Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Techno Goodies: Or, I Bought a New Computer

I bought a new computer and it isn't a PC. I decided to do it after I began using my iPhone and found out how incredibly useful and wonderfully user-friendly it is. So I now have a Mac.

And though it is somewhat like learning a new language where you only know, at first, how to ask where the bathrooms are, I've found that if I force myself to learn by using, pretty soon I'm used to learning and things have become more clear.

My three-year-old PC was so slow that when the Cable Guy installed the High Speed Internet Service a few months ago he gave me a look of pity.

I don't humiliate easily, so that's not the reason I bought the new Mac. My PC was getting so out of date that it wasn't enjoyable to use anymore. And one of the important things I've learned about the new tools available to us these days is that if you don't have good tools, you won't get the real benefit of the new systems. There is no use being a Luddite.

I'm reminded of the word Luddite because I've heard several people say recently: "I don't use computers." Or: "I don't know much about computers." And they've said it with a certain amount of pride. I'm not sure why people say things like that.

Today, it is as if you are saying you insist on having an outhouse, or you like washing your clothes by hand, or, more to the point, that you don't see a need to know how to read and write. Sure, it is hard to learn things, especially as we get older. Anything older than, say, five. But, having a computer is like having a research library at the tips of your fingers. What a wonderful thing that is. The only downside that I can see is that, thanks to the Internet, old romances never die. Ick!

Anyway, I say all this about learning, and yet meanwhile I'm still looking for "files" when my new system lists by "events." And want to click on "icons" when my new system has "widgets", or something like that. But I now have my computer connected to my own wireless network, and my printer connected to that same system as well. I've always wanted to work on my laptop inside, outside, by the fireside and everywhere else, and now that is possible. And I can send to the printer wirelessly! I'm not good at this stuff, so how I managed to do this I'm not quite sure: I just followed the prompts and hoped for the best. Computers are designed to be used by the most right-brain-challenged among us, and that definitely includes me.

The only thing I don't like about my new computer is that it has a camera in it pointing at me. As if! And don't they know you aren't supposed to shoot people from under their chins? Get out.

I thought of buying an iPad along with the Mac, but I decided to do that after I get my new system up and running and gain a little fluency in it. After using the iPhone, I get how the iPad works and why one would be handy, especially when a person is traveling. But they were out of stock of iPads when I went to the Apple store and bought my Mac; the mobs in the store were highly annoying (and so was the salesman); and I figured I could order one soon. Perhaps on Line. And as we all know, thanks to Moore's Law, they will only get better.

I just wish Apple stock weren't quite so expensive.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Misadventures in Bodega Bay and other Weekend Musings

I decided to go exploring for Hitchcock movie locations in Bodega Bay. That was my first mistake.

It was a gorgeous California morning and I rolled onto I-280 early, headed for the Golden Gate Bridge and the little town of Bodega Bay, used by Alfred Hitchcock as the setting for the delightfully silly and horror-filled movie The Birds (1963).

I had all the locations in my head: the general store where Tippi Hedren rents the boat, the pretty bay, across which sits handsome Rod Taylor's farmhouse, the gas station that goes up in flames, the phone booth, the dock where a sea gull musses Tippi's perfect "do." I'll bet it is a pretty, tiny, out-of-the-way spot where few people even know of its association with this half-century old movie, I thought to myself.

Tippi Hedren, keeping a good grip on her Mark Cross handbag, as she runs from the schoolhouse in The Birds.The film has a great cast including Angela Cartwright, Rod Taylor, Suzanne Pleshette, and Jessica Tandy.

Getting across the Golden Gate bridge was a snap that early in the morning, so I was able to multi-task as I drove and admired the view.

All of San Francisco was sunny, except for some lingering fog that huddled around the Golden Gate Bridge. You can see a patch of it at the upper left of this photo I took with my iPhone as I used it as a camera and to find my route with its terrific GPS program.

Once you hit the Marin side of the Bay you still have about sixty more miles to go. Marin county always reminds me of a guy I used to know who constantly talked about how wonderful it would be to live in Marin County.

I once knew a man
Who dreamed of Marin.
But after we parted
He went into a spin.
It must have caused
For he settled in

(That's what happens where you are in the car long enough: you start composing rhymes in your head to pass the time.)

Anyway, I had a little trouble finding Bodega Bay, because once you hit Petaluma, the Chicken Capitol of the World, there is only one sign directing you to Bodega Bay. Must be a sign rationing campaign here, I thought, as I repeatedly consulted my GPS on the iPhone in order to wend my way along the farm roads and hills to the little town.

And even when I got there I couldn't find it. There was a bay all right. And a huge parking lot for about four seafood restaurants that hang over the water. And there were about five large motels on the bay side of Highway 1. But there was no room on the bay side for a little town. And the other side of the highway is a hill, so there is no room for a town on that side either.

"So where's the town?" I asked a sturdy young lady wearing heavy eye make-up when I stopped at a gas station jammed up against the cliffs.

"This is it," she said.

And it was crawling with people, mostly elderly people with large cars, coming and going from the sea food restaurants and wealthy wine-country people in Mercedes Benz convertibles with the cloth tops down and their face lifts up.

Once again I had mistaken a movie for real life.

Rod Taylor with the Master of Suspense.

I turned around and headed back to San Francisco.

Going back across the bridge was a little slower--there is a toll going south--and I'd forgotten the short cuts I used to know to zoom around and get onto Highway 101. So I ended up on Van Ness where it seemed to take about a year between stop lights to go the few miles to the freeway entrance.

I saw lots of interesting San Francisco sights as I inched along. Lots of people in costume, I noted, as I watched an older couple ogle two women dressed in black. Both young women were wearing black top hats. One with black shorts and a tee shirt and the other wearing a black lace bustier, a black thong, a black lace garter belt over the thong, holding up black-and-white striped stockings stuffed into very high heels. Since she was plumpish, she made quite an interesting sight going away.

Wow, I thought, as the clock ticked past three in the afternoon. Seems late to be coming home from a party. But this is San Francisco, after all.

Silly me. As we crawled near the San Francisco Civic Center, I realized what was going on. It was Gay Pride Day and were they having a real party!

I had not done enough planning for this adventure and I paid the price. Didn't get home until 4:30 in the afternoon and the highlight was that lady in the bustier and garter belt with grandma and grampa turning in surprise to watch her walk away.

I did learn from a sign in Bodgea Bay that Tippi Hedren will be appearing at The Tides at Bodega Bay, July 3-July 6 (double check those dates) greeting fans and signing autographs. She is still a stunning woman and I'm sure she'll draw a crowd--though I think I'll miss this one as I've already had my Birds misadventure for the month. Hedren, as you probably know, is Melanie Griffith's mother, and named her daughter Melanie after the character she played in The Birds.

And they both have those tiny little voices.

Hitchcock, by the way, liked Northern California. He had a ranch in Scotts Valley, near Santa Cruz. And he used Santa Rosa as the location for his mystery Shadow of a Doubt (1943). At the time, Santa Rosa was just the kind of self-contained little town that made the story of a visiting serial killer even more creepy.

So instead of Bodega Bay, where there isn't much of a town, nearby Petaluma might have made a better location for The Birds. Petaluma is closer to the interstate and there are many more shooting locations there. Not to mention the place is easier to find for post-movie tourists, like me.

But its claim to fame is chicken farming. And I guess it just wouldn't do to have named his scary movie The Chickens.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Story of the Tongue Plates

Unusual objects d'art have always interested me--especially if you can get them for nothing--and, after sorting through the mountains of curiosities my mother dragged home from garage sales during her lifetime, I realized I had come by this tendency honorably. Thus, it was, I scrounged the Tongue Plates.

I was at a year-out press event for Expo 2000 in Hannover and at the luncheon we were served our meal on these curious plates designed by a European artist with whom I was not familiar. My friend Martin Roth was in charge of the food pavilion, among other things, and he had hired this Spanish fellow to design the plates. "Please," he announced to the crowd at the event, "feel free to take these plates home with you."

The teal green Tongue Plate, designed by artist Antoni Miralda.

Almost no one did. The plates were dominated by a portrait of the artist's tongue, surrounded by scribblings in English and German about food. A map of Hannover was superimposed across the taste buds. Quelle strange!

So, as the crowd filed out, I popped ten of them (I know, I know), still covered with salad dressing and steak, into my trusty nylon carry-on, wrapped my windbreaker around them and stashed the bag in a locker so I wouldn't have to lug the clanking china around the huge Expo site for rest of the day. I had five pink Tongue Plates and five green. I had no idea what the meaning of the plates was supposed to be, but who understands Europeans anyway? I thought they were very funny and, in an odd sort of way, quite lovely. The writing was all in a silvery gilt and the porcelain was really good.

Poking around in my cupboard today, I found my stack of eight plates. I had only eight of them left because on the airplane back to the U.S. my boss expressed an interest in my collection and I gave him one pink and one green. I can't remember if this helped me at work or not, but I think not.

Today, I decided the plates needed to be displayed, if for nothing other than their astonishing conversation value. I'm pretty sure nobody else on my block has one--not to mention a collection of eight! And their colors suit me. So, I bought some of those plate hangers and installed a couple Tongue Plates in my kitchen, which is the only really sensible place to display a tongue.

One of the Tongue Plates, now up in my kitchen.

Looking up news of the artist, I've discovered he is Antoni Miralda and no less than the Museum of Modern Art in New York has several of his works in their collection.

Artist Antoni Miralda with some of his plates, a photo I'm using under Fair Use media laws I hope.

Miralda is a Pop artist known for culinary themes. He began the series of "City Plates" in 1997 for the Istanbul Biennial and carried it into Hannover with the plates I scrounged titled "Hannover Tongue." I looked them up on ebay and found Miralda far too hip for American ebayers--not a thing of his was up for auction, though I didn't check the European sites. The Hannover plates are among his better-looking designs: one plate he made for a Brazil expo had a picture of the Brazilian flag on it with some dog poo in the center in place of the Brazilian stars. Guess I wouldn't have displayed that one in the kitchen. Perhaps in another room with a designated use.

Anyway, I realize now I have a set of very limited edition tongues. And they are in perfect condition in spite of their trip home in my nylon and canvas satchel.

I wonder if MOMA would like them on loan? I still have six of them lying around waiting for just the right venue to lap them up.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Little Slice of America: The Garage Sale

Our driveway at the peak of the fun. My sister is sitting in the distance and my brother-in-law is in the foreground at the checkout table.

Our weekend garage sale had a very small carbon footprint. It was green and it recycled, and, we hope, it made a lot of treasure hunters happy.

The happiest people of all were my sister, my brother-in-law and me. Every single thing that went out our door was one fewer thing we had to deal with, store, or donate. The folks who attended paid us and took away the stuff as a bonus. We even sold my Dad's old ohmmeter, which means someone else can continue to meter all those ohms.

It was a lot of work and even though we made some money, our time factored out at about .10/hour. Still, we did solve some of the mysteries of things our mother had bought at previous garage sales. This chair, for example, which we found stored in a shed:

We scratched our collective heads, trying to figure out why anyone would want it. Then, my sister found the top of the back, and the chair looked like this:

Now we had a chair with a heart-shaped back, and though no one, alas, had the insight to purchase it, me, my mother's daughter, will store it in the garage against the day that I will have it covered and the little heart-shaped chair will be a gorgeous feature of my home. Not to mention a great story about my quirky, artistic mother.

A dealer came, and away went the Fantastic Mr. Fox. (And his accompanying odiforousness.) Look for him at a thrift store near you.

The kitchen rug we had loathed--because we feared it would kill both of our parents, since both repeatedly tripped over it and our mother refused to move it--was a featured item on our front fence.

The braided wool floor covering sold to a nice lady who had a country cabin she was furnishing.

My mother's glamorous costume jewelry was the hit of the sale. All her stylish life she loved glittery, jangly clip on earrings. Little girls of all ethnicity--and some big girls too--thoroughly enjoyed trying them on and taking them away.

A man, recently widowed, bought a strand of Mom's turquoise beads, and I heard him say to himself, "She always loved turquoise."

A Marine veteran of Guadalcanal, a sprightly 87-year-old, bought a History Channel VHS tape about the death of Japan's Admiral Yamamoto. I told him it was on the house.

One woman found two chair skeletons interesting--I'm sure our mother found them at another garage sale. She asked me to send an email photo of them to an upholsterer friend of hers. I loved doing it on my new iPhone.

Once I had dispatched the electronic images, I got the name of her upholsterer. With all the nutty chairs I inherited I'm definitely going to need one.

Someone took the old car top rack. Another person bought the thing you use to scoot under a car. A young man bought our old typewriter--I'm not sure he had ever seen one, since he had my sister demonstrate how it worked. A lady bought our old dial telephone for three dollars: we think she was a dealer. A kid took our old world globe that still had the USSR on it. And Yugoslavia. And Czechoslovakia. A true collector's item.

I'd like to tell you Mom was there in spirit and would have loved it all, which would be the kind of sweet cliche I'd love to end with. But I'm not sure that's true. She loved her things, hated to give them away, and wherever she is I hope she is long past being dismayed at our sharing them with strangers. Dad is the one who would have been happy. For years he stopped at garage sales for Mom and put his head in his hands and bit his tongue, knowing a new load of imaginative junque was headed for his home on Echo.

Wherever he is, he is smiling. We've cleaned and swept his garage. Some nice engineer has his ohmmeter and that gargantuan pipe wrench he no longer needs.

Better you than me, he is saying. But Robin, he would add: why in the heck did you save that wreck of a heart-shaped chair?

I'll let you figure that out.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Garage Sale Alert! My House!

A photo of the garage sale stuff, before we had completed the "fluffing."

If you live in Northern California, don't waste your time this weekend going to see Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach. Come have a ball at my family's garage sale.

I say "my family's garage sale" because I refused to be in charge of it and told my sister if she wanted to have one, I would be happy to be "staff only." I thought of leaving the country, but decided that wouldn't be sporting.

An array of baskets we will have for sale, including a wicker reindeer, something I'll bet you will wish you had at Christmas this year!

Holy cow, you ought to see the stuff. Of course I have seen the stuff. I saw it the first time I cleaned out the closets, after the deaths of both my parents. At that time I wrote that sorting through the memorabilia, clothes, knickknacks and collectibles was a cross between a treasure hunt and a nervous breakdown. A lot of the things I didn't want, I piled in the garage. This week I saw them a second time as we have sorted and priced them for the weekend.

This is one of the more interesting items we have for sale: we don't know where our mother got the dead fox fur, but we suspect she bought it at a garage sale, so we feel we are only recycling it. It has a dubious odor.

A gargantuan pipe wrench. What did Dad use it for? A pretty gray coat we remember our mother wearing when we were children: gathered in the back with a half belt. So classy. Pieces of chairs. Skeletons of chairs. Old chairs. Chairs you might like that I don't particularly. Picture frames. More picture frames. And more and more.

We have a lot of stuff.

That is Mom's checked coat. The red jacket goes to a suit I wore as an ROTC Colonel's Coed at U.C. Santa Barbara.

My sister and her husband are out putting up the signs around Los Altos, even as I wrote this. If you want an old IBM Selectric typewriter, or can give that old fox a home, please stop in. Bring your own coffee. And please: don't walk on the grass!

Garage sale at 911 Echo Drive, Los Altos, California 94024. Friday, June 18, 2010and Saturday, June 19, 2010, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Cash only.

The fabulous Mr. Fox resting on the old IBM Selectric as he gets ready to find a new home at the Chapman/Friday/Saturday Garage Sale.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Gardens of Stone

My father's marker is in. The lady called from the cemetery to let me know. When I stopped by to see it, I reckoned without the power of the tangible to bring back sorrow.

I know my father is not there under that headstone, and that he is much better off now than when he was old and ill and hanging onto his life. But I'm still mad at him for leaving me.

The Department of Veterans Affairs took care of all the details of the headstone and that is one of the reasons I'm sharing it with you. If you have a veteran in your family--even if they are long out of the service--the VA will pay for and have carved the marker. Your funeral director will have the paperwork, or you can call the VA toll free at 1-800=697-6947. They have both bronze and granite markers. I like the bronze ones better, but the mean lady at the cemetery said they don't "do bronze."

"Born of Freedom" was the motto of my father's last reserve unit, the 351st Civil Command, and I thought it was a fitting epitaph for him. He was born of freedom and risked his life to pass that privilege on to the rest of us.

What a legacy that is!

He served in both war and peace--remaining in the reserves and giving up a lot of weekends to make sure he was in training in case he and the others in his unit were needed again, in those scary Cold War days.

His country honored him for his service in life, with awards and a high rank. Now they have honored him in death. And though I viewed the marker through my tears I was proud to see it there. I thought I might come home and move the flag at the house from half staff back to full staff.

But I'm not ready to do that. Not just yet.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Modest Price of Luxury

An orchid greenhouse where I like to shop in Half Moon Bay. And yes, that ten dollar price you see on the sign means ten dollars per plant.

With company coming this weekend, I began to ponder how I might make the rooms of my house really sparkle. Orchids are a wonderful way to do that. So I made a quick trip to the orchid greenhouses at Half Moon Bay, California. Best of all: I was able to do it at budget prices.

Orchids all in a row at the California greenhouse.

You may have noticed that the price of orchids everywhere these days is amazingly low. You can find all kinds of them at local grocery stores all over America for something slightly under or slightly over twenty dollars per plant. For the once exotic orchid, prices have gone Costco!

They are even less expensive at the greenhouses in Half Moon Bay, because the greenhouses are one stop on the orchids' way to your local store.

What has happened is this: automation has entered the world of orchid growing. In Taiwan, they've figured out a way to propagate, hybridize, and nurture this sensitive epiphyte ("air plant") using machines; so they are producing them by the hundreds of thousands. The baby plants love the tropic heat and humidity of China. When the orchids mature, they are shipped to greenhouses on the California coast where the mild, sunny weather is just right to make the plants bloom.

The buds are out and these plants from Taiwan are now being nurtured in California so they will be ready to sell to retail outlets.

All this automation has made hybridizing easier too, so all kinds of new colors and quirky patterns are available. The growers have gone way beyond the plain white and fuschia colors of the past.

A few examples of the varieties available in orchid colors ...

If you live near the California coast, you owe yourself a trip to the orchid greenhouses. If you don't: now you know why the price of orchids is so reasonable and why you shouldn't hesitate to scatter them around your house the way Liz Taylor used to fling her fur coats around. Gorgeous, darlings, just gorgeous.

Only one problem. I might have to get myself a bigger car!

The greenhouse I visited is called ePlantWorld and is on Highway 92 (12511 San Mateo Road 94109) in Half Moon Bay, California. The owner is HeeSeung Lee and his web page is

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wednesday Musings: Helen Thomas, Anti-Semitism, and the iPhone

Have you read about Helen Thomas, the famous White House reporter and her latest escapade? I used to run into her during the years I was a Washington reporter. When I would see her at the White House, she always treated me with respect and, I think, treated the presidents she covered with respect. She has covered every president since Eisenhower and she was always tough, and that was her job.

But she's in trouble now.

During the George W. Bush administration she became downright rude (she was quoted as calling him the "worst president in American history") and for her lack of diplomacy--one might call it bias--she spent three years in purgatory sitting the back row of briefings and not being called on at press conferences. White House reporters always have opinions about the presidents they cover: but they need to keep these to themselves. The Obama swoon we've seen from the Washington press is something we shouldn't be seeing.

Anyway, about Helen Thomas' latest fall on her keister. She made some really unpleasant, anti-Semitic remarks as she was leaving the White House, to a young man wearing a yarmulke. He had taken his son to see the White House and the two of them were doing the tourist thing, "interviewing" people who left the White House gate, and using a small video camera. The conversation went like this:

Nesenoff: Any comments on Israel? We're asking everybody today, any comments on Israel?
Thomas: Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. (laughs)
Nesenoff: Oooh. Any better comments on Israel?
Thomas: (still laughing) Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land. It's not German, it's not Poland ...
Nesenoff: So where should they go, what should they do?
Thomas: Go home.
Nesenoff: Where is the home?
Thomas: Poland. Germany.
Nesenoff: So you're saying the Jews go back to Poland and Germany?
Thomas: And America and everywhere else.

Thomas is from a family of Lebanese immigrants.

When I read what she said I thought that perhaps, at 89, her brain was doing what I had seen my own father's brain do: it had a non-working edit button. It worked out that way with my mother a bit too, though she didn't have the diagnosed dementia excuse. Dad would say things he would never have thought of saying in the past: he told Mom she needed a face lift! He told a young relative she was fat! All his life he had been a thoughtful, compassionate person and these were not characteristic remarks.

That having been said, he had enough brainpower left to know that people expected an old man from Alabama to be a racist and even in his diminished state he went out of his way to make sure everyone, black, white, brown and otherwise, knew that he felt America was a place where racism did not belong. He was childlike in the way he expressed it, but it was clear he tried hard not to do what Helen Thomas ended up doing.

So, when I try to put the best construction on these unpleasant remarks she's made, I have to wonder if her brain isn't working right, that she is just repeating long-buried remarks she heard in her Lebanese family as a child, and now her edit button isn't working and they popped out. She has apologized for what she said. But the Hearst Corp, where she has been working since UPI was taken over by the Moonies, has retired her. That is the right outcome. If she's a anti-Semite, she hadn't ought to be working for an outfit like Hearst. And if she's losing it, well, then it is time to retire.

I hate what she said. But I do feel a little bit sorry for her. It is a sad way for a woman like Helen Thomas to end her career.

* * *

The world has changed so much since she began reporting and using a typewriter to file her reports with a "wire service." We all have our own news outfits now--in a manner of speaking--and I've been reminded of that in recent days as I've discovered how my new iPhone has changed the way I use my computer.

With the iPhone, I can check and send my email from anywhere I happen to be and I find that I tend not to differentiate between whether I'm texting one of my nieces or emailing my sister. It is all pretty much the same on the iPhone. The phone is small and handy, so I find myself walking into my office and using my laptop less and less.

It isn't easy to write a long article such as this one on an iPhone, so the computer with a keyboard will always be necessary, as far as I can tell. But for the smaller messages--even ones that include photos--it is much easier to use the phone.

Apple is so smart. The iPhone included a charger (most of the phones I've had in the last few years required that I buy a charger to fit them) and when you remove a piece of the charger it fits into a port on your computer so you can download your photos. It also included earbuds with a tiny microphone, another gadget I've had to buy for each new phone I've bought in the past.

Even for gadget-challenged people, the iPhone is easy to learn and use. Absolutely user-friendly. I'm now so sold on Apple, I am seriously considering getting a Mac instead of a PC for my next computer. I also understand now, why someone would use an iPad. Try lugging your laptop onto an airplane and carrying it around with you through the streets of Dublin, and you'll "get" the iPhone and iPad. Steve Jobs says the PC is the "truck" of the past and the iPad is the car.

He's probably right. Anyone who writes things longer than one paragraph will still need a computer that works like a typewriter. But I'm loving this new device and highly recommend it to everyone.

I just hope Helen Thomas doesn't use one to produce podcasts.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Weekend Painting Project And ... There's a Hole in My Living Room (Decor)

My kitchen this weekend. The adobe color on the moulding trim (at right) is new and you can see it is similar in color to the new tiles on Stove Island (at left). The blue isn't part of the decor: that is the color of the painting tape.

I've had one more painting project to tackle in the kitchen and I had to get it done before the handyman arrived on Monday. Painting the moulding or trim beneath the kitchen counter tile, and also painting the new moulding that will be installed around Stove Island.


It isn't a big job. But first I had to find the right color (it took two trips to the paint store) and then I had to prep the area and then I had to sand it and then paint several coats. In between the coats you have to wait around. Drying you know.

And in between that, one still has to use one's kitchen. Drink of water: that sort of thing. And that sort of thing is what makes this sort of project very un-fun. The mess part.

The original trim color adjacent to the new color on this two-tier moulding.

The original color of the trim was the deep red color of the old Spanish tiles. It looked good. But I used a different (yet, compatible) tile on Stove Island when I put in a new stove. SI needed a piece of trim added around the bottom of the tile to cover the original trim that was removed when the original tile was demolished. There is always one more thing.

This photo shows Stove Island just after the installation of the new Italian tiles. You can't see it but it needs a piece of moulding just where the tiles meet the wood of the island.

I thought the dark red of the trim a few feet away would be too dark for both trims. And I didn't want trim in two different colors. So, first I tried painting the trim a sort of mushroom color. Didn't like that, but that was early Friday. By Saturday, I was sure I needed more of an adobe/Italian tile color and was back at the paint store.

I got it right on the second try. This color is red enough for the red tile, and pink enough for the Italian tile. The trim around the stove is drying outside and will be installed by the handyman (you need a miter box for that) and by the time he gets here the trim around the counter should be dry, so it won't smudge when he bumps into it with his belt buckle, as he inevitably will. I should only have to do a little touch up in the places he cuts and installs the new moulding.

While I've been painting I've been pondering a hole in my living room. Well, in the decor in my living room.

As I look down into the living room from the entry toward the fireplace, I can see the beauty of the room's cathedral ceiling. But I keep thinking I need something dramatic up there in the space over the fireplace. I just can't think what it is. I mean a statement thing like the Rose Window at Chartres. Only this not being a church I don't want an icon--or an Icon--if you will.

So I've been poking around architectural salvage and antique stores looking for just the right gargoyle or whatnot to put there.

This is the other end of the living room. That end of the room isn't having any trouble at all making a statement, what with the hunt board and all those copper kettles I've put up there.

This isn't what you would call a big problem. But I'm open to suggestions. Should it be a chandelier? Antlers? A moose head?

Putting these things in my brain and letting them rattle around until the right thing hits me is how I solve these decor things. For example, take the color I needed for the trim in the kitchen: I knew what it was. I just didn't realize it. You see, it wasn't until I walked across the kitchen and headed to my computer to write this blog post that I saw where I had taken the trim color from:

Trim color in the kitchen.

Chair in kitchen.

I had used the same color two years ago in the background of a needlepoint tapestry I made for an oak chair I've had for two decades. The chair was across the room from the counter and Stove Island. It had been there all along.

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