Monday, December 31, 2007

So long to 2007

What a year. It has been a year of extremes for us. Joyous events, frightening events and losses that we did not expect. A year that reminded us to be thankful, to be patient, to be flexible; to remember that family is our foundation and friends our support and when things get bad, have faith they will get better. And we've learned that being retired somehow means that you are busier than ever.

So goodbye to 2007. I think we've squeezed every drop out of you. And hello to 2008. What, I wonder, do you hold?

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Remember the little "procrastination bird" that I made before Christmas? Well, a couple days ago I was finally able to mail off a project that I have been working on with a January 3 deadline. (More about that later) So I went back to my bird thought and tried out some of my ideas. Improvements to the prototype include edge finish on the wings, the way I attach the wings and most important to me, a better beak design.

You will notice that these three birds have three different sized beaks. It was a "too small, too big, and ah, just right" experiment, though I don't really dislike any of them. Picking the fabrics is the best part.

Una dia con Chela

Today I picked up Chela and the two of us headed out for a day together. I had my trusty Spanish/English dictionary in my purse, which I used a lot. Chela speaks only two words of English: "Hello" and "Thank you." (I guess, technically, that's three) My Spanish is basic survival Spanish at best, and I'm not sure it would even guarantee my survival if it came to that. But somehow we do manage to communicate.
Our first stop was Thinker Toys in Multnomah Village. I had gotten a pair of those wonderful Robeez baby shoes for Chela to take to her other grandbaby back in Ecuador. She saw Sofia's and loved them, but we decided the ones I got needed to be bigger, so we went back to exchange them. Chela enjoyed looking around this cheerfully chaotic toy store and was quite blown away by the $100 price tag on a beautiful doll.

Our main destination was Fabric Depot, way on the other side of Portland. It used to bill itself as the largest fabric store in the US. I notice now they claim only to be the largest fabric store in the West. Whatever. It is a honkin' huge store. (as we say out West, here) Chela teaches sewing and crafts in a public school in Ecuador and is an exquisite seamstress, so I thought she needed a trip to Fabric Depot. Fabric stores in Ecuador leave much to be desired, in my opinion. She found quite a lot to desire at Fabric Depot.

She was absolutely smitten with the Dick and Jane prints and bought a couple of yards, despite not really knowing what Dick and Jane was all about. I tried to explain in my limited Spanish, that Dick and Jane and Sally were, at one time, "muy famosa" because of the books found in "Todas escuelas en los Estados Unidos" for teaching "ninos" to read.

She seemed to be drawn to every black and white print in the store (a woman after my own heart!) and finally settled on this cool houndstooth corduroy.

I managed to find a boring little piece of green solid Kona and a square of ultrasuede which I am going to use to make a little protective case for my new Christmas present. It's a device for carrying pictures of my grandbaby on. (I hear you can also store music on them . . )

We stopped for lunch at Old Wives Tales, one of my favorite restaurants in Portland. The Hungarian mushroom soup is the stuff of dreams. I tried translating the name of the restaurant for Chela and I'm sure she thought it was the oddest name ever.

Our next stop was the Portland Nursery. Chela saw red sunflowers somewhere—maybe in a flower shop—and wanted seeds to take back with her. Surprise! They had them. I thought about the line on the customs declaration asking if you are bringing any plant materials into the country when you land in the US. I wonder how Ecuador feels about foreign plant material. Hmmm.

We concluded our day by going to Gerrie's open house where we met up with the rest of the family. It was nice to introduce Chela to such a wonderful friend as Gerrie and the party was fabulous. Look at the pictures of the food on Gerrie's blog and you're going to be muy jealous!

It was a very fun day, but speaking Spanish is exhausting. I don't know how all those South Americans do it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas lights

We went with Emily, Cayo, Sofia and their Ecuadorean guests the other evening to see the "Zoolights Festival" at the Oregon Zoo. It seemed like a good outing to show Chela and Ani a little American Christmas culture. It was also a demonstration of the Oregon adage that goes something like, "if we waited until the rain stopped, we'd never leave our houses." We swaddled everyone up in hats and gloves and coats and equipped each adult with an umbrella and headed out into the deluge. Even for Oregon the rain was pretty relentless, but we had a good time, saw the lights, rode the train, watched the elephants eat hay and drank hot chocolate (us, not the elephants).

Ani, Sofia and Emily waiting in line for the zoo train

At least it was dry inside the train
I really do love the Christmas lights. I remember, as a kid, my parents would take one night during the Christmas season to load us all in the car and drive all around town looking at the Christmas lights. We especially liked driving through the "rich" neighborhoods because they had such extravagant displays. The zoolights were even better than those rich folks' lights of long ago. But, holy mother of pearl, it was wet out there.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I wish you peace, love, good health, safety and joy today and in the year ahead. For us, it's a day to cherish our family and to reflect on our good fortune in life. I hope you all are enjoying the day.

"Oh, look—this one says, To Sofi"

"Can I get a little help here?"

"I think that screws in over there, Grandpa."

"OK, I sit on this thing, and then what?"

"So, how do you like my new ride, Tia Ani?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ghost of Christmas Past

My mother was great at finding Christmas ornaments with special meanings. Every year she would send my kids each an ornament. One year she was especially on target. Andy had taken up the trombone and his ornament was a little trombone. I had started quilting and she found, for me, a beautiful lone star quilt ornament. Ray got a wee golf bag with tiny clubs in it. Emily, who was about 9 that year got a birdcage with a little bird in it. Emily had gotten a parakeet earlier that year and she adored her bird. The bird would sit on her shoulder and sing while she practiced her piano. It was pretty cute. Sadly, however, and unbeknownst to her grandmother, the bird had suddenly died just a couple weeks before Christmas, so when Emily opened her little birdcage ornament, her lip began to quiver and her eyes got teary and she said, very sadly, "I guess Grandma didn't know that my bird died." There was a heavy silence in the midst of the Christmas morning activity, then Andy brightened up, held up the ornament and said, "No, I think Grandma did know." Closer inspection revealed that the tiny bird, inside the cage, which had obviously been glued to the perch at one time, had fallen off and was lying on its side at the bottom of the cage. Looked pretty dead. We looked at it mournfully for a few minutes, then I heard Ray stifle a snicker. Then I caught his eye and started to laugh, trying mightily not to. Pretty soon we were all laughing, including Emily and then we were laughing so hard we had tears streaming down our faces. We hung the dead bird ornament on the tree and everytime anyone would look at it all that Christmas day we would be off into uncontrollable laughter once again.

My mother felt horrible when I told her the story. She, of course, did not know the bird had died and had sent the package off with the bird still on its perch. What kind of a grandmother, she asked, would send her grandchild a dead bird ornament?! We assured her that after a few bad moments Emily had seen the humor in the situation, and furthermore, appreciated her grandmother's loving attempt at a special ornament. I tried to attach the bird to its perch with tweezers and a little glue on a toothpick. It didn't stay, so the dead bird ornament remains as it is and is carefully hung on our tree every year. Next year it will go to Emily to hang on her own tree.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Words, words, words

A recent discussion of words on art, on the QuiltArt list, brought to mind the work of Corita Kent, originally known as Sister Corita, who made wonderful silkscreen prints covered in words. She was at the height of her popularity in the '60s and most of her works were messages of social activism. I wrote an entry on the raggedcloth blog about Sister Corita. I guess it looks very dated, but I still love her work. Lots of people copied her style and her use of words and quotes. But, unlike her emulators, she avoided cliche and schmaltz with words that are crisp and meaningful. The quote in the righthand corner is from Sargent Shriver:

"Now we mount a wider stage, with new and greater responsibility, in a harder world than we have ever known. But someday, as the philosopher told us, "After mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And then for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire."

That still seems like pretty good stuff to me.

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

And speaking of words on art, how about this cheery and very merry postcard?! It arrived in today's mails from Lisa Flowers Ross in Boise. I always enjoy reading Lisa's blog and seeing her wonderful artwork. I am lucky to have a Lisa piece of my own now. Thanks, Lisa!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What's in the bag, Ma'am?

Apparently when Chela and Ani (see previous post) took their bags through Immigration in Miami one very heavy bag attracted some attention from the Immigration official. When he asked Chela what the contents of that bag were, she replied something like "Horrors—things you couldn't imagine." Not being a seasoned international traveler, Chela didn't know that you don't joke with uniformed personnel in American airports. Oops. Instead of arresting her immediately (she looks so dangerous!) he asked her the question again, very seriously, very sternly and got the right answer. Food.

When we all got to Emily's house the night they arrived, she opened up the suitcase and started pulling out all the things her Ecuadorean son has been missing since he came to the US a year and a half ago. Little cheese tamales. Mote (pronounced mo-tay) which is dried corn that cooks up fat and chewy, rather like hominy. Preserved figs. Tree tomato juice. Tree tomato jam. Coconut jam. Roasted corn. Aji (a fruit-based hot sauce). Guava candy. Guava jam. What am I forgetting? She brought a lot—containers for Emily and Cayo and containers for Ray and me.

Yesterday she cooked lunch for us. One of our favorite Ecuadorean dishes, Locro de papas, which is potato soup with avocado and cheese and roasted corn thrown in as a garnish. Unbelievably yummy and warming.

Tonight I cooked some of the mote with eggs and onions and some little bits of good smoky bacon. In Ecuador they cook it with bits of roast pork, which is a staple of their diet, but I didn't happen to have any roast pork in the fridge. I was going to take a photo because you know I don't like posts with no photos, but when I looked at it I decided a photo would do nothing to convince you of how tasty this dinner was. You know how some things that taste really good don't actually look all that good? Case in point.

So, no photos tonight. But we are eating well and remembering wonderful meals in Ecuador. And meanwhile Ani and Chela are working hard to fill that now empty suitcase. They've logged more time at the Washington Square Mall in the last two days than I have in the last year.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Another Grandmother

Last night Sofia met her other grandmother for the first time. Her daddy's mother and sister, from Ecuador, arrived in Portland to spend Christmas and meet Sofia. You can see that Sofi and her Abuela Chela bonded almost instantly. I was a little concerned that Sofi, who now knows who she knows and who she doesn't know, might take a little while to warm up to her grandmother and her aunt. But she seemed to somehow recognize them. As Aunt Ani said, "your blood speaks to you." She loves Grandma Chela's songs in Spanish and she thinks her Aunt Ani is not only beautiful, but very funny.

Ray and I know Chela and Ani from our trips to Ecuador, including Emily and Cayo's wedding. We have been the recipient of Chela's gracious hospitality on several occasions and have urged her to come for a visit. This is her first trip outside Ecuador. It is a little surreal to see these two women sitting at my table thousands of miles and two continents away from where we first met them. Surreal, but really wonderful.

You can see and read about Chela and one of our visits with her in Ecuador, here and here and here.

There is a Spanish word, "consuegra", that describes my relationship to Chela. There is not an equivalent English term, but it is roughly "co-mothers-in-law." It seems fitting to me that there should be a word for this relationship. When our children married it made us all family. We share a grandchild. There is a bond and great affection between us.

Ani, in typically dramatic Ani fashion, threw her arms into the air at the Portland airport and declared, "I am in Portland, Oregon! My dream has come true!" What a special gift for my daughter and son-in-law (who can't seem to stop smiling at his mother) and grandchild, and for us, that they are here.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Getting the spirit

What a lot of nice comments on my little procrastination bird! Thanks for all your thoughts. I am looking forward to getting back to birds. I have some ideas for minor changes and want to try some other fabric combinations.

Went to a great Christmas party last night and I was finally inspired to get my act together and start Christmasfying my house. I have been hanging my feathered star quilt, made many years ago, for several years now. I used to hang an advent calendar quilt I made when my children were small, but since I have no little children in the house to count down the days it has seemed silly to hang it. Maybe in the coming years Sofia will enjoy it, but for now the feathered star seems very festive and I've always thought that pattern looked like snowflakes. You may be surprised to see a pieced and hand quilted and very traditional quilt from me. That was how I started quilting and I still love the traditional patterns, just don't make them anymore. When I started this one I was planning to make it bed size. That feathered star is some kind of complicated and time-consuming deal! I made 5 blocks and decided I couldn't face another one, so it's a wall quilt.

I went out to the new house today and cut a garbage bag full of greenery to use. It's a nice mix of pine and fir and juniper and holly and cedar. Smells very nice. I collected terra cotta ornaments for a number of years and usually put them on the mantel instead of on the tree. For years now, I've had an extension cord trailing off the side of the mantel for the lights. Tonight, at Rite Aid Drug, I found two sets of battery operated Christmas lights. What a concept! No more unsightly extension cord.

I think it's about time for this:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Bird brain

What do I do when I have too much to do? I get all consumed by some totally irrelevant brainstorm and ignore everything else. It's crazy. It's birdbrained, but that is what I do.

A week or so ago Jane Ann commented that my world looked so serene. A couple of days ago Reva commented, regarding the house remodeling, that I was not communicating any sense of chaos or panic. Yesterday I had my annual checkup and my Dr. noted my nice low blood pressure and said, "no stress in your life!" Boy, can I fake it!

Things are piling up around here. I am not ready for Christmas—not even a little bit. I have done no decorating. The pumpkin is still sitting on the porch. I am ordering tile and choosing windows. I am driving between the new house and the old house way too often and falling behind on project deadlines. Oy, what's a girl to do?

Build a bird.

Last week when our STASH group went to the Contemporary Craft Museum I saw some little ceramic birds that had designs on them that looked like fabric patterns. Those little birds have been flitting around inside my head ever since. Last night I decided to see if I could make a little bird from fabric. For several hours all those unbought Christmas presents and undecorated tree and mantel and unordered tiles did not exist. It is what I do. It's an odd coping mechanism, but there it is.

I like my little bird, but I think it can be improved upon. I'd like the beak to be a little pointier. I think the red breast doesn't start high enough. The beads I used for the eyes aren't quite right. But that's a project for another time. I have too much other stuff to do right now.

P.S. Since a couple of people have asked: the bird's legs are made from florist's wire and then wrapped with brown stem wrap tape—that stretchy, waxy, sticks-to-itself stuff.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I am refinishing an old oak table, that belonged to my mother-in-law. We will use it as our diningroom table in the new house. In the past I would have stripped the old finish, but I opted to take it to someone to strip it for me. The old finish was light and had turned very, very yellow. I want it a little darker.

Here are the base and a leaf. I am rather proud of the leaf, which I just built myself. The table was made to accept leaves, but they had long since disappeared. The guy who stripped the table (he answers the phone, "this is Tim, the male stripper") said the table is more than a hundred years old and had a customs mark on the bottom. Unfortunately Bertha acquired it from a secondhand store with no story about its past.

The top will probably get another coat, but I am nearly finished.

When I was young and furnishing my first house I decided I really liked old oak furniture. It was just becoming collectible at the time. It was the furniture of my grandparents' and great grandparents' generation. My mother grew up in a house full of it and considered it "ugly old stuff." Nevertheless, when my great grandmother died and her house was emptied Mom brought this old washstand back from Colorado for me. She knew I would love it.

Mom kept, for herself, her grandmother's china cupboard, which was entirely out of place among my parents' modern Scandinavian furniture, but was very sentimental to her. It came to me when my mother died.

The colored photo, by the way, is my parents. The oval portrait hanging above the cupboard is my greatgrandmother, the original owner. I have several other oak pieces I have acquired through the years, but these are my favorites.

I bought this little book in 1975. It is filled with photos of vintage oak furniture. I still enjoy looking at it.

The back section of the book are pages reproduced from a 1902 Sears catalog—the source of much of that style of furniture.

It shows the original prices and the approximate values of each piece in 1975 when the book was published. In 1902 a table, similar to mine, sold for $12.45. In 1975 they valued it at between $125 and $275. I have no idea what it would be worth now. This kind of old oak has kind of gone out of favor again, I think. The hot collectible stuff now is the mid-century Scandinavian furniture of my parents' generation. Funny. To me it's ugly old stuff.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Borrowing some pictures

It's been a busy week at the new house. Hiring Don was a great help and it all started to really take shape this week. I kept forgetting to take my camera out, but Ray took some pictures yesterday that he shared.
Here's Don hard at work on one of several short walls he framed in this week.

This little wall creates a "nook" next to the front door. The coat closet is behind Don just beyond the righthand edge of the photo. The nook will have a little bench where one can sit and remove shoes, etc.

Looking toward the kitchen you can see that little stepdown wall, which will cover the end of the kitchen cabinets and, at least partially, shield the view of countertop messes from the livingroom and dining area. You can also see the hole where the old window was. Don framed it in and repaired the siding on the outside. Once the siding is painted to match the house you will never know there was once a window there. A skylight will compensate for the light lost from that window.

Here's the view from the kitchen looking back toward the diningroom area. You can see the former door to the bathroom, which is going away and the wall extension which will help define that room a little better and provide a wall long enough for a china cupboard.

The old chandelier is going away too, eventually. I found a light fixture I like, but not the one in the picture I posted awhile back. If anyone finds it now, don't tell me!

Ray took this not very flattering picture of me removing the last little remnants of the wallpaper border in the small bathroom.

This is just to show you that I am not standing around bossing the men. I've also been refinishing the old oak table we'll be using. I'll get some pictures posted eventually. It's looking good.

And since I'm borrowing pictures today, here's one borrowed from Emily. Sofia's red hat is pretty darn cute!

And last of all, a very Happy Birthday to my friend Carla! Her birthday was yesterday, the "date which will live in infamy." I was a day behind and had it in my head that today was the 7th, so I missed her actual birthday. Hope it was great, Carla! You have been a wonderful friend for so, so long and I miss you, but love that we can visit each day via blog.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Another foggy day

Yesterday when I looked back at what I wrote about on my blog 2 years ago, I noted the foggy day walk on December 5, 2005. Today I woke up to the same kind of day, so I took my camera along on our walk. There is something so still and quiet about a foggy morning, especially after the drama of all the rain and wind of the past few days.

Our morning coffee, at the end of the walk, tasted especially good. We got to laughing so hard (at a naughty joke, I'll confess) that we were in tears, then pulled ourselves together for a picture. We haven't changed all that much in two years.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

One year ago, two years ago, today

Sometimes I like to look back at my blog to see what I was doing one year ago today. Sometimes I am surprised that a year has passed because whatever it was is still somehow part of my consciousness. Like that "Shy Girl in a Fancy Hat". It is still on my work table waiting for the back to be put on it.

Two years ago tomorrow I took pictures on my morning walk with Beth. We are still walking. At the end of this month it will be five years that we've walked that path. The path looks much the same as it did two years ago. Beth and I look pretty much the same. I've lost a little weight—I may have one less chin now than I did in that picture! We both have new earbags, different colors than the ones shown in the picture. We used to see the dachshund ladies and their dogs at least twice a week on the path, but we haven't seen them in ages—probably a year or more. When I move, we will find another part of the trail to walk on. It will be a bit further for both Beth and I to go, but we think we need to keep walking.
In another year I can look back and see what was happening with our remodeling project. With any luck by then we will be nicely settled into the new house and (pleasepleaseplease!) the old house will be sold. Today was a milestone. We finally have hired help. This is Don. He is removing the window in the kitchen. This window goes away for good. By the end of the day it was gone and the hole closed up.

There was only a little rain today. Yesterday when we stopped by the new house the little creek was full. It was right up to the bottom of the bridge. Today it had gone down some, but still pretty full.

Compare to last week.

We've had an amazing amount of rain in the last few days—almost 4" in the last 48 hours—Oregon, don't you know?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Monday miscellaneous

So, here I am. No big trees crashed through the roof during the night, but it is still raining. Ray, ever alert to potential problems, keeps checking the basement for water. None so far. It has happened in the past, but Ray has taken steps to avoid it and they seem to be working. This amount of rain is the real test.

After I posted my update on the house a couple people suggested that we replace the front window with French doors. What they didn't know is that this is what the wall opposite that window looks like:

These windows and door will also be replaced. The slider will be replaced with a prettier wood slider. Those side windows are now 18" from the floor, which is what the window in front will become, so we won't lose much at all. I love French doors, but this room is too small to accomodate the door swing without losing usable space or severely interrupting the flow. The wood sliders are really pretty, though. You can also see, from this picture, that although the view out the front window looks like we are really out in the woods, there is a subdivision right behind us. You can't have everything.

We got a Christmas tree on Saturday. Our realtor, Nancy Jane, had a "client appreciation" party at a local tree farm and bought each of her clients a Christmas tree. It was a cold, wet day, but there was a shelter with a roaring fire and hot dogs and hot cider and cookies. Beautiful place, where you hike out and select and cut your tree. We picked out a fairly small tree.

I have seen lots of entries on blogs about the environmental impact of cutting live trees for Christmas and many people are going to artificial trees. I have given this some thought and appreciate the arguments against live trees, but it seems like living in Oregon where more Christmas trees are grown than in any other state, buying a live tree which was grown for that specific purpose doesn't pose a problem. It is also an important part of the economy here and I'd hate to see the Christmas tree farmers going out of business. The Christmas tree farms around Portland are such beautiful places. It is one of our pleasant yearly outings to drive out to one of them and choose our tree. And a freshly cut fir is one of the best smells there is!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

"Breaking" news

For years, when we'd drive to the Oregon coast, we'd pass a sign on Highway 26 marking a turnoff to see "the largest Sitka Spruce tree in the US." We'd always say, "we oughta stop and see that sometime." Several months ago when we went over to the coast with Beth and her husband, Ed, we actually stopped to see the big tree.

I just saw, on the news, that today the strong winds that are battering the coast broke the 700 year old tree in half. End of a very long era. I'm glad we stopped to see it when we did.

click photo for news story

They've been warning us about this storm for days now and so far—knock on wood—it's not too bad here. Lots of rain, some wind, a little flooding in some areas. It's the kind of storm we really dread here, though. The combination of lots of rain and wind means trees will start coming down. The ground gets saturated, the roots don't hold and when the wind gets going big old trees just start popping out of the ground. 99% of the time I love our big old trees. But every so often they worry me. I wonder, as I wander off to bed, whether one will come crashing through the ceiling and land on our bed while we're sleeping. So, uhhh, here I go—off to bed. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

House update - December 1

I haven't mentioned the house remodel project lately, so I took a few pictures today. We've had a little trouble finding people to do the work, but it looks like things are about to get going next week. Ray has a guy coming to start work on the kitchen and the electrical and plumbing will get started soon, too. Meanwhile we've been in demo and wallpaper elimination mode.

Remember the blue and purple kitchen?

This is what it looks like now.

Ray has done all the demo work so far. I have been stripping wallpaper. Remember this room?
This is just off the diningroom and it will be our TV watching room. After stripping all the blue wallpaper, I found...

Blue paint. The previous owners really liked blue a lot. Every room in the house is some shade of blue. I can hardly wait to get to the painting phase and warm this place up! You can see I have replaced the precious little chandelier with a more practical light fixture. The box in the middle of the room is the microwave that will go over the stove.

We are changing the door to one of the bathrooms. It currently opens off the diningroom, which is just unacceptable to me. (Ick!) We are relocating the door to the utility room through what was a shallow closet. Yesterday Ray took a hammer and saw to the wall and that project is now underway!

This picture was taken standing in the utility room looking through the former closet into the bathroom. Yes! This is going to be a huge improvement.

This is the window in the livingroom that looks out toward the front yard and the creek. I am going to love living with this view. I really like these old windows, but alas they are single panes and not at all energy efficient. We've been shopping for windows. I think the replacement for this window is going to be a little higher off the floor. Modern codes require that windows less than 18" from the floor be made from tempered glass—very expensive. I think the higher window will actually be better in other ways as well, but it is a little sad to see this window go. I will not, however, be the least bit sad to see these oddball draperies go.

Out front, this is the creek.

This fall when we first saw the house the creek was barely a trickle of water. We've had a lot of rain this week, so it is now probably 8 -10 inches deep in some places.

We walked around the woodsy part of the lot and talked about what kinds of bushes we want to plant to further block the view of the road. I said I wanted some holly, then I discovered this pretty little variegated holly bush almost engulfed by blackberries. I think some love and attention will do wonders for it.

Ray has been potting up starts and extra plants from our current house and taking them out to the new house. Here are some waiting for new homes.

So, that's my little tour around the homestead for today. I plan to post periodic updates on this project. I think it will be my life for the next few months.