Monday, April 27, 2015

Five Good Things

Of all of us, I cannot say who loves the porch the most. But we all agree that it's done a world of good for Mister Washburn Indoor-Kitty Foo. He loves the porch. He loves the views, the birds, the cool concrete, the sunny spots, the napping spots, the rolling around and gathering dust spots. He loves springing up to the ledge, the excellent satisfaction he enjoys when the birds, at their feeder, dart off in a flutter. Bad kitty. But, he needs this, an outlet, some fun. We don't trust him on the loose, in nature. He's a hunter, a beast. He likes furry things, and feathered things. And it's likely, too, that some bigger furry things would like him. We feel better when he is indoors, and he feels better now that some of the outdoors can be enjoyed from inside.

We have our paints and chalks, strings, buttons, records, and tablecloths on the porch. It's a staging space for art, for picnics, for tinkering and make believe, for drinking tea, for lolling about, like a cat.

Good Things...

1. Coming home.

2. Being in Oregon, seeing my mother, and dad, my grandmother, aunt, cousin.

3. Having space for make believe, and company, for painting, and lolling like cats.

4. Missing Geoff, because I love him, and it's nice to feel a longing to be by his side.

5. Missing William, and Alex, and Max, and Maria, because I love them, and they make me laugh, and inspire me, because I am happy to think of being with them, again.

6. Wearing your heart on your sleeve, anytime, but most especially when you are far from home.

Happy Monday... care to wear your heart on your sleeve? Share something good~

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Porch Is Lovely

It's been a while since I mention the porch, and maybe the last time I mentioned progress on our big project was something of a cliffhanger!

Remember this?
I'd rather not.

And this?
Only one month ago!

I hardly remember this any more. Our old porch, with no roof, no screens, no straps holding the beams to the columns... not a comforting discovery, I must say! But, this was only two months ago, when we met Mike, and began the conversion from a shaded porch, to a covered, and screened and marvelous porch. And then we were able to repair the living room ceiling, from the roof leak (Geoff fixed that leaky problem, too.) Yes, one thing led to another, and it feels like we've hardly slowed down from start to almost finished. This might be as good a time as any to pause, then review, and see where we are...

We painted the walls green. Can you tell?? "Tournament Field," Behr Ultra, Eggshell. {I am sharing this because I've been uncommonly organized about the paints, and this is just my little self-congratulatory shout-out to me.} Wait until you see what we did with the ceiling!

For one thing we installed fourteen LED lights. It's the brightest room in the house. It outshines broad daylight. It's life changing, in a good way.

And to be sure everyone knows we were going for Bright & Light, we chose "Pure Turquoise," Behr Ultra, Flat. I must add, these were suggestions from Alex, and I don't say this to blame him, but because he deserves the credit for making interesting, and, ultimately, really pleasing choices. The room feels both soothing and enlivening. It's lovely, and good.

Actually, I liked this probably more than I should admit. It felt like we were living in the middle of an old curiosity shop. Oddly comforting.

Even when we were only a week away from hosting an Easter brunch, I was miraculously keeping my cool.

Meanwhile... in the living room, testing colors. Nope. And nope.

And Mister Foo would add, "No carpeting? Nope. Meow." This was a difficult transition.

Eventually, painfully, with confusion, and some hair loss, no doubt, we found our living room colors, too. For the walls: A custom mix to recreate whatever spongy-fungal-beighy-sage color is in our kitchen. {Geoff will never forgive me for using "fungal" in the paint description, but it is a confoundedly impossible color to describe.} The ceiling was to be Swiss Coffee, but we were shocked to see how little coffee was in that color, and hastily settled on "Almond Latte," Behr Ultra, Matte. It's a good thing these were good paint names, because it might not smell as sweet if it were called "Fungal Latte," or "Wind Beneath The Sheet." Good paint names are very important. The newly repaired beams got the biggest color change of all: "Spiced Berry," Behr Ultra, Matte.

As yet, there are no cover shots, no wide angle lens views. Curtains aren't up. Fireplace needs repair, there's trim pieces left to install, but this is our living room, now. We love it. It's our own, cozy, home. And just in time for the Easter Brunch, we managed to get things in some kind of order...

For the first time in many years, I am not dreading summer. Oh, I love the season, theoretically. I love that the children are out of school, that our days can linger over anything, or nothing. I do love the long days, the smell of the ocean, or a forest. But the heat. The heat has become a miserable thing, and fire season, too. Geoff looks at me, plaintive eyes wide, and suggests 'An air conditioner? Just a small one, for one room. My room. Please! A closet. I could sit in the closet, and I wouldn't bother anyone.' It's pitiful, and I'd hate for him to find out how close I've come to cracking, to caving to the sweet sweet surrender of cool air, and sleep. Restful sleep on a hot summer night can be hard to come by, and our summer started in March, could go on through November. But I do not dread this summer half as much, because with the porch we can swing the doors wide open, and God willing, please, cool air will come in. Please. Then our lovely porch will be even more lovely.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Wanted :: Black Bart The Poetic Bandit of Gold Rush Days

This particular California Gold Rush assignment brings Maria full circle, back to the day when she knew for sure she wanted to be in Ms Butler's class, just like her friend Leo, and making wanted posters, a Mission, inventing a toy, and in a classroom brimming with activities. Fourth grade has been good, sometimes even better than expected. Open House is next week, and we'll get to see more of Maria's creations, and works, and maybe she'll want to pop over to the fifth grade classrooms... to see what's in store for her there. As for Black Bart, he got off pretty easy for his crimes. I guess it pays to be a gentleman and a poet when you hold up stage coaches. He served his time, then was never heard from again.

Maria, I love how you portrayed Charles Bowles in his flour sack disguise!

Friday, April 24, 2015

{this moment}

A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to see.
Alex, Max, William, Maria... my dreams coming true.

Dinner, after school, before homework. It's even more wonderful taken on the porch, with the sun lost in deep clouds, so we are reminded of afternoons in Honoka'a. Even our porch door's squeak adds to those memories. We've been to so many beautiful places... some I miss, some I can imagine living in, but right now, this place, this moment... it feels more like home than any place, than ever before. So happy to take this moment, and this gratitude, with me when I go to see my mother and grandmother... so happy to return, and enjoy more moments with Geoff, our children, our home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Little Planet Big Wonders

Happy Earth Day

We've been playing in the earth all week, getting dirty, making ourselves happy and tired. Tending the potted flowers, clearing out expired bits, moving in new specimens, and sharing our thanks, with small bouquets. Maria made her own little place on the planet with fallen leaves, petals and stones: A welcome mat, a bed and covers, the fire ring, and a colorful dinner. Alex and I sowed flower seeds, carrots, too. We planted chard, tomatoes, zinnias, peas. The jacarandas have bloomed early... it certainly feels like June, or May, at least. Hard to believe it's only April. Birds everywhere, bunnies growing. William spied the weasel couple who live in the foundation of the home next door... cheeky fiends. Max paces 'round the garden bed, and leaps over the hedges. There is fruit on the peach tree, apricots, apples, lemons, plums, figs. The pomegranate is blooming. Our hens are plump, and busy. Busy scratching, dust bathing, pecking, laying, being dear. The goats butt heads, and gambol. They eagerly accept all treats and affection. Mister Washburn Foo, our polka spotted Foo, waits for the gold finches to come to the feeder, then he springs to the ledge, nosed pressed to the screen. Or he drops to the floor, to pick up the dust. Chango walks out the front door, waits at the back door, then he goes at it all over again. Everyday, I wish that everyone could play in the earth, make themselves happy and tired, then go at it all over again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Imagine and Make

"For all your days be prepared, and meet them ever alike.
When you are the anvil, bear - when you are the hammer, strike."

Edwin Markham

Somewhere there is a list of all the things we hope to make, that we want to make, that we are compelled to make, and it includes build a forge. The list isn't exactly 'written down,' and we may not always agree on what's at the the top of the list, but the list does exist, and we do aspire to address every line of it, sooner or later. Alex was probably the first one to dream of a home forge, and I am sure Geoff agreed it would be good, William, too. No doubt Max has been on board since his freshmen year metals class. It's certainly something the children have dabbled with for many years. Well, some things on our make list happen right away, and some develop over time, organically. Last September we acquired an anvil, which is a good first step toward building a metal heating hearth. Then at a Viking Festival Alex was recruited as blacksmithing apprentice, and this only fueled the fire. Then, as though it were suddenly, Alex brought build a forge to the top of the list; he called his good friend James to come over, then he collected and gathered all the parts to make a soup can forge.

The Parts To Build It:

Propane torch
Steel soup can
Plaster of Paris
Steel pipe

The Parts To Use It:

Scrap metal... copper coins, iron nails, clock springs
Closed toed shoes
Boric acid
Bucket of water
Spark lighter

The iron nail was a fun one to heat up. Iron's melting point (2,800 degrees fahrenheit) is too high for this mini-forge, which was probably topping off at about 1,800 degrees fahrenheit. The soup can forge is sufficiently hot enough to soften the iron nails, so they can be hammered and shaped.

Copper has a much lower melting point, so we scrounged for some copper pennies, and put them in a steel pipe... the steel pipe turned out to be less effective than just sitting the pennies directly in the forge. Alex prepared some sand with the impression of a sea shell to pour the molten copper into. They were able to get the copper very hot, but it would cool as soon as the heat was removed, and it wasn't possible to pour the copper into the mold before it hardened. No surprise, since they knew the forge was almost 200 degrees cooler than necessary to really heat the copper up.

So... what next? Aluminum! Aluminum, with a melting point of only 1,221 degrees fahrenheit! A perfect match for the heat of the soup can forge.

The aluminum melted quickly...

and poured easily into the sand. Ideally this would not be "playground" sand, but a special sand combination called green sand: "...there are many recipes for the proportion of clay, but they all strike different balances between moldability, surface finish, and ability of the hot molten metal to degas."

We have a homemade aluminum sea shell blob. Which is really cool.

Things have come a long way from those first fire lessons, and it's wonderful to know that all of their experiences, at home, at Maker Faire, in the school metal shop... it builds, evolves, and inspires next steps, new paths, more confidence, bigger ideas.

Alex called this experiment "Good fun, but we need the big one."

The Parts on The Wish List:
Green sand
Leather aprons
Fire bricks
Refractory cement
A steel tube
A burner
Bellows, or forge blower

And the iron nail? They made it into a mini hook! I'd like about ten more of these, for hanging art on the porch, please!