WHAT TIME LOOKS LIKE

Interesting exercise.

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Bought the laurels above for almost nothing, played with them for a couple of years, and gave up.  It is too hot here for Mountain Laurels, and they all developed holes in their leaves.  So not a lot of money was lost.

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Neither was it with all these Agave.  They all come from one mother, which is in another place on the acreage.  These love the sun here.  Same pots on the columns; common Prickly Pear is in them now.  This pool environment has lots of spiky things, counterintuitively.

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The Holly bushes on either side of the entry gate must be about two years old here.  A plywood box covers the machinery for the pool.

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Above, the hollies make a tunnel over the gate.  Brick has been added to the entry, tile to the pool deck and a little silo to cover the pool equipment. Confederate Jasmine almost covers the back fence now.  It was completely covered about four years ago, so much so that its density absorbed garden space and we had to start over.

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This is Sidney’s Live Oak, planted in 1997, the year he died.  Look at the sandy soil.  It is only with a system and a well that we can have grass.

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Here is the adolescent live oak today.  Have more of these, it takes some work to photograph and crop to make a good comparison.

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THE STORY OF A MANTEL

A friend cleans out old buildings and sells the metal for a living.  As you might guess, he is also a collector.  You never know what he will be up to.  A real one of a kind person, he is gruff on the outside and an artist on the inside.  He has commissioned Glenn and me for several works of art.

He called us the other day saying that he had some old windows for me.  We jumped in the truck.  Came home with windows and the following: an old mantel with gorgeous texture.

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We recently had a kitchen fireplace mantel accident and hoped this would work as a replacement.  It did not.  We worked on it anyway.  I took off all paint that was flaking off, intending to preserve the rest.

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A long slit on the backside of one of the columns needed repair.

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A simple box made the base for the column.  All that was needed was to nail them in place.

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As a piece was sufficiently sanded, layers of varnish were applied.

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This board, which supports the top shelf of the mantel had its original moulding.  Glenn had to recreate the rest.

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Good that he didn’t have to recreate details the way this old mantel was made in the first place.

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Here the mantel is reconstructed, with new moulding at the right and left of the opening, and a new (old) board chosen to connect the columns.  We brought the mantel into the kitchen to compare the two openings.  Not a match in any way, we had to hesitate for a second.  We already have one fake mantel in a bedroom, used with a big mirror over it to expand the room, and two fireplaces, each with two faces, in the round, so to speak.  All but the one in the kitchen have a hearth, so this kind of mantel cannot be used.  What to do?

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Our bed angles to the middle of our big bedroom.  It faces two windows so we can watch our birds.  The large head of the bed partially blocks off vision into the room, provided by a set of French doors.  This would be a perfect place for this mantel, but there wasn’t enough of it.  The mattress and wire are flat out ugly.  The mantle needed something more.

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Glenn glued together two boards he rescued years ago from an old wooden boxcar.

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He found two more old boards, one for a shelf, and another board for the top of the mantle to make it weightier visually.

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He cut the second shelf board to account for moulding.  It adds a nice bit of interest.

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The edge of this board had some writing on it.  We preserved it with varnish.

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Voila!  Would love to put more stuff on the very top of the mantel, but the cats are finding this place very inviting.  Pretend you don’t see that wire.  It’s gone now!

INCESTUOUS WINDOWS

Where should we start?  The very big ideas?  OK.

Artists do not only make art, they live it and in it.  Serious art reflects the ideas, attitudes, experiences and style of the artist.  These things are interwoven and inseparable.  And changeable, but usually the change is slow.  At least that is how it works for me.

Premise 1 in the creating of a style:  Being an artist(s) we don’t have the money that more traditionally employed people do.  We habit the thrift shops and flea markets, looking for shapes and textures and things to repurpose to live in our home.  We sniff out free things in the wind.  We develop friendships with like people and fund each other’s eccentricities.  Old things look good to us.

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To me, the base of this enamel table in our kitchen is awesome.  The lines and shapes scream the 1930s.  This table base helped me solve a financial problem in buying the tile for the kitchen, if you will notice the floor.  I bought the majority of the tile at a sidewalk sale at Lowe’s, but there was not enough for the big space of kitchen and great room.  So I laid tile “rugs” in each room, one under this table.  The tile under the table is lighter than the surrounding, and at each corner of the rug is a corresponding black tile (you can only see two black tiles in this image).  The rug tile was free, and the problem was solved.  The four black squares used in the corners integrate the tile rug with the table base.  The rug under the table is much more interesting than had the floor simply been one broad ecru plane.  So my finances dictate another way to create, and push a style forward with lifestyle needs.

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We needed a shed to house our pool equipment, pool pump, and machinery related to our sprinkler system.  My love of cheap metal (notice the lamp on the stucco column) led us to buying a used grain bin to satisfy these needs, and it was very inexpensive.  We love the little silo that has an apex that looks like the top of a Coke bottle.

Premise 2:  We live in a world that is using up all its natural resources.  This disposable society cannot thrive.  Many, many artists choose to make their work out of waste materials because they are available, are beautiful and otherwise would be in the landfill.  These artists additionally are making visual statements that describe our recent decades.

We built a barn.  Before this time, some restlessness inside of me accepted a whole group of wooden windows from a contractor friend who was doing odd jobs here.  I put them under a roof.  His work often was replacing old wooden windows with vinyl ones, and he kept bringing me the rejects.  He would have been charged to put them in the dump, so the solution was good for everybody.


1-IMG_0011We used 33 old windows for this barn, and saved a lot of money.  Their glass is wavy and beautiful, and since this is studio and storage space and not living space, they do the job here just fine.  And of course, this is South Carolina and we live in a moderate part of the world.  Glenn later added the cool awning above the entry door.

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I hope the case is made for the using of old stuff.  Here is where the incest starts.

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My daughter Brady, (who blogs for Lexington County, South Carolina at Everywomanblog.com and has a cooking blog at brannyboilsover.com) influenced by my love of old things, found this door of windows at the dump and brought it home.  Neither one of us are beyond “diving”.  She often donates at the Goodwill at the same time she goes in to buy.  She installed this on the wall,  and of course there it was for me to see.  A window on a wall as art.  Hmmm.

Some years later, here is my sculptural work.  Before now, the windows had many other incarnations as I tried to use them.  I was getting too fancy.  For me, for now, it is mostly about the interplay of the windows, and bringing these sculptures way out from the wall.  It takes some time to feel one’s way.

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Isn’t experience and influence wonderful?

EARTH DAY AND WASTE AS A WAY OF LIFE

http://www.bluefishdigest.com/Blue_Fish_Digest/Welcome_to_Blue_Fish.html

Who knew?  Living on a budget because most artists have to, and to have to value creativity as an asset instead of money, does celebrating Earth Day elevate this?  Synchronicity is fabulous when one runs into it.

I remember the first Earth Day,  sadly being that old.  1970.  Another reference said 1978, but I don’t think so.  Remember the Whole Earth Catalog?

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Looking at this cover and the subheading of  “access to tools”,  it was.  But it was so much more.  1969!  First published a year after the “Crack in Time” of the year 1968, things were definitely shifting.

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Steve Jobs said that the “Whole Earth Catalog”  was the predecessor to the internet;  he was just out of the garage by then.   Buckie Fuller became famous through it.  And those of us who were around remember the cheap paper the catalog was printed on, just like we remember Mr. Natural and “trucking on down the line”.

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Those were the days, my friend.  Go back and click on the link at the beginning of this post.  This is where I ended up.  Click on “current issue” and go to page 24.

MAKING A PIAZZA

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Around here, these are called  “Charleston bricks”.  Have no idea as to why.  Must be a small town South Carolina reference to the largest and oldest town around here created from bricks and cobblestones.

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Last year, we began the piazza and then went on to other things.  Bricks came into our life again and we attacked the old project with gusto.

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Glenn has created two brick pathways that strike out against the otherwise linear pattern of the piazza.

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Working with bricks is so simple here in the Low Country of South Carolina.  Our ground does not freeze, and our soil is mostly sand.

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We modify the lay of the work area with a box blade.   The sand in our driveway is virgin like beach sand and we mix it 2 parts sand to 1 part Portland cement.  Set the bricks, and let it rain, or water them.

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Looking for a picture in my library that shows our sandy soil, I settled on this one, which features details other than the sand.  This is our house, hovering on rails, having been moved three miles.  Trenches are dug in the sand for the foundation block to go in, the next step in renovation.  The charcoal smudge in the foreground is what was left from an old burn pile.

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At the left of the foreground of this image is a poured 1/2 basketball court.  The piazza will attach to that.

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One edge of the “internal” brick path on this side has been measured out.

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And now almost filled in.  More discussions of brick:

https://leemalerich.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/practical-addi…outdoor-shower/

https://leemalerich.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/more-bricks/

https://leemalerich.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/gliders-and-bricks/

A LOOK AT RETIREMENT

Do you remember the old PBS series “A Year in Provence“?  Lush and beautiful, bursting with eccentric French characters, and featuring a never-ending search for truffles, it was a guide to living life. To renovate an ancient farmhouse and gardens, eat simple food and wine, a couple left their high stress jobs in London and took a year off in Provence.  One review says that it examines “life lived by seasons, not by days”.

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That last statement suits me perfectly.  And did in the late eighties when we were watching the series.  Easy to do, I thought, if one was independently wealthy.  How could you pursue all this elegant living and creating without money?  The series on PBS was based on Peter’s Mayle’s experience,  an erstwhile advertising executive of London who took a year “off”.  Something else nagged at me.  How would they ever go back to London?

From another review:

If Mayle had had his way, the description of A Year in Provence as fiction would have been spot on. “When we first moved to France [in 1987] I had the intention of writing a novel and had shared this great ambition with my agent, Abner Stein,” says Mayle. “But there was a problem: I found myself completely distracted – much more taken up with the curiosities of life in Provence than with getting down to work on the novel. The daily dose of education I was receiving at the hands of the plumber, the farmer next door, the mushroom hunter and the lady with the frustrated donkey was infinitely more fascinating than anything I could invent.”  And so a travel book was born.

It makes me wonder if we (the educated, the observers, the type A personalities) have it at all correct.  Mayle’s book challenges us.

Strangely, minus the exotic location, we are pursuing the same goals (except for the cooking food part) to create, be outdoors, love the simple, enjoy the work.  And, as always, get stuff for free or little money to achieve our goals.  And as Peter Mayle enjoyed his neighbors and substituted simple goals for the more abstract, so have we.

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Yesterday was cinder block day.  We took what we needed from a friend whose job it is to tear down buildings.  The cinder blocks would cost him money to place in the dump.  We needed a floor for our silo, which is ready to be moved to house our pool pump.  Done and done.

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A huge tree had to be removed to facilitate this move for the silo.  Glenn and I took care of most of it, and then a pro, who we have been trading firewood for labor for years, came in to finish the job.  He asked for 75.00 and settled for nothing.  He wanted the fresh oak wood.  Win/win.

Last week it was bricks.  Broken bricks are free, whole bricks at a very good price.

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These bricks we will add to those in front of the barn.  Starting today.

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The longer that we live inside our monthly earnings, the more we have to use for travel.  Like to Provence.

PRESERVING OLD HISTORIES

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We have three old desks and none of them have their drawers.  The drawer is the weakest link probably because it is the only moving part.   The desk above was found in an old barn in 1974 when Glenn bought his first house in the foothills of the Ozarks.  The sellers were going into a nursing home then.  The core of the house he bought was then over a hundred years, so this desk could be really old.  I love the tapering of the legs and the different colors applied to that taper (yes, there are two). These legs look like Siamese cats to me.

It has a coat of many colors and like a lot of little tables, ended up in the barn or garage to hold paint cans or something similar.  This pair however has a new life on our front porch.  Knocking excess paint of easily, they were clear coated with a surface that protects and shines and cleans up easily.  It also intensifies the remaining color.

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Would love to know who drew these stars!

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A family could live on our front porch.  A family DID live on our front porch.  The magnificent porches found in the Old South which I value highly,  were actually a symbol of the poverty and the need to move outdoors in summer to try and deal with the intense heat.

The porch is so big that we have three seating areas.  We had Thanksgiving dinner on the porch three years ago (check back to my masthead for the blog and see a partial image of that).  Our back porch originally was this big as well: forty feet by eight feet, but a laundry was put in later, reducing its size by one third.

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A lazy, shabby old lady this house is, built in 1939:  same as “The Wizard of Oz“, “Dark Victory“, and of course, “Gone with the Wind“.  Great year.

DATA COLLECTING HERE

Well past Thanksgiving, well past a killer cold that has kept me here silent, and into December, we are still happily and comfortably taking outdoor showers.  Oh, perfect moderate weather, the new normal, how you are helping us stay greener and cleaner without the aid of maids!  Whenever a shower can be taken outside, there is much less mold scrubbing on tile showers inside.  It does not need to be said that the less shower scrubbing done around here, the happier everyone is.

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Not like it is tropical here, but I must say that some plants around the outdoor shower that get a couple of  warm rushes of water every day are looking very spring-like, but here is the big news.  A fabulous stream of hot water can trump any air temperature we have experienced so far.  Is this intelligence that has been lost in modern times?  Or maybe this whole discussion is premature.  Wind seems like it would not be good.  But this is not Iowa.  It would be odd to do this in snow.  But this is South Carolina.  We almost never got it even before the glaciers were melting before our very eyes.

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So for the data collecting.  Two goals:  how late and early in to next year can we go into the year taking comfortable showers outside?  AND what happens to the bushes and plants placed around the shower to protect privacy (which is protected really by acres of space all around) if they get nice doses of warm water regularly throughout the winter?  Could we create a microcosm where showered plants experience continual growing weather?  Would these plants tolerate this?  Too many questions.  I have much to do.

PROGRESS ON THE SHOWER

Here is a picture of the element used to partition our shower off from the shower entry area, the one which makes having a shower door unnecessary.  The base of the structure is a couple of two by fours, and they are covered with cement board. All seams are taped and imbedded in thin set.

Likewise all seams on the walls of the shower are taped with thin set applied.  Then the application sat for a day.

Yesterday plans for the design of the shower came more firmly into view.  Of course, it has to be made out of tile and etc that is on hand, so I started pulling out possibilities.

At this point everything in the new bathroom and bedroom is very neutral,  except for the paint by numbers paintings in the water closet, but that door can be closed.

Below is part of the alcove where the urinal posing as a sink is located.

From this area which is defined by a wall of glass windows, you can access shower, sink and water closet.

The neutral setting of the bedroom.  To the left around these closets is the bathroom.

Below are candidates for the shower bottom.  I am going to use the off white porcelain and save the brown for something else.  The orange and blue will help create figures on the shower wall, in a real departure from all the neutrals.

As soon as I saw the conformation of the shower at the beginning of construction, I could not get Matisse‘s “La Danse” out of my mind.  I want to take this idea, and create a circle of simplified nudes, maybe with cubist faces.

This is so interesting.  There are two versions of Matisse’s famous work.  The one we as Westerners know the best is the less intense version.  This one came first.  The second version, with more detail and more intensity came second.

The version above was done for a Russian businessman, and it stayed in his home in Moscow until 1917.  Later it found its way into the Hermitage.  I wonder if this version is less known to us because of where it lived and the Cold War.

DETAIL WORK

When my tile guru was here installing the base of the new shower, we looked at a mistake in the shower area.  I laid the tile too close to the wood floor, was in too much of a hurry as always.  What makes a great artisan/craftsperson is attention to detail.  I am too busy creating things and justifying my existence to worry about the small stuff.  It is a  significant personality flaw.

Above is the line in consideration:  the tile is the slightest bit taller than the wood flooring, and if one hits the edge just right coming out of the shower area, the 4″ x 4″ could break.  There are elements that one can install while laying the tile that fit under it and lap over so the tile is protected.  Of course, we could not use that solution here as the work is done.  He said also that the big box stores carry wooden strips that can be installed in this case.  Glenn wants to make his own.  It will be much better, much finer.  And maybe make the mistake not so bad.

We had a similar problem during the construction of the bedroom.  Two of the old doors we saved for the clothes closet were a bit smaller than standard.  If the workers had not cut into the supports on the edge of the closet and sunk the hardware, the doors would have closed nicely.  They did not consider this, dug them in, and our doors lacked about an inch in making a nice closure.  Glenn added a sleek line of contrasting hardwood to one door, and it looks and feels like marquetry.  Good solution.

In my art work, I rarely rip anything out.  Making a mistake, and then altering the plan to integrate the mistake can foster unique solutions that would have never been planned.  I love working this way.

Above is the shower floor waiting for tile and below the walls which need to be taped with grid immersed in thin set.  Then the real fun can begin, although you can see we have already installed antlers on which to hang robes.  They are on each side of the shower opening, and btw, no door is necessary with this shower.

Above is the first shower in this house created with no shower door.  It makes no mess.  I have no idea how shower doors came to be so important.  It may have been a capitalist plot.  All they create is a wonderful environment in which creepy stuff grows.

Above is the second bathroom with no shower door.  All three of these bathrooms have a tile covered four inch by four inch boundary between the shower proper and the floor outside.  Easy.