Arts and Crafts, with Glue

Suna used white glue to crackle paint her desk made of old doors.

For my new desk, I wanted a rustic look to go with the rest of the office. Yesterday I showed you how I painted the doors that will be part of the desk a very bright red. To remind you, it’s this color:

I used leftover paint to revitalize this concrete cardinal.

Today the fun began. I made crackle paint and did the doors. How? First, you splatter white craft glue all over and then brush it on, leaving thick and thin parts.

Doesn’t that look festive?

You let the glue just start to dry, then slop your top color on. In this case, it’s the trim color at the Ross house. You have to go fast and resist the urge to go back over it, or you get this.

Just painted. Looks like a crappy paint job!

Then you wait. As the glue dries, cracks show up. There are little cracks where the glue is thin, and bigger ones where it is thick.

Drying. Cracks have appeared.

The really thick parts take a long time to dry. I may have over-done it on the first door, which still has wet spots as I write this. I’m sure I’ll be able to sand this evening, though.

My desk top, all crackled.

And since I had a little red left over, I painted some trim on the old chicken house. That may protect its paint a little. And it looks more rustic now!

Red matches the ranch theme!

Now I’m painting other things. That’s for the next blog!

Independence Day for Hermits

Chris and Suna create desktops and chicken coops from scraps and leftovers.

One thing’s for sure, the hermits of Hermits’ Rest sure know how to celebrate without leaving the property. I’m proud of us.

Most of the day, Chris and I worked on two projects, a second hen house and nest box, and my new desk.

My project was the desk. First I spent a couple of hours sanding the doors, one of which is the desk top and one the “modesty panel.” I’m so modest, you see. I just wanted to rough them up a bit.

The modesty panel door.

By the way, the doors came from the Pope Residence, and were a bathroom and closet door, so smaller than standard.

Here it is with a coat of red paint.

The desk top was painted white. It’s paint was peeling and hard to sand, so it took a while. I forgot to take a “before” picture. I’ll blame the heat. I did really well not overheating today!

The desk top looks much brighter, since it’s base was white.

No doubt you notice the doors don’t match. It’s okay. This interesting shade of coral red (made by mixing my bathroom tomato red with the red from our Christmas float) will be an undercoat.

Two coats on. Red enough.

Both doors look nice and “rustic” so I’m happy. Tomorrow the MAGIC will happen, so come back for Day 2 of the door desk paint project!

Meanwhile, Chris was finishing the nest boxes he started, which are nicely hinged now.

Hinged box.

Then he got to work turning a shipping crate that held the tile for our house 5 years ago into a chicken coop. He added a roosting shelf, and attached the nest boxes.

Roosting shelf.

The outside he covered in more of the tin we used in the Pope Residence.

He just improvises. But measures carefully.

By the time we called it quits, he’d measured the roof and got the supports up. The hardware cloth (wire mesh) is ready for the ventilation openings. This should also get done tomorrow!

Roof supports are up. The triangles will be air vents. Hens need them.

We also hope to get more shade cover for the birds and to enlarge the pens, like I mentioned earlier. That will keep us busy at home for another day!

Did I mention that these projects only cost us labor? All materials are scraps or leftover stuff from other projects. Fun doesn’t have to be expensive! It does help to have a creative and talented team lead, though. Go team!

Mostly Good Animal News

I hope all of you who celebrate Independence Day in The US have a safe and fun holiday. And now for the news update.

Guinea Drama Part 2

I went out to feed the birds yesterday, and lo and behold, there were only five guinea keats. I fed them and was confused. So when Chris got home, I asked if we weren’t supposed to have seven. He said yep. Crap.

I then looked more carefully at their cage. Since it got put in the chicken pen, it’s been on grass. That made what WERE small holes into bigger holes. Two of the little dickenses had escaped.

The five remaining ones, nicely arranged.

About that time, Alfred skipped by looking very happy. Well, there was one keat. We still haven’t found the other.

Henhouse Happiness

As we were standing around lamenting the loss of the guinea fowl, Lee asked when we could combine the two chicken groups. I said now, I guess. So everyone is together now.

We’re taking over!

The older ones definitely are the bosses, but they aren’t attacking or anything, other than Clarence, showing what a manly rooster he is. He and Bruce are okay.

Gracie wanted to help Bertie and Ginger eat grass.

This means we can add our new nesting boxes and expand the run some more. We’re working on that, and more shade, today.

The new hens clustered for a while but it’s better now.

How’s Apache, You Ask?

I’ve been walking him a little bit every day. Today Chris came over to observe his gait, and we are pleased to report he’s walking pretty normally.

Grass! Yay!

So we let him and Fiona enjoy some green grass and loving for a while. They’re so good, just relaxing with us.

Happy to be out of that pen.

And you can sure tell Apache has lost weight. That’s one fine butt with no belly showing through!

His best side?

And of course we need to end with the cutest thing ever.

Do you have a treat?

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

The good news about a that we have hot and cold running water at the Pope Residence!

What’s wrong here?

Did you know there’s a convention about which faucet should be for hot water and which is for cold?

This one is right!

I was admiring the new faucet handles in the bathrooms and reveling in hot water coming out of the top faucet, when it dawned on me that hot was on the right. Chris asked if it wasn’t right. So I began doubting my memory. I looked it up!

I found the answer on this Mental Floss article.

In olden days, most sinks had a single pump for cold water on the right—to accommodate the right-handed majority. When dual-temperature faucets appeared, the cold water stayed on the right while hot water occupied the left. The Uniform Plumbing Code now requires that faucets “shall be connected to the water distribution system so that hot water corresponds to the left side of the fittings.”

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/67448/why-does-left-knob-control-hot-water-and-right-knob-control-cold

So, how about that? Tubby was already set up right. Good ole Tubby (who already needs another coat of paint).

That gold faucet’s gonna bug me. But it can’t be helped.

The break area sink doesn’t have labels. At this point I don’t care, because I’m so excited to be able to wash dishes with hot water!

Future home of clean dishes and masks.

Also in the break area, I finally remembered to get Chris my iron so he could attach edges to the counter tops.

I am pretty thrilled that my bathroom is done. We are going to add shelves to the right of the vanity, since it ended up off center. More storage for me!

See what I mean?

But with all the creativity we have around here, we can fix anything! By the way, here are some finished bathroom pictures!

Have a good weekend!

Hopeless or Hopeful

Hopelessness is everywhere. Life is challenging.

The world seems upside down. Or it seems like “up” for one person is “down” for another. People I once respected disappoint me so much.

What’s up to you is down to me. What’s down to me is up to you. Image by @JosiEpic via Twenty20.

I think any of us in the US could say this, right now. The distrust is palpable, isn’t it? Even from within the tiny bubble I’m residing in right now, I feel it.

With all the new guidelines I’m following, I end up spending most of every day in a dim, 10×10 room with no windows, with the door closed. That’s hardly a recipe for optimism, cheer, or hope. But I realize I’m privileged to be able to work and not interact with the public.

Others have a whole different set of challenges. Some of us have jobs that require us to be outside or in busy buildings. These people are relying on others to help them stay safe, or, if they are of the group looking at things the other way, are being forced to do things they don’t want to do. Either way, it’s not easy.

And how do we all cope with that? Do we pray for each other’s safety and respect each other’s viewpoints?

I wish I saw more of this. Image by  @lelia_milaya via Twenty20.

No, we are so frustrated that we spend our energy attacking each other and reinforcing our divisions. That’s really why I feel hopeless.

Love one another. Give each other hope. We need it.

You tell, ’em, rock.

Murder, Most Fowl

It’s a chicken pun, and a guinea story.

Ah, ranching. It’s never dull. So, a couple of nights ago, something got into the guinea pen and did away with two light ones and one dark one. Damn.

It’s a real murder mystery, because whatever it was got into the pen somehow and broke their necks. One’s head was out of the chicken wire, but the rest weren’t. It’s as if something got them but couldn’t get them out!

They were way off the ground!

Whatever it was either had to climb up high to get in, or fly, because they were on a shipping crate. And the holes in their cage were small.

In any case, they gave up, but left a scent that the dogs all smelled, especially Gracie that morning.

We like the new water fountain!

The panicked flock is now well inside the chicken run, where Bruce is guarding them, along with his gals. They are happy to have grass and bugs to enjoy, and they can bond with the chickens.

Thanks for our new digs!

Those are all fine. Clarence is very happy now, and filling out nicely. His green tail feathers are so pretty.

Clarence the cockerel

The old ones do seem okay with their dude now.

We want to go out and chase grasshoppers. Even that big new interloper.

The new ones are getting more and more accustomed to us feeding and coming in. They run around after bugs and away from Bruce.

Bruce corralling his gals.

They don’t eat out of my hand like the other three hens, but Patty is especially friendly. She’s also very beautiful, even though she’s still the smallest.

Pretty and friendly Patty.

We hope to finish their nest boxes soon, since they are maturing, and to join the two runs. Next is another expansion. Chicken World will be glorious.

You just want to paint those nails! Pandemic activity!

We Need Sinks, ‘Cause It Stinks

Why you need p traps in your sinks, plus a new mantel

Happy Thursday. Wow, it’s already July! While we’ve had two in-progress sinks at the Pope House, it’s been a bit smelly. That’s because the helpful P traps are not in yet, so the little water barrier that keeps sewer gas in the sewer isn’t there. It’s not horrible, but we have incentive to finish the break room and office bathroom sinks sooner rather than later.

Installed but not connected yet.

Our hearts are in the right places. But our pipes are not, so the construction team is gonna have to figure out some PVC tricks to get everything up and running. In the meantime, it’s LOOKING pretty good.

The faucet looks good, even though Tubby’s faucet is gold and clashes. Tubby has the last laugh, though, because that faucet’s hooked up and works (enabling hand washing).

While we wait to solve the pipe problem, there’s still plenty to do. Chris has been finishing up on the flooring around the edges of the stairs, in preparation for finishing and trimming that area. That means it will be back to the welding machine to make the stair rails soon!

And all the wood for the trim in the reception area and my office has been cut. It’s all ready to go in, which will add a beautiful finishing touch. Speaking of finishing touches, we also have the next batch of epoxy ready to finish off the glass inserts in my office floor. This time, it’s going to work, by gosh!

The mantel, along with the trim that has not yet been nailed in place. The chair is my thinking area.

My mantel is installed and shining in its glory. Next for that area will be a cool hearth-like backing for my faux wood stove that I can’t wait to see come together. My whole office will be filled with one-of-a-kind works of decorative art at the rate things are going.

Asking for Input in Troubled Times

While I do try to remain upbeat, some days are easier than other. And the daily grind is challenging. I don’t know anyone who disagrees with that right now!

Every day I hear grim statistics about COVID-19. Every day I read about people who “don’t believe in” the virus. Every day I see people scurrying around in masks trying to complete their business and get back home. Every day I see people playing contact sports, walking in large groups, and choosing to ignore social distancing practices.

Everyone has their own ideas of what’s safe, it seems.

Such contrasts!

The NY Times says fighting over masks is the new national pastime. That’s so sad.

How do you deal with the conflict that’s so obvious in our state and nation during this pandemic? I don’t think yelling at each other is a good idea. Shaming doesn’t seem to work. Everyone’s stressed out enough as it is, and being yelled at and shamed won’t make anyone change what they’re doing. I totally understand that, but I also understand how people react that way.

So, I’m looking for input. What are some ways of coping and maintaining an even keel that you’ve tried? Here are a few of mine (which aren’t working too well right now):

  • Deep breathing
  • Limiting reading of social and news media
  • Spending time with animals
  • Reading cheerful books and magazines
  • Writing letters
  • Doing kind things for others (I ordered some herbal supplements for a young friend, for example, since I could get them at a discount)

This is a good start, maybe!

Be good to each other. We’re all we have!

It’s Closing Time

One of the first houses Lee and I bought when we started investing in real estate was a cute little house in Pflugerville. That’s a town near Austin (now a suburb) founded by a family called the Pflugers. There are still people in town by that name. Anything that starts with an “f” sound in that town tends to be renamed to have a “Pf” at the beginning. Hilarious, right?

A perfectly reasonable house

Anyway, we didn’t talk about it much back in the Hermit Haus Redevelopment days, since we already had it. But, we spent a lot of time there at first, since young friends rented the house for a few years. After that, we had a series of really good renters.

It really has a cute floor plan and is in a nice neighborhood.

After these renters left, we decided to sell the Columbine house, and our friend Carol did a great job of marketing it. We got a cash offer immediately, but they backed out. Not a problem, our backup offer was a really nice family who did that thing where they wrote a letter and thanked us, and all those sweet things people do to try to get a house. I really enjoyed seeing how thankful they are to get it.

Part of real estate investing involves knowing when to hold on to an income property and when to let it go, so it took a lot of thought on Lee’s part to determine that this is when we can best realize the profit from letting this little house grow in value. I’m glad we took so many classes and know all the processes for figuring this stuff out!

Yesterday, Lee did his part of the closing, and today is my turn. It’s nice to be able to use a mobile notary and meet outdoors, where we can sanitize away and still get business done.

We’ll miss owning this house, but selling it will free up some capital and enable us to move forward with the exciting future projects we have lined up for Hearts Homes and Hands.

I hope you’re having a good day and getting the things done you need to do in your world.

News Consumption Blues

Wishing for a source of news that is unbiased and accurate.

Recently I was talking to a coworker about how we consume news. We both feel like we should at least have a clue what is going on at a local, state, national, and international level. Ignorance is not bliss for most of the people I associate with. I guess it’s culturally ingrained, not that there’s anything wrong with being from another subculture within the US that isn’t as concerned with knowing true from false, news from propaganda, etc. There have always been folks who are just fine in a local/family bubble; it’s sort of understandable, especially lately.

So many of us just want to know what’s happening beyond our doorstep. Photo by @madelinerosephoto via Twenty20

Anyway, my coworker and I found we were in really strong agreement about how we liked to get information, and agreed that things we see on social media platforms take too much energy to figure out whether to believe or not. We both just skip that stuff and are members of the “don’t make or read any comments” group.

A good local newspaper!

I have a source for international news that I like, and I am aware of the biases of the US-centric sources I use and that they play into my confirmation bias. I am able to weed out obvious slant-y things, but it gets tiresome! Surprisingly, I find have found local Austin and Cameron news sources (radio and newspaper) that are quite helpful and not too hard to get factual information from. I guess that’s what helps keep my head from exploding. That and NOT reading their Facebook pages.

Honestly, though, I miss being able to read a news source or watch the local news and just get a summary of things that have been happening, with no hidden commercials, obvious slants, and repetitive hype. I can’t stand the local news channels (all over the US, not just where I live) that repeat the same hyped-up snippet of a news piece repeatedly to get your attention, then present something totally bland. I’m smart enough to take information and run it through my own biases and interpret it myself. I don’t need help. Thus, I can’t make myself sit through any television news.

I don’t know how anyone manages to figure this stuff out, no matter what your biases are. Photo by @andreyyalansky19 via Twenty20

I’m aware that anything written by a person has biases, but I do remember when I was a kid we were trained to try to eliminate that as much as we could, and to clearly label opinion pieces. I wish ratings and ad revenue weren’t the actual reason for news content these days. But, it sure looks that way to me. The more incendiary content is, the more it sells.

Incendiary news sells, if you can read it before it goes POOF! Photo by @foto.privet via Twenty20

I’m wary of cutting myself off from all news sources, because so much affects me directly. Where can I find some simple statements of facts to learn from? Tell me! I’d buy some crap from a company or organization that sponsored accurate, unvarnished, information.

As always, I’d love your feedback and ideas.