Friday, April 24, 2009

Desk Done

In spite of spilling paint on the lawn, I finally finished that desk that I wrote about a while back.

Here's another look at the monstrous little thrift store find:

There's a keyboard slide-out above when some child has marked in orange sharpie. Except it's missing a lip.

Here you can see where K replaced it (after I'd given the rest its first coat):

That was before I dropped the paint.

Here's a look at the accent color around the panel of one of the drawer fronts:

It didn't work. I originally had it around the trim of the desk, too. Yuck.

Now, here's the fun part. I bought this placemat at BB & B for $1.99:

And because I stink at measuring, I made a template out of wax paper for the center of the door front:

And used it to measure my placemat:

And cut:

Stuck the placemat on the center panel and added new knobs (from Target):

And here's my new desk:

I'm not sure why, but I'm noticing a pattern. I seem to have found a way to sneak a tropical print into three different rooms. As much as I'd like to, I cannot stick to the Craftsman thing. My inner colonialist, Empire-building Queen Victoria gets to me every time.

It's not that I love the tropics. I don't, particularly. I'm just drawn to the colonial thing.

Or maybe I just like leaves? I really do like leaves.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What Did You Do for Mother Earth Today?

My Earth Day was as any other work day for me. I drove my car the 13 miles to work. Will drive it back home as soon as I finish this post.

At least I didn't drive it out for lunch today, preferring the nutrition of popcorn enjoyed at my desk.

But I did one thing. Last night I brought home my office shredding. I will use it in lieu of colored tissue in birthday gifts this weekend. I will also be using hoarded shopping bags instead of fresh new gift bags. The recipient will not be receiving a gift from Victoria's Secret. It will only appear that way. The gift itself is made from recycled materials.

This is part of our "reduce your carbon footprint" birthday celebration. My plan is to actually take the subway to my destination on Sunday. I've only taken the LA subway system twice before. I'm a little anxious. Don't know why. I've traveled by underground rail all over London, New York, Mexico City, Rome, Paris and in cities I've forgotten. Why does this adventure in my own city seem so exotic ?

Here's a funny thing the birthday girl just sent me: On the first Earth Day in 1970, Time Magazine noted: At the Continental Congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington last week, a delegate from Mississippi declared: "Subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them."

Heaven forbid that American children should live in an environment that is good for them.

Happy Earth Day.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

When Trees Grow in Bad Places

Sometimes trees grow in the wrong places. Like in my front yard, the eastern side is completely crowded with trees while the western side has none.

Or none that really count.

But on the eastern half there’s this huge ficus on the parkway.

That's a city planted tree. We had it professionally pruned once. And then three months later the city decided they would prune it too. Now we’re afraid to spend the money to have it pruned again. But it is way out of control and it only took couple of months after its second trimming to get that way.

In the yard we have the Japanese persimmon tree.

It took me months to figure out the foul, garbage-y smell that seemed to emanate from my neighbor’s yard. How I cursed our former neighbor. Oops. It was the fruiting persimmon tree. K loves a good persimmon. Too bad the squirrels love them too. And the squirrels are home more often to collect the fruit in its prime. So K seldom enjoys a nice, ripe persimmon.

I don’t know what that tree behind the persimmon is called. I call it a stick tree. It stands in the neighbor’s yard and drops green sticks all over our roof.

There’s the Australian tree fern that I myself planted before I knew better.

And then there’s my neighbor’s pomegranate tree and the split leaf philodendron. These plants creep over the fence and mingle with my own trees. It’s like a rainforest around here.

But the real standout is the huge Norfolk Pine tree that somebody planted smack in the middle of one tiny half of my tiny, tiny yard.

Really, this tree has no business growing on this parcel. I think it started out as a transplanted Christmas tree. Since we’ve owned the house it’s probably grown another third in height and blocks any sunlight that might make it past the ficus to one of the other trees.

We used to have a view of downtown from our front porch.

But we haven't seen that view in years now.

As crowded as it is out there, we haven’t the heart to cut down any of them. As a result we enjoy a fairly cool house, even in the summer and without air conditioning, at least on the eastern side of the house.

But there’s no doubt, that tree is growing in a really bad place.

But not as bad as this fir tree, as reported by the The Sun UK with text and graphics thieved here:

A PATIENT who had surgery to remove a suspected tumour was told: You had a FIR TREE in your lung.
Medics are convinced Artyom Sidorkin, 28, inhaled a seed which sprouted inside him.
And after opening him up, they found what they described as a perfectly-formed 2in spruce sapling.

Artyom sought medical help after having agonising chest pains and coughing up blood.
An X-ray showed what looked like a cancerous tumour — and he was wheeled into the theatre at Izhevsk hospital in the Urals region of Russia.
Surgeon Vladimir Kamashev, who performed the operation, said: “I thought I was hallucinating.

“I told my assistant, ‘Come and see this — we’ve got a fir tree here.’ He nodded in shock.
“I blinked three times, sure I was seeing things.”
Artyom, now recovering after the op, said: “To be honest I did not feel any foreign object inside me.
“But I’m just so relieved it’s not cancer.”

Whoa. That tree grew in a really bad place.

Don't you love that delightful illustration of the sapling's journey?

See the actual story here:

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's Bungalow Heaven Home Tour Time Again!!!

I think I might be hooked on home tours. On April 26th, I’ll be attending the Bungalow Heaven Home Tour for at least the 4th year in a row. Last year I took my mother-in-law. This year I’ll be taking two friends as a birthday present. Home tour as present? How house-geeky is that? It’s the first BHHT for my friends, but they swear they’ve always wanted to go and just never got around to ordering tickets. After this year, maybe they’ll be hooked too.

Here’s what I love about the Bungalow Heaven Home Tours. They satisfy two needs. One – I learn about restoration of Craftsman style bungalows and get ideas and inspiration for my own home renovation and Two – I get to play the voyeuse. I love looking into other people’s houses. I love to see the choices they’ve made in their renovations. I love to imagine the lives they live and how they spend their time at home. I love to imagine myself living in these beautifully restored historic homes.

I prefer to take my neighborhood walks in the evening. Why? So as not to soak up too many UV rays? Nah. So that I can peek into lit windows. I love looking into other people’s houses. If everyone in my neighborhood would sell tickets and let me look into their houses, I’d buy them.

Maybe that’s why I go to theatre – to glimpse into the lives of people who are not I. (actually, that’s exactly why I go to theatre.) There is little in our lives that is as revealing as the choices we make for our homes, especially if we’ve endured a long renovation to get what we got.

This year’s home tour is a week from Sunday so you still have time to plan. Tickets are usually available on the day of the tour if you like the last minute kind of thing.

This post joins the
Hooked on Fridays blog party at Julia’s Drop by today and read what other bloggers are hooked on this weekend. And then order those home tour tickets.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why the Easter Bunny Was Hopping Mad This Year

I had every intention of writing this on Easter Day. I took the pictures on Easter Day. I swear to Bacchus, I snapped every one of the following pictures on Easter Day. But then I got busy. You know how that is.

So besides being mad at me for being so tardy with this post, the Easter Bunny is also mad at my neighbors. Why? Because so many of them STILL haven’t put away their Christmas decorations!

The last time we discussed this it was Groundhog Day. That was bad enough but this is getting ridiculous. How can we truly celebrate Easter if we’re still enjoying the trimmings of holidays past?

Like this reindeer, still on my neighbor’s porch:

Or this jolly St. Nick, smiling from a nearby lawn:

The last time I groused this complaint, I’d totally walked past the tired wreath on this tired stucco wall:

And this was the first time I’d noticed this reindeer pair that still stands on a neighboring rooftop:

Somebody clear them for takeoff already.

But I think if this Joseph and Wise Guy get taken in, I just might miss them. I drive past them every day on my way to work and I always check to see if they’re still there.

The weird thing is, they get moved around. Not much, but a little. You’d think that whoever is relocating them and occasionally re-setting them upright, you’d think that person would get a clue and just put them away for the season.
Sometimes I consider sending letters to all these offenders. But is that who I want to be? The crabby crone who scolds her neighbors by snail mail? I was born with a gift for tsk-tsking. But maybe I shouldn't develop that talent.

I have a feeling that next year, unless we get our act together, this ‘hood is in for a lot of empty baskets.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Taxman Stinketh

Sorry, Eugene O'Neill. But he does. Stinketh, that is.

All day this past Sunday I procrastinated. Then, at around 7:30, I could dally no longer. I had to do our taxes this weekend so that I could have a buffer weekend in case anything went wrong.

The only bit of information with which I was fully prepared before firing up the Turbo Tax was the cost of the six new windows we bought last year. Didn't have my donation details handy. Had to scrounge around for vehicle registration info. Totally forgot about gathering up the interest earned statements (not that there was so much anyway.) But I knew exactly how much we spent on the windows. Since we dropped a fair chunk of change on windows in '08, I have been ready for that tax credit all year.

But when I got to the part about energy saving home improvements, there was no prompt for declaring new energy efficient windows and doors. Just a bunch solar panel this and hybrid that. Blah, blah, blah.

What tha????

Well . . . checking the IRS web site, I found this disturbing little tidbit:

"The non-business energy property credit for insulation, exterior windows, exterior doors, furnaces, water heaters and other energy-saving improvements to a main home is not available in 2008 but will return in 2009."

That woeful bit of information can be found at:,,id=202106,00.html

There's some kind of Ottoman Empire tax credit but nothing for new windows???

And the only year the credit is not available is for the year that we bought most of our new windows??? Which are the last windows we're going to buy, by the way. That's it. We aren't buying windows in 2009. Every god-awful crappy window in this god-forsaken house has been replaced and most of them were replaced in 2008, the one year they're not giving out the credit???

Yep. He stinketh, all right.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Further Proof That I Should Be Living in the Lap of Luxury . . .

And why is it that I should be exempt from making any contribution of labor? It is not that I am superior. The opposite. Can I still use the "M" word? Is it off the roster yet?

So shoot me. I'll say it. I am a moron.

Here's the short version - I needed a desk. I bought one for cheap. It needed paint and Oops! There goes about a full quart of paint, slipping though my Lilliputian fingers like dollars from an AIG bailout.

The longer version - A couple of months ago, we bought this desk at Out of the Closet for the excellent price of $30.

I needed a desk for the library/dressing room and this was one of the few I'd found that wasn't too big for the space. Plus, it was $30. So I figured I'd paint it up, give it a special decorative touch and I could call that room "done."

I then bought some test paints at Sherwin Williams for the excellent price of $5 per quart. It's a good thing I got the testers because this accent color just didn't work.

OK, then no accent color.

Then came bronchitis. Painting a top coat of proper paint would have to wait.

Once I felt better K schlepped the desk onto the lawn and placed it on top of a discarded door where I could paint in sunshine. Meanwhile, he left to pick up his mom so we could take her out to a birthday brunch.

He wasn't gone ten minutes when I managed to let the paint can slip from my hand, dumping about 3/4 of a quart of paint, much of it pouring onto the lawn. It was a mini-environmental disaster.

Why did I think it would be a good idea to hold the can while I painted? My hands are tiny. Really, they are. I should have known I wouldn't get a good grip on a can of paint, even a quart-sized can.

So, faced with a puddle of paint on my lawn and a partially-painted desk drying in the sun, I tucked a piece of cardboard under the edge of the door to block some of the flow onto the lawn, dipped into the puddle and continued with the desk.

But while I was trying to figure out how to clean up the paint, this strange cat wanders by, almost through the puddle.

When I tried to shoo her, she paused and posed as if to jump on the wet desk! Shoo! Shoo!

Stupid cat.

These things never happen on HGTV.

So the Question of the Day is - Does home ownership, in addition to separating the Haves from the Have-Nots also separate the Ept from the Inept? The Gifted from the Goofballs?

Of course, I know several Super-Haves who are no more competent than I. But they're not out on their front lawns, tarting up their thrift store desks.

I really wanted to do a good job on this desk. But I'm just not cut out for this kind of thing.

The gods are clear - all of them - Isis, Quetzalcoatl, Thor, Athena. They know I should be viewing the world from the comfort of a sedan chair, not wrestling with paint cans and stray cats who threaten to wander through paint puddles and leap onto my freshly (if ineptly) painted desk.

If not, why would the gods have sent the cat to taunt me?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Survey LA

If you're wandering around downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, the 4th, looking for something to do, I suggest you check out the meeting of SurveyLA, the Los Angeles Historic Resources Survey, held by The Office of Historic Resources at the LA Central Library - I wish I'd known about this before but I just found out about it this morning.

The official description from their web site is:
SurveyLA – the Los Angeles Historic Resources Survey – is Los Angeles' first-ever comprehensive program to identify significant historic resources throughout our city. The survey marks a coming-of-age for Los Angeles' historic preservation movement, and will serve as a centerpiece for the City’s first truly comprehensive preservation program.

Also from their site:

The groundbreaking citywide Historic Resources Survey will serve as the primary planning tool to identify, record and evaluate historic properties and districts within Los Angeles, and will form the foundation for a comprehensive and proactive municipal historic preservation program.

Because 85% of Los Angeles has never been surveyed, City officials, preservationists and community leaders cannot know all significant historic resources throughout the city. Frequently, preservation advocates or neighborhood associations initiate a last-ditch effort to save a historic building or structure, often at the point when a demolition permit is pending or a planning entitlements process is already underway. When this occurs, property owners or developers understandably feel blind-sided, having already performed due diligence on a property and found no indication of historic designations. Property owners and developers frequently maintain that they want greater certainty -- if they have information about a site up-front, they can plan accordingly.

You can check it out for yourself at Maybe you could help turn your own neighborhood into an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone.