Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lovely Surprise

Ashraf and Miriam came over last night and we went with Felix out to dinner, which was just lovely. Felix helped me get rid of the sawdust and general debris, which ingeniously involved stacking the dishwasher with scant hope of it working, but hey, it got the stuff out of sight.

My wardrobe is chockablock with timber since I had nowhere else to put it, and the demolished cupboards I put in the back of the truck - then parked it down the road so we didn't look too Appalachian.

While we were out it rained, and this morning looks like the dawn of creation, snail on the thorn, dew on the rose, all rejoicing, plumper, greener, revived, and the thrush singing his heart away. Strong pink shoots from the roses I planted last year, they are happy where they are - rosamutabilis and Fourth of July, in a froth of freesias and wallflower.

I took a cutting of a new salvia from Cissy yesterday at lunch, the trick will be to find somewhere for it. I need a new truckload of topsoil, and a strong lad to spread it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bumper Stickers

"I love my country, but I think it's time we started seeing other people."

Bin Stood Up Again

Such a busy day planned - breakfast with Mary, walk with Carolyn, then lunch with Cissy., but Mary had forgotten Charlie was staying over and Carolyn had forgotten an appointment so I am cut loose. I had scrubbed up (paint on my hands still) so don't feel like launching into the next round of carpentry and painting. Not in lip gloss.

I heard a crash while I was in the shower, the engraving of our Park Village house had fallen, glass broken but no damage. A Portent? If so, of what? That is always the hard bit.

I will have to think of another way to have fun, and it involves getting out of the house, especially as housework has taken a back seat this week, and I only clear the sawdust away so it doesn't get into the paint. I am delighted with the working class dark brown of the lower kitchen cupboards. I did my usual trick of using undercoat to get the iconic colour which reminds me of unpretentious old country houses with built-in pantries and benches in old plain colours, worn and comfortable and absolutely fitting. And that makes me homesick for rain, and green, and gardens.

Yesterday I had the delightful task of finding a map for the new cupboard front. This is harder than it sounds, because I need the right aspect ratio and I like plenty of water, and thrifty mapmakers shove little boxes of information into the blue areas . I settled on a Michelin map of Scotland which sadly had to end at Inverness as there was a box at that latitude, but it fits perfectly, I can see Arran and there is a lot of blue.

As my carpentry improves I am spending some time refining my earlier efforts. My toolbox has improved too, how else would I have planed down the floorboard?

I think I am active to keep darker musings at bay, the key one that the best any of us could do for the world would be to remove ourselves from it, taking as many other mortals with us as we could. This is not an integrate way of being, and I can feel the fault line in my reason which of course hurts no one but me. At the same time I love babies, and puppies, and pansies, and cities. Maybe there just isn't a need to be reasonable.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I came back from my first volunteering at the local school, fine except that I said 'pussycat', and these little children think that pussy is only U.S.A. 'pussy' and couldn't contain themselves. I settled them down with my gimlet eye, still in working order, and after that my only problem was that they were really tired - one actually fell asleep.

Quiet house as Stefan is off writing a commission for another magazine, so I sat in tranquility and cut out my new cupboard door and hung it, then odd fixings and trimmings.

Next challenge is what to use to clad the side of the fridge wall now? I would like to be creative but not theme park.


Once again I am contemplating the vasty backside of the nice Sears man who has come to fix the dishwasher and the washing machine. Because now they both don't work.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Begone, Dull Care

Last night Ashraf threw a marvellous party for his son Asif and bride Kiran, who were married in Lahore in January. I have never seen San Francisco City Hall look like that before - tables decked in shot taffeta and gold- embroidered cloths, flower arrangements four feet across, and the rotunda lit with ethereal gold and pink, the marble floors - it took my breath away. The food could have served four times the number who were there, there was a a ballet, "The Bollywood Divas" before dancing.

Such beautiful women! All ages, from Baba in her wheelchair to a two-year old like a little flower. Everyone danced, even before the disco. I was surprised the number of people I knew, though I had never met the bride and knew Asif only from the ballet. It was magical, and I haven't even mentioned the music, sittar and tabla, and a singer I suspect is famous, who sat plump and cross-legged and belted out songs at terrific speed and volume and you just had to dance.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mother's Helper

Isn't it amazing how much sawdust comes from sawing up just one floorboard?

I replaced the split board and discovered that the house indeed used to end at that point. The builders had continued the joists with smaller modern ones and hadn't firred the spaces, hence the board was taking all the weight.

I have the same problem with modern machining, because although the new douglas fir is 4" nominal just like the old, there is a gap of 1/8" which I will have to tamp. Tricky.

At least the sawdust won't be a problem, I am still in love.

Friday, March 14, 2008

All is Changed

The real trick of the Dyson is immediate feedback - vacuum one room and gaze in horror at the miserable grey slough in the clear container. I knew the old Oreck wasn't doing much because I could see threads lined up neatly by the brushing bar, but they didn't get sucked up, oh no. I have had to empty the *Dyson* every room. In fact, I have dedicated a bin bag to its contents.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Money's Worth

Since I have maintenance contract on all my appliances, and since Sears eventually sent the Man Who Knew What He Was Doing, I had him go over everything, idly mentioning that I bought the washer with the house and never had trouble with it. "Would you like to know how old it is?" he asked, then bent double into it.

1977. That is value.

Today we shoot schoolchildren in the city, Monday was another rock-processing plant, and last Friday a very pretty little woman waving her arms around. On Sunday I had the immense satisfaction of carting from Will's place the redundant tv and vacuum cleaner, plus a pile of boxes and old clothes. It is such a lovely apartment. We all went to have tea with Cissy and George, and on Monday Felix and Ghazi came around, and I gave her my Vivienne Westwood sweater, as she is the one who will most appreciate it, and it makes me look like Dolly Parton.

I think I may paint my office sharp olive green.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bin Stood Up

No Esmeralda.

I twitched and tweaked to great effect while waiting for her, so now ask myself: do I need a cleaner?

Friday, March 07, 2008


We shall draw a veil over Hawai'i. The whole of Hawai'i.

The first thing I did when we got back was call Esmeralda, who had grown in mythic stature since I had to let her go six years ago, because she is positively gifted, has the talent to do the grace notes of housewifery as well as the basics. Ahhhh. She is coming on Tuesday, Glory be.

The second thing was to buy a Dyson on Ebay, and will consign the Oreck to the oblivion it deserves. I work so much better knowing domestic things are in order, and if I'm not working I want to be able to do bigger projects not just play catch-up. Such as, take up the floor just in front of the porch to find out why that board is splitting. Clean out the gutters and paint the eaves. Replace the bedroom carpets. Build two new kitchen wall cabinets from scratch.