Category Archives: Project

Dead Tree Project Nest

I added a dozen more limbs to my dead tree project.

I thought about making a fake bird nest to perch inside it. I didn’t want to buy an artificial one.

Today, I made a quick getaway at work to walk down to the creek. I’m lucky to be so close to such a place of serenity.

On the Appleby bridge above Scull creek, I found a perfectly-preserved nest in the road. That it hadn’t been damaged by traffic was a surprise. I took it inside with me and brought it home.

As I painted tiles this afternoon, I painted the nest a vivid blue, which is rapidly becoming my favorite decorative color. I gave silent thanks to the birds that spent countless hours carefully constructing it. Their loss will become a part of my art project. It fits perfectly with the theme of bringing something dead back to life.

It’s odd that yesterday afternoon I was thinking about what to make a bird’s nest from. And voila, magic, one appeared in a place that it had no reason to be. (“Voila” is actually two words in French, meaning to ‘look there.’ I’m glad I did.)

I am still amazed that things just appear in my life when I’m not looking. There’s hope for me yet.

Don’t be confused by the door in the background. That’s how my pixie/fairy gets into the apartment. It’s not a full-size door.

Love, X

3 a.m. DIY Lights

There’s nothing quite like wiring a DIY light kit using liquor bottles at 3 a.m. On the fly. The cat thinks I’ve lost my mind. The colors are much more vivid than they seem. I’m using my “Don’t Do Meth In Our Bathroom” candle to melt wax to hold the tiny microwire leads in place. It doesn’t smell like meth, though. Not that anyone would notice around here. Half-jokingly, I’d add that meth or marijuana might be the essence of spring, given how both smells seem to compete with the mountains of pollen accumulating everywhere.

The mason jars are regular solar lights I converted into mason jar solar lanterns. They were originally home to some of the best homemade salsa I had in a long time. You can’t see my fence in the background, but I added several more tiles to the mix. I think I have three dozen installed on the fence now, a variety of colors and sizes. Anyone allergic to gaudy color is gonna have a bad time here.

I was accused of not having enough color around here, so I thought I’d repurpose my strings of outdoor lights to make the bottles. I love solar lanterns – but nothing beats the consistency of electricity to power the magic of light in a place that desperately needs more to remind the inhabitants that a place is as good as you make it.

There’s a metaphor for life somewhere in all that.

Love, X
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Law of Increments In Action

I worked more on the horrible back of the apartment simplex. When it started raining, I kept going because it felt luxurious to be cooled by it. I was covered in mud and grime anyway. I have one more section of the 25′-30′ side alley that I can fill. I think it will be big enough to finish the entire stretch in the back. It’s unfathomable that I’m this close to finishing, considering how it looked when I started. The law of increments in action is something that is satisfying. That I did it all with a handsaw astonishes me. I’m certain that the landlords are going to be tired just imagining hauling it all away – assuming they ever do. And if they don’t, I’m scheduling a huge bonfire for May 7th.

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Washington Regional Rebranding Idea

Infrequently, I try to use my endless ideas to create something ‘serious.’ I hate that word, as it needlessly demarcates life into impossible categories. I’m both ridiculous and contemplative – as most people are.

For years I’ve thought that Washington Regional Medical System needed both a new logo and a new name, one that reflects simplicity, recognizability, and appropriateness. The hospital system is flung across multiple counties, with dozens of clinics. As it has grown, the “Washington” part increasingly becomes a misnomer, especially as it encroaches on other systems in the area.

The name I invented is pronounced “Regional Plus.” The logo is just the word “Regional” with a symbol that uses the essential foundation of the complicated logo it utilized for years. It’s simple, recognizable, and has a plethora of built-in marketing potential. I’d rather have the word “Regional” be purple, too, but I used a nondescript gray to keep the suits and ties happier. Additionally, my proposed rebrand fits on t-shirts, badges, and marketing materials – something the longer current one does not. It will save a LOT of space on signs, too.

“At Regional +, we’re not just a hospital, we’re a hospital plus.”

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to extrapolate dozens of such marketing phrases. Naturally, I have several funny ones, too, but I’ll leave them for later.

I shared it with marketing and a few other people and didn’t get a response. Crickets.

The weird thing? Without evidence, I see this logo becoming the new one for the hospital.

Tell me that mine isn’t better and I will shut up.

X

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Of Life (And Literal Limbs)

Over the last few days, I painted another 6″ X 24″ tile. I drilled holes in six places to make it easier to secure safely in my surprise location. I glued dozens of multi-colored glow-in-the-dark rocks to the front. On the back, I wrote a truth of mine in marker. The truth is very personal. Anyone who wants to know it will have to climb a considerable height to do so.

This makes me happy.

After work today, I climbed a tall tree before I lost my nerve. It’s the first tall one I’ve climbed since my surgery. It was tricky getting up there with a two-foot-long tile strung around my neck as I ascended. As far as I could tell, no one noticed me as I rose the vertical surface of the tree, carefully finding my foothold. After twenty feet, my reluctance vanished, and I forgot all about the possibility of falling. I’m just as likely to get killed by a rogue intestine or a plane falling out of the sky as I am climbing a tree. Besides, I laughed at the idea of my precarious fall being covered on the local news or the What’s Up, Fayetteville group. “Arts & Crafts Take Local Man’s Life” would work nicely. “Idiot Falls While Doing Performance Art” also serves its purpose.

As the limbs thinned out, I stood, watching the area below me. It was beautiful. I took the tile, ran steel wire through the open holes, and secured it from one primarily perpendicular limb. Not wanting to leave the view behind, I sat near the trunk and just felt the wind around me.

It was a stolen moment!

After a few minutes, I climbed down in one quick descent and stood back on the ground. I looked up at the pretty colored rocks and the brightly painted long tile. Yes, that would do nicely.

Where did I place the beautifully decorated tile? That’s the question, isn’t it? Take a moment and stare up into the slowly appearing upper branches of the trees around you. “Look up, not down” is not only a symbolic reminder to find yourself and answers looking directly into the world, but now also a practical guide to ever finding my hidden-in-plain-sight tilework.

Beauty is anywhere you find it, y’all. Even if you never find my tilework, look around and find the people and things that light you up. Give them attention and appreciation. From time to time, look up to behold the wonders that we forget to see. If you can do so, look at yourself in the mirror and remember that no matter who you are, someone loves you. Merry Xmas!

Love, X

The Bright Box

Over the last months, I made an ornate wooden box and painted it, adding some touches to it. I had plans to do something special with it for myself. Originally, I thought to add a light mounted on a spinning motor to cast shadows in the dark. Instead, today I walked over to one of the apartments and handed it to a husband and wife with a small child. I told them I’d made it and wanted their son to have it. The husband said, “Man, thank you! His birthday is coming up.” I told them I’d add his name to it but I wasn’t sure how to spell it, as not everyone has an elegant and simple name like X.

We were all happy and smiling. Me, for surprising someone with something I’d put a lot of love into. They, for being so surprised and touched that I wanted to give their son a gift out of the blue.

I’ve surprised them anonymously and otherwise since I’ve lived here. I admit that I failed and prejudged them based on one of the family members. They are good people. I hate that I did that.

It was a lemon moment. For once, I didn’t take a picture of the surprise box before I let it go. I will remember it for a long time, because it was one of the things I worked on a little bit at a time for quite a while, imagining all sorts of uses for it.

I think it found the perfect home, in the perfect moment.

I needed a win this afternoon.

P.S. I took the picture in front of an art display. I had a hell of an anxiety issue not long after, yesterday. Life overwhelmed me for a bit.

Love, X

Saturday Morning

It’s such a beautiful October morning. It’s 73 now, which is hard to complain about. It’s overcast and the wind is blowing, eddying the leaves across the unkempt parking lot. It’s difficult to not be introspective standing on the landing observing it.

I’m working hard to remember all the things I have to be grateful for. I’ll return to work soon, which is both a blessing and a concern. My current tally for medical bills is 65-70K. It’s better to have the bills than to not have woken up after emergency surgery – there’s no doubt about that! It will wipe me out, of course. This not only reminds me that I wish we all had universal health care, but that any of us, at any time, can be subject to the caprice and whims of our bodies and the universe. I’m foolish because I’ve preached this lesson for years, to people who privately didn’t believe it. Everything is eventual.

My cat Güino is taking his job as a litter-scatterer very seriously, using his large paws to trap a surprising amount of litter. Previously, he stalked around on carpet. Wood vinyl floors start to look like a sandy beach with a nervous cat prowling around exploring. He’s getting old, but I’m considering teaching him to walk on a leash. I know, good luck, right? I have a neighbor who walks his cat on a leash like a dog. Either that or I’m high from all the cannabis wafting around here.

The other picture is a screenshot of some of the wi-fi networks. I have a “Stepbrothers” fan, as well as a fan of… hazy oblivion. “Porn Freak” comes up regularly, too. Noticeably absent is the drug dealer who always finds a place in most apartments. “Find Jesus” popped up twice, perhaps in response to, and as a reminder of, the others. I’m going to have to change mine again. I’ll pick something boring. 🙂

The third picture is of one of the two windowsills I completely redid to not only fix the horrid condition of the previous sills but also to expand and support a wider sill for plants. And now, fortuitously, a prowling cat. The backside of the apartment complex is indeed a wilderness. I’m glad I live on the second floor. You’d have to be crazy to live on the bottom level. I’ll have to be creative in the big front window. Previously, I built a privacy blocker for the bottom of the large front window, which is just a foot off the floor. I flipped it so that Güino can perch there if he wishes. I’ll have to get creative to recruit more birds to the feeder. My neighbor has a monopoly on all of them with the draw of a vast variety of plants and feeders. Güino is accustomed to up-close and personal views of plants, squirrels, and birds. I’m sure my ex-wife is going to get up and miss seeing him at the various vantage points of the old house. The squirrels, however, will probably enjoy the privacy.

The last picture is of Güino perching behind the desk and on the flipped window guard. It’s a contrast having a black and white tuxedo cat in comparison to all the colors here.

Love, X

Sling Blade Scenario DIY Kit

Well, I finally finished my ultimate art project, one celebrating one of the best movies of all time: Sling Blade.

Now, if I find myself in a Sling Blade scenario, I have a tool handy for the Doyles of the world.

It’s a brilliant piece of art, if I do say so myself.

Yes, that is a real lawnmower blade in the kit.

Love,
Karl aka X

Rainbow Lightning

This lamp was one of many of my side projects. I found the original child’s lamp at a thrift store. It was the one with the ornate and fascinating lampshade that I donated back to the store before leaving. I stripped it to pieces, took off the rough edges, and painted it a nice crazy pink color, reassembled it, and installed a Happy Light bulb in it. If you look closely at the lamp, you’ll see I left the pacifier on the end of the pull chain. I intended to put a firecracker bulb in it, similar to the one I left at my old house. A kind friend gave me one of the bulbs and knew that I would love to experiment with it.

Apps control these bulbs; when you play music, the bulb pulsates, oscillates, and changes color, intensity, and tempo with the music. When I have it on with the LED strips above my kitchen, it probably looks like rainbow lightning from the outside.

You can buy a minimalist lamp base and a bulb like this for less than $20, if such a thing interests you. Everyone should have one for visitors, especially when you’re ready for them to leave. Tell them, “I don’t like night lights. I sleep with this…” And then hit them with the polychromatic seizure-inducing light show. Tell your Aunt Hazel I said, “You’re welcome.”

I wish I could have a place filled with 140 colors, all of them competing. I love sleek minimalist design and color, too; it speaks to me.

But color? It makes me feel like the world matches the inside of me.

I’m calculating whether I can unscrew all the vertical banister rails of my landing and paint them red. “It was that way when I got here,” MIGHT be believable, right? It does amuse me to think about just going wild in this apartment and painting everything. I was promised that the apartment would be completely repainted before I moved in; it wasn’t. I could blame it on the handyman. The likelihood of him still being employed by the landlords gets increasingly smaller as time passes. 🙂

Knowing I took something old and rejuvenated with my energy tickles me, too.

I do hope they appreciate the body outline I’ve created on the floor between the kitchen and living bedroom.

I have more tiles drying outside. One of them is fluorescent green, otherwise known as the alien puke color. It’s lovely.

Love, X6All suggestions