A little break

My husband seems to like to spend all his time at the house. The exception is the errands into town. He loves to stack one errand on top of another, so that when I start to go into town to return my library books, say, and go to the grocery store, suddenly he has added on a trip to Walmart (I hate Walmart), a pickup of prescription drugs at Walgreens, and a trip to the hardware store. Every jaunt into town must include at least one trip to the hardware store. Luckily for me, there’s a Dutch Brothers coffee booth right next door and I love their Cocomos, a combination of coffee, coconut milk, and chocolate. There is always a big line at Dutch Brothers, but if it isn’t too bad, I get in the walk-up line while my husband is looking at nuts and bolts next door.

This is all a big lead-up to say that I finally got him to take a little drive with me on Sunday. It was a beautiful day. We had one really hot day this weekend during which we actually started up the air conditioning for a few hours and one really beautiful day, during which we had the windows open all day. And then there was yesterday, when it was cold and cloudy all day, never out of the 50’s. I loved all of them.

These are the falls without the kids. They had momentarily gone out of sight.

Anyway, we chose to drive to Sunset Falls, which we had not seen yet. The drive was a nice one, southeast farther into the foothills of the Cascades. The falls aren’t spectacular, but they are pretty. Kids were sitting on the rocks over the falls in the middle of the creek (it looks like a river, but I’m pretty sure it’s a creek), and some of them were jumping off the rocks into the river or going along the bank to a cliff and jumping off there. Twenty years ago I would have been up top sitting on the rocks or wading in the creek, but I don’t think I would have had the nerve to jump off even forty years ago! It’s not terribly high up, but you could easily hit rocks on the way down.

On the contractor front, our general contractor finally came over yesterday and cleared out our basement, so I foresee some busy days of returning to what we had been doing two months ago or so when they messed it all up. We have almost all the bookcases out of the dance room, only three to go. My husband is going to fasten them to the wall because of the kids, and then I can start putting away my books. Finally! That will free up a lot of room in the dance room so that we can find the rest of our possessions and start organizing the storage in the dance room and garage.

As far as our remaining projects go, it looks like what I feared might be coming to pass. We had been waiting to hear from the guys who are going to asphalt our driveway, the guys who are going to install our marmoleum, and the guys who are going to install the carpet on the stairs. Some of these projects have been in limbo for months. I feared that what would happen is they would all want to do their jobs around the same time. That could be a problem if the driveway was being asphalted. And sure enough, we have a provisional start date from the asphalt guys of June 5 and a provisional start date for the marmoleum of June 8. I’m not sure how many days the asphalt will take, but this seems too close together. On the other had, both dates are provisional, so I’m not going to start trying to reschedule anything until at least one date is set. Also, no word from Lowe’s about the carpet since mid-May, when they said it had been shipped. I don’t want to put any of these guys off. We’ve been waiting for the carpet since February and the marmoleum since April. And the asphalt guys have the toughest schedule.

We also have a provisional start date of mid-June for painting the outside of our house. That’s not such a problem as the other projects, except, of course, if they end up being the same time as the asphalt.

We recently made a possibly foolhardy purchase. Well, who knows. It’s an interesting one at least. I have been wanting to buy a grill. I used to do about half of my meals on the grill when I was single. That was a standard Weber charcoal grill, and I used it so much it had a hole in the grill top. But when I got married, we decided to try a gas grill. Frankly, I never felt comfortable with it. I never knew if it was heated enough or whether the grill was supposed to have some sort of medium in it, like rocks, or anything like that. Our family has always used charcoal. And my husband is one of the few guys I know that doesn’t grill. (This used to be one of my dad’s favorite weekend activities.)

Our gas grill ended up being hauled off from our Austin house, where it had been chained to the deck but unused for years and was in horrible condition. Now that we have a lovely deck and some nice deck furniture for dining, I wanted to buy another charcoal grill. I was discussing it with my niece’s husband when he told me about something that’s called a Big Green Egg. A Big Green Egg is a kamado-style grill. I had never heard of these grills before, but most of them are made out of enamel, and you can use them to grill, smoke, or bake. What sold me was the information that you can use them to make tandoori chicken and naan.

I was 2/3 of the way there after reading about them, although they are expensive for a charcoal grill, but I wanted to see one. That is the difficulty. Our local Ace was supposed to carry them, but apparently they decided they took up too much space in what is a fairly small store. They said they could order one for me, but I wanted to at least look at one first. Then we stopped by Home Despot, which does not carry Big Green Eggs but has several other styles of kamado grills, some of which are less expensive. But they didn’t have even one of them in stock, either. We talked to a helpful guy in the store, who told us where we could see a Big Green Egg just to get a look at a kamado grill. The plan was to look at the Egg and then return to the Home Despot, where he would show us his other kamado grills online and we could order one. It was this kind of informed and guided shopping that I wanted from the store, because I had already read some reviews and looked at all the various grills online. I just wanted to hear what he had to say about them.

Well, we went to look at the Big Green Egg, but when we returned to Home Despot, nobody knew who the heck we were talking about, even though we knew his name (he might have been a manager), and if he WAS the manager, he was in a meeting. We stood around and stood around waiting at the service desk, but when I heard they were getting someone from flooring to help us, that’s when I decided to leave. After all, someone from flooring wasn’t going to know any more about the grills than I did. This is a problem with the local Home Despot. In Austin, they had pretty good service, but here, you’re lucky if you can find anyone to talk to. We went right back to the store with the Big Green Eggs.

The Big Green Eggs are pricey, but while we were talking to the nice man in the other store, we found out about demo eggs. These eggs are used one time at a Big Green Egg demo in Portland, and then you get one for 25% off. So, we signed up for one of those. We get our grill, slightly used, on June 25.

.This is what I call color

I hate to subject you, completely changing the subject, to another picture of our ridge, but lately the rhododendron on the left side of the water feature has bloomed beautifully. I was complaining in early spring that our property didn’t have any color, but it just didn’t have any early color. Now wildflowers are popping up all over the place. First there were some small blue ones on the ridge, but lately there are lots of white ones and some yellow flowers all around the house, maybe buttercups. I need to learn something about wildflowers. Here is part of our ridge now, just a couple weeks after the last picture. You can see some of the white flowers at the base of the rhododendron.

We have had several returns of the bunny, one time with a smaller companion, to our drive, where he or she likes to eat the grass in between the bricks. Sadly, that grass is going to be going away soon. Maybe the bunny will stay to eat the grass on our lawn, though. The bunny comes almost every evening now just before dusk.

This is my cedar waxwing.

If anyone is still interested in my art class, I finally finished my picture of a cedar waxwing. My sister is still working on her hummingbird, since she missed a class. I guess that means I’ll be doing an exercise in class today. The exercises tend to be tedious, but they are wise to intermix them with the opportunity to draw a picture. I think my next picture is supposed to be of a furry animal.

The touch of mortality

Hans in happier times

We had a sad event at our house on Sunday, which also was my husband’s 71st birthday. His standard poodle, Hans, died. The poor dog had been suffering for some time, but my husband thinks that taking a pet to the vet to be put to sleep is cruel. This issue is a difficult one to resolve. I personally believe that if the pet can’t be saved, letting it suffer is cruel, but we all have to deal with this issue in our own ways. In any case, we were out working in the yard when he died, and we spent the afternoon burying him in the pasture under a hemlock tree. At least he has a nice place to be.

After several hours of fooling around with his new riding mower, my husband took off to cut the orchard. For practice, he did our small front lawn and cut down my lilac bush, planted only a few weeks before. I saw him out there, and I thought, he is going to cut down my lilac bush. I saw him pass it safely. I went back to doing the laundry. Less than a minute later, I heard a terrific crunch and looked out to see nothing, that is, no lilac bush. My niece’s husband has been suggesting I put in raised beds in front for flowers. I’m beginning to think that may be a good idea. In any case, I guess there will be no scent of lilac on our property this year.

My husband was only able to cut a sort of circular swath through the orchard. I think the slope of it worried him and he was a little scared of his mower. He also found he could not fit the mower into the wolf pen, so it’s going to have to come down. I have been wanting to take down the wolf pen since we got here, but he thought he might use it for Hans. Needless to say, Hans never set foot in the place. Our tenants, who lived here before we moved here, used it for their goats.

Azaleas next to the waterfall with the pieris above

Although it is supposed to start raining again for several days starting tomorrow, we have had several gorgeous days in a row. On one of those days, my niece’s husband kindly came over and cut the rest of the orchard. The grass is getting out of control here because we didn’t have a mower and it rained for so long this spring. I weed-whacked part of the side yard and part of the wolf pen, which has grass that is almost up to my waist. Also in the last few days, the azaleas (I think they’re azaleas) have bloomed on our ridge. The pieris plants, which were yellow during the winter, turned bright red in early spring, and are now pink. Here is a picture of the azaleas and one pieris next to the waterfall, which is not turned on yet because we need to clean it out.

On the flooring front, our contractor found a flooring installer, which I reported last week, and this week he finally returned from vacation and contacted the flooring company. We have already heard from the company representative, who is coming out on Friday to measure. Finally, some movement!

My flower drawing. Keep in mind this is the first thing I ever drew.

We also finally heard from Lowe’s. As you may (or may not) remember, we ordered carpet for the new stairs from them, the same kind as we installed during the winter in the basement. They came back to us in February saying that the carpet was out of production and wouldn’t be available until May. Last week, they called us to say that carpet would be shipped to them on May 15. I had been worrying that they would call back and say the carpet was no longer available, which, since we were trying to match the downstairs carpet, would have been bad.

And although I have moved on from my picture of a flower to another exercise and now to drawing a bird (a cedar waxwing), I have not forgotten my promise to Naomi to take a picture of my first drawing. Here is my flower, in all its glory, or not. I guess it does look like a flower.

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

You can’t always see those mountains through the trees.

It’s a gorgeous day today! Yesterday, the high was 51, and it rained almost all day. We had a fire in our wood stove. Today, the high is supposed to be 81. I had an early morning appointment, and the air was fresh, the skies sunny. Now, I’ve had to remove my sweatshirt for the first time since October and won’t be wearing two shirts today for the first time since November (when I figured out what was needed to keep from having to crawl in bed every day to get warm). Here is a picture of our deck this morning. If you look carefully past the trees, you can see mountains.

For those of you who can’t wait to hear the latest renovation news, we haven’t done anything this week, but my marmoleum samples finally arrived. I picked a deep but bright blue called adriatica that only has a few speckles, light and dark (I could have used more speckles, but this was the best color) and looks lovely with our grayish green-blue walls. It will be very dramatic. On Tuesday, I heard from our contractor, who has been on vacation. He said he had found a vendor of marmoleum who has installers, and he is just waiting for pricing information. Yippee!

On the down side, we developed a leak under our kitchen sink last week. Every once in a while we would find a small puddle of water on the floor in front of the sink, and then open the cabinet door to find a puddle inside. Of course, my husband did nothing about this immediately, because that is not his way. I put a towel under the cabinet door to avoid wrecking the hardwoods any more than they are already wrecked (most lately by his dog having an accident and then him not cleaning it up right away—I wasn’t around). Then my husband ground up my pestle in the garbage disposal. I had only used it once. It was in the sink, and he must have taken out the drain plug without putting the drainer in immediately. The pestle fell down into the garbage disposal at some point and then he turned it on. I know I didn’t do it, because I always have either the plug or the drainer in the sink to avoid extra garbage going down, because we compost most of our garbage. We only use the disposal when the sink gets clogged up with the particles that we haven’t captured in the drainer. This saves our septic field from filling up too quickly.

So, the pestle, which was made of porcelain, broke, and bits of it got into the disposal and broke it. Then the drain got plugged so that we couldn’t use the sink. I finally got on the phone and started to try to find plumbers, but it wasn’t easy, because they are all busy putting plumbing into the new houses that are going up in the area, from people moving out of Portland because it is too expensive to live in. My contractor told me I could call his plumber, but my husband finally went out to buy parts and fixed it himself. In Austin we went without a garbage disposal for years, during which he wouldn’t let me call a plumber (he was always going to fix it sometime), so this is an improvement.

We started back at our unpacking last week, because we finally got tired of waiting for our contractors to come back and clean up their junk in the basement. My husband spent a day tidying up the basement, and then we started hauling our bookcases out of the storage room. They can’t make the corner from the storage room to the big room downstairs, so we have to wheel them straight across the hall, through the guest room, out the sliding glass door, down to the other sliding glass door, across the wooden walkway for the sauna, and in the door to the big room. You can see why we wanted to wait for a day when it wasn’t raining. Then we had to clean them up and put them into position. We got all of a set of 10 cherry library shelves (with a crossbar and a ladder) out of the storage room. Unfortunately, they cannot occupy one wall like they did in Austin, nor can they have their top shelves added on. But we set up half of them on one wall, and will be setting up the other half on the other wall. We still have three black bookshelves to move out, and then the bookshelves will be done, and I can start unpacking the books.

Also in the shelving category are our DVD/CD shelves. My husband moved them up from the basement last week and attached them to the walls in my office. Then I unpacked all the DVDs and put them away (alphabetically, of course) and the CDs that were on the shelves before. We have hundreds more CDs, though, that used to be in a 300-CD jukebox that broke. We will have to figure out what to do with them. So much for jukeboxes. That one held up only a paltry 15 years. I still have the 5-CD player that my brother sent me for my birthday 20 years ago, and it works perfectly well. I also have my record player. Yes, I do, and my record albums, which I understand are becoming chic these days. We’ll have to figure out a place for those, too. I do play them sometimes.

Hillary watching birds

It took me a while to figure out what my cat was doing every morning, but I finally did. She stands just outside the bedroom drapes, which are closed in early morning, and watches the birds in the feeders. If it’s a cold morning, she sits directly on top of the heating vent you can see there in the floor. We put a feeder out months ago, but it is only in the past three weeks or so that we’ve seen any usage made of it. I thought it was too close to the house, since we hung it directly under the eaves outside our bedroom window, but that doesn’t bother the chickadees, and they love the suet that is next to the feeder. If I want to get other birds, I’ll have to hang another feeder farther from the house. Sometimes a few small gray birds are on the deck eating the seeds that the chickadees dropped. I think they are bush tits. We had tufted titmice in Austin that hung out with the chickadees, but here I have only seen these little gray birds. The chickadees here, by the way, are lots bigger than the ones that we had in Austin.

If you are waiting with bated breath to hear about my art class, I finished my flower last week, but I forgot to take a picture of it, as requested by Naomi. My flower is okay, but I think my sister’s is much more striking (although our instructor has labeled us the one who doesn’t follow instructions [my sister] and the one who does [me]). I think this is because my sister traced the outlines of her flower petals when the instructor told her not to. I will try to remember to take a picture of my flower today.

Now the instructor has us doing another exercise. The first one was interesting, but now that we have done real pictures, the exercises are boring. This one is drawing everyday objects from the basic shapes. That is, ice cream cones from cones and spheres, etc. I think the school is wise to alternate exercises with opportunities to draw pictures.

Signs of spring, no signs of lino

At least we have one flowering tree.

I was regretting the other day that our property seemed to have no flowering trees, when I looked out the window and saw that yes, we had at least one. A cherry tree had come into bloom. So, I took my phone out, even though it was a gloomy day, and took a few photos of the signs of spring on our property. There was the cherry tree, the beginnings of lotus buds on the pond, the wildflowers near the path on the way to the pond. Other parts of our area are blooming much more showily, but we can do something about that next year.

Big yellow lotus buds are at the edge of the pond to the right.

Our lino story continues. The marmoleum never arrived, so last week I got on the Forbo website and ordered my own samples. I discovered on their page that there were a lot more colors than the design center showed me. They showed me just one family of colors when they have six or eight. So, I ended up requesting six samples. I got a message from FedEx saying it had shipped, so maybe this time I’ll get my samples.

Itsy bitsy pinky purple flowers in the greenery

My contractor has yet to find me an installer, but I found a list of distributors in our area, and presumably they would know of installers. My understanding is that linoleum has been reviving as a trendy floor product, so I’m not sure why everyone here is acting like I want something unheard of. My niece spoke to me about it when I first moved here, because she wants to install it in her laundry room. She has friends who installed it in Portland and love it. And my friend from Portland told me that even when she was back in Michigan 15 years ago it was becoming more popular. It is a green floor product because of what it is made of, linseed oil and limestone and recycled wood flour, whatever that is. Even a friend of mine, who laid carpet while working his way through graduate school, knows how to lay it. Unfortunately, he lives in Illinois.

I had to laugh at what my niece told me about marmoleum. She said that vinyl is too shiny and that one of the reasons she likes marmoleum is because of its matte surface. I told her that when I was a child, we had a typical 50’s kitchen: aqua double ovens and a small aqua refrigerator (I can’t remember if the sink was aqua—I think it was white), formica counter tops with that space age design of rounded corner triangles in aqua and I think tan on white, and linoleum floors. Only, I told her, in those days everyone waxed their linoleum. One time we went over to a friend’s house, and their linoleum was unwaxed. We had never seen that before, so we thought their floor was dirty.

The electrician finished up the connections to the generator and sauna last week just in time for our latest power failure. Unfortunately, since the inspector hadn’t been out to look at the propane tank installation, we didn’t have any propane, so we had to rough it. The propane company reports that they are still waiting for the inspector. The inspector for the electrical work came right out the day the electrician finished, so that is all good. Of course, we found out from the electrician that no one had permitted any of the electrical work done in the basement.

On Thursday we had some sunshine, and my niece brought her kids over to help me plant my plants, by which I mean to plant them herself. While we were planting the bird’s nest spruce next to the fountain, we found a little hemlock sprig, which we moved to a better place. We ended up planting all of the plants on the ridge.

These are the cherry trees soon to be gone. Yes, the pink stuff on the ground is blossoms.

This weekend I had another outing to Portland to meet my friend. I drove to the airport area, where I parked my car and took the train into the city. I met my friend at the convention center, and we attended a pottery show. I have to buy a backpack for these expeditions, because I always end up buying something and having to cart it around. Last time, it was a gigantic loaf of bread. This time, I bought a cup at the pottery show, and I would have bought more—not for myself as I’ve decided we have enough junk when I look around at all the stuff that is unpacked, but as gifts for my friends—except that I didn’t want to have to cart a bunch of pottery back on the train. Later, we took the trolley to a nice Mediterranean restaurant, then took it back to attend the Portland Friends of the Library book sale. One of the sights my friend showed me was a beautiful street full of cherry blossoms. Apparently, this street, which people come from all around to take pictures of in the spring, will not be there much longer. They’re tearing it and the nearby park down to put up an ugly apartment building. “Paved paradise to put up a parking lot.”

I attended art class by myself this week. I started shading the leaves of my flower and got about halfway done. I wasn’t sure how much it really looked like a flower, but my instructor made me stand back and look at it. I guess it looks like a flower. I am now remembering the woman in our first class who was drawing what looked like a bunch of blobs and wondering if I am doing much better. I am interested to see how my sister’s bird of paradise is coming along, though.

 

 

Wacky weather and lino laments

Halls of neon velvet

From what we understand, spring is slow in coming to the area this year. I guess what that means is that the temperatures are still reliably in the 50’s and low 60’s, and it continues to rain a lot. For me, that is spring, but for most of the people around here, it’s still winter. But we have had some strange days. On Friday, in driving back from doing errands in town, I was struck by how beautiful the forest was. It was a mostly gloomy day, with dark clouds, but interrupted by strong rays of sunshine. Since we’re in a rain forest, almost all of the trees have a coating of green moss on their trunks and branches, and driving up our main road into the forest, with the sun slanting through the trees, was like traveling through halls of neon green velvet. I wanted to take a picture of it, but that road is too windy and dangerous to stop on, so the best I could do was take a picture of our little road, which doesn’t have as many trees. The result only gives the smallest idea of what it was like, if you look hard.

Itty bitty hailstones on the deck

The weather yesterday was even more unpredictable. Most of the day it rained, but about 10 AM I noticed that it was warm and sunny, so I opened the sliding glass door in the dining room. Less than an hour later, the air abruptly turned cold and showers of small hail came down.

In between these capricious days, we’ve had some beautiful ones. On Saturday, my niece took me to her favorite nursery in Woodland, Washington. We both bought trees and bushes. I bought two Japanese maples, a French lilac, a bird’s nest spruce (a little ball-shaped bush rather than a tree), and a flaming silver pieris, which is a pinky yellowy leafy shrub. My niece bought several bushes and a stunning Japanese maple that is pink in the spring, green in the summer, and bright red in the fall. I found it for her, so I was proud of myself.

 

The ridge in question on a gloomy day (today, in fact)

It was still warm and sunny when I got home, so I coaxed my husband out to help plant my purchases. This turned out to be easier said than done. My intention was to continue to landscape the ridge in front of our house, which is mostly finished but has a few odd holes. But both our lawn and the ridge turn out to have about two inches of dirt on top of rock. We had to go out and buy a pickax. When we got back, we were able to plant the lilac a few feet from the front door and the camelia about a foot up the ridge. But we found that we are too geezerly, really, to go much higher on the ridge, let alone perch there long enough to dig holes with a pickax. So, some day this week my niece is coming over to help us. I bet she’ll be glad now that I purposefully only bought plants in the smaller containers. She thought it was funny at the time, when I explained that my husband would have to help me and he wouldn’t want to dig large holes.

Our other outdoor activity this week involved me babysitting my niece’s kids while she, her husband, and my husband tried to fix a problem with a culvert in the road. If you look back up at my picture of the trees, you might notice that a puddle is taking up half the road where it disappears off the edge of the picture. Many heavy trucks have been in our neighborhood lately. Just after we moved here, a new neighbor logged his entire property (that is another story, considered by some a neighborhood tragedy) and now is building a house. And of course there have been the trucks coming to our house. At some point, we think, a truck took the corner too close to the side of the road (in fact, we can see tracks off the road there) and crimped the culvert. The road has been filling up with water the last few months and can’t drain. So, my niece and her husband dug out the culvert to look at it and drained the pool. They said that the hillside was going to come down if it wasn’t fixed. The fix is only temporary, though. They are going to try to raise money from the neighbors to get a better culvert installed under the road.

The babysitting had its challenges. But that’s another story. At least it involved a nature walk in the orchard and by the pond and creek, during which we saw that the yellow lotus flowers were coming out on the pond, and that white and blue wildflowers were coming up along the path, including trilliums or trillia, or whatever the plural is. I’ll try to take pictures for next week.

On the home improvement front, I was waiting all week for my marmolette and marmoleum samples to arrive. I got the marmolette samples on Friday, but the marmoleum has still to appear. I have a color picked out of the marmolette, but I think the speckles in the marmoleum might be more pronounced, so I want to compare. Certainly, I want to make sure that of the five samples I picked, I am choosing the one I like best.

But, of course, a problem has arisen. The flooring representative tells me that she is having trouble finding someone who has experience laying this type of flooring. She started this information out by saying “As I told you before,” which really set my back up, as I have never discussed this type of flooring with this particular person. I discussed it with the person who helped me at the design center, but never with the rep. And my question is, if you are unprepared to install a particular type of flooring, why do you have samples of it in your design center? My contractor says, never mind, just pick out your flooring and we’ll work it out. In the meantime, I’m still waiting for my samples.

And art class, for those of you who are waiting with bated breath to hear about that. I finished my solids last week and was told to go pick out three photos showing exactly one flower from the class albums. Then my instructor selected one of the pictures for me to work on. My sister is working on a bird of paradise and I have an newly blooming tulip. The instructor drew a grid on tracing paper and then took a marker and showed me the shapes she wanted me to draw on the paper. At first, I had a false start because the grid she drew on the photo and the grid on my paper were not proportional. She had told me to observe the relationships between the lines and the objects in the photos, but if I did that, I ended up with an oblong flower. It was hard to get her attention, even though I noticed this problem almost immediately, because she observes a strictly fair method of moving around the classroom, so I had to wait for her to make it back to me. Then we straightened out what I was to do, and my drawing looked a lot better the next time she made it around. In fact, in waiting for her the second time, I started out being impatient but ended up working on my drawing some more and made it much better. It actually looked like the shapes underlying a flower rather than a bunch of blobs.

The next step was to put graphite under our tracing paper and lightly trace over our outline drawing onto the paper. I finished that just before class ended, while my sister had already started charcoaling the background of her picture. Our teacher remarked that we were both doing very well and moving quickly through the exercises.

Power to the people (or not)

Friday we had our longest power outage yet. Of course, the generator is not yet hooked up. My prediction is that as soon as it is, we’ll never have a power failure again.

I woke up Friday morning because our HEPA filter and humidifier turned off. The wind was blowing like the dickens. At one point the top of a dead tree blew right off and landed in our pond as I was watching. Our power was off for the next 19 or 20 hours.

I made a city slicker error early on. I was figuring on how much hot water we probably had and took a shower. I forgot that our well has an electric pump, so the next thing I knew, we were out of water. Luckily, or it would have been a very unpleasant day, the power came back on briefly within the hour. That was enough to get our water pressure back up. We had our lanterns and our wood stove, and our cooking stove works off propane, so we were relatively comfortable. It was a long, boring day, though, and I can tell you right now that I hate reading with a headlamp. To break up the monotony, we invited my sister out to lunch and made a trip to the hardware store. I bought suet for the birds. My husband bought stuff for his new riding lawnmower. My sister bought bean seeds.

There was not much going on this week in relation to our work on the house. The contractors came out on Thursday to finish up odds and ends, which included installing a closet door in the bedroom (the previous owner apparently removed both the mirrored sliding closet doors from two bedrooms to use in her dance studio as mirrors–crazy when you realize that mirrors cost a lot less than closet doors–then she took them with her), putting the hardware on the door to the basement, filling the holes in the ceiling next to the new lights, and finishing the flooring in the new closet.

Other than that, my job was to go to the design center and pick out vinyl for some rooms that have worn vinyl. We have vinyl only in the small toilet area of the master bathroom, in the half bath, and in the laundry room. We also need something on the floor of the new closet under the stairs. We decided not to go into a big expense for these small areas and just replace the vinyl.

Unfortunately, I figured out as I looked through the samples that I hate vinyl. That’s because all of it is trying to look like wood or stone, and it’s not wood or stone. I didn’t mind so much the vinyl that tried to look like tile, but that does not seem to be the fashion these days. Also, because everything is trying to look like wood or stone, the colors are so dreary. I really don’t like brown or beige or tan. Gray is about as far as I will go. If it was actually stone, that would be different.

So, I asked about linoleum, which is apparently no longer used as a flooring term, and found out about marmoleum or marmorette. That’s that old fashioned speckled stuff that is often used in stores. It’s not trying to look like anything except linoleum. And that’s what we’re looking at. It comes in lots of colors, too.

Hillary, during her more calm moments of assisting the bed-making process

So, I spent a lot of the week lollygagging—there didn’t seem to be much else we could do on Friday, for example, and cleaning up the house. I made the beds on Monday, and was assisted in this activity by my cat Hillary.

And oh, yes, my first drawing class was Wednesday. At first, my sister and I weren’t sure what we thought. My small experiences with art classes have been with those that have a set start and end date, but at this art school, classes just continue. That works okay if you are already a student, but wasn’t handled so well with us, the new students. When we came in, everyone was sitting there working on projects. There was a mix of mostly older women and children, because of spring break. The students were at all levels, and some of their work looked really good to me.

However, my sister and I didn’t know what to do. We found seats and just waited for the teacher to pay attention to us. She was making the rounds from student to student, and it took her 20 minutes to get to us. Once she did, things worked out much better. She gave us an exercise to try to draw a set of mathematical solids. Later she came by and gave us hints to correct them. My shapes were okay, for example, but I made my shadows too short. My sister needed to round out the bottom of her cone. Later she showed us how to use our charcoal to do shading and other tools to blend and put in light spots. So, all in all, we saw her four or five times during the class.

Since my sister had complained that her only other class involved no instruction, I was a little worried about this slow start, but all was okay. She told me as we were leaving that she would like to stay in the drawing class for a while instead of moving into painting. I said that was okay with me. In short, we had fun and learned something!