Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wanna See the Beach House Part II

Part I found here.

Tree House found here.

...And linking up with Cari for Theme Thursday: Out, because that's what I do!

These are after pictures that really are going to show like before pictures. You see, this place was a wreck. The dear priest who serves at the church on this barrier island in Southwest Florida dubbed this island, "Home of the million dollar shacks." Because that is precisely what they are. This house was built in 1932, and is probably one of the oldest still standing homes on the island, the others lost to old fashioned Florida decay and oh!, hurricanes.

The land this house is built on is its only value, and we have the luxury of renting it because the overseas company who bought it several years ago for an obscene amount of money are waiting to either demolish and rebuild, or simply sell to someone else who will.  

And while the inside of the cottage is in fairly nice condition, the outside has basically been ignored time out of mind.

clean. shell.

Let's start at what I call the back and what Joseph calls the front, in a very heavy and not friendly ongoing argument. Originally, the wood stairs and doorway you see above did not exist, and were added later because we moderns enjoy easy car to home convenience. Obi, peaceful mediator and also carrying the architect card, says that architecturally speaking, the front of the house is Gulf side, but practically speaking, the driveway is on the road side and could therefore be classified as the front. Whatever, I'm right.

Up until several weeks ago, the front yard was a wild mess of weed, dirt, dirt, weed, sticks, dirt, leaves from the past ten years, weeds, and dirt. 

This is how the girls spent their summer 

We discovered through raking, digging, and whining, that there is an actual concrete curbed driveway, which we excavated. Obi payed someone with a some kind of machinery (a digger?) to level the dirt patch out front. The management company agreed to pay for a load of shell to be delivered if we would install it. So we did! Before, really, it was simply a long mud pit, fun for pigs and certain members of the Family Es, but not so good for my long lost friend, Sanity.

Isaac watching the dumping of the shell, he actually shouted,
"Let's do this!" to the driver.

I chose, much to my family's chagrin, to close off the "new door" and only use the original ones. Because I'm crazy. And it also helps with crowd/dirt control. And we also are using that interior space as a lovely pantry. 

Baby Bear's bike. And Baby Bear's Baby brother's bike, too.

Also in the dirt patch/back/front is their amazing tree house, featured here. The tire swing is new, in place of the rope of death. Joseph spent three Unschooling days mastering knots to make this.  He also came up with the brilliant board in the tire idea which really works beautifully.

We will be planting grass here. That's planting it. Not sure it will grow, so it still isn't really safe/clean for your kids to come and play.

Moving around to the Gulf side...

Joseph also built this lovely path, and this weekend we plan on finishing it with more shell underneath and stepping stones. Now that will be nice and clean delivery to our doorstep!

Shade and privacy are offered to the front door by way of this beautiful cluster of sea grape trees/bushes? I don't know. But guess what? They produce sea grapes, and what a mess!  They have almost all dropped, but it was a constant mush out there. Obi has saved a bunch and will be making sea grape wine. I can't make this stuff up, Web Log, even if I tried.

The house is on stilts, of course, and the stilts are hidden by the beautiful brick wall and absolutely charming doorways all around the bottom. Makes you feel like you are in some enchanted place, when really you are going down to a frog-infested basement to spray for bugs. It's the little things.

Obi built this enclosure around the outdoor shower for privacy. Really, you can't get sand out  of your suit unless you take the suit off, let's be real.  We will be painting it white to match. Oh, someday.

I can just feel the sea grapes squishing under my feet.
As the pictures attest, it has rained and rained. This is hurricane season. We bleached those stairs above when we first moved in. Time to do it again.

Obi fixed our ill-fated gazebo so that it won't fly away, and we are just waiting to get some use of it.  The bank of windows above was originally a front porch. It must have been lovely, really. But with it enclosed the home is so much bigger, and the view from our living room is quite literally worth more than a million bucks. Regularly we watch dolphins playing in the waves from our couch, their fins pointing skyward, and ever so often they leap in pure bliss. That is happiness. And so much better than Arrested Development Season 4.

The Beach House is separated from the water by about a 200 meter dash, with the beautiful sea oats and vegetation in between. Not twenty years ago, high tide came to the very sea wall of this house. But man and nature have conspired to lengthen the island at this point. I believe the shore line of barrier islands is ever-evolving, which makes it all the more interesting.

Thanks for stopping by! Just a few more projects inside and we are on to showing the Web Log the interior of this little shack, the House of Es. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Do You Suggest a Haircut?

Yesterday at Church I was in the cry room with the little ones. Someone complimented me on my two little blonde daughters.

Well Gosh...


Friday, September 20, 2013

Theme Thursday Casualty

Never say I haven't suffered for my art. Yesterday morning I was bouncing around ignoring unschooling Joseph and Jake and the Neverland Pirates addict Isaac, setting up a photo shoot for Theme Thursday: Store, and getting more and more frustrated that I stink at this stuff, and I still haven't gotten my nice camera fixed, when it happened.

Seriously, this is the best pic I got, and excuse the sailor language over here
on the Web Log, but wth is up with that pine cone photo bomb?
Why exactly did I think this display needed more texture/distraction?

Well, the theme is store, and come on, this weekend I went to look at Goodwill for dishes, because I'm such a klutz I have once again broken almost all of them, (really, me and me alone, almost all of them) when I found this beautiful set, actually from Williams and Sonoma, and made in Portugal, and would honestly have cost between $300-$400, for only:

For the whole set! But that's not all, folks, it was half price day! Seriously, how often do you go to Goodwill on a whim, looking specifically for something, find a far better item than you ever, ever could have wished for, and find it's half price!

I think I was feeling a little too lucky, a little too confident, and a little too frustrated that I take such dumb pictures of beautiful things. 

So I was walking past Joseph and spilled my coffee, because I always do. And walking past him again to get a rag, I decided to give him a little tickle, because I always do, but my foot fell right onto the spilled coffee, and my head hit the actual floor. Right on my geek glasses.

And there was lots and lots of blood and gore. The kind gentleman who stitched me up (12 tiny plastic surgeon stitches)said I hit an artery, and the dern glasses went all the way to the bone.

I blame Donaldson and her far fetched themes.

Anyway, come on over for a nice cup of Joe in a beautiful, half priced Goodwill cup. I'm great company!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Desultory Thoughts on The Moviegoer

Linking up with Housewife Spice, the best name in the biz, for What We are Reading Wednesday!

I read The Moviegoer by Walker Percy knowing nothing more about it than that it came highly recommended by People Who Know Good Things, and I had heard the phrase, "fundamentally Catholic," bantered about. But I had also heard it referred to as "overrated existentialist ramblings," so you know I just couldn't wait to dig in.

Virtually plotless and almost devoid of action, Percy's introspective novel is the narrative experience of a post-war New Orleans stockbroker, Jack Bolling, on the eve of his 30th birthday. Falling into a series of meaningless relationships, business pursuits and junkets, Bolling has spent the preceding years grasping at anything that will quell the inner malaise he fears is swallowing him and the rest of the world whole. He awakens one morning to discover that "a search," indefinable in nature, has been aroused within him. He interprets this as a sign of life, an escape from "everydayness." Jack describes, "To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair." A curt existentialist rejection that the search is for "the meaning of life" or for Religion brings the reader into Bolling's mindset that the action of the search itself is an anti-death and rejection of complacency. The Moviegoer chronicles the few days after Jack has discovered this yearning, studying life around him in search of clues.  

Honestly, even I don't want to read my own analysis of Bolling and the tragic figure Kate as they wade toward each other through the mucky mid-century waters of Death by Apathy, but I will tell you what I love. 

I love Percy's easy, descriptive, matter of fact tone, his courteous refusal to leave the reader behind in psychological babble or odd symbolism with indeterminate conclusions.  Instead Jack walks right along with his listener, relaying his thoughts, memories, mysteries and conclusions as easily as a recipe for pecan pie. We know when and why Jack perceives what he perceives, why he feels he is onto something, a "clue" in his search. Most importantly, why he grimly cannot grasp that essential key placed just beyond his tepid soul's reach.

I love the similarities I see in my own narcissistic wanderings, my own continual battle against Deadness. Jack calls himself "the moviegoer" because, as he says, he is "always happy in a movie;" in fact, the theater he frequents proclaims, "Where Happiness Costs So Little." Which is mainly the way I feel about reading. He finds within films, as I do in books, not just an escape from the "sinking into everydayness," but a full on display of characters on a quest, and in earnest, which is a comfort. Unfortunately, he finds, as I do, that quite often the hero comes to the wrong, happy conclusion. The film ends with an ever after that is nothing more than discovering that he no doubt "settles down with a vengeance. In two weeks' time he is so sunk in everydayness that he might just as well be dead."

I love the tragic, mentally unstable and lovely Kate, Jack's Aunt's step-daughter whose charm and fortune have made her a favorite, her own psychological incapacity for happiness keeping her at arm's length with sanity. While as much unlike the alluring Kate as another lady can be, I identify with her nervous passion and despondency, and I believe she is the only individual, real or fictionalized, that shares my tendency for tearing my thumbs to shreds as a pastime. A true analysis of my mental state can be quickly surmised by a visual survey of how much abuse my thumbs have endured. Jack's repeated descriptions of Kate's poor thumbs as she loses her grip on life almost scared me into stopping the habit (almost.)  And I have come to the same conclusion about life that poor Kate comes to, a turning point, of sorts. "If God were to tell me: Kate, here is what I want you to do; you get off this train right now and go over there to that corner by the Southern Life and Accident Insurance Company and stand there for the rest of your life and speak kindly to people-you think I would not do it? You think I would not be the happiest girl in Jackson, Mississippi? I would." 

I would, too, Kate. But instead, we will no doubt spend the wee hours of the night contemplating right choices, right actions and scraping our thumbs.

I love Bolling's excavation of the trappings of others' souls: as Jack navigates his own quest, everyone around him is subject to his contemplation and dissection. The subject of this passage was a lonely bus passenger, and quite frankly the closest description of myself I have ever heard, (well, if I were a guy and lived his life, you know what I mean...)

"To put him out of his misery, I go over and ask him how he likes his book... I have identified him through his shyness...merely a romantic. Now he closes his book and stares hard at it as if he would, by dint of staring alone, tear from it its soul in a word. 'It's-very good,' he says at last and blushes. The poor fellow. He has just begun to suffer from it, this miserable trick the romantic plays upon himself: of setting just beyond his reach the very thing he prizes just as such a meeting, the chance meeting with a chance friend on a chance bus, a friend he can talk to, unburden himself of some of his terrible longings. Now having encountered such a one, me, the rare bus friend, of course he strikes himself dumb...He is a moviegoer, though he doesn't go to movies."

Arriving at the kind of non-conclusion the reader expects, I don't mind telling you that the story ends with a sense of hope, a sense that the search, although inconclusive, is worth pursuing, that Jack isn't after-all destined to live out simply the horrid happy ending of the actors in the movies. There is more to it than that. So maybe, if you're into plotless, internal sojourns relayed with candor, you'll probably enjoy it. 

If you ask me, I'll tell you, "It's-very good."

Monday, September 16, 2013

Momo: Author of Nihilism II

Original Nihilist take on the world here.

[Editor's note: Naomi told this eerie tale while walking back from the beach through the sea oats the other night, just at dusk. It was so lucky to get her picture taken in the actual event of telling.]

Once upon a time...

There was a witch who wanted to destroy the world.

And so she did.

But first! There were two sisters, Blaomi and BlanneMarie, who knew what she was doing. They said to her,

"We know who you are! You are our aunt and you are a witch, and you are trying to destroy the world, but we are going to stop you!"

But the witch said,

"No you won't, little girls, haaa haaa haaa!

"I will take a hair from each of your heads and find a spell that will kill you, then no one will ever be able to stop me!"

The two sisters tried to stop her from getting a strand of their hair, but they couldn't.

The witch took their hair and used it to make a spell that killed  them.

And so the sisters died.

Then there was no one to stop the witch, and so...

She destroyed the world!

me not b'lieve it

Friday, September 13, 2013

Seven Quick Takes

Doing the Quick Take Thing!


Have you heard this song? Probably not. But you should, so press play and listen to me chat away (there is no video!) I love how it is called "The Gambler."


I got to meet my new Godson-to-be a couple days ago, and he was thrilled to meet me after having lived his entire life without me (one week.)

Please give me back to my mommy now. NOW!

This baby's family has been a part of our lives since the very first week we moved to Florida, back in 2005. After meeting them ONE time they invited us to a Christmas party at their home. We have been best friends ever since, and one of the benefits of moving back to the Gulf Coast is that they are so much closer to us. YEAH FRIENDS!


Mystery: I have a ton, A TON of shirts with holes in the place right at my belly button. 

When I would get new shirts, it could take as little as a few wearings before the tiny holes appeared. I secretly thought it was from opening beer bottles with my shirt, and that I must have a drinking problem so secret even I didn't know about it.

I'm so ashamed


Solved.  Since we moved, I have not found a single new hole! The other day Naomi was remarking that she couldn't reach the kitchen sink at this house, but she could at the old one. Soooo....I think my shirts were being rubbed against my zipper, the shirt would get wet because I'm a slob, and a tiny hole would appear. Here, the counter for the sink is just slightly higher, and therefore doesn't hit my shirt where the zipper is. Take that Porfiry Petrovich!


We finally took the dog in to be spayed. Horrible. She is doing horrible. 

hiding under the tv cabinet with her stuffed wolf

I would like to think she is just a drama queen and milking it for all it's worth, but I think she is really in pain. She is the most lovable and vivacious thing and it just hurts to see her sitting there day all day long. The bonus is that Isaac is sensitive to the fact that she is in pain, and for the first time in her life is showing her a little respect and keeping his hands off of her. Let's hope it lasts after she gets better.


My dear friend Sharna Marcus, whom I will have you know is gorgeously beautiful and always has been, posted this on her Facebook the other day (so I know she wouldn't mind me sharing) and then emailed it to me because I'm not a facebooker:

At my new job, a lot of people have asked me, "When are you expecting?" I had the baby 8 months ago. I am not expecting. I have about 6 more pounds to lose, but I haven't been willing to starve myself or have other poor behaviors or get a tummy tuck. I exercise regularly. The first person to say this to me, I lost it and had to leave a meeting because I cried for 45 minutes. The second time, the crying spell only lasted about 10 minutes. The third time, I made a joke of it, but turned very red and haven't been able to speak to the person again. Today, I just said, "No, I'm not expecting." After a lifetime of weight struggles and serious health issues from those struggles, I really am not going to get upset about it. Tonight there will be no crying. Tomorrow, I won't only eat fruits and vegetables. I won't work out for 2 hours or climb the 17 flights of stairs twice. I won't throw away all of my clothes and wear things that are baggier. I won't wear spanx. I'm just going to be okay with this. From this body, and from the little extra fat, distension, or whatever I'm sporting, emerged the most beautiful gift I have ever received in my life. I can't hate it. I won't hate it. My body is what gave me this gift. And there will be no more body hatred from this woman. And my daughter will not hate her body either, no matter what it looks like. So the next time someone asks me if I'm expecting, I won't embarrass them with my scorn (which I have done), I will say, "Thank you. I was pregnant. I never knew if I would actually have children. And I have one. And I love her very much."
I love Sharna, and love her baby and wish every girl had a mom like her!


Let the Good Times Roll:

How we have fun at The House of Es!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Theme Thursday: Text

...or really graffiti as I am having a hard time following the rules over at Clan Donaldson...

Arsty speaking, these are really bad photos. I know. But I took them for Jude, not for mass (very tiny mass) consumption on my trip to Rome. 

Jude is a graffiti aficionado? fanatic? where is my thesaurus when I need it?

What I mean to say is that he has a passion for graffiti. An enormous, never ending, fixated, unenduringly obnoxious love affair with it. Jude is our, um, difficult child, but he can be as auto-didactic as the next child genius when something sparks his imagination. 

The boy knows and knows and knows like there is nothing else to learn about. He could give year long lectures on the history of graffiti, write PhD size dissertations on the various movements, players, styles, etc.

When I showed him these pictures, proud mother of a delinquent that I am, he basically shrugged and said he had seen most of it, knew who most of the "artists" are. Poor mom, always trying to be cool, always failing.

I have a kind of ambivalent, non-attitude about graffiti. I can't tell you how many varied and sundry discussions Obi and I have had with Jude over our right or non-right to appreciate actual crime, that after all, harms society in that it costs tax-payers money to pay officers to track down transgressors, jail them, pay for their mess (or art) to be scrubbed clean.  It can harm small business owners who are victims of said destruction and have no recourse. (Even Jude says he has no respect for this type of action, only in respectable places like billboards and under bridges.)

What I do know, when I look at it, not from a mom's perspective  or a taxpayer's, is that at the heart of it is the same yearning that is at the heart of the Cave Paintings of Lascaux, and every work of art since. A yearning for an individual to say to this world: "I am here. Let me show you. I have something I want to say to you." -But maybe sometimes, they don't have anything all that great to say.