Category Archives: DIY

Imperfectly Perfect

My latest set of bottle lights aren’t quite finished but I put them out anyway.

This set is made from a wine bottle and two mason jars that were filled with a delicious dessert.

I used a complicated set of four wire remote control lights this time. I hate to admit it but it took me several hours to decipher the wiring once I cut it into sections. But I worked the problem until I got three of the four sections to work. I reminded myself that I’m an imperfectionist and put the non-working section out of my mind.

Perfect is the enemy of the good.

The lights are vivid and beautiful.

A lot of other things are too. Even if they’re not perfect. Or finished.

Love, X
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Going

I got a surprise when I came home today. A friend put a butterfly brooch out for Larkma, my resident sprite/fairy. It took me a while to know who it was. She can “out” herself if she wishes to. Doing so means that she willingly encourages this never-ending project I have going. I am even more tickled that more than one person in the last week has told me to keep on going with the art. (And also that people have taken the time to leave art offerings and whatnots to add to my wild collection.) Whether it is art is purely subjective.

As I stood out by the Gregg Street fence adding more tile patterns this afternoon, two Latino males were waiting at the light. The driver honked. As I turned, he gave me a big thumbs up. When I walked back into the parking lot, two neighbors at the end went out of their way to enthusiastically tell me that they love the color and jumble of it all. “Are they paying you?” one of them asked. I said, “No, but I didn’t ask for permission, either.” The other said, “It’s crazy and beautiful. I can’t wait to see what comes next.”

I said a prayer for them both because neither has any idea how far I might go with this.

Love, X
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X Marks The Spot

A few weeks ago, a couple of days after installing a permanent kitchen table, I found this 29X24X4 inch heavy metal X at the Potter’s House Store. For $9. I wanted to paint it or do something crazy with it. Today, I installed it on the front of the landing balcony, in an attempt to thwart myself from painting in fushcia or spa blue. I do live in Apartment 10, which is a nice coincidence. (I once lived in an apartment in Springdale that was lettered and mine was literally Apartment X. I hated to leave that one. 🙂 ) Don’t worry, it’s screwed in on the bottom and toggle-locked on both sides of the top. Personal injury aside, I assume it would make a hellacious “boing” noise if it fell due to my not having it securely affixed up there. I won’t go into precarious detail about how I got it around and over the railing without a ladder at my disposal. It’s not an OSHA-friendly story. Even though this picture makes it seem like it was shaded, I went blind attempting to take a photo of it in the ridiculous June sunlight. As I was finishing putting it up, a visitor downstairs rolled her SUV window down to say, “I love all the color. Don’t stop.” I laughed. “I’m going to run out of room,” I told her. “Do the downstairs.” I nodded happily.

X marks the spot, as well as if to say, “You are here.”

I am here, lest there be any doubt.

Love, X
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Sawing Away The Morning

“Vengeance is mine,” sayeth the dude wielding the saw! My arm is still sore from yesterday’s antics – so I channeled that into a declaration of sawing this morning.

I started by the street near Gregg, cutting away limbs that my neighbors and visitors need to fear as they park. X:1, Limbs:0. One dumb thing I did was to saw and saw at a hard vine. After about twenty seconds, I realized that it was an ancient WIRE hanging with the limbs and vines. Any credit I get is lessened by that and also serves as further proof that I am not the brightest bulb.

I awoke to a high school friend posting on my timeline. She was visiting from Minnesota and took the time to drive by and see my decorative craziness. My only regret is that I don’t have every square inch of everything covered with color and nonsense. When I looked it up online, I realized that Minnesotans are legally obligated to NOT be frivolous. They aren’t even allowed to put both mustard and ketchup on a hamburger on the off chance they might like it. Just kidding. I think.

When I was by the street cutting limbs over my neighbor’s vehicles, the ones that precariously hang and annoy them, my neighbor Tobey walked by with his pitbull. I chased that dog until he couldn’t frolic. As the excursion train neared, I asked Tobey if he’d stand by the curb and Gump wave with me. Shockingly, he declined, indicating he didn’t like the trains and the noise that accompany them. I have NO choice except to purchase a 12V air horn from Amazon now, one I can remotely trigger. I think I’ll place it artfully in the trees out there, the ones I climb sometimes. He will lose his mind wondering why the frequency of the trains has multiplied exponentially. Honestly, I’ve thought about it before. Now, it seems like a MUST. I will claim it is for security as a way to warn would-be miscreants and malefactors if I spot them. If they ever finish the house they are building next door, I calculate the horn would be less than five feet from some of their windows. That makes me laugh: “buyer’s remorse” in action.

I worked in the back this morning too, clearing out a huge section of fence and limbs. A truck can drive around now, whether it’s an electric service vehicle or ice cream truck is up to the universe. So far, the landlords have not removed any of the tons of limbs and fences I’ve piled back there. A bonfire seems to be more and more likely, especially if one of the neighbors who smoke tosses a butt in there one summer evening.  I cleared out some more of the contents of what I refer to as the Drug Shed. That thing is definitely coming down at some point. I banged on it before going inside. Copperheads love the back corner of that thing. I’m not needlessly scared of snakes. (I work with middle managers every day.) I’d prefer to avoid snakebites, though, both at work and back in the Drug Shed. There are black snakes back there too, ones that probably miss the jungle-like atmosphere that existed prior to me turning my attention to clearing it.

When I needed a break, I sat at the bottom of the stairs and let another neighbor’s dog maul me with happiness. I was filthy already, so it didn’t seem to be an issue. The dog had no objections. My cat Güino, however, registered his disapproval loudly when I went inside and picked him up. His fur stood straighter than a sinner’s back in church. I was going to just burn my stinky clothes but then remembered that I have to pay for clothing or become a nudist. I tried that before and the screaming made it hard for me to relax in public.

My pictures are literal thirst (instead of thirst trap) pictures because it was already hotter than a rugby player’s nether regions. I don’t want anyone to think I’m posting to be provocative. Unless a cannibal sees them and thinks I’d be great grilled. If you don’t know what a thirst trap picture is, just imagine that one social media friend you have who shows more cleavage than a brassiere convention.

I made another table using discarded parts. Again, I controlled myself and didn’t paint any of it. I had to lie down for an hour to control my urge to do so. I ate a box of crayons and the feeling passed. Literally.

PS That’s tree corpse residue aka sawdust all over in a couple of the pictures, not dandruff. Legend has it that one must have hair to have dandruff. That’s a good thing because I’ve not used anything except bar soap to wash my head since I was 20ish. Yes, I purloin all my soap from bars. Lord knows that the typical bar patron doesn’t use soap, so it’s not missed.

PPS A joke a keep forgetting to post: you know your neighborhood is iffy if the ice cream doesn’t drive by and annoy you. To which I’d add: the cost of armor-plating ice cream trucks is cost-prohibitive. Also, this place is getting surrounded by new development on this side of Gregg. Displacement is inevitable. If you drive by and see a crater, you will know why.

PPPS The average password keeps people from accessing your accounts. In my experience, I’ve learned that it also keeps most of the actual account holders out of them, too. 

PPPPS I heard something yesterday that I’ve heard before but it struck me as insightful this time: insurance is a reverse lottery because it pays only when you’ve already been unlucky. Bonus idea: If you have a foot fetish, sandals are lingerie.

A friend asked me to post the two unwritten rules for life.

Here they are:

1.

2.

You’re welcome!

Love, X

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Dead Trees Everywhere!

I made another “dead” tree project. This one is made from ten different trees. I drilled holes for each branch and limb and then painted them one by one. The color is more vivid than it appears in my poor photo attempt. It’s not quite finished because it doesn’t have any nests in it. Of course.

I’m not too concerned about the birds pooping on it. The neighbors? That is possible.

Instead of using a bucket, I used a nice cooking stock pot, filled with quikrete, just to make it unwieldy to carry around.

I put it to the right of my tile art on the front fence.

It didn’t occur to me that it’s pride month when I made this one.

Doing these trees make me picture doing an entire grove of them. If I visit your house and your big stock pots are missing, just pretend you don’t know where they went, okay? Besides, imagine what it would sound like if you called the police to report, “X stole my pot.”

X
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Rebuilt Desk

I rescued a desk that was broken. I disassembled it and brought the side supports home. (Although the idea of a broken desk strapped to the top of my little bitty car amuses me.)

I got a great quality top and lightly sanded it, then put a clear coat on it… instead of an outlandish color. The stripped down version is amazingly minimalist. The large x on both ends is all the flair it needs. I somehow resisted painting the side supports too. As a non-recovered paint addict, this was very tough for me.
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More Projects Finished

I finished the child’s rocking chair project. It was a very old one that had been in use for a long time. I put new screws in it and shaved down some of the dowels, glued them, and then sanded until I was sick of it. Instead of crazy color, I used lacquer black. Because I decided to give it to a neighbor’s little boy, I painted his name on the back. I surprised the dad with it this morning. I love the idea that it’s an old chair, sat on by hundreds of children. Then discarded and rescued. Everyone needs a rocking chair. (Except maybe for those with hemorrhoids and skittish cats. Probably includes people with cats with hemorrhoids, too.)

On the new section of the fence facing Gregg, I painted a series of sizes and colors of hexagon tiles and made a spiral pattern with them. The picture is not great because it is hotter than a demon’s right buttcheek out there and the sun blinded me as I snapped a photo. I made a pattern to make each spiral exact. After starting, I did what I usually do and decided that I like asymmetrical much better and opted to wing it and let them harden regardless of spacing and orientation. Having finished it, I would like to say it didn’t take much time to do. It did, however. Now the passersby have another design to stare at as they whiz by on their way to whatever and wherever.

Love, X
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A Face To Surprise

I finally broached the new section of fence that runs parallel to the street. It was installed to conceal the beautiful dumpster here at the apartments. I wish it weren’t there so that everyone could easily see my massive fence project. In my opinion, the juxtaposition of the dumpster and my art project don’t contradict each other at all. Art and color should be in places that otherwise would be unadorned.

It’s hard for me to remember what it looked like before my arrival. It is all transitory of course. Everything and everyone is. But we can’t let that recognition stop us from brightening whatever surrounds us.

The pictograph in blue is a version of a smiling face that once was part of my legal signature, back when I had just one name. I have so many stories about those days! It tickles me to think of all the drivers and passersby who will see it and suddenly realize that a face is looking back at them.

Love, X
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No Sadboy Here

“Every paint is fabric paint if you’re not careful.” – X

I’m definitely not careful. I try to remember to put on my red ripshirt each time I paint. Often, though, I jump into painting without changing clothes. It’s resulted in some exciting attire. “Hobo” is the apt word.

My new neighbor at the time, a DJ with an immense t-shirt collection, gave me a stack of fifty t-shirts to choose from. When he sees me, he hollers, “Hey, good-looking!” I think he needs glasses. You never know, though. Middle-aged balding men have their advantages. I don’t know what they are so I’ll get back to you on that. One of my favorite shirts is a previously white Sadboy shirt. After getting paint on it, I opted to lean into the process and add color each time I painted.

“Previously white” sounds a bit suspect, doesn’t it?

You know you have a painting problem when there are 7 empty spray cans in your trash box. Like heroin, all I want to do is replace them with another round of vibrant colors.

Sublime Saturday

I didn’t take any pictures when I went to see Noah and his family at the graduation lunch get-together. As I was leaving, his mom asked if I took a picture with Noah. I was having so much fun joking and interacting that it didn’t even occur to me. She snapped a few of us hamming it up. Alissa (my cousin Jimmy’s widow) ensured that a couple of them got to me. Noah is such a handsome and smart young man. I’m not sure he can be related to the Terrys. In a weird coincidence, I bought him a “pastor’s wife” card instead of a graduation card and did my thing of making an ornate and hand-made picture-covered series of envelopes. He told me that he’s considering becoming a pastor. It amazes me that he has a plan at that age. His dad Jimmy and I winged it like lunatics when we were his age. Alissa’s girls were so grown up and superlatively quick-witted, too. I don’t know why people seem to be so concerned about the world being in their hands. Their confidence at that age gives me optimism. I felt like I’d never been apart from them and that’s a feeling that can’t be bought or measured.

The power was out at Fiesta Square for a while. Luckily, the food was prepared inside catering-style, so we were able to eat in the dark, using only the light coming in from the wall-to-ceiling windows. It rained like the dickens while we were there, too. At one point, Noah said he didn’t like the rain. I quipped, “It’s odd for someone named Noah to dislike the rain.” I also asked him to quote the first creation from Genesis: “Let there be light,” to see if the lights would magically come on in an amazing coincidence. The power was restored shortly before we left. In my opinion, the power being out was both fortuitous and beautiful.

Yesterday, it finally happened. Even though I don’t use an antibiotic ointment. I prefer to use the “Be A Man” method, which is to just wash the deep cut and go on about my business. The Bacitracin is in a very small tube. I dropped it and put it back up in my lower cabinet. I knew I should have moved it. I also ran out of full-size toothpaste and used a small tube of Colgate. After showering, I brushed my teeth. Or started to. Just as the brush hit my teeth, I knew something was wrong. PS Bacitracin leaves an odd film on one’s teeth when you brush with it.

My incorporated business, Pretxel Fish, got its first piece of mail a couple of days ago. I’m still unsure how I’ll use it. Can you imagine my life if I had a plan?

I’m out painting small hexagon tiles, even at 4 a.m. The smell of spray paint probably has become the new ‘smell of spring’ for the neighbors. I was introduced to the Habitat store in south Fayetteville, where an odd cornucopia of sizes and styles can be had for cheap. Lord knows I need more tiles! The fence is utterly transformed. It even surprises me to walk out on the landing and look out to the fence. It’s 75-100 feet of pure color and craziness now. It’s hard to imagine it before, unmaintained, faded, and without color. The neighbors woke up yesterday to see that the colors had doubled overnight. I wish each of them had lives that were transformed in the same way. Just because we live in an old apartment simplex doesn’t mean that we can’t douse ourselves in color. And drown in it if we need to.

Earlier in the week, I found the large metal X at Potter’s House. For $9. Something like that would cost $100 new. I wish I’d had it when I completed my built-in table in the kitchen. I didn’t ask permission to install it. I got the metal-covered wood tabletop, in perfect condition, from the dumpster in the hospital. I polished and stripped the single support pole. Though it doesn’t look like it, that table will support several hundred pounds. Not that my lunch is ever that heavy. I love finding ways to use things that are discarded. That the metal top accidentally goes with the surroundings was a bonus. I’d rather have a blue or red top but the landlords might get testy discovering those colors were a permanent part of the apartment. On the other hand, they don’t seem to mind my miscreant neighbors.

Everyone have a great Sunday. Whatever that might look like. Don’t do the thing obligatory things. Do the things that give you a little bit of tranquility, even if that thing is hoeing the garden and sweating, or being on the couch with your feet being rubbed by someone with enthusiasm.

The number of wrong-number texts has increased lately. Which I love. It gives me the chance to try out new ways to answer them and keep them engaged.

Love, X
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