Archive for May, 2008

sure, i can learn to do something new.

May 31, 2008

first, you dry fit the pvc.  then use the purple stuff, then the glue that’s a heck of a lot like rubber cement.  1/4 turn, push, hold, and a pipe is done.  working hard this weekend, in hopes of floating in lovely chlorinated shipping container water.

ari & corin put together a ladder.  and below is a shot of the shed foundation.  taylor has been working hard-ish…

the north end of the pool is all done by 9:30am!

and the furry observer doesn’t quite know where to go or what to do.

all the equipment waiting to be installed.  the surroundings are hilariously incongruous.

and here is breakfast outdoors, where the south side of the house (the utility alley) is finally holding all its utilities in a nice row.  by the end of today we had all the pool plumbing done, and stopped running pvc between the heater/pump/filter because we ran out of 1 1/2″ corners.

today is our 11th anniversary, so we won’t be in the side yard fitting any more pool plumbing tonight… we’ll be riding izip electric scooters around downtown (!!?!?!?) because taylor is doing product review.  i’m pretty excited.


not quite eden… but we’re planting.

May 29, 2008

and cleaning and taking pictures and puzzling over the pool.  first off, let me say that we have decided to plumb the pool ourselves.  this seems like a big decision to me, but i guess after reading all that i’ve written here, i shouldn’t be surprised.  i don’t know how to plumb a pool.  i didn’t know how to build a pool either, so i guess i’m even?!?!?  i think i may draw a diagram right now with the gimp to show what we’re going to do…

p – pool or pump, f – filter, v – valve, h – heater.  the one thing not on this diagram is the mosquito infestation:

i mostly wanted to take this picture out of the back window (on the bench by the fireplace) to capture how bad it looks, because someday very soon (hopefully in the next week), we will have a pretty pool that is useable for actual swimming instead of just skimming, and the murk will be a distant memory.  so there it is.

other happenings:  all the wardrobes have handles.  none of the windows have stickers.  the beds have clean sheets.  we eat vegetables.  we potted succulents for a houseplant.

we have an entry sequence.

[as long as the kids aren’t the first ones in the door, because they stop on the mat and then it’s all over.]

our playroom is a playroom, and the really nice window only has a music stand in front of it.

the yard has the beginning of a succulent/cactus garden.  blue limestone is covering the mud/dirt, and there is also the beginning of an herb garden.  fun.

on a completely different note, we are in the thick of working on our adoption paperwork.  headed to san antonio saturday to be fingerprinted by the feds, and when the pool is cleaned, i’m going to invite the health dept. over to check us out.  i think it would be best to wait until then…  for those of you that know us, thank you for praying.

when life hands you friends….

May 25, 2008

be thankful and have lots of parties.

which is why this outlet for creative writing and green building and urban moving/living has been lame lately.

additionally, i would like to say that, the great site moderated by my longtime best friend, has moved here.  that meant a lot of computer upgrades & changes, and now one computer doesn’t let me insert pictures into the blog, and the other doesn’t let me upload from my camera.  i could have just stopped trying and browsed the non-porn parts of the internets through b&c, but instead, i kept trying.  and then people would stop by and i’d drink a cup of coffee or glass of beer with them, another day would go by, another chapter of harry potter & the chamber of secrets would be read out loud, and then i’d try again.  and then more people would come by (or home: there are 6 people here now), and so, well, i took over a week to figure out that i can just use BOTH computers and end up with a post.

this is a front fence, with plants.  we have been buying baby plants and planning the yard.  we were thinking about a grapefruit tree, but can’t find one.  our neighbors have an orange, but we really don’t want to have a high-water tree, and the oranges don’t shine like floridians anyhow, so we’re looking at pear (but need two…no space?).  if you have a great suggestion, we’d love to hear.  it will go to the left of the house, and to the left of some clumping bamboo we hope will grow 50 feet to the left of the window.  things have been planted all around, front and back, including an herb garden with thyme, st. john’s wort, rosemary, & lavender.  flowering shrubs, succulents, grasses, asparagus fern, phlox, mexican sage, etc.

this is the pile of blue limestone and decomposed granite that is very very very slowly getting moved around the yard.  we have about 3 feet of paths done.  can’t complain here, as i’m no help at all in that area.  i just tiptoe around the pile as i take out recycling and park my bike.

speaking of bikes, after many days and weeks of not much down time, but lots of great moments, some quiet and some crazy, taylor and i went on a long date, and it involved bikes.  which was perfectly relaxing and funny, since it was really really hot when we started, but hey, we were biking and not in a hurry.  we went to big red sun, looked at cool plants, then biked across the freeway (underneath) and to the ginger man.  dogfish ale is really a tasty beer.

from there we headed to the ridiculously colorful and unaffordable anthropologie, where we bought a clearance dress and a lot of handles…

crystals for the laundry closet

and handles for the wardrobes in our room.  the green ones are for me and the orange flowery ones are for taylor.  they had to match, ish.

this is the slowly clearing downstairs, which means that the colors are starting to stand out more and more.  the painting has turned out well, and the yellow complements the space and doesn’t feel too overwhelming (unless, i guess, you don’t like yellow).  another picture:

the table is being filled; piled; cleaned; used for way too many laptops, reading the paper, doing school, unpacking farm to work produce; sat upon; and complemented.  there are billowing piles of golden fur blowing beneath it pretty much every day.  we can’t keep up and dobby broke, but we’ve heard we have a magical defurinator coming in the mail from parents, so maybe then the tile will be fur-free…

probably not.

the beds are being used as couches and retreats, every room its own little nook and place to get away from the crowd.  i think the outdoors will eventually have a few retreats as well, but not yet.  it’s boiling out, says ari.  there are lots of piles of lumber and dirt and no places to sit.  but we’re working on that too.  like everything else.

the scope and diversity of conversation happening here is too much to capture, but if i let it come over me in waves, happening as i sweep, fold, cook, parent, and smile (or cry), it is pretty amazing.  not able to be captured in a neat box, it’s more than i can summarize.  and attempting creates in me the sense that i can’t keep up with it all, yet i’m sure that isn’t my job.  i’ll just keep on being here, eating and answering the phone and laughing at the days and people.

appreciating them all.

none of it was happening here last fall.  amazing.

watch news8 for the good pictures, but we didn’t lose any windows or trees. you?

May 16, 2008

we just had a lot of pecan detritus in our yard and a growing awareness of how much we really need stone and landscaping, as the entire lot (however small it may be) around our house was mud.  sticky, stick to your shoes, dark, black mud.  and the water doesn’t all exactly drain to the street, because we haven’t completed the grant-last name withheld site design plan yet.  so… i spent this morning, post breakfast made by the lovely houseguest cassy, calling for rock prices, labor prices for dirt moving, and pool equipment plotting [again].  i then waded in the mud, moved metal, loaded the car, and recycled, shopped for culverts, plants, fire ant poison (they are everywhere and i don’t care that i’m using chemicals), and bought 3 tons of blue limestone.  whoa.

all the doors are up, in every room.  the piles are receding like the ocean at low tide (but there are still tidal pools of unorganizeable !??!?).  the smallest members of the family are learning things again, on the order of spanish vocabulary, times tables, and electronics.  tomorrow i will have another photo shoot (i’d do it now, but the amex bill is calling and i hate flash), but suffice it to say that every day has its work but every day has its successes.  like all life, there are days when i wonder what in the heck i did (trying to get ari to tell me the story of sleeping beauty after reading it three times and frustrating me for an entire morning), and days when i marvel that God is allowing us to be a part of this completely wacky adventure (that would be the almost-homeless woman coming to lunch with tara after we picked her up on our walk).

i really want to live to serve and not to be served.  i hope i’m working to that end.  it feels chaotic and exhilarating a la misma vez.

ahhhhhhhhhhh, finally.

May 12, 2008

reflections on the cupboards.

this only means you can see the state of disarray of this newly minted urban casa, but at least you’ll be seeing.  pictures to follow are from various stages of finishing and finished, though if a room looks good one day, the finishing of the adjacent room usually means that chaos will soon reenter the serene neatness.

we had our parents (my in-laws) in for the weekend, and i had the amazing juxtaposition of eating at ruth’s chris downtown, walking by the bats back to the four seasons, and then being driven in the four seasons car back to our house.  weird.  but fun.

and i am also cooking again: a return to creative edible art.  bubbling on the stove right now is okra and chicken gumbo from a savannah restaurant cookbook, sans shrimp but with sausage instead; beef, green chile, and potato stew; hot chocolate with vanilla (that was taylor’s deal); freshly stewed chicken; and there’s a huge bowl of shredded cabbage for coleslaw to go with the gumbo for dinner, using a recipe from the lee brothers southern cookbook, winner of the james beard award this year.  i think i’ll also make cornbread…

part of all this cooking is the arrival tonight of two houseguests, one for the entire summer and another for 2 weeks now and 3 weeks before school starts in the fall (around a long trip to mexico).  just when the house wasn’t unpacked and the pool wasn’t done and the cork wasn’t hung up, but really, who need to be done with jobs to have people around?  there will always be jobs, but opportunities with people don’t wait around.  so if you want to see a really wacky house, check back tomorrow, because i think i’ll have to take pictures of how much more full the house has become.

our room.

the mobile without a home.

looking from the playroom/laundry room/office onto the landings.

bookshelves in the stair tower (with kenyan wooden animals)

the backporch in a constant state of disorder.

the newly painted beer closet/laundry room doors, which will be hung this week.

the playroom.

saturday dinner.

the benitez welders making our construction site into a home. !

due to technical difficulties, this program has been made pictureless.

May 10, 2008

but i have lots of stories to tell. first, after a very fun second wednesday girls night on the east side, which involved cranium and certain flowery purses concealing jack daniels, i was invited to the neighbors porch to sit and drink a beer at midnight. which i did, tho all i can think about lately (it seems) is how tired we are. it was a great time with great conversation, and i’m thrilled for the beginning of friendship, which it was.

i took pictures of various things around the house. piles mostly. as in: piles of papers, piles of receipts, piles of clothes, piles of various !?!? we don’t know where to store, piles of broken down cardboard boxes, and the four cans i had in the pantry that we don’t want to eat (baked beans, tuna, 2 cream of mushroom soup) that i made into a sort of cairn/table centerpiece because the dirty table was getting a bit ridiculous. monday of this week i thought i would be really busy watching pool equipment get set and doors get painted, and well,…………… it’s friday, and still the pool is a potential malarial swamp, but today the fence got ripped down and the planters and welded wire began to replace it, and the painter came and did all the doors, so now the first floor is indeed yellow. sorry the pics aren’t really here. technical problems.

additionally, this week was a return to the juggling of errands, school, cooking, shopping, and trying to squeeze adoption paperwork around an already full life. i am trying to get our homestudy updated to reflect a move, older kids, a new house, and get us reupped with the us citizenship and immigration people, and how annoying it is to work with the federal government. ! i could go on and on, but ahhhh, you’re all there at times too. so, we (on the other end of the spectrum from rushing around) had time this week for people. and i think that’s kind of the strange part of life of late, that our life was always full of people here and there, and now that it’s coming back, but i’m not quite done, it feels somewhat like a three-ring circus (no barnum joke intended there) with the potential for being late in paying the bills because of too much tea or beer or talking. we saw band of heathens this week (all right), sat out on the roof patio an entire evening and drank new nxnw black ale while pitching pecans onto the neighboring abandoned building’s metal roof (excellent), ate dinner at the enoteca on so. congress with visiting floridian parents (excellent), and stayed up a few times a little too late to finish organizing the understairs and coat closet/wardrobe (worth it).

i find it very strange to start in again on paper chasing for ethiopia, since so many things have finally come to a close. it is a part of our collective family life (and the life of those that love us) that is very incomplete. part of me thinks and knows that it’s just par for the course, and all the data gathering is just that, and the other part of me starts to quail in the light of so much time left to wait, so if you happen to see me, give me a pep talk and tell me you’re praying for our daughter. and then please do pray. adoption has got us going this week: taylor was talking about how unexcited he is emotionally about her, in the same way he completely lacked emotion during pregnancy, but the thought of another person to love and care for, in addition to the horribly large number of kids without parents, makes all the labor pale. i am planning to be my normal driven self and get done with stuff as quickly as i can, but i can’t exactly call the environmental inspector when we have lumber in the front yard and an unfiltered shipping container in the back, now, can i? so i’m going to try to be reasonable and do what i can. that’s the way things happen and get built and survive, and if this house hasn’t taught me that, well, i don’t know that anything can.

an excerpt in perserverance, absurd and true: cork. how to hang it up, if perchance you are a paint hater who doesn’t want to use drywall? spray adhesive? no good. liquid nails? no good. we really did try those. the one cool picture on the blog was of the piece that got more that one very expensive spray can of spray… so, what to do? call every store. talk to builders. find out that a ceiling tile mastic would work, but no dice in the home d, nor mccoys, but bmc, they tell me, oh, yes, they have it. so after a few weeks’ interim (other things going, right?) i find myself near bmc, go in, and …………… o no. don’t have it. won’t have it. maybe try lowe’s? and the guy is knowledgeable, helpful, and says to look for other alternatives. he was like an encyclopedia of glues in a motorized cart. so i try lowe’s, and after five conversations with five employees, i find myself on the adhesive aisle, which, as we’re entering, the man tells me, ‘we don’t have that,’ and presto, there it is. 3.5 gallons, under $50, why didn’t i just come here first? people have asked me this week how i built. where did i learn, did i read books, etc. and i think that story is about it. i just didn’t quit and kept asking, and entire days went by (weeks really) with little progress until the problem seemed small and easily solvable because i’d learned enough and enough options had been eliminated. needless to say, we haven’t actually tried the mastic yet (meant for plastic wall paneling in restaurant kitchens) but i think it’ll work.

this has been a pretty random post.

aguas calientes

May 2, 2008

and gas too.  whew.  i don’t have much else to say; i can bake again and won’t have to deep breathe while bathing…

have a great weekend.


May 2, 2008

they turn, spin, wave, create shadows, yet stay intact, all the parts relating to each other. as i have made and hung mobiles, i have always thought about edith schaeffer’s book what is a family? and her analogy – we are meant to be relating to one another in the context of family the way the parts in a mobile interconnect – each piece its own separate work of art, each piece moving separately and independently, but in relation to circumstances (the wind, usually) and the other parts of the mobile.

the past year and a half has been such a tremendously trying, challenging, rewarding, taxing, hair-raising and nerve-wracking adventure. and now our old life is back, except that it isn’t. because taylor is now the pastor of a small church plant (along with wonderful jeff), we live in a completely different neighborhood, our kids are older (and different, and i can’t go back and give ari the 1/4 of his life that was such an abberation), and frankly, i don’t know what lies ahead. i’m now the mother of two young men, who at the moment are recovering from hand, foot & mouth (it sounds horrible doesn’t it?), preparing to adopt from ethiopia, acclimating to a community that is both american and yet so hispanic that i can speak the language i really love every time i walk out the door.

i have thought about bringing the epic to a close, slowly, and with a lot of progress pictures along the way, as we finish the little things. would you like a list? i’d kind of like to make one, because it would prove to me (at least) that there is nothing major left to accomplish…additionally, and this may be a major social fox pass, i’m going to be doing a calculation of how much of taylor’s hard earned money i actually spent (i know, i know, i can take credit for some of the money too), so this whole thing is set in some realistic context. but i haven’t done that yet. i’m working on the washer leak and the fire ants and the kid virus and learning to use the dishwasher.

to do: hang cork in 3rd floor bedrooms. track down a new painter to finish doors, and get them painted. get remaining doors/trim done after previous items are accomplished. plumb, equip, clean, and fill the pool. (that may all be one call and one guy!). landscape. kill fire ants. remove rabbit cage from back porch. call in final pool inspections after i get a new light (low voltage). paint stair handrail. poly birch. get oak boards to transition from wood to tile in bathrooms. seal tile (pretty much everywhere). seal cypress decks. get front fence/planter things built and then plant in them and park on our land. build shed. clean stickers off windows. get a door to close off el nido from the boys’ room. buy a lot of doorknobs and hang them in boys’ room.

but hey, doesn’t that sound like a slow list? who cares if it takes until june? (and oh, baby, it will) i think it may even be august, but we’re here. 4 months minus one day from groundbreaking on the piers to moving in was crazy. we’re hoping for a little less craziness, so i’m going to be baking scones, cooking beans, making frozen lemonade, drinking coffee, reading out loud, reading silently, exercising again, praying, sitting and looking at the trees, and thinking about family. i think interesting things may keep happening around here. so i’m going to keep writing, but not so much, and hopefully not so faithfully at 1am. (although tonight i’m right on schedule)

corin is already shopping for land that we can build on for other people. but i’m temporarily retired. at least from full-time building. though what a weird thing to have more than one option when people ask me what i do. ‘builder’ doesn’t feel quite right, but how weird that it’s true. retired builder is more like it.