One of the interesting parts of owning an older house is discovering how it is built. Our 1930 Spanish Mission Revival home in Willow Glen has delightful arts and crafts style details, including oak parquet floors downstairs and on the upstairs landing. When my husband John first bought the house in 1998, many of the floors were covered with icky dark pink carpet. We ripped most of that out and refinished the upper floors and stairs ten years ago.
There was one room downstairs that still had the pink carpet. This is the only downstairs bedroom, so person using it does not have to share a bathroom. Our son Paul had the room until his sister Jessica moved out last summer, just before she got married. In 2002, Paul and his grandmother painted a mural of the Pokemon fire chicken Moltres on the wall. Late last year, Paul moved into Jessica’s old room upstairs so that my mother could move in after my father died. She and her cats recently moved into a senior community nearby, so we have finally gotten rid of the last of the pink carpet.
Under the horrible cat-stinky carpet, we discovered an equally smelly rug pad. Under that was amazingly ugly linoleum. Today, the linoleum came off and we discovered that we have a potentially-lovely wooden floor of Douglas Fir wood. We are delighted – Doug fir is not as good as oak parquet but it is much better than pink carpet. We will get the boards refinished and the room will become John’s new office.
Douglas Fir boards:
Images by Katy Dickinson 2012 Copyright
My recently-widowed mother moved in with us in San Jose last month with her beloved young Siamese cats, Loki and Pouka. Our 16-year-old grey fuzzball, Tino, was not pleased with this development in his formerly-quiet life. Cat wars have ensued. With one brief interlude on Christmas Eve when we saw all three on a bed at one time, they have been glaring and growling (at best) and engaged in competitive carpet soiling and screaming fights (at worst). What fun.
Images Copyright 2011 by Katy Dickinson and John Plocher
Since my father’s death in November, we have been spending all spare time moving my 80-year-old artist mother to live with us in San Jose. Moving Eleanor Creekmore Dickinson and two cats and clothes and computer and TV were the easy part. Clearing the San Francisco Victorian house she lived in for 45 years is a more complex task. The house has two flights of stairs up to the main floor and another spiral staircase to the bedrooms. Even with four hefty movers, getting large fragile antiques safely out and into a truck was a challenge.
Last week, we completed the move for 70 years of my mother’s art into storage. Today, we finally finished moving most of the big family furniture. The biggest chore was moving “General Burnside”, a huge armoire we named after that infamous Civil War general because my mother bought it from the house he occupied as his military headquarters. General Burnside was full of my mother’s collection of moonshine and other liquors plus the glassware to serve them. It took hours to empty and take apart for transport.
John and I are building an addition to our house for my mother but that will not be done for many months. Until then, she is staying in our spare bedroom in Willow Glen and we have a house sitter in San Francisco. The family furniture has for many years been divvied up between my brothers and me (using the distribution system I wrote about) but my mother will continue to use some of it during her lifetime. Her art will be stored for the long-term but we expect that the furniture will be out and in use again within a year. I will be so happy when this is all done!
Here is a drawing of what our new construction will look like, eventually:
Moving General Burnside:
Here is what our new storage unit looks like – with antiques gently packed in like puzzle pieces:
Images Copyright 2011-2012 by Katy Dickinson
The TechWomen delegation visiting Morocco has been in Marrakech. There are a delightful number of small but generally healthy cats: semi-pets and semi-independent-citizens. I have seen relatively few dogs – far less in evidence than donkeys, mules, horses, and camels.
Images Copyright 2011 Katy Dickinson
My husband John is spending his free time preparing to give several talks at the National Model Railroad Association convention in Sacramento California early next month. He has been working for months on a demonstration unit to support his presentations – showing what a model railroad would look like of it was designed and wired as a series of control points connected by a codeline instead of in the usual arbitrary, hodgepodge ways. (A codeline delivers indications from the field to the train dispatcher, and sends commands from the dispatcher to the field.) John models in HO Scale when he is not working on our “prototype” caboose WP 668 in the back yard.
John’s project mostly looks like lots of blinky lights – especially when his office is dark. However, he tells me that this is state-of-the-art for model train layout wiring. John is in a running battle with our cat Tino, who likes to chew on little wires and keeps sneaking in to disable the Arduino.
Images Copyright 2011 by Katy Dickinson
Growing up in San Francisco, my brothers and I had far more pets than you might think. From time to time, we had a rescued baby crow in the breakfast room, toads and frogs in the tub, iguanas and bunnies in the basement, a boa constrictor in the bathroom, and cats wherever they pleased to go. My mother’s motto about all of this was from the Dr. Seuss book One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish:
Look what we found in the park in the dark.
We will take him home, we will call him Clark.
He will live at our house, he will grow and grow.
Will our mother like this? We don’t know.
At my home in San Jose, we have a more modest menagerie (2 dogs, 2 birds, and a cat) but since we live on the Guadalupe River, we are often invaded by hoards of squirrels, flocks of finches and other songbirds, geese, ducks, and hawks, weird horsehair worms, opossums, raccoons, lizards, and Jerusalem crickets, among others. Our new puppy Gilroy is delighting in all of it during his first week with us. His adopted-big-sister Redda is bored with squirrels but Gilroy still barks at them joyously.
Images Copyright 2011 by Katy Dickinson
My mother Eleanor Dickinson will celebrate her 80th birthday next month. My brothers and I are planning a big party featuring a video with pictures from her family life and accomplishments as an artist. For the last month, I have spent every spare moment going through all of the family photos: of people, of cats, of places and houses that are meaningful in her life. The family has been sending me scans of old pictures and digital images to add to the collection. My daughter Jessica and brother Peter have picked out songs to go with the images.
Working with these pictures has given me a new understanding of my mother and her life. When I look at pictures from many years ago, I can sometimes remember how that sweater felt or what was happening when the camera snapped. Some of the people have died and all have changed in one way or another. It is a rewarding if very time consuming experience.
Images Copyright 1962-1994 Katy Dickinson