Friday, June 29, 2012

Dollhouse Renovations

Years have gone by since any little girls have played with this dollhouse.  It has made multiple moves with us and was a bit worse for wear from all those trips in a moving van and being stored in dusty garages.

 Still, with the twin granddaughters rapidly approaching another birthday, my sister, Rosalind, suggested we restore it to a functioning home for the littlest of dolls.

Column missing, major cracks in siding, floor coming loose from structure.
This house was purchased for my oldest daughters by their Great Grandmother, Minerva and their grandmother, Rose Lee.  It was originally painted yellow, which is Rose Lee's favorite color.  (Remind me to tell you a story about a yellow car!)  When my third daughter was born, my sister, repainted, and decorated it in the country style of the 80's.  Now that we have entered a new century, we are replacing some of the more fussy details with a modern take on a country cottage.  
Wall paper coming out, repainting the kitchen white with black trim, adding flooring.

Because the twins are not quite four, the more fragile furniture is going into storage and Rosalind is building sturdy furnishings.  She has stitched the bedspread onto the mattress at the foot, so the covers don't get misplaced!
This little armoire makes the cut and will be re-painted.

I am in charge of painting, flooring, and repairing the structure.  However, I could not help making an iconic little mid-century modern sunburst mirror that has been showing up in all the best decorating magazines.  A bit tongue in cheek, as I actually think the sunburst mirror (which is a classic decorating element) has been a bit over done recently. Toothpicks and a bottle cap turned into a touch of bling for the foyer.  In this photo, it just has a base coat of blue.  When I find my gold paint which is in one of those twenty boxes brought home from Harry Potter camp, it will be sprayed gold.

My daughter Camille, who writes the design blog, The Vintique Object loved a kitchen in a former house that had a black and white tile floor, so the kitchen in this little house which is being renovated for her daughters will reprise that one.

The foyer walls are beyond patching and painting and will be recovered with a more contemporary fabric "Wallpaper"
Check back in a couple of days to see how much progress is being made.  Cannot procrastinate much longer as the twins arrive at my house on Monday!
Still a lot to do!

Actually, I guess procrastination is the wrong word as I have been busy yesterday planning memorial services for my dear mother-in-law, Dorothy, painting the deck rails so that Norm can install the stainless steel cables (which are replacing the tacky not-so-temporary  sheep fencing... put up to pass our house's certificate of occumpancy inspections and still there four years later!) so there will be no tumbling off the decks by granddaughters, and sorting and packing Dorothy's apartment with her children and grandchildren.  My high school English teacher, Mrs. Winter, would cringe at that last sentence and mark it in in red "run on sentence!"

Hope you are all managing to stay cool in this horrendous heat and that you are safe from wildfires.  Have a wonderful Fourth of July.  No fireworks in dry New Mexico...way too dangerous unless we get some rain.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pick a Pair of Backhoes -From Here to There Update

Some of my readers remember the post, From Here to There 
In that post I talked about the difficulty of reaching our second level which is the main living space from the driveway.  We always intended to create a sidewalk from the top of the driveway to the house in addition to the several existing steeper and more arduous entries.  Four years later we are finally proceeding with that project. It involves using a rock hammer on the front of a backhoe to remove a portion of the granite hillside.  Here is a photo of the site during the winter.  ( The Solar panels on the roof are designed to pre-heat the hot water.)
That tree just peeking out on the lower right will have to come out so that we can lower the hillside on the right.  Too bad since it is one our best pinion nut producers.

Construction Zone: "Hint don't leave your car parked anywhere near a backhoe!" 

Pick a pair of backhoes...bucket or hammer?
Crunching through the rock.  I love big machines!  Should I have been a boy? Well, no that is not me driving the back hoe!

Supporting the bottom of the path.  In the background you can see the water tank and the propane tank.  We have had no hot water for seven days since the line from the tank to the house was accidentally hit and the scheduled plumber has not shown up.  Yeah for a camping stove and a camping solar shower!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

From Here to the Next Great Adventure

For those of my friends who knew my mother-in-law, Dorothy, she joined her Lord and Savior in heaven early this morning. She was hoping to hear that her sixth grandchild was delivered safely, but even her stubborn Dutch soul could not keep her very stressed heart beating any longer.  Norm and I were with her.  May the Lord bless you and keep you, Dorothy.  May the Lord make his face to shine upon you.  And give you peace. And don't be too hard on those novice choir members in heaven!

Norm and his Mom on Mother's Day
Delighted with one of her six great-grandchilren.
At the same time that Dorothy was drawing her last breath, her granddaughter Alethea went into labor.  Alethea felt her grandmother was with her for a short while.  Eliza Stone was born at 7:24 a.m. She was 7 lbs. 1 oz. and 18.5 inches long.  She has dark hair like her father.  She has not had her eyes open long enough to see if she has her mother's blue eyes. She surely has the Gaume mouth, although at this point, she mostly looks like her father. Lucky girl as her father is very handsome...

 Welcome to the Gaume/Stone clans little Eliza.  We will tell you lots of stories about your wonderful great-grandmother Dorothy.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Life Well Lived

This is not a post about design, or travel, or art, or DYI projects, or finding treasures in flea markets and vintage stores.  It is a very personal post about one of my mothers.  If you don't know Dorothy Gaume, you might wish to click on over to another blog on your list and skip this post.

I have had two mother's since I married.  One, a fiery, flamboyant, glamorous, Air Force wife, my birth mother, and the other, a shy, devout clergy wife, who shared her musical gifts primarily through playing the organ and piano in worship services, my "mother by marriage."  Both were formative women in my life.  I am writing this love letter to Dorothy well after Mother's Day.  One, because I missed doing it on Mother's Day and two, because I will not have another Mother's Day with Dorothy, my husband's mother.  She is dying.

My mother, Rose Lee has loved me all of my life with a fierce, protective, and challenging love.  My "mother by marriage", Dorothy has loved me for most of my life with a gentler, but no less challenging love.  Both expected a lot from me.  My birth mother expected me to be beautiful, to develop my talents as an artist, to be a good wife and mother, and to give back to my community.  My "mother by marriage" expected me to grow in my faith, to love others, and to raise my children as Christians.  Of course, I fell short.  But they both continued to love me and support me in the things I found important.

Although so very different in temperament, these two mother's have enjoyed a friendship spanning fifty years as they shared children who married each other, and grandchildren, and now great grandchildren.  Dorothy, never a goody-two- shoes, in spite of her devoutness, laughs at my Mother's sometimes salty and always outrageous comments.  Rose Lee enjoys making her laugh and "plays to the crowd" to entertain her.

Both women have a deep and abiding curiosity about what is important to people.  They both worked hard in their churches and volunteered in their communities. Both are beloved among their friends and families.
Dorothy Neatherlin Gaume with Olivia Jeffers
When Dorothy came to the realization that her heart failure is irreversible and that she only has a short time to live, she has been adamant that nothing be done to prolong her life.  As always, she set about making sure that everything was organized, everyone was cared for, and that everything was said.  Including, "tell Rose Lee that she wins."  Ignoring her increasing weakness and discomfort, she spends her days making time to talk with each of us and the many visitors from her church and the Manzano Del Sol community. 

When her priest, Fr. Christopher McLaren, came to celebrate "Last Rites", she realized he was willing to sing, requested several of her favorite hymns and even though she was having a lot of trouble breathing, followed along knowing all the words by heart.  The rest of us lamely attempted to sing by Googling the lyrics on our IPads. Joyfully she accepted our less than perfect singing as true worship.  At the end of the service she gave Fr. Christopher her blessing, just as she has blessed all the lives that she has touched through the years.

Dorothy is an example of a "life well lived."  My friend, Betsy Yost Schlossman, posted this on her Facebook page;

Dorothy has nailed every one of these attributes!
She is clear about her values, she loves with abundance, she accepts disappointments with grace, she laughs often, she never stops learning (mastering an IPad in her nineties), and she always turns to God for strength.  She will leave an enduring legacy of love to her children and all the generations to come.  

  A Virtuous Woman teaches her children the ways of her Father in heaven. She nurtures her children with the love of Christ, disciplines them with care and wisdom, and trains them in the way they should go. Proverbs 31:28

As we spend the way too few last days of her life with Dorothy, all of us are reminded of the many ways she has shaped and formed our own lives. 

Our love goes out to you as you face death with the faith,courage, grace and stubbornness with which you have lived your life.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Back to the Muggle World

Re-entry to the Muggle World after a week of magic is a little bit of a let-down.  No adrenaline rush as we madly set up for the next event.  No awe stuck little witches and wizards demanding another Quidditch match.  No late night laughing with the other professors as we reviewed the day and evaluated how to do things better next year.  However, my own bed was heavenly and I slept to an unheard of 8:30 a.m. this morning.  If you are a Harry Potter Fan, as I clearly am, you can find photos of camp on Facebook.

My garden survived well with Norm doing the watering.  This morning I will be planting a lot of annuals from seed.  They are very late going into their beds since I was an extremely busy professor McGonagle during the month of May gathering arts and crafts supplies, props, sets, etc. for camp before leaving for our trip to Glacier Bay in Alaska.  Speaking of our trip to Alaska, I am not too fond of heights and was slightly terrified flying from Gustavus to Juneau through the mountains with our wing tips only a few yards from the sides of the mountain tops with a storm approaching in a four-seat plane.
Front of plane as we head into the pass.  Inside, I am screaming...higher! higher!  Proud that I did not scream it out loud.  After all Professor McGonagle was a seeker on her Quidditch team in her youth.

On returning from camp, I was delighted to discover my new subscription to Organic GardeningFeatured in it are our hosts at the Gustavus Inn, Dave and JoAnn Lesh in an article titled "Northern Exposure."  Sadly, you cannot access this article on-line which is why I bought a subscription. Because we are at such a high elevation, our growing season is very short, so I am picking up some tips from this article.  Dave and JoAnn recycle almost everything from their commercial kitchen including the heads and bones from the salmon they serve, into the bear proof compost pile.  If you missed my posts about our trip, you can find some of them here
and here.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Week at Hogwarts - Part One

Sorted into Houses

Making house ties in the the great hall.

Hard at work on Journals

Shopping in Diagon Alley

Friday, June 8, 2012

Les Misérables-Victor Hugo, the painter

On the plane coming home from our Alaska trip, I sat next to a young man who was reading "Les Misérables" by Victor Hugo written in 1862.  Intrigued, I asked him how he liked it.  I remembered reading it in high school and feeling overwhelmed by the hopeless lives of the poor in eighteenth century France.  He said that he loved it and that it was his mother's favorite book, so I decided to re-read it.  However, time has a way of interfering with the best intentions!  I have yet to pick up a copy because of preparations for the upcoming "Harry Potter, Chamber of Secrets Camp".

But last evening, friends invited us to join them for the 25 anniversary tour of the musical

Les Misérables 

 It was visually stunning!  Scenic designer, John Napier, uses projections of paintings inspired by some of Victor Hugo's paintings as backdrops for many of the scenes.  Victor Hugo was a painter? How, in my art history classes did I miss that?  


"While facts and psychological nuances are lost and even the plot is often relegated to a program synopsis, the thematic spirit of the original is preserved. Sequence after sequence speaks of Hugo's compassion for society's outcasts and his faith in God's offer of redemption. When the poor Fantine is reduced to ''making money in her sleep,'' her downtrodden fellow prostitutes are apotheosized in golden light as their predatory clients circle in menacing shadows. When the story's action moves from the provinces to Paris, two hulking wooden piles of domestic bric-a-brac converge to form an abstract representation of a mean slum, bordered on every side by the shuttered windows of a city coldly shunning its poor. In a subsequent and dazzling transition, the towers tilt to form an enormous barricade. Later still, the barricade twirls in mournful silence to become a charnel house -''Guernica'' re-imagined as a Dada sculpture - crammed with the splayed corpses of a revolution that failed.
Except for that uprising's red flag,

Mr. Napier's designs, all encased in a dark, beclouded prison of a proscenium, are drained of color. ''Les Miserables'' may be lavish, but its palette, like its noblest characters, is down-to-earth - dirty browns and cobblestone grays, streaked by Mr. Hersey with the smoky light that filters down to the bottom of the economic heap.

The proletarian simplicity of the design's style masks an incredible amount of theatrical sophistication. In one three-dimensional zoom-lens effect, Valjean's resolution of a crisis of conscience is accompanied by the sudden materialization of the courtroom where the moral question raised in his song (''Who Am I?'') must be answered in deed. ''Les Miserables'' eventually takes us from the stars where inspector Javert sets his metaphysical perorations to the gurgling sewers inhabited by the parasitic innkeeper, Thenardier - and in one instance even simulates a character's suicidal fall through much of that height."  By Frank Rich, New York Times.
From the Musical

One of my Castles in Spain, Victor Hugo Via
Victor Hugo, "The Vision Ship," 1864-65. Pen, brown ink, and reserves on cream paper, 7 9/16 x 10 1/6 in.  Via

Vision of Notre Dame-Victor Hugo

Looking for more information about Victor Hugo, I went to Wikipedia and found the following.
"Hugo produced more than 4000 drawings. Originally pursued as a casual hobby, drawing became more important to Hugo shortly before his exile, when he made the decision to stop writing in order to devote himself to politics. Drawing became his exclusive creative outlet during the period 1848–1851.
Hugo worked only on paper, and on a small scale; usually in dark brown or black pen-and-ink wash, sometimes with touches of white, and rarely with color. The surviving drawings are surprisingly accomplished and "modern" in their style and execution, foreshadowing the experimental techniques of Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism.
He would not hesitate to use his children's stencils, ink blots, puddles and stains, lace impressions, "pliage" or folding (i.e. Rorschach blots), "grattage" or rubbing, often using the charcoal from match sticks or his fingers instead of pen or brush. Sometimes he would even toss in coffee or soot to get the effects he wanted. It is reported that Hugo often drew with his left hand or without looking at the page, or during Spiritualist séances, in order to access his unconscious mind, a concept only later popularized by Sigmund Freud.
Hugo kept his artwork out of the public eye, fearing it would overshadow his literary work. However, he enjoyed sharing his drawings with his family and friends, often in the form of ornately handmade calling cards, many of which were given as gifts to visitors when he was in political exile. Some of his work was shown to, and appreciated by, contemporary artists such as Van Gogh and Delacroix; the latter expressed the opinion that if Hugo had decided to become a painter instead of a writer, he would have outshone the artists of their century."

As a young girl, I think I read "Les Miserable" as a love story set in a certain time and place.  Inspired by this wonderful adaption of the musical, older, I think I will re-read it as a transformation study.  Lives transformed by revolution, by injustice, by survival, and by God.

So next week, when I return from camp, I will head to the bookstore.  Who wants to read it as well?  If you are in Albuquerque, we could have coffee and talk about it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wildflowers near the Piedra Lisa trailhead-part two

The recent rains have eased our drought and the wild flowers love it!  A few more things are blooming on our mountainside since my last post about wildflowers near the Piedra Lisa trail head. 
Robinia neomexicana (New Mexico Locust)

Palmer penstemon
Daisy, Silver Kisses ?
Cirsium neomexicanum A. Gray
New Mexico thistle

Considered an invasive species and a noxious weed by some, this plant provides an important food source for monarch butterflies who are endangered.