Thursday, September 23, 2010

Danish Family, New windows 3rd Floor, Nightblooming Cereus

And there is probably much much more to cover than just that. Lots has happened since I raved about being a farmer (which is still great, by the way).
Background: In 1994 I spent the fall semester of my junior year abroad in Denmark. I stayed with a Danish host family, Kirsten, Ebbe and 15-year-old Michael. About a month ago, Michael contacted me to say they were going to be in New York and could they come visit for a few days. Of course, YES! was the answer.
I just spent the last two days with Sina, Laurits and Michael. Laurits is the most adorable baby! He has so much energy though. It's like there is a wind-up key in him somewhere and he goes and goes full speed (for a few hours) until he crashes and sleeps for an hour. He is so curious, everything is fascinating. We went to Ben Franklin's Printshop where they give printing demonstrations. I was holding him. When the presenter smacked the ink daubers together, he froze in fascination for about three minutes. I think that was the stillest he was when I was holding him.f I also think that he realized I was speaking a funny language. The first day he was here he kept looking at me with a completely puzzled and confused look. English must sound very strange to him. But by today I was validated. Every time he looked at me there was a big smile. What a sweetie.
It was so nice to meet Sina too. She is really great and she and Michael are really great parents. We had quite the adventures getting around Philadelphia with a baby carriage. I learned where all the ramps were, elevators on the subway etc. It was a new experience for me, let me tell you. AND - it was an interesting experience having a baby in Philadelphia. People really soften when there is a little one to deal with. People helped with strollers, doors, they were much nicer to us completely.... I was amazed. I had a new adventure as well. I finally made it out to Bartram's Gardens. We took the trolley and it was packed. Brave Michael had to deal with the carriage which had to be folded up to get in and out of the doors, and then we were told that the trolley line was interrupted, and we would have to get off and get on a bus. Turned out it wasn't and the trolley just kept going. I thought I had just gotten us lost in a not-so-great part of town. But we ended up getting out at exactly the right stop. Whew! Bartram's Garden is really really cool. My intrepid intern Alina also works there. She generously spent an hour with us showing us all of her treasures. There was a Hawthorne tree fruiting so we tried some, we passed an Osage Orange tree and she found one on the ground. We talked about the tornado that hit us in the summer which knocked down a ton of trees there. Bartram's is the oldest horticultural center in north America. The grounds and buildings have never changed. Isn't that amazing? They also host several plants which are extinct in the wild. There are beautiful gardens there. They have different exhibits including bog plants, carnivorous plants, lichen, and a pond with lotus flower. I'm so glad we went there and I can't wait to take other people there as well.
We were completely pooped out by last night though. We decided to have a good old fashioned BBQ, gin and tonics, potato salad and blue berry pie. Yum. Then we dragged out the dvd projector and watched National Treasure on the back wall until it started raining on us. It was a great evening.
So it was really sad to see them all go this morning. You know it was a good visit when you think... they could have stayed a few more days and I would have been very happy. :) But we will just have to visit again, either here or in Denmark. :)
One other reason they should have stayed is that my Nightblooming Cereus bloomed tonight.
It went from this:
and this:
to this:

in about two hours. It will bloom for only one night.
The whole flower is about the size of a soccer ball. I tried to find out more about this plant online but I'm not sure I was successful. All I know is it is considered one of the most beautiful flowers in the world, and the perfume... wow. It is amazing. It is incredibly strong and I can't describe it to you, even though I think I've smelled something like it before. I'm sitting here trying to write this blog and scent is extremely distracting. It's a cactus from the Sonora Desert. And because I kept it inside for the winter and then put it out in a sunny spot this spring I got a blossom! I've been watching it all evening. I read somewhere... maybe it will bloom for two nights - so I'm hopeful. Then I have to hope for another blossom next year. It is so exciting when things like this happen. I love it.
And yes, Jeff was here again last week, finishing up the window frames on the third floor, putting the bracket back up to keep the raccoons out (finally!) and fixing a corner that leaked. Now I can spend more money to ask Wally to come and do some pointing on that part of the wall. sigh. It really never ends. The term "the money pit" comes to mind... anyway - I'll post pictures of that next because this blog is supposed to be about what I'm doing to my house not just how I'm living in it... but I keep forgetting to take pictures of that work in daylight.
Other things are going splendidly. Last weekend I prepped for a studio visit with a curator from the DCCA (Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts.) She chose a piece to put into a show which opens in December. I'm very excited about it because she chose the newest piece - a video piece where the book performs itself. Maybe I'll upload it at some point. So that was great! It also made me get my rear in gear and do some cleanup in my studio. The shutters have been on hold for a while now. But I need to get to them before it's too cold to have windows open again. Maybe this weekend. Maybe.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I love being a farmer

My harvest from last night. An enormous bowl of cherry tomatoes, a small bowl of the second raspberry crop, thyme, my first green onion which was ready to pull - and after two months of anticipation, the first cantaloupe.
I was just beginning to wonder how I would tell when the cantaloupes were ripe when I was looking at them yesterday evening. One of them still has dark green stripes, but this one is completely covered with the "net". So I lifted it to smell it (that's how I always check them out in the grocery stores, and the perfume that come off of it - wow! Perfect cantaloupe scent. When I went to put it back because I though, oh, maybe one more day - I realized, the thing had picked it self. It was not longer connected to the vine. I guess that answers that question.
But I probably should have let it sit on the counter a bit longer. The flavor isn't quite there yet. There were little hints of it - but not quite right. It's still incredibly satisfying to pick and eat something you've grown yourself.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Laboring on Labor Day

Sounds appropriate don't you think? Laboring on Labor Day? Okay, well, to be honest, I didn't labor too much on Labor Day. We had a BBQ which was fun. But the day before - I spent the entire day painting the kitchen on the third floor. I'm really pleased with it and as I expected pictures just can't do it justice. There is something about the sun shining in in the afternoon which just can't be captured on camera. I finished painting on Tuesday evening and ever since then I've been doing the last little bits. The insides of the closets, the door with ultra high gloss etc. Now I'm cleaning. I wanted to clean all of today and get it finished, but I got a bit side tracked. I also think I overdid things a bit. I'm exhausted. Around noon I took an hour and a half nap. It was really great.
Yesterday I found this beautiful spider web on my front porch.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Little by Little

Remember this? The tree that took over most of the back yard? It got trimmed:
Now I just need to get grass to grow underneath it. (for now). This has been a long time coming! In the snow storms last winder the tree really spread out and cast too much shade in the yard. I actually wanted to have the whole thing taken down. But Hal (the arborist) convinced me to just cut the bottom branches out and thin out the top. What a smart man!Now I've got the most ideal situation possible. My bedroom is still looking into only greenery, but the yard will have so much more sun. The only unfortunate thing is that I have a lovely view of my neighbors yard - ahem - dump. He claims he's going to build a garage there - that was supposed to happen three weeks ago. I'm going to have to grow some quick growing vines there to hide that mess.
Worked on my windows last night too. I washed them.
They are not quite clear because I also need to wash the inside. But all of the filth and dirt that was making it very foggy when the light was coming through is gone. And it looks great.
Here's a good shot of the wood as well. It was too hot last week to work on them. So I took a hiatus. I'm getting my school stuff started, people visiting, cleaning, getting the apartment rented. Its all a ton of work.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Maybe the coolest website ever!

At 4am this morning, it was too hot to sleep. So I got up to write email and stuff. My friend Mary just bought a house and she wants to paint blue/purple pinstripes in her bedroom. To me, this sounds like a nightmare project. At 4am you get some pretty hair-brained ideas though, and I thought, well, hey - why not print out wall paper instead? We're artists, we can do that. Mary is the professional paste maker anyway (one of her many talents). But THEN the thought followed, What if we don't need to make our own? Maybe some genius has already designed what she wants. And the web gave me one step better. There is a site that let's YOU design your own. Pick your pattern, pick your colors - oh this site could be very dangerous in a time-consuming way.