A Little Faux of My Own

I’m south again and was hoping to start painting my parents’ new interior, but the drywallers aren’t finished yet. So, faced with a glorious day, I decided to complete a little project of my own.

My husband built this storage barn last summer. For security reasons, we didn’t want windows, but we also didn’t want to be looking at bare-faced siding. So we planned some faux windows. Hubster framed them with Hardie board; my job was to complete the illusion.Faux Windows - BeforeFaux Windows - in progress

Start to finish took about two hours – including clean-up and a fresh coat of paint on my back steps. Mind you, it could still do with a bit of shadowing and the paint bled under the tape because of the surface texture. But it does the trick “at 40 feet on a galloping horse” as we used to say in the theatre.

Faux Windows - After

It was good to be on a ladder with a paintbrush in my hand again. Been too long. But I’ve got a whole house to deal with once that drywall is in and straight painting isn’t my favorite. The decorative stuff is much more fun.

I think I should paint the door the same color as the siding. What do you think?

 

Work in Progress: Never-ending Renovations:

Work In Progress

Work In Progress

Looking good, eh?

Six months delayed. Cost overruns. Losing buckets of $$$$$ because I quit my day gig too soon. The house was supposed to be ready early March – originally December, but I knew that was laughable – so I stopped working at the beginning of January in order to help my parents pack, move and settle in.

Is the end in sight?

The insulation isn’t even in yet, much less drywall and fixtures. My husband and I will have to DIY the flooring, cabinets and painting to save money.

The good news is: the wait has allowed me to write. Writing is portable while I’m trying to be in two places at once.

Meanwhile, I’m having serious cravings to paint – particularly with encaustic/wax processes. But painting isn’t very portable (not the way I paint anyway, and especially not with the encaustic set-up). So, I write.

Is there any wonder I’d rather just sit here and read?

porch1 medium 11 inches

Tomato Soup with an Asian Twist

Tomato Soup with Asian Twist

Tomato Soup with Asian Twist

I’m back at home for the week. That means stacks of laundry, cleaning floors and putting away winter clothes. Yay!

Sudden rain made me think – SOUP!

I dug around in the pantry and freezer and this is what I came up with:

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red bell peppers – cubed
  • 1/2 cup green bell peppers – cubed
  • Lots of chopped garlic
  • 2 whole star anise seed pods (shhhhhh! This is the secret ingredient!)
  • 28 oz diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 1 small bullion cube
  • Whole lot of green onions – chopped

Method:

Saute first 5 items

Add tomatoes and simmer

Add broth & bullion cube

Simmer about 30 minutes

Remove anise

Add green onions and simmer another 5 minutes

Simple and surprisingly yummy.

Everybody IS a Story

Last Sunday James and I visited a small neighborhood church across town. We were greeted by a little old lady – gray-haired, long jean skirt, tidy blouse, and cardigan. I’d have guessed she was in her mid-80s.

Now, stop right there. What are you thinking? Have you made some assumptions about her already? Be honest.

I had.

I’m thinking – grandmother, great-grandmother, bakes apple pies, knits socks. Sweet. A pleasant two-dimensional cardboard cut-out.

She started telling us how they’d lost five of their congregation in the past year. Wow, I thought. That’s about 30%.

Then she said, “Yes, a family of three moved away – Navy, you know. Then Slim Whitman passed away.”

Slim Whitman?

“Oh, yes. This was his home church. He never wanted to move to Nashville and get involved in all that stuff.”

Well, whaddayaknow?

But here’s the good part:

She continued, “A few years ago my husband and I went with him on his farewell tour through Europe and the UK. We went with him so we could take care of his wife Jerry. She was sick and he was going to cancel his tour because he refused to leave her. So we volunteered to go and take care of her while he had to be on stage. We did 20 cities in 23 days. Road on the tour bus. Slim, he had to ride in a separate car or fly, but we road on the tour bus with the band. Learned all about the industry and took care of Jerry.”

She and her husband would have been in their 70s at the time.

I don’t mean that being someone’s grandmother is insufficient. But this was a fun reminder that if you’re willing to listen, everyone has a story to tell. Everyone is much richer than our cliches. What’s most special is the way they served their long-time friends, Slim and Jerry, by stepping in to take care of a loved one’s wife of 67 years –  even when it meant two months away from home, long days on tour buses and road food. They could have been home with their grandchildren, watching TV and knitting.

Books & Blogging Update

I’ve just learned that Google gets unhappy if you duplicate material on different web sites.This complicates my blogging life because it prevents my plans to cross-post material between my four blogs. I’ve been told it is best to summarize and then link back to the primary post. Sigh. I get there eventually.

So, here’s what you’ve missed:

A recommendation on a new and fascinating blog about Afghanistan.

Observations on the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

Reading Response to Tariq Ali’s Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree.

I’ll be back soon with a general update.

2014 Recap in one word: Work

Here’s the requisite review of the past year:

Work and Personal: All personal life was subsumed into the day job. From February 1st to today, my independent adjusting hat has kept me booked for all but seven weeks and on the road for five of those months. Four of the seven weeks away from the day job were spent with my parents trouble shooting some of their challenges. So that makes six months away from home. Even when working in my own town, the day job is a six, sometimes seven days a week, eleven hour workday. The occasional day off is spent doing laundry, paying taxes, cleaning bathrooms. The good news is that I went from my first gig as an independent adjuster to a management role in that short time. For this I feel overwhelmed with gratitude and a desire to keep growing in this role. However, how that can possibly mesh with my 2015 realities will take a greater move of Providence yet.

Right Brain: In early January 2014 I completed the large mural project that you can see here. Immediately after, I began the day job and all visual arts stopped. My writing project is now two years behind my goal to complete the first draft. I did, however, manage to do 30-60 minutes of research every day or so. It’s a pittance but has resulted in me feeling ready to get back to the text.

I have today off and although I slept late and am already through one pot of tea, I am still tired. I need to pack for moving on Sunday after two final days of work, then 2015 officially begins for me. More on what that might look like in the next post.

Strange Gods – Annamaria Alfieri

Strange Gods by Annamaria Alfieri

This post originally appeared here: Long Ago & Far Away.

I recently enjoyed Annamaria Alfieri’s latest historical murder mystery: Strange Gods.

Set in 1911 British East Africa, a murder entangles a cross-section of expatriate and local characters into a complex but well constructed whodunit. And we get a love story as a bonus. Beyond the murder mystery and romance, Ms. Alfieri also illustrates the consequences of universal social ills and the challenges of those who must navigate through them.

I will leave the specifics for you to discover since I do not wish to slip into spoilers.

But, if you ask me, this book cries out to be expanded to film. Think of the scenery! The costumes! The culture and character contrasts! The discovery of dark secrets and passions! This could be both grand entertainment and worthy of critical acclaim.

Wouldn’t it be great to see some serious money poured into this project rather than another Transformers rehash?

Dare we hope?

When Ms. Alfieri has a break in her book promotion schedule and writing her next tale, maybe we can get her back here for another interview.

Have you read Strange Gods yet? Do you have any questions you would like me to ask of her? What do you think about putting it on the big screen?

In the meantime, I am observing certain recurring themes in my Long Ago & Far Awayreading. I will explore those in a near-future post.