Dot Dot. Dot

This illustration has been sitting on my table for at least six months now. Every chance I get, I go and add a few thousand more dots to it and then set it aside for another day. I started using the most amazing erase-able pens about half way through. They are manufactured in Japan and use thermal ink. When you rub the ink with a piece of soft plastic, it creates enough heat that the ink completely disappears! It’s magic. Otherwise, the pens work nicely. It is an interesting solution for my unsteady hands. On the plus side, I can correct my mistakes. On the minus side, any extreme temperatures can either remove or replace the ink as well. I guess I will need to have a disclaimer on my work stating that it should never be stored or displayed in anything but a climate controlled dwelling. Put my artwork in an attic and you might just find out the truth!

It’s Been a Long Time!

As 2016 is drawing to a close, I realize that, while I did not manage to make it the year that my shop became successful, I DID manage to hone my skills and determine exactly what it is that I want to accomplish with my art. I have turned my jewelry design in a brand new direction and have settled in to metal smithing.

I have thus far, been working predominantly in copper. The colors I can achieve are really amazing but I have a very long way to go before I can say that I actually have any control over the outcome.

When I started, I was more interested in the shapes I could form and had not realized the full potential of the copper. I will be working more towards fold forming and color combined in one piece, There is still A LOT to learn,

My shop will go back into full sale mode beginning next year. I also have three other shops under my thumb: one for my illustrations, one for my personal journey and one for the extra supplies I have lying around that I no longer need. So busy is going to be my new name! Stay tuned!


The Spice of Life

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I am a little bit all over the place these days. Dabbling in Jewelry, collecting rocks to tumble, hiking the back woods for animal bones and some times just sitting down with a pencil and paper and seeing if I still have, “it”.

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My daughter recently rekindled my desire to play with polymer clay. My neighbor is requesting help making Christmas presents for the very poorest in our community and I just can’t seem to put my Ryobi away. There is always SOMETHING new to carve into or sand off.

Now, if only I could keep up with the housework……

I will post more soon.

Baby it’s Cold Out There!

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This morning in La Pine it was -26 degrees F. That’s -32 degree Celsius to my Canadian friends.

Winter is definitely upon us! That is my husband’s chapped hand in the photo. He went to our La Pine house this weekend to pick up a garage heater he purchased during a Black Friday sale at the local hardware store. No sense in trying to heat the garage in La Pine! I think the heater would run out of fuel before it make a dent in the cold.

Here in Beaverton it is a frigid 10 degrees F. That’s -12 degrees Celsius to my European friends.

The garage heater was purchased at my urging. My husband is a very talented woodworker who has lost his muse and as a result, filled his garage (workshop) with piles and piles of useless crap. My goal for 2014 is to get him back out there and making “stuff”. But first we need to purge a bit and that requires a heater. He must be eager to get started, because he drove 4 hours in icy conditions to a house that took 12 hours to heat up just to get the heater….and perhaps a little bit of “alone” time.

We realized right after her left, that in the 7+ years we have been together, we have only been separated twice; once for a hunting trip (him) and once to strip paint at the new house (me). That might explain why we drive each other nuts! Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

To anyone reading this, please stay warm, stay enlightened and don’t forget to take your vitamins.

I have a feeling it is going to be a long, cold winter for most of us.

Once Upon a House Part 4

As we continued down the main hall of the house (which is all of 15 feet long) the little hands that had been grasping my wrist, pulled me again to the side and into a room that was overlooked by the others. It was set back from the hall by a deep alcove that, at first glance,  appeared to be nothing more than a closet. The child pushed open the door, ran from my side and threw herself on a large bed that dominated the room. “This is Ghrhefts’s room!” she exclaimed loudly as she rolled back and forth across the bed. Aside from the bed, I noticed a large closet with a sliding door and that there was ample room for a desk and book shelf in the room as well. Then, before I could take in much more, my wrist was once again under the control of the child and I was whisked back into the hallway.

Down bedroom

We quickly walked past the door to a large bathroom that was making a gurgling sound, through the utility room and out into the garage where the other had been standing and chatting quietly.  Nancy was awkwardly trying to seem interested in what my husband, Steve, was showing her while the owner stood at the ready to answer any questions as best he could. A previous owner had, oddly, decided to build a bathroom in the garage. It was derelict and filthy and a mouse or squirrel has obviously been eating pine cones regularly while sitting on the back of the toilet. The debris pile left behind was several inches thick. The owner chatted on about the absurdity of having plumbing in a room that could be 20 degrees below 0 in the winter. Nancy nodded appropriately while my husband continued to stare up into the rafters. It all felt awkward and I was really not sure why we were standing around in the garage to begin with. Then Steve pointed to a large beam over my head and let me in on the secret. The beam was very obviously milled from a small milling machine, The blade swirls and cut marks were unmistakable. “this house was built by a woodworker”, he said. “did you see the doors?” He pointed to the one I had just passed through to enter the garage. “They are solid wood, held together with forged iron bars”. I looked and suddenly, it hit me. This house was made of WOOD!

Garage 2

OK, that sounds silly, because most houses are made of wood, but this one was REALLY made of wood. There was no fiber board, no plywood paneling, no commercial grade 2×4’s. This was hand cut, hand milled WOOD. The walls of the garage could not lie. We walked outside and it was more of the same. The exterior of the house was board and batton, all showing milling scars…the porch was large flat planks with lovely swirling blade marks peaking through the layers of pealing paint. This house was not a kit. It was not a random plan, this house was someone’s hard earned dream. This house was built out of imagination and sweat. THIS house was what we were looking for. Our diamond in the rough…and oh boy, was it rough.  In the Real Estate industry the frequently throw around the phrase “good bones” when trying to describe a house that is solid, but needs work. The bones of this house were as solid as you could get and I knew right then and there that Steve had made up his mind.

When we got back into the car after thanking the owner, Nancy paused for a moment before asking if there were any other houses we would like to see before we headed back to her office. “Nope, this is it” Steve said giving me a hopeful glance. Nancy seemed a bit relieved and confused at the same time. “What did you like about it most?” she asked. When we told her it was hand made and solid wood, she seemed to accept that as reason enough. “Well, I guess when you know it, you know it”, she said and spent the rest of the trip back to the office telling us who we could contact to remodel pretty much everything.

What Nancy did not know was that our entire plan, was to remodel it ourselves. Steve is a woodworker with an entire wood shop at his disposal. I am an artist with a deep love for anything that involves paint. Together, we were already making plans to turn this jalopy of a house into the home it should have been when it was first imagined by the original owner only better!

Then Nancy dropped the bomb…..it was a short sale.

Once Upon a House

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This is the beginning of a story that will carry on for years. Back in 2012, my husband and I purchased this home in La Pine, Oregon which is a very small town just south east of the center of Oregon. The climate there is referred to as “high desert”. Dry air, cold nights, perfect days and lots of blue skies. The air in La Pine smells like apple sauce in the spring and vanilla in the morning when the sun just starts warming up the Ponderosa pines. If TV had smell-o-vision, they would have added this smell to the Bonanza series, because without it, there is a large piece of authenticity missing.

When I met my husband (#3 I confess) back in 2006, we bonded over a shared dream to have a cabin in the high desert of Oregon. We joked about designs we would add, like a trap door in the middle of the main room so I could sweep all the junk under the house. I lightly argued about the placement of the wood stove and whether or not we would have indoor plumbing. It was a dream but one that was fun to imagine.

If you read my first blog, you will find that I once had a sizable nest egg that was subsequently seized by the IRS. Well, in 2012, 4 years after the money was taken away, the IRS unexpectedly refunded almost 1/4 of the money and as a result, we started thinking about making our little dream a reality.

We had already been looking at houses on a Bend, Oregon real estate site so the next step was to find out how much financing we would be able to get. I went to our local USBank, where we held a checking account and met with their mortgage specialist. I won’t mention her name, but needless to say, after a confusing and very curt meeting she calculated a sum of $130K and I left feeling like an uniformed idiot. As a first time home buyer, I had a lot of questions about terminology and the difference in finance rates for manufactured homes, property and “stick built” homes….which was a term I had only learned when she abruptly corrected me. She made me feel foolish and immature. So, in typical introvert style, I left with visions of whomping her WWF style and instead drove home like I was Mario Andretti.

We now had a number to work with, so we wasted no time hoping in a car and driving 4 hours to get to Bend. The Realtor we met, Nancy, we very genuine. It was February and the roads were covered in slush and ice. We drove the 1/2 hour from Bend to La Pine in relative silence as I admired the small pile of rocks she kept in the cup holder of her SUV and pondered what the day might bring. My husband had been armed with a sheet of listings he had pulled off the internet and Nancy plotted them in order of nearest to farthest away from Bend so we would have a feeling for how long a commute we might have for employment and significant shopping.

LaPine….or is it La Pine….can’t get a real answer on that…is a township of about 5000. Rural Highway 97 cuts right through it connecting California with Canada. There are a few fast food restaurants, a small grocery chain, and even a Best Western, but mostly, it is a town that you might overlook as you passed through. While that is difficult for the economy, it makes it nice for those of us who grew up in and appreciate small towns. Back behind the familiar corporations that line the highway, there are fabulous restaurants, wonderful gift and craft shops and the friendliest hardware store I have ever been to. It would behoove you to stop if you are ever in the area and get the BEST Mexican food and service at Cinco de Mayo…or go to the Red Rooster for breakfast….and if you are crafty and like cloth the Quilt shop will literally leave you salivating.

Enough said, La Pine was the place for us. The first thing I noticed as we pulled off the highway was that the majority of roads were not paved. HUGE puddles of indeterminable depth blocked many of our paths, but Nancy waded through like a pro, even bottoming out her SUV at one point, in a hole so deep that there was a muffler left behind by a previous driver. We bumped and slushed our way for miles and came to the first house on our list.

And here I will leave you for a bit because I KNOW you want to go and research La Pine, Oregon and get a good visual before I continue. In blogs to come, you will hear a home buying nightmare, a costly victory and continuing takes of renovations, decorations and the ETSY business I try to keep afloat through it all.

It has been a CRAZY year!