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May 30, 2005

Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

We were going to get another dog this summer, from the same breeder we got Rosie from. But tragically, that dog died suddenly. She offered us a younger dog who basically just needs a good home with patience and love to help her through some issues, but with the house under construction we didn't think that was a good idea (the younger dog doesn't have a good recall yet, and we don't have fences right now). So instead we'll be getting a dog in October.

Everybody say "hi" to Goldie, who's going to be bred in the next few days, and will be ready to get rid of those damned puppies for good in about four months:


Cheri has promised us a picture of her face, too.

# Posted by ayse on 05/30/05 at 9:23 PM

May 26, 2005


The artichoke is starting to open out into a thistle. What on earth made anybody ever decide these should be eaten?

artichoke blooming

# Posted by ayse on 05/26/05 at 9:45 PM

May 24, 2005

All or Nothing

I've been noticing lately that I get creative spurts that come on all at once. Lately I've been working on my final project for design, but I've also been planning a sweater (I've given up on patterns; they drive me nuts and are often wrong; if I have to do all the work anyway, I'll design exactly what I want), working on a garden design for the far-off future when we have a yard again, and designing three web pages.

Maybe I need to work on spacing this out a bit better.

Here are some of the planning drawings I've done on my project. It's a materials resource center, to hold and display all our materials samples (they're in a closet now, and the purges happen often because of no space).

I've got two levels in my design (required; some people have more but that didn't happen for me): a gallery level:
gallery floor plan

And a ground plane underneath.
ground floor plan

The elevation shows that I've been taking modern architectural history this quarter, doesn't it?

While in San Francisco the other evening, Noel and I paid a visit to Imagiknit, which closes at a ridiculously early hour. When you have to kick people out of the store, you're closing too early.

I got a couple of things to play with: a laceweight alpaca ($5 is expendable to see whether I have an allergic reaction)
laceweight alpaca

And this weird thing called "Magic Ball" by Be Sweet, in the "Fire Ball" colourway. It's mohair, which I do not have a problem with (unless it has been stored in a bin with wool, which I have encountered). I'm thinking of crocheting a bucket hat out of it. It was very expensive as an experiment, but I'm considering making a lightweight winter-warmth cardigan for dressy occasions from it or a similar product, so a sample to see how it works up was worthwhile. If I can get a tight, decent fabric out of it I might even make a pullover evening sweater to be worn without a blouse underneath. But I think all those ribbons and things will be kind of itchy, if not allergenic.
be sweet magic ball

And now to bed, and tomorrow to spend the whole day in studio.

# Posted by ayse on 05/24/05 at 10:34 PM


Google has this new "Stuff Finder" tool. Using their satellite indexing tool, they've spidered just about everything in the continental US (Hawaii and Alaska should be online later this year, and Canada is due in January -- I gather they have less stuff there). You just enter your question, and it will tell you where the thing has gone. So simple questions like "Where are my socks?" no longer eat up half your morning.

Yes, it's a joke. But kind of charming, no?

# Posted by ayse on 05/24/05 at 7:29 AM

May 19, 2005


I've started working on a web page for Casa Decrepit, showing my garden plan, linked with images of all the plants named there (eventually to be replaced by actual images of the garden itself). It's a lot of work, and I'm nowhere near done, but if you want to see the plan drawing (just a sketch on trace, but I think I did a nice job on the trees), I give you:

Holy Cow That's a Big Picture

And yes, I do know I have a giant pile of dirt in my back yard right now. This is a coping mechanism while I wait for the legal issues around the foundation to be hashed out.

# Posted by ayse on 05/19/05 at 10:37 PM

May 18, 2005

A Rose in Bloom

Well, not a rose exactly. But a grocery item you rarely see like this:

blooming artichoke

Rosie and I spent some time gardening today. This despite waking up this morning with a massive gardening hangover from yesterday afternoon. (When I mentioned this to my studio teacher, he said, "It is so New England of you to spend the day gardening as soon as it's spring.") I pulled weeds from the gravel pit of stupidity (I will never understand why people put those in, especially when they put in only 2-3 inches of gravel). I was impressed by the bloom of the artichoke, which I've never seen like this.

artichoke blossom

More usually I see something like this. These two guys are my dinner tonight.

artichoke buds

Curiosity led me to cut off and slice open one of the big blooms (that, and the desire to keep the plant from spending itself on going to seed). Very interesting how the heart grows and changes but maintains a lot of the vegetable form.

sliced blossom

Rosie stole one of the buds that was too far gone to be good eating, and we played catch with it for a while. Must remember to bring home a new tennis ball from school tomorrow.

Rosie with artichoke

# Posted by ayse on 05/18/05 at 7:33 PM

May 15, 2005

Bathing Beauty

We bought Rosie a new pool today: a watering trough for cows or horses, made of a nice heavy plastic that can stand up to being in direct sunlight for extended periods. Also, with a punchout for a little bunghole to drain it. We brought it back to the place in SLO to test it out.

Here's Noel looking all suburban with the hose.

Noel filling the pool

Rosie was a bit suspicious at first. This was looking like it might be good for her, rather than just plain fun.


More supervision

Nothing better than a nice long drink from the hose on a hot spring day.


When it was filled up, she jumped in, and out, a few times, just to be sure it wasn't some kind of trick.


But eventually, she gave in to the lure of the nice cool water on the tum.


And of course, nothing tops off a cool bath like a nice vigorous roll in the grass.


# Posted by ayse on 05/15/05 at 1:54 PM

May 13, 2005

Studio Goings-On

Um, so. We've been doing a lot of stuff in studio and professional practice. This leads to me just not posting much because there's enough going on that it seems like there's too much to post every day, but then again, at the end of the week there's an even huger pile of stuff to talk about. So I'm going to skip some stuff and you will have to trust me that it was not all that interesting, anyway.

We've done a bunch of studies of sun position using this little tool, called a Solar Transit. It seems to involve a lot of looking directly at the sun using a pointing device, which doesn't seem all that bright to me, but apparently architects do this a lot. So if you see an architect stumbling around blinking and walking into stuff, you know why.

Solar transit

This week we had to produce a detailed fragment of a building. I chose a detail from the windows of Notre Dame le Raincy, by Auguste Perret. I don't know much about Perret, but I was delighted by the photos of the church in history. Anyway, making a piece of cast concrete at 1/2" or 1" scale is not as easy as it sounds. Concrete is sized the way it is usually because it is not practical for it to be smaller.

This was my first attempt, which was pretty bad.

Bad first try at model

I refined my techniques, worked at a much larger scale (1" rather than 1/2"), and came up with this, which is much closer to the real thing.

Successful model!

Once we had our fragments, we were told to design a display/library space around them, and as storage for the school's collection of material samples and details. Our first job was to produce a series of study models, so I made seven or eight today (two are due next week, but more are better).


I had this idea for a dripping, undulating rhythm made from tiles falling in uneven rows from the ceiling, but they never seem to come out right or work with the fragment I have, which is actually kind of massive.

Glass tiles

I finally did come up with an idea for holding the tiles apart with sticks, to let light in in a pattern opposite to that in the window fragment. I like this model best of the ones I've made.

Undulating wall

The thing is, you need to keep making models, so you are certain you aren't missing a great idea by stopping with what you have. As I worked, I ended up with this, which kind of looks like a phone booth or something as prosaic. It's not working for me.

Phone booth

# Posted by ayse on 05/13/05 at 11:14 PM

May 10, 2005

Entirely Hollow

Rosie came down with me this week, to have a bit of a vacation by the beach and keep me company, chiefly because I have been very homesick lately. When Rosie is down in SLO, I usually let her sleep on the bed with me (she's SPOILED ROTTEN, I tell you). She's learned how to lie next to me all nice and comfy, with her head on my shoulder, which we both like quite a bit.

The only thing I haven't been able to teach her to do is wake me up in some manner other than smacking me in the face with her paws while yawning and stretching and making her happy morning noises. So I was up at 5:30 this morning, thanks to the canine.

She's also on a slightly reduced food diet, because with no yard she's not been getting as much exercise and has put on a bit of weight. So the last couple of days she has really known when it is dinner time, and been quite clear about the fact that she's STARVING TO DEATH. Poor thing. Tonight I told her that if she stopped smacking me in the face first thing in the morning, I'd consider giving her an extra half scoop of food. She burped dog-food burps at me, which is I think a way of saying, "I'll agree to anything for food."

# Posted by ayse on 05/10/05 at 8:19 PM

May 6, 2005

End of the Ritual Space Project

I don't know where my obsession with anthropomorphic buildings has come from, lately, but as I said, I've been designing this ritual space for architecture for the last few weeks. On Wednesday we had our crit (we have six more to get through today).

We had to do a series of drawings, a slice model, and a detailed model called a fragment.

My design for the stairs as I built them.

Stairs design

I blew the design drawing up to a 1/2" scale (the required scale for our detailed models), cut the pieces out, and pasted them to my piece of basswood. Then I went down to the shop and cut them out and sanded them.

Uncut basswood

I ended up with a bunch of little chunks, all carefully numbered so I could fit them back into place. I traced the overlaps onto them and arranged them on a copy for the blown-up drawing.

Chunks of wood

The rest of the day was spent gluing pieces together. With white glue, you can put a bit on, clamp it, and in five minutes you can undo the clamp and reuse it for another joint. I only have two of these nice small clamps -- I should get six or eight more, really. And some that open wider.

Clamped stairs

The one thing that didn't work so well in my design was the transition from classical staircase to organic staircase. I thought this would look less contrast-y, but oh, well. Of course my teacher noticed that right away during the crit.

classical stair base

The pieces of the staircase ready to be glued together. I waited to do that until they'd both had time to dry for a day, just so the pressure would not break the whole thing apart.

Stair pieces

Also, I had some troubles with the twistier side of the staircase, so I wanted to give that extra time to dry and get strong.


For my slice model, I made some cast-plaster pieces to be the light fins on the south facade. This is my used formwork, which really just fell apart when I put plaster in it.

Fin formwork

But the cast pieces came out fine.

Cast plaster fin

Getting the slice model together was tricky. I used little wires to hold pieces in the air, where they would be supported by a structural member not visible in the slice. Everything is very delicate and wobbly.

Slice model in progress

Oh, and the finished staircase. At this point, by the way, it was about an hour before the crits started. I was calm, relaxed, and sure I would be done in time.

Completed staircase


Completed slice model

A lot of you have never seen a crit, so this is what they are like. You pin your drawings up, set your models on the table, and explain your project and your process. The teacher asks you questions, classmates ask you questions, and you have to defend your design. It sounds much more stressful than it actually is; it's usually just wearing, because you have to be intellectually "on" for five hours with occasional ten-minute breaks.

It's much harder for the students who don't have much experience speaking in front of people, because they get stressed about it.


# Posted by ayse on 05/06/05 at 10:10 PM

May 5, 2005

Breaking the Rules

I made this penguin from Knitty a couple of weeks ago and forgot to post pictures. Part of that was because I made the damned thing twice, the body and belly at least, because I followed the directions for sewing it together blindly, and they are slightly off (they don't tell you to sew the neck). Then, when cutting it apart, I cut several stitches and unravelled a bunch and it was a big mess, so I threw the first penguin away and started over. I'm not usually so destructive when rebuilding something.

Anyway, while I was sewing the wings up, one of my classmates came up and said, "You're using sewing pins! Is that allowed?" I don't know if it's allowed or not, but it's what I've always done for sewing up pieces, because it's a pain in the ass to try to line them up and hold them there by hand.

Sewing the wing

On the other hand, her surprise at my use of fabric sewing techniques on yarn may account for the extreme hatred I have seen among knitters for the seaming required from a sweater knit in pieces. I've never understood that, because seaming is so easy and fast, but if they're not pinning it together first then oy, it must be perfect hell.

Wing and body

Anyway, now I have a little penguin body to stuff.

Finished Penguin

# Posted by ayse on 05/05/05 at 10:13 PM

By the Way

I broke the comments on here a couple months ago while fiddling with the commenting script, and I'm not going to have time to fix them until after the quarter is over, I think, because it's Perl and every time I work with Perl have to spend like four days remembering what the heck was going on in the first place. This is because a) Perl is an inscrutable language, and b) Perl programmers seem to be unable to organize their code logically.

So while I feel for all four of my readers who desperately want to comment, for the mo you'll have to send me e-mail (ayse at this domain name works just fine) if you want to tell me I'm insane.

# Posted by ayse on 05/05/05 at 7:36 PM

May 2, 2005

Sushi Party

Some friends invited us over to make sushi on Saturday. I still had the digital camera after a long day in the botanical gardens, so I took some photos of the fun. Homemade sushi is never as elegant as what you can get in a sushi bar in San Francisco (read, Ebisu), but it is tasty and easy to make.

S. needed some help with a model Christmas village she is making, so I gave her some model building pointers. See? College is good for social events, too!
Model making class

Somebody (Noel, maybe?) forming up a little ball of fishie goodness.

Ready to roll.
Mise en place

D. and S. are having a good time.
Sheila and her sister

Sushi factory
Sushi factory

Diana laughing

The spread.

I don't remember why we decided we had to make bacon, too, but ever since my doctor gave me those digestive tablets, I've been having a wee bit of the pig every now and then.
Bacon: a love affair

Despite appearances, you really can only eat so much sushi in one sitting.

# Posted by ayse on 05/02/05 at 11:41 PM

May 1, 2005

Going Native

On Saturday afternoon, Elaine and I had a little expedition to the Regional Parks Botanic Garden, which is one of the largest collections of California native plants in the state. We were both looking for ideas for our gardens, and we happened upon a real treasure: on Saturday afternoons, there's a docent-led tour, and we were able to snag a docent all to ourselves, who showed us lots of plants that met our specific garden needs, and talked a bit about what sort of environment they like. It was the best two hours I've spent in a botanical garden since I left Smith.

A view out over the garden from the visitors' center.
Botanic Garden

The garden is built around a natural creek that has water year-round.
The creek

The Velvet-Leaf Coffeeberry, which I can see along the front walk or against a wall in the back.
Velvet-Leaf Coffeeberry

Chinese Houses, which I'm planning to put along the sidewalk in front.
Chinese Houses

One of the many irises in bloom.

The agave was blooming -- and this thing was massive: the flower part is about as tall as me.
Agave in bloom

A snowdrop bush.
Snowdrop Bush

An onion.

Dudleya growing on a dead log.

An azalea.

A manzanita. The bark is very sensitive, but smooth and shiny. I have been planning mostly fruit trees, but I think I can squeeze one of these in.

I don't remember what these were, but they are terrifically weird.
Pond plants

Five-fingered ferns, which will be added to the fern garden between our house and our closest neighbor.
Five-fingered ferns

Purple Fairy Lanterns. A lovely little flower.
Purple Fairy Lanterns

Another fern, this one with different leaf shapes for different functions. Only the upright ones produce spores.
More ferns

A Wake Robin, or trillium. We're going to have some very shady spots where this sort of undergrowth plant would do very well.
Wake Robin

Another undergrowth plant, this lily has creamy blossoms in the fall. I love the formal texture of the leaves, which are very similar to dogwood leaves.
Corn-Fringed Lily

Crimson Sage. A nice contrast to the usual purple sages.
Crimson Sage

I probably won't get to do much gardening this summer because of the whole foundation debacle, but I'm working on plans for the day when I do finally have a yard again.

# Posted by ayse on 05/01/05 at 11:54 PM