Aug 23, 2013

A Chandelier for the Kitchen

A few years ago, I made a chandelier for the kitchen.  The story is a typical one for me.  Start with good (and cheap) intentions, then the project turns into so much more.  The town in which I live has, what we fondly call, 'big trash day.'  Twice a year, residents can put out just about anything on the curb and waste services will come and pick it up (we are not allowed to do this other times of year).   An entire industry of scroungers trolls the neighborhoods looking for useable, fixable, or recyclable items.  I've found some great things while walking the dogs.   One day, I found a chandelier in a box.  It had a nasty white/gold spatter paintjob, but the fixture was pretty.  I painted the whole thing black to resemble wrought iron, attached some blue glass bead flowers and metal mesh, then took the fixture to the cabin.

My intention was to wire it into the ceiling and be done with it.  Not so easy!  The ceiling was wired for a fan/light combo and when I reached up to look at the wires, I got a nasty zap.  The porchlight stopped working at that point also.  (I'm not stupid, the electricity was off, something was seriously wrong.) Well, its been a year, and my father's friend, an electrician, came out to look at the problem.  After four hours of back and forth with the wires (kitchen on, porch off, porch on, kitchen off, et cetera), the problem was finally resolved and the fixture installed.

Ahhhh, light in the kitchen at long last.  The chandelier is not too fancy, but adds some class to the room.  The beaded flowers sparkle and I know I'm going to be cleaning out cobwebs, but its worth it. After all the time and hassle, it would have been easier to buy a new one.  However, I know for sure I have the only chandelier like this!

Aug 9, 2013

Spring Arrived, and Passed By at Ghost Dog

FYI: This post was written back in March, but not published til now.  Sorry for the delay.

So far, this has been a quiet spring.  Winter was dry, little snow at the house and not much up in the mountains.  Everyone in town has an underlying tension about the possibility of flood, but the plants and animals continue on as always.  The sycamores and cottonwoods are greening up, the fruit trees are blooming (the first time all have bloomed).  The weeds are sprouting and the lizards are out basking.  I caught the first grasshopper of the year - a very nice specimen. My skills at keying out insects are rather poor, but I think this is a Red Shanked Grasshopper (Xanthippus corallipes).  According to my grasshopper books, these guys winter over as immature adults and are common in the spring.

This hopper was not happy with my attempts to open its wings and pose its legs at the same time. It is difficult to tell from the photo, but this fellow is very colorful.  The hind legs are a nice bright orange (easily seen), but the top of its abdomen and head are a rich marine blue (not so easily seen).  I know not many people like grasshoppers, but they are wonderful.

Jul 27, 2013

Images from Monstercam

Last year I installed a motion detecting camera outside the cabin.  The goal was to determine how much time the deer were spending in the orchard. The short answer turned out to be - A lot!  I also figured out they were pretty much living under one of the trees in the yard.  I know that the back fence had to go up (and it has since then), but I had no idea the ruminants spent so much time in my yard.

When I installed the camera, I was hoping for images of cougars, javalina and maybe a coyote or coati. Instead, the camera took hundreds of pictures of deer.  And one cow. By the front door.  I did get some fleeting night photos of the local javalina.  Cute little guys, although they did eat all my pumpkins two years ago.  Grrrrr.

Apr 19, 2013

Making a Kitchen Cart

A while back, I received a few marble top tables.  The table part was uninspiring, but the marble!  I have always wanted a marble slab for the kitchen, but this stuff is too heavy to move to IL, so I kept it in reserve for use at the cabin.  Marble is the best surface for rolling pastry and making candy. If you don't mind a stain or two over the years, it acquires a wonderful patina..

The cabin is small (if you've been following the blog, you know this), and counter space is at a premium. I have a rolling cart with a butcher block top in IL and use it constantly.  One day, the idea to make a similar cart with a marble top popped into my head.  The result is shown at left - pretty simple, but very useful.

One downside of the open cart is everyone can see my extra sodas and ugly pans, so I covered the sides of the lower shelf with some old shutters.  I bought a few sets for $1 each in IL, boxed them up and flew them to NM (thanks again, Southwest Airlines!).  They were trimmed and painted before attaching with hinges.  

The toughest part was painting all parts of the shutters.  Note to all, spray paint is the way to go!  I sprayed the primer, but brushed on the final coats of blue.  It was time consuming and looks sloppy, but the shutters are down at knee level, so I'm fine with the result.