Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Messages of Hope

I am so excited to announce this new book! I pulled together artists, poets, photographers and writers to contribute their talents to this much needed publication!
Messages of Hope is now ready for purchase. All proceeds are donated to charity! So you are helping yourself and others with your purchase. This will make a great gift at any time. Available from the link below.

Messages of Hope
24 pages, published 12/21/2016
Messages of Hope comes at a time we most need it, for the country, for the world, for ourselves.A collection of poems, essays, art and photography by four artists.

Friday, December 9, 2016

New Book!

Hot off the press!  Poetic Zen first published in 2004, now revised with all new color images and a bonus poem!  Available in both print and digital formats on MagCloud.

Poetic Zen

By J Gray in Poetry & Images

24 pages, published 12/9/2016

Poetic Zen was first printed in 2004. Now revised in 2016 with all new color images and a bonus poem!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Boycot Black Friday


This Black Friday as with last year, I am opting out of shopping and going outside.  It's a fitting gesture for me and a smart one.  We consume far too much stuff at an alarming rate!  I am slowing that down and promoting "less stuff".  It's easier to manage less stuff, costs less and allows me more free time.  Now that's smart.

Thank you #REI for this splendid image that encourages us to Opt Outside.  (Even they will close for Black Friday.)

Will you join us??

And speaking of STUFF, here is a great video from Woody on the subject:

Friday, November 4, 2016

Indoor Projects

After a myriad of outdoor projects and the eminent arrival of Fall rains, I moved my motivation indoors at the beginning of October.  This next project was already brewing in my mind while I was working outside.

I had a plan to caulk the remaining seams in two of the bedrooms and repaint.  I had such good success in the bathroom from earlier this year that I was eager to get started.

I don't have any photos of this project because honestly, seams of walls and ceilings just don't translate well in a photo.  If you've ever done any caulking work you know what I mean.

One of the biggest problems I ran into was an old patch / fix from the former tenant.  I'm still not exactly sure how to make a permanent fix, but for now I have at least made it look better and used a small piece of sheetrock to patch a hole in the ceiling.  Originally there was a really long piece screwed to the ceiling tile that also covered an old water stain.
I just put a few coats of Kilz paint over the stain and it was fine.  (Reminder:  this mobile had previously been rescued from Mt. St. Helen's).  Now of course it has a full roof-over structure, so these water stains were quite old.

The overall goal here is to eliminate the need for trim and give it a more finished look.  I did indeed accomplish this!  Floor trim, of course, remaining.

There's nothing like a fresh coat of paint!  Both bedrooms got a country white which will be greatly appreciated come the long dark winter here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Winter Readiness

I like to repost this one every year as we head into winter.  I have had a lot of experience by trial and error on what to do or not do during storms.  The last thing we want is to already be in one unprepared, whether at home or away from home.

I've added two great new gizmos to my arsenal of supplies.  Actually one was a gift from my brother this year.  It's a battery operated light switch.

Don't let this thing fool you!  It's incredibly bright and only needs two AAA batteries.  It can mount via sticky pads or magnets.

 Is that crazy or what?  I love it!

Next up is my go to tool when the lights go out and it's dark.  It's a headlamp.  Hands free light wherever I need it.

This has three settings, two for brightness and one blinks.  I imagine the blinking option would come in handy should I somehow get trapped in a snow bank, lol.

 More tips follow from this archived post:

  While it's a little early to be thinking about snow here in the Pacific Northwest, it is not too early to prepare for it!
Women on their own must look out for themselves and be prepared for anything - because anything can happen.  I have been through many major storms here and been trapped for weeks, both at home and away from home.

I now have a preparation ritual.  In the Fall (sometimes sooner) I start thinking about what I need to do, from gathering supplies to making preparations.
Supplies always include extra canned and dry goods, anything I can cook or prepare on a camp stove should the power be out.
Preparations include winterizing the house.  Wrapping outside pipes, putting up heavier curtains inside.
I even pack an overnight bag that I keep in my car should I get stuck away from home.

I always make sure I have a flashlight and extra batteries, several small propane tanks, lanterns and oil, matches and ground coffee!  Until they design a battery operated coffee grinder, this is a staple for me!  Of course a small drip coffee one-cupper and cone shaped filters must be included.
[ update:  I found a hand grinder!  No batteries or electricity required!)

Other useful things would be a couple of bags of ice in the freezer, so when the power goes out it keeps the food cold.  One year it was so cold outside that I just put the food out in the mudroom.
Extra containers of water may be necessary if your water comes from an electric pump,  and did I mention candles?  Lots of them.

Obviously I have a back up heating system that doesn't require electricity.  I have a wonderful wood stove.  It is actually my primary heat source. I get my fire wood in the summer, stacked, cured and covered by Sept.

Keep the gas tank full in the car and the snow shovel by the front door.  Have a corded phone to plug in to the jack should the power go out.  Cordless phones are useless without power.
Up until about a year ago I didn't even have a cell phone, but now that I do, I keep that charged up.  While I don't get service here at my house, at least I can use it in the car if need be.

So these are some of the things we can do to be prepared for a long winter living alone.
If you're on a budget like me, or just like to conserve your resources, we have to think outside of the box a little more, get creative and work with the resources you have.

I'm really quite content with my independent life, and grateful to have a sharp mind and willing spirit.  It just makes life so much more interesting.

If you have any tips you'd like to share on winter preparedness, please leave a comment!  I look forward to hearing from you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Winter Wren

Winter Wren has returned.  He shows up every year about this time.  He makes himself known by flying up to me, jumping around and making cute little peeping sounds.  I'm not sure exactly what this behavior is, but I'd like to think he is just letting me know he has returned and is happy to be here.

I keep a year round supply of fresh water for all the birds and my lush, mostly untouched habitat is perfect for foraging and nesting.

He will stay throughout the winter and then head off to wherever he goes for Spring and Summer.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Peter Rabbit Jr

This is Peter Rabbit Jr., a descendant of a pair of rabbits that settled in here this year.  Adorable!
Peter Jr. has spread out his territory beyond my yard but returns every couple of weeks to visit.

He is a very polite house guest.  He doesn't eat much, doesn't disrupt the environment, and sleeps outside.

He is welcome here anytime.  :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bamboo Transplanting

My bamboo are reaching 12 feet tall this year, but were in need of transplanting.  I did some research and found that I could easily pull them out, cut them in half and put them in new pots.

I purchased nursery pots for the affordability and durability.  These are sturdy pots!  I think they must be made of tire rubber as that's what they smell like.

I had help on this project as it takes two people to manhandle them out of their pots, then between the chainsaw and handsaw we were able to cut them in half.  This is no easy task!

We only got to two of them, ending up with four nice new plants, spread out along the new cedar fence really adds to the privacy.  Next year we'll tackle the other two.

Along with the new layout of the front yard came much contemplation on how to landscape it.  There are several large plants that can't be moved, but everything else was flexible.
So for this year I decided to create beds around the larger plants.  The spaces left were ripe for new ideas.  I created an ornamental grass bed with rocks from the beach. 

These lovely grasses will spread out and grow tall, creating a privacy screen along the driveway.

So the view from the house is thus, so far this year. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I began the new siding / skirting project in the Spring of 2016, juggled other outdoor projects and then added the skirting / cedar siding under the mudroom.  I could only get half way through that too, as the front porch needed dry rot boards replaced as well as leveling.

By the end of August I completed what is pictured above.  I had help with the leveling but replaced the deck boards myself and added the skirting boards.  Later I added the new gravel and began work on the landscaping.

 The top boards are now replaced (and safe!) and level.

The cedar siding / skirting looks good on this old structure, adding airflow underneath.

It's simple, it's safe and was extremely affordable.

Next Spring I can work on the surrounding landscaping to bring back that charm it had in earlier days.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Skirting the Issue Part II

I am carrying on with this fun new way of enclosing the gaps around my place.
This time it is the structure I call the mudroom, or front porch.  It was built as an addition to the mobile home and works well as a porch.

Previously it was enclosed with plywood - which of course began to rot over the years and was a perfect breeding ground for mice inside.

Since I had such good luck with the fence boards on the addition in back, I thought I'd try it on the mudroom.

It looks good and will last a long time.  I have run a board along the bottom, above the ground to attach the lower ends to avoid warping.

Here it is on the other side.  It adds a nice finished look to the structure.

I'm still working on the front porch and trim paint above.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Skirting the Issue

If you've been following the blog you know I have a large addition built on the back of my mobile.  When I bought the place it wasn't finished.  I threw on some stuff and forgot about it - till this year when I finally took the steps needed to put a nice finish on it.

It's built as post and pier, so there's an open gap underneath.  Mobile homes have skirting to enclose these gaps, buildings usually have foundations or some kind of skirting to finish it, as well as weatherproof it and keep animals out.

I get a lot of my ideas from Pinterest and found this one to be perfect for this end of the addition.
I used treated fencing boards, cut to size as pickets, with a small gap for airflow.  The ground is lined with patio blocks and gravel under that.

 It's a finished look, structurally adequate and adds a little charm to the old place.

I'll be adding gravel back here, rearranging the potted plants and chairs, so stay tuned for future posts on that.

** By the way, in previous posts there was a platform deck in this area and this was called the Privacy Deck Area, however time and weather  took its toll on the re-purposed wood I used and it needed to be removed.

Fence Me In

I have lived here 11 years and always dreamed of a real wood fence along the property line between me and a very close neighbor.  2016 is my year to make this dream come true!

My friend and mentor helped me build this cedar fence.  What an involved process it was with leveling, digging deep holes, mixing concrete and buying supplies.

This section of fence is the perfect privacy screen, sight and sound barrier for folks who love their space.  6 feet tall and over 30 feet long, it will last a good long time.

From any section of the yard I can sit and admire my plants and wildlife - in privacy!

My next phase for this section is to add more plants.

In the back we installed a 10 foot section that now allows me a cozy little spot to hang out in peace.
Plus it creates a much needed wind break!

Stay tuned for more improvements!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bathroom Make Over - Again

Who said you should only redo the bathroom once?

After eight years I decided to redo the bathroom once again.  I was actually getting tired of looking at those surf boards, although cute, were starting to wear on me.

So the first version was covered in this post from 2008: .

Last Fall I dove in with a whole new look;  calmer, more mellow, minimalist.

I mixed the paint myself, it's a creamy beige.  I removed all of the wood trim and caulked the seams.  Pictured here (finished) with a new shower curtain and new art.

I made a tile back-splash and found a cool old hook for a hand towel rack.  I already had the wood towel racks.

The art is from a new friend I found on Etsy, Edwardo, from Spain.  He paints beautiful watercolors.  These two matched my decor perfectly.

I even painted the floor.  As per my previous success with the dining room floor, this was a terrific idea.  It really lightened up the whole room!

All floor trim was replaced with cove base, made for bathrooms and kitchens.

One last radical redo was this space above the furnace - (yes, it's in the bathroom).  Previously I used it for towels and other bathroom supplies.
Now it is strictly decor.  The salt lamp is a perfect night light too.

So there's my modernized bathroom make-over for this year!