What's DIY Got To Do With It
This drawing has nothing to do with the article but I finished it last week and I'm including it here. Now on with my DIY adventure.
We've all encountered, either out of desire or necessity, the need to engage in a home Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project.
Maybe you have an innate need to build, construct, or create something. Perhaps you're deluded into thinking, "oh, that looks easy, I'll pick up a hammer and saw and have it done in no time flat." For me, though, the desire wells up to bust my knuckles usually slaps me on the back of the head when I get a professional quote to do the job and spew up or choke with great flair on whatever I have in my mouth at the time. Sometimes it even comes out of my nose.
No matter where that little inkling comes from, I have to tell you, I have NEVER started or completed a DIY project that has gone entirely according to plan.
There is something about these projects that abhor smooth sailing. The gods never smile on them.
Yes, I had one of those moments of complete insanity just last week. I thought, sure I can replace a toilet, I know how to swap out that vanity and sink, and, I'm sure I can even put down a new floor at the same time.
There's a reason these guys charge an arm and a leg to do those jobs. I'm sure they have to break an arm and a leg and virtually destroy their backs in the process.
Knowing all the challenges and all of the pitfalls, I charged forward to get the job done. I measured everything up. Got the parts and set to work.
The first part was taking up the old to put down the new. That only took a couple of hours.
I was all ready to start laying the floor. Things were going smooth as silk. I thought I'd have it done in only a couple of hours, but then I came to the cutouts and go-arounds. You know what they say, "Measure twice, cut once." That's what I did.
I must be getting old because I couldn't remember which end of the board I was supposed to cut or how it was supposed to fit in place. I had to go up and down the stairs a hundred times to make sure I got it right.
That's what happens when you don't know what you're doing. It's those things you have to go back for that take up so much time. So far, on day one, I got the floor almost done. Only a couple more pieces to finish the job. It was 10:30 at night when I decided to call it quits for the day. I'd already re-seated the toilet and was ready to fit in the sink the next day.
I should never work when I'm tired. It's just not good practice. Things tend to happen when you don't have your wits about you.
This time, it was like some slapstick movie. I was trying to get up off the floor and leaned ever so slightly on the sink waste pipe, and it came off in my hand. It broke off behind the wall. That was it - the day was over — no more work for me. I headed home with my tail between my legs not knowing what I was in for the next day.
I cut the wall out where the waste pipe went it when it was still attached. What I found was both exciting and revolting all at one time.
First, the revolting stuff:
I don't know if you've ever cleaned the trap in your sink, but it can get pretty unpleasant. The smell was noxious, and I had to reach in and clean out the blockage. It wasn't completely blocked but enough that it was best I cleaned it out. The sludge and muck I drew out of the pipe actually made me gag a little.
Second, the exciting part.
The pipe hadn't broken off inside. The pipe that came out of the wall had almost completely disintegrated. There was virtually nothing left of it in the stack where it was connected. It was exciting because, after I cleaned everything out, I just needed to get a new pipe to come out of the wall. That was a huge relief.
One of the great truths about DIY is:
Every project that you start will require at least three or four unexpected trips to the DIY store to finish. In my case, it was Lowes.
The second trip to Lowes came when I tried to connect the sink trap to the waste pipe and the drain from the sink.
The new drain pipe I got said it was 1 1/2" or 1 1/4" trap assembly for the sink. Mine was 1 1/4" so I thought it would work - WRONG.
I would use the old trap assembly. When I tried to fit it to the pipes, it was impossible to connect them. Everything coming out of the wall was about 2" off center from the pipes connected to the sink. That's what happens with one-hundred-year-old houses. They're just not standard.
Long story short. Things went along swimmingly until the last bit of the evening.
Another principle. If you're going to install a new sink, get new fittings. The old connectors from the water supply to the sink taps were about 2" too short. By this time it was getting late again. My eyes were bleeding, and I couldn't squeeze one more ounce of energy out of my tired, decrepit old body.
Home for the night. I thought I'll pick up new connectors on my way down the next day.
I went to the store (Lowes) and picked up the new connector feed lines after a 20-minute consultation with a friendly and helpful man in the plumbing department.
I have to hand it to Lowes, the majority of the people who are there to help you can help you. They're not uninformed high school sophomores working for a bit of extra cash on the weekend. The people at Lowes usually know what they're talking about. If they don't, they will find somebody who can help you.
I went back to finish the only task I had left. With the floor expertly laid, the toilet deftly reconnected and working, the vanity beautifully installed, my last job was to connect the faucets. I had the right stuff.
Here's where it gets a bit funky. I connected the faucets and, when I turned on the water, the connections leaked. Not severely but just enough to cause problems. I didn't want to over-tighten the connections because, if I did, and the connections broke I'd have a whole heap of other work to do. So I carefully and gradually tightened the fittings and dutifully waited fifteen to twenty minutes to check for leaks.
Three freaking hours of tightening and waiting over and over, there were no leaks.
I imagine a professional would have gone up there tighten the things down and had no leaks. For me, it was a process of trial and error. Most of the trials ended in error.
When I finished, I'd had enough of the project.
It turned out pretty good if you ask me. I'm sure there are some details and nuances that I could have done better; there always is something.
But that day, that fateful day. I slew the dragon and brought home the pot of gold. Mission accomplished. Job done.
The moral of this story, if it has one, is if you want something done right and done well you can either spend a lot of time and experience a bunch of frustration or hire a professional.
If I didn't have my daughter there to help me out and provide periodic encouragement, I would have blown a gasket. Thanks, Holly!
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Tom Hughes - Artist Of The Week
This week, let's take a look at Tom Hughes. Tom lives and works out of his studio in Bristol in the UK. He spends his time painting both in the studio and en plein air. En plein air painting or painting outdoors was pioneered by impressionist painters like Claude Monet and Camile Pissarro.
By the way - Pissarro was born in and lived on St Thomas until he was sent off to school in Paris at the age of 12. He returned to St Thomas when he was 17 until he was 21.
I came across Tom when he started his Vlog on YouTube, where he travels around from place to place and records his "Thoughts on Painting" while he completes several plein air paintings.
Whether he comes to you from a beautiful seaside setting like Cornwall or Lime Regis or paints cityscapes from Bristol or London, his videos always contain some thought-provoking conversation on the subject of painting.
I have always wanted to do some plein air painting. It looks to be so much fun. Sure there are things like the weather to deal with, but nobody ever promised you a rose garden.
I like the way Tom paints his landscapes and cityscapes, and I hope you enjoy him as much as I do.
You can find him on the internet at:
Now, after this little dose of inspiration - go out and make some ART!
No Clean Getaway
Here's a little chaotic painting I did a while back.
I have some strange miswiring in my brain that drives me completely bonkers. I can't leave the house in one shot. More often than not, I forget some things along the way.
I don't try to forget stuff it just happens. I'm not sure if it's a function of getting older or if it's just something inherently wrong with the way my brain works.
Yesterday, I had an appointment at the dentist. I was determined to get there on time.
Sometimes, the more I want to be on time, the more my plans to fall apart. The universe introduces a little more chaos in my life than might usually be there. The more I want it to get into order; the more anarchy rules the roost.
I'm sure the second law of thermodynamics plays a critical role in my life (the second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system always increases - things go from order to disorder).
I was leaving the house yesterday. I was all ready to go. I got into the garage, almost to the car, and realized I'd forgot my sunglasses. It was a brightish day, so I stopped on the steps to be sure I wanted them. I thought, "Of course you need your sunglasses, you silly boy, go back and get 'em."
I went back and got my sunglasses. Mission accomplished.
Heading back out to the car, I sat in the driver's seat, and as I was getting ready to start the car I thought, "Just in case you get held up in the waiting room shouldn't you have your earbuds so you can listen to music or a podcast or something (rather than to despair, drills, and drooling) to pass the time waiting on the dentist (my buddy Super-Dan the Dentist)."
I went back in to get my earbuds. Mission accomplished.
Backing out of the driveway, brought another thought, "Don't you think you'd like to have your phone; since you have your headset, you may as well bring your phone." You see, when I went in to get my sunglasses, I put my phone down to look for them. So I had the headset and glasses, no phone.
I went back in to get my phone. Mission Accomplished.
I thought I'd remembered everything when I set off the first time. I thought I had my shit together, but just like every time I try to leave the house, something happens, I'll think, "Hey, I should go in and get a drink. It's going to be a longish drive." or, "wouldn't it be nice if you actually brought your wallet."
I've even tried using a checklist; albeit a mental checklist.
I am leaving the house.
Okay - make sure you have: Wallet, Keys, Passport, Money, Glasses.
Perhaps I need to come up with mnemonic like, "Will Mother Pass My Glass Kettle." or some other strange but similar thing.
Part of the problem is I am usually rushing, and rushing can cause a variety of vexing situations. I always think I have more time than I do. I still think I can get that one more thing done before rushing out the door.
I'm convinced I'll do better the next time. I'm confident I'll give myself more time, but it never happens.
Like when we were on holiday in Spain. It was a lovely little rental in The Alpujarra. The owner of the property said, "when you leave, leave the keys inside and when you close the door it will lock. My housekeeper has a key, and she will be by later to clean the house."
We were in a little bit of a rush because we wanted to stop on the coast to watch the ocean a little before heading to the airport.
Being the obedient tenants that we are, we left the key in the house and closed the door as instructed. As we were walking up to the car, it dawned on me; the car keys were also inside the house. My heart sunk and my shoulders dropped. I had to break the news to Andrea.
Slowly she turned. Step by step, inch by inch, I could see the disappointment growing. "God, Scott, not again!"
It's become an oh so familiar mantra, Andrea says, "No clean getaway again eh?" with that little disappointed sigh.
The landlord was thirty minutes away. There was no way for him to get to the house in time. Andrea dialed his number. I couldn't talk to the guy. He was a German who spoke more Spanish than he did English. I have difficulty with English at the best of the times. It's much better that Andrea called.
After a bit of hemming and hawing, she stared at the ground for several seconds. I don't know if she wanted me to have a heart attack or not. After a while, she lifted her head and said, "The cleaner only lives around the corner; she'll be here in just a couple of minutes."
Then, the "Scott ... we have to start keeping tabs on each other. We can't just let things keep happening to us!"
I know she meant me but it was very nice of her to include herself.
It's a cross I have to carry. I hope it improves over time but I don't think so. I just hope I can continue to bear the slings and arrows that come my way. It's liable to only get worse with age. I'll try to ease into it, make my peace with it.
Until next week, I wish you peace.
Hugo Landry - Artist Of The Week
I ran across this week's artist in Montreal this weekend at the Gallery Le Luxart. The gallery highlights the work of about thirty Québecois and Canadian professional artists. I found most of the art there engaging.
One artist that stood out to me was Hugo Landry. Hugo lives and works in Quebec City and uses a palette knife/spatula to create his paintings. They are colorful, and I could stare at some of them for hours.
I don't often go for completely abstract works, but the colors and rhythm of his paintings just made me feel good. His works are in your face saturated with color that brings you to life.
I think it's important to take in art that stretches your imagination. For me, Hugo's art accomplishes that mission. It is a little ray of sunshine that can brighten your day.
If you'd like to have your day brightened by this Quebec artist you can visit him at any one of these galleries or internet venues.
Le Luxart, Montreal
Gallery Perreault, Quebec
This is a pointillist drawing I did of St Ives a while back. I haven't done much drawing this week.
I'm a bit preoccupied with the weekend coming up.
We're going to a family gathering in memory of my dad this weekend. I've been consternating over what to say.
I could talk about the things I learned from him. I could talk about the things that he did. I could talk about the kind of man he was. But all I know is what he was to me.
To me, he was upbeat and encouraging. He was firm but always fair and most of all, he was there. No matter what happening I knew I could count on him.
He didn't wear his heart on his sleeve. He didn't talk about himself, although he did have some pretty funny stories about this and that.
I didn't find out until about a couple of years ago he was wounded in the Korean War. I think it was that proverbial shrapnel in the backside story. I never looked to make sure.
Everybody knows he loved to play golf. I'm sure his love bordered on obsession and he passed a bit of that love of the game on to us. Dad even figured out how to use golf as a babysitter. One summer, more than once, when Neale and I were teenagers, he'd drop us off at the Palo Alto golf course in the morning and pick us up there on the way home from work.
We had such good times playing catch in the schoolyard behind our house and not such fun times getting up at five o'clock in the morning for hockey practice. Dad was deeply involved in what we did. He was a coach and encourager who set an example to follow.
After dad passed away and we got to know many of the people in his Arizona neighborhood, every one of them readily said what a great guy he was. One day, John and Gayle came by from next door; they love to tell stories about dad. They said, "John and Peggy were the best neighbors we've ever had."
One last thing.
When we were little, dad sometimes let us stay up to watch The Ed Sullivan Show. I loved the little mouse puppet called Topo Gigio. At the end of his spot on the show, Topo would sidle up to Ed and say, "Eddie, Keesa me Goo'night!" Later, when it was time for bed, dad would come to tuck us in and imitate Topo, "Keesa me Goo'night!" We'd giggle, get our kiss, and settle in for the night. Dad, every time I came to see you, you had a smile on your face and an encouraging word. I'll always remember how your face lit up when I walked in the door.
You gave me more than I can ever say. I'll always love you.
Goodnight Dad, sleep tight.
I Keesa you Goo'night!
I wish you peace.
I occasionally get updates from something called "Informed Collector." They hold a competition called The Bold Brush Painting Competition. This week I was turned on to a Chinese artist born in 1959 in Jilin Province, called Fengshi Jin. He's exhibited all over the world.
The painting of Keith Richards below has beautiful free-flowing strokes; he seems to capture the essence and all the hard years put on the septuagenarian rocker.
I was captivated by his style. It is very raw and very alla prima which means at first attempt. Each stroke he puts down, he puts down with confidence, leaves it there, and moves on. I'm captivated by this style.
I love the result. For those of us who like to watch paint dry, you can visit Fengshi Jin's YouTube channel where you can watch him paint. Personally, I love it.
If you're interested in checking out more of his work you can visit him at his website or on YouTube. If you're feeling up to it, you can visit his page on Daily Paintworks.
I hope you take a chance to look at his work and I hope you get out this week and make your OWN art.
Riding Into The Sunset
I've wondered what I was going to write about all week.
We finished our island adventure, and that's all I've been able to think about all week.
All I've been able to think about was what was behind me. I haven't been thinking about is what's ahead.
That's what it must be like for that cowpoke ridin' off into the sunset.
You know, where the good guy's killed the bad guy, everybody loves him, he tips his hat to the townsfolk, kisses the girl he'll never have, points his trusty steed into the setting sun and rides off.
What does that mean?
Is the story over?
Is his life over?
Are the good times all gone?
All it means is that bronco bustin', gun-slinging, whiskey-soaked badass is at the end of one adventure and fixin' to take on another. It may be the end of the movie. It may even be the end of that particular story, but it's not the end of life.
"The Island" was an adventure. There were good times and not so good times.
There are lots of things I loved about living on an island:
There were lots of things I won't miss:
It was a marvelous adventure, but now it's time to move on.
If you read here, you'll always be up on the next adventure. I won't be sitting on the couch watching life rocket past.
I'll be out there living it and maybe even telling you about it.
I look forward to continuing to see you every week. There's lots more to come.
Until next week, I wish you peace.