So Much to Do

After my initial jubilation at hearing our building permit was approved, I immediately plunged into a state of panic. OMG, I have so many things to do and no obvious priority order. When I relayed my sense of panic to my husband, he offered this sage advice – “just pick the easiest one or the hardest one and do it.”

Which makes total sense. If you have a lot of tasks and no apparent order, just pick one and get it done. But first, make a list, so you have the satisfaction of crossing things off once you’ve completed them. I did actually have one item that was clearly the top priority – meeting with my tree guy to discuss what needed to be removed before we start excavation, which could happen this week.

That meeting happened yesterday. There are four trees marked for removal on the site plan, but there are also a number of dead and dying trees plus a couple of weedy poplars that need to go. He promised me he’d start asap. I’ve been talking to him about this for over a year now, so he’s putting me at the front of the list.

In addition to checking off that task, I’ve completed a pretty solid design for the master closet and I spent a fair amount of time yesterday working on the conservatory layout. I’m planning to tackle the guest suite and third bedroom/photo studio closets today. I just need to keep my head down and keep knocking things off the list.

St. Kilda Botanical Garden

Turns out, I have a few more images from our Australia trip that are worth sharing. At least, I think so and I’m pretty picky.

[08212016]5DSR4333This is a sculpture/fountain in the park across the street from the apartment we rented. I experimented a bit with the shutter speed to get some motion in the water droplets. I have another image that shows more of the figure and less of the water motion, but this one is definitely the winner.

[08212016]5DSR4326This is from the same pond that holds the fountain. Unfortunately, there was only one flower and a small cluster of lily pads, so it was hard to find a composition that worked. Lily pads and flowers are one of my many photographic obsessions. Again, I have another image that is horizontal and includes more of the water, but it just doesn’t work as well for me.

Major Milestone

OUR PERMIT WAS APPROVED! Sorry for all the shouting, but I’m pretty damn excited about it. Of course now everything will start moving at high speed and I’ll be bitching about that. The builder is already on me to get the trees removed so they can start excavating next week. The surveyor was out staking the house outline today.

We also picked out the other half of our flooring material, which was the last really significant design decision remaining. The main floor of the main house (plus all of the bathrooms) is a really beautiful porcelain tile that we chose back in June. We’d use it everywhere, but unfortunately tile is really expensive to install, so we had to limit it. The rest of the house needed something more cost effective.

I spent a big chunk of yesterday designing my dream master closet. I had a bit of a panic on Monday, when I realized the high awning windows weren’t quite high enough to allow for double hung rods underneath, thus severely restricting my layout options. So, now we’re going with a different window arrangement. I also put together a layout for our “health and fitness area,” aka the gym, that included the hot tub. It’s starting to feel like real progress.

Odds and Ends

I managed to milk a relatively short photo outing at St. Mary’s into no less than seven blog posts, each with a theme, of sorts. Surely, that well has run dry, right? But wait, there’s more.

5DSR5304Impasto1Of course I’ve run out of themes, so what’s left is a few odds and ends. Like this close-up of some oxidized metal that I converted into a painting via the magic of software.

5DSR5337bwOr this detail of a door handle that I converted to black and white.

5DSR5342Or this bit of a mausoleum window, also converted to black and white. So, if I really wanted to stretch the whole theme thing, I could call these cemetery macros. But I think I’ll stick with odds and ends.

Hanging in There

I’m starting to feel like everything is moving in slow motion. It’s been exactly three months since we came back from Phoenix, yet it feels more like six. We continue to make progress on our house, at least on paper, but still have no idea when we’ll start digging. Nola turned 3 yesterday. Well, actually the day before that in Australia.

5DSR4872Her mom sent videos of her riding her new bike. With training wheels, of course. Over the course of less than two weeks, we planned our next little family reunion for early December in Santa Monica. It’s nice to have something to look forward to.

My desire to write anything here obviously dried up completely over the last month. For a combination of reasons, as usual. Mostly a desire not to come off as a pathetic, whiny bitch over the excruciatingly slow progress on our house. #FirstWorldProblems

It’s not as though we’re not making progress, it’s just taking way, way longer than I thought. We’ve pretty much finished the cabinet elevations and made the majority of the interior finish selections. I put everything into a spreadsheet, which made me very happy.

It’s just this constant feeling that I should be doing something more, but I don’t know what, that is really starting to grind me down. Right now most of my anxiety is stemming from the wait for our permit approval. Of course once that’s done, I’ll just find something else to stress out about. It’s my lot in life.


Happy 4th of July! ‘Murica! Blah, blah, blah, whatever.

5DSR4754Today’s Australia flashback is to Ripponlea. This is a historic estate with extensive gardens. We didn’t actually tour the house, as it was hosting a costume exhibit and we didn’t feel like it was worth paying the fee. But the gardens were free.

5DSR4774Pretty darn stunning, too. They contained a small lake with a bridge to a tiny island and a waterfall. Since it was late fall when we visited, there weren’t a ton of flowers blooming.

5DSR4778I would imagine it’s spectacular in the springtime and early summer. It was a nice way to spend a little time outside of our rental apartment on a day when Miss Nola was feeling a little cranky.

Still Feeling Cross

5DSR53845DSR5389A few more crosses, because it’s been one of those weeks. Between the road construction¬† and house stress, I really felt like I was about to lose my shit.

So on Thursday I just started reading books and didn’t stop until I had blown through four. There’s something about a really good book that just makes me forget the world. Plus, I have a pretty big backlog of books to get through.

5DSR5360I’m feeling like we’ve reached a temporary lull in our forward progress on the house. We didn’t have any meetings this week, as nobody seemed to have any updates. Our landscaper is behind schedule, the conservatory guy hasn’t answered my email from five days ago and our designer was out of town half of last week, so she won’t have anything new until Wednesday. It’s just so frustrating. Hence, the escape into fiction. Better than drinking.


Phillip Island of Escape

I woke up to someone knocking on our front door at 6:45 this morning. It was a road construction worker telling me to shut off our sprinkler because it was flooding the street. Because we have nothing but dirt at the front of our yard. Because they ripped out a large swath of our grass yesterday. Sigh.

5DSR4692So I’m going to escape from the ongoing nightmare that is now our life by returning to Australia. These images are from our trip to Phillip Island to see the penguins. It wasn’t the South Pole, but it was a much shorter drive.

5DSR4694Unfortunately, photographing the penguins is strictly prohibited. So I  had to settle for photographing the beautiful scenery instead.

5DSR4713We had a brief Skype session with the irrepressible Miss Nola last night. She had asked to see us, but still only managed to last about 10 minutes before pummeling the phone with her bouncy ball. She’s at the age where her attention span is measured in seconds, so I’m grateful we got the 10 minutes.

Grind it Down

Yesterday a large piece of construction equipment went down our street. At first it looked like it was putting down a thick layer of dirt. Then we realized it was actually grinding up the asphalt so fine that it looked like dirt. I think it took about four passes and then our street was completely gone. Fascinating, except for the totally shitty aspect that our road is now dirt.

This morning we heard loud banging coming from outside. They were busting up all of the curbs and the driveway aprons. Which left us with a small cliff off the end of the driveway. Even the Cayenne can’t handle that. So I called the city. They promised to give us notice when doing things like shutting off water and removing driveway access. Within 30 minutes of my call there was a dirt ramp at the end of the driveway. Nice response time.

We took the opportunity to get out and go for a walk. When we returned we didn’t even attempt to drive down our street, opting to park nearby instead. At least we know we’ll be able to get out again later. They had removed even more of our driveway (farewell, decorative concrete border), and now everyone had a dirt ramp. It’s going to be a long, ugly summer.

A Cross to Bear

I’m guessing you can figure out the location of today’s photos from the title. I just couldn’t resist.

5DSR53795DSR5385This is one of the last areas of the cemetery we photographed. I’m afraid I don’t know the significance of these blocky little headstones with the crosses on top. I just loved the photographic opportunities they presented. I wish there had been more of them. In this arrangement of three, I resorted to a tiny bit of Photoshop trickery to remove a small floral arrangement that was ruining the composition for me.

5DSR5390The lighting was tricky, but I tried to use it to my advantage. The image on the right only works because the cross in the back is strongly back lit, creating a halo effect. Without that, it would have been lost against the somewhat busy background. Isolating the crosses against the grass worked better, but I couldn’t always get the right angle to make that work.