Monthly Archives: November 2011

Random, Totally

In the last few days of no posts the following things have happened at our house. Bare with me here as I let new readers in on the fact that I am constantly in the middle of more than one project. My life is full and I like it that way. Some times it does interfere with enough sleep, but so far I’m still thriving.

A brief recap, my mom has been very sick for over a year. Many partly finished things were moved to the back burner in order to have enough time to be with her as much as she needed me. She finally lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on Oct 25, 2011. The first weekend my sweet hubs and I moved all of her stuff, worked all week, the following weekend we had her funeral and hosted a gathering at our house afterward.

That gave us the first two weeks without being on 24/7 call and two complete weekends. We decided to see if our mostly started, but on hold complete bathroom remodel could be completed before Thanksgiving.

In the Beginning

This little bathroom has no closet, no window, and the corner shower, toilet, and small sink make it not convenient. The tile in this photo was one of my tile jobs years ago. The bathroom was dark, dingy and difficult.

The biggest problem was that when my handicapped brother would come to stay for a day or two, my poor hubs had to try to help him shower here. Since my brother needs lots of help, he couldn’t pick up a lost bar of soap from the floor and often backed into the push on and off knob. In order to turn it on, hubs would have to open the shower door. So by the end of each shower, I had one clean, mostly dry, and dressed brother and one soaking wet husband with soggy shirt, pants, and shoes. It was also impossible for our small grandchildren.

The plan, tear all of this out, refit with a small tub, energy-efficient toilet, and new sink cabinet. During the tear out hubs came up with a great plan to use a few feet of space from the oversized closet in the adjacent bedroom to gain space for a clothes hamper and open shelves for towels, toiletries, personal bath caddies for each person.

Hubs loves to de-construct the house, then come back with all the water-proof and above code products. He had torn out, re-framed and rebuilt. My passionate part is the tile work, so as soon as things were ready I had started the tile work, when mom started needing our help, more and more. So the bathroom sat looking just like this for the next 18 months.

A Good Start

But a start was all it was. No plumbing at all. Guests had to use the bathroom in the daylight lower level, or charge through the master bedroom to use our bathroom. Hence on weekends, we usually had a parade of little people coming in and out for the bathroom and often just hopping into bed with us. But for handicapped brother, he could not spend the night during this time.

Then time to work. Here is what we accomplished a few hours every evening after work and 12 to 14 hours a day on Sat and Sun.

Setting tiles under the "tack strip" into the carpeted hall.Working up to the trim line. Setting the glass tiles, one at a time.The soap and shampoo alcove, each piece had to be cut with multiple cuts to adjoin the angles perfectly.

Working up to the trim line. Setting the glass tiles, one at a time.

Lots of tiles had to be hand cut, or trimmed, or both.

Shaping tiles is a bit tricky. The tile saw only does straight cuts and sometimes the tile has to wrap around plumbing. There is nearly always a decorative cover that hides the cut edges, but still it has to be worked on until it is close to the pipe or drain. This year hubs bought me my very own tile saw. They are require lots of water when cutting, so they have to be used outside and the cutter person has to actually get wet, which is okay on a hot day, not so much fun in October and November when the temps were cold and it was raining. I set my saw up under the deck and it only dripped a bit on my head. Two flights of stairs down and two back up for every piece. Fitting round cuts sometimes takes two or three adjustments. No need for a gym with the stair run every few minutes.

It took no time to get the top portion of the tiles set. They are larger and go quite fast. After the thin-set was cured the grout went on quickly. Not going to bother with a boring photo of that, though I took some. After the grout is all polished and shiny two coats of sealer go on everything. Then it was time for hubs to complete the plumbing.

Grouting finished and sealed the plumbing is going in.

The cupboard for the hamper and whatever. It hides behind the open door and is fully functional when the bathroom door is closed.

The beautiful glass topped sink and espresso cabinet.

Jasmine, one of our three cats approves our work.

After: Same view as the first photo, the "before" photo.

It was a nearly completed project on Thanksgiving morning. The toilet worked, but the sink drain that came with our kit was for a ceramic sink with the overflow. It would not fit the new glass sink, so even though the water worked, we had to keep it turned off at the cut off valves. No one could actually use the sink. The tub plumbing was not quite finished. Hubs got everything done on the weekend while I did lots and lots of dishes. We have a train rack style towel bar and the shower rod to hang and we are done!!!

So Let me know what you think about our project. I do have a book in progress for anyone who might ever want to actually do their own tile work. For me, I have been hooked on it for years. I absolutely love doing it and creating something that stands up to the wear and tear of a family and required so little maintenance to look like new for decades.

Tomorrow I will try to share our Thanksgiving with you. The photos from my cell phone are not all that awesome, but the day certainly was. The leftovers have made dinners fast and delicious. I’m so thankful hubs and I both LOVE turkey.

G’ Nite,

Shez

PS A little addition to yesterday’s post is all I have time for, it’s nearly midnight already. See you tomorrow.

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Filed under Do It Yourself, Holiday, Photography

What A Difference A Day Makes

After such a long and beautiful fall, with weeks of glorious colors, nature decided enough is enough. How will all these people be ready to appreciate the glories of spring if they do not have a break in all the colors.

In blew the wind and a deluge of torrential rains. In a short three or four days I recorded the following photos. These again are un-altered not even cropping since I have no photo editing here at work. Yes, I am at work  “Shame, shame on me,”  and am feeling very guilty, but not guilty enough to find something important to do. Besides that I am justifying it because the day before a holiday is often a very quiet day.  Besides that it is hard to concentrate when I should be home baking. We are having 17 people for dinner at our house tomorrow and I am too excited about that to concentrate.

Here are some of three photos from the 17th through the 22nd of November 2011. The first three are of the park bench by the pond. Wish I had thought to take them all from the exact same location, but you will recognize the scene.

The Golden Leaves Carpet the lawn and surround the bench by the pond.

The yellow Japanese Maple sits on the right side of the walk. In this photo you also catch a glimpse of the pastel leaves from the left hand Japanese Maple. Both trees are still covered in leaves although enough have fallen from the yellow tree to carpet the ground.

The leaves have dropped from the heavy wind and rain. The tree is barren, the bench is laden.

Thousands and thousands of yellow leaves now surround the bench. The heavy wind and rain have literally whipped and blown them from the branches.

All is wet, the pond grows bigger.

As the heavy rain continued the water rose and surrounded the bench. Many roads have been flooded by the torrential rains. The weight of the rains coupled with the wind has blown over trees and and broken off heavy branches, which have landed on power lines breaking them. We were lucky that we only had some higher water and no  damages.

Next up are some photos of a hummingbird house. It is adorable, is facing east as directed, and after two years is still unused.

The Japanese Maple leaves nearly hide the hummingbird house.

If you look very closely at the top of the blue and white cord that secures the house to the tree, you will see an out of focus dark and light blob. It is the hummingbird. Honest, it’s him. From this perch he can watch the feeders and in territorial fashion can go after any other hummingbirds that dare approach his domain. It became impossible for me to actually get a clear photo of him. There are three reasons; one the hummer blends so well with the tree bark my point and shoot could not focus clearly on him; two he twitches and moves quite often, especially at the tones the camera makes; and three I could not “time my jiggle” and did not have time to go get my tripod.

So you will have to trust me, the hummer is actually the dark and light splotch you can see in the photo above.

Clearly no bird is perched near the hummingbird house.

Two days later, the lighting is better and I finally a clear photo, but nary a hummingbird in sight.

Two more days and the leaves are all but gone.

 

An amazing transformation in a very short time. Still no hummingbird to capture with my camera. It does not mean it was not there, it just was buzzing in and out quickly and the wind kept blowing him from any perch. I was surprised to see him out and about in the very wind and rain.

Next up are photos of the Japanese Maple that shades the left side of the walk.

The Japanese maple on the left of the walk displays beautiful soft reds, oranges and yellows.

My husband brought home two matching saplings. There were bought at the same place at the same time. Each was about 30″ high and each was growing in 5 gallon containers and had the same tags on them. But every year, this one leafs out first, has slightly darker foliage and when Autumn arrives it becomes very colorful. This year it was more pastel than most years, but its companion always were only a coat of yellow, no different than the first six photos in this post. We do have dozens of varieties of maples that grow beautifully in Oregon. I have never met a maple tree I did not love.

The left Maple Up-Close

The day began with a bit of overcast which is usually my favorite light for photography. I turn my flash off and love the true colors an overcast sky reveals. I also am partial to the lack of shadows and the clarity of detail that results.

The detail of the delicate leaves, their red veins, the tiny scalloped edges and the exquisite shading of colors.

Two perfect leaves and two tiny seed pods. I had just put my camera away when then the sun emerged. With it came the shadows that provide depth and interest and the leaves take on a special glow that cannot be duplicated.

Nature creates such beauty for us.

In this case, the shadows add to the story and make for wonderful imagery.

Wishing you all a lovely day.

Shez

 

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Filed under Nature, Photography, The Great Outdoors

Seen in the Backyard

On Thursday morning  Nov 17, 2011, I awoke to a beautiful day. I showered and dressed and dashed into the backyard my pocket Nikon in hand. Thursday the yard crew comes for their weekly maintenance and I knew this lovely sight would be gone forever if I dallied even a minute. So snap happy I ran through the lovely yellow carpet on the lawn. A new portfolio emerged. These are a half dozen of my favorites.

The green of the lawn is carpeted in yellow, orange, and gold.

I forgot it was cold and I hadn’t bothered to bundle up. But every way I turned the yard beckoned me to come closer. Down to the lower level I went and saw this interesting arrangement.

The Sedge Gallantly Holds the Beauty of Fall Foliage Against the Wind

 

From a distance it reminded me of a porcupine. But up close it became an interesting sculpture of sedge and leaves. Hidden or protected in it’s heart are yellow birch, red and orange Japanese maple, yellow of another variety of Japanese maple, light green leaves fallen from the absinthe (sp?).

As I passed by, the path ahead beckoned me on past the birch and to the park bench. This is the bench we sit on to watch the gold fish and to toss bread crumbs to the little ducklings in the spring.

Even the park bench sports a colorful patchwork of leaves, a cozy place to watch the water denizens.

 

Does this look like an inviting spot to sit and read, and watch several types of ducks, geese, the fish, butterflies, dragonflies, and numerous bird varieties? We see many varieties from the tiniest of hummingbird the Anna’s Hummer topping out at less than three inches to the Great Blue Heron with it’s six foot wing span. It is just a place to relax and enjoy a day. It never fails to amaze me with the tranquility and sense of peace it gives me.

The leaves appear to want a day in the sun, they float on the water lilly pads.

I want to stay and watch the changing light, the reflections in the water and on this day, the colorful leaves lazing around on the water lilly pads. But I was expected at work and  the leaf blowers would be here any minute to invade the peace. As I headed back along the path, I got my first look at the stairs from down below. They posed a fascinating  picture. This was the sight that lead me back indoors for a bite of breakfast. But I couldn’t go in just yet , first I had to record this particular scene.

A Lovely Showcase for the new Carpet.

 

To me this is just perfect. Before noon today it will all be gone, the yard crew will have cleaned all this “mess” up. Me? I love the look of the leaves covering the ground, until they become soggy with rain and a slippery hazard. I just want to remember them exactly like this. What better way than to capture it not just in my heart, but with my camera to share with everyone.

Please let me know what you think? We are quickly transitioning into winter. A whole new wonderland to photo. What fun.

G’ Nite

Shez

 

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Filed under Nature, Photography, Random, The Great Outdoors

Quiet Day of Rain and Wind

Today I was the first real dramatic change in the weather. It is forecast to be colder and a deluge of rain accompanied by strong winds. We got up when the alarm went off instead of snuggling in the warm bed until the last possible moment. A tiny humming-bird was flirting with me through the kitchen window. It is an ongoing game. I see it posing in mid-flight close to the feeder. I go get my camera, as soon as I point it in that direction the little hummer goes behind the feeder for a drink and then flits up to perch high in the tree.

We watch and wait. As soon as I am busy, he’s back. As soon as I pick up a camera this is the picture I get. Every time. Cagey little guy. I know they are smart, so he is simply toying with me.

This was the result last year early on Thanksgiving morning when it was just growing light and I was up stuffing a turkey getting it ready to pop in the oven for our annual feast. Remember our game from last year, I found our Thanksgiving photos and decided to share them today.

No hummers are here to feast at the moment.

Next week is Thanksgiving. I am always blessed by the crowd that gathers around our table each year. We usually have about 20 +/- gathered at our table. One year we added table to table from the end of our dining room through the archway into the living room. There were 30 something people there. That’s a lot of cooking, loads of fun, and we enjoy it all. Of course everyone comes bearing something to add to the feast and there are no shortage of people busing tables, loading the dishwasher and making another pot of coffee.

Youngest Grandson smiles for the camera, oldest grandson chats.

How else can we count our blessing than to first count our family. A big group that I am love to pieces. What a wonderful feeling to see them all smiling and chatting and laughing around the table.

The family gathers around the table Thanksgiving 2010

I do read about other families where there is a lot of unhappiness and arguing and people walking out in a huff after much yelling. I can’t imagine something so dreadful. This clan of ours actually love each other.  And my family gatherings have always been happy events from the time was just little girl and holidays were spent at my Grandmother’s with her children, their children and everyone was always happy.

Not sure she wants to pose for a photo. She hates the flash!

Since I missed her at the table, I tried to catch up with youngest granddaughter. She is a sweetheart, but was much to busy to slow down for a photo. What a difference a year makes. This year she adores posing for photos.

Last Year Thanksgiving 2010

This was a small turkey, only about 20 pounds. But it was enough, we even had some left overs. Our crowd was small last year, we only had 14 people at the table. Our oldest granddaughter was away at college and since she plays on her school’s women’s basketball team, they were traveling during Thanksgiving.

Over the years our children have brought friends, roommates, and assorted others home with them for Thanksgiving. Everyone will be back this year, plus a family who moved here from Georgia. They miss their own big family gatherings, so it will be fun to share it with them.

So even though it is a bit early to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and it is a holiday not celebrated around the rest of the world, I am doing it today anyway. That way, if you have never heard of Thanksgiving you can google it and learn about our American custom. If you are traveling home next week to celebrate, I wish you a safe journey.

G’ Day

Shez

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Filed under Family, Food, Holiday

From Morning ’til Mid Day

It was a day of contrasts, thanks to our weather. It began with thick fog creating a softness and lack of color. Slowly the fog lifted and by mid afternoon the sky and the colors were glorious. Here are the sights in my little world, November 15, 2011.

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Thanks for hanging with me. Tomorrow is supposed to be heavy rains and heavier yet the next day. For the next few days, I will not have many new photo opportunities, but trust me I have been shooting pictures since I was six. I have a huge collection. So I am not sure what I will share tomorrow.

Time has been short, we (as in Hubs and I, we are humble but capable DIY) have a bathroom remodel that got stalled as soon as everything got removed and we were down to bare walls and floors. We have pushed hard the past week to pull it and several other projects together. Makes for long days, first our real jobs, then our projects and we still have to have everything spiffed up for our big family gathering next week.

So with that, I bid you …

G’ Nite

Shez

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Filed under Nature, Photography, The Great Outdoors

The Longest Fall

For reasons that have us all very curious, this Autumn the leaves have been in high color and on the trees for weeks. Our normal color of fall lasts about 4 weeks with everything except the yellow alders already naked and into hibernation. This year we are mid November and the colors of the trees have been beyond beautiful and today were still showing off.

I present some photos I took in my yard this morning featuring Reflections. I am mesmerized by reflections and I hope you do enjoy these views also. Again, no photoshop ™ magic or retouching at all, just beautiful they way they were today.

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G’ Nite

Shez

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Oregon Beach

It’s been a busy day, work a half day, a trip to get a carpet bound for a large wide runner, lunch with hubs at DQ (shame on me I had 10,000 calories in a Chocolate Truffle Blizzard…Yummy), got all the full size tiles glued down, but still tons to do. That leaves me with five minutes to create a post. But first  have to check on dinner… Good dinner is doing well. Should be done in half and hour.

Here are some photos I took  at the beach in the spring of 2010. I hope you enjoy them.

BTW We natives call it “Ory-gun” for us it rhymes with “wagon” or maybe in your part of the country you call those things “way-gones?”

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Please leave a comment?? Please?

G’ Night

Shez

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Filed under Nature, Photography, The Great Outdoors