. Or played the piano. Nope. Anything that my two hands would have to do together so my left hand use would come back, that my brain would have to work to link the sides together.
After a couple months, I called up my knitter friends.  "I need to start knitting."
Them: "OK."  So we meet up once a week at a coffee shop to knit.
 My daughter Rose joined us since she was knitting in gradeschool with Geri (the master). Rose had a few requirements, being the cool teenager in the bunch.  We were not a club, but a gang. We are the K-Gang with a symbol of two crossed knitting needles as our "gang" sign.  Us adults get an enormous amount of mirth out of being corrected every time we say knitting club.  Rose said it definitely was not cool she was knitting on Sundays with a bunch of women. But secretly, I know she loves it.  These women are all her aunties... not related by blood, but I just about have a blood oath that if something happens to me they need to step in.
 Anyway, after my required scarf as a first project, Geri sent me on to do a hat.  Everyone told me DO NOT TWIST when doing to circle for the hat. Yeah, yeah, so I was careful.  See the above? It took me a while to figure out there is no magic I can do do untwist that.  The sad thing is that it took me 5 rip outs to get that far.  I would like you to take note of the lovely knitting.  I think the other club gang members were shaking their heads everytime they would find out I ripped it out yet again.  But I want to wear it, and I won't if it is a big lumpy mess with missing stitches.  Can we say p-e-r-f-e-c-t-i-o-n-i-s-m.  It does help with the retaining the brain.  Geez, in the beginning it was like reinventing the wheel, I could almost feel the sputtering and grinding in my head as I tried to get my fingers to make incremental moves between needle and yarn.  But it gets easier. I should have that hat done at the height of summer heat at this rate.

Spring frogs

Last night I called the kids outside in the dark.  My son does not like the dark, my daughter was in her pj's.  We stood there together listening to one lone frog call coming from the wetlands.  I don't know how they work that singing thing... are all the other ones just sitting in silence until all thousand start singing at the same time?  What is their signal? Because it really is "all at once".  So Feb. 13th is frog day for 2012.
Unrelated picture since I am lousy at frog hunting: This is little Chuck, who passed away this winter and was buried in the animal graveyard we acquired with the farmhouse.  I know he just looks like a rodent that my cat brings me when she thinks I am a failure as a hunter but he had a big personality, with an addiction to cheese.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dining room paint job

Finished room color. SO exotic. SO unusual. Called cottage white. I am a color wimp.

My bay window in the dining room is showing signs of 'tilt'... they windows don't quite seal anymore. Sigh. Note my old emergency princess phone?  Supposedly us earthquake prone landlubbers need one because cell phones will not work when the big one hits -- they will be overwhelmed and calls won't go through. 

Amanda waiting for me to finish painting. I am somewhat messy about it.

I used to like painting but my teeny dining room cured that. With five doorways what seemed a two day job has taken ten. I did strip all the door hardware and refinish them... taking off YEARS of overpaint. And I did get to see one of the early paint colors - rather a blue green with the consistency of a milk paint... and I did get to curse 100 years of painting the trim without sanding which makes a big rumply paint mess ... gee, am I complaining?
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