Tuesday, May 26, 2009

dogs and daughters

I missed another mother's day. And father's day is coming up, which I'm sure I'll forget as well. So today, while I'm thinking of it, I'd like to let my parents know that I love them and do appreciate all they've done.

Dogs and Daughters

It’s a hazy, hot morning in late May. The workers have already been here long enough to have had a coffee, taken off the roof, and opened the first can of beer. It’s 8.45 am.

The dogs are letting me know that they’ve been patient enough through the whole worker, coffee, roof thing but now it’s their turn. Each in their own way is telling me that it’s time to go for the morning walk/play/poop. Ruff, the 4 year old Golden Retriever, is lying immediately in front of the gate. He’s not making a sound but it’s clear that I will not being passing through that gate again without him. He just lies with his full, sweet, smiling force… waiting. I’m ready when you are, he says.

Q, the 3 year old, black “mixed breed” follows me around with her wiry, little body …whining. Every time I move she strings together cries, and whines, and barks in what can only be the irrefutable argument as to why it is now the dogs’ turn for attention. I got things to do, she says.

It’s then and there I realize that the furry, 4-legged beasts living in my home are canine replicas of my sister and me.

Ruffino – big and blond, lovable and loving, sensitive and loyal. Ruff plants himself at my feet when I return after too many hours away at work, content to have me home. Ruff gets droopy eyes and lies in front of the door when he sees David packing his suitcase for another trip. He climbs in my lap at that scene in the English Patient when The Count asks to die and I start sobbing. Ruff barks at every car that passes with an aggressive presence to not let anyone near us.

Q barks because Ruffino barks.

Q is dark and intense. And cuddly - at the end of the day. Q barks in a high pitched, ear piercing noise when she wants to play, then sits obediently next to the lemon drawer when her cries have been noticed. Out in the fields playing, Q leaps and runs and runs and leaps, she explores and does her own thing while checking in every now and then to make sure Ruff and I are still where she left us.

Ruff sits 5 feet from me in the tall grass waiting for me to toss the lemon for him to catch or to go for a little stroll with me.

Ruff has figured out how to open the trash can to share all of its treasures. Q has figured out that when the front door is closed there’s always another door open somewhere else.

Ruff can spell and Q's good at math...oh, wait, I'm just kidding about that.

How did this happen? Just a coincidence? Have I, subconsciously trained my dogs to behave in such a way as to simulate my life growing up? Is it cosmic recompense for what my sister and I have put our parents through? That must be it. It’s pay backs.

You see, Ruff and Q have a bit of a reputation. To anyone who has ever been to our house, our dogs are, well, bad. They are not trained. They don’t do what they are told. That’s how they are seen. But that’s only because others see them as a unit – the dogs, not Ruff and Q.

Ok, it’s true. As a pair, they are a little loud. They like to have a good time. They want to be in on the party.

But they are well behaved, individually well behaved that is, to suit their different needs, interests and reactions. So when one is happy and lying at your feet the other is in your lap licking your face. When one is sleeping on the couch the other is going nuts at a bird flying over the patio. When one sits contentedly enjoying company and conversation the other yips and barks and whines to go leaping in the fields.

Individual dogs, individual needs, individual interests, individual reactions. Together...a constant, non-stop, never-ending, presence –the dogs.

So, Mom and Dad, just want you to know that, well, I’m getting mine.

Happy Mother’s and Father’s day. Luckily for you, you have two different dogs, um I mean daughters - one who forgets proper days for celebrations and one who doesn't. Constant, non-stop, never-ending presence.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

Maberga Makeover day 7 in which insulation arrives.

Isn't funny how it always happens that directly following a really long day the night is extremely short? I suppose it has something to do with the rotation of the earth on its axis, and the earth around the sun and that there are still only 24 hours in a day.

That was just a not so clever way of saying that Augusto showed up WAY too early this morning.

Well, not really. When he saw me in my pj's trying to re-tape the plastic sheeting to all the entry spots of the current living spaces in some futile attempt to keep dust and dirt out, and when I only sort of grunted a Buon Giorno, he said, "I can come later in the morning to work if you want."

My response was involuntary, "hell no! Let's get this shit done!".

So, I'm not actually complaining that I have a guy working on my house who shows up early for the job. That would be just plain silly to complain about. All the same, when he started the sledge hammer this morning it seemed a little too close to yesterday.

We're making the door to the bedroom bigger.

I wanted "french doors" on the bedroom. I don't know why. They will just open onto the street, not onto some beautiful veranda where coffee will be waiting for me every morning or anything like that. But it still sounds kind of romantic, doesn't it? Anybody know why double doors are french and not, say, Hungarian? I was in Europe for most of the Bush years, are they now called "democracy doors" or something like that? In Italy they are called, um, doors.

As I mentioned earlier, the bedroom got a little insulation today and a lot of new bricks.

Ok ok ok, enough of what Augusto did today, how about me?!

Check this out! My very first duvet cover! Of course I mean the first one that I made myself...

Let's look again...

Yep, it's reversible.

(NOTE TO ANYONE READING THIS WHO SEWS: please don't let on that to make a duvet cover all one has to do is sew two sheets together with three and a half straight lines. Let's just marvel at the magic and not give away the trick, ok? Thanks.)

AND, the best part of everything that happened today at Casa Cornwell...I sewed my very first skirt! Ok, technically it's my third skirt because a couple years ago I cut up some old jeans and made them into skirts, but they don't really count because the nice people at Levi Strauss did most of the work. Anyway, as I was saying, I made my very first skirt!

Yeah, I know, it's kind of hard to see. I don't own a full length mirror and was too embarrassed to ask August to take a picture of me sporting my new skirt made from sheet left-overs.

Yeah, if you look closely in that door window photo you'll notice my new skirt exhibits a striking resemblance to my new duvet cover.

Please don't anyone make any references to The Sound of Music or Gone with the Wind in the comments - those were curtians, not the same thing at all.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Maberga Makeover Interrupted

Day 6 of Maberga Makeover in which we get a little interrupted.

As I was going up the stairs to make today's after photos, I got a little side tracked by this

After searching my already up-turned house looking for a jar to trap the guy, then searching for a BIGGER jar 'cause he didn't fit in the first, then taking the fellow outside and tossing him over the fence, add in the time and energy it took me to down a glass of wine to try to forget the fact that the fence keeps wild boar out and the dogs in but will do nothing to stop a scorpion from coming or going as he pleases...no matter how big he is - put all that together and you can understand that I don't really have it in me to do a photo shoot of my half destroyed house. Truth be told, I got up at 4 this morning to take David to the airport, then rearranged and cleaned the downstairs at a pace that would make a 5 year old boy at a birthday party on cocaine seem slow and then taught some friends english until 10 tonight, so I'm just a little knackered. This is actually what explains my run-on sentences and complete inability to write comprehensively, it has nothing to do with the scorpion ....

So let's just quickly look at the after shot of the will-be-new-studio-but-current-bedroom

Yeah, I know, it's a crappy photo that shows nothing of the new room. I'm saving the real after photo of that room for when I've actually moved into it.

Here's some before photos of the soon-to-be-bedroom-again

And now call it a night.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

So I've just discovered the joy (and endless, vast time suck) of YouTube. Yeah, I know, I'm a little behind the times. Try to forget about that, I do. It's just the way it is. Anyway, when The Fun Couple was here we had a spontaneous house disco party...fueled by YouTube. Whoa. New world.

The Fun Couple are a bad influence on me...now I'm gardening and watching way too much YouTube (thank you, Wayne). AND Denise spoiled me by giving me my first professional haircut of the millennium. How can I go back to cutting my own hair now?!

(imagine here a photo of my new hair which they sent to me and I promptly filed some where in the computer only to never find again)

Anyway, back to YouTube...so I've been playing this game of sending memorable music to friends. For example, my sister got some of the Grease soundtrack, friend Betty got some Randy Travis and friend Jay got Whitesnake (obviously I hung out with these people when we were much younger, and consequently much more impressionable).

So now I'm sending this one to you guys. Click here.

I'm sure most of you have seen it already. You all probably watched it while it was happening. It's new to me, like YouTube...again, let's just let that go. Anyway, I sent it to you because A) Dear Pete Seeger just celebrated his 90th birthday and B) I was wondering if anyone has or knows of a pattern to knit a copy of Pete's hat. If you have it, wrote it, or know where to find it, please let me know. I need one of those hats. As do most of the people I know. If you even have a good close up of the hat, I can probably write the pattern myself.

On a more somber note, I'd like to extend my sympathies here to Earle(in-Denver) and his wife, Mary who lost one of their dogs today. Maybe some of you read Earle's comment from yesterday. And maybe some of you have lost dogs yourselves, and so can understand. Their sweet Golden Retriever, Madison died today after a long (very long) and lovely life with Mary and Earle. Madison was so happy that she held on for 18 years (no that's not a typo - I meant to type eight-teen years!), a real testament to life she lived.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Friends, I could totally live on Gilligan's Island. Totally.

Check out what I did today.

Can you see it? I made that fence to protect the new inhabitants of Maberga (some sage, rosemary, thyme, etc). I went up to the terraces of land, cut some cane, and made myself a fence! If we had palm trees on our land, I would have made myself a gazebo next to the new garden.

Want to see it again? Ok, here...

You might be thinking that it's overkill. Or that, PERhaps I'm getting a little carried away with fencing. It's possible. I prefer to think of this fence (as opposed to the Fabbro's fence) as a temperary thing. Kind of like training wheels for the garden. Or maybe I mean training wheels for the dogs. No, that doesn't sound right. I mean that, as much as I am proud of this work, I imagine that it will slowly be taken away. Slowly taken away as 1)the new Maberga inhabitants grow roots, and 2) the dogs get used to having the new inhabitants here.

And you know the best part of this whole thing? When I finished I had the makings for a pan flute!

I don't even need that Professor with his short wave radio.

Monday, May 04, 2009

There's a storm a-brewing at number 29 and, ya know what? I don't even care. Wanna know why? Well, let me tell ya...that gardening thing. It ain't over yet.

While The Fun Couple was here, Wayne couldn't keep his hands out of my dirt.

Dude weeded the whole garden. It was incredible. First he fixed that pitch fork with the broken handle, and then, just like that he stuck it in the ground and moved the dirt around. When he saw something green growning that shouldn't have been there he plucked it out. Just like that.

Friends, it was seriously inspiring. In like only 20 minutes of effort my garden was looking so much better. He spent a little more than 20 minutes with the pitch fork, but not that much more since during their 36 hour stay he also managed to build me some stairs in the back of the house (an extension of the clothes dryer stairs), in addition to having a little fun with Denise and me.

So, as I was saying, I got inspired. David comes home for a little visit on Friday and I thought I surprise him. Don't tell him, ok? I did this...

It actually looks nice! Not as nice as Mother Nature does on her own but, well, I'd already messed that up so I had to do something. I planted a bunch of, well, I just copied Mother Nature. I figure she must know what survives in this particular climate. It's a lot of sage, rosemary, thyme, and lavendar. Those aren't bad things. I like those things. I also got a Marigold from pal Natalie. So he's in there with the lavendar vying for parsley's position in the Cornwell Scarborough Fair.

So, as I said, I'm not at all bummed about the storm rolling in. Actually I'm thrilled. As I put each little plant in the ground I promised it that it would be happy here in it's new home. If I delivered them a fresh spring shower tonight, well, those new plants would just think I was the best, wouldn't they?

The topic of the dogs didn't really come up as the plants and I were discussing the living arrangements here.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Rainy Day Book on a sunny day

Having finished the painting of all the ceiling boards yesterday (only two weeks behind schedule) I decided today was for playing - could have been the influence of The Fun Couple.

The Fun Couple left on Saturday morning after a short but sweet visit. (I will blog about that once I receive their photos because mine suck...I was having such a good time I didn't pay attention to the photos I was taking, or NOT taking...or maybe it was the wine consumption. Either way, blog with photos to come). Denise and Wayne (aka: The Fun Couple) know how to enjoy life and it's contageous. Enjoy each day is really how they live.

So, taking off on this, I decided to have this play day. For me that means that I try all those craft projects that I've found on the internet - now that I can search in high speed.

Bright and early I packed a bag ... please allow me a flashback here.

When I was a kid one of my very favorite books ever was Richard Scarry's Rainy Day Book. It was awesome. Awesome. If you don't know it, check it out for yourself here.

That book was like my best friend (ok, that might sound a little pathetic, but all the same, it's true - I like crafts, I like being alone, the book was awesome). Not a best friend in the sense that I would tell it all my secrets. But it would keep me company - in that way that your best friend did when you were young - always something to do. In adulthood, I've always remembered that book and made my own versions of it whenever I was in for a big life change. Well before a move, job change, end of relationship, I'd start collecting items for my Rainy Day Book. I rarely DID the stuff in the activities I had collected for The Book but would frequently find myself paging through them. The creation of the internet has made this infinetely easier. My Rainy Day Books are, well, awesome now.

Today I PACKED myself a mini Rainy Day Book and, with the dogs, headed out to a cool hang out spot on the terraces of land by the house. I had a craft picnic with my Rainy Day Backpack, made even better since it wasn't raining.

Beautiful. I just sat on my blanket in the sun with the doggies chasing every where and I sewed. I sewed paper, and beads, and cardboard. Great. I ate some yesterday leftovers and shared some with the dogs. Then we came back to the house for some more bead sewing, some crocheting and a little knitting. Of course only I did these things, the dogs don't have such a big interest in crafty activities.

I did all this stuff

Thank you, Richard Scarry.

PS. In case anyone is wondering...the little beaded books come from the idea here. And the crocheted basket comes from here. The sock, which by the way was supposed to be for Wayne (not just the one but a PAIR) is from my head. Once my head has a http address, I'll attach it.