Saturday, November 30, 2013

I've learned if you are in a bad mood or depressed sitting around feeling sorry for yourself aint going to do anything good. So I decided to do a project. The area between my concrete walk and the sidewalk, and the area between the sidewalk and curb gets slippery when it rains because the soil my neighborhood rests on is very clayey. It was agricultural fields for over 2,000 years- there are prehistoric Early Agricultural Period pit structures about 500 feet away from my house.

The areas of dirt. And Buddy.

 Anyhow, I first when down to the dry bed of the Santa Cruz River to collect some sand.

Santa Cruz River.

The river once ran year-round and provided the water for the farmers who grew crops on the floodplain. The Acequia Madre Segunda, the second largest historic period canal, ran in the ground right across the street to the east, and you can see the U-shaped crack in the house on the corner, settling down into the canal fill.

I filled my buckets with sand and carried them back to my car. So heavy!

Over 200 total pounds of sand.

I returned home and started on the smaller area first. I dug out the dirt and threw it into my yard.


Buddy watched with interest. He had to stay inside the yard because he wants to run around and be naughty.


I poured some of the river sand down and then started to lay bricks. I used some of the bricks piled up from my super secret brick source. They were different colors and widths.


It became apparent that working with different sizes of bricks was problematic and would make things harder. So I went over and counted how many identical bricks I had and realized I did not have enough for the next area. So then went to my secret source for old bricks and mined out another 40 or so. I did not injure myself, unlike a previous time when I slipped and gouged my left palm, with a scar now forever marking that moment.

I dug the dirt out, most went into a wheelbarrow. It was very soft because of last weekends rain. Doug told me I had to use a board to run from the sidewalk to the curb so that the bricks sloped down nicely.

Laying the first set of bricks.

I did a stretcher bond and had to break some bricks in half. It took me about an hour to lay the path.

Completed project.

Well that was a good way to spend a couple of hours. No more muddy feet for Mummy when she goes to the mail box.

Friday, November 29, 2013

I made a star and Doug hung it on the front of the house. I'm trying to feel holiday-ish but it is not working.

Star and lights.

For lots of reasons. No one to buy fun presents for. Stressful watching over my mother, she is getting so unsteady and more and more eccentric. Doctor says I have to lose 30 pounds. Everything is expensive.

And other assorted whines. I can't be perky every moment, right?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I was a stripper today. Patrick salvaged two old doors that a neighbor was throwing out and I went over to help strip off the paint.

Door 1.

They probably date to the 1910s or early 1920s. The first one had eight layers of paint.

We had 1.5+ inches of rain in the last 24 hours.

Patrick bought the neighboring house and after giving up on the contractors, has been finishing the work. He spent time today replacing the lintel above one of the bathroom doors.

Fixing the sander.

The stripping liquid smelled orange-ish and after a while the paint started cracking.


It removed the top layers of latex paint and below that was harder paint. It was loose enough to chip off, all except the bottom layer. This door was made from rather cheap wood, so it wasn't necessary to completely strip, since Patrick will be painting them again.

Test colors.

It was a fun way to spent a few hours, stripping paint is rather like archaeology, uncovering layers of history.

Starting the second door.

Tonight Mummy is watching Lawrence Welk, Buddy is snoring on the carpet next to me, and I am having yet another dull night.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The last two weeks have been busy-busy-busy.

My kitchen looks very spiffy. I put up a bunch of plates on the wall, my skills at getting them level are apparently minimal.


I made Brussel sprouts for the first time. In this blurry photograph you can see them. As they were cooking Buddy was lying next to me and I kept telling him to stop making smells and then I realized it was the sprouts. Not sure if I will make them again.

Roasted with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Out at the old Fort site they are busy stabilizing the ruins, plastering them. 


Mother arrived safely on the 11th. At 81.5 she is showing her age, tottering around unsteady and disrupting my routines so that sometimes I have to tell myself, "just relax."  

Supper at Rosa's.

On Wednesday I had to go up to Phoenix to work for three days, doing some specialized excavation. The project is below a street next to a place where homeless people are fed. There are a lot of different people with different problems. I was lucky and didn't find a crack pipe.

Pit structure entrance and floor, sometime between A.D. 700 and 900.

Allen was nearby excavating a pair of pit structure fragments. We heard him call out excitedly when he found a fancy projectile point.


It really was a remarkable point.


I got to work with Oslynn. We were roommates back in 1990-1991 and it was great to catch up.

Oslynn and Homer.

And now I am back home dealing with Mother problems. She complains that I do not treat her like an adult. There is, of course, a very easy solution to that problem.

Monday, November 04, 2013

After the kitchen was painted, I spent hours cleaning and then baking for the All Souls Procession Party 2013.

I made tombstone cookies and this year I had two new people to add- Carl and David Beebe. It makes me pause and think about the frailty of human life.

I remember.

I made an altar, using many photographs I have purchased on Ebay of people from my hometown. A few personal items were added, and then a dozen red roses and a dozen gladiolae in yellow and white.


I drove over and picked Nick up and we applied our makeup and got dressed.

Nick and Homer.

I had special out-of-town guests including Sylvia, who brought me her childhood Blue Willow tea set, which is adorable, and Ms. Jerryll.

Sylvia and Jerryll.

And of course it wouldn't be a party without some handsome bloggers.

Geoffrey and Michael.

Mitch and Sagan arrived and I showed him how to apply makeup. Not that I am an expert.

Sagan and Mitch.

Doug applied stuff to his hair and goatee and now he knows what he will look like when he reaches my age.


People were at the make-up table right to the end.

Nick, David, and Eric.

Richard asked me to pose next to the altar and I grabbed Grandpa F's banjo.
Photo by Richard Whitmer.

At 5:30 I ordered everyone outside and a group photo was taken.

Procession attendees.

We walked down Congress and I handed out the gladiola to various women. One told me, "You just made my day!". When we reached Congress and Alameda, we sat for about 45 minutes, talking.


It was nice to catch up with friends.


The elaborate makeup designs of many participants made me realize I need to practice next year.

A beautiful family.

In the distance we could hear the drums.


We walked over to Alameda Street and the procession arrived. The Urn passed by, filled with hopes and dreams and messages to loved ones who have died.


And then my camera batteries died too. There are so many people now that it is impossible to see friends along the route, not like even five years ago. I skipped the finale ceremony and came home and started to clean up, luckily not a hard task to do. In a week my mother arrives for the winter and I will have a different life for a while.

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