Who’s your favorite and why?
In other Eames related news, be sure to catch the documentary ‘Eames: The Architect and Painter’ airing on PBS American Masters December 19th at 10pm. I know I will be watching it.
Yesterday was one of those rare and glorious days that I spent indulging my inner nerd. After a Saturday feeling under the weather, it was good to get out and be amongst people…by myself. (Weird, right?) I am a social creature and enjoy spending time with the people and if you know me socially, you might categorize me as an extrovert. However, I find that I need just as much alone time to replenish the social stores that get depleted and find that time to be incredibly gratifying.
So with my alone time, I indulged my geekiest passions: literature and art. I went to see Anonymous, the wonderful film with Rhys Ifans that questions the legitimacy of Shakespeare’s authorship and paints a very disturbing picture of the possible true author’s relationship with Elizabeth I. Fiction, of course. I think.
(This of course led me straight to Island Books after to buy the new novel Elizabeth I by Margaret George, a big juicy dive-right-into-it book. Island Books is now selling e-books as well, a wonderful example of commerce adapting to society and a sure sign that my favorite store will be there for many more years.)
I also visited the Bellevue Art Museum to see the George Nelson exhibit. Nelson, one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, believed that design reflected the whole cultural landscape and said, ‘Design is a response to social change.’ He was of the era of architects and designers that looked to an aesthetic that represented a value system, which I of course am enamored with. I love the idea of design reflecting what’s happening now versus what happened 80, 100 or 1000 years ago.
Needless to say, the Nelson exhibit inflamed me with furniture lust, the clock wall and the storage wall being especially seductive. I sneaked a photo or two before the guard threatened to throw me out. I checked the gift shop with the hope of buying the catalog for the images, but at $105, it was a bit precious for my pocketbook. There was a Nelson swag-leg desk there that I coveted and checked out at Herman Miller (the company for whom Nelson designed and which still sells much of his work). Retailing for $1949 on their website, I think I will keep trying my hand at thrifting to find something similar.
Seeing all these wonderful designs that defined a generation does strike one with a bittersweet kind of nostalgia. Punctuating that nostalgia was another haunting exhibit by Cathy McClure entitled Midway. An almost surreal multi-media installation (bordering on carnivalesque nightmare) with mechanical metal and plastic toys, a merry-go-round with metal elephants rising and falling and a light flashing on it like a zoetrope, it has both an enticing and unsettling. There was a Calliope kind of melancholy music that played the same lines over and over again making the entire experience feel both real and dreamlike.
What resonated in association of the George Nelson exhibit as well, was the statement below about inspiration for the Midway installation from a poem, Pyrography by John Ashbery which expressed the mood she sought to convey, ‘…And midway we meet disappointed, returning ones, without its being able to stop us in the headlong night toward the nothing of the coast.’
And in my head I still hear that droning Calliope which may now always be associated with George Nelson for me. I hope not.
“License to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations. Man, free to kill gophers at will. To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit – ever. They’re like the Viet Cong – Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower. And that’s all she wrote.” – Carl Spackler, Caddyshack
Most of the land around our house is wild. (Read: overgrown and unkempt until we decide what to do with it.) Brett pushed the lawnmower over the wilder patches this week to even things out and allow the girls to tromp around in the back. But let’s face it, it’s still just mowed weeds. We will conquer this problem eventually when we get to thinking more about landscaping, but for now the wildflowers and tall grass doesn’t bother me so much.
We do have a nice patch of lawn extending out from the side porch. This is my favorite porch and view. I like to sit out there with a glass of wine after work or a cup of tea before breakfast. (Those are in order of priority, of course, but at least it’s not a glass of wine before breakfast.) The vista is of the lawn and the field of tall purple foxgloves beyond it.
When we first looked at the house, we noticed a few patches of dirt on the lawn. We assumed it was from a dog because that is where the temporary dog run is located. We thought nothing of it at the time. However, over the past few weeks the lawn is turning more dirt patch than grass and we realized that we have a problem.
Now I have never seen patches like this in my life. I grew up in South Texas and I am not even sure that furry animals can live down there because of the heat. I’m sure they can but they didn’t tunnel in my neighborhood. Even if they did, I strongly doubt they could push up a mound under that thick patch of St. Augustine grass. My husband is no expert on tunneling varmints either, so we both assumed it was a mole and those were molehills. We began researching and investigating possible remedies.
Killing the rodent is a last resort and one that cannot be mentioned in front of the kids, especially one kid. Ainsley is the sensitive soul and cannot bear the idea of killing animals.This is the child who became vegetarian at the age of nine and who is deeply disturbed by our installation of an electric dog fence. She even put on the collar and tested it on her wrist and is encouraging me to do the same. Uh…no thanks Ains.
This investigation is turning my husband in Carl Spackler. The appropriate word is becoming obsession. Without the option of killing the rodent for now, Brett is trying a mixture of pureed garlic and hot water and pouring it in the new mounds at night. This seemed to be working for a few days, but two new mounds appeared this morning. You should have seen the look on his face when I told him. I need to get him one of those hats Bill Murray wore as he wages his war.
Even more appropriately, I have learned that it is not a mole, but a gopher. (Hide the explosives!) Apparently, moles leave behind evidence of their tunnels, creating a pattern of lines on the lawn. Gophers just leave mounds that are turns in their underground tunnels. Also, getting rid of gophers is requires different methods than getting rid of moles. For moles, I have read everything from castor oil and water to high frequency sound generators to stuffing human hair into the tunnels. (Yuck!)
Gophers are altogether different culprits. They like vegetation and will often tunnel and eat your plants and bulbs from the root. We don’t notice this yet because we have no new plantings around the yard nor any vegetation that we pay much attention to right now. And there are only two ways to get rid of them: kill them or repel them. A lot of sites I investigated said to learn to coexist with them. I will happily coexist with them. My lawn will not. I did also learn that the top four methods LEAST recommended for gopher elimination are: drowning them, blowing them up, gassing them and gumming them. That’s right, blocking their intestines with chewing gum. Some people have a lot of time on their hands. I would have thought that Molly and Baker’s presence as predators would have scared them away but apparently they already have Molly and Baker’s number.
For gophers, rodenticide is recommended. Jenn, who has the same issue, told me yesterday that they sell it in gummy bear forms at True Value. I worry about kids and dogs though. I worry about me. What if I give the gophers the gummy bear vitamins and the kids the gopher poison! Trapping is another method and that one I will definitely have to leave to Brett because I can’t imagine dealing with a dead gopher. (See where Ainsley got it from?) There is another natural method for gophers which involves castor oil, Tabasco and peppermint oil that may be worth trying before poison or trapping. Also, mothballs. That may work as well.
We will not be shooting them, as one site suggested. ‘Just as effective as a trap and more fun.’ Perhaps there are gophers in Texas.
P.S. Brett aka Carl just came into the house singing that old camp song ‘Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts’. Yum.
It’s a beautiful morning…
I think I’ll go outside for a while…and just smile. At least, that’s what Baker and Molly are always wanting to do. I know I’ve mentioned them in these posts before, but for the uninitiated Baker and Molly are our four-legged furry children. They are just as challenging as the two-legged ones and often cuter. And sometimes, they even smell better.
Molly is a full-bred beagle, and Baker is a mix of a Brittany spaniel and…get this mouthful…Nova Scotia duck trolling retriever. Both are rescue dogs, as was our previous English cocker, Roark. (See what an architecture buff I am?) We love rescue dogs. Not only will we not support puppy mills, but rescue dogs are SO grateful to be in a good and loving home, they shower you will kisses and love and cuddles until you just can’t take it anymore. (This is, of course, after they adjust and realize that they don’t have to run and hide when someone removes their belt.) If you are ever looking for a rescue animal, check out Pet Finder. Warning: Do not go to this website unless you have some serious time to kill, a heart to melt and possibly a spare dog bed lying about.
We have had Molly for over four years, but we just got Baker in December. Molly had been getting a bit lazy and chubby and we decided she needed a playmate. She, however, failed to see the wisdom in this choice and seems to relish in baying at her brother and protecting anything that remotely looks like food. Despite this behavior, she will often not leave his side and does not like him playing with any other dogs at the dog park but her.
In our previous home, Baker and Molly had a yard to run around. A very small yard, but a fenced yard nonetheless, where we knew they would be safe and not escape. With this house, all we have are wide-open spaces for them to run and run they will. Both bred as hunters, Molly and Baker will catch a scent and be off. We have contemplated how to deal with this but can’t bear the idea of fencing the yard and blocking out all the beautiful land around the house. If you do end up fencing the land around your mid-century home, there are a multitude of options beyond traditional fencing. I particularly like the options shown here on the Eichler for Sale site. We may put up something like the cinder block retaining wall in the backyard. Other great fences are shown on the Eichler Network with helpful thoughts on installation and care.
Since we have moved into this new home, the dogs have made a few escapes, usually to the neighbor’s yard to visit their golden retriever Bentley. Once we found them both trotting down West Mercer Way like they were off to town for the day. However last week when I was overseas, Brett called me at two in the morning to tell me they were gone. As in like gone GONE. They had never been gone for more than 30 minutes or so and it became hours. He put up signs, he called friends, he drove for hours. He walked up and down WMW with the leashes until someone stopped and told him that she had the dogs. Apparently her kids were loathe to part with them and Brett said they could visit them anytime. My deepest gratitude goes out to that woman for helping our errant pooches. Just another reason why I love living on this island.
But now it was time to get serious, not just for our own sanity but for the safety of the dogs. Clearly, they are not (nor will they ever be) well-trained enough to be trusted to stay on the property. They are who they are, hunting dogs for centuries. The previous owner had rigged up a temporary ‘dog-run’ in the side yard and that has been our solution for now. With numerous trips to the Luther Burbank dog park, they have stayed relatively happy. (So have the girls who love to run in the water at the park with the dogs at the end of a sunny day. Last night, they taught Baker to fetch a ball in the lake with lots of coercing.) But the laundry-line dog run is temporary. They need more room to roam. Invisible Fence is the logical option. There is even an office here on the island. I had bought a house years ago that already had one installed and it worked great for Roark. All we had to do was buy the collars. We thought we’d check it out.
But, cha-ching! Those things are expensive! We estimate our property would have been upwards of $2000 for installation and we could think of way better uses for two-kay, you know? We (ahem or Brett rather) started looking at other DIY electric dog fence options. There are loads to consider: Radio Fence, Pet-Super-Store.com and even one at Lowes. At the end of the day, we were still sold on the Invisible Fence brand because of the collar options. Invisible Fence collars emit a stronger or weaker shock (I prefer ‘buzz’) depending on the individual dog’s age, weight and temperament. What to do?
Once again, my super-in-laws come to the rescue. They just happened to have a spare Invisible Fence transmitter and two collars. All we Brett needed to do was purchase and run the wire, hook it up to the electric box thingy (a technical term) and train the pups. (Training them is a delicate matter and you should investigate the best methods or talk to a professional if you have never done it before.) How lucky is that! And it got me thinking that there are may be other people with that kind of equipment lying about for the cheap industrious DIY-er. And there is! Ebay is full of transmitters, collars and wire at prices way lower than an installed fence. Many are the Invisible Fence brand too. When Brett struggled with connecting the wires to the transmitter, he discovered that the Invisible Fence people on the island are more than happy to help with second-hand equipment.
We are in the midst of the training process and the pups are responding well. But if you ever see them hitching down WMW, please give them a ride. Home.