Late August in our little part of the world

A quietness has descended on our little hamlet--a quietness that feels anticipatory but peaceful.

Afternoons bring...
Days that aren't quite so hot...
Breezes that are a little more refreshing...
Tiny birds flitting from the sky to pick seeds off
the heads of petal-less Lazy Susan's.

Nights bring...
Cooling breezes off the Bay...
Twinkling eyes peeking out of the storm drain as a mama raccoon leads her babies to "training" in our pond leaving the water lilies leafless...
Faint whiffs of the perfume of a skunk surprised as it digs for grubs in the dry August soil.

Neighborhood children are in school...
no longer playing outside...
no more adventurous stunts on bicycles accompanied by excited laughter and cheering.

A lull between work crews here at our cottage
as we wait for them to come back and correct some work done last week
gives us time to organize and do some clear out of other areas we will be working on.

And dragonflies still flit in the twilight sky overhead each evening
catching dinner on the wing
reminding me that winter is still quite far away.

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Chapter 13 (cont): New beginnings and promising horizons

I never thought I'd love the sight of a safety-orange traffic cone as much as I do the two that are sitting in front of our garage right now.

The work crew was back today bright-eyed and raring to go... except they got word from the county inspector that the inspection would be happening between 1 and 4 p.m. instead of the preferred time in the a.m.

So that kinda put a damper on the crew's plans... kinda...

Most work crews would just kick back and hang out until the inspector came. But not these guys. They had other tasks they could do without the inspector's visit. So they dove right in and hooked up the drains and pipes, drilled into the side of the subterranean storm drain box, created a connection to the downspout coming off the eaves, and finalized them all before the inspector got there. Nice.

Look at how beauteous the connection is on that downspout (below). You have no idea the relief I feel knowing the winter rain will go right down that tube and back to the storm drain instead of gushing out right in front of the garage door.  

In all the excitement of actually getting this job done, I had forgotten that there would be two drains! One drain is in the driveway (below) and the other is in the middle of the utility area of our side yard (above). No more slogging through ankle-deep water in my Sunday shoes on Easter Sunday ever again!

The concrete pour on the footing happened this afternoon once the inspector signed off on the forms and everything. Fortunately, this crew has a great working relationship with the county so the permitting process goes a lot smoother than it could working with another contractor company. It's a joy to work with these guys.

I can't help but smile looking at the beautifully poured concrete footing with the bolts coming out of the top of it. That's where the framing for my new studio window will bolt into the new foundation.

It's all really happening!
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Chapter 13: New beginnings and promising horizons are afoot at Rosehaven Cottage

New beginnings and promising horizons are in the forefront of my mind (my last post was about it). I have reason for them to be. We have several "new beginnings" happening around here. Hence, a new installment, Chapter 13, in the story of how Rosehaven Cottage came to be. And this time we're living through it as I write it.

'Our Lady of Guadalupe' is in full bloom again as if she's excited for the new beginnings too

Every year since 2000, when the winter rains come we've braced ourselves. We knew we were moving into the southernmost part of the rainy region of the "North Bay" and it's notoriety for deluge rain in the winter. What we hadn't anticipated when we bought this home was that our southern property line is, in fact, the lowest point on a long keyhole court with water draining downhill toward us from both directions. That's right... uphill to either side of us.

We soon realized why, during the first year of digging in the back garden, I kept finding completely buried brick walls that had once been part of a terrace system throughout the whole backyard. The water would run with such velocity diagonally across the yard that the 2-3 foot high brick walls were eventually buried in runoff silt, mud and dirt.

So over the course of time since our first winter in 2000-2001, we have installed a cleverly disguised drainage system throughout the back garden so the water is moved away from the house and under the garden instead of through it.

From February 2008: in the midst of installing the drainage system in the back garden.

From March 2008: after the drainage system was completed (click here to read more)

The last piece of this difficult drainage puzzle has been in front of the house.

Our driveway slopes downhill away from the street and toward the house. If the storm drain a few inches from the edge of our driveway is clogged with leaves and debris (as it was last Easter Sunday), water diverts down the driveway straight toward our garage. In 2005, after I had a strong intuitive feeling that we needed to do so, Hubby and my brother jackhammered out the 8'x8' section of driveway right in front of the garage door. They thought I was nuts to insist upon it... that is until 2 months later we had torrential rain that flooded many homes and garages in our town. Ours would have been one of them and we would have lost over a $1000 in building materials being stored there for the other restoration we were doing at the time.

Since 2005, we have had to live with an embarrasing gaping hole in our driveway. First, we filled it with pea gravel and then realized that wasn't the best solution because the neighborhood cats thought it was a giant litter box. Then we moved the pea gravel and used it elsewhere (I always have a purpose for pea gravel in our garden). It remained an empty "pit" for a few years that would get soggy and muddy every time it rained. The last couple of years, we've had larger rocks in it that are difficult for an ankle-spraining-klutz like me to traverse regularly. All the while we knew we needed a permanent solution, but funds had to go elsewhere (like when the south side of the house suddenly started sinking in 2008).

The embarrassing but very necessary hole in our driveway that we've lived with for way too long
Finally, this last spring we determined (thanks to a healthy income tax return) we could venture to ask for a bid for a permanent drainage solution to be put in by the same skilled company that had saved our house and its foundation a few years ago.

We also determined we needed the garage less as a garage (it's too narrow to pull a car into anyway) and more as a studio space for me where I would get the right natural light I need for photography. We concluded that if in the process of installing a drain, we also had a foundation footing constructed across the existing garage door opening it would be advantageous for two reasons. First, it would be further protection against flooding, and second, we could install a beautiful set of windows in the existing opening that would mirror the living room windows on the opposite side of the house. The light from the new east-facing windows would make the space ideal for the official headquarters of Rosehaven Cottage Inc. that currently resides in a bedroom with south- and west-facing windows that are not conducive to the work I do.

We had the foundation company come out and draw up a bid a few months ago and then had to wait for their very busy docket to free up so they could do our job. They are a reputable company with solid ethics and a phenomenal end-result, so they are in high demand.

In the meantime, I was able to get my head around the design of the new studio space; what I would be using it for; and how I was going to accomplish it.

Through much prayerful pondering on the subject, I was led to some conclusions about my own career path. My true passions were brought to the forefront of my mind--photography, historical research and preservation; digital restoration of rescued antique and vintage graphics on paper ephemera; creating digital art from photos and rescued images; and teaching.

I set goals for myself.

I spruced up (my companion blog that focuses on my creative career).

Then I decided to completely overhaul my digital download shop and reopen it as an Etsy store at with the express purpose of using the proceeds to finance the buildout of my studio space. And I determined that I wanted to do most of the work myself while learning more construction skills and cabinetmaking in the process.

So that "new beginning" started for me about a month ago. And I must admit that writing about it here (or anywhere on my personal social media accounts) is a hard thing to do. I have a hard time being a self-promoter, because I'm always concerned that I will offend someone. But I finally realized that my friends probably want to know about the promising horizons I'm exploring. So I'm going against my natural tendencies and being more open about the goals I'm setting for myself.

There... I did it... back to the house...

Today (August 19, 2013), first thing in the morning, work began on we have waited so many years to see completed. It makes us emotional if we sit and think about it. We have waited so long for our little home to be truly safe in a rainstorm. And... it... is... finally... happening!

By mid-morning today, trenches had been dug for the foundation footing as well as the drain and drain pipe that would take water away from our house underground to connect to a storm drain box we share with our neighbor who also has to deal with flooding issues.

After the end of the workday, I felt it was okay to go out and take more photos. I didn't want to get in their way while they were working so I waited (Hubby took the ones above because he's braver).

The trench for the drain wraps around the corner of the garage and down our side yard to connect to the subterranean storm drain just on the other side of our fence. Our neighbors won't have to have anything dug up on their side. All the work can be done on our side.

The forms for the foundation footing are all constructed and ready for the concrete pour to happen once the county permit inspector gives them the thumbs up.

Another view shows the beautiful rebar work that's been constructed (well... at least we think it's beautiful).

Only a few feet away on the other side of the front porch, our highly prolific but completely unplanned 'Sweet 100' tomatoes are unaware of the goings-on. Planted by tomato-eating critters last summer, these volunteers have given us a produce garden this year even though we didn't think we were going to have one because I was out of commission when planting season was upon us with a back injury, then a cold, then a fibromyalgia flare-up, then another back injury. By the time I was actually functional, the volunteer tomatoes were already producing sweet, ripe, red fruit.

Once again, our needs are being met. We are being watched out for and blessed with what we need, when we need it.  I couldn't ask for more than that.

The 'Sweet 100' tomatoes the critters planted

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A yellow rose is the promise of a new beginning

Years of Septembers starting out with
new grades,
new teachers
and new learning horizons
embedded in my mind
that August is the month that teeters on the precipice of new beginnings.

My heart often yearns for
the beginning of a new school year--
to feel the excitement of anticipating the frontiers that held
new knowledge,
new insights,
and learning new skills.

It seems fitting that the yellow rose should be the symbol of the promise of new beginnings.

August is the month of sunny yellows and bright oranges--
colors that radiate the warmth of an August sun
shining on beachgoers as they enjoy the last few weeks of
a summer no one wants to end.

August finds my heart torn between two worlds...
that of the endless-summer-seeking beachgoer
and that of the anticipatory student.

At once
holding on to every sun-filled moment to savor it and hope it never ends
looking to the horizon wondering what adventures lie beyond.

The roses featured in this post are 'Golden Showers' climbing roses

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When you were a kid, did you ever make a wish and blow on a puffy dandelion? Do you still?

 When you were a kid, did you ever make a wish and blow on a puffy dandelion? Do you still? I'm always tempted whenever I see one.

As I post-processed the photo above, one of my favorite Disney songs came floating into my head:

A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you're fast asleep.

In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep.

Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling through.

No matter how your heart is grieving...
If you keep on believing...
The dream that you wish will come true.

song written and composed by 
Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston 
for the Walt Disney film Cinderella (1950)

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The color of August in the Bay Area

It's August already. 
And around here where summer rain is rare...
this is the color of August. 
Grass is the color of spun gold 
on hills dotted with the deep olive green 
of stands of California Live Oak.

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