Saturday, April 30, 2011

Emergency Break from Regularly Scheduled Blogging...

Hah! Just as I was starting to get on a semi-regular blogging schedule, friggin' Real Life had to get in the way! Dont'cha just *hate* when that happens?!

Tazz the Spazz, my Mama-Dog, has just had Surgery #3 (:::sigh:::). Happens *every* *friggin* *time* I pay off my credit cards to zero! Swear-to-Gawd!!!

Payoff a credit card: Within a week - *somebody's* gonna need emergency surgery!


Tazz is 11 years old. She's a black and tan smooth mini-dachshund. I got her around Feb-Mar 2000 - shortly after Tuxedo the Wonder Dog died in my arms (of natural causes). When I got her, her name was Latte (as in Mocha-Latte). "Uhh, No!" But I wasn't sure what to name her, so I figured I'd give it a couple of days - maybe she'd name *herself.*

I can't quite decide *what* Tazz is. This is fine - neither can she! She definitely has NO clue that she's a dog (let alone a small one!), and she really doesn't know "her place" in this world. But she *did* name herself. Tazz is a dog with boundless energy and absolutely NO sense of direction - and. quite honestly, NO CLUE whatsoever. About what? you might ask. My point Exactly!

Yes, she did name herself. Tazz the Spazz!

I think she might be part Labrador because her appetite surpasses All Things in the Universe. That dog would eat until she burst - I kid you not!!!

And I think she might be part Border Collie because she runs and runs and runs and runs. And then she runs some more. We have a 1/4 acre lot and - having moved from a 32'x11' boat (her ENTIRE WORLD) to a HUGE lot with ALL. THAT. GRASS. Well, it's like she'd died and gone to heaven!

Annnnd... She's part greyhound. We'd entered her in a couple of "Fun" Weiner National Dachshund Races - and damned if she didn't take 4th, overall! (her last running, she didn't fare so well. Unfortunately, her vision is "going" and she lost sight of me at the end of the track. She raced right past me, into the crowd, and KEPT ON GOING!!!)

She's also part retriever - with a serious OCD streak. Tennis ball?! Oh Good Gawd! She can chase a tennis ball tirelessly for hours without even breaking a sweat. And, oh my yes, does she bring it back! Again, and again, and again, and again...

And she has a serious Addictive Personality. If we dare to take the tennis ball away, she literally goes into withdrawals. We actually have to lure her into the house - with food (which - I'm convinced - is her #1 Love in Life). Then one of us has to sneak outside to REMOVE the tennis ball and stash it in the storage shed.

Next time she goes out? She runs and sniffs frantically ALL OVER THE YARD. ENDLESSLY. Whining and fretting and generally FREAKING OUT because "Where's my ball? Where's my ball? Where's my ball?"

If we attempt to lure her back into the house (Food again - Yes, it still works), she'll inhale her snack, then she'll sit by the back door, trembling and whining. This behavior can last, literally, for days...

And Gawd help us if we have to go into the storage shed to find something. She *knows* they're in there (even if she hasn't had a tennis ball for MONTHS)..

At one point, I actually invested a significant chunk o' change and bought her a Go-Dog-Go tennis ball launcher - thinking she could entertain herself. I spent HOURS (Were talking WEEKS) trying to teach her how to drop the ball into the bucket but "OH MY GAWD!!! IT DISAPPEARED!!! WHERE'S MY BALL DAMN YOU?!!! IT'S GONE!!!" Whirrrrrrrr THWUMP! as it launched another ball - and she darted off after it - having miraculously forgotten about the "disappearing" tennis ball. Nevertheless, she insisted on bringing the ball back to ME. She abso-freaking-lutely REFUSED to drop the ball into the bucket. So, the tennis ball launcher now lies dormant in the shed...

Bottom Line: The Tennis Ball Addiction just got too far out of hand, so we were forced to stage the Ultimate Intervention. All tennis balls have been forever banished from our yard. (Occasionally, the neighbors kids will accidentally lob one over the back fence - and all hell breaks loose! We quickly round-up the hounds, then toss it back over the fence!).

Tazz was utterly bereft with nothing to chase or chew, however. I did substitute a large Tire-Biter toy. (Oh, she is Destructo-Dog, too. In fact, I should rent her out to Dog-Toy manufacturers to test the claim that a particular toy is "indestructible" - I have yet to find a toy that is Tazz-Proof!!). The Tire-Biter at least lasts a couple of months!

Well, Tazz just couldn't break her "Retriever Ways" unfortunately. And she gets sooooo "into" it. She loves when toys (even heavy hard-rubber toys) "bounce" off her nose (it's a wonder she hasn't gotten a concussion!). And she'll LEAP into the air, twisting and careening off of whatever, to try to catch it "on the bounce."

So I guess she is part gymnast as well!

And I think *she* thinks that she is part bird (Don't even get me started on her Quixotic Quest to actually *catch* a bird!).

Over the years, all this running and leaping and twisting and non-stop frenetic behavior took it's toll on poor ol' Tazz (Oh, my sister's nickname for her is "Psycho" - and it's not too far off the mark!). So, over the years, she has had two back surgeries.

Invariably, this happens at, like, 3:00 on a Sunday morning so a trip to the Emergency Vet is in order. And, of course, this isn't anything that the local Emergency Vet is equipped to handle. Oh no! This requires a veterinary NEUROSURGEON (and they are neither plentiful, nor cheap!).

Anyway, Tazz has had TWO (count 'em - TWO) back surgeries, an MRI ($3,000!!!), and Gawd only knows what else, right? All "throwing toys" have been forever banished from the yard (chew-toys too, unfortunately because - to Tazz - ALL toys are meant to be thrown!). I have *always* discouraged jumping off of furniture for ALL of the dogs (Doxies = Back Problems). And I am obsessive about keeping the dogs thin (wish it worked that well on myself - but I digress!).

A frequent conversation around here goes something like this:

"Rinse the dish out before you give it to 'em."
"Aw, c'mon Babe! It's just gravy!" (it's a 1/2" deep puddle of congealing fat and sodium from one of his TV dinners).
"Just rinse it out and leave some water in it! They'll still love you for it!" I reply. "I promise, with their hyper-developed taste-buds, its *still* delicious to them!"
"But she doesn't get enough!" sez Rog
"She can NEVER get enough! Jeez! Do YOU wanna pay for the next back-surgery???"

He grudgingly rinses out the dish (but still leaves a generous amount of gravy!).

Rog is a sucker for Tazz's "I'm a Poor Starving Orphan" routine! I wish *I* could master her "pathetic eyes" stare (with tremble and barely perceptible whine!).

Annnnnnnywaaaaayyy... I've been pretty adamant about *not* paying for another surgery for Tazz, and have ruled the tableside with an Iron Fist, right?

She's 11 years old. Investing in another surgery would be just plain STUPID, right?


Did I mention that I paid off my credit card last month? Like, to zero?


So Tuesday morning, I'm working from home. Rog is in SoCal on business. I'm doing my normal routine, working at home, getting ready for Conference Calls and yada-yada...

All of a sudden, and for no discernible reason, Tazz came racing out of the bedroom with her tail wagging, but she was whining non-stop (in her most annoying wheezy high-pitched way). Then she ran into the corner of the den, hopped up on her woobie, and continued to whine.

I called her over. She just sat there, whining. I opened the fridge. She came racing over, but continued to whine and tremble.

"Oh sh*t. What's wrong?" whine-whine-tremble.

I tossed her a piece of food (which she inhaled). Unfortunately, I had a conference call starting up so I had no choice but to toss everyone in the crate and hope for the best...

After my call, I let everyone out. I checked Tazz's hind-legs and she's still "strong" back there - so it's not her back (*whew!*). But now she's licking her girl-parts obsessively and continuing to whine. I look to see where she's licking and I see nasty stuff. "Uh-Oh!" Oh Gawd *please* don't let it be pyometra!"

Long-story short: Yep, Tazz contracted pyometra, a nasty uterine infection. We actually lost a girl to that about 8 yrs ago (but she was 14 years old and had lots of other "issues" and we were to the point of "let her live out her days, as long as she's comfortable..." Pyometra ended that, unfortunately, so we made the very difficult decision to euthanize her - but, again, I digress!).

So, I grabbed the first available appt at the vet. Thankfully, I didn't have any more conference calls scheduled and the vet had a cancellation.

We talked about the risks of surgery (on an 11 year old dog who's had two back surgeries) vs. the likelihood of this clearing up with *just* antibiotics. Fortunately, it was an "open" pyometra - which meant the bad-stuff could drain - but I'd been thinking of having her spayed anyway (just "not at gunpoint!").

It seemed like an insane decision - to opt to perform surgery on an 11-year old dog - but she is still so "full of life" I just couldn't see cutting it short. But there were definitely risks, too. We knew spaying *would* take care of the pyometra - so that was a good thing. But the risk of performing surgery on a dog with a bad-back is that they get so "relaxed" during anesthesia, that they can knock the vertebra out of alignment very easily (leading to paralysis and ANOTHER back-surgery) (did I mention that back surgeries end-up running close to $8000 APIECE???).

Nevertheless, I just couldn't see any other alternative. "Let's do it. Just PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be careful with her back!"

They sent us home with antibiotics and pain meds for the night. Her surgery was scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Prior to sending us home, they hesitantly gave me the "estimate" for her upcoming surgery. They were all apologetic (and nice about it). I took a look at it and - probably for the first time in the history of this veterinarian's practice - said "Wow. That's not bad!" (it was just over $1,000 - but compared to two $8,000 back-surgeries...!!!)

Tuesday night, Tazz mostly slept (she was all doped-up on Tramadol!). But she *did* wolf-down her dinner - so that was encouraging! She wasn't allowed to eat after 10:00pm, so she got LOTS of cookies that night (she looked like a stuffed sausage when I finally put her to bed!).

Wednesday morning was PURE PANDEMONIUM. "What do you MEAN we don't get breakfast?!!" Tazz got plunked into the small kennel-cab, then mom grabbed THE LEASH and EVERYBODY went nuts. Ayeee Ayeee Yipe-Yipe-Yipe-Yipe!!! It sounded like a goddamn kennel!

And when I dropped her off Wednesday morning, I had tears streaming down my face - to the point where the vet came out and gave me a big hug! (I am *such* a sniveling wimp when it comes to my dogs - it's positively pathetic!)

The Good News is: Tazz came through surgery like a champ. The vet called me around noon and reported that everything went well. I could come and bring her up between 5:00-7:00pm.

When I went to get her, I got the Post-Op instructions, along with "Go ahead and try to give her a *small* meal around 7:30 tonight - but don't be surprised if she's not interested in food..."

I refrained from saying "What are you KIDDING ME??? The day *this* dog skips a meal is the day we grab a shovel and start digging a hole!"

Sure as sh*t - come 7:30pm, I gave her a half-sized meal (by then, she looked positively emaciated), and she WOLFED it down. In fact, I had to take it away, midway through, because I was afraid she was gonna vapor lock!

Today is Saturday and - other than having a zipper in her belly - you wouldn't even know she'd had surgery. She is neurotic and active as ever!

So this means that Tazz is also part-cat. Now she's gotten through THREE of her Nine Lives!

Unique Fashion Statement for the Royal Wedding.
Plus, if we can just get her to hold still, we can get 972 additional channels on our TV!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Busy Busy Weekend!

Farm-Share Food:

Okay, I'll post a *link* to a recipe that was quite delicious! When I first opened the box I spotted "Cool! White radishes! And they're huuuuge!"

Uhh, nope. They were turnips (ICK!), and they're small. Hence the name "Baby Turnips!" So I was cursing myself for not checking the box on the FFTY web-site that says "Don't send me any turnips!" Then I consulted the Great God(dess) Google for ideas of what to do with the damned things!

I found this: Braised Baby Turnips and Turnip Greens. I followed her recipe - to the letter (I never do that!) - and I am pleased to report that it was *quite* tasty! Next time, I think I'll add some fresh, minced garlic!

Yup. Very very yummy! And nope, no pictures. She posted pictures on her blog so go check 'em out! Even if you don't like turnips (I don't!), check it out. You'll be pleasantly surprised!

Boating Update:

So Christmas-Before-Last, DH bought "us" a set of teak-and-holly flooring for Das Boot. Out-of-the-box, they weren't too terribly "generous" with the varnish, so I set-up sawhorses in the garage and added another 3-4 coats of marine varnish. Once these suckers go down, I *don't* think we want to have to re-finish 'em again! Soooo... It took us a long time to get around to installing them. Today was *supposed* to be the day...

The boat came with cheap beige carpeting, laying over non-skid fiberglass.

Yukky Carpet (Carpet + Boat = Bad Idea)

Naked Non-skid

Now previously, I had stained/varnished a cheap CD Crate in a tone that closely-matched the dining table. And I used Earthquake Putty to stick the thing down. It holds *very* well. And today I wanted to confirm that it was removable without doing any damage - It worked!

CD Case/"Stuff Rack" on dinette
(I thought I blogged about that earlier - "Oh, well!")

So we figured, maybe, we could use the same "goop" to stick the teak-holly panels to the fiberglass floor. We vacuumed and cleaned the cabin sole thoroughly (well, actually, DH did that while I gooped up the putty into little pea-sized balls).

Earthquake Putty

Well... Unfortunately, the putty doesn't like non-skid fiberglass. We couldn't get it to stick down :-(

So that means we need to do a "proper" installation with 3M 4000 or 4200 (I'm voting for 4000 b/c it's more pliable). We had a big ol' tube of it on the boat - but no caulking gun. And the smaller tube was effectively glued shut. So off to We$t Marine we went...

And actually, the more I thought about it, the more I began to think that Today was *not* the day to install the Teak/Holly Flooring. The flooring itself didn't come with instructions, but I remembered - from doing the floor in the shed - that the flooring really needs to "live" in it's new home for a couple-three days before you install it. And the boat, obviously, is going to be a far more humid environment than our garage! Sooo... We've got pretty-much everything we need to *do* the job - but we will bring along half-a-dozen 2.5 gallon jugs of water to weight-down the flooring while the adhesive sets.

So, maybe next weekend!

For what it's worth, I did snap a few pics of that particular job (bearing in mind that it still isn't done!).

I think I used enough varnish!
(Fwd section - next to the head)
(that light-colored spot is a reflection!)

Much prettier than yukky carpet!
(Main cabin section)

Other projects in the works: New Sails are on-order, and we're hiring a rigger to install Lazy-Jacks (so it'll be easier to drop the sails, single-handed). Rog is glad we launched the boat early this year so we could tackle these Maintenance Chores while the weather is still semi-crappy!

Studio Update:

Since we didn't "finish" the boat today (much to DH's dismay), I did find that I had enough energy to attempt to tackle ONE of the walls of the studio.

Ooh! Way-way-WAY better than the faux-basket-weave paint job!

But it was a little "poopy" when I had to cut the mat to size
(Hello, Shop-Vac!!!)

I managed to cut and staple one of the cabana mats to one of the short walls. It really is a 2-person job, but I managed to curse my way through *most* of it, solo. Bending and stapling the mat over the windowsill was a real P.I.T.A though and I did end up requesting DH's assistance.

Next, I'll cut my Bamboo-Reed Fencing to an appropriate height and attach it to the lower-half of the walls, like wainscoting. And I've got some bamboo "slats"on order to use as a chair-rail, baseboards, and to cover up any of my fubars (like the not-so-straight-line in the corner next to the beach/ocean - Oops!).

I'll put a similar treatment on the "front" wall, but I've decided against putting anything on the other "short" wall, next to the kiln. Seems that combustibles + 2300* kiln probably wouldn't be a wise combination! I'll probably paint something Artsy-Fartsy on that wall...

It's getting there! Really! And good thing, too! I have officially run out of ceramic works-in-progress! Time to start cranking *new* stuff out!

Garden Update:

Well, nighttime temps are hovering closer to the 50* mark, and all my Veggie Babies are eagerly awaiting transplant to their Permanent Home(s)! Nope, I never did "pot-up" the maters like I said I would (ran out of time and energy!), so I'll just plant them deeply in the raised beds and hope for the best.

Eager Veggies

Herbs are also looking forward to planting. I think I'll stick 'em in last year's Upside-Down Planters (LOL - I still have last year's tomatoes dangling in the bottoms of the planters. I think I'll just leave 'em and see what happens!). The Upside-Down Planter Experiment failed miserably, by the way. But I *did* harvest one mealy, tasteless (and highly confused) midget tomato in February of this year!

Happy Herbs

Annnnd lastly... The Straw-Bale Bed seems to be stabilizing. Yesterday, the internal temp was around 80*. I added more compost and dampened the bales again. Today the internal temp is hovering between 75-80*. I *think* I can safely plant in them (but I'll consult Google first - just to be sure!).

Stable Straw-bale

Wow. I think I actually accomplished quite a lot this weekend! No wonder I'm tired!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

...And Another Mini-Update...

Farm-Share / CSA - First Delivery:

Not to be a Total Finnyknits Rip-Off or anything...

Actually, when I started Googling recipes for the various ingredients, I found that there were lots of "Farm Share" blogs where folks post their weekly Farm-Share hauls, and what they did with them. Although - I have to admit - my first "exposure" to "Community Supported Agriculture" (CSA's) was through Finny's blog-posts.

Normally, I buy whatever produce I need at the Grocery Store. I also like to hit the local Fruit/Veggie Stand (not far from home). And, in fact, I have *many* fond memories of going on Sunday Drives with Dad to hit whatever Veggie Stands we could find (Not to "date" myself or anything, but I actually remember when Silicon Valley was *just* orchards!!!).

Soooo... I stumbled onto a Groupon deal where you could get your first order from FFTY for half-price. I figured - what they hey - and bought it... (Disclosure: If you click my Groupon Link, and order something, I do get a $10 credit) (And I'm totally okay with that!!!).

Anyway - I went ahead and bought the Groupon, then signed up for bi-weekly service from Farm Fresh To You (No compensation to be had from that link - but if you're *really* interested, email me offline and I can give you a coupon code good for $5.00 off your first order!).

Our first delivery arrived yesterday:

This week's haul included: Romaine Lettuce, carrots, zucchinis, avocados, yams, mint, white baby turnips, apples and mandarin oranges...

As well as a small basket of fresh, SUPER-SWEET strawberries!

Did I mention that they were SUPER-Sweet???

What's funny is: I had *just* gone to the grocery store (having forgotten about my scheduled delivery!). Thankfully, I didn't buy any produce. But I *did* notice the Local Migrant Farm-Workers selling huge boxes of strawberries on the street-corners and *almost* stopped to buy a box! I'm glad that I didn't!

Anyway, we've got fresh ORGANIC produce galore and *now* I've got to figure out what to do with it!

I don't think I'll become one of those "Farm-Share Bloggers" posting recipes all the time. But if I do create something particularly noteworthy, I'll probably post it...

Studio Update:


Which do we prefer? Lame attempt at stenciling a basket-weave pattern with paint on the walls?


Or *real* woven mat?

Currently resting on the floor of the shed (so it will "relax and unwind")

I vote for B!!! I purchased three 4'x8' mats to hang on the walls. Hopefully, sometime next week, P will come over to help me staple them to the walls! I have also ordered some bamboo "slats" to use for the baseboard and whatever "edging" I'll need (when/if we need to cut the matting).

Garden Update:

Well, I've set-up the irrigation in the two new raised beds... 1/4" soaker-hose in a figure-8 pattern around both beds...

Haven't set-up the irrigation in the Staw-Bale bed yet (moving the wheelbarrow full of MUD just-plum wore me out!!!), but I *am* pleased to report that decomposition *is* happening! I wanted to get to one of my tomato cages behind one of the straw bales... I figured I could just step up onto a straw-bale and hike back there to get it - NOTTT!!! Damned straw-bales are already starting to break-down (and my foot sunk INTO it!!!). Hence, I had to move the mud-filled wheelbarrow in order to access the 'mater cage. I *did* run a 1/2" line back - behind the shed - to a spot next-to the straw-bale bed. I haven't hooked up a drip-line yet because the drip line needs a hot, sunny day to "relax" it (it's tightly-coiled now and won't unwind).

Okay, that's the latest...

Wow. Blogging *is* much easier (albeit - probably a lot more boring) when I do "Mini-Updates" along the way!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Studio and Garden: Mini Updates...

Studio Update:

Okay, so the ocean is done (Yay!) and now I'm getting ready to tackle the other three walls. I used more "Oops" paint and put down a base-coat of creamy off-white for the basket-weave pattern...

So far, so good...

Then I pulled out the stencils and attempted to do a two-tone basket-weave painting scheme. With... Well, let's just say it was "Limited Success"


I've decided that I really don't like it - At All. I *could* go in with a smaller brush and try to make it look better - but that's gonna be a real P.I.T.A. So I've gone ahead and ordered some 4' x 8' bamboo cabana mats that I will staple and/or glue to the walls.

Like thus:
Much better!

Of course, now this means I'll be stapling/gluing reed fencing to the lower half of the walls as well...

And, unfortunately, this will push-back my "Go-Live" date on the Studio by at least another week. Oh, well! It's *my* space and I want it to be "Just Right" dammit!

Garden Experiment Update:

In Other News: The Straw-Bale bed is coming along. It's been in for just over two weeks now, and I've kept it lightly moist. I did add a bit more blood-meal (after the damned dogs started chowing down on the compost!). Well, as of today, it's staring to "cook!" Outdoor temps were in the low to mid 70's, but a compost thermometer shows the inside of the bales at just over 110* F. So microbial activity is happening.

Annnnd, it's relatively easy to poke a plant-sized hole into the bales. Of course, 110* is too hot for planting, but I figure in the next week or so, things should stabilize and I can start sticking veggie plants in there!

Probably too soon to be overly optimistic, but *maybe* this is one Garden Experiment that will turn out successfully???

So that's a Mini-Update :-)

Friday, April 15, 2011

I haz a Beach!

Ahhh... So things are progressing quite nicely in The Studio!

First, I raided the "Oops" pile (Again!) at Home Depot and scored another boatload of paint!

8oz. "Samples" - Fifty cents apiece! Can't go wrong!

Soooo, I basked in the glow of my Tropical Sky for a couple of days, then decided I was on a roll so I continued on Thursday afternoon - after work...

I haz an ocean!

Just getting started...

Done! (Well, mostly!)

Another view of "mostly done"

I haz ocean on my fingerz!

Beauty, eh?!

Then (Shhh! Don't tell my boss!) I spent my lunch-hour, today, working on the beach!

Lunchtime working on the beach!

I couldn't decide which shade of "Oops" paint from Home Depot I should use for the sand. At first I thought this shade was too "pinky" - but then I found a smaller can of "Oops" paint that was close-but-not-too-far from *this* shade of "Oops" paint - and I *had* to have 2-colors to give it "depth." So I opted for the peachier shade of beige for the beach and I have to say I'm pretty darned pleased! Yes Sirree! Pretty darned pleased!

Of course, now with the 2-toned beach, I realized that my Sea has no Depth (Perish the thought!), so this afternoon, I added some breaking waves...

Breaking Waves (can you hear 'em crashing?!)

Close-up of shoreline

It ain't the Sistine Chapel ceiling - but, overall, I'm pretty damned pleased with my work so far!

The sad news is: This is the only wall big enough for my shelving units, so - when it's all said-and-done - you probably won't *see* most of the seascape - But *I* know it's there!

So that's the Latest 'n Greatest! Next: I start the faux-painting on the other three walls (hopefully I'll have some help!).

Oh my Gawd - I may actually be able to start MOVING IN in a week!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tropical Skies...

Okay, I managed to clear-out the greenhouse this past weekend so I can stow my Tomatoes/Peppers/Squashes in the semi-warmth of the greenhouse (whew!). I'm still not hooking the heater back up, but the GH manages to maintain temps appx 5* above ambient - so the plants oughtta be fine...

So NOW I get to shift my attention back to The Studio!

So, I'd hired a Pro to come in and do the priming and base-coat painting. Then I ran over to Home Depot and raided their "Oops" pile to find cheap deals I could f*ck around with for background colors and glazing/faux-painting. I scored a few gallons and a couple of quarts in varying shades of beige and brown. No blues or greens, unfortunately, so I had to pay full bust-out retail for custom colors for my sky and Caribbean Sea.


In the meantime, I'd purchased a couple of basketweave kindsa stencils. This was The Winner.

And I also picked up a couple of squeegees which I will modify so I can do a faux bamboo wainscoting kinda technique. Only my "stripes" will be vertical.

I also picked up a laser level that sticks to the wall using 3M Command Strips (which, supposedly, won't stick permanently and won't damage your walls - WRONG!!!). So I figured I'd mark out my lines-of-demarcation using the laser-level hoo-haw. I decided my horizon-line (for the back wall sky/sea/sand scene) would be appx 40" off the floor. I stuck the laser-level to the wall and used some Scotch Painters Tape to mark the dividing line... Okay, fine. Then I go to remove the laser-level and it took the freaking paint and texture clean off the wall!!!!


So then I texted P and asked "If you happen to have an extra 15-20 minutes free, can you come help me put up level, horizontal lines with masking tape?"

Thankfully, she came over this afternoon and helped with said task. Annnnnd, we hung out for about half an hour (or so) and chatted a bit.

After she left, I wandered out to the shed - only to discover that 80% of the freaking masking tape had FALLEN OFF THE WALLS!!!

I swear, I wanted to cry!

#$%^ "Command" product isn't supposed to stick to the wall - but DOES.

%^&* "Scotch Painters Tape" is supposed to stick to the wall - but DOESN'T!


So *then* I went back and attempted to re-tape the walls again (at least I had some cheesy pencil scritches to kinda/sorta follow).

I *almost* gave up at that point - but DAMMIT - I wanna see some progress!!! So I opened up a couple of paint cans, grabbed a couple of brushes, and started tackling the back-wall (which is totally free-hand work).

Here is "The Inspiration" (mostly - I am exercising a lot of "Poetic License" - so to speak!).

And here is what I ended up with (so far).

Getting started...

Almost done...

Sky is done!

I have to say, I am surprisingly pleased with how it's coming along. I am not normally one to "pat myself on the back" when I create something artistic. But this actually came out pretty damn good - if I do say so myself! Yes, I have a few minor touch-ups to do, but those'll be quick and *now* I'm actually feeling motivated enough to maybe tackle "The Ocean" part of it tomorrow!

Yay Me!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Soil Madness...

Okay, I have dutifully tested my soil - per the Finnyknits Method (see links in previous post).

I got painfully bored with waiting for the soil to settle in my jars - so it took me two days. But it's done!

Both beds (new and old) are in surprisingly good shape:

pH 7.0 7.0
P 0-1 3
N 4 4+
K 3 4+

The newest bed (with the Lyngso soil) has nutrients in abundance. The old bed (with last year's soil and a top dressing of new Lyngso soil) is low in phosphorous. So really, all I need is some Bone Meal (2 oz.) for that bed. And, of course, I shall amend both beds with more compost 'cuz that never hurts!

The straw-bale bed hasn't really started "cooking" yet. I stuck a compost thermometer in it yesterday morning and it registered 45* (same temp as outside - Brrr!). I think it may be a bit early in the season to expect decomposition to occur. Sooo, I'll make sure I keep it damp and I'll just avoid planting in it 'til I see some bacterial activity (vis a vis the compost thermometer shows me some Action!).

In the meantime, I've still got all my baby plants to tend to. As the maters get bigger, I will follow "The Latest Advice:" I'll pot them up into 1-gallon containers, planting them deeply so they'll develop a healthy root system. By May 1, temps oughtta warm up; then I can plant, and I'll be Good-To-Go!

Hopefully, I can give the Garden Goddess (I'm waggling my finger at YOU, Finny!) a run for her money this year!

And since there really isn't much gardening-action going on right now (other than moving the babies inside/outside/inside/etc!), I *suppose* I could shift my attention back to painting The Studio!

Oh, and in case you're wondering *why* I'm building a studio in the first place, I have an alter-ego with a website where I show off some of my "stuff." It's nothing full-blown Commercial or anything like that - it's mostly just my Therapy. Here is the site if you're the least bit interested:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gardening Madness!

Okay, so yesterday I yammered-on about the New Garden Beds.

And last weekend, P and I went to the annual Spring Garden Market put on by the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County. I scored a buttload of plants - Yay!


Even though we are well-past our last frost date; and even though *everybody* is selling veggie seedlings; you're not supposed to stick 'em in the ground until evenings stay around 50-55*, generally around May 1.

So the New Babies are resting outside, on top of the beds during the day, and getting dragged into the Studio (*gasp*) at night - until they're ready for permanent placement in the aforementioned New Garden Beds.

"What about the greenhouse?" you may well ask.

"Shut UP!"

Actually, after the last frost date, I had more-or-less shut down the greenhouse. Dragged all my "marginals" out and started watering them again. Unplugged the heaters and Christmas lights and such. And - since that coincided with the Building of the Studio... Well, unfortunately, the greenhouse kinda turned into a "dump-spot" for assorted leftover building materials. Of course, it was *most* convenient to dump whatever crap we dumped directly inside the doorway. Bottom line: I can't get through the gosh-damned door.

Annnnnd... Adding insult to injury, it's gotten rainy and cold in the meantime, so I don't feel like spending a lot of time schlepping stuff out of the greenhouse right now. *sigh*

So there it is!

Anywaaaaay... While I was at the Garden Market, I got to meet one of my favorite bloggers, Finnyknits. She's a San Jose-an, as well. And she's a Gardening Phreak! (And her blogs are infinitely more entertaining and 99.8% Snarkier than mine!).

So Finny's a bit nutty in the gardening realm. Around this time last year, I read her posts about Testing and Soil Prep. And I was all "Naaahhhh... I freshen up my beds and toss compost and steer manure on 'em every year. I don't need to do thaaaaat!"

Well, last year (actually, the last couple of years), my garden was utterly suck-tastic. Of course, everyone else I spoke to *also* had Crappy Tomato Years, so I blamed it on the non-summery weather we'd had ("We were ROBBED, I tellya! ROBBED!").

Yet, toward the end of the season, Finny's updating her Garden Spreadsheet (Sorry, Finz, that's just a little *too* A/R for me!), and she harvested something like 2.4 metric tons of tomatoes, and 8,000 bushels of beans and Gawd-Only-Knows what else! She also *almost* got some African Horned Jelly Melons (I tried competing with her - but the Snails won!).

Point being: Even though the weather was sucky, Finny (who obviously lives in the same general climate zone) was having massive gardening success. Clearly she's doing something right!

So this year, I am following her lead. Yep. I have procured a soil test kit and I will dutifully test and amend my soil, per the Finnyknits Method.

pH looks pretty normal to me!

Ooh! Look at all the Pretty Colors!

Waiting for the soil to settle is about as exciting as watching paint dry

And, since I'm lazy, I am going to link to her blog-posts so that you, too, can test and amend your soil. All the Cool Gardeners are doing it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Studio Slow-Down - Pause for Gardening...

Okay, maybe a little Studio-Update:

It is DONE - Freaking DONE structurally (Yay!). I'd started to prime it, but found the task mind-numbingly dull (Like, "Make-Me-Wanna-Gouge-My-Eyeballs-Out" Boring!), so I ended up calling the professional painter who did our house. Figured, if it's less than a couple hundred, it's worth it!

Bada-Bing! Bada-Boom! Done in less than 3 hours!

Now it's retina-searing white! The Plan is to paint a beach/ocean/sky scene on the back-wall - free-hand. And I found some stencils and faux painting techniques we can apply to the remaining walls.

This on the lower-half of the walls. Only the stripes will be vertical and I'll try to touch it up so it looks kinda like bamboo wainscoting.

This on the upper half. Way cool stencil!

Then, depending on how motivated I'm feeling, we'll either staple some reed fencing to the ceiling, or else I'll do the same faux-bamboo paint treatment up there. Or, if I totally screw-up the faux bamboo paint treatment, I may end up stapling reed fencing to the lower half of the walls! Anyway, you get the idea. Big Dreams! Let's see if I can pull it off ;-)

Garden Update:

Holy cow. It's Springtime already! Thankfully, Chris helped me re-locate my raised Garden Bed to a new, sunnier location. Annnnd he built me a new 4'x6'x1' raised bed frame. Also in a new sunny location (I've heard that sun helps veggie gardens!). In the process of relocating the old bed, we moved all of the old soil to the new spot; then harvested every last shred of usable compost, and we *still* didn't have enough dirt.

New, but Empty Beds!

Ramble-Ramble-Ramble... About a week earlier, P and I had gone to the San Francisco Garden Show and - weirdos that we are - found ourselves at Lyngso's booth, sniffing compost samples. Their Organic Vineyard Compost is simply to die for!!

Anyway, Chris and I saddled-up Willie (our Tundra) and - after calculating my soil and compost needs - drove up to Lyngso's in Redwood City. Their U-Sack-It option is pretty cost effective, but when I told 'em how big my new raised bed was, they talked me into buying a yard of garden soil. (The guy working the counter was a Total Soil Geek! His eyes totally lit-up when I told him how much I loved the smell of the Vineyard Compost. What a hoot! But he was also very, very knowledgeable!).

So we drove around the meandering path to the ginormous crane/front-end-loader/Tonka Truck and told the operator what we wanted. Vroom-vroom-rumble-rumble-CRASH!!! The back of my truck (a semi-lifted 4WD) suddenly dropped 6"! Holy sh*t!

Did I mention that it had been POURING RAIN just the day before?! Yeah, like a cubic yard of soil isn't heavy enough on it's own, right?! We checked out the wheel-wells and there was enough clearance between the fender and the tires to make the drive home!

We also picked up 3 U-Sack bags of compost (that's all we could fit in the truck!)

Oh... And when we got home... We had to EMPTY THE TRUCK!!!

All... My... Friends... Know the Low-Ridah!

Chris, bless-his-heart, did all the back-breaking work. Shovel-shovel-shovel, haul-haul-haul, dump-dump-dump, lather-rinse-repeat (about 400 jillion times!)

Dayum - That's a lotta dirt!

All Done!

Sucks getting old and finding oneself no-longer-able to do the heavy lifting. But there's something to be said for having "the means" to hire someone else to do the dirty-work (Besides, it's also nice to know I'm helping Chris out, 'cuz he could use the pocket change)! And, to be fair, I *did* help by shoveling the dirt from the front to the rear of the truck bed!

(Then, Added Bonus! - We got to *scrub* the truck-bed before hubbie returned from his business trip!)

Anyway... I now have two "normal" raised beds, in a full-sun location (well, one is partially shaded in one corner).

Newly filled and "refreshed" Raised Veggie Beds

Annnnnd... My Garden Experiment for this year is a Straw-Bale Veggie Garden Bed. This was spotted at the SF Garden Show, as well. Ah Sam had a very cool display of different types of "sustainable gardens" (including a hydroponic lettuce-growing rig made from drainage pipes - I took pictures but haven't spent any time contemplating it - yet!). Anyway, their big display had these veggie garden beds made from straw-bales and compost. Link for details here.

The general gist is this: You get your straw-bales (presumably you could recycle old ones from Halloween displays - or whatever). You sprinkle them with blood-meal and compost, and keep them moist for 10 days to start the decomposition process; Then you plant your veggies directly IN the straw-bales, and tend the veggies as you would any other garden. At the end of the season, you harvest and leave the whole mess to rot and turn into compost!

Brandy-New Straw-Bale Veggie Bed

That's the theory, anyway! Me? I'm always game for a new Garden Experiment (even though most fail miserably!). So - the site where my "old" raised bed was, now has 4 monstrous straw-bales, covered in blood-meal and compost - which Princess Annie seems to find delectable - Yuk! On the plus(?)-side, she has already started digging "planting holes" for me (Grrr!). Anyway, they got set-up about a week ago, and I am watering them gently to get the "cooking" process started. Haven't stuck a soil thermometer in 'em, yet, to see how it's going. Might have to do that tomorrow!
New straw-bale bed, covered in blood-meal and compost
(And *after* Princess Annie started "helping")

Anyway, there's a *bit* of an update! Not sure if I'll be able to squeeze pics into this post, or if I'd be smarter just doing a separate post for photos. We'll see...................

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