When it rains…it’s just fine

There’s nothing wrong with the rain.
I think that the problem is really all this sun! And it hasn’t rained in days.
Yup, it’s been that kind of week round here.

I’m having a miserable, rotten cold, PMS and migraine, plus, today, a pipe burst outside, just under the patio.
Thank you Universe! That’s a lot of Zen you’re asking for. :?
I think you can completely understand the contents of my shopping cart:

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OK, to tell the truth, one of those chocolate bars did go back onto the shelf, and there were also bananas (not pictured).

I think we both feel a bit…meh…

Chloe’s university is on reading break this week and she’s taking full advantage of that.

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I’ve cleaned up and organised the library/family room and it’s been lovely hanging out there with my books and my biggest mug of hot Earl Gray tea.

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This is also the only room in the house with a TV. (We’re not big on TV and I fully subscribe to the notion that one TV in a house is enough, (if not too much), for any family). Along with the one TV policy is also the basic cable only policy. Which costs $5 more than the basic internet feed and means that we basically get about 20 channels and only about three are worth watching for the occasional news cast, although it’s usually so sensationalised that it winds me right up.

But it’s been lovely having those three channels to watch some of the Olympics. And that’s exactly what C and I did with our tea and our blankies. We watched the opening ceremonies. Did anyone watch them? I must admit that the part where communism was depicted was tremendously difficult for me to watch, having escaped from Prague and from communism. But I reminded myself that it’s all history and individual people who also suffered, who also would have chosen a different way if they could have. And here was my beautiful child beside me watching, also feeling angry about the lack of human respect and gay rights and captured whales, and she was mustering the same amount of Zen I was to rise above it and enjoy the spectacle.

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I only managed one more page in my personal journal. The words which spoke to me formed these two sentences:

“Approach the known fortress. The list of formidable attractions are jewels for the shop and community.”

I didn’t know why I was moved to draw my own personal Ganesha on that page because the words were telling me that I should believe in myself, that the gifts I have, that I can bring to you all, are like jewels.

And then the pipe burst.

And then I approached the fortress that is plumbing and hidden shut off valves behind little painted over panels, and main water valves in the house and overbearing tiredness and sniffy nose and crampy tummy and headache…and still have to go make supper… then I knew. Ganesha, remover of obstacles. Fortresses beyond the Etsy shop, beyond the business of my art. Approaching the fortress of every day life. I’m so very grateful that I’ve created my own personal Ganesha to remove the obstacles in my path.

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I’m on the mend now, my good friend Leo has been by and told me the house won’t fall down and that he’ll replace the pipe just as soon as the weather warms, supper is made and I’m about to catch up on today’s Olympic highlights on one of the three channels and drink my tea. Go team Canada/England/Czech Republic! (Yeah I know, I have a split personality nationality) :D

In the mean time, should you need your own personal Ganesha, then just let me know and I’ll be very happy to make you one and send him out to you.

x

Really random Friday

It’s funny but today I don’t seem to have much to say.

So…I’m glad it’s sunny this morning.
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Woke up at 3am from a nightmare. Nightmare carried on each time I closed my eyes and so I just got fed up and got out of bed. A family issue which is causing me a lot of pain and reflection keeps being played out over and over in my no-limits imagination and sometimes takes hold and 3am and then that’s it. No amount of meditation, self talk, or any other activity can lessen the pain and then I just spend the next day or two seeing things in black and white, and so I’m trying to concentrate on the good things.

So…I’m happy that the morning went from this:

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To this:
Also happy that I live in a city where the snow knows its place…on top of the mountains.

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Yesterday I had very low energy and so spent most of the day playing with some mixed media in the studio and came up with these art cards.

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So now I have a stack of mixed media art cards around…these are just the ones I had on hand, never mind the ones in the drawers.

Don’t know what to do with them. A new friend on FB asked me if I sell them…more to the point…where I sell them, and honestly I don’t know what to do. I have absolutely no idea if they are sell-worthy, although I suspect not, and sort of prefer the thought of actually sending them out to people who want them, or who would like to trade art cards or something…maybe sending one out with a purchase from an Etsy shop, (which by the way I still haven’t started…need a good kick in the…)

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I asked Robert if he liked the little thoughts i constructed on them and he said the sweetest thing. He said, “Your words are like a trampoline for my imagination.” Couldn’t you just melt? I know!

The sayings are a little bit of found poetry from the pages of a weird little book called “The Brief History of the Wellington Boot.” I’m always amazed at the good words still left in that much used book.

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Aaand…

… Oh, bought a pretty little beaded purse for no reason at all except that it’s pretty.

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Sharing with Nancy and all my random Friday friends.

It is what it is

The other day I had a minute to sit in Sbux and read the local paper.

Gotta love the headline:

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So among the very useful tips to beat the winter blahs are: eat at a Mexican restaurant to trick your mind, wear brighter colours and get plenty of sleep.

If only I could!!! Ok, I can do a coloured scarf and I can eat Mexican and love it, but the sleep…

Let me tell you why I can’t sleep around here. It’s because there are gun shots going off in my house all night and it’s been happening for a month now. The gun shots are the noises that the floor makes as the planks crack down the seams and separate.

I know. I KNOW!!! Can you believe the nightmare this floor has become? The trouble is that not only are the planks separating along the seams but occasionally the seam won’t give way and the actual plank tears, as in this next pic. Some gaps are now about 2mm, while others are slimmer, but the whole edge is rough and catches on socks, stockings and cat hair. There is no way to sweep up the floor now and I’m worried that dirt and dust will start to accumulate within the floor because, after all, we live here!

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So these days I’m trying to function on about 4-5 hours of sleep, but still, there’s lovely morning sun in my bedroom…

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And wonderful people watching around town.

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Get a load of those feet!!!

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Fantastic parks with snow capped mountains and forests to hike around in.

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And, if all else fails, there’s always cookies.

Here is a brilliant article someone posted to my FB today. Got to get rid of the stress and start meditating again.

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Try again, fail again, fail better

November is kicking my butt!!!

It’s so far been a hard month of personal upsets and low productivity.

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The weather is typical West Coast cold dampness which feels twice as cold as it says on the thermostat. Not like the dry cold of prairies or of mountains, but the right to the bone cold of the ocean which you can’t seem to insulate your body from.

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Today we were at Whole Foods for a nice morning break and quietly reading the paper, having tea and we heard our first Christmas carol, Jingle Bell Rock. So, just for the record, I’m declaring winter, because I hate to think of Christmas time and fairy lights and decorations belonging to the fall. (I don’t think I would like to be an Australian and have Christmas in the summer. But then again, If I was Australian I guess I wouldn’t know any different and so would be happy with that.

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This morning I read my horoscope. Do you do that? I go for weeks without thinking about horoscopes or any of that woey-woey stuff, and then my life sucks and I look for some sort of assurance that everything will work out. What’s all that about, and how ridiculous is that? No wonder they’re called soothsayers.

Today I took these photos. That’s C reading a disturbing article in today’s newspaper about the sexting; she has to do a research paper about it, which has to culminate in a modification to a curriculum to combat that problem in high schools. Wow, it’s depressing to know this exists and to know the vast problem it has become. Depressing to read about the children who have harmed themselves over this, even committed suicide, and I wish somehow there was a way to make kids realise that there is so much more to life than high school.

So it was lovely to see these children running on the beach and playing their innocent, little hearts out. And here’s something: some new stores are opening. The stores geared for ladies have sexy full window “coming soon” ads, while the men’s wear has a hand written sign on the door advertising what it will eventually be. Interesting, isn’t it? The hard “sexy, sexy woman will be you as soon as you drop in” sell vs the “oh, well, men have to shop at some point anyway, and, since they wont probably come in on an impulse brought on by the sexy, sexy, why spend the money?” sell. Boy you get jaded as soon as you start working your way thru that CMNS degree. Sometimes I wonder if life wasn’t simpler before I did it and now C is in her fourth year of the same degree. Which I encouraged her to take! What have I done?!?

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So mostly I walk thru the new stores ignoring the merchandise and admiring the not-for-sale decorations and fixtures. Now I want to get a bunch of old paintings and liberate them from their supports and wallpaper a wall with them and find some shutters to put on a desk to function as a file cabinet (of sorts). How cool is that? (Wait, I have a bunch of old paintings waiting to be turned into hand bags…hmmm)

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I’m very much into a “throw everything I own away and start again” mood. Maybe just put everything that’s out away and redecorate mood, because, actually, looking around, I kinda like my stuff. You know what I possibly need to do is to feng shui the hell out of the house. Sort things out, put them away, get rid of some clutter and feng shui the rest. I think possibly the problem is that I haven’t used feng shui principals here in this house, (now I’ve been here for 2.5 yrs) and, even if it’s woey-woey stuff, it makes me feel loads better.

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On the positive side, because Robert is going to be really annoyed with me if I keep going on in this “gloomy and purposeless left leg of Uncle Vanya’s trousers” path, I’ve started a new map about three days ago and it’s all I want to do right now, just paint the map. It will be a couple of nuthatches and bluebells. The one bird is flying to a branch and the second is already there. I love the way these little bird descend head first. And bluebells, because I felt like bluebells, and that can’t be bad.

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P.S. C is putting in a blue hair wrap in her hair with the embroidery flosses and now I want to embroider something with those yummy, rich colours.

P.P.S. There’s roast chicken for Sunday supper.

P.P.P.S. The Sunday whirl is turning out be to really dark and so I might stop writing it before it drags me down below ground and away form the bluebells. Alternately, it might be good just to get it out, over with and sleep it off.

Linking with Mary for Mosaic  Mondays  and with Ramona for Create with Joy

Friday random. It’s where my head’s at these days.

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I’m sorry I’ve been hiding these past few of days.

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But here I am, back in the light.

So is Morgan. She loves to sit on the dining room window sill and grin menacingly at the squirrels until they feel flustered and have to go away.

This cat’s so weird…in a fantastic feline way.

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She likes to bring things to the back door. Right now it’s leaves. The bigger the better. These are off the grape vine in the side garden. Then she lines the leaves up for display. What’s that all about?

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We have a lovely visiting student with us. Mei from Japan. She’s only here for a one week tour and she’s made us supper yesterday. (she said she was practising for it…so sweet)

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She’s used these ingredients (only two of which I recognised as soy and rice vinegar) and made a wonderful potato, carrot, onion, beef dish with rice balls. She also brought a Japanese cook book for me as a prezzy. I wonder if I’ll find this recipe in there, it was yummy. But honestly, I was thinking that I might just wing it.

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Chloe is 10 weeks into her 13 week semester and sometimes the pressure is a bit much. She’s not doing mornings too well these days.

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So I bought her a now coat! She really loves the Anthro-Bohemian look and I like to be inventive, so this coat fits the bill. It also fit my bill because it was thrifted for about $5! Honestly, the way C falls in love with clothes and then, just as quickly out of love with them, this is the most sensible way.

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C and Bryson just found out that their friend is expecting a baby! Yikes! They’re excited and scared for her at the same time. Not sure what I think. Looking at C she seems so very young, but then, by the time I was her age I already had one plus one on the way. The choices we make are staggering sometimes, aren’t they?

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Sharing with Nancy for random five. :)

A handful of random thoughts about how BAD I really am

I woke up with a migraine this morning so everything makes about as much sense right now as this photo:

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I think it’s C’s legs in the shadow of the display of some green bottles (?) You know, when I wake up with that migraine mirage of arcs of shimmery lights, I’m inevitably dreaming of having an argument (usually with my ex) and feeling really angry. What’s that all about?

Anyroadup, was going thru my photos and kept coming up with images of how bad I get, so here’s a little confession time.

When I see something and that idea of “how hard can it be to make that” comes into my head, I take a photo of it and later make my own version.

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Do you remember that piece of broken jade plant I found in San Francisco? I smuggled it into Canada and planted it in a pot. How bad is that? It gets worse. I also nipped a little sedum off of a plant in a park and that’s planted too. The only saving grace here is that I have Master Gardener status and know better than to allow anything dangerous (pest or disease) to escape into the environs.

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I sneak photos of random strangers. Sometimes I just love the light or composition and want to hang on to the moment, and sometimes I love to send it to C and caption it with “your new look…lol”.

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I take photos while I drive…gulp! I use my iPhone or a little Canon. The saving grace here is that I’ve taken umpteen defensive driving courses and am a brilliant driver. (I know, no excuse)

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I still haven’t started that etsy shop I said I would in my New Year’s resolution. The things stopping me are: ME!

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Sharing the randomness with Nancy and looking forward to catching up with everyone. I love our random Fridays.

Wrestling in the studio

There’s chaos in the studio.
I’ve started work again on a painting which I neglected for about a year now. (I know, what am I like?)

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It’s just that sometimes it’s so difficult to paint and I have to keep reminding myself to keep going. And sometimes I get into the “small” habit, where I work on very small art, and when it comes to working on a large piece, (this one is 2′ x 3′), and it boggles the mind.

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I’ve got all this beautiful inspiration laying on the floor right where I can see it, but the problem is that all these artists, in my critical eye, are millions of times better than I am and therefore I sort of lose hope sometimes.

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I have to keep reminding myself, (probably every creative person does), we all have to keep reminding ourselves, that our work is worthwhile and valuable. That we have a style, that our work is important.

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And it always helps to have a buddy in the studio with you showing you support.

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But sometimes the most important thing to do is to know when to walk away. To flip the painting upside down, do something else and come back with some fresh energy.

Because we all need to take a break form creative work and blow the cobwebs out of our over-thinking mind.

So now I can see the sun is out after hours and hours of rain and the oil is very wet and there’s a real danger that I’ll start blending this into mud, and so I think I’ll walk down to the ocean and come back with a fresh perspective.

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Hey! Jet-lag is great for producing random thoughts.

There was a brilliant lightning storm yesterday evening. Lightning bolts blazing directly over the house. I went to the studio to try to photograph some of the display and, a few minutes in, the camera battery died. I grabbed another camera and that battery was dead too…couldn’t believe it! My other cameras didn’t have the quick reflex capacity and so I gave up and went back downstairs and sulked. When will I learn to always keep the batteries charged to the max?

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It’s been the typical Vancouverness round here today. Rain all day and then it gets sunny just in time for the sunset.

By that time the batteries were charged up on the cameras.

People say that photographing sunsets is such a cliche. Stuff ‘em all…it’s like photographing kittens… and who doesn’t like kittens? Okay, don’t answer that…lol.

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I’m feeling alone, (missing Robbie), but then my good friend Julie posted this beautiful little spoken word
video. I had seen it before…several times…but forgot about it. So I played it a couple of times; once while watching and a second time with eyes closed, you know, just to listen to the words.

Thank you Julie. XO           Feeling much better now.

At night I played the old 2am game:

Me: I want to sleep!

Brain: Not just now. We haven’t finished analysing every stupid decision you’ve ever made, and we haven’t even started on the future scenarios which may happen as a result of future stupid decisions!

Me: Okay :(

Why is it that if a light bulb burns out I never have a proper replacement? It’s not like light bulbs are expensive or take up oodles of room.

It’s probably a law like Murphy…say…the Edison Law: If you have a supply of light bulbs then the one which will burn out will be the one you do not have!

This is a close variation on the Volta Law: You will never have a charged battery when you need one.

I have a feeling this is universal.

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Linking with Nancy for all the randomness.

(sorry for being a jet-lag grump)

How I learned to batik…AKA Zen and the art of batik

One of the practical courses I signed up for at Art in Action was the how to batik course. Anything where I get to draw with a medium and use colour is of interest and so I very eagerly anticipated learning this ancient technique.

Unfortunately I ran into a small glitch. :(

Have you ever had a teacher so bad, I mean SO BAD, that it turned you completely off the subject? I’m sorry to say that this was the case in this practical class. This particular teacher treated me as if I couldn’t draw a stick figure, took the brush out of my hand and started touching up my project and, at one point, smudged the wax with her hand to prove that my project wasn’t sufficiently dry, and then dismissed me as “a foreigner” as in “not British”. While the foreigner label is something which, unfortunately, sometimes I have to handle with a very small minority of the population, her terrible manner was a bit unforgivable. And, she seemed to behave like this to the other students at my work station.

So it has taken me this long to get over associating this teacher with my prayer flag, let my Zen training prevail, let it go and remember how much I enjoyed the process.

It’s really quite easy. Here’s what it looks like:

The process requires a piece of fabric, we used cotton. It was stressed that sizing in new fabric would resist the dye so a good wash beforehand is important.

A heating pad with a metal pot of wax was on the table and the wax was hot but not burning hot. Implements like sticks and funky metal cups with small dribbly nozzles were in the hot wax but so were brushes and I found I had the most manageability with the brushes.

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The students were told that for the purposes of this class everyone was supposed to draw a bunch of simple flowers because anything else would be too time consuming. I’d been carrying a small branch of beech from class to class, because it was easier for me to have a small botanical example with me for trying all the different art mediums, and that’s what I chose to draw. (OK, maybe that’s where I went wrong with this teacher)

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After sketching the design, a wooden frame was used to stretch the fabric for the dyeing. The fabric was held in place with a few push pins and then I drew the first resist pattern on my fabric with the hot wax.

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Each student was given a small palette of dye colours and a big brush. The trick was to paint a light colour on, dry the fabric, paint more resist wax onto the design, paint a second, slightly darker dye colour on, paint more resist wax onto the design, dry the fabric again, more wax, darker dye, and so on, each time covering more bits of dye and getting that multi-dimensional look.

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Here is my design after about three coats of wax/dye and drying in between.

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Now here’s something that the teacher did not mention till too late that you should know:

1. The students were told, in the interest of saving time, to use a hair dryer to dry the material. THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS THING TO DO! The hot air melts the wax which then seeps and absorbs into the material where you had no intention for it to be. This is something plenty of students found out the hard way.

2. Start with very light colour washes first and try to imagine your design from lightest to darkest colours, just like a reverse painting on glass where you have to paint your lights first. Once you wash with a dark colour you will lose all the lights if they are not protected with wax.

3. When you complete your design, iron the fabric spreading the wax everywhere, use an old iron. Later, boil some water, pour the boiling water into a pot and quickly dip your fabric into it, immediately take it out and rinse in cold. Hang it to dry. This will remove most of the rest of the wax and make the dye colourfast.

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Well, that’s about what I learned. I’m sure there are other, maybe even better methods and very soon I’ll figure those out. I’m glad I have my little prayer flag though. It seems a just symbol for this little practical class which took so much of my Zen training to complete…lol.

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Nightmare on Elm street.

Wait a minute, last time I checked I lived on 9th, not Elm.

The very short story version of this excruciatingly long and lengthening daily floor renovation story is:

There is a feature strip to my floor. The feature strip was supposed to be a deep rich chocolate and caramel ebony/mahogany/whateverogany wood. The floor expert said, “Don’t worry, keep a piece of furniture, any example you want, we can match it, we can stain a fir feature strip to make it look like anything your heart fancies. Then you can have exactly what you like and not have to worry about finding the correct exotic grain. We do this all the time.

The honest truth is he lies like a rug.

As it turns out, commercial stains come tinted with certain universal tints in certain percentages. The deep dark walnuts contain a black which turns fir green and the red mahoganies contain reds which are purplish burgundy. (I completely understand this because I use my lamp black oil colour with flake white to mix beautiful greens and magenta to make lovely lilac shadows) So yesterday I was presented with two choices in varying shades of purple or green or purple mixed with green.

This beautiful rich carved ebony duck is what I want, is what I told the floor expert is what I want:

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Can you see how beautiful this would be next to the colour that my new floor will amber up to over the next year?

This is what I’m being offered:

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Very long letters to the Project Manager, cc’d to my insurance agent, Robbie and my trusted friend Catherine, late night tears over the phone with Robbie, four hours of sleep, several conversations with Project Manager and insurance agent over the day, plus five lost hours driving all over town trying to find stains and combinations of stains, oil universal tints, ANYTHING to produce an orange undertone plus chocolate dark values, whole day lost and nothing gained. It apparently just can’t be done.

Not a word from the floor expert, and Project Manager said, “Gosh Veronica, it looks like you’ve exhausted all the possibilities, so have to settle for the lesser of the two evils.” (meaning sore thumb purple or green next to my beautiful amber, or no feature strip definition with the whole floor amber)

I said, “No James, I’ve only exhausted the possibilities which you told me to exhaust and now I want every floor expert in Vancouver coming by tomorrow trying to figure this out!!!” (Yes, I was raising my voice here)

So then I had a cup of tea and a think and…

Hey, these are oil universal tints in a stain base…what the hell…I’ve got oils in my studio.

Then I took a raw piece of floor up to the studio and look what I can do:

(top piece of wood is my custom painted raw wood piece, bottom piece is the stain variations wood piece I’m being told I have to settle for, all sitting on the piece of floor to be…hmm)

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So let’s get this straight.

This is a Craftsman house…right?
Craftsman houses were all about…well…craftsmanship.
About hand made, hand painted, hand carved…in short, craftsmen taking pride in their craftsmanship.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have it in mind to paint and stain and basically craft my own feature strip!

The only problem are a few unknowns, like: how the high gloss varnish will act on the oils, or will the oils bleed past the feature strip. Here is another, rather sloppily applied coat of oils for the purpose of experimenting. Varnish has been dripped on it and we can see it is clearly spreading the wet oils. I’ll try again tomorrow when the oils are a bit dryer and come up with a solution.

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So there you are. One frustrating 48 hours later and a possible solution at hand. New floor experts are still coming by tomorrow and next Tuesday, but I have a feeling I’ll have this all hand painted by next Tuesday. Myself. My own craftsmanship. My own expert medium. I’m excited about this prospect. Maybe I’ll paint a little ladybug in a corner, or a butterfly sitting on the feature strip.

How hard can this be! :)